Distinguishing Centralized and Decentralized Cryptocurrency Exchanges

Cryptocurrency has made significant strides ever since Bitcoin made headlines, but it remains a complicated topic for many people. Most people’s understanding of cryptocurrency is limited to Bitcoin. Even those who understand it a little may need to be made aware there are two types of cryptocurrency exchanges. 

This guide will revolve around centralized and decentralized cryptocurrency platforms. Before then, it would be great first to grasp the meaning of cryptocurrency exchange.

Photo by David McBee

Photo by David McBee

Cryptocurrency Exchange: Definition

Crypto traders need a medium to transact digital assets, which is where cryptocurrency exchanges come in. A crypto exchange is platform traders can use to buy, sell, or transfer cryptocurrencies within a blockchain network. It almost works similarly to the forex or stock markets, where traders use the stock or forex exchanges to buy and sell stocks and currencies. 

Investors have a variety of cryptocurrency exchanges to choose from, and they operate with different terms and conditions. With over 10,000 cryptocurrencies developed to date, knowing where best to trade them is a crucial matter. Some exchanges only deal with one cryptocurrency, while others accommodate several digital coins. 

The corporate world and startups use blockchain provisions such as decentralized exchanges to activate growth. Governments, immigration services, and law firms also benefit from solutions like a blockchain document notarization system to certify and verify the authenticity of documents like Powers of Attorney,  title deeds, marriage certificates, naturalization papers, identification, affidavits, and wills. 

To better understand how cryptocurrency exchanges operate, read on to learn the difference between the two types of crypto exchanges. 

Centralized Cryptocurrency Exchange Explained

Exchanges that act as an intermediary between crypto traders are centralized. These exchanges link buyers and sellers, implying that traders rely entirely on them to transact. 

Therefore, privately-run exchange owners take full responsibility for safeguarding the assets by upholding security. Centralized exchanges depend on users’ trading to stay operational by charging fees for all transactions. Well-known examples of such platforms include Kraken, Coinbase, Binance, Gemini, ByBet, and others. 

To use exchanges, you are prompted to key in a few personal details for verification. You can request customer support services if you forget your account password. Do centralized exchanges have pros and cons? 

Pros of a Centralized Cryptocurrency Exchange 

You can benefit from using this exchange in the following ways:

  • Accepts Fiat Transactions

Most traders prefer using centralized exchanges because they accept fiat, enabling users to purchase cryptocurrency using debit and credit cards or directly from a bank account. The fiat-use feature gives traders a quick way to own different digital coins without mining them, as in decentralized exchanges. 

Most centralized platforms have a friendly interface that even trading newbies can easily explore. They are easy to open and operate, with distinct features on how to buy, sell, or reach out for customer support.

 Centralized exchanges provide an easy way to join cryptocurrency. Because of their reliability, they have more users who don’t hesitate to trade an asset with high demand, thus increasing liquidity.  

One of the desirable qualities of a cryptocurrency exchange, speed is essential in crypto trading. These exchanges take a few seconds to execute orders, another reason for their popularity.

Cons of a Centralized Cryptocurrency Exchange 

Centralized exchanges also have limitations which include the following;

Transactions carried out in centralized exchanges face a high risk of being hacked, placing many of your investments at risk of theft. Accounts in such platforms are vulnerable to attacks because the private keys to user accounts belong to the exchange owner. 

Gaining access to one account allows hackers to bring the whole exchange down. Examples of exchanges that have gone down the hacking road are FTX, Coincheck, and BitGrail.

You have limited ownership of your account because the third party controls it. Purchased assets belong to the exchange, hence limited access

  • Higher Transaction Charges

Centralized exchanges tend to charge higher transaction fees because that is how they make money running the platforms. The charges may vary from one exchange to another.

Decentralized Cryptocurrency Exchange Explained

Transactions in a decentralized exchange happen the same way as those in a Centralized platform, but this time without a third-party facilitator. Funds transacted in this exchange are stored in blocks after they have been verified and validated by smart contracts. 

Unlike in a centralized exchange scenario, you can exercise complete control over your assets. Examples of decentralized blockchain solutions include Uniswap, GMX Exchange, Bisq, Venus, Tokenlon, and more. 

Pros of a Decentralized Cryptocurrency Exchange

These are the benefits of using this peer-to-peer exchange:

You can remain anonymous when using decentralized exchanges because no KYC procedures are involved when registering or accessing user accounts. 

You enjoy peace of mind when using decentralized cryptocurrency exchange since hackers cannot easily intercept the encrypted layers of security. 

Expect to pay less when purchasing or selling assets on a decentralized exchange. It encourages traders to participate in multiple trades.

Cons of a Decentralized Cryptocurrency Exchange

Decentralized exchanges have their fair share of disadvantages, as highlighted below;

Decentralized exchanges cannot match the liquidity of centralized exchanges because they are less popular. They register low trading volumes, posing a challenge of finding buyers and sellers to transact with. 

Several people find decentralized exchanges complex due to the robust infrastructure that renders them hack-proof. Unlike straightforward centralized platforms, it takes several transaction processes to get used to a decentralized exchange.

Fiat money, defined as government-issued currencies, does not have a place in decentralized exchanges. You can only send or receive digital coins when selling or acquiring digital assets within a decentralized blockchain network.

Final Thoughts

Cryptocurrency investment has been gaining a lot of traction and proving it is worth to investors. But despite of it being a popular topic, many people have a lot to learn before making investment decisions of using it as an investment option.

However, centralized cryptocurrency platforms give easy access to beginner traders, from where they can learn the complexities of the trade and branch out to decentralized exchanges. You have plenty of options to choose from in cryptocurrency in terms of digital coins and platforms, but before diving in, research and consult with industry experts to gain the relevant knowledge and understanding of this type of investment. 


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