When it comes to modern trade, everything is digital. The transfer of assets around the world is dependent on institutions keeping transaction records in their databases. This is the role of the exchange. It became the broker necessary to validate each trading party, define what they were trading, and determine who possessed rightful ownership. This centralized model acts as the authority at the center of all trading. While it has been instrumental in developing complex trade systems, it relies on institutions wielding a disproportionate amount of influence and control.
Centralized exchanges form to ensure fairness, but with them comes new risk and decreased trader autonomy. Wallet-to-wallet is a new way to trade while sidestepping the exchange.
Trust is a well-kept record
Centralization comes at a cost
Because personal information and transaction records are processed in one place, the central exchange becomes a single point of failure. Maintenance, malpractice, and outside attack cause funds to be locked-up or trading to stop altogether. When it comes to intangible assets—especially cryptoassets—this can mean your investments are lost forever. Why? Because handing over custody of the record means handing over the asset itself. Furthermore, access to exchanges is exclusive and constrained by geography. The result is siloed markets with restricted participation. Finding diverse liquidity requires traders jump from one exchange to another having to deposit, withdraw, and submit personal information over and over. Each time with fees, wait times, risk-of-error, and loss of custody. Until now, this model was the only option.
Blockchain technology automates the role of record keeping and distributes it across a network. Validation of counter-parties, transactions, and asset ownership happens through a host of encrypted, independent actors rather than through a central authority. Without the need for this authority, all the roles it fulfills can be deconstructed. The order book, counter-party validation, exchange mechanism, trading interface, and asset ownership are free to become separate entities.
Separating the pieces results in a network of independent apps that facilitate the role of traditional exchanges but are an entirely different composition. Digital Assets are stored on the blockchain and always accessible meaning the entire system is non-custodial.
Ethereum blockchain validates counter-parties, ownership and assets.
Relayers like Radar communicate and store orders
The 0x Protocol facilitates asset transfers
Wallets such as Ledger, enable individuals to access their assets encrypted on the blockchain.
Exchange is a verb, not a noun
This paradigm shift means exchange is no longer a place. Digital assets move directly between parties. The applications between become conduits of trade in a vast network of wallets rather than mandatory destinations. Assets stay accessible to owners, liquidity is open-ended, participation is inclusive, and identity is shared at-will. No transferring in and out of multiple exchanges. Simply plug a wallet into the network and start trading. For the first time, complex peer-to-peer trading is now possible at a global scale. Welcome to the next generation of trade.