What is a crypto exchange?

Crypto exchanges are digital marketplaces where individuals can buy, sell, and trade various cryptocurrencies. These exchanges operate online and are accessible through a web browser or mobile app.

The basic options offered by exchange offices are:

  • Buying cryptocurrencies
    Users can buy cryptocurrencies with traditional fiat currencies (EUR, USD…) or with other cryptocurrencies.

  • Selling cryptocurrencies
    Users can exchange their cryptocurrencies for fiat currencies.

  • Trading with cryptocurrencies
    Many exchanges offer pairs that allow you to exchange one cryptocurrency for another. You can, for example, exchange Bitcoin for Ethereum and vice versa. 

  • Storing cryptocurrencies
    Quite a few exchanges allow storing cryptocurrencies in wallets that are in the hands of the exchange or other custodial institutions – these wallets are called “custodial wallets“.

In addition to the basic services, exchanges offer additional ones as well, including over-the-counter trading (OTC trading), margin trading, lending, staking of cryptocurrencies, various programs for automatic trading, or offering custodianship for secure storage of large amounts of cryptocurrencies. We will talk about all the additional services offered by different exchanges in the upcoming chapters.

Before the exchanges, buying cryptocurrencies was much more difficult and, above all, less secure. Cryptocurrencies could only be bought on the black market or live. Even the first websites, where it was possible to buy and sell directly between individuals, weren’t famous for their security. In March 2010, however, the first true crypto exchange appeared, followed by the development of others.

Since then, the crypto exchange industry has been growing rapidly, with many new exchanges appearing that offer an ever-increasing range of services. Today, there are many crypto exchanges around the world, each offering different cryptocurrencies and features for the user to choose from.

They play a key role in the cryptocurrency ecosystem, providing people with a convenient and rather secure way to manage their digital assets. With the advancement of technology and the growing number of exchanges to choose from, buying, selling, and trading cryptocurrencies has become more accessible and user-friendly. As with any financial transaction, it is still important to do your own research before using a particular exchange, as not every exchange is necessarily good or safe.