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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 (~$3.4 billion CAD) is going to people in suits. Isn't the problem of trust and verification the exact problem that the blockchain is supposed to solve?
To use Quadriga as justification for why custodians or SOC II or other advanced schemes are needed for platforms is rather silly, when any framework or visibility at all, or even the most basic of storage policies, would have prevented the whole thing. It's just an embarrassment.
We are now seeing regulators take strong action. CoinSquare in Canada with multi-million dollar fines. BitMex from the US, criminal charges and arrests. OkEx, with full disregard of withdrawals and no communication. Who's next?
We have a unique window today where we can solve these problems, and not permanently destroy innovation with unreasonable expectations, but we need to act quickly. This is a unique historic time that will never come again.
Decentr ($DEC) - foundational cross-chain and cross-platform DeFi protocol
Decentr is a protocol designed to make blockchain/DLT mainstream by allowing DeFi applications built on various blockchains to “talk to each other”. Decentr is a 100% secure and decentralised Web 3.0 protocol where users can apply PDV (personal data value) to increase APR on $DEC that users loan out as part of of our DeFi dLoan features, as well as it being applied at PoS when paying for stuff online. Decentr is also building a BAT competitor browser and Chrome/Firefox extension that acts as a gateway to 100% decentralised Web 3.0
Allows DeFi Dapps to access all Decentr’s dFintech features, including dLoan, dPay. Key innovation is that the protocols is based on a user’s ability to leverage the value of their data as exchangeable “currency”.
Decentr is building foundational chain-agnostic protocols that will support “true” 100% DeFi Dapps, a 100% secure and decentralised, user-centric alt economy. DeFi dApps inter-connected by Decentr can talk to each other and share PDV (personal data value) of their users. PDV is best described as a personalized “exchange rate” (in a sense social reputation where more effort leads to more rewards and NOT more capital to more rewards. ) between currencies that users apply at point-of-sale to make the cost of goods and services cheaper online. PDV is applied to the APR users earn on $DEC (native token) that they hold that they loan out as part of the investing pool. PDV will also allow uncollateralized loans on their dLoan platform, and also on platforms like Aave and Compound.
Decentr will implement ZKsync to get super cheap and super fast transactions across the ETH network. It is also working with HoloChain and Tomochain to allow connect their DeFi ecosystem to the Ethereum DeFi ecosystem. Decentr has DEEP TIES and a PARTNERSHIP with Holochain: https://medium.com/@DecentrNet/decentr-holochain-ama-29d662caed03
Decentr is also building a browser and Chrome/Firefox extension - a gateway that “transitions” Web 2.0 into a 100% decentralised Web 3.0 via their suite of decentralised dFintech and dCommunications features. The browser adds a 100% decentralised “user layer” to current blockchain protocols so that applications built on blockchain can actually “talk to each other”. The browser uses encryption all the time and the power of blockchain to keep private keys safe. Browser will offer a more robust and innovative type of blockchain storage and caching that is much faster than VPN or TOR. It will allow surfing .onion addresses as well as the regular ones. >>BAT browser 400m marketcap, DEC marketcap 4m<<
Decentr is researching a hardware application, powered by Decentr software, that would greatly enhance current IoT networks. It’s called a “Smart Chip Node” (SCN) and will adhere to 4G LTE standards (with in-built 5G capability), which means connectivity between devices will match or exceed current speed and connectivity, dramatically improving stability and coverage of standalone devices, such as a laptop or tablet, as well as IoT devices, such as home routers and modems.
Decentr uses Coinbase API to optimise integrated implementation of the user layer and Blockchain as a Service (BaaS) to allow users to leverage cloud-based solutions to build, host and use their own blockchain apps. Tierion’s technological infrastructure, the Chainpoint Proof protocol, will come into play whenever a user adds something in Tierion’s data store. Hyperledger Fabric and R3 Corda private blockchains are used as an immutable transaction database for data transfers, including the following tech: R3 Corda, Hyperledger Fabric, Ansible, Bitbucket Pipelines, AWS, Node.JS, GoLang, Kotlin and CouchDB.
Implements a system of layered security protocols based on a radically-new software architecture that combines Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC)4 and Sobol sequencing with a n-dimensional chain as part of AI-enhanced, platform-wide community consensus mechanism — a mechanism that assigns mutually agreed value to data and user security protocol upgrades (further encouraging enhanced data integrity) by deploying a Delegated Proof of Stake (DPoS) protocol.
Bank of England has reached out to Decenr to discuss the potential of a UK CBDC upon hearing about the potential of their tech. Decentr is consistent with their own R&D into a "dGBP" and they requested a top-level document for review >> Decentr created this proposal: https://decentr.net/files/Decentr_Consultancy_Doc_UK_CBDC.pdf
A fee is charged for every transaction using dPay whereby an exchange takes place between money (fiat and digital) and data, and vice versa, either as part of DeFi features or via a dApp built on Decentr. They are launching pilot programmes in the following industries:
Banking/PSP Industry: On Product launch, due to Decentr’s powerful PSP connections (including the worlds #2 PSP by volume), a medium-scale pilot program will be launched, which will seed the network with 150,000 PSP customers in primarily the Spanish/LAC markets, generating revenue from day one.
“Bricks and Mortar” Supermarket/Grocery Industry: Decentr aims to ensure the long-term competitiveness of “bricks and mortar” supermarkets against online-only grocery retailers, such as Amazon, by a) building secure tech that allows supermarkets to digitise every aspect of their supply chains and operational functions, while b) allowing supermarkets to leverage this incredibly valuable data as a liquid asset class. Expected revenue by Year 5: $114Mn per year.
Online Advertising Industry: Decentr’s 100% decentralised platform credits users secure data with payable value, in the form of PDV, for engaging with ads. The Brave browser was launched in 2012 and in 8 years has reached over 12 million monthly active users, accented by as many as 4.3 million daily active users.
TOKEN $DEC AND SALE
Decentr recently complete their token sale on a purchase portal powered by Dolomite where they raised $974,000 in 10 minutes for a total sale hardcap of 1.25M. The $DEC token is actively trading on multiple exchanges including Uniswap and IDEX. Listed for free on IDEX, Hotbit, Hoo, Coinw, Tidex, BKex. Listed on CoinGecko and Coinmarketcap. Listed on Delta and Blockfolio apps. ➡️ Circulating supply: 61m $DEC. ➡️ Release schedule and token distribution LINK -> NO RELEASE UNTIL 2021.
A tradeable unit of value that is both internal and external to the Decentr platform.A unit of conversion between fiat entering and exiting the Decentr ecosystem.A way to capture the value of user data and combines the activity of every participant of the platform performing payment (dPay), or lending and borrowing (dLend), i.e a way to peg PDV to tangible/actionable value.Method of payment in the Decentr ecosystem.A method to internally underwrite the “Deconomy.
I felt a need today to express why I like GoChain. There’s a couple of things I think is important for any cryptocurrency.
You shouldn’t need to wait for it move.
It should be extremely cheap to move.
There’s no way to cheat the system with double spending or in other ways interfere with coin supply in unintended ways.
It needs a use/be interesting enough compared to alternatives to acquire value.
It needs to be super-secure from theft, yet quick and free of hassles to use
You need to be able to buy things with it (preferably now, and not in the future).
There aren't huge reserves yet to be released.
GoChain defiantly fulfills 1 and 2. You can move it around between wallets how you want pretty much for free and it doesn’t waste your time. And this is true in the case where you truly own the coins. It’s not sitting in a common wallet somewhere with a database trying to keep track of whose coins is whose. With competitors, especially the most valuable ones like Bitcoin and Ethereum and any tokens run on them, you both have to wait a long time for the transactions to come through and there are substantial fees involved in the transactions. This makes you not too keen on moving them around and instead they're allowed to sit in the hands of centralized exchanges that keep track of who owns what coin by other means. Pretty much in the same way as Banks keep your money for you today and much contrary to the reasons cryptocurrency first came into existence. With GoChain you can keep and move the coins yourself however you want, without any significant waste in time or money. There's of course more coins that are fast and cheap, perhaps even faster or cheaper, but the important takeaway is that this is a nonissue for GoChain, it can be considered solved. Point 3. GoChain transactions are signed by nodes, much like most blockchain Technologies. These have to agree by majority that a tranasaction is valid. In the case of GoChain it iwill only be 50 nodes (currently even less) and most of them are run by GoChain themselves at this time. But the endgame is to have 50 nodes run by 50 different large and trusted enterprises around the world with a varying interests as to make collusion unlikely . For this aspect GoChain is currently lacking. Essentially, if you don't trust the GoChain team, you should not want GO right now, but if you trust them there should not be any issue and you should see that the potential in value should be going up as more and more trusted nodes are brought into the network and hopefully also brings with them more and more transactions on the network through various use cases. DISH network is currently the most reputable node signer on GoChain. GO saw a huge spike in value when they joined the network and a similar effect will likely be seen any time another reputable node joins the network. Getting more enterprises aboard is the toughest job the GoChain team has, but they're working very hard to achieve it. Recently Facebook have adopted exactly this model for their stable-coin Libra. This could be both good and bad for GoChain. It's bad because it's unlikely any of the companys supporting Libra will support GoChain, but it's good because anyone not supporting Libra may be looking to be part of another similar network, like, say, GoChain. It should be said that GoChain is not alone in the pursuit of using enterprises to run a limited amount of nodes. There's also Libra, Vechain, Tomochain, for example. And of course there are many even more secure ways to solve the doublespending issues. But models which limit the amount of nodes and makes certain they're run in a professional manner is what makes high speed and performance possible, while still making the network decentralized. It's what's needed to get a a cryptocurrency that does what we'd want it to. Point 4. So, what's unique for GoChain? GoChain is essentially a copy of Ethereum which is perhaps the most advanced smart contract platform, and defiantly the most used one. Copy, that doesn't sound original? But it's actually a unique thing, because it doesn't just mean a copy has been made and that it's now going in a different direction, instead it's continually updated as Ethereum is to make sure they will always work the same. GoChain does have a couple of enhancements tough, besides its consensus model. GoChain has made it easier to deploy up-gradable smart contracts, which means mistakes can be fixed after deployment in case something doesn't go as intended. This is always a choice though. It's also possible to deploy something unstoppable that can't be altered. Another difference is that inflation is lower. Both Ethereum and GoChain rewards the signer nodes, but for the case of Ethereum the inflation is three times higher. Most important though is that anything run on Ethereum could also be run on GoChain. Ethereum has lots of lots of things built on it already. But if a project built on Ethereum suddenly finds that they need to be on a faster network, they can just switch to GoChain easily. If the project has issued ERC-20 tokes, it'd even be possible to switch over to GO-20 tokens to have faster tokens. And of course it's also easy to move back to Ethereum again. It needs to be noted that Ethereum has plans to scale their network by switching their consensus model and implement something called sharding. These changes would make Ethereum faster, but likely not quite as fast as GoChain. However, I think if this happens, both networks could find a situation where they'll both be useful for different types of needs, where sometimes one is better and sometimes the other. Before Ethereum scales there's really no performance reason to choose it over GoChain. The only reasons to choose Ethereum would relate to things like trust, brand, or thoughts that it might shape up in the future. GoChain already works perfectly for over a year. Another interesting thing is that GoChain plans to launch a stable coin GOST. People are probably fed up with stable coins already, but there's very few stable coins that are launched by the team behind the native network. The only other one is Facebooks Libra. Yet again, you can see some similarities potential rivalry here. A sort of war of the stable coin/PoR networks approaching. The only difference between them is perhaps that you can invest in one network, but not the other. GoChain already has close contact with companies like IBM, Microsoft, Salesforce, AWS and others. It's easy to see how these may come to band together and promote a alternative to Facebooks Libra. All of these companies are also already building on Ethereum and are familiar with it, and if they step up behind GoChain they can easily switch over without any hassles. It should also be mentioned that there's projects already running on GoChain. The most prominent is ECOMI, which aims to revolutionize digitized collectibles (think CryptoKitties, but on steroids). Point 5. One of the good things about being similar to Ethereum is that wallets that work for Ethereum also work for GoChain. As a result there is a large amount of alternatives for wallets to store your GO. Both online wallets and more secure offline wallets. There's a list on this page https://gochain.io/get , but there's even more wallets that can hold it. At any rate there is lots and lots of options to keep your coins secure. There's also quite interesting options for lower security. An example of this is TurboWallet which runs on social media apps like telegram. With it you can tip and give away coins right in the app. This is very fun and a great way to use the coins. But the wallet is only as secure as your account to the app, so it's not recommended as the primary place to store your coins. But this sort of trust given to an application to handle a certain amount of coins is an important feature that there may be more of with GoChain. Imagine similar features in a game, for example, where the game is made allowed to access a certain amount of your coins, and those can be used in the game. It has a potential to create a very interesting social economy that can be used across many types of games/social media platforms. Point 6. Like with all cryptocurrencies, this one is a bit lacking at this point. But with the stablecoin GOST is immenent to be released on the GoChain roadmap. And later in the year in Q4 there are plans for payment processing services. If I were to guess this will mean that sometime soon, you will be able to buy anything with GO, going the route from GO to GOST to your local currency to the stuff you're buying (likely all happening with one click of a button). Not much is known about this at this stage. But these things are very important parts of GoChains 2019 roadmap. Point 7. This is a very important point for GO. There are lots of cryptocurrencies trying to do great things but a lot of them haven't released most of their coins yet. This is an advantage coins like Bitcoin and Ethereum have over others. They're already quite well distributed and held by a great variety of people. In the case of GoChain a vast majority is already circulating on the market and this is great. There is a negative here too though, and this is that a few players hold a lot of the coins. The biggest holder being Binance (it should be noted that the coins held by Binanace may to a large degree be coins owned by users of Binance as opposed to Binance itself). A more even distribution of coins in more places would be great, but will also come naturally if the value and usecase of GO grows. In summary, I think GoChain has pretty much everything you could want in a cryptocurrency and this is why I like it. It's enterprise approach is also very NOW. 2019 is the year when enterprises are getting into the crypto world. And GoChain is right there in the reception welcoming them.
What’s up everyone! (TL:DR at the end this time, I've learned from my past mistakes haha)
Yep, it’s me again! New case for a new coin that seems to have taken off lately (and for good reason!) I’ve been researching it deeply lately. For those of you wondering (and in a voluntary spirit of being transparent), I do hold nice bags of the coins I post about. However I do not dump them. I’m a HODLER at heart, and love to invest in and hold coins that have a purpose. You know, like, an actual purpose. I have a Phore masternode, which i intend to keep running indefinitely. I also have a decent chunk of COSS, which I also intend to keep for a very long time (3+ years, until they are a full crypto one-stop-solution).
If you’ve missed my previous post, you can find it here:
For those who do not know me, or haven’t read my previous post, here’s my intro: I come from a business & logistics management background. I started investing in cryptocurrencies and trading a little more than six months ago. I am very detail oriented and I’ve been researching all kinds of cryptos, for hours a day, for the past six months. Cryptocurrencies went from a simple hobby to a burning passion during that 6 month period.
I’ve spotted great coins at great prices, and it seems I keep doing so! Firstly, Ethereum at 150$. Then NEO when it was antshares (sub-3$), Gas when it was antcoin (sub-30c), OMG when it was sub-1$, ETP at 1$ (ended up selling at 5$, too many wallet issues and kind of lost faith in it), COSS at 6 cents, that ended up getting a lot of visibility due to my last post (23K+ views), and finally, Phore at 60cents.
It took me less than an hour of research to understand Phore’s potential. I immediately purchased and setup a Masternode after seeing how undervalued it is compared to coins like Dash, PivX, and other privacy/masternode coins. I must admit, i FOMO’ed in really fast, but then kept on researching after I had secured my cheap PHR, and the more I researched, the more I saw the vision.
For those of you that don’t know, Phore is a fork of PIVX. It is a Masternode/Proof of Stake hybrid (MN + PoS), meaning 60% of the block reward goes to Masternodes, 30% to stakers, and 10% is left for the “development fund”.
For the newbs reading this (welcome, by the way!), a masternode is basically a node that you deploy on a virtual server (or on your own computer) and it basically verifies the blockchain and maintains concensus alongside the other nodes. You need to “lock” 10000 phore to deploy a Masternode. Proof of Stake, on the other end, basically means you can purchase coins and “Stake them” (aka put them in your wallet) and they will also be used to validate the blockchain. Both masternodes and staking will give you rewards, in Phore coins. Masternodes more than staking, obviously, as you “lock” a rather high amount of coins to deploy one.
Allright, so, what’s so good about this Phore coin? Isn’t it just a PivX knock-off?
1) Well, first of all, The MN/PoS structure is simply genius IMO. Dash’s value has gone up a lot simply because there is so little in circulation and most of the coins are locked up in masternodes. But Dash is MN/PoW, basically Masternodes + Mining. Miners do not have as big an incentive to hold unlike MN’s, it’s their mining equipment that generates them Dash. In Phore’s Case, yes, we do have the Masternodes locking up most of the supply, but we also have the stakers that are incentivized to lock up their coins to stake, and generate some extra coins.
2) Which brings us to point 2. There is a BIG incentive to buy and hold this coin. Masternodes are being deployed at a rate of 5 to 10 per day. This means 50 to 100k phore are being purchased and locked up, every day. On top of that, people that cannot afford a costly masternode, can still buy a few thousand coins and earn “interests” as they help validating the blockchain too! This basically drains the order book, fast, and skyrockets the price.
3) What happens when the vast majority (65%+) of the coins are locked up in masternodes, and from the 35% remaining, most of it goes into “staking”? Here’s what happens: the supply becomes increasingly low, the demand increasingly high. People that own masternodes or own decent amounts of coins don’t wanna sell, as the “interests” they make double, triple, quadruple in value, incentivizing them even further to hold.
4) What I’ve described in points 1 to 3 is pretty basic stuff. Economics 101. It’s a positive feedback loop: More MN’s/stakers = less coins in circulation = higher price = higher “interests” earned = more people want in = even less coins in circulation = even higher price = even higher “interests”, and it repeats itself until an equilibrium is reached (judging from PivX, equilibrium is at or around 425M market cap). Everybody wants in early on PoS coins, even moreso with MN coins, because of that simple fact. Early dash masternode owners are pretty much laughing right now. Everyone FOMO’s a good masternode coin, and that’s a fact, pure and simple.
5) Alright, now let’s dive into the actual “technical” merits of Phore. Phore is developed by an anonymous team. The same team that created Kryptcoin a few years ago (a coin with a decentralized marketplace). The team performed in a stellar fashion with kryptcoin, as well as their marketplace. Unfortunately, they were way ahead of their time with the marketplace. Most people didn’t even know what a bitcoin was back then. Phore definitely has this “old school, underground project” feel to it, and you will notice a good chunk of its community on discord are crypto believers from well before crypto was even talked about. They are “remaking” Kryptcoin from scratch, with tons of added features, and an even better marketplace. The fact they pulled it off back then only further reassures me that they will pull it off even better this time. This team actually has something under its belt.
6) Phore will have SegWit, as well as Smart Contracts. Yep, you read that right, smart contracts and dApps will eventually be running on PHORE. Zerocoin protocol as well for completely anonymous transactions.
7) Phore is integrating a Decentralized marketplace based on OpenBazaar’s codebase. They aim to have it running smoother, with a better UI and make it very intuitive. If there’s one team you have to believe can pull it off, it’s definitely the Phore dev team (They already did it in the past!) And the best part is that it’s not for late 2018 unlike some other coins. Nope. We are already in the testing phase, and it should launch somewhere in Q1 2018.
8) Although it is obvious, I thought I’d mention it for the less familiar: 10% of each block reward goes to the development fund. This means the project has a constant flow of money to hire new devs, grow the marketing team, grow the project, pay for exchange listing fees, etc. (They’ve already added an extra dev & an extra marketing team member, just this week, and are already hiring right now for another dev position. So, if you are a talented dev, feel free to apply!)
9) They have applied for Binance today. Although this does NOT mean it is guaranteed, at all, it’s good to see them applying to a variety of exchanges. It is currently only available on cryptopia and is skyrocketing. Getting added to Binance, Bittrex and the likes would make it explode in a ridiculous way.
10) Point number 10 will be a little off topic, to put us in context for point #11. Personally, I like to contribute feedback to projects i truely believe in. One example I came up with was a cool idea for COSS and I let Rune (COSS founder) know about it. Basically, when COSS will get FIAT trading, it is impossible for people to get USD and EUR “fee split” from holding COSS, as USD and EUR are not compatible with the DAO, which is an Ethereum Smart Contract.
My way around this was to create a “COSSusd and a COSSeur”, basically an ERC20 token that’s automatically created/destroyed as FIAT is deposited/withdrawn from the exchange. People sending fiat over to COSS would basically be credited with the “COSSusd or COSSeur”, trade with it, and then when they want to withdraw they would exchange their ERC20 for FIAT and withdraw it via wire transfer. The whole thing would be smart-contract powered and transparent so there is always the same number of COSSusd and Real USD on COSS.
Basically, this would result in COSS holders receiving “fiat dividends” as well, and not only “crypto dividends”. Rune is currently in the process of getting legal opinion on this idea as he is an adamant believer in compliance and wants to do everything by the Book.
11) Well, for Phore, I’ve also contributed a few ideas to attempt to make the marketplace go viral. Viral as in mainstream viral, not only viral in the crypto-space. The devs, advisors, marketing team, advisors and even the community were all very impressed and took notes of everything. Now I cannot comment on what will and what won’t be implemented, but overall my feedback was received in an extremely positive manner. Here goes:
Basically an easy gateway that's only fiat > phore. Coded in a way that when you purchase with fiat it automatically sends it to your wallet (and obviously we'd need to have a phore mobile wallet app).
This is how Phore will go mainstream, no way around it, unless we wanna wait 10+ years for every crypto "newbies" coming in to actually go through the lengthy process of learning about crypto, how they work, familiarize themselves, etc. So many newbies flooding in, we definitely need easy one-click fiat > phore solution.
Plus it would be super easy for me or phore marketing team (or both, working together) to put up a small nice and concise "press release kit" and send it out to all the major media outlets (all the big blogs, bloomberg, yahoo finance, lifestyle blogs for the libertarian / marijuana users / all the people that are into the whole “freedom thing” as well as all media outlets targeted to the 18-30 crowd).
Facebook advertising campaigns (targeting 18-35 age range, people interested in crypto, people interested in "online commerce", etc etc.) as well as google advertising campaigns (people search amazon or ebay, and they find our sponsored paid ad on top saying "thinking of trying amazon? Check out the phore marketplace, it's cheaper, blockchain-powered and 100% decentralized".
*Instagram campaigns as well, lots of the 16-30 crowd there. Instagram, google, Facebook and Reddit campaigns and any other viable channels. We can do all these things AND succeed at them quite easily, all we need is 1) an intuitive marketplace, which the devs are busting their asses off to achieve and we KNOW it'll be phenomenal, and 2) a fiat > phore gateway integrated. That second point will make or break it in terms of mainstream adoption, hence why it's indispensable to have it before we tackle "mainstream marketing" via FB, IG, Google, Reddit, Twitter, Blogs & Other Media outlets.
Ideally the fiat > phore gateway would be on the website itself, so people get credited their phore directly on their marketplace account. With a mobile wallet being a nice add-on of course so they can keep the extra phore in there when not in use, and 1-click transfer from marketplace to mobile wallet and vice versa, "a la paypal/dash evolution.
TL;DR for the lazy: Masternodes + PoS // Self-sufficient project due to the “treasury fund” // Stellar team who has ALREADY DONE THIS before // Currently underserved (cryptopia only) // Team applied to exchanges including Binance// Segwit + Smart Contracts + Strong privacy features // Decentralized Marketplace being beta tested as we speak and launching Q1 2018 // Strong incentive to hold as both Masternodes AND stakers dry up the supply for staking purposes, which creates a positive feedback loop (coins get bought, price goes up making the “staking & MN rewards go up”, making more people want a MN or Stake, more people buy, price rises again, “interests” earned go up, rinse and repeat in an endless loop until equilibrium is reached).
Currently, a masternode generates roughly 120phweek. Calculate Phore’s current price multiplied by 120 and you’ll get a pretty solid estimate of the weekly revenue generated from a Masternode.
I want to buy some nano cheaper than its current price. Cryptos sometimes dump to unusual lows, and I want to catch some at such a low. It got really low a week or two ago, but by the time I got some accounts set up and verified, it had come back fast. So far, I have : Set up and verified coinbase and binance accounts. Bought a ledger nano s open box but unused off of ebay. My understanding of minimizing costs on this type of crypto trade is that I need to buy a coinbase crypto on coinbase pro as a maker, then send it to binance and set up limit orders for nano against this other crypto. It seems like Bitcoin would be the safest other crypto to hold, and would probably be the easiest to trade into nano with. It looks like I could also buy some BNB and use it to pay the fees on binance to save more on trading. Does this seem like a good plan ? It seems like this is the best way to catch a sudden move down, or should I hold my fiat, until I see a better price when I am online to check stuff ? I don't know how long it would take to do the transfer from bank to coinbase to crypto to binance, and it might be too slow to get a low price. (at least the account setups where pretty slow)
Consensus Network EP36: Buy, Borrow and Die: Bitcoin Style
Catch the full episode: https://www.consensusnetwork.io/podcastepisodes/2019/10/5/ep36-buy-borrow-and-die-bitcoin-style-1 Buck: Welcome back to the show everyone. Today my guest on Wealth Formula Podcast is Zack Prince. He's Founder and CEO of BlockFi. BlockFi bridges the gap between blockchain and the basic financial products that you're used to including interest-bearing accounts and loans. Zack, welcome to Wealth Formula Podcast. I think you we might have had you on before as a Consensus Network replay but first time on Wealth Formula Podcast specifically, so welcome. Zac: Yeah, excited to be here, Buck. Thanks for having me. And it's good to chat with you again Buck: Yeah so remind me how you got into this you know Bitcoin stuff in the first place, I mean you were as I understand you were a traditional finance guy right so where did the blockchain part come in? Zac: Sure so I was I was working at a company in the FinTech world that provided data and technology solutions to institutional investors that wanted to participate in some of the new online lending platforms, whether they were real estate platforms or consumer lending platforms, and I kind of became the FinTech guy amongst my friend group and people would ask me you know should I invest in these real estate deals on fund rise or buy loans from Lending Club and I started writing a blog to share the information more efficiently with my friends basically and I started expanding a little bit writing about Robo advisory and some other things that were going on in the FinTech space and that's what led me to Bitcoin, and this is back in early 2015. I didn't start BlockFi until 2017 because I started following the market in the background, still working in traditional financial services in FinTech and then in early 2017 it started to feel like mainstream adoption was starting to happen in the crypto ecosystem. I'm started going to some meetups in New York City because at a certain point my wife said Zac, you're talking about crypto all the time and you're talking to me about it and I don't want to talk about it so you should find some other people to talk about this with. And the meetup composition started to change and in 2016 when I started going to these meetups it was the early crypto adopters you know libertarians, computer scientists and then in early 2017 I started to see some venture capitalists, some guys who had just left their job at Wall Street still wearing a suit, some more entrepreneurs and it was a really exciting time in the ecosystem, things like the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance were getting announced which had participation microsoft and a lot of other you know fortune 500 companies and I had started to believe in it. I was drinking the kool-aid a little bit so I decided to find a way to get involved in the space full-time and that's what led me to start BlockFi. Buck: So I have to imagine that the response you got from the traditional finance people around that time when you started talking about the blockchain space and when you started being more and more involved with that was probably not a very positive response initially or did you did you experience some of that sort of you know rejection initially to what you were doing? Zac: Yeah absolutely. But you know throughout my career this is now kind of the third emerging technology industry that I've worked in. I was originally an advertising technology starting like you know 15 years ago and I was in FinTech specifically the online lending side of FinTech which in its early days was called peer-to-peer lending and now in crypto. So having to do a lot of education explain it you know why something isn't crazy and it might work and here's why and here's the value proposition and here's what it is, I've gotten very used to that and comfortable with it. But yeah there were a lot of people who are like you know I've heard Bitcoin is only used by drug dealers and money launderers. I've heard that I'm supposed to care about blockchain and not Bitcoin. And you know at BlockFi we’re providing financial products into the market so it's a heavily regulated business so we also had to communicate with regulators. We had to explain to state regulators, federal regulators why what we were doing with Bitcoin and other cryptos than when you're doing these same types of things with assets that they're more familiar with. Buck: So when you were talking to people back in, I don't know I guess 2016/17 and it's not a long time ago, it's only two years ago, but I have to imagine that the response or the you know the approach that people take to you when you speak to investors is very different. Has it become more mainstream in that regard for you know for big money investors? Zac: It's absolutely become more mainstream you know the end of 2017 Q3/Q4. Point was going on that parabolic run it started to get covered everywhere, I mean it was on CNBC every day it was in Bloomberg New York Times Wall Street Journal. If you were paying attention to the financial industry and markets you heard about Bitcoin at that time if you hadn't heard about it before. So from a baseline of awareness perspective it got a lot better and then in 2018 you had a number of positive developments for the sector including one that I think is probably the most noteworthy which is that Bitcoin futures were listed on the CME the institutional investor perspective that's massive. You now have a well regulated well known super trustworthy venue where you can get exposure to this asset class, you also had companies like Grayscale bringing products to the market which are accessible to certain types of investors and their low bridge accounts and you started to see some adoption from companies like FinTech companies like Robin Hood and Square making Bitcoin available on their platforms. So the conversation has absolutely changed a lot and it's become less about whether or not this is something that's going to continue to exist whether or not it's something that was just a bubble and is going to die and now it's more about ok how is it going to get used how big could it get what are the interesting applications of it and what could have potentially disrupt in the traditional financial ecosystem. Buck: So you know we had obviously following this you know pop in 2017, you know I actually like you kind of really got into this early 2017 so timing was pretty good I guess now regards. Good or bad depending how you look at it but I was there before before the parabolic move. And then we have you know then we followed this up with a crypto winter and and you know who knows if we're done with it, I guess we certainly are much better off than we were. You know a unit buddy it's funny Zac I don’t know if you remember this but I was about to, we'll talk about BlockFi specifically in a minute but, I was about to use BlockFi for borrowing because I like this idea of borrowing you know collateralized debt and collateralized debt on assets and buying something else. So I was about to do it and then Bitcoin lost a clip and I was like literally and I remember I was just emailing with somebody somebody over there and I was like sorry dude I guess I just sold it, I just sold all that Bitcoin I had and you sent one email back to me and it said “capitulation” but it you know and so now we're looking back at these we go down from 3,000 back up you know been sort of flirting around this 10,000 and it seems like we're kind of maybe that we're stuck there, maybe we're kind of out of winter, maybe we're in a holding pattern but it seems like to me that since that two years not only is the awareness increase but the development of the ecosystem itself is so much further advanced than it was in 2017. Is this an unusual case where the technology and maybe even the infrastructure is actually outpacing the price? Zac: You know it's really hard to say. I would argue that in some ways it's typical. In other industries that showed a lot of promise where investors could you know participate maybe a little bit ahead of the adoption curve you saw crazy price run ups with the tech bubble and you know ‘99-2000 being the one that's kind of top of mind in recent memory and then on the other side of things, are we behind where the price should be now? It's really hard to say because this is kind of like a commodity type asset built on a payment network and valuing that is challenging and there's not a perfect model for for doing it today. It's not as easy as something that's cashflow producing but I'm incredibly bullish. I'm on record as saying at the beginning of this year that Bitcoin has only had one year in its 10-year existence where it had a lower low than the year before and parted this year around the low price for 2018 and I predicted that we would in the year had a higher price than where we started the year pretty soon and now we're up and you know around 300 percent from where we started the year. As that happens in investing is people frequently look at things on a year-to-year performance basis and when people are looking at Bitcoin even if all we do is stay around 10 K from here when they're looking at how Bitcoin performed rather than other relative to other assets at the end of 2019 it's probably going to look fantastic. And you also have an event coming up and in the summer of next year called The Halvening where basically the supply that's produced by miners is going to get cut in half and so if you believe in the stock the flow type models of valuation for Bitcoin that is usually a very big driver of price appreciation. Buck: I believe May of 2020, right? Zac: That's right. Buck: In May of 2020. Can you just talked a little bit about that just so people know because people hear about it, I've been talking about it but I don't think that it really explained it. Zac: Yeah and you know I'm not I'm not a computer scientist so I can explain it in a you know in a very simple… Buck: No one else here is either. Zac: So basically the way that new Bitcoin is created is through this process called mining. And it's analogous to mining gold except instead of finding a place in the earth where gold exists and then getting your trucks and mining equipment and digging it out of the ground, the way bitcoin is mined is using this computer program and there is now specialized computer hardware that's built specifically and optimized for mining Bitcoin. And you have this network of machines around the world where the input is energy into the mining hardware and the output is new Bitcoin and those miners are what provides the power for the payment network a Bitcoin to run and when we say that there is this event called The Halvening, what that basically means is that the output that's built into the Bitcoin program that the miners are receiving as their payment for contributing energy to the network, is going to get cut in half. So the miners are going to have the same you know relative input but the amount that they're receiving is going to get cut in half for that input. This should, if the demand side for Bitcoin remains equal, it should drive up the price and historically Bitcoin has had three of these Halvening events in its lifetime so far I believe and around each Halvening you have seen you know six months before or six months after a pretty material run up in price. Buck: Yeah so it also goes along with that sort of that the entire idea that Bitcoin unlike you know other assets including gold is it's a deflationary asset ultimately and and that's one of the things that makes that happening really significant. Apart from and I have one more question before we get to block five which is apart from the Halvening, you know thing that's happening, what is maybe the biggest development or upcoming thing that's coming up that makes you the most bullish on the future of Bitcoin or blockchain in general? Zac: Sure so I think I wouldn't actually point to any one specific thing, I would point to two broad trends. So one is institutional adoption and participation in the asset class and the other is better ramps for retail participation into the asset class and just focusing here you know on the US market because it really is an international story but just in the US market. In September we should have Bakkt launching their futures platform. Bakkt is owned by ICE, the Intercontinental Exchange, and there's a big core difference between their futures and the current futures that are available on the CME in that futures on Bakkt platform are going to be physically settled so that means that actual Bitcoin is going to be needed to facilitate the trading on Bakkt’s platform which does not happen on CMEs exchange so that's that should be a very positive catalyst in terms of demand for physical Bitcoin that could have an impact on the price. Also on the institutional side this year I believe earlier this year, the first pension fund made an investment into an asset management vehicle that was focused on investing in Bitcoin and private equity opportunities in the Bitcoin and blockchain sector. So that will be a trend. Buck: Which pension fund was it? Zac: It was in North Carolina so I think it was like the North Carolina Firefighters and the group that raised the money from them was Morgan Creek Digital it’s actually invested in BlockFi by Anthony Pompliano Twitter and Mark Yusko so that's on the institutional side. And then on the retail side you've seen FinTech companies like Square and Robin Hood offer Bitcoin trading to their users. But soon you will also have companies like TD Ameritrade E-Trade and others offer Bitcoin to their users sometimes be a partnership sometimes because they've built it directly. You also at some point might see progress made in terms of an ETF getting approved that would give retail investors in the US market exposure to Bitcoin in a really easy and familiar way. All of those things are tremendously positive catalysts and the caliber of people working on them only continues to increase. Talent was attracted into the sector very, very rapidly these days. Buck: You know one question that leads me to is that all of this is happening with Bitcoin for the most part. Are alt coins in your opinion is that market coming back or is that something that we're gonna see probably select you know group of tokens projects emerge and then the rest will kind of just get left in the dust, what do you think? Zac: I mean I'll tell you exactly what I'm doing with my portfolio and then I'll provide a bit more color. So my asset allocation in the crypto side of my investing is I'm like 90% Bitcoin 5% Ethereum and 5% B&B; which is the Binance right. So I'm super bullish on Bitcoin. I think that you know there's a chance that Ether makes a comeback specifically I think that a lot of the stable coins that have been launched have been built on Ethereum if you're not familiar with stable coins it's basically the concept of a dollar but on a blockchain which could be really really powerful because it creates the opportunity for the delivery of US dollar denominated financial services at a global scale not using the traditional banking rails. And then B&B; I mean Binance is the biggest and most successful exchange they have a history of innovating, creating new products, going fast and so I'm taking a bit of a flyer with them but I'm 90% Bitcoin. I don't think that I'm not bullish on any of the other all coins frankly I struggle to see you know the big upside I have heard whispers in the community that there's kind of like a new wave of altcoins 3.0 might emerge, you know could see some some good returns similar to what some of the ICOs did in 2017 but it's not an area of focus for me. So that's my view. Buck: Yeah let's talk about BlockFi. Remind us exactly what BlockFi is. Zac: Sure so we're a wealth management platform for crypto investors. Today we have two products that we offer. One product is analogous to a savings account from a traditional bank where you're able to earn interest on your holdings except on BlockFi, the assets instead of being dollars are bitcoin and Ether and we don't have FDIC insurance so it's not exactly the same risk profile as a savings account at a bank, but conceptually you're able to hold Bitcoin and an account with BlockFi and earn interest on it paid in Bitcoin every month. That's one product that we have. The second product that we have which you are alluding to earlier offers our clients the ability to borrow dollars secured by the value of their cryptocurrency and it's analogous to a securities backed loan or a liquidity access line in the traditional world except instead of securities we're taking Bitcoin or other digital assets as collateral and lending it rates as low as four point five lending USD that rates as low as four point five percent a year. Buck: I wanna pick these apart a little bit if you don't mind. In terms of this savings account first of all is it just bitcoin or is it bitcoin, Ethereum? Zac: We actually support three assets in the interest account currently Bitcoin, Ether and GUSD which is the stable coin from Gemini. Buck: Got it. And talk about the interest because it's not one flat interest rate right it's different depending on how much cryptocurrency actually is held? Zac: Correct so there's a tiered interest rate structure. Currently on Bitcoin for balances up to ten Bitcoin, we offer a six point two percent annual yield and for balances above ten Bitcoin it's a 2.2 percent annual yield. On Ether, for balances up to two hundred Ether it's a 3.3 percent annual yield and balances above two hundred Ether is 0.5% annual yield and for GUSD the stable coin it's an eight point six percent interest rate with no tier so yeah those are the different rates. Buck: Why did, I mean was it just a matter of like an issue with people dumping like a thousand Bitcoin and trying to get six you know 6% of that, was it just too hard to you know make that a long-term part of the business model or why did the higher levels end up changing to a lower rate? Zac: Sure so I wanted to function of market conditions and to it's a function of supply and demand. So we launched the interest account in March of this year. We were just starting to come out of the bear market and one of the things that happened as we switched from being in a bear market to being in a bull market is the futures switched from being in backwardation to contango which basically means that our institutional borrowers the groups that we lend to that enable us to pay the rate to depositors had less of a need they had less demand to borrow and they were willing to pay lower rates to borrow crypto than they were when we were building and planning to launch this product. The second thing that happened is we were surprised to the upside in terms of the level of interest that we received from depositors and especially depositors with very large sums of cryptocurrency. So to give you an example you know within a day or two of making the product available publicly, we had a number of groups that were depositing 5, 10, 15, 20 million dollars worth of Bitcoin and so the supply-demand that we have to manage is, the amount that we have on deposit relative to the size of this market that will borrow Bitcoin size of the market that will borrow Bitcoin is partially a function of market sentiments partially a function of number of trading venues and the liquidity profile and it's partially a function of you know BlockFi’s efforts in terms of sales and client development relationship management. So the supply side got a little bit ahead of the demand side on deposit and how much there was available to borrow so we made a few tweaks. We want to keep the 6%, 6.2% rate on Bitcoin available to as many people as possible for as long as possible so that's why we went with the tiered structure where we made it available on balances up to 10 and reduced it for balances above that. Buck: Got it and the interest on that, when you say 6.2 percent that six point like it's all denominated in Bitcoin, you're not paying cash out right? Zac: Correct so to use round numbers to provide an easy example you start on January first with a hundred Bitcoin in an account, by the subsequent January first you will have 106 point 2 Bitcoin in your account. Buck: Yeah and that that's kind of neat too because then you're you know you're also getting potentially the upside of that you know I mean they made 6% but if you if you're really bullish on the market you could be potentially looking at a lot more than 6% on your money. How about in terms of the, is there like a you know do you do it sort of a month-to-month or six month or month you know year-long contracts for these things? Zac: It's month-to-month. So the rates are subject to change on a monthly basis. We provide notifications at least a week in advance before the end of one month on what the rates will be for the subsequent month and people are able to you know withdraw any time without penalty. We reserve up to 7 days to process withdrawals but we've never taken more than one business day to process a withdrawal so they're pretty quick but not instant for security reasons and yeah it's pretty flexible. Buck: How about the lump in the lending side how does how does that work? So now I've got like 10 Bitcoin and so I would deposit that I guess and you guys I understand that maybe that that goes into like a Gemini account or something, is that still how it works? Zac: Correct so we have a partnership with Gemini for custody. So when you log into a BlockFi account you'll have a deposit address. When you send Bitcoin to that deposit address it actually goes directly into storage with Gemini. Gemini was the first custodian in the crypto sector to receive insurance against cyber hacks on their platform. They were also the first custodian to get to complete a SOC 2 compliance audit and they have a really long track record of custody billions of dollars worth of crypto without ever having any issues. So it goes directly to Gemini and then you're able to interact with block-wise platform to take any actions that you might deem necessary. So you can view your interest payments you can withdraw you can deposit more you can also take out a loan. So in terms of taking out a loan, if you have ten Bitcoin that's worth roughly a hundred thousand US dollars at this point in time, you can borrow up to fifty percent of that value in a US dollar loan which can be funded be a wire or stable coin and then the structure of those loans is that you make interest-only payments on the amount that you borrowed throughout the duration and you can prepay at any time without penalty. Buck: And what's the typical you said it was four point six. Zac: We have interest rates as low as four point five. The interest rates on borrowing USD vary according to your initial loan to value ratio. So if you have a hundred thousand dollars worth of Bitcoin we actually have three loan-to-value ratio options. You can borrow at a 50 percent initial loan-to-value ratio which would mean you're borrowing 50k, the interest rate on that will be eleven point two five, if you borrow thirty five percent of the value so 35k the interest rate is seven point nine, and if you borrow twenty five percent of the value of the interest rate is four point five percent per year. Buck: Got it. In terms of you know the technical, so you basically pay that on a month-to-month basis and then in terms of contracts, are those also month-to-month loans or how does that work? Zac: Those are one-year term loans well now it's the ability to renew without repaying the principal at the end of the term at current rates and our rates for those loans have always come down so far. So it's a one-year term loan BlockFi committed for a year at that rate your payments stay the same but you can prepay at any time without penalty. Buck: Right. When do you do when would you do an actual sort of I guess a cap will call like what loan-to-value because you can go up to say you're borrowing at you know you're borrowing at the lowest rate you know you're at 4.5% you're borrowing see you know just for round numbers 100 Bitcoin you borrowed or you said 10 Bitcoin hundred thousand dollars but you only borrowed twenty-five thousand dollars at four point five percent, what if Bitcoin you know loses 50 percent of its value then what happens? Zac: Well you wouldn't have a margin call based on on that example. If your loan to value ratio hits 70 percent that's when we have a margin call and the way the margin call works is our clients have the option to either post more collateral, pay down the loan using USD or some of the collateral that's posted for the loan or take no action. If they take no action there's a 72-hour window where we'll wait to see if the price recovers, if it does then no action is required, if the price keeps going down further then we will initiate a partial collateral sale to rebalance that LTV to a healthy level at the end of that window. Buck: So in terms of the clients that you see doing this kind of stuff, I mean who are you seeing borrowing because you don't have a cap I mean you can on the borrow side, I mean and the rates don't really change like if you're depositing a hundred Bitcoin you're getting the same rate differences as somebody who's depositing ten for borrowing right? Zac: That's right. Buck: So who are the people who are putting I mean what are these businesses that are putting are using these loans who are the typical clients? Zac: Sure so it's a mix of retail and corporate. On the retail side we actually did a survey recently on use cases and the number one use case about a third of our borrowers expressed is that they were using the funds that they borrowed to start a business, which we were really excited about. So the other popular use cases were investing in real estate, investing in other types of traditional assets like stocks and bonds, home improvement, larger purchases, vacations were all used cases, paying down higher cost debt was another use case, and then on the corporate side the loans are used for operating capital. So we have some mining companies that borrow from BlockFi. Other types of companies who you know maybe have crypto denominated inventory like exchanges or crypto ATM businesses our frequent borrowers from BlockFi and our loan sizes rearranged from you know as low as five thousand dollars all the way up to seven figures. So it's a pretty diverse group of borrowers. Buck: So recently it sounds like you guys partnered with another company called Casa. What is Casa and I guess how does that benefit both companies? Zac: Sure. So Casa is a leader in fighting self sovereign storage solutions for cryptocurrency owners so if you're alone that owns Bitcoin and to use a gold analogy. If you want to own gold but you keep it in your vault or in your backyard you want to have physical possession of it yourself if you want to do that same type of custody with Bitcoin. Casa has a solution that makes that really easy. Our partnership with Casa provides mutual benefits to clients on either side. So Casa clients are able to receive some discounts in terms of accessing BlockFi products and vice-versa BlockFi clients are able to receive discounts in terms of accessing kasam products and over time we'll build some things in to the user experience specifically on Casa’s platform that will make it you know a bit more seamless to interact with BlockFi products while you're on their platform. In general that partnership strategy is something that you'll see more of we think there are in the ecosystem that are specializing in areas that BlockFi's not focused on and doing things where we can provide benefits to clients on both sides is a win-win for us then and our clients. Buck: Last thing I want to ask you about, last time I spoke to you, you had talked about the idea of potentially Bitcoin backed credit cards meaning like you know getting Bitcoin back instead of miles or dollars back. You guys any closer to that, because I definitely want one of those cards. Zac: I'm so glad you brought it up. We're definitely closer, but we're not you're not going to have the card until like Q3 of next year probably. It's getting worked on, these things you know for better or worse they take a long time launching a credit program is no small feat you know we're working on it. We've identified some of the key partners that we'll be working with to bring that product to market it is going to happen and I share your sentiment like I wish I had it now. Buck: Yeah seriously that'd be great. Well listen it was great talking you. So it's BlockFi.com and it's spelled like block and then fi and tell us you know tell us the process of doing is pretty simple okay how long does it take to apply for these things… Zac: Yeah I mean nothing takes any time really. So you could come in and start earning interest and get a loan from us all in under five minutes. And we also have a client service team that's super responsive in in terms of communication however you want to communicate with them, over email, over the phone, over text message so you know don't don't hesitate to reach out to us. We're also on twitter. My twitter handle is BlockFiZac and our company twitter handle is @therealBlockFi so we're very active on those platforms and happy to chat with you there as well. Buck: Zac Prince, thank you very much for being on Wealth Formula Podcast today. Zac: Thanks for having me, Buck, I appreciate it. Buck: We’ll be right back.
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