The views expressed in Opinion pieces belong to the authors and are not necessarily shared by MEW.
Cryptocurrencies come in a wide variety of different coins and tokens, each with their own unique use-cases and functionality. There isn't really a "coin to rule them all" yet, so there are many reasons to swap between these cryptos, depending on the user.
There are plenty of exchanges out there, with more popping up every day, so deciding where to go and who to trust can be difficult. The two main types of exchanges generally break down to whether or not they're centralized, meaning whether they hold and manage your data and funds for you. Another popular term for this is ‘custodial’. While this seems nice and convenient on the surface, centralized solutions defeat the whole purpose of using cryptocurrencies in the first place. That’s why some non-custodial wallets, like MEW, offer intuitive decentralized swaps. Decentralization doesn’t have to be difficult.
Most people in the world don’t use blockchain because they haven’t heard of it. Even when they have, it’s not exactly an easy topic to explain. It can be hard to understand what the point of blockchain is from outside the community. Even viewed from the inside, blockchain’s potential is a foggy landscape at best. The consequences of decentralization can be confusing and double-edged. To understand the various ways it can help, you need to understand why help is needed in the first place.
The financial and technological worlds are built on data and trust. That trust gets consistently betrayed, but with no other direction to turn we continue participating in these systems. We are required from birth to have all our details recorded in databases that we never see, to memorize social security numbers that are tied to our financial existence, and to let third party companies hold onto our money to hand out at their discretion. But hey, it makes sense – it’s available and familiar, it’s organized and easy to keep track of. This is centralization, and it’s someone else’s job to keep it all centralized. Leaks, breaches, and defaults happen all the time, but that’s just inevitable with these kinds of systems.. right?
Decentralization is like a dream no one remembers after waking up. The idea of real self-ownership and financial freedom is nice in the back of our heads, but the reality is too far off to really understand. Most of the time, it turns out to be more of an inconvenience than what we were doing before, so we think “maybe down the road”. Many blockchain proponents still have balances with centralized bank accounts, myself included. It’s hard to escape it.
However, there are countless benefits to using blockchain the way it was intended. Unlike physical land, there are no real borders to the internet, only centralized islands of access points and media coverage spread across the world. Blockchain has the potential to be the ocean that connects the islands. It facilitates community and growth without interference or the need for ‘trust’. But the original language of the blockchain is code and cryptography, so it can feel very isolating for someone without a lot of technical expertise.
That’s where services like MEW come in. We provide an interface that lets anyone access the blockchain in an intuitive way, and without leaving a single piece of data behind. No accounts or password necessary, only your own personal wallet that lets you explore and interact with anyone or anything, whenever you need to, and with no strings attached. We kept the access methods reminiscent of centralized account structures for familiarity, but you never have to compromise any of your data or finances with MEW. We have no backend servers and no data logs. In fact, we’re 100% open source so you can see for yourself!
This is true decentralization. When it comes to exchanges, using a non-custodial, decentralized wallet with a custodial, centralized exchange takes a bit of the purpose out of why cryptocurrencies are being used in the first place. It’s like escaping prison to join the military. The heart is in the right place, but the reality is just as authoritarian.
Decentralized Crypto Exchanges
There is a growing number of crypto exchanges out there, each offering their own rates for cryptocurrency swaps. Not everyone can agree on rates or fees, so many of these decentralized exchanges (a.k.a. DEXs) establish their own policies.
DEXs work a bit differently than custodial exchanges, so it’s important to review your trades and do your own research to uncover all fees involved with your actions. Here’s a small sample of a few popular DEXs, in no particular order.
- 0.25% Trading Fee. (Read more about Changelly rates.)
- No fees, except on Limit Orders. This fee is waived if the user holds over 2000 KNC. (Read more on Kyber's FAQ.)
- No “trading fee”, but they adjust exchange rates every 30 seconds to make a profit of around 0.5%. (ShapeShift's fee structure.)
- Anywhere from 0.1% - 0.2% trading fee depending on what action is being taken. (Read more on IDEX FAQ.)
As you can see, each exchange has different rates and different systems to enforce those rates. Not only that, the amount of cryptocurrencies supported also varies from exchange to exchange. With so many to choose from, it's hard to know who supports what and the costs associated with that support.
Using DEXs with MEW
To help our users navigate this space, MEW has partnered with some of the biggest and best decentralized exchanges in the crypto community.
Our provider DEX.AG offers real-time competitive rates on swaps from many different DEXs, such as Uniswap, Kyber, Bancor, and more, plus the Changelly exchange offers even more swaps options. Fees are reflected in the price that you are getting, which makes it simple to judge who is offering the best deal.
To get more information about decentralized trading and its benefits, you can always browse MEW’s Knowledge Base or contact the support team. With interfaces like MEW, dedicated to putting decentralized finance into a user-friendly format, perhaps ownership of your financial identity doesn’t have to be such a far off dream.