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Most people in the cryptocurrency space know what an exchange is. For the most part, exchanges are centralized. Meaning, they are run by a single organization or company who has employees and staff that do different things like development and customer service for example. Centralized exchanges act as the middleman between traders facilitating transactions. These are the norm in the crypto industry, but the issue with it is that it's a single point of failure.
With decentralized exchanges, there is no single point of failure. DEX's are an exchange that allows peer-to-peer trades, where there is no company or person in the middle facilitating the transactions.
DEX's are built by developers who want to build a better system that is not reliant on a single person or organization, so there is no single point of failure, and no counterparty risk in the middle. Having to trust the exchange is removed, and it opens the door to all kinds of new trades and price discoveries and doesn't have the hassles of KYC and AML rules and regulations.
When decentralized exchanges first came around, they were very limited in their scope. Mainly built and focused on Bitcoin, the DEX's offered some value but it wasn't until Ethereum started becoming more popular that DEX's really started to show promise.
Due to Ethereum's smart contract abilities, DEX's built on top of Ethereum are able to be fully decentralized, removing counterparties allowing users to fully exchange with each other without a centralized entity being involved.
One of the most popular DEX's that has caught on in recent times that has really exploded has been Uniswap. It is an open source DEX where changes to the protocol are voted on by owners of a native cryptocurrency and governance token called UNI, and then implemented by a team of developers.
It is estimated that Uniswap is the biggest DEX with the most volume. According to Dune Analytics, Uniswap is ranked number one with a 7 day volume of $9.1 billion and has over 141k traders (at the time of this writing). Other popular DEX's that are also doing well are Sushiswap, Curve, 0x, and Bancor.
OKEx has it's own DEX in an effort to build out this space and decentralize it's exchange offerings. OKEx DEX is a decentralized exchange powered by their own blockchain, called OKExChain. OKExChain is a set of open-source public blockchains aiming to promote large-scale commercial applications. As the first application in OKExChain, OKEx DEX offers a borderless, decentralized trading platform.
Not only are there decentralized exchanges like Uniswap that are popular, but DEX aggregators are gaining more traction lately too. An aggregator just means it's a DEX that sources liquidity from other DEX's and provides the best exchange rates to traders.
For example, 1inch is a DEX aggregator that is catching on quickly. The DEX aggregator has approached the $20 billion mark in total volume. Generally, aggregators may attract more users and volume for DEXs, as they offer a price comparison service with the ability to optimize slippage and fees. This could also be due to its large number of supported sources and its own liquidity pools, where liquidity providers can earn 1INCH token rewards.
Other aggregators that are fast becoming more in demand are Tokenlon and Matcha, both with their own unique ways of attracting new users and gaining popularity.