BlockFi and Gemini Earn are two stellar products to consider if you’re looking to earn interest on your cryptocurrency. For those new to the cryptocurrency interest account space, it seems to be one of the industry’s best-kept secrets; by holding digital assets like BTC, ETH, and USDC on a platform like BlockFi or Gemini will automatically earn you between 4% and 8.6% APY.
Today, we’ll be comparing two leading platforms: BlockFi vs. Gemini. Either is a good fit for the everyday Joe looking to generate some income from idle coins or investors diversifying their portfolios, but there are a few nuances worth considering.
A crypto veteran, Gemini launched in 2015 and is founded by the Winklevoss brothers. It offers its users various products, including an exchange compatible with 40+ cryptocurrencies, its crypto interest account, Gemini Earn, and its USD-backed stablecoin, GUSD.
With industry-leading safety certifications, Gemini is one of the safest places to exchange or just let your coins idle and accrue interest. Gemini recently surpassed $30bn of cryptocurrency under their custody, nearly tripling their crypto-under-custody since 2021 began.
BlockFi launched in 2017 and has grown to become one of the largest crypto interest account providers. BlockFi also offers crypto-backed loans, where users can borrow USD-backed stablecoins at as low as 4.5% APY, a trading account, and a recently-released cryptocurrency credit card.
BlockFi may be younger in company founding, but it precedes Gemini Earn. It has over 225,000 users on its crypto interest platform, and it’s certainly not an underdog to its veteran counterpart. It raised $350 million in a Series D and is valued at $3 billion. BlockFi and Gemini are interlinked in many ways– BlockFi’s primary custodian is the Winklevoss-owned Gemini Trust Co. LLC.
So. BlockFi vs. Gemini Earn? Let’s explore.
BlockFi vs. Gemini Earn: Key Information
Feature #1: Interest Rates: BlockFi Pays Better, Gemini Has More Variety
First off, APY. BlockFi offers a tiered interest structure on major coins like BTC and ETH. BlockFi offers 8.6% APY for the Gemini dollar, GUSD, and similar stablecoins, capping at 9.6% APY for Tether’s USDT.
Here’s what BlockFi interest rate offerings look like.
On Gemini, you earn a fixed 2.05% APY for BTC and ETH and varying interest rates for 30+ altcoins and stablecoins.
Their interest structure is as follows:
BlockFi has the edge for under 0.5 BTC and mostly all other tokens, even beating out Gemini’s rates for its own stablecoin, GUSD.
How do BlockFi and Gemini Make Money?
BlockFi makes money by borrowing capital at a particular rate (the interest it offers users) and then loaning that capital at a higher rate by offering BTC/ETH/stablecoin loans (at a higher interest) to institutional borrowers. This gives borrowers liquidity without selling their crypto assets.
The platform performs credit assessments of its borrowers and is known for more conservative lending strategies. It stores crypto reserves (which fund users’ withdrawals) with its primary custodian, Gemini Trust. Courtesy of Gemini trust, most funds are held in offline cold storage rather than hot wallets. Fiat funds are FDIC insured up to $250,000.
BlockFi’s 50% Loan-to-Value (LTV) requirement means that borrowers must have holdings of at least 2x the amount they borrow, which BlockFi holds as collateral.
Like BlockFi, Gemini Earn makes its money by loaning yours. The significant difference here is that where BlockFi has taken steps to make sure it can return loaned assets, Gemini offers its loans collateral-free, choosing instead to perform a risk assessment on its corporate creditors and inform users to whom it lends their funds.
Gemini is clear on the risks of this in their Terms.
Gemini’s wallet and exchange are some of the safest in the industry, and it provides over $200 million worth of insurance for user funds. However, this protection does not translate to Gemini Earn. As clearly stated above, Gemini does not insure assets not in its custody. So the moment your satoshis leave Gemini to its creditors, they’re up in the air.
BlockFi’s LTV collateral system discourages loan defaults (defaulters can’t very well abscond with at least 2x their loan held in BlockFi). Still, Gemini has not disclosed any similar structure for protecting their crypto loans.
That said, Gemini is quite selective of the entities that borrow from it. It only loans to its approved corporate borrowers and performs comprehensive background checks, risk assessments, and regular asset evaluations on them. It currently only one creditor—Genesis Global Capital.
It’s worth noting cryptocurrency interest accounts pose a unique risk, making them very different from traditional savings accounts. By using a platform like BlockFi or Gemini, you are consenting to your assets to be loaned without the protection of fiat regulations. Crypto deposits cannot be FDIC insured, and crypto interest is not risk-free.
We give Gemini the edge on safety due to it being incredibly selective to who it loans cryptocurrency.
Feature #2: Payouts and Withdrawals
BlockFi offers one free withdrawal a month, after which withdrawals attract a fee and have a limit. Here’s what that looks like.
BlockFi interest is paid at the beginning of each month.
In contrast, deposits you make through Gemini Earn may be called back at any time and will be available immediately at no withdrawal fee. Interest is compounded daily.
Gemini wins here due to its flexibility.
Feature #3: Security
BlockFi’s funds are only as safe as Gemini Trust, and by industry standards, that’s pretty safe. Gemini holds 95% of BlockFi’s assets in cold storage wallets insured by Aon and 5% in insured hot wallets. In addition, US dollars on Gemini are FDIC-insured up to 250,000 per individual.
However, fund safety isn’t everything. On May 19th, 2020, BlockFi announced, via an email to its customers, that a breach had occurred the previous week on May 14th. No client funds are believed to have been stolen. The breach occurred when a hacker gained access to an employee’s phone and credentials, bypassing their two-factor authentication (2FA) through a sim-swapping attack.
Although risky, Gemini has taken quite a number of steps to ensure the safety of its platform. It is a New York trust company, undergoes frequent bank exams, and is subject to the cybersecurity regulations by the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS). Gemini has completed SOC 1 Type 2 and SOC 2 Type 2 exams and earned an ISO 27001 certification.
Feature #4: Promos and Bonuses
BlockFi offers new users between $15 to $250 when signing up with a partner link. Here’s the tiered breakdown.
Gemini, on the other hand, offers new users $10 for signing up.
Winner: BlockFi: its promotion is more involved but pays out more for every tier, but Gemini’s $10 bonus isn’t too shabby for the work involved.
Standout Features: BlockFi and Gemini Both Expand into New Verticals
Both BlockFi and Gemini Earn are beginner-friendly and accessible via web and mobile apps.
BlockFi recently released its BlockFi Credit Card, which gives users 1.5% back in bitcoin on all purchases.
Gemini’s Gemini Pay allows users to pay using their cryptocurrencies in stores like Nordstrom, Bed Bath & Beyond, Petco, and GameStop, amongst others. Gemini also announced its intention to launch a credit card in mid-2021.
The Court of Public Opinion: BlockFi vs. Gemini Earn Reddit
You can spend all day looking through “BlockFi vs. Gemini” threads on Reddit, many skewing in either direction. Although most appreciate its varied crypto offerings, Redditors are concerned that Gemini’s does not insure loans. Favor leans towards BlockFi for its 50% LTV policy, and higher BTC APY.
Both BlockFi and Gemini maintain a comprehensive knowledge base featuring FAQs and how-tos.
So far, Gemini has stood out for above-average customer service; you can contact Gemini customer service here.
Our experiences with BlockFi customer support so far have been well above average. You can contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Can You Trust BlockFi and Gemini Earn?
Your funds are not as safe in BlockFi or Gemini Earn as they would be in a traditional bank, which has FDIC insurance. Despite this, BlockFi’s measures to protect your stacks are comprehensive: from cold storage and comprehensive insurance with Gemini Trust to its 50% LTV policy. It certainly seems like BlockFi wants to keep your funds as safe as possible.
Gemini has positioned itself at the forefront of crypto safety with its platform regulated by NYDFS and certified by Deloitte. In response to concerns about fund safety considering the ToS of Gemini Earn, Gemini asserts that it vets its “trusted partners” through a risk management framework and always discloses them to users, so you know which institution has borrowed your funds.
Final Thoughts: Which is the Better Crypto Interest Account– BlockFi vs. Gemini
BlockFi offers tiered sign-up bonuses, relatively high APY (including that 5% APY on BTC and 8.6% on stablecoins), and it requires 50% LTV from its creditors.
Gemini is a paramount figure in the cryptocurrency space and has played a role in paving the way for fair regulation for cryptocurrency exchanges. The company has worked with regulators in NYC, a city notorious for its demanding regulatory environment. Its Gemini Earn is a newer product, but it carries the weight of the Gemini brand and organization.
Ultimately, despite being a new company, the BlockFi cryptocurrency interest account is more mature than that of Gemini. It has higher APYs, attractive signup tier bonuses, insured offline cold storage and hot wallets, and LTV safeguards for loans.
BlockFi and Gemini have parity in their security measures, and with higher APYs, BlockFi is the better cryptocurrency interest account.
However, Gemini’s more extensive coin offerings do give it a distinct advantage over BlockFi for holders of multiple and more obscure digital assets. We recommend you researching further into Gemini’s prospective creditors to determine whether it’s worth the risk.
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