A Centralized Exchange (CEX) is a cryptocurrency exchange that is owned and operated by a third-party to enable the real-time exchange of cryptocurrencies and tokens. Centralized exchanges require users to sign up and verify their identity through a Know Your Customer (KYC) process. On CEXs, users have no control over the cryptocurrencies they exchange, as they do not hold the private keys for their personal wallets. For these reasons, centralized exchanges differ significantly from decentralized exchanges.
See also: Decentralized Exchange (DEX), Decentralized Finance (DeFi).