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DEX Problems & Possible Solutions

April 17, 2023

Decentralized exchanges (DEXes) are vital components of the blockchain ecosystem and quickly growing DeFi industry. However, their adoption and growth have been hindered by several challenges, such as insufficient liquidity, price slippages associated with it, high gas prices, and MEV attacks. Let's take a closer look at these issues and possible solutions.

Insufficient Liquidity & Slippage

For the DeFi market to function effectively and grow, it is essential to provide sufficient liquidity for all assets involved. However, DEXes often struggle to attract enough liquidity since its initial concentration is on popular centralized exchanges. Additionally, liquidity for less mainstream assets may be unobtainable even on leading platforms. The lack of liquidity results in reduced trading volumes and high price slippage (the difference between the expected trade price and the final price of any crypto asset during exchange). Both of these factors make it challenging for decentralized projects to maintain smooth operations and ensure adequate rates.

Many DEXes allow users to set their slippage tolerance to limit the possible difference between the expected and actual price. Although helpful in some cases, this feature might be rather useless for most large orders, given low liquidity.

To solve the illiquidity issue, DEXes often motivate potential liquidity providers to fill liquidity pools by offering rewards such as reduced fees, specially created tokens, or even a portion of trading fees. Some DEXes also aggregate the liquidity of other exchanges or liquidity pools, which helps them ensure that they can provide adequate liquidity for a wide range of coins and tokens. Learn more about liquidity pools here.

High Gas Fees

Gas fees are another major challenge faced during cross-chain operations. Gas is a fee paid to miners for verifying transactions. Its cost depends on several things, including a demand for such verification at the time of a crypto asset exchange and the number of blockchains involved. As a result, cross-chain trades can be very costly sometimes, especially for smaller trades where gas fees can easily exceed the value of assets being exchanged. Furthermore, gas prices can be unpredictable and highly volatile, aggravating the situation even more and scaring away users who might want to explore cross-chain technologies. 

Several solutions have been proposed to address this issue of high gas fees, including layer-2 scaling and cross-chain interoperability protocols. The first solution aims to reduce the load on the main chain by allowing transactions to be processed off-chain. By handling transactions in this way, we can significantly reduce transaction fees and execution time, making cross-chain exchanges more accessible and user-friendly.

Another solution is cross-chain interoperability protocols that facilitate the direct exchange of assets between different networks. Such an approach reduces the need for cross-chain exchanges and frees users from paying high gas fees altogether. Nonetheless, it is important to note that cross-chain interoperability protocols are still a new solution that requires further development and adoption.

MEV Attacks

Maximal Extractable Value (MEV) refers to the potential profit that miners, validators, or other blockchain workers can earn from reordering transactions in a block. While MEV is not inherently malicious, it can be used to carry out attacks, such as front-running or sandwich attacks (Front-running involves placing a transaction in a block before a known transaction to profit from price movement. Sandwich attacks manipulate price through two transactions placed around another). 

There are a few proposed solutions to combat or mitigate the impact of MEV attacks. One solution is to use a time-locked transaction mechanism that prevents validators from reordering transactions. Another approach is to use some incentive systems that reward validators who choose not to exploit transactions. Lastly, some projects are exploring privacy-preserving technologies, like zero-knowledge proofs (Zk proofs). Zk proofs mask transaction details and thus prevent validators from extracting MEV by reordering transactions or manipulating prices.

Final Thoughts

Despite the challenges posed by high gas prices, insufficient liquidity, price slippages, and MEV attacks, DEXes are an essential and highly promising component of the blockchain ecosystem and a critical element of the DeFi industry. They offer numerous advantages over centralized exchanges, including improved security and transparency. As the cryptocurrency industry continues to mature, all DEX-related issues will likely be addressed, paving the way for their increased popularity and more extensive adoption of blockchain technology.

Kinetex aggregates over 200 liquidity sources, including DEXes and DEX aggregators. Enjoy DeFi like never before by swapping your coins and tokens with Kinetex!

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