In the explosion of growth among cryptocurrency exchanges, decentralized exchanges (DEXs) have grown the fastest, according to a report from Chainalysis.

In the analysis, exchanges are separated into six different categories based on their business models and technical infrastructure. These include DEXs, centralized exchanges (CEXs), over-the-counter (OTC) brokers, derivatives platforms and high-risk exchanges with minimal know your customer (KYC) requirements.

According to the data, the number of active DEXs and OTC brokers has grown the most since 2019, while derivatives exchanges have grown modestly. Meanwhile, numbers for CEXs and higher-risk exchanges have dipped slightly following initial increases. 

Exchange data

Since the first quarter of 2019 the number of DEXs has increased more than 100% to approximately 205, as of June. In that period the amount of OTC brokers also increased significantly, gaining around 50% to 150 by Q3 2021. After rising to around 125 in 2019, the number of derivatives exchanges have remained there since then.

Alternatively, during that same period, the number of CEXs temporarily increased from around 100 to 120, before dipping back to roughly 100. Meanwhile, high-risk exchanges broke out during the middle of 2020 to around 150, but then sharply dropped to below 100 by Q3 2021.

Size matters

The analysis also broke down each of these categories by size, as either being large or small based on a million threshold. It also distinguished between crypto-to-crypto (C2C) exchanges or crypto-to-fiat (C2F) exchanges. Here too large DEXs come out on top, with other large exchanges, high-risk included, having grown the most. The report details that numbers tripled for all three categories. 

Finally, the report also considered growth in terms of received value. During the time period studied, transaction volume rose the most for large DEXs, CEXs and OTC brokers. The report also notes that “derivatives exchanges grew the most by far in value received at 686%.” However, nearly all small exchange categories saw a decrease in their cryptocurrency received.

“The biggest takeaway here is that DEXes have become extremely popular, which coincides with the explosive growth of the DeFi category in general,” the report concludes.

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