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Mid Level Reading
25 Aug, 2023

Centralized Exchange (CEX)

Centralized exchanges (CEXs) are cryptocurrency exchanges that are owned and operated by a single company in a centralized manner.

Understanding Centralized Exchanges

Centralized exchanges (CEXs) are platforms that facilitate the trading of cryptocurrencies among users.

They maintain an order book consisting of buy and sell orders submitted by individual traders.

Using specialized software, CEXs match and execute these orders to enable transactions.

IOUs, Custody, and Trading

Unlike decentralized exchanges, CEXs do not involve direct peer-to-peer exchanges between users.

Instead, when users deposit funds onto a centralized exchange, the exchange assumes custody of the assets and provides users with IOUs.

These IOUs represent the exchange’s corresponding amount of cryptocurrency or fiat currency.

The internal accounting system of the business tracks the ownership of these IOUs as they are traded, and actual currency conversion occurs when users withdraw their funds.

Centralized exchanges have become the dominant mode of operation in the cryptocurrency industry.

They offer fast and cost-efficient transaction processing, making them popular among day traders and crypto investors seeking to buy or sell cryptocurrencies.

However, CEXs have certain drawbacks due to their reliance on a central authority:

  • Transparency: CEXs often lack transparency as they do not provide detailed information about their internal operations. This opacity can enable malicious practices such as wash trading and price manipulation.
  • Security Risks: As centralized exchanges hold custody of users’ assets, they become attractive targets for potential attacks from external hackers and insider threats within the organization.
  • Downtime and Trade Disruptions: Technical issues or coordinated attacks can result in significant downtime for CEX services. This downtime can lead to missed trading opportunities for users.
  • Government Intervention: Centralized exchanges are susceptible to government censorship and regulatory actions. Authorities can freeze or seize user funds and compel exchange operators to disclose customers’ personal information.

While centralized exchanges offer convenience and liquidity, users should be aware of these potential risks and exercise caution when using such platforms.

For more information about CEXs, see our curated list of the best exchanges.

Most Used
Tradable Coins
  • 600+
Payment Options
  • +3
Fees
  • 0.1 – 0.5%

More details

Binance is a great combination of low fees, deep liquidity and multiple cryptocurrencies and trading pairs. We have tested every aspect of it and it STILL holds its reign as the top exchange in the world. In our view, it is the perfect crypto exchange for both newbies and advanced traders alike.


  • Biggest exchange in the world.

  • Industry's lowest trading fees.

  • Advance trading options like leverage trading.

  • 600+ crypto options, 150+ for the US.

  • Lucrative on-site staking options.

  • Hiccups in account verification.

  • Less regulated than some competitors.

  • The corporate structure is not transparently.

Best in class
Tradable Coins
  • 80+
Payment Options
  • +4
Fees
  • 0.1 – 1%

More details

eToro is a popular online trading platform for crypto assets, stocks, and ETFs, featuring low fees and a user-friendly interface. With a free eToro wallet and social features like messaging boards, users can copy experienced traders and access numerous assets. Take a look at what makes this platform perfect for starting your trading journey.


  • Provides an attractive, communal atmosphere.

  • Offers zero commission on ETFs.

  • Extensive selection of educational resources.

  • Mobile app with trading features.

  • Smooth account opening and bank transfer.

  • Limited number of cryptocurrencies.

  • Limited customer support.

  • No crypto-to-crypto trading pairs.

Tradable Coins
  • 250+
Payment Options
  • +6
Fees
  • 1%

More details

Coinbase is one of the largest crypto exchanges in the world and a widely-used platform for buying, selling, and trading over 200 cryptocurrencies. It offers trading solutions for beginner, advanced, and institutional traders alike. Take a look at what makes it an excellent option for individual traders looking to trade in cryptocurrencies and beyond.


  • A wide-selection of coin offerings.

  • Most secure online crypto platforms.

  • Top-rated mobile app.

  • Easy interface and user-friendly.

  • Expensive and complex fee structure for beginners

  • Higher fees as compared to other cryptocurrency exchanges.

  • Slow customer support.