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Bob The Magic Custodian
Summary: Everyone knows that when you give your assets to someone else, they always keep them safe. If this is true for individuals, it is certainly true for businesses. Custodians always tell the truth and manage funds properly. They won't have any interest in taking the assets as an exchange operator would. Auditors tell the truth and can't be misled. That's because organizations that are regulated are incapable of lying and don't make mistakes. First, some background. Here is a summary of how custodians make us more secure: Previously, we might give Alice our crypto assets to hold. There were risks:
Alice might take the assets and disappear.
Alice might spend the assets and pretend that she still has them (fractional model).
Alice might store the assets insecurely and they'll get stolen.
Alice might give the assets to someone else by mistake or by force.
Alice might lose access to the assets.
But "no worries", Alice has a custodian named Bob. Bob is dressed in a nice suit. He knows some politicians. And he drives a Porsche. "So you have nothing to worry about!". And look at all the benefits we get:
Alice can't take the assets and disappear (unless she asks Bob or never gives them to Bob).
Alice can't spend the assets and pretend that she still has them. (Unless she didn't give them to Bob or asks him for them.)
Alice can't store the assets insecurely so they get stolen. (After all - she doesn't have any control over the withdrawal process from any of Bob's systems, right?)
Alice can't give the assets to someone else by mistake or by force. (Bob will stop her, right Bob?)
Alice can't lose access to the funds. (She'll always be present, sane, and remember all secrets, right?)
See - all problems are solved! All we have to worry about now is:
Bob might take the assets and disappear.
Bob might spend the assets and pretend that he still has them (fractional model).
Bob might store the assets insecurely and they'll get stolen.
Bob might give the assets to someone else by mistake or by force.
Bob might lose access to the assets.
It's pretty simple. Before we had to trust Alice. Now we only have to trust Alice, Bob, and all the ways in which they communicate. Just think of how much more secure we are! "On top of that", Bob assures us, "we're using a special wallet structure". Bob shows Alice a diagram. "We've broken the balance up and store it in lots of smaller wallets. That way", he assures her, "a thief can't take it all at once". And he points to a historic case where a large sum was taken "because it was stored in a single wallet... how stupid". "Very early on, we used to have all the crypto in one wallet", he said, "and then one Christmas a hacker came and took it all. We call him the Grinch. Now we individually wrap each crypto and stick it under a binary search tree. The Grinch has never been back since." "As well", Bob continues, "even if someone were to get in, we've got insurance. It covers all thefts and even coercion, collusion, and misplaced keys - only subject to the policy terms and conditions." And with that, he pulls out a phone-book sized contract and slams it on the desk with a thud. "Yep", he continues, "we're paying top dollar for one of the best policies in the country!" "Can I read it?' Alice asks. "Sure," Bob says, "just as soon as our legal team is done with it. They're almost through the first chapter." He pauses, then continues. "And can you believe that sales guy Mike? He has the same year Porsche as me. I mean, what are the odds?" "Do you use multi-sig?", Alice asks. "Absolutely!" Bob replies. "All our engineers are fully trained in multi-sig. Whenever we want to set up a new wallet, we generate 2 separate keys in an air-gapped process and store them in this proprietary system here. Look, it even requires the biometric signature from one of our team members to initiate any withdrawal." He demonstrates by pressing his thumb into the display. "We use a third-party cloud validation API to match the thumbprint and authorize each withdrawal. The keys are also backed up daily to an off-site third-party." "Wow that's really impressive," Alice says, "but what if we need access for a withdrawal outside of office hours?" "Well that's no issue", Bob says, "just send us an email, call, or text message and we always have someone on staff to help out. Just another part of our strong commitment to all our customers!" "What about Proof of Reserve?", Alice asks. "Of course", Bob replies, "though rather than publish any blockchain addresses or signed transaction, for privacy we just do a SHA256 refactoring of the inverse hash modulus for each UTXO nonce and combine the smart contract coefficient consensus in our hyperledger lightning node. But it's really simple to use." He pushes a button and a large green checkmark appears on a screen. "See - the algorithm ran through and reserves are proven." "Wow", Alice says, "you really know your stuff! And that is easy to use! What about fiat balances?" "Yeah, we have an auditor too", Bob replies, "Been using him for a long time so we have quite a strong relationship going! We have special books we give him every year and he's very efficient! Checks the fiat, crypto, and everything all at once!" "We used to have a nice offline multi-sig setup we've been using without issue for the past 5 years, but I think we'll move all our funds over to your facility," Alice says. "Awesome", Bob replies, "Thanks so much! This is perfect timing too - my Porsche got a dent on it this morning. We have the paperwork right over here." "Great!", Alice replies. And with that, Alice gets out her pen and Bob gets the contract. "Don't worry", he says, "you can take your crypto-assets back anytime you like - just subject to our cancellation policy. Our annual management fees are also super low and we don't adjust them often". How many holes have to exist for your funds to get stolen? Just one. Why are we taking a powerful offline multi-sig setup, widely used globally in hundreds of different/lacking regulatory environments with 0 breaches to date, and circumventing it by a demonstrably weak third party layer? And paying a great expense to do so? If you go through the list of breaches in the past 2 years to highly credible organizations, you go through the list of major corporate frauds (only the ones we know about), you go through the list of all the times platforms have lost funds, you go through the list of times and ways that people have lost their crypto from identity theft, hot wallet exploits, extortion, etc... and then you go through this custodian with a fine-tooth comb and truly believe they have value to add far beyond what you could, sticking your funds in a wallet (or set of wallets) they control exclusively is the absolute worst possible way to take advantage of that security. The best way to add security for crypto-assets is to make a stronger multi-sig. With one custodian, what you are doing is giving them your cryptocurrency and hoping they're honest, competent, and flawlessly secure. It's no different than storing it on a really secure exchange. Maybe the insurance will cover you. Didn't work for Bitpay in 2015. Didn't work for Yapizon in 2017. Insurance has never paid a claim in the entire history of cryptocurrency. But maybe you'll get lucky. Maybe your exact scenario will buck the trend and be what they're willing to cover. After the large deductible and hopefully without a long and expensive court battle. And you want to advertise this increase in risk, the lapse of judgement, an accident waiting to happen, as though it's some kind of benefit to customers ("Free institutional-grade storage for your digital assets.")? And then some people are writing to the OSC that custodians should be mandatory for all funds on every exchange platform? That this somehow will make Canadians as a whole more secure or better protected compared with standard air-gapped multi-sig? On what planet? Most of the problems in Canada stemmed from one thing - a lack of transparency. If Canadians had known what a joke Quadriga was - it wouldn't have grown to lose $400m from hard-working Canadians from coast to coast to coast. And Gerald Cotten would be in jail, not wherever he is now (at best, rotting peacefully). EZ-BTC and mister Dave Smilie would have been a tiny little scam to his friends, not a multi-million dollar fraud. Einstein would have got their act together or been shut down BEFORE losing millions and millions more in people's funds generously donated to criminals. MapleChange wouldn't have even been a thing. And maybe we'd know a little more about CoinTradeNewNote - like how much was lost in there. Almost all of the major losses with cryptocurrency exchanges involve deception with unbacked funds. So it's great to see transparency reports from BitBuy and ShakePay where someone independently verified the backing. The only thing we don't have is:
ANY CERTAINTY BALANCES WEREN'T EXCLUDED. Quadriga's largest account was $70m. 80% of funds are in 20% of accounts (Pareto principle). All it takes is excluding a few really large accounts - and nobody's the wiser. A fractional platform can easily pass any audit this way.
ANY VISIBILITY WHATSOEVER INTO THE CUSTODIANS. BitBuy put out their report before moving all the funds to their custodian and ShakePay apparently can't even tell us who the custodian is. That's pretty important considering that basically all of the funds are now stored there.
ANY IDEA ABOUT THE OTHER EXCHANGES. In order for this to be effective, it has to be the norm. It needs to be "unusual" not to know. If obscurity is the norm, then it's super easy for people like Gerald Cotten and Dave Smilie to blend right in.
It's not complicated to validate cryptocurrency assets. They need to exist, they need to be spendable, and they need to cover the total balances. There are plenty of credible people and firms across the country that have the capacity to reasonably perform this validation. Having more frequent checks by different, independent, parties who publish transparent reports is far more valuable than an annual check by a single "more credible/official" party who does the exact same basic checks and may or may not publish anything. Here's an example set of requirements that could be mandated:
First report within 1 month of launching, another within 3 months, and further reports at minimum every 6 months thereafter.
No auditor can be repeated within a 12 month period.
All reports must be public, identifying the auditor and the full methodology used.
All auditors must be independent of the firm being audited with no conflict of interest.
Reports must include the percentage of each asset backed, and how it's backed.
The auditor publishes a hash list, which lists a hash of each customer's information and balances that were included. Hash is one-way encryption so privacy is fully preserved. Every customer can use this to have 100% confidence they were included.
If we want more extensive requirements on audits, these should scale upward based on the total assets at risk on the platform, and whether the platform has loaned their assets out.
There are ways to structure audits such that neither crypto assets nor customer information are ever put at risk, and both can still be properly validated and publicly verifiable. There are also ways to structure audits such that they are completely reasonable for small platforms and don't inhibit innovation in any way. By making the process as reasonable as possible, we can completely eliminate any reason/excuse that an honest platform would have for not being audited. That is arguable far more important than any incremental improvement we might get from mandating "the best of the best" accountants. Right now we have nothing mandated and tons of Canadians using offshore exchanges with no oversight whatsoever. Transparency does not prove crypto assets are safe. CoinTradeNewNote, Flexcoin ($600k), and Canadian Bitcoins ($100k) are examples where crypto-assets were breached from platforms in Canada. All of them were online wallets and used no multi-sig as far as any records show. This is consistent with what we see globally - air-gapped multi-sig wallets have an impeccable record, while other schemes tend to suffer breach after breach. We don't actually know how much CoinTrader lost because there was no visibility. Rather than publishing details of what happened, the co-founder of CoinTrader silently moved on to found another platform - the "most trusted way to buy and sell crypto" - a site that has no information whatsoever (that I could find) on the storage practices and a FAQ advising that “[t]rading cryptocurrency is completely safe” and that having your own wallet is “entirely up to you! You can certainly keep cryptocurrency, or fiat, or both, on the app.” Doesn't sound like much was learned here, which is really sad to see. It's not that complicated or unreasonable to set up a proper hardware wallet. Multi-sig can be learned in a single course. Something the equivalent complexity of a driver's license test could prevent all the cold storage exploits we've seen to date - even globally. Platform operators have a key advantage in detecting and preventing fraud - they know their customers far better than any custodian ever would. The best job that custodians can do is to find high integrity individuals and train them to form even better wallet signatories. Rather than mandating that all platforms expose themselves to arbitrary third party risks, regulations should center around ensuring that all signatories are background-checked, properly trained, and using proper procedures. We also need to make sure that signatories are empowered with rights and responsibilities to reject and report fraud. They need to know that they can safely challenge and delay a transaction - even if it turns out they made a mistake. We need to have an environment where mistakes are brought to the surface and dealt with. Not one where firms and people feel the need to hide what happened. In addition to a knowledge-based test, an auditor can privately interview each signatory to make sure they're not in coercive situations, and we should make sure they can freely and anonymously report any issues without threat of retaliation. A proper multi-sig has each signature held by a separate person and is governed by policies and mutual decisions instead of a hierarchy. It includes at least one redundant signature. For best results, 3of4, 3of5, 3of6, 4of5, 4of6, 4of7, 5of6, or 5of7. History has demonstrated over and over again the risk of hot wallets even to highly credible organizations. Nonetheless, many platforms have hot wallets for convenience. While such losses are generally compensated by platforms without issue (for example Poloniex, Bitstamp, Bitfinex, Gatecoin, Coincheck, Bithumb, Zaif, CoinBene, Binance, Bitrue, Bitpoint, Upbit, VinDAX, and now KuCoin), the public tends to focus more on cases that didn't end well. Regardless of what systems are employed, there is always some level of risk. For that reason, most members of the public would prefer to see third party insurance. Rather than trying to convince third party profit-seekers to provide comprehensive insurance and then relying on an expensive and slow legal system to enforce against whatever legal loopholes they manage to find each and every time something goes wrong, insurance could be run through multiple exchange operators and regulators, with the shared interest of having a reputable industry, keeping costs down, and taking care of Canadians. For example, a 4 of 7 multi-sig insurance fund held between 5 independent exchange operators and 2 regulatory bodies. All Canadian exchanges could pay premiums at a set rate based on their needed coverage, with a higher price paid for hot wallet coverage (anything not an air-gapped multi-sig cold wallet). Such a model would be much cheaper to manage, offer better coverage, and be much more reliable to payout when needed. The kind of coverage you could have under this model is unheard of. You could even create something like the CDIC to protect Canadians who get their trading accounts hacked if they can sufficiently prove the loss is legitimate. In cases of fraud, gross negligence, or insolvency, the fund can be used to pay affected users directly (utilizing the last transparent balance report in the worst case), something which private insurance would never touch. While it's recommended to have official policies for coverage, a model where members vote would fully cover edge cases. (Could be similar to the Supreme Court where justices vote based on case law.) Such a model could fully protect all Canadians across all platforms. You can have a fiat coverage governed by legal agreements, and crypto-asset coverage governed by both multi-sig and legal agreements. It could be practical, affordable, and inclusive. Now, we are at a crossroads. We can happily give up our freedom, our innovation, and our money. We can pay hefty expenses to auditors, lawyers, and regulators year after year (and make no mistake - this cost will grow to many millions or even billions as the industry grows - and it will be borne by all Canadians on every platform because platforms are not going to eat up these costs at a loss). We can make it nearly impossible for any new platform to enter the marketplace, forcing Canadians to use the same stagnant platforms year after year. We can centralize and consolidate the entire industry into 2 or 3 big players and have everyone else fail (possibly to heavy losses of users of those platforms). And when a flawed security model doesn't work and gets breached, we can make it even more complicated with even more people in suits making big money doing the job that blockchain was supposed to do in the first place. We can build a system which is so intertwined and dependent on big government, traditional finance, and central bankers that it's future depends entirely on that of the fiat system, of fractional banking, and of government bail-outs. If we choose this path, as history has shown us over and over again, we can not go back, save for revolution. Our children and grandchildren will still be paying the consequences of what we decided today. Or, we can find solutions that work. We can maintain an open and innovative environment while making the adjustments we need to make to fully protect Canadian investors and cryptocurrency users, giving easy and affordable access to cryptocurrency for all Canadians on the platform of their choice, and creating an environment in which entrepreneurs and problem solvers can bring those solutions forward easily. None of the above precludes innovation in any way, or adds any unreasonable cost - and these three policies would demonstrably eliminate or resolve all 109 historic cases as studied here - that's every single case researched so far going back to 2011. It includes every loss that was studied so far not just in Canada but globally as well. Unfortunately, finding answers is the least challenging part. Far more challenging is to get platform operators and regulators to agree on anything. My last post got no response whatsoever, and while the OSC has told me they're happy for industry feedback, I believe my opinion alone is fairly meaningless. This takes the whole community working together to solve. So please let me know your thoughts. Please take the time to upvote and share this with people. Please - let's get this solved and not leave it up to other people to do. Facts/background/sources (skip if you like):
The inspiration for the paragraph about splitting wallets was an actual quote from a Canadian company providing custodial services in response to the OSC consultation paper: "We believe that it will be in the in best interests of investors to prohibit pooled crypto assets or ‘floats’. Most Platforms pool assets, citing reasons of practicality and expense. The recent hack of the world’s largest Platform – Binance – demonstrates the vulnerability of participants’ assets when such concessions are made. In this instance, the Platform’s entire hot wallet of Bitcoins, worth over $40 million, was stolen, facilitated in part by the pooling of client crypto assets." "the maintenance of participants (and Platform) crypto assets across multiple wallets distributes the related risk and responsibility of security - reducing the amount of insurance coverage required and making insurance coverage more readily obtainable". For the record, their reply also said nothing whatsoever about multi-sig or offline storage.
In addition to the fact that the $40m hack represented only one "hot wallet" of Binance, and they actually had the vast majority of assets in other wallets (including mostly cold wallets), multiple real cases have clearly demonstrated that risk is still present with multiple wallets. Bitfinex, VinDAX, Bithumb, Altsbit, BitPoint, Cryptopia, and just recently KuCoin all had multiple wallets breached all at the same time, and may represent a significantly larger impact on customers than the Binance breach which was fully covered by Binance. To represent that simply having multiple separate wallets under the same security scheme is a comprehensive way to reduce risk is just not true.
Private insurance has historically never covered a single loss in the cryptocurrency space (at least, not one that I was able to find), and there are notable cases where massive losses were not covered by insurance. Bitpay in 2015 and Yapizon in 2017 both had insurance policies that didn't pay out during the breach, even after a lengthly court process. The same insurance that ShakePay is presently using (and announced to much fanfare) was describe by their CEO himself as covering “physical theft of the media where the private keys are held,” which is something that has never historically happened. As was said with regard to the same policy in 2018 - “I don’t find it surprising that Lloyd’s is in this space,” said Johnson, adding that to his mind the challenge for everybody is figuring out how to structure these policies so that they are actually protective. “You can create an insurance policy that protects no one – you know there are so many caveats to the policy that it’s not super protective.”
The most profitable policy for a private insurance company is one with the most expensive premiums that they never have to pay a claim on. They have no inherent incentive to take care of people who lost funds. It's "cheaper" to take the reputational hit and fight the claim in court. The more money at stake, the more the insurance provider is incentivized to avoid payout. They're not going to insure the assets unless they have reasonable certainty to make a profit by doing so, and they're not going to pay out a massive sum unless it's legally forced. Private insurance is always structured to be maximally profitable to the insurance provider.
The circumvention of multi-sig was a key factor in the massive Bitfinex hack of over $60m of bitcoin, which today still sits being slowly used and is worth over $3b. While Bitfinex used a qualified custodian Bitgo, which was and still is active and one of the industry leaders of custodians, and they set up 2 of 3 multi-sig wallets, the entire system was routed through Bitfinex, such that Bitfinex customers could initiate the withdrawals in a "hot" fashion. This feature was also a hit with the hacker. The multi-sig was fully circumvented.
Bitpay in 2015 was another example of a breach that stole 5,000 bitcoins. This happened not through the exploit of any system in Bitpay, but because the CEO of a company they worked with got their computer hacked and the hackers were able to request multiple bitcoin purchases, which Bitpay honoured because they came from the customer's computer legitimately. Impersonation is a very common tactic used by fraudsters, and methods get more extreme all the time.
A notable case in Canada was the Canadian Bitcoins exploit. Funds were stored on a server in a Rogers Data Center, and the attendee was successfully convinced to reboot the server "in safe mode" with a simple phone call, thus bypassing the extensive security and enabling the theft.
The very nature of custodians circumvents multi-sig. This is because custodians are not just having to secure the assets against some sort of physical breach but against any form of social engineering, modification of orders, fraudulent withdrawal attempts, etc... If the security practices of signatories in a multi-sig arrangement are such that the breach risk of one signatory is 1 in 100, the requirement of 3 independent signatures makes the risk of theft 1 in 1,000,000. Since hackers tend to exploit the weakest link, a comparable custodian has to make the entry and exit points of their platform 10,000 times more secure than one of those signatories to provide equivalent protection. And if the signatories beef up their security by only 10x, the risk is now 1 in 1,000,000,000. The custodian has to be 1,000,000 times more secure. The larger and more complex a system is, the more potential vulnerabilities exist in it, and the fewer people can understand how the system works when performing upgrades. Even if a system is completely secure today, one has to also consider how that system might evolve over time or work with different members.
By contrast, offline multi-signature solutions have an extremely solid record, and in the entire history of cryptocurrency exchange incidents which I've studied (listed here), there has only been one incident (796 exchange in 2015) involving an offline multi-signature wallet. It happened because the customer's bitcoin address was modified by hackers, and the amount that was stolen ($230k) was immediately covered by the exchange operators. Basically, the platform operators were tricked into sending a legitimate withdrawal request to the wrong address because hackers exploited their platform to change that address. Such an issue would not be prevented in any way by the use of a custodian, as that custodian has no oversight whatsoever to the exchange platform. It's practical for all exchange operators to test large withdrawal transactions as a general policy, regardless of what model is used, and general best practice is to diagnose and fix such an exploit as soon as it occurs.
False promises on the backing of funds played a huge role in the downfall of Quadriga, and it's been exposed over and over again (MyCoin, PlusToken, Bitsane, Bitmarket, EZBTC, IDAX). Even today, customers have extremely limited certainty on whether their funds in exchanges are actually being backed or how they're being backed. While this issue is not unique to cryptocurrency exchanges, the complexity of the technology and the lack of any regulation or standards makes problems more widespread, and there is no "central bank" to come to the rescue as in the 2008 financial crisis or during the great depression when "9,000 banks failed".
In addition to fraudulent operations, the industry is full of cases where operators have suffered breaches and not reported them. Most recently, Einstein was the largest case in Canada, where ongoing breaches and fraud were perpetrated against the platform for multiple years and nobody found out until the platform collapsed completely. While fraud and breaches suck to deal with, they suck even more when not dealt with. Lack of visibility played a role in the largest downfalls of Mt. Gox, Cryptsy, and Bitgrail. In some cases, platforms are alleged to have suffered a hack and keep operating without admitting it at all, such as CoinBene.
It surprises some to learn that a cryptographic solution has already existed since 2013, and gained widespread support in 2014 after Mt. Gox. Proof of Reserves is a full cryptographic proof that allows any customer using an exchange to have complete certainty that their crypto-assets are fully backed by the platform in real-time. This is accomplished by proving that assets exist on the blockchain, are spendable, and fully cover customer deposits. It does not prove safety of assets or backing of fiat assets.
If we didn't care about privacy at all, a platform could publish their wallet addresses, sign a partial transaction, and put the full list of customer information and balances out publicly. Customers can each check that they are on the list, that the balances are accurate, that the total adds up, and that it's backed and spendable on the blockchain. Platforms who exclude any customer take a risk because that customer can easily check and see they were excluded. So together with all customers checking, this forms a full proof of backing of all crypto assets.
However, obviously customers care about their private information being published. Therefore, a hash of the information can be provided instead. Hash is one-way encryption. The hash allows the customer to validate inclusion (by hashing their own known information), while anyone looking at the list of hashes cannot determine the private information of any other user. All other parts of the scheme remain fully intact. A model like this is in use on the exchange CoinFloor in the UK.
A Merkle tree can provide even greater privacy. Instead of a list of balances, the balances are arranged into a binary tree. A customer starts from their node, and works their way to the top of the tree. For example, they know they have 5 BTC, they plus 1 other customer hold 7 BTC, they plus 2-3 other customers hold 17 BTC, etc... until they reach the root where all the BTC are represented. Thus, there is no way to find the balances of other individual customers aside from one unidentified customer in this case.
Proposals such as this had the backing of leaders in the community including Nic Carter, Greg Maxwell, and Zak Wilcox. Substantial and significant effort started back in 2013, with massive popularity in 2014. But what became of that effort? Very little. Exchange operators continue to refuse to give visibility. Despite the fact this information can often be obtained through trivial blockchain analysis, no Canadian platform has ever provided any wallet addresses publicly. As described by the CEO of Newton "For us to implement some kind of realtime Proof of Reserves solution, which I'm not opposed to, it would have to ... Preserve our users' privacy, as well as our own. Some kind of zero-knowledge proof". Kraken describes here in more detail why they haven't implemented such a scheme. According to professor Eli Ben-Sasson, when he spoke with exchanges, none were interested in implementing Proof of Reserves.
And yet, Kraken's places their reasoning on a page called "Proof of Reserves". More recently, both BitBuy and ShakePay have released reports titled "Proof of Reserves and Security Audit". Both reports contain disclaimers against being audits. Both reports trust the customer list provided by the platform, leaving the open possibility that multiple large accounts could have been excluded from the process. Proof of Reserves is a blockchain validation where customers see the wallets on the blockchain. The report from Kraken is 5 years old, but they leave it described as though it was just done a few weeks ago. And look at what they expect customers to do for validation. When firms represent something being "Proof of Reserve" when it's not, this is like a farmer growing fruit with pesticides and selling it in a farmers market as organic produce - except that these are people's hard-earned life savings at risk here. Platforms are misrepresenting the level of visibility in place and deceiving the public by their misuse of this term. They haven't proven anything.
Fraud isn't a problem that is unique to cryptocurrency. Fraud happens all the time. Enron, WorldCom, Nortel, Bear Stearns, Wells Fargo, Moser Baer, Wirecard, Bre-X, and Nicola are just some of the cases where frauds became large enough to become a big deal (and there are so many countless others). These all happened on 100% reversible assets despite regulations being in place. In many of these cases, the problems happened due to the over-complexity of the financial instruments. For example, Enron had "complex financial statements [which] were confusing to shareholders and analysts", creating "off-balance-sheet vehicles, complex financing structures, and deals so bewildering that few people could understand them". In cryptocurrency, we are often combining complex financial products with complex technologies and verification processes. We are naïve if we think problems like this won't happen. It is awkward and uncomfortable for many people to admit that they don't know how something works. If we want "money of the people" to work, the solutions have to be simple enough that "the people" can understand them, not so confusing that financial professionals and technology experts struggle to use or understand them.
For those who question the extent to which an organization can fool their way into a security consultancy role, HB Gary should be a great example to look at. Prior to trying to out anonymous, HB Gary was being actively hired by multiple US government agencies and others in the private sector (with glowing testimonials). The published articles and hosted professional security conferences. One should also look at this list of data breaches from the past 2 years. Many of them are large corporations, government entities, and technology companies. These are the ones we know about. Undoubtedly, there are many more that we do not know about. If HB Gary hadn't been "outted" by anonymous, would we have known they were insecure? If the same breach had happened outside of the public spotlight, would it even have been reported? Or would HB Gary have just deleted the Twitter posts, brought their site back up, done a couple patches, and kept on operating as though nothing had happened?
In the case of Quadriga, the facts are clear. Despite past experience with platforms such as MapleChange in Canada and others around the world, no guidance or even the most basic of a framework was put in place by regulators. By not clarifying any sort of legal framework, regulators enabled a situation where a platform could be run by former criminal Mike Dhanini/Omar Patryn, and where funds could be held fully unchecked by one person. At the same time, the lack of regulation deterred legitimate entities from running competing platforms and Quadriga was granted a money services business license for multiple years of operation, which gave the firm the appearance of legitimacy. Regulators did little to protect Canadians despite Quadriga failing to file taxes from 2016 onward. The entire administrative team had resigned and this was public knowledge. Many people had suspicions of what was going on, including Ryan Mueller, who forwarded complaints to the authorities. These were ignored, giving Gerald Cotten the opportunity to escape without justice.
There are multiple issues with the SOC II model including the prohibitive cost (you have to find a third party accounting firm and the prices are not even listed publicly on any sites), the requirement of operating for a year (impossible for new platforms), and lack of any public visibility (SOC II are private reports that aren't shared outside the people in suits).
Securities frameworks are expensive. Sarbanes-Oxley is estimated to cost $5.1 million USD/yr for the average Fortune 500 company in the United States. Since "Fortune 500" represents the top 500 companies, that means well over $2.55 billion USD (~$3.4 billion CAD) is going to people in suits. Isn't the problem of trust and verification the exact problem that the blockchain is supposed to solve?
To use Quadriga as justification for why custodians or SOC II or other advanced schemes are needed for platforms is rather silly, when any framework or visibility at all, or even the most basic of storage policies, would have prevented the whole thing. It's just an embarrassment.
We are now seeing regulators take strong action. CoinSquare in Canada with multi-million dollar fines. BitMex from the US, criminal charges and arrests. OkEx, with full disregard of withdrawals and no communication. Who's next?
We have a unique window today where we can solve these problems, and not permanently destroy innovation with unreasonable expectations, but we need to act quickly. This is a unique historic time that will never come again.
Crypto-Powered: Understanding Bitcoin, Ethereum, and DeFi
Until one understands the basics of this tech, they won’t be able to grasp or appreciate the impact it has on our digital bank, Genesis Block. https://reddit.com/link/ho4bif/video/n0euarkifu951/player This is the second post ofCrypto-Powered— a new series that examines what it means forGenesis Blockto be a digital bank that’s powered by crypto, blockchain, and decentralized protocols. --- Our previous post set the stage for this series. We discussed the state of consumer finance and how the success of today’s high-flying fintech unicorns will be short-lived as long as they’re building on legacy finance — a weak foundation that is ripe for massive disruption. Instead, the future of consumer finance belongs to those who are deeply familiar with blockchain tech & decentralized protocols, build on it as the foundation, and know how to take it to the world. Like Genesis Block. Today we begin our journey down the crypto rabbit hole. This post will be an important introduction for those still learning about Bitcoin, Ethereum, or DeFi (Decentralized Finance). This post (and the next few) will go into greater detail about how this technology gives Genesis Block an edge, a superpower, and an unfair advantage. Let’s dive in… https://preview.redd.it/1ugdxoqjfu951.jpg?width=650&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=36edde1079c3cff5f6b15b8cd30e6c436626d5d8
Bitcoin: The First Cryptocurrency
There are plenty of online resources to learn about Bitcoin (Coinbase, Binance, Gemini, Naval, Alex Gladstein, Marc Andreessen, Chris Dixon). I don’t wanna spend a lot of time on that here, but let’s do a quick overview for those still getting ramped up. Cryptocurrency is the most popular use-case of blockchain technology today. And Bitcoin was the first cryptocurrency to be invented.
Bitcoin is the most decentralized of all crypto assets today — no government, company, or third party can control or censor it.
Bitcoin has two primary features (as do most other cryptocurrencies):
Send Value You can send value to anyone, anywhere in the world. Nobody can intercept, delay or stop it — not even governments or financial institutions. Unlike with traditional money transfers or bank wires, there are no layers of middlemen. This results in a process that is much more cost-efficient. Some popular use-cases include remittances and cross-border payments.
A few negative moments in Bitcoin’s history include the collapse of Mt. Gox — which resulted in hundreds of millions of customer funds being stolen — as well as Bitcoin’s role in dark markets like Silk Road — where Bitcoin arguably found its initial userbase. However, like most breakthrough technology, Bitcoin is neither good nor bad. It’s neutral. People can use it for good or they can use it for evil. Thankfully, it’s being used less and less for illicit activity. Criminals are starting to understand that transactions on a blockchain are public and traceable — it’s exactly the type of system they usually try to avoid. And it’s true, at this point “a lot more” crimes are actually committed with fiat than crypto. As a result, the perception of bitcoin and cryptocurrency has been changing over the years to a more positive light. Bitcoin has even started to enter the world of media & entertainment. It’s been mentioned in Hollywood films like Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse and in songs from major artists like Eminem. It’s been mentioned in countless TV shows like Billions, The Simpsons, Big Bang Theory, Gray’s Anatomy, Family Guy, and more. As covid19 has ravaged economies and central banks have been printing money, Bitcoin has caught the attention of many legendary Wall Street investors like Paul Tudor Jones, saying that Bitcoin is a great bet against inflation (reminding him of Gold in the 1970s). Cash App already lets their 25M users buy Bitcoin. It’s rumored that PayPal and Venmo will soon let their 325M users start buying Bitcoin. Bitcoin is by far the most dominant cryptocurrency and is showing no signs of slowing down. For more than a decade it has delivered on its core use-cases — being able to send or store value.
At this point, Bitcoin has very much entered the zeitgeist of modern pop culture — at least in the West.
When Ethereum launched in 2015, it opened up a world of new possibilities and use-cases for crypto. With Ethereum Smart Contracts (i.e. applications), this exciting new digital money (cryptocurrency) became a lot less dumb. Developers could now build applications that go beyond the simple use-cases of “send value” & “store value.” They could program cryptocurrency to have rules, behavior, and logic to respond to different inputs. And always enforced by code. Additional reading on Ethereum fromLinda XieorVitalik Buterin.
Because these applications are built on blockchain technology (Ethereum), they preserve many of the same characteristics as Bitcoin: no one can stop, censor or shut down these apps because they are decentralized.
Just as tokens grew in popularity in 2017–2018, so did online marketplaces where these tokens could be bought, sold, and traded. This was a fledgling asset class — the merchants selling picks, axes, and shovels were finally starting to emerge.
I had a front-row seat — both as an investor and token creator. This was the Wild West with all the frontier drama & scandal that you’d expect.
Binance — now the world’s largest crypto exchange —was launched during this time. They along with many others (especially from Asia) made it really easy for speculators, traders, and degenerate gamblers to participate in these markets. Similar to other financial markets, the goal was straightforward: buy low and sell high. https://preview.redd.it/tytsu5jnfu951.jpg?width=600&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=fe3425b7e4a71fa953b953f0c7f6eaff6504a0d1 That period left an embarrassing stain on our industry that we’ve still been trying to recover from. It was a period rampant with market manipulation, pump-and-dumps, and scams. To some extent, the crypto industry still suffers from that today, but it’s nothing compared to what it was then.
While the potential of getting filthy rich brought a lot of fly-by-nighters and charlatans into the industry, it also brought a lot of innovators, entrepreneurs, and builders.
The launch and growth of Ethereum has been an incredible technological breakthrough. As with past tech breakthroughs, it has led to a wave of innovation, experimentation, and development. The creativity around tokens, smart contracts, and decentralized applications has been fascinating to witness. Now a few years later, the fruits of those labors are starting to be realized.
I know that for the hardcore crypto people, what we covered today is nothing new. But for those who are still getting up to speed, welcome! I hope this was helpful and that it fuels your interest to learn more. Until you understand the basics of this technology, you won’t be able to fully appreciate the impact that it has on our new digital bank, Genesis Block. You won’t be able to understand the implications, how it relates, or how it helps. After today’s post, some of you probably have a lot more questions. What are specific examples or use-cases of DeFi? Why does it need to be on a blockchain? What benefits does it bring to Genesis Block and our users? In upcoming posts, we answer these questions. Today’s post was just Level 1. It set the foundation for where we’re headed next: even deeper down the crypto rabbit hole. --- Other Ways to Consume Today's Episode:
We have a lot more content coming. Be sure to follow our channels: https://genesisblock.com/follow/ Have you already downloaded the app? We're Genesis Block, a new digital bank that's powered by crypto & decentralized protocols. The app is live in the App Store (iOS & Android). Get the link to download at https://genesisblock.com/download
here it is AMA time!Introducingu/ChaoWang — COO Bitpie Wallet andu/Kongour ambassador from China!AMA Duration: 35 minutesRounds: Team Round (first 20 min) and Community Round (last 15 min)
Thx DanielAbout myself, I heard bitcoin in 2013, started buying and a little bit mining by end of that year. And of course, I lose a lot of money during the market collapse in 2014–15, just like a lot of friends just suffered in the past weeks.Luckily, as a hodler, I didn’t sell any coin during bear market and most of those coins are still in my wallet until today.In 2017 I joined Bitpie. Prior to that, I have been in the traditional IT industry for more than a decade. During my 15-years career, I have worked for organizations including online service company, big data company and IT services company. Responsible for IT system, product R&D, business management and has been stationed in the United States to manage a series of project cooperate with IT giants such as Microsoft and Cisco.My last role before joining Bitpie was the general manager of a business division at one of largest IT service companies in China, managing the solution business related to new technologies such as cloud computing and AI, also got some chance to work with partner for business-oriented blockchain PoC projects.It is a tough time for everyone, it is my great honor to have the opportunity to meet and learn from you guys at this special moment.
Hi, all. I am Kong from Bitpie Wallet. Also ambassador of Algorand Beijing. I have been working for Bitpie since 2018 and now mainly in charge of marketing job. Tonight, Mr Wang chao will bring us his presentation and I will help answer questions if needed.Long for Bitpie and Algorand
Thanks a lot for sharing your introductionu/ChaoWangu/Kong! Seems you have been in the industry since a long while! Glad to have your experience and support for Algorand!Really appreciate Bitpie as a global partner of Algorand and you have also supported ASA these days. Could you tell us more about Bitpie Wallet and what do you think about the cooperation with Algorand?
Bitpie is an industry-leading non-custody wallet with very high market penetration in Asia area. We have been focused on the blockchain wallet for more than six years.As a professional wallet service provider, we have 3 wallet products.Bitpie Wallet — a multi-chain wallet with DeFi and DApp portal along with a lot of other crypto-based scenarios.Bither Wallet, a bitcoin.org recommended open-sourced bitcoin wallet.BitHD — an open-sourced multichain Hardware cold Wallet.Among 3 products, Bitpie is the most famous one.Our products helped millions of global users manage dozens of billions of US Dollars’ worth of cryptocurrencies in the past 6 years with 0 security accident. We are also very proud of being a contributor to the early blockchain community for we introduced a variety of novel technologies in the field of cryptology and security.The cooperation between Algorand and Bitpie began in 2018 when we met Professor Micali and Steven for the first time in Beijing. The conversation was very pleasant and soon determined willingness of both parties to cooperate.In 2019, with the launch of the Algorand mainnet, we have 360-degree cooperation with Algorand in technology, network, marketing and ecosystem support.With the launch of Algorand 2.0 and ASA assets, great innovations are emerging on Algorand blockchain. We are very happy to participate in this process and look forward to more cooperation in the future.
Thank you for the detailed introduction about Bitpie and your cooperation with Algorand!Do you have large market share for BTC, USDT or any other currencies in Asia?
Yes, we are the most popular BTC wallet in Asia, and for stable currencies, we are probably the wallet with №1 volume in the world 🙂I would like to say more about USDT.
Sure please go ahead!
We all know Stable coin is extremely important for a public chain ecology.As a wallet operator, our experience in this area is direct, and we have observed a lot in the past when the stable currency market and the underlying public chain were constantly changing. Before the launch of Algorand USDT, we had several conversations with foundation and shared our understanding of this market.Each public chain has unique development route, and this route also determine the market development route of stable currency on that Chain. The application-oriented blockchain is still in a very early stage, now it is difficult to determine which direction is better and more likely to succeed.But no matter which route you take, one thing is for sure, which is to increase the usability as much as possible and help users reduce the barrier. This is the main reason why erc20 USDT can take most of the market share from omni USDT.Market promotion is also very important. If Algorand has some related plans in the future, Bitpie as the direct entry point to reach users, is very willing to provide help as much as we can.
Glad to see our goals align Chao 🙂 We wish to have Algorand- USDT as major value capture on Algo public chain! Really excited to explore more use-cases and co-marketing opportunities with you.While on the subject, I noticed you have DeFi and Dapp portal. As a leading wallet provider, what do you think is the future of wallets ? Is it DeFi, something else?
Yes, DeFi and DApp are extremely important for wallet. But that not all we are aiming for.In the past, wallet is viewed as a tool that managed private keys to send and receive assets. With the emergence of various scenarios in the blockchain world, the functions integrated on the blockchain wallet today have far exceeded asset sending and receiving.Almost all major wallets on the market have integrated different forms of coin trade. Staking, voting, Borrowing & Lending functions have also been integrated into wallet.More wallets have even begun to support Dapp and DeFi based on different blockchain networks, thereby introducing more open scenarios.But we see that the users of the wallet are all users who already have crypto assets and already has some understanding of the blockchain.However, the proportion of such users in the entire society is very small, and currently there are few wallets or applications that can develop people who do not know the blockchain through their own scenarios. I think that will change in the future.There will be a variety of innovations constantly emerging, and some of them, although possibly a small part, will draw quite a lot of people from the general community to blockchain world.They are not typical crypto asset holders, and they do not understand what a blockchain is or what an oval algorithm is.In fact, they don’t need to understand. Both public chains and wallets will evolve, allowing ordinary users to enjoy the innovation brought to them by the blockchain without perception.At that time, the wallet, as a carrier of rights and on-chain identities, will be closely related to people’s daily lives. And the form of the wallet will be very different from now.For the simplest example, suppose a billion people have entered the world of blockchain. Can you imagine all one billion people are writing down mnemonic words like current wallet users? That’s not possible.
You make quite a few interesting points Chao. Mnemonic words is an interesting one as well! Since we are running low on time, my last question would be on Algorand itself.What are your thoughts about Algorand? 🙂
I have worked in the IT service industry for many years. The clients I have dealt with involve various industries, finance, manufacturing, retail, transportation, government.My major business focus was to provide them with the underlying business support systems. This gives me some understanding of the fundamental supporting of commercial facilities.In these mature business ecosystems, there is a complete and meticulous industry chain collaboration. Some are responsible for basic technical/science innovations, and some are responsible for the implementation of the underlying platform based on these innovations.Some people use their technical capabilities to design solutions suitable for the industry, and some people apply these solutions to help them expand their business.In the end, no matter how many layers are passed, it is the consumers who pay for all of this. Of course, consumers also enjoy the convenience brought by technological development and industrial chain collaboration.Blockchain system will also play the role to support business. However, blockchain technology and ecology are still very early, such industrial collaboration cannot yet be formed.Some public chains have focused on faster and more direct 2C scenarios. This is understandable, but in my opinion, industrial collaboration will eventually come, and at that time, tens of millions of people will enjoy the beauty that blockchain technology brings to everyone.Compared with other public chains, Algorand’s path is very solid, and it is constantly laying the foundation, not only the technical foundation, but also the basis of industrial chain collaboration. This process may not be that fast, but I think it is all necessary.
Appreciate you sharing your thoughts Chao! We are really committed towards industrial collaboration. You summed it all up really well! I will be compiling a full blog-post and publishing it for those who couldn’t join the AMAu/hereCommunity Round can start now! You can ask any questions that you have! This one would run for the next 15 minutes.
Really appreciate the time you guys are taking to have this AMAFor Bitpie, which countries are most popular for using your wallet service?By the looks of it asia, but curious on where the majority of users are from? 😄
As a team from China, users from China take the largest part. But our penetration in Southeast Asian countries is also very high.Some of our users are in China, our team are based on Hong Kong. We welcome and embrace regulation relate to wallet service. This is a must done thing before blockchain permeate everyone’s life.
Will you be offering any kind of staking on the POS networks you support?
Yes, we are providing Staking services for blockchains such as Cosmos and EOS .
I suppose there’s interest in increasing the number of tokens that can be staked on your platform yep?
Yes, everyone want to manage their asset in one wallet rather than install wallet for each blockchain network.
You’re right .. Binance is quite fierce in adopting new staking servicestoo it must be a challenge to gain market share
does the wallet support other cryptocurrencies/erc20 tokens?
Yes, we support 30+ blockchain network including BTC/ETH/Algorand.All ERC20 Tokens is supported.
Ethereum is traded on all cryptocurrency exchanges, as it is the main altcoin. The most popular trading platforms are Binance and BitMEX. To store ether, you need to have a wallet, such as MyEtherWallet. If you plan to trade, there is no need to buy cryptocurrency through exchangers, but you can buy it on the exchange directly - Binance added support for ruble and currency pairs, including ETH/RUB.
How to trade
The Ethereum price chart is represented by the Trading View resource, which is integrated into the Trade-mate.io service. In your account you can connect three exchanges Binance, BitMEX and Poloniex. In addition to advanced Tradingview charts service provides smart trade functionality with trailing stops and autotrade, allowing you to copy trades of other traders and trading bots. The Ethereum volatility allows you to use any classic strategies inherited from Forex. If the foreign exchange market has long acquired immunity to technical analysis, the crypto market allows you to make a profit due to the immaturity of the industry. The most popular trading indicators are Bollinger Bands, Fibonacci Levels, RSI and others. A detailed description is easy to find on the Internet, but do not forget about the main rule - set up stop losses, because any cryptocurrency can collapse by 20% or more in a few hours. Trade-mate.io will help to extract the maximum profit, because smart trade allows you to automatically rearrange the stop loss as long as the price rises.
How and why on earth did cryptocurrency become what is is today and should we seriously do something aboout it?
My first thought is - rather fittingly - the genesis block of BTC. Specifically the message: The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks Today, over 10 years later, this kind of message might as well read: Coindesk(dot)com xx/xx/2019 Crypto whales and miners on the brink of a second bailout for cryptocurrency exchanges Bitfinex being perhaps the most iconic example. Losing 850 million USD just like that thanks to transnational government agencies, they faced a similar fate as banks in the housing crisis. Total wipe-out. Just like banks, these monolithic exchanges are too big to fail. Failure would mean a global financial crisis in crypto, much like mt.gox. Not that different from the banks that got bailed out by institutions, Bitfinex received the same treatment, except from whales, investment funds, rich corporate entities and such. They covered for the whole loss basically, allowing things to keep operational at least. There wasn't really any demand for another tether, so without it, it could have been an economic meltdown in crypto. Hearing about similar offers made by other rich entities operating in the crypto scene to Binance after their hack, I'm starting to think this has become an even bigger, more common thing with crypto exchanges than it has been with banks. It's rich people in positions of power protecting their own interests, except that in the proper spirit of crypto, it's quite secretive, likely (pseudo)anonymous and way less transparent than what the central banks did. Due to the nature of this technology, it can be hard to grasp what the actions taken by Bitfinex mean. To my understanding, they minted a new coin, LEO (witty name for a token under these circumstances..) and basically just decided it's market cap is 1 billion, then in a private sale, managed to somehow pull off the biggest ever ICO in the history of crypto, 1 billion of funding in just 10 days for what appears to me as basically printing money in order to cover for accounting, as this exclusive club taking part in the sale of LEO committed into buying said tokens using the money Bitfinex previously printed in order to manipulate the markets and profit, USDT that is. Can't remember any ICO in the past where the minimum barrier for an individual to participate was 1 million dollars and for companies, groups, or funds 100+ million. We traded the tyranny of the banking system for a system that eventually reached centralization of power to a much greater degree, accompanied with lack of regulation and oversight which we all welcomed. I have observed and participated in the scene for at least 9 years, so almost from the very beginning, seeing the rise of first altcoins for example and all the crazy phenomena which emerged and how the community dealt with them, evolving in the process. There has been a distinct pattern that can be traced back to these early days, where some group of people would figure out how to use this new technology in all kinds of creative ways which under normal circumstances would have been considered fraud, collusion... all kind of things we did NOT want. So when the majority aka victims became aware, we always protested accordingly. Pre-mined cloned coins that were hyped over social media only so the creators would profit? We decided they were worthless. So these people, having a very lucrative way of essentially scamming people dreaming of moons came up with a solution: there will be no pre-mine, but coins were launched under the radar and only people with power (many BTC) were informed. In case you aren't familiar, when a new minable coin is released and there's only a handful of miners, a significant portion of the tokens in circulation are mined in an insanely fast manner, first 10% of total supply generated in a matter of hours perhaps, giving everyone who managed to mine on the day of launch a major advantage. We decided the secrecy was equally bad and they openly announced these coins, directing masses to use mining pools, only for them to be be under DDOS during the launch. That pattern eventually evolved to ICO's and everything else we see today. Ripping people off in sophisticated enough ways that we put up with it. After all, we could always get lucky from the 'generous' pump & dump groups they were organizing and offering to us. The system may have changed, but the philosophy is the same: people with the most money either as individuals or a group exploiting 'lesser' people and groups, concentrating power (BTC) in the process much akin to 'rich get richer while poor get poorer'. 10 years onwards, thanks to the financial side (trading), the whole crypto economy is still not only using but dependent on market manipulation and all kinds of deceiving schemes. This has been a major obstacle to wide-scale adoption, despite powerful people trying to convince us that manipulating prices to the level of a bubble will lead to people thinking this technology is great and start using it. In reality, many among the general population either had or started having doubts about these bitcoins. Imagine if they tried to sell internet and all of it's possibilities solely through nigerian prince scam spam. Then there's the miners, one of if not the most powerful entity in cryptoscene as a whole. Naturally their power and influence only grew, significant investments were made. I remember conversations with some chinese guy mining LTC back in 2014, he was always like "Yay, the newest shipment of 300 AMD GPU's came straight out the factory". Must have had thousands. Asics had begun dominating BTC mining and they weren't cheap either. Not to mention all that electricity too. Where I'm leading you with this, is the current situation where we have established mining companies with ASICs dedicated solely to BTC mining for efficiency, probably pretty much useless for anything else. Valuations of 100's of millions if not billions at their peak. Then we realized how stupid it is to waste electricity like that when we could do it in a better way, Proof-of-Stake. Instant conflict of interest hindering further innovation due to competition instead of the opposite. The mining giants refuse to go out quietly and many have been mining BTC at a loss (electricity) for a long time now, effectively needing a pump to dump those mined BTC just to cover their operating costs in the past as they naturally didn't want to sell them at a loss. Side-note: I think the current pump is due to a lot of BTC miners quitting and cashing out of BTC in a way that doesn't bankrupt them. To make matters force, they can effectively coerce both whales and crypto exchanges to co-operate in order to pump the prices because if the miners go out of business, everyone utilizing BTC for profit is in big trouble. So if they say they need a pump to dump, they get one. Bail-outs for miners too for christ sake. Luckily, we have alternatives being heavily developed, but I fear for a financial meltdown for crypto before they reach a mature stage. Not a very popular subject to my knowledge, because in the near future, somebody has to pay the bill and this time it ain't covered by taxes collected. This awesome technology has been primarily abused and exploited, with people innovating in the are of 'get-rich-quick' schemes more than the technology itself. Ethereum was supposed to be a paradigm shift, but it became another instrument of the same scheme, even though it helped push tech forward some. Remember that this is a time of decentralization. It's up to us, the collective, to do something about this if we want (or even can for that matter). Ironically, we stuck with the old mindset of 'just wait it out and The Man will fix it for us eventually' which was supposedly a thing of the past. So I ask you: What are your opinions about the current state of affairs in crypto, especially the financial side? Do you feel it's all good and if so, why? Any and all input is welcome. Let's make the scene a better place and show good example to the pagans who doubt us due to our dubious practices in the past and even today, furthering acceptance and adoption instead of laser-point focus on profit to the point the system collapses.
On May 6th, 2017, Bitcoin hit an all-time high in transactions processed on the network in a single day: it moved 375,000 transactions which accounted for a nominal output of about $2.5b. Average fees on the Bitcoin network had climbed over a dollar for the first time a couple days prior. And they kept climbing: by early June average fees hit an eye-watering $5.66. This was quite unprecedented. In the three-year period from Jan. 1 2014 to Jan. 1 2017, per-transaction fees had never exceeded 31 cents on a weekly average. And the hits kept coming. Before 2017 was over, average fees would top out at $48 on a weekly basis. When the crypto-recession set in, transaction count collapsed and fees crept back below $1. During the most feverish days of the Bitcoin run-up, when normal users found themselves with balances that would cost more to send than they were worth, cries for batching — the aggregation of many outputs into a single transaction — grew louder than ever. David Harding had written a blog post on the cost-savings of batching at the end of August and it was reposted to the Bitcoin subreddit on a daily basis. The idea was simple: for entities sending many transactions at once, clustering outputs into a single transaction was more space- (and cost-) efficient, because each transaction has a fixed data overhead. David found that if you combined 10 payments into one transaction, rather than sending them individually, you could save 75% of the block space. Essentially, batching is one way to pack as many transactions as possible into the finite block space available on Bitcoin. When fees started climbing in mid-2017, users began to scrutinize the behavior of heavy users of the Bitcoin blockchain, to determine whether they were using block space efficiently. By and large, they were not — and an informal lobbying campaign began, in which these major users — principally exchanges — were asked to start batching transactions and be good stewards of the scarce block space at their disposal. Some exchanges had been batching for years, others relented and implemented it. The question faded from view after Bitcoin’s price collapsed in Q1 2018 from roughly $19,000 to $6000, and transaction load — and hence average fee — dropped off. But we remained curious. A common refrain, during the collapse in on-chain usage, was that transaction count was an obfuscated method of apprehending actual usage. The idea was that transactions could encode an arbitrarily large (within reason) number of payments, and so if batching had become more and more prevalent, those payments were still occurring, just under a regime of fewer transactions. “hmmm” Some sites popped up to report outputs and payments per day rather than transactions, seemingly bristling at the coverage of declining transaction count. However, no one conducted an analysis of the changing relationship between transaction count and outputs or payments. We took it upon ourselves to find out. Table Of Contents: Introduction to batching A timeline Analysis Conclusion Bonus content: UTXO consolidation
Introduction to batching
Bitcoin uses a UTXO model, which stands for Unspent Transaction Output. In comparison, Ripple and Ethereum use an account/balance model. In bitcoin, a user has no balances, only UTXOs that they control. If they want to transfer money to someone else, their wallet selects one or more UTXOs as inputs that in sum need to add up to the amount they want to transfer. The desired amount then goes to the recipient, which is called the output, and the difference goes back to the sender, which is called change output. Each output can carry a virtually unlimited amount of value in the form of satoshis. A satoshi is a unit representing a one-hundred-millionth of a Bitcoin. This is very similar to a physical wallet full of different denominations of bills. If you’re buying a snack for $2.50 and only have a $5, you don’t hand the cashier half of your 5 dollar bill — you give him the 5 and receive some change instead. Unknown to some, there is no hardcoded limit to the number of transactions that can fit in a block. Instead, each transaction has a certain size in megabytes and constitutes an economic incentive for miners to include it in their block. Because miners have limited space of 2 MB to sell to transactors, larger transactions (in size, not bitcoin!) will need to pay higher fees to be included. Additionally, each transaction can have a virtually unlimited number of inputs or outputs — the record stands at transactions with 20,000 inputs and 13,107 outputs. So each transaction has at least one input and at one output, but often more, as well as some additional boilerplate stuff. Most of that space is taken up by the input (often 60% or more, because of the signature that proves they really belong to the sender), while the output(s) account for 15–30%. In order to keep transactions as small as possible and save fees, Bitcoin users have two major choices: Use as few inputs as possible. In order to minimize inputs, you can periodically send your smaller UTXOs to yourself in times when fees are very low, getting one large UTXO back. That is called UTXO consolidation or consolidating your inputs. Users who frequently make transfers (especially within the same block) can include an almost unlimited amount of outputs (to different people!) in the same transaction. That is called transaction batching. A typical single output transaction takes up 230 bytes, while a two output transaction only takes up 260 bytes, instead of 460 if you were to send them individually. This is something that many casual commentators overlook when comparing Bitcoin with other payment systems — a Bitcoin transaction can aggregate thousands of individual economic transfers! It’s important to recognize this, as it is the source of a great deal of misunderstanding and mistaken analysis. We’ve never encountered a common definition of a batched transaction — so for the purposes of this study we define it in the loosest possible sense: a transaction with three or more outputs. Commonly, batching is understood as an activity undertaken primarily by mining pools or exchanges who can trade off immediacy for efficiency. It is rare that a normal bitcoin user would have cause to batch, and indeed most wallets make it difficult to impossible to construct batched transactions. For everyday purposes, normal bitcoiners will likely not go to the additional effort of batching transactions. We set the threshold at three for simplicity’s sake — a normal unbatched transaction will have one transactional output and one change output — but the typical major batched transaction from an exchange will have dozens if not hundreds of outputs. For this reason we are careful to provide data on various different batch sizes, so we could determine the prevalence of three-output transactions and colossal, 100-output ones. We find it helpful to think of a Bitcoin transaction as a mail truck full of boxes. Each truck (transaction) contains boxes (outputs), each of contains some number of letters (satoshis). So when you’re looking at transaction count as a measure of the performance and economic throughput of the Bitcoin network, it’s a bit like counting mail trucks to discern how many letters are being sent on a given day, even though the number of letters can vary wildly. The truck analogy also makes it clear why many see Bitcoin as a settlement layer in the future — just as mail trucks aren’t dispatched until they’re full, some envision that the same will ultimately be the case for Bitcoin. Batching
So what actually happened in the last six months? Let’s look at some data. Daily transactions on the Bitcoin network rose steadily until about May 2017, when average fees hit about $4. This precipitated the first collapse in usage. Then began a series of feedback loops over the next six months in which transaction load grew, fees grew to match, and transactions dropped off. This cycle repeated itself five times over the latter half of 2017. more like this on coinmetrics.io The solid red line in the above chart is fees in BTC terms (not USD) and the shaded red area is daily transaction count. You can see the cycle of transaction load precipitating higher fees which in turn cause a reduction in usage. It repeats itself five or six times before the detente in spring 2018. The most notable period was the December-January fee crisis, but fees were actually fairly typical in BTC terms — the rising BTC price in USD however meant that USD fees hit extreme figures. In mid-November when fees hit double digits in USD terms, users began a concerted campaign to convince exchanges to be better stewards of block space. Both Segwit and batching were held up as meaningful approaches to maximize the compression of Bitcoin transactions into the finite block space available. Data on when exchanges began batching is sparse, but we collected information where it was available into a chart summarizing when exchanges began batching. Batching adoption at selected exchanges We’re ignoring Segwit adoption by exchanges in this analysis; as far as batching is concerned, the campaign to get exchanges to batch appears to have persuaded Bitfinex, Binance, and Shapeshift to batch. Coinbase/GDAX have stated their intention to begin batching, although they haven’t managed to integrate it yet. As far as we can tell, Gemini hasn’t mentioned batching, although we have some mixed evidence that they may have begun recently. If you know about the status of batching on Gemini or other major exchanges please get in touch. So some exchanges have been batching all along, and some have never bothered at all. Did the subset of exchanges who flipped the switch materially affect the prevalence of batched transactions? Let’s find out.
3.1 How common is batching? We measured the prevalence of batching in three different ways, by transaction count, by output value and by output count. The tl;dr. Batching accounts for roughly 12% of all transactions, 40% of all outputs, and 30–60% of all raw BTC output value. Not bad. 3.2 Have batched transactions become more common over time? From the chart in 3.1, we can already see a small, but steady uptrend in all three metrics, but we want to dig a little deeper. So we first looked at the relationship of payments (all outputs that actually pay someone, so total outputs minus change outputs) and transactions. More at transactionfee.info/charts The first thing that becomes obvious is that the popular narrative — that the drop in transactions was caused by an increase in batching — is not the case; payments dropped by roughly the same proportion as well. Dividing payment count by transaction count gives us some insight into the relationship between the two. In our analysis we want to zoom into the time frame between November 2017 and today, and we can see that payments per transactions have actually been rallying, from 1.5 payments per transaction in early 2017 to almost two today. 3.3 What are popular batch sizes? In this next part, we will look at batch sizes to see which are most popular. To determine which transactions were batched, we downloaded a dataset of all transactions on the Bitcoin network between November 2017 and May 2018from Blockchair. We picked that period because the fee crisis really got started in mid-November, and with it, the demands for exchanges to batch. So we wanted to capture the effect of exchanges starting to batch. Naturally a bigger sample would have been more instructive, but we were constrained in our resources, so we began with the six month sample. We grouped transactions into “batched” and “unbatched” groups with batched transactions being those with three or more outputs. We then divided batched transactions into roughly equal groups on the basis of how much total output in BTC they had accounted for in the six-month period. We didn’t select the batch sizes manually — we picked batch sizes that would split the sample into equal parts on the basis of transaction value. Here’s what we ended up with: All of the batch buckets have just about the same fraction of total BTC output over the period, but they account for radically different transaction and output counts over the period. Notice that there were only 183,108 “extra large” batches (with 41 or more outputs) in the six-month period, but between them there were 23m outputs and 30m BTC worth of value transmitted. Note that output value in this context refers to the raw or unadjusted figure — it would have been prohibitively difficult for us to adjust output for change or mixers, so we’re using the “naive” estimate. Let’s look at how many transactions various batch sizes accounted for in the sample period: Batched transactions steadily increased relative to unbatched ones, although the biggest fraction is the small batch with between 3 and 5 outputs. The story for output counts is a bit more illuminating. Even though batched transactions are a relatively small fraction of overall transaction count, they contain a meaningful number of overall outputs. Let’s see how it breaks down: Lastly, let’s look at output value. Here we see that batched transactions represent a significant fraction of value transmitted on Bitcoin. As we can see, even though batched transactions make up an average of only 12% of all transactions, they move between 30%-60% of all Bitcoins, at peak times even 70%. We think this is quite remarkable. Keep in mind, however that the ‘total output’ figure has not been altered to account for change outputs, mixers, or self-churn; that is, it is the raw and unadjusted figure. The total output value is therefore not an ideal approximation of economic volume on the Bitcoin network. 3.4 Has transaction count become an unreliable measure of Bitcoin’s usage because of batching? Yes. We strongly encourage any analysts, investors, journalists, and developers to look past mere transaction count from now on. The default measure of Bitcoin’s performance should be “payments per day” rather than transaction count. This also makes Bitcoin more comparable with other UTXO chains. They generally have significantly variable payments-per-transaction ratios, so just using payments standardizes that. (Stay tuned: Coinmetrics will be rolling out tools to facilitate this very soon.) More generally, we think that the economic value transmitted on the network is its most fundamental characteristic. Both the naive and the adjusted figures deserve to be considered. Adjusting raw output value is still more art than science, and best practices are still being developed. Again, Coinmetrics is actively developing open-source tools to make these adjustments available.
We started by revisiting the past year in Bitcoin and showed that while the mempool was congested, the community started looking for ways to use the blockspace more efficiently. Attention quickly fell on batching, the practice of combining multiple outputs into a single transaction, for heavy users. We showed how batching works on a technical level and when different exchanges started implementing the technique. Today, around 12% of all transactions on the Bitcoin network are batched, and these account for about 40% of all outputs and between 30–60% of all transactional value. The fact such that a small set of transactions carries so much economic weight makes us hopeful that Bitcoin still has a lot of room to scale on the base layer, especially if usage trends continue. Lastly, it’s worth noting that the increase in batching on the Bitcoin network may not be entirely due to deliberate action by exchanges, but rather a function of its recessionary behavior in the last few months. Since batching is generally done by large industrial players like exchanges, mixers, payment processors, and mining pools, and unbatched transactions are generally made by normal individuals, the batched/unbatched ratio is also a strong proxy for how much average users are using Bitcoin. Since the collapse in price, it is quite possible that individual usage of Bitcoin decreased while “industrial” usage remained strong. This is speculation, but one explanation for what happened. Alternatively, the industrial players appear to be taking their role as stewards of the scarce block space more seriously. This is a significant boon to the network, and a nontrivial development in its history. If a culture of parsimony can be encouraged, Bitcoin will be able to compress more data into its block space and everyday users will continue to be able to run nodes for the foreseeable future. We view this as a very positive development. Members of the Bitcoin community that lobbied exchanges to add support for Segwit and batching should be proud of themselves.
Bonus content: UTXO consolidation
Remember that we said that a second way to systematically save transaction fees in the Bitcoin network was to consolidate your UTXOs when fees were low? Looking at the relationship between input count and output count allows us to spot such consolidation phases quite well. Typically, inputs and outputs move together. When the network is stressed, they decouple. If you look at the above chart carefully, you’ll notice that when transactions are elevated (and block space is at a premium), outputs outpace inputs — look at the gaps in May and December 2017. However, prolonged activity always results in fragmented UTXO sets and wallets full of dust, which need to be consolidated. For this, users often wait until pressure on the network has decreased and fees are lower. Thus, after transactions decrease, inputs become more common than outputs. You can see this clearly in February/March 2017. Here we’ve taken the ratio of inputs to outputs (which have been smoothed on a trailing 7 day basis). When the ratio is higher, there are more inputs than outputs on that day, and vice versa. You can clearly see the spam attack in summer 2015 in which thousands (possibly millions) of outputs were created and then consolidated. Once the ratio spikes upwards, that’s consolidation. The spike in February 2018 after the six weeks of high fees in December 2017 was the most pronounced sigh of relief in Bitcoin’s history; the largest ever departure from the in/out ratio norm. There were a huge number of UTXOs to be consolidated. It’s also interesting to note where inputs and outputs cluster. Here we have histograms of transactions with large numbers of inputs or outputs. Unsurprisingly, round numbers are common which shows that exchanges don’t publish a transaction every, say, two minutes, but instead wait for 100 or 200 outputs to queue up and then publish their transaction. Curiously, 200-input transactions were more popular than 100-input transactions in the period. We ran into more curiosities when researching this piece, but we’ll leave those for another time. Future work on batching might focus on: Determining batched transactions as a portion of (adjusted) economic rather than raw volume Looking at the behavior of specific exchanges with regards to batching Investigating how much space and fees could be saved if major exchanges were batching transactions Lastly, we encourage everyone to run their transactions through the service at transactionfee.info to assess the efficiency of their transactions and determine whether exchanges are being good stewards of the block space. Update 31.05.2018 Antoine Le Calvez has created a series of live-updated charts to track batching and batch sizes, which you can find here. We’d like to thank 0xB10C for their generous assistance with datasets and advice, the people at Blockchair for providing the core datasets, and David A. Harding for writing the initial piece and answering our questions.
Cryptocurrency: Is It Still Alive or Dying? Part 2.
Part 2. Political and Economic Trends in Favor of the Cryptocurrency Market Development In the first part of the story we showed that the cryptocurrency market crash in 2018 and the beginning of its recovery in 2019 fit well into the general patterns of the financial bubbles’ development, and also repeat pretty well the Bitcoin dynamics of 2014-2016. But besides the analogies with other bubbles, there are a lot of other arguments in favor of the global growth of the market, among which are the political and economic trends of the recent years. Relaxation of the Political Climate around the Cryptoassets The entire year of 2017 has witnessed heated discussions as to the legal status of the digital assets. One of the central events of the year was their legalization in Japan in April. Precisely this legalization, according to many, spurred a dramatic growth of the cryptocurrency market in May (especially, altcoins). But the majority of other countries during this period held more skeptical positions. The U.S. government on several occasions refused to register bitcoin-ETF - exchange-traded funds, the price of shares in which would repeat the price of BTC. The U.S. government also extremely tightened the conditions of the ICO procedure, while some countries, such as China and South Korea - have banned it completely. Certain countries, such as Indonesia and Salvador, have banned cryptocurrencies to the extent of criminal responsibility. A number of countries, including Russia, have adopted a cautious wait-and-see attitude, regularly promising to impose restrictions of varying severity, but not hurrying to sign it into law. A turning point on the way to the global recognition of the cryptocurrency was the beginning of trading the Bitcoin futures at the Chicago exchanges (CME) (the world’s largest stock exchange in terms of turnover) and CBOE in December of 2017. That is when the American government admitted openly that cryptocurrencies are now to be reckoned with. With the beginning of this trade, the powerful financial circles of the USA, whose opinion cannot be ignored by the political leadership, became interested in the development of the cryptocurrency market. Chicago Mercantile Exchange, CME – the world leader in terms of trade volume In 2018, the following paradox became obvious: even if over the longer term cryptocurrencies are dangerous for the modern political system (tied up in the central banks and the currency exchange regulation), the countries that will be the first to prohibit them will be most affected along with those countries that will simply overdo stirring up negative attitude. Those countries that will settle on legalization will benefit. The drain of brains and capitals will be directed to these countries from the more repressive or unpredictable countries. A typical example of that - Crypto Project GRAM of the Russian businessman Pavel Durov, whose ICO in 2018 reached a record amount, but it was carried out in USA, and not in the legislatively uncertain Russian Federation. The experience of the countries that have legalized the cryptocurrencies, proved successful both from the financial standpoint, and from the perspective of the international prestige. They proved themselves to be open to the progress and new freedoms. In addition to Japan, Switzerland is especially noteworthy here, because it legalized cryptocurrencies as early as in 2016, but the most brilliantly announced about itself in 2018, when its banks began to introduce cryptocurrency services one after another. Among the innovator banks there was even a Swiss subsidiary of the Russian Savings Bank (Sberbank). The very expression “Swiss bank” became a synonym of not only high reliability, but also innovation. A milestone event of 2018 was legalization of cryptocurrencies in Germany – the leading economy of the European Union. Rather liberal measures relative to the cryptocurrencies are being applied today in Czechia, Sweden, Canada, Denmark, Australia, Estonia, Norway, Finland, and a number of other countries. “Legalization parade” has shown: the politicians with repressive attitudes cannot count on the global ban of the cryptocurrencies (which seemed theoretically possible in 2016-2017). Economically developed countries made an obvious choice: “if you cannot stop the process – become its leader”. And precisely in these countries the maximum capitals are being circulated, and the market situation depends precisely on their business activity. Explosive Growth of the Retail Use of Cryptocurrencies Despite obvious popularization of cryptocurrencies, there is still a myth that they are purely investment and speculative instrument, which, even if used as a payment method – only in the dark net, and as a means of payment for illegal commodities. But this is not the case today. As far back as 2013-2015, legal services accepting bitcoin emerged, and in 2016-2018 their market has undergone explosive growth. The pioneers of the cryptocurrency market of goods and services in 2013, were, for example, Virgin Galactic – space tourism company, Victoria’s Secret lingerie company, Shopify - a supplier of software for the online stores. In 2014, the cryptocurrency was adopted by the Overstock online store, Expedia tourism service, Zynga – operator of the online games, the software monster Microsoft and many others. Some of these companies considerably went up due to the innovations: for example, the shares of Shopify and Overstock have increased in price several-fold since then. As of today, the cryptocurrency is accepted by hundreds of large companies and thousands of small ones, while the range of their products is approaching the one in a traditional economy. The most popular categories of the goods for the cryptocurrency in the large famous companies are tourism and air tickets (Expedia), software and games (Microsoft, Shopify, Zynga, Steam), clothing and other consumer goods (Victoria’s Secret, Overstock.com, Rakuten), as well as food products (Subway, KFC, Burger King – in Russia). As an example, Playboy erotic products, premium accounts of the 4chan.org and reddit.com forums, Bloomberg.com business news, automobiles in the Czech show room Alza and many other goods can be also purchased for cryptocurrency. A number of well-known companies, although they prefer traditional payments, nevertheless allow crypto payments through the intermediary services, such as gyft.com (trading with the card Gyft for BTC). For example, Ebay online store, Wallmart supermarket chain, Starbucks restaurants, Uber taxi service, etc. The turnover of gyft.com is evaluated in the amount of 25 million dollars with only 38 employees. Small start-up companies often use ready-made multicurrency gateways such as coinpayments.net. It supports dozens of currencies, and hosts about 400 companies. In addition to mainstream, it contains a lot of specialized commodities. For example, crypto-armory.com sells cartridges, francvila.com – Swiss watches, directvoltage.com - 3D-printers, electric motors, CNC machines, etc. Some new stores not only accept cryptocurrencies, but also purposely give up fiat currency. For example, crypto-armory.com, explaining their refusal from fiat currency, state both ideological, and narrow pragmatic reasons. In the opinion of the owners of the store, it is easier to accept cryptocurrency payments both technically and legally. Cartridges from the cryptocurrency store crypto-armory.com An important trend of 2017-2018, in addition to the general growth of the commodity market - re-orientation of the stores to the multi-currency payments. Whereas previously most of them accepted only BTC, now a sign of good manners is to accept also LTC, ETH, XMR and at least several more currencies. Thus, while the politicians were solving the problem in the manner “not possible to allow - disallow”, a vast market of commodities for cryptocurrency spontaneously emerged on the Internet. Some of its participants have multibillion capitalizations. This market is very international. The majority of commodities and services can be bought even from Russia and other countries, where cryptocurrency is not legal as an internal payment instrument, but is not prohibited as such. Today, it is hard to imagine a consumer good, which cannot be bought for cryptocurrency. The Latest Trend – Support of Cryptocurrencies by Smartphones The first smartphone with a cryptocurrency wallet was HYPERLINK "https://bitcryptonews.ru/blogs/sravnenie-blokchejn-smartfonov-exodus-1-i-finney"HTC Exodus 1, released in the autumn of 2018. Then, a crypto smartphone HYPERLINK emerged "https://bitcryptonews.ru/blogs/obzor-kriptosmartfona-finney"Finney. And in March of 2019, the baton was unexpectedly picked up by the smartphone from the major South Korean company, Samsung - Galaxy S10. And although Samsung refrained from the direct embedding of the cryptocurrency wallet into the standard supply set, a brand wallet of Samsung can be installed from the Galaxy Store. Galaxy S10 – the first smartphone from Samsung with cryptocurrency support On the part of crypto enthusiasts, there are a number of claims to Samsung initiative, among which – the lack of bitcoin support (BTC). At the moment, Samsung Blockchain Wallet supports only Ethereum (ETH) and ERC-20 standard currencies and tokens created on its basis: Basic Attention Token (BAT), Chainlink (LINK), BinanceCoin (BNB), True USD (TUSD), USD Coin (USDC), Paxos Standard (PAX) and others. Anyway, from a political and PR perspective, the emergence of Galaxy S10 is a great event. First of all, smartphone can attract to the cryptocurrency market new people who have greater confidence in the famous brand, than in the traditional bulky cryptocurrency wallets. Now, many people are frightened away from the cryptocurrencies only by technical difficulties, whereas smartphones on many occasions have proved their ability to promote to the masses those things, which previously seemed to be very complex. Secondly, this step of Samsung is a clear signal both to the domestic and foreign governments: big business is on the side of the new technologies. South Korea has a reputation of a country not very friendly to cryptocurrencies, however, its business giant publicly demonstrated another attitude. Thirdly, the initiative of Samsung with a high degree of probability will be emulated by other leading producers of communication devices. Thus, shortly after the release of Galaxy S10, there appeared a news that a cryptocurrency wallet will soon be available in iOS Opera Touch, which means that cryptocurrencies can be also stored in iPhone of Apple. All this creates excellent prerequisites both for the world legalization of the cryptocurrencies, and for the growth of the market due to the increase of the number of users. Conclusion Thus, despite the “roller coaster” of the cryptocurrency exchange rates, some fundamental processes have developed steadily in the same direction in the recent years: expansion of the commodity market for cryptocurrency, increase in the number of countries with a liberal attitude to cryptocurrencies, adoption of cryptocurrencies as a strategic technology by more and more industrial giants. The total number of individuals who tried to work with the cryptocurrencies grows steadily, while the new technological trends (in particular, crypto smartphones), can additionally accelerate this growth. The only thing that can seriously damage a cryptocurrency market is its global ban, but it seems to be unlikely. Right now there are about 40 million bitcoin wallets on earth. It is believed that on average their number is doubled annually, which means that within 5 years it can reach a billion. And if now a global ban on cryptocurrencies is unrealistic due to their profitability for the developed countries, by that time their prohibition will become impossible almost physically. In the first part of the story we had put forward the arguments as to why the investors need not fear the bubble of 2017-2018: in the end, the bubble showed not so much the riskiness of the crypto investments, but rather their long-term prospects. Today we described political and economic events, which have occurred in parallel “behind the scenes”, and in which there were no “drops” – only progressive development toward the construction of the crypto economy. And in the next, third part, we will try to describe in detail specific financial reasons of the collapse and recovery of the market in 2018-2019. Analytical department, Trident company, Victor Argonov, Candidate of Physical and Mathematical Sciences. Source:http://trident-germes.com/ https://www.facebook.com/Germes.mining.robot/
Cryptocurrency: Is It Still Alive or Dying? Part 2
Cryptocurrency: Is It Still Alive or Dying? Part 2. Political and Economic Trends in Favor of the Cryptocurrency Market Development In the first part of the story we showed that the cryptocurrency market crash in 2018 and the beginning of its recovery in 2019 fit well into the general patterns of the financial bubbles’ development, and also repeat pretty well the Bitcoin dynamics of 2014-2016. But besides the analogies with other bubbles, there are a lot of other arguments in favor of the global growth of the market, among which are the political and economic trends of the recent years. Relaxation of the Political Climate around the Cryptoassets The entire year of 2017 has witnessed heated discussions as to the legal status of the digital assets. One of the central events of the year was their legalization in Japan in April. Precisely this legalization, according to many, spurred a dramatic growth of the cryptocurrency market in May (especially, altcoins). But the majority of other countries during this period held more skeptical positions. The U.S. government on several occasions refused to register bitcoin-ETF - exchange-traded funds, the price of shares in which would repeat the price of BTC. The U.S. government also extremely tightened the conditions of the ICO procedure, while some countries, such as China and South Korea - have banned it completely. Certain countries, such as Indonesia and Salvador, have banned cryptocurrencies to the extent of criminal responsibility. A number of countries, including Russia, have adopted a cautious wait-and-see attitude, regularly promising to impose restrictions of varying severity, but not hurrying to sign it into law. A turning point on the way to the global recognition of the cryptocurrency was the beginning of trading the Bitcoin futures at the Chicago exchanges (CME) (the world’s largest stock exchange in terms of turnover) and CBOE in December of 2017. That is when the American government admitted openly that cryptocurrencies are now to be reckoned with. With the beginning of this trade, the powerful financial circles of the USA, whose opinion cannot be ignored by the political leadership, became interested in the development of the cryptocurrency market. Chicago Mercantile Exchange, CME – the world leader in terms of trade volume In 2018, the following paradox became obvious: even if over the longer term cryptocurrencies are dangerous for the modern political system (tied up in the central banks and the currency exchange regulation), the countries that will be the first to prohibit them will be most affected along with those countries that will simply overdo stirring up negative attitude. Those countries that will settle on legalization will benefit. The drain of brains and capitals will be directed to these countries from the more repressive or unpredictable countries. A typical example of that - Crypto Project GRAM of the Russian businessman Pavel Durov, whose ICO in 2018 reached a record amount, but it was carried out in USA, and not in the legislatively uncertain Russian Federation. The experience of the countries that have legalized the cryptocurrencies, proved successful both from the financial standpoint, and from the perspective of the international prestige. They proved themselves to be open to the progress and new freedoms. In addition to Japan, Switzerland is especially noteworthy here, because it legalized cryptocurrencies as early as in 2016, but the most brilliantly announced about itself in 2018, when its banks began to introduce cryptocurrency services one after another. Among the innovator banks there was even a Swiss subsidiary of the Russian Savings Bank (Sberbank). The very expression “Swiss bank” became a synonym of not only high reliability, but also innovation. A milestone event of 2018 was legalization of cryptocurrencies in Germany – the leading economy of the European Union. Rather liberal measures relative to the cryptocurrencies are being applied today in Czechia, Sweden, Canada, Denmark, Australia, Estonia, Norway, Finland, and a number of other countries. “Legalization parade” has shown: the politicians with repressive attitudes cannot count on the global ban of the cryptocurrencies (which seemed theoretically possible in 2016-2017). Economically developed countries made an obvious choice: “if you cannot stop the process – become its leader”. And precisely in these countries the maximum capitals are being circulated, and the market situation depends precisely on their business activity. Explosive Growth of the Retail Use of Cryptocurrencies Despite obvious popularization of cryptocurrencies, there is still a myth that they are purely investment and speculative instrument, which, even if used as a payment method – only in the dark net, and as a means of payment for illegal commodities. But this is not the case today. As far back as 2013-2015, legal services accepting bitcoin emerged, and in 2016-2018 their market has undergone explosive growth. The pioneers of the cryptocurrency market of goods and services in 2013, were, for example, Virgin Galactic – space tourism company, Victoria’s Secret lingerie company, Shopify - a supplier of software for the online stores. In 2014, the cryptocurrency was adopted by the Overstock online store, Expedia tourism service, Zynga – operator of the online games, the software monster Microsoft and many others. Some of these companies considerably went up due to the innovations: for example, the shares of Shopify and Overstock have increased in price several-fold since then. As of today, the cryptocurrency is accepted by hundreds of large companies and thousands of small ones, while the range of their products is approaching the one in a traditional economy. The most popular categories of the goods for the cryptocurrency in the large famous companies are tourism and air tickets (Expedia), software and games (Microsoft, Shopify, Zynga, Steam), clothing and other consumer goods (Victoria’s Secret, Overstock.com, Rakuten), as well as food products (Subway, KFC, Burger King – in Russia). As an example, Playboy erotic products, premium accounts of the 4chan.org and reddit.com forums, Bloomberg.com business news, automobiles in the Czech show room Alza and many other goods can be also purchased for cryptocurrency. A number of well-known companies, although they prefer traditional payments, nevertheless allow crypto payments through the intermediary services, such as gyft.com (trading with the card Gyft for BTC). For example, Ebay online store, Wallmart supermarket chain, Starbucks restaurants, Uber taxi service, etc. The turnover of gyft.com is evaluated in the amount of 25 million dollars with only 38 employees. Small start-up companies often use ready-made multicurrency gateways such as coinpayments.net. It supports dozens of currencies, and hosts about 400 companies. In addition to mainstream, it contains a lot of specialized commodities. For example, crypto-armory.com sells cartridges, francvila.com – Swiss watches, directvoltage.com - 3D-printers, electric motors, CNC machines, etc. Some new stores not only accept cryptocurrencies, but also purposely give up fiat currency. For example, crypto-armory.com, explaining their refusal from fiat currency, state both ideological, and narrow pragmatic reasons. In the opinion of the owners of the store, it is easier to accept cryptocurrency payments both technically and legally. Cartridges from the cryptocurrency store crypto-armory.com An important trend of 2017-2018, in addition to the general growth of the commodity market - re-orientation of the stores to the multi-currency payments. Whereas previously most of them accepted only BTC, now a sign of good manners is to accept also LTC, ETH, XMR and at least several more currencies. Thus, while the politicians were solving the problem in the manner “not possible to allow - disallow”, a vast market of commodities for cryptocurrency spontaneously emerged on the Internet. Some of its participants have multibillion capitalizations. This market is very international. The majority of commodities and services can be bought even from Russia and other countries, where cryptocurrency is not legal as an internal payment instrument, but is not prohibited as such. Today, it is hard to imagine a consumer good, which cannot be bought for cryptocurrency. The Latest Trend – Support of Cryptocurrencies by Smartphones The first smartphone with a cryptocurrency wallet was HYPERLINK "https://bitcryptonews.ru/blogs/sravnenie-blokchejn-smartfonov-exodus-1-i-finney"HTC Exodus 1, released in the autumn of 2018. Then, a crypto smartphone HYPERLINK emerged "https://bitcryptonews.ru/blogs/obzor-kriptosmartfona-finney"Finney. And in March of 2019, the baton was unexpectedly picked up by the smartphone from the major South Korean company, Samsung - Galaxy S10. And although Samsung refrained from the direct embedding of the cryptocurrency wallet into the standard supply set, a brand wallet of Samsung can be installed from the Galaxy Store. https://preview.redd.it/p8zc6dat0ay21.jpg?width=1280&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=d7f173f7470107c2f4cc5868ed882089499b2a09 Galaxy S10 – the first smartphone from Samsung with cryptocurrency support On the part of crypto enthusiasts, there are a number of claims to Samsung initiative, among which – the lack of bitcoin support (BTC). At the moment, Samsung Blockchain Wallet supports only Ethereum (ETH) and ERC-20 standard currencies and tokens created on its basis: Basic Attention Token (BAT), Chainlink (LINK), BinanceCoin (BNB), True USD (TUSD), USD Coin (USDC), Paxos Standard (PAX) and others. Anyway, from a political and PR perspective, the emergence of Galaxy S10 is a great event. First of all, smartphone can attract to the cryptocurrency market new people who have greater confidence in the famous brand, than in the traditional bulky cryptocurrency wallets. Now, many people are frightened away from the cryptocurrencies only by technical difficulties, whereas smartphones on many occasions have proved their ability to promote to the masses those things, which previously seemed to be very complex. Secondly, this step of Samsung is a clear signal both to the domestic and foreign governments: big business is on the side of the new technologies. South Korea has a reputation of a country not very friendly to cryptocurrencies, however, its business giant publicly demonstrated another attitude. Thirdly, the initiative of Samsung with a high degree of probability will be emulated by other leading producers of communication devices. Thus, shortly after the release of Galaxy S10, there appeared a news that a cryptocurrency wallet will soon be available in iOS Opera Touch, which means that cryptocurrencies can be also stored in iPhone of Apple. All this creates excellent prerequisites both for the world legalization of the cryptocurrencies, and for the growth of the market due to the increase of the number of users. Conclusion Thus, despite the “roller coaster” of the cryptocurrency exchange rates, some fundamental processes have developed steadily in the same direction in the recent years: expansion of the commodity market for cryptocurrency, increase in the number of countries with a liberal attitude to cryptocurrencies, adoption of cryptocurrencies as a strategic technology by more and more industrial giants. The total number of individuals who tried to work with the cryptocurrencies grows steadily, while the new technological trends (in particular, crypto smartphones), can additionally accelerate this growth. The only thing that can seriously damage a cryptocurrency market is its global ban, but it seems to be unlikely. Right now there are about 40 million bitcoin wallets on earth. It is believed that on average their number is doubled annually, which means that within 5 years it can reach a billion. And if now a global ban on cryptocurrencies is unrealistic due to their profitability for the developed countries, by that time their prohibition will become impossible almost physically. In the first part of the story we had put forward the arguments as to why the investors need not fear the bubble of 2017-2018: in the end, the bubble showed not so much the riskiness of the crypto investments, but rather their long-term prospects. Today we described political and economic events, which have occurred in parallel “behind the scenes”, and in which there were no “drops” – only progressive development toward the construction of the crypto economy. And in the next, third part, we will try to describe in detail specific financial reasons of the collapse and recovery of the market in 2018-2019. Analytical department, Trident company, Victor Argonov, Candidate of Physical and Mathematical Sciences. Source:http://trident-germes.com/ https://www.facebook.com/Germes.mining.robot/
Hello! My name is Slava Mikhalkin, I am a Project Owner of Crowdsale platform at Platinum, the company that knows how to start any ICO or STO in 2019. If you want to avoid headaches with launching process, we can help you with ICO and STO advertising and promotion. See the full list of our services: Platinum.fund I am also happy to be a part of the UBAI, the first educational institution providing the most effective online education on blockchain! We can teach you how to do ICO/STO in 2019. Today I want to tell you how to sell and transfer cryptocurrencies. Major Exchanges In finance, an exchange is a forum or platform for trading commodities, derivatives, securities or other financial instruments. The principle concern of an exchange is to allow trading between parties to take place in a fair and legally compliant manner, as well as to ensure that pricing information for any instrument traded on the exchange is reliable and coherently delivered to exchange participants. In the cryptocurrency space exchanges are online platforms that allow users to trade cryptocurrencies or digital currencies for fiat money or other cryptocurrencies. They can be centralized exchanges such a Binance, or decentralized exchanges such as IDEX. Most cryptocurrency exchanges allow users to trade different crypto assets with BTC or ETH after having already exchanged fiat currency for one of those cryptocurrencies. Coinbase and Kraken are the main avenue for fiat money to enter into the cryptocurrency ecosystem. Function and History Crypto exchanges can be market-makers that take bid/ask spreads as a commission on the transaction for facilitating the trade, or more often charge a small percentage fee for operating the forum in which the trade was made. Most crypto exchanges operate outside of Western countries, enabling them to avoid stringent financial regulations and the potential for costly and lengthy legal proceedings. These entities will often maintain bank accounts in multiple jurisdictions, allowing the exchange to accept fiat currency and process transactions from customers all over the globe. The concept of a digital asset exchange has been around since the late 2000s and the following initial attempts at running digital asset exchanges foreshadows the trouble involved in attempting to disrupt the operation of the fiat currency baking system. The trading of digital or electronic assets predate Bitcoin’s creation by several years, with the first electronic trading entities running afoul of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) in late 2004. Companies such as Goldex, SydneyGoldSales, and Ozzigold, shut down voluntarily after ASIC found that they were operating without an Australian Financial Services License. E-Gold, which exchanged fiat USD for grams of precious metals in digital form, was possibly the first digital currency exchange as we know it, allowing users to make instant transfers to the accounts of other E-Gold members. At its peak in 2006 E-Gold processed $2 billion worth of transactions and boasted a user base of over 5 million people. Popular Exchanges Here we will give a brief overview of the features and operational history of the more popular and higher volume exchanges because these are the platforms to which newer traders will be exposed. These exchanges are recommended to use because they are the industry standard and they inspire the most confidence. Bitfinex Owned and operated by iFinex Inc, the cryptocurrency trading platform Bitfinex was the largest Bitcoin exchange on the planet until late 2017. Headquartered in Hong Kong and based in the US Virgin Island, Bitfinex was one of the first exchanges to offer leveraged trading (“Margin trading allows a trader to open a position with leverage. For example — we opened a margin position with 2X leverage. Our base assets had increased by 10%. Our position yielded 20% because of the 2X leverage. Standard trades are traded with leverage of 1:1”) and also pioneered the use of the somewhat controversial, so-called “stable coin” Tether (USDT). Binance Binance is an international multi-language cryptocurrency exchange that rose from the mid-rank of cryptocurrency exchanges to become the market dominating behemoth we see today. At the height of the late 2017/early 2018 bull run, Binance was adding around 2 million new users per week! The exchange had to temporarily disallow new registrations because its servers simply could not keep up with that volume of business. After the temporary ban on new users was lifted the exchange added 240,000 new accounts within two hours. Have you ever thought whats the role of the cypto exchanges? The answer is simple! There are several different types of exchanges that cater to different needs within the ecosystem, but their functions can be described by one or more of the following: To allow users to convert fiat currency into cryptocurrency. To trade BTC or ETH for alt coins. To facilitate the setting of prices for all crypto assets through an auction market mechanism. Simply put, you can either mine cryptocurrencies or purchase them, and seeing as the mining process requires the purchase of expensive mining equipment, Cryptocurrency exchanges can be loosely grouped into one of the 3 following exchange types, each with a slightly different role or combination of roles. Have you ever thought about what are the types of Crypto exchanges?
Traditional Cryptocurrency Exchange: These are the type that most closely mimic traditional stock exchanges where buyers and sellers trade at the current market price of whichever asset they want, with the exchange acting as the intermediary and charging a small fee for facilitating the trade. Kraken and GDAX are examples of this kind of cryptocurrency exchange. Fully peer-to-peer exchanges that operate without a middleman include EtherDelta, and IDEX, which are also examples of decentralized exchanges.
Cryptocurrency Brokers: These are website or app based exchanges that act like a Travelex or other bureau-de-change. They allow customers to buy or sell crypto assets at a price set by the broker (usually market price plus a small premium). Coinbase is an example of this kind of exchange.
Direct Trading Platform: These platforms offer direct peer-to-peer trading between buyers and sellers, but don’t use an exchange platform in doing so. These types of exchanges do not use a set market rate; rather, sellers set their own rates. This is a highly risky form of trading, from which new users should shy away.
To understand how an exchange functions we need only look as far as a traditional stock exchange. Most all the features of a cryptocurrency exchange are analogous to features of trading on a traditional stock exchange. In the simplest terms, the exchanges fulfil their role as the main marketplace for crypto assets of all kinds by catering to buyers or sellers. These are some definitions for the basic functions and features to know: Market Orders: Orders that are executed instantly at the current market price. Limit Order: This is an order that will only be executed if and when the price has risen to or dropped to that price specified by the trader and is also within the specified period of time. Transaction fees: Exchanges will charge transactions fees, usually levied on both the buyer and the seller, but sometimes only the seller is charged a fee. Fees vary on different exchanges though the norm is usually below 0.75%. Transfer charges: The exchange is in effect acting as a sort of escrow agent, to ensure there is no foul play, so it might also charge a small fee when you want to withdraw cryptocurrency to your own wallet. Regulatory Environment and Evolution Cryptocurrency has come a long way since the closing down of the Silk Road darknet market. The idea of crypto currency being primarily for criminals, has largely been seen as totally inaccurate and outdated. In this section we focus on the developing regulations surrounding the cryptocurrency asset class by region, and we also look at what the future may hold. The United States of America A coherent uniform approach at Federal or State level has yet to be implemented in the United States. The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network published guidelines as early as 2013 suggesting that BTC and other cryptos may fall under the label of “money transmitters” and thus would be required to take part in the same Anti-money Laundering (AML) and Know your Client (KYC) procedures as other money service businesses. At the state level, Texas applies its existing finance laws. And New York has instituted an entirely new licensing system. The European Union The EU’s approach to cryptocurrency has generally been far more accommodating overall than the United States, partly due to the adaptable nature of pre-existing laws governing electronic money that predated the creation of Bitcoin. As with the USA, the EU’s main fear is money laundering and criminality. The European Central Bank (ECB) categorized BTC as a “convertible decentralized currency” and advised all central banks in the EU to refrain from trading any cryptocurrencies until the proper regulatory framework was put in place. A task force was then set up by the European Parliament in order to prevent and investigate any potential money laundering that was making use of the new technology. Likely future regulations for cryptocurrency traders within the European Union and North America will probably consist of the following proposals: The initiation of full KYC procedures so that users cannot remain fully anonymous, in order to prevent tax evasion and curtail money laundering. Caps on payments that can be made in cryptocurrency, similar to caps on traditional cash transactions. A set of rules governing tax obligations regarding cryptocurrencies Regulation by the ECB of any companies that offer exchanges between cryptocurrencies and fiat currencies It is less likely for other countries to follow the Chinese approach and completely ban certain aspects of cryptocurrency trading. It is widely considered more progressive and wiser to allow the technology to grow within a balanced accommodative regulatory framework that takes all interests and factors into consideration. It is probable that the most severe form of regulation will be the formation of new governmental bodies specifically to form laws and exercise regulatory control over the cryptocurrency space. But perhaps that is easier said than done. It may, in certain cases, be incredibly difficult to implement particular regulations due to the anonymous and decentralized nature of crypto. Behavior of Cryptocurrency Investors by Demographic Due to the fact that cryptocurrency has its roots firmly planted in the cryptography community, the vast majority of early adopters are representative of that group. In this section we cover the basic structure of the cryptocurrency market cycle and the makeup of the community at large, as well as the reasons behind different trading decisions. The Cryptocurrency Market Cycle Bitcoin leads the bull rally. FOMO (Fear of missing out) occurs, the price surge is a constant topic of mainstream news, business programs cover the story, and social media is abuzz with cryptocurrency chatter. Bitcoin reaches new All Timehigh (ATH) Market euphoria is fueled with even more hype and the cycle is in full force. There is a constant stream of news articles and commentary on the meteoric, seemingly unstoppable rise of Bitcoin. Bitcoin’s price “stabilizes”, In the 2017 bull run this was at or around $14,000. A number of solid, large market cap altcoins rise along with Bitcoin; ETH & LTC leading the altcoins at this time. FOMO comes into play, as the new ATH in market cap is reached by pumping of a huge number of alt coins. Top altcoins “somewhat” stabilize, after reaching new all-time highs. The frenzy continues with crypto success stories, notable figures and famous people in the news. A majority of lesser known cryptocurrencies follow along on the upward momentum. Newcomers are drawn deeper into crypto and sign up for exchanges other than the main entry points like Coinbase and Kraken. In 2017 this saw Binance inundated with new registrations. Some of the cheapest coins are subject to massive pumping, such as Tron TRX which saw a rise in market cap from $150 million at the start of December 2017 to a peak of $16 billion! At this stage, even dead coins or known scams will get pumped. The price of the majority of cryptocurrencies stabilize, and some begin to retract. When the hype is subsiding after a huge crypto bull run, it is a massive sell signal. Traditional investors will begin to give interviews about how people need to be careful putting money into such a highly volatile asset class. Massive violent correction begins and the market starts to collapse. BTC begins to fall consistently on a daily basis, wiping out the insane gains of many medium to small cap cryptos with it. Panic selling sweeps through the market. Depression sets in, both in the markets, and in the minds of individual investors who failed to take profits, or heed the signs of imminent collapse. The price stagnation can last for months, or even years. The Influence of Age upon Trading Did you know? Cryptocurrencies have been called “stocks for millennials” According to a survey conducted by the Global Blockchain Business Council, only 5% of the American public own any bitcoin, but of those that do, an overwhelming majority of 71% are men, 58% of them are between the ages of 18 and 35, and over half of them are minorities. The same survey gauged public attitude toward the high risk/high return nature of cryptocurrency, in comparison to more secure guaranteed small percentage gains offered by government bonds or stocks, and found that 30% would rather invest $1,000 in crypto. Over 42% of millennials were aware of cryptocurrencies as opposed to only 15% of those ages 65 and over. In George M. Korniotis and Alok Kumar’s study into the effects of aging on portfolio management and the quality of decisions made by older investors, they found “that older and experienced investors are more likely to follow “rules of thumb” that reflect greater investment knowledge. However, older investors are less effective in applying their investment knowledge and exhibit worse investment skill, especially if they are less educated and earn lower income.” Geographic Influence upon Trading One of the main drivers of the apparent seasonal ebb and flow of cryptocurrency prices is the tax situation in the various territories that have the highest concentrations of cryptocurrency holders. Every year we see an overall market pull back beginning in mid to late January, with a recovery beginning usually after April. This is because “Tax Season” is roughly the same across Europe and the United States, with the deadline for Income tax returns being April 15th in the United States, and the tax year officially ending the UK on the 6th of April. All capital gains must be declared before the window closes or an American trader will face the powerful and long arm of the IRS with the consequent legal proceedings and possible jail time. Capital gains taxes around the world vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction but there are often incentives for cryptocurrency holders to refrain from trading for over a year to qualify their profits as long term gain when they finally sell. In the US and Australia, for example, capital gains are reduced if you bought cryptocurrency for investment purposes and held it for over a year. In Germany if crypto assets are held for over a year then the gains derived from their sale are not taxed. Advantages like this apply to individual tax returns, on a case by case basis, and it is up to the investor to keep up to date with the tax codes of the territory in which they reside. 2013 Bull run vs 2017 Bull run price Analysis In late 2016 cryptocurrency traders were faced with the task of distinguishing between the beginnings of a genuine bull run and what might colorfully be called a “dead cat bounce” (in traditional market terminology). Stagnation had gripped the market since the pull-back of early 2014. The meteoric rise of Bitcoin’s price in 2013 peaked with a price of $1,100 in November 2013, after a year of fantastic news on the adoption front with both Microsoft and PayPal offering BTC payment options. It is easy to look at a line going up on a chart and speak after the fact, but at the time, it is exceeding difficult to say whether the cat is actually climbing up the wall, or just bouncing off the ground. Here, we will discuss the factors that gave savvy investors clues as to why the 2017 bull run was going to outstrip the 2013 rally. Hopefully this will help give insight into how to differentiate between the signs of a small price increase and the start of a full scale bull run. Most importantly, Volume was far higher in 2017. As we can see in the graphic below, the 2017 volume far exceeds the volume of BTC trading during the 2013 price increase. The stranglehold MtGox held on trading made a huge bull run very difficult and unlikely. Fraud & Immoral Activity in the Private Market Ponzi Schemes Cryptocurrency Ponzi schemes will be covered in greater detail in Lesson 7, but we need to get a quick overview of the main features of Ponzi schemes and how to spot them at this point in our discussion. Here are some key indicators of a Ponzi scheme, both in cryptocurrencies and traditional investments: A guaranteed promise of high returns with little risk. Consistentflow of returns regardless of market conditions. Investments that have not been registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Investment strategies that are a secret, or described as too complex. Clients not allowed to view official paperwork for their investment. Clients have difficulties trying to get their money back. The initial members of the scheme, most likely unbeknownst to the later investors, are paid their “dividends” or “profits” with new investor cash. The most famous modern-day example of a Ponzi scheme in the traditional world, is Bernie Madoff’s $100 billion fraudulent enterprise, officially titled Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC. And in the crypto world, BitConnect is the most infamous case of an entirely fraudulent project which boasted a market cap of $2 billion at its peak. What are the Exchange Hacks? The history of cryptocurrency is littered with examples of hacked exchanges, some of them so severe that the operation had to be wound up forever. As we have already discussed, incredibly tech savvy and intelligent computer hackers led by Alexander Vinnik stole 850000 BTC from the MtGox exchange over a period from 2012–2014 resulting in the collapse of the exchange and a near-crippling hammer blow to the emerging asset class that is still being felt to this day. The BitGrail exchange suffered a similar style of attack in late 2017 and early 2018, in which Nano (XRB) was stolen that was at one point was worth almost $195 million. Even Bitfinex, one of the most famous and prestigious exchanges, has suffered a hack in 2016 where $72 million worth of BTC was stolen directly from customer accounts. Hardware Wallet Scam Case Study In late 2017, an unfortunate character on Reddit, going by the name of “moody rocket” relayed his story of an intricate scam in which his newly acquired hardware wallet was compromised, and his $34,000 life savings were stolen. He bought a second hand Nano ledger into which the scammers own recover seed had already been inserted. He began using the ledger without knowing that the default seed being used was not a randomly assigned seed. After a few weeks the scammer struck, and withdrew all the poor HODLer’s XRP, Dash and Litecoin into their own wallet (likely through a few intermediary wallets to lessen the very slim chances of being identified). Hardware Wallet Scam Case Study Social Media Fraud Many gullible and hapless twitter users have fallen victim to the recent phenomenon of scammers using a combination of convincing fake celebrity twitter profiles and numerous amounts of bots to swindle them of ETH or BTC. The scammers would set up a profile with a near identical handle to a famous figure in the tech sphere, such as Vitalik Buterin or Elon Musk. And then in the tweet, immediately following a genuine message, follow up with a variation of “Bonus give away for the next 100 lucky people, send me 0.1 ETH and I will send you 1 ETH back”, followed by the scammers ether wallet address. The next 20 or so responses will be so-called sockpuppet bots, thanking the fake account for their generosity. Thus, the pot is baited and the scammers can expect to receive potentially hundreds of donations of 0.1 Ether into their wallet. Many twitter users with a large follower base such as Vitalik Buterin have taken to adding “Not giving away ETH” to their username to save careless users from being scammed. Market Manipulation It also must be recognized that market manipulation is taking place in cryptocurrency. For those with the financial means i.e. whales, there are many ways in which to control the market in a totally immoral and underhanded way for your own profit. It is especially easy to manipulate cryptos that have a very low trading volume. The manipulator places large buy orders or sell walls to discourage price action in one way or the other. Insider trading is also a significant problem in cryptocurrency, as we saw with the example of blatant insider trading when Bitcoin Cash was listed on Coinbase. Examples of ICO Fraudulent Company Behavior In the past 2 years an astronomical amount of money has been lost in fraudulent Initial Coin Offerings. The utmost care and attention must be employed before you invest. We will cover this area in greater detail with a whole lesson devoted to the topic. However, at this point, it is useful to look at the main instances of ICO fraud. Among recent instances of fraudulent ICOs resulting in exit scams, 2 of the most infamous are the Benebit and PlexCoin ICOs which raised $4 million for the former and $15 million for the latter. Perhaps the most brazen and damaging ICO scam of all time was the Vietnamese Pincoin ICO operation, where $660million was raised from 32,000 investors before the scammer disappeared with the funds. In case of smaller ICO “exit scamming” there is usually zero chance of the scammers being found. Investors must just take the hit. We will cover these as well as others in Lesson 7 “Scam Projects”. Signposts of Fraudulent Actors The following factors are considered red flags when investigating a certain project or ICO, and all of them should be considered when deciding whether or not you want to invest. Whitepaper is a buzzword Salad: If the whitepaper is nothing more than a collection of buzzwords with little clarity of purpose and not much discussion of the tech involved, it is overwhelmingly likely you are reading a scam whitepaper. Signposts of Fraudulent Actors §2 No Code Repository: With the vast majority of cryptocurrency projects employing open source code, your due diligence investigation should start at GitHub or Sourceforge. If the project has no entries, or nothing but cloned code, you should avoid it at all costs. Anonymous Team: If the team members are hard to find, or if you see they are exaggerating or lying about their experience, you should steer clear. And do not forget, in addition to taking proper precautions when investing in ICOs, you must always make sure that you are visiting authentic web pages, especially for web wallets. If, for example, you are on a spoof MyEtherWallet web page you could divulge your private key without realizing it and have your entire portfolio of Ether and ERC-20 tokens cleaned out. Methods to Avoid falling Victim Avoiding scammers and the traps they set for you is all about asking yourself the right questions, starting with: Is there a need for a Blockchain solution for the particular problem that a particular ICO is attempting to solve? The existing solution may be less costly, less time consuming, and more effective than the proposals of a team attempting to fill up their soft cap in an ICO. The following quote from Mihai Ivascu, the CEO of Modex, should be kept in mind every time you are grading an ICO’s chances of success: “I’m pretty sure that 95% of ICOswill not last, and many will go bankrupt. ….. not everything needs to be decentralized and put on an open source ledger.” Methods to Avoid falling Victim §2 Do I Trust These People with My Money, or Not? If you continue to feel uneasy about investing in the project, more due diligence is needed. The developers must be qualified and competent enough to complete the objectives that they have set out in the whitepaper. Is this too good to be true? All victims of the well-known social media scams using fake profiles of Vitalik Buterin, or Bitconnect investors for that matter, should have asked themselves this simple question, and their investment would have been saved. In the case of Bitconnect, huge guaranteed gains proportional to the amount of people you can get to sign up was a blatant pyramid scheme, obviously too good to be true. The same goes for Fake Vitalik’s offer of 1 ether in exchange for 0.1 ETH. Selling Cryptocurrencies, Several reasons for selling with the appropriate actions to take: If you are selling to buy into an ICO, or maybe believe Ether is a safer currency to hold for a certain period of time, it is likely you will want to make use of the Ether pair and receive Ether in return. Obviously if the ICO is on the NEO or WANchain blockchain for example, you will use the appropriate pair. -Trading to buy into another promising project that is listing on the exchange on which you are selling (or you think the exchange will experience a large amount of volume and become a larger exchange), you may want to trade your cryptocurrency for that exchange token. -If you believe that BTC stands a good chance of experiencing a bull run then using the BTC trading pair is the suitable choice. -If you believe that the market is about to experience a correction but you do not want to take your gains out of the market yet, selling for Tether or “tethering up” is the best play. This allows you to keep your locked-in profits on the exchange, unaffected by the price movements in the cryptocurrency markets,so that you can buy back in at the most profitable moment. -If you wish to “cash out” i.e. sell your cryptocurrency for fiat currency and have those funds in your bank account, the best pair to use is ETH or BTC because you will likely have to transfer to an exchange like Kraken or Coinbase to convert them into fiat. If the exchange offers Litecoin or Bitcoin Cash pairs it could be a good idea to use these for their fast transaction time and low fees. Selling Cryptocurrencies Knowing when and how to sell, as well as strategies to inflate the value of your trade before sale, are important skills as a trader of any product or financial instrument. If you are satisfied that the sale itself of the particular amount of a token or coin you are trading away is the right one, then you must decide at what price you are going to sell. Exchanges exercise their own discretion as to which trading “pairs” they will offer, but the most common ones are BTC, ETH, BNB for Binance, BIX for Bibox etc., and sometimes Tether (USDT) or NEO. As a trader, you decide which particular cryptocurrency to exchange depending on your reason for making that specific trade at that time. Methods of Sale Market sell/Limit sell on exchange: A limit sell is an order placed on an exchange to sell as soon as (also specifically only if and when) the price you specified has been hit within the time limit you select. A market order executes the sale immediately at the best possible price offered by the market at that exact time. OTC (or Over the Counter) selling refers to sale of securities or cryptocurrencies in any method without using an exchange to intermediate the trade and set the price. The most common way of conducting sales in this manner is through LocalBitcoins.com. This method of cryptocurrency selling is far riskier than using an exchange, for obvious reasons. The influence and value of your Trade There are a number of strategies you can use to appreciate the value of your trade and thus increase the Bitcoin or Ether value of your portfolio. It is important to disassociate yourself from the dollar value of your portfolio early on in your cryptocurrency trading career simply because the crypto market is so volatile you will end up pulling your hair out in frustration following the real dollar money value of your holdings. Once your funds have been converted into BTC and ETH they are completely in the crypto sphere. (Some crypto investors find it more appropriate to monitor the value of their portfolio in satoshi or gwei.) Certainly not limited to, but especially good for beginners, the most reliable way to increase your trading profits, and thus the overall value and health of your portfolio, is to buy into promising projects, hold them for 6 months to a year, and then reevaluate. This is called Long term holding and is the tactic that served Bitcoin HODLers quite well, from 2013 to the present day. Obviously, if something comes to light about the project that indicates a lengthy set back is likely, it is often better to cut your losses and sell. You are better off starting over and researching other projects. Also, you should set initial Price Points at which you first take out your original investment, and then later, at which you take out all your profits and exit the project. That should be after you believe the potential for growth has been exhausted for that particular project. Another method of increasing the value of your trades is ICO flipping. This is the exact opposite of long term holding. This is a technique in which you aim for fast profits taking advantage of initial enthusiasm in the market that may double or triple the value of ICO projects when they first come to market. This method requires some experience using smaller exchanges like IDEX, on which project tokens can be bought and sold before listing on mainstream exchanges. “Tethering up” means to exchange tokens or coins for the USDT stable coin, the value of which is tethered to the US Dollar. If you learn, or know how to use, technical analysis, it is possible to predict when a market retreatment is likely by looking at the price movements of BTC. If you decide a market pull back is likely, you can tether up and maintain the dollar value of your portfolio in tether while other tokens and coins decrease in value. The you wait for an opportune moment to reenter the market. Market Behavior in Different Time Periods The main descriptors used for overall market sentiment are “Bull Market” and “Bear Market”. The former describes a market where people are buying on optimism. The latter describes a market where people are selling on pessimism. Fun (or maybe not) fact: The California grizzly bear was brought to extinction by the love of bear baiting as a sport in the mid 1800s. Bears were highly sought after for their intrinsic fighting qualities, and were forced into fighting bulls as Sunday morning entertainment for Californians. What has this got to do with trading and financial markets? The downward swipe of the bear’s paws gives a “Bear market” its name and the upward thrust of a Bull’s horns give the “Bull Market” its name. Most unfortunately for traders, the bear won over 80% of the bouts. During a Bull market, optimism can sometimes grow to be seemingly boundless, volume is rising, and prices are ascending. It can be a good idea to sell or rebalance your portfolio at such a time, especially if you have a particularly large position in one holding or another. This is especially applicable if you need to sell a large amount of a relatively low-volume holding, because you can then do so without dragging the price down by the large size of your own sell order. Learn more on common behavioral patterns observed so far in the cryptocurrency space for different coins and ICO tokens. Follow the link: UBAI.co If you want to know how do security tokens work, and become a professional in crypto world contact me via Facebook to get all the details: Facebook
At the beginning of 2014, Mt Gox, a bitcoin exchange based in Japan, was the largest bitcoin exchange in the world, handling over 70% of all bitcoin transactions worldwide. By the end of February of that year, it was bankrupt. Anyone who was using Mt. Gox lost access to their assets, and it has been a cautionary tale for crypto investors. While the assets weren’t all lost, anything that was ... Once again, the US president added some excitement to the market by refusing to discuss the stimulus package until the elections are over. The stock market reacted by a collapse; Bitcoin mostly followed the lead; however, the movement’s scale was not significant enough for the markets to hit the panic button. Ripple Is Fed Up With The […] Binance first announced the hack at around 03:00 UTC on May 8 via an official blog post. As we detailed in an earlier report on the hack, the 7,000 BTC were transferred out of Binance’s Bitcoin hot wallet in a single transaction timed at 17:15 UTC on May 7. Binance’s announcement of the hack included several steps that the exchange will be ... Bitcoin history for 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019. Bitcoin price chart since 2009 to 2019. The historical data and rates of BTC ... Binance Futures breaks a new record by setting a new all-time high of over $10 billion in volume in a 24-hour period. According to the Binance statement, the volume increase came after Bitcoin broke the key $9,000 level while approaching the most anticipated Halving of the year. How do you analyze Bitcoin option pricing at Binance? “Binance Effect”: ... For example, from early 2014 to early 2015, the price of Bitcoin fell by 75%, while UTXO cap actually rose by 15%; in the most recent bear period from the beginning of 2018 through November 2018, the price of Bitcoin fell nearly 70%, while UTXO cap only fell 5%. This echoes the findings of Calderón (2018), who utilized the CSAD model 12 to demonstrate that crypto ... Since then, the number of failing financial institutions has been decreasing – 92 in 2011, 51 in 2012, 24 in 2013, 18 in 2014, eight in 2015, five in 2016, six in 2017, and most notably – zero ... Bitcoin has grown a lot over the past year, with incredible increases in adoption, ease of use, and supporting systems for the currency. More and more people are asking “What is Bitcoin?” or “How Do I Get Bitcoin?“, and it is becoming less common to find individuals who have not at least heard of the currency. At the same time, 2014 has not been kind to those who became involved with ... Major events: February was by far the most turbulent month of 2014 for Bitcoin. After the collapse of Mt.Gox and the loss of an estimated 744,000 Bitcoins valued at $400 million, Bitcoin’s future was heavily debated. Many people believed that the collapse of Gox would be the end of Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in general. While Bitcoin ... New report shows Mt. Gox leaked Bitcoin for years before collapse in 2014 By Maria Santos Last updated on January 2, 2018 at 00:00 No Comments Mt. Gox started leaking BTC in 2011 and was “practically depleted of Bitcoins by 2013” , says a new report released by WizSec, a Japanese group that has been investigating the exchange’s downfall .
Is cryptocurrency going to collapse like the economy? CZ from Binance explains
Is there a big Bitcoin long squeeze incoming when the Bitfinex longs collapse? I'll use technical analysis on the Bitcoin price to make a Bitcoin price prediction. Watch the video to learn more! Support Me On Patreon! https://www.patreon.com/TheModernInvestor ----- Protect And Sto... Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao (CZ) joins us to discuss the epic news in cryptocurrency and global markets, what to expect as time goes on, and what opportunities this makes for Bitcoin and other ... Bitcoin collapsed all the way back to $200 again in 2014. I began to buy it again… My average cost is about $300 a coin.” Coinbase has scheduled its first-ever investor day for Aug. 14, amid ... My Second Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvXjP6h0_4CSBPVgHqfO-UA ----- Supp... Binance considered rolling back the Bitcoin chain in order to recover stolen funds. How would that have happened? How likely is it that such a recovery method would be executed in the future? Binance Has Been Hacked Jumping on live to discuss what is going on with the Binance Bitcoin Hack! #Binance #Bitcoin #Hack. Firstly, thanks for watching I appreciate your support!