Decentralized banking seems like an oxymoron because of the toxic reputation of banks and central banks. xresch / Pixabay

Remember when DeFi used to be just a couple of websites in which you could stake money?

If you were here from the start, you also likely remember that once someone invented yield farming (essentially, borrowing money somewhere to take out loans elsewhere to stake in another place to then...), everything seemed to flip. What seems like a decade (with a pandemic and many, many Zoom calls in the middle) later, keeping up with DeFi resembles a full-time job these days.

Below the sea of options, however, there is fertile land for opportunities. For this article, we've researched the most attractive, rising DeFi initiatives and compiled our top five to help you build them into your Web 3.0 radar. For each of them, we’ve also included the leading, top, or best company to represent its niche. We're sure you'll find something to fit your style of investment and risk preference here!

#1: Decentralized Banking

Decentralized banking seems like an oxymoron because of the toxic reputation of banks and central banks. However, a new type of bank has emerged thanks to DeFi, featuring fully-regulated entities that also endorse cryptocurrencies and provide their clients with access to DeFi tools.

EQIBank is a completely regulated bank that offers over-the-counter (OTC) cryptocurrency deals, a rarity among its peers. Known for its statements on the state of banking and the traditional finance panorama, EQIBank, apart from allowing high net-worth individuals and companies to access cryptocurrencies, has also introduced a DeFi solution: EQIFI.

EQIFI is a debt marketplace for borrowers and lenders to interact through EQIBank's regulated platform. The DeFi solution offers real-world safeguards, access and bridges, shining for its high yields in a sector known for the exact opposite. With EQIFI, EQIBank tries to replace the need for several financial relationships and create an all-in-one platform. Jason Blick, EQIFI's Chairman, has also mentioned that the system helps DeFi by solving " siloed operating models, legacy technology, and low liquidity. "

#2: DeFi and NFT All-In-One Integrations

2021 has seen DeFi and NFTs become mainstream use cases for cryptocurrencies and the blockchain. Within this context, tools that allowed fiat ramps to connect with these ecosystems were, some might say, long overdue.

CoinBurp, a company based out of the United Kingdom, is TrustPilot's #1 crypto wallet for the region and is making its debut by revolutionizing how two world-changing technologies interact.

Known for creating liquidity for its users through GBP instant deposits and withdrawals, CoinBurp mentions that the launch of its new wallet is "an initiative to make decentralized finance effortlessly accessible worldwide and across all knowledge levels and age groups." The new DeFi wallet combines a crypto exchange experience with a decentralized, non-custodial way to enable fiat NFT purchases.

As such, CoinBurp can interact with industry giants in NFTs, such as OpenSea and Rarible. The wallet also serves those directly interacting with DeFi staking, NFT marketplace integration, governance and insurance. CoinBurp is one of the first centralized platforms in crypto to transition to a DAO model, introducing a governance token: $BURP. Users will be able to stake $BURPs to receive dividends and NFT rewards offered in partnership with Sandbox, NFT Boxes and others. CoinBurp is also fully regulated within its jurisdiction.

#3: dApp Ecosystems with Decentralized Governance

What made Ethereum great was allowing users to build decentralized applications (dApps) on top of its blockchain. Ever since competition to create environments in which users can create this type of applications without facing Ethereum’s downsides (e.g. high fees and overcrowded networks) has been on the rise. Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs) now make it possible for all types of users, technical and non-technical to have an inference in the process of creating these tools.

Nimbus is a DAO-governed ecosystem of dApps that generates 15 reward streams for users based on classic IPO participation, startup financing, P2P lending, and more. User can leverage these opportunities via NBU, Nimbus utility token, and GNBU, governance token. With 50,000 active users, Nimbus is a fast-growing alternative offering high yields in a space that seems to be growing faster than ever.

Nimbus started off in 2019 and pioneered in decentralized applications since the end of 2020. Its NBU token launch was a blast with an impressive $35 million market cap reached within two days of its release.

Now, 2021 seems like a positive year for Nimbus, with its governance token for the Nimbus DAO, GNBU, now trading in UniSwap. Moreover, the recent announcement of Nimbus' listing in a major North American stock exchange got the community even more excited. The company also has announced the upcoming launch of two dApps, a P2P Exchange and a Lending-Borrowing dApp to happen in May 2021.

#4: Financial Instruments that Take Advantage of Market Inefficiencies

What happens when you have a hyper-active market, with assets and startups leaping into it several times per day, some of them massively increasing (and dumping) in worth over night? According to some, unnecessary chaos.

Bonded Finance wants to reconceptualize financial instruments by leveraging thousands of underutilized cryptocurrencies, representing billions of dollars in capital. Bonded " strives to solve some of the most prominent obstacles in the DeFi market, such as extremely limited borrowing mechanisms, miscalculated APYs, or the lack of liquidity for lesser-known assets. " By doing this, the company hopes to build efficiency into the crypto market and help the funding of crypto start-ups.

Bonded also addresses the fact that the crypto market, in its majority, is populated by highly active retail investors making small transactions, which happens 24 hours a day, something unseen in traditional markets. BOND, Bonded's ERC-20 token, is utilized in various products inside the Bonded Finance network, for liquidity and as a collateral. Bonded has mentioned the integration of governance features within its platform, which the token will also aid.

The company will transition to a stakeholder and community-driven project, following several companies in the space undergoing a progressive decentralization path.

#5: Risk Management and Insurance

A common reason stopping major players from joining DeFi and the crypto markets is the lack of tools they’re accustomed to use and consider essential for their trading. Some argue that to allow the market to scale, centralized providers need to take care of providing them.

SIL Finance is a solution designed to protect DeFi users against impermanent losses in case of market volatility. The platform provides fully decentralized and automatic DeFi management services based on dual currency liquidity for token swaps and automatic liquidity matching/compound interest.

With a heavy focus on automation, SIL helps its users automatically select and configure products that suit their interests and risk preferences. This is ideal for risk-averse and less tech-savvy cryptocurrency enthusiasts that would like to earn a passive income through automated tools. SIL Finance raised $1.3 million from private investors featuring Axia8 Ventures, the Krypital Group, Genesis Block Ventures, and other top VCs & influencers. According to its leadership, the company's plans "include the launch of NFT cards capable of adjusting mining speed for the matching DeFi asset."