dYdX: A Beginner's Guide to the Decentralized Exchange

dYdX: A Beginner's Guide to the Decentralized Exchange

The dYdX DEX specializes in offering advanced financial derivatives like perpetual contracts and margin trading on the blockchain. It leverages smart contract technology for a secure, non-custodial platform to trade cryptocurrencies with leverage, emphasizing the decentralized and trustless nature of its operations.

What Is dYdX Decentralized Exchange? 

dYdX is a decentralized exchange (DEX) specializing in advanced trading options, like perpetual contracts and margin trading options. With over $1 trillion in lifetime trading volume by December 2023 and a rapidly growing user base, dYdX has established itself as a leader among the DEX players.


Launched in 2017, it initially operated on the Ethereum blockchain but started the transitioned to its own dYdX Chain in October 2023. This move has positioned dYdX as a leader in the DeFi sector with notable features such as increased transaction speed and reduced gas fees.


Buy dYdX (DYDX)


How Does dYdX Exchange Work? 

dYdX v3 trading interface with order book and different order types | Source: dYdX 


dYdX differs from traditional DEXs, which often use automated market maker (AMM) models. Instead, dYdX employs an order book model, allowing users to execute trades at precise prices. You can place limit orders at specific prices, offering more control and precision for experienced traders.


Additionally, dYdX operates on its own dYdX Chain, a custom Layer-2 blockchain tailored for fast, low-cost transactions. The dYdX Chain, built on the Cosmos SDK, leverages its modularity and interoperability for blockchain sovereignty and network interaction. It uses the efficient Tendermint consensus mechanism for quick finality, enhancing transaction throughput and reducing latency compared to its prior Ethereum-based system. The dYdX Chain's architecture is tailored to optimize trading, particularly for high-frequency trading, derivative products, and complex trading strategies. It utilizes Cosmos' benefits to offer a scalable, interoperable platform for DeFi.


dYdX v4 on the dYdX Chain also features a staking feature, which is designed to incentivize users and contribute to the security and governance of the platform. By staking their dYdX tokens, users can participate in the protocol's governance, earning rewards in the form of additional dYdX tokens. 


"Hedgies" is a unique NFT collection launched by dYdX. These NFTs serve as a distinctive form of digital collectible within the dYdX ecosystem. Hedgies are often designed with unique artistic features and might offer various benefits or utilities within the dYdX platform, such as access to exclusive events, enhanced platform features, or special recognition within the community. 


Trading Options on dYdX DEX 

dYdX offers a range of trading options for experienced traders seeking sophisticated financial instruments, particularly derivatives and margin trading. Here's a breakdown:


  1. Perpetual Contracts: These are the bread and butter of dYdX, allowing you to trade long or short on the price of cryptocurrency without an expiry date. You can speculate on future price movements with leverage, amplifying potential gains (and losses).

  2. Margin Trading: Borrow funds from the platform to increase your buying power and control larger positions. This can magnify your profits if the market moves in your favor, but it also amplifies potential losses. Use caution and carefully manage your risk when utilizing margin.

  3. Spot Trading: For those who prefer simpler transactions, dYdX also offers basic spot trading. This allows you to buy and sell cryptocurrencies directly at the current market price when placing a market order.

Advanced Trading Tools: Beyond these core offerings, dYdX also provides access to


  1. Stop-loss orders: Automate exit strategies to mitigate losses if the market moves against you.

  2. Limit orders: Set specific price targets for buying or selling, giving you greater control over your trades.

  3. Scalping and high-frequency trading: The low latency and fast transaction speeds of the dYdX Chain make it suitable for these fast-paced trading strategies.

Keep in mind that fees vary depending on the type of trade and your trading volume, between 0.01% and 0.05%. In addition, network fees on the dYdX Chain may also apply.


Note: dYdX caters to experienced traders who understand the risks of complex financial instruments like derivatives and margin trading. If you're new to crypto or unfamiliar with these concepts, educating yourself thoroughly and practicing with smaller amounts before diving into advanced trading options is crucial.


How to Get Started with Trading on dYdX 

Before getting started with trading on dYdX, it's crucial to handle it carefully, given the advanced nature of its functionalities. Here's a step-by-step guide to navigate the process:


1. Account Creation and Funding

Visit the dYdX website and connect your Ethereum-compatible web3 wallet like MetaMask, Coinbase Wallet, or Ledger Live. Follow the prompts to verify your identity through Know Your Customer (KYC) procedures. Transfer supported cryptocurrencies like ETH, USDC, or USDT to your dYdX account.


2. Choose Your Trading Options

  • Perpetual contracts: Trade long or short on the price of crypto without an expiry date, using leverage for amplified gains (and losses).

  • Margin trading: Borrow funds to increase your buying power and control larger positions, but remember the risks associated with leverage.

  • Spot trading: Buy and sell cryptocurrencies directly using the market order or limit order type. 

3. Understand dYdX Trading Fees

  • Trading fees: These vary based on the type of trade and your trading volume, between 0.01% and 0.05%. Generally, they're lower than centralized exchanges, but network fees on the dYdX Chain may apply.

  • Spreads: The difference between the bid and ask prices can impact your trading costs.

4. Place Your First Trade on dYdX DEX

  • Select your trading pair: Choose the two cryptocurrencies you want to trade (e.g., ETH/USDC).

  • Choose your order type: Limit orders let you set specific price targets, while market orders execute immediately at the best available price.

  • Set your leverage (optional): Be cautious if using leverage, as it magnifies potential profits and losses.

  • Review and confirm: Double-check all details before executing your trade.

5. Risk Management Tips

  • Start small: Begin with smaller trade sizes to get comfortable with the platform and understand the risks involved.

  • Risk management: Utilize tools like stop-loss orders to manage risk and avoid significant losses.

  • Research and learn: Always research the cryptocurrencies you plan to trade and educate yourself thoroughly about advanced trading concepts.

  • Community resources: dYdX offers comprehensive documentation, tutorials, and a supportive community to help you learn and navigate the platform.

The Evolution of dYdX V3 to dYdX Chain 

The key transition to dYdX Chain began in October 2023, with both platforms currently coexisting but the dYdX Chain (dYdX v4) version attracting increasing adoption. dYdX didn't directly migrate from Ethereum to dYdX Chain; instead, it launched its own blockchain alongside its existing v3 product on Ethereum. This breakthrough Layer-2 setup allows dYdX to operate with increased transaction throughput and reduced latency compared to its previous Ethereum-based system while still ensuring a decentralized and secure trading environment. 


This gradual transition involved two key phases:


  • October 26, 2023: The dYdX Chain software was deployed, and the first block of the dYdX Chain was created by validators.

  • October 30, 2023: The dYdX Operations subDAO deployed the User Interface Code, allowing users to migrate their ethDYDX tokens (governance tokens on Ethereum) to wethDYDX tokens (wrapped version on dYdX Chain).

This two-phased approach minimized disruption for users while introducing the benefits of the custom blockchain. Now, users can choose to trade on either the v3 platform on Ethereum or the newer dYdX Chain version, but the majority of trading volume has shifted to the latter due to its faster speeds and lower fees.


dYdX vs. Uniswap 

In December 2023, dYdX’s lifetime trading volume crossed the $1 trillion market. It also added another feather to its cap the same month when its daily trading volumes overtook OG DEX Uniswap briefly, although, at the time of writing, it’s slipped lower again. 


Comparing dYdX and Uniswap highlights key differences: Uniswap, known for its simplicity and AMM model, caters primarily to DeFi beginners. In contrast, dYdX attracts experienced traders with its advanced features and sophisticated trading options.


dYdX: Key Features

  1. dYdX TVL: $295 million

  2. dYdX Trading Volume: $534 million

  3. Trading Options: Focuses on derivatives: perpetual contracts, margin trading, and leveraged positions. Limited spot trading availability.

  4. Number of Trading Pairs Supported: Offers hundreds of crypto pairs for derivatives trading, focusing on perpetual contracts.

  5. Other Features: 

    1. Order book model: Allows for precise price control with limit orders.

    2. Fast transaction speeds and lower fees: Enabled by the dedicated dYdX Chain.

    3. Advanced trading tools: Stop-loss orders, margin strategies.

  6. Fee Structure: Varies depending on trade type and volume, generally lower than centralized exchanges but higher than Uniswap for basic swaps.

  7. Target Users: Experienced traders seeking complex financial instruments and leverage.

Uniswap: Key Features 

  1. Uniswap TVL: $3.43 billion

  2. Uniswap Trading Volume: $708 million

  3. Trading Options: Primarily built for spot trading: swapping one token for another directly. Limited derivatives functionality.

  4. Number of Trading Pairs Supported: Tens of thousands of tradable pairs for spot trading, including ERC-20 tokens, stablecoins, and DeFi tokens.

  5. Other Features: 

    1. AMM model: Simpler interface, but less control over trade price.

    2. Liquidity pools: Users provide liquidity and earn fees.

    3. Wider ecosystem integration: Compatible with various DeFi protocols.

  6. Fee Structure: Taker fees typically 0.3%, liquidity providers earn fees from trades.

  7. Target Users: Beginner and intermediate users looking for simple token swaps and DeFi participation.

Choosing between dYdX and Uniswap depends on your experience level and trading goals. dYdX caters to experienced traders seeking sophisticated derivatives and leverage, while Uniswap provides a simpler interface and wider token selection for basic swaps and DeFi exploration. 


Ultimately, the best DEX for you comes down to your individual needs and risk tolerance. Do your research, understand the platform functionalities, and trade responsibly. 


Future Outlook: Will dYdX Reshape the Trading Landscape? 

dYdX has the potential to significantly impact the trading landscape, particularly in the DeFi sector. Key aspects include its innovative decentralized exchange specializing in on-chain derivatives trading, its recent transition from Beta Stage to Full Trading, and its migration from Ethereum to Cosmos, marking its growing independence. 


The DYDX token, initially used primarily for governance, has seen its utility expanded in the v4 dYdX Chain to include staking and contributing to the network's security and governance. This shift has added a new dimension to the token's role in the ecosystem.


The 2024 dYdX roadmap primarily focuses on establishing and improving various subDAOs (decentralized autonomous organizations) within its ecosystem, each responsible for specific functional areas. 


  1. Operations subDAO: Manage operational tasks like bank account management and vendor relationships. 

  2. Product Development subDAO: Align product strategy with market trends and community needs, focusing on feature development and platform performance. 

  3. Marketing & Communication subDAO: Handle marketing strategies, community outreach, and partnership development. 

  4. Risk Management subDAO: Monitor market conditions, develop risk models, and set risk policies. 

  5. Treasury Management subDAO: Oversee financial strategy, fund allocation, and financial transparency. 

  6. Dispute Resolution subDAO: Act as a decentralized "court" for dispute resolution. 

  7. Market Maker or Validator Business Development subDAO: Manage relationships with market makers and validators. 

These subDAOs demonstrate dYdX's dedication to decentralization, community empowerment, and operational improvement.



dYdX offers a comprehensive and advanced platform for traders looking beyond traditional DEX functionalities. Its evolution, competitive edge against platforms like Uniswap, and promising future outlook make it a noteworthy contender in the DeFi market. Whether you're a seasoned trader or new to DeFi, dYdX warrants attention for its potential to redefine decentralized trading.


Further Reading 

  1. Top Decentralized Exchanges (DEXs) to Watch in 2024

  2. How to Set Up a MetaMask Wallet in a Few Minutes

  3. A Guide to Top Web3 Wallets of the New Decentralized Internet Era

  4. How Different Order Types Work: Market Orders, Limit Orders, and Advanced Orders

  5. What Is Decentralized Finance (DeFi)?