Rising Institutional Investment Setting Pace For Future ...
Rising Institutional Investment Setting Pace For Future ...
Fidelity Is Said to Plan March Launch of Bitcoin Custody ...
Part 2 Bitcoin As An Investment
Tokenized Staked ETH Will Replace ETH – And That's a Good ...
Will Bitcoin's Price Over the Next Two Weeks Set the Pace ...
It's beginning to feel a lot like 2017. Some useful reminders and advice for new comers.
Hype and increasing prices will undoubtedly attract new investors, HODLers, and gamblers. Regardless of how long you've been in crypto, below are a few pieces of information (or reminders) you should consider.
We're still early. Cryptocurrency, including bitcoin, is still in its infancy. Because of this, we will continue to see headlines of hacks, exchange closures, big name investors coming into the space, major institutional adoption, and everything in between. Until crypto is regulated (for better or worse) and even after, there will be bad actors attempting to steal your cryptocurrencies. To that end, think twice when hearing about 'deals' or investments that seem too good to be true. They probably are.
Protection. I often see questions regarding the storage of cryptocurrencies. Not to oversimplify, but as a user, you have ~3 choices to store your cryptocurrency. In order of most secure to least secure:
Cold Storage - From wikipedia: Cold storage refers to storing Bitcoins/Cryptos offline and spending without the private keys controlling them ever being online. This resists theft by hackers and malware, and is often a necessary security precaution especially dealing with large amounts of Bitcoin. If you aren't comfortable manually storing your private key, physical hardware wallets are your best alternative. When possible, buy direct from the manufacturer to avoid any tampering to your new device.
Hot Wallets - From investopedia: The difference between a hot wallet and a cold wallet is that hot wallets are connected to the internet, while cold wallets are not. Hot wallets can be installed onto your mobile device and/or your web browser. Similar to cold storage, these hot wallets will 'store' your crypto and will be accessed to send/receive tokens, execute smart contracts, and conduct other transactions. There are many options to choose from, but MetaMask is as close to an industry standard as it comes, and the developer has recently implemented an ERC-20 token swap function. Again, download directly from the developer if you can.
Exchanges - Exchanges certainly have their own purpose, most notably as an on and off ramp for your fiat currency (e.g., US Dollar, etc). However, when you read headlines like "Bitcoin Hacked for 10 million dollars!" what they usually mean is, a centralized exchange that holds users' cryptocurrencies was hacked and bitcoin was extracted from the exchange's storage. For this reason, exchanges are considered to be less safe than your Hot Wallet and Cold storage alternatives.
Don't be greedy. This is easier said than done, and many veteran traders have learned this the hard way -- some still haven't learned. When prices are only going up, you're going to feel like a million bucks. But things dont go up forever. Ever. (Unless it's the Fed's balance sheet.. har har). Point being, it's okay to take profits along the way up. I guarantee you'll have an opportunity to re-buy those same tokens at a cheaper price, and you'll enjoy them even more the second time around.
Don't spend more than you can afford. Hopefully this goes without saying, but the crypto space is extremely volatile. It is not uncommon to lose your entire investment with just one wrong token/ICO/scam. To that end; just use your common sense. It sounds easy, but when you're making money, sometimes it's hard to see the cliff at the end of the road.
Keep learning. I joined the crypto space because I saw an opportunity to make money. It's been a wild ride, and I've learned a lot more than I've gained (from a monetary perspective). What i didn't expect to happen, was to open pandora's box when it comes to what Bitcoin (specifically) aimed to solve. My thirst for knowledge only expanded when I learned of the opportunity space Ethereum was trying to fill. Compound that with the immutability of blockchain technology, DeFi, smart contracts, data oracles, (and the list goes on); now I'm completely hooked. It's clear to me that blockchain will revolutionize the way we function on the global scale. But many are just now beginning to learn about bBitcoin, and we're ahead of the curve. Which leads me back to point number 1; we're still early.
Sorry for rambling on here; I'm sure more veteran HODLers have already X'd out of this post, which is fine. They likely don't need this information as they have learned these same tips along their own journeys. But for newcomers to the space, I wish I had this foundational knowledge from the get go. Don't be afraid to ask questions on this sub. With the recent implementation of MOON tokens (this is a whole 'nother topic), I've personally noticed more downvotes than normal. But awareness and understanding is critical to adoption, so don't be turned off if you don't get an answer to your questions immediately. There is a wealth of knowledge scattered across the internet, and still a lot of smart people on reddit who are willing to help.
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.
So I'm looking through my old yearbooks, and I'm realizing that I missed out on a crucial part of my life: during high school, I was supposed to have a punk phase. I can't believe I missed it! It seemed like everyone was rocking their unruly hair, their unkempt clothes, and their general disaffection towards life. Man, Green Day released new records, and there was an unrelenting hatred for all types of authority figures... Wait, this is just a slab of concrete with newspaper articles from 2020 stapled to it, isn't it. Regardless, the universe is telling me it's time for me to reclaim my lost childhood experiences; to go back to a better time. Unfortunately, latent legal issues surrounding my controversial "BONG HiTS 4 JESUS" sign prevent me from going within 500 feet of any type of school, so winning the basketball championship and visiting the aquarium are right out. But I can still be the moodiest, edgiest, darkest person on the planet, and now that I've beaten Shadow the Hedgehog all the way through and went to Hot Topic, it's time to build a commander deck that's truly me. Presenting: RAMSESO V E R D A R K!
Ramses is the bad boy your mother would never let take you to IHOP. Not that he'd care; his business is killing, and he's efficient at it too, costing the least out of any commander I've ever written about. You want to sit around and drink tea with your little enchanted princess friends? Ramses Overdark is here to tell you how the real world works. Nothing personnel, kid.
Commander For You
Like a TI-83 Silver Edition, Ramses is a stone-cold calculating problem solver, but he only gets that way with some preparation. See, killing is a business, Ramses' business, and the one thing every business needs is synergy. So call me Nathan Fielder, because I'm going to unveil the plan that will keep this enterprise running smoothly:
Procure the payment.
Keep your friends close.
Keep your enemies closer.
Go to work.
As a teenager, I procrastinated from my task of being edgy by protesting government-backed financial institutions with the Bitcoin community, and one thing you learn there very quickly is that assassination ain't cheap. The first and most obvious barrier to breaking 18 U.S. Code § 1117 is his six mana casting cost, and unlike Gabriel, Ramses demands something a little more tangible than a green thumb to appease him. We're going to use the usual fare: rings, trinkets, stones, lockets, relics... archives... spheres? With you as an investor, Ramses' business (which is killing) will make a killing, letting us take full advantage of Revel in Riches as both a ramp tool and backup win condition. Ramses will also often require additional gas to keep going, whether it be finding a steady stream of enchantments to throw onto enemies, or to finding ways to close out games.
And don't forget about the artifacts that sacrifice themselves for cards: In a pinch, you can throw Curator's Ward onto them instead of Ramses.
Enchantment payoffs are few and far between in Dimir, so we're keeping this build a bit creature-light; but the ones we take with are absolutely vital for our success. While Ramses is no Cleopatra, he's still managed to form relationships with some important Greek allies:
Hateful Eidolon is another great draw engine. You're going to be enchanting enemy creatures constantly, so it'll be a steady stream of card advantage.
Protean Thaumaturge can transform into copies of anything on the board, and since you're usually targeting huge threats, he's straight value.
If you prefer just taking creatures instead of becoming them, Rootwater Matriarch is the mother everyone wants to follow, as she takes control of enemy enchanted creatures.
Man, she's way cooler than my mom. Incidentally, these control changing effects can go away, so lets include a sacrifice outlet, like Blasting Station.
Nighthowler is both the name of my new punk band and a decent Bestow creature. Cast it as a creature directly, or use it to build up Ramses' hit-list first.
Blightcaster lets you snipe less relevant creatures while you go for the big ones. I like saying "pew!" when I ping things. Please, take me seriously.
Grim Guardian is an Aristocrats-style payoff for enchantments, which is exactly the sort of talent Ramses' agents should be recruiting.
Rootwater Shaman gives your enchantments flash, making your targets subtle and you s n e a k y. Pretty sus, bro.
Agent of Erebos is repeatable graveyard exile, which isn't necessarily worth a slot but it pisses off Sandy, my Muldrotha-playing ex-wife.
Our deck only runs sixteen creatures, and while being a lone-wolf is edgy, it's not the type of edge I want to be. I feel like I'm a Halloween bobbing apple -- razor edgy; the type of edge that speaks to people, in the very depths of their soul, and causes them to rebel against the man. In the end, I will be so edgy that even those rotten adults will realize I'm right. Enchant opposing creatures with reanimation-on-death enchantments:
Once opposing creatures are enchanted with one of these Auras, they become juicy targets for Ramses, as killing them will put them into play under your control. Unfortunately, six isn't a critical mass for Ramses; to ensure that Ramses' business isn't killed by a lack of clientele, let's use some recursive enchantments.
Remember Dragon Fangs from the last article? Dragon Shadow and Dragon Wings come back to haunt your opponents, auto-enchanting beefy boys at your discretion to give Ramses a target.
Echoing Fallen Angel from Ramses' set League of Legends, Fallen Ideal is a recursive enchantment that's also a sacrifice outlet.
The "Most 2020 Mood Award" goes to Despondency, which lowers a creature's power and keeps comin' back, again and again.
Screams from Within is unique in that it will auto-attach after death instead of coming back to your hand. Be aware that if you've got no enemy targets, it's gonna end up on Ramses.
Slow Motion's Pendrell-type effect might be enough to save you a Ramses activation if your opponent doesn't care enough to pay the toll.
Rounding out the auras, we've got a few utility spells we can play for neat effects:
Ramses' weapon of choice is obviously the Doom Blade, which he'll cast for you if his target is enchanted with Chime of Night.
If you prefer opponents to discard cards instead, Dying Wail's got you covered.
Your opponents will be at world's end when you exile their big threats off the top of their deck with Dead Man's Chest. This is the type of luxury even Gonti's jealous of!
And here's some spicy tech for you: Ensoul Artifact lets Ramses remove an artifact with his ability.
A lot of creatures are going to end up dead, which makes Rise of the Dark Realms a great end-game finisher. But that's boring. Are you ready to learn Ramses' true dark secret? Because here's where I blow your mind.
...lets you sacrifice Iridescent Drake to Blasting Station which...
...deals 1 damage and triggers the enchantment which means...
..Iridescent Drake goes onto the battlefield, returning...
This combo will make you feel like Joker, because your opponents will never see it coming. You've got some redundancy in the deck in case things don't pan out: use Fallen Ideal as your sacrifice outlet and win condition to swing with an evasive infinity/infinity attacker, or deal damage using Grim Guardian's Constellation trigger. Should Iridescent Drake be interacted with (which is illegal, by the way), use Ill Gotten Gains to get your combo pieces back to hand and recur some protective counterspells. I'm not a punk, I'm a goddamn dragon genius. Finally, the deck is truly me!
In conclusion, the Ramses Overdark deck for the Commander format is a fun and powerful budget deck for you to try. I hope you enjoyed reading my paper as much as I enjoyed writing- ...Buh? Oh. I guess I reverted to hastily written high school paper writing. Is that really what I sounded like? You know, people say you never really realize what you have until it's gone. It's easy to look to memories of better days and feel that melancholy drop in your stomach. It's natural to feel wistful for a time past when rain drips down the window. But the truth is also that you don't really realize what you don't have until you obtain it. Our experiences may be painful now, but that's no reason to give up hope. You can get over darkness. Look forward instead of back, because in that future lies a wiser you.
How YFI came out of nowhere to become the fastest coin to reach $1B and the fastest coin to ever get listed on Coinbase
Note: As mentioned to the original 624 Reddit subscribers, there will be $YFI based Exclusive Original Content released here by myself and others from time to time. These kinds of interactive Deep Dives with a Q&A with fellow Investors / Beta Testers right afterwards is a rare thing in Crypto, and will only be found with this level of immediacy, social interaction, permanence, depth, and complexity of analysis and feedback on a platform like Reddit. A lot of projects have low innovation, just copying something that someone else has already done, but with small tweaks to things like variables in Smart Contracts. A few rare projects have genuine innovation, providing genuine value to investors and users by providing attractive new products that simplify a lot of things in this space. Even rarer are the Unicorns that not only have innovation, but they have innovation in spades, oozing out of every pore. $YFI is one of these types of Unicorns. The scope of products and rapidity of release of new revolutionary products of this project has been simply unmatched in the short history of Crypto. Since 2009, the world of crypto has never seen anything like this lightning fast pace of development spanning such a wide scope of products - optimized automated yield farming and lending that relentlessly hunts the best yields, crypto insurance on Smart Contracts, a revolutionary Stablecoin idea that essentially makes a USD altcoin "smart" with built-in yield farming capabilities for the first time, to name a few - all built by a genius Smart Contract Builder who provided the world the first Fair Launch token. Key to wrapping your head around the advantages that the yEarn Finance ecosystem has over - well, every single other option out there at this time - are the concepts below:
CeFi vs. DeFi
Smart Contract Stacking
The power of a Talented and Diverse DAO
To discuss these concepts, and to educate beginners, we have to understand what the terms above truly mean. This post doesn't discuss any particular products and their advantages, only the systemic advantages that are available only to $YFI. This project seems to attract the smartest and the highest risk taking of crypto investors, and an important thing in truly understanding all of the risks involved, is that you have to know the terms and concepts first. Even veteran crypto and DeFi users may be thrown for a loop by some of the innovative products and concepts that keep coming out of the YFI Labs. This project is going through an expansion phase, where the scope of everything and the reach of the various released products is increasing (Insurance, A truly pegged Stablecoin, yETH Version 2, ySwap, yLiquidate, etc, etc..) You know that there's some motherforker or twenty that is now just avidly waiting for every piece of code that Andre drops onto GitHub, so that they can be among the first to copy it verbatim then claim it as "their own variation" because they changed some variables and titles. Yawn. From the definitive glossary for the DeFi space - yet another $YFI innovation - I'll list their definitions below. These may not be their final definitions when I finish any V1.1 edits to it, but they're good enough for now, and at least 3 or more YFI Dev Team members have read, reviewed, or edited these definitions. I've also invited my fellow Beta testers to provide comments to my RFC on this subreddit and in the Governance forum (among the documentation volunteers). Yes, this is how early DeFi investors are in the development and maturation of the DeFi space. Anyone reading this right now is so early into DeFi's evolution that the terms used for this space are literally still being finalized by the community. I've given a little bit of a sneak peek into how technical documentation is somehow self-organized in a powerful DAO such as this one. In this example, it starts off with a call for help on Twitter to improve our documentation by tracheopteryx. Interested and qualified volunteers show up (or don't) when such a call is made. Your writers and editors have spent many a moment pondering off into space debating whether this term really means this or that, or if the term was either succinctly described, or fully sufficient. It's a usually thankless and anonymous job, that is critical in providing enough relevant information to its users and investors. [Note: Just like anything you see related to the $YFI project: You can help us improve this documentation - any of it - if you see errors or better ways of describing this information.] All terms are shamelessly plagiarized from myself and my fellow writeeditors - u/tracheopteryx and Franklin - from the draft definitions in our new DeFi glossary: https://docs.yearn.finance/defi-glossary 1. CeFi vs. DeFi CeFi - Centralized Finance. In terms of cryptocurrency, CeFi is represented by centralized cryptocurrency exchanges, businesses or organizations with a physical address, and usually with some sort of corporate structure. These CeFi businesses must follow all applicable laws, rules, and regulations in each country, state, or region in which they operate. DeFi - DeFi, or Decentralized Finance, is at its root a set of Smart Contracts running independently on blockchains such as the Ethereum network. Smart Contracts may or may not interact with other smart contracts and even other blockchains. The goal of DeFi is to enhance profitability of investors in DeFi through automated smart contracts seeking to maximize yields for invested funds. DeFi is marked by rapid innovative progression and testing of new ideas and concepts. DeFi often involves high risk investing sometimes involving smart contracts that have not been audited or even thoroughly reviewed (a review is not as comprehensive as an audit, but may be also be included as part of an audit). Due to this and other reasons, DeFi is conventionally considered to be more risky than CeFi or traditional investing. Comment: DeFi is higher risk, partly because it moves so fast. A lot of yams, hot dogs, and sushi can get lost when you move so fast that you can't even bother to do a thorough audit before releasing code. The cream of the crop projects will all have had multiple audits done by multiple independent auditors. Auditors are expensive. At such an embryonic stage, most projects can't afford to have one audit done let alone 5. But if you can live with that higher risk intrinsic in DeFi and be willing to be a part of "testing in prod," then financial innovation can truly blossom. And if you let your best and brightest members of your community focus only on doing what they do best, then they don't have to bother to try to grow a business like a Bezos, Musk, or a Zuckerberg. Innovative entrepreneurs in this mold such as Andre, don't have to even try to do this business growth on their own because the DAO sets it up so that they don't have to do this.The DAO both grows the business while supporting and allowing these innovators to simply innovate, instead of trying to get nerds to do backroom deals to gain market share and access to new customers. It turns out that nerds are much more productive when you just let them be a nerd in their labs.
Composability - The measure of the usability and ability of a product to be used as a building block (or "money lego") in the construction of other products or domains. A protocol that is simple, powerful, and that functions well with other protocols would be considered to have high composability. Comment: The maturity of the cryptocurrency ecosystem and the evolution of composable building tools in the DeFi space now make new products and concepts available. $YFI would not have been possible only 2 or 3 years ago; the tools and ecosystem simply weren't ready for it yet. This is why only now are you and many other now hearing about YFI. In 2018, Andre began providing free code reviews to Crypto Briefing. Andre had to learn to walk before he could run, and the composable tools needed to work on embryonic ideas in his head were simply not ready or available then. By reading and reviewing so many Smart Contracts he learned to recognize good code from bad code at what was still a very early stage in Smart Contract development in 2018, only 3 years after ETH's launch in July 2015.
Smart Contract Stacking
Smart Contracts - A digital contract that is programmed in a language that is considered Turing complete, meaning that with enough processing power and time, a properly programmed Smart Contract should be able to use its code base and logical algorithms to perform almost any digital task or process. Ethereum's programming languages, such as Solidity and Vyper, are Turing complete. Comment: Smart Contracts have actually gotten smarter since ETH launched in July 2015. It's because Smart Contract builders needed to learn Solidity and how it functions and interoperates before they could spread their wings as designers. With more time and experience under their belts, the early SC builders that stuck to it have gotten much better. In Andre Cronje, we may have been witness to the rise of the next Satoshi or Vitalik of crypto. There is a reason that a couple of days ago, I counted 6 of 41 YF clones - nearly 15% - among the top gainers on the day. Success breeds copycats showing a ton of flattery. A smart contract is so smart, it can be used to be stacked upon other smart contracts such as at Aave or Maker. True innovation takes time, sacrifice, blood, sweat, and tears. It does not come without cost to those doing the innovating. There is not a single project in DeFi, CeFi, or even all of cryptocurrency that can claim the breadth and diversity of innovation and product reach that is found in the $YFI ecosystem. As a tech investor and professional nerd who's been involved at Research Labs and around product development and testing since before the year 2000. Prior to that I've ready widely and keenly to keep up with technological changes and assess investment potential in these disruptive changes nearly my whole life. The amount of innovation shown in this project is breathtaking if you're a Tech or FinTech researcher. It's being released at a ridiculously rapid pace that is simply unmatched in any private or government research lab anywhere, let alone at any CeFi or traditional financial institution one can name. The only comparable levels of innovation shown by this young project is typically only seen during periods of epochal changes such as The Renaissance or times of strife and war, such as World War II. Unless you've been in the industry and working with coders:I don't think those that haven't been around software development and testing can understand, can truly grasp that no one, no group does this.This isn't normal. This rapid-fire release of truly innovative code and intelligent strategies would have to be comparable to some of the greatest creative periods of human ingenuity and creativity. It's truly on par with periods of brilliance seen by thinkers like Newton, Einstein and Tesla, except with software code and concepts in decentralized finance. When the history of FinTech writes this chapter in its history, $YFI may need its own section or chapter. Don't forget all of these financial instruments we take for granted all around us, all had a simple start somewhere, whether it was an IOU system of credit, insurance, stocks, bonds, derivatives, futures, options, and so on...they all started off as an idea somewhere that had to get tested sooner or later "in production." One brilliant aspect of $YFI Smart Contracts is that they're built as a profitable layer atop existing DeFi protocols, extracting further value from base crypto assets and even primary crypto derivatives. $YFI is built atop existing smart contracts to create further value where there was none before, and help maximize gains for long term investors.
The Power of a Talented and Diverse DAO
DAO - Distributed Autonomous Organization. The first DAO was started in 2016. According to Wikipedia's definition, it is an: "organization represented by rules encoded as a computer program that is transparent, controlled by the organization members and not influenced by a central government. A DAO's financial transaction record and program rules are maintained on a blockchain." When implemented well, a DAO allows for real world experiments in decentralized democratic organization and control, with more freedom of action and less regulatory oversight for DAO controlled projects and products when compared to legacy corporate structures and organizations. Comment: yEarn Finance has shown us what a properly motivated and sufficiently powerful DAO can do in a short amount of time. There's many reasons why this project with an already profitable business model is the fastest original project in history to ever reach a $1B marketcap in any market - traditional or crypto - accomplishing this amazing feat in less than two months. There's reasons why this is probably the fastest coin in history to get listed on Coinbase in less than 2 months. The power of a sufficiently talented and diverse development team and community is stunning in its power, speed, and ability to get things done quickly. There are risks aplenty with parts of this project, but $YFI is now seen as a "safe" place in DeFi, because you know you that as far as yield farming you probably couldn't do it better yourself unless you took a chance on unaudited code with anonymous Devs, or you were doing the trading equivalent of throwing darts blindfolded and somehow won, except that you even more improbably kept doing that over and over and winning. Summary: There's reasons why YFI has been called the Bitcoin of DeFi and the Berkshire Hathaway Series A of crypto. I've listed some of the reasons above. The confluence of these 4 factors has helped lead to explosive growth for this project. This isn't financial advice as I'm not a financial pro but make no mistake: as a Crypto OG around crypto since early 2013, who was deeply involved in multiple community projects as an early organizer, and who was a small investor during the DotCom era investing in early giants that went on to be gorillas, I don't say this lightly that the $YFI project is lightning in a bottle and a diamond in the rough. What $YFI allows, when all is said and done, is the rapid fire implementation of great ideas that have gone through a rapid Darwinian evolution, where only the best ideas are implemented. Thoughts and ideas are powerful things. The valuation of this coin and ecosystem has to, itmusttake into account that this nascent financial innovation hub and ecosystem actually works and allows the best of these ideas to actually blossom rapidly. You just don't find too many gems like this.
Hey all, I've been researching coins since 2017 and have gone through 100s of them in the last 3 years. I got introduced to blockchain via Bitcoin of course, analyzed Ethereum thereafter and from that moment I have a keen interest in smart contact platforms. I’m passionate about Ethereum but I find Zilliqa to have a better risk-reward ratio. Especially because Zilliqa has found an elegant balance between being secure, decentralized and scalable in my opinion.
Below I post my analysis of why from all the coins I went through I’m most bullish on Zilliqa (yes I went through Tezos, EOS, NEO, VeChain, Harmony, Algorand, Cardano etc.). Note that this is not investment advice and although it's a thorough analysis there is obviously some bias involved. Looking forward to what you all think!
Fun fact: the name Zilliqa is a play on ‘silica’ silicon dioxide which means “Silicon for the high-throughput consensus computer.”
This post is divided into (i) Technology, (ii) Business & Partnerships, and (iii) Marketing & Community. I’ve tried to make the technology part readable for a broad audience. If you’ve ever tried understanding the inner workings of Bitcoin and Ethereum you should be able to grasp most parts. Otherwise, just skim through and once you are zoning out head to the next part.
Technology and some more:
The technology is one of the main reasons why I’m so bullish on Zilliqa. First thing you see on their website is: “Zilliqa is a high-performance, high-security blockchain platform for enterprises and next-generation applications.” These are some bold statements.
Before we deep dive into the technology let’s take a step back in time first as they have quite the history. The initial research paper from which Zilliqa originated dates back to August 2016: Elastico: A Secure Sharding Protocol For Open Blockchains where Loi Luu (Kyber Network) is one of the co-authors. Other ideas that led to the development of what Zilliqa has become today are: Bitcoin-NG, collective signing CoSi, ByzCoin and Omniledger.
The technical white paper was made public in August 2017 and since then they have achieved everything stated in the white paper and also created their own open source intermediate level smart contract language called Scilla (functional programming language similar to OCaml) too.
Mainnet is live since the end of January 2019 with daily transaction rates growing continuously. About a week ago mainnet reached 5 million transactions, 500.000+ addresses in total along with 2400 nodes keeping the network decentralized and secure. Circulating supply is nearing 11 billion and currently only mining rewards are left. The maximum supply is 21 billion with annual inflation being 7.13% currently and will only decrease with time.
Zilliqa realized early on that the usage of public cryptocurrencies and smart contracts were increasing but decentralized, secure, and scalable alternatives were lacking in the crypto space. They proposed to apply sharding onto a public smart contract blockchain where the transaction rate increases almost linear with the increase in the amount of nodes. More nodes = higher transaction throughput and increased decentralization. Sharding comes in many forms and Zilliqa uses network-, transaction- and computational sharding. Network sharding opens up the possibility of using transaction- and computational sharding on top. Zilliqa does not use state sharding for now. We’ll come back to this later.
Before we continue dissecting how Zilliqa achieves such from a technological standpoint it’s good to keep in mind that a blockchain being decentralised and secure and scalable is still one of the main hurdles in allowing widespread usage of decentralised networks. In my opinion this needs to be solved first before blockchains can get to the point where they can create and add large scale value. So I invite you to read the next section to grasp the underlying fundamentals. Because after all these premises need to be true otherwise there isn’t a fundamental case to be bullish on Zilliqa, right?
Down the rabbit hole
How have they achieved this? Let’s define the basics first: key players on Zilliqa are the users and the miners. A user is anybody who uses the blockchain to transfer funds or run smart contracts. Miners are the (shard) nodes in the network who run the consensus protocol and get rewarded for their service in Zillings (ZIL). The mining network is divided into several smaller networks called shards, which is also referred to as ‘network sharding’. Miners subsequently are randomly assigned to a shard by another set of miners called DS (Directory Service) nodes. The regular shards process transactions and the outputs of these shards are eventually combined by the DS shard as they reach consensus on the final state. More on how these DS shards reach consensus (via pBFT) will be explained later on.
The Zilliqa network produces two types of blocks: DS blocks and Tx blocks. One DS Block consists of 100 Tx Blocks. And as previously mentioned there are two types of nodes concerned with reaching consensus: shard nodes and DS nodes. Becoming a shard node or DS node is being defined by the result of a PoW cycle (Ethash) at the beginning of the DS Block. All candidate mining nodes compete with each other and run the PoW (Proof-of-Work) cycle for 60 seconds and the submissions achieving the highest difficulty will be allowed on the network. And to put it in perspective: the average difficulty for one DS node is ~ 2 Th/s equaling 2.000.000 Mh/s or 55 thousand+ GeForce GTX 1070 / 8 GB GPUs at 35.4 Mh/s. Each DS Block 10 new DS nodes are allowed. And a shard node needs to provide around 8.53 GH/s currently (around 240 GTX 1070s). Dual mining ETH/ETC and ZIL is possible and can be done via mining software such as Phoenix and Claymore. There are pools and if you have large amounts of hashing power (Ethash) available you could mine solo.
The PoW cycle of 60 seconds is a peak performance and acts as an entry ticket to the network. The entry ticket is called a sybil resistance mechanism and makes it incredibly hard for adversaries to spawn lots of identities and manipulate the network with these identities. And after every 100 Tx Blocks which corresponds to roughly 1,5 hour this PoW process repeats. In between these 1,5 hour, no PoW needs to be done meaning Zilliqa’s energy consumption to keep the network secure is low. For more detailed information on how mining works click here. Okay, hats off to you. You have made it this far. Before we go any deeper down the rabbit hole we first must understand why Zilliqa goes through all of the above technicalities and understand a bit more what a blockchain on a more fundamental level is. Because the core of Zilliqa’s consensus protocol relies on the usage of pBFT (practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance) we need to know more about state machines and their function. Navigate to Viewblock, a Zilliqa block explorer, and just come back to this article. We will use this site to navigate through a few concepts.
We have established that Zilliqa is a public and distributed blockchain. Meaning that everyone with an internet connection can send ZILs, trigger smart contracts, etc. and there is no central authority who fully controls the network. Zilliqa and other public and distributed blockchains (like Bitcoin and Ethereum) can also be defined as state machines.
Taking the liberty of paraphrasing examples and definitions given by Samuel Brooks’ medium article, he describes the definition of a blockchain (like Zilliqa) as: “A peer-to-peer, append-only datastore that uses consensus to synchronize cryptographically-secure data”.
Next, he states that: "blockchains are fundamentally systems for managing valid state transitions”. For some more context, I recommend reading the whole medium article to get a better grasp of the definitions and understanding of state machines. Nevertheless, let’s try to simplify and compile it into a single paragraph. Take traffic lights as an example: all its states (red, amber, and green) are predefined, all possible outcomes are known and it doesn’t matter if you encounter the traffic light today or tomorrow. It will still behave the same. Managing the states of a traffic light can be done by triggering a sensor on the road or pushing a button resulting in one traffic lights’ state going from green to red (via amber) and another light from red to green.
With public blockchains like Zilliqa, this isn’t so straightforward and simple. It started with block #1 almost 1,5 years ago and every 45 seconds or so a new block linked to the previous block is being added. Resulting in a chain of blocks with transactions in it that everyone can verify from block #1 to the current #647.000+ block. The state is ever changing and the states it can find itself in are infinite. And while the traffic light might work together in tandem with various other traffic lights, it’s rather insignificant comparing it to a public blockchain. Because Zilliqa consists of 2400 nodes who need to work together to achieve consensus on what the latest valid state is while some of these nodes may have latency or broadcast issues, drop offline or are deliberately trying to attack the network, etc.
Now go back to the Viewblock page take a look at the amount of transaction, addresses, block and DS height and then hit refresh. Obviously as expected you see new incremented values on one or all parameters. And how did the Zilliqa blockchain manage to transition from a previous valid state to the latest valid state? By using pBFT to reach consensus on the latest valid state.
After having obtained the entry ticket, miners execute pBFT to reach consensus on the ever-changing state of the blockchain. pBFT requires a series of network communication between nodes, and as such there is no GPU involved (but CPU). Resulting in the total energy consumed to keep the blockchain secure, decentralized and scalable being low.
pBFT stands for practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance and is an optimization on the Byzantine Fault Tolerant algorithm. To quote Blockonomi: “In the context of distributed systems, Byzantine Fault Tolerance is the ability of a distributed computer network to function as desired and correctly reach a sufficient consensus despite malicious components (nodes) of the system failing or propagating incorrect information to other peers.” Zilliqa is such a distributed computer network and depends on the honesty of the nodes (shard and DS) to reach consensus and to continuously update the state with the latest block. If pBFT is a new term for you I can highly recommend the Blockonomi article.
The idea of pBFT was introduced in 1999 - one of the authors even won a Turing award for it - and it is well researched and applied in various blockchains and distributed systems nowadays. If you want more advanced information than the Blockonomi link provides click here. And if you’re in between Blockonomi and the University of Singapore read the Zilliqa Design Story Part 2 dating from October 2017. Quoting from the Zilliqa tech whitepaper: “pBFT relies upon a correct leader (which is randomly selected) to begin each phase and proceed when the sufficient majority exists. In case the leader is byzantine it can stall the entire consensus protocol. To address this challenge, pBFT offers a view change protocol to replace the byzantine leader with another one.”
pBFT can tolerate ⅓ of the nodes being dishonest (offline counts as Byzantine = dishonest) and the consensus protocol will function without stalling or hiccups. Once there are more than ⅓ of dishonest nodes but no more than ⅔ the network will be stalled and a view change will be triggered to elect a new DS leader. Only when more than ⅔ of the nodes are dishonest (66%) double-spend attacks become possible.
If the network stalls no transactions can be processed and one has to wait until a new honest leader has been elected. When the mainnet was just launched and in its early phases, view changes happened regularly. As of today the last stalling of the network - and view change being triggered - was at the end of October 2019.
Another benefit of using pBFT for consensus besides low energy is the immediate finality it provides. Once your transaction is included in a block and the block is added to the chain it’s done. Lastly, take a look at this article where three types of finality are being defined: probabilistic, absolute and economic finality. Zilliqa falls under the absolute finality (just like Tendermint for example). Although lengthy already we skipped through some of the inner workings from Zilliqa’s consensus: read the Zilliqa Design Story Part 3 and you will be close to having a complete picture on it. Enough about PoW, sybil resistance mechanism, pBFT, etc. Another thing we haven’t looked at yet is the amount of decentralization.
Currently, there are four shards, each one of them consisting of 600 nodes. 1 shard with 600 so-called DS nodes (Directory Service - they need to achieve a higher difficulty than shard nodes) and 1800 shard nodes of which 250 are shard guards (centralized nodes controlled by the team). The amount of shard guards has been steadily declining from 1200 in January 2019 to 250 as of May 2020. On the Viewblock statistics, you can see that many of the nodes are being located in the US but those are only the (CPU parts of the) shard nodes who perform pBFT. There is no data from where the PoW sources are coming. And when the Zilliqa blockchain starts reaching its transaction capacity limit, a network upgrade needs to be executed to lift the current cap of maximum 2400 nodes to allow more nodes and formation of more shards which will allow to network to keep on scaling according to demand. Besides shard nodes there are also seed nodes. The main role of seed nodes is to serve as direct access points (for end-users and clients) to the core Zilliqa network that validates transactions. Seed nodes consolidate transaction requests and forward these to the lookup nodes (another type of nodes) for distribution to the shards in the network. Seed nodes also maintain the entire transaction history and the global state of the blockchain which is needed to provide services such as block explorers. Seed nodes in the Zilliqa network are comparable to Infura on Ethereum.
The seed nodes were first only operated by Zilliqa themselves, exchanges and Viewblock. Operators of seed nodes like exchanges had no incentive to open them for the greater public. They were centralised at first. Decentralisation at the seed nodes level has been steadily rolled out since March 2020 ( Zilliqa Improvement Proposal 3 ). Currently the amount of seed nodes is being increased, they are public-facing and at the same time PoS is applied to incentivize seed node operators and make it possible for ZIL holders to stake and earn passive yields. Important distinction: seed nodes are not involved with consensus! That is still PoW as entry ticket and pBFT for the actual consensus.
5% of the block rewards are being assigned to seed nodes (from the beginning in 2019) and those are being used to pay out ZIL stakers. The 5% block rewards with an annual yield of 10.03% translate to roughly 610 MM ZILs in total that can be staked. Exchanges use the custodial variant of staking and wallets like Moonlet will use the non-custodial version (starting in Q3 2020). Staking is being done by sending ZILs to a smart contract created by Zilliqa and audited by Quantstamp.
With a high amount of DS; shard nodes and seed nodes becoming more decentralized too, Zilliqa qualifies for the label of decentralized in my opinion.
Generalized: programming languages can be divided into being ‘object-oriented’ or ‘functional’. Here is an ELI5 given by software development academy: * “all programs have two basic components, data – what the program knows – and behavior – what the program can do with that data. So object-oriented programming states that combining data and related behaviors in one place, is called “object”, which makes it easier to understand how a particular program works. On the other hand, functional programming argues that data and behavior are different things and should be separated to ensure their clarity.” *
Scilla is on the functional side and shares similarities with OCaml: OCaml is a general-purpose programming language with an emphasis on expressiveness and safety. It has an advanced type system that helps catch your mistakes without getting in your way. It's used in environments where a single mistake can cost millions and speed matters, is supported by an active community, and has a rich set of libraries and development tools. For all its power, OCaml is also pretty simple, which is one reason it's often used as a teaching language.
Scilla is blockchain agnostic, can be implemented onto other blockchains as well, is recognized by academics and won a so-called Distinguished Artifact Award award at the end of last year.
One of the reasons why the Zilliqa team decided to create their own programming language focused on preventing smart contract vulnerabilities is that adding logic on a blockchain, programming, means that you cannot afford to make mistakes. Otherwise, it could cost you. It’s all great and fun blockchains being immutable but updating your code because you found a bug isn’t the same as with a regular web application for example. And with smart contracts, it inherently involves cryptocurrencies in some form thus value.
Another difference with programming languages on a blockchain is gas. Every transaction you do on a smart contract platform like Zilliqa or Ethereum costs gas. With gas you basically pay for computational costs. Sending a ZIL from address A to address B costs 0.001 ZIL currently. Smart contracts are more complex, often involve various functions and require more gas (if gas is a new concept click here ).
So with Scilla, similar to Solidity, you need to make sure that “every function in your smart contract will run as expected without hitting gas limits. An improper resource analysis may lead to situations where funds may get stuck simply because a part of the smart contract code cannot be executed due to gas limits. Such constraints are not present in traditional software systems”.Scilla design story part 1
Some examples of smart contract issues you’d want to avoid are: leaking funds, ‘unexpected changes to critical state variables’ (example: someone other than you setting his or her address as the owner of the smart contract after creation) or simply killing a contract.
Scilla also allows for formal verification. Wikipedia to the rescue: In the context of hardware and software systems, formal verification is the act of proving or disproving the correctness of intended algorithms underlying a system with respect to a certain formal specification or property, using formal methods of mathematics.
Formal verification can be helpful in proving the correctness of systems such as: cryptographic protocols, combinational circuits, digital circuits with internal memory, and software expressed as source code.
“Scilla is being developed hand-in-hand with formalization of its semantics and its embedding into the Coq proof assistant — a state-of-the art tool for mechanized proofs about properties of programs.”
Simply put, with Scilla and accompanying tooling developers can be mathematically sure and proof that the smart contract they’ve written does what he or she intends it to do.
Smart contract on a sharded environment and state sharding
There is one more topic I’d like to touch on: smart contract execution in a sharded environment (and what is the effect of state sharding). This is a complex topic. I’m not able to explain it any easier than what is posted here. But I will try to compress the post into something easy to digest.
Earlier on we have established that Zilliqa can process transactions in parallel due to network sharding. This is where the linear scalability comes from. We can define simple transactions: a transaction from address A to B (Category 1), a transaction where a user interacts with one smart contract (Category 2) and the most complex ones where triggering a transaction results in multiple smart contracts being involved (Category 3). The shards are able to process transactions on their own without interference of the other shards. With Category 1 transactions that is doable, with Category 2 transactions sometimes if that address is in the same shard as the smart contract but with Category 3 you definitely need communication between the shards. Solving that requires to make a set of communication rules the protocol needs to follow in order to process all transactions in a generalised fashion.
There is no strict defined roadmap but here are topics being worked on. And via the Zilliqa website there is also more information on the projects they are working on.
Business & Partnerships
It’s not only technology in which Zilliqa seems to be excelling as their ecosystem has been expanding and starting to grow rapidly. The project is on a mission to provide OpenFinance (OpFi) to the world and Singapore is the right place to be due to its progressive regulations and futuristic thinking. Singapore has taken a proactive approach towards cryptocurrencies by introducing the Payment Services Act 2019 (PS Act). Among other things, the PS Act will regulate intermediaries dealing with certain cryptocurrencies, with a particular focus on consumer protection and anti-money laundering. It will also provide a stable regulatory licensing and operating framework for cryptocurrency entities, effectively covering all crypto businesses and exchanges based in Singapore. According to PWC 82% of the surveyed executives in Singapore reported blockchain initiatives underway and 13% of them have already brought the initiatives live to the market. There is also an increasing list of organizations that are starting to provide digital payment services. Moreover, Singaporean blockchain developers Building Cities Beyond has recently created an innovation $15 million grant to encourage development on its ecosystem. This all suggests that Singapore tries to position itself as (one of) the leading blockchain hubs in the world.
Zilliqa seems to already take advantage of this and recently helped launch Hg Exchange on their platform, together with financial institutions PhillipCapital, PrimePartners and Fundnel. Hg Exchange, which is now approved by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), uses smart contracts to represent digital assets. Through Hg Exchange financial institutions worldwide can use Zilliqa's safe-by-design smart contracts to enable the trading of private equities. For example, think of companies such as Grab, Airbnb, SpaceX that are not available for public trading right now. Hg Exchange will allow investors to buy shares of private companies & unicorns and capture their value before an IPO. Anquan, the main company behind Zilliqa, has also recently announced that they became a partner and shareholder in TEN31 Bank, which is a fully regulated bank allowing for tokenization of assets and is aiming to bridge the gap between conventional banking and the blockchain world. If STOs, the tokenization of assets, and equity trading will continue to increase, then Zilliqa’s public blockchain would be the ideal candidate due to its strategic positioning, partnerships, regulatory compliance and the technology that is being built on top of it.
What is also very encouraging is their focus on banking the un(der)banked. They are launching a stablecoin basket starting with XSGD. As many of you know, stablecoins are currently mostly used for trading. However, Zilliqa is actively trying to broaden the use case of stablecoins. I recommend everybody to read this text that Amrit Kumar wrote (one of the co-founders). These stablecoins will be integrated in the traditional markets and bridge the gap between the crypto world and the traditional world. This could potentially revolutionize and legitimise the crypto space if retailers and companies will for example start to use stablecoins for payments or remittances, instead of it solely being used for trading.
Zilliqa also released their DeFi strategic roadmap (dating November 2019) which seems to be aligning well with their OpFi strategy. A non-custodial DEX is coming to Zilliqa made by Switcheo which allows cross-chain trading (atomic swaps) between ETH, EOS and ZIL based tokens. They also signed a Memorandum of Understanding for a (soon to be announced) USD stablecoin. And as Zilliqa is all about regulations and being compliant, I’m speculating on it to be a regulated USD stablecoin. Furthermore, XSGD is already created and visible on block explorer and XIDR (Indonesian Stablecoin) is also coming soon via StraitsX. Here also an overview of the Tech Stack for Financial Applications from September 2019. Further quoting Amrit Kumar on this:
There are two basic building blocks in DeFi/OpFi though: 1) stablecoins as you need a non-volatile currency to get access to this market and 2) a dex to be able to trade all these financial assets. The rest are built on top of these blocks.
So far, together with our partners and community, we have worked on developing these building blocks with XSGD as a stablecoin. We are working on bringing a USD-backed stablecoin as well. We will soon have a decentralised exchange developed by Switcheo. And with HGX going live, we are also venturing into the tokenization space. More to come in the future.”
Additionally, they also have this ZILHive initiative that injects capital into projects. There have been already 6 waves of various teams working on infrastructure, innovation and research, and they are not from ASEAN or Singapore only but global: see Grantees breakdown by country. Over 60 project teams from over 20 countries have contributed to Zilliqa's ecosystem. This includes individuals and teams developing wallets, explorers, developer toolkits, smart contract testing frameworks, dapps, etc. As some of you may know, Unstoppable Domains (UD) blew up when they launched on Zilliqa. UD aims to replace cryptocurrency addresses with a human-readable name and allows for uncensorable websites. Zilliqa will probably be the only one able to handle all these transactions onchain due to ability to scale and its resulting low fees which is why the UD team launched this on Zilliqa in the first place. Furthermore, Zilliqa also has a strong emphasis on security, compliance, and privacy, which is why they partnered with companies like Elliptic, ChainSecurity (part of PwC Switzerland), and Incognito. Their sister company Aqilliz (Zilliqa spelled backwards) focuses on revolutionizing the digital advertising space and is doing interesting things like using Zilliqa to track outdoor digital ads with companies like Foodpanda.
Zilliqa is listed on nearly all major exchanges, having several different fiat-gateways and recently have been added to Binance’s margin trading and futures trading with really good volume. They also have a very impressive team with good credentials and experience. They don't just have “tech people”. They have a mix of tech people, business people, marketeers, scientists, and more. Naturally, it's good to have a mix of people with different skill sets if you work in the crypto space.
Marketing & Community
Zilliqa has a very strong community. If you just follow their Twitter their engagement is much higher for a coin that has approximately 80k followers. They also have been ‘coin of the day’ by LunarCrush many times. LunarCrush tracks real-time cryptocurrency value and social data. According to their data, it seems Zilliqa has a more fundamental and deeper understanding of marketing and community engagement than almost all other coins. While almost all coins have been a bit frozen in the last months, Zilliqa seems to be on its own bull run. It was somewhere in the 100s a few months ago and is currently ranked #46 on CoinGecko. Their official Telegram also has over 20k people and is very active, and their community channel which is over 7k now is more active and larger than many other official channels. Their local communities also seem to be growing.
Moreover, their community started ‘Zillacracy’ together with the Zilliqa core team ( see www.zillacracy.com ). It’s a community-run initiative where people from all over the world are now helping with marketing and development on Zilliqa. Since its launch in February 2020 they have been doing a lot and will also run their own non-custodial seed node for staking. This seed node will also allow them to start generating revenue for them to become a self sustaining entity that could potentially scale up to become a decentralized company working in parallel with the Zilliqa core team. Comparing it to all the other smart contract platforms (e.g. Cardano, EOS, Tezos etc.) they don't seem to have started a similar initiative (correct me if I’m wrong though). This suggests in my opinion that these other smart contract platforms do not fully understand how to utilize the ‘power of the community’. This is something you cannot ‘buy with money’ and gives many projects in the space a disadvantage.
Zilliqa also released two social products called SocialPay and Zeeves. SocialPay allows users to earn ZILs while tweeting with a specific hashtag. They have recently used it in partnership with the Singapore Red Cross for a marketing campaign after their initial pilot program. It seems like a very valuable social product with a good use case. I can see a lot of traditional companies entering the space through this product, which they seem to suggest will happen. Tokenizing hashtags with smart contracts to get network effect is a very smart and innovative idea.
Regarding Zeeves, this is a tipping bot for Telegram. They already have 1000s of signups and they plan to keep upgrading it for more and more people to use it (e.g. they recently have added a quiz features). They also use it during AMAs to reward people in real-time. It’s a very smart approach to grow their communities and get familiar with ZIL. I can see this becoming very big on Telegram. This tool suggests, again, that the Zilliqa team has a deeper understanding of what the crypto space and community needs and is good at finding the right innovative tools to grow and scale.
To be honest, I haven’t covered everything (i’m also reaching the character limited haha). So many updates happening lately that it's hard to keep up, such as the International Monetary Fund mentioning Zilliqa in their report, custodial and non-custodial Staking, Binance Margin, Futures, Widget, entering the Indian market, and more. The Head of Marketing Colin Miles has also released this as an overview of what is coming next. And last but not least, Vitalik Buterin has been mentioning Zilliqa lately acknowledging Zilliqa and mentioning that both projects have a lot of room to grow. There is much more info of course and a good part of it has been served to you on a silver platter. I invite you to continue researching by yourself :-) And if you have any comments or questions please post here!
Crypto Banking Wars: Can BlockFi & Celsius Disrupt Banking?
These crypto lending & borrowing services found early traction. Are they capable of bundling more financial services and winning the broader consumer finance market? https://reddit.com/link/icps9l/video/98kl1y596zh51/player This is the third part ofCrypto Banking Wars— a new series that examines what crypto-native company is most likely to become thebank of the future. Who is best positioned toreach mainstream adoptionin consumer finance? While crypto allows the world to get rid of banks, a bank will still very much be necessary for this verypowerfultechnology to reach the masses. As we laid out in our previous series, Crypto-Powered, we believe a crypto-native company will ultimately become the bank of the future. We’re confident Genesis Block will have a seat at that table, but we aren’t the only game in town. In the first post of this series, we did an analysis of big crypto exchanges like Coinbase & Binance. In our second episode, we looked at the world of non-custodial wallets. Today we’re analyzing crypto lending & borrowing services. The Earn and Borrow use-case covers a lot of what traditional banks deliver today. This category of companies is a threat worth analyzing. As we look at this market, we’ll mostly be focused on custodial, centralized products like BlockFi, Nexo, and Celsius. Many of these companies found early traction among crypto users. Are they capable of bundling more financial services and winning the broader consumer finance market? Let’s find out.
Because speculation and trading remains one of the most popular use-cases of crypto, a new crypto sub-industry around credit has emerged. Much of the borrowing demand has been driven by institutional needs. For example, a Bitcoin mining company might need to borrow fiat to pay for operational costs (salaries, electricity). Or a crypto company might need to borrow USD to pay for engineering salaries. Or a crypto hedge fund needs to borrow for leverage or to take a specific market position. While all of these companies have sufficient crypto to cover the costs, they might not want to sell it — either for tax or speculative reasons (they may believe these crypto assets will appreciate, as with most in the industry). Instead of selling their crypto, these companies can use their crypto as collateral for loans. For example, they can provide $1.5M in Bitcoin as collateral, and borrow $1M. Given the collateralization happening, the underwriting process becomes straightforward. Companies all around the world can participate — language and cultural barriers are removed. https://preview.redd.it/z9pby83d6zh51.png?width=600&format=png&auto=webp&s=54bf425215c3ed6d5ff0ca7dbe571e735b994613 The leader (and one of our partners) in this space is Genesis Capital. While they are always the counterparty for both lenders and borrowers, they are effectively a broker. They are at the center of the institutional crypto lending & borrowing markets. Their total active loans as of March 2020 was $649M. That number shot up to $1.42B in active loans as of June 2020. The growth of this entire market segment is impressive and it’s what is driving this opportunity for consumers downstream.
While most of the borrowing demand comes from institutional players, there is a growing desire from consumers to participate on the lend/supply side of the market. Crypto consumers would love to be able to deposit their assets with a service and watch it grow. Why let crypto assets sit on an exchange or in cold storage when it can be earning interest? A number of consumer-facing products have emerged in the last few years to make this happen. While they also allow users to borrow (always with collateral), most of the consumer attraction is around growing their crypto, even while they sleep. Earning interest. These products usually partner with institutional players like Genesis Capital to match the deposits with borrowing demand. And it’s exactly part of our strategy as well, beyond leveraging DeFi (decentralized finance protocols). A few of the most popular consumer services in this category include BlockFi, Nexo, and Celsius. https://preview.redd.it/vptig5mg6zh51.png?width=1051&format=png&auto=webp&s=b5fdc241cb9b6f5b495173667619f8d2c93371ca
BlockFi (Crunchbase) is the leader in this category (at least in the West). They are well-capitalized. In August 2019, they raised $18.3M in their Series A. In Feb 2020, they raised $30M in their Series B. In that same time period, they went from $250M in assets under management to $650M. In a recent blog post, they announced that they saw a 100% revenue increase in Q2 and that they were on track to do $50M in revenue this year. Their growth is impressive. BlockFi did not do an ICO, unlike Celsius, Nexo, Salt, and Cred. BlockFi has a lot of institutional backing so it is perceived as the most reputable in the space. BlockFi started with borrowing — allowing users to leverage their crypto as collateral and taking out a loan against it. They later got into Earning — allowing users to deposit assets and earn interest on it. They recently expanded their service to “exchange” functionality and say they are coming out with a credit card later this year. https://preview.redd.it/byv2tbui6zh51.png?width=800&format=png&auto=webp&s=bac080dcfc85e89574c30dfb396db0b537d46706 Security Woes It’s incredible that BlockFi has been able to see such strong growth despite their numerous product and security woes. A few months ago, their systems were compromised. A hacker was able to access confidential data, such as names, dates of birth, postal addresses, and activity histories. While no funds were lost, this was a massive embarrassment and caused reputational damage. https://preview.redd.it/lwmxbz5l6zh51.png?width=606&format=png&auto=webp&s=ebd8e6e5c31c56da055824254b35b218b49f80e0 Unrelated to that massive security breach and earlier in the year, a user discovered a major bug that allowed him to send the same funds to himself over and over again, ultimately accumulating more than a million dollars in his BlockFi account. BlockFi fortunately caught him just before withdrawal. Poor Product Execution Beyond their poor security — which they are now trying to get serious about — their products are notoriously buggy and hard-to-use. I borrowed from them a year ago and used their interest account product until very recently. I have first-hand experience of how painful it is. But don’t take my word for it… here are just a few tweets from customers just recently. https://preview.redd.it/wcqu3icn6zh51.png?width=1055&format=png&auto=webp&s=870e2f06a6ec377a87e5d6d1f24579a901de66b5 For a while, their interest-earning product had a completely different authentication system than their loan product (users had two sets of usernames/passwords). Many people have had issues with withdrawals. The app is constantly logging people out, blank screens, ugly error messages. Emails with verification codes are sometimes delayed by hours (or days). I do wonder if their entire app has been outsourced. The sloppiness shines through. Not only is their product buggy and UX confusing, but their branding & design is quite weak. To the left is a t-shirt they once sent me. It looks like they just found a bunch of quirky fonts, added their name, and slapped it on a t-shirt. https://preview.redd.it/mi6yeppp6zh51.png?width=600&format=png&auto=webp&s=fd4cd8201ad0d5bc667498096388377895b72953 Culture To the innocent bystander, many of these issues seem totally fixable. They could hire an amazing design agency to completely revamp their product or brand. They could hire a mercenary group of engineers to fix their bugs, etc. While it could stop the bleeding for a time, it may not solve the underlying issues. Years of sloppy product execution represents something much more destructive. It represents a top-down mentality that shipping anything other than excellence is okay: product experience doesn’t matter; design doesn’t matter; craftsmanship doesn’t matter; strong execution doesn’t matter; precision doesn’t matter. That’s very different from our culture at Genesis Block. This cancerous mentality rarely stays contained within product & engineering — this leaks to all parts of the organization. No design agency or consulting firm will fix some of the pernicious values of a company’s soul. These are deeper issues that only leadership can course-correct. If BlockFi’s sloppiness were due to constant experimentation, iteration, shipping, or some “move fast and break things” hacker culture… like Binance… I would probably cut them more slack. But there is zero evidence of that. “Move fast and break things” is always scary when dealing with financial products. But in BlockFi’s case, when it’s more like “move slow and break things,” they are really playing with fire. Next time a massive security breach occurs, like what happened earlier this year, they may not be so lucky. Institutional Focus Based on who is on their team, their poor product execution shouldn’t be a surprise. Their team comes mostly from Wall Street, not the blockchain community (where our roots are). Most of BlockFi’s blockchain/crypto integration is very superficial. They take crypto assets as deposits, but they aren’t leveraging any of the exciting, low-level DeFi protocols like we are. While their Wall Street heritage isn’t doing them any favors on the product/tech side, it’s served them very well on winning institutional clients. This is perhaps their greatest strength. BlockFi has a strong institutional business. They recently brought on Three Arrows Capital as a strategic investor — a crypto hedge fund who does a lot of borrowing. In that announcement, BlockFi’s founder said that bringing them on “aligns well with our focus on international expansion of our institutional services offering.” They also recently brought someone on who will lead business development in Asia among institutional clients. BlockFi Wrap Up There are certainly BlockFi features that overlap with Genesis Block’s offering. It’s possible that they are angling to become the bank of the future. However, they simply have not proven they are capable of designing, building, and launching world-class consumer products. They’ve constantly had issues around security and poor product execution. Their company account and their founder’s account seem to onlytweetaboutBitcoin. I don’t think they understand, appreciate, or value the power of DeFi. It’s unlikely they’ll be leveraging it any time soon. All of these reasons are why I don’t see them as a serious threat to Genesis Block. However, because of their strong institutional offering, I hope that Genesis Block will ultimately have a very collaborative and productive partnership with them. Assuming they figure out their security woes, we could park some of our funds with BlockFi (just as we will with Genesis Capital and others). I think what’s likely to happen is that we’ll corner the consumer market and we’ll work closely with BlockFi on the institutional side. I’ve been hard on BlockFi because I care. I think they have a great opportunity at helping elevate the entire industry in a positive way. But they have a lot of issues they need to work through. I really don’t want to see users lose millions of dollars in a security breach. It could set back the entire industry. But if they do things well… a rising tide lifts all boats.
While many companies in this category seem to be slowly adding more financial services, I don’t believe any of them are focused on the broader consumer market like we are. To use services like BlockFi, Nexo, or Celsius, users need to be onboarded and educated on how crypto works. At Genesis Block, we don’t believe that’s the winning approach. We think blockchain complexity should be abstracted away from the end-user. We did an entire series about this, Spreading Crypto. For many of these services, there is additional friction due to ICO tokens that are forcefully integrated into the product (see NEXO token or CEL Token). None of these services have true banking functionality or integration with traditional finance —for example, easy offramp or spending methods like debit cards. None of them are taking DeFi seriously — they are leveraging crypto for only the asset class, not the underlying technology around financial protocols. So are these companies potential competitors to Genesis Block? For the crypto crowd, yes. For the mass market, no. None of these companies are capable of reaching the billions of people around the world that we hope to reach at Genesis Block. ------ Other Ways to Consume Today's Episode:
ArCoin from Arca: how the first tokenized US government bonds work
ArCoin from Arca: how the first tokenized US government bonds work On July 6, digital asset manager Arca registered his private crypto fund Arca U.S. Treasury Fund at the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The fund invests most of its funds in short-term US bonds, while the fund’s shares are represented in the form of ArCoin Ethereum tokens of the new ERC1404 format, which fully comply with securities legislation.
Why SEC registration is important for Arca U.S. Treasury Fund.
Arca U.S. Treasury Fund is a closed-end hedge fund owned by the American digital asset management company Arca. It aims to combine the regulatory, legal and operational standards of the traditional financial sector with the efficiency of the blockchain. The company believes that actively managed hedge funds are the best way to address the volatility, immaturity, and rapidly changing nature of cryptocurrencies as an investment asset. Registration with the SEC was not easy for the fund — Arca agreed on the form of its digital shares within 20 months. But now the fund’s securities comply with the 1940 Investment Companies Act, which regulates the work of investment funds, including those issuing their own securities. For investors, SEC approval is an opportunity to receive guarantees from the traditional financial market: broker control by the regulator, independent audit and regular reporting, as well as the right to return their money in the event of a broker’s bankruptcy. For an investment fund, registration with the SEC imposes obligations to provide information on the company’s financial position, investment policy and current operations, meet liquidity requirements, conduct an independent audit and transfer control over assets to an independent board of trustees. But this is what allowed Arca to release an institutional-grade product.
How Arca U.S. Treasury Fund works
Arca U.S. Treasury Fund invests 80% of its assets in short-term US Treasury bonds. The rest of the funds are invested in fixed income debt securities. As the fund plans to invest in low-risk assets, the ArCoin price is expected to be stable. The fund operates just like any other fund holding US debt securities, but with the addition of blockchain to manage stocks. Investors do not invest their money directly in securities, but purchase shares of the fund — ArCoin tokens (ARCT). They were created by a special division of the company — Arca Labs. TokenSoft, a crypto startup that helps companies launch and sell tokens, has become a technical service provider. ArCoin sets a new standard for Ethereum tokens — ERC1404. It is specifically designed to meet regulatory requirements. Unlike the universal ERC20 standard, ERC1404 is more strictly controlled: such a token can be frozen, and the addresses to which users can send it must also be predefined. This “whitelist” of permitted addresses allows the SEC to almost completely control and track their circulation and ensures that tokens are not transferred outside of regulatory oversight. Each ArCoin grants the right to one share in the fund. The price of the coin is $1 with a minimum investment of $1000. A total of 100 million ArCoins will be available. Accrued interest is paid directly to ArCoin holders every quarter. You can buy shares directly through the website after passing the KYC / AML check. At the same time, investors can trade tokens with each other — the blockchain allows you to do without a broker. The fund’s shares will not be available for trading on stock exchanges and for secondary trading on crypto exchanges. Notably, the prospectus filed with the SEC in April 2019 states that in the future, Arca coins “may be traded on a public decentralized or centralized electronic exchange platform that is registered with the SEC as an alternative trading system, although there is no guarantee that such systems or platforms will be available.” But, apparently, this situation did not suit the regulator, and in the latest version of the document it was changed. The standard investor commission for fund management is 3.22%, but during the first year it will be reduced to 0.75%. Investors can keep ArCoin in their own wallets, but if the private keys from them are lost or compromised, the fund will replace the lost tokens with new ones. The digital assets are held in tokenized asset-oriented investment bank DTAC LLC, launched by TokenSoft last December. ArCoin offers companies and investors several use cases and wide integration of the coin into the work of structures. Individuals can use ArCoin to hedge their cryptocurrency portfolio against volatility, and financial institutions and other companies can use ArCoin to clear, settle, pay and lend “more efficiently, less costly, faster and with the ability to directly track all transactions.” The ability to pay for goods and services with tokens on US Treasury bonds is a revolutionary step that narrows the space between payment and investment funds.
Fight for a new trillion dollar market
US Treasuries, to which ArCoin is tied, are issued by the US Treasury Department and serve as a government debt financing instrument. Traditionally, they have a credit rating equal to or close to the maximum AAA, and are considered one of the safest and most reliable assets in the world. This makes US Treasuries highly sought after by central banks, financial companies, and private investors around the world, as they act as a safe haven from volatility in stock and corporate bond markets in times of geopolitical or economic turmoil. The SEC cleared ArCoin linkage to US Treasuries makes the asset the safest and most regulated token on the market. This is a great choice in turbulent financial times. The launch of Arca U.S. Treasury Fund is targeting one of Wall Street’s oldest outposts — investing in the US Treasury bond market.According to Brookings, its value is about $18 trillion. ArCoin is a modern alternative to existing methods of investing in Treasury securities (buying bonds from a broker or purchasing shares from an investment fund). Arca is clearly looking forward to the emergence and growth of a new market for fully regulated and SEC-approved digital shares in traditional assets. Moreover, their competitors are not other crypto funds, but traditional exchange-traded funds and ETFs. The Arca team is made up of Wall Street veterans and knows what a product needs to be that will be successful. Blockchain aims to show investors that it simplifies, cheaper and speeds up the process compared to the traditional market. On the site, the Arca team describes ArCoin as a “blockchain-traded fund”, or BTF. In comments to CoinDesk in February this year, CEO Ryan Steinberg said that Arca hopes to see large institutional investors as early buyers. It was for them that the company fought so long and hard to get registered with the SEC — it had to increase confidence in the products. “The answer to the question of why there are so few institutions in the crypto industry is simple: there are no institutional-grade products on the market,” Steinberg said, noting that ArCoin is just right for the needs of large investors. “This is a huge leap forward in legitimizing securities on the blockchain. Huge round of applause for the Arca team, great talent and domain expertise paired with great execution.” — TokenSoft CEO Mason Borda praised the Arca team. However, the Arca team understands that success is not guaranteed. Treasury digital assets are a new and untested market. In its filing with the SEC, Arca recognizes the potential risks for investors. For example, digital asset markets may not have the liquidity that US Treasury investors currently enjoy in traditional markets. “The use of blockchain is relatively new and untested. Therefore, investors should initially expect greater price volatility in the secondary market than would be the case if the shares had greater liquidity, ”the application says. Other risks include congestion on the Ethereum network and “the possibility of breakdowns and trading stops as a result of undiscovered technological deficiencies.”
To the conclusion
SEC-registered crypto investment products are nothing new. Cryptocurrency investment fund Grayscale Investments, for example, is one of the largest bitcoin funds that is regularly audited by the SEC. But the point is, Arca offers its own cryptocurrency, not Bitcoin. ArCoin is set to become just the first asset in the portfolio of SEC-approved financial products to be released by Arca. The increase in the number of such initiatives can convince the SEC that their launch does not carry enormous risks. For several years now, this regulator has refused to launch bitcoin ETFs, arguing this by the lack of a legal environment in the market, manipulation of asset prices, difficulties with liquidity, storage and arbitration, and non-compliance with the regulator’s rules. Now, amid the emergence of products such as ArCoin, the SEC may reconsider its opinion on Bitcoin ETFs. The SEC approval for Arca has potentially opened the door to new and innovative blockchain-based financial products. Regulatory registration can be a challenge for many companies, but Arca has shown how to achieve it. The project has taken a pioneering and revolutionary step towards combining traditional finance with digital investments. Subscribe to our Telegram channel
The world is changing right now: DeFi brings a new paradigm to finance
Cryptocurrencies have taken deep roots in our lives, pointing the way to blockchain technology. The next logical development step is the entire Decentralized Finance industry – DeFi. Smart contracts for ICOs made a real splash. For a good while, this method of collecting money remained the main advantage of the blockchain. The main, but not the only one. Now a new revolution called Decentralized Finance begins. Last spring, Forbes magazine called the DeFi sector "a new movement that is pumping oxygen into the cryptocurrency industry." Decentralized finance has indeed become the trend of 2019 and still, their popularity continues to gain momentum. Most of the existing DeFi was created on the Ethereum blockchain and the number of new applications in the field of decentralized finance is growing steadily. So, in mid-June 2020, the number of Ethereum locked on smart contracts of DeFi applications (the amount of money people sent to smart contracts) reached $1,18B, according to defipulse.com. Total Market Capitalization made: $3,919,732,830 (as of June 18, 2020). The maximum amount locked was stated on February 15,2020, and made an incredible $1,21B.
DeFi vs Banks
DeFi represents financial tools in the form of services and applications based on blockchain. The main task of decentralized finance is to become an alternative to the banking sector and replace the traditional technologies of the current financial system with open-source protocols. That is, to open access to decentralized lending and new investment platforms to a large number of people. And to allow them to receive passive income from cryptocurrency assets, as well as to save on commission fees for transfers, loans, and deposits. Decentralized finance is sure to beat the banks, and they already do this in terms of profitability and ease of use. Since users store their own funds that are protected by smart contracts, banks seem to be largely redundant compared to them. With the already well-established Ethereum as its main platform, there is a solid foundation for a future free of centralized banks, which again and again prove that they cannot be trusted. Recall the US mortgage crisis that began in mid-2007. Then the United States market was flooded with many mortgage-backed securities, bonds, and other financial instruments, which were, in fact, unsecured. The United States government has sought to make housing more affordable for the poor. In particular, the American authorities practiced the artificial limitation of the growth of mortgage rates. Historically, centralized authorities, such as governments, issued money that formed the base for the economy. It was assumed that central banks and institutions would carefully manage and regulate the supply of foreign currency in circulation. However, as soon as the size and complexity of our economies grew, these central authorities acquired more and more power, as more and more people trusted them. You trust your government that it will not print more money overnight. You trust your bank that it will keep your money safe. And when it comes to investments, you entrust your assets to a financial advisor. By transferring control of your money to others, you hope to make a profit. But the sad truth about our current financial system is that the power that comes with this trust does not always make a profit. Thus, a significant share of power and influence is concentrated in the hands of a few people. We talk very little about how corporations manage our investments and how our governments manage the economy. And in most cases, investors receive only part of the profit, which does not always correspond to the risks taken by these centralized authorities. DeFi applications do not need intermediaries. The code determines the resolution of each possible dispute, and users, in their turn, control all their assets. This reduces the cost of providing and using products and allows creating a more trouble-free financial system. Decentralized Finance works on smart contracts and:
does not depend on the corruption of individuals;
does not concentrate a lot of money and power in a single pair of hands.
With banking emulated programmatically through protocols and without need to trust anyone utopian libertarian anarchy becomes less utopian. From the point of view of Bitcoin Oracle and Civic CEO Vinny Lingha DeFi can turn inside down the way we understand financial services. “I think we have got to a point where financial services can’t scale,” says Vinny. “The existing banking paradigm has a bunch of risks, costs, and consequences, as well as censorship globally, which makes it really difficult to scale. For example, if we look at interest rates, look at the difference between what you are receiving and what you are paying, and the profits the banks make. If we think about the way we consider banking, it’s really centralized by nature. Financial services are broadly someone looking after your money, and they are taking a cut.”
Crypto-Powered: Understanding Bitcoin, Ethereum, and DeFi
Until one understands the basics of this tech, they won’t be able to grasp or appreciate the impact it has on our digital bank, Genesis Block. https://reddit.com/link/ho4bif/video/n0euarkifu951/player This is the second post ofCrypto-Powered— a new series that examines what it means forGenesis Blockto be a digital bank that’s powered by crypto, blockchain, and decentralized protocols. --- Our previous post set the stage for this series. We discussed the state of consumer finance and how the success of today’s high-flying fintech unicorns will be short-lived as long as they’re building on legacy finance — a weak foundation that is ripe for massive disruption. Instead, the future of consumer finance belongs to those who are deeply familiar with blockchain tech & decentralized protocols, build on it as the foundation, and know how to take it to the world. Like Genesis Block. Today we begin our journey down the crypto rabbit hole. This post will be an important introduction for those still learning about Bitcoin, Ethereum, or DeFi (Decentralized Finance). This post (and the next few) will go into greater detail about how this technology gives Genesis Block an edge, a superpower, and an unfair advantage. Let’s dive in… https://preview.redd.it/1ugdxoqjfu951.jpg?width=650&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=36edde1079c3cff5f6b15b8cd30e6c436626d5d8
Bitcoin: The First Cryptocurrency
There are plenty of online resources to learn about Bitcoin (Coinbase, Binance, Gemini, Naval, Alex Gladstein, Marc Andreessen, Chris Dixon). I don’t wanna spend a lot of time on that here, but let’s do a quick overview for those still getting ramped up. Cryptocurrency is the most popular use-case of blockchain technology today. And Bitcoin was the first cryptocurrency to be invented.
Bitcoin is the most decentralized of all crypto assets today — no government, company, or third party can control or censor it.
Bitcoin has two primary features (as do most other cryptocurrencies):
Send Value You can send value to anyone, anywhere in the world. Nobody can intercept, delay or stop it — not even governments or financial institutions. Unlike with traditional money transfers or bank wires, there are no layers of middlemen. This results in a process that is much more cost-efficient. Some popular use-cases include remittances and cross-border payments.
A few negative moments in Bitcoin’s history include the collapse of Mt. Gox — which resulted in hundreds of millions of customer funds being stolen — as well as Bitcoin’s role in dark markets like Silk Road — where Bitcoin arguably found its initial userbase. However, like most breakthrough technology, Bitcoin is neither good nor bad. It’s neutral. People can use it for good or they can use it for evil. Thankfully, it’s being used less and less for illicit activity. Criminals are starting to understand that transactions on a blockchain are public and traceable — it’s exactly the type of system they usually try to avoid. And it’s true, at this point “a lot more” crimes are actually committed with fiat than crypto. As a result, the perception of bitcoin and cryptocurrency has been changing over the years to a more positive light. Bitcoin has even started to enter the world of media & entertainment. It’s been mentioned in Hollywood films like Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse and in songs from major artists like Eminem. It’s been mentioned in countless TV shows like Billions, The Simpsons, Big Bang Theory, Gray’s Anatomy, Family Guy, and more. As covid19 has ravaged economies and central banks have been printing money, Bitcoin has caught the attention of many legendary Wall Street investors like Paul Tudor Jones, saying that Bitcoin is a great bet against inflation (reminding him of Gold in the 1970s). Cash App already lets their 25M users buy Bitcoin. It’s rumored that PayPal and Venmo will soon let their 325M users start buying Bitcoin. Bitcoin is by far the most dominant cryptocurrency and is showing no signs of slowing down. For more than a decade it has delivered on its core use-cases — being able to send or store value.
At this point, Bitcoin has very much entered the zeitgeist of modern pop culture — at least in the West.
When Ethereum launched in 2015, it opened up a world of new possibilities and use-cases for crypto. With Ethereum Smart Contracts (i.e. applications), this exciting new digital money (cryptocurrency) became a lot less dumb. Developers could now build applications that go beyond the simple use-cases of “send value” & “store value.” They could program cryptocurrency to have rules, behavior, and logic to respond to different inputs. And always enforced by code. Additional reading on Ethereum fromLinda XieorVitalik Buterin.
Because these applications are built on blockchain technology (Ethereum), they preserve many of the same characteristics as Bitcoin: no one can stop, censor or shut down these apps because they are decentralized.
Just as tokens grew in popularity in 2017–2018, so did online marketplaces where these tokens could be bought, sold, and traded. This was a fledgling asset class — the merchants selling picks, axes, and shovels were finally starting to emerge.
I had a front-row seat — both as an investor and token creator. This was the Wild West with all the frontier drama & scandal that you’d expect.
Binance — now the world’s largest crypto exchange —was launched during this time. They along with many others (especially from Asia) made it really easy for speculators, traders, and degenerate gamblers to participate in these markets. Similar to other financial markets, the goal was straightforward: buy low and sell high. https://preview.redd.it/tytsu5jnfu951.jpg?width=600&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=fe3425b7e4a71fa953b953f0c7f6eaff6504a0d1 That period left an embarrassing stain on our industry that we’ve still been trying to recover from. It was a period rampant with market manipulation, pump-and-dumps, and scams. To some extent, the crypto industry still suffers from that today, but it’s nothing compared to what it was then.
While the potential of getting filthy rich brought a lot of fly-by-nighters and charlatans into the industry, it also brought a lot of innovators, entrepreneurs, and builders.
The launch and growth of Ethereum has been an incredible technological breakthrough. As with past tech breakthroughs, it has led to a wave of innovation, experimentation, and development. The creativity around tokens, smart contracts, and decentralized applications has been fascinating to witness. Now a few years later, the fruits of those labors are starting to be realized.
I know that for the hardcore crypto people, what we covered today is nothing new. But for those who are still getting up to speed, welcome! I hope this was helpful and that it fuels your interest to learn more. Until you understand the basics of this technology, you won’t be able to fully appreciate the impact that it has on our new digital bank, Genesis Block. You won’t be able to understand the implications, how it relates, or how it helps. After today’s post, some of you probably have a lot more questions. What are specific examples or use-cases of DeFi? Why does it need to be on a blockchain? What benefits does it bring to Genesis Block and our users? In upcoming posts, we answer these questions. Today’s post was just Level 1. It set the foundation for where we’re headed next: even deeper down the crypto rabbit hole. --- Other Ways to Consume Today's Episode:
We have a lot more content coming. Be sure to follow our channels: https://genesisblock.com/follow/ Have you already downloaded the app? We're Genesis Block, a new digital bank that's powered by crypto & decentralized protocols. The app is live in the App Store (iOS & Android). Get the link to download at https://genesisblock.com/download
Tokenized staked ETH is going to replace ETH itself. Ethereum is finally set to shift from a proof-of-work infrastructure to proof-of-stake. The end result of this upgrade will effectively take ... In order for Bitcoin to continue with its upward trend in the short-term, traders state that Bitcoin’s price needs to trade above the $11,800 level. If this was to occur, traders forecast that Bitcoin is likely to trade above $12,500. Consequently, others believe that if Bitcoin trades between $10,900 and $11,500, then a bullish scenario is likely in the short-term. Institutional investors rely heavily on regulated products and processes, organizations rely on steady progress on the regulatory front as well as infrastructure improvements, which directly ... Fidelity Investments is targeting a March launch date for its Bitcoin custody service, according to three people with knowledge of the matter, as the mutual-fund giant moves forward with a plan ... I think bitcoin could go a lot higher since the supply is limited and as of yet there hasn't been an easy way for institutional investors to buy into it. But at the same time I don't think the comparison to Facebook or any other listed stock is apt - they trade at a multiple of earnings, you can base the valuation on some underlying fundamental.
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