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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.
AMA AT DETECTIVE ID (25/06/2020) Before welcoming any questions, I would like to briefly introduce STATERA PROJECT. Statera is a smart contract deflationary token pegged to a cryptocurrency index fund. By including STA in an index fund with Link, BTC, ETH, and SNX you can buy one token and access the price action of four of the leading cryptocurrencies. You can also invest directly in the index fund (balancer pool) and receive the benefits of fees and BAL tokens paid to you while also having an automatically balanced fund. Lastly the deflationary mechanics of STA increases the chance for positive price action while decreasing beta (volatility). This is all found in a smart contract that is fully decentralized, the founders can no longer augment the contract in any way and this has been confirmed by a third party code audit through Hacken. Q1 : please explain in more detail about Statera, what is the background of this project? and when was it established? The dev of this project had previously created another deflationary token BURN. When the Balancer Labs released the Balancer Protocol, he had an idea to combine the two, deflationary token and a pool of tokens, making the first deflationary index fund. It started in the end of May and on the 3rd iteration, May 29th - a trustless version was launched that we see today. As briefly explained earlier, STATERA or STA is an Index Deflationary Token built on Ethereum blockchain; Index: Contains a token suite of world class leading crypto assests BTC, ETH, LINK, SNX with STA. Deflationary: On every transaction of STA 1% of the transacted amount is sent to 0x address on ethereum, burned forever, thus reducing the circulating supply of STA Index+Deflationary: STA is mixed with BTC, ETH, LINK SNX in a portfolio, backed by liquidity on a protocol known as balancer (balancer.finance) This platform serves as a market maker for the token suit. The Index suite is of equal rate of 20%, that is 20% of BTC, ETH, SNX LINK and STA, Thus, anytime there is an increase in value of any of those coins or tokens, balancer automatically trade them for STA in order to keep the token suit ratio balanced. And anytime there is an increase in the value of STA, the same process applies. while doing this trade, it enables further burning on every transaction, thus facilitating more token scarcity. In addition to this, Statera was deployed with contract finalised, that is, the index suite can not be altered, It is completely out of Dev's control. Q2 : What are the achievements that have been obtained by Statera in 2020? And what goals do you want to achieve in 2020? By this we assume the questionnaire is asking for a roadmap! First, the project is barely a month old, and within just a month, our liquidity has grown from $50,000 to over $400,000 currently above $300,000. Among the things we have accomplished so far is the creation of market value for STA's Balancer liquidity pool token BPT, which is currently over $1000 per one BPT. Regarding what we set to achieve: The future is filled with many opportunities and potentials, currently, we are working on a massive campaign to introduce our product to the outside world. We have already made contact with different and reputable forums and channels regarding marketing and advertisement offers, some which we are currently negotiating, some which we are awaiting response. All we can say for now is that the Team is working hard to make this the Investment opportunity every crypto enthusiast has been waiting for. Statera has the goal of putting cryptocurrency into every portfolio. We believe we have a product that increases the returns of investing in cryptocurrencies and makes it easier to diversify in this space. We have done so much in June: articles, how to videos, completed the audit, tech upgrades like one token liquidity additions, and beginning our many social communities. We have been hard at work behind the scenes but things like sponsorships, features, and media take time, content makers need days if not weeks to develop content, especially the best of the best. We are working tirelessly, we will not disappoint. We have plans for 2020-2025 and will release those in the next month. They are big and bold, you’re going to be impressed by the scale of our vision, when we say “Cryptocurrency in every portfolio” we mean it. In 2020 more specifically we are focused on more media, videos, product offerings, and exchanges. Q3 : What is the purpose of STA token? How can we get STA? The purpose of STA is an investment in the first deflationary index fund. The whole index's value rises from these aspects: 1. The index funds (WBTC,WETH,SNX,LINK) appreciate in value 2. When the index tokens are traded, the pool receives transaction fees - 1% 3. STA burns on transactions, so it's deflationary nature increases its value as the total supply drops 4. Balancer rewards Index holders with BAL token airdrops every week You can invest via the 'Trade' links in stateraproject.com website. Easiest way is to do it using ETH. The monetary policy of our token is set in stone and constantly deflationary. This negative supply pressure is a powerful mechanism in economics and price discovery. Through the lowering of supply we can decrease your beta (volatility) and increase your alpha (gains). Our token is currently only top 40 in liquidity on Balancer, however our volume is top 10! You want to know why? Because Statera works. Statera increases arbitrage, volume, fees, BAL rewards, and liquidity. Our liquidity miners in our Balancer pool are already making some of the highest BAL rewards on the platform, one user we spoke with made 18% in June, that’s over 150% APY! Our product is working, 100% (or you could say 150%), and when people start to see that, and realize the value, the sky's the limit. Q4 : can we as a user do STA mining? The supply of STA doesn't increase anymore, it only decreases due to the burn feature. So there is no way to mine anymore STA. Only way to acquire the tokens is via an exchange. The monetary policy of our token is set in stone and constantly deflationary. This negative supply pressure is a powerful mechanism in economics and price discovery. Through the lowering of supply we can decrease your beta (volatility) and increase your alpha (gains). Our token is currently only top 40 in liquidity on Balancer, however our volume is top 10! You want to know why? Because Statera works. Statera increases arbitrage, volume, fees, BAL rewards, and liquidity. Our liquidity miners in our Balancer pool are already making some of the highest BAL rewards on the platform, one user we spoke with made 18% in June, that’s over 150% APY! Our product is working, 100% (or you could say 150%), and when people start to see that, and realize the value, the sky's the limit. Q5 : The ecosystem of a public chain has a lot to do with the level of engagement and participation of third-party developers. How does Statera support the developers? Not really. Our project is focusing on investment opportunities for the cryptocurrencies. The cryptocurrency tokens that are not used and are just sitting in a wallet can work for you by being added to an index fund and appreciate in value over time. First off, what we have created is a new asset class, I’ll repeat that, a new asset class. This asset has never existed: “Deflationary Index Fund,” what does that mean for finance? What will developers do with this? It’s hard to give a finite answer. We hope there are future economic papers on our token and what it means to be a deflationary index fund. With the addition of synthetic assets and oracles you can put any asset into the DeFi space: Gold, Nikkei 225, USD, etc. STA can be combined with any assets and bring the benefits of it’s ecosystem and deflationary mechanism to that asset. STA, the token itself, also gives you access to the price action of any asset it is paired with. Put simply STA’s balancer pool(s) give you a benefit in holding them, and STA’s price will reflect it’s inclusion in Balancer Pool(s) (and possibly future financial instruments), so STA is a bet on DeFi as a whole. When we say as whole, we mean as whole: what happens if you include STA in a crypto loan, or package it with a synthetic S&P 500 token, or use it as fee payment in a DeFi platform? Being fully decentralized it is up to our community to make this happen, social engagement and community are key. We are constantly bringing community members onto our team and rewarding those that benefit the ecosystem. in addition, Statera is a fully community project now. Paul who is the current team leader was an ordinary member of the community weeks ago, due to his interest and support for the project, he started dedicating his time to the project. Quite a number of community members are also in the same position, while Statera was developed by an individual, it is being built by the entire Statera community Community Questions (Twitter): Q1 From: @KazimKara35 The project tells us that the acquisition and sale of data between participants is protected by code of conduct and how safe is deployed on the blockchain, but how do you handle regulations while operating on a global scale? Statera is decentralized token, similar to other utility crypto tokens and same regulations apply to it as others. his is actually a benefit of our decentralized nature. This isn’t legal advice, however in the past regulating bodies have ruled that the more decentralized a project is, especially from launch, the less likely they are to be deemed a security (see: Ethereum). This means they can be traded more freely and be available on more platforms. We are as decentralized as you can be. The data itself is all secured through the blockchain which has been shown to be a highly secure medium. We do not store any of your data and as long as you follow best practices in blockchain security there are no added security risks of using Statera. We don’t, and literally can’t, hold anymore personal information than is made available in any blockchain transaction. and that "personal information" is more likely than not just your ethereum wallet address, no "real world" data is included in transactions Q2 from: @Michael_NGT353 What is Mechanism you use On your Project sir? Are you Use PoS,PoW or other Mechanism Can you explain why you use it and what is Make it Different? Our token is an ERC-20 token and it's running on the Ethereum blockchain. The Ethereum's POW mechanism is currently supporting the Statera token We run on Ethereum, so we are currently PoW. With ETH 2.0 we will hopefully be PoS this year (hopefully). We use it because ETH has over 100 million addresses and around a million daily transactions. We are currently at about 1,900 token holders, we are just touching the edge of what is possible in this market. We chose the biggest and the best network available right now to launch our product. We think the upside is huge because of this choice. Being the biggest network it is also one of the most secure, no high risk vulnerabilities have been found in Ethereum or in our code (we've had our code audited by a third party, Hacken, and you can read their audit on our Medium page), so we also have security on our side Q3 From : @Ryaaan_Nguyen Can you list some of Statera outstanding features for everyone here to know about? What are the products that Statera is focusing on developing? As mentioned earlier by GC, First off, what we have created is a new asset class, I’ll repeat that, a new asset class. This asset has never existed: “Deflationary Index Fund,” what does that mean for finance? What will developers do with this? It’s hard to give a finite answer. We hope there are future economic papers on our token and what it means to be a deflationary index fund. With the addition of synthetic assets and oracles you can put any asset into the DeFi space: Gold, Nikkei 225, USD, etc. STA can be combined with any assets and bring the benefits of it’s ecosystem and deflationary mechanism to that asset. STA, the token itself, also gives you access to the price action of any asset it is paired with. Put simply STA’s balancer pool(s) give you a benefit in holding them, and STA’s price will reflect it’s inclusion in Balancer Pool(s) (and possibly future financial instruments), so STA is a bet on DeFi as a whole. When we say as whole, we mean as whole: what happens if you include STA in a crypto loan, or package it with a synthetic S&P 500 token, or use it as fee payment in a DeFi platform? We touched on this a bit in the question on what makes us special compared to other exchanges. We have created a product that synergizes with Balancer Pools creating a symbiotic relationship that improves the outcomes for users (our product can also synergize with future DeFi products). By including STA in an index fund with Link, BTC, ETH, and SNX you can buy one token and access the price action of four of the leading cryptocurrencies. You can also invest directly in the index fund (balancer pool) and receive the benefits of fees and BAL tokens paid to you while also having an automatically balanced portfolio (like an index fund with dividends). Lastly, the deflationary mechanics of STA increases the chance for positive price action while decreasing beta. We want to package Statera with assets across the whole cryptocurrency space, with an emphasis on DeFi. We also want everyday people to be able to invest quickly in crypto while also feeling reassured their investment is set up to succeed. We are focused on developing a name brand that people go to first and foremost when investing in crypto: cryptocurrency in every portfolio. This is all found in a smart contract that is fully decentralized, the founders can no longer augment the contract in any way and this has been confirmed by the third party code audit. This is a feature in and of itself, some argue that Bitcoin’s true value is in it’s network effect, first mover advantage, and immutability. Statera is modeled on all three of those and has those features in spades. The community now owns our token, the power in that, giving finance and power to the people, is why we are here. Q4 From : @futcek What do you think about the possibility of creating new use cases in DeFi space for existing real world assets by using crypto technology? What role do you see in this creation for Statera? I think my answer above actually answers this perfectly, Statera in and of itself is a “new use case”, a “deflationary index fund” has never existed, I’ll copy and paste the other relevant part: “With the addition of synthetic assets and oracles you can put any asset into the DeFi space: Gold, Nikkei 225, USD, etc. STA can be combined with any assets and bring the benefits of it’s ecosystem and deflationary mechanism to that asset. STA, the token itself, also gives you access to the price action of any asset it is paired with. Put simply STA’s balancer pool(s) give you a benefit in holding them, and STA’s price will reflect it’s inclusion in Balancer Pool(s) (and possibly future financial instruments), so STA is a bet on DeFi as a whole. When we say as whole, we mean as whole: what happens if you include STA in a crypto loan, or package it with a synthetic S&P 500 token, or use it as fee payment in a DeFi platform? Being fully decentralized it is up to our community to make this happen, social engagement and community are key. We are constantly bringing community members onto our team and rewarding those that benefit the ecosystem.” Statera is a way to make your investment more successful, and owning Statera let's you benefit from other people using it to make their investments more successful (a self feeding cycle). Q5 From : @Carmenzamorag Statera's deflationary system is based in that with every transaction 1% of the amount is destroyed, would this lead to lack of supply and liquidity in the long term future? How would that be fixed? The curve of supply is asymptote, meaning that it will never reach zero. The idea is that the deflationary process will slowly decrease the supply of STA, which – combined with a fixed or increaseing demand – will result in STA appreciating in value. Evidently, as the STA token increases in value, the amounts of STA being traded will slowly decrease: The typical investor might buy 10.000 STA at the current rate, but in the future (proportional to an increase in the valueation of STA) this number will tend to decrease, hence the future investor might only buy 1000 STA. This of course results in less STA being burned. Additionally, STA is divisible to the 18th decimal, why – even if the supply was to reach 1 STA – there would be a sufficient supply. Well this would be a question for a Mathematician, and luckily we’re loaded with them (as seen above)! I’ll try to illustrate with an example. 1% of 100 million is 1 million, 1% of 10 million is 100,000. As we go down in supply the burn is less by volume. What also happens at lower supply is higher prices (supply and demand economics). So those 1 million tokens burned may be worth $20,000, but by the time overall supply is at 10 million those 100,000 tokens may also be worth $20,000 or even more. This means you transact “less”, if you want to buy 1 Ether now with Statera you need 8,900 STA which would burn 89 tokens. If Statera is worth $100 you only need 2.32 statera (.023 tokens burned). Along with this proportional and relative burn decrease, tokens are 18 decimals long, so even when we get to 1 token left (which mathematically would take decades if not centuries, but that is wholly dependent on usage), you are still left with 10 to the 18th power, or one quintillion “tokens”. So it’s going to take us a while to have supply issues :) Nuked Phase (3rd Part) Q) What is your VISION and Mission? Our working mission and vision: Mission: Provide every investor with simple and effective ways to invest in cryptocurrency. Decrease volatility and increase positive price pressure in cryptocurrency investments. Lower the barrier to entry for more advanced investment tools. Be a community focused and community driven cryptocurrency, fully decentralized by every meaning of the word. Vision: We aspire to put “cryptocurrency in every portfolio”. We envision a world where finance is given back to the people and wealth building strategies withheld only for affluent individuals are given to all. We also strive to create an investment environment based on sound monetary policy and all the power that comes with a sound asset. Q) What are the benefits of STA for its investors in long term? Does STA have Afrika as an important area for its expansion? We have ties to Africa and see Statera as a way for anyone and everyone to invest in cryptocurrency. The small marketcap of statera makes it's price low and it's upside massive. Right now if you wanted to be exposed to the price action of four cryptocurrencies (BTC, ETH, Link, SNX) Statera is a way to gain that exposure in a way that has a huge upside, compared to the other four assets, there are risks in investing in any small cap but with those risk come outsized rewards (not investment advice and all answers are solely my opinions 😊) Q) In the long run, why should we trust and follow STATERA? How do you raise awareness and elimination of the doubts of investors / partners / customers?. You're really asking "How do I trust myself and other crypto investors" The project is FULLY decentralized, it is now in the hands of the community. We would venture a guess that the community wants their investment to succeed and be worth more in the future, so you are betting on people. wanting to make themselves money on their own investment. This is a pretty sure bet. The community being active and engaged is key, and we have short term and long term plans to ensure this happens Q) No one can doubt the strength of #Statera. But can you tell us some of the challenges and difficulties you're presently facing? How can you possibly overcome them? We're swinging outside our weightclass, we don't see litecoin or SNX, or any other crypto product as our competition. Our competition is NASDAQ, Fidelity, etc. We want to provide world class financial instruments that only the wealthy have access to in the traditional world to everyone. Providing liquidity, risk parity, being paid to provide liquidity, unique value propositions, are all things we want to bring to everyone. However we are coming up in a hectic space, everyday their is fud and defamation on the web, but that is the sandbox we chose to play in and we aren't grabbing our ball and going home. We can tell you that we will not disappoint and fighting all the fud that comes along with being a small and upstart project only fuel our fire. Building legitimacy is our largest challenge and looking at our audit, financial report, and some things you will see in the coming weeks, we hope you see we are facing those challenges head on. Q) What is the actual uniqueness of #Statera.??? Can you guys please explain tha advantages of #Statera over other projects.?? When we launched there were no other products like ours. There are now copies, and we wish them the best, but we have the best product, hands down. Over the next couple weeks this will become apparent, if it hasn't already, also a lot of the AMA answers dug deeper into our unique value proposition, especially the benefits we provide to Balancer Pools which shows the benefits we would provide for any index fund. We are a tool to improve cryptocurrency investing Q) Fragmentation, layering and cross-chain are three future solutions for high-performance blockchains. Where is Statera currently? What are the main reasons for taking this direction? We operate on the Ethereum chain, as it upgrades our services and usability will upgrade. We are working on UI and more user friendly systems to onboard people into our ecosystem Q) How STATERA plan to make room and make this project known in the world of crypto, full of technology and full of new projects very good in today's market? We think we have a truly innovative product, which - when first understood - appeals to most investors. Whether you want a high-volatility/medium-risk token like STA or whether you are more conservative and simply just plan on adding to the Statera pool BPT (which is not nearly as volatile but still offers great returns). We plan on making Statera known to the crypto world through a marketing campaign which slowly will be unravelled in the comming days and weeks. If interested, you can check out an analysis of the different investment options in the Statera ecosystem in our first financial report: https://medium.com/@stateraproject/statera-financial-reports-b47defb58a18 Q) Hello, cryptocurrencies are very volatile and follow bitcoin ... and does this apply to Statera? or is there some other logic present in some way? is statera token different from a current token? Are you working on listings on other exchanges? Currently uniswap is somewhat uncomfortable for fees. We are also on bamboo relay, saturn network, and mesa. Statera will be volatile like all cryptocurrency, this is a small and nascent space. But with the deflationary mechanic and balancer pool, over time, as marketcap grows it will become less volatile and more positively reactive to price. Q) Security is one of the most essential characteristics for a project to get reputation. How can #Statera Team assure to their community that users assets and investments will stay safe from unwanted agents? We have been third party audited by the same company that worked with VeChain to audit their code. Our code has been shown to be bulletproof. Unless Ethereum comes up with a fatal security flaw there is nothing that can happen to our contract (there is no backdoor, no way for anyone to edit or adjust the smart contract). Q) Many investors see the project from the price of the coin. Can you give us advantages why Statera is so suitable for long-term investment? and what makes Statera different from other similar projects? Sometimes the simplest solutions are the most effective. A question you can ask is “What if this fails”? But you can also ask, “What if this succeeds”? Cryptocurrency is filled with asymmetric risks, we think if you look into the value proposition you will find that there is a huge asymmetric risk/reward in Statera, and we will make that even clearer in our soon to be released litepaper. You are on the ground floor of a simple but highly effective solution to onboarding people into defi, cryptocurrencies, and investing. Our product reduces volatility and increases gains (decreases beta and increases alpha in investor terms), which is highly attractive in any investment. The down side is there but the upside outweighs it exponentially (asymmetric risk) Q) What your plans in place for global expansion, are Statera focusing on only market at this time? Or focus on building and developing or getting customers and users, or partnerships? Can you explain this? We have reached out to influencers in other countries and things are in the works. We have also translated documents and are working on having them in at least 4 languages by the end of July. We were founded globally, our team is global, and we are focused on reaching all 7 billion people. Q) Now in the cryptofield everyday there are new projects joining in the Blockchain space. They are upgraded, Well-established and coming up with innovative technology. How Statera going to compete with them? What do you think, one day Statera will become useless And will be lost into the abyss of time for not bringing any new technology? We are the first of our kind, no one had a deflationary index fund before us. Index funds will be the future of crypto (look at the popularity of etfs and indexes in the traditional markets). We are a tool to make your index function better and pay you more. As long as people care about crypto index funds they will care about the value STA brings to that. We have an involved and long term plan to reach dominance over a 5 year span, this is not a flash in the pan, big things coming Q1. You say that the weight and proportions of your tokens are constant. So how have you managed to prevent market price speculation from generating hypervolability in your token price? Do you consider yourselves a kind of stablecoin? Q2. How many jurisdictions allow the use of Stratera products and services? Are they available for Latin America? @joloroeowo The balancer ensures an equal ratio of 20% amongst the five tokens included in our fund. This, however, does not imply that the tokens are stable. Rather, the Balancer protocol helps mitigating price fluctuations. Q) How can I as a Statera participant participate in liquidity mining, and receive BAL as reward? What are the use cases of $STA token, and how are users motivated to buy and hold long term? The easiest way is to go to stateratoken.com and click trade then BPT. You can also buy all five tokens and click on portfolio then add liquidity. Balancer is working on a simpler interface to add liquidity with one token, we are waiting on them. I think we explained the use cases above Q) What do you plan have for global expansion, is Statera currently focused solely on the market? Or is it focused on building and developing or acquiring customer and user or partnership relationships? Can you explain it? We are currently working on promoting the project and further develope our product, making it lucrative for more new investors to join our pool and invest in the STA token. Q1) Statera have 2 types of tokens, so can you tell me the differences between STA and STAC ? What are their uses cases? Is possible Swap between them? Q2) Currently the only possible Swap or "exchange" possible is Uniswap, so you do have plans to list the STA token into a more Exchanges? STAC is obsolete, we only have STA and BPT (go to our website and click on trade) stateratoken.com BPT gives you more diversification and less risk, STA gives you more volatility and more chance for big gains. Q2 we are on multiple exchanges (4), bamboo relay, saturn, and mesa we do have plans for future exchanges but the big ones have processes and hoops to jump through that can't be done so quickly Q) What business scenarios can STATERA support now? In which industries can we see the mass adoption of STATERA technology in the near future? Statera increases the effectiveness of your cryptocurrency investments. Specifically it makes cryptocurrency index funds function better, netting you higher returns, which we have already seen in just one month of implementation. Right now, today, you can buy our BPT token and increase the functionality of holding a crypto index fund. In the future we want every single web user to see and use our product Q) Do you plan to migrate to other platforms like Tron, BinanceChain, EOS, etc. if it is feasible?? Migrating our current contract is not. Starting new offerings on those other chains could be possible, they aren't on our radar currently but if the community requests them we are driven by our community Q) ETH Blockchain is a Blockchain have many token based in it, i have used ETH blockchain long time and i see it have big fee and need much time to make a transcation so Why you choose to based STA in ETH blockchain not other like Bep2 or Trc20 ? Simply: 100 million addresses, 1 million transactions a day. The more users we have the more we will benefit our community. We hope ETH 2.0 scaling will fix the problems you mention. Q) No one achieve anything of value on its own, please can you share about Statera present and future partnerships that will drive you to success in this highly congested crypto space? We have a unique product that no one else has (there are people who have copied us). We can't announce our current and future partnerships yet, but they will be released soon. Our future hopes of partnerships are big and will be key to our future, know we are focused on making big partnerships, some you may not even be thinking about. Q) According to the fact that your algorithm causes 1% of each transaction to be destroyed, I would like to know, then, how you plan to finance yourself as a project in the long term? The project is now in the hands of the community and we are a team of passionate people volunteering to help promote and develope the Statera ecosystem. But then, how do we afford running a promo campaign? We have lots of great community members donating funds that goes to promoting the project. In other words, the community helps financing the project. And so far, we have created a fantastic community consisting of passionate and well-educated people! Q) There are many cryptocurrency startups were established by talent teams, but they got problem in raising capital via token sales due to many factors as bear market, bankrupt etc. This leaded their potential startups fail. So how will Statera break these barriers and attract more funds from outside crypto space? We are community focused and community ran. When you look at centralized cryptocurrencies you can see the negative of them (Tron, ADA, etc.) We believe being fully decentralized is the true power position. You the owner of statera can affect our future and must affect our future. This direct ownership means people need to mobilize and organize to push us forward, and it is in their best self interest to do so. It's a bet on our community, we're excited about that bet Q) What business scenarios can STATERA support now? In which industries can we see the mass adoption of STATERA technology in the near future? Statera increases the effectiveness of your cryptocurrency investments. Specifically it makes cryptocurrency index funds function better, netting you higher returns, which we have already seen in just one month of implementation. Right now, today, you can buy our BPT token and increase the functionality of holding a crypto index fund. In the future we want every single web user to see and use our product Q) Why being a hybrid of a liquidity pool and an index fund? What are the main benefits about this? By being a liquidity pool the exchange side of the pool (balancer also functions as an exchange) gives you added liquidity for more effortless, effective, and cheaper rebalancing. You also benefit from getting paid the fee when people use the exchange AND getting paid BAL tokens that are worth $15-20 USD. These are not benefits you get with an index fund, meanwhile the liquidity pool rebalances just like an index fund would Q) Which specific about technology and strategy of #STA that make you believe it will be successful and what does #STA plan do to attract more users in the upcoming time? I think the idea behind Statera is truly ingenious. We have made an index fund, which investors are highly(!) incentivised to invest in, namely because the ROI, so far, has been huge. An increase in the pool liquidity (index fund) indirectly translates into an increase in the price of STA, why we think the STA token - combined with its deflationary nature - will increase in the long run. The mechanism behind this is somewhat complex, but to better get an understanding of it, I suggest you visit our medium page and read more about the project: https://medium.com/@stateraproject
ABOUT HUOBI : Huobi is a cryptocurrency exchange founded in China in 2013. Currently, Huobi is based in Singapore because this country has friendlier cryptocurrency regulations. The company is registered in Seychelles. Before leaving China due to a cryptocurrency ban, the exchange was responsible for 90% of Bitcoin trading volume in this country. Now Huobi is an international platform with offices located in Singapore, Hong Kong, the United States, Japan, and Korea. In China, the company provides blockchain consulting services. Huobi has sub-exchanges: Huobi Korea, Huobi US, etc. Huobi Global is the biggest Huobi exchange. In November 2019 Huobi Global had to shut down all the accounts belonging to the US customers due to strict cryptocurrency regulations of the USA. This exchange is one of the top 50 cryptocurrency exchanges by trade volume. On the Coingecko chart of exchanges, Huobi Global occupies the third position. The exchange has more than 500 markets and supports over 220 cryptocurrencies. As Huobi provides an option to buy cryptocurrency with fiat money, this exchange is a gateway for people who enter the cryptocurrency world . FEATURES : Huobi Global has a really wide range of functions. First off, this exchange provides an opportunity to buy cryptocurrencies with fiat money using a credit card and other payment means. This option is delivered in the over-the-counter trading section (OTC). There is a menu line in the upper part of the website. It begins with "But Crypto". That's where one can see the OTC offerings provided by Huobi. One can buy or sell the following currencies: Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH), Tether (USDT), EOS, XRP, Litecoin (LTC), Huobi Token (HT), Huobi stablecoin (HUSD), and Bitcoin Cash (BCH). Please note, that there are not so many offerings especially for certain currencies. Normally there are many options for buying BTC or USDT. The prices and payment methods vary from one trader to another. You can pay with a credit card, some traders accept payments via Western Union, AliPay, and other services. There is a cryptocurrency exchange with hundreds of crypto-to-crypto pairs. The exchange supports market, limit and stop-limit orders. It gives traders some control over the situation and helps to secure the assets from trading in loss to some extent. In general, the exchange interface of Huobi is quite generic. Those who have experience of trading on several other exchanges will find the interface familiar. It has a trading view with a candlestick chart on the left and the list of orders updating in real-time on the right. Under the charts, there is an order history. Under the list of market trades, there is a section where users can place orders. The candlestick chart is powered with numerous analysis tools and indicators. What makes Huobi Global more attractive for traders is the support of margin trading. In all margin trading pairs the currencies are traded against Tether (USDT). There are 6 cryptocurrencies that can be traded with x3 leverage: Bitcoin (BTC), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Litecoin (LTC), XRP, Ether (ETH), and EOS. Huobi Global is aimed to provide service both to small investors and institutional traders. That's the reason why the platform offers institutional accounts with special opportunities for corporate customers. Among these features, there are colocation options and other tools that provide the opportunity of seamless high-frequency trading. Additionally, institutional accounts can get special OTC loans. One more feature is trading derivatives. Huobi provides two separate interfaces for that purpose: Swap trading and Futures trading platforms on Huobi DM. Moreover, it is possible to participate in IEO trading via the Huobi exchange. This feature requires the use of the Huobi Token. ASSETS AND INSTRUMENTS: As mentioned, there are two types of instruments that you can trade on the Huobi derivatives platform. These are your traditional futures as well as the perpetual swaps or futures. With these instruments, you are trading crypto on margin. This means that they are leveraged and your exposure is often many multiples of the amount that you have put down as collateral. Now that we have a brief understanding of leverage, let’s take a look at the instruments on offer at the Huobi exchange. Futures are instruments that allow the holder to buy or sell some asset in the future. Essentially, you are trading some future price of the instrument on the chose delivery date. In terms of expiry dates, they have weekly, bi-weekly and Quarterly which settle every Friday. In terms of expiry dates, they have weekly, bi-weekly and Quarterly which settle every Friday. When it comes to the specifics of the contract, they differ according to which asset is being traded. You should also take a look into the contract specifics in the Huobi docs. This includes such information as the index reference for the prices as well as your last trading price. The latter can only be done up till 10 minutes before the expiry. Perpetual swaps are leveraged instruments that do not have have a delivery date. They are marked to market everyday and settle 3 times a day. They are sometimes also called “perpetual futures” at other exchanges. The reason that they are called “Swaps” at Huobi Derivatives is because you are swapping the returns of one asset for the returns of another. Here, you are swapping crypto returns for returns on the US dollar. At Huobi DM, the Perpetual swaps have leverage up to 125x and they are written on 5 different assets. These are Bitcoin and Ethereum with other coins to be added soon. HUOBI APPS: Huobi mobile app for iOS and Android are available. Similarly, the Huobi mobile app features most of the functionalities available on the web platform also. You can even complete tasks like account registration and verification directly via the app. In Google Play, the Huobi Global app has an average rating of 4.1 stars out of 3,730 reviews. However, in December 2018 and January 2019, some users have said that the Android app won’t let them login due to an error with Captcha. On the Apple App Store, Huobi boasts an average rating of 4.9 stars out of over 4,800 reviews. API : For those of you who are programmers, you will be happy to learn that Huobi global API can be used on the Futures and Swap markets. There is both a websocket as well as a REST version available. It is suggested that you use the REST for one off operation to trade and withdraw. You should use the websocket for market data & order updates. You should also note that you can be a market maker on through the API. If you want to start using the API then you will to get yourself an API key. This can easily be done in the API management of your account dashboard. Here you can select whether you would like it to be a read-only, Withdraw or Trade. You can also bind an IP address to this API so you can ensure than no other person will use your account even if compromised. HUOBI FEES : Huobi has a 0.2 % fee that applies to both market makers and takers for amounts between $0 and $5,000,000 over the course of a 30-day period. In comparison, other top exchanges like Binance have 0.1 percent fees. Actually, it has a fair trading fees structure and easy to remember also. Meanwhile, GDAX has 0.3 percent fees. In January 2019, Huobi Global launched a tiered fee structure that significantly reduces fees for higher-volume traders. This is relatively competitive when compared to other exchanges. Users also have the option to reduce trading fees on Huobi by becoming a VIP member. This involves paying a monthly payment of HT, which varies depending on the membership level (1-5). Like most exchanges, Huobi has no fees on deposits. However, Huobi does have withdrawal fees minimums that vary from coin-to-coin. For example, withdrawing Bitcoin (BTC) costs 0.001 BTC, with a minimum withdrawal amount of 0.01 BTC. For Tether (USDT), the flat fee is 5 USDT. And the minimum withdrawal amount is 20 USDT. Overall, the meaning- Huobi fees are generally higher than most exchanges for lower withdrawal amounts. A few exceptions exist. For example, TUSD has a withdrawal minimum of $20 but a withdrawal fee of only $2. IS IT TRUSTWORTHY? In contrast to other exchanges, Huobi receives a favorable score. First of all, it is incorporated and operated from Singapore. As we all know crypto regulations are advanced there. And promote blockchain startups always. Second, Huobi does provide users with multiple ways to safeguard their accounts. Although it is not enough. Essentially, 2-factor authentication is available using both SMS and authenticator apps. The platform does not require any special confirmation if the account is logged into from an unfamiliar IP address or location. There is no option to whitelist addresses for asset withdrawal, allowing funds to be sent to any address input. Furthermore, Huobi was never hacked. Even though they do present a lucrative target for attackers. Meaning, Huobi has adopted a decentralized exchange structure, which helps to resist DDOS attacks. And we believe the exchange takes these threats seriously and does everything in their power to protect the exchange from hackers. Also, Huobi does store user funds in cold storage to restrict access to them. Actually, the exchange stores around 98 percent of funds in cold wallets. SUPPORT : Something else that is crucial to the entire trading experience is the level of support that the exchange provides. There is nothing more frustrating than having to wait hours for response from support. When it comes to Huobi, there are actually quite a few options to reach their customer support. Perhaps the quickest and most effective way is through their live chat function. Firstly, they will try to help you with the available resources. If that does not work then you can reach out to a live agent. CONCLUSION: So, in summary. We really liked the Huobi futures products. It is not only highly functional but is also secure and leverags the expertise that the team have at the main Huobi exchange. For the futures instruments, there is a decent range of assets and leverage. Markets are also pretty liquid and these are all traded on a simplistic yet technically able trading platform. It’s also great that you can trade on PC programs and mobile apps as well. When it comes to security, they have taken all of the same precautions that are used on the main exchange. Their 20,000 BTC strong insurance fund keeps them well protected and they have not had a single clawback of trader funds since their inception. Yes, there are areas for improvement but the exchanges is still evolving and building out functionality. One can only hope that they take trader suggestions into account. So then, is it worth considering? Well, if you are looking for a highly functional and secure futures exchange that is backed by one of the biggest names in the business, then it is well worth a try. Huobi Website: https://www.huobi.com/en-us/topic/invited/?invite_code=czdh5 UID: 138138177 Huobi Indian Community: https://t.me/huobiglobalindia Huobi Global Community: https://t.me/huobiglobalofficial
Hey all, I’ve spent some time during my flight back home to discuss in detail the experience in Singapore, what talked about, things the mods and team are working on, improvements that can be made and some other things too. This post has also had input from the other moderators too. I don’t think any of the mods were massively pleased with the outcome of how we portrayed our time in Singapore during the last update and it certainly didn’t put across all the fantastic things we learnt or discussed while we were there. There was a quick turnaround with the update and with some of us were travelling and heading to other countries for various reasons it wasn’t ideal – anyway let’s begin. P.s. I apologise in advance for the lengthy post.
As most of you are aware there is a rebranding process going on for Request currently, it was really exciting to hear Robbins experience and to see the scope of the project. Request are working with an industry leading full-service digital agency to improve the understandability of Request through educational content. The current Request website is mainly catered towards ICO investors and hasn’t really changed much since the token sale – when visiting the site, it’s extremely difficult to understand what Request is, how it works and who can it benefit from the platform. One of the goals of the project is to revamp the website to cater for developers, businesses, users, community members, early adopters and investors. The concept of the blockchain, Request, and its products is daunting for the non-technical audience. While the team know it’s important to cater for developers and other industry professionals having an easy to understand project with easy to consume information is an important step towards adoption. The Request Hub will also play a critical part in the growth of the Request Network. The new website will have a focus on developers and businesses and pushing them towards the hub and how they can use the funding to help create their projects. Most of you will probably be aware that the dApps + the core protocol are different projects entirely. Internally, this is also the case. You can see an visual image of the structure here: https://imgur.com/pXF1gEK The core platform team is responsible for protocol development, things like scaling solutions, data encryption, extensions, features like cross-currency etc. Whereas the dApp teams focus on creating applications built on the Request platform, crowdfunding, invoicing, payments etc. Although this isn’t new information it’s important for sections later in the write-up.
Fiat integration is vital for the success of the Request Network for medium to long-term. What we focus on today is making sure the protocol has enough features and a solid developer experience to attract developers to build reliable financial tools on top of the Request Network. The foundation prioritizes its own development goals based on direct feedback coming from the developer community. We receive requests for features that are needed by developers, as their product depends on it. Today, the main feedback coming from the developer community is to make it easier to use the library, implementation of encryption, cross currency support and adding more cryptocurrencies. Apart from these requests, scalability of the protocol itself and developing extensions such as escrow are also prioritized as it is crucial for adoption of the protocol by developers. The above are our current priorities in development, while we in parallel are researching several fiat integration options mentioned in an update last December.
Oracle with Chainlink
Integration by partnerships with banks
Oracle and bank APIs
Partnership with credit card companies or processors`
All of the above bullet points are things the team are actively researching and looking into, we discussed how the Singapore government is looking at tokenizing the Singaporean Dollar and how many more governments in the future will look at taking this route, however this is a long way off. A decentralised Oracle with Chainlink would be ideal but it’s not ready yet. Integrations by partnerships with banks / partnering with credit card companies or processors (like Stripe) is incredibly difficult (especially being decentralised) but it’s something the team will actively work on / towards. Oracle and bank APIs – we discussed several projects here like StellarX, OmiseGo and more – each have their own pros and cons but nothing in the space is really ready for FIAT, some options are close and the team are keeping a close eye on several projects in this space. There are tonnes of regulatory issues surrounding FIAT and the blockchain, governments are dubious about the blockchain technology and banks are having a tough time getting involved too – even big companies like Binance, Coinbase and Circle still can’t obtain a banking license after many years of trying. The regulatory situation will change, crypto is still a young industry and it will take time for governments to catch up. Instead of spending time trying to achieve FIAT which wasn’t viable, their time has been spent on far more productive things such as scaling solutions, data encryption, working on various dApps, working with partners, hiring and much more. The better the platform the more impact having FIAT will have when it comes. Yes, not being able to stick to the roadmap isn’t ideal, but the team have realised there are limitations and made the best of the situation. Would it have been good if the team have been more transparent about FIAT and the issues they faced? Absolutely. Detailed articles about subjects like this do take time, and raise further questions which also take up the team’s time. We want to find a good balance going forward of keeping the team on track and keeping the community informed. We will also work with the team to improve communication for things like this (if they ever arise in the future) and how the mods can alleviate some of the time-pressure if possible. The team do realise the importance of FIAT, it hasn’t been forgotten and will be something the team will keep on the roadmap – in the future when FIAT is possible we will have a much more mature platform and many use cases live and ready to integrate FIAT.
One of the most discussed things over the past months is marketing, this is a very important topic and it’s something that can make or break a project. As per the ‘Rebranding + Restructure’ section, marketing will be broken down into two different groups, dApps and the core Request platform. The marketing for each of these aspects is very different. So, why aren’t the team marketing right now? Quite simply – the platform just isn’t ready yet, there isn’t enough value to risk marketing at this stage. This is the same with some of the dApps, they are close, but they still aren’t quite there yet. In my case if we take a look at the WooCommerce + Shopify plugins, if I go ahead and run a PPC (pay-per-click) campaign before BTC is integrated, then users may leave the site and never return. In this instance I will have lost money as well as a potential customer. This is just one example but it’s the same for other dApps too. Right now, The team are making active steps towards marking when the platform and dApps are, as well as hiring dedicated marketers. I do want to say that the team truly understand the importance of marketing, they will market the project and the dApps– it’s critical they do so. To break it down there are entirely separate game-plans to consider when marketing, the core platform and dApps.
Core Platform (Foundation)
Marketing for the core platform will focus on; educating the community about the platform, educating developers / businesses / potential partners about the Request protocol and how it can be used by / integrated into business workflows. The rebrand will have a big focus on education and driving adoption of the Request Hub + Fund. In the meantime, we are discussing ways to improve the Request Hub and how we can get more developers involved at this stage, I have covered this in more detail in the ‘Request Hub’ section.
Each dApp will in essence be its own entity (business) and will act independently of the foundation. Each dApp will have a dedicated team, individual aims and goals, potentially a custom roadmap, a proprietary marketing strategy and much more (everything you expect from a typical business). Marketing for individual dApps will vary greatly depending on what the dApp is, some will be focussed on B2B, some B2C, some dApps might be a combination of both.
Hiring + strategies to find new devs
The foundation growing at a quick rate and one of the things we discussed in Singapore was hiring and strategies to find new devs. There are several strategies that the Request team can adopt alongside job advertisements to help entice developers, not only to the foundation but also to the Request Hub. We discussed potentially using freelancers and then hiring if they are a good fit, more engagement from the team with people that contribute to the Request Hub and how the team can help (financially via the fund + time set aside for devs), hackathons with prize incentives, speaking at developer conferences (very important). Some ways of engaging with developers do require the platform / ecosystem to be more mature but we are actively working on making these things a reality. Also, improving the community sentiment will also drive hype which in turn hopefully attracts more developers.
Request Hub + Request Fund
In my opinion one of the best selling points of Request is the Request Hub + Fund. Although there is activity in the hub and some projects have receiving funding it is nowhere near as widely used as it could be. As I’ve discussed in the marketing section, the renewed website will have a big focus on pushing the Hub + Fund. Aside from the marketing aspect I have also been speaking to teams in the Hub for a while about how the flow for funding can be improved, we have discussed the barrier to entry for the fund (MVP limitations), the turnaround time for responding to funding applications (needs to be quicker), having the team engage more with the Request Hub devs as well as actively helping them with their business needs. In the future I will also look at creating a suite of tutorials, and potentially workshops, for the Request Hub to help get developers up and running.
One of the hot topics since returning from Singapore has been the bi-weekly updates, we have been discussing with the team how they can be improved without taking up too much time for the team. There are several things which are actively being discussed:
Have more clarity on what developers are working on
Talking about blockers and potential problems the developers have faced, if things are delayed – why?
Have an insight into why certain decisions have been made e.g. FIAT, transparency goes a long way here.
Is it possible for there be previews of dApps or upcoming features?
Talking about things going on behind the scenes without committing to firm dates / jeopardising anything.
Can the team promote the Request Hub projects more on social platforms?
Can we talk about the Request Hub projects? From an outsider’s perspective reading just the bi-weeklys it looks like not much is going on which couldn’t be further from the truth – it's clear there are exciting and innovative things going on behind the scenes and we want to demonstrate that as much as possible in the bi-weeklys.
This will be an ongoing discussion with the foundation, it will take time to refine the bi-weeklys and we also need to find a happy medium that suits both the foundation and the community too.
The Community Managers and our role
The goal as community managers is to firstly ensure that the social channels e.g. Reddit, Discord, Slack and Telegram are a good place for investors, the team and developers – we want to ensure it’s good for open discussions (both positive and negative) and a place where we can educate people about Request too. As community managers we want to try and stay as impartial as possible, we will help to educate when we can, we’ll shut down any false information and we’ll help alleviate any concerns where possible. We don’t want to take sides, we are simply there to be a bridge between the team and the community. We want the Request community to be an open place where anyone can discuss what they want, we want to see discussions about good things and bad – we don’t want Request to be a place where negativity is censored. We (the mods) are just normal guys, we love technology, we love the blockchain, we are just investors like all of you, and we want the best for the Request Network. We are continually improving how we and the team deliver information, but things can still be improved massively – we are already actioning some things to improve communication between the community and the team and we have plenty of other things lined up too.
During the rebrand the website will rework the dynamic roadmap to something potentially similar to Ark (https://ark.io/roadmap), with percentages (or something similar) and a breakdown of each goal on the roadmap. This will help with transparency and also allow the community to track progress more easily. I’ll cover my perspective on the dynamic roadmap looking from a developers point of view, as a lot of people are still unsure as to why the roadmap has changed and in turn it raises lots of questions. From a developers point of view. As a dev it can be incredibly difficult to hit deadlines that are more than a few weeks / over a month or two away, the further away the date the harder it is to estimate + hit deadlines. This is the case for a normal business, but as crypto is insanely fast paced and such a new industry this is even more prevalent. In the normal development world you typically work in weekly / bi-weekly sprints to produce features in small iterations which contributes to the overall project, at the end of each sprint you re-evaluate the previous weeks and re-adjust timings / resources if necessary – estimating deadlines months in advance is almost impossible. The biggest issue about committing to a firm date is that crypto adoption is moving at a fast rate, non-blockchain businesses are getting involved with cryptocurrencies and a great platform like Request is an attractive option for them. On-boarding these businesses takes money, expertise and most importantly team resources. The team is growing but for now the time spent with these partners needs to come from somewhere, and unfortunately features can sometimes get affected. Let's take BTC support - if the team was fully focused on BTC I would have no doubt there would have been no delay. But PwC came along, which took up development resources and, unfortunately, impacted the deadline. Long-term, having PwC onboard will have a more positive effect on the overall Request Network ecosystem. Partnerships won't wait around, Bitcoin support will. With these partnerships there will be a push for features they want to see. PwC for example, would be focused on the accounting so they would likely be pushing for accountancy related dApps (http://accounting.request.network/) - when the roadmap was first created the team could never predict such a huge entity like PwC would come onboard, so changing focus is sometimes required from a project. Once again, long-term this will benefit Request massively. From a development perspective changing the roadmap is a fantastic move in my opinion, the team never know what is around the corner and being able to quickly adapt to new opportunities, on-boarding companies are critical for the long-term viability of the network. As the team grow there will be more development resource available to focus on the core platform and partners which will allow the team to better predict features in the future. Once again, I’d like to reiterate things do need improving here, the team can be more transparent, and the roadmap can, and will, be improved.
The Singapore trip was fantastic, and it was an incredible experience working closely with the team and it was great to see their passion and talent while working away through the week, it’s an excellent work environment too. Every bit of feedback is incredibly important, please don’t hesitate to get in touch at any time to me or any of the mods, either by Reddit, Discord, Slack or Telegram. There is a lot of work ahead for the mods and the team, but rest assured we have every single one of your concerns in our scope; the community and the perception you guys have is so important to the team and the project. There are a lot of great things going on that we will continue to improve and lots of things that need changing – it won’t be something that happens overnight but something that will be continuously improving for the entirety of the project – we are dedicated to working hard and improving Request and the community every day. At the end of all this, actions speak louder than words, and we will take everything into consideration to help ensure Request thrives, we are already in the process of actively making changes. Apologies for the lengthy post but hopefully this clears some bits up and helps to put across some of the great things we saw in Singapore, if you have any other questions feel free to leave a comment or get in touch privately. Cheers.
The Path To Crypto Trading Starts With Knowledge: A Brief Guide To Crypto Trading
Trading cryptocurrencies has come into fad over the last few years and become a relatively good means of earning for both professional traders and enthusiasts. If we look at the price charts that have been compiled over the years by a variety of channels, we can see that the crypto market is exhibiting the market dynamics and fluctuations much like those that can be found on traditional markets. This makes it clear that the presence of volatility on the crypto market makes it a profitable area for trading. Of course, the main question that arises in the minds of most aspiring crypto traders is how to make money trading cryptocurrencies. For this reason, many seek to learn how to day trade cryptocurrencies. Anyone willing to make the effort can truly find opportunities there. For instance, the exchange rate of BTC has grown from about $800 in 2013 to over $6,000 in 2019, after having spiked in price to over $20,000 in 2017. Ethereum was just as remarkable in its dynamics after having gone to $0.57 in 2014 to $1,180 in 2017 to $171 in 2019. Ripple was just as dynamic, going from $0.02 in 2014 to $0.32 in 2019. If that is not volatility, then we don’t know what is. This makes the crypto market one of the best avenues for risky traders seeking to make their fortunes. But mastering how to make those fortunes is over half the matter. https://preview.redd.it/bajehrv10m541.png?width=541&format=png&auto=webp&s=8be0fe84df20245d6db0d64f44aedca2047d27fc
How To Start Trading Cryptocurrencies
Anyone who wants to sink their teeth into the juicy cake of crypto trading has to first realize where cryptos are traded. Like every other financial instrument put up for trading, cryptocurrencies are placed on exchanges. The crypto market is host to over 200 exchanges, some more reputable than others. Among some of the best and renowned are Binance,BitMex, Bittrex, Huobi, Coinbase and many others. Unlike traditional exchanges on Wall Street, crypto exchanges are divided into two types – centralized and decentralized. Both work on blockchain technologies and provide almost the same level of convenience, depending on the offered instruments and the architecture of user interface. However, some exchanges are decentralized, meaning that they do not store any of the user’s information, including the wallets on any of their servers or systems and resort to external services in this regard. Decentralized exchanges do not require any intermediaries to conduct any operations and perform all the order matching themselves. On the other hand, centralized exchanges resort to a number of intermediary services to conduct their operations. The intermediaries provide anything from order matching to user wallet storage. This makes centralized exchanges much riskier and more expensive compared to their decentralized counterparts. Despite the obvious differences in platform structure, there is also the issue of convenience. Most decentralized exchanges have horrible user interfaces and are much more difficult to master. But when it comes to speeds, centralized exchanges win over their decentralized counterparts, since their platforms are better suited for transactions. Though there are tendencies of reversing the issue, the situation still remains in favor of centralized exchanges. Centralized exchanges win over decentralized ones in another important factor that is vital for trading – liquidity. Decentralized exchanges cannot compete with centralized ones in volumes of trading. However, decentralized exchanges win over in an almost complete lack of commissions and security, since they do not rely on any intermediaries. When dealing with crypto exchanges, traders also need to know how crypto trading bots work. This is because bots are allowed on crypto exchanges facilitate trading considerably. When resorting to bots, it is important to first analyze the exchanges and understand which ones offer the best instruments for convenient trading. Given the many restrictions placed on cryptocurrency trading in some countries, many traders would ask how to trade cryptocurrencies in the US. The issue is not as complicated as it might seem, since most reputable exchanges, like Binance and others operate legally on the US market. It is therefore necessary for traders to research their platforms of choice before using them to make sure they comply with US laws.
How To Trade Cryptocurrencies
Trading cryptocurrencies is done almost in exactly the same way as with other financial instruments – through the application of a variety of strategies. The main strategies on the crypto market are much like those on other markets, such as Forex, and they include: Scalping – the launch of a very large number of small orders for the purpose of making small profits in bulk, rather than waiting for one large win. Intraday – this is the basic form of trading which involves placing orders during trading hours and buying and selling assets. This is the base strategy for fixing profits during the same day without risking off-hour volatility. Investing – both long and short term investing is also a type of trading strategy, which involves waiting for an asset’s price to move (preferably up) and fixing the resulting profits. There are dozens of trading strategies on the market and MoonTrader will allow its users to make use of all of them through its convenient interface. How To Trade Bitcoin Bitcoin is the most coveted coin out there with its volatility being its main allure and bane. The first and main question posed by any starting trader is how to trade Bitcoin for profit. In fact, this question is often associated with the question of how to become a Bitcoin trader, which in itself is a rather false view on the crypto market, since the latter is much bigger than Bitcoin alone. The issue of how Bitcoin trading works is largely a reflection of any trading process on the market and does not involve any special circumstances apart from the asset’s volatility. Trading Bitcoin is done exactly the same way as with any other crypto asset. But with trading BTC comes the question of how to automate Bitcoin trading. This is where traders must first realize that their exchange of choice and strategy will be the determining factors in the question of automation and the use of bots. How to trade Ethereum Ethereum is the second most popular name on the market after Bitcoin and is traded in exactly the same way. Ethereum is considered to be a less risky asset, since its prices are lower and it is far more commonly encountered than its more expensive counterpart. How To Trade Ripple Ripple is the third most frequently encountered name on most crypto asset charts, mostly because of its relatively low volatility and popularity as an instrument for transactions used by some banks. The confidence that traders have in Ripple and its low price makes it a favorite for beginning traders and a low-cost option for scalping orders. https://preview.redd.it/vl0e1bo90m541.jpg?width=1254&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=5b51c59dfa22fc8f4319207d11b3c51e85d24cd5
Learning How To Trade Cryptocurrency
The biggest challenge facing any aspiring trader who wishes to join the crypto market and start trading Bitcoin and other assets is learning how to do it properly. In fact, reading is the only way followed by a gradual and phased transition from test trading to real trading. The process may well be painful at first, but experience counts the most in trading. MoonTrader knows all too well how difficult it may be to learn the ropes of crypto trading, so the platform is delighted to present an entire block of content devoted exclusively to educational content. The https://moontrader.com/en/category/beginners-guide-to-trading-crypto/ section offers accessible, clear and valuable insight into the steps necessary to start the journey into crypto trading.
Crypto trading is not without its risks. The market is inherently risky for a number of factors. Ironically, the profit making factor of volatility is also the factor that can reduce profits to losses. When embarking on the journey of crypto trading, aspiring traders must realize and ascertain the risks involved and consciously undertake all of their next steps. The best step to take is to create a trading strategy first and rely on one of the most important instruments available on the market – the margin. By trading with a margin, traders can minimize their losses and ensure a great enough volume of trading. Binance Futures, for example, offers a large variety of margins from x1 to x125 to ensure that traders have the necessary leverage to trade effectively. It is important to note that margin trading is an advanced instrument and cannot be reliable enough for novice traders. As such, MoonTrader encourages aspiring traders to refrain from margin trading until they are confident enough to risk greater volumes of assets during trading.
Keep It Going
Learning is the process of acquiring experience and the latter counts the most in trading. Before embarking on the path of trading cryptocurrencies, traders must first compile a large enough amount of knowledge that they will be able to rely upon in the variety of situations that can arise on the market. First and foremost, it is vital to refrain from negative sentiment and look ahead into brighter prospects. Secondly, aspiring traders must study the market and find a suitable platform. Thirdly, novice traders must build a strategy that suits their characters and styles and make sure to abide by it. Once that has been mastered, they can start delving into the more advanced aspects of trading. Whatever path traders take, MoonTrader will be there to help them with both information and instruments to make sure their trading is profitable and enjoyable. Check us out at https://moontrader.io Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MoonTraderPlatform Twitter: https://twitter.com/MoonTrader_io LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/19203733 Reddit: https://www.reddit.com/Moontrader_official/ Telegram: https://t.me/moontrader_news_en Originally posted on our blog.
Current State & The Future Of Digital Assets From Ariel Ling, BitMax COO.
Ariel Ling, co-founder and COO of BitMax, has shared her thoughts on the current state of digital assets and what to expect in the next years, what retail investor should take into account when buying any cryptocurrencie and the key factors that drive the value of the token/coin. Ariel Ling, BitMax COO Why, when and how have you started your crypto journey? I started my crypto journey at the beginning of 2018 when my long-time friend, the co-founder and CEO of BitMax.io, Dr. George Cao “pulled” me out of the traditional Wall Street and asked me to join him in launching this exciting venture. Three main drivers are 1) to learn more about blockchain technology and its transformational applications in different industries; 2) to leverage in-depth traditional finance expertise to improve overall crypto trading and exchange market structure for better efficiency and transparency; 3) to have a chance to work with a talented and driven team who share similar vision, passion and conviction to build a top global digital asset trading platform as well as a wonderful organization from good to great! If your friend will ask you: should I consider cryptocurrencies as investment opportunity? What will be your answer? Will you recommend any specific digital asset? Coming from traditional finance perspective, I would explain my thoughts process from three angles — 1) types of crypto or digital assets as the foundation for understanding; 2) whether they, are more for short-term trading or mid-term investment 2) what are elements for investment valuation and decision-making so our friends can assess and make decision for themselves. First, in general there are three types of digital assets:
Major currency / coin-type like Bitcoin, ETH, XRP, Litecoin, etc. and stable coins;
Security-type tokens representing some equity or debt rights of underlying projects;
Utility tokens for usage on specific blockchain platform or network.
Each type represents different type of opportunity and risk. Second: is digital asset good for trading or investment? due to the nascent nature and very short history of market development with most of retail investors’ participation and lack of proper regulatory framework globally, there are quite some market manipulation, speculation and fraud activities in the current market, causing significant volatility and investors loss across all types within very short period of time. This made it very hard for any investors to assess the real valuation and momentum drivers behind those large swings. So at this point, I would think with its high volatility and risk, digital asset in general is more of very short-term trading product than investment vehicle. From liquidity perspective, major currency/coin-type will have more market depth across exchanges, hence more suitable for short-term trading-focused strategies. Third, from traditional investment perspective, it is critical to assess digital asset investing from valuation and fundamental perspectives, such as business model, future growth, economic return vs. person’s risk tolerance and investment objectives. For major coins, especially Bitcoin itself with its longest history among all the digital assets, have started to provide certain payment function similar to fiat currencies in certain countries. Hence, there are more interesting dynamics to the Bitcoin investing based on one’s view of Bitcoin usage over mid-term horizon and the relative valuation vs its production (mining cost) especially with the price down to 3,500–3,650 USD. For security-type or utility tokens, the performance over short-to-medium term really comes down to combination of intrinsic value of underlying blockchain projects and token economics. Similar to Internet in 1990s, blockchain technology projects are still at the early stage of development and looking for meaningful and applicable use cases to bring real economic benefit from the economics and business model perspective, so it becomes very difficult to apply traditional finance valuation and assess the real intrinsic value of those projects. Recent market crash has brought many of those tokens down to near zero value. So the investment in those tokens are extremely high risk and everyone should be really careful and prudent in the evaluation of any specific projects for the decision-making and risk protection. What is the story behind BitMax? Who are the foundefounders? When it was founded? Q1 2018, Dr. George Cao and I founded Global Digital Mercantile (GDM), global operator of digital asset platforms, including BitMax.io based on Singapore for overseas markets and North America’s trading platform aiming for the first half of 2019. BitMax.io started public beta testing mid July, 2018, and was officially launched later mid August. On November 18th , we launched our mining mechanism, the industry very first transaction-mining & reverse-mining mechanism, which has made us the industry leading third-generation cryptocurrency exchange — after first generation of traditional exchanges like Binance, Gemini, Coinbase, etc. and 2nd generation of transaction-mining ones like FCoin, Bitthumb, etc. Just a quick introduction of my partner. Dr. Cao studied Computer Science in the University of Science and Technology of China, and earned his PhD degree from the University of Chicago. Dr. Cao was the Founder and the Chief Investment Officer of Delpha Capital Management, LLC., New York, specializing in trading equity, ETFs and commodity future products in all major exchanges across the globe. He is also the founder and managing partner of Whitestone Investment Group, a New York based venture fund that invests in a large variety of startup companies that are in the high tech, fintech, big data and medical area. Before founding Delpha Capital, Mr. Cao worked at the Equity Division of Barclays Capital in both the New York and London offices. During that period, he oversaw equity electronic trading in the U.S., European and Asian markets. Prior to Barclays, he researched and traded U.S. equity as a Portfolio Manager at Knight Capital Group. For me, I have built more than 18-year extensive experience in strategic planning, business development, financial risk management and regulatory implementation across major trading asset classes (Equity, FX, and Fixed Income) at several top global banks. Previous to jumping into digital asset trading, I ran USD liquidity and investment product for top financial institutions and corporate clients at tier-one global investment bank. Before that, I ran US Broker Dealer as COO and head of Business Development for Germany 2nd largest bank. Earlier from 2007 to 2012, I was global equity trading COO across Lehman Brothers and Barclays Capital, building out trading franchise and market making businesses globally. I have four degrees — graduated top of class from Nankai University with two Bachelor degrees in Finance and English Literature and got my MBA from NYU and Master of Mass Communication from University of Georgia. Where is Bitmax located? Are you a distributed team or do you have an office to work together? How many people work for Bitmax? Our global team of 50 members are based off two main location — New York with 20 members, including all the founding members, and Beijing with 30 members. Would you be so kind to introduce briefly the core team members? Both George and I are very proud of our 10-member founding team. Similar to us, they are all from Wall Street top firms like Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, Bloomberg, and top high-frequency hedge funds with deep experience in the fields of financial engineering research and development of large-scale quant trading infrastructure. Our educational background span across multiple prestigious institutions including Columbia University, University of Chicago, Carnegie Mellon University, and New York University in the United States, as well as Peking University and Tsinghua University in China. So one special thing about BitMax.io is that very few exchanges in the crypto trading space are built by solid team like ours with strong traditional finance mindset and trading background. You’ve started BitMax during market downtrend in pretty competitive environment. What is your value proposition? Why traders should switch to BitMax? I think BitMax.io is actually very special in this market, and our team is very proud of what we have built in the short period of six months. There are at least three reasons I think traders should chooseBitMax.io:
It’s our real-word professional trading experience and expertise;
It’s is our platform, resilient, high volume quantitative-trading platform;
It’s is our top-quality customer-centric strategy.
First of all, as I mentioned in the last question, architected by a group of Wall Street veterans, BitMax.io builds upon the core value of blockchain, transparency and reliability, and delivers high-quality client services and trading experience through its innovative trading platform. Second, our quant-driven tech platform. Our development members were all from high frequency and quantitative systematic trading shops. They definitely make sure the platform was resilient and it can actually handle billions of volume during the design and build. The platform resilience and scalability were fully being tested when we launched the transaction mining and reverse-mining. The first day, we actually had, within the first 24 hours, the trading volume of 1.6 billion in notional; and our system didn’t flinch, didn’t slow down, and didn’t shut down. This is very rare in any of today’s exchanges where you can frequently see the slowdown, the crash, and very slow user responses, especially with transaction mining exchanges. Third, what we are extremely proud of and all the users can see, is our 24/7 customer services built upon the core Wall Street client-centric concept. Besides our customer support team who never sleep, George actually stands behind the platform almost 24/7 answering questions from the customers, seeking solutions for their issues, and providing the most responsive customer service for the entire crypto trading space. BitMax CEO, George Cao, is often seen in official Telegram group answering different questions. We constantly remind our team: customer first. When we design a product, when we launch a system, and when we look at user needs, we all look from customers’ perspective, from how we can protect the users. When we look at primary listing, we only select the high-quality projects because we want our users to have the best investment and trading experience on BitMax.io. Are you satisfied with the current results of BitMax? Is transaction mining model giving expected volume? What is the % of traders using this model? We are very pleased with current business development and delivery results from client acquisition and trading perspectives. On the business development side, we completed the global setup for both 50-member team organization and comprehensive legal entity structure from Asia to North Americas in 2018, which laid down foundation and paved way for 2019 business expansion especially with US. Since our platform launch in mid Aug, we successfully started Industry FIRST transaction mining and reverse-mining exchange and built out the most active global communities and users within four months in the bear market, with registered users more than 95k; average daily active traders more than quadrupled since the start of transaction mining; average daily trading volume of $465mm through the month of January and February in 2019. Those are extremely promising under this tough market condition. From the composition of trading volumes, there are two parts — transaction mining which grows exponentially; second is organic, the regular trading which has experienced healthy increase as well because of all the listing activities and all the incentives we have. The regular trading takes about 5% of total trading volume, which is very good for an exchange which was launched in August and running right into the bear market. What are the key factors that drive the value of the token/coin? From traditional finance /investment view token economics is really a balance act between business / economic model and exchange market force, driven by three factors: intrinsic value and sustainability, supply and demand, and liquidity and depth. First, from a traditional finance perspective, we need to look at the intrinsic value, the economic valuation behind a project. How does this project make money? Do they really have fundamentals? Do they really have a viable business model? Do they really have a solid user base for future growth? For example, our exchange business model is very simple. We are exchange; People trade on our platform. The more they trade, the more transaction fee the exchange collect — the revenue source. The exchange will last when people keep trading on the platform and the transaction revenue generated covers the operating cost of running an exchange. Second, it is the supply and demand of token on the market — who will buy and for what purpose; who will sell and under what scenarios. For major currency coins like Bitcoin, people might buy and sell for potential investment or use in actual payment processing. For other types of token, it is more driven by short-term trading pattern and profit taking. So it is extremely important to set up certain token mechanism to support the equilibrium of supply and demand like how Central Banks manage the supply of currency in circulation through monetary policies. Third, when the market force comes in, it comes down to the liquidity and depth. Exchange is about liquidity and market depth. That means there has to be enough of trading volumes at each pricing level for each token. For BitMax.io, we have very sophisticated market making model that is similar to Designated Market Maker model of New York Stock Exchange. We focus on providing liquidity and maintaining a fair and orderly market for those token listings who agree to engage our market making services. Every exchange is looking for good projects in order to become a premiere market for this new asset. Can you name some projects that impressed you recently (even if you are not discussing possible listing with them)? BitMax.io has strict listing requirements in order to identify high-quality projects for our users. Very proud that we have listed five industry star projects in the last several weeks, with more in the pipeline. All of them have the following attributes that made them successful — viable and profitable business model, growing user bases, strong community support, and comprehensive funding sources. One of the shining examples is European project named LTO Network listed mid Jan. Its price has been steadily rising since then, as more and more people get to know their business model and more project support comes into the market place to buy the tokens — It uses blockchain technology to streamline a lot of legal processing for one of EU governments, which is very easy to understand its economic value from a revenue perspective. This is simply what people need to see eventually, clean and clear from business economic model perspective. Let’s imagine a crypto market in 5 or 10 years. Can you make any prediction what the market will look like? What customers will expect from exchange in 5–10 years? Based off my long-time experience in traditional trading, especially how equity market evolved last twenty years, I would imagine maturing market structure and entrance of institutional investors are key mandatory and healthy development of digital asset market. First, As the market develops and expands globally, traditional institution participation is a must, in order to upgrade and strengthen the overall market structure and maturity, making it more transparent and resilient, and most importantly enabling the real broad-base adoption of digital assets. Most institutional investors, such as mutual fund, pension fund and other financial institutions, hold the majority of world investment assets, not individual retail investors. Only when those big guys join the market, will there be real revolutionary improvement and expansion of the digital asset just like any other financial markets. Second, I would expect the market to become more structured with major building blocks for transparent trade life cycle processing and separate risk analytics supporting services. Current crypto trading market is very fragmented with exchanges taking on different roles of trading, wallet management, custodian, etc. Also the lack of clear and consistence regulation on market structure has led to many aspects of market inefficiency — inconsistent liquidity and depth, wide spread, high transaction cost, high volatility, speculation, etc. This definitely hampers the broader adoption of digital assets from institutional investors. Forward looking, multi-tier structure under some level of regulatory framework with clear guidance is required for future maturing market. Similar to security market, there should be at least three layers of different and independent roles: the role of broker dealer to handle the client relationship with good KYC/ AML processes, retail clients, other financial institutions, blockchain players and to take client order as agent or dealer; the role of exchange to focus on listing and trading — liquidity provision and order matching; the role of clearing house to provide clearing and settlement and custodian on custody of assets with proper control and independence. It is very clean and clear with good check and balance in place. What are the key challenges for 2019? During our 2018 business planning, we clearly view 2019 to continue being full of challenges with market uncertainty from both asset price and valuation as well as regulatory development globally. In prep for that and further growth of our platform, we have laid out the following four main strategic objectives and they are all well underway:
To launch North America trading platform for high networth and institutional clients. With North America being heavily regulated market, there are two aspects of our plan — First is to leverage a trust structure to facilitate the major coin trading with fiat, and the second is broker-dealer license application with potential for securitized tokens pending regulatory guidance in place.
To enhance BitMax.io platform and reach global top-tier exchange. We will continue listening to our users and working hard to enhance user interface and experience by upgrading website vs. other competitors for better client retention.We will continue leading product innovation among the competitors with margin trading (successfully launched in mid Feb) and then derivative to attract new clients.
Relent focus on implementation and expansion of current business lines — listing, Market Making, marketing advisory services to grow current revenue base; and further seek new revenue opportunity through North America platform while maintaining cost discipline.
we are always on the lookout in terms of exchange alignments, acquisition target, and any business partnership from different aspects of the value chain.
When do you expect a market recovery or next bull run? What are the factors that will influence the start of the market recovery? With current market crash or correction, there are two possibilities from trading perspective — recovery depending on whether this is a V down or U curve. The U curve occurs when the market collapses, it takes a longer time for market to find the bottom and struggle to rise up. The V down is like a quick collapse — dropping down very fast and reaching the bottom, and then, with some catalyst event, either catalyst from market structure, or catalyst from the market expansion itself, suddenly it gives a boost and bounces right back up. For market recovery, besides all the investment and economics elements I’ve discussed above, I believe one critical factor is the regulatory development especially clear guidance from key regulatory bodies of those major financial markets such as US, UK, EU, etc. on those key building blocks I mentioned in the maturing market structure. Once those in place, more traditional institutional investors will be ready to get in and hence boost the liquidity and valuation of the digital assets. That is the new beginning of digital assets being accepted as part of Main Street investment globally.
Wealth Formula Episode 179: Buy, Borrow and Die: Bitcoin Style
Catch the full episode:https://www.wealthformula.com/podcast/179-buy-borrow-and-die-bitcoin-style/ Buck: Welcome back to the show everyone. Today my guest on Wealth Formula Podcast is Zack Prince. He's Founder and CEO of BlockFi. BlockFi bridges the gap between blockchain and the basic financial products that you're used to including interest-bearing accounts and loans. Zack, welcome to Wealth Formula Podcast. I think you we might have had you on before as a Consensus Network replay but first time on Wealth Formula Podcast specifically, so welcome. Zac: Yeah, excited to be here, Buck. Thanks for having me. And it's good to chat with you again Buck: Yeah so remind me how you got into this you know Bitcoin stuff in the first place, I mean you were as I understand you were a traditional finance guy right so where did the blockchain part come in? Zac: Sure so I was I was working at a company in the FinTech world that provided data and technology solutions to institutional investors that wanted to participate in some of the new online lending platforms, whether they were real estate platforms or consumer lending platforms, and I kind of became the FinTech guy amongst my friend group and people would ask me you know should I invest in these real estate deals on fund rise or buy loans from Lending Club and I started writing a blog to share the information more efficiently with my friends basically and I started expanding a little bit writing about Robo advisory and some other things that were going on in the FinTech space and that's what led me to Bitcoin, and this is back in early 2015. I didn't start BlockFi until 2017 because I started following the market in the background, still working in traditional financial services in FinTech and then in early 2017 it started to feel like mainstream adoption was starting to happen in the crypto ecosystem. I'm started going to some meetups in New York City because at a certain point my wife said Zac, you're talking about crypto all the time and you're talking to me about it and I don't want to talk about it so you should find some other people to talk about this with. And the meetup composition started to change and in 2016 when I started going to these meetups it was the early crypto adopters you know libertarians, computer scientists and then in early 2017 I started to see some venture capitalists, some guys who had just left their job at Wall Street still wearing a suit, some more entrepreneurs and it was a really exciting time in the ecosystem, things like the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance were getting announced which had participation microsoft and a lot of other you know fortune 500 companies and I had started to believe in it. I was drinking the kool-aid a little bit so I decided to find a way to get involved in the space full-time and that's what led me to start BlockFi. Buck: So I have to imagine that the response you got from the traditional finance people around that time when you started talking about the blockchain space and when you started being more and more involved with that was probably not a very positive response initially or did you did you experience some of that sort of you know rejection initially to what you were doing? Zac: Yeah absolutely. But you know throughout my career this is now kind of the third emerging technology industry that I've worked in. I was originally an advertising technology starting like you know 15 years ago and I was in FinTech specifically the online lending side of FinTech which in its early days was called peer-to-peer lending and now in crypto. So having to do a lot of education explain it you know why something isn't crazy and it might work and here's why and here's the value proposition and here's what it is, I've gotten very used to that and comfortable with it. But yeah there were a lot of people who are like you know I've heard Bitcoin is only used by drug dealers and money launderers. I've heard that I'm supposed to care about blockchain and not Bitcoin. And you know at BlockFi we’re providing financial products into the market so it's a heavily regulated business so we also had to communicate with regulators. We had to explain to state regulators, federal regulators why what we were doing with Bitcoin and other cryptos than when you're doing these same types of things with assets that they're more familiar with. Buck: So when you were talking to people back in, I don't know I guess 2016/17 and it's not a long time ago, it's only two years ago, but I have to imagine that the response or the you know the approach that people take to you when you speak to investors is very different. Has it become more mainstream in that regard for you know for big money investors? Zac: It's absolutely become more mainstream you know the end of 2017 Q3/Q4. Point was going on that parabolic run it started to get covered everywhere, I mean it was on CNBC every day it was in Bloomberg New York Times Wall Street Journal. If you were paying attention to the financial industry and markets you heard about Bitcoin at that time if you hadn't heard about it before. So from a baseline of awareness perspective it got a lot better and then in 2018 you had a number of positive developments for the sector including one that I think is probably the most noteworthy which is that Bitcoin futures were listed on the CME the institutional investor perspective that's massive. You now have a well regulated well known super trustworthy venue where you can get exposure to this asset class, you also had companies like Grayscale bringing products to the market which are accessible to certain types of investors and their low bridge accounts and you started to see some adoption from companies like FinTech companies like Robin Hood and Square making Bitcoin available on their platforms. So the conversation has absolutely changed a lot and it's become less about whether or not this is something that's going to continue to exist whether or not it's something that was just a bubble and is going to die and now it's more about ok how is it going to get used how big could it get what are the interesting applications of it and what could have potentially disrupt in the traditional financial ecosystem. Buck: So you know we had obviously following this you know pop in 2017, you know I actually like you kind of really got into this early 2017 so timing was pretty good I guess now regards. Good or bad depending how you look at it but I was there before before the parabolic move. And then we have you know then we followed this up with a crypto winter and and you know who knows if we're done with it, I guess we certainly are much better off than we were. You know a unit buddy it's funny Zac I don’t know if you remember this but I was about to, we'll talk about BlockFi specifically in a minute but, I was about to use BlockFi for borrowing because I like this idea of borrowing you know collateralized debt and collateralized debt on assets and buying something else. So I was about to do it and then Bitcoin lost a clip and I was like literally and I remember I was just emailing with somebody somebody over there and I was like sorry dude I guess I just sold it, I just sold all that Bitcoin I had and you sent one email back to me and it said “capitulation” but it you know and so now we're looking back at these we go down from 3,000 back up you know been sort of flirting around this 10,000 and it seems like we're kind of maybe that we're stuck there, maybe we're kind of out of winter, maybe we're in a holding pattern but it seems like to me that since that two years not only is the awareness increase but the development of the ecosystem itself is so much further advanced than it was in 2017. Is this an unusual case where the technology and maybe even the infrastructure is actually outpacing the price? Zac: You know it's really hard to say. I would argue that in some ways it's typical. In other industries that showed a lot of promise where investors could you know participate maybe a little bit ahead of the adoption curve you saw crazy price run ups with the tech bubble and you know ‘99-2000 being the one that's kind of top of mind in recent memory and then on the other side of things, are we behind where the price should be now? It's really hard to say because this is kind of like a commodity type asset built on a payment network and valuing that is challenging and there's not a perfect model for for doing it today. It's not as easy as something that's cashflow producing but I'm incredibly bullish. I'm on record as saying at the beginning of this year that Bitcoin has only had one year in its 10-year existence where it had a lower low than the year before and parted this year around the low price for 2018 and I predicted that we would in the year had a higher price than where we started the year pretty soon and now we're up and you know around 300 percent from where we started the year. As that happens in investing is people frequently look at things on a year-to-year performance basis and when people are looking at Bitcoin even if all we do is stay around 10 K from here when they're looking at how Bitcoin performed rather than other relative to other assets at the end of 2019 it's probably going to look fantastic. And you also have an event coming up and in the summer of next year called The Halvening where basically the supply that's produced by miners is going to get cut in half and so if you believe in the stock the flow type models of valuation for Bitcoin that is usually a very big driver of price appreciation. Buck: I believe May of 2020, right? Zac: That's right. Buck: In May of 2020. Can you just talked a little bit about that just so people know because people hear about it, I've been talking about it but I don't think that it really explained it. Zac: Yeah and you know I'm not I'm not a computer scientist so I can explain it in a you know in a very simple… Buck: No one else here is either. Zac: So basically the way that new Bitcoin is created is through this process called mining. And it's analogous to mining gold except instead of finding a place in the earth where gold exists and then getting your trucks and mining equipment and digging it out of the ground, the way bitcoin is mined is using this computer program and there is now specialized computer hardware that's built specifically and optimized for mining Bitcoin. And you have this network of machines around the world where the input is energy into the mining hardware and the output is new Bitcoin and those miners are what provides the power for the payment network a Bitcoin to run and when we say that there is this event called The Halvening, what that basically means is that the output that's built into the Bitcoin program that the miners are receiving as their payment for contributing energy to the network, is going to get cut in half. So the miners are going to have the same you know relative input but the amount that they're receiving is going to get cut in half for that input. This should, if the demand side for Bitcoin remains equal, it should drive up the price and historically Bitcoin has had three of these Halvening events in its lifetime so far I believe and around each Halvening you have seen you know six months before or six months after a pretty material run up in price. Buck: Yeah so it also goes along with that sort of that the entire idea that Bitcoin unlike you know other assets including gold is it's a deflationary asset ultimately and and that's one of the things that makes that happening really significant. Apart from and I have one more question before we get to block five which is apart from the Halvening, you know thing that's happening, what is maybe the biggest development or upcoming thing that's coming up that makes you the most bullish on the future of Bitcoin or blockchain in general? Zac: Sure so I think I wouldn't actually point to any one specific thing, I would point to two broad trends. So one is institutional adoption and participation in the asset class and the other is better ramps for retail participation into the asset class and just focusing here you know on the US market because it really is an international story but just in the US market. In September we should have Bakkt launching their futures platform. Bakkt is owned by ICE, the Intercontinental Exchange, and there's a big core difference between their futures and the current futures that are available on the CME in that futures on Bakkt platform are going to be physically settled so that means that actual Bitcoin is going to be needed to facilitate the trading on Bakkt’s platform which does not happen on CMEs exchange so that's that should be a very positive catalyst in terms of demand for physical Bitcoin that could have an impact on the price. Also on the institutional side this year I believe earlier this year, the first pension fund made an investment into an asset management vehicle that was focused on investing in Bitcoin and private equity opportunities in the Bitcoin and blockchain sector. So that will be a trend. Buck: Which pension fund was it? Zac: It was in North Carolina so I think it was like the North Carolina Firefighters and the group that raised the money from them was Morgan Creek Digital it’s actually invested in BlockFi by Anthony Pompliano Twitter and Mark Yusko so that's on the institutional side. And then on the retail side you've seen FinTech companies like Square and Robin Hood offer Bitcoin trading to their users. But soon you will also have companies like TD Ameritrade E-Trade and others offer Bitcoin to their users sometimes be a partnership sometimes because they've built it directly. You also at some point might see progress made in terms of an ETF getting approved that would give retail investors in the US market exposure to Bitcoin in a really easy and familiar way. All of those things are tremendously positive catalysts and the caliber of people working on them only continues to increase. Talent was attracted into the sector very, very rapidly these days. Buck: You know one question that leads me to is that all of this is happening with Bitcoin for the most part. Are alt coins in your opinion is that market coming back or is that something that we're gonna see probably select you know group of tokens projects emerge and then the rest will kind of just get left in the dust, what do you think? Zac: I mean I'll tell you exactly what I'm doing with my portfolio and then I'll provide a bit more color. So my asset allocation in the crypto side of my investing is I'm like 90% Bitcoin 5% Ethereum and 5% B&B; which is the Binance right. So I'm super bullish on Bitcoin. I think that you know there's a chance that Ether makes a comeback specifically I think that a lot of the stable coins that have been launched have been built on Ethereum if you're not familiar with stable coins it's basically the concept of a dollar but on a blockchain which could be really really powerful because it creates the opportunity for the delivery of US dollar denominated financial services at a global scale not using the traditional banking rails. And then B&B; I mean Binance is the biggest and most successful exchange they have a history of innovating, creating new products, going fast and so I'm taking a bit of a flyer with them but I'm 90% Bitcoin. I don't think that I'm not bullish on any of the other all coins frankly I struggle to see you know the big upside I have heard whispers in the community that there's kind of like a new wave of altcoins 3.0 might emerge, you know could see some some good returns similar to what some of the ICOs did in 2017 but it's not an area of focus for me. So that's my view. Buck: Yeah let's talk about BlockFi. Remind us exactly what BlockFi is. Zac: Sure so we're a wealth management platform for crypto investors. Today we have two products that we offer. One product is analogous to a savings account from a traditional bank where you're able to earn interest on your holdings except on BlockFi, the assets instead of being dollars are bitcoin and Ether and we don't have FDIC insurance so it's not exactly the same risk profile as a savings account at a bank, but conceptually you're able to hold Bitcoin and an account with BlockFi and earn interest on it paid in Bitcoin every month. That's one product that we have. The second product that we have which you are alluding to earlier offers our clients the ability to borrow dollars secured by the value of their cryptocurrency and it's analogous to a securities backed loan or a liquidity access line in the traditional world except instead of securities we're taking Bitcoin or other digital assets as collateral and lending it rates as low as four point five lending USD that rates as low as four point five percent a year. Buck: I wanna pick these apart a little bit if you don't mind. In terms of this savings account first of all is it just bitcoin or is it bitcoin, Ethereum? Zac: We actually support three assets in the interest account currently Bitcoin, Ether and GUSD which is the stable coin from Gemini. Buck: Got it. And talk about the interest because it's not one flat interest rate right it's different depending on how much cryptocurrency actually is held? Zac: Correct so there's a tiered interest rate structure. Currently on Bitcoin for balances up to ten Bitcoin, we offer a six point two percent annual yield and for balances above ten Bitcoin it's a 2.2 percent annual yield. On Ether, for balances up to two hundred Ether it's a 3.3 percent annual yield and balances above two hundred Ether is 0.5% annual yield and for GUSD the stable coin it's an eight point six percent interest rate with no tier so yeah those are the different rates. Buck: Why did, I mean was it just a matter of like an issue with people dumping like a thousand Bitcoin and trying to get six you know 6% of that, was it just too hard to you know make that a long-term part of the business model or why did the higher levels end up changing to a lower rate? Zac: Sure so I wanted to function of market conditions and to it's a function of supply and demand. So we launched the interest account in March of this year. We were just starting to come out of the bear market and one of the things that happened as we switched from being in a bear market to being in a bull market is the futures switched from being in backwardation to contango which basically means that our institutional borrowers the groups that we lend to that enable us to pay the rate to depositors had less of a need they had less demand to borrow and they were willing to pay lower rates to borrow crypto than they were when we were building and planning to launch this product. The second thing that happened is we were surprised to the upside in terms of the level of interest that we received from depositors and especially depositors with very large sums of cryptocurrency. So to give you an example you know within a day or two of making the product available publicly, we had a number of groups that were depositing 5, 10, 15, 20 million dollars worth of Bitcoin and so the supply-demand that we have to manage is, the amount that we have on deposit relative to the size of this market that will borrow Bitcoin size of the market that will borrow Bitcoin is partially a function of market sentiments partially a function of number of trading venues and the liquidity profile and it's partially a function of you know BlockFi’s efforts in terms of sales and client development relationship management. So the supply side got a little bit ahead of the demand side on deposit and how much there was available to borrow so we made a few tweaks. We want to keep the 6%, 6.2% rate on Bitcoin available to as many people as possible for as long as possible so that's why we went with the tiered structure where we made it available on balances up to 10 and reduced it for balances above that. Buck: Got it and the interest on that, when you say 6.2 percent that six point like it's all denominated in Bitcoin, you're not paying cash out right? Zac: Correct so to use round numbers to provide an easy example you start on January first with a hundred Bitcoin in an account, by the subsequent January first you will have 106 point 2 Bitcoin in your account. Buck: Yeah and that that's kind of neat too because then you're you know you're also getting potentially the upside of that you know I mean they made 6% but if you if you're really bullish on the market you could be potentially looking at a lot more than 6% on your money. How about in terms of the, is there like a you know do you do it sort of a month-to-month or six month or month you know year-long contracts for these things? Zac: It's month-to-month. So the rates are subject to change on a monthly basis. We provide notifications at least a week in advance before the end of one month on what the rates will be for the subsequent month and people are able to you know withdraw any time without penalty. We reserve up to 7 days to process withdrawals but we've never taken more than one business day to process a withdrawal so they're pretty quick but not instant for security reasons and yeah it's pretty flexible. Buck: How about the lump in the lending side how does how does that work? So now I've got like 10 Bitcoin and so I would deposit that I guess and you guys I understand that maybe that that goes into like a Gemini account or something, is that still how it works? Zac: Correct so we have a partnership with Gemini for custody. So when you log into a BlockFi account you'll have a deposit address. When you send Bitcoin to that deposit address it actually goes directly into storage with Gemini. Gemini was the first custodian in the crypto sector to receive insurance against cyber hacks on their platform. They were also the first custodian to get to complete a SOC 2 compliance audit and they have a really long track record of custody billions of dollars worth of crypto without ever having any issues. So it goes directly to Gemini and then you're able to interact with block-wise platform to take any actions that you might deem necessary. So you can view your interest payments you can withdraw you can deposit more you can also take out a loan. So in terms of taking out a loan, if you have ten Bitcoin that's worth roughly a hundred thousand US dollars at this point in time, you can borrow up to fifty percent of that value in a US dollar loan which can be funded be a wire or stable coin and then the structure of those loans is that you make interest-only payments on the amount that you borrowed throughout the duration and you can prepay at any time without penalty. Buck: And what's the typical you said it was four point six. Zac: We have interest rates as low as four point five. The interest rates on borrowing USD vary according to your initial loan to value ratio. So if you have a hundred thousand dollars worth of Bitcoin we actually have three loan-to-value ratio options. You can borrow at a 50 percent initial loan-to-value ratio which would mean you're borrowing 50k, the interest rate on that will be eleven point two five, if you borrow thirty five percent of the value so 35k the interest rate is seven point nine, and if you borrow twenty five percent of the value of the interest rate is four point five percent per year. Buck: Got it. In terms of you know the technical, so you basically pay that on a month-to-month basis and then in terms of contracts, are those also month-to-month loans or how does that work? Zac: Those are one-year term loans well now it's the ability to renew without repaying the principal at the end of the term at current rates and our rates for those loans have always come down so far. So it's a one-year term loan BlockFi committed for a year at that rate your payments stay the same but you can prepay at any time without penalty. Buck: Right. When do you do when would you do an actual sort of I guess a cap will call like what loan-to-value because you can go up to say you're borrowing at you know you're borrowing at the lowest rate you know you're at 4.5% you're borrowing see you know just for round numbers 100 Bitcoin you borrowed or you said 10 Bitcoin hundred thousand dollars but you only borrowed twenty-five thousand dollars at four point five percent, what if Bitcoin you know loses 50 percent of its value then what happens? Zac: Well you wouldn't have a margin call based on on that example. If your loan to value ratio hits 70 percent that's when we have a margin call and the way the margin call works is our clients have the option to either post more collateral, pay down the loan using USD or some of the collateral that's posted for the loan or take no action. If they take no action there's a 72-hour window where we'll wait to see if the price recovers, if it does then no action is required, if the price keeps going down further then we will initiate a partial collateral sale to rebalance that LTV to a healthy level at the end of that window. Buck: So in terms of the clients that you see doing this kind of stuff, I mean who are you seeing borrowing because you don't have a cap I mean you can on the borrow side, I mean and the rates don't really change like if you're depositing a hundred Bitcoin you're getting the same rate differences as somebody who's depositing ten for borrowing right? Zac: That's right. Buck: So who are the people who are putting I mean what are these businesses that are putting are using these loans who are the typical clients? Zac: Sure so it's a mix of retail and corporate. On the retail side we actually did a survey recently on use cases and the number one use case about a third of our borrowers expressed is that they were using the funds that they borrowed to start a business, which we were really excited about. So the other popular use cases were investing in real estate, investing in other types of traditional assets like stocks and bonds, home improvement, larger purchases, vacations were all used cases, paying down higher cost debt was another use case, and then on the corporate side the loans are used for operating capital. So we have some mining companies that borrow from BlockFi. Other types of companies who you know maybe have crypto denominated inventory like exchanges or crypto ATM businesses our frequent borrowers from BlockFi and our loan sizes rearranged from you know as low as five thousand dollars all the way up to seven figures. So it's a pretty diverse group of borrowers. Buck: So recently it sounds like you guys partnered with another company called Casa. What is Casa and I guess how does that benefit both companies? Zac: Sure. So Casa is a leader in fighting self sovereign storage solutions for cryptocurrency owners so if you're alone that owns Bitcoin and to use a gold analogy. If you want to own gold but you keep it in your vault or in your backyard you want to have physical possession of it yourself if you want to do that same type of custody with Bitcoin. Casa has a solution that makes that really easy. Our partnership with Casa provides mutual benefits to clients on either side. So Casa clients are able to receive some discounts in terms of accessing BlockFi products and vice-versa BlockFi clients are able to receive discounts in terms of accessing kasam products and over time we'll build some things in to the user experience specifically on Casa’s platform that will make it you know a bit more seamless to interact with BlockFi products while you're on their platform. In general that partnership strategy is something that you'll see more of we think there are in the ecosystem that are specializing in areas that BlockFi's not focused on and doing things where we can provide benefits to clients on both sides is a win-win for us then and our clients. Buck: Last thing I want to ask you about, last time I spoke to you, you had talked about the idea of potentially Bitcoin backed credit cards meaning like you know getting Bitcoin back instead of miles or dollars back. You guys any closer to that, because I definitely want one of those cards. Zac: I'm so glad you brought it up. We're definitely closer, but we're not you're not going to have the card until like Q3 of next year probably. It's getting worked on, these things you know for better or worse they take a long time launching a credit program is no small feat you know we're working on it. We've identified some of the key partners that we'll be working with to bring that product to market it is going to happen and I share your sentiment like I wish I had it now. Buck: Yeah seriously that'd be great. Well listen it was great talking you. So it's BlockFi.com and it's spelled like block and then fi and tell us you know tell us the process of doing is pretty simple okay how long does it take to apply for these things… Zac: Yeah I mean nothing takes any time really. So you could come in and start earning interest and get a loan from us all in under five minutes. And we also have a client service team that's super responsive in in terms of communication however you want to communicate with them, over email, over the phone, over text message so you know don't don't hesitate to reach out to us. We're also on twitter. My twitter handle is BlockFiZac and our company twitter handle is @therealBlockFi so we're very active on those platforms and happy to chat with you there as well. Buck: Zac Prince, thank you very much for being on Wealth Formula Podcast today. Zac: Thanks for having me, Buck, I appreciate it. Buck: We’ll be right back.
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