Liminal secures FSP license from FSRA in ADGM   Read more

Centralised Finance (CeFi)

| May 31, 2024

Share this article

Key Takeaways 

  • CeFi is a method used in the cryptocurrency market to manage the buying, selling, and trading of cryptocurrency tokens via a centralized exchange. 

What is Centralized Finance? 

Centralized Finance (CeFi) refers to a financial framework. At CeFi, centralized authorities govern financial assets and their circulation. These entities establish regulations and protocols dictating asset management and transactions. Traditionally, mainstream financial institutions such as banks, brokerages, and insurers offer traditional financial (TradFi) services. Nonetheless, blockchain innovation has ushered in the concepts of CeFi and decentralized finance (DeFi). These infrastructures enable streamlined payments, lending, borrowing, and related services. 

Unlock the potential of digital assets for your institution

Key Characteristics of CeFi: 

  1. Centralized control: CeFi relies on intermediaries to oversee assets and facilitate transactions. These centralized authorities serve as custodians of funds, ensuring system stability and security. 
  2. Regulation: Centralized financial institutions are subject to stringent government regulations and oversight by regulatory bodies. Compliance with rules like anti-money laundering (AML) and knowing your customer (KYC) is mandatory to combat illicit financial activities. 
  3. Accountability: Centralized entities are obliged to disclose financial performance. They are also obliged to share operational details with the public and regulatory authorities. 
  4. Limited accessibility: CeFi services may have restricted access. This is particularly for marginalized populations such as the unbanked or underbanked and individuals with low income or credit ratings. 

Advantages of CeFi

The CeFi model offers several advantages: 

  1. Customer service: CeFi exchanges typically offer customer support to assist users. 
  2. Fiat conversion: CeFi platforms facilitate the conversion of fiat currency into cryptocurrency. 
  3. Cross-chain support: CeFi allows for the exchange of multiple cryptocurrency tokens across different blockchains. 
  4. Margin trading: Some CeFi exchanges offer margin accounts. Thus enabling users to trade with borrowed funds, albeit with interest. 
  5. Income generation: CeFi presents opportunities for users to earn interest on their assets. 

Who Operates in the CeFi Ecosystem? 

Participants in the CeFi ecosystem include centralized exchanges and financial institutions providing services like lending and trading. 

Operating under centralized control, these platforms distinguish themselves from their decentralized counterparts. For example, consider a protocol that offers services such as loans where users can utilize their crypto as collateral. 

Secure and manage your digital assets with Liminal

On & Off-ramp services: 

  • Fiat on-ramp: Users can transfer funds from traditional financial systems (e.g., bank accounts) through the platform to purchase cryptocurrency. Later, the cryptocurrency is stored in an integrated crypto wallet. 
  • Fiat off-ramp: Customers can convert crypto to fiat and withdraw to their bank accounts. This includes proceeds from external crypto wallets. 
  • Crypto off-ramp: After purchasing crypto, users can withdraw it to their personal crypto wallets. Thus retaining control over private keys for access. 
  • Crypto on-ramp: Users can deposit crypto from their controlled wallets. Thus, trading for other cryptos or fiat exchanges is enabled, followed by off-ramping to bank accounts. 

How does CeFi differ from DeFi? 

  • CeFi, or Centralized Finance, operates under the control of a single entity, managing all financial transactions and decisions.
  • In contrast, DeFi, or Decentralized Finance, functions without a central authority and operates in a decentralized manner.

Drawbacks of CeFi: 

  1. Higher transaction costs: CeFi services, acting as intermediaries, often impose inflated transaction fees and withdrawal costs. This results in users receiving less value than decentralized alternatives. 
  2. Regulatory uncertainty: CeFi operates in a regulatory grey area due to rapid growth and inadequate regulatory frameworks. This exposes users to potential risks without the protections offered by regulated financial institutions. 
  3. Lack of transparency: Unlike the transparency inherent in decentralized systems, CeFi platforms are often opaque. This makes it difficult to verify claims about solvency, returns generation, and sustainability of yields. This necessitates calls for audited Proof of Reserves. 
  4. Security concerns: CeFi requires users to entrust personal information, fiat money, and private keys to the service. Thus, security risks are inherited if the platform experiences breach or insolvency. Thus highlighting the importance of self-custody for asset protection.