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What Are DEX – Decentralized Exchanges And How Do They Work?

What Are DEX - Decentralized Exchanges And How Do They Work?
Paul L.

A DEX crypto exchange is a type of platform that allows users to engage in financial transactions directly with one another without the need for a central authority, such as a bank or a traditional financial intermediary. 

These decentralized exchanges operate on blockchain technology, primarily on platforms like Ethereum and KleverChain, and enable trading of cryptocurrency, tokens, and other digital assets, like non-fungible tokens (NFTs)

Key features of DeFi exchanges

Here are some key features of DeFi exchanges:

  • Decentralization: Unlike centralized exchanges, DeFi platforms are typically decentralized, meaning they are not controlled by a single entity. This decentralization is achieved through the use of smart contracts, which are self-executing contracts with the terms of the agreement directly written into code.
  • Permissionless: Anyone with an internet connection and a compatible wallet can access DeFi exchanges without needing approval from a governing body or undergoing KYC (Know Your Customer) processes.
  • Interoperability: Many DeFi platforms are built to be interoperable, allowing for enhanced functionality like moving assets across different blockchains or integrating various financial services in one interface.
  • Transparency: Transactions on DeFi exchanges are transparent and can be verified on the blockchain by any user, providing a high level of transparency and security.
  • Smart contracts: The operations on DeFi exchanges are governed by smart contracts, which automate and enforce the execution of agreements, reducing the need for trust and the possibility of disputes.

What are the main differences between a CEX (centralized exchange) and a DEX (decentralized exchange)?

The main difference between a decentralized finance (DeFi) exchange and a centralized exchange (CEX) lies in their underlying structures and operational methodologies. 

Control and custody

DeFi exchanges: Operate without a central authority. Users maintain control of their private keys and thus their funds. Transactions are executed directly between users through smart contracts.

CEX exchanges: Managed by a centralized entity (such as a company). Users typically transfer their funds to the exchange, which holds them and manages the security of the assets.


DeFi exchanges: Security depends largely on the robustness of the smart contracts. Users are responsible for their own wallet security but are not as exposed to risks like exchange hacks.

CEX exchanges: Security is managed by the exchange, which can be both a benefit and a risk. While professional management can offer strong security measures, centralized exchanges are also attractive targets for hackers.

Accessibility and anonymity

DeFi exchanges: Generally offer open and permissionless access, allowing anyone to participate without needing to undergo KYC (Know Your Customer) processes.

CEX exchanges: Often require users to complete identity verification processes, aligning with regulatory requirements to prevent fraud and money laundering.

Interoperability and innovation

DeFi exchanges: Built on blockchain platforms like Ethereum, many DeFi projects are inherently designed to be interoperable, facilitating a broad ecosystem of integrated financial products and services.

CEX exchanges: Tend to operate as isolated platforms. While they might offer various services, these are not typically designed for seamless integration with other platforms or blockchains.

Liquidity and trading volume

DeFi exchanges: Initially struggled with liquidity issues, but this has been improving with innovations such as liquidity pools and automated market makers (AMM).

CEX exchanges: Generally offer higher liquidity and larger trading volumes due to longer operational histories and the aggregation of funds.

User experience

DeFi exchanges: Can be more complex and intimidating for new users, requiring a deeper understanding of blockchain technology and personal security measures.

CEX exchanges: Often provide user-friendly interfaces and customer support, making them more accessible to beginners.

The bottom line

When choosing between a decentralized (DeFi) and a centralized exchange (CEX), it’s essential to weigh your needs for security, regulatory compliance, ease of use, liquidity, and interoperability. 

The best DeFi exchange offers greater control and privacy, suitable for those comfortable with blockchain technology and personal security management.

In contrast, CEXs provide higher liquidity, user-friendly interfaces, and professional security management, appealing to those who prioritize convenience and large volume trading. 

Depending on your individual trading needs and involvement in the crypto ecosystem, you might find one type more advantageous than the other, or even decide to combine both for different aspects of your trading and investment activities.

Keep an eye on the Finbold website for extra resources and always do your own research. 

Disclaimer: The content on this site should not be considered investment advice. Investing is speculative. When investing, your capital is at risk.

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Paul L.


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