Uniswap Labs Blog

Going from CeFi to DeFi

May 16, 2023

At Uniswap Labs, we're building the best products to onboard people directly to DeFi. To do that properly, we need to know what motivates our current and future users. Earlier this year, we surveyed these groups and found that many US-based CeFi users are interested in experimenting with DeFi. However, they would feel more comfortable overcoming the learning curve with educational material, improved UX, and support.

DeFi is an objectively simpler, more accessible tech stack for financial markets. DeFi is transparent, self-custodial, and runs on publicly verifiable code instead of middlemen who oftentimes are more interested in profits than consumers. However, DeFi is as unfamiliar to the average person as the internet was in the 1990s. Bridging to L2s feels like dial-up networking and exploring Etherscan parallels surfing the web before search engines.

As AOL did with the early web, centralized finance (CeFi) platforms often offer content and onboarding that helps beginners feel more comfortable exploring crypto. But these CeFi products still suffer from the same lack of accountability and transparency that plagues the legacy financial system. FTX, Celsius, and Voyager are all examples of centralized custodians that wiped out customer deposits and prompted a major uptick in DeFi usage.

Uniswap Labs builds products to onboard people directly to DeFi. To do that, we want to better understand current and future users. So, we conducted a large survey of US retail users, segmented into non-crypto, CeFi, and DeFi users

  • DeFi users traded via a wallet or DeFi trading platform in the last 12 months

  • CeFi users bought, held, or sold crypto in the last 12 months

  • Hybrid users include both CeFi and DeFi users

  • Non-crypto users did neither

We received 1,860 responses whose demographics closely reflected US Census Demographics.

These are our biggest takeaways.


CeFi users are excited to experiment with DeFi

Our most encouraging finding was that, despite the backdrop of a bear market, nearly half of surveyed CeFi users were motivated to experiment with DeFi protocols in the next 12 months.

We asked CeFi users, “What would be the main reasons you’d trade on a decentralized cryptocurrency platform over the next 12 months.


CeFi users are willing and eager to learn and explore the possibilities of onchain activity. Experimenting can mean using a self-custodial wallet, swapping on Uniswap, or minting an NFT. These activities, which can seem routine to many of us, are imbued with excitement and novelty for first-time users.

Building for this group means focusing on UX and thinking about the first steps as a gateway into the broader crypto ecosystem.

CeFi users see complexity and cost as barriers

If CeFi users are willing to experiment, what’s stopping them? Our survey shows their main concerns are complexity, lack of understanding, and costs as barriers to using DeFi.

We asked, “What are the main reasons you don’t use decentralized cryptocurrency platforms for all your cryptocurrency trades?


Concerns about the complexity of DeFi aren’t new but underscore the need to build with the user experience front of mind. Products must focus on designing applications that simplify and abstract complexity unique to crypto, like switching between chains, key management, and reading onchain data. At Uniswap Labs, we refuse to compromise on the ideals of self-custody and transparency.

Transaction fees and costs were also notable barriers to entry. As Ethereum continues to scale and L2s see greater adoption, DeFi will become more economically accessible for these price-sensitive users.

Improved support will boost comfort with DeFi

If complexity was a major concern, we asked what we could do to reduce complexity for these CeFi users. They cited “Better educational resources” and “Increased user support” as improvements that would increase willingness among CeFi users to trade on DeFi platforms.

We asked, “What would increase your willingness to trade cryptocurrency on decentralized platforms over the next 12 months.


Products that target this CeFi segment have already invested in these educational resources. At Uniswap Labs, we’ve assembled one of the few customer support teams in crypto — and one of the best. The entire industry now must work to help educate users about how to use DeFi and the benefits of self-custody. These resources can have a measurable impact in helping users build their knowledge base and grow their confidence.


At Uniswap Labs, we're building useful tools for crypto-native and crypto-curious users, whether using a wallet, purchasing crypto, swapping tokens, or buying NFTs. Surveys like these help us better understand who our customers are and how we build for them in the future. We hope these findings can help other builders in crypto, too.

    CeFi users are excited to experiment with DeFi
    CeFi users see complexity and cost as barriers
    Improved support will boost comfort with DeFi