What Are Equity Derivatives & Equity Options?

What Are Equity Derivatives?

Equity derivatives are trading instruments based on the price movements of underlying asset equity. These financial instruments include equity options, stock index futures, equity index swaps, and convertible bonds.

With an equity derivative, the investor doesn’t buy a stock, but rather the right to buy or sell a stock or basket of stocks. To buy those rights in the form of a derivative contract, the investor pays a fee, more commonly known as a premium.

How are Equity Derivatives Used?

The value of an equity derivative goes up or down depending on the price changes of the underlying asset. For this reason, investors sometimes buy equity derivatives — especially shorts, or put options — to manage the risks of their stock holdings.

4 Types of Equity Derivatives

1. Equity Options

Equity options are one form of equity derivatives. They allow purchasers to buy or sell a given stock within a predetermined time period at an agreed-upon price.

Because some equity derivatives offer the right to sell a stock at a given price, many investors will use a derivatives contract like an insurance policy. By purchasing a put option on a stock or a basket of stocks, can purchase some protection against losses in their investments.

Recommended: How to Trade Options

Not all put options are used as simple insurance against losses. Buying a put option on a stock is also called “shorting” the stock. And it’s used by some investors as a way to bet that a stock’s price will fall. Because a put option allows an investor to sell a stock at a predetermined price, known as a strike price, investors can benefit if the actual trading price of the stock falls below that level.

Call options, on the other hand, allow investors to buy a stock at a given price within an agreed-upon time period. As such, they’re often used by speculative investors as a way to take advantage of upward price movements in a stock, without actually purchasing the stock. But call options only have value if the price of the underlying stock is above the strike price of the contract when the option expires.

For options investors, the important thing to watch is the relationship between a stock’s price and the strike price of a given option, an options term sometimes called the “moneyness.” The varieties of moneyness are:

•   At-the-money (ATM). This is when the option’s strike price and the asset’s market price are the same.

•   Out-of-the-money (OTM). For a put option, OTM is when the strike price is lower than the asset’s market price. For a call option, OTM is when the strike price is higher than the asset’s market price.

•   In-the-money (ITM). For a put option, in-the-money is when the market price of the asset is lower than the option’s strike price. For a call option, ITM is when the market price of the asset is higher than the option’s strike price.

The goal of both put and call options is for the options to be ITM. When an option is ITM, the investor can exercise the option to make a profit. Also, when the option is ITM, the investor has the ability to resell the option without exercising it. But the premiums for buying an equity option can be high, and can eat away at an investor’s returns over time.

Recommended: How to Sell Options for Premium

2. Equity Futures

While an options contract grants the investor the ability, without the obligation, to purchase or sell a stock during an agreed-upon period for a predetermined price, an equity futures contract requires the contract holder to buy the shares.

A futures contract specifies the price and date at which the contract holder must buy the shares. For that reason, equity futures come with a different risk profile than equity options. While equity options are risky, equity futures are generally even riskier for the investor.

One reason is that, as the price of the stock underlying the futures contract moves up or down, the investor may be required to deposit more capital into their trading accounts to cover the possible liability they will face upon the contract’s expiration. That possible loss must be placed into the account at the end of each trading day, which may create a liquidity squeeze for futures investors.

Equity Index Futures and Equity Basket Derivatives

As a form of equity futures contract, an equity index futures contract is a derivative of the group of stocks that comprise a given index, such as the S&P 500, the Dow Jones Industrial Index, and the NASDAQ index. Investors can buy futures contracts on these indices and many others.

Being widely traded, equity index futures contracts come with a wide range of contract durations — from days to months. The futures contracts that track the most popular indices tend to be highly liquid, and investors will buy and sell them throughout the trading session.

Equity index futures contracts serve investors as a way to bet on the upward or downward motion of a large swath of the overall stock market over a fixed period of time. And investors may also use these contracts as a way to hedge the risk of losses in the portfolio of stocks that they own.

3. Equity Swaps

An equity swap is another form of equity derivative in which two traders will exchange the returns on two separate stocks, or equity indexes, over a period of time.

It’s a sophisticated way to manage risk while investing in equities, but this strategy may not be available for most investors. Swaps exist almost exclusively in the over-the-counter (OTC) markets and are traded almost exclusively between established institutional investors, who can customize the swaps based on the terms offered by the counterparty of the swap.

In addition to risk management and diversification, investors use equity swaps for diversification and tax benefits, as they allow the investor to avoid some of the risk of loss within their stock holdings without selling their positions. That’s because the counterparty of the swap will face the risk of those losses for the duration of the swap. Investors can enter into swaps for individual stocks, stock indices, or sometimes even for customized baskets of stocks.

4. Equity Basket Derivatives

Equity basket derivatives can help investors either speculate on the price movements or hedge against risks of a group of stocks. These baskets may contain futures, options, or swaps relating to a set of equities that aren’t necessarily in a known index. Unlike equity index futures, these highly customized baskets are traded exclusively in the OTC markets.

The Takeaway

Equity derivatives are trading instruments based on the price movements of underlying asset equity. Options, futures, and swaps are just a few ways that investors can gain access to the markets, or hedge the risks that they’re already taking.

For investors looking to build a portfolio or add to one, a SoFi Invest® account offers different options tailored to your investing personality. The active investing solution allows you to trade stocks and ETFs without paying commissions. And the automated investing solution invests your money for you based on your goals and risk, without charging a SoFi management fee.

Find out how to get started with SoFi Invest.

Photo credit: iStock/nortonrsx


Third Party Brand Mentions: No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs): Investors should carefully consider the information contained in the prospectus, which contains the Fund’s investment objectives, risks, charges, expenses, and other relevant information. You may obtain a prospectus from the Fund company’s website or by email customer service at [email protected] Please read the prospectus carefully prior to investing. Shares of ETFs must be bought and sold at market price, which can vary significantly from the Fund’s net asset value (NAV). Investment returns are subject to market volatility and shares may be worth more or less their original value when redeemed. The diversification of an ETF will not protect against loss. An ETF may not achieve its stated investment objective. Rebalancing and other activities within the fund may be subject to tax consequences.
SoFi Invest®
The information provided is not meant to provide investment or financial advice. Investment decisions should be based on an individual’s specific financial needs, goals and risk profile. SoFi can’t guarantee future financial performance. Advisory services offered through SoFi Wealth, LLC. SoFi Securities, LLC, member FINRA / SIPC . SoFi Invest refers to the three investment and trading platforms operated by Social Finance, Inc. and its affiliates (described below). Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of the platforms below.
1) Automated Investing—The Automated Investing platform is owned by SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC Registered Investment Advisor (“Sofi Wealth“). Brokerage services are provided to SoFi Wealth LLC by SoFi Securities LLC, an affiliated SEC registered broker dealer and member FINRA/SIPC, (“Sofi Securities).
2) Active Investing—The Active Investing platform is owned by SoFi Securities LLC. Clearing and custody of all securities are provided by APEX Clearing Corporation.
3) Cryptocurrency is offered by SoFi Digital Assets, LLC, a FinCEN registered Money Service Business.
For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above, including state licensure of Sofi Digital Assets, LLC, please visit www.sofi.com/legal. Neither the Investment Advisor Representatives of SoFi Wealth, nor the Registered Representatives of SoFi Securities are compensated for the sale of any product or service sold through any SoFi Invest platform. Information related to lending products contained herein should not be construed as an offer or pre-qualification for any loan product offered by SoFi Lending Corp and/or its affiliates.
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What Is Yield Farming in Crypto & DeFi? How Does It Work?

What Is Yield Farming in Crypto & DeFi?

Yield farming involves lending crypto in exchange for high returns, also called yield, typically paid out in crypto. It requires a liquidity pool (smart contract) and a liquidity provider (an investor).

Yield farming has been one of the biggest factors driving the growth of decentralized finance (DeFi), blockchain-based platforms providing financial services, such as borrowing and lending, without a centralized authority like a traditional bank or lender.

What is Yield Farming?

Yield farming crypto protocols reward liquidity providers (LPs) for locking up their crypto in a liquidity pool governed by smart contracts. In this way, the LPs are effectively lending their crypto. The rewards generally come in one of three forms:

•  A percentage of transaction fees

•  Interest from lenders

•  A governance token

Regardless of the method of payout, returns are expressed as an annual percentage yield (APY). The more funds added to the pool by investors, the lower the value of the issued returns will fall.

In the early days of yield farming, most investors staked stablecoins like USDC, DAI, or USDT. But today, the most well-known DeFi protocols run atop the Ethereum network and provide governance tokens as an incentive for “liquidity mining.” In exchange for providing liquidity to decentralized exchanges (DEXs), tokens are farmed in liquidity pools.

With liquidity mining, yield farming participants earn token rewards as an additional form of compensation. This type of incentive gained traction when the Compound network began issuing COMP, its rapidly appreciating governance token, to users of its platform.

The majority of yield farming protocols today reward liquidity providers in the form of governance tokens. Most of these tokens can be traded on centralized and decentralized exchanges alike.

How Does Yield Farming Work?

Yield farming uses an order-matching system known as the automated market maker (AMM) model.

The AMM model, which powers most decentralized exchanges, does away with the traditional order book, which would contain all “bid” and “ask” (buy and sell) orders on an exchange. Rather than stating the current market price of an asset, an AMM conjures liquidity pools through smart contracts. The pools then execute trades according to preset algorithms.

This DeFi yield farming method relies on liquidity providers to deposit funds into liquidity pools. These pools provide funding for DeFi users to borrow, lend, and swap tokens. Users pay trading fees, which are shared with liquidity pools based on how much liquidity they provide to the pool.

How to Calculate Returns in APY

Estimated DeFi yield farming returns are calculated on an annual basis. The key word here is “estimated,” because interest rates can change dramatically over the course of the year, or even the course of one week.

There’s no particular method to calculate exactly how much APY a protocol will earn. Word tends to spread quickly about a yield farming strategy that earns high returns. The masses then rush in, pushing down yields.

There’s another variable factor: the token in which rewards are denominated. If investors are paid in the form of a DeFi token of some kind, and that token drops in value relative to other currencies, even high percentage gains could be reduced or wiped out.

Yield Farming vs Staking

Staking is different from yield farming. Proof-of-stake (PoS) tokens allow users to become transaction “validators” who confirm transactions on the network by locking up tokens for a set period of time. In exchange, users earn interest on their tokens.

While both staking and yield farming involve depositing tokens and earning a kind of crypto dividend (which is why the terms “staking” and “locking up tokens” are sometimes used interchangeably), what’s going on behind the scenes is much different in each case.

Staking crypto involves validating network transactions and earning a portion of newly minted block rewards. This action happens directly on the blockchain of the network of the token being staked. Staking serves the same function on PoS networks as mining does on proof-of-work networks — that of achieving consensus. Through staking, all nodes in a network agree on which transactions are valid.

Yield farming is participating in a decentralized financial product, earning interest on crypto that has been loaned out to someone else. These transactions are facilitated by smart contracts, most commonly on the Ethereum network.

What Are the Risks of Yield Farming?

This application of DeFi is as risky as it is volatile. At best, LPs might find themselves earning far less interest than expected, since rates can swing upwards or downwards quickly. At worst, they can lose everything they invested — in some cases thanks to hackers, and in other cases to what’s known as a “rug pull” scheme.

How Can Yield Farming be Hacked?

Software-related vulnerabilities can lead to hacking. For example, in 2020 Harvest Finance was hacked when flaws in the smart contracts used to govern the protocols were exploited by attackers. It resulted in more than $420 million of investor funds being lost. Those funds can never be recovered and there is no regulatory authority that investors can appeal to.

What is a “Rug Pull” Scheme?

A rug pull involves a group of people creating a seemingly promising new platform that is in fact a scheme to steal user funds. Once enough unsuspecting liquidity providers have bought into the scam by depositing tokens, the protocol goes offline — and the creators make off with all the invested funds. Investors lose everything and have no recourse. Simply search for the term “defi rug pull” and a long list of related stories will come up.

Beyond the risk of hacks and schemes, there are also additional risks like high gas fees, the complexity of interacting with the protocols themselves, and the fact that DeFi applications depend on several underlying applications to work correctly. If something goes wrong on any layer, it could disrupt the whole thing.

Is Yield Farming Right for Me?

Yield farming is likely to appeal to a very select group of people — those who have both the required technical skill and high risk tolerance.

If you’re reading an introductory article on the idea of yield farming, chances are it’s not for you. This kind of risk-taking isn’t for crypto beginners or those who can’t risk losing much capital.

Recommended: A Beginner’s Guide to Cryptocurrency

Even billionaire and “Shark Tank” star Marc Cuban lost an investment in the Iron Finance protocol when their stablecoin dropped to 0.

The Takeaway

Yield farming can be a high-risk, high-reward venture for the curious, tech-minded few who are comfortable with the possibility of losing their principal investment.

Since the summer of 2020, when DeFi was at the height of its popularity, enthusiasm has waned somewhat. Tales of extravagant returns have been tempered by tragedies of hacks and rug pulls.

For investors curious about crypto, trading cryptocurrency is another way to invest in this sector. With SoFi Invest®, investors can trade dozens of cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Litecoin, Cardano, Dogecoin, Solana, Enjin Coin, and Ethereum.

Find out how to get started with SoFi Invest.

Photo credit: iStock/PeopleImages


SoFi Invest®
The information provided is not meant to provide investment or financial advice. Investment decisions should be based on an individual’s specific financial needs, goals and risk profile. SoFi can’t guarantee future financial performance. Advisory services offered through SoFi Wealth, LLC. SoFi Securities, LLC, member FINRA / SIPC . SoFi Invest refers to the three investment and trading platforms operated by Social Finance, Inc. and its affiliates (described below). Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of the platforms below.
1) Automated Investing—The Automated Investing platform is owned by SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC Registered Investment Advisor (“Sofi Wealth“). Brokerage services are provided to SoFi Wealth LLC by SoFi Securities LLC, an affiliated SEC registered broker dealer and member FINRA/SIPC, (“Sofi Securities).
2) Active Investing—The Active Investing platform is owned by SoFi Securities LLC. Clearing and custody of all securities are provided by APEX Clearing Corporation.
3) Cryptocurrency is offered by SoFi Digital Assets, LLC, a FinCEN registered Money Service Business.
For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above, including state licensure of Sofi Digital Assets, LLC, please visit www.sofi.com/legal. Neither the Investment Advisor Representatives of SoFi Wealth, nor the Registered Representatives of SoFi Securities are compensated for the sale of any product or service sold through any SoFi Invest platform. Information related to lending products contained herein should not be construed as an offer or pre-qualification for any loan product offered by SoFi Lending Corp and/or its affiliates.
Crypto: Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies aren’t endorsed or guaranteed by any government, are volatile, and involve a high degree of risk. Consumer protection and securities laws don’t regulate cryptocurrencies to the same degree as traditional brokerage and investment products. Research and knowledge are essential prerequisites before engaging with any cryptocurrency. US regulators, including FINRA , the SEC , and the CFPB , have issued public advisories concerning digital asset risk. Cryptocurrency purchases should not be made with funds drawn from financial products including student loans, personal loans, mortgage refinancing, savings, retirement funds or traditional investments. Limitations apply to trading certain crypto assets and may not be available to residents of all states.
Third Party Brand Mentions: No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
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What Are Liquid Assets?

Liquid assets are any assets that can be easily and quickly converted into cash. In fact, people often refer to liquid assets as cash or cash equivalents, because they know that the asset can be exchanged for actual cash without losing value.

Here’s a look at which assets are considered liquid — and which are not — and why liquid investments are important.

What Makes an Asset Liquid?

What is a liquid investment, and where does it fit into your financial picture? First it helps to understand liquidity. While you might own any number of valuable assets (e.g., your home, retirement accounts, collectibles), and these can be considered part of your overall net worth, only liquid assets can generate cash quickly, when circumstances demand it.

For an asset to be considered liquid it must be traded on a well-established market with a large number of buyers and sellers, and it must be relatively easy to transfer ownership. Think: stocks, bonds, mutual funds and other marketable securities.

Generally, you can sell stocks and obtain cash readily. By contrast, you probably couldn’t sell your home that fast, and even if you could there are a number of factors that might influence how much cash value you might obtain from the sale.

To recap: The number of willing market players, high trading volumes, and easy transfers mean that liquid investments can be sold for cash quickly and without losing much value in the process. And although cash and cash equivalents pose very little risk of loss, they also have little or no capacity for growth.

What Investments Are Considered Liquid Assets?

As you can see, the primary advantage of liquid assets is that they can be converted to cash in a short period of time. For example, stock trades must be settled within three days, according to Securities and Exchange Commission rules. Here are other assets that are considered liquid:

Examples of liquid assets

•   Stocks. Stocks are often considered liquid assets because they can be converted into cash when you sell them. Keep in mind, though, that the most liquid stocks might be the ones that many people want to buy and sell. You may have a more difficult time liquidating stocks that are in lower demand.

•   U.S. Treasuries and bonds. These instruments are relatively easy to buy and sell, and are usually done so in high volume. They have a wide range of maturity dates, which helps you to figure out when you want to liquidate them. Because U.S. Treasuries are often considered relatively safe and dependable, the interest rates are somewhat lower and could be a good fit for investors who are looking to mitigate risk.

•   Mutual funds. Mutual funds are pooled investment vehicles that hold a diversified basket of stocks, bonds, or other investments.

   Open-end mutual funds are considered more liquid than closed-end funds because they have no limit on the number of shares they can generate, and investors can sell their shares back to the fund at any time.

   Closed-end mutual funds, on the other hand, are less common. These funds raise capital from investors via an IPO; after that, the number of shares are fixed, and no new shares are created. Instead, closed-end funds shares can only be bought and sold on an exchange, and thus are considered less liquid than open-end fund shares because they’re more subject to market demand.

•   Exchange-traded funds and index funds. Like mutual funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and index funds allow individuals to invest in a diversified basket of investments. ETFs are traded like stocks, throughout the day on the open market, which makes them somewhat more liquid than index funds, which only trade at the end of the day.

•   Money market assets. There are two main types of money market assets:

◦   A money market fund is a type of mutual fund that invests in high-quality short-term debt, cash and cash equivalents. It’s considered low-risk and offers low yields, and therefore thought of as relatively safe. You can cash in your chips at any time, making money-market funds a liquid investment.

◦   Money market funds are different from money market accounts, which are a type of FDIC-insured savings account.

•   Certificates of deposit. If you have money in a certificate of deposit or CD, this might be considered semi-liquid because your money isn’t available until the official withdrawal date. You can withdraw money if you need it, but if you’re doing so before the maturity date, you’ll likely pay a penalty.

What Assets Are Considered Non-Liquid?

There are, of course, many assets that are not easy to liquidate quickly. These assets typically take a long time to sell or for the deal to close. You’ll get your money, but most likely not right away, and there may be time or costs associated with the conversion to cash that could impact the final amount. That’s why assets like these are considered illiquid or non-liquid assets.

Examples of non-liquid assets

•   Collectibles. Items like jewelry and art work, and hobby collections like stamps and baseball cards may be hard to value and difficult to sell.

•   Employee stock options. While stock options can be a valuable form of compensation for employees, they may also be highly illiquid. That’s because employees must typically remain with a company for years before their options vest, they exercise them and they finally own the stock.

•   Land and real estate. These investments often require negotiation and contracts that can tie up real estate transactions for weeks, if not months.

•   Private equity. There are often strict restrictions about when you can sell shares if you’ve invested in private equity assets such as venture capital funds.

Liquid Assets in Business

If you’re running a business, accounts receivable — the money you’re owed from clients — are often considered to be a liquid asset, because you can typically expect to be paid within one year of the billing.

Any inventory you have on hand, such as office furniture or a product you’re selling, can also be considered liquid, because you could sell them for cash if need be. The liquid assets on your company balance sheet usually list cash first, followed by other assets that are considered liquid, in order of liquidity.

Having more liquid assets is desirable because it indicates that a company can pay off debt more easily. When businesses need to determine how cash liquid they are, they often look at the amount of their net liquid assets. When all current debts and liabilities are paid off, whatever remains is considered their liquid assets.

Are Retirement Accounts like IRAs and 401(k)s Liquid Assets?

Retirement accounts, such as Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) and 401(k)s are not really liquid until you’ve reached age 59 ½. Withdraw funds from your account before then and you may face taxes and a 10% early withdrawal penalty.

What’s more, you can hold a variety of assets inside retirement accounts. For example, if you hold a money-market fund inside your IRA, that is a liquid asset. But you could also hold real estate, which very much isn’t.

Reasons Why Liquid Assets Matter

Other than the most obvious reason, which is that cash gives you a great deal of flexibility and can be essential in a crisis, liquid assets serve a number of purposes.

•   Calculating net worth: To calculate your net worth, subtract your liabilities (your debt) from your assets (what you own, which can include your liquid assets).

•   Applying for loans: Lenders might look at your liquid assets when you apply for a mortgage, car loan, or home equity loan. If your liquid assets are high, you may get better terms or lower interest rates on your loans. Lenders want to know that if you were to lose your job or your income you would be able to continue to pay back the loan using your liquid assets.

•   Business interests: Having liquid assets on your balance sheet is a signal that your business is prepared for an emergency or a market shift that could require a cash infusion.

Are All Liquid Assets Taxable?

While income is money you earn or receive, an asset is something of value you possess that can be converted to cash at some point in the future. Thus owning an asset doesn’t make it taxable, but converting it to actual cash would, in most cases.

The IRS has many rules around how the proceeds from the sale of assets can be taxed.

The IRS considers taxable income to include gains from stocks, interest from bonds, dividends, alimony, and more. Gains on the sale of a home might be taxed, depending on the amount of the gain and marital status. If you aren’t sure whether income from the sale of an asset is taxable, it might be wise to consult a professional.

Is It Smart to Keep Cashing In Liquid Assets?

The point of maintaining a portion of your assets in liquid investments is partly for flexibility and also for diversification. The more access to cash you have, the more prepared you are to navigate a sudden change in circumstances, whether an emergency expense or an investment opportunity.

Having a portion of your portfolio in cash or cash equivalents can also be a hedge against volatility.

Thus, it may be worth keeping a mix of both liquid and non-liquid assets to help you reach your financial goals. And while cashing in liquid assets might be necessary, it’s also prudent to keep enough cash on hand, in case you need it.

There is no set formula for every investor’s situation, but beginning investors may want to focus on gathering a few months of liquid assets for the sole purpose of emergencies and unexpected expenses.

How Liquid Are You?

To figure out how liquid you are, make a list of all your monthly expenses, from rent/mortgage on down, even your streaming service subscription. Then, make a list of all your liquid assets and investments (being careful to pay attention to the definition of liquid assets vs. illiquid assets, as it can be confusing).

Then, total all your monthly expenses, and compare that sum to the liquid assets in your possession.

Does your total savings cover six months worth of monthly expenses? If so, congrats! If not, you’re not very liquid. Don’t despair, though. There are ways to build more liquidity.

Where to Start Building Liquid Assets

As you start to build your liquid assets, first consider saving a cash cushion in the form of an emergency fund, which should be enough to cover any unexpected expenses that might come along. Envision how much you might need in the event of a crisis (e.g., a job loss, divorce, health event, and so on).

Aim to save three to six months worth of expenses to cover basic bills, repairs, insurance premiums and copays, as well as any other personal or medical expenses.

One good way to build liquidity is to set money aside every week, month, or have a set savings amount auto-deducted from each paycheck. The digital age has made it easier than ever to put automatic deductions in place. Simple savings or checking accounts can be a good place to start.

From there, you may consider opening a retirement account or a taxable brokerage account where you can invest in potentially more lucrative liquid investments, such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds and ETFs.

The Takeaway

Liquid assets are simple enough on the surface. Unlike illiquid or non-liquid assets that can keep your money tied up and can be hard to sell (like a home, a car, collectibles), liquid assets can be converted into cash relatively easily — typically with little or no loss in value. Liquid assets can include cash equivalents like money market accounts, or marketable securities like stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and ETFs.

Liquid investments can play a surprisingly important role in your portfolio (as an individual investor) or your business.

While cash and cash equivalents can be relatively safe, they also offer more flexibility — which can be essential in life and in business. Having ready access to cash can help you pay off debt, cover a crisis, or be able to invest in new opportunities.

To start building more liquidity, you need access to an account like SoFi Money® — a cash management account that can hold your cash savings. You pay no annual, overdraft, or other account fees.

You can sign up for SoFi Money right on your phone. In fact, your phone allows you to make mobile transfers, photo check deposits, and access customer service. Your SoFi Money account is FDIC-insured up to $1.5 million, with additional protection against fraud.

Check out SoFi Money today!


​​SoFi Money®
SoFi Money is a cash management account, which is a brokerage product, offered by SoFi Securities LLC, member FINRA / SIPC .
Neither SoFi nor its affiliates is a bank. SoFi Money Debit Card issued by The Bancorp Bank. SoFi has partnered with Allpoint to provide consumers with ATM access at any of the 55,000+ ATMs within the Allpoint network. Consumers will not be charged a fee when using an in-network ATM, however, third party fees incurred when using out-of-network ATMs are not subject to reimbursement. SoFi’s ATM policies are subject to change at our discretion at any time.
Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs): Investors should carefully consider the information contained in the prospectus, which contains the Fund’s investment objectives, risks, charges, expenses, and other relevant information. You may obtain a prospectus from the Fund company’s website or by email customer service at [email protected] Please read the prospectus carefully prior to investing. Shares of ETFs must be bought and sold at market price, which can vary significantly from the Fund’s net asset value (NAV). Investment returns are subject to market volatility and shares may be worth more or less their original value when redeemed. The diversification of an ETF will not protect against loss. An ETF may not achieve its stated investment objective. Rebalancing and other activities within the fund may be subject to tax consequences.
Each business day, cash deposits in SoFi Money cash management accounts are swept to one or more sweep program banks where it earns a variable interest rate and is eligible for FDIC insurance. FDIC Insurance does not immediately apply. Coverage begins when funds arrive at a program bank, usually within two business days of deposit. There are currently six banks available to accept these deposits, making customers eligible for up to $1,500,000 of FDIC insurance (six banks, $250,000 per bank). If the number of available banks changes, or you elect not to use, and/or have existing assets at, one or more of the available banks, the actual amount could be lower. For more information on FDIC insurance coverage, please visit www.FDIC.gov . Customers are responsible for monitoring their total assets at each Program Banks to determine the extent of available FDIC insurance coverage in accordance with FDIC rules. The deposits in SoFi Money or at Program Banks are not covered by SIPC.
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What is SushiSwap (SUSHI)? How to Buy SUSHI

Guide to Investing in Sushi Swap (SUSHI)

Behind every new cryptocurrency these days, there’s typically an old one. One classic example is when Bitcoin Cash split off from Bitcoin. In the volatile and dynamic world of DeFi (decentralized finance), consider SushiSwap forking from Uniswap, one of the biggest and most valuable decentralized cryptocurrency exchanges.

SushiSwap is one of the fastest growing and most exciting types of cryptocurrency. Here, we’ll explore what it is, how it works, and whether it’s a good crypto investment.

What is SushiSwap (SUSHI) Cryptocurrency?

SushiSwap, a decentralized cryptocurrency exchange, is run on smart contracts. Individuals can trade cryptocurrency with each other using the Ethereum blockchain. The Sushi coin is a token that allows its holders to make decisions about how SushiSwap is run.

This is different from how more mainstream, centralized cryptocurrency exchanges operate. How those cryptocurrency exchanges work is not that different from a traditional brokerage: you set up an account, load it up with money, and buy an asset — with the exchange taking either a fee or the “spread” between how much the asset is selling for and how much people are willing to pay for it (or sometimes both).

Decentralized exchanges like SushiSwap try to live up to cryptocurrency’s anarchic ethos by building a framework for people to exchange cryptocurrency with each other. One way this happens is by “liquidity mining”, where users contribute cryptocurrency they own to “pools” (pairs of crypto that can be traded on the exchange) in return for fees from the platform or, in this case, Sushi. Conceptually, this is similar to Bitcoin mining, but it typically happens on Ethereum-based blockchains and in some ways is also analogous to how banking works.

Recommended: What is a Decentralized Exchange (DEX)?

SushiSwap incentivizes users to provide liquidity for certain token pairs so that they’re available to traders on the platforms by adjusting how much they get paid out in fees. The pairs are usually Ether and another token.

Governance is another defining feature of Sushi crypto. The Sushi token enables its holders to vote on platform policy and technological choices.

How Does the SUSHI Token Work?

The Sushi token works as an incentive for staking SushiSwap with cryptocurrency pairs that can then be exchanged by its users. By staking your crypto, you get paid out in Sushi as well as fees from the exchange itself. You can also buy and sell Sushi itself.

SUSHI Price

Despite only being around for less than two years, Sushi has taken a wild ride in terms of price. As of September 30, 2021, it was the 76th most valuable token on CoinMarketCap and was trading at nearly $11. It had been priced as low as 49 cents late 2020 and as high as $23 in March of this year. The token has a market cap of $1.4 billion.

Because SushiSwap underlies a whole ecosystem of tokens, there are other relevant statistics besides the price of the Sushi token. One should also look at the whole sushi exchange universe, including SushiSwap. There’s about $4.3 billion of “total value locked” on SushiSwap, representing the value of assets staked on the platform.

Recommended: Top 30 Cryptocurrencies in 2021 (Based on Market Cap)

History of SushiSwap

SushiSwap grew out of the most prominent DeFi exchange, Uniswap, in 2020. The Uniswap developer, “Chef Nomi,” explicitly designed SushiSwap to reward Uniswap users who migrated to the fork.

But controversy soon followed. Nomi admitted to and apologized for extracting $14 million worth of Ether from the platform before returning it to the crypto wallet used for the platform. This led to a major crash in the price of the Sushi token that it didn’t recover from until earlier this year. This disrupted what had been a shockingly successful and fast launch for the project.

Since then, the governance of SushiSwap has been overhauled and it has more than made back the losses it earned from its early developer errors.

What Can You Use SUSHI For?

The primary use for Sushi is on SushiSwap, as a reward for staking crypto to make its decentralized exchange function. Additionally, owning Sushi allows holders the right to vote on decisions regarding how the exchange functions.

As with any cryptocurrency or token, when people decide to invest in SUSHI it’s because they think it will go up in value. This is part of the basics of investing in crypto. Before buying, selling, or trading crypto, investors should become familiar with crypto rules and regulations. For example, Sushi can’t be bought in every U.S. State.

Is SUSHI Crypto a Good Investment?

Interest in DeFi platforms and associated tokens is exploding, and SushiSwap is poised to be part of that. There are two main reasons for this:

1.    People want to trade tokens with each other in a way that doesn’t involve direct use of centralized exchanges and fiat currency.

2.    They see the associated tokens as good investments.

On the other hand, this increased interest means there is fierce competition between platforms for staking, liquidity, and token investment. SushiSwap is perhaps the best example of the risks of investing in a given DeFi platform — it was itself a clone that explicitly tried to suck away liquidity from an earlier platform and was rocked by an early scandal with one of its lead developers.

In the wild west of DeFi, software products can spring up very quickly. And because the field is so new, there’s little brand or institutional loyalty among customers, users, and other stakeholders.

Recommended: Beginner’s Guide to Decentralized Finance (DeFi)

How and Where to Buy SUSHI Cryptocurrency

There are two ways to acquire Sushi.

The first is through an exchange that lets you buy cryptocurrencies with U.S. dollars or other fiat currencies. You fill an account with dollars and buy the corresponding crypto. Some exchanges that allow you to buy Sushi are Kraken and Coinbase. Some exchanges also let you trade mainstream, establish cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin for coins like Sushi.

Second, there’s the more native way to earn Sushi. You can connect your existing crypto wallet to
SushiSwap
to provide liquidity to the exchange and receive Sushi as a reward.

The Takeaway

SushiSwap is a decentralized cryptocurrency exchange run on the Ethereum blockchain. It encourages staking by incentivizing users with Sushi tokens. And in turn, Sushi tokens offer governance to holders, so they can vote on platform policy and technology.

Before investing in any cryptocurrency, it can be helpful to read a cryptocurrency guide. The world of crypto is dynamic and can sometimes be counter-intuitive. Doing your own research is always worthwhile.

Whether you’re considering building a crypto portfolio or just starting small with one cryptocurrency, SoFi Invest® offers trading on crypto like Sushi, Solana, Enjin Coin, Bitcoin, Cardano, Litecoin, and more.

Find out how to get started with SoFi Invest.

Photo credit: iStock/Михаил Руденко


SoFi Invest®
The information provided is not meant to provide investment or financial advice. Investment decisions should be based on an individual’s specific financial needs, goals and risk profile. SoFi can’t guarantee future financial performance. Advisory services offered through SoFi Wealth, LLC. SoFi Securities, LLC, member FINRA / SIPC . SoFi Invest refers to the three investment and trading platforms operated by Social Finance, Inc. and its affiliates (described below). Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of the platforms below.
1) Automated Investing—The Automated Investing platform is owned by SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC Registered Investment Advisor (“Sofi Wealth“). Brokerage services are provided to SoFi Wealth LLC by SoFi Securities LLC, an affiliated SEC registered broker dealer and member FINRA/SIPC, (“Sofi Securities).
2) Active Investing—The Active Investing platform is owned by SoFi Securities LLC. Clearing and custody of all securities are provided by APEX Clearing Corporation.
3) Cryptocurrency is offered by SoFi Digital Assets, LLC, a FinCEN registered Money Service Business.
For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above, including state licensure of Sofi Digital Assets, LLC, please visit www.sofi.com/legal. Neither the Investment Advisor Representatives of SoFi Wealth, nor the Registered Representatives of SoFi Securities are compensated for the sale of any product or service sold through any SoFi Invest platform. Information related to lending products contained herein should not be construed as an offer or pre-qualification for any loan product offered by SoFi Lending Corp and/or its affiliates.
Crypto: Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies aren’t endorsed or guaranteed by any government, are volatile, and involve a high degree of risk. Consumer protection and securities laws don’t regulate cryptocurrencies to the same degree as traditional brokerage and investment products. Research and knowledge are essential prerequisites before engaging with any cryptocurrency. US regulators, including FINRA , the SEC , and the CFPB , have issued public advisories concerning digital asset risk. Cryptocurrency purchases should not be made with funds drawn from financial products including student loans, personal loans, mortgage refinancing, savings, retirement funds or traditional investments. Limitations apply to trading certain crypto assets and may not be available to residents of all states.
Third Party Brand Mentions: No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
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Guide to Crypto Staking What it is, How it works, and How to Get Started_780x440

Guide to Crypto Staking: What it is, How it works, and How to Get Started

Generally, when investors contemplate investing in cryptocurrencies, they think about either mining crypto or purchasing it outright on a crypto exchange. But crypto staking—or staking coins, as it’s often called—is another viable alternative for the crypto-curious to get assets in their crypto wallets.

While “staking” may be a relatively new addition to the financial lexicon, it’s important for those interested in crypto investing to understand what it is, how it works, and what cryptocurrencies it can be used to obtain.

Crypto staking may feel like it’s a step beyond simply learning how to buy Bitcoin or how a crypto exchange works, but learning about cryptocurrency staking can broaden your knowledge, making you a more informed investor.

This article will run through it all, from staking basics to the platforms investors can use for staking coins.

What is Staking in Crypto?

Crypto staking is the process of locking up crypto holdings in order to obtain rewards or earn interest. Cryptocurrencies are built with blockchain technology, in which crypto transactions are verified, and the resulting data is stored on the blockchain. Staking is another way to describe validating those transactions on a blockchain.

Depending on the types of cryptocurrency you’re working with and its supporting technologies, these validation processes are called “proof-of-stake” or “proof-of-work.” Each of these processes help crypto networks achieve consensus, or confirmation that all of the transaction data adds up to what it should.

But achieving that consensus requires participants. That’s what staking is—investors who actively hold onto, or lock up their crypto holdings in their crypto wallet are participating in these networks’ consensus-taking processes. Stakers are, in essence, approving and verifying transactions on the blockchain.

For doing so, the networks reward those investors. The specific rewards will depend on the network.

It may be helpful to think of crypto staking as similar to depositing cash in a savings account. The depositor earns interest on their money while it’s in the bank, as a reward from the bank, who uses the money for other purposes (lending, etc.). Staking coins is, then, similar to earning interest.

Recommended: Proof of Stake, Explained

How Crypto Staking Works

For the investor, crypto staking is a passive activity. When a crypto investor stakes their holdings (in other words, leaves them in their crypto wallet), the network can use those holdings to forge new blocks on the blockchain. The more crypto you’re staking, the better the odds are that your holdings will be selected.

Information is “written” into the new block, and the investor’s holdings are used to validate it. Since coins already have “baked in” data from the blockchain, they can be used as validators. Then, for allowing those holdings to be used as validators, the network rewards the staker.

Pros & Cons of Staking Coins

Because staking coins is a passive form of investment, there is little downside. But it helps to consider the block rewards associated with staking coins you hold, as well as to recognize the volatility of cryptocurrency in general—if the value of the coin drops, that would impact the value of your staking interest earned.

Popular Crypto Staking Coins

Just a few years ago, the entire concept of proof-of-stake consensus was still relatively new, and options for staking coins were few and far between.

Today in 2021, a growing number of projects are utilizing PoS and some exchanges are making it easier than ever for users to earn crypto by staking their coins.

Here is a list of common proof-of-stake coins, along with annual average yield, expressed as a percentage of the amount of cryptocurrency staked.

1. Ethereum (ETH)

Ethereum (ETH) has become one of the most popular cryptocurrencies on the market—although it is not exactly a cryptocurrency itself. Staking Ethereum on your own will require a minimum of 32 ETH. Rewards vary, but it’s expected that the rate of return on Ethereum staking is 5-17% per year.

2. EOS

EOS is similar to Ethereum in that it’s used to support decentralized programs. EOS tokens are native to the EOS blockchain, and like other cryptos, can be staked to earn rewards. As of late April 2021, the expected rate of return for EOS staking is 3.2%.

3. Tezos (XTZ)

Like EOS and Ethereum, Tezos (XTZ) is an open-source blockchain network with its own native currency, with a symbol of XTZ. And it, too, can be staked on certain platforms and networks. The current expected rate of return for Tezos staking is around 6%.

4. Cosmos (ATOM)

Cosmos (ATOM) calls itself the “internet of blockchains.” The team behind the project hopes to bring different blockchains together, allowing them to transact with one another. This idea is known as “interoperability.”

Coinbase, Binance, and Kraken support ATOM staking.

At the time of writing in mid-2021, ATOM staking yields about 7% annually.

5. Cardano (ADA)

Cardano is a smart-contract platform much like Ethereum. But Cardano is a multi-layered platform, with one later for the transaction of the ADA coin (the digital currency that fuels the Cardano proof-of-stake network) and another layer for the development of decentralized applications (dApps).

Cardano prides itself on using scientifically tested theories based on peer-reviewed research for its development.

Binance supports ADA staking, with yields of up to 24% at the time of writing in mid-2021.

6. Polkadot (DOT)

Polkadot is a newer cryptocurrency, created in August 2020. Similar to Cosmos, Polkadot hopes to provide interoperability, and is designed to support “parachains,” or different blockchains created by different developers.

The Kraken crypto exchange supports staking for DOT.

At the time of writing in mid-2021, DOT staking yields about 12% annually.

Investors would do well to remember that while these above yields may sound high when compared to traditional financial markets, the risk is also quite high, as the coins could quickly lose value.

How to Stake Crypto in 5 Steps

To start crypto staking, an investor needs to decide where and what they want to stake. Here are five simple steps to get started.

Step 1: Choose a crypto or coin to stake

To begin staking cryptocurrency independently, a user would have to decide which coin they want to stake and buy their cryptocurrency of choice.

Step 2: Learn the minimum staking requirements

ETH, for example, requires a minimum of 32 ETH (worth about $47,000 at the time of writing) for users to begin staking.

Step 3: Download the software wallet for the desired coin

Choose and download a crypto wallet in which to store your coins for staking. That may mean going directly to the specific crypto’s main website and downloading its corresponding wallet.

Step 4: Figure out what hardware to use

To stake crypto, users need a constant, uninterrupted internet connection. A standard desktop computer will likely do the job, although a Raspberry Pi might save on electrical costs.

Step 5: Begin staking

Once the hardware has been chosen and the software wallet downloaded, a user can get started staking cryptocurrency.

Tip:The native tokens of the Tezos and Cosmos networks can be staked automatically when a user holds those coins in a wallet hosted by Coinbase, for example.

For those holding the appropriate crypto in an exchange-hosted crypto wallet, the exchange handles all the staking on the backend, and users simply have to hold the crypto in their wallets.

Where to Stake Crypto

There are numerous platforms that allow users to start staking coins, and quickly.

There are big-name platforms that most crypto investors are probably familiar with, including Coinbase and Kraken, which allow users to stake coins. On exchanges like these, investors must opt in to staking in order to benefit from rewards.

Enterprising stakers could also look at “staking-as-a-service” providers—which specialize in staking, rather than exchanging. Examples of those platforms include MyContainer, Stake Capital, and Staked.

It’s important to note that each of these platforms will have different offerings, rules, and fees. It’s worth the time spent researching a few to make sure your goals align with a certain platform before you jump in.

Is Crypto Staking Profitable?

Anyone can earn crypto by staking cryptocurrency. But unless someone is sitting on a huge stash of proof-of-stake coins, they’re not likely to get rich from staking.

Staking rewards are similar to stock dividend payouts, in that both are a form of passive income. They don’t require a user to do anything other than holding the right assets in the right place for a given length of time. The longer a user stakes their coins, the greater profit potential there will be in general, thanks to compound interest.

But unlike dividends, there are a few variables particular to proof-of-stake coins that influence how much of a staking reward users are likely to receive. Users would do well to research these factors and more when searching for the most profitable staking coins:

•   How big the block reward is

•   The size of the staking pool

•   The amount of supply locked

Additionally, the fiat currency value of the coin being staked must also be taken into account. Assuming this value remains steady or rises, staking could potentially be profitable. But if the price of the coin falls, profits could diminish quickly.

The Takeaway

Staking is a way to use your crypto holdings or coins to earn additional rewards. It can be helpful to think of it as along the lines of generating interest on cash savings, or earning dividends on stock holdings.

Essentially, coin holders allow their crypto to be used as a part of the blockchain validation process, and are rewarded by the network for the use of their assets. For crypto investors, staking can open up another potential avenue to generating returns.

Crypto piquing your interest? With crypto trading from SoFi Invest®, you can trade crypto like Ethereum, Bitcoin, Litecoin and more, 24/7 in the SoFi app.

Find out how to invest in crypto with SoFi Invest.



SoFi Invest®
The information provided is not meant to provide investment or financial advice. Investment decisions should be based on an individual’s specific financial needs, goals and risk profile. SoFi can’t guarantee future financial performance. Advisory services offered through SoFi Wealth, LLC. SoFi Securities, LLC, member FINRA / SIPC . SoFi Invest refers to the three investment and trading platforms operated by Social Finance, Inc. and its affiliates (described below). Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of the platforms below.
1) Automated Investing—The Automated Investing platform is owned by SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC Registered Investment Advisor (“Sofi Wealth“). Brokerage services are provided to SoFi Wealth LLC by SoFi Securities LLC, an affiliated SEC registered broker dealer and member FINRA/SIPC, (“Sofi Securities).
2) Active Investing—The Active Investing platform is owned by SoFi Securities LLC. Clearing and custody of all securities are provided by APEX Clearing Corporation.
3) Cryptocurrency is offered by SoFi Digital Assets, LLC, a FinCEN registered Money Service Business.
For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above, including state licensure of Sofi Digital Assets, LLC, please visit www.sofi.com/legal. Neither the Investment Advisor Representatives of SoFi Wealth, nor the Registered Representatives of SoFi Securities are compensated for the sale of any product or service sold through any SoFi Invest platform. Information related to lending products contained herein should not be construed as an offer or pre-qualification for any loan product offered by SoFi Lending Corp and/or its affiliates.
Crypto: Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies aren’t endorsed or guaranteed by any government, are volatile, and involve a high degree of risk. Consumer protection and securities laws don’t regulate cryptocurrencies to the same degree as traditional brokerage and investment products. Research and knowledge are essential prerequisites before engaging with any cryptocurrency. US regulators, including FINRA , the SEC , and the CFPB , have issued public advisories concerning digital asset risk. Cryptocurrency purchases should not be made with funds drawn from financial products including student loans, personal loans, mortgage refinancing, savings, retirement funds or traditional investments. Limitations apply to trading certain crypto assets and may not be available to residents of all states.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
Third Party Brand Mentions: No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

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