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What is a Cryptocurrency Exchange?


20, July, 2023

in Guides/Reviews

Person using cryptocurrency exchange app on their phone. Their desk has crypto coins and a macbook on it.
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A cryptocurrency exchange, also known as a DCE or digital currency exchange, is a company that enables customers to trade cryptocurrencies or digital currencies for various assets, including regular fiat money or other digital currencies.

They accept different payment types, like credit cards, wire transfers, or other methods, in exchange for digital currencies or cryptocurrencies. A cryptocurrency exchange can earn money in two ways: by taking a commission from the difference in buying and selling prices (bid-ask spreads) or by charging transaction fees.

The operational mechanism of a cryptocurrency exchange

When registering an account with a cryptocurrency exchange, you gain the ability to engage in buying and selling various cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), Polkadot (DOT), Dogecoin (DOGE), and more. The exchange you choose will determine whether you can purchase cryptocurrencies using fiat currencies like the US dollar or engage in crypto-to-crypto trading.

Typically, larger and more established trades offer a wider selection of cryptocurrencies. Nonetheless, verifying the availability of your desired crypto before creating an account is advisable.

You can use conventional fiat currency on a cryptocurrency exchange to purchase or conduct trades between cryptocurrencies. You may have the flexibility to convert your crypto into regular currency, hold it in your account for future trading purposes, or withdraw it as cash. The specific services provided can vary based on your exchange or application. For instance, some platforms may not permit the transfer of your crypto to an external crypto wallet.

Top seven factors in assessing a cryptocurrency exchange

1. Jurisdiction

Check if the cryptocurrency exchange you want to use is available in your state or country. If not, you cannot utilise that particular exchange due to various restrictions and regulations.

2. Liquidity

To trade effectively, traders need liquidity, meaning having many orders on exchange each day. Liquidity becomes particularly crucial during periods of high market volatility, which is common in the cryptocurrency markets. Insufficient liquidity can exacerbate volatility and result in rapid price fluctuations.

3. Asset Preference

Cryptocurrencies with larger market capitalisations will likely be listed and traded on well-established exchanges. However, investors interested in acquiring rarer or less popular coins may need to explore smaller exchanges. Having a wishlist of desired coins and conducting thorough research to identify the available options is advisable, as this may require additional effort and investigation.

4. Technology Infrastructure

Developers design matching engines that connect buyers and sellers to facilitate a seamless ordering process for exchange users. A robust matching engine enables exchanges to match orders efficiently, even during high trading volume and market volatility.

A well-performing matching engine is an essential element of the infrastructure for exchanges to introduce new trading pairs and order types, enhancing their ability to serve consumers effectively.

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5. Trading Fees

When purchasing cryptocurrencies, fees can often be overlooked as an additional cost. Exchanges generate revenue by imposing fees on most or all transactions. It is very important to understand the fees associated with any cryptocurrency trade fully.

Just as ETH serves as the native token for the Ethereum blockchain, many exchanges have their own native "exchange tokens". The exchanges create these tokens and they are commonly utilised to charge holders with reduced trading fees.

6. Insurance

Several exchanges offer partial or full user fund insurance. Investors who don't like entrusting their money to a corporation they don't know may find this a compelling selling factor. If something disastrous occurs, an exchange that offers insurance could protect investors from damages (like a hack or employee theft).

7. Transparency

Transparency in cryptocurrency exchanges means being open about fees, trade execution, transaction times, legal frameworks, and security measures. If a platform avoids addressing certain aspects or seems elusive, it may indicate a lack of honesty and raise concerns. To protect yourself from fraud and hacks in the cryptocurrency industry, make transparency a top priority when making investment decisions.

Types of crypto exchange

1. Centralised Exchange (CEX)

Centralised cryptocurrency exchanges often employ a third-party intermediary like a brokerage to facilitate transactions and ensure proper execution. Even though cryptocurrencies are decentralised and not regulated by a central authority, centralised exchanges make it easy to buy cryptocurrencies with regular currency.

However, the centralised ones, held and operated by a single entity, can be more susceptible to attacks or security breaches than decentralised alternatives.

2. Decentralised Exchanges (DEX)

This distribution concept is revolutionising various conventional financial services and redefining them. It's a type of digital currency trade that allows users to sell and buy crypto in a peer-to-peer manner without the involvement of an intermediary.

Decentralisation is a core principle of blockchain and the cryptocurrency ecosystem. It aims to shift authority away from centralised powers and grant more control to individual users. This distribution concept is revolutionising various conventional financial services and redefining their operations.

3. Hybrid Cryptocurrency Exchanges

Hybrid cryptocurrency exchanges blend the convenience of centralised exchanges with the security and freedom of a dispersed exchange. Hybrid exchanges are less common than centralised exchanges, but they could meet the needs of users and crypto enthusiasts.

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Muskan Verma

Muskan Verma

Muskan Verma is a talented content writer and enthusiastic crypto investor. With a knack for creating engaging and informative content, she weaves words to captivate readers and deliver valuable insights. Beyond her writing skills, Muskan Verma is deeply immersed in the world of cryptocurrencies, constantly exploring investment opportunities and staying aware of market trends.

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