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Bob The Magic Custodian
Summary: Everyone knows that when you give your assets to someone else, they always keep them safe. If this is true for individuals, it is certainly true for businesses. Custodians always tell the truth and manage funds properly. They won't have any interest in taking the assets as an exchange operator would. Auditors tell the truth and can't be misled. That's because organizations that are regulated are incapable of lying and don't make mistakes. First, some background. Here is a summary of how custodians make us more secure: Previously, we might give Alice our crypto assets to hold. There were risks:
Alice might take the assets and disappear.
Alice might spend the assets and pretend that she still has them (fractional model).
Alice might store the assets insecurely and they'll get stolen.
Alice might give the assets to someone else by mistake or by force.
Alice might lose access to the assets.
But "no worries", Alice has a custodian named Bob. Bob is dressed in a nice suit. He knows some politicians. And he drives a Porsche. "So you have nothing to worry about!". And look at all the benefits we get:
Alice can't take the assets and disappear (unless she asks Bob or never gives them to Bob).
Alice can't spend the assets and pretend that she still has them. (Unless she didn't give them to Bob or asks him for them.)
Alice can't store the assets insecurely so they get stolen. (After all - she doesn't have any control over the withdrawal process from any of Bob's systems, right?)
Alice can't give the assets to someone else by mistake or by force. (Bob will stop her, right Bob?)
Alice can't lose access to the funds. (She'll always be present, sane, and remember all secrets, right?)
See - all problems are solved! All we have to worry about now is:
Bob might take the assets and disappear.
Bob might spend the assets and pretend that he still has them (fractional model).
Bob might store the assets insecurely and they'll get stolen.
Bob might give the assets to someone else by mistake or by force.
Bob might lose access to the assets.
It's pretty simple. Before we had to trust Alice. Now we only have to trust Alice, Bob, and all the ways in which they communicate. Just think of how much more secure we are! "On top of that", Bob assures us, "we're using a special wallet structure". Bob shows Alice a diagram. "We've broken the balance up and store it in lots of smaller wallets. That way", he assures her, "a thief can't take it all at once". And he points to a historic case where a large sum was taken "because it was stored in a single wallet... how stupid". "Very early on, we used to have all the crypto in one wallet", he said, "and then one Christmas a hacker came and took it all. We call him the Grinch. Now we individually wrap each crypto and stick it under a binary search tree. The Grinch has never been back since." "As well", Bob continues, "even if someone were to get in, we've got insurance. It covers all thefts and even coercion, collusion, and misplaced keys - only subject to the policy terms and conditions." And with that, he pulls out a phone-book sized contract and slams it on the desk with a thud. "Yep", he continues, "we're paying top dollar for one of the best policies in the country!" "Can I read it?' Alice asks. "Sure," Bob says, "just as soon as our legal team is done with it. They're almost through the first chapter." He pauses, then continues. "And can you believe that sales guy Mike? He has the same year Porsche as me. I mean, what are the odds?" "Do you use multi-sig?", Alice asks. "Absolutely!" Bob replies. "All our engineers are fully trained in multi-sig. Whenever we want to set up a new wallet, we generate 2 separate keys in an air-gapped process and store them in this proprietary system here. Look, it even requires the biometric signature from one of our team members to initiate any withdrawal." He demonstrates by pressing his thumb into the display. "We use a third-party cloud validation API to match the thumbprint and authorize each withdrawal. The keys are also backed up daily to an off-site third-party." "Wow that's really impressive," Alice says, "but what if we need access for a withdrawal outside of office hours?" "Well that's no issue", Bob says, "just send us an email, call, or text message and we always have someone on staff to help out. Just another part of our strong commitment to all our customers!" "What about Proof of Reserve?", Alice asks. "Of course", Bob replies, "though rather than publish any blockchain addresses or signed transaction, for privacy we just do a SHA256 refactoring of the inverse hash modulus for each UTXO nonce and combine the smart contract coefficient consensus in our hyperledger lightning node. But it's really simple to use." He pushes a button and a large green checkmark appears on a screen. "See - the algorithm ran through and reserves are proven." "Wow", Alice says, "you really know your stuff! And that is easy to use! What about fiat balances?" "Yeah, we have an auditor too", Bob replies, "Been using him for a long time so we have quite a strong relationship going! We have special books we give him every year and he's very efficient! Checks the fiat, crypto, and everything all at once!" "We used to have a nice offline multi-sig setup we've been using without issue for the past 5 years, but I think we'll move all our funds over to your facility," Alice says. "Awesome", Bob replies, "Thanks so much! This is perfect timing too - my Porsche got a dent on it this morning. We have the paperwork right over here." "Great!", Alice replies. And with that, Alice gets out her pen and Bob gets the contract. "Don't worry", he says, "you can take your crypto-assets back anytime you like - just subject to our cancellation policy. Our annual management fees are also super low and we don't adjust them often". How many holes have to exist for your funds to get stolen? Just one. Why are we taking a powerful offline multi-sig setup, widely used globally in hundreds of different/lacking regulatory environments with 0 breaches to date, and circumventing it by a demonstrably weak third party layer? And paying a great expense to do so? If you go through the list of breaches in the past 2 years to highly credible organizations, you go through the list of major corporate frauds (only the ones we know about), you go through the list of all the times platforms have lost funds, you go through the list of times and ways that people have lost their crypto from identity theft, hot wallet exploits, extortion, etc... and then you go through this custodian with a fine-tooth comb and truly believe they have value to add far beyond what you could, sticking your funds in a wallet (or set of wallets) they control exclusively is the absolute worst possible way to take advantage of that security. The best way to add security for crypto-assets is to make a stronger multi-sig. With one custodian, what you are doing is giving them your cryptocurrency and hoping they're honest, competent, and flawlessly secure. It's no different than storing it on a really secure exchange. Maybe the insurance will cover you. Didn't work for Bitpay in 2015. Didn't work for Yapizon in 2017. Insurance has never paid a claim in the entire history of cryptocurrency. But maybe you'll get lucky. Maybe your exact scenario will buck the trend and be what they're willing to cover. After the large deductible and hopefully without a long and expensive court battle. And you want to advertise this increase in risk, the lapse of judgement, an accident waiting to happen, as though it's some kind of benefit to customers ("Free institutional-grade storage for your digital assets.")? And then some people are writing to the OSC that custodians should be mandatory for all funds on every exchange platform? That this somehow will make Canadians as a whole more secure or better protected compared with standard air-gapped multi-sig? On what planet? Most of the problems in Canada stemmed from one thing - a lack of transparency. If Canadians had known what a joke Quadriga was - it wouldn't have grown to lose $400m from hard-working Canadians from coast to coast to coast. And Gerald Cotten would be in jail, not wherever he is now (at best, rotting peacefully). EZ-BTC and mister Dave Smilie would have been a tiny little scam to his friends, not a multi-million dollar fraud. Einstein would have got their act together or been shut down BEFORE losing millions and millions more in people's funds generously donated to criminals. MapleChange wouldn't have even been a thing. And maybe we'd know a little more about CoinTradeNewNote - like how much was lost in there. Almost all of the major losses with cryptocurrency exchanges involve deception with unbacked funds. So it's great to see transparency reports from BitBuy and ShakePay where someone independently verified the backing. The only thing we don't have is:
ANY CERTAINTY BALANCES WEREN'T EXCLUDED. Quadriga's largest account was $70m. 80% of funds are in 20% of accounts (Pareto principle). All it takes is excluding a few really large accounts - and nobody's the wiser. A fractional platform can easily pass any audit this way.
ANY VISIBILITY WHATSOEVER INTO THE CUSTODIANS. BitBuy put out their report before moving all the funds to their custodian and ShakePay apparently can't even tell us who the custodian is. That's pretty important considering that basically all of the funds are now stored there.
ANY IDEA ABOUT THE OTHER EXCHANGES. In order for this to be effective, it has to be the norm. It needs to be "unusual" not to know. If obscurity is the norm, then it's super easy for people like Gerald Cotten and Dave Smilie to blend right in.
It's not complicated to validate cryptocurrency assets. They need to exist, they need to be spendable, and they need to cover the total balances. There are plenty of credible people and firms across the country that have the capacity to reasonably perform this validation. Having more frequent checks by different, independent, parties who publish transparent reports is far more valuable than an annual check by a single "more credible/official" party who does the exact same basic checks and may or may not publish anything. Here's an example set of requirements that could be mandated:
First report within 1 month of launching, another within 3 months, and further reports at minimum every 6 months thereafter.
No auditor can be repeated within a 12 month period.
All reports must be public, identifying the auditor and the full methodology used.
All auditors must be independent of the firm being audited with no conflict of interest.
Reports must include the percentage of each asset backed, and how it's backed.
The auditor publishes a hash list, which lists a hash of each customer's information and balances that were included. Hash is one-way encryption so privacy is fully preserved. Every customer can use this to have 100% confidence they were included.
If we want more extensive requirements on audits, these should scale upward based on the total assets at risk on the platform, and whether the platform has loaned their assets out.
There are ways to structure audits such that neither crypto assets nor customer information are ever put at risk, and both can still be properly validated and publicly verifiable. There are also ways to structure audits such that they are completely reasonable for small platforms and don't inhibit innovation in any way. By making the process as reasonable as possible, we can completely eliminate any reason/excuse that an honest platform would have for not being audited. That is arguable far more important than any incremental improvement we might get from mandating "the best of the best" accountants. Right now we have nothing mandated and tons of Canadians using offshore exchanges with no oversight whatsoever. Transparency does not prove crypto assets are safe. CoinTradeNewNote, Flexcoin ($600k), and Canadian Bitcoins ($100k) are examples where crypto-assets were breached from platforms in Canada. All of them were online wallets and used no multi-sig as far as any records show. This is consistent with what we see globally - air-gapped multi-sig wallets have an impeccable record, while other schemes tend to suffer breach after breach. We don't actually know how much CoinTrader lost because there was no visibility. Rather than publishing details of what happened, the co-founder of CoinTrader silently moved on to found another platform - the "most trusted way to buy and sell crypto" - a site that has no information whatsoever (that I could find) on the storage practices and a FAQ advising that “[t]rading cryptocurrency is completely safe” and that having your own wallet is “entirely up to you! You can certainly keep cryptocurrency, or fiat, or both, on the app.” Doesn't sound like much was learned here, which is really sad to see. It's not that complicated or unreasonable to set up a proper hardware wallet. Multi-sig can be learned in a single course. Something the equivalent complexity of a driver's license test could prevent all the cold storage exploits we've seen to date - even globally. Platform operators have a key advantage in detecting and preventing fraud - they know their customers far better than any custodian ever would. The best job that custodians can do is to find high integrity individuals and train them to form even better wallet signatories. Rather than mandating that all platforms expose themselves to arbitrary third party risks, regulations should center around ensuring that all signatories are background-checked, properly trained, and using proper procedures. We also need to make sure that signatories are empowered with rights and responsibilities to reject and report fraud. They need to know that they can safely challenge and delay a transaction - even if it turns out they made a mistake. We need to have an environment where mistakes are brought to the surface and dealt with. Not one where firms and people feel the need to hide what happened. In addition to a knowledge-based test, an auditor can privately interview each signatory to make sure they're not in coercive situations, and we should make sure they can freely and anonymously report any issues without threat of retaliation. A proper multi-sig has each signature held by a separate person and is governed by policies and mutual decisions instead of a hierarchy. It includes at least one redundant signature. For best results, 3of4, 3of5, 3of6, 4of5, 4of6, 4of7, 5of6, or 5of7. History has demonstrated over and over again the risk of hot wallets even to highly credible organizations. Nonetheless, many platforms have hot wallets for convenience. While such losses are generally compensated by platforms without issue (for example Poloniex, Bitstamp, Bitfinex, Gatecoin, Coincheck, Bithumb, Zaif, CoinBene, Binance, Bitrue, Bitpoint, Upbit, VinDAX, and now KuCoin), the public tends to focus more on cases that didn't end well. Regardless of what systems are employed, there is always some level of risk. For that reason, most members of the public would prefer to see third party insurance. Rather than trying to convince third party profit-seekers to provide comprehensive insurance and then relying on an expensive and slow legal system to enforce against whatever legal loopholes they manage to find each and every time something goes wrong, insurance could be run through multiple exchange operators and regulators, with the shared interest of having a reputable industry, keeping costs down, and taking care of Canadians. For example, a 4 of 7 multi-sig insurance fund held between 5 independent exchange operators and 2 regulatory bodies. All Canadian exchanges could pay premiums at a set rate based on their needed coverage, with a higher price paid for hot wallet coverage (anything not an air-gapped multi-sig cold wallet). Such a model would be much cheaper to manage, offer better coverage, and be much more reliable to payout when needed. The kind of coverage you could have under this model is unheard of. You could even create something like the CDIC to protect Canadians who get their trading accounts hacked if they can sufficiently prove the loss is legitimate. In cases of fraud, gross negligence, or insolvency, the fund can be used to pay affected users directly (utilizing the last transparent balance report in the worst case), something which private insurance would never touch. While it's recommended to have official policies for coverage, a model where members vote would fully cover edge cases. (Could be similar to the Supreme Court where justices vote based on case law.) Such a model could fully protect all Canadians across all platforms. You can have a fiat coverage governed by legal agreements, and crypto-asset coverage governed by both multi-sig and legal agreements. It could be practical, affordable, and inclusive. Now, we are at a crossroads. We can happily give up our freedom, our innovation, and our money. We can pay hefty expenses to auditors, lawyers, and regulators year after year (and make no mistake - this cost will grow to many millions or even billions as the industry grows - and it will be borne by all Canadians on every platform because platforms are not going to eat up these costs at a loss). We can make it nearly impossible for any new platform to enter the marketplace, forcing Canadians to use the same stagnant platforms year after year. We can centralize and consolidate the entire industry into 2 or 3 big players and have everyone else fail (possibly to heavy losses of users of those platforms). And when a flawed security model doesn't work and gets breached, we can make it even more complicated with even more people in suits making big money doing the job that blockchain was supposed to do in the first place. We can build a system which is so intertwined and dependent on big government, traditional finance, and central bankers that it's future depends entirely on that of the fiat system, of fractional banking, and of government bail-outs. If we choose this path, as history has shown us over and over again, we can not go back, save for revolution. Our children and grandchildren will still be paying the consequences of what we decided today. Or, we can find solutions that work. We can maintain an open and innovative environment while making the adjustments we need to make to fully protect Canadian investors and cryptocurrency users, giving easy and affordable access to cryptocurrency for all Canadians on the platform of their choice, and creating an environment in which entrepreneurs and problem solvers can bring those solutions forward easily. None of the above precludes innovation in any way, or adds any unreasonable cost - and these three policies would demonstrably eliminate or resolve all 109 historic cases as studied here - that's every single case researched so far going back to 2011. It includes every loss that was studied so far not just in Canada but globally as well. Unfortunately, finding answers is the least challenging part. Far more challenging is to get platform operators and regulators to agree on anything. My last post got no response whatsoever, and while the OSC has told me they're happy for industry feedback, I believe my opinion alone is fairly meaningless. This takes the whole community working together to solve. So please let me know your thoughts. Please take the time to upvote and share this with people. Please - let's get this solved and not leave it up to other people to do. Facts/background/sources (skip if you like):
The inspiration for the paragraph about splitting wallets was an actual quote from a Canadian company providing custodial services in response to the OSC consultation paper: "We believe that it will be in the in best interests of investors to prohibit pooled crypto assets or ‘floats’. Most Platforms pool assets, citing reasons of practicality and expense. The recent hack of the world’s largest Platform – Binance – demonstrates the vulnerability of participants’ assets when such concessions are made. In this instance, the Platform’s entire hot wallet of Bitcoins, worth over $40 million, was stolen, facilitated in part by the pooling of client crypto assets." "the maintenance of participants (and Platform) crypto assets across multiple wallets distributes the related risk and responsibility of security - reducing the amount of insurance coverage required and making insurance coverage more readily obtainable". For the record, their reply also said nothing whatsoever about multi-sig or offline storage.
In addition to the fact that the $40m hack represented only one "hot wallet" of Binance, and they actually had the vast majority of assets in other wallets (including mostly cold wallets), multiple real cases have clearly demonstrated that risk is still present with multiple wallets. Bitfinex, VinDAX, Bithumb, Altsbit, BitPoint, Cryptopia, and just recently KuCoin all had multiple wallets breached all at the same time, and may represent a significantly larger impact on customers than the Binance breach which was fully covered by Binance. To represent that simply having multiple separate wallets under the same security scheme is a comprehensive way to reduce risk is just not true.
Private insurance has historically never covered a single loss in the cryptocurrency space (at least, not one that I was able to find), and there are notable cases where massive losses were not covered by insurance. Bitpay in 2015 and Yapizon in 2017 both had insurance policies that didn't pay out during the breach, even after a lengthly court process. The same insurance that ShakePay is presently using (and announced to much fanfare) was describe by their CEO himself as covering “physical theft of the media where the private keys are held,” which is something that has never historically happened. As was said with regard to the same policy in 2018 - “I don’t find it surprising that Lloyd’s is in this space,” said Johnson, adding that to his mind the challenge for everybody is figuring out how to structure these policies so that they are actually protective. “You can create an insurance policy that protects no one – you know there are so many caveats to the policy that it’s not super protective.”
The most profitable policy for a private insurance company is one with the most expensive premiums that they never have to pay a claim on. They have no inherent incentive to take care of people who lost funds. It's "cheaper" to take the reputational hit and fight the claim in court. The more money at stake, the more the insurance provider is incentivized to avoid payout. They're not going to insure the assets unless they have reasonable certainty to make a profit by doing so, and they're not going to pay out a massive sum unless it's legally forced. Private insurance is always structured to be maximally profitable to the insurance provider.
The circumvention of multi-sig was a key factor in the massive Bitfinex hack of over $60m of bitcoin, which today still sits being slowly used and is worth over $3b. While Bitfinex used a qualified custodian Bitgo, which was and still is active and one of the industry leaders of custodians, and they set up 2 of 3 multi-sig wallets, the entire system was routed through Bitfinex, such that Bitfinex customers could initiate the withdrawals in a "hot" fashion. This feature was also a hit with the hacker. The multi-sig was fully circumvented.
Bitpay in 2015 was another example of a breach that stole 5,000 bitcoins. This happened not through the exploit of any system in Bitpay, but because the CEO of a company they worked with got their computer hacked and the hackers were able to request multiple bitcoin purchases, which Bitpay honoured because they came from the customer's computer legitimately. Impersonation is a very common tactic used by fraudsters, and methods get more extreme all the time.
A notable case in Canada was the Canadian Bitcoins exploit. Funds were stored on a server in a Rogers Data Center, and the attendee was successfully convinced to reboot the server "in safe mode" with a simple phone call, thus bypassing the extensive security and enabling the theft.
The very nature of custodians circumvents multi-sig. This is because custodians are not just having to secure the assets against some sort of physical breach but against any form of social engineering, modification of orders, fraudulent withdrawal attempts, etc... If the security practices of signatories in a multi-sig arrangement are such that the breach risk of one signatory is 1 in 100, the requirement of 3 independent signatures makes the risk of theft 1 in 1,000,000. Since hackers tend to exploit the weakest link, a comparable custodian has to make the entry and exit points of their platform 10,000 times more secure than one of those signatories to provide equivalent protection. And if the signatories beef up their security by only 10x, the risk is now 1 in 1,000,000,000. The custodian has to be 1,000,000 times more secure. The larger and more complex a system is, the more potential vulnerabilities exist in it, and the fewer people can understand how the system works when performing upgrades. Even if a system is completely secure today, one has to also consider how that system might evolve over time or work with different members.
By contrast, offline multi-signature solutions have an extremely solid record, and in the entire history of cryptocurrency exchange incidents which I've studied (listed here), there has only been one incident (796 exchange in 2015) involving an offline multi-signature wallet. It happened because the customer's bitcoin address was modified by hackers, and the amount that was stolen ($230k) was immediately covered by the exchange operators. Basically, the platform operators were tricked into sending a legitimate withdrawal request to the wrong address because hackers exploited their platform to change that address. Such an issue would not be prevented in any way by the use of a custodian, as that custodian has no oversight whatsoever to the exchange platform. It's practical for all exchange operators to test large withdrawal transactions as a general policy, regardless of what model is used, and general best practice is to diagnose and fix such an exploit as soon as it occurs.
False promises on the backing of funds played a huge role in the downfall of Quadriga, and it's been exposed over and over again (MyCoin, PlusToken, Bitsane, Bitmarket, EZBTC, IDAX). Even today, customers have extremely limited certainty on whether their funds in exchanges are actually being backed or how they're being backed. While this issue is not unique to cryptocurrency exchanges, the complexity of the technology and the lack of any regulation or standards makes problems more widespread, and there is no "central bank" to come to the rescue as in the 2008 financial crisis or during the great depression when "9,000 banks failed".
In addition to fraudulent operations, the industry is full of cases where operators have suffered breaches and not reported them. Most recently, Einstein was the largest case in Canada, where ongoing breaches and fraud were perpetrated against the platform for multiple years and nobody found out until the platform collapsed completely. While fraud and breaches suck to deal with, they suck even more when not dealt with. Lack of visibility played a role in the largest downfalls of Mt. Gox, Cryptsy, and Bitgrail. In some cases, platforms are alleged to have suffered a hack and keep operating without admitting it at all, such as CoinBene.
It surprises some to learn that a cryptographic solution has already existed since 2013, and gained widespread support in 2014 after Mt. Gox. Proof of Reserves is a full cryptographic proof that allows any customer using an exchange to have complete certainty that their crypto-assets are fully backed by the platform in real-time. This is accomplished by proving that assets exist on the blockchain, are spendable, and fully cover customer deposits. It does not prove safety of assets or backing of fiat assets.
If we didn't care about privacy at all, a platform could publish their wallet addresses, sign a partial transaction, and put the full list of customer information and balances out publicly. Customers can each check that they are on the list, that the balances are accurate, that the total adds up, and that it's backed and spendable on the blockchain. Platforms who exclude any customer take a risk because that customer can easily check and see they were excluded. So together with all customers checking, this forms a full proof of backing of all crypto assets.
However, obviously customers care about their private information being published. Therefore, a hash of the information can be provided instead. Hash is one-way encryption. The hash allows the customer to validate inclusion (by hashing their own known information), while anyone looking at the list of hashes cannot determine the private information of any other user. All other parts of the scheme remain fully intact. A model like this is in use on the exchange CoinFloor in the UK.
A Merkle tree can provide even greater privacy. Instead of a list of balances, the balances are arranged into a binary tree. A customer starts from their node, and works their way to the top of the tree. For example, they know they have 5 BTC, they plus 1 other customer hold 7 BTC, they plus 2-3 other customers hold 17 BTC, etc... until they reach the root where all the BTC are represented. Thus, there is no way to find the balances of other individual customers aside from one unidentified customer in this case.
Proposals such as this had the backing of leaders in the community including Nic Carter, Greg Maxwell, and Zak Wilcox. Substantial and significant effort started back in 2013, with massive popularity in 2014. But what became of that effort? Very little. Exchange operators continue to refuse to give visibility. Despite the fact this information can often be obtained through trivial blockchain analysis, no Canadian platform has ever provided any wallet addresses publicly. As described by the CEO of Newton "For us to implement some kind of realtime Proof of Reserves solution, which I'm not opposed to, it would have to ... Preserve our users' privacy, as well as our own. Some kind of zero-knowledge proof". Kraken describes here in more detail why they haven't implemented such a scheme. According to professor Eli Ben-Sasson, when he spoke with exchanges, none were interested in implementing Proof of Reserves.
And yet, Kraken's places their reasoning on a page called "Proof of Reserves". More recently, both BitBuy and ShakePay have released reports titled "Proof of Reserves and Security Audit". Both reports contain disclaimers against being audits. Both reports trust the customer list provided by the platform, leaving the open possibility that multiple large accounts could have been excluded from the process. Proof of Reserves is a blockchain validation where customers see the wallets on the blockchain. The report from Kraken is 5 years old, but they leave it described as though it was just done a few weeks ago. And look at what they expect customers to do for validation. When firms represent something being "Proof of Reserve" when it's not, this is like a farmer growing fruit with pesticides and selling it in a farmers market as organic produce - except that these are people's hard-earned life savings at risk here. Platforms are misrepresenting the level of visibility in place and deceiving the public by their misuse of this term. They haven't proven anything.
Fraud isn't a problem that is unique to cryptocurrency. Fraud happens all the time. Enron, WorldCom, Nortel, Bear Stearns, Wells Fargo, Moser Baer, Wirecard, Bre-X, and Nicola are just some of the cases where frauds became large enough to become a big deal (and there are so many countless others). These all happened on 100% reversible assets despite regulations being in place. In many of these cases, the problems happened due to the over-complexity of the financial instruments. For example, Enron had "complex financial statements [which] were confusing to shareholders and analysts", creating "off-balance-sheet vehicles, complex financing structures, and deals so bewildering that few people could understand them". In cryptocurrency, we are often combining complex financial products with complex technologies and verification processes. We are naïve if we think problems like this won't happen. It is awkward and uncomfortable for many people to admit that they don't know how something works. If we want "money of the people" to work, the solutions have to be simple enough that "the people" can understand them, not so confusing that financial professionals and technology experts struggle to use or understand them.
For those who question the extent to which an organization can fool their way into a security consultancy role, HB Gary should be a great example to look at. Prior to trying to out anonymous, HB Gary was being actively hired by multiple US government agencies and others in the private sector (with glowing testimonials). The published articles and hosted professional security conferences. One should also look at this list of data breaches from the past 2 years. Many of them are large corporations, government entities, and technology companies. These are the ones we know about. Undoubtedly, there are many more that we do not know about. If HB Gary hadn't been "outted" by anonymous, would we have known they were insecure? If the same breach had happened outside of the public spotlight, would it even have been reported? Or would HB Gary have just deleted the Twitter posts, brought their site back up, done a couple patches, and kept on operating as though nothing had happened?
In the case of Quadriga, the facts are clear. Despite past experience with platforms such as MapleChange in Canada and others around the world, no guidance or even the most basic of a framework was put in place by regulators. By not clarifying any sort of legal framework, regulators enabled a situation where a platform could be run by former criminal Mike Dhanini/Omar Patryn, and where funds could be held fully unchecked by one person. At the same time, the lack of regulation deterred legitimate entities from running competing platforms and Quadriga was granted a money services business license for multiple years of operation, which gave the firm the appearance of legitimacy. Regulators did little to protect Canadians despite Quadriga failing to file taxes from 2016 onward. The entire administrative team had resigned and this was public knowledge. Many people had suspicions of what was going on, including Ryan Mueller, who forwarded complaints to the authorities. These were ignored, giving Gerald Cotten the opportunity to escape without justice.
There are multiple issues with the SOC II model including the prohibitive cost (you have to find a third party accounting firm and the prices are not even listed publicly on any sites), the requirement of operating for a year (impossible for new platforms), and lack of any public visibility (SOC II are private reports that aren't shared outside the people in suits).
Securities frameworks are expensive. Sarbanes-Oxley is estimated to cost $5.1 million USD/yr for the average Fortune 500 company in the United States. Since "Fortune 500" represents the top 500 companies, that means well over $2.55 billion USD (~$3.4 billion CAD) is going to people in suits. Isn't the problem of trust and verification the exact problem that the blockchain is supposed to solve?
To use Quadriga as justification for why custodians or SOC II or other advanced schemes are needed for platforms is rather silly, when any framework or visibility at all, or even the most basic of storage policies, would have prevented the whole thing. It's just an embarrassment.
We are now seeing regulators take strong action. CoinSquare in Canada with multi-million dollar fines. BitMex from the US, criminal charges and arrests. OkEx, with full disregard of withdrawals and no communication. Who's next?
We have a unique window today where we can solve these problems, and not permanently destroy innovation with unreasonable expectations, but we need to act quickly. This is a unique historic time that will never come again.
How do I Buy Bitcoin & Crypto? - Pros & Cons of 5 Exchanges
Are you looking to start investing in cryptocurrency and wondering the best place to buy it? Or if you are in the US, are you wondering which crypto exchanges are legal for you to use? Below is a list of 5 cryptocurrency exchanges that, as of this post, are all legal for US citizens. I have also included a quick break down on the pros and cons of each exchange. This is not a complete list of every exchange available to US citizens as there are others, but these are my own personal top 5 based on characteristics such as ease of use, security, fees, liquidity and selection of available coins to trade. If you are not located in the US there is a good chance most of these exchanges are available to you as well, you will just need to check with the exchange and look up your own country's policies regarding the purchase of cryptocurrencies. As you go through the list please keep in mind, while I do have them ranked 1 through 5, there is not a lot separating them and each of these exchanges offer something a little unique from the others. Everyone's investment goals and preferences are going to be a little different so my #5 exchange here could be your #1 based on your criteria. It is also pretty likely that if you end up wanting to invest in 5 or more coins at some point, no one exchange is going to have all of them available so you will likely need to open multiple accounts anyways. Okay, on to the list. 1) Binance US Binance US is an offshoot of one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges out there, Binance.com. They created Binance US in response to US citizens being banned from using their main exchange back in 2019. These two exchanges function much the same with the biggest difference being that Binance US has a slightly smaller pool of cryptos listed on their exchange, which currently is a little over 30 coins. Other than that, all of the great features of Binance.com that have helped it become one of the largest crypto exchanges in the world, apply to Binance US as well. PROS - Low Fees: Start at 0.10% spot trading fee and goes down from there depending on your trading frequency. You can also save an additional 25% off your trading fees by holding their native token BNB. - High Trading Volume: Allows you to get in and out of your positions more easily. - Coin Selection: Currently as of this writing there are over 30 different coins available to be traded. - Reliability / Reputation: As one of the larger players in the crypto space, Binance is able to offer a bit of security as they are able to throw a lot of money at any potential problems with things like hackers. Binance US puts away a set portion of their earnings every month in a fund that acts as insurance against any funds that may be lost due to hackers. Back in 2019 they had an incident where 40 million dollars of crypto was stolen by hackers and they reimbursed every penny to their customers. CONS - Interface: Trading can be a little confusing for those not used to trading cryptocurrencies. While it is not too difficult to learn, a couple of the upcoming exchanges on my list are a little more user friendly for those who are new to the space. All things considered, right now if I was getting started with Crypto trading in the US, Binance US would be the first account that I created. If you would like to open an account you can use the link below. If you are located outside of the United States I would suggest opening an account on the the original Binance.com exchange as they currently have a wider selection of cryptos to pick from. Below is a link for their sign up as well if you are interested. Binance US Sign Up Binance Sign Up (Non-US Citizens) 2) Crypto.com Crypto.com is on a mission to be the leader in cryptocurrency adoption to the masses and is trying to bridge the gap between the worlds of blockchain and traditional finance. Along with trading cryptocurrencies they have programs on their app like Earn, Invest, Pay & Credit which you would find with more traditional finance companies. For instance, through their Earn program there are many coins you can earn interest on by locking them up for a set time period. Depending on the coin, how many MCO (Crypto.com native coin) you have staked and how long you keep your tokens locked up for, you can earn anywhere from 2% to 18% interest which a lot better than any bank is going to do for you these days. One of the best features of Crypto.com, in my opinion, are their great eye-catching, metal crypto MCO reward credit cards. These cards pay you cashback, in the form of their MCO token, for all of your day to day purchases anywhere that VISA is accepted. Depending on which level of card you get, these credit cards reward 1% to 5% cashback on all spending along with other great benefits like free ATM & international withdrawals, 100% cashback on Spotify & Netflix subscriptions and airport lounge access. In order to get your hands on one of these cards you will need to open a Crypto.com account if you don’t already have one. There is good news if you don’t already have one, as new sign ups can get $50 worth of MCO tokens free by using the link and promo code I have posted below. Please note that the $50 of MCO tokens will remain locked until you deposit & stake at least 50 MCO tokens toward the sign up of the particular card you are interested in. If you want to know a little more about these cards you can check out method #3 in my earlier post 5 Easy Legitimate Ways to Earn Free Crypto where I go into a bit more detail on them. However, for the purpose of this post, let's get to some pros and cons of their exchange platform. PROS - Low Fees: Start at 0.20% and go lower from there depending on your trading volume. - Coin Selection: Currently as of this writing there are 53 different coins available to be traded. - Interface: Easy to use app that is very user friendly.- Customer Service: One of the best customer service programs in the industry if you need any help. CONS - App Only: No desktop version, all functions on the exchange must be done via their app. - History: Founded in 2016 so they are still relatively new to the industry. Crypto.com is a great option if you are looking to trade cryptocurrencies and also want to take advantage of things like their cash back VISA cards and Earn program that pay you great interest rates as you hold your coins. Below is a link you can use to sign up for a new account. If you are also interested in getting one of their MCO Visa cards, use the link below along with the promo code to get $50 of their MCO token free. Crypto.com Sign Up PROMO CODE:gapena3dq4 3) Coinbase Headquartered in San Francisco, Coinbase is the largest US-based crypto exchange with about 20 million current users. Like Crypto.com, they are trying to bring cryptocurrency trading to the masses through an easy to use interface and education. One way they try to educate their users is through their Coinbase Earn program where they offer free crypto for watching short educational videos teaching you about the various coins they offer on their exchange. I will not go into the details of that program here, but if you are interested in checking it out I go into a bit more detail on it in my post 5 Easy Legitimate Ways to Earn Free Crypto. Now on to some of the pros and cons. PROS - High Trading Volume: Allows you to get in and out of your positions easily. - Interface: Easy to use desktop interface and trading mechanisms for those new to crypto trading. - Insurance: Coinbase carries an insurance policy that covers 2% of all assets on the exchange and they keep the other 98% in cold storage. CONS - Fees: While their fee structure is not horrible, it is a bit higher than Crypto.com and Binance US. Crypto to crypto trading fees are at 0.50% / bank purchases at 1.49% / credit & debit card purchases at 3.99%. - Coin Selection: Currently they only have about 20 coins to choose from, however they are looking to add a bunch more soon. Coinbase is a solid choice for anyone looking to get started in crypto trading. If you would like to open an account you can use the link below which will get you $10 of free Bitcoin as a sign up bonus. Please note that to get the free $10 you must buy or sell $100 worth of crypto within 180 days of signing up. Coinbase Sign Up 4) Robinhood Robinhood is the pioneer of no fee trading for securities which is the main benefit of this exchange. It also is, to my knowledge, one of the few exchanges that allow you to trade both traditional stocks and cryptocurrencies. Technically their stock and crypto exchanges are separate entities, however you can seamlessly trade them both from the same account on their app. This is great for those who would like to get started trading in both crypto and traditional stocks but don't want to open multiple accounts. Or for those who might want to trade back and forth between stocks and crypto but don't want to have to transfer money between accounts to do so. Now to explore some other features of the Robinhood exchange let's get into the pros and cons. PROS - Fees: None (FREE!) - Flexibility: Can trade multiple asset classes (Stocks, Crypto, ETFs, Options) - Interface: Easy to use app that is very user friendly. Desktop version available as well. CONS - Coin Selection: Currently only offer 7 coins that can be traded (BTC, BCH, BSV, DOGE, ETH, ETC, LTC) - Coin Mobility: Your coins must remain on the Robinhood exchange. You cannot transfer your coins to another exchange or withdraw them to put in your own digital wallets. With their user friendly interface and no fees, Robinhood is very appealing for those just getting into crypto trading. If you are just looking to buy some of the higher cap coins like Bitcoin and Etherium, this exchange can be a good fit for you. However if you know there are some projects you would like to invest in that are not listed above, you may want to choose some of the other exchanges on this list, or both. If you are unsure at this point if you want to invest beyond coins like Bitcoin and Etherium in the future, it doesn't hurt to start here, get your feet wet and open another account down the road if you have other projects you get interested in. If you would like to open an account you can use the link below to get one free stock with sign up! This free stock will be valued somewhere between $2.50 and $200. Robinhood Sign Up 5) Kraken Kraken exchange is based out of the United States and was founded back in 2011. While there is no specific trait that blows away the competition with this exchange, it does most everything pretty well. Like most crypto exchanges at this point, your funds on there are not FDIC insured, however Kraken does keep a separate fund that serves as an insurance policy and is currently over 100 million dollars. They also show great transparency and compliance with programs like their Proof of Reserves which offers proof that they hold all of the funds that they say they do. Here is quick break down of their pros and cons. PROS - Low Fees: Range from 0.10% to 0.26% depending on your trading frequency. - High Security: One of the best reputations in the industry for security. - Coin Selection: Good but not great. Currently they have about 20 coins available for trading. CONS - Interface: Making trades can be a little confusing for beginners who are not familiar with their format. However with a couple quick tutorials most of you should be able to get familiar with it pretty quickly. To open an account and begin trading with Kraken use the link below. Kraken Sign Up
Interested in some ways you can passively earn free crypto?
Crypto-Powered - The Most Promising Use-Cases of Decentralized Finance (DeFi)
A whirlwind tour of Defi, paying close attention to protocols that we’re leveraging atGenesis Block. https://reddit.com/link/hrrt21/video/cvjh5rrh12b51/player This is the third post ofCrypto-Powered— a new series that examines what it means forGenesis Blockto be a digital bank that’s powered by crypto, blockchain, and decentralized protocols. Last week we explored how building on legacy finance is a fool’s errand. The future of money belongs to those who build with crypto and blockchain at their core. We also started down the crypto rabbit hole, introducing Bitcoin, Ethereum, and DeFi (decentralized finance). That post is required reading if you hope to glean any value from the rest of this series. 97% of all activity on Ethereum in the last quarter has been DeFi-related. The total value sitting inside DeFi protocols is roughly $2B — double what it was a month ago. The explosive growth cannot be ignored. All signs suggest that Ethereum & DeFi are a Match Made in Heaven, and both on their way to finding strong product/market fit. So in this post, we’re doing a whirlwind tour of DeFi. We look at specific examples and use-cases already in the wild and seeing strong growth. And we pay close attention to protocols that Genesis Block is integrating with. Alright, let’s dive in.
Stablecoins are exactly what they sound like: cryptocurrencies that are stable. They are not meant to be volatile (like Bitcoin). These assets attempt to peg their price to some external reference (eg. USD or Gold). A non-volatile crypto asset can be incredibly useful for things like merchant payments, cross-border transfers, or storing wealth — becoming your own bank but without the stress of constant price volatility. There are major governments and central banks that are experimenting with or soon launching their own stablecoins like China with their digital yuan and the US Federal Reserve with their digital dollar. There are also major corporations working in this area like JP Morgan with their JPM Coin, and of course Facebook with their Libra Project.
Stablecoin activity has grown 800% in the last year, with $290B of transaction volume (funds moving on-chain).
USDC($1B): This is the most reputable USD-backed stablecoin, at least in the West. It was created by Coinbase & Circle, both well-regarded crypto companies. They’ve been very open and transparent with their audits and bank records.
DAI ($189M): This is backed by other crypto assets — not USD in a bank account. This was arguably the first true DeFi protocol. The big benefit is that it’s more decentralized — it’s not controlled by any single organization. The downside is that the assets backing it can be volatile crypto assets (though it has mechanisms in place to mitigate that risk).
Three of the top five DeFi protocols relate to lending & borrowing. These popular lending protocols look very similar to traditional money markets. Users who want to earn interest/yield can deposit (lend) their funds into a pool of liquidity. Because it behaves similarly to traditional money markets, their funds are not locked, they can withdraw at any time. It’s highly liquid. Borrowers can tap into this pool of liquidity and take out loans. Interest rates depend on the utilization rate of the pool — how much of the deposits in the pool have already been borrowed. Supply & demand. Thus, interest rates are variable and borrowers can pay their loans back at any time.
So, who decides how much a borrower can take? What’s the process like? Are there credit checks? How is credit-worthiness determined?
These protocols are decentralized, borderless, permissionless. The people participating in these markets are from all over the world. There is no simple way to verify identity or check credit history. So none of that happens. Credit-worthiness is determined simply by how much crypto collateral the borrower puts into the protocol. For example, if a user wants to borrow $5k of USDC, then they’ll need to deposit $10k of BTC or ETH. The exact amount of collateral depends on the rules of the protocol — usually the more liquid the collateral asset, the more borrowing power the user can receive. The most prominent lending protocols include Compound, Aave, Maker, and Atomic Loans. Recently, Compound has seen meteoric growth with the introduction of their COMP token — a token used to incentivize and reward participants of the protocol. There’s almost $1B in outstanding debt in the Compound protocol. Mainframe is also working on an exciting protocol in this area and the latest iteration of their white paper should be coming out soon.
There is very little economic risk to these protocols because all loans are overcollateralized.
Buying, selling, and trading crypto assets is certainly one form of investing (though not for the faint of heart). But there are now DeFi protocols to facilitate making and managing traditional-style investments. Through DeFi, you can invest in Gold. You can invest in stocks like Amazon and Apple. You can short Tesla. You can access the S&P 500. This is done through crypto-based synthetics — which gives users exposure to assets without needing to hold or own the underlying asset. This is all possible with protocols like UMA, Synthetix, or Market protocol. Maybe your style of investing is more passive. With PoolTogether , you can participate in a no-loss lottery. Maybe you’re an advanced trader and want to trade options or futures. You can do that with DeFi protocols like Convexity, Futureswap, and dYdX. Maybe you live on the wild side and trade on margin or leverage, you can do that with protocols like Fulcrum, Nuo, and DDEX. Or maybe you’re a degenerate gambler and want to bet against Trump in the upcoming election, you can do that on Augur. And there are plenty of DeFi protocols to help with crypto investing. You could use Set Protocol if you need automated trading strategies. You could use Melonport if you’re an asset manager. You could use Balancer to automatically rebalance your portfolio. With as little as $1, people all over the world can have access to the same investment opportunities and tools that used to be reserved for only the wealthy, or those lucky enough to be born in the right country.
You can start to imagine how services like Etrade, TD Ameritrade, Schwab, and even Robinhood could be massively disrupted by a crypto-native company that builds with these types of protocols at their foundation.
As mentioned in our previous post, there are near-infinite applications one can build on Ethereum. As a result, sometimes the code doesn’t work as expected. Bugs get through, it breaks. We’re still early in our industry. The tools, frameworks, and best practices are all still being established. Things can go wrong. Sometimes the application just gets in a weird or bad state where funds can’t be recovered — like with what happened with Parity where $280M got frozen (yes, I lost some money in that). Sometimes, there are hackers who discover a vulnerability in the code and maliciously steal funds — like how dForce lost $25M a few months ago, or how The DAO lost $50M a few years ago. And sometimes the system works as designed, but the economic model behind it is flawed, so a clever user takes advantage of the system— like what recently happened with Balancer where they lost $500k. There are a lot of risks when interacting with smart contracts and decentralized applications — especially for ones that haven’t stood the test of time. This is why insurance is such an important development in DeFi.
Insurance will be an essential component in helping this technology reach the masses.
Decentralized Exchanges (DEX) were one of the first and most developed categories in DeFi. A DEX allows a user to easily exchange one crypto asset for another crypto asset — but without needing to sign up for an account, verify identity, etc. It’s all via decentralized protocols. Within the first 5 months of 2020, the top 7 DEX already achieved the 2019 trading volume. That was $2.5B. DeFi is fueling a lot of this growth. https://preview.redd.it/1dwvq4e022b51.png?width=700&format=png&auto=webp&s=97a3d756f60239cd147031eb95fc2a981db55943 There are many different flavors of DEX. Some of the early ones included 0x, IDEX, and EtherDelta — all of which had a traditional order book model where buyers are matched with sellers. Another flavor is the pooled liquidity approach where the price is determined algorithmically based on how much liquidity there is and how much the user wants to buy. This is known as an AMM (Automated Market Maker) — Uniswap and Bancor were early leaders here. Though lately, Balancer has seen incredible growth due mostly to their strong incentives for participation — similar to Compound. There are some DEXs that are more specialized — for example, Curve and mStable focus mostly only stablecoins. Because of the proliferation of these decentralized exchanges, there are now aggregators that combine and connect the liquidity of many sources. Those include Kyber, Totle, 1Inch, and Dex.ag.
These decentralized exchanges are becoming more and more connected to DeFi because they provide an opportunity for yield and earning interest.
As it relates to making payments, much of the world is still stuck on plastic cards. We’re grateful to partner with Visa and launch the Genesis Block debit card… but we still don’t believe that's the future of payments. We see that as an important bridge between the past (legacy finance) and the future (crypto). Our first post in this series shared more on why legacy finance is broken. We talked about the countless unnecessary middle-men on every card swipe (merchant, acquiring bank, processor, card network, issuing bank). We talked about the slow settlement times. The future of payments will be much better. Yes, it’ll be from a mobile phone and the user experience will be similar to ApplePay (NFC) or WePay (QR Code).
But more importantly, the underlying assets being moved/exchanged will all be crypto — digital, permissionless, and open source.
Someone making a payment at the grocery store check-out line will be able to open up Genesis Block, use contactless tech or scan a QR code, and instantly pay for their goods. All using crypto. Likely a stablecoin. Settlement will be instant. All the middlemen getting their pound of flesh will be disintermediated. The merchant can make more and the user can spend less. Blockchain FTW! Now let’s talk about a few projects working in this area. The xDai Burner Wallet experience was incredible at the ETHDenver event a few years ago, but that speed came at the expense of full decentralization (can it be censored or shut down?). Of course, Facebook’s Libra wants to become the new standard for global payments, but many are afraid to give Facebook that much control (newsflash: it isn’t very decentralized). Bitcoin is decentralized… but it’s slow and volatile. There are strong projects like Lightning Network (Zap example) that are still trying to make it happen. Projects like Connext and OmiseGo are trying to help bring payments to Ethereum. The Flexa project is leveraging the gift card rails, which is a nice hack to leverage existing pipes. And if ETH 2.0 is as fast as they say it will be, then the future of payments could just be a stablecoin like DAI (a token on Ethereum). In a way, being able to spend crypto on daily expenses is the holy grail of use-cases. It’s still early. It hasn’t yet been solved. But once we achieve this, then we can ultimately and finally say goodbye to the legacy banking & finance world. Employees can be paid in crypto. Employees can spend in crypto. It changes everything.
Legacy finance is hanging on by a thread, and it’s this use-case that they are still clinging to. Once solved, DeFi domination will be complete.
At Genesis Block, we’re excited to leverage these protocols and take this incredible technology to the world. Many of these protocols are already deeply integrated with our product. In fact, many are essential. The masses won’t know (or care about) what Tether, USDC, or DAI is. They think in dollars, euros, pounds and pesos. So while the user sees their local currency in the app, the underlying technology is all leveraging stablecoins. It’s all on “crypto rails.” https://preview.redd.it/jajzttr622b51.png?width=700&format=png&auto=webp&s=fcf55cea1216a1d2fcc3bf327858b009965f9bf8 When users deposit assets into their Genesis Block account, they expect to earn interest. They expect that money to grow. We leverage many of these low-risk lending/exchange DeFi protocols. We lend into decentralized money markets like Compound — where all loans are overcollateralized. Or we supply liquidity to AMM exchanges like Balancer. This allows us to earn interest and generate yield for our depositors. We’re the experts so our users don’t need to be. We haven’t yet integrated with any of the insurance or investment protocols — but we certainly plan on it. Our infrastructure is built with blockchain technology at the heart and our system is extensible — we’re ready to add assets and protocols when we feel they are ready, safe, secure, and stable. Many of these protocols are still in the experimental phase. It’s still early.
At Genesis Block we’re excited to continue to be at the frontlines of this incredible, innovative, technological revolution called DeFi.
--- None of these powerful DeFi protocols will be replacing Robinhood, SoFi, or Venmo anytime soon. They never will. They aren’t meant to! We’ve discussed this before, these are low-level protocols that need killer applications, like Genesis Block. So now that we’ve gone a little deeper down the rabbit hole and we’ve done this whirlwind tour of DeFi, the natural next question is: why?
Why does any of it matter?
Most of these financial services that DeFi offers already exist in the real world. So why does it need to be on a blockchain? Why does it need to be decentralized? What new value is unlocked? Next post, we answer these important questions. To look at more projects in DeFi, check outDeFi Prime,DeFi Pulse, orConsensys. ------ Other Ways to Consume Today's Episode:
Best Exchanges to Buy Bitcoin & Crypto in the US (Pros & Cons)
Are you looking to start investing in cryptocurrency and wondering where the best place to buy it is? Or if you are in the US, are you wondering which crypto exchanges are legal for you to use? Below is a list of 5 cryptocurrency exchanges that, as of this post, are all legal for US citizens. I have also included a quick break down on the pros and cons of each exchange. This is not a complete list of every exchange available to US citizens as there are others, but these are my own personal top 5 based on characteristics such as ease of use, security, fees, liquidity and selection of available coins to trade. If you are not located in the US there is a good chance most of these exchanges are available to you as well, you will just need to check with the exchange and look up your own country's policies regarding the purchase of cryptocurrencies. As you go through the list please keep in mind, while I do have them ranked 1 through 5, there is not a lot separating them and each of these exchanges offer something a little unique from the others. Everyone's investment goals and preferences are going to be a little different so my #5 exchange here could be your #1 based on your criteria. It is also pretty likely that if you end up wanting to invest in 5 or more coins at some point, no one exchange is going to have all of them available so you will likely need to open multiple accounts anyways. Okay, on to the list. 1) Binance US Binance US is an offshoot of one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges out there, Binance.com. They created Binance US in response to US citizens being banned from using their main exchange back in 2019. These two exchanges function much the same with the biggest difference being that Binance US has a slightly smaller pool of cryptos listed on their exchange, which currently is a little over 30 coins. Other than that, all of the great features of Binance.com that have helped it become one of the largest crypto exchanges in the world, apply to Binance US as well. PROS - Low Fees: Start at 0.10% spot trading fee and goes down from there depending on your trading frequency. You can also save an additional 25% off your trading fees by holding their native token BNB. - High Trading Volume: Allows you to get in and out of your positions more easily. - Coin Selection: Currently as of this writing there are over 30 different coins available to be traded. - Reliability / Reputation: As one of the larger players in the crypto space, Binance is able to offer a bit of security as they are able to throw a lot of money at any potential problems with things like hackers. Binance US puts away a set portion of their earnings every month in a fund that acts as insurance against any funds that may be lost due to hackers. Back in 2019 they had an incident where 40 million dollars of crypto was stolen by hackers and they reimbursed every penny to their customers. CONS - Interface: Trading can be a little confusing for those not used to trading cryptocurrencies. While it is not too difficult to learn, a couple of the upcoming exchanges on my list are a little more user friendly for those who are new to the space. All things considered, right now if I was getting started with Crypto trading in the US, Binance US would be the first account that I created. If you would like to open an account you can use the link below. If you are located outside of the United States I would suggest opening an account on the the original Binance.com exchange as they currently have a wider selection of cryptos to pick from. Below is a link for their sign up as well if you are interested. Binance US Sign Up Binance Sign Up (Non-US Citizens) 2) Crypto.com Crypto.com is on a mission to be the leader in cryptocurrency adoption to the masses and is trying to bridge the gap between the worlds of blockchain and traditional finance. Along with trading cryptocurrencies they have programs on their app like Earn, Invest, Pay & Credit which you would find with more traditional finance companies. For instance, through their Earn program there are many coins you can earn interest on by locking them up for a set time period. Depending on the coin, how many MCO (Crypto.com native coin) you have staked and how long you keep your tokens locked up for, you can earn anywhere from 2% to 18% interest which a lot better than any bank is going to do for you these days. One of the best features of Crypto.com, in my opinion, are their great eye-catching, metal crypto MCO reward credit cards. These cards pay you cashback, in the form of their MCO token, for all of your day to day purchases anywhere that VISA is accepted. Depending on which level of card you get, these credit cards reward 1% to 5% cashback on all spending along with other great benefits like free ATM & international withdrawals, 100% cashback on Spotify & Netflix subscriptions and airport lounge access. In order to get your hands on one of these cards you will need to open a Crypto.com account if you don’t already have one. There is good news if you don’t already have one, as new sign ups can get $50 worth of MCO tokens free by using the link and promo code I have posted below. Please note that the $50 of MCO tokens will remain locked until you deposit & stake at least 50 MCO tokens toward the sign up of the particular card you are interested in. If you want to know a little more about these cards you can check out method #3 in my earlier post 5 Easy Legitimate Ways to Earn Free Crypto where I go into a bit more detail on them. However, for the purpose of this post, let's get to some pros and cons of their exchange platform. PROS - Low Fees: Start at 0.20% and go lower from there depending on your trading volume. - Coin Selection: Currently as of this writing there are 53 different coins available to be traded. - Interface: Easy to use app that is very user friendly.- Customer Service: One of the best customer service programs in the industry if you need any help. CONS - App Only: No desktop version, all functions on the exchange must be done via their app. - History: Founded in 2016 so they are still relatively new to the industry. Crypto.com is a great option if you are looking to trade cryptocurrencies and also want to take advantage of things like their cash back VISA cards and Earn program that pay you great interest rates as you hold your coins. Below is a link you can use to sign up for a new account. If you are also interested in getting one of their MCO Visa cards, use the link below along with the promo code to get $50 of their MCO token free. Crypto.com Sign Up PROMO CODE:gapena3dq4 3) Coinbase Headquartered in San Francisco, Coinbase is the largest US-based crypto exchange with about 20 million current users. Like Crypto.com, they are trying to bring cryptocurrency trading to the masses through an easy to use interface and education. One way they try to educate their users is through their Coinbase Earn program where they offer free crypto for watching short educational videos teaching you about the various coins they offer on their exchange. I will not go into the details of that program here, but if you are interested in checking it out I go into a bit more detail on it in my post 5 Easy Legitimate Ways to Earn Free Crypto. Now on to some of the pros and cons. PROS - High Trading Volume: Allows you to get in and out of your positions easily. - Interface: Easy to use desktop interface and trading mechanisms for those new to crypto trading. - Insurance: Coinbase carries an insurance policy that covers 2% of all assets on the exchange and they keep the other 98% in cold storage. CONS - Fees: While their fee structure is not horrible, it is a bit higher than Crypto.com and Binance US. Crypto to crypto trading fees are at 0.50% / bank purchases at 1.49% / credit & debit card purchases at 3.99%. - Coin Selection: Currently they only have about 20 coins to choose from, however they are looking to add a bunch more soon. Coinbase is a solid choice for anyone looking to get started in crypto trading. If you would like to open an account you can use the link below which will get you $10 of free Bitcoin as a sign up bonus. Please note that to get the free $10 you must buy or sell $100 worth of crypto within 180 days of signing up. Coinbase Sign Up 4) Robinhood Robinhood is the pioneer of no fee trading for securities which is the main benefit of this exchange. It also is, to my knowledge, one of the few exchanges that allow you to trade both traditional stocks and cryptocurrencies. Technically their stock and crypto exchanges are separate entities, however you can seamlessly trade them both from the same account on their app. This is great for those who would like to get started trading in both crypto and traditional stocks but don't want to open multiple accounts. Or for those who might want to trade back and forth between stocks and crypto but don't want to have to transfer money between accounts to do so. Now to explore some other features of the Robinhood exchange let's get into the pros and cons. PROS - Fees: None (FREE!) - Flexibility: Can trade multiple asset classes (Stocks, Crypto, ETFs, Options) - Interface: Easy to use app that is very user friendly. Desktop version available as well. CONS - Coin Selection: Currently only offer 7 coins that can be traded (BTC, BCH, BSV, DOGE, ETH, ETC, LTC) - Coin Mobility: Your coins must remain on the Robinhood exchange. You cannot transfer your coins to another exchange or withdraw them to put in your own digital wallets. With their user friendly interface and no fees, Robinhood is very appealing for those just getting into crypto trading. If you are just looking to buy some of the higher cap coins like Bitcoin and Etherium, this exchange can be a good fit for you. However if you know there are some projects you would like to invest in that are not listed above, you may want to choose some of the other exchanges on this list, or both. If you are unsure at this point if you want to invest beyond coins like Bitcoin and Etherium in the future, it doesn't hurt to start here, get your feet wet and open another account down the road if you have other projects you get interested in. If you would like to open an account you can use the link below to get one free stock with sign up! This free stock will be valued somewhere between $2.50 and $200. Robinhood Sign Up 5) Kraken Kraken exchange is based out of the United States and was founded back in 2011. While there is no specific trait that blows away the competition with this exchange, it does most everything pretty well. Like most crypto exchanges at this point, your funds on there are not FDIC insured, however Kraken does keep a separate fund that serves as an insurance policy and is currently over 100 million dollars. They also show great transparency and compliance with programs like their Proof of Reserves which offers proof that they hold all of the funds that they say they do. Here is quick break down of their pros and cons. PROS - Low Fees: Range from 0.10% to 0.26% depending on your trading frequency. - High Security: One of the best reputations in the industry for security. - Coin Selection: Good but not great. Currently they have about 20 coins available for trading. CONS - Interface: Making trades can be a little confusing for beginners who are not familiar with their format. However with a couple quick tutorials most of you should be able to get familiar with it pretty quickly. To open an account and begin trading with Kraken use the link below. Kraken Sign Up
Interested in some ways you can passively earn free crypto?
White Paper, Miner, Pizza … | "Old Objects" in the Cryptocurrency Museum
https://preview.redd.it/giu1ssilga151.jpg?width=900&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=41510785ccdc0d99544ec74229f62427d1c0ce3e Museum has played the role of a time recorder. Talking about bitcoin, more than ten years has passed since the creation of it. Although it is uncomparable to the stock market with a hundred years of history, during the ten years, in the different stages of the development of bitcoin and blockchain have continuously poured in geeks, miners, speculators, newbies, leaving keywords such as sudden rich, myth, scam, belief, revolution, etc. There are also many “old objects” with stories in the “Museum” of the cryptocurrency realm. On Museum Day, let ’s review the stories brought by these “old objects”. The First Digital Currency White Paper — Bitcoin White Paper On Oct. 31, 2008, Satoshi Nakamoto released the Bitcoin white paper — A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System in the cryptographic mail group where he belongs, and Bitcoin was born since then. A white paper is a document that explains the purpose and technology used in cryptocurrency. Usually a cryptocurrency uses the white paper to help people understand what it provides, and it is also an important information channel for investors to understand a project. Therefore, the level of the white paper affects people’s confidence towards the coin. In a word, in the cryptocurrency and blockchain industry, the value of a white paper is equivalent to that of a standard financing speech. The white paper plays a vital role in this emerging market. The First Public Bitcoin-Physical Transaction — Pizza Since Satoshi Nakamoto mined the Bitcoin genesis block on January 3, 2009, Bitcoin has only been spread among the small crowd and has not realized its value. Not until May 22, 2010, Bitcoin enthusiast “Laszlo Hanyecz” bought a pizza coupon worth $25 with 10,000 bitcoins. This is the first public bitcoin-physical transaction. Bitcoin has its price with 0.3 cents per bitcoin. This day has also become the famous “Bitcoin Pizza Day” in Bitcoin history. Bitcoin as the imagination of the financial system has more practical significance. The tenth anniversary is coming. How will you commemorate it? Will you buy a pizza? The First Digital Asset Exchange — Bitcoinmarket.com After the birth of Bitcoin, in addition to mining, the only way to get Bitcoin in the early days was to conduct transactions on forums or IRC (commonly known as Internet Relay Chat). However, this method involves both long transaction time and great security risk. In March 2010, the first digital asset exchange — Bitcoinmarket.com launched. However, due to lack of liquidity and transaction depth, it disappeared soon after its establishment, but Bitcoinmarket.com opened the era of the operation of the cryptocurrency realm exchange 1.0. On June 9, 2011, China’s first Bitcoin exchange — Bitcoin China (BTCChina) launched. Its founder, Yang Linke, translated Bitcoin into Chinese “比特币” for the first time. In 2013, China’s bitcoin trading entered the golden age, and exchanges sprung up. China monopolized more than 90% of the world’s bitcoin transactions. Now, if the top three exchanges Binance, Huobi Global, OKEx are the Exchange 2.0, then the index exchange represented by 58COIN called the 3.0 version, leading the trend. The First Generation of High-Performance Miner — ASIC Miner When Satoshi Nakamoto created Bitcoin, the only way to get it is to use computers (including home computers) to mine, mainly relying on the CPU to calculate. However, as the value of digital currencies such as Bitcoin has become higher and higher, mining has become an industry with the competition is getting fiercer, accompanied by increasing difficulty of mining. Therefore, hardware performance competition starts. In July 2012, the genius Jiang Xinyu (Internet nickname is “Friedcat”) from the junior class of the University of Science and Technology declared at the forum that he could make ASIC miners (chips). As far as mining computing power is concerned, ASICs can be tens of thousands or more higher than the same-generation CPUs and GPUs. At the beginning of 2013, Zhang Nanqian (Pumpkin Zhang), a suspended doctoral student from the Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, developed the ASIC miner and named it “Avalon”. In June 2013, the Friedcat’s miner USB was finally released, and it maintained 20% of the computing power of the entire network. At the end of 2013, Wu Jihan, used the tens of millions yuan earned from Friedcat through investment, worked together with Jenke group, to develop the Antminer S1. Since then, the miner manufacturer Bitmain began to enter the stage of history. It is no exaggeration to say that Friedcat and Zhang Nangeng have opened the domestic “mining” era. The Birthplace of China’s Bitcoin — Garage Coffee It is not only the “old objects” that record history, but also a place that everyone in the cryptocurrency realm aspires to. Guo Hongcai once said, “Without no The Garage Café, there will be no cryptocurrency realm today. Since it is a very mysterious place that all waves of people from the café joint together to create today’s digital asset industry. ▲ In March 2013, American student Jake Smith successfully purchased a cup of coffee at The Garage Café with 0.131 bitcoins. This move attracted the attention of CCTV, and it conducted an interview. Indeed, The Garage Café is the world ’s first entrepreneurial-themed coffee shop. It has been legendary since its establishment in 2011. The Garage Cafét is not only the core coordinate on China’s Bitcoin map, but also the birthplace of the Chinese cryptocurrency circle, where digital asset realm tycoons including Guo Hongcai, Zhao Dong, Li Xiaolai, Li Lin have made their ways. The development of digital currency is only 11 years old. Through these “old objects”, we review the various stories of this wave of technology together, hoping to help you understand the development process of the digital currency field. Meanwhile, I also remind all practitioners to use history as a mirror and forge ahead. Website: https://www.58ex.com/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/58_coin Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/coin.58COIN Telegram: https://t.me/official58 Medium: https://medium.com/@58coin_blog/
The world economy is on the verge of crisis again, cryptocurrencies will be strong
Vulnerability refers to the property that things are vulnerable to damage when faced with fluctuations. -Nassim Nicholas Taleb In the face of economic fluctuations, it is disadvantageous to hold such a negative view. Every capital market has its own life cycle, which inevitably goes through a process from growth, to peak, and then to recession. Now is no exception. As we emerge from the longest bull market in history, we suddenly find ourselves in a highly vulnerable global economy facing the panicked and perplexed planet unprepared. However, the turmoil has just begun. Newton's first law, also known as "the law of inertia", means that any object must maintain a constant linear motion or standstill until an external force forces it to change its state of motion. Although this analogy does not perfectly correspond to the capital market (because the market is always changing and developing in different directions), at least one thing is certain that under the action of the market mechanism, the market cycle always appears Trend from peak to valley. The music box winds up, and the performance of the song sounds, and then it stops after a while. When this happens, the market structure collapses, eventually leading to huge chaos, and then falling into silence. Once external forces force the entire economy into trouble, people will realize the long-standing hidden structural defects in the economy. Now, the world economy is on the verge of crisis again. All human beings have to face a sudden outbreak of a global epidemic and the resulting shocks in supply and demand in the market. The economies of some countries have stalled. Ironically, the effects of inertia may be prevalent in market fluctuations. While witnessing the development of the global economy, we still find two simultaneous macro trends: --1-- USD strong We believe that the strong US dollar is driven by three factors: Investors turn to safe assets: Despite the Fed ’s interest rate cuts and monetary stimulus policies, the market ’s increasing demand for the US dollar has pushed up the US dollar index and hit a new high in 18 years. US Dollar Financing Issues: Cross-currency basis swaps measure that investors are more inclined to hold the US dollar than the euro or the yen. On March 17, the euro-dollar basis swap swap premium expanded from -60 basis points to -120 basis points, the highest level since 2011. As of press time, the Euro-US dollar basis swap has rapidly dropped to about -27 basis points, while the US dollar-Japanese yen basis swap has expanded to -70 basis points. Negative basis points indicate greater pressure on the dollar and higher hedging costs for European and Japanese investors. The reality is that U.S. banks, which are the main source of funding for the U.S. dollar, are storing large amounts of cash instead of actively issuing short-term U.S. dollar loans to foreign banks. Due to recent pressure from the balance sheet, more and more U.S. banks are beginning to reduce credit lines to retain cash. In addition, many foreign banks that lack direct access to the US dollar market can only rely on central bank liquidity swaps for financing. This week, the Fed and several other central banks opened new liquidity swap tools, providing USD 30 billion to USD 60 billion of liquidity, respectively, to ease pressure on USD financing. Central banks in emerging market countries are taking urgent steps and lowering their benchmark interest rates: Emerging market investors are very worried about the stability of their currencies and are pouring into the dollar market. According to Bloomberg, all major emerging market currencies weakened against the US dollar on January 20, just as the new crown virus began to spread in Asia. ——2—— Treasury liquidity tightening Abnormally performing credit markets: In general, price fluctuations will prompt investors to switch from risky assets (such as stocks) to safe-haven assets (such as bonds). This was indeed the case when the new coronavirus was causing panic. However, the current despair of liquidity (especially cash) by market investors has led to a large-scale sell-off in the global bond market, falling bond prices and rising interest rates. Repurchase market: The Federal Reserve's rescue measures have not brought the expected results. In the past week, the Federal Reserve announced three repurchases and other measures to release liquidity, hoping to ease the current state of the US Treasury market and reduce the inventory of primary dealers. However, market demand for government bonds remains sluggish. Let's turn our eyes from the home of the macro economy to the cryptocurrency market. Although they are not necessarily related, we find that the two are closely related. In the face of volatility, it is particularly important to develop a price action strategy. The CBOE-VIX index, an indicator that predicts the trend of the S & P 500 in the next 30 days, has surged to its highest level since the last global financial crisis. At the same time, we also saw that the 90-day implied volatility of Bitcoin options rose to 6.8% (annualized 130%), which is about 5.9% (annualized 113%) this weekend. As the "Black Thursday" on March 12th, BTC was down 40% and ETH was down 50%, some leveraged positions were forced to close. According to reports, BitMEX alone closed USD 700 million worth of long and short positions. At the same time, the sell-off of ETH dropped the value of the DeFi ecosystem by 40%. The total amount of collateral liquidation of Compound, dYdX and Maker and other lending platforms reached US $ 10 million. But in this turbulent market, not all assets perform so badly. Although the price of BTC, like the stock market at the beginning, plummeted, falling by 60% from the high price in mid-February, it rebounded by about 50% from the price low on March 12. Over the past period, we have found a large amount of funds flowing from altcoins to BTC. With the spot premium (the spot price is higher than the futures price), the demand for bitcoin lending has increased. The effective fund interest rate also gradually returned to normal as the curve was inverted. In contrast, when futures are at a premium (the futures price is higher than the spot price), there is almost no demand for BTC's lending transactions. At present, the BTC funding rate on various lending platforms has increased from 3-5% to 8%, and the ETH funding rate has increased from 2-4% to 6%. ——3—— Floating profit stablecoin market Since February 14, the entire cryptocurrency market has experienced a large-scale sell-off, with a market value of $ 45 billion evaporated. At the same time, the market value of USDT has risen to nearly $ 5 billion. USDT has emerged from this market volatility and has become a safe-haven asset. This week, the premium rate of USDT prices in China and South Korea is as high as 7%, which is caused by the demand of payment service providers and arbitrage traders. The current over-the-counter USDT supply exceeds supply. At the same time, the market value of USDC climbed to US $ 630 million, a record high. The market value of BUSD is exceeding the US $ 150 million mark, mainly due to the surge in demand for Binance's borrowing and margin trading. ——4—— Near-term outlook We pay close attention to the changing macroeconomic trends and the successive monetary and fiscal policies implemented by governments around the world. Although we cannot predict the specific trend of the market, we still believe that cryptocurrency as an asset class will be strong. In a nutshell, we think: ● Due to the recent sell-off in the market, the value of positions has shrunk sharply, making the distribution of positions in the market clearer. ● With the exit of market makers, the spread between major exchanges has brought more market arbitrage opportunities for retail traders. In particular, the derivatives market (futures and perpetual swaps) has seen a significant discount compared to the spot market, which has pushed up BTC's lending rate. ● By hedging the spot and long futures, market participants can carry out arbitrage trading, which is completely contrary to the market situation we saw last year (the futures price is significantly higher than the spot). ● Over the past six months, trading activities in the options market have grown rapidly. We expect that trading activities in the options market will continue to grow. ● At present, on our platform, institutional clients such as hedge funds, arbitrage traders, crypto companies, etc. have all bought a lot of BTC and USDT. Market volatility is part of investment. We believe that after a period of time, the economy will re-enter the upward trajectory, please let us work together for it.
Hello! My name is Inna Halahuz, I am a sales manager at Platinum, the largest listing service provider for the STO and ICO projects. We know all about the best and most useful STO and ICO marketing services. By the way, we developed the best blockchain platform: [Platinum.fund] (https://platinum.fund/sto/) We also created the UBAI, the unique educational project with the best and most useful online courses. We not only share our knowledge but also help the best graduates to find a job! After finishing our courses you will know all about crypto securities, ICO and STO advertizing and best blockchain platforms. What a Blockchain Wallet is? What is its purpose? Find the answer after reading this article. Public/Private Key The public key is the digital code you give to someone that wants to transfer ownership of a unit of cryptocurrency to you; and a private key is what you need to be able to unlock your own wallet to transfer a unit of a cryptocurrency to someone else. The encoding of information within a wallet is done by the private and public keys. That is the main component of the encryption that maintains the security of the wallet. Both keys function in simultaneous encryption systems called symmetric and asymmetric encryption. The former, alternatively known as private key encryption, makes use of the same key for encryption and decryption. The latter, asymmetric encryption, utilizes two keys, the public and private key, wherein a message-sender encrypts the message with the public key, and the recipient decodes it with their private key. The public key uses asymmetric algorithms that convert messages into an unreadable format. A person who possesses a public key can encrypt the message for a specific receiver. Accessing wallets Methods of wallet access vary depending on the type of wallet being used. Various types of currency wallets on an exchange will normally be accessed via the exchange’s entrance portal, normally involving a combination of a username/password and optionally, 2FA (Two factor authentication, which we explain in more detail later). Whereas hardware wallets need to be connected to an internet enabled device, and then have a pin code entered manually by the user in possession of the hardware wallet in order for access to be gained. Phone wallets are accessed through the device on which the wallet application has been downloaded. Ordinarily, a passcode and/or security pattern must be entered before entry is granted, in addition to 2FA for withdrawals. Satoshi Nakamoto built the Satoshi client which evolved into Bitcoin in 2009. This software allowed users to create wallets and send money to other addresses. However, it proved to be a nightmarish user experience, with many transactions being sent to incorrect addresses and private keys being lost. The MtGox (Magic the Gathering Online exchange, named after the original intended use of the exchange) incident, which will be covered in greater detail later, serves as a reminder of the dangers present in the cryptosphere regarding security, and the need to constantly upgrade your defenses against all potential hacks. The resulting loss of 850k BTC is a still unresolved problem, weighing heavily on the victims and the markets at large. This caused a huge push for a constantly evolving and improving focus on security. Exchanges that developed later, and are thus considered more legitimate and secure, such as Gemini and Coinbase, put a much greater emphasis on vigilance as a direct result of the MtGox hacking incident. We also saw the evolution of wallet security into the physical realm with the creation of hardware wallets, most notable among them the Ledger and Trezor wallets. Types of Wallets & Storage Methods The simplest way to sift through the dozens of cryptocurrency storage methods available today, is to divide them up into digital and non-digital, software and hardware wallets. There are also less commonly used methods of storage of private keys, like paper wallets and brain wallets. We will examine them all at least briefly, because in the course of your interaction with cryptocurrencies and Blockchain technology, it is essential to master all the different types of hardware and software wallets. Another distinction must be made between hot wallets and cold wallets. A hot wallet is one that is connected to the internet, and a cold wallet is one that is not. Fun fact: The level below cold storage, deep cold storage has just recently been implemented by the Regal RA DMCC, a subsidiary of an internationally renowned gold trading company licensed in the Middle East. After having been granted a crypto trading license, Regal RA launched their “deep cold” storage solution for traders and investors, which offers the ability to store crypto assets in vaults deep below the Almas Tower in Dubai. This storage method is so secure that at no point is the vault connected to a network or the internet; meaning the owners of the assets can be sure that the private keys are known only to the rightful owners. Lets take a quick look at specific features and functionality of varieties of crypto wallets. Software wallets: wallet applications installed on a laptop, desktop, phone or tablet. Web Wallets: A hot wallet by definition. Web Wallets are accessible through the web browser on your phone or computer. The most important feature to recognize about any kind of web wallet, is that the private keys are held and managed by a trusted third party. MyEtherWallet is the most commonly used non-exchange web wallet, but it can only be used to store Ethereum and ERC-20 tokens. Though the avenue of access to MEW is through the web, it is not strictly speaking a web wallet, though this label will suffice for the time being. The MEW site gives you the ability to create a new wallet so you can store your ETH yourself. All the data is created and stored on your CPU rather than their servers. This makes MEW a hybrid kind of web wallet and desktop wallet. Exchange Wallets: A form of Web Wallet contained within an exchange. An exchange will hold a wallet for each individual variety of cryptocurrency you hold on that exchange. Desktop Wallets: A software program downloaded onto your computer or tablet hard drive that usually holds only one kind of cryptocurrency. The Nano Wallet (Formerly Raiwallet) and Neon wallet for storage of NEO and NEP-5 tokens are notable examples of desktop wallets Phone Wallets: These are apps downloaded onto a mobile phone that function in the same manner as a desktop wallet, but actually can hold many different kinds of cryptocurrency. The Eidoo Wallet for storing Ethereum and its associated tokens and Blockchain Wallet which currently is configured to hold BTC, ETH and Bitcoin Cash, are some of the most widely used examples. Hardware wallets — LedgeTrezoAlternatives Hardware wallets are basically physical pathways and keys to the unique location of your crypto assets on the Blockchain. These are thought to be more secure than any variety of web wallet because the private key is stored within your own hard wallet, an actual physical device. This forcibly removes the risk your online wallet, or your exchange counter party, might be hacked in the same manner as MtGox. In hardware wallet transactions, the wallet’s API creates the transaction when a user requests a payment. An API is a set of functions that facilitates the creation of applications that interact and access features or data of an operating system. The hardware then signs the transaction, and produces a public key, which is given to the network. This means the signing keys never leave the hardware wallet. The user must both enter a personal identification number and physically press buttons on the hardware wallet in order to gain access to their Blockchain wallet address through this method, and do the same to initiate transfers. Paper Wallets Possibly the safest form of cryptocurrency storage in terms of avoiding hacking, Paper Wallets are an offline form of crypto storage that is free to set up, and probably the most secure way for users, from beginners to experts, to hold on to their crypto assets. To say it simply, paper wallets are an offline cold storage method of storing cryptocurrency. This includes actually printing out your public and private keys on a piece of paper, which you then store and save in a secure place. The keys are printed in the form of QR codes which you can scan in the future for all your transactions. The reason why it is so safe is that it gives complete control to you, the user. You do not need to worry about the security or condition of a piece of hardware, nor do you have to worry about hackers on the net, or any other piece of malware. You just need to take care of one piece of paper! Real World Historical Examples of Different Wallet Types Web Wallet: Blockchain.info Brief mechanism & Security Blockchain.info is both a cryptocurrency wallet, supporting Bitcoin, Ethereum and Bitcoin cash, and also a block explorer service. The wallet service provided by blockchain.info has both a Web Wallet, and mobile phone application wallet, both of which involve signing up with an email address, and both have downloadable private keys. Two Factor Authentication is enabled for transfers from the web and mobile wallets, as well as email confirmation (as with most withdrawals from exchanges). Phone Wallet: Eidoo The Eidoo wallet is a multi-currency mobile phone app wallet for storage of Ethereum and ERC-20 tokens. The security level is the standard phone wallet level of email registration, confirmation, password login, and 2 factor authentication used in all transfers out. You may find small volumes of different varieties of cryptocurrencies randomly turning up in your Eidoo wallet address. Certain projects have deals with individual wallets to allow for “airdrops” to take place of a particular token into the wallet, without the consent of the wallet holder. There is no need to be alarmed, and the security of the wallet is not in any way compromised by these airdrops. Neon Wallet The NEON wallet sets the standard for web wallets in terms of security and user-friendly functionality. This wallet is only designed for storing NEO, Gas, and NEP-5 tokens (Ontology, Deep Brain Chain, RPX etc.). As with all single-currency wallets, be forewarned, if you send the wrong cryptocurrency type to a wallet for which it is not designed, you will probably lose your tokens or coins. MyEtherWallet My Ether Wallet, often referred to as MEW, is the most widely used and highly regarded wallet for Ethereum and its related ERC-20 tokens. You can access your MEW account with a hardware wallet, or a different program. Or you can also get access by typing or copying in your private key. However, you should understand this method is the least safe way possible,and therefore is the most likely to result in a hack. Hardware: TrezoLedger Brief History Mechanism and Security A hardware wallet is a physical key to your on-chain wallet location, with the private keys contained within a secure sector of the device. Your private key never leaves your hardware wallet. This is one of the safest possible methods of access to your crypto assets. Many people feel like the hardware wallet strikes the right balance between security, peace of mind, and convenience. Paper Wallet Paper wallets can be generated at various websites, such as https://bitcoinpaperwallet.com/ and https://walletgenerator.net/. They enable wallet holders to store their private keys totally offline, in as secure a manner as is possible. Real World Example — Poor Practices MtGox Hack history effects and security considerations MtGox was the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the world before it was hacked in 2014. They were handling over 70% of BTC transactions before they were forced to liquidate their business. The biggest theft of cryptocurrency in history began when the private keys for the hot wallets were stolen in 2011 from a wallet.dat file, possibly by hacking, possibly by a rogue employee. Over the course of the next 3 years the hot wallets were emptied of approximately 650000 BTC. The hacker only needed wallet.dat file to access and make transfers from the hot wallet, as wallet encryption was only in operation from the time of the Bitcoin 0.4.0 release on Sept 23rd 2011. Even as the wallets were being emptied, the employees at Mt Gox were apparently oblivious to what was taking place. It seems that Mt Gox workers were interpreting these withdrawals as large transfers being made to more secure wallets. The former CEO of the exchange, Mark Karpeles, is currently on trial for embezzlement and faces up to 5 years in prison if found guilty. The Mt Gox hack precipitated the acceleration of security improvements on other exchanges, for wallets, and the architecture of bitcoin itself. As a rule of thumb, no small-to-medium scale crypto holders should use exchange wallets as a long-term storage solution. Investors and experienced traders may do this to take advantage of market fluctuations, but exchange wallets are perhaps the most prone to hacking, and storing assets on exchanges for an extended time is one of the riskiest ways to hold your assets. In a case strikingly similar to the MtGox of 2011–2014, the operators of the BitGrail exchange “discovered” that approximately 17 million XRB ($195 million worth in early 2018) were missing. The operators of the exchange were inexplicably still accepting deposits, long after they knew about the hack. Then they proceeded to block withdrawals from non-EU users. And then they even requested a hard fork of the code to restore the funds. This would have meant the entire XRB Blockchain would have had to accept all transactions from their first “invalid” transaction that were invalid, and rollback the ledger. The BitGrailexchange attempted to open operations in May 2018 but was immediately forced to close by order of the Italian courts. BitGrail did not institute mandatory KYC (Know your customer) procedures for their clients until after the theft had been reported, and allegedly months after the hack was visible. They also did not have 2 factor authentication mandatory for withdrawals. All big, and very costly mistakes. Case Study: Good Practice Binance, the Attempted Hack During the 2017 bull run, China-based exchange Binance quickly rose to the status of biggest altcoin exchange in the world, boasting daily volumes that surged to over $4 billion per day in late December. Unfortunately, this success attracted the attention of some crafty hackers. These hackers purchased domain names that were confusingly similar to “binance.com”. And then they created sufficiently convincing replica websites so they could phish traders for their login information. After obtaining this vital info, the scammers created API keys to place large buy orders for VIAcoin, an obscure, low volume digital currency. Those large buy orders spiked VIA’s price. Within minutes they traded the artificially high-priced VIA for BTC. Then they immediately made withdrawal requests from the hacked BTC wallets to wallets outside of the exchange. Almost a perfect fait accompli! But, Binance’s “automating risk management system” kicked in, as it should, and all withdrawals were temporarily suspended, resulting in a foiled hacking attempt. Software Wallets Web/Desktop/Phone/Exchange Advantages and Limitations As we said before, it is inadvisable to store crypto assets in exchange wallets, and, to a lesser extent, Web Wallets. The specific reason we say that is because you need to deliver your private keys into the hands of another party, and rely on that website or exchange to keep your private key, and thus your assets, safe. The advantages of the less-secure exchange or web wallets, are the speed at which you can transfer assets into another currency, or into another exchange for sale or for arbitrage purposes. Despite the convenience factor, all software wallets will at some point have been connected to the internet or a network. So, you can never be 100% sure that your system has not been infected with malware, or some kind of keylogging software, that will allow a third party to record your passwords or private keys. How well the type of storage method limits your contact with such hazards is a good way to rate the security of said variety of wallet. Of all the software wallets, desktop and mobile wallets are the most secure because you download and store your own private key, preferably on a different system. By taking the responsibility of private key storage you can be sure that only one person has possession of it, and that is you! Thereby greatly increasing the security of your crypto assets. By having their assets in a desktop wallet, traders can guard their private key and enjoy the associated heightened security levels, as well keep their assets just one swift transfer away from an exchange. Hardware Wallets Advantages and Limitations We briefly touched on the features and operation of the two most popular hardware wallets currently on the market, the Ledger and Trezor wallets. Now it will be helpful to take a closer look into the pros and cons of the hardware wallet storage method. With hardware wallets, the private keys are stored within a protected area of the microcontroller, and they are prevented from being exported out of the device in plain text. They are fortified with state-of-the-art cryptography that makes them immune to computer viruses and malware. And much of the time, the software is open source, which allows user validation of the entire performance of the device. The advantages of a hardware wallet over the perhaps more secure paper wallet method of crypto storage is the interactive user experience, and also the fact that the private key must at some stage be downloaded in order to use the paper wallet. The main disadvantage of a hardware wallet is the time-consuming extra steps needed to transfer funds out of this mode of storage to an exchange, which could conceivably result in some traders missing out on profits. But with security being the main concern of the vast majority of holders, investors and traders too, this slight drawback is largely inconsequential in most situations. Paper Wallets Advantages and Limitations Paper wallets are thought by some to be the safest way to store your crypto assets, or more specifically, the best method of guarding the pathways to your assets on the Blockchain. By printing out your private key information, the route to your assets on the Blockchain is stored 100% offline (apart from the act of printing the private key out, the entire process is totally offline). This means that you will not run the risk of being infected with malware or become the victim of keylogging scams. The main drawback of using paper wallets is that you are in effect putting all your eggs in one basket, and if the physical document is destroyed, you will lose access to your crypto assets forever. Key things to keep in mind about your Wallet Security: Recovery Phrases/Private Key Storage/2FA/Email Security Recovery phrases are used to recover the on-chain location for your wallet with your assets for hardware wallets like ledgers and Trezors that have been lost. When you purchase a new ledger for example, you just have to set it up again by entering the recovery phrase into the display and the lost wallets will appear with your assets intact. Private key storage is of paramount importance to maintain the safety of your on-chain assets! This should be done in paper wallet form, or stored offline on a different computer, or USB device, from the one you would typically use to connect to the 2 Factor Authentication (2FA) sometimes known as “two step authentication”. This feature offers an extra security layer when withdrawing funds from cryptocurrency wallets. A specialized app, most commonly Google Authenticator, is synced up to the exchange to provide a constantly changing code. This code must be entered within a short time window to initiate transfers, or to log into an exchange, if it has also been enabled for that purpose. You must always consider the level of fees, or the amount of Gas, that will be needed to carry out the transaction. In times of high network activity Gas prices can be quite high. In fact, in December 2017 network fees became so high that some Bitcoin transactions became absolutely unfeasible. But that was basically due to the anomalous network congestion caused by frantic trading of Bitcoin as it was skyrocketing in value. When copying wallet addresses, double check and triple check that they are correct. If you make a mistake and enter an incorrect address, it is most likely your funds will be irretrievably lost; you will never see those particular assets again. Also check that you haven’t input the address of another one of your wallets that is designed to hold a different variety of cryptocurrency. You would similarly run the very great risk of losing your funds forever. Or, at the very least, if you have sent the wrong crypto to a large exchange wallet, for example on Coinbase, maybe you could eventually get those funds back, but it would still entail a long and unenjoyable wait. How to Monitor Funds There are two ways to monitor you funds and your wallets. The first is by searching for individual wallet addresses on websites specifically designed to let you view all the transactions on a particular Blockchain. The other is to store a copy of your wallet contents on an application that tracks the prices of all cryptocurrencies. Blockchain.info is the block explorer for Bitcoin, and it allows you to track all wallet movements so you can view your holdings and all the historical transactions within the wallet. The Ethereum blockchain’s block explorer is called Ether scanner, and it functions in the same way. There is a rival to Ether scanner produced by the Jibrel Network, called JSearch which will be released soon. JSearch will aim to offer a more streamlined and faster search method for Ethereum blockchain transactions. There are many different kinds of block explorer for each individual crypto currency, including nanoexplorer.io for Nano (formerly Rai Blocks) and Neotracker for NEO. If you simply want to view the value of your portfolio, the Delta and Blockfolio apps allow you to easily do that. But they are not actually linked to your specific wallet address, they just show price movements and total value of the coins you want to monitor. That’s not all! You can learn how to transfer and monitor the funds in and out of your wallet by clicking on the link. To be continued! UBAI.co Contact me via Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn to learn more about the best online education: LinkedInFacebookInstagram
InvestInBlockchain - Cryptocurrencies in the Top 100 With Working Products
📷 Bitcoin is the cryptocurrency that started it all back in 2009, after the global financial crisis and subsequent bailouts of banks left many people disenfranchised with fiat currency and outdated, insecure financial infrastructure. Today, Bitcoin is being used for peer-to-peer payments across the globe. More than that, though, it is leading the way towards a future in which financial technology is trustless, secure, resilient, and censorship resistant. Without Bitcoin, this list would not exist.
📷 The platform that brought smart contracts to the blockchain, spurring a minor revolution in the cryptocurrency ecosystem. Before Ethereum, Bitcoin and its transaction-oriented design was the central focus of most blockchain projects. After Ethereum, teams saw the value of decentralized apps (dapps) and smart contracts, and shifted their focus to compensate. Vitalik Buterin’s Ethereum whitepaper was released in late 2013. The project itself was announced January 2014, with a crowdsale the following July. The system officially went live in July 2015. Since then, hundreds of businesses, individuals, and blockchain projects have adopted Ethereum as their main smart contracts platform.
📷 Ripple is focused primarily on one thing: fast and cheap international transactions. Current banking infrastructure has failed to evolve in the 21st century, such that it still takes 3-5 business days on average for an international transfer to be processed. With just 4 second transaction times and at a fraction of the cost of a wire transfer, Ripple’s working product is already impacting the banking sector. The big knock against Ripple is that its native token, XRP, is completely unnecessary. Indeed, driving adoption of Ripple’s banking solutions is far easier than getting real-world adoption for XRP. If you’re interested in seeing a discussion about how XRP adoption will occur, you might find this reddit thread worth a read. Meanwhile, all of us will just have to wait and see whether XRP adoption strategies ultimately come to fruition.
Bitcoin Cash (BCH)
📷 Bitcoin Cash was created in 2017 when the first ever hard fork of the Bitcoin blockchain took place. The split was the result of Bitcoin’s 1MB blocks filling up. Transaction speeds were declining, fees were increasing, and it became clear to the community that the current model wasn’t sustainable for scaling. In a move that still causes cryptocurrency fights to this day, Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash soon emerged as separate but similar projects. BCH has 8x the block size of BTC, giving it roughly 8x the transaction throughput. Its fees and transaction times are much faster, as predicted. Learn more about Bitcoin vs Bitcoin Cash.
📷 The Stellar project and its associated Lumens (XLM) token was forked from the Ripple protocol in 2014. Stellar has come into its own since then, providing a blockchain connection service for fiat transactions between banks, payment systems, and people. Stellar is fast and reliable, and it works with practically no fees for the end-user. Stellar is a payments system, meaning its job is to move money as efficiently as possible. Partnerships with banks and financial institutions were key in evaluating its status, as was the ability to actually send money using the network. Several non-profits and commercial entities have agreed to use Stellar as part of their financial infrastructure. Recently, the team partnered with IBM and KlickEx to facilitate cross-border transactions in the South Pacific and announced an affiliate with Keybase to streamline international transactions. Stellar also has projects being builton its network by major established entities. IBM’s blockchain division is using XLM for their payments infrastructure, for example, and the Veridium startup is working with both organizations to tokenize its carbon credits market.
📷 Litecoin is a Bitcoin fork that was created in 2011 by Charlie Lee as a cheaper and faster (2.5 minute block time instead of 10) alternative to Bitcoin. This is accomplished predominantly because Litecoin uses a Scrypt hashing algorithm instead of the SHA-256 algorithm used by Bitcoin. It’s common to hear Litecoin called “digital silver” to Bitcoin’s “digital gold,” and in reality Litecoin does not really expand upon the functionality of Bitcoin in a significant way so much as it makes different tradeoffs. That being said, it does succeed in being cheaper and faster to use than BTC, which has led to it being accepted by hundreds of merchants and thus making Litecoin one of the most widely used cryptocurrencies for digital payments.
📷 Tether is an unusual project. Whereas most cryptocurrencies rise and fall in value, Tether was designed to stay the same, fixed at a 1:1 ratio with the U.S. dollar. This allows users to store, send, and receive digital currencies across platforms without incurring significant losses due to value fluctuations. The Tether stable coin sounds straightforward, but the project isn’t without controversy. USDT is supposedly backed by real USD sitting in a bank account. But in which account? Who controls it? And is Tether being used to manipulate the value of Bitcoin? It’s all part of the Tether controversy.
📷 Released in 2014 as a fork of Bytecoin, Monero has since made a name for itself as the most popular privacy coin on the market. Most cryptocurrencies offer little in the form of anonymity. Monero was built for privacy from the ground-up, featuring stealth addresses, ring signatures, and complete coin fungibility. All of this adds up to a near-perfect cloak of anonymity, allowing Monero users to conduct transactions without exposing their identity. Monero has had steady growth over the years thanks to a dedicated team of developers and an active community. The project continues to evolve with new privacy features and improved transaction security.
📷 NEO was founded in 2014 as one of the earliest smart contract platforms, giving it a wide breadth of possible functionality. The platform’s strongest use case is digitizing traditional assets so that they can be easily tracked and exchanged on the blockchain. NEO is also well-known as the “Chinese Ethereum,” and the fact that it is a Chinese-based project does seem to make Chinese dapp developers somewhat more likely to build on top of it than other platforms. In fact, NEO has already supported dozens of ICOs and remains one of the predominant platforms for supporting smart contracts and dapps.
Binance Coin (BNB)
📷 Binance Coin is an exchange token used to reduce trading fees on the Binance platform. Users can opt to pay exchange, listing, and withdrawal fees using BNB and enjoy as much as a 50% discount on all charges. This turns out to be a powerful incentive for purchasing and holding BNB, as what trader doesn’t enjoy saving money on transactions? Binance Coin is an ERC-20 token that runs on the Ethereum blockchain. Its purpose is extremely limited, but because such a vast number of Binance users transact with it every day, it qualifies as a working and active product.
📷 Zcash is another immensely popular privacy coin that often cracks the top 20 cryptocurrencies. It uses the tagline “internet money” and promises to fully protect the privacy of transactions with zero-knowledge cryptography. Zcash provides anonymity by shielding transactions on the blockchain, preventing anyone from seeing the sender, recipient, or value of each transaction. The technology is so effective the Ethereum team is investigating it to enable anonymous transactions on their network. Zcash has grown in leaps and bounds in 2018. The dev team published a roadmap through the year 2020, which includes a major features upgrade in the October 2018 Sapling release. Coinbase is also considering listing Zcash, which is a huge boost for any cryptocurrency.
📷 Qtum is a smart contracts platform similar to Ethereum, only with a stronger focus on value transfers and decentralized apps. It’s meant to be something of a hybrid between Bitcoin and Ethereum, allowing businesses to build smart contracts on the platform or just focus on cryptocurrency transactions. Qtum launched in March 2017, and dashed straight to the top. The initial offering sold over $10 million in tokens after just 90 minutes. The project differentiated itself by providing a rare Proof-of-Stake smart contracts platform designed to compensate for some of Ethereum’s shortcomings, including lack of compatibility for mobile devices. Qtum released its mainnet in September 2017, opening the doors to a fully functional smart contract and dapps platform. Several projects already have an established presenceon the network. One of the more exciting ones is Space Chain, which aims to create an open-source satellite network anyone can use for data transmission, storage, and development.
0x Protocol (ZRX)
📷 0x Protocol has one of the most important working products in the entire Ethereum ecosystem. It is a permissionless, open-source protocol that facilitates trustless exchanges of Ethereum tokens through relayers and dapps that build on top of the protocol. Not only has 0x been providing this functionality for over a year now, but they’ve been working to expand the protocol functionality significantly since that initial launch. In 0x protocol 2.0 and beyond, it will be possible to trade tokens built on standards besides ERC-20, including non-fungible ERC-721 tokens. In a market full of scams and vaporware, 0x’s valuable contributions to the Ethereum ecosystem have made it one of the best performing cryptocurrencies of 2018.
📷 Bytecoin is another popular privacy-focused cryptocurrency with a strong community and user base. Transactions on the Bytecoin blockchain are instantaneous, untraceable, unlinkabe, and resistant to blockchain analysis. Bytecoin has been around for a long time now, with contributions to the project beginning in 2012. However, that hasn’t stopped the project’s developers from continuously improving the product. The recently updated Bytecoin roadmap has a hard fork for a consensus update scheduled for August 31, as well as numerous initiatives for community growth constantly in the works.
📷 Founded in 2015 by former Bitcoin developers, Decred’s most important working product is its solution to Bitcoin’s biggest problem. No, not scalability… blockchain governance. You see, early Bitcoiners have been debating block size limitations and the efficacy of other scalability solutions like the Lightning Network for years, even though the problem of scalability really only became discussed in the mainstream in 2017. With its community-based governance model and strong adherence to the core ethos of decentralization, Decred is built to evolve and improve rapidly. That means that it’s equipped to handle not only the scalability problem today, but other big problems that might arise down the line. When you have poor governance, it is an arduous process making any upgrades to a project, no matter how necessary they may seem to the majority of coin holders. Decred’s best-in-class and still improving governance model give it an intriguing case to be a leader in digital payments for a long time to come.
📷 BitShares aims to improve worldwide access to financial services via blockchain. The tagline “assist the unbanked” summarizes the project nicely. In practice, this translates to BitShares operating as a decentralized exchange, one that was built from the ground-up to avoid scalability issues and keep transaction fees low. BitShares was launched in 2014 by Dan Larimer, who would then go on to take a lead development role in both EOS and Steem. The current state of the project offers decentralized asset exchange, price-stable cryptocurrencies, recurring and scheduled payments, user-issued assets, and more, all available through a decentralized system powered by delegated PoS consensus.
📷 Steem is the cryptocurrency that powers Steemit, a decentralized social media platform that incentivizes user participation through micropayments. Think of it like Reddit, only instead of just upvoting or downvoting posts, users can actually reward creators for their effort. Steem is a functional cryptocurrency used exclusively on the Steemit platform. That gives it something of a limited use, but seeing as how Steemit is live and boasts a few hundred thousand users, it’s hard to argue it isn’t a working product. Some people may even beearning money using Steemit.
📷 Siacoin is one of the leaders in decentralized cloud storage, a more secure and affordable alternative to centralized cloud storage solutions like Amazon S3, Google Drive, iCloud, Dropbox, and others. Sia 1.0 was launched in June 2016, and has achieved considerable adoption since then. With the $200 billion cloud storage market widely seen as one of the spaces most ripe for blockchain disruption, Sia has gotten off to a nice start by offering a functional decentralized cloud storage platform for over 2 years.
📷 Augur is one of the most recently launched products on this list. The platform mainnet went live in early July 2018, bringing to fruition almost 4 years of post-ICO work. Augur is a decentralized prediction market that uses game theory to generate crowd-sourced insights. Essentially, thousands of people working together have shown the remarkable ability to forecast outcomes. With Augur, users can put REP tokens as bets on these predictions, essentially creating a form of “useful social gambling.” Augur’s release was a long time coming. The project started as far back as 2014, nearly a year before the ICO. The creators cite the complexity of Augur’s smart contracts as the chief cause of the lengthy development time. Regardless of its past, Augur is now a live product with a bright future. Over 300 predictions have already been made, with the largest winning payout hitting $20,000. Betting volume even exceeded $1 million within the first weeks of launch.
Basic Attention Token (BAT)
📷 Basic Attention Token was one of the easiest projects to include on this list. That’s because its working product, Brave Browser, has more than 3 million active usersbetween its mobile and desktop platforms, making it one of the most widely-used working products in the blockchain space. Not only is Brave Browser functional, it’s the only browser on the market that has built-in ad-blocking and tracker blocking, making the browsing experience both cleaner and faster than what you get with other popular browsers like Chrome and Firefox. The future remains uncertain for the BAT token itself, as its adoption depends heavily on whether or not advertisers buy-in to the Brave model, as well as how willing Brave users are to be shown relevant ads and to pass along the BAT they earn to content publishers. Given Brave’s success in just a short time since being launched, though, the future does appear promising for BAT.
📷 Nano (formerly RaiBlocks) is all about scalability. The coin has nearly instant transactions with a completely fee-less structure. The platform accomplishes this by creating a unique blockchain for every account, preventing bloat and allowing for practically infinite scalability. Nano’s motto of “do one thing and do it well” has gotten them a long way. The team doesn’t have to deal with scaling or slowdown issues thanks to the underlying structure of the project, allowing its roadmap to focus on wallet updates and outreach. This is one cryptocurrency that’s essentially feature complete, and it has been for some time.
📷 Golem has set out to be the Airbnb of computing resources. Have you ever needed extra GPU power to finish up a render? How about processing scientific data similar to the [email protected] project? Even if you don’t have those needs, a lot of groups do. Golem aims to provide easy access to those resources, all of which are rentable for a small cryptocurrency fee. Golem hit the mainnet launch button in April 2018, and was met with a fair amount of fanfare. One of the main goals for the feature-incomplete launch was to push the product out so real users could put it to work. The team was interested in strengthening their interactions with end users to help guide the future of the platform. The team has several major milestones planned for the coming months, so the mainnet release is only just the beginning.
Pundi X (NPXS)
📷 Pundi X has been shooting up the market cap rankings so far in Q3 2018, and they also happen to have a working product that just recently became available to retailers. The primary Pundi X product is a point-of-sale (POS) device that enables quick and easy mobile transactions for both fiat and cryptocurrencies. 500 POS devices are already being used by retailers in Asia, and there are thousands more scheduled to be distributed in the coming months. In addition, Pundi X also offers XPASS cards, cryptocurrency credit cards that can work in place of mobile apps for making digital payments. What makes the Pundi X project noteworthy is that it enables consumers to pay retailers in cryptocurrencies like BTC and ETH, and it immediately converts the payments into local fiat currencies so that retailers don’t need to worry about price volatility of the cryptocurrencies. This makes it significantly easier for people to use cryptocurrencies in their daily lives, making Pundi X an exciting project for blockchain enthusiasts who are looking for signs of future mass adoption.
📷 Waves was the first ever blockchain platform that made it possible for anybody — regardless of their programming experience — to create blockchain tokens. Additionally, Waves has a decentralized exchange where tokens can be traded and exchanged with fiat currencies. Since the project’s first releases in 2016, Waves has gone on to make their DEX accessible from mobile phones and expanded its functionality significantly, while also building several strategic partnerships to help grow the Waves community and user base. Ultimately, though, the Waves Client is the project’s most important working product, as it is what allows tokens to be issued, stored, sent, and exchanged among users.
KuCoin Shares (KCS)
📷 Similar to Binance Coin, KuCoin Shares is an exchange token that can be used to pay reduced fees on cryptocurrency trades. KCS has the added bonus of paying dividends to long-term hodlers, as well, paying out a 5% ROI for most users. The nature of KuCoin Shares is one of the reasons the KuCoin exchange has gotten so much attention since it appeared on the scene. The tokens themselves are limited in scope, of course, but the sheer number of people using them for trades and buying them for passive income is enormous.
📷 Wanchain aims to build new and improved financial infrastructure to seamlessly connect the digital economy through blockchain interoperability. The use cases for Wanchain’s network are vast, and they include decentralized financial services, supply chain logistics, medical data sharing and security, digital ID management, and more. With the recently released Wanchain 2.0, it is now possible to transfer Ether cross-chain using Wanchain’s Ethereum Mapping Token, WETH. Ethereum interoperability is just the start, though, and it’s expected that cross-chain support for Bitcoin and a couple of ERC-20 tokens will follow before the end of 2018.
📷 Komodo is a fork of Zcash that uses the same zk-snark cryptography to hide information about transaction participants and amounts being sent. Functional privacy coins aren’t unique (there are a handful on this list) but Komodo does have some unique features. For one, Komodo was the first ever decentralized initial coin offering. Moreover, Komodo helps other developers to build their own customizable blockchain solutions, from building and securing independent blockchains and launching decentralized ICOs, to integrating projects into the cryptocurrency ecosystem. KMD would already qualify as a working product for its anonymity features on digital payments, but add the end-to-end blockchain building solution and it’s clear that Komodo is making meaningful contributions to the cryptocurrency ecosystem.
📷 Ardor is a scalable blockchain platform that allows businesses to create their own child chains and tokens with relative ease. This helps keep blockchain bloat to a minimum and provides multiple transactional tokens without sacrificing core chain transactions. It’s also a remarkably energy efficient platform that uses Proof-of-Stake to power consensus. Ardor launched its mainnet on January 1, 2018 after a full year in testnet status. Its core features are largely in place, with the roadmap set to improve things like scalability and snapshotting. The Blockchain-as-a-Service-platform hosts a few projects of its own, including the Ignis ICO, which was the first child chain on the mainnet.
Huobi Token (HT)
📷 Huobi is a digital asset exchange platform founded back in 2013, now offering well over 250 different trading pairs. The Huobi Token, meanwhile, is an ERC-20 token that is used on the exchange for discounts on trading fees of up to 50%. In addition, 20% of the income generated on the Huboi Pro trading platform is used to buy back HT on the open market. Unlike most buyback programs, the main purpose of Huobi’s program isn’t to reduce the circulating supply of HT. Rather, the HT that is bought back goes into a Huobi Investor Protection Fund, which is used to compensate Huobi users if they lose coins or tokens on the platform, as well as to ensure market stability and protect investor interests.
📷 ZenCash is yet another privacy coin with a working product in the Top 100, originally launched in the first half of 2017. What makes ZenCash unique is that it’s the first blockchain with Transport Layer Security (TLS) integration for node encryption, making communication on the ZenCash network both private and highly secure. Some other interesting parts of the ZenCash product include Tor nodes and built-in chat messaging services. In the future, the ZenCash team will deliver a DAO Treasury Protocol-level Voting System as well as a scalability solution to handle greater transaction volume.
📷 PIVX is another privacy coin that focuses on keeping users and their associated transactions hidden under a cloak of secrecy. The project also tries to keep transactions as fast and fee-less as possible, something not all privacy platforms can boast about. PIVX launched in January 2016. The coin is currently spendable and delivers the privacy features it promises, though it’s not yet a widely accepted currency by merchants. Future plans for PIVX include governance functions to engage the community, wallet voting, and its own zPIV decentralized exchange.
Kyber Network (KNC)
📷 Kyber Network launched their mainnet in Q1 2018, enabling instantaneous and secure inter-token settlements through a Decentralized Liquidity Network. It’s currently possible to swap ERC-20 tokens on the network with just a few mouse clicks, giving it some basic functionality that is already being used to improve liquidity for Ethereum tokens. In the future, however, Kyber Network will expand its functionality significantly in an effort to seamlessly connect dapps, DEXes, protocols, payment systems, token teams, investors, fund managers, and digital wallets.
📷 Bancor is a liquidity provider that enables users to exchange tokens without the need for a third-party to be involved in financing the transaction. Gaining liquidity is incredibly important for young cryptocurrency projects, as a lack of liquidity makes it risky for investors to buy a considerable amount of a given coin or token, knowing that it might be exceedingly difficult to sell should they wish to. Bancor’s technology makes it possible to convert one token to another, so that investors can be confident that they won’t be stuck involuntarily holding a cryptocurrency that they want to sell. This functionality makes the Bancor Liquidity Network one of the most promising working products on this list, and one that has already achieved a good deal of adoption.
Loom Network (LOOM)
📷 Loom Network is still less than a year old, having been founded in October 2017. However, they have accomplished a lot in that short time span, including having launched numerous tools to help software developers learn how to build blockchain solutions. The most important of these tools — and Loom’s biggest working product — is the Loom software development kit (SDK). However, Loom Network is far more than just a simple blockchain coding academy. It is also a production-ready scalability solution for Ethereum, as the Loom developer toolkit helps programmers to build highly scalable dapps which connect to the Ethereum blockchain through special side chains called DappChains. The project may still be in its infancy, but Loom Network is already contributing more utility to the cryptocurrency ecosystem than the vast majority of other cryptocurrency projects.
📷 Polymath wants to be the world’s go-to resource for security tokens on the blockchain. What Ethereum did for tokens, Polymath will do for securities. The advantages of this are enormous, but the Polymath team likes to point to 24/7 market access, the elimination of middlemen, and trading access for 2 billion unbanked people around the world as the chief benefits of their efforts. The Polymath platform launched in October 2017, and has since released a new security token every week, attracting investors and traders alike. It’s not as exciting of a project as some other blockchain tech, but it’s delivering on its promises with a working product.
Bibox Token (BIX)
📷 Bibox is a encrypted digital asset exchange whose primary differentiator from other crypto exchanges is that it integrates AI technology. The purpose of the AI is to help Bibox’s traders, which it does by providing quantitative computation and analysis of trading activity, personalized risk allocation strategy, speech recognition, and objective analysis of the various coins and tokens listed on the exchange. The Bibox exchange first launched back in November 2017. It has operation centers in the US, Canada, mainland China, Hong Kong, Japan, and Estonia. BIX token holders receive 20% of the exchange profits, and also get discounts on trading fees, similar to Binance. https://www.investinblockchain.com/top-cryptocurrencies-working-products/
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