Moon Capital Research — Sei Chain

Moon Capital
4 min readJun 10, 2023

Join us in an exploration of why centralized exchanges currently command larger volumes compared to their decentralized counterparts. As trust in centralized platforms decreases amidst increasing regulatory pressures, the demand for decentralized alternatives has never been greater. We will delve into the limitations of decentralized exchanges, highlighting the changes needed for an efficient transition from automated market makers to limit order books. Further, we will explain the role of application-specific chains in facilitating this shift, with a specific focus on the Sei Chain.

Exchanging Tradeoffs: Centralized vs. Decentralized

It’s undeniable that Centralized Exchanges (CEXs) significantly outpace Decentralized Exchanges (DEXs) when it comes to trading volumes (Figure 1 below). This discrepancy begs the question: why does this disparity exist?

CEXs utilize the traditional limit order book (LOB) approach, offering a sense of familiarity and user-friendly interface to traders. In sharp contrast, DEXs are built on an Automated Market Maker (AMM) model. This model allows permissionless trading by using liquidity pools, but it’s not without its challenges. Key limitations include:

  • Poor capital efficiency: capital locked up in liquidity pools + impermanent loss
  • Lack of sophisticated trading instruments: limited trading strategies
  • Inaccurate settlement prices: low liquidity pools + large trades

As a result, professional traders, even with the custodial risks associated with CEXs, often prefer these platforms due to the trading advantages they provide.

Lobbying for LOB: CEX Scandal

One might naturally ask: why not implement a LOB model within a decentralized exchange (a so-called LOB DEX)? A viable LOB DEX would need to offer a user experience similar to that of CEXs when operating at full scale, which is a challenging feat. Given the transparent nature of blockchains, orders can be subject to manipulation through botting or front running, creating significant inefficiencies.

Adding another layer to this nuanced discussion, recent developments have seen a noticeable erosion in trust towards centralized exchanges. This follows the dramatic collapse of FTX and the increasing regulatory challenges confronting major CEXs such as Binance and Coinbase. The upward trend in DEX volumes relative to CEX suggests a growing demand for a more trustless means of conducting traditional finance.

Figure 1: Monthly Dex volume divided by Cex volume as a percentage

One Size Doesn’t Fit All: Drawbacks of General Purpose Chains

Popular general-purpose chains such as Ethereum, Solana, Avalanche, and Binance Smart Chain host numerous decentralized applications (dApps), leading to a competitive battle for network resources. This competition can create network congestion, escalating gas fees, and reduced latency, creating an unconducive environment for a LOB DEX.

So, how does one circumnavigate these obstacles? A promising avenue is the usage of application-specific chains. These bespoke blockchains are designed to cater to distinct functionalities or use-cases, such as:

  • Bitcoin: Serving as a decentralized digital currency.
  • Filecoin: Providing decentralized storage solutions.
  • Chainlink: Operating as a decentralized oracle network.
  • VeChain: Facilitating efficient supply chain management.
  • Aragon: Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs) framework.

Custom Tailored: The App-Specific Advantage

Platforms like Cosmos and Polkadot have significantly eased the process of blockchain development, leading to the advent of more application-specific chains. These specialized chains possess several key attributes:

  • Simplicity: While launching these chains requires less labor, sourcing validators is still necessary.
  • Flexibility: App-specific Layer 1 (L1) chains permit customization in terms of programming language and technical parameters.
  • Interoperability: The modularity intrinsic to blockchain design enables both general-purpose and app-specific chains to achieve similar degrees of interoperability.
  • Security: With fewer user interactions, app-specific chains typically offer better auditability and security compared to general-purpose ones.
  • Performance: By virtue of their customized nature, app-specific chains are adept at evading protocol congestion and delivering superior performance.

An innovative concept emerges: Rather than working around problems, solutions can be tailored from the ground up. For instance, a LOB DEX would ideally operate on an application-specific chain, specifically optimized for trading, ensuring rapid transaction finality and immunity to front-running.

Sei: Optimized for Trading Applications

Sei surpasses the scope of conventional application-specific chains. It is more accurately characterized as a blockchain designed specifically for Decentralized Finance (DeFi), engineered to facilitate superior performance across a range of trading applications. From Decentralized Exchanges (DEXs), Non-Fungible Token (NFT) marketplaces, to gaming platforms (GameFi), Sei’s technical capabilities outperforms any other Layer 1 chains in operation.

Front Running Protection

Among Sei’s distinctive attributes is an innovative feature designed to mitigate the risk of front running, a significant concern due to the transparent characteristics of blockchain technology. Sei’s unique capability to implement order batching allows for the simultaneous updating of numerous orders across various exchanges, which serves as a defense against toxic order flows or manipulation.

Optimized for LOB

For developers looking to implement a Limit Order Book (LOB) system, Sei offers an accessible and efficient platform. The network’s architecture is carefully designed with the consideration of essential factors such as block time speed, finality, and latency, elements of high importance in orderbook applications.

Twin Turbo Consensus

Underpinning Sei’s architecture is the ‘twin-turbo consensus’, lauded as the optimal infrastructure for exchanges. This innovative consensus mechanism reinforces Sei’s position as a versatile and high-performing blockchain network, suited to cater to a broad range of decentralized applications.

Our Thoughts

Taking into account the prevailing trends with centralized exchanges, a move towards decentralized exchanges appears increasingly plausible. The advent of cutting-edge on-ramping technology, coupled with a decentralized trading platform that mirrors the user experience of centralized exchanges, could mark a pivotal shift in the landscape. The potential role of Sei in navigating this evolving terrain is an exciting prospect!

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Moon Capital

Moon Capital is a cutting-edge investment firm focused on blockchain and cryptocurrency.