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Quick Intro: Decentralized exchanges (DEXs) have carved out a vital niche, letting people trade cryptocurrencies without needing KYC (know your customer). But every year, new DEX models and designs pop up, each offering different solutions. We've got the V1 versions with liquidity pools and simple swaps like AYIN, and there's V2 DEXs with oracle implementations. Then there's V3 versions with governance proposals, and of course, V4 with webhooks. Then there are Ve33 DEXs, which is what Swapa and Uranus Swap are working on. There's also CLAMM (Concentrated Liquidity Automated Market Maker) that Invariant is developing. And finally, we have Central Limit Order Book (CLOB) DEXs like CandySwap. But what exactly is CLOB, and why does it matter? Why doesn't it have liquidity? Is it a centralized solution? Let's dive in.

What is CLOB?

CLOB stands for Central Limit Order Book. It is a decentralized exchange that matches buy and sell orders using smart contracts. Even though it has "central" in its name, it is not centralized. CLOB DEXs work in a fully decentralized way, where trades are executed without needing permission. This means the transfer of assets happens on the blockchain, keeping it secure and transparent.

How Does CLOB Work?

At its core, a CLOB DEX uses a central system to manage the order book, listing all buy and sell orders in real-time and prioritizing them on a first-come, first-served basis. This central limit order book makes the process more efficient and helps manage liquidity better, solving some of the liquidity issues found in traditional DEXs.

When a user places an order, it gets added to the central limit order book, which everyone can see. The order book shows all available buy and sell orders, allowing for real-time price discovery and matching.

The centralized aspect ensures that liquidity is gathered in one place, leading to tighter spreads and more efficient markets. When a match is found, the trade is executed on-chain using smart contracts to transfer assets securely and transparently.

What's in it for you?

The CLOB model offers several compelling advantages:

  1. Improved Liquidity: When you place an order to buy or sell crypto at a specific price, you are essentially eliminating slippage. CLOB DEXs can gather liquidity more effectively by centralizing the order book and matching it with a counterparty.

  2. Enhanced User Experience, "wait and see": With CLOB DEXs, you can place a limit order for the token you want at the price you want, and you can simply wait until it gets filled when the price is reached. This is not possible on AMMs, as you get the price of the crypto at the time of execution with a reduction from slippage.

  3. Analysis: With an order book transparently available, you'd be able to reliably make a sound execution of a trade. Whether to use an AMM DEX like AYIN 100% or 50-50, the additional data coming from a CLOB could give you an overview of market sentiment.

Challenges and Pain Points

Despite its advantages, the CLOB model is not without its criticisms and challenges:

  1. Central Limit Order Book's Central Aspect: Trades can only happen if they use the same order book. For example, with CandySwap, it doesn't fetch data from AYIN, and vice-versa. This means, for better trade results, you have to manually decide which trades should go to an AMM and which ones should go to an Order Book. This can be solved in multiple ways:

    • The most popular solution is through the use of an arbitrage bot, which finds inefficiencies in orders and executes profitable trades, eventually normalizing market prices faster. It's easy to deploy and simple to build.

    • Another effective solution could be an aggregator that facilitates trades across different pools and order books, though this would be a large project.

    • A simpler solution could be just forging partnerships.

    • Another option, which is my least favorite because it could also lead to either significant growth or further market fragmentation (short term), is for individual DEX projects to create their own CLOB and aggregators.

  2. User's Proficiency: CLOB has been around for a long time. It is used in traditional finance and centralized crypto exchanges like Binance, Mexc, and Gateio. However, despite its popularity and availability, not everyone knows how to read and interpret order books or use them to their advantage. Afterall, when FOMO/fear hits, we all just hit market order. Right?

  3. Understanding Key Principles: When using an Order Book DEX, there are some key principles to keep in mind. Here are a few:

    • Timing: If the price moves quickly, your order might not match with a seller at your desired price as no seller would be willing to trade at a disadvantage. This is normal in trading.

    • Best prices first: When placing an order, remember that the further your order is from the market price, the less likely it is to be filled. Of course, with a little help from some lines and magical indicators, you can increase the likelihood of filling your order.

    • First-in, First-out: When price orders overlap, understand that there's a likelihood that before your order is filled, someone else's order will be filled first.

    • Price front-running: For example, if you are buying ALPH at $1.00 and someone places a large order for ALPH at $1.01 using $50M USDT, you might not get your order filled! Please note that this example is extreme, but you get the point.

  4. Presence of Liquidity: In AMMs the liquidity is always there, you can sell it anytime and you always get something back. Unlike in CLOB DEXs, the liquidity may not be there. You need counterparty to match with your order.

Future of CLOB DEXs

Looking ahead, the future of CLOB DEXs looks promising. As blockchain technology advances, we can expect more innovations in the CLOB model, further improving efficiency and user experience. However, I don't see CLOB succeeding as a standalone solution. This begs the question: will CandySwap have an AMM Swap feature? It looks like they have tokens that you can farm right now, and the protocol is also earning trading fees. Hmm. Well, for now, we'll leave that to speculation.

The ongoing development and adoption of CLOB DEXs could significantly influence the broader cryptocurrency market, offering a viable alternative to traditional centralized exchanges to fully decentralized models. As more users recognize the benefits of this approach, we may see a shift towards greater adoption of DEXs in general, heralding a new era in cryptocurrency trading.

That being said, when you tell your friend to use a CLOB and they respond with "WTF is a CLOB," you'll be able to explain it to them. Now, I know I've mentioned CandySwap multiple times in this article, so a brand new question arises. What the hell is CandySwap?

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