In this article, we will be studying the topic “What is a Flash Loan?“. Also, we will look at the topic’s relationship with loans, borrower, lender, transactions, etc.
This is a term given when we borrow a specific quantity of liquidity and pay back before the transaction ends.
Meaning of a Flash Loan
In DeFi, it is any loan that we borrow and repay within a short period of time without collateral. The Aave platform offers flash loans as a modern solution. Style of recording data on the Ethereum network activates this platform.
To borrow and repay money occurs so fast because both operations happens at the same phase. Since the transaction will succeed or fail at the same phase, it needs to be interoperable.
In flash loans, you don’t need a collateral in exchange for what you want to borrow. Why no collateral? Credit or lender’s risk does not exist. High leverage in FLs makes them highly profitable. However, DeFi is the only financial market that offers this type of huge capital.
Platforms like Aave or CREAM enables borrowers fund their FLs. These platforms collaborates with other DApps by allowing only one transaction loan.
Regardless of how fast transactions of flash loans are, they are also prone to attacks. FL attacks are made when traders borrows it and manipulates the market with it. They usually do this to their own advantage using tricky methods.
Over the years, flash loan attacks have got people’s attention after the outburst of DeFi. Recently, we can record a huge loss of over $100,000,000. However, they are most famous, easy attacks to carry out and go scot-free on DeFi.
There is no limit to the amount of flash loan a user can borrow. For example, if a user requests for loan worth $50,000. The lending platform will make it available but it’s still not the user’s money. The user has to utilize the loan properly in order to pay back and keep the balance.
The lending platform reverses the loan if the user fails to repay very early. This is so because the blockchain implements a user’s dedication to repay his debt. There is no request for a collateral.
People that attack the FLs are also trying out new techniques to continue their evil deeds. Meanwhile, they still follow blockchain regulations.
PancakeBunny attack, Alpha Homora Protocol hack, DeFi yield farming aggregator ApeRocket FL attack are all examples of FL attacks.
Chainlink and Band Protocol helps to reduce flash loan attacks rather than relying on one decentralized exchange.
The DeFi platforms developers delay before reacting to these attacks. This is the main reason why the attackers escape freely. Automated tools are useful in preventing such actions. There is a technology that helps to identify fake smart contract and provide quick solutions. It is known as OpenZeppelin Defender.
We normally hear of ordinary loans. In this aspect, a lender gives out money to a borrower and expects complete payment in return. A lender receives little token as assurance that the debt will be repaid.
FLs are similar, but unique in the following ways:
- Smart contracts: They use smart contracts which enables change under certain conditions. For a FL, the rule is that the borrower must pay back the loan before the end of a transaction. The failure to do so, the smart contract will reverse the transaction.
- Loan without security: No collateral is needed which is why it is unsecured. However doesn’t mean a loss to the lender, NO. The borrower has to repay the money using a different approach. Check out the next feature.
- Instantaneous: Usually, it takes years or months for a loan to be repaid in ordinary loan. Conversely, it takes only a matter of seconds to repay flash loans. The terms of the smart contract for the loan must not be met in a separate transaction.
This type of loan can be useful in cases like arbitrage. Here traders make profits from two markets pricing a cryptocurrency for different amounts.
This concept is at an early stage and still has a lot of flaws because there are new attacks evolving. Aave said that there is no real-world comparison to FLs in its documentation.
Lenders give flask loans out and expect repayment of debts from borrowers. However, there are some differences and one of them is using smart contracts that are on a blockchain network.
Flash loans brings the whole transactions together as one whenever you are placing trades.
Aave is the pioneer lending platform for flash loans built on Ethereum blockchain. In Q4 of last year, they gave more than $5 billion as flash loans. However, there are other lending platforms that exists.
How Does It Operate?
Do you know that smart contracts states the rules of the loan and trades with the loan for traders? This occurs in a speed of light and you should note it down if you don’t know much about it.
For those with enough technical knowledge, they believe that a flash loan builds a contract on the blockchain that acts as a request to borrow funds. But to do this, you may need to apply your developer knowledge and write some code. According to Aave, Collateral Swap and DeFi Saver allows users to use flash loans without coding.
The most important aim of flash loans is to offer an easy, low-risk way to borrow money and make successful trades in the crypto markets. There’s a gas fee that comes with each successful trade. If otherwise, the funds go back to the lender.
Reasons for Its Use
There are several steps to follow before obtaining a local loan. There is request for collateral, review of your personal qualities and approval. However flash loans require less of these resources.
They eliminate all possible limiting factors. They provide money easier and faster to enable borrowers trade and invest very quick.
Maybe the arbitrage method is the easiest way to make profits from flash loans in different exchanges. However, this chance of taking profits cannot be seen in the local lending platforms.
Advantages and Disadvantages
There are both advantages and disadvantages of using flash loans. They are tabulated below:
|Advantages of flash loans||Disadvantages of flash loans|
|It happens at an instant||It is still at developing stage|
|It doesn’t request for collateral||It is prone to manipulation|
|It is made to avoid flaws||It is widely used externally|
Flaws Associated with a Flash Loan
Due to the technique of lending, it is almost impossible to tamper with the loan. But smart contracts help to reset everything.
A smart contract cannot release funds to the borrower until he or she meets the agreement of repaying. Instead the only tampering will be the reverse of the money automatically to the lender.
Definition of a Flash Loan Attack
Flash loans are known as platforms with the purpose of lending money. One of their flaws is the “flash loan attack.” It is an attempt to manipulate these platforms to make profits.
Flash loan attacks can come in various ways. A flash loan attack can change the figures virtually while in the actual sense no change was made. take many forms.
However it is no longer as severe as it was in the previous years.
Tips to Note Down
You may not like using flash loans, you may also like it. For people that understand crypto, they borrow money and make their profits quickly via arbitrage. While the ignorant ones keep doubting themselves and asking questions.
You can apply the SoFi investment platform for trading your portfolios. You can as well buy all the cryptocurrencies you need on this platform. Just open an investment account and start your crypto journey.
What People want to know about the topic
Flash loan transactions happen so fast, that is the reason for the name ‘flash’.
Are Risks Associated ?
There are risks in flash loans. Although, the lending platforms makes it look like there are no flaws. But there are and they are flash loan attacks. However the lenders are to blame for giving out potentially millions of dollars in loans that are not safe.
Meaning of a Flash Loan Exploit
A flash loan exploit is the process of pointing out the flaws in the flash loan lending protocol. A flash loan exploit causes the avoidance of lending protocols and safety measures. This further enables an attacker to deceive the network about repayment of loans.
The flash loans are valid but also prone to change. Regulations are likely to increase in the crypto community.
Areas to apply Ethereum in Flash Loans
Ethereum enables most of the special features of flash loans. It plans on creating various utility for blockchain other than transactions. Flash loans offers a lot of options for DeFi on Ethereum without third parties. They are very famous. With the aid of DeFi apps, users will be in charge of loans, derivatives and other contracts.
Unlike other local financial firms, some people believe that apps with DeFi pattern can allow users control their funds more easily. These people usually propound ideas.
However, the action that attracts everybody about DeFi is this. Some traders make huge profits from doubtfully hoping on new coins.
Its Interesting Features
Through flash loans, you can make a lot of money without facing risks.
There are times when the unknown rate of a FL is interesting.
Below are the attracting uses of FLs:
- Arbitrage: Looking for variations in price on various exchanges can fetch you some money. For example, pricing pizzacoin on different exchanges. Let’s say the first exchange offers a price lower than that of the second exchange. Using different smart contracts, a user can borrow a flash loan on the first exchange. Then he or she goes ahead to buy 100 pizzacoins for a cheap price. Later, the user sells them at a higher price in the second exchange. He or she finally repays the debt and keeps the remaining funds as profit.
- Collateral swaps: A user quickly exchange one type of collateral for another one.
- Lower transaction fees: The higher the number of transactions, the higher the gas fees. FLs occur in one transaction that means it has lower gas fees.
Possibility of Generating Income with Flash Loans
Some people make profits easily with flash loans. Just make sure you research about the platform you want to borrow from and pay back to properly. Some people earn profits easily with FLs. Its technology has risks because of the presence of attacks.
Aave and dYdX offers flash loans as well other DeFi lending platforms that rely on Ethereum blockchain.
Initially, it was a tool only for those that understand technology enough to use the command line. Developers use command line to send commands to a computer in form of texts. However, more interfaces that are easier to use are evolving gradually.
Consequences of not repaying FL
When users fail to repay their FLs, they usually face the wrath. However, the user will not get the loan at all.
Recall that all these happen in one transaction. This is one of the benefits that a smart contract offers. You have to agree with the terms and conditions before it lends you funds.
Once the borrower does not repay the loan in the transaction, the smart contract will return the funds back to the lender.
There are various ways through which attackers manipulate the lending platforms. FLs have been attracting people’s attention. Due to this, there has also been a loss of millions of dollars so far.
This increases the issue of Ethereum and DeFi. What is this issue? One may ask. Smart contracts not written to perform its original work or contain a data that is corrupt. This will pave way for manipulation but however the technology is still at its early stage. Some believe that the above issues will disappear with time as its technology grows. But others think that the attacks will continue to exist.
Operations of Attack
Flash loans have not been around for quite a long time but there has been a lot of attacks.
The trading and lending protocol of Ethereum is the point of focus for a FL attack. The borrower lies about paying back the loan completely and the lender believes. They achieve this by temporarily increasing the price of the stablecoin they repay with.
In recent times, an individual uses a flash loan to get extra votes in a MakerDAO vote. This in turn creates impact to the whole community.
Meanwhile, Hacking Distributed is a security blog where computer science researchers writes articles. This shows ways to turn FLs attacks to be fun and for generating income.
These are just ways we use it wrongly. Engineers are looking into various ways to help them work without flaws that occur as a surprise.