Summary: The key to capital-efficient and safe trading on decentralized perpetual exchanges is choosing a platform that's trustworthy, secure, and user-friendly. These platforms enable users to trade various crypto contracts with leverage in a non-custodial way by connecting with popular Web 3 wallets like MetaMask.
To assist traders in making an informed decision, we've compiled a list of the top 5 decentralized perpetual exchanges to consider. Our picks are based on several crucial factors, including security measures, the variety of assets available, liquidity levels, fee models, and the overall quality of the user experience.
Best Decentralized Perpetual Exchanges
In a thorough review focused on pinpointing the best decentralized perpetual exchanges, we examined over a dozen platforms known for permissionless perpetuals trading. Key elements like trading volume, liquidity, leverage, cross-chain support, available tokens, and user safety were all weighed carefully. After this close look, we narrowed it down to the top five platforms in the space. Each has had a big impact on the DeFi derivatives space and offers its unique advantages.
GMX stands out as the best platform for decentralized perpetual trading, boasting over $144 billion in trading volume since its inception. The platform is deployed on Arbitrum and Avalanche and allows users to trade over 20 crypto assets with deep liquidity and tight spreads. It also enables up to 50x leverage and supports ETH, USDT and AVAX as collateral types.
The platform's fee structure is flexible, starting at 0.05% or 0.07% depending on the trading conditions, effectively catering to the trader's needs. It's no wonder GMX has amassed over 336,000 users and maintains an open interest of more than $111 million. With its utility and governance token, GMX, accruing 30% of the platform's generated fees, users can also participate in the decision-making processes, adding a layer of community engagement.
- Fees: Trading fees range between 0.05% and 0.07% for opening and closing positions, with variable fees for swaps, also depending on market conditions.
- Available Assets: Trading pairs featuring top cryptocurrencies like BTC, ETH, and AVAX.
- Deposit Methods: Connect any popular web 3 wallet (e.g. MetaMask or Coinbase) and deposit ETH, USDT or AVAX as collateral.
- Available Leverage: Up to 50x on decentralized perpetual contracts, directly from your wallet.
dYdX commands attention as a formidable player in the decentralized perpetual trading sphere, marking its territory with an impressive 24-hour trading volume of nearly $600 million. Known for low fees and deep liquidity, the platform allows up to 20x buying power, making it accessible even for those who wish to start trading with just $10.
Built on StarkWare's Layer 2 solution, dYdX not only offers high-speed trades but also provides increased security and privacy through zero-knowledge rollups. This makes it a go-to choice for over 25,000 traders. The platform also boasts a rapid withdrawal feature, eliminating the wait time usually associated with withdrawing your funds from Layer 2. Backed by reputable investors such as Brian Armstrong and Fred Ehrsam, the platform solidifies its reputation in the crypto space.
- Fees: Maker fees are 0.02%, and taker fees are 0.05% per trade.
- Available Assets: Offering a range of trading pairs, including ETH, BTC, and ADA.
- Deposit Methods: Connect with any Web 3 EVM-compatible wallet and deposit USDC as collateral.
- Available Leverage: Utilize up to 20x leverage on perpetual contracts, accessible directly from your wallet.
Kwenta has carved out its niche as a top choice for on-chain commodity trading, demonstrating a strong presence with a 24-hour trading volume of $50 million. Powered by Optimism's layer 2 technology, the platform offers near-instant trade confirmations and significantly lower gas fees than Ethereum Layer 1, making it an appealing option for a growing community of over 15,000 traders.
What sets Kwenta apart is its unique offering of synthetic assets. These synthetics allow traders to gain exposure to various assets, including commodities like gold, oil and silver, with up to 50x leverage. Notably, the platform leverages decentralized Chainlink and Pyth oracles for price feeds, ensuring accurate, tamper-proof data. This unique setup eliminates the need for an order book, as trades are executed against a vast Synthetix debt pool, providing the liquidity needed for any price point.
- Fees: Maker fees are 0.02%, and taker fees are 0.10% per trade.
- Available Assets: 50+ crypto assets and commodities like gold and silver.
- Deposit Methods: Any EVM-compatible wallet and sUSD as collateral.
- Available Leverage: Use up to 50x leverage when trading synthetic assets.
As the fourth-best decentralized trading platform, gTrade has carved out its niche, particularly excelling in currency trading. With hundreds of millions in open interest for pairs like EUR/USD and USD/JPY, it's the top choice for those keen on forex markets. Notably, gTrade manages to accomplish all of this while being 100% on-chain.
The platform is backed by innovative and trusted infrastructure providers in web 3, such as Maker, Polygon, Chainlink, and Arbitrum. Layer 2 solutions are fully integrated, offering rapid transaction speeds alongside minimal costs. Security is top-notch, reinforced by an independent audit conducted by CertiK.
- Fees: Competitive fees for cryptocurrencies starting at 0.08% for both opening and closing trades. Forex trading fees are equally affordable.
- Available Assets: Specializes in over 40 crypto pairs and excels in 15+ major forex pairs.
- Deposit Methods: Any EVM-compatible wallet and gDAI as collateral, or other stablecoins.
- Available Leverage: Leverage options extend from 2x to 150x for cryptocurrencies, 10x to 1000x for forex, and 2x to 250x for select commodities.
Positioned as the fifth leading decentralized trading platform, Drift has gained special attention for being the preferred choice for Solana (SOL) users. With an impressive cumulative trading volume exceeding $1.1 billion and current open interest around $4.6 million, Drift has recorded over 4.3 million trades, all while being 100% on-chain.
Built on Solana, Drift excels in offering both spot and perpetual trading with leverage. Users can trade JitoSOL (liquid staked SOL) with up to 5x leverage and both HNT-PERP and XRP-PERP with up to 10x leverage. The platform is battle-tested, showcasing remarkable growth by engaging over 15,000 top traders and achieving $10 billion in trading volume in less than 6 months.
- Fees: Drift employs a tiered fee structure, with taker fees ranging from 10 bps to 3 bps based on the 30-day trading volume and amount staked.
- Available Assets: Over 15 assets, including BTC, WETH, SOL, HNT, APT and others.
- Deposit Methods: Drift supports cross-collateral token deposits, most notably USDC and SOL. These can be used for margin within the Perpetual Markets.
- Available Leverage: Up to 10x leverage is available for specific pairs like HNT-PERP and XRP-PERP, while JitoSOL trading offers up to 5x leverage.
What is a Decentralized Perpetuals Exchange?
A decentralized perpetual exchange is an online platform where you can trade financial derivatives called "perpetual contracts" without relying on a central authority to oversee the transactions. Unlike traditional exchanges, these platforms use blockchain technology to offer enhanced security and transparency.
Perpetual contracts are similar to futures contracts but don't have an expiration date, allowing you to hold your position for as long as you like. This exchange is popular for trading cryptocurrency pairs and offers features like high leverage, meaning you can trade with more money than you actually deposit. It's a go-to option for those who seek flexibility and control over their trading activities.
Are DeFi Perps Platforms Safe?
Safety on DeFi perpetual platforms varies due to differences in smart contracts and the extent of audits they've undergone. To assess a platform's security, look for comprehensive smart contract audits by reputable firms. Aggregators like DeFiLlama offer summaries of individual protocol risks to help you make informed decisions. Though the platforms on our list have been scrutinized to some degree, it's essential to do your research.
Outside of this, the non-custodial nature of DeFi perps platforms offers a more secure alternative to traditional custodial models. In DeFi, users retain full control over their funds, which remain in their wallets until a trade is executed. This minimizes risks such as exchange hacks or institutional mismanagement, granting a safer trading environment.
In summary, the decentralized perpetual exchange arena is growing, particularly due to setbacks from centralized players like FTX. Platforms like GMX, dYdX, Kwenta, gTrade, and Drift offer a secure, transparent, and flexible setting for traders of all levels. With features like high leverage and diverse asset options, these platforms stand out. Their non-custodial nature adds an extra layer of security, letting you trade with peace of mind. Just remember, it's essential to do your research on each platform's safety and features for informed trading.