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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.
You have probably read dozens of articles dedicated to this subject before, and likely skipped even more. So why write another one, let alone read it? The short answer is times have changed. Well, times always change. Still, the point is that we may be amidst a paradigm shift in the cryptocurrency space right now even if we don’t feel it yet. by stealthEX Such a fundamental change is possible due to a confluence of several factors. Some of these factors are external and therefore not related to crypto. Others are internal and represent the value-oriented nature of cryptocurrencies. It just happened that all of them got activated under specific conditions at a certain point in time, which is today, give or take.
Economic woes in a post-Covid-19 World
You wouldn’t be far from the truth if you claimed that we haven’t yet pulled through the pandemic, to begin with. Unfortunately, it only makes matters worse unless you are a cryptocurrency investor and don’t care for the rest of humanity. Anyway, the damage has been done, and nothing can change that. We are now entering the phase that is technically called “competitive devaluations” and colloquially known as currency wars. You could also argue that if it didn’t happen at the peak of the coronavirus pandemic, it is not going to happen now. The sad truth is that we are only starting to feel the real pain. Even the deadly coronavirus doesn’t take over the body instantly, while it takes some time on the scale of a few months up to a couple years for the economic disease to spread through the fabric of society, evolve, and then erupt with inflation rates shooting through the roof, among many other nasty things. Please take your seat. The world reserve fiat, the American dollar, is sinking like Titanic, slowly but surely. We can’t say the same about less lucky currencies, though. We won’t dwell on the Venezuelan bolivar and Zimbabwean dollar as they are altogether beyond redemption, but fiats like the Brazilian real and Russian ruble are also balancing on the brink of another landslide devaluation, which they have seen many in the past. Sharp minds in the cryptocurrency space have been telling us about this development for ages. It all looked like a remote possibility in some distant future that as we felt deep down wouldn’t have a chance to come up in our lifetime. As it stands, we were wrong, and the events described are now starting to unfold right before our own eyes. In a strange twist of fate, large-scale cryptocurrency adoption is about to occur along with them, but not through some technical breakthroughs and innovation, or even the much-hyped DeFi, but primarily through the failure of conventional financial systems based on fiat currencies. Rest assured, the top dogs in the cryptocurrency pit are well aware of this dynamic, and they are not going to wait any longer. Grayscale Investments, a multi-billion dollar company behind a host of cryptocurrency trust funds, started to frenziedly buy up bitcoins a couple weeks ago. All in all, it acquired over 17,000 BTC adding to its already quite impressive stash of Bitcoin, now totalling almost 450,000 coins under its management. Love it or leave it, but it amounts to 2.4% of all bitcoins mined to date, including lost, burned, or left for dead as dust in Bitcoin wallets. In essence, it means that their effective share is way higher. But while Grayscale definitely sits at the top of the cryptocurrency investment chain, it is not the only company that went on a buying spree lately. MicroStrategy, a company largely unknown to the wider public, suddenly got religion and swapped over $400 million of its capital into 38,250 BTC. Even Barry Silbert, CEO of Grayscale, commented on this feat in his tweet. Twitter, by StealthEX So whenever there is a hint at price correction, someone comes out of the shadows and picks up a handful of bitcoins from the market propping up the price. Why are they doing this? You already know the answer.
In different words, all that cryptocurrencies had to do was to last long enough until fiat started to fall apart. It does now, and paradoxically such times are also times of great opportunity, Baron Rothschild’s way. The world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, Binance, has been pushing its cryptocurrency payment card since April when it acquired Swipe, a firm focused on crypto-to-fiat payment cards. At the time of the acquisition Swipe already supported 20 cryptocurrencies and fiat transactions in major currencies. Binance.com, by StaelthEX For European users the Binance card was officially made available in August, and the exchange plans to enter the US market soon. Given its dominance in the crypto arena, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect the surge in the cryptocurrency use as a means of payment thanks to this. It is unlikely that people would spend their precious bitcoins, but the packmaster is not the only member of the pack that Binance handles. Cryptos like Litecoin or Bitcoin Cash can easily become currencies of choice to use with Binance debit cards. But what truly makes it a game-changer is the current turmoil in the global economic affairs which may turn out to be a once-in-a-lifetime chance for crypto to pick up where fiat currencies leave, or fail, to be exact. On the other hand, it may be a natural development after all, set in stone by the very first Bitcoin transaction and cemented for good when it got confirmed. Now things start to arrange themselves to fit their preordained layout. We have taken our time. As cryptocurrencies are not internally linked to, or tied by, the lunatic policies of monetary authorities, that is to say, no central bank can ask or force miners to mine more bitcoins, we have the first element in place in the layout for the cryptocurrency mass adoption to occur at the most basic level. In fact, it has always been there, so we just had to wait until the two other elements arrived, even though it took longer than most of us were ready to wait. The second required element in the grand picture of cryptocurrency adoption is the change in attitude toward wealth evaluation. So far the vast majority of people involved in crypto, including its most die-hard supporters, valued their cryptocurrency holdings in fiat terms. Without doubt, it was the US dollar, regardless of your home currency. But when fiat collapses or enters a long period of runaway inflation, people will be ready for a dramatic change in their approaches toward capital assessment as well as spending habits. And here comes the most important part where Binance hits the nail on the head. If you are unable to effortlessly spend crypto in your everyday life, the first two components cannot trigger this change in attitude on their own. We need this third element to make use of what has existed and take advantage of what has come around. In a way, what Binance did, and what its competitors are no doubt going to do as well if they don’t want to miss out on the opportunity, appears to be the part that snugly snaps into place when we finally get there. With Binance payment card, you can “buy the things you love with crypto”. So now the ball is in your court to support the full-scale cryptocurrency adoption coming up. Kidding aside, with fiat turning into trash by leaps and bounds all over the globe, this looks like a very enticing payment option for both the crypto purists and the unbanked. We have seen quite a few such cards in the past, but Binance seems to be adamant on making its variety really popular and actually usable. And then you can ride volatility waves to your financial benefit. If Binance succeeds, that may herald a new era of cryptocurrency adoption, a breakthrough of sorts after so many years of stagnation in this department.
Repercussions and ramifications
It is not like only we, traders and investors alike, see these trends. Governments are also taking notice and paying close attention. They can’t remove cryptocurrencies and they can’t help inflating their national currencies. However, they can still crack down massively on this and similar endeavors, trying to nip them in the bud. We don’t know yet what Uncle Sam is going to say but some muslim countries have been quite vocal in this regard. For example, Egypt has issued a fetva which prohibits bitcoin transactions as being against Sharia, an Islamic religious law. Another mostly Islamic country, Indonesia, has banned the use of cryptocurrencies as a means of payment. Russia, although not Islamic yet, is hellbent on effectively outlawing most cryptocurrency operations despite passing earlier a law on digital assets which is essentially neutral to crypto. To conclude, we must be aware that once things get serious and governments see that their monetary supremacy is being threatened, that they can no longer play their favorite game of inflation tax, they will leave no stone unturned to prevent mass use of crypto as an alternative means of payment. And cryptocurrency payment cards are hands down one of the best tools available for this use on a down-to-earth level, groceries and whatnot. Now you know what their target will be. And don’t forget if you need to exchange your coins StealthEX is here for you. We provide a selection of more than 300 coins and constantly updating the cryptocurrency list so that our customers will find a suitable option. Our service does not require registration and allows you to remain anonymous. Why don’t you check it out? Just go to StealthEX and follow these easy steps: ✔ Choose the pair and the amount for your exchange. For example BTC to ETH. ✔ Press the “Start exchange” button. ✔ Provide the recipient address to which the coins will be transferred. ✔ Move your cryptocurrency for the exchange. ✔ Receive your coins. Follow us on Medium, Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit to get StealthEX.io updates and the latest news about the crypto world. For all requests message us via [email protected]. The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author. Every investment and trading move involves risk. You should conduct your own research when making a decision. Original article was posted onhttps://stealthex.io/blog/2020/10/06/cryptocurrency-adoption-a-breakthrough/
Everyone and his grandma know what cryptocurrency mining is. Well, they may not indeed know what it actually is, in technical terms, but they have definitely heard the phrase as it is hard to miss the news about mining sucking in energy like a black hole gobbles up matter. On the other hand, staking, its little bro, has mostly been hiding in the shadows until recently. by StealthEX Today, with DeFi making breaking news across the cryptoverse, staking has become a new buzzword in the blockchain space and beyond, along with the fresh entries to the crypto asset investor’s vocabulary such as “yield farming”, “rug pull”, “total value locked”, and similar arcane stuff. If you are not scared off yet, then read on. Though we can’t promise you won’t be.
Cryptocurrency staking, little brother of crypto mining
There are two conceptually different approaches to achieving consensus in a distributed network, which comes down to transaction validation in the case of a cryptocurrency blockchain. You are most certainly aware of cryptocurrency mining, which is used with cryptocurrencies based on the Proof-of-Work (PoW) consensus algorithm such as Bitcoin and Ether (so far). Here miners compete against each other with their computational resources for finding the next block on the blockchain and getting a reward. Another approach, known as the Proof-of-Stake (PoS) consensus mechanism, is based not on the race among computational resources as is the case with PoW, but on the competition of balances, or stakes. In simple words, every holder of at least one stake, a minimally sufficient amount of crypto, can actively participate in creating blocks and thus also earn rewards under such network consensus model. This process came to be known as staking, and it can be loosely thought of as mining in the PoS environment. With that established, let’s now see why, after so many years of what comes pretty close to oblivion, it has turned into such a big thing.
Why has staking become so popular, all of a sudden?
The renewed popularity of staking came with the explosive expansion of decentralized finance, or DeFi for short. Essentially, staking is one of the ways to tap into the booming DeFi market, allowing users to earn staking rewards on a class of digital assets that DeFi provides easy access to. Technically, it is more correct to speak of DeFi staking as a new development of an old concept that enjoys its second coming today, or new birth if you please. So what’s the point? With old-school cryptocurrency staking, you would have to manually set up and run a validating node on a cryptocurrency network that uses a PoS consensus algo, having to keep in mind all the gory details of a specific protocol so as not to shoot yourself in the foot. This is where you should have already started to enjoy jitters if you were to take this avenu entirely on your own. Just think of it as having to run a Bitcoin mining rig for some pocket money. Put simply, DeFi staking frees you from all that hassle. At this point, let’s recall what decentralized finance is and what it strives to achieve. In broad terms, DeFi aims at offering the same products and services available today in the traditional financial world, but in a trutless and decentralized way. From this perspective, DeFi staking reseblems conventional banking where people put their money in savings accounts to earn interest. Indeed, you could try to lend out your shekels all by yourself, with varying degrees of success, but banks make it far more convenient and secure. The maturation of the DeFi space advanced the emergence of staking pools and Staking-as-a-Service (SaaS) providers that run nodes for PoS cryptocurrencies on your behalf, allowing you to stake your coins and receive staking rewards. In today’s world, interest rates on traditional savings accounts are ridiculous, while government spending, a handy euphemism for relentless money printing aka fiscal stimulus, is already translating into runaway inflation. Against this backdrop, it is easy to see why staking has been on the rise.
Okay, what are my investment options?
Now that we have gone through the basics of the state-of-the-art cryptocurrency staking, you may ask what are the options actually available for a common crypto enthusiast to earn from it? Many high-caliber exchanges like Binance or Bitfinex as well as online wallets such as Coinbase offer staking of PoS coins. In most cases, you don’t even need to do anything aside from simply holding your coins there to start receiving rewards as long as you are eligible and meet the requirements. This is called exchange staking. Further, there are platforms that specialize in staking digital assets. These are known as Staking-as-a-Service providers, while this form of staking is often referred to as soft staking. They enable even non-tech savvy customers to stake their PoS assets through a third party service, with all the technical stuff handled by the service provider. Most of these services are custodial, with the implication being that you no longer control your coins after you stake them. Figment Networks, MyContainer, Stake Capital are easily the most recognized among SaaS providers. However, while exchange staking and soft staking have everything to do with finance, they have little to nothing to do with the decentralized part of it, which is, for the record, the primary value proposition of the entire DeFi ecosystem. The point is, you have to deposit the stakable coins into your wallet with these services. And how can it then be considered decentralized? Nah, because DeFi is all about going trustless, no third parties, and, in a narrow sense, no staking that entails the transfer of private keys. This form of staking is called non-custodial, and it is of particular interest from the DeFi point of view. If you read our article about DeFi, you already know how it is possible, so we won’t dwell on this (if, on the off chance, you didn’t, it’s time to catch up). As DeFi continues to evolve, platforms that allow trustless staking with which you maintain full custody of your coins are set to emerge as well. The space is relatively new, with Staked being probably the first in the field. This type of staking allows you to remain in complete control of your funds, and it perfectly matches DeFi’s ethos, goals and ideals. Still, our story wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t mention utility tokens where staking may serve a whole range of purposes other than supporting the token network or obtaining passive income. For example, with platforms that deploy blockchain oracles such as Nexus Mutual, a decentralized insurance platform, staking tokens is necessary for encouraging correct reporting on certain events or reaching a consensus on a specific claim. In the case of Nexus Mutual, its membership token NXM is used by the token holders, the so-called assessors, for validating insurance claims. If they fail to assess claims correctly, their stakes are burned. Another example is Particl Marketplace, a decentralized eCommerce platform, which designed a standalone cryptocurrency dubbed PART. It can be used both as a cryptocurrency in its own right outside the marketplace and as a stakable utility token giving stakers voting rights facilitating the decentralized governance of the entire platform. Yet another example is the instant non-custodial cryptocurrency exchange service, ChangeNOW, that also recently came up with its stakable token, NOW Token, to be used as an internal currency and a means of earning passive income.
Nowadays, with most economies on pause or going downhill, staking has become a new avenue for generating passive income outside the traditional financial system. As DeFi continues to eat away at services previously being exclusively provided by conventional financial and banking sectors, we should expect more people to get involved in this activity along with more businesses dipping their toes into these uncharted waters. Achieving network consensus, establishing decentralized governance, and earning passive income are only three use cases for cryptocurrency staking. No matter how important they are, and they certainly are, there are many other uses along different dimensions that staking can be quite helpful and instrumental for. Again, we are mostly in uncharted waters here, and we can’t reliably say what the future holds for us. On the other hand, we can go and invent it. This should count as next. And remember if you need to exchange your coins StealthEX is here for you. We provide a selection of more than 250 coins and constantly updating the list so that our customers will find a suitable option. Our service does not require registration and allows you to remain anonymous. Why don’t you check it out? Just go to StealthEX and follow these easy steps: ✔ Choose the pair and the amount for your exchange. For example ETH to BTC. ✔ Press the “Start exchange” button. ✔ Provide the recipient address to which the coins will be transferred. ✔ Move your cryptocurrency for the exchange. ✔ Receive your coins! The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author. Every investment and trading move involves risk. You should conduct your own research when making a decision. Original article was posted onhttps://stealthex.io/blog/2020/09/08/cryptocurrency-staking-as-it-stands-today/
[WRITEUP] Criticism of r/privacy and r/privacytoolsio moderation censorship and how Apple/Brave/Chrome/GrapheneOS cult armies are destroying privacy communities
Hello! I wanted to discuss this on the soon-to-come occasion of 400 subscribers (398 as I write this), but I guess I will do it now, since the time is just right. This is a long post, so embrace yourself. This is an untalked topic, and you will rarely, if ever, find a record or post about the same. Censorship in privacy communities is ironic, especially when the communities stand as the biggest ones on reddit. A lot of voices either go silent by account deletion and reappearing as new usernames, or they never speak up since they have been effectively "banned" so have no representation. A lot of this can be easily credited to folks breaking rules, which moderation would claim is certainly a need to manage large public forums. However, there is a section of people who criticise the Apple/Brave/Chrome/GrapheneOS cult armies, and this is where the problem starts to rise.
The moderator u trai_dep has taken his time to censor me off completely, so that none of my criticisms can be ever read about his dictatorial moderation and the GrapheneOS discussion I had with its lead developer, who at the end gave me plenty evidence about his rudeness, ironically which was against the rules of the subreddit. https://removeddit.com/privacytoolsIO/comments/gs4uv7/_/fs2ysdm/ Criticism of GrapheneOS lies on one of his comments about OnePlus and Xiaomi apparently not making good enough devices: https://np.reddit.com/privacytoolsIO/comments/gs4uv7/i_dont_fully_trust_grapheneos/fs82fdv/ There is also the issue that he always claims Google Pixel 3/3a is a must with Titan M chip running non verifiable code that one has to rely on for Google's claim of being same as open sourced code, and that it does not have spyware. And he maintains his stand about developing the ROM exclusively for the Pixel devices, which also house Pixel Visual Core, a proprietary Google-only CPU+GPU unit independent of the Snapdragon SoC and with negligible documentation claimed "only" to be used for HDR+ camera algorithm processing. Google has had a history of lying with things like the Location History toggle, or their known data collection business and known relationship with NSA.
I have managed to collect and create what is an evidence record establishing the fact that select moderators either have some kind of agenda or are destroying the privacy community as a whole on the internet itself. The below large part is a direct copy of the "Criticism of..." section in my Threat Model writeup in the sidebar.
OTHER ISSUES, CRITICISM OF MODERATION OF R_PRIVACY
Telling me that I am a burden to the subreddit is outright super offensive, in my most humble opinion. Moreover, they have a strong opinionated bias towards Apple (here too), however no reason to complain for their opinions if they talk outside /privacy and /privacytoolsIO where they moderate. Take the mod hat off if you want. To their credit, one of them did confirm they have a light threat model and primary goal is to thwart mass surveillance, around Level 3 in my book. You will always be criticised for complaining about US and rationally judging Chinese technology, and effectively repeatedly banned by American moderators and muted from modmail everytime you complain about people personally name calling you "Chinese intelligence proponent" or "Chinese/Huawei plant" or "idiot". I cannot make text posts anymore in that subreddit as of 11/02/2020. Lots of evidence events happened followed after my smartphone guide linked above: https://imgur.com/a/TqOkQk6 In atomicratsen image, you can see proof of them allowing Sinophobic propaganda in the name of arguments, followed by the last image. So that is another thing allowed here. Below comment is the admission of being lazy, incompetent and calling actual gilded contributor users "burden": https://np.reddit.com/privacy/comments/enoui9/5_reasons_not_to_use_whatsapp/fe6qgd7/Just in case comment goes poof, screenshot. Moreover, one of them made it clear in modmail that Sinophobic propaganda are "arguments" and will go uncriticised, likely patriotism owing to a global subreddit's moderation which seems unfair and caters not to all but to favouritism to a larger US/West EU audience on reddit, as said earlier:
The thing is, making an argument that China is shady is that: an argument. I mean, geez: Hong Kong. Enough said. So long as they're being civil about it, it's actually what this Sub is for. Do you mention anything related to China or their products in your post? If so, it's fair game, and we expect everyone to conduct themselves like rational adults. I'll check out the reports, but if they're conducting themselves along the lines of our sidebar rules, I (obviously) won't be taking any action. But I also hope that you don't get drawn into arguments that might end up earning yourself a time-out. We're somewhat patient, but at the same time, we can't spend too many man-hours tending a particular subscriber too much. Our time is volunteered and there are 600K+ subscribers. It's not fair to them.
Is this all fair to me, a cooperating member? If moderation and volunteering time is such a great issue, it would be a good step to take a backseat and discuss this in a rational non-prejudiced and less authoritarian manner. Why not allow others to take part and aid in moderating that subreddit? They have repeatedly banned me for nonsensical reasons, standing on last warning, and will likely do so after this post (once for claiming this comment means I called the user asshat instead of their comment, when it never violated /privacy 's rule 5, and another comment where I said to use Win 7/8.1 instead of Win 10, mods claimed it as gatekeeping and banned me for 14 days because I am criticising some things they truly love). New evidence as of few days ago (Feb 11, 2020): https://i.imgur.com/vOyaidS.png
The moderator trai_dep now wants a sitewide ban on me for what is informing a reddit user of legitimate logical criticism of GrapheneOS. He calls this harassment, as he has done this multiple times with me in the past (unfortunately for which comments are deleted and evidence not being able to be recorded). However, this is taking it too far. https://i.imgur.com/dX73ZNX.png
This happened with me on privacy, which is a major why I started this community. There must exist a place free of prejudiced bias and free of any forms of bigotry for privacy, truth and freedom loving folks. The fact that the moderators can get away with it by saying nice words after the ban reeks of a dictator that loves to give speech about care of its citizens, yet will slice anyone up. trai_dep and his friends continue to support the bigotry and these cult armies, which is likely because they do not understand nearly any higher order of technical aspect of privacy threat modelling, and have got no education on the same.
Privacy communities on reddit are a huge problem when it comes to dealing with the cult brigading, and instead critics are targeted by the cult armies which are let loose in these very communities. privacy and /privacytoolsIO are not true representatives of communities giving good advice for higher privacy and security, unfortunately ruined both by the moderators (many of whom are iPhone users themselves just like trai_dep) and the cult brigade armies.
How To End The Cryptocurrency Exchange "Wild West" Without Crippling Innovation
In case you haven't noticed the consultation paper, staff notice, and report on Quadriga, regulators are now clamping down on Canadian cryptocurrency exchanges. The OSC and other regulatory bodies are still interested in industry feedback. They have not put forward any official regulation yet. Below are some ideas/insights and a proposed framework.
Typical securities frameworks will cost Canadians millions of dollars (ie Sarbanes-Oxley estimated at $5m USD/yr per firm). Implementation costs of this proposal are significantly cheaper.
Canadians can maintain a diverse set of exchanges, multiple viable business models are still fully supported, and innovation is encouraged while keeping Canadians safe.
Many of you have limited time to read the full proposal, so here are the highlights:
Effective standards to prevent both internal and external theft. Exchange operators are trained and certified, and have a legal responsibility to users.
Regular Transparent Audits
Provides visibility to Canadians that their funds are fully backed on the exchange, while protecting privacy and sensitive platform information.
Establishment of basic insurance standards/strategy, to expand over time. Removing risk to exchange users of any hot wallet theft.
Background and Justifications
Cold Storage Custody/Management After reviewing close to 100 cases, all thefts tend to break down into more or less the same set of problems: • Funds stored online or in a smart contract, • Access controlled by one person or one system, • 51% attacks (rare), • Funds sent to the wrong address (also rare), or • Some combination of the above. For the first two cases, practical solutions exist and are widely implemented on exchanges already. Offline multi-signature solutions are already industry standard. No cases studied found an external theft or exit scam involving an offline multi-signature wallet implementation. Security can be further improved through minimum numbers of signatories, background checks, providing autonomy and legal protections to each signatory, establishing best practices, and a training/certification program. The last two transaction risks occur more rarely, and have never resulted in a loss affecting the actual users of the exchange. In all cases to date where operators made the mistake, they've been fully covered by the exchange platforms. • 51% attacks generally only occur on blockchains with less security. The most prominent cases have been Bitcoin Gold and Ethereum Classic. The simple solution is to enforce deposit limits and block delays such that a 51% attack is not cost-effective. • The risk of transactions to incorrect addresses can be eliminated by a simple test transaction policy on large transactions. By sending a small amount of funds prior to any large withdrawals/transfers as a standard practice, the accuracy of the wallet address can be validated. The proposal covers all loss cases and goes beyond, while avoiding significant additional costs, risks, and limitations which may be associated with other frameworks like SOC II. On The Subject of Third Party Custodians Many Canadian platforms are currently experimenting with third party custody. From the standpoint of the exchange operator, they can liberate themselves from some responsibility of custody, passing that off to someone else. For regulators, it puts crypto in similar categorization to oil, gold, and other commodities, with some common standards. Platform users would likely feel greater confidence if the custodian was a brand they recognized. If the custodian was knowledgeable and had a decent team that employed multi-sig, they could keep assets safe from internal theft. With the right protections in place, this could be a great solution for many exchanges, particularly those that lack the relevant experience or human resources for their own custody systems. However, this system is vulnerable to anyone able to impersonate the exchange operators. You may have a situation where different employees who don't know each other that well are interacting between different companies (both the custodian and all their customers which presumably isn't just one exchange). A case study of what can go wrong in this type of environment might be Bitpay, where the CEO was tricked out of 5000 bitcoins over 3 separate payments by a series of emails sent legitimately from a breached computer of another company CEO. It's also still vulnerable to the platform being compromised, as in the really large $70M Bitfinex hack, where the third party Bitgo held one key in a multi-sig wallet. The hacker simply authorized the withdrawal using the same credentials as Bitfinex (requesting Bitgo to sign multiple withdrawal transactions). This succeeded even with the use of multi-sig and two heavily security-focused companies, due to the lack of human oversight (basically, hot wallet). Of course, you can learn from these cases and improve the security, but so can hackers improve their deception and at the end of the day, both of these would have been stopped by the much simpler solution of a qualified team who knew each other and employed multi-sig with properly protected keys. It's pretty hard to beat a human being who knows the business and the typical customer behaviour (or even knows their customers personally) at spotting fraud, and the proposed multi-sig means any hacker has to get through the scrutiny of 3 (or more) separate people, all of whom would have proper training including historical case studies. There are strong arguments both for and against using use of third party custodians. The proposal sets mandatory minimum custody standards would apply regardless if the cold wallet signatories are exchange operators, independent custodians, or a mix of both. On The Subject Of Insurance ShakePay has taken the first steps into this new realm (congratulations). There is no question that crypto users could be better protected by the right insurance policies, and it certainly feels better to transact with insured platforms. The steps required to obtain insurance generally place attention in valuable security areas, and in this case included a review from CipherTrace. One of the key solutions in traditional finance comes from insurance from entities such as the CDIC. However, historically, there wasn't found any actual insurance payout to any cryptocurrency exchange, and there are notable cases where insurance has not paid. With Bitpay, for example, the insurance agent refused because the issue happened to the third party CEO's computer instead of anything to do with Bitpay itself. With the Youbit exchange in South Korea, their insurance claim was denied, and the exchange ultimately ended up instead going bankrupt with all user's funds lost. To quote Matt Johnson in the original Lloyd's article: “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.” ShakePay's insurance was only reported to cover their cold storage, and “physical theft of the media where the private keys are held”. Physical theft has never, in the history of cryptocurrency exchange cases reviewed, been reported as the cause of loss. From the limited information of the article, ShakePay made it clear their funds are in the hands of a single US custodian, and at least part of their security strategy is to "decline to confirm the custodian’s name on the record". While this prevents scrutiny of the custodian, it's pretty silly to speculate that a reasonably competent hacking group couldn't determine who the custodian is. A far more common infiltration strategy historically would be social engineering, which has succeeded repeatedly. A hacker could trick their way into ShakePay's systems and request a fraudulent withdrawal, impersonate ShakePay and request the custodian to move funds, or socially engineer their way into the custodian to initiate the withdrawal of multiple accounts (a payout much larger than ShakePay) exploiting the standard procedures (for example, fraudulently initiating or override the wallet addresses of a real transfer). In each case, nothing was physically stolen and the loss is therefore not covered by insurance. In order for any insurance to be effective, clear policies have to be established about what needs to be covered. Anything short of that gives Canadians false confidence that they are protected when they aren't in any meaningful way. At this time, the third party insurance market does not appear to provide adequate options or coverage, and effort is necessary to standardize custody standards, which is a likely first step in ultimately setting up an insurance framework. A better solution compared to third party insurance providers might be for Canadian exchange operators to create their own collective insurance fund, or a specific federal organization similar to the CDIC. Such an organization would have a greater interest or obligation in paying out actual cases, and that would be it's purpose rather than maximizing it's own profit. This would be similar to the SAFU which Binance has launched, except it would cover multiple exchanges. There is little question whether the SAFU would pay out given a breach of Binance, and a similar argument could be made for a insurance fund managed by a collective of exchange operators or a government organization. While a third party insurance provider has the strong market incentive to provide the absolute minimum coverage and no market incentive to payout, an entity managed by exchange operators would have incentive to protect the reputation of exchange operators/the industry, and the government should have the interest of protecting Canadians. On The Subject of Fractional Reserve There is a long history of fractional reserve failures, from the first banks in ancient times, through the great depression (where hundreds of fractional reserve banks failed), right through to the 2008 banking collapse referenced in the first bitcoin block. The fractional reserve system allows banks to multiply the money supply far beyond the actual cash (or other assets) in existence, backed only by a system of debt obligations of others. Safely supporting a fractional reserve system is a topic of far greater complexity than can be addressed by a simple policy, and when it comes to cryptocurrency, there is presently no entity reasonably able to bail anyone out in the event of failure. Therefore, this framework is addressed around entities that aim to maintain 100% backing of funds. There may be some firms that desire but have failed to maintain 100% backing. In this case, there are multiple solutions, including outside investment, merging with other exchanges, or enforcing a gradual restoration plan. All of these solutions are typically far better than shutting down the exchange, and there are multiple cases where they've been used successfully in the past. Proof of Reserves/Transparency/Accountability Canadians need to have visibility into the backing on an ongoing basis. The best solution for crypto-assets is a Proof of Reserve. Such ideas go back all the way to 2013, before even Mt. Gox. However, no Canadian exchange has yet implemented such a system, and only a few international exchanges (CoinFloor in the UK being an example) have. Many firms like Kraken, BitBuy, and now ShakePay use the Proof of Reserve term to refer to lesser proofs which do not actually cryptographically prove the full backing of all user assets on the blockchain. In order for a Proof of Reserve to be effective, it must actually be a complete proof, and it needs to be understood by the public that is expected to use it. Many firms have expressed reservations about the level of transparency required in a complete Proof of Reserve (for example Kraken here). While a complete Proof of Reserves should be encouraged, and there are some solutions in the works (ie TxQuick), this is unlikely to be suitable universally for all exchange operators and users. Given the limitations, and that firms also manage fiat assets, a more traditional audit process makes more sense. Some Canadian exchanges (CoinSquare, CoinBerry) have already subjected themselves to annual audits. However, these results are not presently shared publicly, and there is no guarantee over the process including all user assets or the integrity and independence of the auditor. The auditor has been typically not known, and in some cases, the identity of the auditor is protected by a NDA. Only in one case (BitBuy) was an actual report generated and publicly shared. There has been no attempt made to validate that user accounts provided during these audits have been complete or accurate. A fraudulent fractional exchange, or one which had suffered a breach they were unwilling to publicly accept (see CoinBene), could easily maintain a second set of books for auditors or simply exclude key accounts to pass an individual audit. The proposed solution would see a reporting standard which includes at a minimum - percentage of backing for each asset relative to account balances and the nature of how those assets are stored, with ownership proven by the auditor. The auditor would also publicly provide a "hash list", which they independently generate from the accounts provided by the exchange. Every exchange user can then check their information against this public "hash list". A hash is a one-way form of encryption, which fully protects the private information, yet allows anyone who knows that information already to validate that it was included. Less experienced users can take advantage of public tools to calculate the hash from their information (provided by the exchange), and thus have certainty that the auditor received their full balance information. Easy instructions can be provided. Auditors should be impartial, their identities and process public, and they should be rotated so that the same auditor is never used twice in a row. Balancing the cost of auditing against the needs for regular updates, a 6 month cycle likely makes the most sense. Hot Wallet Management The best solution for hot wallets is not to use them. CoinBerry reportedly uses multi-sig on all withdrawals, and Bitmex is an international example known for their structure devoid of hot wallets. However, many platforms and customers desire fast withdrawal processes, and human validation has a cost of time and delay in this process. A model of self-insurance or separate funds for hot wallets may be used in these cases. Under this model, a platform still has 100% of their client balance in cold storage and holds additional funds in hot wallets for quick withdrawal. Thus, the risk of those hot wallets is 100% on exchange operators and not affecting the exchange users. Since most platforms typically only have 1%-5% in hot wallets at any given time, it shouldn't be unreasonable to build/maintain these additional reserves over time using exchange fees or additional investment. Larger withdrawals would still be handled at regular intervals from the cold storage. Hot wallet risks have historically posed a large risk and there is no established standard to guarantee secure hot wallets. When the government of South Korea dispatched security inspections to multiple exchanges, the results were still that 3 of them got hacked after the inspections. If standards develop such that an organization in the market is willing to insure the hot wallets, this could provide an acceptable alternative. Another option may be for multiple exchange operators to pool funds aside for a hot wallet insurance fund. Comprehensive coverage standards must be established and maintained for all hot wallet balances to make sure Canadians are adequately protected.
Current Draft Proposal
(1) Proper multi-signature cold wallet storage. (a) Each private key is the personal and legal responsibility of one person - the “signatory”. Signatories have special rights and responsibilities to protect user assets. Signatories are trained and certified through a course covering (1) past hacking and fraud cases, (2) proper and secure key generation, and (3) proper safekeeping of private keys. All private keys must be generated and stored 100% offline by the signatory. If even one private keys is ever breached or suspected to be breached, the wallet must be regenerated and all funds relocated to a new wallet. (b) All signatories must be separate background-checked individuals free of past criminal conviction. Canadians should have a right to know who holds their funds. All signing of transactions must take place with all signatories on Canadian soil or on the soil of a country with a solid legal system which agrees to uphold and support these rules (from an established white-list of countries which expands over time). (c) 3-5 independent signatures are required for any withdrawal. There must be 1-3 spare signatories, and a maximum of 7 total signatories. The following are all valid combinations: 3of4, 3of5, 3of6, 4of5, 4of6, 4of7, 5of6, or 5of7. (d) A security audit should be conducted to validate the cold wallet is set up correctly and provide any additional pertinent information. The primary purpose is to ensure that all signatories are acting independently and using best practices for private key storage. A report summarizing all steps taken and who did the audit will be made public. Canadians must be able to validate the right measures are in place to protect their funds. (e) There is a simple approval process if signatories wish to visit any country outside Canada, with a potential whitelist of exempt countries. At most 2 signatories can be outside of aligned jurisdiction at any given time. All exchanges would be required to keep a compliant cold wallet for Canadian funds and have a Canadian office if they wish to serve Canadian customers. (2) Regular and transparent solvency audits. (a) An audit must be conducted at founding, after 3 months of operation, and at least once every 6 months to compare customer balances against all stored cryptocurrency and fiat balances. The auditor must be known, independent, and never the same twice in a row. (b) An audit report will be published featuring the steps conducted in a readable format. This should be made available to all Canadians on the exchange website and on a government website. The report must include what percentage of each customer asset is backed on the exchange, and how those funds are stored. (c) The auditor will independently produce a hash of each customer's identifying information and balance as they perform the audit. This will be made publicly available on the exchange and government website, along with simplified instructions that each customer can use to verify that their balance was included in the audit process. (d) The audit needs to include a proof of ownership for any cryptocurrency wallets included. A satoshi test (spending a small amount) or partially signed transaction both qualify. (e) Any platform without 100% reserves should be assessed on a regular basis by a government or industry watchdog. This entity should work to prevent any further drop, support any private investor to come in, or facilitate a merger so that 100% backing can be obtained as soon as possible. (3) Protections for hot wallets and transactions. (a) A standardized list of approved coins and procedures will be established to constitute valid cold storage wallets. Where a multi-sig process is not natively available, efforts will be undertaken to establish a suitable and stable smart contract standard. This list will be expanded and improved over time. Coins and procedures not on the list are considered hot wallets. (b) Hot wallets can be backed by additional funds in cold storage or an acceptable third-party insurance provider with a comprehensive coverage policy. (c) Exchanges are required to cover the full balance of all user funds as denominated in the same currency, or double the balance as denominated in bitcoin or CAD using an established trading rate. If the balance is ever insufficient due to market movements, the firm must rectify this within 24 hours by moving assets to cold storage or increasing insurance coverage. (d) Any large transactions (above a set threshold) from cold storage to any new wallet addresses (not previously transacted with) must be tested with a smaller transaction first. Deposits of cryptocurrency must be limited to prevent economic 51% attacks. Any issues are to be covered by the exchange. (e) Exchange platforms must provide suitable authentication for users, including making available approved forms of two-factor authentication. SMS-based authentication is not to be supported. Withdrawals must be blocked for 48 hours in the event of any account password change. Disputes on the negligence of exchanges should be governed by case law.
Continued review of existing OSC feedback is still underway. More feedback and opinions on the framework and ideas as presented here are extremely valuable. The above is a draft and not finalized. The process of further developing and bringing a suitable framework to protect Canadians will require the support of exchange operators, legal experts, and many others in the community. The costs of not doing such are tremendous. A large and convoluted framework, one based on flawed ideas or implementation, or one which fails to properly safeguard Canadians is not just extremely expensive and risky for all Canadians, severely limiting to the credibility and reputation of the industry, but an existential risk to many exchanges. The responsibility falls to all of us to provide our insight and make our opinions heard on this critical matter. Please take the time to give your thoughts.
Decentralized Finance (DeFi) can be rightfully considered a third revolution in the crypto space. If you wonder what the first two are, these are the invention of blockchain itself along with the technology’s firstborn, Bitcoin, and the inception of the smart contract technology. Just like blockchain provides the basis for smart contracts, the latter give rise to DeFi. It is often said that smart contracts are poised to revolutionize the ways both humans and organizations interact in their contractual relationships. In this sense, DeFi is the stage where these relationships are set to emerge and develop. With a bigger picture in mind, it is the world that the blockchain technology lays the foundation for, while smart contracts help to build it. Why we need DeFi, how it is possible, what makes it tick and click are the main themes of this article. by StealthEX
But seriously, why do we need it?
As most financial services in existence today are provided by or involve third parties, for example, banks, exchanges, investment companies, insurance agencies etc, DeFi is an attempt to build an alternative environment, an ecosystem of applications offering the same set of services but now powered by public blockchain networks in a decentralized, transparent and permissionless way. By and large, the basic idea that guides DeFi is essentially the same ethos that drives innovation with crypto as such, but at an entirely different level. Just like cryptocurrencies try to wrest the state supremacy over money from the hands of rogue governments and central banks, DeFi takes it further and aims higher. With DeFi, it is no longer a matter of creating a coin in an effort to replace fiat money, which mostly doesn’t work anyway. However, building a whole new domain of financial services available fairly and squarely to anyone, with full control over the assets but without corrupt governments and greedy intermediaries sticking around, may pan out better after all. So, answering the question posed at the beginning of this section, we need DeFi for basically the same reasons we need cryptocurrencies. Or, put differently, if we need cryptocurrencies, an assumption that has been proved indisputable, it is inevitable as well that we will sooner or later become interested in decentralized financial services powered by these cryptocurrencies through smart contract blockchains. We can’t just create Bitcoin and say that’ll do. It is a natural development, a Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, in a sense.
How is it ever possible?
As mentioned in the introduction, DeFi emerges thanks to smart contract tech and decentralized applications (or simply dApps) running them. So how does it work in practice? To better understand the idea, let’s take a closer look at a relatively simple example of a decentralized crypto-backed stablecoin which can be created through a smart contract. Stablecoins are coins whose value is pegged to a stable asset such as a commodity like gold or a fiat currency like the US dollar. There are a few different types of stablecoins that exist in the wild. For the purpose of this exposition, we are interested in crypto-backed stablecoins. Like stablecoins collateralized by fiat, these stablecoins use cryptocurrencies as collateral. However, the key difference is that a fiat-based stablecoin is pegged to the fiat currency which is backing it up. Kinda obvious. A crypto-backed stablecoin, on the other hand, is pegged to one asset, say, the American dollar, but backed up by a completely different one, for example, Ether. Things get tricky. A crypto-collateralized stablecoin is possible through the magic and the beauty of the smart contract governing it. If the price of such a stablecoin rises above its peg, or parity, you can create more stablecoins and sell them at a premium. If the price of the stablecoin falls below parity, you can buy stablecoins and liquidate them at a discount. If the collateral itself crashes, undercollateralized stablecoins will be liquidated with their collateral now backing up fewer stablecoins. As a result, the price always gets pushed back to parity. And all this rather complicated stuff is done on the blockchain in a decentralized and automatic fashion with no banks or other third parties involved. Consequently, more services are easily possible too. And quite a few at that.
Okay, what decentralized financial services are available?
Well, one such service we have just described above. Cryptocurrencies are infamous for being extremely volatile, and stablecoins are designed to deal with this issue. There are many stablecoins out there like Tether, TrueUSD, or Gemini Coin, but they are all based on trusting third parties. Easily one of the best known crypto-backed stablecoins is MakerDAO’s DAI, which is pegged against the US dollar with a basket of crypto-assets as collateral in a truly decentralized and trustless way, that is, a blockchain way. Crypto-based stablecoins can be used on their own by offering a hedge against the price volatility of such popular cryptocurrencies as Ether or Bitcoin. Aside from that, they are also instrumental in other DeFi services, for example, in decentralized exchanges like IDEX or BiKi.com. With stablecoins, it becomes possible to create fiat trading pairs in addition to crypto ones in entirely decentralized, non-custodial trading environments as opposed to centralized exchanges like Bitfinex or Binance, which are vulnerable to high-profile hacks and personal data leaks. Unlike MakerDAO, Ampleforth doesn’t strive to create a rock-solid stablecoin. Instead, it comes up with the notion of “adaptive money built on sound economics”, with its mission stretching out as far as to marry “the scarcity of Bitcoin with the elasticity of fiat”. It tries to go beyond the relatively simple concept of a stablecoin and brings forth the idea of elastic money supply that can expand and contract depending on market demands, as well as allow the creation of a valid form of collateral for DeFi based on that idea. Obviously, DeFi is not just about stablecoins or the financial services using them. Blockchain-based borrowing and lending is another important DeFi arena. With platforms like Compound, dYdX, Dharma, you can deposit your crypto assets to either earn interest on them or use these assets as collateral for borrowing. Smart contracts automatically match borrowers and lenders, offering dynamic interest rates based on supply and demand. And with tools like LoanScan, you can also easily shop around for the best interest rates on the block. These examples are far from exhaustive, of course, as the space is rapidly expanding and evolving. However, there are some fundamental issues that put grit into the wheels of the DeFi war machine.
So where’s the catch?
There are many advantages of DeFi, but to be of any practical use, it needs up-to-date information that would be reliable and authentic. Smart contracts that DeFi is based on are hopelessly on-chain, but the data they need for processing is mostly off-chain. Without a bridge to close this gap between a smart contract and its source of external information, smart contracts are entrapped in closed-off dungeons of their blockchains. To be sure, no crypto-based stablecoin is going to work correctly without a real-time price feed for the assets taken as its collateral and used for maintaining the peg. To get around this roadblock, a concept of blockchain oracles has been suggested. But as the chain cannot be stronger than its weakest link, blockchain oracles seem to be that weak link in the field of DeFi and beyond as obtaining information in a verifiable way can be an intimidating task. What approaches dApps are taking to procure and verify sources of truth in the external world is the topic of our upcoming article about blockchain oracles. Stay with us and stay tuned! And remember if you need to exchange your coins StealthEX is here for you. We provide a selection of more than 250 coins and constantly updating the list so that our customers will find a suitable option. Our service does not require registration and allows you to remain anonymous. Why don’t you check it out? Just go to StealthEX and follow these easy steps: ✔ Choose the pair and the amount for your exchange. For example ETH to BTC. ✔ Press the “Start exchange” button. ✔ Provide the recipient address to which the coins will be transferred. ✔ Move your cryptocurrency for the exchange. ✔ Receive your coins. Follow us on Medium, Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit to get StealthEX.io updates and the latest news about the crypto world. For all requests message us via [email protected]. The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author. Every investment and trading move involves risk. You should conduct your own research when making a decision. Original article was posted onhttps://stealthex.io/blog/2020/08/04/decentralized-finance-defi/
AMA AT DETECTIVE ID (25/06/2020) Before welcoming any questions, I would like to briefly introduce STATERA PROJECT. Statera is a smart contract deflationary token pegged to a cryptocurrency index fund. By including STA in an index fund with Link, BTC, ETH, and SNX you can buy one token and access the price action of four of the leading cryptocurrencies. You can also invest directly in the index fund (balancer pool) and receive the benefits of fees and BAL tokens paid to you while also having an automatically balanced fund. Lastly the deflationary mechanics of STA increases the chance for positive price action while decreasing beta (volatility). This is all found in a smart contract that is fully decentralized, the founders can no longer augment the contract in any way and this has been confirmed by a third party code audit through Hacken. Q1 : please explain in more detail about Statera, what is the background of this project? and when was it established? The dev of this project had previously created another deflationary token BURN. When the Balancer Labs released the Balancer Protocol, he had an idea to combine the two, deflationary token and a pool of tokens, making the first deflationary index fund. It started in the end of May and on the 3rd iteration, May 29th - a trustless version was launched that we see today. As briefly explained earlier, STATERA or STA is an Index Deflationary Token built on Ethereum blockchain; Index: Contains a token suite of world class leading crypto assests BTC, ETH, LINK, SNX with STA. Deflationary: On every transaction of STA 1% of the transacted amount is sent to 0x address on ethereum, burned forever, thus reducing the circulating supply of STA Index+Deflationary: STA is mixed with BTC, ETH, LINK SNX in a portfolio, backed by liquidity on a protocol known as balancer (balancer.finance) This platform serves as a market maker for the token suit. The Index suite is of equal rate of 20%, that is 20% of BTC, ETH, SNX LINK and STA, Thus, anytime there is an increase in value of any of those coins or tokens, balancer automatically trade them for STA in order to keep the token suit ratio balanced. And anytime there is an increase in the value of STA, the same process applies. while doing this trade, it enables further burning on every transaction, thus facilitating more token scarcity. In addition to this, Statera was deployed with contract finalised, that is, the index suite can not be altered, It is completely out of Dev's control. Q2 : What are the achievements that have been obtained by Statera in 2020? And what goals do you want to achieve in 2020? By this we assume the questionnaire is asking for a roadmap! First, the project is barely a month old, and within just a month, our liquidity has grown from $50,000 to over $400,000 currently above $300,000. Among the things we have accomplished so far is the creation of market value for STA's Balancer liquidity pool token BPT, which is currently over $1000 per one BPT. Regarding what we set to achieve: The future is filled with many opportunities and potentials, currently, we are working on a massive campaign to introduce our product to the outside world. We have already made contact with different and reputable forums and channels regarding marketing and advertisement offers, some which we are currently negotiating, some which we are awaiting response. All we can say for now is that the Team is working hard to make this the Investment opportunity every crypto enthusiast has been waiting for. Statera has the goal of putting cryptocurrency into every portfolio. We believe we have a product that increases the returns of investing in cryptocurrencies and makes it easier to diversify in this space. We have done so much in June: articles, how to videos, completed the audit, tech upgrades like one token liquidity additions, and beginning our many social communities. We have been hard at work behind the scenes but things like sponsorships, features, and media take time, content makers need days if not weeks to develop content, especially the best of the best. We are working tirelessly, we will not disappoint. We have plans for 2020-2025 and will release those in the next month. They are big and bold, you’re going to be impressed by the scale of our vision, when we say “Cryptocurrency in every portfolio” we mean it. In 2020 more specifically we are focused on more media, videos, product offerings, and exchanges. Q3 : What is the purpose of STA token? How can we get STA? The purpose of STA is an investment in the first deflationary index fund. The whole index's value rises from these aspects: 1. The index funds (WBTC,WETH,SNX,LINK) appreciate in value 2. When the index tokens are traded, the pool receives transaction fees - 1% 3. STA burns on transactions, so it's deflationary nature increases its value as the total supply drops 4. Balancer rewards Index holders with BAL token airdrops every week You can invest via the 'Trade' links in stateraproject.com website. Easiest way is to do it using ETH. The monetary policy of our token is set in stone and constantly deflationary. This negative supply pressure is a powerful mechanism in economics and price discovery. Through the lowering of supply we can decrease your beta (volatility) and increase your alpha (gains). Our token is currently only top 40 in liquidity on Balancer, however our volume is top 10! You want to know why? Because Statera works. Statera increases arbitrage, volume, fees, BAL rewards, and liquidity. Our liquidity miners in our Balancer pool are already making some of the highest BAL rewards on the platform, one user we spoke with made 18% in June, that’s over 150% APY! Our product is working, 100% (or you could say 150%), and when people start to see that, and realize the value, the sky's the limit. Q4 : can we as a user do STA mining? The supply of STA doesn't increase anymore, it only decreases due to the burn feature. So there is no way to mine anymore STA. Only way to acquire the tokens is via an exchange. The monetary policy of our token is set in stone and constantly deflationary. This negative supply pressure is a powerful mechanism in economics and price discovery. Through the lowering of supply we can decrease your beta (volatility) and increase your alpha (gains). Our token is currently only top 40 in liquidity on Balancer, however our volume is top 10! You want to know why? Because Statera works. Statera increases arbitrage, volume, fees, BAL rewards, and liquidity. Our liquidity miners in our Balancer pool are already making some of the highest BAL rewards on the platform, one user we spoke with made 18% in June, that’s over 150% APY! Our product is working, 100% (or you could say 150%), and when people start to see that, and realize the value, the sky's the limit. Q5 : The ecosystem of a public chain has a lot to do with the level of engagement and participation of third-party developers. How does Statera support the developers? Not really. Our project is focusing on investment opportunities for the cryptocurrencies. The cryptocurrency tokens that are not used and are just sitting in a wallet can work for you by being added to an index fund and appreciate in value over time. First off, what we have created is a new asset class, I’ll repeat that, a new asset class. This asset has never existed: “Deflationary Index Fund,” what does that mean for finance? What will developers do with this? It’s hard to give a finite answer. We hope there are future economic papers on our token and what it means to be a deflationary index fund. With the addition of synthetic assets and oracles you can put any asset into the DeFi space: Gold, Nikkei 225, USD, etc. STA can be combined with any assets and bring the benefits of it’s ecosystem and deflationary mechanism to that asset. STA, the token itself, also gives you access to the price action of any asset it is paired with. Put simply STA’s balancer pool(s) give you a benefit in holding them, and STA’s price will reflect it’s inclusion in Balancer Pool(s) (and possibly future financial instruments), so STA is a bet on DeFi as a whole. When we say as whole, we mean as whole: what happens if you include STA in a crypto loan, or package it with a synthetic S&P 500 token, or use it as fee payment in a DeFi platform? Being fully decentralized it is up to our community to make this happen, social engagement and community are key. We are constantly bringing community members onto our team and rewarding those that benefit the ecosystem. in addition, Statera is a fully community project now. Paul who is the current team leader was an ordinary member of the community weeks ago, due to his interest and support for the project, he started dedicating his time to the project. Quite a number of community members are also in the same position, while Statera was developed by an individual, it is being built by the entire Statera community Community Questions (Twitter): Q1 From: @KazimKara35 The project tells us that the acquisition and sale of data between participants is protected by code of conduct and how safe is deployed on the blockchain, but how do you handle regulations while operating on a global scale? Statera is decentralized token, similar to other utility crypto tokens and same regulations apply to it as others. his is actually a benefit of our decentralized nature. This isn’t legal advice, however in the past regulating bodies have ruled that the more decentralized a project is, especially from launch, the less likely they are to be deemed a security (see: Ethereum). This means they can be traded more freely and be available on more platforms. We are as decentralized as you can be. The data itself is all secured through the blockchain which has been shown to be a highly secure medium. We do not store any of your data and as long as you follow best practices in blockchain security there are no added security risks of using Statera. We don’t, and literally can’t, hold anymore personal information than is made available in any blockchain transaction. and that "personal information" is more likely than not just your ethereum wallet address, no "real world" data is included in transactions Q2 from: @Michael_NGT353 What is Mechanism you use On your Project sir? Are you Use PoS,PoW or other Mechanism Can you explain why you use it and what is Make it Different? Our token is an ERC-20 token and it's running on the Ethereum blockchain. The Ethereum's POW mechanism is currently supporting the Statera token We run on Ethereum, so we are currently PoW. With ETH 2.0 we will hopefully be PoS this year (hopefully). We use it because ETH has over 100 million addresses and around a million daily transactions. We are currently at about 1,900 token holders, we are just touching the edge of what is possible in this market. We chose the biggest and the best network available right now to launch our product. We think the upside is huge because of this choice. Being the biggest network it is also one of the most secure, no high risk vulnerabilities have been found in Ethereum or in our code (we've had our code audited by a third party, Hacken, and you can read their audit on our Medium page), so we also have security on our side Q3 From : @Ryaaan_Nguyen Can you list some of Statera outstanding features for everyone here to know about? What are the products that Statera is focusing on developing? As mentioned earlier by GC, First off, what we have created is a new asset class, I’ll repeat that, a new asset class. This asset has never existed: “Deflationary Index Fund,” what does that mean for finance? What will developers do with this? It’s hard to give a finite answer. We hope there are future economic papers on our token and what it means to be a deflationary index fund. With the addition of synthetic assets and oracles you can put any asset into the DeFi space: Gold, Nikkei 225, USD, etc. STA can be combined with any assets and bring the benefits of it’s ecosystem and deflationary mechanism to that asset. STA, the token itself, also gives you access to the price action of any asset it is paired with. Put simply STA’s balancer pool(s) give you a benefit in holding them, and STA’s price will reflect it’s inclusion in Balancer Pool(s) (and possibly future financial instruments), so STA is a bet on DeFi as a whole. When we say as whole, we mean as whole: what happens if you include STA in a crypto loan, or package it with a synthetic S&P 500 token, or use it as fee payment in a DeFi platform? We touched on this a bit in the question on what makes us special compared to other exchanges. We have created a product that synergizes with Balancer Pools creating a symbiotic relationship that improves the outcomes for users (our product can also synergize with future DeFi products). By including STA in an index fund with Link, BTC, ETH, and SNX you can buy one token and access the price action of four of the leading cryptocurrencies. You can also invest directly in the index fund (balancer pool) and receive the benefits of fees and BAL tokens paid to you while also having an automatically balanced portfolio (like an index fund with dividends). Lastly, the deflationary mechanics of STA increases the chance for positive price action while decreasing beta. We want to package Statera with assets across the whole cryptocurrency space, with an emphasis on DeFi. We also want everyday people to be able to invest quickly in crypto while also feeling reassured their investment is set up to succeed. We are focused on developing a name brand that people go to first and foremost when investing in crypto: cryptocurrency in every portfolio. This is all found in a smart contract that is fully decentralized, the founders can no longer augment the contract in any way and this has been confirmed by the third party code audit. This is a feature in and of itself, some argue that Bitcoin’s true value is in it’s network effect, first mover advantage, and immutability. Statera is modeled on all three of those and has those features in spades. The community now owns our token, the power in that, giving finance and power to the people, is why we are here. Q4 From : @futcek What do you think about the possibility of creating new use cases in DeFi space for existing real world assets by using crypto technology? What role do you see in this creation for Statera? I think my answer above actually answers this perfectly, Statera in and of itself is a “new use case”, a “deflationary index fund” has never existed, I’ll copy and paste the other relevant part: “With the addition of synthetic assets and oracles you can put any asset into the DeFi space: Gold, Nikkei 225, USD, etc. STA can be combined with any assets and bring the benefits of it’s ecosystem and deflationary mechanism to that asset. STA, the token itself, also gives you access to the price action of any asset it is paired with. Put simply STA’s balancer pool(s) give you a benefit in holding them, and STA’s price will reflect it’s inclusion in Balancer Pool(s) (and possibly future financial instruments), so STA is a bet on DeFi as a whole. When we say as whole, we mean as whole: what happens if you include STA in a crypto loan, or package it with a synthetic S&P 500 token, or use it as fee payment in a DeFi platform? Being fully decentralized it is up to our community to make this happen, social engagement and community are key. We are constantly bringing community members onto our team and rewarding those that benefit the ecosystem.” Statera is a way to make your investment more successful, and owning Statera let's you benefit from other people using it to make their investments more successful (a self feeding cycle). Q5 From : @Carmenzamorag Statera's deflationary system is based in that with every transaction 1% of the amount is destroyed, would this lead to lack of supply and liquidity in the long term future? How would that be fixed? The curve of supply is asymptote, meaning that it will never reach zero. The idea is that the deflationary process will slowly decrease the supply of STA, which – combined with a fixed or increaseing demand – will result in STA appreciating in value. Evidently, as the STA token increases in value, the amounts of STA being traded will slowly decrease: The typical investor might buy 10.000 STA at the current rate, but in the future (proportional to an increase in the valueation of STA) this number will tend to decrease, hence the future investor might only buy 1000 STA. This of course results in less STA being burned. Additionally, STA is divisible to the 18th decimal, why – even if the supply was to reach 1 STA – there would be a sufficient supply. Well this would be a question for a Mathematician, and luckily we’re loaded with them (as seen above)! I’ll try to illustrate with an example. 1% of 100 million is 1 million, 1% of 10 million is 100,000. As we go down in supply the burn is less by volume. What also happens at lower supply is higher prices (supply and demand economics). So those 1 million tokens burned may be worth $20,000, but by the time overall supply is at 10 million those 100,000 tokens may also be worth $20,000 or even more. This means you transact “less”, if you want to buy 1 Ether now with Statera you need 8,900 STA which would burn 89 tokens. If Statera is worth $100 you only need 2.32 statera (.023 tokens burned). Along with this proportional and relative burn decrease, tokens are 18 decimals long, so even when we get to 1 token left (which mathematically would take decades if not centuries, but that is wholly dependent on usage), you are still left with 10 to the 18th power, or one quintillion “tokens”. So it’s going to take us a while to have supply issues :) Nuked Phase (3rd Part) Q) What is your VISION and Mission? Our working mission and vision: Mission: Provide every investor with simple and effective ways to invest in cryptocurrency. Decrease volatility and increase positive price pressure in cryptocurrency investments. Lower the barrier to entry for more advanced investment tools. Be a community focused and community driven cryptocurrency, fully decentralized by every meaning of the word. Vision: We aspire to put “cryptocurrency in every portfolio”. We envision a world where finance is given back to the people and wealth building strategies withheld only for affluent individuals are given to all. We also strive to create an investment environment based on sound monetary policy and all the power that comes with a sound asset. Q) What are the benefits of STA for its investors in long term? Does STA have Afrika as an important area for its expansion? We have ties to Africa and see Statera as a way for anyone and everyone to invest in cryptocurrency. The small marketcap of statera makes it's price low and it's upside massive. Right now if you wanted to be exposed to the price action of four cryptocurrencies (BTC, ETH, Link, SNX) Statera is a way to gain that exposure in a way that has a huge upside, compared to the other four assets, there are risks in investing in any small cap but with those risk come outsized rewards (not investment advice and all answers are solely my opinions 😊) Q) In the long run, why should we trust and follow STATERA? How do you raise awareness and elimination of the doubts of investors / partners / customers?. You're really asking "How do I trust myself and other crypto investors" The project is FULLY decentralized, it is now in the hands of the community. We would venture a guess that the community wants their investment to succeed and be worth more in the future, so you are betting on people. wanting to make themselves money on their own investment. This is a pretty sure bet. The community being active and engaged is key, and we have short term and long term plans to ensure this happens Q) No one can doubt the strength of #Statera. But can you tell us some of the challenges and difficulties you're presently facing? How can you possibly overcome them? We're swinging outside our weightclass, we don't see litecoin or SNX, or any other crypto product as our competition. Our competition is NASDAQ, Fidelity, etc. We want to provide world class financial instruments that only the wealthy have access to in the traditional world to everyone. Providing liquidity, risk parity, being paid to provide liquidity, unique value propositions, are all things we want to bring to everyone. However we are coming up in a hectic space, everyday their is fud and defamation on the web, but that is the sandbox we chose to play in and we aren't grabbing our ball and going home. We can tell you that we will not disappoint and fighting all the fud that comes along with being a small and upstart project only fuel our fire. Building legitimacy is our largest challenge and looking at our audit, financial report, and some things you will see in the coming weeks, we hope you see we are facing those challenges head on. Q) What is the actual uniqueness of #Statera.??? Can you guys please explain tha advantages of #Statera over other projects.?? When we launched there were no other products like ours. There are now copies, and we wish them the best, but we have the best product, hands down. Over the next couple weeks this will become apparent, if it hasn't already, also a lot of the AMA answers dug deeper into our unique value proposition, especially the benefits we provide to Balancer Pools which shows the benefits we would provide for any index fund. We are a tool to improve cryptocurrency investing Q) Fragmentation, layering and cross-chain are three future solutions for high-performance blockchains. Where is Statera currently? What are the main reasons for taking this direction? We operate on the Ethereum chain, as it upgrades our services and usability will upgrade. We are working on UI and more user friendly systems to onboard people into our ecosystem Q) How STATERA plan to make room and make this project known in the world of crypto, full of technology and full of new projects very good in today's market? We think we have a truly innovative product, which - when first understood - appeals to most investors. Whether you want a high-volatility/medium-risk token like STA or whether you are more conservative and simply just plan on adding to the Statera pool BPT (which is not nearly as volatile but still offers great returns). We plan on making Statera known to the crypto world through a marketing campaign which slowly will be unravelled in the comming days and weeks. If interested, you can check out an analysis of the different investment options in the Statera ecosystem in our first financial report: https://medium.com/@stateraproject/statera-financial-reports-b47defb58a18 Q) Hello, cryptocurrencies are very volatile and follow bitcoin ... and does this apply to Statera? or is there some other logic present in some way? is statera token different from a current token? Are you working on listings on other exchanges? Currently uniswap is somewhat uncomfortable for fees. We are also on bamboo relay, saturn network, and mesa. Statera will be volatile like all cryptocurrency, this is a small and nascent space. But with the deflationary mechanic and balancer pool, over time, as marketcap grows it will become less volatile and more positively reactive to price. Q) Security is one of the most essential characteristics for a project to get reputation. How can #Statera Team assure to their community that users assets and investments will stay safe from unwanted agents? We have been third party audited by the same company that worked with VeChain to audit their code. Our code has been shown to be bulletproof. Unless Ethereum comes up with a fatal security flaw there is nothing that can happen to our contract (there is no backdoor, no way for anyone to edit or adjust the smart contract). Q) Many investors see the project from the price of the coin. Can you give us advantages why Statera is so suitable for long-term investment? and what makes Statera different from other similar projects? Sometimes the simplest solutions are the most effective. A question you can ask is “What if this fails”? But you can also ask, “What if this succeeds”? Cryptocurrency is filled with asymmetric risks, we think if you look into the value proposition you will find that there is a huge asymmetric risk/reward in Statera, and we will make that even clearer in our soon to be released litepaper. You are on the ground floor of a simple but highly effective solution to onboarding people into defi, cryptocurrencies, and investing. Our product reduces volatility and increases gains (decreases beta and increases alpha in investor terms), which is highly attractive in any investment. The down side is there but the upside outweighs it exponentially (asymmetric risk) Q) What your plans in place for global expansion, are Statera focusing on only market at this time? Or focus on building and developing or getting customers and users, or partnerships? Can you explain this? We have reached out to influencers in other countries and things are in the works. We have also translated documents and are working on having them in at least 4 languages by the end of July. We were founded globally, our team is global, and we are focused on reaching all 7 billion people. Q) Now in the cryptofield everyday there are new projects joining in the Blockchain space. They are upgraded, Well-established and coming up with innovative technology. How Statera going to compete with them? What do you think, one day Statera will become useless And will be lost into the abyss of time for not bringing any new technology? We are the first of our kind, no one had a deflationary index fund before us. Index funds will be the future of crypto (look at the popularity of etfs and indexes in the traditional markets). We are a tool to make your index function better and pay you more. As long as people care about crypto index funds they will care about the value STA brings to that. We have an involved and long term plan to reach dominance over a 5 year span, this is not a flash in the pan, big things coming Q1. You say that the weight and proportions of your tokens are constant. So how have you managed to prevent market price speculation from generating hypervolability in your token price? Do you consider yourselves a kind of stablecoin? Q2. How many jurisdictions allow the use of Stratera products and services? Are they available for Latin America? @joloroeowo The balancer ensures an equal ratio of 20% amongst the five tokens included in our fund. This, however, does not imply that the tokens are stable. Rather, the Balancer protocol helps mitigating price fluctuations. Q) How can I as a Statera participant participate in liquidity mining, and receive BAL as reward? What are the use cases of $STA token, and how are users motivated to buy and hold long term? The easiest way is to go to stateratoken.com and click trade then BPT. You can also buy all five tokens and click on portfolio then add liquidity. Balancer is working on a simpler interface to add liquidity with one token, we are waiting on them. I think we explained the use cases above Q) What do you plan have for global expansion, is Statera currently focused solely on the market? Or is it focused on building and developing or acquiring customer and user or partnership relationships? Can you explain it? We are currently working on promoting the project and further develope our product, making it lucrative for more new investors to join our pool and invest in the STA token. Q1) Statera have 2 types of tokens, so can you tell me the differences between STA and STAC ? What are their uses cases? Is possible Swap between them? Q2) Currently the only possible Swap or "exchange" possible is Uniswap, so you do have plans to list the STA token into a more Exchanges? STAC is obsolete, we only have STA and BPT (go to our website and click on trade) stateratoken.com BPT gives you more diversification and less risk, STA gives you more volatility and more chance for big gains. Q2 we are on multiple exchanges (4), bamboo relay, saturn, and mesa we do have plans for future exchanges but the big ones have processes and hoops to jump through that can't be done so quickly Q) What business scenarios can STATERA support now? In which industries can we see the mass adoption of STATERA technology in the near future? Statera increases the effectiveness of your cryptocurrency investments. Specifically it makes cryptocurrency index funds function better, netting you higher returns, which we have already seen in just one month of implementation. Right now, today, you can buy our BPT token and increase the functionality of holding a crypto index fund. In the future we want every single web user to see and use our product Q) Do you plan to migrate to other platforms like Tron, BinanceChain, EOS, etc. if it is feasible?? Migrating our current contract is not. Starting new offerings on those other chains could be possible, they aren't on our radar currently but if the community requests them we are driven by our community Q) ETH Blockchain is a Blockchain have many token based in it, i have used ETH blockchain long time and i see it have big fee and need much time to make a transcation so Why you choose to based STA in ETH blockchain not other like Bep2 or Trc20 ? Simply: 100 million addresses, 1 million transactions a day. The more users we have the more we will benefit our community. We hope ETH 2.0 scaling will fix the problems you mention. Q) No one achieve anything of value on its own, please can you share about Statera present and future partnerships that will drive you to success in this highly congested crypto space? We have a unique product that no one else has (there are people who have copied us). We can't announce our current and future partnerships yet, but they will be released soon. Our future hopes of partnerships are big and will be key to our future, know we are focused on making big partnerships, some you may not even be thinking about. Q) According to the fact that your algorithm causes 1% of each transaction to be destroyed, I would like to know, then, how you plan to finance yourself as a project in the long term? The project is now in the hands of the community and we are a team of passionate people volunteering to help promote and develope the Statera ecosystem. But then, how do we afford running a promo campaign? We have lots of great community members donating funds that goes to promoting the project. In other words, the community helps financing the project. And so far, we have created a fantastic community consisting of passionate and well-educated people! Q) There are many cryptocurrency startups were established by talent teams, but they got problem in raising capital via token sales due to many factors as bear market, bankrupt etc. This leaded their potential startups fail. So how will Statera break these barriers and attract more funds from outside crypto space? We are community focused and community ran. When you look at centralized cryptocurrencies you can see the negative of them (Tron, ADA, etc.) We believe being fully decentralized is the true power position. You the owner of statera can affect our future and must affect our future. This direct ownership means people need to mobilize and organize to push us forward, and it is in their best self interest to do so. It's a bet on our community, we're excited about that bet Q) What business scenarios can STATERA support now? In which industries can we see the mass adoption of STATERA technology in the near future? Statera increases the effectiveness of your cryptocurrency investments. Specifically it makes cryptocurrency index funds function better, netting you higher returns, which we have already seen in just one month of implementation. Right now, today, you can buy our BPT token and increase the functionality of holding a crypto index fund. In the future we want every single web user to see and use our product Q) Why being a hybrid of a liquidity pool and an index fund? What are the main benefits about this? By being a liquidity pool the exchange side of the pool (balancer also functions as an exchange) gives you added liquidity for more effortless, effective, and cheaper rebalancing. You also benefit from getting paid the fee when people use the exchange AND getting paid BAL tokens that are worth $15-20 USD. These are not benefits you get with an index fund, meanwhile the liquidity pool rebalances just like an index fund would Q) Which specific about technology and strategy of #STA that make you believe it will be successful and what does #STA plan do to attract more users in the upcoming time? I think the idea behind Statera is truly ingenious. We have made an index fund, which investors are highly(!) incentivised to invest in, namely because the ROI, so far, has been huge. An increase in the pool liquidity (index fund) indirectly translates into an increase in the price of STA, why we think the STA token - combined with its deflationary nature - will increase in the long run. The mechanism behind this is somewhat complex, but to better get an understanding of it, I suggest you visit our medium page and read more about the project: https://medium.com/@stateraproject
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
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