Bitcoin as a Global Currency: Exploring the Wild West of ...
Bitcoin as a Global Currency: Exploring the Wild West of ...
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Lessons from Litecoin
Litecoin is a paradox: despite doing nil for advertising or development, LTC trading volumes and market cap demonstrate Litecoin is a relevant irrelevant coin. In this post, I'm going to draw the parallel between the early days of Litecoin — in which its community was in a frenzy over pumping Litecoin as the silver to Bitcoin's gold — and the present day state of Decred in which its community is in a frenzy over pumping Decred as an apparent "Chad Coin". Many years ago, back in the heyday of MtGox, the Bitcoin exchange space was in a wild west phase. By sheer historical accident, I received an LTC balance on one of the many now-defunct exchanges from those days. Having become an accidental LTC holder, I decdied to analyse its investment potential. At the time, the Litecoin community was in a frenzy about being the "silver to Bitcoin's gold", a dubious-at-best narrative that I never found personally convincing. I saw them frenzied up about the silver thing, and it just crushed me: "Aren't these people concerned about developing their technology? About contributing to the overall space?" As it turned out, they weren't. They were only concerned about positioning Litecoin as the silver to Bitcoin's gold using the Litecoin.org home page. Sound familiar? Rather than developing Litecoin's technology, and rather than making any semblance of a substantive contribution to the world, the Litecoin community was enthralled with marketing. "If only we could improve the website to make Litecoin seem more like The Silver To Bitcoin's Gold™", the community members cried. But LTC sees trading volume and is valued the way it is not because it is "the silver to Bitcoin's gold" — but because it is the only other coin besides Bitcoin with an immaculate conception. It is a carbon copy of Bitcoin without a premine and without an agenda. This means, in the absence of all marketing, investors know they can hold LTC to maintain a stake in a vehicle which is a clone of Bitcoin. Such a value proposition would never gain traction today, but because Litecoin was conceived at a time with little to no competition in the altcoin markets, exchanges listed LTC en masse, creating a sulf-fulfilling prophecy. And you hear not a peep from the Litecoin community about its "silver" angle these days, because positioning Litecoin in that way never mattered. Sprucing up Litecoin.org to capture that positioning was always a waste of time. It was always just a distraction. Just like positioning Decred as chad coin is a waste of time and doesn't and will never matter. LTC is perhaps the paragon of irrelevant, relevant coins. Litecoin's seemingly undeserved relevancy demonstrates better than anything else the fate of the coin is determined at its conception: cryptocurrency success is in large part hereditary. "Why was this coin built, and how did they go about it?" — that is what people care about. Concentrated pump efforts are still possible, of course — I exited my LTC position at the same time a literal Chinese ponzi schemer was pumping it — but over time the coin's relevancy merges with its genetics. You can't put lipstick on a pig and expect the public to be duped by it for a long period of time. Decred has the genetics to succeed: a phreaking censorship resistant treasury built by mad scientists. "Chad Coin" is a long term non-viable pump tactic akin to "silver to Bitcoin's gold". Gets community members worked up into a frenzy but several years later it counts for nothing. I wish we could learn from history.
Meet Brock Pierce, the Presidential Candidate With Ties to Pedophiles Who Wants to End Human Trafficking
thedailybeast.com | Sep. 20, 2020. The “Mighty Ducks” actor is running for president. He clears the air (sort of) to Tarpley Hitt about his ties to Jeffrey Epstein and more. In the trailer for First Kid, the forgettable 1996 comedy about a Secret Service agent assigned to protect the president’s son, the title character, played by a teenage Brock Pierce, describes himself as “definitely the most powerful kid in the universe.” Now, the former child star is running to be the most powerful man in the world, as an Independent candidate for President of the United States. Before First Kid, the Minnesota-born actor secured roles in a series of PG-rated comedies, playing a young Emilio Estevez in The Mighty Ducks, before graduating to smaller parts in movies like Problem Child 3: Junior in Love. When his screen time shrunk, Pierce retired from acting for a real executive role: co-founding the video production start-up Digital Entertainment Network (DEN) alongside businessman Marc Collins-Rector. At age 17, Pierce served as its vice president, taking in a base salary of $250,000. DEN became “the poster child for dot-com excesses,” raising more than $60 million in seed investments and plotting a $75 million IPO. But it turned into a shorthand for something else when, in October of 1999, the three co-founders suddenly resigned. That month, a New Jersey man filed a lawsuit alleging Collins-Rector had molested him for three years beginning when he was 13 years old. The following summer, three teens filed a sexual-abuse lawsuit against Pierce, Collins-Rector, and their third co-founder, Chad Shackley. The plaintiffs later dropped their case against Pierce (he made a payment of $21,600 to one of their lawyers) and Shackley. But after a federal grand jury indicted Collins-Rector on criminal charges in 2000, the DEN founders left the country. When Interpol arrested them in 2002, they said they had confiscated “guns, machetes, and child pornography” from the trio’s beach villa in Spain. While abroad, Pierce had pivoted to a new venture: Internet Gaming Entertainment, which sold virtual accessories in multiplayer online role-playing games to those desperate to pay, as one Wired reporter put it, “as much as $1,800 for an eight-piece suit of Skyshatter chain mail” rather than earn it in the games themselves. In 2005, a 25-year-old Pierce hired then-Goldman Sachs banker Steve Bannon—just before he would co-found Breitbart News. Two years later, after a World of Warcraft player sued the company for “diminishing” the fun of the game, Steve Bannon replaced Pierce as CEO. Collins-Rector eventually pleaded guilty to eight charges of child enticement and registered as a sex offender. In the years that followed, Pierce waded into the gonzo economy of cryptocurrencies, where he overlapped more than once with Jeffrey Epstein, and counseled him on crypto. In that world, he founded Tether, a cryptocurrency that bills itself as a “stablecoin,” because its value is allegedly tied to the U.S. dollar, and the blockchain software company Block.one. Like his earlier businesses, Pierce’s crypto projects see-sawed between massive investments and curious deals. When Block.one announced a smart contract software called EOS.IO, the company raised $4 billion almost overnight, setting an all-time record before the product even launched. The Securities and Exchange Commission later fined the company $24 million for violating federal securities law. After John Oliver mocked the ordeal, calling Pierce a “sleepy, creepy cowboy,” Block.one fired him. Tether, meanwhile, is currently under investigation by the New York Attorney General for possible fraud. On July 4, Pierce announced his candidacy for president. His campaign surrogates include a former Cambridge Analytica director and the singer Akon, who recently doubled down on developing an anonymously funded, $6 billion “Wakanda-like” metropolis in Senegal called Akon City. Pierce claims to be bipartisan, and from the 11 paragraphs on the “Policy” section of his website it can be hard to determine where he falls on the political spectrum. He supports legalizing marijuana and abolishing private prisons, but avoids the phrase “climate change.” He wants to end “human trafficking.” His proposal to end police brutality: body cams. His political contributions tell a more one-sided story. Pierce’s sole Democratic contribution went to the short-lived congressional run of crypto candidate Brian Forde. The rest went to Republican campaigns like Marco Rubio, Rick Perry, John McCain, and the National Right to Life Political Action Committee. Last year alone, Pierce gave over $44,000 to the Republican National Committee and more than $55,000 to Trump’s re-election fund. Pierce spoke to The Daily Beast from his tour bus and again over email. Those conversations have been combined and edited for clarity. You’re announcing your presidential candidacy somewhat late, and historically, third-party candidates haven’t had the best luck with the executive office. If you don’t have a strong path to the White House, what do you want out of the race? I announced on July 4, which I think is quite an auspicious date for an Independent candidate, hoping to bring independence to this country. There’s a lot of things that I can do. One is: I’m 39 years old. I turn 40 in November. So I’ve got time on my side. Whatever happens in this election cycle, I’m laying the groundwork for the future. The overall mission is to create a third major party—not another third party—a third major party in this country. I think that is what America needs most. George Washington in his closing address warned us about the threat of political parties. John Adams and the other founding fathers—their fear for our future was two political parties becoming dominant. And look at where we are. We were warned. I believe, having studied systems, any time you have a system of two, what happens is those two things come together, like magnets. They come into collision, or they become polarized and become completely divided. I think we need to rise above partisan politics and find a path forward together. As Albert Einstein is quoted—I’m not sure the line came from him, but he’s quoted in many places—he said that the definition of insanity is making the same mistake or doing the same thing over and over and over again, expecting a different result. [Ed. note: Einstein never said this.] It feels like that’s what our election cycle is like. Half the country feels like they won, half the country feels like they lost, at least if they voted or participated. Obviously, there’s another late-comer to the presidential race, and that’s Kanye West. He’s received a lot of flak for his candidacy, as he’s openly admitted to trying to siphon votes away from Joe Biden to ensure a Trump victory. Is that something you’re hoping to avoid or is that what you’re going for as well? Oh no. This is a very serious campaign. Our campaign is very serious. You’ll notice I don’t say anything negative about either of the two major political candidates, because I think that’s one of the problems with our political system, instead of people getting on stage, talking about their visionary ideas, inspiring people, informing and educating, talking about problems, mentioning problems, talking about solutions, constructive criticism. That’s why I refuse to run a negative campaign. I am definitely not a spoiler. I’m into data, right? I’m a technologist. I’ve got digital DNA. So does most of our campaign team. We’ve got our finger on the pulse. Most of my major Democratic contacts are really happy to see that we’re running in a red state like Wyoming. Kanye West’s home state is Wyoming. He’s not on the ballot in Wyoming I could say, in part, because he didn’t have Akon on his team. But I could also say that he probably didn’t want to be on the ballot in Wyoming because it’s a red state. He doesn’t want to take additional points in a state where he’s only running against Trump. But we’re on the ballot in Wyoming, and since we’re on the ballot in Wyoming I think it’s safe—more than safe, I think it’s evident—that we are not here to run as a spoiler for the benefit of Donald Trump. In running for president, you’ve opened yourself up to be scrutinized from every angle going back to the beginning of your career. I wanted to ask you about your time at the Digital Entertainment Network. Can you tell me a little bit about how you started there? You became a vice president as a teenager. What were your qualifications and what was your job exactly? Well, I was the co-founder. A lot of it was my idea. I had an idea that people would use the internet to watch videos, and we create content for the internet. The idea was basically YouTube and Hulu and Netflix. Anyone that was around in the ‘90s and has been around digital media since then, they all credit us as the creators of basically those ideas. I was just getting a message from the creator of The Vandals, the punk rock band, right before you called. He’s like, “Brock, looks like we’re going to get the Guinness Book of World Records for having created the first streaming television show.” We did a lot of that stuff. We had 30 television shows. We had the top most prestigious institutions in the world as investors. The biggest names. High-net-worth investors like Terry Semel, who’s chairman and CEO of Warner Brothers, and became the CEO of Yahoo. I did all sorts of things. I helped sell $150,000 worth of advertising contracts to the CEOs of Pepsi and everything else. I was the face of the company, meeting all the major banks and everything else, selling the vision of what the future was. You moved in with Marc Collins-Rector and Chad Shackley at a mansion in Encino. Was that the headquarters of the business? All start-ups, they normally start out in your home. Because it’s just you. The company was first started out of Marc’s house, and it was probably there for the first two or three months, before the company got an office. That’s, like, how it is for all start-ups. were later a co-defendant in the L.A. County case filed against Marc Collins-Rector for plying minors with alcohol and drugs, in order to facilitate sexual abuse. You were dropped from the case, but you settled with one of the men for $21,600. Can you explain that? Okay, well, first of all, that’s not accurate. Two of the plaintiffs in that case asked me if I would be a plaintiff. Because I refused to be a part of the lawsuit, they chose to include me to discredit me, to make their case stronger. They also went and offered 50 percent of what they got to the house management—they went around and offered money to anyone to participate in this. They needed people to corroborate their story. Eventually, because I refused to participate in the lawsuit, they named me. Subsequently, all three of the plaintiffs apologized to me, in front of audiences, in front of many people, saying Brock never did anything. They dismissed their cases. Remember, this is a civil thing. I’ve never been charged with a crime in my life. And the last plaintiff to have his case dismissed, he contacted his lawyer and said, “Dismiss this case against Brock. Brock never did anything. I just apologized. Dismiss his case.” And the lawyer said, “No. I won’t dismiss this case, I have all these out-of-pocket expenses, I refuse to file the paperwork unless you give me my out-of-pocket expenses.” And so the lawyer, I guess, had $21,000 in bills. So I paid his lawyer $21,000—not him, it was not a settlement. That was a payment to his lawyer for his out-of-pocket expenses. Out-of-pocket expenses so that he would file the paperwork to dismiss the case. You’ve said the cases were unfounded, and the plaintiffs eventually apologized. But your boss, Marc Collins-Rector later pleaded guilty to eight charges of child enticement and registered as a sex offender. Were you aware of his behavior? How do you square the fact that later allegations proved to be true, but these ones were not? Well, remember: I was 16 and 17 years old at the time? So, no. I don’t think Marc is the man they made him out to be. But Marc is not a person I would associate with today, and someone I haven’t associated with in a very long time. I was 16 and 17. I chose the wrong business partner. You live and you learn. You’ve pointed out that you were underage when most of these allegations were said to take place. Did you ever feel like you were coerced or in over your head while working at DEN? I mean, I was working 18 hours a day, doing things I’d never done before. It was business school. But I definitely learned a lot in building that company. We raised $88 million. We filed our [form] S-1 to go public. We were the hottest start-up in Los Angeles. In 2000, you left the country with Marc Collins-Rector. Why did you leave? How did you spend those two years abroad? I moved to Spain in 1999 for personal reasons. I spent those two years in Europe working on developing my businesses. Interpol found you in 2002. The house where you were staying reportedly contained guns, machetes, and child pornography. Whose guns and child porn were those? Were you aware they were in the house, and how did those get there? My lawyers have addressed this in 32 pages of documentation showing a complete absence of wrongdoing. Please refer to my webpage for more information. [Ed. Note: The webpage does not mention guns, machetes, or child pornography. It does state:“It is true that when the local police arrested Collins-Rector in Spain in 2002 on an international warrant, Mr. Pierce was also taken into custody, but so was everyone at Collins-Rector’s house in Spain; and it is equally clear that Brock was promptly released, and no charges of any kind were ever filed against Brock concerning this matter.”] What do you make of the allegations against Bryan Singer?[Ed. Note: Bryan Singer, a close friend of Collins-Rector, invested at least $50,000 in DEN. In an Atlantic article outlining Singer’s history of alleged sexual assault and statutory rape, one source claimed that at age 15, Collins-Rector abused him and introduced him to Singer, who then assaulted him in the DEN headquarters.] I am aware of them and I support of all victims of sexual assault. I will let America’s justice system decide on Singer’s outcome.
In 2011, you spoke at the Mindshift conference supported by Jeffrey Epstein. At that point, he had already been convicted of soliciting prostitution from a minor. Why did you agree to speak? I had never heard of Jeffrey Epstein. His name was not on the website. I was asked to speak at a conference alongside Nobel Prize winners. It was not a cryptocurrency conference, it was filled with Nobel Prize winners. I was asked to speak alongside Nobel Prize winners on the future of money. I speak at conferences historically, two to three times a week. I was like, “Nobel Prize winners? Sounds great. I’ll happily talk about the future of money with them.” I had no idea who Jeffrey Epstein was. His name was not listed anywhere on the website. Had I known what I know now? I clearly would have never spoken there. But I spoke at a conference that he cosponsored. What’s your connection to the Clinton Global Initiative? Did you hear about it through Jeffrey Epstein? I joined the Clinton Global Initiative as a philanthropist in 2006 and was a member for one year. My involvement with the Initiative had no connection to Jeffrey Epstein whatsoever.
You’ve launched your campaign in Minnesota, where George Floyd was killed by a police officer. How do you feel about the civil uprising against police brutality? I’m from Minnesota. Born and raised. We just had a press conference there, announcing that we’re on the ballot. Former U.S. Senator Dean Barkley was there. So that tells you, when former U.S. Senators are endorsing the candidate, right? [Ed. note: Barkley was never elected to the United States Senate. In November of 2002, he was appointed by then Minnesota Governor Jesse Venture to fill the seat after Sen. Paul Wellstone died in a plane crash. Barkley’s term ended on Jan. 3, 2003—two months later.] Yes, George Floyd was murdered in Minneapolis. My vice-presidential running mate Karla Ballard and I, on our last trip to Minnesota together, went to visit the George Floyd Memorial. I believe in law and order. I believe that law and order is foundational to any functioning society. But there is no doubt in my mind that we need reform. These types of events—this is not an isolated incident. This has happened many times before. It’s time for change. We have a lot of detail around policy on this issue that we will be publishing next week. Not just high-level what we think, not just a summary, but detailed policy. You said that you support “law and order.” What does that mean? “Law and order” means creating a fair and just legal system where our number one priority is protecting the inalienable rights of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” for all people. This means reforming how our police intervene in emergency situations, abolishing private prisons that incentivize mass incarceration, and creating new educational and economic opportunities for our most vulnerable communities. I am dedicated to preventing crime by eliminating the socioeconomic conditions that encourage it. I support accountability and transparency in government and law enforcement. Some of the key policies I support are requiring body-cams on all law enforcement officers who engage with the public, curtailing the 1033 program that provides local law enforcement agencies with access to military equipment, and abolishing private prisons. Rather than simply defund the police, my administration will take a holistic approach to heal and unite America by ending mass incarceration, police brutality, and racial injustice. Did you attend any Black Lives Matter protests? I support all movements aimed at ending racial injustice and inequality. I have not attended any Black Lives Matter protests. My running-mate, Karla Ballard, attended the March on Washington in support of racial justice and equality. Your platform doesn’t mention the words “climate change.” Is there a reason for that? I’m not sure what you mean. Our policy platform specifically references human-caused climate change and we have a plan to restabilize the climate, address environmental degradation, and ensure environmental sustainability. [Ed. Note: As of writing the Pierce campaign’s policy platform does not specifically reference human-caused climate change.] You’ve recently brought on Akon as a campaign surrogate. How did that happen? Tell me about that. Akon and I have been friends for quite some time. I was one of the guys that taught him about Bitcoin. I helped make some videogames for him, I think in 2012. We were talking about Bitcoin, teaching him the ropes, back in 2013. And in 2014, we were both speaking at the Milken Global Conference, and I encouraged him to talk about how Bitcoin, Africa, changed the world. He became the biggest celebrity in the world, talking about Bitcoin at the time. I’m an adviser to his Akoin project, very interested in the work that he’s doing to build a city in Africa. I think we need a government that’s of, for, and by the people. Akon has huge political aspirations. He obviously was a hugely successful artist. But he also discovered artists like Lady Gaga. So not only is he, himself, a great artist, but he’s also a great identifier and builder of other artists. And he’s been a great businessman, philanthropist. He’s pushing the limits of what can be done. We’re like-minded individuals in that regard. I think he’ll be running for political office one day, because he sees what I see: that we need real change, and we need a government that is of, for, and by the people. You mentioned that you’re an adviser on Akoin. Do you have any financial investments in Akoin or Akon City? I don’t believe so. I’d have to check. I have so much stuff. But I don’t believe that I have any economic interests in his stuff. I’d have to verify that. We’ll get back to you. I don’t believe that I have any economic interests. My interest is in helping him. He’s a visionary with big ideas that wants to help things in the world. If I can be of assistance in helping him make the world a better place, I’m all for it. I’m not motivated by money. I’m not running for office because I’m motivated by power. I’m running for office because I’m deeply, deeply concerned about our collective future. You’ve said you’re running on a pro-technology platform. One week into your campaign last month, a New York appeals court approved the state Attorney General’s attempt to investigate the stablecoin Tether for potentially fraudulent activity. Do you think this will impact your ability to sell people on your tech entrepreneurship? No, I think my role in Tether is as awesome as it gets. It was my idea. I put it together. But I’ve had no involvement in the company since 2015. I gave all of my equity to the other shareholders. I’ve had zero involvement in the company for almost six years. It was just my idea. I put the initial team together. But I think Tether is one of the most important innovations in the world, certainly. The idea is, I digitized the U.S. dollar. I used technology to digitize currency—existing currency. The U.S. dollar in particular. It’s doing $10 trillion a year. Ten trillion dollars a year of transactional volume. It’s probably the most important innovation in currency since the advent of fiat money. The people that took on the business and ran the business in years to come, they’ve done things I’m not proud of. I’m not sure they’ve done anything criminal. But they certainly did things differently than I would do. But it’s like, you have kids, they turn 18, they go out into the world, and sometimes you’re proud of the things they do, and sometimes you shake your head and go, “Ugh, why did you do that?” I have zero concerns as it relates to me personally. I wish they made better decisions. What do you think the investigation will find? I have no idea. The problem that was raised is that there was a $5 million loan between two entities and whether or not they had the right to do that, did they disclose it correctly. There’s been no accusations of, like, embezzlement or anything that bad. [Ed. Note: The Attorney General’s press release on the investigation reads: “Our investigation has determined that the operators of the ‘Bitfinex’ trading platform, who also control the ‘tether’ virtual currency, have engaged in a cover-up to hide the apparent loss of $850 million dollars of co-mingled client and corporate funds.”] But there’s been some disclosure things, that is the issue. No one is making any outrageous claims that these are people that have done a bunch of bad—well, on the internet, the media has said that the people behind the business may have been manipulating the price of Bitcoin, but I don’t think that has anything to do with the New York investigation. Again, I’m so not involved, and so not at risk, that I’m not even up to speed on the details. [Ed note: A representative of the New York State Attorney General told Forbes that he “cannot confirm or deny that the investigation” includes Pierce.] We’ve recently witnessed the rise of QAnon, the conspiracy theory that Hollywood is an evil cabal of Satanic pedophiles and Trump is the person waging war on them. You mentioned human trafficking, which has become a cause for them. What are your thoughts on that? I’ve watched some of the content. I think it’s an interesting phenomenon. I’m an internet person, so Anonymous is obviously an organization that has been doing interesting stuff. It’s interesting. I don’t have a big—conspiracy theory stuff is—I guess I have a question for you: What do you think of all of it, since you’re the expert? You know, I think it’s not true, but I’m not running for president. I do wonder what this politician [Georgia congressional candidate Marjorie Taylor Greene], who’s just won her primary, is going to do on day one, once she finds out there’s no satanic cabal room. Wait, someone was running for office and won on a QAnon platform, saying that Hollywood did—say what? You’re the expert here. She won a primary. But I want to push on if we only have a few minutes. In 2006, your gaming company IGE brought on Steve Bannon as an investor. Goldman later bought out most of your stock. Bannon eventually replaced you as CEO of Affinity. You’ve described him as your “right-hand man for, like, seven years.” How well did you know Bannon during that time? Yes, so this is in my mid-twenties. He wasn’t an investor. He worked for me. He was my banker. He worked for me for three years as my yield guide. And then he was my CEO running the company for another four years. So I haven’t worked with Steve for a decade or so. We worked in videogame stuff and banking. He was at Goldman Sachs. He was not in the political area at the time. But he was a pretty successful banker. He set up Goldman Sachs Los Angeles. So for me, I’d say he did a pretty good job. During your business relationship, Steve Bannon founded Breitbart News, which has pretty consistently published racist material. How do you feel about Breitbart? I had no involvement with Breitbart News. As for how I feel about such material, I’m not pleased by any form of hate-mongering. I strongly support the equality of all Americans. Did you have qualms about Bannon’s role in the 2016 election? Bannon’s role in the Trump campaign got me to pay closer attention to what he was doing but that’s about it. Whenever you find out that one of your former employees has taken on a role like that, you pay attention. Bannon served on the board of Cambridge Analytica. A staffer on your campaign, Brittany Kaiser, also served as a business director for them. What are your thoughts on their use of illicitly-obtained Facebook data for campaign promotional material? Yes, so this will be the last question I can answer because I’ve got to be off for this 5:00 pm. But Brittany Kaiser is a friend of mine. She was the whistleblower of Cambridge Analytica. She came to me and said, “What do I do?” And I said, “Tell the truth. The truth will set you free.” [Ed. Note: Investigations in Cambridge Analytica took place as early as Nov. 2017, when a U.K. reporter at Channel 4 News recorded their CEO boasting about using “beautiful Ukranian girls” and offers of bribes to discredit political officials. The first whistleblower was Christopher Wylie, who disclosed a cache of documents to The Guardian, published on Mar. 17, 2018. Kaiser’s confession ran five days later, after the scandal made national news. Her association with Cambridge Analytica is not mentioned anywhere on Pierce’s campaign website.] So I’m glad that people—I’m a supporter of whistleblowers, people that see injustice in the world and something not right happening, and who put themselves in harm’s way to stand up for what they believe in. So I stand up for Brittany Kaiser. Who do you think [anonymous inventor of Bitcoin] Satoshi Nakamoto is? We all are Satoshi Nakamoto. You got married at Burning Man. Have you been attending virtual Burning Man? I’m running a presidential campaign. So, while I was there in spirit, unfortunately my schedule did not permit me to attend. OP note: please refer to the original article for reference links within text (as I've not added them here!)
I know it's on Sundays when we can present our skeptical arguments about the project, but in the recent months I've been consumed by "negative" thoughts about the cryptocurrency scene and I wanted to try to start a discussion about the real usefulness, in scale, of cryptocurrencies like Monero (or even Bitcoin). This thread is not intrinsically about the Monero protocol, but about the objective of the project which in the end is also the objective of other projects on the scene. The scene sells the idea that with cryptocurrencies, you can be your own bank. The question is
Who really wants to be their own bank?
Look around you. Do you believe that people today, compared to one or two previous generations, have more or less financial responsibility? Do you believe that people save more or less money? I have the impression that fewer and fewer people are looking for responsibility, both personally and financially. Most people in the West acclaim larger governments, with more tentacles, regardless of the ideological inclination of left or right. Generations of young adults and teenagers are growing up with the idea that their money in the bank is "guaranteed" by the government. There is no notion of risk. Socially, current adults are like big children, crying fault at every opportunity, requiring big entities both private and public to take action for them or protect them from literally anything, including protection from "bad feelings" and other ridiculous things. With that in mind, how can the scene sell the idea of being your own bank? How can we convince ordinary citizens, who are often irresponsible with their finances, with basically no technological knowledge other than accessing Instagram and Facebook, to use cryptocurrencies? What's even the use case for them? The moment someone mismanages their keys and lose their money, the person will hate cryptocurrencies and won't look back. And this is no fault of any project, because as Uncle Ben told us before, with great power [to control your finances] comes great responsibility [to keep it safe], but in the mind of the average user, we're comparing a system where money is "protected" from malicious people (and from the user himself), against a system that doesn't hold the user's hands when something goes wrong. What system do you reasonably think the average user will choose?
The use case
I have great difficulty in seeing a version of the near future (~5-10 years) where cryptocurrencies have any kind of relevant use. The only real case where this new money is really useful is in international peer-to-peer transfers. I, who am an immigrant and have above-average technological knowledge, enjoy the potential that cryptocurrencies offer to transfer money to my family in my home country without having to pay the horrible fees that other traditional financial services offer. Of course, this is only possible because I have been able to structure a process and a plan for these transfers to take place successfully, because at the end of the day my family is not technologically literate and they can't buy virtually anything with cryptocurrencies (which in this case is converted immediately to fiat), and fiat money is still and will remain king for a long time to come.
What the future holds?
My fear is that projects like Monero will never cease to be a small niche project, where a few thousand people use it to protect their financial privacy, increase their freedom, and maybe even buy some drugs. And all right, this is not necessarily the end of the world, but it is an unfortunate attestation of how contemporary society assigns value and importance to superficial things, it is a testament to how contemporary society is more than willing to abandon most of its freedoms (and therefore responsibilities) in exchange for stupid convenience, which preys in the innocence of citizens who in turn live with an abundance of narcotics and endless entertainment. That's it. I know my ideas about the project and the scene may be clouded by negative thoughts. I also know that no one is able to predict the future, but having access to the information I currently have, that is the best prediction I can make, and it doesn't look very good.
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.
Two Prime, under the radar coin worth looking into.
Two Prime has released their FF1 MacroToken. "We show how this methodology can be applied as an Open Source application, in the vein of BTC and ETH, with all the creative and value generative potential that comes along with it. We leverage store of value functions of cryptocurrencies to arrive at value creation and accretion in the real economy by the intermediary of crypto exchanges on which we propose to provide protective measures. We detail treasury and reserve formation for the Open Source Finance Foundation, describe its relation to Two Prime and detail the emission of a new crypto-asset called the FF1 Token. We seek liquidity for the FF1 treasury within the secondary exchanges for the purpose of applying M4 in the real world, both in the private and public sector. We first apply this to the vertical of cryptocurrencies while outlining the genericity and stability of the model which we indeed to apply to esoteric financial needs (e.g. Smart City financing). In so doing, we extend the scope and control of applications that a system of digital units of value stored on decentralized, public ledgers can aim to advance. We call this approach Open Source Finance and the resulting coin class a MacroToken. MODERN MONETARY THEORY FRAMEWORKModern Monetary Theory states two interdependent phenomenological axioms and the banking system operates on a resulting syllogism:
Axiom 1: in discounted cash flow analysis (axiom 1a), 0 = 1 and (axiom 1b) 1 = 1..N.
Axiom 2: Government possesses, de facto, exclusive, and perpetual right of use of Axiom 1a for Ab-Initio Money(M0) monetary creation (FIAT M0).
Syllogism 3: The creation of AssetBackedM oney(M4) is a consequence of these two axioms. The banking system creates BACKED M4 with debt-backed cash flows of type 1b: 1 = N with N ⇡ 1. Add equity to these cash flows (e.g. project finance) and you create a return of type 1 = N with N 1 or axiom1b. FIAT currencies are therefore designed to be accretive with possibility of fluctuation.
In the past 10 years, the formation and emergence of BTC and ETH has verifiably falsified Axiom 2 . The phenomenon of crypto-currencies has created ab-initio global stores of value of type 1a. Cryptoc Currencies have displaced trust by means of government violence and associated, implied violence, with instead, open source distribution, cloud computing, objective mathematics, and the algorithmic integrity of blockchain ledgers. The first “killer app” of these open source ledgers areis stores of value, e.g. Bitcoin, or “open source money” as it was first characterized by its semi-anonymous creators. Leading crypto-currencies have proven themselves as viable global stores of value. They are regulated as Gold is in the United States. However, as type 1a units of value, they have tended towards high volatility inevitably leading to speculative market behavior and near 0 “real” asset-” backing or floor price , albeit with an aggregate value of $350bn ab-initio creation. We therefore advance Axiom 2 to Axiom 2’
Axiom 2’: (spoken “Two Prime” and the reason for the company name): ab-initio value creation (type 1a) and Macro Token (type 1b) can reside outside of national powers and central banking, e.g. in Open Source Finance.
At N < 1 we have dilutive debasement of fungible units of value, aka inflation. At 1, the new monies are therefore stable coins. At N > 1, these tokens are designed to grow with demand. Axiom Two Prime (or 2’) displaces government endorsed violence as our macro-socio organizing principle, with algorithmic objectivity and verifiable transparency. This occurs within the landscape we call Open Source Finance. THE TWO PRIME MODEL Two Prime refers to the financial management company managing the OSFF. FF1 refers to the Macro Token of the OSFF. The first stage is reserve and treasury formation, the second stage describes the mechanics of the public markets and the protective measures of the reserves and third stage is treasury liquidity via the Continuous Token Offering both in public and private markets. We will now describe these in more detail. MACRO INVESTMENT THESIS AND RATIONALE FOR FF1The FF1 MacroToken is a synthetic token based on the proven killer applications of Cryptoc-Currencies. After 110 years since the inception of the blockchain technology, the killer apps of crypto are already here and they are primarily all financial, not technical. The historical killers apps are:
Transnational Store of Value: Crypto-Currencies display a robust and transnational store-of-value function. Many crypto professionals today use the blockchain as their international bank. They maintain balances and pay with internet-based open source ledgers (a.k.a crypto). They find local FIAT liquidity on local exchanges. They speculate in crypto on global exchanges. The paradox of Axiom 1a is that in the absence of any backing the value of these stores of value is determined solely via exchanges, pure supply and demand mixed with sentiment. Their volatility is a side-effect of their lack of anchoring.
Capital Formation: Crypto-Currencies have proved very adept at capital formation both on flow and stock. The days of the ICO, where hundreds of millions of (crypto) dollars were raised seemingly overnight, need to be reborn as the Phænix from its ashes. However, the ICO faltered at capital allocation, wasting proceeds on tech no one needed and lavish parties, resulting in non accretion (N = 0.07)
Fractional Asset- Backing and Stablec Coins: Stable coins are tokens that are backed by existing assets. The first and best known example of a stable coins is Tether, which has a 60% backing ratio. We credit the crypto rally of 2017 to the conjunction of ICOs and stable coins. These instruments also have something to say to banking infrastructure. Witness the political backlash to Facebook’s Libra or the efforts of the Bank of China launching it’s own Central Bank Digital Currency. It should be noted that FIAT in the west is born as a fractionally asset- backed instrument (N = 0.07 or Basel III ratios) and matures, over time to (N > 1), as a super-backed instrument.
The FF1 MacroToken is a pot-pourri of these features, a synthetic token that mixes the best of breed practices of crypto mixing Store-of-Value, Capital Formation and Fractional Asset-Backing. MACRO INVESTMENT THESIS AND RATIONALE FOR FF1Treasury Generation: Ab-Initio Store of Value On the supply side, The OSFFTwo Prime has created is creating 100, 000, 000 FF1 Macro Tokens, which it keeps in treasury. They are pure stores of value for they have no assets backing them at birth. They are ab-initio instruments. The FF1 Macro Tokens are listed on public crypto exchanges. Two Prime manages operates market- making for these stores of value. Treasury Management: Supply- Side Tokenomics All FF1 are held in the Open Source Finance Foundation treasury. Crypto aAssets that enter into treasury are, at first, not traded. The FF1 supply will be offered upon sufficient demand. which Two Prime generates publicly and privately. The total supply will be finite in total units (100, 000, 000), but variable in its aggregate value for supply and demand will make the price move. The proceeds are the property of the OSFF (not Two Prime) and Two Prime places invests the liquid treasury (post FF1 liquidation) in crypto assets to protect against depreciation and create a macro-hedge reserve andor floor for the price. It should be noted that the price and the NAV of assets are, by design, not equal. In other words, the additional OSFF treasury is locked and can enter circulation if, and only if, there is a corresponding demand which is then placed invested in crypto assets with a target value N 1. This results in fractional asset- backing at first. EXCHANGES, CONTINUOUS TOKEN OFFERING, AND DEMAND- SIDE TOKENOMICSPublic Exchanges Two Prime will maintain listings for the FF1 Tokens on behalf of the OSFF. Two Prime maintains market- making operations in public crypto exchanges on behalf of the OSFF. Continuous Token Offering Two Prime works on creating new liquidity for the FF1 Macro Tokens to comply with the supply side constraints detailed above, namely that a token enters circulation when matched by demand. Two Prime does demand generation in public as above as well as private. This CTO results in something akin to a reverse-ICO, letting the reserves be set by public trading and then marketing to private purchasers investors (accredited US for example) after the public liquidity event. Demand generation is done via marketing to relevant audiences, e.g. as a macro way to HODL with exclusive private equity investments for crypto holders, and as a diversified and de-risked way to gain crypto exposure for FIAT holders (Sharpe ratio: 1.55, Beta to BTC: 0.75). PARTNER NETWORK, USE OF PROCEEDS, ACCRETION AND FLOOR PROTECTIONThough this mathematical approach allows for a broad and differentiated set of financial applications and outcomes, Two Prime founding Members will first apply this work to the realm of project finance within the Blockchain space via algorithmic balancing of an equity and debt based treasury consisting of real crypto assets and future cash flows. Proof of Value Mining in Partner Network Funds and projects can apply to the foundation for financing. This is the partner network and is akin to the way a network of miners secure the chain. Here a network of partners protects the value. The Foundation invests the proceeds in liquid crypto assets, interest bearing crypto assets and equity crypto assets via partner funds, creating a bridge to the real economy (crypto companies) in the last step. The foundation holds these (real economic) assets. M4 Asset Mix The funds raised are invested in public and private sector projects. We consider the following mix
Up To 30% cash and cash equivalents including crypto products (HODL)
Up To 30% debt and bonds. Including crypto products (Staking HODL)
Up To 30% deep tech including Fund of Funds
Up To 30% discretionary allocation including back to reserves.
This completes the M4 step and the flow of funds for the FF1 Token. It shows a feedback loop, for the Foundation can buy back it’s token, leading to an idiosyncratic tokenomics: the FF1 Token has a fixed (and potentially diminishing) SUPPLY alongside (potentially increasing) endogenous and exogenous DEMAND." This seems pretty interesting imo, thoughts?
The fee schedule below provides the applicable rate based on the account's 30-Day Volume and if the order is a maker or taker. Bittrex Global Fee30 Day Volume (USD)MakerTaker$0k - $50k0.2%0.2%$50k - $1M0.12%0.18%$1M - $10M0.05%0.15%$10M - $60M0.02%0.1%$60M+0%0.08%>$100MContact TAM representative Trading expenses are incurred when an order is prepared by means of the Bittrex worldwide matching engine. While an order is being executed, the purchaser and the vendor are charged a rate primarily based on the order’s amount. The fee charged by Bittrex exchange is calculated by the formula amount * buy rate * fee. There aren't any charges for placing an order which is not being executed so far. Any portion of an unfinished order will be refunded completely upon order cancelation. Prices vary depending on the currency pair, monthly trade volume, and whether the order is a maker or taker. Bittrex reserves the right to alternate fee quotes at any time, including offering various discounts and incentive packages.
Your buying and selling volume affects the fee you pay for every order. Our expenses are built to encourage customers who ensure liquidity in the Bittrex crypto exchange markets. Your buying and selling charges are reduced according to your trade volume for the last 30 years in dollars. Bittrex calculates the 30-day value every day, updating every account's volume calculation and buying and selling charge between of 12:30 AM UTC and 01:30 AM UTC every day. You can check your monthly trade volume by logging in and opening Account > My Activity. https://preview.redd.it/n1djh2ob4zh51.jpg?width=974&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=2eebb9c9ac63de207c4dd2e49bc45aeb53a8dec8
6. Withdrawing Funds
Withdrawing any type of funds is likewise simple. You can profit by buying and selling Bitcoin, Ether, or any other cryptocurrency. You determine the crypto address—to which the amount will be credited—and the transaction amount. The withdrawal fee will be automatically calculated and shown right away. After confirming the transaction, the finances will be sent to the specified addresses and all that you need to do is to wait for the community to confirm the transaction. If the 2FA is enabled, then the user receives a special code (via SMS or application) to confirm the withdrawal.
7. How to Trade on Bittrex Global
Currency selling and buying transactions are performed using the Sell and Buy buttons, accordingly. To begin with, the dealer selects a currency pair and sees a graph of the rate dynamics and different values for the pair. Below the chart, there is a section with orders where the user can buy or sell a virtual asset. To create an order, you just need to specify the order type, price, and quantity. And do not forget about the 0.25% trade fee whatever the quantity. For optimum profit, stay with liquid assets as they can be quickly sold at a near-market rate effective at the time of the transaction. Bittrex offers no referral program; so buying and selling crypto is the easiest way to earn. https://preview.redd.it/hopm6fih4zh51.jpg?width=1302&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=68c0aaae86f64c3e6b9d351c3df2a9c331f94038
Bittrex helps you alternate Limit and Stop-Limit orders. A limit order or a simple limit order is performed when the asset fee reaches—or even exceeds—the price the trader seeks. To execute such an order, it is required that there's a counter market order on the platform that has the identical fee as the limit order.
Differences between Limit Order and Stop Limit Order
A stop limit order is a mixture of a stop limit order and a limit order. In such an application, charges are indicated—a stop charge and the limit.
Let’s discuss how you could trade conveniently with our service. The key features include a user-friendly interface and precise currency pair statistics (timeframe graphs, network data, trade volumes, and so forth). The platform’s top-notch advantage is handy, easy-to-analyze, customizable charts. There is also a column for quick switching between currency pairs and an order panel beneath the fee chart. Such an all-encompassing visual solution helps compare orders efficiently and in one place. You can use the terminal in a day or night mode; when in the night mode, the icon in the upper-right corner changes and notice the Bittrex trading terminal in night mode is displayed. The main menu consists of 4 sections: Markets, Orders, Wallets, Settings. Markets are the trade section. Bittrex allows handling over 270 currency pairs. Orders. To see all open orders, go to Orders → Open. To see completed orders, go to Orders → Completed. Wallets. The Wallets tab displays many wallets for all cryptocurrencies supported by the exchange and the current balance of each of them. After refilling the balance or creating a buy or sale order, you will see all actions in the section. Bittrex allows creating a separate wallet for every coin. Additionally, you can see how the coin price has changed, in terms of percentage, throughout the day. Here’s what you can also do with your wallets:
Hide zero balances: hide currencies with zero balance
Green and red arrows: replenish balance/withdraw funds
Find: search for a cryptocurrency
The Settings section helps manage your account, verification, 2FA, password modification, API connection, and many more.
How to Sell
The process of selling crypto assets follows the same algorithm. The only difference is that after choosing the exchange direction, you need to initiate a Sell order. All the rest is similar: you select the order type, specify the quantity and price, and click Sell *Currency Name* (Sell Bitcoin in our case). If you scroll the screen, the entire history of trades and orders will be displayed below.
LONG and SHORT
You can make a long deal or a short deal. Your choice depends on whether you expect an asset to fall or rise in price. Long positions are a classic trading method. It concerns purchasing an asset to profit when its value increases. Long positions are carried out through any brokers and do not require a margin account. In this case, the trader’s account must have enough funds to cover the transaction. Losses in a long position are considered to be limited; no matter when the trade starts, the price will not fall below zero with all possible errors. Short positions, in contrast, are used to profit from a falling market. A trader buys a financial instrument from a broker and sells it. After the price reaches the target level, the trader buys back the assets or buys them to pay off the initial debt to the broker. A short position yields profit if the price falls, and it is considered unprofitable the price matches the asset value. Performing a short order requires a margin account as a trader borrows valuable assets from a broker to complete a transaction. Long transactions help gain from market growth; short from a market decline.
Trade via API
Bittrex also supports algorithmic trading through extensive APIs (application programming interface), which allows you to automate the trading process using third-party services. To create an API key, the user must enable the two-factor authentication 2FA, verify their account, and log in to the site within 3 minutes. If all the requirements of the system are fulfilled, you can proceed to generate the API key. Log in to your Bittrex account, click Settings. Find API Keys. Click Add new key (Create a new key). Toggle on / off settings for READ INFO, TRADE, or WITHDRAW, depending on what functionality you want to use for our API key. Click Save and enter the 2FA code from the authenticator → Confirm. The secret key will be displayed only once and will disappear after the page is refreshed. Make sure you saved it! To delete an API key, click X in the right corner for the key that you want to delete, then click Save, enter the 2FA code from the authenticator and click Confirm.
Bittrex Bot, a Trader’s Assistant
Robotized programs that appeared sometimes after the appearance of cryptocurrency exchanges save users from monotonous work and allow automating the trading process. Bots for trading digital money work like all the other bots: they perform mechanical trading according to the preset parameters. Currently, one of Bittrex’s most popular trading bots is Bittrex Flash Crash Buyer Bot that helps traders profit from altcoin volatility without missing the right moment. The program monitors all the market changes in the market every second; also, it even can place an order in advance. The Bittrex bot can handle a stop loss—to sell a certain amount of currency when the rate changes in a favorable direction and reaches a certain level.
8. Secure Platform
Bittrex Global employs the most reliable and effective security technologies available. There are many cases of theft, fraud. It is no coincidence that the currency is compared to the Wild West, especially if we compare the 1800s when cowboys rushed to the West Coast of America to earn and start something new in a place that had no rules. Cryptocurrency is still wild. One can earn and lose money fast. But Bittrex has a substantial security policy thanks to the team’s huge experience in security and development for companies such as Microsoft, Amazon, Qualys, and Blackberry. The system employs an elastic, multi-stage holding strategy to ensure that the majority of funds are kept in cold storage for extra safety. Bittrex Global also enables the two-factor authentication for all users and provides a host of additional security features to provide multiple layers of protection. Bittrex cold wallet: https://bitinfocharts.com/en/bitcoin/address/385cR5DM96n1HvBDMzLHPYcw89fZAXULJP
Bittrex Global is a reliable and advanced platform for trading digital assets with a respected reputation, long history, and active market presence and development nowadays. The exchange is eligible to be used globally, including the US and its territories. The legal component of Bittrex Global is one of the most legitimate among numerous crypto-asset exchanges. The Bittrex team has had great ambitions and managed to deliver promises and more. The exchange staff comprises forward-thinking and exceptional individuals whose success is recognized in the traditional business and blockchain sector. Bittrex's purpose is to be the driving force in the blockchain revolution, expanding the application, importance, and accessibility of this game-changing technology worldwide. The exchange fosters new and innovative blockchain and related projects that could potentially change the way money and assets are managed globally. Alongside innovation, safety will always be the main priority of the company. The platform utilizes the most reliable and effective practices and available technologies to protect user accounts. Bittrex customers have always primarily been those who appreciate the highest degree of security. Because of the way the Bittrex trading platform is designed, it can easily scale to always provide instant order execution for any number of new customers. Bittrex supports algorithmic trading and empowers its customers with extensive APIs for more automated and profitable trading. One of the common features which is not available on the exchange is margin trading. No leverage used however adds up to the exchange's stability and prevents fast money seekers and risky traders from entering the exchange. Bittrex is a force of the blockchain revolution and an important entity of the emerging sector. The full version First part Second part
Bittrex Review: One of the First Crypto Exchanges Part 1
By Rinat Arslanov, CEO at Revain Despite the fact that digital asset trading is a relatively new phenomenon, among cryptocurrency exchanges Bittrex is considered a time-tested trading platform that can guarantee a high level of security and reliable service. Today, in this all-encompassing review, we will study how Bittrex Global, one of the most popular and secure crypto exchanges, operates.
Bittrex History and Founders
What Bittrex Is and How It Works
1. Bittrex History and Founders
Bittrex Global is currently the oldest holding company concerned professionally with digital assets, as well as having access to major US and European financial markets. It grew out of a small cryptocurrency exchange that started with mining bitcoins for $30 back in 2011. Now the holding, whose headquarters is located in the Principality of Liechtenstein, provides a trading infrastructure to its users, enjoying a reputation of one of the safest exchanges in the world. Bittrex Global has managed to gain such customer trust and loyalty through the continuous development and implementation of the most advanced technologies that have proven their worth by continuous and reliable operation throughout the 7 years of their existence. The company always ensures fair opportunities for investing in and trading digital assets for all clients, regardless of trading experience. https://preview.redd.it/e6xsv33codc51.jpg?width=974&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=748c76c281116a157abb5cf03da0f4bb274170bf https://preview.redd.it/y2csce7dodc51.jpg?width=974&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=4409bf9032e0c3d5f2ca0b2b528310af8267e8ba To this day, since January 2018, Bitcoin has not been able to rise higher than that time. https://preview.redd.it/nqcifr3hodc51.jpg?width=974&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=dfb81067c58d42dcf423b303b2e108d04c5121c9 The future Bittrex team really wanted a way to acquire Bitcoins again. Mining was going to prove untenable, so they brainstormed and started the first crypto-based business—GiftcardBTC. At that time, Bittrex had a simple idea of earning through selling gifts and calling cards for Bitcoin. It was so easy to earn cryptocurrency and then convert it into fiat US dollars, and that endeavor made it possible to offset the costs. Then, the founders of the future cryptocurrency platform designed a Bitcoin miner that started to earn money continuously, but this was not the limit of their dreams. Less than a year later, the first cryptocurrencies—Bitcoin and its fork Litecoin—got up in price many times and then the creators of Bittrex added Litecoin to their package. Using Coinpayments.net infrastructure for processing payments, they ran into problems, since there were still practically no abilities to convert or withdraw cryptocurrencies into fiat currencies. The founders began to look for convenient automatic ways to do this but at that time exchanges could not provide such services. At that time, Bill Shihara and Richie Lai regularly traveled to Las Vegas and in late 2013, during one of such trips, they were discussing the problems they faced for many hours, trying to find a solution and considering various options. In the end, they decided to start software development in the west. Now this decision is considered the birthday of the Bittrex trading crypto platform. They decided to invite a professional from Microsoft, Rami Kawach, to discuss their idea. After some time, they had an ambitious plan to develop and launch a platform for crypto exchange in less than two months. The plan was accompanied by a gentleman's dispute among Rami, Richie, and Bill over a bottle of 25-year-old whiskey, which concerned the timing of the plan. The formed team began to work actively on a project to which they devoted all their free time and worked day and night. In mid-February 2014, they launched the Bittrex website, and on the last day of February, they made it accessible for the general public. As a result, Richie and Rami won over whiskey against Bill. https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=463202.0 and started sharing on February 28 https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=492758.0 https://preview.redd.it/o4aoa20rodc51.jpg?width=973&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=0606a27b9da4bb5018e570dab91a7dac1fcb218c https://preview.redd.it/5ft1k4wsodc51.jpg?width=974&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=21bf5285c1394534ed92379495f8fa76edcb1277 https://preview.redd.it/wy9fs3hvodc51.jpg?width=430&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=452ab77dca6b1a0d4a9a225c4efe7d358bf24c6c It was then when a large partnership began; later, the alliance ensured the joint company’s future success. They formulated several postulates that became the cornerstone of their business:
We ourselves will never trade cryptocurrencies on our exchange. Too many shadows occurred in too many places, and we will not trade against our clients.
We will always maintain honesty on our exchange. No one gets special information. No one gets special prices. Transparency is paramount.
We will never sacrifice long-term gain for short-term gain. We have been together for a long time.
Microsoft: Software Security Engineer, Principal Development Manager
Crypto Exchange Partners
Bittrex is constantly moving forward, embedding a strategy that leads the innovative future of the crypto-financial industry. To implement its strategy, the platform interacts with the most interesting innovative crypto projects based on blockchain technology. They have developed an affiliate program that helps launch trading platforms from 13 countries around the world. Today Bittrex cooperates with the following businesses across the globe:
2. What Bittrex Is and How It Works
Bittrex is a multi-currency trading platform where you can exchange, buy, or sell cryptocurrency and fiat money. The exchange is available in all facets: you have great opportunities in making foreign exchange transactions, both with digital assets and with ordinary money. Not everyone understands what fiat currencies are, but in fact, these are the good old usual paper cash and non-cash money that are issued by the central banks of various states. Fiat money mainly differs from cryptocurrencies in that it is regulated by governments, which can influence their output and exchange rate. On the Bittrex crypto exchange, you will find more than a quarter of thousand of various types of cryptocurrencies and 364 currency pairs. A currency pair is a pair of currencies that can be exchanged one for another at a certain rate. The most common currencies can be exchanged for hundreds and thousands of other currencies, both digital and fiat. Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin Litecoin or Ether have the largest number of pairs available for exchange. Appearance cements the first impression, and the user interface is key in any digital. In Bittrex, the interface is intuitive even for those taking their first steps in trading. Not only does it look sleek but it’s also very easy-to-use. You only see what you need on the trading screen. Here you can see structured information about trading pairs, history of changes in exchange rates, and wallets. The website will guide you on how to make a deposit, how to work with orders, what happens to your money, and how to withdraw it. All work with such a platform begins with the opening of an exchange account. You can find everything you need to configure a wallet in Settings.
Cryptocurrency and Blockchain technology is proliferating in various industries - one such industry is ‘Sports’. Sports and the aura that it creates is so vibrant and energetic - sports fans are passionate about the teams they support. The market in the sports industry is massive too - from partnerships to tickets, merchandise, collectibles, and much more that could benefit everyone associated. When every industry is trying to attempt to be innovative and adapt to the new digital currency technology - the sports industry isn’t the one to be left behind too! The sports industry and related organizations have started to adopt and embrace the world of cryptocurrency and digital tokens. In many of such forms, they also provide exclusive merchandise, items, or content with the help of the technology. The use of cryptocurrency in the sports industry does not only upgrade the game of transactions and payments but it also helps to be connected and engaged with its fans. For instance, in the year 2014, the NBA team - Sacramento Kings - was believed to be the first in the sports industry that started accepting Bitcoin as a method for payment and transactions for ticketing and merchandise. In this blog, we are going to talk about the United Partnership of the Sports Industry with Cryptocurrency and Blockchain Technology. The Sport That Brings Billions Together Football is the most popular and loved sport in the world, it's even called soccer in the United States. As per FIFA - football organization, over 3.5 billion people tuned in to watch the 2018 World Cup in Russia - that means almost half of the world’s population watched the global showpiece. A sport that big merely means the people, businesses, brands, advertisers, products, basically anything associated is in for huge benefits. Also Read,Online Gaming and Bitcoin: The Crypto-play Various teams in Europe have adopted a solution with blockchain technology that facilitates its fans in order to interact with the team, several powered utilities based on the token. West Ham, Paris Saint Germaine, and Juventus are involved in partnerships with its blockchain-based fan platform - Socios for engagement. It enables the teams to be engaged and be involved with the fans and also the platform lets the fans have their favorite team’s fan token. With the use of these tokens, the fans can participate to place votes for things like changes in the jersey of the club, access to exclusive content and memorabilia. Socios has two types of the voting process - binding and nonbinding. A binding set of the vote means that the club has to carry out and abide by the outcome of the vote, so for instance, if the fans have voted to change per se the color of the jersey, the club will have to carry out the vote’s request and since the process is done on blockchain technology, it cannot be manipulated or be tampered with. Clubs have also utilized blockchain technology for endorsements, the system on Socios uses cryptocurrency token named - Chiliz. The company had also announced a partnership with Binance - a popular cryptocurrency exchange. As Alex Dreyfus, the CEO of Socios noted how the untapped people can be connected too through the sector - given the global sports audience being estimated to be around 3.5 billion people. The Portuguese Football Club - Benfica also accepts payments and transactions with cryptocurrency for ticketing and merchandise through Utrust - a cryptocurrency platform in June 2019. The supporters could make transactions by using ETH, BTC, and Utrust tokens, while the motive of the move was to meet the demands of over 7 million fans on social media. Also, Lionel Messi - the Barcelona star has promoted cryptocurrency and blockchain projects on various occasions. To continue reading visit:https://coinscapture.com/blog/the-united-partnership-of-the-sports-industry-with-cryptocurrency
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:
The power players of consumer finance in the 21st century will be crypto-native companies who build with blockchain technology at their core.
The crypto landscape is still nascent. We’re still very much in the fragmented, unbundled phase of the industry lifecycle. Beyond what Genesis Block is doing, there are signs of other companies slowly starting to bundle financial services into what could be an all-in-one bank replacement. So the key question that this series hopes to answer:
Which crypto-native company will successfully become the bank of the future?
We obviously think Genesis Block is well-positioned to win. But we certainly aren’t the only game in town. In this series, we’ll be doing an analysis of who is most capable of thwarting our efforts. We’ll look at categories like crypto exchanges, crypto wallets, centralized lending & borrowing services, and crypto debit card companies. Each category will have its own dedicated post. Today we’re analyzing big crypto exchanges. The two companies we’ll focus on today are Coinbase (biggest American exchange) and Binance (biggest global exchange). They are the top two exchanges in terms of Bitcoin trading volume. They are in pole position to winning this market — they have a huge existing userbase and strong financial resources. Will Coinbase or Binance become the bank of the future? Can their early success propel them to winning the broader consumer finance market? Is their growth too far ahead for anyone else to catch up? Let’s dive in. https://preview.redd.it/lau4hevpm7f51.png?width=800&format=png&auto=webp&s=2c5de1ba497199f36aa194e5809bd86e5ab533d8
The most formidable exchange on the global stage is Binance (Crunchbase). All signs suggest they have significantly more users and a stronger balance sheet than Coinbase. No other exchange is executing as aggressively and relentlessly as Binance is. The cadence at which they are shipping and launching new products is nothing short of impressive. As Tushar Jain from Multicoin argues, Binance is Blitzscaling. Here are some of the products that they’ve launched in the last 18 months. Only a few are announced but still pre-launch.
Binance is well-positioned to become the crypto-powered, all-in-one, bundled solution for financial services. They already have so many of the pieces. But the key question is:
Can they create a cohesive & united product experience?
Binance is strong, but they do have a few major weaknesses that could slow them down.
Traders & Speculators Binance is currently very geared for speculators, traders, and financial professionals. Their bread-and-butter is trading (spot, margin, options, futures). Their UI is littered with depth charts, order books, candlesticks, and other financial concepts that are beyond the reach of most normal consumers. Their product today is not at all tailored for the broader consumer market. Given Binance’s popularity and strength among the pro audience, it’s unlikely that they will dumb down or simplify their product any time soon. That would jeopardize their core business. Binance will likely need an entirely new product/brand to go beyond the pro user crowd. That will take time (or an acquisition). So the question remains, is Binance even interested in the broader consumer market? Or will they continue to focus on their core product, the one-stop-shop for pro crypto traders?
Controversies & Hot Water Binance has had a number of controversies. No one seems to know where they are based — so what regulatory agencies can hold them accountable? Last year, some sensitive, private user data got leaked. When they announced their debit card program, they had to remove mentions of Visa quickly after. And though the “police raid” story proved to be untrue, there are still a lot of questions about what happened with their Shanghai office shut down (where there is smoke, there is fire). If any company has had a “move fast and break things” attitude, it is Binance. That attitude has served them well so far but as they try to do business in more regulated countries like America, this will make their road much more difficult — especially in the consumer market where trust takes a long time to earn, but can be destroyed in an instant. This is perhaps why the Binance US product is an empty shell when compared to their main global product.
Disjointed Product Experience Because Binance has so many different teams launching so many different services, their core product is increasingly feeling disjointed and disconnected. Many of the new features are sloppily integrated with each other. There’s no cohesive product experience. This is one of the downsides of executing and shipping at their relentless pace. For example, users don’t have a single wallet that shows their balances. Depending on if the user wants to do spot trading, margin, futures, or savings… the user needs to constantly be transferring their assets from one wallet to another. It’s not a unified, frictionless, simple user experience. This is one major downside of the “move fast and break things” approach.
BNB token Binance raised $15M in a 2017 ICO by selling their $BNB token. The current market cap of $BNB is worth more than $2.6B. Financially this token has served them well. However, given how BNB works (for example, their token burn), there are a lot of open questions as to how BNB will be treated with US security laws. Their Binance US product so far is treading very lightly with its use of BNB. Their token could become a liability for Binance as it enters more regulated markets. Whether the crypto community likes it or not, until regulators get caught up and understand the power of decentralized technology, tokens will still be a regulatory burden — especially for anything that touches consumers.
Binance Chain & Smart Contract Platform Binance is launching its own smart contract platform soon. Based on compatibility choices, they have their sights aimed at the Ethereum developer community. It’s unclear how easy it’ll be to convince developers to move to Binance chain. Most of the current developer energy and momentum around smart contracts is with Ethereum. Because Binance now has their own horse in the race, it’s unlikely they will ever decide to leverage Ethereum’s DeFi protocols. This could likely be a major strategic mistake — and hubris that goes a step too far. Binance will be pushing and promoting protocols on their own platform. The major risk of being all-in on their own platform is that they miss having a seat on the Ethereum rocket ship — specifically the growth of DeFi use-cases and the enormous value that can be unlocked. Integrating with Ethereum’s protocols would be either admitting defeat of their own platform or competing directly against themselves.
The crypto-native company that I believe is more likely to become the bank of the future is Coinbase (crunchbase). Their dominance in America could serve as a springboard to winning the West (Binance has a stronger foothold in Asia). Coinbase has more than 30M users. Their exchange business is a money-printing machine. They have a solid reputation as it relates to compliance and working with regulators. Their CEO is a longtime member of the crypto community. They are rumored to be going public soon.
Let’s look at what makes them strong and a likely contender for winning the broader consumer finance market.
Different Audience, Different Experience Coinbase has been smart to create a unique product experience for each audience — the pro speculator crowd and the common retail user. Their simple consumer version is at Coinbase.com. That’s the default. Their product for the more sophisticated traders and speculators is at Coinbase Pro (formerly GDAX). Unlike Binance, Coinbase can slowly build out the bank of the future for the broad consumer market while still having a home for their hardcore crypto traders. They aren’t afraid to have different experiences for different audiences.
Brand & Design Coinbase has a strong product design team. Their brand is capable of going beyond the male-dominated crypto audience. Their product is clean and simple — much more consumer-friendly than Binance. It’s clear they spend a lot of time thinking about their user experience. Interacting directly with crypto can sometimes be rough and raw (especially for n00bs). When I was at Mainframe we hosted a panel about Crypto UX challenges at the DevCon4 Dapp Awards. Connie Yang (Head of Design at Coinbase) was on the panel. She was impressive. Some of their design philosophies will bode well as they push to reach the broader consumer finance market.
Early Signs of Bundling Though Coinbase has nowhere near as many products & services as Binance, they are slowly starting to add more financial services that may appeal to the broader market. They are now letting depositors earn interest on USDC (also DAI & Tezos). In the UK they are piloting a debit card. Users can now invest in crypto with dollar-cost-averaging. It’s not much, but it’s a start. You can start to see hints of a more bundled solution around financial services.
Let’s now look at some things that could hold them back.
Slow Cadence In the fast-paced world of crypto, and especially when compared to Binance, Coinbase does not ship very many new products very often. This is perhaps their greatest weakness. Smaller, more nimble startups may run circles around them. They were smart to launch Coinbase Ventures where tey invest in early-stage startups. They can now keep an ear to the ground on innovation. Perhaps their cadence is normal for a company of their size — but the Binance pace creates quite the contrast.
Institutional Focus As a company, we are a Coinbase client. We love their institutional offering. It’s clear they’ve been investing a lot in this area. A recent Coinbase blog post made it clear that this has been a focus: “Over the past 12 months, Coinbase has been laser-focused on building out the types of features and services that our institutional customers need.” Their Tagomi acquisition only re-enforced this focus. Perhaps this is why their consumer product has felt so neglected. They’ve been heavily investing in their institutional services since May 2018. For a company that’s getting very close to an IPO, it makes sense that they’d focus on areas that present strong revenue opportunities — as they do with institutional clients. Even for big companies like Coinbase, it’s hard to have a split focus. If they are “laser-focused” on the institutional audience, it’s unlikely they’ll be launching any major consumer products anytime soon.
Coinbase Wrap Up
At Genesis Block, we‘re proud to be working with Coinbase. They are a fantastic company. However, I don’t believe that they’ll succeed in building their own product for the broader consumer finance market. While they have incredible design, there are no signs that they are focused on or capable of internally building this type of product. Similar to Binance, I think it’s far more likely that Coinbase acquires a promising young startup with strong growth.
Other US-based exchanges worth mentioning are Kraken, Gemini, and Bittrex. So far we’ve seen very few signs that any of them will aggressively attack broader consumer finance. Most are going in the way of Binance — listing more assets and adding more pro tools like margin and futures trading. And many, like Coinbase, are trying to attract more institutional customers. For example, Gemini with their custody product.
Coinbase and Binance have huge war chests and massive reach. For that alone, they should always be considered threats to Genesis Block. However, their products are very, very different than the product we’re building. And their approach is very different as well. They are trying to educate and onboard people into crypto. At Genesis Block, we believe the masses shouldn’t need to know or care about it. We did an entire series about this, Spreading Crypto. Most everyone needs banking — whether it be to borrow, spend, invest, earn interest, etc. Not everyone needs a crypto exchange. For non-crypto consumers (the mass market), the differences between a bank and a crypto exchange are immense. Companies like Binance and Coinbase make a lot of money on their crypto exchange business. It would be really difficult, gutsy, and risky for any of them to completely change their narrative, messaging, and product to focus on the broader consumer market. I don’t believe they would ever risk biting the hand that feeds them. In summary, as it relates to a digital bank aimed at the mass market, I believe both Coinbase and Binance are much more likely to acquire a startup in this space than they are to build it themselves. And I think they would want to keep the brand/product distinct and separate from their core crypto exchange business. So back to the original question, is Coinbase and Binance a threat to Genesis Block? Not really. Not today. But they could be, and for that, we want to stay close to them. ------ Other Ways to Consume Today's Episode:
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