DeFi vs CeFi in crypto: which is better for you?

The introduction of cryptocurrency has caused a lot of significant changes in the financial industry. People now have accessibility and complete transparency in finance, which are two important features that attract people to the crypto market. When it comes to trading cryptocurrency, exchanges make use of either a centralized (CeFi) or decentralized (DeFi) approach. Because of the similarities between both of these approaches, it is not uncommon to hear people compare both to figure out the better option. Here’s a guide to expand your knowledge of DeFi vs CeFi in crypto, comparing their pros and cons to help you make an informed decision.

What is DeFi?

DeFi seeks a financial system that is established on the blockchain. This system is decentralized and cuts out the need for a middleman. With this, the average person wants to access financial products, such as trading, lending, and borrowing. 

Since this system is decentralized, there is no central authority controlling or regulating it. This implies you will not need banks or any other financial organization to process these financial products behind the scenes before offering them to the world. 

DeFi platforms offer their users financial services without middlemen by using cryptocurrencies and smart contracts. Smart contracts are programs held on the blockchain that are automatically executed under specific conditions. Just like regular blockchain users, these smart contracts have wallet addresses. If you send your token to a smart contract wallet address, it will automatically execute transactions. Examples include trading, lending, and borrowing when certain conditions are met. 

There are basically two types of transactions that you can execute on a blockchain – simple transactions and complex transactions. The simple transactions on the blockchain include transferring cryptocurrency from one wallet to another. Complex transactions include borrowing, lending, and trading cryptocurrency. 

Lastly, users of DeFi have complete control of their assets. This means that nobody can censor, destroy, or transfer their crypto assets without their permission. 

What is CeFi?

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CeFi combines the features of DeFi and conventional centralized financial systems like banks. When it comes to CeFi in crypto, all transactions pass through at least one middleman. This is usually a lending and borrowing platform or a crypto exchange platform. Generally, these exchanges require their users to create an account with them and primarily use their platform to send and receive cryptocurrencies. 

Essentially, when you use a centralized exchange to trade your cryptocurrency, the exchange platform will be responsible for guaranteeing that your trade is executed as planned. This same rule applies to when you deposit your tokens on a lending and borrowing platform. In this case, the platform lends out your tokens to borrowers and in return, the borrowers repay their debt with interest. 

Although funds are held on the exchange, the platform maintains them outside of your control. This also means that the security of your tokens is dependent on the exchange’s security protocol. For this reason, centralized exchanges are high targets for security attacks so users must endeavor to entrust their tokens to a highly secured exchange platform.  

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DeFi vs CeFi in crypto: what are the differences?

Here are the primary differences between DeFi and CeFi based on different factors:

1. Transparency

Since all DeFi transactions are documented on public blockchains, they are generally more transparent than CeFi transactions. For this reason, the DeFi system is less prone to hacks and major collapses because users will be able to figure out that there is a problem in time. This is not the same for CeFi systems because most problems will only be known to the CeFi companies themselves, while users will be left in the dark. 

Nonetheless, CeFi has a centralized and more regulated system, which means that transactions executed with the platforms will always run smoothly. On the other hand, there is always a risk that smart contracts in DeFi systems may not be executed properly because there is no central authority to see to the completion of the transactions. 

2. Accessibility

What is DeFi?

Although DeFi and CeFi in crypto are far more accessible than conventional finance systems, it is safe to say that when compared to each other, DeFi wins in this area. Anybody can easily connect to the DeFi ecosystem at any time regardless of their location.

In today’s world, there are 2 billion people without a functional bank account, which means they can’t access the services of the traditional financial system. However, with DeFi, the underbanked population can access financial services with ease as they would just need a solid internet connection, a small amount of crypto, and an in-depth understanding of DeFi to begin putting their cash to work.

On the other hand, most CeFi platforms, have anti-money laundering and rigid Know-Your-Customer prerequisites, so you’ll have to leap through a few strenuous hoops before you can use their services. Nonetheless, the requirements needed for CeFi are presently a lot less cumbersome than what you generally need to provide when you want to open a bank account.

3. Security 

Speaking of the security of your assets, each option has its advantages and disadvantages. With DeFi, you are accountable for holding your cryptocurrencies and keeping them safe because you can interact directly with the DeFi blockchain via your crypto wallet. 

This is generally very secure and also offers you full custody of your funds. However, note that if you misplace the password or key phrase to gain access to your crypto wallet, no backup or company can help you regain access to your funds.

On the other hand, when it comes to CeFi, the platform takes control of your crypto and serves as a backup for you. So you are free to call them if you ever forget your login details, just like what you can do with a bank. However, CeFi platforms are only as safe as the exchange platform keeping your crypto for you.

So ensure that you choose an authorized and regulated exchange platform to hold your funds for you. Lastly, always look over the terms and conditions of your preferred exchange platform, and ensure that they divide your cryptocurrency from their company reserves. This way, if the exchange platform ever goes bankrupt for any reason, the company wouldn’t transfer your assets to their creditors.

4. Convenience

CeFi platforms are generally easier to operate than DeFi protocols because they’re similar to conventional commercial banks. In fact, they have a customer service department that you can send your complaints to.

Also, you can send traditional fiat currencies to CeFi crypto platforms to use to purchase crypto and vice versa. On the other hand, when it comes to DeFi, traditional fiat currencies don’t come into play at all. 

5. Earnings

How to invest in DeFi

You may likely earn more with DeFi than with CeFi as DeFi platforms generally allow users to earn more. Why’s that? It’s simple. Since DeFi platforms generally don’t have any prerequisites to listing on them, hence, most new crypto projects commence on DeFi first. Also, since these new projects often offer some sort of incentives, such as higher interest rates, for early users, users of DeFi will certainly make a profit from them. This implies that if you’re on DeFi crypto platforms, it is possible to take advantage of it by being one of the early adopters and receiving those incentives.

By the time the new projects get listed on centralized platforms, the earning potential and incentives would have cooled off a bit. However, unlike DeFi protocols, most CeFi exchange platforms only index a token after doing their due diligence on it. This can be a very good thing because there’s less likelihood of CeFi users losing money to a scam crypto project.

6. Fees

Note that DeFi fees can be higher than the fees CeFi platforms attract. Essentially, with CeFi, you’re paying the fee directly to the crypto exchange or lending platform instead of the fee needed to secure your crypto transaction on the blockchain. Hence, CeFi fees are generally lower than DeFi fees.       

7. Malleability Of Execution Order

Malleability generally depends on the regulatory conditions set or the order in which you have to perform a financial transaction. If these conditions are strict, there’s very little possibility of exploiting the market. You can execute financial transactions in a peer-to-peer manner, which automatically makes the platforms more malleable and inclined to innovation. Here are notable differences in malleability between both systems: 

  • CeFi – very stringent regulatory conditions leave no room for market manipulation because there is already a predefined arrangement in which you have to conduct a transaction.
  • DeFi – Users don’t have to conform to any rigid regulations and don’t need authorization to use DeFi platforms. This provides more means for market manipulation.

DeFi vs CeFi in crypto: what are the pros and cons?

Although DeFi and CeFi platforms are amazing and unique in their own ways, they don’t come without some downsides. Listed below are the pros and cons of DeFi and CeFi.

Advantages of DeFi

Here are some of the advantages of DeFi systems:

  • Democratization of finance. Anyone can access financial products without the need for an intermediary
  • Increased accessibility for users
  • Transparency
  • Faster and more efficient transactions
  • Opportunity to earn more than CeFi platforms
  • Allows users to maintain anonymity 

Disadvantages of DeFi

Here are some of the disadvantages of DeFi systems:

  • Requires users to have a high level of technical expertise
  • Engaging in Defi can be risky. The platform exposes you to the risk of smart contract failures, high volatility, and hacking threats.
  • Scalability issues
  • Less secure than CeFi platforms

Advantages of CeFi

Here are some of the advantages of CeFi systems:

  • Lower risk than DeFi
  • Offers users a more secure platform
  • Very easy to use and requires less technical expertise
  • Offers users customer service support, whereas DeFi doesn’t.

Disadvantages of CeFi

Here are some of the disadvantages of CeFi systems:

  • Cumbersome verification process
  • Offers less transparency than DeFi systems
  • Users receive lower interest rates than users of DeFi systems 
  • Less accessible to the public
  • Lack of anonymity for users

DeFi vs CeFi in crypto: which is better for you?

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So DeFi vs CeFi In Crypto: Which is better for you? There is no across-the-board answer to the question of the better option between DeFi and CeFi. The best option for you primarily depends on your needs and preferences. 

If you are seeking a financial platform that is decentralized in nature and offers you transparency and accessibility, then DeFi may just be the better option for you. Before you choose DeFi platforms, you must be fully aware of the risks involved when using the platforms. 

However, if you are seeking a financial platform that is easy to use and offers you a high level of security, then CeFi may be the better option for you. Note that CeFi platforms are generally more expensive to use.

What’s the Difference Between CeFi and DeFi?

The most significant difference that exists between centralized and decentralized finance systems is that CeFi has an intermediary in the form of KYC established while DeFi is permissionless.

Another major difference between CeFi and DeFi is that centralized finance generally provides its users with lesser anonymity than DeFi systems. Lastly, when it comes to custody of assets, in contrast to CeFi, DeFi permits customers to directly control and manage their assets anytime.

Is Bitcoin a CeFi or DeFi?

Bitcoin is a DeFi network. When Satoshi Nakamoto put forward the Bitcoin whitepaper to the world, his major aim was to introduce a decentralized peer-to-peer method of transactions to the world of finance. Besides that, while comparing CeFi to DeFi, you’d realize that CeFi needs KYC verification, therefore, users have to be public. However, with DeFi, users are free to remain anonymous.

Ultimately, when choosing between DeFi vs. CeFi systems, keep in mind that each of these platforms has its respective advantages and disadvantages. CeFi promises users the security of assets and fair trading on those assets. DeFi seeks to make the financial world intrusion-free by providing a space for you to trade without intermediary bodies. Also, while the CeFi sector has witnessed incidences like FTX occurring due to specific malpractices, DeFi still suffers from some challenges. So the better option for you between these two systems depends on your needs and preferences. 

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Nov 8, 2023

10 mins read

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