Editorial Review

BlockFi Review: Company Legitimacy Bolsters Competitive Services

In this review we explore the BlockFi Interest Account, a cryptocurrency interest account from BlockFi -- the first US-based and institutionally backed cryptocurrency wealth management company geared towards the worldwide retail market.

February 6, 2020

Block Fi Loan Review

Block Fi Logo

BlockFi Crypto Loan

5.0 Editor's Rating
on Block Fi's website
APR
6.7-12.5%

BlockFi Crypto Loan

5.0 Editor's Rating
Availability
Unavailable in: North Korea, Syria, Cuba
Loan details

KYC required

Loan-to-value: 20-50%

Terms: 1 year

Security
5.0
Collateral accepted

BTC

ETH

LTC

Loan Details

BlockFi uses a tiered Loan-to-Value approach to calculate your loan details. Each asset they support as collateral for their loans (BTC, ETH, & LTC) can be staked with various LTV amounts. As your LTV increases, the amount of collateral you need to take out a loan increases. Obviously with more collateral the loan is less risky for BlockFi and thus your interest rate and monthly payment go down. At BlockFi you can apply for loans at the 35% and 50% LTV rate and if you are staking BTC you can also use the 20% LTV rate. You can expect the collateral needed and monthly payments to fluctuate based on the crypto's market price while you are shopping around for a loan. Items such as LTV rates and interest rates are set by BlockFi internally.

Rates as of 28/04/20:

  • For BTC you can find interest rates between 4.5% - 9.75%
  • For ETH you can find interest rates between 7.9% - 9.75%
  • For LTC you can find interest rates between 7.9% - 9.75%

Liquidation Risk

If the value of your collateral increases while in custody of BlockFi, BlockFi will hold on to it until the loan is paid off. If the value of your collateral decreases while in custody of BlockFi, BlockFi will notify you of a potential trigger event (LTV reaches 70%). In the event of a trigger event, you have 72 hours to either post more collateral or pay down the loan balance. If you fail to do either of those things, BlockFi will sell a portion of your collateral in order to bring the LTV rate below 70%.

Timing

BlockFi will have your loan processed immediately and you can have your funds on the day you submit your contract. Same goes for when you've paid off your loan. You can get your collateral back within a day (if you used crypto to pay it off, otherwise it takes longer).

What BlockFi Does Well

Referral Program

BlockFi's loan service is relatively new and to increase awareness they have a very lucrative referral program. If you sign up a friend who uses BlockFi's loan program, you receive $50 or 0.10% of their loan amount, whichever is higher. There is no limit to the number of friends you may refer and there is no limit to how much you can earn from referrals. One rule to note is "promotion of referral codes across Google, Facebook and all paid mediums without written approval from BlockFi is strictly prohibited." Although BlockFi encourages users to "feel free to share your Refer-A-Friend link organically on your social channels."

Does Not Affect Credit Score

Taking a loan out through BlockFi does not affect your credit score. BlockFi does not do a soft or hard credit check and information is not reported to any credit monitoring companies. In addition to that, BlockFi also offers advice for those seeking to improve their credit, a thoughtful sentiment which could go a long way for customers who are drawn to this service due to otherwise poor credit.

Refinance Whenever

BlockFi allows you to refinance your loan at any time. This may be advantageous to you in case the price of your collateral increases. This way if you refinance than you can draw additional capital from your previously deposited collateral or take back a portion of your collateral you no longer need to stake.

Why You Might Want To Choose Another Service

Fees

This isn't necessarily a reason not to use BlockFi because you will run into similar issues with every loan service provider but BlockFi applies a $15 dollar fee every time a monthly payment fails. This could be for insufficient funds, wire transfers don't go through, etc.

To Wrap It Up

BlockFi offers a reputable loan service at competitive rates. Their platform is easy to use, they are upfront about their fine print and you can rest assured their services are legitimate. Their referral program is so good, you could start your own business simply based off of referring people to BlockFi. All-in-all, BlockFi executes their loan services well, securing their spot within the DeFi arena for the foreseeable future.

Block Fi Company Review

Business Background

BlockFi Inc. was founded by Zac Prince in 2017. BlockFi is headquartered in Manhattan, New York. They have approximately 51-100 employees and the company has raised about $108 million in private funding.

KYC Policies

In order to use BlockFi's services, users must comply with certain security protocols including the uploading of a photo ID. This is pretty standard across all companies in this space. You must also provide the company with a valid mailing address. This is so BlockFi can comply with federal and state laws. Unfortunately for residents of New York and Connecticut, interest bearing accounts are unavailable. On the positive side, a SSN is not necessary to sign up for BlockFi unlike many of its competitors.

Withdrawal Fees

Since Gemini is BlockFi's primary custodian, BlockFi users are subject to Gemini limits and fees. Below is a list of information regarding withdrawals of funds.

Withdrawal fees as of 06/02/20:

  • Bitcoin: 100 BTC limit per 7-day period, 0.0025 BTC fee
  • Ethereum: 5k ETH limit per 7-day period, 0.0015 ETH fee
  • Litecoin: 10k LTC per 7-day period, 0.0025 LTC fee
  • Stablecoins: 1M per 7-day period, $0.25 fee

UX

BlockFi operates solely through their website with no mobile app available at this time. Their website however is well organized and presents relevant information with a logical organization. The physical investment platform is easy to understand and is useful for visualizing how BlockFi will increase your investment.

Security

BlockFi insures their users through Gemini, BlockFi's primary custodian. Gemini is one of the most trusted exchanges in the cryptocurrency space and BlockFi is the only "crypto bank" partnership the exchange has. In short, BlockFi is just as safe Gemini is. Gemini recently passed a security audit by Deloitte, one of the worlds most trusted auditing companies. Gemini's security policy mandates that the majority of its crypto accounts are kept in cold stored and are covered by crypto-insurance giant Aon. Gemini and Aon recently announced their collaboration on a new insurance company, Nakamoto, which protects Gemini users from cold-storage losses. The $200M coverage limit may be the largest of its kind anywhere in the world. Neither BlockFi nor Gemini store private keys directly which adds another layer of protection in case either company is hacked. Setting up 2FA and a whitelist of addresses on BlockFi is easy and is encouraged via on-site instructions.

Leadership

Between the six central members of BlockFi's executive suite, there is a combined total of 87 years experience in institutional finance. Many members of their leadership team have successfully managed tech startups and they are no strangers to acquiring investments. The BlockFi team has managed to attract $78M in total investments including a recent $18M investment by Peter Theil's Valar Ventures. The BlockFi team has indicated more investments from third-party sources are underway and they plan on using these funds for even more rapid expansion. In a recent interview with CoinCentral, the BlockFi team discussed their cautious approach to regulation which they believe will set them up for long-term success moving forward.

Privacy

A closer look at BlockFi's privacy policy might cause some alarm to those who closely guard their personal information. Their website has several cookies enabled including Google Analytics, Facebook, Twitter and a behavior analytics cookie from HotJar. According to HotJar's privacy policy statement, HotJar can record your sessions on BlockFi's website while collection information regarding your geographic location, IP address, device information, etc. HotJar also sells this information to third-party vendors like Google. If you care about privacy, you may want to choose another service which is more upfront about tracking your personal information.

Prohibited Uses

In order to remain compliant with state and federal law, BlockFi restricts the use of its services to certain geographical areas and bars certain wallets from transferring funds to BlockFi's interest accounts. If you are from New York or Connecticut, you may not use BlockFi's interest accounts. In accordance with federal law regarding MSBs (Money Services Business), BlockFi will not accept deposits from addresses which:

  1. use mixing services to attempt to obfuscate the source of funds.
  2. came from exchanges which do not perform KYC screening.
  3. came from any gambling site.
  4. came from any corner of the darknet.

As the U.S. government shines a brighter light on the cryptocurrency industry, features such as this will become more common. BlockFi makes sure its users are compliant by mailing them the applicable tax forms (1099), which the individual must take responsibility to file themselves.

To Wrap It Up

BlockFi is a legitimate company which provides the service they advertise. They have backing from some of the largest and most respected players in the cryptocurrency space and tout a strong partnership with Gemini, a highly-trusted crypto custodian. As exchanges like Gemini bring household names like Deloitte into the cryptocurrency fold, expect regulators to increase their focus on the nascent industry. BlockFi with its regulatory compliance and institutional backing has positioned itself well to be a leader in this space for the foreseeable future. Just remember to disable your browser's cookies.