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How to Earn Passive Income with Cryptocurrency

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It is possible to earn passive income with crypto, but returns will depend on the method chosen and the amount of crypto you have to start. Given it’s volatility, there’s no guarantee that any crypto strategies will deliver any returns.

Still, those holding large amounts of crypto have several avenues to potentially generate yield with crypto. It’s up to you to weigh the risks of trying to earn a yield on their crypto and its potential rewards versus the risk/reward ratio of simply holding for potential long-term gains, or cashing out some or all of your holdings.

Proof-of-Stake (PoS) Staking

Proof-of-stake is a consensus method used in blockchain technology that serves as an alternative to Bitcoin’s proof-of-work. PoS networks agree on which transactions are valid through a process that involves nodes locking up or “staking” large amounts of tokens for a time. Crypto staking replaces the role of mining.

Instead of “miners” receiving new block rewards as in PoW, “validators” receive new block rewards in PoS. Validators do not need expensive computer hardware, but they do need to have sufficient tokens to have a chance at adding the next block to the chain. Many networks require an initial investment before allowing staking.

Some popular types of cryptocurrency available to stake on large exchanges include Cosmos (ATOM), Tezos (XTZ), and Cardano (ADA).

Interest-Bearing Digital Asset Accounts

A number of service providers allow users to deposit their crypto and earn a yield on it, as they might with a savings account. This has become an attractive product for investors because traditional cash savings accounts yields have fallen so low in recent years.

To use such simply open an account and deposit their crypto or stablecoin. There might be a “lockup period” involved, where users can’t access their funds for a fixed amount of time.

In exchange for the deposit, users earn interest on crypto. Stablecoins like U.S. Dollar Coin (USDC) and Dai (DAI) often have the best interest rates. BlockFi, Celsius, and Vauld are a few popular companies offering these types of accounts.

Lending

There are several ways that investors can lend out crypto. In all cases, the idea is to loan crypto to someone else for a time in exchange for a fee. The amount earned will depend on three things:

• The total value of crypto being lent

• The duration of the loan

• The interest rate

Higher rates, longer loans, and larger loans can lead to more income from the interest paid by borrowers. In some cases, those earning crypto passive income in this way get to choose the terms of the loans they create. In others, a third party negotiates the terms ahead of time.

Margin Lending

Margin lending is lending crypto to traders who want to trade using leverage from borrowed funds. This allows traders to amplify their positions with those assets and repay the loans with interest. Crypto exchanges handle most of the details on your behalf in this case. Users only need to make their digital assets available.

Centralized Lending

Centralized lending involves relying on the lending infrastructure and terms set by a third party. In this case, the interest rates and lock up periods will be fixed ahead of time. Users must deposit their crypto to the lending platform before earning interest.

Decentralized Lending

Also known as DeFi lending, this option involves using lending services directly through the blockchain. There are no intermediaries, and lenders and borrowers interact through smart contracts that automate interest rates.

Peer-to-peer Lending

Platforms that enable peer-to-peer lending make it possible for people to borrow from each other directly. Users have to first deposit their crypto into the lending platform’s custodial wallet. Then they can set the interest rate, terms of the loan, and decide how much they’d like to lend. This gives users some control over the crypto lending process.

Cloud Mining

Mining proof-of-work cryptocurrencies requires substantial investment in computing hardware along with the necessary technical knowledge. Cloud mining contracts offer an alternative.

Instead of setting up a new mining rig, people can simply “rent” hashing power from an established operation. In exchange for a fixed sum of money, people can buy cloud mining contracts that entitle them to a certain hash rate for a certain period of time. The contract owner receives new coins in proportion to the size of their contract.

Warning: Many cloud mining scams exist. Those interested in cloud mining would do well to do as much research as possible and make sure the company offering the contract is legitimate.

Dividend-Earning Tokens

Tokenized stocks are cryptocurrencies backed by shares of equity in a company. Sometimes these tokens offer dividend payouts in the same manner that shareholders receive dividends. Dividends are usually paid on a quarterly basis.

Yield Farming

The term “yield farming” became popular in 2020 and 2021 with the rise of decentralized exchanges, which rely on smart contracts and liquidity provided by investors.

To yield farm, investors deposit tokens into a special smart contract called a liquidity pool. Those who provide liquidity in this way receive a portion of the fees generated through traders accessing the pool.

Yield farming is one of the more complex options listed here and will require a lot of additional research for those interested. But it can also be one of the most lucrative options available to make passive income with crypto.

Yield farming often requires some Ethereum (ETH) along with a DeFi token of some kind like Uniswap (UNI) or Pancake Swap (CAKE) or possibly a stablecoin like Tether (USDT).

Running a Lightning Node

The Bitcoin Lightning network is a layer-2 scaling solution that allows for lightning-fast affordable micropayments at scale. The nation of El Salvador, which has made Bitcoin legal tender, uses Lightning for its Bitcoin transactions, for example. Lightning nodes facilitate these transactions. Those who run nodes receive a small portion of each transaction fee that gets routed through their node.

Running a Lightning node generates very little income. Because fees are so low, those who run a node might only make a few dollars per month in Bitcoin, or less. Some users report earning as much as $25 in one month, though (this also depends on the price of BTC versus a user’s local fiat currency).

This method doesn’t generate that much Bitcoin passive income. Most participants do it to support the use of Bitcoin as a medium of exchange. And as the Lightning network grows and more transactions get routed through it, the income for node operators will presumably rise as well.

Affiliate Program

The Bitcoin Lightning network is a layer-2 scaling solution that allows for lightning-fast affordable micropayments at scale. The nation of El Salvador, which has made Bitcoin legal tender, uses Lightning for its Bitcoin transactions, for example. Lightning nodes facilitate these transactions. Those who run nodes receive a small portion of each transaction fee that gets routed through their node.

Running a Lightning node generates very little income. Because fees are so low, those who run a node might only make a few dollars per month in Bitcoin, or less. Some users report earning as much as $25 in one month, though (this also depends on the price of BTC versus a user’s local fiat currency).

This method doesn’t generate that much Bitcoin passive income. Most participants do it to support the use of Bitcoin as a medium of exchange. And as the Lightning network grows and more transactions get routed through it, the income for node operators will presumably rise as well.

Master Nodes

Some blockchain networks, like DASH, contain a specific type of node referred to as “master nodes.” Those who run these nodes can receive large payouts.

This won’t be available to the average person, however, as running a master node often requires holding a significant sum of the network’s cryptocurrency. To run a DASH masternode costs 1,000 DASH, or about $130,000 at today’s prices.

Masternodes receive a portion of the block rewards each time a new block is mined.

Forks and Airdrops

Forks happen when an existing coin branches off into a new chain. Airdrops happen when new coins are created and “dropped” onto users as a reward for one reason or another.

Users don’t have any control over when these events might occur. But being active in the crypto ecosystem increases the odds.

In 2017, for example, everyone who held Bitcoin (BTC) received an equivalent amount of Bitcoin Cash (BCH) when the network hard forked. Someone who had 1 BTC, for example, would have received 1 BCH.

In 2021, users of the KeepKey hardware wallet (among other groups) received an airdrop of FOX tokens from the company that runs the ShapeShift platform. Those who had logged into ShapeShift during a certain time period automatically received the tokens in their crypto wallets.

Sun Exchange

Sun Exchange is a South Africa-based company that crowdsources funding for solar power projects. Customers can purchase solar cells used for community projects in South Africa and receive a regular payout once the projects begin producing solar power.

Customers can pay for solar cells in either fiat currency or Bitcoin, and can also receive their payouts in fiat or Bitcoin. This method of generating passive income with crypto differs from the others in that there’s a tangible investment. While the other options are financial products, Sun Exchange allows people to invest directly in renewable energy projects built in South Africa.

The returns from solar projects are typically small, paid out monthly, and spread out over many years. Over time, the returns could add up to much more than the initial investment.

Pros and Cons of Passive Income Generation With Crypto

Pros

As with any investment, it’s wise to weigh the potential risks against the potential rewards.

Here are some of the pros and cons of learning making passive income with crypto.

There are several benefits to generating passive income via crypto.

• Some options can be rather simple. Most interest-bearing digital asset accounts are straightforward. Users deposit stablecoins and start earning interest in most cases. Centralized lending might involve little more than putting crypto assets into a custodial wallet and giving permission to an exchange to lend them out.

• Allows investors to put off capital gains. Instead of selling a large amount of crypto that has gone up in value since the time of purchase, investors might consider keeping that coin in the crypto ecosystem and using it to generate a yield. The yield would still be taxable income, but would likely result in less of a tax burden than selling a large amount of crypto outright.

Cons

There are also drawbacks that crypto traders must consider when contemplating passive income.

• Most options come with considerable risk. Losing 100% of principle is a real possibility in some cases. This can happen as a result of hacks, smart contract bugs, or because the lending platform goes bankrupt.

• Some options can be difficult to learn to navigate. Getting involved in DeFi requires setting up and using an Ethereum (ETH) wallet like MetaMask, then becoming familiar with one or more DeFi protocols. This could prove difficult for those who don’t yet hold any ETH and haven’t used crypto wallets before.

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