Shanvere DAO
3 min readMay 15, 2023

An Introduction to Market Making in Cryptocurrency: Centralized and Decentralized Exchanges

The world of cryptocurrency trading is exciting and filled with potential for high returns. However, it can also be daunting, especially for beginners who are unfamiliar with its unique terminologies and operations. One such term that often comes up is "market making." In this article, we’ll explore what market making means in the context of cryptocurrency, how it plays out in both centralized and decentralized exchanges, and why it’s an essential component of the crypto market.

Understanding Market Making

At its core, market making is the act of buying and selling financial instruments to provide liquidity, reduce price volatility, and maintain a balanced market. The role of a market maker is to ensure that there's always a buyer and seller at any given time. They quote both a buy (bid) and sell (ask) price in a financial instrument or asset, aiming to profit from the difference between these two prices, known as the spread.

Imagine a market maker as a dedicated middleman who's always ready to buy or sell the instrument, thereby creating a 'market.' They profit from the bid-ask spread, thus providing the liquidity necessary for the smooth functioning of the market.

Market Making in Centralized Exchanges (CEXes)

In a centralized exchange (CEX), market makers are often large financial institutions or trading firms with significant capital. Centralized exchanges operate similarly to traditional stock exchanges, where buyers and sellers trade assets through an intermediary.

Market makers in CEXes work closely with the exchange to provide constant liquidity. They use sophisticated algorithms to constantly place buy and sell orders, helping to ensure that there is always a counterpart for any trade. This constant buying and selling help to reduce price volatility and ensure the smooth functioning of the exchange.

Market Making in Decentralized Exchanges (DEXes)

In contrast to CEXes, decentralized exchanges (DEXes) operate on blockchain technology without a central authority. They use smart contracts to facilitate trades directly between users. This decentralization brings about a different approach to market making.

In DEXes, liquidity pools play the role of market makers. A liquidity pool is a collection of funds locked in a smart contract. Multiple users lock their assets into this smart contract, thereby providing liquidity to the market. When other users want to trade, they do so directly with this pool. This structure ensures that there is always a buyer and seller available for every trade.

The users who provide their assets to the liquidity pool are rewarded with fees generated from the trades. This way, instead of having one large entity acting as a market maker (as is the case in CEXes), many users act as 'mini' market makers by contributing to liquidity pools.


Market making is a crucial aspect of both centralized and decentralized cryptocurrency exchanges. While in centralized exchanges, it’s typically large institutions providing the liquidity, in decentralized exchanges, it’s a collection of individual users contributing to liquidity pools. Understanding this concept is crucial for anyone interested in the world of cryptocurrency trading. The knowledge of how these markets function can provide insight into price movements, liquidity, and the overall health of a given market. As always, in the exciting yet volatile world of cryptocurrency, knowledge can indeed be power, and in many cases, profitable too!

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