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Is Binance’s DEX Really Decentralized?

Many prominent figures in the crypto space have criticized the big exchanges in the space as centralized institutions. Mt. Gox and QuadrigaCX are only the most infamous examples of the negative consequences of centralized exchanges. But also a relatively well-functioning exchange like Binance received or still receives criticism. Vitalik Buterin e.g. criticized Binance several times for high listing fees and for enriching itself. This is why many people predicted the rise of decentralized exchanges. Binance has now responded to this common demand for decentralized exchanges. The platform launched last week – but how decentralized is it really?

Binance Chain & the Scalability Issue

Binance has developed its own blockchain: the Binance Chain. The ecosystem on top of this blockchain uses the Binance Coin (BNB) which is still an ERC-20 token. However, the Binance Chain will become BNB’s native chaind, i.e. mainnet.

A problem that all decentralized exchanges have to address is the fact that the transactions per second – as of now – are very limited. A major disadvantage in comparison to normal exchanges. As this does not make DEXs very suitable for mass adoption.

In order to solve this problem, Binance has built its chain on a custom version of Tendermint and Cosmos. A chain that is presumably able to process several thousands of transactions per second. However, the consensus on this chain is delegated proof-of-stake. In the case of the Binance Chain the DEX runs on 11 nodes only that all belong to Binance. Which does not really sound like decentralization.

Non-Custodial Does Not Mean Decentralized

Changpeng Zhao stated that he considers Binance DEX to be decentralized nonetheless. As he argues that Binance does not hold the private keys of its users on its DEX. However, a more precise term for this kind of exchange would be non-custodial exchange and not decentralized exchange. However, Binance Non-Custodial Exchange really does not have the same ring to it.

Furthermore, there are the high-listing fees of the Binance DEX of $100,000. According to CZ, Binance implemented these to prevent ‘spam’ on the DEX. The profit that it generates is surely a nice side-effect.

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