DeFi versus CeFi

3 min readApr 1, 2022


Things move fast in the world. We now live in a digital era that is characterized by significant improvements in the financial industry. Historically, traditional financial services such as lending, borrowing, and payments were available solely through banks, credit unions, and other centrally controlled private financial institutions. However, with the advent of blockchain technology, the idea of finance has altered radically, allowing individuals to lend, borrow, or pay using new alternative methods such as Centralized Finance (CeFi) and Decentralized Finance (DeFi) facilitated by the use of cryptocurrencies. DeFi and CeFi are new areas that have the potential to change the financial system and become the driving force to democratize a robust global economy.

Cryptocurrency has evolved into many different classifications since its inception more than a decade ago. There are two separate branches within blockchain-based crypto finance: centralized finance (CeFi) and decentralized finance (DeFi). Both centralized and decentralized finance have the same purpose in principle: to allow people to use cryptocurrency in various financial services. While they provide a broad range of cryptocurrency-related financial services, they are not identical.

Decentralized finance — or DeFi for short — is an umbrella word that refers to financial services such as investing, borrowing, lending, and trading that are facilitated using the decentralized, non-custodial infrastructure. According to Forbes, DeFi manages financial transactions using cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. DeFi intends to democratize finance by replacing old, centralized institutions with peer-to-peer connections capable of providing a wide range of financial services.

In today’s financial environment, financial institutions act as transaction guarantors. These institutions wield great power because your money travels through them. Nonetheless, in DeFi, the financial institution is substituted by a smart contract in the transaction. DeFi uses cryptocurrencies and smart contracts to provide services without intermediaries. DeFi enables community surveillance and provides users with entire control over their finances, including how they exchange and store them, rather than placing all financial power in the hands of a few institutions. These DeFi protocols are characterized to be interoperable, programmable, and composable.

On the other side, CeFi, an acronym for centralized finance, combines some of the return benefits of DeFi with the simplicity and security associated with standard financial-services products. According to Coinbase, CeFi enables revenue generation via crypto-based accounts nearly identical to traditional bank savings accounts but may yield much higher profits. CeFi enables investors to earn interest on their savings, borrow money, and spend using a crypto debit card, among other things. All crypto trading orders are channeled through a central exchange in centralized finance. The people in charge of this exchange manage the money. This implies that an individual does not have access to their wallet without a private key.

What differentiates DeFi and CeFi is how they go about doing it. In decentralized finance, asset class and process are managed by a set of smart protocols. Users have confidence that the technology will perform as intended to deliver the services being offered. In centralized finance, the asset class and processes are managed by people or companies.

Further, the primary distinction between the two finances is how they are exchanged. Decentralized finance is technology-dependent. On the other hand, The centralized exchange is regulated via centralized exchanges. The DeFi exchange is built on top of a blockchain network similar to Ethereum. For a lengthy period, Binance, Coinbase, Libra, and several popular CeFi exchanges have offered crypto-financial services.

As a result of the exchanges’ participation in CeFi, users move their risk to the exchanges. As a result, exchanges are accountable for the security of their users’ funds. These intermediaries are eliminated in DeFi. The transactions are predicated on the success of smart contract protocols.

Centralized finance simplifies currency to cryptocurrency transfers and cross-chain solutions. Centralized finance can transfer cash to assist clients or to cease trading in the event of a negative incident, such as a hack. DeFi, on the other hand, is viewed as more transparent and non-intrusive because it does not require personal information from customers and is not a custodial service. CeFi, on the other hand, can prohibit trade and place restrictions on users, but DeFi does not.

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