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Bob The Magic Custodian
Summary: Everyone knows that when you give your assets to someone else, they always keep them safe. If this is true for individuals, it is certainly true for businesses. Custodians always tell the truth and manage funds properly. They won't have any interest in taking the assets as an exchange operator would. Auditors tell the truth and can't be misled. That's because organizations that are regulated are incapable of lying and don't make mistakes. First, some background. Here is a summary of how custodians make us more secure: Previously, we might give Alice our crypto assets to hold. There were risks:
Alice might take the assets and disappear.
Alice might spend the assets and pretend that she still has them (fractional model).
Alice might store the assets insecurely and they'll get stolen.
Alice might give the assets to someone else by mistake or by force.
Alice might lose access to the assets.
But "no worries", Alice has a custodian named Bob. Bob is dressed in a nice suit. He knows some politicians. And he drives a Porsche. "So you have nothing to worry about!". And look at all the benefits we get:
Alice can't take the assets and disappear (unless she asks Bob or never gives them to Bob).
Alice can't spend the assets and pretend that she still has them. (Unless she didn't give them to Bob or asks him for them.)
Alice can't store the assets insecurely so they get stolen. (After all - she doesn't have any control over the withdrawal process from any of Bob's systems, right?)
Alice can't give the assets to someone else by mistake or by force. (Bob will stop her, right Bob?)
Alice can't lose access to the funds. (She'll always be present, sane, and remember all secrets, right?)
See - all problems are solved! All we have to worry about now is:
Bob might take the assets and disappear.
Bob might spend the assets and pretend that he still has them (fractional model).
Bob might store the assets insecurely and they'll get stolen.
Bob might give the assets to someone else by mistake or by force.
Bob might lose access to the assets.
It's pretty simple. Before we had to trust Alice. Now we only have to trust Alice, Bob, and all the ways in which they communicate. Just think of how much more secure we are! "On top of that", Bob assures us, "we're using a special wallet structure". Bob shows Alice a diagram. "We've broken the balance up and store it in lots of smaller wallets. That way", he assures her, "a thief can't take it all at once". And he points to a historic case where a large sum was taken "because it was stored in a single wallet... how stupid". "Very early on, we used to have all the crypto in one wallet", he said, "and then one Christmas a hacker came and took it all. We call him the Grinch. Now we individually wrap each crypto and stick it under a binary search tree. The Grinch has never been back since." "As well", Bob continues, "even if someone were to get in, we've got insurance. It covers all thefts and even coercion, collusion, and misplaced keys - only subject to the policy terms and conditions." And with that, he pulls out a phone-book sized contract and slams it on the desk with a thud. "Yep", he continues, "we're paying top dollar for one of the best policies in the country!" "Can I read it?' Alice asks. "Sure," Bob says, "just as soon as our legal team is done with it. They're almost through the first chapter." He pauses, then continues. "And can you believe that sales guy Mike? He has the same year Porsche as me. I mean, what are the odds?" "Do you use multi-sig?", Alice asks. "Absolutely!" Bob replies. "All our engineers are fully trained in multi-sig. Whenever we want to set up a new wallet, we generate 2 separate keys in an air-gapped process and store them in this proprietary system here. Look, it even requires the biometric signature from one of our team members to initiate any withdrawal." He demonstrates by pressing his thumb into the display. "We use a third-party cloud validation API to match the thumbprint and authorize each withdrawal. The keys are also backed up daily to an off-site third-party." "Wow that's really impressive," Alice says, "but what if we need access for a withdrawal outside of office hours?" "Well that's no issue", Bob says, "just send us an email, call, or text message and we always have someone on staff to help out. Just another part of our strong commitment to all our customers!" "What about Proof of Reserve?", Alice asks. "Of course", Bob replies, "though rather than publish any blockchain addresses or signed transaction, for privacy we just do a SHA256 refactoring of the inverse hash modulus for each UTXO nonce and combine the smart contract coefficient consensus in our hyperledger lightning node. But it's really simple to use." He pushes a button and a large green checkmark appears on a screen. "See - the algorithm ran through and reserves are proven." "Wow", Alice says, "you really know your stuff! And that is easy to use! What about fiat balances?" "Yeah, we have an auditor too", Bob replies, "Been using him for a long time so we have quite a strong relationship going! We have special books we give him every year and he's very efficient! Checks the fiat, crypto, and everything all at once!" "We used to have a nice offline multi-sig setup we've been using without issue for the past 5 years, but I think we'll move all our funds over to your facility," Alice says. "Awesome", Bob replies, "Thanks so much! This is perfect timing too - my Porsche got a dent on it this morning. We have the paperwork right over here." "Great!", Alice replies. And with that, Alice gets out her pen and Bob gets the contract. "Don't worry", he says, "you can take your crypto-assets back anytime you like - just subject to our cancellation policy. Our annual management fees are also super low and we don't adjust them often". How many holes have to exist for your funds to get stolen? Just one. Why are we taking a powerful offline multi-sig setup, widely used globally in hundreds of different/lacking regulatory environments with 0 breaches to date, and circumventing it by a demonstrably weak third party layer? And paying a great expense to do so? If you go through the list of breaches in the past 2 years to highly credible organizations, you go through the list of major corporate frauds (only the ones we know about), you go through the list of all the times platforms have lost funds, you go through the list of times and ways that people have lost their crypto from identity theft, hot wallet exploits, extortion, etc... and then you go through this custodian with a fine-tooth comb and truly believe they have value to add far beyond what you could, sticking your funds in a wallet (or set of wallets) they control exclusively is the absolute worst possible way to take advantage of that security. The best way to add security for crypto-assets is to make a stronger multi-sig. With one custodian, what you are doing is giving them your cryptocurrency and hoping they're honest, competent, and flawlessly secure. It's no different than storing it on a really secure exchange. Maybe the insurance will cover you. Didn't work for Bitpay in 2015. Didn't work for Yapizon in 2017. Insurance has never paid a claim in the entire history of cryptocurrency. But maybe you'll get lucky. Maybe your exact scenario will buck the trend and be what they're willing to cover. After the large deductible and hopefully without a long and expensive court battle. And you want to advertise this increase in risk, the lapse of judgement, an accident waiting to happen, as though it's some kind of benefit to customers ("Free institutional-grade storage for your digital assets.")? And then some people are writing to the OSC that custodians should be mandatory for all funds on every exchange platform? That this somehow will make Canadians as a whole more secure or better protected compared with standard air-gapped multi-sig? On what planet? Most of the problems in Canada stemmed from one thing - a lack of transparency. If Canadians had known what a joke Quadriga was - it wouldn't have grown to lose $400m from hard-working Canadians from coast to coast to coast. And Gerald Cotten would be in jail, not wherever he is now (at best, rotting peacefully). EZ-BTC and mister Dave Smilie would have been a tiny little scam to his friends, not a multi-million dollar fraud. Einstein would have got their act together or been shut down BEFORE losing millions and millions more in people's funds generously donated to criminals. MapleChange wouldn't have even been a thing. And maybe we'd know a little more about CoinTradeNewNote - like how much was lost in there. Almost all of the major losses with cryptocurrency exchanges involve deception with unbacked funds. So it's great to see transparency reports from BitBuy and ShakePay where someone independently verified the backing. The only thing we don't have is:
ANY CERTAINTY BALANCES WEREN'T EXCLUDED. Quadriga's largest account was $70m. 80% of funds are in 20% of accounts (Pareto principle). All it takes is excluding a few really large accounts - and nobody's the wiser. A fractional platform can easily pass any audit this way.
ANY VISIBILITY WHATSOEVER INTO THE CUSTODIANS. BitBuy put out their report before moving all the funds to their custodian and ShakePay apparently can't even tell us who the custodian is. That's pretty important considering that basically all of the funds are now stored there.
ANY IDEA ABOUT THE OTHER EXCHANGES. In order for this to be effective, it has to be the norm. It needs to be "unusual" not to know. If obscurity is the norm, then it's super easy for people like Gerald Cotten and Dave Smilie to blend right in.
It's not complicated to validate cryptocurrency assets. They need to exist, they need to be spendable, and they need to cover the total balances. There are plenty of credible people and firms across the country that have the capacity to reasonably perform this validation. Having more frequent checks by different, independent, parties who publish transparent reports is far more valuable than an annual check by a single "more credible/official" party who does the exact same basic checks and may or may not publish anything. Here's an example set of requirements that could be mandated:
First report within 1 month of launching, another within 3 months, and further reports at minimum every 6 months thereafter.
No auditor can be repeated within a 12 month period.
All reports must be public, identifying the auditor and the full methodology used.
All auditors must be independent of the firm being audited with no conflict of interest.
Reports must include the percentage of each asset backed, and how it's backed.
The auditor publishes a hash list, which lists a hash of each customer's information and balances that were included. Hash is one-way encryption so privacy is fully preserved. Every customer can use this to have 100% confidence they were included.
If we want more extensive requirements on audits, these should scale upward based on the total assets at risk on the platform, and whether the platform has loaned their assets out.
There are ways to structure audits such that neither crypto assets nor customer information are ever put at risk, and both can still be properly validated and publicly verifiable. There are also ways to structure audits such that they are completely reasonable for small platforms and don't inhibit innovation in any way. By making the process as reasonable as possible, we can completely eliminate any reason/excuse that an honest platform would have for not being audited. That is arguable far more important than any incremental improvement we might get from mandating "the best of the best" accountants. Right now we have nothing mandated and tons of Canadians using offshore exchanges with no oversight whatsoever. Transparency does not prove crypto assets are safe. CoinTradeNewNote, Flexcoin ($600k), and Canadian Bitcoins ($100k) are examples where crypto-assets were breached from platforms in Canada. All of them were online wallets and used no multi-sig as far as any records show. This is consistent with what we see globally - air-gapped multi-sig wallets have an impeccable record, while other schemes tend to suffer breach after breach. We don't actually know how much CoinTrader lost because there was no visibility. Rather than publishing details of what happened, the co-founder of CoinTrader silently moved on to found another platform - the "most trusted way to buy and sell crypto" - a site that has no information whatsoever (that I could find) on the storage practices and a FAQ advising that “[t]rading cryptocurrency is completely safe” and that having your own wallet is “entirely up to you! You can certainly keep cryptocurrency, or fiat, or both, on the app.” Doesn't sound like much was learned here, which is really sad to see. It's not that complicated or unreasonable to set up a proper hardware wallet. Multi-sig can be learned in a single course. Something the equivalent complexity of a driver's license test could prevent all the cold storage exploits we've seen to date - even globally. Platform operators have a key advantage in detecting and preventing fraud - they know their customers far better than any custodian ever would. The best job that custodians can do is to find high integrity individuals and train them to form even better wallet signatories. Rather than mandating that all platforms expose themselves to arbitrary third party risks, regulations should center around ensuring that all signatories are background-checked, properly trained, and using proper procedures. We also need to make sure that signatories are empowered with rights and responsibilities to reject and report fraud. They need to know that they can safely challenge and delay a transaction - even if it turns out they made a mistake. We need to have an environment where mistakes are brought to the surface and dealt with. Not one where firms and people feel the need to hide what happened. In addition to a knowledge-based test, an auditor can privately interview each signatory to make sure they're not in coercive situations, and we should make sure they can freely and anonymously report any issues without threat of retaliation. A proper multi-sig has each signature held by a separate person and is governed by policies and mutual decisions instead of a hierarchy. It includes at least one redundant signature. For best results, 3of4, 3of5, 3of6, 4of5, 4of6, 4of7, 5of6, or 5of7. History has demonstrated over and over again the risk of hot wallets even to highly credible organizations. Nonetheless, many platforms have hot wallets for convenience. While such losses are generally compensated by platforms without issue (for example Poloniex, Bitstamp, Bitfinex, Gatecoin, Coincheck, Bithumb, Zaif, CoinBene, Binance, Bitrue, Bitpoint, Upbit, VinDAX, and now KuCoin), the public tends to focus more on cases that didn't end well. Regardless of what systems are employed, there is always some level of risk. For that reason, most members of the public would prefer to see third party insurance. Rather than trying to convince third party profit-seekers to provide comprehensive insurance and then relying on an expensive and slow legal system to enforce against whatever legal loopholes they manage to find each and every time something goes wrong, insurance could be run through multiple exchange operators and regulators, with the shared interest of having a reputable industry, keeping costs down, and taking care of Canadians. For example, a 4 of 7 multi-sig insurance fund held between 5 independent exchange operators and 2 regulatory bodies. All Canadian exchanges could pay premiums at a set rate based on their needed coverage, with a higher price paid for hot wallet coverage (anything not an air-gapped multi-sig cold wallet). Such a model would be much cheaper to manage, offer better coverage, and be much more reliable to payout when needed. The kind of coverage you could have under this model is unheard of. You could even create something like the CDIC to protect Canadians who get their trading accounts hacked if they can sufficiently prove the loss is legitimate. In cases of fraud, gross negligence, or insolvency, the fund can be used to pay affected users directly (utilizing the last transparent balance report in the worst case), something which private insurance would never touch. While it's recommended to have official policies for coverage, a model where members vote would fully cover edge cases. (Could be similar to the Supreme Court where justices vote based on case law.) Such a model could fully protect all Canadians across all platforms. You can have a fiat coverage governed by legal agreements, and crypto-asset coverage governed by both multi-sig and legal agreements. It could be practical, affordable, and inclusive. Now, we are at a crossroads. We can happily give up our freedom, our innovation, and our money. We can pay hefty expenses to auditors, lawyers, and regulators year after year (and make no mistake - this cost will grow to many millions or even billions as the industry grows - and it will be borne by all Canadians on every platform because platforms are not going to eat up these costs at a loss). We can make it nearly impossible for any new platform to enter the marketplace, forcing Canadians to use the same stagnant platforms year after year. We can centralize and consolidate the entire industry into 2 or 3 big players and have everyone else fail (possibly to heavy losses of users of those platforms). And when a flawed security model doesn't work and gets breached, we can make it even more complicated with even more people in suits making big money doing the job that blockchain was supposed to do in the first place. We can build a system which is so intertwined and dependent on big government, traditional finance, and central bankers that it's future depends entirely on that of the fiat system, of fractional banking, and of government bail-outs. If we choose this path, as history has shown us over and over again, we can not go back, save for revolution. Our children and grandchildren will still be paying the consequences of what we decided today. Or, we can find solutions that work. We can maintain an open and innovative environment while making the adjustments we need to make to fully protect Canadian investors and cryptocurrency users, giving easy and affordable access to cryptocurrency for all Canadians on the platform of their choice, and creating an environment in which entrepreneurs and problem solvers can bring those solutions forward easily. None of the above precludes innovation in any way, or adds any unreasonable cost - and these three policies would demonstrably eliminate or resolve all 109 historic cases as studied here - that's every single case researched so far going back to 2011. It includes every loss that was studied so far not just in Canada but globally as well. Unfortunately, finding answers is the least challenging part. Far more challenging is to get platform operators and regulators to agree on anything. My last post got no response whatsoever, and while the OSC has told me they're happy for industry feedback, I believe my opinion alone is fairly meaningless. This takes the whole community working together to solve. So please let me know your thoughts. Please take the time to upvote and share this with people. Please - let's get this solved and not leave it up to other people to do. Facts/background/sources (skip if you like):
The inspiration for the paragraph about splitting wallets was an actual quote from a Canadian company providing custodial services in response to the OSC consultation paper: "We believe that it will be in the in best interests of investors to prohibit pooled crypto assets or ‘floats’. Most Platforms pool assets, citing reasons of practicality and expense. The recent hack of the world’s largest Platform – Binance – demonstrates the vulnerability of participants’ assets when such concessions are made. In this instance, the Platform’s entire hot wallet of Bitcoins, worth over $40 million, was stolen, facilitated in part by the pooling of client crypto assets." "the maintenance of participants (and Platform) crypto assets across multiple wallets distributes the related risk and responsibility of security - reducing the amount of insurance coverage required and making insurance coverage more readily obtainable". For the record, their reply also said nothing whatsoever about multi-sig or offline storage.
In addition to the fact that the $40m hack represented only one "hot wallet" of Binance, and they actually had the vast majority of assets in other wallets (including mostly cold wallets), multiple real cases have clearly demonstrated that risk is still present with multiple wallets. Bitfinex, VinDAX, Bithumb, Altsbit, BitPoint, Cryptopia, and just recently KuCoin all had multiple wallets breached all at the same time, and may represent a significantly larger impact on customers than the Binance breach which was fully covered by Binance. To represent that simply having multiple separate wallets under the same security scheme is a comprehensive way to reduce risk is just not true.
Private insurance has historically never covered a single loss in the cryptocurrency space (at least, not one that I was able to find), and there are notable cases where massive losses were not covered by insurance. Bitpay in 2015 and Yapizon in 2017 both had insurance policies that didn't pay out during the breach, even after a lengthly court process. The same insurance that ShakePay is presently using (and announced to much fanfare) was describe by their CEO himself as covering “physical theft of the media where the private keys are held,” which is something that has never historically happened. As was said with regard to the same policy in 2018 - “I don’t find it surprising that Lloyd’s is in this space,” said Johnson, adding that to his mind the challenge for everybody is figuring out how to structure these policies so that they are actually protective. “You can create an insurance policy that protects no one – you know there are so many caveats to the policy that it’s not super protective.”
The most profitable policy for a private insurance company is one with the most expensive premiums that they never have to pay a claim on. They have no inherent incentive to take care of people who lost funds. It's "cheaper" to take the reputational hit and fight the claim in court. The more money at stake, the more the insurance provider is incentivized to avoid payout. They're not going to insure the assets unless they have reasonable certainty to make a profit by doing so, and they're not going to pay out a massive sum unless it's legally forced. Private insurance is always structured to be maximally profitable to the insurance provider.
The circumvention of multi-sig was a key factor in the massive Bitfinex hack of over $60m of bitcoin, which today still sits being slowly used and is worth over $3b. While Bitfinex used a qualified custodian Bitgo, which was and still is active and one of the industry leaders of custodians, and they set up 2 of 3 multi-sig wallets, the entire system was routed through Bitfinex, such that Bitfinex customers could initiate the withdrawals in a "hot" fashion. This feature was also a hit with the hacker. The multi-sig was fully circumvented.
Bitpay in 2015 was another example of a breach that stole 5,000 bitcoins. This happened not through the exploit of any system in Bitpay, but because the CEO of a company they worked with got their computer hacked and the hackers were able to request multiple bitcoin purchases, which Bitpay honoured because they came from the customer's computer legitimately. Impersonation is a very common tactic used by fraudsters, and methods get more extreme all the time.
A notable case in Canada was the Canadian Bitcoins exploit. Funds were stored on a server in a Rogers Data Center, and the attendee was successfully convinced to reboot the server "in safe mode" with a simple phone call, thus bypassing the extensive security and enabling the theft.
The very nature of custodians circumvents multi-sig. This is because custodians are not just having to secure the assets against some sort of physical breach but against any form of social engineering, modification of orders, fraudulent withdrawal attempts, etc... If the security practices of signatories in a multi-sig arrangement are such that the breach risk of one signatory is 1 in 100, the requirement of 3 independent signatures makes the risk of theft 1 in 1,000,000. Since hackers tend to exploit the weakest link, a comparable custodian has to make the entry and exit points of their platform 10,000 times more secure than one of those signatories to provide equivalent protection. And if the signatories beef up their security by only 10x, the risk is now 1 in 1,000,000,000. The custodian has to be 1,000,000 times more secure. The larger and more complex a system is, the more potential vulnerabilities exist in it, and the fewer people can understand how the system works when performing upgrades. Even if a system is completely secure today, one has to also consider how that system might evolve over time or work with different members.
By contrast, offline multi-signature solutions have an extremely solid record, and in the entire history of cryptocurrency exchange incidents which I've studied (listed here), there has only been one incident (796 exchange in 2015) involving an offline multi-signature wallet. It happened because the customer's bitcoin address was modified by hackers, and the amount that was stolen ($230k) was immediately covered by the exchange operators. Basically, the platform operators were tricked into sending a legitimate withdrawal request to the wrong address because hackers exploited their platform to change that address. Such an issue would not be prevented in any way by the use of a custodian, as that custodian has no oversight whatsoever to the exchange platform. It's practical for all exchange operators to test large withdrawal transactions as a general policy, regardless of what model is used, and general best practice is to diagnose and fix such an exploit as soon as it occurs.
False promises on the backing of funds played a huge role in the downfall of Quadriga, and it's been exposed over and over again (MyCoin, PlusToken, Bitsane, Bitmarket, EZBTC, IDAX). Even today, customers have extremely limited certainty on whether their funds in exchanges are actually being backed or how they're being backed. While this issue is not unique to cryptocurrency exchanges, the complexity of the technology and the lack of any regulation or standards makes problems more widespread, and there is no "central bank" to come to the rescue as in the 2008 financial crisis or during the great depression when "9,000 banks failed".
In addition to fraudulent operations, the industry is full of cases where operators have suffered breaches and not reported them. Most recently, Einstein was the largest case in Canada, where ongoing breaches and fraud were perpetrated against the platform for multiple years and nobody found out until the platform collapsed completely. While fraud and breaches suck to deal with, they suck even more when not dealt with. Lack of visibility played a role in the largest downfalls of Mt. Gox, Cryptsy, and Bitgrail. In some cases, platforms are alleged to have suffered a hack and keep operating without admitting it at all, such as CoinBene.
It surprises some to learn that a cryptographic solution has already existed since 2013, and gained widespread support in 2014 after Mt. Gox. Proof of Reserves is a full cryptographic proof that allows any customer using an exchange to have complete certainty that their crypto-assets are fully backed by the platform in real-time. This is accomplished by proving that assets exist on the blockchain, are spendable, and fully cover customer deposits. It does not prove safety of assets or backing of fiat assets.
If we didn't care about privacy at all, a platform could publish their wallet addresses, sign a partial transaction, and put the full list of customer information and balances out publicly. Customers can each check that they are on the list, that the balances are accurate, that the total adds up, and that it's backed and spendable on the blockchain. Platforms who exclude any customer take a risk because that customer can easily check and see they were excluded. So together with all customers checking, this forms a full proof of backing of all crypto assets.
However, obviously customers care about their private information being published. Therefore, a hash of the information can be provided instead. Hash is one-way encryption. The hash allows the customer to validate inclusion (by hashing their own known information), while anyone looking at the list of hashes cannot determine the private information of any other user. All other parts of the scheme remain fully intact. A model like this is in use on the exchange CoinFloor in the UK.
A Merkle tree can provide even greater privacy. Instead of a list of balances, the balances are arranged into a binary tree. A customer starts from their node, and works their way to the top of the tree. For example, they know they have 5 BTC, they plus 1 other customer hold 7 BTC, they plus 2-3 other customers hold 17 BTC, etc... until they reach the root where all the BTC are represented. Thus, there is no way to find the balances of other individual customers aside from one unidentified customer in this case.
Proposals such as this had the backing of leaders in the community including Nic Carter, Greg Maxwell, and Zak Wilcox. Substantial and significant effort started back in 2013, with massive popularity in 2014. But what became of that effort? Very little. Exchange operators continue to refuse to give visibility. Despite the fact this information can often be obtained through trivial blockchain analysis, no Canadian platform has ever provided any wallet addresses publicly. As described by the CEO of Newton "For us to implement some kind of realtime Proof of Reserves solution, which I'm not opposed to, it would have to ... Preserve our users' privacy, as well as our own. Some kind of zero-knowledge proof". Kraken describes here in more detail why they haven't implemented such a scheme. According to professor Eli Ben-Sasson, when he spoke with exchanges, none were interested in implementing Proof of Reserves.
And yet, Kraken's places their reasoning on a page called "Proof of Reserves". More recently, both BitBuy and ShakePay have released reports titled "Proof of Reserves and Security Audit". Both reports contain disclaimers against being audits. Both reports trust the customer list provided by the platform, leaving the open possibility that multiple large accounts could have been excluded from the process. Proof of Reserves is a blockchain validation where customers see the wallets on the blockchain. The report from Kraken is 5 years old, but they leave it described as though it was just done a few weeks ago. And look at what they expect customers to do for validation. When firms represent something being "Proof of Reserve" when it's not, this is like a farmer growing fruit with pesticides and selling it in a farmers market as organic produce - except that these are people's hard-earned life savings at risk here. Platforms are misrepresenting the level of visibility in place and deceiving the public by their misuse of this term. They haven't proven anything.
Fraud isn't a problem that is unique to cryptocurrency. Fraud happens all the time. Enron, WorldCom, Nortel, Bear Stearns, Wells Fargo, Moser Baer, Wirecard, Bre-X, and Nicola are just some of the cases where frauds became large enough to become a big deal (and there are so many countless others). These all happened on 100% reversible assets despite regulations being in place. In many of these cases, the problems happened due to the over-complexity of the financial instruments. For example, Enron had "complex financial statements [which] were confusing to shareholders and analysts", creating "off-balance-sheet vehicles, complex financing structures, and deals so bewildering that few people could understand them". In cryptocurrency, we are often combining complex financial products with complex technologies and verification processes. We are naïve if we think problems like this won't happen. It is awkward and uncomfortable for many people to admit that they don't know how something works. If we want "money of the people" to work, the solutions have to be simple enough that "the people" can understand them, not so confusing that financial professionals and technology experts struggle to use or understand them.
For those who question the extent to which an organization can fool their way into a security consultancy role, HB Gary should be a great example to look at. Prior to trying to out anonymous, HB Gary was being actively hired by multiple US government agencies and others in the private sector (with glowing testimonials). The published articles and hosted professional security conferences. One should also look at this list of data breaches from the past 2 years. Many of them are large corporations, government entities, and technology companies. These are the ones we know about. Undoubtedly, there are many more that we do not know about. If HB Gary hadn't been "outted" by anonymous, would we have known they were insecure? If the same breach had happened outside of the public spotlight, would it even have been reported? Or would HB Gary have just deleted the Twitter posts, brought their site back up, done a couple patches, and kept on operating as though nothing had happened?
In the case of Quadriga, the facts are clear. Despite past experience with platforms such as MapleChange in Canada and others around the world, no guidance or even the most basic of a framework was put in place by regulators. By not clarifying any sort of legal framework, regulators enabled a situation where a platform could be run by former criminal Mike Dhanini/Omar Patryn, and where funds could be held fully unchecked by one person. At the same time, the lack of regulation deterred legitimate entities from running competing platforms and Quadriga was granted a money services business license for multiple years of operation, which gave the firm the appearance of legitimacy. Regulators did little to protect Canadians despite Quadriga failing to file taxes from 2016 onward. The entire administrative team had resigned and this was public knowledge. Many people had suspicions of what was going on, including Ryan Mueller, who forwarded complaints to the authorities. These were ignored, giving Gerald Cotten the opportunity to escape without justice.
There are multiple issues with the SOC II model including the prohibitive cost (you have to find a third party accounting firm and the prices are not even listed publicly on any sites), the requirement of operating for a year (impossible for new platforms), and lack of any public visibility (SOC II are private reports that aren't shared outside the people in suits).
Securities frameworks are expensive. Sarbanes-Oxley is estimated to cost $5.1 million USD/yr for the average Fortune 500 company in the United States. Since "Fortune 500" represents the top 500 companies, that means well over $2.55 billion USD (~$3.4 billion CAD) is going to people in suits. Isn't the problem of trust and verification the exact problem that the blockchain is supposed to solve?
To use Quadriga as justification for why custodians or SOC II or other advanced schemes are needed for platforms is rather silly, when any framework or visibility at all, or even the most basic of storage policies, would have prevented the whole thing. It's just an embarrassment.
We are now seeing regulators take strong action. CoinSquare in Canada with multi-million dollar fines. BitMex from the US, criminal charges and arrests. OkEx, with full disregard of withdrawals and no communication. Who's next?
We have a unique window today where we can solve these problems, and not permanently destroy innovation with unreasonable expectations, but we need to act quickly. This is a unique historic time that will never come again.
￼ ￼ Dogecoin surges to dizzying heights amid TikTok hype Oliver Knight July 9, 2020, 6:27 am Dogecoin, a longstanding staple of the cryptocurrency ecosystem, has been struck by a remarkably unexpected rally over the past 48-hours, with it now trading 82% higher against Bitcoin than it was two days ago. The meme-friendly digital asset, which was created as a joke in 2013, has emerged as a target for millions of TikTok users that claim it will rally all the way to $1. The #DOGE hashtag now has millions of posts on both TikTok and Twitter, with cryptocurrency exchanges responding by listing both futures and perpetual swap contracts of the cryptocurrency. This morning Binance revealed that as of tomorrow customers can trade Doge/USDT with up to 50x leverage. Bitfinex, meanwhile, announced that it will list MDOGE with a conversion rate of one million as it attempts to capitalise on the recent wave of hype. ￼ While a coin like Doge pumping unsustainably may seem like fun, investors should be wary about using leveraged products as it massively increases the risk of liquidation. To be clear, this is not financial advice but retail investors should be cautious about buying into an asset that has already made substantial gains on the back of a viral social media post, especially when Doge has been the recipient of a number of pump and dumps over the past two years. Looking at Dogecoin’s chart, the current level of 50 sats has been a historical point of support and resistance dating all the way back to 2015, which means price may be halted here unless another wave of volume comes in. For more news, guides and cryptocurrency analysis, click here. Update privacy choices
Bitcoin (BTC) is a peer-to-peer cryptocurrency that aims to function as a means of exchange that is independent of any central authority. BTC can be transferred electronically in a secure, verifiable, and immutable way.
Launched in 2009, BTC is the first virtual currency to solve the double-spending issue by timestamping transactions before broadcasting them to all of the nodes in the Bitcoin network. The Bitcoin Protocol offered a solution to the Byzantine Generals’ Problem with ablockchainnetwork structure, a notion first created byStuart Haber and W. Scott Stornetta in 1991.
Bitcoin’s whitepaper was published pseudonymously in 2008 by an individual, or a group, with the pseudonym “Satoshi Nakamoto”, whose underlying identity has still not been verified.
The Bitcoin protocol uses an SHA-256d-based Proof-of-Work (PoW) algorithm to reach network consensus. Its network has a target block time of 10 minutes and a maximum supply of 21 million tokens, with a decaying token emission rate. To prevent fluctuation of the block time, the network’s block difficulty is re-adjusted through an algorithm based on the past 2016 block times.
With a block size limit capped at 1 megabyte, the Bitcoin Protocol has supported both the Lightning Network, a second-layer infrastructure for payment channels, and Segregated Witness, a soft-fork to increase the number of transactions on a block, as solutions to network scalability.
Bitcoin is a peer-to-peer cryptocurrency that aims to function as a means of exchange and is independent of any central authority. Bitcoins are transferred electronically in a secure, verifiable, and immutable way.
Network validators, whom are often referred to as miners, participate in the SHA-256d-based Proof-of-Work consensus mechanism to determine the next global state of the blockchain.
The Bitcoin protocol has a target block time of 10 minutes, and a maximum supply of 21 million tokens. The only way new bitcoins can be produced is when a block producer generates a new valid block.
The protocol has a token emission rate that halves every 210,000 blocks, or approximately every 4 years.
Unlike public blockchain infrastructures supporting the development of decentralized applications (Ethereum), the Bitcoin protocol is primarily used only for payments, and has only very limited support for smart contract-like functionalities (Bitcoin “Script” is mostly used to create certain conditions before bitcoins are used to be spent).
In the Bitcoin network, anyone can join the network and become a bookkeeping service provider i.e., a validator. All validators are allowed in the race to become the block producer for the next block, yet only the first to complete a computationally heavy task will win. This feature is called Proof of Work (PoW). The probability of any single validator to finish the task first is equal to the percentage of the total network computation power, or hash power, the validator has. For instance, a validator with 5% of the total network computation power will have a 5% chance of completing the task first, and therefore becoming the next block producer. Since anyone can join the race, competition is prone to increase. In the early days, Bitcoin mining was mostly done by personal computer CPUs. As of today, Bitcoin validators, or miners, have opted for dedicated and more powerful devices such as machines based on Application-Specific Integrated Circuit (“ASIC”). Proof of Work secures the network as block producers must have spent resources external to the network (i.e., money to pay electricity), and can provide proof to other participants that they did so. With various miners competing for block rewards, it becomes difficult for one single malicious party to gain network majority (defined as more than 51% of the network’s hash power in the Nakamoto consensus mechanism). The ability to rearrange transactions via 51% attacks indicates another feature of the Nakamoto consensus: the finality of transactions is only probabilistic. Once a block is produced, it is then propagated by the block producer to all other validators to check on the validity of all transactions in that block. The block producer will receive rewards in the network’s native currency (i.e., bitcoin) as all validators approve the block and update their ledgers.
The Bitcoin protocol utilizes the Merkle tree data structure in order to organize hashes of numerous individual transactions into each block. This concept is named after Ralph Merkle, who patented it in 1979. With the use of a Merkle tree, though each block might contain thousands of transactions, it will have the ability to combine all of their hashes and condense them into one, allowing efficient and secure verification of this group of transactions. This single hash called is a Merkle root, which is stored in the Block Header of a block. The Block Header also stores other meta information of a block, such as a hash of the previous Block Header, which enables blocks to be associated in a chain-like structure (hence the name “blockchain”). An illustration of block production in the Bitcoin Protocol is demonstrated below. https://preview.redd.it/m6texxicf3151.png?width=1591&format=png&auto=webp&s=f4253304912ed8370948b9c524e08fef28f1c78d
Block time and mining difficulty
Block time is the period required to create the next block in a network. As mentioned above, the node who solves the computationally intensive task will be allowed to produce the next block. Therefore, block time is directly correlated to the amount of time it takes for a node to find a solution to the task. The Bitcoin protocol sets a target block time of 10 minutes, and attempts to achieve this by introducing a variable named mining difficulty. Mining difficulty refers to how difficult it is for the node to solve the computationally intensive task. If the network sets a high difficulty for the task, while miners have low computational power, which is often referred to as “hashrate”, it would statistically take longer for the nodes to get an answer for the task. If the difficulty is low, but miners have rather strong computational power, statistically, some nodes will be able to solve the task quickly. Therefore, the 10 minute target block time is achieved by constantly and automatically adjusting the mining difficulty according to how much computational power there is amongst the nodes. The average block time of the network is evaluated after a certain number of blocks, and if it is greater than the expected block time, the difficulty level will decrease; if it is less than the expected block time, the difficulty level will increase.
What are orphan blocks?
In a PoW blockchain network, if the block time is too low, it would increase the likelihood of nodes producingorphan blocks, for which they would receive no reward. Orphan blocks are produced by nodes who solved the task but did not broadcast their results to the whole network the quickest due to network latency. It takes time for a message to travel through a network, and it is entirely possible for 2 nodes to complete the task and start to broadcast their results to the network at roughly the same time, while one’s messages are received by all other nodes earlier as the node has low latency. Imagine there is a network latency of 1 minute and a target block time of 2 minutes. A node could solve the task in around 1 minute but his message would take 1 minute to reach the rest of the nodes that are still working on the solution. While his message travels through the network, all the work done by all other nodes during that 1 minute, even if these nodes also complete the task, would go to waste. In this case, 50% of the computational power contributed to the network is wasted. The percentage of wasted computational power would proportionally decrease if the mining difficulty were higher, as it would statistically take longer for miners to complete the task. In other words, if the mining difficulty, and therefore targeted block time is low, miners with powerful and often centralized mining facilities would get a higher chance of becoming the block producer, while the participation of weaker miners would become in vain. This introduces possible centralization and weakens the overall security of the network. However, given a limited amount of transactions that can be stored in a block, making the block time too longwould decrease the number of transactions the network can process per second, negatively affecting network scalability.
3. Bitcoin’s additional features
Segregated Witness (SegWit)
Segregated Witness, often abbreviated as SegWit, is a protocol upgrade proposal that went live in August 2017. SegWit separates witness signatures from transaction-related data. Witness signatures in legacy Bitcoin blocks often take more than 50% of the block size. By removing witness signatures from the transaction block, this protocol upgrade effectively increases the number of transactions that can be stored in a single block, enabling the network to handle more transactions per second. As a result, SegWit increases the scalability of Nakamoto consensus-based blockchain networks like Bitcoin and Litecoin. SegWit also makes transactions cheaper. Since transaction fees are derived from how much data is being processed by the block producer, the more transactions that can be stored in a 1MB block, the cheaper individual transactions become. https://preview.redd.it/depya70mf3151.png?width=1601&format=png&auto=webp&s=a6499aa2131fbf347f8ffd812930b2f7d66be48e The legacy Bitcoin block has a block size limit of 1 megabyte, and any change on the block size would require a network hard-fork. On August 1st 2017, the first hard-fork occurred, leading to the creation of Bitcoin Cash (“BCH”), which introduced an 8 megabyte block size limit. Conversely, Segregated Witness was a soft-fork: it never changed the transaction block size limit of the network. Instead, it added an extended block with an upper limit of 3 megabytes, which contains solely witness signatures, to the 1 megabyte block that contains only transaction data. This new block type can be processed even by nodes that have not completed the SegWit protocol upgrade. Furthermore, the separation of witness signatures from transaction data solves the malleability issue with the original Bitcoin protocol. Without Segregated Witness, these signatures could be altered before the block is validated by miners. Indeed, alterations can be done in such a way that if the system does a mathematical check, the signature would still be valid. However, since the values in the signature are changed, the two signatures would create vastly different hash values. For instance, if a witness signature states “6,” it has a mathematical value of 6, and would create a hash value of 12345. However, if the witness signature were changed to “06”, it would maintain a mathematical value of 6 while creating a (faulty) hash value of 67890. Since the mathematical values are the same, the altered signature remains a valid signature. This would create a bookkeeping issue, as transactions in Nakamoto consensus-based blockchain networks are documented with these hash values, or transaction IDs. Effectively, one can alter a transaction ID to a new one, and the new ID can still be valid. This can create many issues, as illustrated in the below example:
Alice sends Bob 1 BTC, and Bob sends Merchant Carol this 1 BTC for some goods.
Bob sends Carols this 1 BTC, while the transaction from Alice to Bob is not yet validated. Carol sees this incoming transaction of 1 BTC to him, and immediately ships goods to B.
At the moment, the transaction from Alice to Bob is still not confirmed by the network, and Bob can change the witness signature, therefore changing this transaction ID from 12345 to 67890.
Now Carol will not receive his 1 BTC, as the network looks for transaction 12345 to ensure that Bob’s wallet balance is valid.
As this particular transaction ID changed from 12345 to 67890, the transaction from Bob to Carol will fail, and Bob will get his goods while still holding his BTC.
With the Segregated Witness upgrade, such instances can not happen again. This is because the witness signatures are moved outside of the transaction block into an extended block, and altering the witness signature won’t affect the transaction ID. Since the transaction malleability issue is fixed, Segregated Witness also enables the proper functioning of second-layer scalability solutions on the Bitcoin protocol, such as the Lightning Network.
Lightning Network is a second-layer micropayment solution for scalability. Specifically, Lightning Network aims to enable near-instant and low-cost payments between merchants and customers that wish to use bitcoins. Lightning Network was conceptualized in a whitepaper by Joseph Poon and Thaddeus Dryja in 2015. Since then, it has been implemented by multiple companies. The most prominent of them include Blockstream, Lightning Labs, and ACINQ. A list of curated resources relevant to Lightning Network can be found here. In the Lightning Network, if a customer wishes to transact with a merchant, both of them need to open a payment channel, which operates off the Bitcoin blockchain (i.e., off-chain vs. on-chain). None of the transaction details from this payment channel are recorded on the blockchain, and only when the channel is closed will the end result of both party’s wallet balances be updated to the blockchain. The blockchain only serves as a settlement layer for Lightning transactions. Since all transactions done via the payment channel are conducted independently of the Nakamoto consensus, both parties involved in transactions do not need to wait for network confirmation on transactions. Instead, transacting parties would pay transaction fees to Bitcoin miners only when they decide to close the channel. https://preview.redd.it/cy56icarf3151.png?width=1601&format=png&auto=webp&s=b239a63c6a87ec6cc1b18ce2cbd0355f8831c3a8 One limitation to the Lightning Network is that it requires a person to be online to receive transactions attributing towards him. Another limitation in user experience could be that one needs to lock up some funds every time he wishes to open a payment channel, and is only able to use that fund within the channel. However, this does not mean he needs to create new channels every time he wishes to transact with a different person on the Lightning Network. If Alice wants to send money to Carol, but they do not have a payment channel open, they can ask Bob, who has payment channels open to both Alice and Carol, to help make that transaction. Alice will be able to send funds to Bob, and Bob to Carol. Hence, the number of “payment hubs” (i.e., Bob in the previous example) correlates with both the convenience and the usability of the Lightning Network for real-world applications.
Schnorr Signature upgrade proposal
Elliptic Curve Digital Signature Algorithm (“ECDSA”) signatures are used to sign transactions on the Bitcoin blockchain. https://preview.redd.it/hjeqe4l7g3151.png?width=1601&format=png&auto=webp&s=8014fb08fe62ac4d91645499bc0c7e1c04c5d7c4 However, many developers now advocate for replacing ECDSA with Schnorr Signature. Once Schnorr Signatures are implemented, multiple parties can collaborate in producing a signature that is valid for the sum of their public keys. This would primarily be beneficial for network scalability. When multiple addresses were to conduct transactions to a single address, each transaction would require their own signature. With Schnorr Signature, all these signatures would be combined into one. As a result, the network would be able to store more transactions in a single block. https://preview.redd.it/axg3wayag3151.png?width=1601&format=png&auto=webp&s=93d958fa6b0e623caa82ca71fe457b4daa88c71e The reduced size in signatures implies a reduced cost on transaction fees. The group of senders can split the transaction fees for that one group signature, instead of paying for one personal signature individually. Schnorr Signature also improves network privacy and token fungibility. A third-party observer will not be able to detect if a user is sending a multi-signature transaction, since the signature will be in the same format as a single-signature transaction.
4. Economics and supply distribution
The Bitcoin protocol utilizes the Nakamoto consensus, and nodes validate blocks via Proof-of-Work mining. The bitcoin token was not pre-mined, and has a maximum supply of 21 million. The initial reward for a block was 50 BTC per block. Block mining rewards halve every 210,000 blocks. Since the average time for block production on the blockchain is 10 minutes, it implies that the block reward halving events will approximately take place every 4 years. As of May 12th 2020, the block mining rewards are 6.25 BTC per block. Transaction fees also represent a minor revenue stream for miners.
Huobi is a Singapore-based cryptocurrency exchange. Founded in China, the company now has offices in Hong Kong, Korea, Japan and the United States. In August 2018 it became a publicly listed Hong Kong company. Recently during early 2019, after crypto communities lost interest in ICOs (Initial Coin Offering) due to many unregistered STOs (Security Token Offering) and other projects whose aim was only to raise the funds. Exchanges adapted and gave a new dimension of the fund raising, IEO (Initial Exchange Offering). In this regard, exchanges helped the projects by providing them a platform to raise the funds and also helped the retail investors by doing due diligence on the project on behalf of the investors. Best part of this process is, such issued tokens are listed on the same platform and exchanges helped these start ups in the process. This gave a sense of security and helped to maintain integrity with the projects and public investors. All the top tier exchanges are participating in this movement and named such fund raising as Launchpad, Jumpstart, Spotlight, Startup etc. While Huobi came up with Huobi Prime. Unlike other exchanges, Huobi Prime has helped varieties of start-ups.
It all started with a DAG based blockchain platform, Top Network.
A project named after the greatest scientist who made a major impact on the human lives, Newton Project. It is aimed to deliver an infrastructure for the community economy.
It is followed by Thunder Core. A blockchain project dreamt of decentralized future and allows anyone to build dApps on their platform.
Then Reserve Rights continued the legacy. It’s a protocol for stable currencies with three kinds of tokens RSV, RSR and collateral tokens.
Akropolis - a protocol to explore the informal economy and help the people with DeFi. It was one of it’s kind which was competitive enough to seek the help from the Huobi.
Later a social digital currency, Emogi secured a place to be the next Prime project.
Recently, Whole Network - A consensus, co-creation, and win-win behavioral value network had the opportunity to feature as a 7th Prime project.
However, each of the Prime project is different from the other in the list. One must admit, it is a basket with mixed fruits. From DAG to Currency to dApp platform to stable coin protocol to DeFi protocol to digital currency to blockchain phone. Huobi has covered a rich list of projects in this journey. https://preview.redd.it/8z08lbq3qls41.png?width=800&format=png&auto=webp&s=34de122d950f32feb46df82cdce290221e1572be (This chart presents the information based on the price of the each token on 2nd October. However it may vary marginally as price of the cryptocurrencies are volatile in nature) Trading Options Many centralized exchanges serve as the sole, centralized market maker. In contrast, Huobi also allows you to trade over the counter (OTC). This means that you can buy and sell cryptocurrencies peer-to-peer on Huobi. Even though this option exists on the exchange, it has yet to gain adoption from traders. Various commenters have said that there is a lack of OTC offers. Still, this is still an innovative technical feature. If you are a margin trader, Houbi has a separate platform specifically for this. You can access this by going to the margin tab in the header. The amount of leverage you can have varies from coin-to-coin. For example, BTC is around 3x. Compared to other margin trading platforms, this is low. Nonetheless, it is an attractive option for potential users. In December 2018, Huobi Derivative Market issued BTC contracts and ETH contracts (including weekly, bi-weekly and quarterly, respectively), and flexible leverages, including 1x, 5x, 10x and 20x. In the future, more digital currencies will be issued to meet various investment demands. Meaning “currency” in Mandarin Chinese, Huobi consistently ranks as one of the world’s top ten largest exchanges by trade volume. In this article, we look at everything you need to know as a potential Huobi user. Let’s examine fees, fund security, customer experience and more. User Interface and Mobile App Available on iOS and Android, the Huobi mobile app features most of the functionalities available on the web platform. You can even complete tasks like account registration and verification directly via the app. In Google Play, the Huobi Global app has an average rating of 4.1 stars out of 3,730 reviews. However, in December 2018 and January 2019, some users have said that the Android app won’t let them login due to an error with Captcha. On the Apple App Store, Huobi boasts an average rating of 4.9 stars out of over 4,800 reviews. Trading Options Many centralized exchanges serve as the sole, centralized market maker. In contrast, Huobi also allows you to trade over the counter (OTC). This means that you can buy and sell cryptocurrencies peer-to-peer on Huobi. Even though this option exists on the exchange, it has yet to gain adoption from traders. Various commenters have said that there is a lack of OTC offers. Still, this is still an innovative technical feature. If you are a margin trader, Houbi has a separate platform specifically for this. You can access this by going to the margin tab in the header. The amount of leverage you can have varies from coin-to-coin. For example, BTC is around 3x. Compared to other margin trading platforms, this is low. Nonetheless, it is an attractive option for potential users. In December 2018, Huobi Derivative Market issued BTC contracts and ETH contracts (including weekly, bi-weekly and quarterly, respectively), and flexible leverages, including 1x, 5x, 10x and 20x. In the future, more digital currencies will be issued to meet various investment demands. Huobi offers a margin trading option. Security Compared to other exchanges, Huobi continues to excel from a security perspective. Many top exchanges suffer from large-scale hacks, with varying results in terms of trading volume afterward. In 2015, a Bitstamp hacker withdrew 12,000 BTC from Huobi. However, this issue did not relate to the security of Huobi. Huobi reported a DDOS attack in 2015 but this did not cause a security breach. According to one review, an individual user lost USDT and EOS on Huobi. This reviewer states that the problem was caused by a technical error with Huobi’s 2FA. One comment suggests that it was the result of a phishing scam. Huobi claims that its risk controls have been developed by the likes of Goldman Sachs. The exchange stores around 98 percent of funds in cold wallets. Moreover, Huobi now utilizes a decentralized exchange structure to prevent DDOS attacks. The exchange even has a User Protection Fund Initiative. Twenty percent of net revenue that the exchanges gains from trades will go to this fund, which it will use to buy back Huobi Token (HT). It also has a service called Huobi Security Reserve. As part of this, the exchange plans to store 20,000 BTC for insurance. This is a preventative measure that will help Huobi reimburse users in the case of any future hacks. Huobi Fees Huobi has a 0.2 percent fee that applies to both market makers and takers for amounts between $0 and $5,000,000 over the course of a 30-day period. In comparison, other top exchanges like Binance have 0.1 percent fees. Meanwhile, GDAX has 0.3 percent fees. In January 2019, Huobi Global launched a tiered fee structure that significantly reduces fees for higher volume traders. This is relatively competitive when compared to other exchanges. Users also have the option to reduce trading fees on Huobi by becoming a VIP member. This involves paying a monthly payment of HT, which varies depending on the membership level (1-5). Like most exchanges Huobi has no fees on deposits. However, Huobi does have withdrawal fees and minimums that vary from coin-to-coin. For example, withdrawing Bitcoin (BTC) costs 0.001 BTC, with a minimum withdrawal amount of 0.01 BTC. For Tether (USDT), the flat fee is 5 USDT and minimum withdrawal amount is 20 USDT. Overall, this means that Huobi fees are generally higher than most exchanges for lower withdrawal amounts. A few exceptions exist. For example, TUSD has a withdrawal minimum of $20 but a withdrawal fee of only $2. Withdrawal Limitations Similar to many exchanges on the market, Huobi has withdrawal limitations based on various levels of user verification. One thing you will notice is that withdrawal amounts vary greatly depending on your citizenship. For example, if you are a citizen of China, you can’t withdraw any funds as an unverified user or with level 1 verification. This option is only available at level 2 or above. In the United States, the exchange only requires level 1 verification. However, the amounts are relatively low: a daily limit of $2,000 and a monthly limit of $10,000. Customer Service Experience Compared to most exchanges, Huobi has above average customer service experience. Customer support is available 24/7, and response times only take two to three hours on average. Many consider this to be a rarity in the space. There are two main methods that you can use to reach customer support. First, you can utilize the chat app that is available directly on the Huobi trading platform. Second, you can contact the team at [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected]). If you choose this option, Huobi asks that you use the registered email address associated with your Huobi account and include your user ID. Huobi Website: https://www.huobi.vc/en-us/topic/invited/?invite_code=3afg5 UID: 134371568 Huobi Indian Community: https://t.me/huobiglobalindia Huobi Global Community: https://t.me/huobiglobalofficial
Hi Bitcoiners! I’m back with the 30th monthly Bitcoin news recap. For those unfamiliar, each day I pick out the most popularelevant/interesting stories in Bitcoin and save them. At the end of the month I release them in one batch, to give you a quick (but not necessarily the best) overview of what happened in bitcoin over the past month. You can see recaps of the previous months on Bitcoinsnippets.com A recap of Bitcoin in May 2019 Adoption
This is a compilation of everything suspicious I found with Quadriga. Please let me know if there’s anything incorrect or missing Early History (2013-2017)
QuadrigaCX started in 2013 and made history by being the first crypto exchange to register with FINTRAC and accept gold bullion deposits. By 2015, Quadriga became Canada’s largest crypto exchange. So far, so good.
In March 2015, Quadriga attempted to go public and a month later, announced its intention to install Bitcoin ATMs across Canada. Both these plans were eventually aborted.
Even though Quadriga never listed, it started selling its shares over-the-counter. In Sep 2015, Quadriga stopped publishing audits. In March 2016, Quadriga was banned from selling shares after the BCSC issued a cease trade order (CTO) for not submitting an audit.
Around the same time, 3 of Quadriga’s 5 directors (Anthony Milewski, Lovie Horner, Bill Filtness) and CFO (Natasha Tsai) all resigned. Sometime in 2016, Director and Co-founder Michael Patryn resigned. This left Gerald Cotten ("Gerry") as the only remaining director.
Evidence shows that Michael Patryn has used several aliases (including Omar Dhanani) and is a convicted identity thief
Quadriga has changed its business address several times. It started as a Vancouver-based exchange, with its addresses changing from Commercial Dr, Nelson St, and Homer St. Eventually, the address moved to Toronto. None of these were physical office addresses, but instead a mail forwarding address.
The Terms of Service on Quadriga’s website have always suspiciously stated that:
All account fundings are considered to be purchases of QuadrigaCX Bucks. These are units that are used for the purposes of purchasing Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies. QuadrigaCX Bucks are NOT Canadian Dollars. Any notation of $, CAD, or USD refers to an equivalent unit in QuadrigaCX Bucks, which exist for the sole purpose of buying and selling Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. QuadrigaCX is NOT a financial institution, bank, credit union, trust, or deposit business. We DO NOT take Deposits. We exist solely for the purposes of buying and selling cryptocurrencies.
Banking troubles throughout 2018
In late Dec 2017, Jose Reyes (CEO of Billerfy and Costodian Inc, Quadriga’s payment processor) moved over a million dollars from Quadriga’s account and into his own personal CIBC account
Shortly after, CIBC froze these funds and tried reaching out to Gerry, who refused to speak with them
All throughout 2018, Quadriga’s fiat withdrawal times took 2-3 months to complete. Quadriga kept citing the CIBC freeze as the reason. What’s very suspicious is how Quadriga constantly lied to customers with promises such as “the withdrawal backlog will be cleared in 1 week” or “your funds have been processed” when in fact they were months away from doing so.
Period leading up to Gerry’s death
On Nov 27, Gerry filed his will just 12 days before his death. He left a plane, two houses, and $100,000 for the care of his two Chihuahuas.
Gerry had a plan for all his personal affairs in the event of his death but he had no contingency plan for $180M CAD of crypto in cold storage that only he had the private keys to?
India is a suspicious place to travel, considering Gerry had a medical condition and considering how easy it is to get a death certificate there
After a severe bear market, most crypto businesses have been struggling and laying off staff. It’s odd that Gerry, who has no history of philanthropy, chooses to donate money. Especially when his exchange is having so many banking troubles.
The organization that built the orphanage states on their website that they take care of all construction. There was zero need for Gerry to go to India
A reddit post shows that the orphanage exists, although it’s a mystery where the image came from
Bitcoin fell 50% in Nov – the worst monthly decline in 7 years. Gerry’s death occurred shortly after
Gerry’s death and announcement
On Dec 9, Gerry died in India “due to complications of Crohn’s disease.” However, there is a low probability that Crohn’s disease is fatal, especially at the young age of 30
Just a couple days later, a reddit post indicated someone bought 300 BTC on Quadriga at a 25% premium and moved the funds out of the exchange
It took Quadriga over a month to announce Gerry’s death on Jan 14th.
Over the following 2 weeks, Quadriga continued to assure customers that “our hot wallets are being filled and withdrawals are going slower but will complete.”
On Jan 28th, Quadriga takes down their website. Initially they said “an upgrade is being performed,” then the message changed to “site maintenance” before being changed to “Quadriga has filed for creditor protection” on Jan 31st.
In the media, Gerry stated several times that Quadriga uses multi-sig cold storage. This is where 2/3 or 3/5 people can be used to authorize a transaction. Clearly no multisig was used if only Gerry had the private keys.
Formal Active Investigations
A preliminary court hearing was held on Feb 5, 2019 where the Canadian Apex Court appointed Ernst and Young (EY) as Monitor to further investigate into the matter. EY has stated that its an extraordinary challenge to decipher Quadriga's finances, as the company has no accounting records (and did not systematically track incoming and outgoing payments) nor a bank account in its name.
The Better Business Bureau (BBB), which gives Quadriga an F-rating, launched an investigation in Dec 2018
Quadriga has substantial personal information on its customers, including SIN, driver's license, and banking details. Given Quadriga's murky history, customers may have their identity at risk and should setup up credit report and identity theft alerts with either Equifax or TransUnion.
Here’s the sequel of our previous article. You wanted — you got it. Let’s roll! OneCoin OneCoin is a good example of a Ponzi scheme. In 2015, the Indian company One Coin Limited began to issue digital currency without a blockchain and decentralization. The old-school MLM (Multi-Level Marketing) strategy was used for the distribution of coins. The company was selling a wide range of training packages on crypto trading, mining and successful life. There were textbooks, presentations, and other rubbish, among which were OneCoin tokens. They were supposed to allow users to get even more tokens. But the thing was that only One Coin Limited had exclusive rights to issue of coinage. So there were no other options for mining this coin. On the international conference the founder of OneCoin, Ruja Ignatova, presents these tokens as theBitcoin killer. See how easy it is to fool users? Over the years, the company has spread its network globally. And only in 2017, the project gets into a number of investigations and restrictions. Owners and employees of the company more and more often could not answer questions from investors and carried on with the nonsense about “a bright crypto-future.” Finally, regulators and banks in Italy, Germany, Hungary, Belize, Thailand and other countries have banned the trade of OneCoin and warned users not to get engaged with this company. In early March 2019, the current OneCoin cryptocurrency leader Konstantin Ignatov, brother of Ruja Ignatova, was arrested at Los Angeles airport. He is accused of fraud and creating a financial pyramid. According to the United States Attorney’s Office, Ignatov and his sister misled investors all over the world, and as a result, the people invested billions of dollars in a fraud scheme. They are accused of building a billion-dollar cryptocurrency company, based entirely on deception. FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William Sweeney, Jr. said:
“OneCoin was a cryptocurrency existing only in the minds of its creators and their co-conspirators. Unlike authentic cryptocurrencies, which maintain records of their investors’ transaction history, OneCoin had no real value. It offered investors no method of tracing their money, and it could not be used to purchase anything. In fact, the only ones who stood to benefit from its existence were its founders and co-conspirators.”
Despite all hardships, One Coin Limited continues to work. If you check out their website you will find everything there: a meaningless text about the benefits of a “revolutionary” token and other signs of a high-quality international project that deceives people. QuadrigaCX It’s not possible to take your savings to the grave, right? More than 100,000 clients of QuadrigaCX are ready to argue with that. So let’s try to recount the details of this strange story. QuadrigaCX was created in 2013 and was Canada’s largest cryptocurrency exchange. In December 2018, Gerald Cotten (founder and CEO of the QuadrigaCX) and his wife — Jennifer Robertson, were in India on their honeymoon. During this trip Cotten suddenly passed away from Crohn’s disease. After his death, it turned out that Gerald was the only one who had access to cold wallets of the exchange platform. Changpeng Zhao (Binance CEO) comments this situation on Twitter:
“That’s sad. There are many solutions to split private keys or signing to achieve 3/5, 5/7 etc. Never neglect security. Also, never have CEO carry private keys. Bad on many levels.”
On January 25, 2019 (that is, almost two months after Cotten’s death) a special meeting was convened to appoint QuadrigaCX’s new directors. As a result, the inconsolable widow Jennifer Robertson, her stepfather Thomas Beazley and Jack Martel were elected to take charge of a company. By the way, this meeting was held by a conference call as the widow was very busy by hastily selling the property of her deceased husband. Indeed, there was something to deal with: a yacht, a plane, and several houses. Also, dearly departed managed to take care of his Chihuahuas by opening a special trust account for them in the amount of $100,000 (which is interesting, as Cotten did not show such forethought about the clients of his company). It’s worth to mention that the clients of QuadrigaCX had problems with the exchange for a long time — mainly related to the withdrawal of funds. The first wake-up calls took place in March 2018, when press reports negatively about delays in the withdrawal of funds the total amount of which exceeded $100,000. But that’s all just moonshine compared to the fact that in June 2017 the exchange platform lost about 15 million Canadian dollars — as explained to the community, due to a bug in the smart contract. As a result, the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) froze about $22 million in QuadrigaCX accounts. This happened in November 2018, and for all users, it would have meant the end of a remarkable business but Mr. Cotten wasn’t explaining the problems to customers, wasn’t trying to solve them, and so on. He had just married and went on a honeymoon trip to pass away exactly two weeks after freezing the accounts. As the inconsolable widow stated in her testimony:
“To the best of my knowledge, most of the businesses of these companies was being conducted by Gerry whenever and wherever he and his computer were located”.
In February 2019, the head of Coinbase — Brian Armstrong unveiled the results of an independent investigation into the QuadrigaCX. He reported on his Twitter account the following:
“Sequence of events suggests this was a mismanagement with later attempt to cover for it.”“This implies that at least few people inside Qadriga knew that they were running fractional. If so, then it’s possible that untimely death of their CEO was used as an outlet to let the company sink”.
Brian Armstrong stressed that QuadrigaCX users started complaining about problems with withdrawing money long before Gerald Cotten’s death. Thus, the company management decided to invent a story about private keys on the laptop of the CEO to hide the financial insolvency, one of the reasons for which could be inefficient management. Nowadays, the Canadian cryptocurrency exchange QuadrigaCX is officially bankrupt. Users of the closed Quadriga are now leading legal battles in order to recover their funds. The total amount of which is about $190 million in crypto. The exact circumstances of the disappearance of user deposits remain uncertain. Do you think the story with QuadrigaCX was Exit Scam or Mismanagement? Bitfinex One of the largest crypto scandals of the year broke out on April 30, 2019. The New York State Attorney General’s Office has filed serious accusations against the biggest exchange platform — Bitfinex. According to Leticia James, the exchange platform used the reserves of Tether, an affiliated company to cover up a loss of $850 million. Questions to Tether have been in the air for a long time. In January 2018, the critics of the main stablecoin assumed that the company, in fact, produced more coins than it actually could sustain. Some critics accused the Bitfinex in fraud and manipulation of Tether’s rate and influenced through it on the price of Bitcoin. So what’s up with the Bitfinex? Investigators of the prosecutor’s office claim that the lost money belonged to the clients and iFinex corporation. That is why, back in October 2018, Bitfinex started having problems with the withdrawal of the funds: the clients complained about long response time and a delay in receiving currency. According to the authorities, Bitfinex transferred $850 million to Crypto Capital Corp., the payment company. The Tether reserves were used to fill the gap, but this information was not disclosed to the public. According to the first data, Tether provided funding in the amount of at least $700 million for this purposes. Withdrawing this amount of currency severely shook faith in the idea that Tether tokens are indeed fully backed by dollars. And then Bitfinex had extraordinary difficulties in satisfying the withdrawal demands from the platform since Crypto Capital refused to process withdrawals or simply could not return any funds. One of the senior Bitfinex executives opened a can of worms by writing the following:
“Please understand all this could be extremely dangerous for everybody, the entire crypto community. BTC could tank to below 1k if we don’t act quickly.”
Soon after it was known about the serious accusations against companies, Bitfinex’s users began to panic. They started buying Bitcoin and trying to get rid of their assets in USDT. As a result, BTC was trading $350+ (6.75%) more expensive than the crypto market average. Tether and Bitfinex published a joint statement on their official blogs in response to the allegations of missing funds. The posts allege that the companies did not receive any preliminary warnings, as well as that lawsuits from the New York Prosecutor General’s Office were “riddled with false assertions”. According to the latest information, Bitfinex is supposed to release its own token and attract $1 billion in Tether through IEO. What do you think about these scandals and scams? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.
Recurring Revenue Model - you have a unique URL affiliate link, and when you send it to people their account is linked to yours, and you get a percentage of whatever they spend or trade during their time. Sometimes this can be time limited (for 30 days), but typically goes for the life of the person you refer. Typically referral fees are taken from the company, so the company might advertise as 30% of Company's revenue, or it may say 1% of money spent on the platform.
Initial payout Model - this is the most popular and simplest model for paying affiliates. A simple pay per sign up, typically between $5 and $15 per sign up you get. However, rarely will you get paid just for the signup, instead the new user must complete some "engaging action" on the website - a purchase, a trade, or a post.
Multi-tiered Revenue Model - this is an extrapolated model from the recurring revenue model, where there are multiple tiers, or levels, so you get paid for the people who get referred by the people you refer. Typically it's a smaller % for the indirect tier, since you didn't do any work, but it does incentivize people to find the power players and refer them to the website.
Below are the Top 10 Affiliate Programs to Earn Cryptocurrency that we've found. Granted there are many affiliate programs out there, but if you're looking to start a blog, Youtube channel, or other content idea to get paid through affiliate links, check these out first. LocalBitcoins https://localbitcoins.com/ https://preview.redd.it/0zy08bsxjjx31.png?width=504&format=png&auto=webp&s=30b0b2f9c140d681a3dd9330f7b44d1d433dbe14 LocalBitcoins is a peer-to-peer trading site for bitcoin to 100's of other currencies. A fantastic option to get access to bitcoin. LocalBitcoins offers a 20% commission for your affiliates directly to your Local Bitcoins wallet. If you refer both a buyer and seller, you will get a commission from both referrals or 40% of the total transaction. Payouts will be paid daily to your LocalBitcoins wallet for one (1) year from user's registration. Redeeem https://www.redeeem.com/ https://preview.redd.it/26jy3yj4kjx31.png?width=508&format=png&auto=webp&s=30d1d56ceba2ea9cc405af6729cce46248d1f5ad Founded in 2018, Redeeem is a fast, safe and easy way to buy and sell gift cards using cryptocurrencies. The goal is to accelerate the adoption of Bitcoin into the global economy and showcase its endless potential. For every person that signs up with your affiliate link you earn 1% of their total crypto trade volume, paid nightly in bitcoin. This has no expiration nor limits so you continue to earn passively as long as your old and new affiliates trade. Abra https://www.abra.com/ Founded in 2014 by Bill Barhydt, serial entrepreneur and global mobile-banking veteran, our team is based in Silicon Valley and committed to forever changing how the world moves money. Abra's Affiliate Program lets you offer a $25 joining bonus to your referrals, and earn $25 for each affiliate that will sign up using your Referral Link. For affiliates and new users to receive their $25, they must either 1) Deposit a minimum of $5 to their Abra wallet via a US bank account or eligible American Express card; Or 2) Deposit crypto and exchange it to other assets EXCEPT for BTC, BCH, ETH or LTC. This option will allow the referrer and referred to receive 0.75% of the exchange total, up to $25. The referred user must also have accrued a minimum of $5 in rewards to receive the payment. Binance https://www.binance.com/en https://preview.redd.it/41719u90ljx31.png?width=1284&format=png&auto=webp&s=beda5720d18f614ed2621b36ce32d6fd9e1fb025 Binance is a global cryptocurrency exchange that provides a platform for trading more than 100 cryptocurrencies. Since early 2018, Binance is considered as the biggest cryptocurrency exchange in the world in terms of trading volume. Inviters and referrals can share up to 40% referral commissions from their trading fees under Binance's upgraded Referral Program. Inviters can choose to share a portion of the commissions received of the friends they invite and set the sharing rate as 0%, 5% or 10% (for inviters with daily average BNB of less than 500, and base referral rate is 20%). For inviters that have a daily average BNB of more than 500, their base referral rate is bumped up to 40% and have the option to share 15% or 20% with their referrals. All referral commissions (both those received by inviters and those shared with their invited friends) are calculated in real-time and transferred to the respective Binance accounts every hour from 12:00 AM until 1:00 AM (UTC) of the next day. CEX.IO https://cex.io/ https://preview.redd.it/tu065lucljx31.png?width=1115&format=png&auto=webp&s=ae09a725648954d62c055a3090fb61b56a2d189c Established in 2013 as the first cloud mining provider, CEX.IO has become a multi-functional cryptocurrency exchange, trusted by over a million users. CEX.IO offers cross-platform trading via website, mobile app, WebSocket and REST API, providing access to high liquidity orderbook for top currency pairs on the market. Current Affiliate program offers a 30% commission on the fee of exchange transactions of every new user that signs up with your Referral link. Changelly https://changelly.com/ https://preview.redd.it/og6x94thljx31.png?width=1208&format=png&auto=webp&s=c462b8dd39c33026ab3f33f42c6369e60a23bff9 Changelly is a non-custodial instant cryptocurrency exchange. They act as an intermediary between crypto exchanges and users, offering access to 130+ cryptocurrencies. The company mission is making exchange process effortless for everyone who wants to invest in cryptocurrency. Operating since 2015, the platform and its mobile app attract over a million visitors monthly who enjoy high limits, fast transactions, and 24/7 live support. Loyal customers get a special feature in the Affiliate Program. Customers who share their affiliate link or add the Changelly widget can get 50% profit from every transaction made by new users that signed up via your referral link. The link is permanent, and the reward is given in bitcoin equivalent. YouHodler https://www.youhodler.com/ https://preview.redd.it/5re0e4zxljx31.png?width=980&format=png&auto=webp&s=a9e260730dbd4fa50069875cd9fc8c612c468499 YouHodler is a Blockchain-based Financial Ecosystem focused on cryptocurrency-backed lending with fiat loans. YouHodler lending platform provides USD and/or EUR loans, secured by collateral in BTC, ETH, XRP, and other popular cryptocurrencies. The YouHodler Referral Program allows you to earn $25 with each successfully activated account from your referral link and promo code. Everyone that follows your link and activates their account (funding their account and using at least one product such as Turbocharge or conversion) also gets $25 instantly. Aside from the instant reward, you can also receive 50% in average of YouHodler's revenue from the next 10 products your invitee gets. Cryptohopper https://www.cryptohopper.com/ https://preview.redd.it/clq699w4mjx31.png?width=1189&format=png&auto=webp&s=b194202d7997a07391abf28f7aa2ba4946c30d0c Cryptohopper was started by two brothers. After hearing about the opportunities of cryptocurrencies for the first time, they were hooked. One of them was successful as a daytrader. The other brother, a brilliant web developer, didn't have the funds to invest. This got him thinking, what if there was a way to let a bot trade for you. It would work 24/7, trading as many coins as you wanted it to, constantly monitoring the market. You can earn a minimum of $1.90 a month for each user who signs up for an Explorer Hopper, $4.90 for each Adventure Hopper referral and $9.90 for each Hero! To maximize your earnings, each referral will also earn you up to 15% over each of their payments, including; signals, strategies and marketplace items. It all counts. Trezor https://trezor.io/ https://preview.redd.it/boazp1gamjx31.png?width=1044&format=png&auto=webp&s=97a64a99b3233f28b25e3226c09ad19823c4b465 Trezor is a Bitcoin hardware wallet and launched in August 2014. It was the first Bitcoin hardware wallet, offering secure cold storage plus the ability to spend with the convenience of a hot wallet. You will earn 12% - 15% referral commission for each sale. (net sale amount, excluding VAT and shipping). Monthly payouts via wire transfer or Bitcoin. Wire Transfer (USD, EUR and CZK) or Bitcoin. Coinhouse https://www.coinhouse.com/ https://preview.redd.it/w3bb6fggmjx31.png?width=1136&format=png&auto=webp&s=a69f7cc478dbcb1b46e858c7c0a10b36d38cddf1 Founded in 2014 in Paris, Coinhouse is a pioneer in cryptoassets investments. Both an online platform and a brick-and-mortar location, Coinhouse is the trusted partner for individuals and qualified investors looking to analyse, acquire, sell, and securely store cryptoassets. Earn 30% commission on your clients’ transactions for 1 year when they sign up using your unique and personalized tracking link. Get paid directly in Bitcoin to optimize your income.
An in-depth interview with Coss founder, Rune Evensen:
Hey guys! About two weeks ago I decided to book tickets to Singapore to pay a visit to the COSS team. I was and still am heavily invested in COSS and I thought it was my duty to push the do your own research idea to the maximum and actually go there and meet them! So, today was my first day in Singapore and it's been very busy! I spent the morning preparing my first official meeting with Rune and I headed to their offices around 2pm. They are a little bit outside of the city center, about 10 minutes drive. They look quite nice and leave a lot of room for growth, which is good cause a lot of people are coming in house in the next few weeks. The meeting went for about 2 hours and we talked about almost everything regarding COSS. Rune has been incredibly welcoming so far, I landed yesterday night and as soon as he knew I was in town he invited me to have dinner with him, so today was our second meeting, first official one. After the meeting, I headed back to my hotel caught a bit of sleep and started redacting the interview. Tomorrow I have a meeting with their head of compliance and will do the same thing, only much shorter. I'll also start vloging my adventures in Singapore :) Here is the 1st part of the interview: *Hi Rune, thanks for having me, how did you come up with the COSS idea? * Rune Evensen: Originally, back in 2013, I to develop a one stop solution for social media. I was looking at the current platforms and realized twitter is undersharing, facebook is oversharing and LinkedIn is for professionals. You needed a different account for everything so I started building a solution. Unfortunately it was all 3d rendered and way too heavy. It was designed like a house with different rooms. I spent two years on that project and we were supposed to build-in something like facebook credits as an internal currency, but not a cryptocurrency because at that time I did not know about them. But when I showed my idea to people, especially here in Singapore, more and more of them asked me why don’t you make it as a cryptocurrency instead of credits? Then I started to look into it, that was in 2015 but I found it quite complicated with a lot of hurdles especially for a beginner. So instead of working on a one-stop solution for social medias I figured I should build one for cryptos, because everybody talks about mass-adoption, but it is mostly IT guys, nerds and traders who are into cryptos. It is still way too complicated for people to get into it. So I started to plan my one stop solutions, many long nights of work. To get a better understanding I signed up for a FinTech course at MIT. During one of the weekly sessions there, we were supposed to submit a business idea that we had and could implement into blockchain. That was the first time I publicly presented my idea. We 1200 people in this course, and the average score for the assignment was 25, my project got the best rating, 100. They described it as a great business idea with real potential to take COSS to the masses. That was quite an endorsement! I needed this endorsement to actually build this idea. I had a consultancy company in Singapore with some staff. First I brought some of them in the project, then I met Dan from Romania and some months later we had the first drafts of the white paper. In November 2016 we moved to our offices in Singapore, in April 2017 we went live with the beta. Until then we were 100% self-funded, and that was the time all the ICOs were popping up. At first we started looking at institutional investors, but they wanted too many shares of the company for money that would last us a year at best. I did not want sell a majority stake of my company in which I already put so much time, efforts and money. The next natural step was to do an ICO and this is why we created our COSS token and came-up with the idea of the fee split allocation. We had to come-up with a clear use case. We then built our advisory board, we picked our advisory board according to our road map and not specifically for the ICO. For example Anson Zeall who is the president of ACCESS, Singapore’s Cryptocurrency and Blockchain Industry Association. So we chose them so that they could help us to complete our roadmap. We did every possible mistake during the ICO because we had no experience in it, none of us had done it before. We did not realize the power of community at the time, we did not even have Telegram at the time! You need to start building a community months before the ICO, you need thousands of people on Telegram and people being active in the community. This is the key to a successful ICO. Nowadays we are actually asked for advices by companies doing their own ICOs because we did everything ourselves during ours. We did not do proper marketing too, we thought we could push it through social medias, that was a big mistake. Nowadays, you need at least half a million to start your ICO for marketing budgets etc… Some companies even offer funding to ICOs! I remember we were approached at the time by TokenMarket and they offered us to take care of everything in our ICO. For 4 months of their work we were asked between 30 and 40k USD. Nowadays they do not work for less than a million. It’s been a bumpy road, that’s why we call it the RollerCOSSter! We raised 3.2M during our ICO. How much did you estimate you needed? Rune Evensen: We were very ambitious because we made an audit through ICO ranker and at that time they scored us the highest they had ever done. So we thought we would reach our 50M hardcap really easily. We were asked by the community what we were going to do with the unsold tokens, we did a community vote and the result was that everybody that joined the token sale would get 10x more token than expected. We decided to stay on Ether with the ICO money as opposed to go to FIAT. We only convert as we go and we still have two third of ETH we raised, which at today’s market price are worth 6M USD. For those who believe we have not hired more staff yet because of financial reasons, that is absolutely not true. We are very careful with the way we use our money, yes we have a big office but we decided to rent it a little bit outside of Singapore’s center cause it is a lot cheaper. We got a big office because we know we want to hire a lot. We are 7 persons working at the office at the moment and 4 more will arrive in February. Three persons for compliance and one developer, Jay. That was actually my follow-up question, how many people are on the current staff? Rune Evensen: We have a very decentralized team. We currently have 7 people in house, then we have the core dev team in Romania, which is Dan’s (one of COSS shareholders) team. It’s a 20 people team but only two of them are working a 100% on COSS. Then we have the UI team in Amsterdam, with 5 people working on COSS. We have our content manager also in Europe, we have our graphic designer in Indonesia, we have our internal security expert and our lawyer (also a shareholder) here in Singapore. So we have a big team, but people need to understand the difference between team and staff. For instance we have Gary here in house for support but he’s managing a four people team that we outsource. They all came here for training but do not work here. We are also planning to add 6 or 7 more in house developers. Mong (COSS’s 1st in house dev) has determined what kind of team she needs and she has free hands to hire and build the team. Just to clarify, if she finds someone that would fit the team, she is allowed to hire him/her immediately? Rune Evensen: Of course, we still need to discuss it together. She cannot sign the contract all alone. But yes, she is free to hire! We want it to be as quick as possible. The very good ones often have a job, then we need to make good offers to convince them and once they accept they need to give notice to their former employers so that takes a bit more time. If there are some devs out there that can start immediately and fit our needs, then we will bring them in immediately. Is it fair to say that Mong is COSS’ CTO? Rune Evensen: Yes, her contract does not say CTO but she is definitely acting CTO. It’s the same for me, I am leading the company but I do not have the CEO title. What does your typical day look like? Rune Evensen: I’m normally at the office between 8 and 9, sometimes I try to hit the gym before coming there, not too much lately. At the office I spend a lot of my time acting as support role on Slack and Telegram, I help everybody that DMs me with issues. Maybe I made myself too available because now I am getting a lot of them everyday. Of course we have meetups with compliance team and the devs. Mong has taken over a lot of communications with the dev teams oversea. She is coordinating and leading the Amsterdam and Romania team. Before she came on board that was also part of my job. I also took part on the KYC process, which is now the compliance team’s responsibility. I’m also the one negotiating when a coin wants to be listed. The priority is to get off your support role? Rune Evensen: Yes, as soon as support is up to speed, and can handle all the issues as fast I as I want to I will get off this role and go back to only leading the company. You announced FIAT will be introduced by the end of Q1 can you give us more details? Rune Evensen: We will introduce FIAT through credit card for Bitcoin and ETH. We will add more FIAT pairs as soon as the engine is up and running. I do not have an exact date for the engine. We are in the process of designing the architecture we need and want to use. Once that is done I will be able to give a more precise timeline. This should happen by the end of the week or next week. One question that comes up a lot, why don’t you buy the same engine as Binance? Rune Evensen: We want to build something from scratch for a few reasons. One reason is security, we want to have full control of the code. But mostly we want the engine to fit our business model, that requires different solutions than a standard exchange. So even if we bought Binance’s engine we would need to build a lot on top. We will speed up as much as possible the release of the engine, as long as that does not jeopardize security or quality. There are now over 80 devs on the Trello board, what is their role? Rune Evensen: They are giving us feedbacks and come up with solutions. For instance what can be done to increase the speed of the site. Some of them are working for Microsoft, Facebook and other Fortune 500 companies. Of course they are already very busy with their job and they are only helping us because they have an interest in COSS. Some of them reached out and sent their CVs to us. That’s something I always rejected before because we did not have in house devs. I did not want to get more outsourced devs and put them under an already outsourced dev team. Now that we have a leading team in Singapore, I’m passing those CVs, of highly qualified people looking to contribute more, to Mong. Some of them will become COSS team members. That’s really the true power of community that I talked about in my Medium update. Yes we have the FUD, from time to time, but to see the activity we have on Telegram and Slack, I really believe we have an amazing community. I know you guys also have a huge french community. France is actually our second biggest market behind USA. Let’s talk about security, it’s always an important concern from users. How do you improve and assess the exchange’s security? Rune Evensen: We are doing regular penetration testing, you can never say that something is 100% hack proof. My personal recommendation is to leave on exchanges only what you intend to trade and send the rest to your hardware wallet. You can get your fee split allocation on Ledger very easily. We do our due diligence and have never been breached, but some users have through their emails. I’m also amazed by how many people have not yet set-up 2FA. We might make it mandatory. You mentioned earlier that you still have 6M worth of ETH from your ICO. How much volume does the exchange need to cover your costs? Rune Evensen: Right now, when we have 2 to 3M daily volume, we are paying weekly to COSS holders between 70 and 100k. That means we get the same amount for ourselves and that’s almost enough to cover our expenses. If we reach 10M daily volume we should be very healthy financially.
Cardano (ADA) was created by a team led by Charles Haskinson, who previously worked on Ethereum, but left the number of cryptocurrency developers before the ICO. In 2014, he and Jeremy wood formed IOHK. In the same year, a group of Japanese investors signed a 6-year contract with this firm to create a blockchain project based on the use of algorithms for independent execution of exchange operations with different types of assets. https://preview.redd.it/2i65etfaxmt31.png?width=308&format=png&auto=webp&s=29c9fbda1552a59c33452e60afb1bd1b8d6c3d48 The platform was named after Gerolamo Cardano, an Italian mathematician, engineer, philosopher and astrologer. The Ada token was composed of 3 letters of the scientist's surname so that the name of the world's first female programmer-Ada Lovelace - turned out. The currency ICO was held in several stages in 2015-2017. as a result, $62 million was collected during operations only within the ADA Coin system. Until 2019, the developers plan to launch a number of decentralized applications and services for the implementation of smart contracts. In the beginning, the team warned that the low speed of operations (only 5-10 transactions per second) can affect the rate of cryptocurrency. Experts plan to increase the speed of transactions by introducing the system of bandwidth nodes, the Protocol of which will be written in the programming language Haskell. Also prevent the success of the project could reputation of the author of the idea of Charles Hoskinson, who left his previous job without explanation. But the cost of the coin was not affected by these factors, the prospects for the project are good. Cardano Presentation The success of the project is also facilitated by the fact that it is engaged in 3 institutions performing different functions:
IOHK is responsible for the construction of the siege system. This institution is engaged in the technical side of the platform, its improvement.
The Cardano Foundation is located in Switzerland. Responsible for the control of the organization and its development, standardization and protection of technologies.
Emurgo is based on the Isle of man. The organization was created to promote the company's products in the market.
The goal of the creators of the project is a sustainable system that is able to attract investment and thereby support itself.
MAIN FEATURES OF CARDANO COIN
Cardano (ADA) is a cryptocurrency whose task is to secure smart contracts between users on terms beneficial to both parties. Such principles of asset exchange will be the basis for further development of digital currencies. The Ada token has many pluses, but there are also minuses.
Democracy in the control of transactions and mining.
Scientific approach in the development of the mathematical block of the platform, allowing to have a good traffic generation.
High degree of protection against hacker attacks.
Protection of users from unscrupulous partners.
Using test software.
Incomplete platform management.
No protocols for long-term planning.
Insufficient control over the data provided by users.
HOW TO MINE CARDANO
The Cardano platform is based on the Proof of Stake algorithm. This means that the chances of a miner to create a block are directly proportional to the assets available to him, the results of work on solving a mathematical problem do not matter.
Advantages of Cardano mining:
No expensive equipment is required.
Don't need a lot of electricity.
WHERE AND HOW TO BUY CARDANO ADA CRYPTOCURRENCY
Cardano coins are traded in pairs with other cryptocurrencies on most exchanges (Finance, Bitrix, Http, Upbit, Bithumb, Cryptopia, etc.). There are exchangers (Prostocash, Xchange, 60 cek) and Exmo exchange, where you can buy Cardano cryptocurrency for rubles and other Fiat currency, after exchanging it for bitcoins or ethers. You can pay in exchangers via PayPal or Bank card. Purchase instructions ADA:
To buy in exchange for Bitcoin or Etherium.
Register on the exchange and install a wallet with Cardano support.
Exchange purchased bitcoins or ethers for Cardano.
Withdraw ADA to wallet.
Purchase on Binance Crypto exchanges provide the ability to store funds, but it is better to withdraw tokens to the wallet immediately after purchase. If this is not possible, you should take care of the security of your account. Asset storage is better not to trust little-known exchanges.
Until March 2018, the only e-wallet in which ADA could be stored was Daedalus. There are versions for Windows, Mac and Linux. The wallet is suitable for anonymous transactions. The Cardano team plans to issue a debit card that can be replenished through this e-wallet. Daedalus installation instructions:
Find the Get started tab and go to Deadalus wallet.
Click on Download, download the app.
Open the file, configure the installation settings.
https://preview.redd.it/tyomywqj2nt31.png?width=400&format=png&auto=webp&s=d0cf94f05c85c2205abde505831e5aeaca03dd8e In March, it became possible to store ADA tokens in the Centra wallet. This means that the currency can be withdrawn using the Centra card in 36 million terminals around the world. Web wallets are popular because of convenience. Many sites offer to download them to store ADA, but this should not be done, so as not to fall for the tricks of scammers. On the official website of the company there is no data on cooperation with owners of online wallets.
WHAT ARE THE PROSPECTS FOR THE ADA CRYPTOCURRENCY
Given the big plans of Cardano developers, the forecast for 2020 regarding this cryptocurrency is good. If the team implements its ideas to expand the use of coins, ADA may become popular in the market after a while, despite the fall in user confidence in cryptocurrencies. Road map of Cardano The author of the platform Hoskinson said that the work on scaling the data will not yield results until 2019. Developers want to introduce innovative technologies into their project, their creation and research takes a lot of time. By the end of the year, it is planned to standardize the protocols and improve the reliability of the system, but the achievement of these goals may be delayed due to the complexity of the ideas. At this stage of operation of the platform, information about the use of high technologies in support of Cardano's work is not proven. Cryptocurrency faces competition among firms providing such services. It interferes with its development. Specialists working on improving Litecoin and Dash use similar principles when conducting transactions. Ripple plans to become an element combining currencies recognized as official and digital assets, making it more attractive to investors. The exclusivity of the project is that its development is scientifically justified. But this is not a significant advantage, as most traders do not want to spend time figuring out the details of the technical side of the project, and are interested in its functionality. If the Cardano project team fulfills its plans by the end of the year, the prospect of this currency is quite good. The success of ADA depends on how convenient the token will be to use.
Consensus Network EP36: Buy, Borrow and Die: Bitcoin Style
Catch the full episode: https://www.consensusnetwork.io/podcastepisodes/2019/10/5/ep36-buy-borrow-and-die-bitcoin-style-1 Buck: Welcome back to the show everyone. Today my guest on Wealth Formula Podcast is Zack Prince. He's Founder and CEO of BlockFi. BlockFi bridges the gap between blockchain and the basic financial products that you're used to including interest-bearing accounts and loans. Zack, welcome to Wealth Formula Podcast. I think you we might have had you on before as a Consensus Network replay but first time on Wealth Formula Podcast specifically, so welcome. Zac: Yeah, excited to be here, Buck. Thanks for having me. And it's good to chat with you again Buck: Yeah so remind me how you got into this you know Bitcoin stuff in the first place, I mean you were as I understand you were a traditional finance guy right so where did the blockchain part come in? Zac: Sure so I was I was working at a company in the FinTech world that provided data and technology solutions to institutional investors that wanted to participate in some of the new online lending platforms, whether they were real estate platforms or consumer lending platforms, and I kind of became the FinTech guy amongst my friend group and people would ask me you know should I invest in these real estate deals on fund rise or buy loans from Lending Club and I started writing a blog to share the information more efficiently with my friends basically and I started expanding a little bit writing about Robo advisory and some other things that were going on in the FinTech space and that's what led me to Bitcoin, and this is back in early 2015. I didn't start BlockFi until 2017 because I started following the market in the background, still working in traditional financial services in FinTech and then in early 2017 it started to feel like mainstream adoption was starting to happen in the crypto ecosystem. I'm started going to some meetups in New York City because at a certain point my wife said Zac, you're talking about crypto all the time and you're talking to me about it and I don't want to talk about it so you should find some other people to talk about this with. And the meetup composition started to change and in 2016 when I started going to these meetups it was the early crypto adopters you know libertarians, computer scientists and then in early 2017 I started to see some venture capitalists, some guys who had just left their job at Wall Street still wearing a suit, some more entrepreneurs and it was a really exciting time in the ecosystem, things like the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance were getting announced which had participation microsoft and a lot of other you know fortune 500 companies and I had started to believe in it. I was drinking the kool-aid a little bit so I decided to find a way to get involved in the space full-time and that's what led me to start BlockFi. Buck: So I have to imagine that the response you got from the traditional finance people around that time when you started talking about the blockchain space and when you started being more and more involved with that was probably not a very positive response initially or did you did you experience some of that sort of you know rejection initially to what you were doing? Zac: Yeah absolutely. But you know throughout my career this is now kind of the third emerging technology industry that I've worked in. I was originally an advertising technology starting like you know 15 years ago and I was in FinTech specifically the online lending side of FinTech which in its early days was called peer-to-peer lending and now in crypto. So having to do a lot of education explain it you know why something isn't crazy and it might work and here's why and here's the value proposition and here's what it is, I've gotten very used to that and comfortable with it. But yeah there were a lot of people who are like you know I've heard Bitcoin is only used by drug dealers and money launderers. I've heard that I'm supposed to care about blockchain and not Bitcoin. And you know at BlockFi we’re providing financial products into the market so it's a heavily regulated business so we also had to communicate with regulators. We had to explain to state regulators, federal regulators why what we were doing with Bitcoin and other cryptos than when you're doing these same types of things with assets that they're more familiar with. Buck: So when you were talking to people back in, I don't know I guess 2016/17 and it's not a long time ago, it's only two years ago, but I have to imagine that the response or the you know the approach that people take to you when you speak to investors is very different. Has it become more mainstream in that regard for you know for big money investors? Zac: It's absolutely become more mainstream you know the end of 2017 Q3/Q4. Point was going on that parabolic run it started to get covered everywhere, I mean it was on CNBC every day it was in Bloomberg New York Times Wall Street Journal. If you were paying attention to the financial industry and markets you heard about Bitcoin at that time if you hadn't heard about it before. So from a baseline of awareness perspective it got a lot better and then in 2018 you had a number of positive developments for the sector including one that I think is probably the most noteworthy which is that Bitcoin futures were listed on the CME the institutional investor perspective that's massive. You now have a well regulated well known super trustworthy venue where you can get exposure to this asset class, you also had companies like Grayscale bringing products to the market which are accessible to certain types of investors and their low bridge accounts and you started to see some adoption from companies like FinTech companies like Robin Hood and Square making Bitcoin available on their platforms. So the conversation has absolutely changed a lot and it's become less about whether or not this is something that's going to continue to exist whether or not it's something that was just a bubble and is going to die and now it's more about ok how is it going to get used how big could it get what are the interesting applications of it and what could have potentially disrupt in the traditional financial ecosystem. Buck: So you know we had obviously following this you know pop in 2017, you know I actually like you kind of really got into this early 2017 so timing was pretty good I guess now regards. Good or bad depending how you look at it but I was there before before the parabolic move. And then we have you know then we followed this up with a crypto winter and and you know who knows if we're done with it, I guess we certainly are much better off than we were. You know a unit buddy it's funny Zac I don’t know if you remember this but I was about to, we'll talk about BlockFi specifically in a minute but, I was about to use BlockFi for borrowing because I like this idea of borrowing you know collateralized debt and collateralized debt on assets and buying something else. So I was about to do it and then Bitcoin lost a clip and I was like literally and I remember I was just emailing with somebody somebody over there and I was like sorry dude I guess I just sold it, I just sold all that Bitcoin I had and you sent one email back to me and it said “capitulation” but it you know and so now we're looking back at these we go down from 3,000 back up you know been sort of flirting around this 10,000 and it seems like we're kind of maybe that we're stuck there, maybe we're kind of out of winter, maybe we're in a holding pattern but it seems like to me that since that two years not only is the awareness increase but the development of the ecosystem itself is so much further advanced than it was in 2017. Is this an unusual case where the technology and maybe even the infrastructure is actually outpacing the price? Zac: You know it's really hard to say. I would argue that in some ways it's typical. In other industries that showed a lot of promise where investors could you know participate maybe a little bit ahead of the adoption curve you saw crazy price run ups with the tech bubble and you know ‘99-2000 being the one that's kind of top of mind in recent memory and then on the other side of things, are we behind where the price should be now? It's really hard to say because this is kind of like a commodity type asset built on a payment network and valuing that is challenging and there's not a perfect model for for doing it today. It's not as easy as something that's cashflow producing but I'm incredibly bullish. I'm on record as saying at the beginning of this year that Bitcoin has only had one year in its 10-year existence where it had a lower low than the year before and parted this year around the low price for 2018 and I predicted that we would in the year had a higher price than where we started the year pretty soon and now we're up and you know around 300 percent from where we started the year. As that happens in investing is people frequently look at things on a year-to-year performance basis and when people are looking at Bitcoin even if all we do is stay around 10 K from here when they're looking at how Bitcoin performed rather than other relative to other assets at the end of 2019 it's probably going to look fantastic. And you also have an event coming up and in the summer of next year called The Halvening where basically the supply that's produced by miners is going to get cut in half and so if you believe in the stock the flow type models of valuation for Bitcoin that is usually a very big driver of price appreciation. Buck: I believe May of 2020, right? Zac: That's right. Buck: In May of 2020. Can you just talked a little bit about that just so people know because people hear about it, I've been talking about it but I don't think that it really explained it. Zac: Yeah and you know I'm not I'm not a computer scientist so I can explain it in a you know in a very simple… Buck: No one else here is either. Zac: So basically the way that new Bitcoin is created is through this process called mining. And it's analogous to mining gold except instead of finding a place in the earth where gold exists and then getting your trucks and mining equipment and digging it out of the ground, the way bitcoin is mined is using this computer program and there is now specialized computer hardware that's built specifically and optimized for mining Bitcoin. And you have this network of machines around the world where the input is energy into the mining hardware and the output is new Bitcoin and those miners are what provides the power for the payment network a Bitcoin to run and when we say that there is this event called The Halvening, what that basically means is that the output that's built into the Bitcoin program that the miners are receiving as their payment for contributing energy to the network, is going to get cut in half. So the miners are going to have the same you know relative input but the amount that they're receiving is going to get cut in half for that input. This should, if the demand side for Bitcoin remains equal, it should drive up the price and historically Bitcoin has had three of these Halvening events in its lifetime so far I believe and around each Halvening you have seen you know six months before or six months after a pretty material run up in price. Buck: Yeah so it also goes along with that sort of that the entire idea that Bitcoin unlike you know other assets including gold is it's a deflationary asset ultimately and and that's one of the things that makes that happening really significant. Apart from and I have one more question before we get to block five which is apart from the Halvening, you know thing that's happening, what is maybe the biggest development or upcoming thing that's coming up that makes you the most bullish on the future of Bitcoin or blockchain in general? Zac: Sure so I think I wouldn't actually point to any one specific thing, I would point to two broad trends. So one is institutional adoption and participation in the asset class and the other is better ramps for retail participation into the asset class and just focusing here you know on the US market because it really is an international story but just in the US market. In September we should have Bakkt launching their futures platform. Bakkt is owned by ICE, the Intercontinental Exchange, and there's a big core difference between their futures and the current futures that are available on the CME in that futures on Bakkt platform are going to be physically settled so that means that actual Bitcoin is going to be needed to facilitate the trading on Bakkt’s platform which does not happen on CMEs exchange so that's that should be a very positive catalyst in terms of demand for physical Bitcoin that could have an impact on the price. Also on the institutional side this year I believe earlier this year, the first pension fund made an investment into an asset management vehicle that was focused on investing in Bitcoin and private equity opportunities in the Bitcoin and blockchain sector. So that will be a trend. Buck: Which pension fund was it? Zac: It was in North Carolina so I think it was like the North Carolina Firefighters and the group that raised the money from them was Morgan Creek Digital it’s actually invested in BlockFi by Anthony Pompliano Twitter and Mark Yusko so that's on the institutional side. And then on the retail side you've seen FinTech companies like Square and Robin Hood offer Bitcoin trading to their users. But soon you will also have companies like TD Ameritrade E-Trade and others offer Bitcoin to their users sometimes be a partnership sometimes because they've built it directly. You also at some point might see progress made in terms of an ETF getting approved that would give retail investors in the US market exposure to Bitcoin in a really easy and familiar way. All of those things are tremendously positive catalysts and the caliber of people working on them only continues to increase. Talent was attracted into the sector very, very rapidly these days. Buck: You know one question that leads me to is that all of this is happening with Bitcoin for the most part. Are alt coins in your opinion is that market coming back or is that something that we're gonna see probably select you know group of tokens projects emerge and then the rest will kind of just get left in the dust, what do you think? Zac: I mean I'll tell you exactly what I'm doing with my portfolio and then I'll provide a bit more color. So my asset allocation in the crypto side of my investing is I'm like 90% Bitcoin 5% Ethereum and 5% B&B; which is the Binance right. So I'm super bullish on Bitcoin. I think that you know there's a chance that Ether makes a comeback specifically I think that a lot of the stable coins that have been launched have been built on Ethereum if you're not familiar with stable coins it's basically the concept of a dollar but on a blockchain which could be really really powerful because it creates the opportunity for the delivery of US dollar denominated financial services at a global scale not using the traditional banking rails. And then B&B; I mean Binance is the biggest and most successful exchange they have a history of innovating, creating new products, going fast and so I'm taking a bit of a flyer with them but I'm 90% Bitcoin. I don't think that I'm not bullish on any of the other all coins frankly I struggle to see you know the big upside I have heard whispers in the community that there's kind of like a new wave of altcoins 3.0 might emerge, you know could see some some good returns similar to what some of the ICOs did in 2017 but it's not an area of focus for me. So that's my view. Buck: Yeah let's talk about BlockFi. Remind us exactly what BlockFi is. Zac: Sure so we're a wealth management platform for crypto investors. Today we have two products that we offer. One product is analogous to a savings account from a traditional bank where you're able to earn interest on your holdings except on BlockFi, the assets instead of being dollars are bitcoin and Ether and we don't have FDIC insurance so it's not exactly the same risk profile as a savings account at a bank, but conceptually you're able to hold Bitcoin and an account with BlockFi and earn interest on it paid in Bitcoin every month. That's one product that we have. The second product that we have which you are alluding to earlier offers our clients the ability to borrow dollars secured by the value of their cryptocurrency and it's analogous to a securities backed loan or a liquidity access line in the traditional world except instead of securities we're taking Bitcoin or other digital assets as collateral and lending it rates as low as four point five lending USD that rates as low as four point five percent a year. Buck: I wanna pick these apart a little bit if you don't mind. In terms of this savings account first of all is it just bitcoin or is it bitcoin, Ethereum? Zac: We actually support three assets in the interest account currently Bitcoin, Ether and GUSD which is the stable coin from Gemini. Buck: Got it. And talk about the interest because it's not one flat interest rate right it's different depending on how much cryptocurrency actually is held? Zac: Correct so there's a tiered interest rate structure. Currently on Bitcoin for balances up to ten Bitcoin, we offer a six point two percent annual yield and for balances above ten Bitcoin it's a 2.2 percent annual yield. On Ether, for balances up to two hundred Ether it's a 3.3 percent annual yield and balances above two hundred Ether is 0.5% annual yield and for GUSD the stable coin it's an eight point six percent interest rate with no tier so yeah those are the different rates. Buck: Why did, I mean was it just a matter of like an issue with people dumping like a thousand Bitcoin and trying to get six you know 6% of that, was it just too hard to you know make that a long-term part of the business model or why did the higher levels end up changing to a lower rate? Zac: Sure so I wanted to function of market conditions and to it's a function of supply and demand. So we launched the interest account in March of this year. We were just starting to come out of the bear market and one of the things that happened as we switched from being in a bear market to being in a bull market is the futures switched from being in backwardation to contango which basically means that our institutional borrowers the groups that we lend to that enable us to pay the rate to depositors had less of a need they had less demand to borrow and they were willing to pay lower rates to borrow crypto than they were when we were building and planning to launch this product. The second thing that happened is we were surprised to the upside in terms of the level of interest that we received from depositors and especially depositors with very large sums of cryptocurrency. So to give you an example you know within a day or two of making the product available publicly, we had a number of groups that were depositing 5, 10, 15, 20 million dollars worth of Bitcoin and so the supply-demand that we have to manage is, the amount that we have on deposit relative to the size of this market that will borrow Bitcoin size of the market that will borrow Bitcoin is partially a function of market sentiments partially a function of number of trading venues and the liquidity profile and it's partially a function of you know BlockFi’s efforts in terms of sales and client development relationship management. So the supply side got a little bit ahead of the demand side on deposit and how much there was available to borrow so we made a few tweaks. We want to keep the 6%, 6.2% rate on Bitcoin available to as many people as possible for as long as possible so that's why we went with the tiered structure where we made it available on balances up to 10 and reduced it for balances above that. Buck: Got it and the interest on that, when you say 6.2 percent that six point like it's all denominated in Bitcoin, you're not paying cash out right? Zac: Correct so to use round numbers to provide an easy example you start on January first with a hundred Bitcoin in an account, by the subsequent January first you will have 106 point 2 Bitcoin in your account. Buck: Yeah and that that's kind of neat too because then you're you know you're also getting potentially the upside of that you know I mean they made 6% but if you if you're really bullish on the market you could be potentially looking at a lot more than 6% on your money. How about in terms of the, is there like a you know do you do it sort of a month-to-month or six month or month you know year-long contracts for these things? Zac: It's month-to-month. So the rates are subject to change on a monthly basis. We provide notifications at least a week in advance before the end of one month on what the rates will be for the subsequent month and people are able to you know withdraw any time without penalty. We reserve up to 7 days to process withdrawals but we've never taken more than one business day to process a withdrawal so they're pretty quick but not instant for security reasons and yeah it's pretty flexible. Buck: How about the lump in the lending side how does how does that work? So now I've got like 10 Bitcoin and so I would deposit that I guess and you guys I understand that maybe that that goes into like a Gemini account or something, is that still how it works? Zac: Correct so we have a partnership with Gemini for custody. So when you log into a BlockFi account you'll have a deposit address. When you send Bitcoin to that deposit address it actually goes directly into storage with Gemini. Gemini was the first custodian in the crypto sector to receive insurance against cyber hacks on their platform. They were also the first custodian to get to complete a SOC 2 compliance audit and they have a really long track record of custody billions of dollars worth of crypto without ever having any issues. So it goes directly to Gemini and then you're able to interact with block-wise platform to take any actions that you might deem necessary. So you can view your interest payments you can withdraw you can deposit more you can also take out a loan. So in terms of taking out a loan, if you have ten Bitcoin that's worth roughly a hundred thousand US dollars at this point in time, you can borrow up to fifty percent of that value in a US dollar loan which can be funded be a wire or stable coin and then the structure of those loans is that you make interest-only payments on the amount that you borrowed throughout the duration and you can prepay at any time without penalty. Buck: And what's the typical you said it was four point six. Zac: We have interest rates as low as four point five. The interest rates on borrowing USD vary according to your initial loan to value ratio. So if you have a hundred thousand dollars worth of Bitcoin we actually have three loan-to-value ratio options. You can borrow at a 50 percent initial loan-to-value ratio which would mean you're borrowing 50k, the interest rate on that will be eleven point two five, if you borrow thirty five percent of the value so 35k the interest rate is seven point nine, and if you borrow twenty five percent of the value of the interest rate is four point five percent per year. Buck: Got it. In terms of you know the technical, so you basically pay that on a month-to-month basis and then in terms of contracts, are those also month-to-month loans or how does that work? Zac: Those are one-year term loans well now it's the ability to renew without repaying the principal at the end of the term at current rates and our rates for those loans have always come down so far. So it's a one-year term loan BlockFi committed for a year at that rate your payments stay the same but you can prepay at any time without penalty. Buck: Right. When do you do when would you do an actual sort of I guess a cap will call like what loan-to-value because you can go up to say you're borrowing at you know you're borrowing at the lowest rate you know you're at 4.5% you're borrowing see you know just for round numbers 100 Bitcoin you borrowed or you said 10 Bitcoin hundred thousand dollars but you only borrowed twenty-five thousand dollars at four point five percent, what if Bitcoin you know loses 50 percent of its value then what happens? Zac: Well you wouldn't have a margin call based on on that example. If your loan to value ratio hits 70 percent that's when we have a margin call and the way the margin call works is our clients have the option to either post more collateral, pay down the loan using USD or some of the collateral that's posted for the loan or take no action. If they take no action there's a 72-hour window where we'll wait to see if the price recovers, if it does then no action is required, if the price keeps going down further then we will initiate a partial collateral sale to rebalance that LTV to a healthy level at the end of that window. Buck: So in terms of the clients that you see doing this kind of stuff, I mean who are you seeing borrowing because you don't have a cap I mean you can on the borrow side, I mean and the rates don't really change like if you're depositing a hundred Bitcoin you're getting the same rate differences as somebody who's depositing ten for borrowing right? Zac: That's right. Buck: So who are the people who are putting I mean what are these businesses that are putting are using these loans who are the typical clients? Zac: Sure so it's a mix of retail and corporate. On the retail side we actually did a survey recently on use cases and the number one use case about a third of our borrowers expressed is that they were using the funds that they borrowed to start a business, which we were really excited about. So the other popular use cases were investing in real estate, investing in other types of traditional assets like stocks and bonds, home improvement, larger purchases, vacations were all used cases, paying down higher cost debt was another use case, and then on the corporate side the loans are used for operating capital. So we have some mining companies that borrow from BlockFi. Other types of companies who you know maybe have crypto denominated inventory like exchanges or crypto ATM businesses our frequent borrowers from BlockFi and our loan sizes rearranged from you know as low as five thousand dollars all the way up to seven figures. So it's a pretty diverse group of borrowers. Buck: So recently it sounds like you guys partnered with another company called Casa. What is Casa and I guess how does that benefit both companies? Zac: Sure. So Casa is a leader in fighting self sovereign storage solutions for cryptocurrency owners so if you're alone that owns Bitcoin and to use a gold analogy. If you want to own gold but you keep it in your vault or in your backyard you want to have physical possession of it yourself if you want to do that same type of custody with Bitcoin. Casa has a solution that makes that really easy. Our partnership with Casa provides mutual benefits to clients on either side. So Casa clients are able to receive some discounts in terms of accessing BlockFi products and vice-versa BlockFi clients are able to receive discounts in terms of accessing kasam products and over time we'll build some things in to the user experience specifically on Casa’s platform that will make it you know a bit more seamless to interact with BlockFi products while you're on their platform. In general that partnership strategy is something that you'll see more of we think there are in the ecosystem that are specializing in areas that BlockFi's not focused on and doing things where we can provide benefits to clients on both sides is a win-win for us then and our clients. Buck: Last thing I want to ask you about, last time I spoke to you, you had talked about the idea of potentially Bitcoin backed credit cards meaning like you know getting Bitcoin back instead of miles or dollars back. You guys any closer to that, because I definitely want one of those cards. Zac: I'm so glad you brought it up. We're definitely closer, but we're not you're not going to have the card until like Q3 of next year probably. It's getting worked on, these things you know for better or worse they take a long time launching a credit program is no small feat you know we're working on it. We've identified some of the key partners that we'll be working with to bring that product to market it is going to happen and I share your sentiment like I wish I had it now. Buck: Yeah seriously that'd be great. Well listen it was great talking you. So it's BlockFi.com and it's spelled like block and then fi and tell us you know tell us the process of doing is pretty simple okay how long does it take to apply for these things… Zac: Yeah I mean nothing takes any time really. So you could come in and start earning interest and get a loan from us all in under five minutes. And we also have a client service team that's super responsive in in terms of communication however you want to communicate with them, over email, over the phone, over text message so you know don't don't hesitate to reach out to us. We're also on twitter. My twitter handle is BlockFiZac and our company twitter handle is @therealBlockFi so we're very active on those platforms and happy to chat with you there as well. Buck: Zac Prince, thank you very much for being on Wealth Formula Podcast today. Zac: Thanks for having me, Buck, I appreciate it. Buck: We’ll be right back.
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