Centralised and decentralised exchanges – what is the difference?

In the world of cryptocurrency, there are two different and very distinct types of exchange, a centralised and a decentralised ones. But what is the difference between the two?

A cryptocurrency exchange is an online platform where digital currencies are traded or exchanged for other digital currencies or even fiat currencies. Both types of exchange are similar in the way that they both facilitate the buying and selling of cryptocurrencies but both suffer from different complications as well as enjoying different benefits.

What is a centralised exchange?

A centralised exchange is one of the most common types of crypto exchange and it allows the user to buy and sell cryptocurrencies with fiat currencies, as well as buying cryptocurrencies with other cryptocurrencies. The majority of these exchanges accepts payments via debit or credit card, as well as bank and wire transfer.

When we call it a centralised exchange, we mean that third parties assist with conducting the transactions that take place on it, whilst all daily operations are supervised by an organisation. They are similar in type to a traditional stock exchanges but deal with crypto and fiat rather than stocks.

Benefits of a centralised exchange include the simplicity of use as well as extreme accessibility. In case if something goes wrong on the exchange, the fact that it is operated by an organisation means that it takes all the responsibility. Another benefit is the high level of trading volume which means that these type of exchanges are not considered as volatile.

Disadvantages include the fact that they are susceptible to hackers because when crypto is bought on a centralised exchange, the users don’t actually own the coins and therefore are not in possession of the funds private keys. As in February of this year, there have been more than 30 crypto exchange hacks that have resulted in a loss of almost a million of Bitcoins.

What is a decentralised exchange?

A decentralised exchange doesn’t rely on a third party to hold the cryptocurrencies which makes it much quicker to conduct a transaction than on a centralised one. Those that opt for a decentralised exchange, trade their assets in a P2P manner automatically.

This type of exchange has seen a big increase in popularity over the last six months due to the fact that they are less susceptible to hackers. Another bonus is that these exchanges do not require any personal information to conduct a trade meaning data-hungry hackers are less likely to strike.

But of course, there are some limitations. For example, they tend to be more difficult and complicated to use than centralised exchanges, particularly for beginners. Decentralised exchanges also have a limited level of functionality when compared to their centralised counterparts, as well as a lower trading volume.

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