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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.
How To End The Cryptocurrency Exchange "Wild West" Without Crippling Innovation
In case you haven't noticed the consultation paper, staff notice, and report on Quadriga, regulators are now clamping down on Canadian cryptocurrency exchanges. The OSC and other regulatory bodies are still interested in industry feedback. They have not put forward any official regulation yet. Below are some ideas/insights and a proposed framework.
Typical securities frameworks will cost Canadians millions of dollars (ie Sarbanes-Oxley estimated at $5m USD/yr per firm). Implementation costs of this proposal are significantly cheaper.
Canadians can maintain a diverse set of exchanges, multiple viable business models are still fully supported, and innovation is encouraged while keeping Canadians safe.
Many of you have limited time to read the full proposal, so here are the highlights:
Effective standards to prevent both internal and external theft. Exchange operators are trained and certified, and have a legal responsibility to users.
Regular Transparent Audits
Provides visibility to Canadians that their funds are fully backed on the exchange, while protecting privacy and sensitive platform information.
Establishment of basic insurance standards/strategy, to expand over time. Removing risk to exchange users of any hot wallet theft.
Background and Justifications
Cold Storage Custody/Management After reviewing close to 100 cases, all thefts tend to break down into more or less the same set of problems: • Funds stored online or in a smart contract, • Access controlled by one person or one system, • 51% attacks (rare), • Funds sent to the wrong address (also rare), or • Some combination of the above. For the first two cases, practical solutions exist and are widely implemented on exchanges already. Offline multi-signature solutions are already industry standard. No cases studied found an external theft or exit scam involving an offline multi-signature wallet implementation. Security can be further improved through minimum numbers of signatories, background checks, providing autonomy and legal protections to each signatory, establishing best practices, and a training/certification program. The last two transaction risks occur more rarely, and have never resulted in a loss affecting the actual users of the exchange. In all cases to date where operators made the mistake, they've been fully covered by the exchange platforms. • 51% attacks generally only occur on blockchains with less security. The most prominent cases have been Bitcoin Gold and Ethereum Classic. The simple solution is to enforce deposit limits and block delays such that a 51% attack is not cost-effective. • The risk of transactions to incorrect addresses can be eliminated by a simple test transaction policy on large transactions. By sending a small amount of funds prior to any large withdrawals/transfers as a standard practice, the accuracy of the wallet address can be validated. The proposal covers all loss cases and goes beyond, while avoiding significant additional costs, risks, and limitations which may be associated with other frameworks like SOC II. On The Subject of Third Party Custodians Many Canadian platforms are currently experimenting with third party custody. From the standpoint of the exchange operator, they can liberate themselves from some responsibility of custody, passing that off to someone else. For regulators, it puts crypto in similar categorization to oil, gold, and other commodities, with some common standards. Platform users would likely feel greater confidence if the custodian was a brand they recognized. If the custodian was knowledgeable and had a decent team that employed multi-sig, they could keep assets safe from internal theft. With the right protections in place, this could be a great solution for many exchanges, particularly those that lack the relevant experience or human resources for their own custody systems. However, this system is vulnerable to anyone able to impersonate the exchange operators. You may have a situation where different employees who don't know each other that well are interacting between different companies (both the custodian and all their customers which presumably isn't just one exchange). A case study of what can go wrong in this type of environment might be Bitpay, where the CEO was tricked out of 5000 bitcoins over 3 separate payments by a series of emails sent legitimately from a breached computer of another company CEO. It's also still vulnerable to the platform being compromised, as in the really large $70M Bitfinex hack, where the third party Bitgo held one key in a multi-sig wallet. The hacker simply authorized the withdrawal using the same credentials as Bitfinex (requesting Bitgo to sign multiple withdrawal transactions). This succeeded even with the use of multi-sig and two heavily security-focused companies, due to the lack of human oversight (basically, hot wallet). Of course, you can learn from these cases and improve the security, but so can hackers improve their deception and at the end of the day, both of these would have been stopped by the much simpler solution of a qualified team who knew each other and employed multi-sig with properly protected keys. It's pretty hard to beat a human being who knows the business and the typical customer behaviour (or even knows their customers personally) at spotting fraud, and the proposed multi-sig means any hacker has to get through the scrutiny of 3 (or more) separate people, all of whom would have proper training including historical case studies. There are strong arguments both for and against using use of third party custodians. The proposal sets mandatory minimum custody standards would apply regardless if the cold wallet signatories are exchange operators, independent custodians, or a mix of both. On The Subject Of Insurance ShakePay has taken the first steps into this new realm (congratulations). There is no question that crypto users could be better protected by the right insurance policies, and it certainly feels better to transact with insured platforms. The steps required to obtain insurance generally place attention in valuable security areas, and in this case included a review from CipherTrace. One of the key solutions in traditional finance comes from insurance from entities such as the CDIC. However, historically, there wasn't found any actual insurance payout to any cryptocurrency exchange, and there are notable cases where insurance has not paid. With Bitpay, for example, the insurance agent refused because the issue happened to the third party CEO's computer instead of anything to do with Bitpay itself. With the Youbit exchange in South Korea, their insurance claim was denied, and the exchange ultimately ended up instead going bankrupt with all user's funds lost. To quote Matt Johnson in the original Lloyd's article: “You can create an insurance policy that protects no one – you know there are so many caveats to the policy that it’s not super protective.” ShakePay's insurance was only reported to cover their cold storage, and “physical theft of the media where the private keys are held”. Physical theft has never, in the history of cryptocurrency exchange cases reviewed, been reported as the cause of loss. From the limited information of the article, ShakePay made it clear their funds are in the hands of a single US custodian, and at least part of their security strategy is to "decline to confirm the custodian’s name on the record". While this prevents scrutiny of the custodian, it's pretty silly to speculate that a reasonably competent hacking group couldn't determine who the custodian is. A far more common infiltration strategy historically would be social engineering, which has succeeded repeatedly. A hacker could trick their way into ShakePay's systems and request a fraudulent withdrawal, impersonate ShakePay and request the custodian to move funds, or socially engineer their way into the custodian to initiate the withdrawal of multiple accounts (a payout much larger than ShakePay) exploiting the standard procedures (for example, fraudulently initiating or override the wallet addresses of a real transfer). In each case, nothing was physically stolen and the loss is therefore not covered by insurance. In order for any insurance to be effective, clear policies have to be established about what needs to be covered. Anything short of that gives Canadians false confidence that they are protected when they aren't in any meaningful way. At this time, the third party insurance market does not appear to provide adequate options or coverage, and effort is necessary to standardize custody standards, which is a likely first step in ultimately setting up an insurance framework. A better solution compared to third party insurance providers might be for Canadian exchange operators to create their own collective insurance fund, or a specific federal organization similar to the CDIC. Such an organization would have a greater interest or obligation in paying out actual cases, and that would be it's purpose rather than maximizing it's own profit. This would be similar to the SAFU which Binance has launched, except it would cover multiple exchanges. There is little question whether the SAFU would pay out given a breach of Binance, and a similar argument could be made for a insurance fund managed by a collective of exchange operators or a government organization. While a third party insurance provider has the strong market incentive to provide the absolute minimum coverage and no market incentive to payout, an entity managed by exchange operators would have incentive to protect the reputation of exchange operators/the industry, and the government should have the interest of protecting Canadians. On The Subject of Fractional Reserve There is a long history of fractional reserve failures, from the first banks in ancient times, through the great depression (where hundreds of fractional reserve banks failed), right through to the 2008 banking collapse referenced in the first bitcoin block. The fractional reserve system allows banks to multiply the money supply far beyond the actual cash (or other assets) in existence, backed only by a system of debt obligations of others. Safely supporting a fractional reserve system is a topic of far greater complexity than can be addressed by a simple policy, and when it comes to cryptocurrency, there is presently no entity reasonably able to bail anyone out in the event of failure. Therefore, this framework is addressed around entities that aim to maintain 100% backing of funds. There may be some firms that desire but have failed to maintain 100% backing. In this case, there are multiple solutions, including outside investment, merging with other exchanges, or enforcing a gradual restoration plan. All of these solutions are typically far better than shutting down the exchange, and there are multiple cases where they've been used successfully in the past. Proof of Reserves/Transparency/Accountability Canadians need to have visibility into the backing on an ongoing basis. The best solution for crypto-assets is a Proof of Reserve. Such ideas go back all the way to 2013, before even Mt. Gox. However, no Canadian exchange has yet implemented such a system, and only a few international exchanges (CoinFloor in the UK being an example) have. Many firms like Kraken, BitBuy, and now ShakePay use the Proof of Reserve term to refer to lesser proofs which do not actually cryptographically prove the full backing of all user assets on the blockchain. In order for a Proof of Reserve to be effective, it must actually be a complete proof, and it needs to be understood by the public that is expected to use it. Many firms have expressed reservations about the level of transparency required in a complete Proof of Reserve (for example Kraken here). While a complete Proof of Reserves should be encouraged, and there are some solutions in the works (ie TxQuick), this is unlikely to be suitable universally for all exchange operators and users. Given the limitations, and that firms also manage fiat assets, a more traditional audit process makes more sense. Some Canadian exchanges (CoinSquare, CoinBerry) have already subjected themselves to annual audits. However, these results are not presently shared publicly, and there is no guarantee over the process including all user assets or the integrity and independence of the auditor. The auditor has been typically not known, and in some cases, the identity of the auditor is protected by a NDA. Only in one case (BitBuy) was an actual report generated and publicly shared. There has been no attempt made to validate that user accounts provided during these audits have been complete or accurate. A fraudulent fractional exchange, or one which had suffered a breach they were unwilling to publicly accept (see CoinBene), could easily maintain a second set of books for auditors or simply exclude key accounts to pass an individual audit. The proposed solution would see a reporting standard which includes at a minimum - percentage of backing for each asset relative to account balances and the nature of how those assets are stored, with ownership proven by the auditor. The auditor would also publicly provide a "hash list", which they independently generate from the accounts provided by the exchange. Every exchange user can then check their information against this public "hash list". A hash is a one-way form of encryption, which fully protects the private information, yet allows anyone who knows that information already to validate that it was included. Less experienced users can take advantage of public tools to calculate the hash from their information (provided by the exchange), and thus have certainty that the auditor received their full balance information. Easy instructions can be provided. Auditors should be impartial, their identities and process public, and they should be rotated so that the same auditor is never used twice in a row. Balancing the cost of auditing against the needs for regular updates, a 6 month cycle likely makes the most sense. Hot Wallet Management The best solution for hot wallets is not to use them. CoinBerry reportedly uses multi-sig on all withdrawals, and Bitmex is an international example known for their structure devoid of hot wallets. However, many platforms and customers desire fast withdrawal processes, and human validation has a cost of time and delay in this process. A model of self-insurance or separate funds for hot wallets may be used in these cases. Under this model, a platform still has 100% of their client balance in cold storage and holds additional funds in hot wallets for quick withdrawal. Thus, the risk of those hot wallets is 100% on exchange operators and not affecting the exchange users. Since most platforms typically only have 1%-5% in hot wallets at any given time, it shouldn't be unreasonable to build/maintain these additional reserves over time using exchange fees or additional investment. Larger withdrawals would still be handled at regular intervals from the cold storage. Hot wallet risks have historically posed a large risk and there is no established standard to guarantee secure hot wallets. When the government of South Korea dispatched security inspections to multiple exchanges, the results were still that 3 of them got hacked after the inspections. If standards develop such that an organization in the market is willing to insure the hot wallets, this could provide an acceptable alternative. Another option may be for multiple exchange operators to pool funds aside for a hot wallet insurance fund. Comprehensive coverage standards must be established and maintained for all hot wallet balances to make sure Canadians are adequately protected.
Current Draft Proposal
(1) Proper multi-signature cold wallet storage. (a) Each private key is the personal and legal responsibility of one person - the “signatory”. Signatories have special rights and responsibilities to protect user assets. Signatories are trained and certified through a course covering (1) past hacking and fraud cases, (2) proper and secure key generation, and (3) proper safekeeping of private keys. All private keys must be generated and stored 100% offline by the signatory. If even one private keys is ever breached or suspected to be breached, the wallet must be regenerated and all funds relocated to a new wallet. (b) All signatories must be separate background-checked individuals free of past criminal conviction. Canadians should have a right to know who holds their funds. All signing of transactions must take place with all signatories on Canadian soil or on the soil of a country with a solid legal system which agrees to uphold and support these rules (from an established white-list of countries which expands over time). (c) 3-5 independent signatures are required for any withdrawal. There must be 1-3 spare signatories, and a maximum of 7 total signatories. The following are all valid combinations: 3of4, 3of5, 3of6, 4of5, 4of6, 4of7, 5of6, or 5of7. (d) A security audit should be conducted to validate the cold wallet is set up correctly and provide any additional pertinent information. The primary purpose is to ensure that all signatories are acting independently and using best practices for private key storage. A report summarizing all steps taken and who did the audit will be made public. Canadians must be able to validate the right measures are in place to protect their funds. (e) There is a simple approval process if signatories wish to visit any country outside Canada, with a potential whitelist of exempt countries. At most 2 signatories can be outside of aligned jurisdiction at any given time. All exchanges would be required to keep a compliant cold wallet for Canadian funds and have a Canadian office if they wish to serve Canadian customers. (2) Regular and transparent solvency audits. (a) An audit must be conducted at founding, after 3 months of operation, and at least once every 6 months to compare customer balances against all stored cryptocurrency and fiat balances. The auditor must be known, independent, and never the same twice in a row. (b) An audit report will be published featuring the steps conducted in a readable format. This should be made available to all Canadians on the exchange website and on a government website. The report must include what percentage of each customer asset is backed on the exchange, and how those funds are stored. (c) The auditor will independently produce a hash of each customer's identifying information and balance as they perform the audit. This will be made publicly available on the exchange and government website, along with simplified instructions that each customer can use to verify that their balance was included in the audit process. (d) The audit needs to include a proof of ownership for any cryptocurrency wallets included. A satoshi test (spending a small amount) or partially signed transaction both qualify. (e) Any platform without 100% reserves should be assessed on a regular basis by a government or industry watchdog. This entity should work to prevent any further drop, support any private investor to come in, or facilitate a merger so that 100% backing can be obtained as soon as possible. (3) Protections for hot wallets and transactions. (a) A standardized list of approved coins and procedures will be established to constitute valid cold storage wallets. Where a multi-sig process is not natively available, efforts will be undertaken to establish a suitable and stable smart contract standard. This list will be expanded and improved over time. Coins and procedures not on the list are considered hot wallets. (b) Hot wallets can be backed by additional funds in cold storage or an acceptable third-party insurance provider with a comprehensive coverage policy. (c) Exchanges are required to cover the full balance of all user funds as denominated in the same currency, or double the balance as denominated in bitcoin or CAD using an established trading rate. If the balance is ever insufficient due to market movements, the firm must rectify this within 24 hours by moving assets to cold storage or increasing insurance coverage. (d) Any large transactions (above a set threshold) from cold storage to any new wallet addresses (not previously transacted with) must be tested with a smaller transaction first. Deposits of cryptocurrency must be limited to prevent economic 51% attacks. Any issues are to be covered by the exchange. (e) Exchange platforms must provide suitable authentication for users, including making available approved forms of two-factor authentication. SMS-based authentication is not to be supported. Withdrawals must be blocked for 48 hours in the event of any account password change. Disputes on the negligence of exchanges should be governed by case law.
Continued review of existing OSC feedback is still underway. More feedback and opinions on the framework and ideas as presented here are extremely valuable. The above is a draft and not finalized. The process of further developing and bringing a suitable framework to protect Canadians will require the support of exchange operators, legal experts, and many others in the community. The costs of not doing such are tremendous. A large and convoluted framework, one based on flawed ideas or implementation, or one which fails to properly safeguard Canadians is not just extremely expensive and risky for all Canadians, severely limiting to the credibility and reputation of the industry, but an existential risk to many exchanges. The responsibility falls to all of us to provide our insight and make our opinions heard on this critical matter. Please take the time to give your thoughts.
Crypto-Powered: Understanding Bitcoin, Ethereum, and DeFi
Until one understands the basics of this tech, they won’t be able to grasp or appreciate the impact it has on our digital bank, Genesis Block. https://reddit.com/link/ho4bif/video/n0euarkifu951/player This is the second post ofCrypto-Powered— a new series that examines what it means forGenesis Blockto be a digital bank that’s powered by crypto, blockchain, and decentralized protocols. --- Our previous post set the stage for this series. We discussed the state of consumer finance and how the success of today’s high-flying fintech unicorns will be short-lived as long as they’re building on legacy finance — a weak foundation that is ripe for massive disruption. Instead, the future of consumer finance belongs to those who are deeply familiar with blockchain tech & decentralized protocols, build on it as the foundation, and know how to take it to the world. Like Genesis Block. Today we begin our journey down the crypto rabbit hole. This post will be an important introduction for those still learning about Bitcoin, Ethereum, or DeFi (Decentralized Finance). This post (and the next few) will go into greater detail about how this technology gives Genesis Block an edge, a superpower, and an unfair advantage. Let’s dive in… https://preview.redd.it/1ugdxoqjfu951.jpg?width=650&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=36edde1079c3cff5f6b15b8cd30e6c436626d5d8
Bitcoin: The First Cryptocurrency
There are plenty of online resources to learn about Bitcoin (Coinbase, Binance, Gemini, Naval, Alex Gladstein, Marc Andreessen, Chris Dixon). I don’t wanna spend a lot of time on that here, but let’s do a quick overview for those still getting ramped up. Cryptocurrency is the most popular use-case of blockchain technology today. And Bitcoin was the first cryptocurrency to be invented.
Bitcoin is the most decentralized of all crypto assets today — no government, company, or third party can control or censor it.
Bitcoin has two primary features (as do most other cryptocurrencies):
Send Value You can send value to anyone, anywhere in the world. Nobody can intercept, delay or stop it — not even governments or financial institutions. Unlike with traditional money transfers or bank wires, there are no layers of middlemen. This results in a process that is much more cost-efficient. Some popular use-cases include remittances and cross-border payments.
A few negative moments in Bitcoin’s history include the collapse of Mt. Gox — which resulted in hundreds of millions of customer funds being stolen — as well as Bitcoin’s role in dark markets like Silk Road — where Bitcoin arguably found its initial userbase. However, like most breakthrough technology, Bitcoin is neither good nor bad. It’s neutral. People can use it for good or they can use it for evil. Thankfully, it’s being used less and less for illicit activity. Criminals are starting to understand that transactions on a blockchain are public and traceable — it’s exactly the type of system they usually try to avoid. And it’s true, at this point “a lot more” crimes are actually committed with fiat than crypto. As a result, the perception of bitcoin and cryptocurrency has been changing over the years to a more positive light. Bitcoin has even started to enter the world of media & entertainment. It’s been mentioned in Hollywood films like Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse and in songs from major artists like Eminem. It’s been mentioned in countless TV shows like Billions, The Simpsons, Big Bang Theory, Gray’s Anatomy, Family Guy, and more. As covid19 has ravaged economies and central banks have been printing money, Bitcoin has caught the attention of many legendary Wall Street investors like Paul Tudor Jones, saying that Bitcoin is a great bet against inflation (reminding him of Gold in the 1970s). Cash App already lets their 25M users buy Bitcoin. It’s rumored that PayPal and Venmo will soon let their 325M users start buying Bitcoin. Bitcoin is by far the most dominant cryptocurrency and is showing no signs of slowing down. For more than a decade it has delivered on its core use-cases — being able to send or store value.
At this point, Bitcoin has very much entered the zeitgeist of modern pop culture — at least in the West.
When Ethereum launched in 2015, it opened up a world of new possibilities and use-cases for crypto. With Ethereum Smart Contracts (i.e. applications), this exciting new digital money (cryptocurrency) became a lot less dumb. Developers could now build applications that go beyond the simple use-cases of “send value” & “store value.” They could program cryptocurrency to have rules, behavior, and logic to respond to different inputs. And always enforced by code. Additional reading on Ethereum fromLinda XieorVitalik Buterin.
Because these applications are built on blockchain technology (Ethereum), they preserve many of the same characteristics as Bitcoin: no one can stop, censor or shut down these apps because they are decentralized.
Just as tokens grew in popularity in 2017–2018, so did online marketplaces where these tokens could be bought, sold, and traded. This was a fledgling asset class — the merchants selling picks, axes, and shovels were finally starting to emerge.
I had a front-row seat — both as an investor and token creator. This was the Wild West with all the frontier drama & scandal that you’d expect.
Binance — now the world’s largest crypto exchange —was launched during this time. They along with many others (especially from Asia) made it really easy for speculators, traders, and degenerate gamblers to participate in these markets. Similar to other financial markets, the goal was straightforward: buy low and sell high. https://preview.redd.it/tytsu5jnfu951.jpg?width=600&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=fe3425b7e4a71fa953b953f0c7f6eaff6504a0d1 That period left an embarrassing stain on our industry that we’ve still been trying to recover from. It was a period rampant with market manipulation, pump-and-dumps, and scams. To some extent, the crypto industry still suffers from that today, but it’s nothing compared to what it was then.
While the potential of getting filthy rich brought a lot of fly-by-nighters and charlatans into the industry, it also brought a lot of innovators, entrepreneurs, and builders.
The launch and growth of Ethereum has been an incredible technological breakthrough. As with past tech breakthroughs, it has led to a wave of innovation, experimentation, and development. The creativity around tokens, smart contracts, and decentralized applications has been fascinating to witness. Now a few years later, the fruits of those labors are starting to be realized.
I know that for the hardcore crypto people, what we covered today is nothing new. But for those who are still getting up to speed, welcome! I hope this was helpful and that it fuels your interest to learn more. Until you understand the basics of this technology, you won’t be able to fully appreciate the impact that it has on our new digital bank, Genesis Block. You won’t be able to understand the implications, how it relates, or how it helps. After today’s post, some of you probably have a lot more questions. What are specific examples or use-cases of DeFi? Why does it need to be on a blockchain? What benefits does it bring to Genesis Block and our users? In upcoming posts, we answer these questions. Today’s post was just Level 1. It set the foundation for where we’re headed next: even deeper down the crypto rabbit hole. --- Other Ways to Consume Today's Episode:
We have a lot more content coming. Be sure to follow our channels: https://genesisblock.com/follow/ Have you already downloaded the app? We're Genesis Block, a new digital bank that's powered by crypto & decentralized protocols. The app is live in the App Store (iOS & Android). Get the link to download at https://genesisblock.com/download
Crypto-Powered - The Most Promising Use-Cases of Decentralized Finance (DeFi)
A whirlwind tour of Defi, paying close attention to protocols that we’re leveraging atGenesis Block. https://reddit.com/link/hrrt21/video/cvjh5rrh12b51/player This is the third post ofCrypto-Powered— a new series that examines what it means forGenesis Blockto be a digital bank that’s powered by crypto, blockchain, and decentralized protocols. Last week we explored how building on legacy finance is a fool’s errand. The future of money belongs to those who build with crypto and blockchain at their core. We also started down the crypto rabbit hole, introducing Bitcoin, Ethereum, and DeFi (decentralized finance). That post is required reading if you hope to glean any value from the rest of this series. 97% of all activity on Ethereum in the last quarter has been DeFi-related. The total value sitting inside DeFi protocols is roughly $2B — double what it was a month ago. The explosive growth cannot be ignored. All signs suggest that Ethereum & DeFi are a Match Made in Heaven, and both on their way to finding strong product/market fit. So in this post, we’re doing a whirlwind tour of DeFi. We look at specific examples and use-cases already in the wild and seeing strong growth. And we pay close attention to protocols that Genesis Block is integrating with. Alright, let’s dive in.
Stablecoins are exactly what they sound like: cryptocurrencies that are stable. They are not meant to be volatile (like Bitcoin). These assets attempt to peg their price to some external reference (eg. USD or Gold). A non-volatile crypto asset can be incredibly useful for things like merchant payments, cross-border transfers, or storing wealth — becoming your own bank but without the stress of constant price volatility. There are major governments and central banks that are experimenting with or soon launching their own stablecoins like China with their digital yuan and the US Federal Reserve with their digital dollar. There are also major corporations working in this area like JP Morgan with their JPM Coin, and of course Facebook with their Libra Project.
Stablecoin activity has grown 800% in the last year, with $290B of transaction volume (funds moving on-chain).
USDC($1B): This is the most reputable USD-backed stablecoin, at least in the West. It was created by Coinbase & Circle, both well-regarded crypto companies. They’ve been very open and transparent with their audits and bank records.
DAI ($189M): This is backed by other crypto assets — not USD in a bank account. This was arguably the first true DeFi protocol. The big benefit is that it’s more decentralized — it’s not controlled by any single organization. The downside is that the assets backing it can be volatile crypto assets (though it has mechanisms in place to mitigate that risk).
Three of the top five DeFi protocols relate to lending & borrowing. These popular lending protocols look very similar to traditional money markets. Users who want to earn interest/yield can deposit (lend) their funds into a pool of liquidity. Because it behaves similarly to traditional money markets, their funds are not locked, they can withdraw at any time. It’s highly liquid. Borrowers can tap into this pool of liquidity and take out loans. Interest rates depend on the utilization rate of the pool — how much of the deposits in the pool have already been borrowed. Supply & demand. Thus, interest rates are variable and borrowers can pay their loans back at any time.
So, who decides how much a borrower can take? What’s the process like? Are there credit checks? How is credit-worthiness determined?
These protocols are decentralized, borderless, permissionless. The people participating in these markets are from all over the world. There is no simple way to verify identity or check credit history. So none of that happens. Credit-worthiness is determined simply by how much crypto collateral the borrower puts into the protocol. For example, if a user wants to borrow $5k of USDC, then they’ll need to deposit $10k of BTC or ETH. The exact amount of collateral depends on the rules of the protocol — usually the more liquid the collateral asset, the more borrowing power the user can receive. The most prominent lending protocols include Compound, Aave, Maker, and Atomic Loans. Recently, Compound has seen meteoric growth with the introduction of their COMP token — a token used to incentivize and reward participants of the protocol. There’s almost $1B in outstanding debt in the Compound protocol. Mainframe is also working on an exciting protocol in this area and the latest iteration of their white paper should be coming out soon.
There is very little economic risk to these protocols because all loans are overcollateralized.
Buying, selling, and trading crypto assets is certainly one form of investing (though not for the faint of heart). But there are now DeFi protocols to facilitate making and managing traditional-style investments. Through DeFi, you can invest in Gold. You can invest in stocks like Amazon and Apple. You can short Tesla. You can access the S&P 500. This is done through crypto-based synthetics — which gives users exposure to assets without needing to hold or own the underlying asset. This is all possible with protocols like UMA, Synthetix, or Market protocol. Maybe your style of investing is more passive. With PoolTogether , you can participate in a no-loss lottery. Maybe you’re an advanced trader and want to trade options or futures. You can do that with DeFi protocols like Convexity, Futureswap, and dYdX. Maybe you live on the wild side and trade on margin or leverage, you can do that with protocols like Fulcrum, Nuo, and DDEX. Or maybe you’re a degenerate gambler and want to bet against Trump in the upcoming election, you can do that on Augur. And there are plenty of DeFi protocols to help with crypto investing. You could use Set Protocol if you need automated trading strategies. You could use Melonport if you’re an asset manager. You could use Balancer to automatically rebalance your portfolio. With as little as $1, people all over the world can have access to the same investment opportunities and tools that used to be reserved for only the wealthy, or those lucky enough to be born in the right country.
You can start to imagine how services like Etrade, TD Ameritrade, Schwab, and even Robinhood could be massively disrupted by a crypto-native company that builds with these types of protocols at their foundation.
As mentioned in our previous post, there are near-infinite applications one can build on Ethereum. As a result, sometimes the code doesn’t work as expected. Bugs get through, it breaks. We’re still early in our industry. The tools, frameworks, and best practices are all still being established. Things can go wrong. Sometimes the application just gets in a weird or bad state where funds can’t be recovered — like with what happened with Parity where $280M got frozen (yes, I lost some money in that). Sometimes, there are hackers who discover a vulnerability in the code and maliciously steal funds — like how dForce lost $25M a few months ago, or how The DAO lost $50M a few years ago. And sometimes the system works as designed, but the economic model behind it is flawed, so a clever user takes advantage of the system— like what recently happened with Balancer where they lost $500k. There are a lot of risks when interacting with smart contracts and decentralized applications — especially for ones that haven’t stood the test of time. This is why insurance is such an important development in DeFi.
Insurance will be an essential component in helping this technology reach the masses.
Decentralized Exchanges (DEX) were one of the first and most developed categories in DeFi. A DEX allows a user to easily exchange one crypto asset for another crypto asset — but without needing to sign up for an account, verify identity, etc. It’s all via decentralized protocols. Within the first 5 months of 2020, the top 7 DEX already achieved the 2019 trading volume. That was $2.5B. DeFi is fueling a lot of this growth. https://preview.redd.it/1dwvq4e022b51.png?width=700&format=png&auto=webp&s=97a3d756f60239cd147031eb95fc2a981db55943 There are many different flavors of DEX. Some of the early ones included 0x, IDEX, and EtherDelta — all of which had a traditional order book model where buyers are matched with sellers. Another flavor is the pooled liquidity approach where the price is determined algorithmically based on how much liquidity there is and how much the user wants to buy. This is known as an AMM (Automated Market Maker) — Uniswap and Bancor were early leaders here. Though lately, Balancer has seen incredible growth due mostly to their strong incentives for participation — similar to Compound. There are some DEXs that are more specialized — for example, Curve and mStable focus mostly only stablecoins. Because of the proliferation of these decentralized exchanges, there are now aggregators that combine and connect the liquidity of many sources. Those include Kyber, Totle, 1Inch, and Dex.ag.
These decentralized exchanges are becoming more and more connected to DeFi because they provide an opportunity for yield and earning interest.
As it relates to making payments, much of the world is still stuck on plastic cards. We’re grateful to partner with Visa and launch the Genesis Block debit card… but we still don’t believe that's the future of payments. We see that as an important bridge between the past (legacy finance) and the future (crypto). Our first post in this series shared more on why legacy finance is broken. We talked about the countless unnecessary middle-men on every card swipe (merchant, acquiring bank, processor, card network, issuing bank). We talked about the slow settlement times. The future of payments will be much better. Yes, it’ll be from a mobile phone and the user experience will be similar to ApplePay (NFC) or WePay (QR Code).
But more importantly, the underlying assets being moved/exchanged will all be crypto — digital, permissionless, and open source.
Someone making a payment at the grocery store check-out line will be able to open up Genesis Block, use contactless tech or scan a QR code, and instantly pay for their goods. All using crypto. Likely a stablecoin. Settlement will be instant. All the middlemen getting their pound of flesh will be disintermediated. The merchant can make more and the user can spend less. Blockchain FTW! Now let’s talk about a few projects working in this area. The xDai Burner Wallet experience was incredible at the ETHDenver event a few years ago, but that speed came at the expense of full decentralization (can it be censored or shut down?). Of course, Facebook’s Libra wants to become the new standard for global payments, but many are afraid to give Facebook that much control (newsflash: it isn’t very decentralized). Bitcoin is decentralized… but it’s slow and volatile. There are strong projects like Lightning Network (Zap example) that are still trying to make it happen. Projects like Connext and OmiseGo are trying to help bring payments to Ethereum. The Flexa project is leveraging the gift card rails, which is a nice hack to leverage existing pipes. And if ETH 2.0 is as fast as they say it will be, then the future of payments could just be a stablecoin like DAI (a token on Ethereum). In a way, being able to spend crypto on daily expenses is the holy grail of use-cases. It’s still early. It hasn’t yet been solved. But once we achieve this, then we can ultimately and finally say goodbye to the legacy banking & finance world. Employees can be paid in crypto. Employees can spend in crypto. It changes everything.
Legacy finance is hanging on by a thread, and it’s this use-case that they are still clinging to. Once solved, DeFi domination will be complete.
At Genesis Block, we’re excited to leverage these protocols and take this incredible technology to the world. Many of these protocols are already deeply integrated with our product. In fact, many are essential. The masses won’t know (or care about) what Tether, USDC, or DAI is. They think in dollars, euros, pounds and pesos. So while the user sees their local currency in the app, the underlying technology is all leveraging stablecoins. It’s all on “crypto rails.” https://preview.redd.it/jajzttr622b51.png?width=700&format=png&auto=webp&s=fcf55cea1216a1d2fcc3bf327858b009965f9bf8 When users deposit assets into their Genesis Block account, they expect to earn interest. They expect that money to grow. We leverage many of these low-risk lending/exchange DeFi protocols. We lend into decentralized money markets like Compound — where all loans are overcollateralized. Or we supply liquidity to AMM exchanges like Balancer. This allows us to earn interest and generate yield for our depositors. We’re the experts so our users don’t need to be. We haven’t yet integrated with any of the insurance or investment protocols — but we certainly plan on it. Our infrastructure is built with blockchain technology at the heart and our system is extensible — we’re ready to add assets and protocols when we feel they are ready, safe, secure, and stable. Many of these protocols are still in the experimental phase. It’s still early.
At Genesis Block we’re excited to continue to be at the frontlines of this incredible, innovative, technological revolution called DeFi.
--- None of these powerful DeFi protocols will be replacing Robinhood, SoFi, or Venmo anytime soon. They never will. They aren’t meant to! We’ve discussed this before, these are low-level protocols that need killer applications, like Genesis Block. So now that we’ve gone a little deeper down the rabbit hole and we’ve done this whirlwind tour of DeFi, the natural next question is: why?
Why does any of it matter?
Most of these financial services that DeFi offers already exist in the real world. So why does it need to be on a blockchain? Why does it need to be decentralized? What new value is unlocked? Next post, we answer these important questions. To look at more projects in DeFi, check outDeFi Prime,DeFi Pulse, orConsensys. ------ Other Ways to Consume Today's Episode:
With the large number of new readers coming to this sub we need to make information easy to access so those readers can make informed decisions. We all know there is an unusually large amount of Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) surrounding EOS. Frankly, when clear evidence is provided it’s not that difficult to see EOS for the extremely valuable project it is. This post hopes to begin to put an end to all the misinformation by doing the following:
Giving a clear and concise answer to the most frequently asked questions in regards to EOS.
Giving a more in-depth answer for those who want to read more.
Allowing readers to make informed decisions by making credible information easy to access.
As EOS climbs the ranks we need to recognise there are going to be a lot of skeptical readers coming over and posting their questions. Sometimes they will be irrational, hostile and often just looking for a reaction. We should make it our responsibility to welcome everyone and refrain from responding emotionally to provocative posts, instead providing factual and rational answers. I will add to this post as and when I can, if you have any ideas or spot any mistakes let me know and I'll get them fixed ASAP. Im planning to add a bit on the team, centralisation and DPOS, governance and EOS VC shortly but please let me hear your suggestions!
1. How do you registeclaim your EOS tokens before June 2018?
Select Metamask, MyEtherWallet, or Ethereum Wallet
Follow the guide.
Remember that the reason you need to register your Ethereum ERC-20 address is to include your EOS tokens in order for the balance of your EOS Tokens to be included in the Snapshot if a Snapshot is created, you must register your Ethereum address with an EOS public key. The EOS snapshot will take place prior to the 1 June 2018. After this point your ERC-20 EOS tokens will be frozen. And you will be issued EOS tokens on the EOS blockchain.
So PLEASE REGISTER your Ethereum address NOW, don't forget about it, or plan on doing it some time in the near future.
There are a lot of submissions about this in /eos, so rather than making a new one please reply to this thread with any questions you may have. Don't forget to join the EOS mailing list: https://eos.io/#subscribe and join the EOS community on your platform(s) of choice: Telegram, Discord and/or Facebook. And remember, if anyone instructs you to transfer ETH to an EOS contract address that doesn't match the address found on https://eos.io you are being scammed.
2. How will the token the ERC-20 EOS tokens be transferred to the native blockchain?
There isn't one! Read the long answer then read it again, registering your Ethereum wallet is mandatory!
Within 23 hours after the end of the final period on June 1, 2018 at 22:59:59 UTC, all EOS Tokens will become fixed (ie. frozen) and will become non-transferrable on the Ethereum blockchain. In order to ensure your tokens are transferred over to the native blockchain you must register your Ethereum address with an EOS public key, if you do not you will lose all your tokens! I am not going to link any tutorials as there are many that can be found by searching Google and YouTube. block.one is helping with the development of snapshot software that can be used to capture the EOS token balance and registered EOS public key of wallets on the Ethereum blockchain. It is then down to the community to create the snapshot. This snapshot can be used when generating a genesis block for a blockchain implementing eos.io software. block.one will not be launching EOS blockchains or operating any of their nodes.
Exchange Support Some exchanges have announced that they will support the token swap. Although using this method will undoubtedly be much simpler than registering the tokens yourself it also comes with its pitfalls.
It is highly likely there are going to be multiple networks running on the eos.io software that use the snapshot. It is highly unlikely that exchanges will support them all.
It is highly likely that exchanges will not support airdrops that use the snapshot.
Exchanges that have announced support for the token swap include:
EOS.IO software is aiming to provide a decentralized operating system which can support thousands of industrial scale DApps by enabling vertical and horizontal scaling.
EOS.IO is software that introduces a blockchain architecture designed to enable vertical and horizontal scaling of decentralized applications. This is achieved through an operating system-like construct upon which applications can be built. The software provides accounts, authentication, databases, asynchronous communication and the scheduling of applications across multiple CPU cores and/or clusters. The resulting technology is a blockchain architecture that has the potential to scale to millions of transactions per second, eliminates user fees and allows for quick and easy deployment of decentralized applications.
CEO Brendan Blumer - Founder of ii5 (1group) and okay.com. He has been in the blockchain industry since 2014 and started selling virtual assets at the age of 15. Brenden can be found on the Forbes Cypto Rich List. Brendan can be found on Twitter.
CTO Dan Larimer - Dan's the visionary industry leader who built BitShares, Graphene and Steemit as well as the increasingly popular Proof of Stake Governance and Decentralised Autonomous Organization Concept. He states his mission in life is “to find free market solutions to secure life, liberty, and property for all.”. Dan can also be found on the Forbes Cypto Rich List. Dan can be found on Twitter and Medium.
Partner Ian Grigg - Financial cryptographer who's been building cryptographic ledger platforms for 2+ decades. Inventor of the Ricardian Contract and Triple-Entry Accounting.
6. Which consensus mechanism does EOS use and what are Block Producers?
Delegated Proof of Stake (DPOS) with Byzantine Fault Tolerance. Block Producers (BPs) produce the blocks of the blockchain and are elected by token holders that vote for them. BPs will earn block rewards for their service, these block rewards come in the form of EOS tokens produced by token inflation.
“EOS.IO software utilizes the only known decentralized consensus algorithm proven capable of meeting the performance requirements of applications on the blockchain, Delegated Proof of Stake (DPOS). Under this algorithm, those who hold tokens on a blockchain adopting the EOS.IO software may select block producers through a continuous approval voting system. Anyone may choose to participate in block production and will be given an opportunity to produce blocks, provided they can persuade token holders to vote for them. The EOS.IO software enables blocks to be produced exactly every 0.5 second and exactly one producer is authorized to produce a block at any given point in time. If the block is not produced at the scheduled time, then the block for that time slot is skipped. When one or more blocks are skipped, there is a 0.5 or more second gap in the blockchain. Using the EOS.IO software, blocks are produced in rounds of 126 (6 blocks each, times 21 producers). At the start of each round 21 unique block producers are chosen by preference of votes cast by token holders. The selected producers are scheduled in an order agreed upon by 15 or more producers. Byzantine Fault Tolerance is added to traditional DPOS by allowing all producers to sign all blocks so long as no producer signs two blocks with the same timestamp or the same block height. Once 15 producers have signed a block the block is deemed irreversible. Any byzantine producer would have to generate cryptographic evidence of their treason by signing two blocks with the same timestamp or blockheight. Under this model a irreversible consensus should be reachable within 1 second."
7. How does the voting process work?
The voting process will begin once the Block Producer community releases a joint statement ensuring that it is safe to import private keys and vote. Broadly speaking there will be two methods of voting:
Command Line Interface (CLI) tools
EOS Canada has created eosc, a CLI tool that supports Block Producer voting. Other Block Producer candidates such as LibertyBlock are a releasing web portal that will be ready for main net launch. There will be many more options over the coming weeks, please make sure you are always using a service from a trusted entity. Remember: Do not import your private key until you have seen a joint statement released from at least five Block Producers that you trust which states when it is safe to do so. Ignoring this warning could result in tokens lost.
8. What makes EOS a good investment?
Team - EOS is spearheaded by the visionary that brought us the hugely successful Bitshares and Steem - arguably with two projects already under his belt there is no one more accomplished in the space.
Funding - EOS is one of the best funded projects in the space. The block.one team has committed $1B to investing in funds that grow the EOS echo system. EOS VC funds are managed by venture leaders distributed around the world to insure founders in all markets have the ability to work directly with local investors. Incentives such as the EOS hackathon are also in place with $1,500,000 USD in Prizes Across 4 Events.
Community Focus - The team is aware that the a projects success depends almost entirely on its adoption. For this reason there has been a huge push to develop a strong world wide community. There is already a surplus number of block producers that have registered their interest and started to ready themselves for the launch and incentives the EOS hackathon are being used to grow the community. A index of projects using EOS can be found at https://eosindex.io/posts.
Technical Advantages - See point 9!
9. What are the unique selling points of EOS?
Potential to scale to millions of transactions per second
This depends entirely on your definition of working product. If a fully featured developer release meets your definition then yes!. Otherwise the public release will be June 2018.
EOS differs from other projects in that it aims to deliver a fully featured version of the software on launch. The Dawn 3.0 RC1 feature complete pre-release became available on April 5th. This version has all the features of the final release that is due June 2018. Further development will involve preparing the final system contract which implements all of the staking, voting, and governance mechanics. The common notion that there is no viewable code published is wrong and the initial Dawn 1.0 release has been available from September 14th 2017.
11. EOS is an ERC-20 token, how can it possibly be a competitor to other platforms?
The ERC-20 token is used only for raising funds during the token distribution; all tokens will be transferred to the native blockchain once launched.
EOS team has clearly stated their reason for choosing the Ethereum network when they described the rationale behind the ICO model. Specifically, the ICO should be a fair and auditable process, with as little trust required as possible. If you believe that an ICO should be fair, auditable, and trustless, you have no choice but to use a decentralized smart contract blockchain to run the ICO, the largest, and by-far most popular of which is Ethereum. Since EOS is intended to be a major competitor for Ethereum, some have seen this as a hypocritical choice. - Stolen from trogdor on Steam (I couldn’t word it any better myself).
12. Why do the eos.io T&C’s say the ERC-20 token has no value?
The EOS T&C’s famously state:
"The EOS Tokens do not have any rights, uses, purpose, attributes, functionalities or features, express or implied, including, without limitation, any uses, purpose, attributes, functionalities or features on the EOS Platform."
This is legal wording to avoid all the legal complications in this emerging space, block.one do not want to find themselves in a lawsuit as we are seeing with an increasing amount of other ICOs. Most notably Tezos (links below).
This all comes down to legal issues. Anyone who’s been into crypto for 5 minuets knows that government bodies such as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) are now paying attention to crypto in a big way. This legal wording is to avoid all the legal complications in this emerging space, block.one do not want to find themselves in a lawsuit as we are seeing with an increasing amount of other ICOs. Many token creators that launched ICOs are now in deep water for selling unregistered securities.
A filing from the Tezos lawsuit:
"In sum, Defendants capitalized on the recent enthusiasm for blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies to raise funds through the ICO, illegally sold unqualified and unregistered securities, used a Swiss-based entity in an unsuccessful attempt to evade U.S. securities laws, and are now admittedly engaged in the conversion, selling, and possible dissipation of the proceeds that they collected from the Class through their unregistered offering."
To ensure EOS tokens are not classed as a unregistered security block.one has made it clear that they are creating the EOS software only and won’t launching a public blockchain themselves. This task is left down to the community, or more precisely, the Block Producers (BPs). The following disclaimer is seen after posts from block.one:
"block.one is a software company and is producing the EOS.IO software as free, open source software. This software may enable those who deploy it to launch a blockchain or decentralized applications with the features described above. block.one will not be launching a public blockchain based on the EOS.IO software. It will be the sole responsibility of third parties and the community and those who wish to become block producers to implement the features and/or provide the services described above as they see fit. block.one does not guarantee that anyone will implement such features or provide such services or that the EOS.IO software will be adopted and deployed in any way.”
It is expected that many blockchains using eos.io software will emerge. To ensure DAPPs are created on an ecosystem that aligns with the interests of block.one a $1bn fund will be has been created to incentivise projects to use this blockchain.
“A lot of token distributions only allow a small amount of people to participate. The EOS Token distribution structure was created to provide a sufficient period of time for people to participate if they so choose, as well as give people the opportunity to see the development of the EOS.IO Software prior to making a decision to purchase EOS Tokens.”
It is also worth noting that block.one had no knowledge how much the the token distribution would raise as it is determined by the free market and the length of the token distribution is coded into the Ethereum smart contract, which cannot be changed.
14. Where is the money going from the token distribution?
Funding for the project was raised before EOS was announced, the additional money raised from the token distribution is largely going to fund projects on EOS.
A large portion of the money raised is getting put back into the community to incentivise projects using eos.io software. block.one raised all the money they needed to develop the software before the ERC-20 tokens went on sale. There are some conspiracies that block.one are pumping the price of EOS using the funds raised. The good thing about blockchain is you can trace all the transactions, which show nothing of the sort. Not only this but the EOS team are going to have an independent audit after the funding is complete for piece of mind.
From eos.io FAQ:
“block.one intends to engage an independent third party auditor who will release an independent audit report providing further assurances that block.one has not purchased EOS Tokens during the EOS Token distribution period or traded EOS Tokens (including using proceeds from the EOS Token distribution for these purposes). This report will be made available to the public on the eos.io website.”
A more complete list of EOS projects can be found at eosindex.io.
16. Dan left his previous projects, will he leave EOS?
When EOS has been created Dan will move onto creating projects for EOS with block.one.
When a blockchain project has gained momentum and a strong community has formed the project takes on a life of its own and the communities often have ideas that differ from the creators. As we have seen with the Bitcoin and Ethereum hark forks you cant pivot a community too much in a different direction, especially if its changing the fundamentals of the blockchain. Instead of acting like a tyrant Dan has let the communities do what they want and gone a different way. Both the Bitshares and Steem were left in a great position and with Dans help turned out to be two of the most successful blockchain projects to date. Some would argue the most successful projects that are actually useable and have a real use case. What Dan does best is build the architecture and show whats possible. Anyone can then go on to do the upgrades. He is creating EOS to build his future projects upon it. He has stated he loves working at block.one with Brendan and the team and there is far too much momentum behind EOS for him to possibly leave.
No one could have better knowledge on this subject than our Block Producer candidates, I have chosen to look to EOS New York for this answer:
"DDoS'ing a block producing is not as simple as knowing their IP address and hitting "go". We have distributed systems engineers in each of our candidate groups that have worked to defend DDoS systems in their careers. Infrastructure can be built in a way to minimize the exposure of the Block Producing node itself and to prevent a DDoS attack. We haven't published our full architecture yet but let's take a look at fellow candidate EOSphere to see what we mean. As for the launch of the network, we are assuming there will be attacks on the network as we launch. It is being built into the network launch plans. I will reach out to our engineers to get a more detailed answer for you. What also must be considered is that there will be 121 total producing and non-producing nodes on the network. To DDoS all 121 which are located all around the world with different security configurations at the exact same time would be a monumental achievement."
18. If block producers can alter code how do we know they will not do so maliciously?
Block producers are voted in by stake holders.
Changes to the protocol, constitution or other updates are proposed to the community by block producers.
Changes takes 2 to 3 months due to the fact block producers must maintain 15/21 approval for a set amount of time while for changes to be processed.
To ensure bad actors can be identified and expelled the block.one backed community will not back an open-entry system built around anonymous participation.
For this question we must understand the following.
Governance and why it is used.
The process of upgrading the protocol, constitution & other updates.
Dan’s view on open-entry systems built around anonymous participation.
Governance Cryptography can only be used to prove logical consistency. It cannot be used to make subjective judgment calls, determine right or wrong, or even identify truth or falsehood (outside of consistency). We need humans to perform these tasks and therefore we need governance! Governance is the process by which people in a community:
Reach consensus on subjective matters of collective action that cannot be captured entirely by software algorithms;
Carry out the decisions they reach; and
Alter the governance rules themselves via Constitutional amendments.
Embedded into the EOS.IO software is the election of block producers. Before any change can be made to the blockchain these block producers must approve it. If the block producers refuse to make changes desired by the token holders then they can be voted out. If the block producers make changes without permission of the token holders then all other non-producing full-node validators (exchanges, etc) will reject the change.
Upgrade process The EOS.IO software defines the following process by which the protocol, as defined by the canonical source code and its constitution, can be updated:
Block producers propose a change to the constitution and obtains 15/21 approval.
Block producers maintain 15/21 approval of the new constitution for 30 consecutive days.
All users are required to indicate acceptance of the new constitution as a condition of future transactions being processed.
Block producers adopt changes to the source code to reflect the change in the constitution and propose it to the blockchain using the hash of the new constitution.
Block producers maintain 15/21 approval of the new code for 30 consecutive days.
Changes to the code take effect 7 days later, giving all non-producing full nodes 1 week to upgrade after ratification of the source code.
All nodes that do not upgrade to the new code shut down automatically.
By default, configuration of the EOS.IO software, the process of updating the blockchain to add new features takes 2 to 3 months, while updates to fix non-critical bugs that do not require changes to the constitution can take 1 to 2 months.
Open-entry systems built around anonymous participation To ensure bad actors can be identified and expelled the block.one backed community will not back an open-entry system built around anonymous participation. Dan's quote:
"The only way to maintain the integrity of a community is for the community to have control over its own composition. This means that open-entry systems built around anonymous participation will have no means expelling bad actors and will eventually succumb to profit-driven corruption. You cannot use stake as a proxy for goodness whether that stake is held in a bond or a shareholder’s vote. Goodness is subjective and it is up to each community to define what values they hold as good and to actively expel people they hold has bad. The community I want to participate in will expel the rent-seeking vote-buyers and reward those who use their elected broadcasting power for the benefit of all community members rather than special interest groups (such as vote-buyers). I have faith that such a community will be far more competitive in a market competition for mindshare than one that elects vote buyers."
19. What is the most secure way to generate EOS key pairs?
Block producer candidates EOS Cafe and EOS New York have come forward to help the community with this topic. The block producer candidate eosnewyork has kindly posted a tutorial on steemit detailing the steps that need to be taken to generate key pairs using the official code on the EOS.IO Github. The block producer candidate eoscafe has gone a step further and released an Offline EOS Key Generator application complete with GUI for Windows, Linux & Mac. Not only can this application generate key pairs but it can also validate key pairs and resolve public keys from private keys. This application has also been vouched for by EOS New York
Attacking IOTA on a scientific level ended with self inflicted academic fraud (allegedly), exposing bad actors and destroyed reputations, while educating the IOTA community about the protocol itself. If the media didn't spin the DCI/IOTA incident, it would have been an absolute PR bloodbath for DCI. The new angle is: hurt the IF by making it look like a toxic environment for developers. That's why month old screenshots are being digged out. This is FUD with surgical precision because developers engaging with the IOTA protocol is one of the more underrated but really fucking important factors. Thanks to the first steps in making the IF more transparent however, we now know over that 1300+ developers/creators are part of the Ecosystem. https://ecosystem.iota.org
Yes, you should boycott Coindesk. No, it's not childish. You should generally avoid all bad press as it's a waste of time.
If the first newspaper you’ve read was on an iPad you might not know this: Serious newspapers label articles, in which the writer states his/her opinion on the topic he/she is reporting on, AS SUCH. Those are often referred to as “Opinion Pieces” or a “Comment”. However...
Most crypto news sites are simply a vehicle to push undisclosed native advertisement https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Native_advertising [Native advertising is a type of advertising, mostly online, that matches the form and function of the platform upon which it appears.] ... [a clear disclosure is deemed necessary when employing native marketing strategy in order to protect the consumer from being deceived] ... [According to Federal Trade Commission, means of disclosure include visual cues, labels, and other techniques.]
If a news outlet is NOT even labeling opinion pieces as such - it’s not worth your time. It will add more confusion than clarity. Because that’s what it’s designed to do. Let's see if we can spot the difference between professional and fraud:
see how finder.com.au is very clear about everything? Opinion and disclosure? TNW not so much... ok, let's never talk about this again! Let's finally move on.
We should stay healthy skeptics towards corporate adoption. Friendly reminder the IF exists mainly to push back on corporate agendas. For all we know, some just do it for the extra likes on twitter because of a #IOTA hashtag. Rarely do corporate SM accounts enjoy this kind of attention. If you think i'm being anti-corporate libtardish, consider this: Industry 4.0 needs IOTA more than IOTA needs them.https://twitter.com/Schuldensuehnestatus/989738856298659841 Not only to stay competitive but also to not get hacked and shut down by “insert country”. Bosch, Fujitsu and DXC are maybe the first to realize this. SO PLEASE stop begging on social media and tweeting at Elon Musk about IOTA. It’s not a good look.
that being said: Institutional money and regulation is the hot topic right now. And most likely will be during 2018. BTC Futures showed a recent spike in Volume hinting at smart money flowing in: https://twitter.com/CryptoKinky/status/989569263383011328 (dont judge me for my resources i cant afford nice looking charts) There are several news articles about WS traders moving to crypto and so on. Looks like things are starting to get rolling in the institutional world, as infrastructure is being set up. Contrary to popular tinfoilery belief (aka. "The Cartel" Medium Article, that all of Bitcoin is 100% manipulated already based on future contracts), futures had relatively small volume compared to the global btc volume - most likely not important enough to justify manipulation of the entire market. https://bitcoinaverage.com/en/bitcoin-price/btc-to-usd (global volume)
Even the SEC Chairman Jay Clayton stated that futures market is "quite small" in his public statement before the february hearing: https://www.cftc.gov/PressRoom/SpeechesTestimony/opagiancarlo37 It is important to put the new Bitcoin futures market in perspective. It is quite small with open interest at the CME of 6,695 bitcoin14 and at Cboe Futures Exchange (Cboe) of 5,569 bitcoin (as of Feb. 2, 2018). At a price of approximately $7,700 per Bitcoin,15 this represents a notional amount of about $94 million.
If you believe in a paradigm shift, this means we are still early.
Recent regulatory voices and twitter drama led to this piece by https://coincenter.org/entry/no-ether-is-not-a-security Why is this important? Companies in the US most likely are patient about making an investment into any crypto token as there is regulatory uncertainty. DXC TECHNOLOGY COMPANY, showcased a PoC with IOTA. At Q4 in december, DXC has stated: 213 Million in Net cash provided by (used in) investing activities.https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgadata/1688568/000168856818000007/dxc1231201710-q.htm Just some food for thought: If you are already spending opportunity cost on IOTA, why wouldn't you leverage that with the token. Bosch invested into the token as well, most likely because there is more regulatory certainty in germany. Fujitsu wants to roll out IOTA as an industry standard (as it seems). This is not your regular Shitcoin. There is a reason dumb money is called dumb. Last time i check Verge had 10x the volume on binance compared to IOTA.
There are no fundamentals yet in evaluation, it’s purely speculative - but with more institutions moving into the space this might change. As such, CCs with industrial use could likely see a reevaluation. But, looking in from the outside, there seem to be some hurdles. this twitter account is one of the more resourceful ones, he lets out some numbers to boost his SM traction (god bless him) https://twitter.com/joel_john95 as outsiders, this will be an extremely helpful resource. He tweeted out a quarterly report https://medium.com/outlier-ventures-io/state-of-blockchains-q1-2018-1efe284572c1 he writes: Over $1.8 billion has been invested into firms working with the blockchain ecosystem through corporate venture capital to date. That’s not that much. Is it. For the entire ecosystem? Friendly reminder snapchat, after a 20% fall, is a 15 billion company. Just to get some perspective.
Especially if you consider the crypto market is still in the hands of leveraged daytraders on bitmex and whales, who got big stacks in a coin early on. Imagine you want to invest 3M into IOTA as a CVC, you would’t spin up Binance and hit marketorder. You contact the IF and see if you can buy some, or outlier ventures might want to part with some, or even the founders i imagine hold quite a substantial amount. I often see people asking for more exchanges - that's kinda missing the point. What you want at this point is more institutional interest. That's the kind of demand we want. Thats what you would call "organic growth" i guess. Ripple holders, thinking a coinbase listening would make XRP go to $10, fail understand that Ripple itself holds a substantial amount of tokens where VCs can go and buy in bulk. And that’s why XRP is such a Shitcoin in the first place.
Ripple and XLM look extremely bad with over 90% of coins held in the top 100 addresses (shitcoins confirmed). TRX and EOS don’t even have a mainnet yet to really track it - so you can imagine the numbers are likely shit too. ADA is looking way better than IOTA in terms of wealth distribution. But 60% for whales, IF and Founders is probably better than what most projects can show for. Thing is, the small guys got in on crypto first. Not the banks, not a selected silicon valley investor boisclub either. While this is good for us, it's a nightmare for investment banks and such. JPMorgan admitted that in their “BTC Bible” saying: Ownership is highly concentrated. The opportunity set around direct CC trading appears relatively limited for banks (Think about that for a second.) CVC investing into the token could be, in my speculative opinion, the most likely catalyst for the price of IOTA, as its industrial adoption can build a synergy for entire sectors. As the main argument for Bitcoin is price uncorrelation to legacy assets, IOTA might be an interesting pick for the smart money, as it could be one of the few CCs with actual fundamental impact on different industry sectors. Something Blockchain, after 10 years, has failed to do. Let me summarize because i was a bit all over the place. Things i will look for going forward:
Institutional infrastructure is being built as we speak as regulations get more clear
2018 might see the highest investments into the blockchain ecosphere
Financial talent from legacy market is switching to crypto
Retail investors are the early adopters, not exclusive silicon valley boiclubs
Liquidity is really bad, its hard to buy a lot of crypto for institutions
The real FOMO and bubble might come with the “smart” money
IF addressing wealth distribution and being more transparent
(i do not have a finance background as you can see and i write these to offer some interesting links and resources you might find useful in your own research.)
Dear NEO Health Community: Firstly, I would like to thank everyone for your support since we opened the PeerAtlas Telegram last November. We are all in this together. I will provide a brief history of PeerAtlas and NEO Health. 2011: The PeerAtlas project begins with the goal of launching a completely free library for high-quality medical information, and ultimately launch a live rolling clinical trial to collect outcome data on patients, which would prove or disprove the claims of pharmaceutical companies, becoming the most valuable medical database in the world. 2011-2016: PeerAtlas founder Brad Mattson codes an alpha version of a wiki-based medical algorithm encyclopedia while in medical school and training to become a radiologist. Development and marketing of the project is difficult during this time because the majority of Brad's time is consumed by the notoriously brutal schedule of a doctor in training…but the project continues. For those who don't know, doctors enjoy working longer hours than most for reasons that are unknown. November 2016: Brad buys his first Bitcoin, watches the price of Bitcoin increase, and instantly becomes a crypto degenerate (AKA true believer) like several others before him. Brad watches all of his personal holdings get tied up in crypto over the next several months, and considers selling his house. In retrospect, I should have sold the house. April 2017: Brad moves all of his crypto investments into Antshares because he reads on Reddit that Antshares has the best community and he enjoys supporting a Chinese project because his wife is Chinese. This really was all the research I did, but most people would recommend reading the whitepaper before making moves like this. June 2017: Brad hopes to launch PeerAtlas on the platform of the future, and like any self-respecting crypto degenerate (AKA true believer), he believes the future of everything must be blockchain. Having so much respect for the strength of the Antshares community, Brad asks his wife and PeerAtlas co-founder, Ling Wu, to email Antshares founder, Da Hongfei. Da replies and talks to launch an ICO on Antshares begin. July 2017: Antshares rebrands to NEO. PeerAtlas co-founder Colin Closser completes the first draft of the PeerAtlas whitepaper. Early November 2017: The PeerAtlas team (Brad Mattson, Ling Wu, and Colin Closser) visits NEO headquarters in Shanghai and plans the launch of the PeerAtlas ICO. Mid November 2017: The PeerAtlas Telegram is opened. Late November 2017: Cryptocurrency markets and altcoins begin their climb to new all-time highs. December 2017: The PeerAtlas project is presented at the NEO meetup in New York City. Cryptocurrency markets are out of control. The PeerAtlas Telegram begins daily quizzes with gas awards for first 10 winners. The quizzes take place for almost 5 months, with special thanks to Vivek, Raj, Melicio and several other members of the community for making this possible. PeerAtlas co-founder Ling Wu with NEO founder Da Hongfei at the NEO meetup in New York City Early January 2018: The PeerAtlas ICO page goes live. Cryptocurrency markets remain out of control. The SEC sets a date for early February to discuss ICOs, security tokens, and utility tokens. Obviously this means bad news for US-based ICOs. Late January 2018: The PeerAtlas project is presented at the first-ever NEO DevCon in San Francisco. February 2018: The SEC declares that all utility tokens are in fact security tokens. The PeerAtlas team consults dozens of lawyers for advice regarding the launch of a US-based ICO, and we get a different answer from every lawyer because nobody has any idea what's going on. PeerAtlas suspends plans to launch an ICO from the US against the advice of several lawyers who claim the SEC doesn't have the resources to investigate every single ICO. As it turns out, the SEC does have the resources to do this, and we watched several projects get shut down by the SEC. March 2018: Cryptocurrency markets are not looking so great. The PeerAtlas team researches launching the project from a crypto-friendly country outside of the US. Research leads to Gibraltar, Liechtenstein, Malta, and Switzerland as possible options. April 2018: Cryptocurrency markets are looking worse. The word on the streets is that Binance, the world's largest exchange, will be moving to Malta and the PeerAtlas team decides that wherever Binance is going is probably also where we should go. Legal negotiations begin in Malta and PeerAtlas officially becomes a Malta-based company. Late April 2018: Cryptocurrency markets are still taking a dive, but PeerAtlas moves forward with plans to launch the token sale in May. Early May 2018: Cryptocurrency markets still look terrible but are beginning to become more stable. PeerAtlas launches the presale on May 1st. Three days after the presale is launched Brad is contacted by iScientia (www.iscientia.com) founders Koen Vanneste and Laurent David to form a partnership. Brad recognizes that iScientia is a European leader in medical information and clinical decision support for almost 20 years with endorsements from the most well-respected medical journals and libraries, and accepts the partnership. Mid May 2018: The PeerAtlas token sale is suspended while the goals of the project are updated after the partnership with iScientia. The project takes on a new direction with a drastically more ambitious scope. June 2018: PeerAtlas and iScientia merge to form NEO Health, and begin building a completely web-based electronic medical record to integrate with the iScientia clinical decision support tool and digital health library which is currently operating in several European countries. July 2018: Brad suspends his career as a radiologist and moves to Belgium to work on the project full time with iScientia. Recent Events: In what will go down as one of the most interesting experiences of my life, I traveled to Milan, Italy with iScientia co-founders Koen Vanneste and Laurent David where we had arranged a meeting with “investors”. We were asked to meet the “investors” in a coffee shop/bookstore outside of Milan. We waited in the bookstore for around 45 minutes before the “investors” finally showed up, one dressed normally and the other dressed in a full Giorgio Armani suit. The one dressed normally was carrying a large black bag. They treated us to a cup of coffee and discussed investing into our presale. They suggested that we take 2 million euro in cash from them and put it in the trunk of a rented car and drive it across several country borders back to Belgium, and then call it their investment in our project LOL. They asked if we could meet again the next day in an undisclosed location to finalize the deal, and asked us to bring a money counter with us the next time we meet. Does it look like I just fly in from New York and I'm carrying a money counter in my backpack? If I ever need to use a money counter for anything I'm going to get one of those green banker visors to go with it. The next day the location of the meeting changed five times before we finally agreed to meet at a very shady restaurant like something you would see in a Martin Scorsese film. At this point I figured this must be someone's idea of a practical joke. They bought us a pretty nice dinner which was definitely appreciated, but we did not have a money counter and no money exchanged hands. I explained that we were thankful for their offer, but we simply cannot accept 2 million euro in cash, put it in the trunk of a rented car, and drive it back to Belgium LOL. The story actually gets more crazy, but to protect people's privacy and make sure we don't end up getting shot, I'm not going to go into more detail. For the record, NO CASH WAS ACCEPTED FROM ANYONE. Over the past two weeks we have been quite busy beginning development of a completely web-based electronic medical record which we will integrate with the digital health library and clinical decision support tool from iScientia to provide doctors with clinical decision support at the point of care through the NEO Health EMR. We are also finishing the new whitepaper and building an ICO page. NEO Health headquarters in Belgium, at the European Center for Implementation of Evidence-Based Guidelines In addition, we met with Nigerian government officials and are hoping to deploy our software in Nigeria if we can come to an agreement. Nigeria would be an ideal place to launch NEO Health because there is less barrier to entry than in the United States or Europe where there are endless healthcare regulations and patient privacy laws. We feel the quality and access to healthcare in Nigeria would improve tremendously if doctors were using a modern electronic medical record system as opposed to paper charting which is currently the most common form of charting in Nigeria. We will also speak with select hospitals in China which will serve as test sites for NEO Health, before expanding further into China. Thank you sincerely to the NEO Health community for your support! I will keep you updated with a weekly, or at most a bi-weekly newsletter. Best Regards, Brad Mattson MD Founder of NEO Health https://preview.redd.it/atfit1r3cqf11.png?width=133&format=png&auto=webp&s=b1077898e618e4dabd9efcf6cb02510b9c4f98d8
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