Centralized Exchange (CEX) Vs. Decentralized Exchange (DEX) - A Comparison

Centralized Exchange (CEX) Vs. Decentralized Exchange (DEX) – A Comparison

As the popularity of crypto grows across the globe, more and more of the general populace are interested in trying out crypto trading. Numerous crypto exchanges are there to facilitate these trades, but did you know there can be different types of crypto exchanges, and what the differences between these exchanges are?

When it comes to centralized exchange vs. decentralized exchange, there are some core differences between the two. CEX offers trading and investing services much in the way of a proper financial institution. It provides higher liquidity and regulatory reassurance to the users. On the other hand, DEX provides more freedom to the users and lets them hold control over their own assets with fewer regulatory burdens. 

The big question is, for decentralized vs. centralized crypto exchanges, which one should you pick? To understand which one suits you better, let’s put their various features up against each other in this post, shall we? 

What is a Centralized Exchange?

What is a Centralized Exchange
Source: Crypto Stars / Centralized Exchange 

Before getting into the centralized vs. decentralized cryptocurrency exchange debate, let’s first understand what both are and how they work. A centralized exchange, as mentioned above, works in a similar fashion to a traditional bank. 

CEX, like a bank, has a central authority that looks over all the financial actions taken on the exchange. Other features include:

  • It offers a crypto wallet that can be used to store crypto assets. 
  • It usually facilitates the users with high liquidity, what with its vast pool of traders. 
  • It maintains centralized control over all the financial exchanges and users wallets to enforce regulation. 

How Does a Centralized Exchange Work?

Centralized exchanges allow users to buy and sell crypto for fiat currencies like the US dollar, or also for other crypto assets like Bitcoin. They are present as a third party in transactions between buyers and sellers to authorize the trade and also ensure security. So they essentially operate as brokers and custodians, protecting your assets and the trades in general. 

What is a Decentralized Exchange?

What is a Decentralized Exchange
Source: Zipmex / Decentralized Exchange

Unlike centralized crypto exchanges, on DEXes there is no central authority exerting control over your trades. No single authority figure or institution is in charge of your funds, and instead smart contracts and DApps or decentralized applications are in place to automate all transactions.

Given the smart contracts in use are efficiently created and have been through the proper security audit procedures, decentralized exchanges can ensure even more security than centralized exchanges. 

How Does a Decentralized Exchange Work? 

Decentralized crypto exchanges use blockchains to facilitate transactions, and use either an AMM (automated market maker) or an order book model. DEXes may provide quicker and more cost-efficient transactions compared to CEXes. How do they achieve this? By removing the need for a centralized authority and any intermediaries that would otherwise demand a part of the transaction fees and take longer to facilitate a trade.     

Pros and Cons of Centralized Exchanges

When it comes to centralized exchange vs. decentralized exchange, each definitely has their fair share of advantages and disadvantages. Pros and cons of CEXes would include:

Pros

  • Usually easier to understand user interfaces and simpler platforms
  • The centralized authority vouches for maximized security and trustworthiness
  • You can use fiat currency in trades

Cons

  • The fact that a CEX is controlled by a central authority signifies that it can be shut down at any moment
  • More susceptible to cybersecurity threats and hacking attempts
  • A higher rate when it comes to transaction fees

Pros and Cons of Decentralized Exchanges

On the flip side, pros and cons of DEXes include:

Pros

  • The users do not have to surrender control of their assets to any central figure
  • Completely private and anonymous trades can be done
  • Platform fees are shared among liquidity providers for their contribution, and they don’t go to any centralized authority figure

Cons

  • Liquidity can be lower than centralized exchanges, which makes it harder to carry out larger orders
  • Liquidity providers on the platform face risks of impermanent loss
  • You might not be allowed to trade in fiat currency

Centralized Exchange vs. Decentralized Exchange: A Comparison

Criteria Centralized ExchangeDecentralized Exchange
DecentralizationThere is a central authority to control all the transactions and user funds.There is no central authority, and the exchange usually matches buyers directly with sellers.
SecurityMore vulnerable to cybersecurity threats.If smart contracts are coded right, DEXes offer increased security. 
RegulationsRegulations are set by the central figure that are followed in every transaction.With the lack of a central authority, regulations may be harder to implement.
LiquidityCEXes usually have higher liquidity.Liquidity might be lesser than CEXes.
Trading VolumeAgain, higher in centralized exchange.Lower than CEXes.
ExamplesBinance, WazirX, CoinbaseUniswap, PancakeSwap

Conclusion 

To sum it all up, in a debate over centralized vs. decentralized cryptocurrency exchanges, there is no clear winner. Once you compare the features and pros and cons of both, you have to be the one to decide what kind suits you better. After all, there can’t be any one crypto exchange that fits all of your purposes. 

However, as many experienced crypto traders suggest, for someone new to crypto trading, a centralized crypto exchange may be an easier option, since they usually facilitate fiat to crypto trades and also have more user-friendly UIs.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What does Decentralized Mean in Cryptocurrency?

The word decentralized itself is used to denote something that does not come under the control of a central regulatory body. Decentralized assets are not controlled by anyone other than the users themselves, and decentralized crypto exchanges allow users to trade between themselves without needing an intermediary.

2. How does a Decentralized Exchange Work?

A decentralized exchange usually operates on a blockchain, and lets users have control over their own assets. These exchanges match up sellers with buyers and use smart contracts and decentralized applications to facilitate the trades.   

3. What are the Primary Benefits of Decentralized Exchanges over Centralized Exchanges?

Decentralized exchanges offer total control of their own assets and trades to the users, and provide better protection against hacking attempts or any other cybersecurity attacks. The fact that smart contracts and decentralized applications (DApps) facilitate the trades means transaction charges may also be lower, as no third party demands a part of the trading fees. 

4. Which is an Example of a Decentralized Exchange?

One of the top examples of decentralized exchanges is Uniswap. Uniswap provides a trading volume much higher than an average DEX would provide, and uses liquidity pools built upon smart contracts to facilitate transactions.  

5. What are Some Differences Between Centralized and Decentralized Crypto Exchanges?

Decentralized exchanges provide better security to users against hacking attempts and other such attacks. However, CEXes do usually have friendlier UI and higher trading volumes. On DEXes, no central authority figure watches over all transactions, and the platforms allow for better privacy and anonymity for users. On the flip side, CEXes have better regulatory structures since one singular entity watches over all functionalities and has fixed rules in place.

6. Are Decentralized Exchanges Safe?

Given the smart contracts in use have been coded securely and efficiently, decentralized exchanges are actually able to provide even better security than centralized crypto exchanges, which are more vulnerable to cybersecurity threats.

7. What are Some Disadvantages of Decentralized Exchanges?

The major disadvantages of decentralized exchanges may include:

  • Lack of regulation
  • Lower liquidity and trading volumes 
  • Harder to comprehend for new traders
  • Liquidity providers may face risks of impermanent loss
  • You might not be allowed to trade in fiat currency

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