Flash Loans are a novel financial concept in decentralized finance (DeFi) that allow for the borrowing of cryptocurrency without collateral. Predominantly used on Ethereum-based DeFi protocols, these loans are unique due to their instant nature; they are borrowed and repaid within the same transaction block on the blockchain.
The mechanism of flash loans operates through smart contracts, which enforce the rule that the borrowed amount must be repaid by the end of the transaction. If the repayment is not completed within this extremely short timeframe, typically a few seconds, the smart contract automatically reverses the transaction, as if the loan never occurred. This feature ensures a risk-free process for lenders, as the loan is not executed unless it can be repaid instantly.
Flash loans are primarily used for arbitrage opportunities, where a trader can exploit price discrepancies across different exchanges. By borrowing a large amount without collateral, traders can purchase a cryptocurrency at a lower price on one exchange and sell it at a higher price on another, repaying the loan and retaining the profit in a single transaction. They can also be used for other complex trading strategies like collateral swapping.
This financial instrument is a part of the broader movement in DeFi to democratize access to financial services, eliminating the need for traditional intermediaries such as banks. Flash loans represent a shift towards a more permissionless and transparent financial ecosystem, leveraging the power of blockchain technology to create innovative and accessible financial tools.