DeFi Academy

APY and APR: Understanding the Difference

January 2, 2024
APY and APR: Understanding the Difference

APY and APR are two important terms used in both traditional finance and decentralized finance (DeFi) that provide key information about returns on investments. While they are often used interchangeably, they have distinct meanings and calculations. Understanding the difference between APY and APR is crucial for assessing investment opportunities and managing risks.

APR Explained

APR stands for Annual Percentage Rate. It is a common measurement used by banks and also found in DeFi. APR represents the interest rate you earn per year on your investment. The defining feature of APR is that it only takes into account the principal sum and does not consider any interest already earned on that sum.

For example, if you invest $10,000 in a loan with a 5% APR for three years, you will earn a return of 5% of the original sum loaned each year. In this case, that would be $500 per year, resulting in a total return of $1,500 over the three-year investment period.

APY Explained

APY stands for Annual Percentage Yield. APY is the interest rate you receive on an investment when both the principal sum and the interest on that sum are compounded. Unlike APR, APY takes into account the compounding frequency.

For instance, if you invest $10,000 for three years with a 5% APY and the interest is compounded annually, you would earn 5% interest on both the original sum and the interest itself each year. This compounding effect leads to higher returns. In the example, the total yield would be $1,576.25 over the three-year period.

APY assumes that you reinvest both the principal sum and the yield back into the same protocol at the end of each compounding period. It implies a greater commitment to the project or investment.

Assessing Risks in DeFi Passive Income

DeFi offers attractive opportunities for generating passive income, such as yield farming and staking. However, it also comes with risks. Understanding the risks associated with DeFi investments is crucial for making informed decisions.

Liquidity pool users, for example, may have the potential for substantial rewards but face the risk of impermanent loss and other factors. Additionally, the decentralized nature of DeFi allows projects to launch without thorough scrutiny, increasing the risk of fraudulent schemes or rugpulls.

To mitigate these risks, it is essential to conduct thorough research before investing in a DeFi project. Resources such as white papers, which outline the project's technology and vision, can provide valuable insights. Platforms like Etherscan can offer information about a protocol's activity and token distribution. Engaging with the project's community on platforms like Discord can also help assess the project's legitimacy and the responsiveness of its developers.


Understanding the difference between APY and APR is crucial for evaluating investment opportunities and managing risks in both traditional finance and DeFi. APR represents the interest rate based on the principal sum, while APY considers the compounding of both the principal sum and the interest. By comprehending these concepts and conducting thorough research, investors can make informed decisions and navigate the world of finance more effectively.