DEX, better-worked alternatives – MtGox, Bitfinex and more recently KuCoin. Centralized trading platforms are prime targets for hackers. To address this problem, developers have looked into the creation of decentralized trading platforms. Let’s take a look at the most emblematic ones, which have allowed the development of DeFi.
Decentralized exchanges (DEX)
From their inception, cryptocurrencies have been intended to decentralize financial systems . Unfortunately, the industry has long been masterfully run by centralized players, such as Bitcoin Circuit, Coinbase, KuCoin or Kraken, to name a few.
These are vulnerable to computer and legal attacks , due to their centralized nature.
Problem: until very recently, we did not have the technical means to decentralize exchanges while maintaining the qualities offered by centralized exchanges.
Obviously, the industry’s thirst for decentralization is slowly getting the better of these centralized systems. Year after year, more and more projects aiming to decentralize exchange platforms have emerged. Initially inefficient, the recent advent of AMMs (Automated Market Makers) has led to the proliferation of decentralized trading platforms, this time offering remarkable alternatives.
Click here to consult our DEX vs AMM file »
Uniswap , Curve , Balancer or even Loopring . The list is long. No worries ! We are going to sift through all of the most influential platforms in the DeFi ecosystem.
In practice, most DEXs are hosted on the Ethereum network. Indeed, among the 10 DEXs recording the most volume, 9 of them come from Ethereum and only one from Tron . As a result, this summary will mainly report platforms hosted on Ethereum.
As we saw in the introduction, Ethereum is the main blockchain hosting DEXs. A relatively obvious situation, because Ethereum is also the network that gave birth to the DeFi ecosystem.
Uniswap is an AMM- type decentralized exchange platform. This means that it does not work thanks to an order book like centralized exchanges, but thanks to pools of liquidity . These pools are reserves of tokens hosted on smart contracts, used to carry out trades.
It was founded at the end of 2018 by Hayden Adams and has since conquered the head of decentralized exchange platforms.
To function, Uniswap relies on liquidity providers. These are the users who will deposit their cryptocurrencies in liquidity pools to allow exchanges.
As a result, Uniswap has a huge number of pools , allowing you to trade almost any ERC-20 . Each of the pools contains 2 assets, divided equally, making up a pair of trades. For example, there is a pool made up of 50% ETH and 50% DAI.
To reward their involvement, the platform redistributes the 0.3% of fees recovered during each of the trades. In addition, since the launch of the UNI governance token, some pools can benefit from liquidity mining and generate UNI tokens in addition to fees.
Click here to consult our dossier on Uniswap
Curve is a decentralized exchange platform following the same architecture as Uniswap, in this case an AMM. Launched in December 2019, it quickly established itself as a staple in the DeFi ecosystem.
With Curve, Michael Egorov wanted to create a DEX specializing in the exchange of stablecoins. Indeed, stablecoins represent a large part of the DeFi ecosystem and many arbitrage opportunities exist between different tokens.
Currently, Curve has DAI , USDC , USDT , TUSD , BUSD , sUSD and PAX pools .
In fact, Curve offers a different algorithm than Uniswap to process trades. Thanks to its particular function curve, Curve manages to offer extremely low slippage during exchanges.
Remember that slippage corresponds to the difference between the price ultimately obtained by Curve and the average price that would have been obtained for the same asset on the general market .
In addition to the stablecoin pools, which are Curve’s business base, the platform has set up several pools specializing in tokenized versions of Bitcoin with wBTC , renBTC and sBTC tokens .
On the same concept as Uniswap, Curve pools have 0.04% fees that are redistributed to liquidity providers . Like Uniswap, Curve offers pools of 2 assets divided equally.
Click here to consult our file on Curve
Once is not customary, Balancer is a decentralized exchange protocol following an AMM architecture. That is to say, once again, this platform relies on pools of liquidity.
The platform was launched in March 2020 and made headlines in specialist media following the resounding launch of its governance token, the BAL .
Balancer sets itself apart from its competitors by offering multi-asset liquidity pools . Unlike Uniswap or Curve, where the pools contain only 2 different assets, Balancer offers pools containing up to 8 different assets and whose proportions can be variable.
For example, we can find pools composed of 33% ETH, 33% DAI and 33% USDC.
Like Uniswap, Balancer accepts almost all ERC-20 tokens. As long as there is liquidity, trading is possible.
A point specific to Balancer: the exchange fees are set by the creator of the pool and can vary from 0.0001 to 10% . In practice, these rarely exceed 1%.