Refresh to view the latest content.


It's a new era!
We have officially changed our name from "AtomicDEX" to "Komodo Wallet"

Official Press Release

31 August 2022

Updated: 20 October 2022

What Are Flash Loans in DeFi?


What Are Flash Loans in DeFi?

Table of contents

Crypto lending is one way that helps people to access needed funds. One such crypto lending method is a flash loan, which is growing in popularity as it provides opportunities for borrowers to make quick profits.

What Is a Flash Loan?

A flash loan is an unsecured loan that enables borrowers to obtain loans from lenders without collateral by paying back the loan in the same transaction it was lent to the borrower.

Flash loans rely on smart contracts designed to ensure that the assets are returned to the lending protocol within the same transaction. These smart contracts help to govern the loan while ensuring that the transaction is executed in compliance with specified rules. As a result, a flash loan is very fast and allows users to make quick profits on various DeFi platforms.

Characteristics of Flash Loans

Some key characteristics of flash loans include:

Reliance on Smart Contracts

Flash loans rely entirely on smart contracts. Before execution, all necessary rules required to facilitate the flash loan are determined within the smart contracts. Among other things, the smart contract ensures that the transaction is only complete when the borrower returns the loan amount within the same transaction. Where a borrower defaults, the smart contract reverses the transaction.

Unsecured Loans

A flash loan is an unsecured loan that needs no collateral from the borrower. Rather than offering any collateral, borrowers agree to pay back the loan within a specified period. However, the unsecured nature of flash loans is not a disadvantage as the loans use smart contracts that guarantee fund safety.

Instantaneous Transactions

Applying for and receiving a loan in traditional finance is often a lengthy process. On the other hand, DeFi flash loans are readily available and processed usually within seconds.

Use Cases of Flash Loans

Some notable real-world applications of DeFi flash loans include:

Collateral Swaps

This involves a quick swap of the crypto asset used as collateral on a user's loan for another type of crypto collateral. Collateral swaps enable DeFi users to switch the collateral they used to take out a flash loan on a multi-collateral crypto lending platform. For instance, if a trader uses ETH as collateral on one lending platform, the person can take out a flash loan to pay back the previous loan and withdraw their ETH.

Flash Loan Arbitrage

Another use case of flash loans is crypto arbitrage, which allows DeFi users to profit from price discrepancies between different markets and exchanges. Flash loan arbitrage involves purchasing crypto assets at a low price from one exchange and reselling them on another at a higher price. This way, users can quickly generate profits while paying back the flash loan. However, users should note that taking advantage of arbitrage may be risky.

Debt Refinancing

Debt refinancing is similar to collateral swaps. It occurs when a borrower finds that another platform offers cheaper interest rates for the borrowed asset. The borrower uses a flash loan to pay off the expensive loan and then takes out a same-sized loan on the more affordable platform.

Reduced Transaction Fees

Flash loans combine complex transactions into a single step. As a result, flash loans come at minimal transaction fees. Many crypto traders save transaction fees by leveraging flash loans to buy and sell digital assets.

Risks Involved in Flash Loan Transactions

Some of the strengths of flash loans could also turn into potential weaknesses. One of the major risks associated with this type of transaction is a 'flash loan attack.'

A flash loan attack happens when malicious actors exploit the security vulnerabilities of a lending platform's smart contracts. These actors manipulate the price of a crypto asset by flooding the market with orders and then quickly reselling the asset on another exchange. Since the process is fast, the attacker can do this multiple times between platforms.

High Profile Examples of Flash Loan Attacks

The DeFi space has witnessed many flash loan attacks on decentralized finance protocols that resulted in heavy losses. Some popular examples include:

  • Alpha Homora Protocol: The protocol was subjected to several flash loan attacks in 2021, resulting in losses worth millions of dollars.
  • Cream Finance:  The protocol witnessed a flash loan attack that cost it more than $100 million worth of crypto assets.
  • dYdX: The attack started when a malicious borrower took an ETH flash loan, divided the loan, and then transferred it to two different crypto lending platforms, Fulcrum and Compound Finance.

Which DeFi Platforms Offer Flash Loans?

Flash loans are available on several Ethereum-based crypto lending platforms. Some of these platforms include:

  • Aave
  • dYdX
  • Uniswap

Flash loans are an innovative and helpful tool in the world of finance, as they facilitate quick trades and arbitrage in a way that is only possible through opportunities allowed by blockchain technology. However, as with any new concept, mainstream adoption requires a lot of time and usage. This type of loan also requires increased security to bolster adoption by other DeFi protocols.

Flash loans may play a crucial role in shaping future aspects of the DeFi sector. They provide diverse possibilities for the growth of a new financial system because they use smart contracts and also facilitate uncollateralized loans. Although flash loans presently have limited use cases, they can lead to a wide range of new DeFi applications.

DeFi Projects Listed on AtomicDEX

To explore crypto assets and the opportunities offered in the DeFi space, consider trying out AtomicDEX wallet.

AtomicDEX provides a non-custodial wallet, cross-chain/cross-protocol bridge, and cross-chain/cross-protocol decentralized exchange in a single application. It supports cryptocurrencies from dozens of blockchains, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Polygon, Avalanche, and many more.