CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 76% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing all your money. Read our full Risk Warning.
CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 77% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.
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Decentralized Exchanges: Exploring the Future of Trading

Decentralized exchanges facilitate secure peer-to-peer trading without intermediaries, making them an appealing option for those looking to trade privately.

Marcel Deer - Writer for Fortrade
By Marcel Deer
a man in a green and black checkered shirt
Edited by Petar Milenkovic

Published May 21, 2024.

a notebook with "decentralized exchanges" written on it next to a laptop keyboard

Decentralized exchanges (DEXs) differ significantly from centralized counterparts. In a DEX, you control your private keys, and the exchange doesn't retain them. Misplacing these keys means losing access to your account.

Unlike centralized exchanges managed by organizations, DEXs function via smart contracts directly from users' wallets. This necessitates users taking full responsibility for their funds and key backups, as the exchange doesn't store private information or transaction details.

Note: Fortrade offers the ability to trade the price changes of instruments with CFDs and NOT to buy/sell ownership of the instrument itself. Fortrade in no way suggests that readers should consider trading cryptocurrency on a decentralized exchange.

How Do Decentralized Exchanges Work?

Decentralized exchanges are based on blockchain networks with smart contract functionalities, like Ethereum and Solana. Trades incur transaction and trading fees.

There are three main types of DEXs:

  1. Automated Market Makers (AMMs) Decentralized exchanges that use algorithms to enable individual traders to buy and sell cryptocurrencies. Instead of trading P2P, you can trade through an AMM using pre-funded liquidity pools.
  2. Order Book DEXs These DEXs keep records of all open orders for buy and sell assets, taking into account the spread between prices to determine order book depth and market price on the exchange. Buy orders mean that you, as a trader, are willing to buy an asset at a set price, while sell orders mean that you are ready to sell an asset at a certain price.
  3. DEX Aggregators As the name suggests, these platforms aggregate liquidity from several exchanges to minimize slippage and provide users with the best price possible.

List of Decentralized Exchanges

  • dYdX: Supports crypto derivatives and offers up to 20x leverage
  • Huobi: Offers a DEX-cum-web 3.0 wallet; Supports multiple blockchains and cross-chain trading
  • OKX: Aggregates liquidity pools from multiple DEXs to provide users with the best prices
  • Uniswap: Largest Ethereum-based DEX and is typically where users go to invest in post initial coin offering (ICO) projects
  • PancakeSwap: User-friendly platform that is popular for trading Binance Smart Chain tokens and earning yields
  • SushiSwap: Supports a wide range of tokens and offers opportunities to earn yields via liquidity pools and vaults
  • Kucoin: Supports loans, non fungible tokens, dual investments, and decentralized trading
  • ApeSwap: Supports cross-chain trading, farming, staking, as well as crypto project fundraising
  • Kine: Enables trading crypto derivatives with leverage and provides access to in-app trading signals
  • Curve: Supports cross-chain token swaps and liquidity pools with high annual percentage yields

The earliest versions of decentralized exchanges can be traced back to 2014. They have since evolved to address liquidity problems and provide better security, lending, and more. Some DEXs also allow users to borrow funds to leverage positions or lend funds to earn interest.

While the DEXs listed above provide varying services, they all rely on self-executing smart contracts that allow you to trade directly with other users or access algorithms (in the case of AMMs).

You can also take out flash loans via DEXs now, which are loans taken and paid in a single transaction—and just in a matter of minutes. Because DEXs rely on smart contracts, more use cases are expected to emerge in the coming years as technology and cryptocurrency advance further.

Insights for Choosing the Best Decentralized Exchange

Your trading needs may vary, so the DEX you choose will ultimately depend on your requirements and the level of risk you’re comfortable with. Here are several things to look out for when selecting a decentralized exchange:

  • Security—always opt for a reputable platform that does regular smart contract audits and has a proven track record in terms of maintaining security.
  • Liquidity—choose a DEX that offers sufficient liquidity for efficient trading.
  • Decentralization—ensure the DEX is truly decentralized and censorship-resistant.
  • User experience—you’ll want a DEX that’s intuitive and easy to use.
  • Token support—check if the DEX you choose supports the cryptocurrencies you plan to trade.
  • Fees—study the cost implications and fee structure of the DEX before jumping into trading.

Should You Embrace DEXs?

DEXs marked a new era for trading and provided several advantages for the modern trader. In addition to offering a wider range of tokens available for trading (compared to centralized exchanges), DEXs also preserve users’ anonymity by using private keys. They are also more secure due to the fact that they do not keep custody of your funds—lessening hacking risks.

However, bearing full responsibility for all of your transactions may prove to be a double-edged sword. In the end, it all comes down to how much you trust yourself and your abilities.