Ethereum Co-Founder Vitalik Buterin had harsh words for centralized cryptocurrency exchanges at the TechCrunch Sessions: Blockchain 2018 conference in Zug, Switzerland. He said, “I definitely hope centralized exchanges go burn in hell as much as possible”. He thinks decentralized cryptocurrency exchanges are the way of the future.
Vitalik Buterin is particularly critical about how centralized cryptocurrency exchanges have gained the power to decide which cryptocurrencies will become popular. He says “We can really take away this stupid king-making power that these centralized exchanges have where they have this ability to just decide which tokens become big by deciding to list them and then charging these crazy $10 million to $15 million listing fees. The more we can get away from that world and into something which actually satisfies the blockchain values of openness and transparency the better.”
Aside from Vitalik Buterin’s criticisms, in general, there has been animosity towards centralized cryptocurrency exchanges from the crypto community due to numerous exchange hacking incidents, and even more incidents of exchanges acting like a centralized bank and freezing user funds. For example, over 100 pages of complaints have been filed with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission describing how Coinbase has frozen user accounts and funds and their customer service doesn’t offer any help. This highlights how centralized cryptocurrency exchanges control money, defeating one of the main purposes of cryptocurrency which is to give power over money back to the people.
Additionally, centralized cryptocurrency exchanges usually require identification information from users, removing the anonymity that cryptocurrency was built to provide.
Vitalik Buterin recognizes that the fiat side of cryptocurrency trading is what has caused centralization, saying “In practice, particularly on the fiat to crypto side, it is very difficult to decentralize because you ultimately are interfacing with the fiat world, and the fiat world is one that only has basically centralized gateway. There are valuable services being provided there that are very hard to decentralize”.
Vitalik Buterin is strongly in favor of decentralized cryptocurrency exchanges. Binance and Huobi, which are among the biggest cryptocurrency exchanges in the world, are planning on switching to decentralized blockchain-based platforms, so they won’t have to deal with government regulations anymore.
A truly decentralized cryptocurrency exchange will be able to offer cryptocurrency trading anywhere in the world without collecting identification information from users, and due to its decentralized blockchain-based nature governments can’t really do anything to stop it. Binance and Huobi were forced out of their native country of China following the September 2017 cryptocurrency trading ban, which is probably why these exchanges are leading the way towards decentralization, to ensure their survival no matter the regulatory environment.
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