Putting $400M of Bitcoin on your company balance sheet
Also posted on my blog as usual. Read it there if you can, there are footnotes and inlined plots. A couple of months ago, MicroStrategy (MSTR) had a spare $400M of cash which it decided to shift to Bitcoin (BTC). Today we'll discuss in excrutiating detail why this is not a good idea. When a company has a pile of spare money it doesn't know what to do with, it'll normally do buybacks or start paying dividends. That gives the money back to the shareholders, and from an economic perspective the money can get better invested in other more promising companies. If you have a huge pile of of cash, you probably should be doing other things than leave it in a bank account to gather dust. However, this statement from MicroStrategy CEO Michael Saylor exists to make it clear he's buying into BTC for all the wrong reasons:
“This is not a speculation, nor is it a hedge. This was a deliberate corporate strategy to adopt a bitcoin standard.”
Let's unpack it and jump into the economics Bitcoin:
Is Bitcoin money?
No. Or rather BTC doesn't act as money and there's no serious future path for BTC to become a form of money. Let's go back to basics. There are 3 main economic problems money solves: 1. Medium of Exchange. Before money we had to barter, which led to the double coincidence of wants problem. When everyone accepts the same money you can buy something from someone even if they don't like the stuff you own. As a medium of exchange, BTC is not good. There are significant transaction fees and transaction waiting times built-in to BTC and these worsen the more popular BTC get. You can test BTC's usefulness as a medium of exchange for yourself right now: try to order a pizza or to buy a random item with BTC. How many additional hurdles do you have to go through? How many fewer options do you have than if you used a regular currency? How much overhead (time, fees) is there? 2. Unit of Account. A unit of account is what you compare the value of objects against. We denominate BTC in terms of how many USD they're worth, so BTC is a unit of account presently. We can say it's because of lack of adoption, but really it's also because the market value of BTC is so volatile. If I buy a $1000 table today or in 2017, it's roughly a $1000 table. We can't say that a 0.4BTC table was a 0.4BTC table in 2017. We'll expand on this in the next point: 3. Store of Value. When you create economic value, you don't want to be forced to use up the value you created right away. For instance, if I fix your washing machine and you pay me in avocados, I'd be annoyed. I'd have to consume my payment before it becomes brown, squishy and disgusting. Avocado fruit is not good money because avocadoes loses value very fast. On the other hand, well-run currencies like the USD, GBP, CAD, EUR, etc. all lose their value at a low and most importantly fairly predictible rate. Let's look at the chart of the USD against BTC While the dollar loses value at a predictible rate, BTC is all over the place, which is bad. One important use money is to write loan contracts. Loans are great. They let people spend now against their future potential earnings, so they can buy houses or start businesses without first saving up for a decade. Loans are good for the economy. If you want to sign something that says "I owe you this much for that much time" then you need to be able to roughly predict the value of the debt in at the point in time where it's due. Otherwise you'll have a hard time pricing the risk of the loan effectively. This means that you need to charge higher interests. The risk of making a loan in BTC needs to be priced into the interest of a BTC-denominated loan, which means much higher interest rates. High interests on loans are bad, because buying houses and starting businesses are good things.
BTC has a fixed supply, so these problems are built in
Some people think that going back to a standard where our money was denominated by a stock of gold (the Gold Standard) would solve economic problems. This is nonsense. Having control over supply of your currency is a good thing, as long as it's well run. See here Remember that what is desirable is low variance in the value, not the value itself. When there are wild fluctuations in value, it's hard for money to do its job well. Since the 1970s, the USD has been a fiat money with no intrinsic value. This means we control the supply of money. Let's look at a classic poorly drawn econ101 graph The market price for USD is where supply meets demand. The problem with a currency based on an item whose supply is fixed is that the price will necessarily fluctuate in response to changes in demand. Imagine, if you will, that a pandemic strikes and that the demand for currency takes a sharp drop. The US imports less, people don't buy anything anymore, etc. If you can't print money, you get deflation, which is worsens everything. On the other hand, if you can make the money printers go brrrr you can stabilize the price Having your currency be based on a fixed supply isn't just bad because in/deflation is hard to control. It's also a national security risk... The story of the guy who crashed gold prices in North Africa In the 1200s, Mansa Munsa, the emperor of the Mali, was rich and a devout Muslim and wanted everyone to know it. So he embarked on a pilgrimage to make it rain all the way to Mecca. He in fact made it rain so hard he increased the overall supply of gold and unintentionally crashed gold prices in Cairo by 20%, wreaking an economic havoc in North Africa that lasted a decade. This story is fun, the larger point that having your inflation be at the mercy of foreign nations is an undesirable attribute in any currency. The US likes to call some countries currency manipulators, but this problem would be serious under a gold standard.
Currencies are based on trust
Since the USD is based on nothing except the US government's word, how can we trust USD not to be mismanaged? The answer is that you can probably trust the fed until political stooges get put in place. Currently, the US's central bank managing the USD, the Federal Reserve (the Fed for friends & family), has administrative authority. The fed can say "no" to dumb requests from the president. People who have no idea what the fed does like to chant "audit the fed", but the fed is already one of the best audited US federal entities. The transcripts of all their meetings are out in the open. As is their balance sheet, what they plan to do and why. If the US should audit anything it's the Department of Defense which operates without any accounting at all. It's easy to see when a central bank will go rogue: it's when political yes-men are elected to the board. For example, before printing themselves into hyperinflation, the Venezuelan president appointed a sociologist who publicly stated “Inflation does not exist in real life” and instead is a made up capitalist lie. Note what happened mere months after his gaining control over the Venezuelan currency This is a key policy. One paper I really like, Sargent (1984) "The end of 4 big inflations" states:
The essential measures that ended hyperinflation in each of Germany,Austria, Hungary, and Poland were, first, the creation of an independentcentral bank that was legally committed to refuse the government'sdemand or additional unsecured credit and, second, a simultaneousalteration in the fiscal policy regime.
In english: *hyperinflation stops when the central bank can say "no" to the government." The US Fed, like other well good central banks, is run by a bunch of nerds. When it prints money, even as aggressively as it has it does so for good reasons. You can see why they started printing on March 15th as the COVID lockdowns started:
The Federal Reserve is prepared to use its full range of tools to support the flow of credit to households and businesses and thereby promote its maximum employment and price stability goals.
In english: We're going to keep printing and lowering rates until jobs are back and inflation is under control. If we print until the sun is blotted out, we'll print in the shade.
BTC is not gold
Gold is a good asset for doomsday-preppers. If society crashes, gold will still have value. How do we know that? Gold has held value throughout multiple historic catastrophes over thousands of years. It had value before and after the Bronze Age Collapse, the Fall of the Western Roman Empire and Gengis Khan being Gengis Khan. Even if you erased humanity and started over, the new humans would still find gold to be economically valuable. When Europeans d̶i̶s̶c̶o̶v̶e̶r̶e̶d̶ c̶o̶n̶q̶u̶e̶r̶e̶d̶ g̶e̶n̶o̶c̶i̶d̶e̶d̶ went to America, they found gold to be an important item over there too. This is about equivalent to finding humans on Alpha-Centauri and learning that they think gold is a good store of value as well. Some people are puzzled at this: we don't even use gold for much! But it has great properties: First, gold is hard to fake and impossible to manufacture. This makes it good to ascertain payment. Second, gold doesnt react to oxygen, so it doesn't rust or tarnish. So it keeps value over time unlike most other materials. Last, gold is pretty. This might sound frivolous, and you may not like it, but jewelry has actual value to humans. It's no coincidence if you look at a list of the wealthiest families, a large number of them trade in luxury goods. To paraphrase Veblen humans have a profound desire to signal social status, for the same reason peacocks have unwieldy tails. Gold is a great way to achieve that. On the other hand, BTC lacks all these attributes. Its value is largely based on common perception of value. There are a few fundamental drivers of demand:
Means of Exchange: if people seriously start using BTC to buy pizzas, then this creates a real demand for the currency to accomplish the short-term exchanges. As we saw previously, I'm not personally sold on this one and it's currently a negligible fraction of overall demand.
Criminal uses: Probably the largest inbuilt advantage of BTC is that it's anonymous, and so a great way to launder money. Hacker gangs use BTC to demand ransom on cryptolocker type attacks because it's a shared way for an honest company to pay and for the criminals to receive money without going to jail.
Apart from these, it's hard to argue that BTC will retain value throughout some sort of economic catastrophe.
BTC is really risky
One last statement from Michael Saylor I take offense to is this:
“We feel pretty confident that Bitcoin is less risky than holding cash, less risky than holding gold,” MicroStrategy CEO said in an interview
"BTC is less risky than holding cash or gold long term" is nonsense. We saw before that BTC is more volatile on face value, and that as long as the Fed isn't run by spider monkeys stacked in a trench coat, the inflation is likely to be within reasonable bounds. But on top of this, BTC has Abrupt downside risks that normal currencies don't. Let's imagine a few:
A critical software vulnerability is found in the BTC codebase, leading to a possible exploitation.
Xi Jinping decides he's had enough of rich people in China hiding their assets from him and bans BTC.
Some form of bank run takes hold for whatever reason. Because BTC wallets are uninsured, unlike regular banks, this compounds into a Black Tuesday style crash.
Blockchain solutions are fundamentally inefficient
Blockchain was a genius idea. I still marvel at the initial white paper which is a great mix of economics and computer science. That said, blockchain solutions make large tradeoffs in design because they assume almost no trust between parties. This leads to intentionally wasteful designs on a massive scale. The main problem is that all transactions have to be validated by expensive computational operations and double checked by multiple parties. This means waste:
BTC was estimated to use as much electricity as Belgium in 2019. It's hard to trace where the BTC mining comes from, but we can assume it has a huge carbon footprint.
A single transactions is necessarily expensive. A single transaction takes as much electricity as 800,000 VISA transactions, or watching 50,000 hours of youtube videos.
There is a large necessary tax on the transaction, since those checking the transaction extract a few BTC from it to be incentivized to do the work of checking it.
Many design problems can be mitigated by various improvements over BTC, but it remains that a simple database always works better than a blockchain if you can trust the parties to the transaction.
There is a constant war being fought between goldbugs, like Peter Schiff, and Bitcoin enthusiasts so I decided to make an outline, with links, comparing and contrasting gold and Bitcoin. I made this in November of 2019 (thus the information therein is based on figures from that time) but, being scatter brained, neglected to post this for the Bitcoin community to see. The yardsticks I used to compare the two assets included the following: shipping/transactions costs, storage costs, censorship factor, settlement time, stock to flow, blockchain vs clearing house, validation, etc. I will also touch on Roosevelt's gold confiscation executive order in 1933, transporting gold during the Spanish Civil War in 1936, and the hypothetical cost for Venezuela to repatriate its gold more recently. I will provide a brief summary first then follow that with the outline I made. This information can be used as a tool for the Bitcoin community to combat some of the silly rhetoric coming from goldbugs such as Peter Schiff and James Rickards. I would like to make it clear, however, that I am not against gold and think that it performed its role as money very well in a technologically inferior era, namely Victorian times but I think Bitcoin performs the functions of money better than gold does in the current environment. I have been looking to make a contribution to the Bitcoin community and I hope this is a useful and educational tool for everyone who reads this. Summary: Shipping/transaction costs: 100 ounces of gold could be shipped for 315 dollars; the comparable dollar value in Bitcoin could be sent for 35 dollars using a non-segwit address. Using historical precendent, it would cost an estimated $32,997,989 to transport $1 billion in gold using the 3.3% fee that the Soviets charged the Spaniards in 1936; a $1 billion Bitcoin transaction moved for $690 last year by comparison. Please note that the only historic example we can provide for moving enormous sums of gold was when the government of Spain transported gold to Moscow during the Spanish Civil War in 1936. More information on this topic will be found in the notes section. Storage costs: 100 ounces of gold would require $451 per year to custody while the equivalent value of Bitcoin in dollar terms could be stored for the cost of a Ledger Nano S, $59.99. $1 billion USD value of gold would cost $2,900,000 per year while an Armory set up that is more secure would run you the cost of a laptop, $200-300. Censorship factor: Gold must pass through a 3rd party whenever it is shipped, whether for a transaction or for personal transportation. Gold will typically have to be declared and a customs duty may be imposed when crossing international borders. The key take-away is gatekeepers (customs) can halt movement of gold thus making transactions difficult. $46,000 of gold was seized in India despite the smugglers hiding it in their rectums. Settlement time: Shipping gold based on 100 ounces takes anywhere from 3-10 days while Bitcoin transactions clear in roughly 10 minutes depending on network congestion and fee size. Historic confiscation: Franklin Roosevelt confiscated and debased the paper value of gold in 1933 with Executive Order 6102. Since gold is physical in nature and value dense, it is often stored in custodial vaults like banks and so forth which act as a honeypot for rapacious governments. Stock to flow: Plan B's stock to flow model has become a favorite on twitter. Stock to flow measures the relationship between the total stock of an asset against the amount that is produced in a given year. Currently gold still has the highest value at 62 while Bitcoin sits at 50 in 2nd place. Bitcoin will overtake gold in 2024 after the next halving. Blockchain vs clearing house: gold payments historically passed through a 3rd party (clearinghouse) in order to be validated while Bitcoin transactions can be self validated through the use of a node. Key Takeaway from above- Bitcoin is vastly superior to gold in terms of cost, speed, and censorship resistance. One could theoretically carry around an enormous sum of Bitcoin on a cold card while the equivalent dollar value of gold would require a wheelbarrow...and create an enormous target on the back of the transporter. With the exception of the stock to flow ratio (which will flip in Bitcoin's favor soon), Bitcoin is superior to gold by all metrics covered. Notes: Shipping/transaction costs Gold 100 oz = 155,500. 45 x 7 = $315 to ship 100 oz gold. https://seekingalpha.com/instablog/839735-katchum/2547831-how-much-does-it-cost-to-ship-silver-and-gold https://www.coininvest.com/en/shipping-prices/ 211 tonnes Venezuela; 3.3% of $10.5 billion = 346,478,880 or 32,997,989/billion usd http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2011/08/23/how-to-get-12-billion-of-gold-to-venezuela/ (counter party risk; maduro; quotes from article) Bitcoin 18 bitcoin equivalent value; 35 USD with legacy address https://blockexplorer.com/ https://bitcoinfees.info/ 1 billion; $690 dollars https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2019/09/someone-moved-1-billion-in-a-single-bitcoin-transaction/ Storage costs Gold .29% annually; https://sdbullion.com/gold-silver-storage 100 oz – $451/year $1 billion USD value – $2,900,000/year Bitcoin Ledger Nano S - $59.00 (for less bitcoin) https://shop.ledger.com/products/ledger-nano-s/transparent?flow_country=USA&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI3ILV5O-Z5wIVTtbACh1zTAwqEAQYASABEgJ5SPD_BwE Armory - $200-300 cost of laptop for setup https://www.bitcoinarmory.com/ Censorship factor (must pass through 3rd party) Varies by country Gold will typically have to be declared and a customs duty may be imposed Key take-away is gatekeepers (customs) can halt movement of gold thus making transactions difficult $46,000 seized in India https://www.foxnews.com/travel/indian-airport-stops-29-passengers-smuggling-gold-in-their-rectums Settlement time Gold For 100 oz transaction by USPS 3-10 days (must pass through 3rd party) Bitcoin Roughly 10 minutes to be included in next block Historic confiscation-roosevelt 1933 Executive Order 6102 (forced spending, fed could ban cash, go through and get quotes) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Executive_Order_6102 “The stated reason for the order was that hard times had caused "hoarding" of gold, stalling economic growth and making the depression worse” Stock to flow; https://medium.com/@100trillionUSD/modeling-bitcoins-value-with-scarcity-91fa0fc03e25 (explain what it is and use charts in article) Gold; SF of 62 Bitcoin; SF of 25 but will double to 50 after May (and to 100 in four years) Blockchain vs clearing house Transactions can be validated by running a full node vs. third party settlement Validation Gold; https://www.goldismoney2.com/threads/cost-to-assay.6732/ (Read some responses) Bitcoin Cost of electricity to run a full node Breaking down Venezuela conundrum; http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2011/08/23/how-to-get-12-billion-of-gold-to-venezuela/ “The last (and only) known case of this kind of quantity of gold being transported across state lines took place almost exactly 75 years ago, in 1936, when the government of Spain removed 560 tons of gold from Madrid to Moscow as the armies of Francisco Franco approached. Most of the gold was exchanged for Russian weaponry, with the Soviet Union keeping 2.1% of the funds in the form of commissions and brokerage, and an additional 1.2% in the form of transport, deposit, melting, and refining expenses.” “Venezuela would need to transport the gold in several trips, traders said, since the high value of gold means it would be impossible to insure a single aircraft carrying 211 tonnes. It could take about 40 shipments to move the gold back to Caracas, traders estimated. “It’s going to be quite a task. Logistically, I’m not sure if the central bank realises the magnitude of the task ahead of them,” said one senior gold banker.” “So maybe Chávez intends to take matters into his own hands, and just sail the booty back to Venezuela on one of his own naval ships. Again, the theft risk is obvious — seamen can be greedy too — and this time there would be no insurance. Chávez is pretty crazy, but I don’t think he’d risk $12 billion that way.” “Which leaves one final alternative. Gold is fungible, and people are actually willing to pay a premium to buy gold which is sitting in the Bank of England’s ultra-secure vaults. So why bother transporting that gold at all? Venezuela could enter into an intercontinental repo transaction, where it sells its gold in the Bank of England to some counterparty, and then promises to buy it all back at a modest discount, on condition that it’s physically delivered to the Venezuelan central bank in Caracas. It would then be up to the counterparty to work out how to get 211 tons of gold to Caracas by a certain date. That gold could be sourced anywhere in the world, and transported in any conceivable manner — being much less predictable and transparent, those shipments would also be much harder to hijack. How much of a discount would a counterparty require to enter into this kind of transaction? Much more than 3.3%, is my guess. And again, it’s not entirely clear who would even be willing to entertain the idea. Glencore, perhaps?” “But here’s one last idea: why doesn’t Chávez crowdsource the problem? He could simply open a gold window at the Banco Central de Venezuela, where anybody at all could deliver standard gold bars. In return, the central bank would transfer to that person an equal number of gold bars in the custody of the Bank of England, plus a modest bounty of say 2% — that’s over $15,000 per 400-ounce bar, at current rates. It would take a little while, but eventually the gold would start trickling in: if you’re willing to pay a constant premium of 2% over the market price for a good, you can be sure that the good in question will ultimately find its way to your door. And the 2% cost of acquiring all that gold would surely be much lower than the cost of insuring and shipping it from England. It would be an elegant market-based solution to an artificial and ideologically-driven problem; I daresay Chávez might even chuckle at the irony of it. He’d just need to watch out for a rise in Andean banditry, as thieves tried to steal the bars on their disparate journeys into Venezuela.”
When we are faced with a new technology, we often look for analogies to understand and describe it. To bridge the knowledge gap, we seek analogies from the universe concepts familiar to us. In our search for the right analogies, we often risk misunderstanding this new technology. Blockchain technology has introduced a paradigm shift in the way we organize ourselves to generate, account for, transfer and store value. Yet, we are still in early stages of understanding its importance. In this post I will try to shed light on the top 5 major misconceptions about digital assets and about the open blockchain—a technology that underlies them. 1.Blockchain, not bitcoin This misconception stems from failing to realize why blockchain exists in the first place. In essence, blockchain is a shared ledger designed to function in an extremely hostile, open environment. It derives its value from the security of its tamper-proof records. In the blockchain networks powered by proof-of-work (PoW) algorithms, that security is achieved by miners competing to solve a computationally intensive puzzle. The miners do this with the expectation of receiving a digital token as a reward. This digital token can be freely redeemed for fiat currency to cover their operating costs and generate profits. These open systems are designed in such a way that value of their token ultimately dictates the level of security of their network. When we decouple the concept of blockchain from its underlying token, it simply wipes out most, if not the entire, value proposition the blockchain as a concept. Implementing blockchain as a token-less system of recordkeeping within a single company is perhaps the prime example of this misconception. Such an endeavor fails to use one of the most valuable properties of the open blockchain. Implementing a blockchain solution in such settings may even be counter-productive especially when better alternatives exist, in the form of databases with proper access control. Blockchain could be useful in a commercial setting where a consortium of companies decides to use a single ledger to keep track of important transactions. An example of such transactions could be shares of companies that are traded on Wall Street millions of times each day. These transactions are reconciled periodically between the financial institutions by a trusted third-party entity, which could be ultimately replaced by a blockchain-based protocol at a fraction of their cost. That said, these systems may never become as secure and tamper-proof as the open blockchain as the security of the network depends on the number of its minestaking nodes. 2.Exchange Hacks = Digital Assets Are Not Secure Centralized digital asset exchanges are popular avenues for exchanging digital assets for currencies such as USD or other digital assets. However, their design creates a system of incentives for external or internal actors to compromise them. When we hear about exchange hacks in the digital asset space, it almost always involves compromising the security of an entity that operates within the traditional server-client architecture. However, the mainstream consciousness conflates the digital exchange security with that of technology that underlies digital assets. Holding a digital asset in a cold storage is extremely secure. Holding it in an exchange is not. 3.Blockchain has low TPS, hence it will never compete with or replace traditional financial infrastructure Traditional financial systems process a vast number transactions every day. This transaction processing capacity is called throughput and is measured by a metric called transactions per second (TPS). Payment networks such as Visa claim to process up to 56,000 TPS, while traditional exchanges are likely to have much higher capacity to process transactions to accommodate high-frequency trading. Today, the Bitcoin network processes around 4-5 transactions per second while the second largest digital asset network—Ethereum processes around 15. If we compare the current state of the blockchain technology to the demands of the global financial industry, it is easy to see why such claims could be justified. However, this is a myopic view of this new technology, very much akin to the way Kodak dismissed digital cameras as a potential threat to its business model. It failed to recognize (i) the speed at which digital cameras would develop and (ii) the fundamental shift the digital cameras introduced in the way we take and store pictures, despite being the company that invented digital cameras in 1975. As the history shows, that was Kodak’s grave mistake. It is hard to ignore the historical parallels here. The digital asset space is evolving fast. The next-generation networks, which operate under the proof-of-stake consensus mechanism, preserve the securities of proof-of-work, but do away with its capacity limitations. A notable example of that is Cardano. These new networks also represent a shift in the global economic paradigm that many do not seem to notice. 4.Digital Assets Have No Intrinsic Value The concept of intrinsic value, or lack thereof, is often used to describe digital assets as a purely speculative asset class. While this may apply, with some justification, to digital assets which only claim to function as money, such claims fail to capture the wider nature of platform-based digital assets, which derive their value from the direct use of their networks. In digital asset platforms like Cardano or Algorand, the native token gives the holder the right to participate in the consensus of the network through the process of staking. The consensus mechanism secures the network, maintains the decentralized ledger, enables participation in the governance of the network and can sustain myriads of decentralized applications with real-world utilities. Put simply, digital tokens may derive their value from the economic activity that takes place on their networks. The economic activity on such networks, in turn depends on the security of the network, its technical capabilities, its transaction fees and the real-world utility of decentralized applications that reside on them. In that respect, they can be thought of as a new kind of financial instrument. The kind that seamlessly combines the properties of currencies, commodities, and shares of ownership into a single digital token. These new instruments require that we develop and apply new analytical frameworks to value them, much like the concepts of equities and derivatives did when they first emerged as new financial instruments. 5.Developed Economies Do Not Need Blockchain Technology Because They Have Well-Established Financial/Commercial Solutions. While it is easy to see how the blockchain technology could unlock a lot of value in the emerging markets, the idea that developed economies do not benefit from this technology is short-sighted. It is akin to saying that cell phones are a great technology for emerging markets, but developed markets already have land lines, hence do not need them. In a similar vein, we could argue that developed countries do not need internet because most of what internet could do already exists in analog form. We have to realize that (i) at its core, blockchain is a paradigm-shifting infrastructure/technology and (ii) despite its nascent stage, blockchain is extremely cost-effective… To a degree that it has the capacity to fundamentally disrupt a slew economic sectors out of existence, from banking to real estate, and create new ones. When we accept this eventuality, we will have to face some uncomfortable truths that many sectors will not exist in their current form or entirely disappear. Currently these sectors provide economic value, employment and generate taxes. If some blockchain-based solution is to replace them in 3-5 years, where would that value migrate? Losing them to open blockchain networks would not be acceptable politically or economically for many developed countries. One way out of this could be for developed countries to invest in national networks, allowing them to reap the benefits of this new technology, while retaining value from economic activity of their citizens and companies within their jurisdictions. Another, more realistic way, would be to invest heavily into friendly legal frameworks that would encourage both individuals and companies that would ultimately develop or maintain open blockchain protocols migrate to these jurisdictions, drawing in talent, capital and innovation. One thing is becoming increasingly clear: we can no longer ignore the elephant in the room. Much like digital cameras and internet itself, blockchain is unstoppable. 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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.
It is no doubt Grayscale’s booming popularity as a mainstream investment has caused a lot of community hullabaloo lately. As such, I felt it was worth making a FAQ regarding the topic. I’m looking to update this as needed and of course am open to suggestions / adding any questions. The goal is simply to have a thread we can link to anyone with questions on Grayscaleand its products. Instead of explaining the same thing 3 times a day, shoot those posters over to this thread.My hope is that these questions are answered in a fairly simple and easy to understand manner. I think as the sub grows it will be a nice reference point for newcomers. Disclaimer: I do NOT work for Grayscale and as such am basing all these answers on information that can be found on their website / reports. (Grayscale’s official FAQ can be found here). I also do NOT have a finance degree, I do NOT have a Series 6 / 7 / 140-whatever, and I do NOT work with investment products for my day job. I have an accounting background and work within the finance world so I have the general ‘business’ knowledge to put it all together, but this is all info determined in my best faith effort as a layman. The point being is this --- it is possible I may explain something wrong or missed the technical terms, and if that occurs I am more than happy to update anything that can be proven incorrect Everything below will be in reference to ETHE but will apply to GBTC as well.If those two segregate in any way, I will note that accordingly.
ETHE is essentially a stock that intends to loosely track the price of ETH. It does so by having each ETHE be backed by a specific amount of ETH that is held on chain. Initially, the newly minted ETHE can only be purchased by institutions and accredited investors directly from Grayscale. Once a year has passed (6 months for GBTC) it can then be listed on the OTCQX Best Market exchange for secondary trading. Once listed on OTCQX, anyone investor can purchase at this point. Additional information on ETHE can be found here.
So ETHE is an ETF?
No. For technical reasons beyond my personal understandings it is not labeled an ETF. I know it all flows back to the “Securities Act Rule 144”, but due to my limited knowledge on SEC regulations I don’t want to misspeak past that. If anyone is more knowledgeable on the subject I am happy to input their answer here.
How long has ETHE existed?
ETHE was formed 12/14/2017. GBTC was formed 9/25/2013.
How is ETHE created?
The trust will issue shares to “Authorized Participants” in groups of 100 shares (called baskets). Authorized Participants are the only persons that may place orders to create these baskets and they do it on behalf of the investor. Source: Creation and Redemption of Shares section on page 39 of the “Grayscale Ethereum Trust Annual Report (2019)” – Located Here Note – The way their reports word this makes it sound like there is an army of authorizers doing the dirty work, but in reality there is only one Authorized Participant. At this moment the “Genesis” company is the sole Authorized Participant. Genesis is owned by the “Digital Currency Group, Inc.” which is the parent company of Grayscale as well. (And to really go down the rabbit hole it looks like DCG is the parent company of CoinDesk and is “backing 150+ companies across 30 countries, including Coinbase, Ripple, and Chainalysis.”) Source: Digital Currency Group, Inc. informational section on page 77 of the “Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (BTC) Form 10-K (2019)” – Located Here Source: Barry E. Silbert informational section on page 75 of the “Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (BTC) Form 10-K (2019)” – Located Here
How does Grayscale acquire the ETH to collateralize the ETHE product?
An Investor may acquire ETHE by paying in cash or exchanging ETH already owned.
Cash: The investor pays the subscription amount in cash and the Authorized Participant will use that cash to purchase ETH.
ETH: The investor transfers the ETH to the Authorized Participant, which will contribute the ETH in-kind to the Trust.
Source: Creation and Redemption of Shares section on page 40 of the “Grayscale Ethereum Trust Annual Report (2019)” – Located Here
Where does Grayscale store their ETH? Does it have a specific wallet address we can follow?
ETH is stored with Coinbase Custody Trust Company, LLC. I am unaware of any specific address or set of addresses that can be used to verify the ETH is actually there. As an aside - I would actually love to see if anyone knows more about this as it’s something that’s sort of peaked my interest after being asked about it… I find it doubtful we can find that however. Source: Part C. Business Information, Item 8, subsection A. on page 16 of the “Grayscale Ethereum Trust Annual Report (2019)” – Located Here
Can ETHE be redeemed for ETH?
No, currently there is no way to give your shares of ETHE back to Grayscale to receive ETH back. The only method of getting back into ETH would be to sell your ETHE to someone else and then use those proceeds to buy ETH yourself. Source: Redemption Procedures on page 41 of the “Grayscale Ethereum Trust Annual Report (2019)” – Located Here
Why are they not redeeming shares?
I think the report summarizes it best:
Redemptions of Shares are currently not permitted and the Trust is unable to redeem Shares. Subject to receipt of regulatory approval from the SEC and approval by the Sponsor in its sole discretion, the Trust may in the future operate a redemption program. Because the Trust does not believe that the SEC would, at this time, entertain an application for the waiver of rules needed in order to operate an ongoing redemption program, the Trust currently has no intention of seeking regulatory approval from the SEC to operate an ongoing redemption program.
Source: Redemption Procedures on page 41 of the “Grayscale Ethereum Trust Annual Report (2019)” – Located Here
What is the fee structure?
ETHE has an annual fee of 2.5%. GBTC has an annual fee of 2.0%. Fees are paid by selling the underlying ETH / BTC collateralizing the asset. Source: ETHE’s informational page on Grayscale’s website - Located Here Source: Description of Trust on page 31 & 32 of the “Grayscale Ethereum Trust Annual Report (2019)” – Located Here
What is the ratio of ETH to ETHE?
At the time of posting (6/19/2020) each ETHE share is backed by .09391605 ETH. Each share of GBTC is backed by .00096038 BTC. ETHE & GBTC’s specific information page on Grayscale’s website updates the ratio daily – Located Here For a full historical look at this ratio, it can be found on the Grayscale home page on the upper right side if you go to Tax Documents > 2019 Tax Documents > Grayscale Ethereum Trust 2019 Tax Letter.
Why is the ratio not 1:1? Why is it always decreasing?
While I cannot say for certain why the initial distribution was not a 1:1 backing, it is more than likely to keep the price down and allow more investors a chance to purchase ETHE / GBTC. As noted above, fees are paid by selling off the ETH collateralizing ETHE. So this number will always be trending downward as time goes on. Source: Description of Trust on page 32 of the “Grayscale Ethereum Trust Annual Report (2019)” – Located Here
I keep hearing about how this is locked supply… explain?
As noted above, there is currently no redemption program for converting your ETHE back into ETH. This means that once an ETHE is issued, it will remain in circulation until a redemption program is formed --- something that doesn’t seem to be too urgent for the SEC or Grayscale at the moment. Tiny amounts will naturally be removed due to fees, but the bulk of the asset is in there for good. Knowing that ETHE cannot be taken back and destroyed at this time, the ETH collateralizing it will not be removed from the wallet for the foreseeable future. While it is not fully locked in the sense of say a totally lost key, it is not coming out any time soon. Per their annual statement:
The Trust’s ETH will be transferred out of the ETH Account only in the following circumstances: (i) transferred to pay the Sponsor’s Fee or any Additional Trust Expenses, (ii) distributed in connection with the redemption of Baskets (subject to the Trust’s obtaining regulatory approval from the SEC to operate an ongoing redemption program and the consent of the Sponsor), (iii) sold on an as-needed basis to pay Additional Trust Expenses or (iv) sold on behalf of the Trust in the event the Trust terminates and liquidates its assets or as otherwise required by law or regulation.
Source: Description of Trust on page 31 of the “Grayscale Ethereum Trust Annual Report (2019)” – Located Here
Grayscale now owns a huge chunk of both ETH and BTC’s supply… should we be worried about manipulation, a sell off to crash the market crash, a staking cartel?
First, it’s important to remember Grayscale is a lot more akin to an exchange then say an investment firm. Grayscale is working on behalf of its investors to create this product for investor control. Grayscale doesn’t ‘control’ the ETH it holds any more then Coinbase ‘controls’ the ETH in its hot wallet. (Note: There are likely some varying levels of control, but specific to this topic Grayscale cannot simply sell [legally, at least] the ETH by their own decision in the same manner Coinbase wouldn't be able to either.) That said, there shouldn’t be any worry in the short to medium time-frame. As noted above, Grayscale can’t really remove ETH other than for fees or termination of the product. At 2.5% a year, fees are noise in terms of volume. Grayscale seems to be the fastest growing product in the crypto space at the moment and termination of the product seems unlikely. IF redemptions were to happen tomorrow, it’s extremely unlikely we would see a mass exodus out of the product to redeem for ETH. And even if there was incentive to get back to ETH, the premium makes it so that it would be much more cost effective to just sell your ETHE on the secondary market and buy ETH yourself. Remember, any redemption is up to the investors and NOT something Grayscale has direct control over.
Yes, but what about [insert criminal act here]…
Alright, yes. Technically nothing is stopping Grayscale from selling all the ETH / BTC and running off to the Bahamas (Hawaii?). BUT there is no real reason for them to do so. Barry is an extremely public figure and it won’t be easy for him to get away with that. Grayscale’s Bitcoin Trust creates SEC reports weekly / bi-weekly and I’m sure given the sentiment towards crypto is being watched carefully. Plus, Grayscale is making tons of consistent revenue and thus has little to no incentive to give that up for a quick buck.
That’s a lot of ‘happy little feels’ Bob, is there even an independent audit or is this Tether 2.0?
Actually yes, an independent auditor report can be found in their annual reports. It is clearly aimed more towards the financial side and I doubt the auditors are crypto savants, but it is at least one extra set of eyes. Auditors are Friedman LLP – Auditor since 2015. Source: Independent Auditor Report starting on page 116 (of the PDF itself) of the “Grayscale Ethereum Trust Annual Report (2019)” – Located Here As mentioned by user TheCrpytosAndBloods (In Comments Below), a fun fact:
The company’s auditors Friedman LLP were also coincidentally TetheBitfinex’s auditors until They controversially parted ways in 2018 when the Tether controversy was at its height. I am not suggesting for one moment that there is anything shady about DCG - I just find it interesting it’s the same auditor.
“Grayscale sounds kind of lame” / “Not your keys not your crypto!” / “Why is anyone buying this, it sounds like a scam?”
Welp, for starters this honestly is not really a product aimed at the people likely to be reading this post. To each their own, but do remember just because something provides no value to you doesn’t mean it can’t provide value to someone else. That said some of the advertised benefits are as follows:
Access to trading within a tax advantaged retirement account
Institutions can easily and safely get exposure to crypto in a more legal-friendly manner
Ease of use for those who are not very technologically savvy
Ease of access for someone who doesn’t want to set up a Coinbase account
Perceived trust in institutional platforms over something like Coinbase or Kraken
Degen traders who just want access to the volatility ETHE provides that have no interest in crypto beyond that
So for example, I can set up an IRA at a brokerage account that has $0 trading fees. Then I can trade GBTC and ETHE all day without having to worry about tracking my taxes. All with the relative safety something like E-Trade provides over Binance. As for how it benefits the everyday ETH holder? I think the supply lock is a positive. I also think this product exposes the Ethereum ecosystem to people who otherwise wouldn’t know about it.
Why is there a premium? Why is ETHE’s premium so insanely high compared to GBTC’s premium?
There are a handful of theories of why a premium exists at all, some even mentioned in the annual report. The short list is as follows:
ETHE is NOT redeeming shares and as such doesn’t have an effective arbitrage mechanism
ETHE has a 1 year wait to be sold on the secondary market, again negating the ability to effectively arbitrage the premium
People may simply be willing to pay a premium for the benefits stated above.
Why is ETHE’s so much higher the GBTC’s? Again, a few thoughts:
ETHE hasn’t been around as long, so there is less secondary market supply to go around
ETHE was listed at an insanely high premium to begin with
ETHE might simply be more popular at the moment
Could just be sheer stupidity (investors think ETHE is a 1:1 ratio not 1:11)
Are there any other differences between ETHE and GBTC?
I touched on a few of the smaller differences, but one of the more interesting changes is GBTC is now a “SEC reporting company” as of January 2020. Which again goes beyond my scope of knowledge so I won’t comment on it too much… but the net result is GBTC is now putting out weekly / bi-weekly 8-K’s and annual 10-K’s. This means you can track GBTC that much easier at the moment as well as there is an extra layer of validity to the product IMO.
I’m looking for some statistics on ETHE… such as who is buying, how much is bought, etc?
There is a great Q1 2020 report I recommend you give a read that has a lot of cool graphs and data on the product. It’s a little GBTC centric, but there is some ETHE data as well. It can be found here hidden within the 8-K filings.Q1 2020 is the 4/16/2020 8-K filing. For those more into a GAAP style report see the 2019 annual 10-K of the same location.
Is Grayscale only just for BTC and ETH?
No, there are other products as well. In terms of a secondary market product, ETCG is the Ethereum Classic version of ETHE. Fun Fact – ETCG was actually put out to the secondary market first. It also has a 3% fee tied to it where 1% of it goes to some type of ETC development fund. In terms of institutional and accredited investors, there are a few ‘fan favorites’ such as Bitcoin Cash, Litcoin, Stellar, XRP, and Zcash. Something called Horizion (Backed by ZEN I guess? Idk to be honest what that is…). And a diversified Mutual Fund type fund that has a little bit of all of those. None of these products are available on the secondary market.
Are there alternatives to Grayscale?
I know they exist, but I don’t follow them. I’ll leave this as a “to be edited” section and will add as others comment on what they know. Per user Over-analyser (in comments below):
As asked by pegcity - Okay so I was under the impression you can just give them your own ETH and get ETHE, but do you get 11 ETHE per ETH or do you get the market value of ETH in USD worth of ETHE?
I have always understood that the ETHE issued directly through Grayscale is issued without the premium. As in, if I were to trade 1 ETH for ETHE I would get 11, not say only 2 or 3 because the secondary market premium is so high. And if I were paying cash only I would be paying the price to buy 1 ETH to get my 11 ETHE. Per page 39 of their annual statement, it reads as follows:
The Trust will issue Shares to Authorized Participants from time to time, but only in one or more Baskets (with a Basket being a block of 100 Shares). The Trust will not issue fractions of a Basket. The creation (and, should the Trust commence a redemption program, redemption) of Baskets will be made only in exchange for the delivery to the Trust, or the distribution by the Trust, of the number of whole and fractional ETH represented by each Basket being created (or, should the Trust commence a redemption program, redeemed), which is determined by dividing (x) the number of ETH owned by the Trust at 4:00 p.m., New York time, on the trade date of a creation or redemption order, after deducting the number of ETH representing the U.S. dollar value of accrued but unpaid fees and expenses of the Trust (converted using the ETH Index Price at such time, and carried to the eighth decimal place), by (y) the number of Shares outstanding at such time (with the quotient so obtained calculated to one one-hundred-millionth of one ETH (i.e., carried to the eighth decimal place)), and multiplying such quotient by 100 (the “Basket ETH Amount”). All questions as to the calculation of the Basket ETH Amount will be conclusively determined by the Sponsor and will be final and binding on all persons interested in the Trust. The Basket ETH Amount multiplied by the number of Baskets being created or redeemed is the “Total Basket ETH Amount.” The number of ETH represented by a Share will gradually decrease over time as the Trust’s ETH are used to pay the Trust’s expenses. Each Share represented approximately 0.0950 ETH and 0.0974 ETH as of December 31, 2019 and 2018, respectively.
Price fluctuations in the bitcoin spot rate on cryptocurrency exchanges are driven by many factors. Volatility is measured in traditional markets by the Volatility Index, also known as the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX). More recently, a volatility index for bitcoin has also become available. Known as the Bitcoin Volatility Index, it aims to track the volatility of the world's leading digital currency by market cap over various periods of time. Bitcoin's value has been historically quite volatile. In a three-month span from October of 2017 to January of 2018, for instance, the volatility of the price of bitcoin reached to nearly 8%. This is more than twice the volatility of bitcoin in the 30-day period ending January 15, 2020. But why is bitcoin so volatile? Here are just a few of the many factors behind bitcoin's volatility.
Bad News Hurts Adoption Rate
News events that scare bitcoin users include geopolitical events and statements by governments that bitcoin is likely to be regulated. Bitcoin's early adopters included several bad actors, producing headline news stories that produced fear in investors. Headline-making bitcoin news over the decade or so of the cryptocurrency's existence includes the bankruptcy of Mt. Gox in early 2014 and, more recently, that of the South Korean exchange Yapian Youbit. Other news stories which shocked investors include the high-profile use of bitcoin in drug transactions via Silk Road that ended with the FBI shutdown of the marketplace in October 2013. All these incidents and the public panic that ensued drove the value of bitcoins versus fiat currencies down rapidly. However, bitcoin-friendly investors viewed those events as evidence that the market was maturing, driving the value of bitcoins versus the dollar markedly back up in the short period immediately following the news events.
Bitcoin's Perceived Value Sways
One reason why bitcoin may fluctuate against fiat currencies is the perceived store of value versus the fiat currency. Bitcoin has properties that make it similar to gold. It is governed by a design decision by the developers of the core technology to limit its production to a fixed quantity of 21 million BTC. Since that differs markedly from fiat currency, which is dynamically managed by governments who want to maintain low inflation, high employment, and satisfactory growth through investment in capital resources, as economies built with fiat currencies show signs of strength or weakness, investors may allocate more or less of their assets into bitcoin.
Uncertainty of Future Bitcoin's Value
Bitcoin volatility is also driven in large part by varying perceptions of the intrinsic value of the cryptocurrency as a store of value and method of value transfer. A store of value is the function by which an asset can be useful in the future with some predictability. A store of value can be saved and exchanged for some good or service in the future. A method of value transfer is any object or concept used to transmit property in the form of assets from one party to another. Bitcoin’s volatility at the present makes it a somewhat unclear store of value, but it promises nearly frictionless value transfer. As a result, we see that bitcoin's value can swing based on news events much as we observe with fiat currencies.
Large Currency Holder Risks
Bitcoin volatility is also to an extent driven by holders of large proportions of the total outstanding float of the currency. For bitcoin investors with current holdings above around $10M, it is not clear how they would liquidate a position that large into a fiat position without severely moving the market. Indeed, it may not be clear how they would liquidate a position of that size in a short period of time at all, as most cryptocurrency exchanges impose 24-hour withdrawal limits far below that threshold. Bitcoin has not reached the mass market adoption rates that would be necessary to provide option value to large holders of the currency.
Security Breaches Cause Volatility
Bitcoin can also become volatile when the bitcoin community exposes security vulnerabilities in an effort to produce massive open source responses in the form of security fixes. This approach to security is paradoxically one that produces great outcomes, with many valuable open source software initiatives to its credit, including Linux. Bitcoin developers must reveal security concerns to the public in order to produce robust solutions. It was a hack that drove the Yapian Youbit to bankruptcy, while many other cryptocurrencies have also made headlines for being hacked or having stashes of cryptocurrencies stolen. As an early example, in April 2014, the OpenSSL vulnerabilities attacked by the Heartbleed bug and reported by Google security's, Neel Mehta, drove Bitcoin prices down by 10% in a month. Bitcoin and open source software development are built upon the same fundamental premise that a copy of the source code is available to users to examine. This concept makes it the responsibility of the community to voice concerns about the software design, just as it is the responsibility of the community to come to consensus about modifications to that underlying source code as well. Because of the open conversation and debate regarding the Bitcoin network, security breaches tend to be highly publicized.
High-Profile Losses Raise Fear
It is worth noting that the aforementioned thefts and the ensuing news about the losses had a double effect on volatility. They reduced the overall float of bitcoin, producing a potential lift on the value of the remaining bitcoin due to increased scarcity. However, overriding this lift was the negative effect of the news cycle that followed. Notably, other bitcoin gateways looked to the massive failure at Mt. Gox as a positive for the long term prospects of bitcoin, further complicating the already complex story behind the currency’s volatility. As early adopting firms were eliminated from the market due to poor management and dysfunctional processes, later entrants learn from their errors and build stronger processes into their own operations, strengthening the infrastructure of the cryptocurrency overall.
High-Inflation Nations and Bitcoins
Bitcoin’s use case as a currency for developing countries that are currently experiencing high inflation is valuable when considering the volatility of bitcoin in these economies versus the volatility of bitcoin in USD. Bitcoin is much more volatile versus USD than the high-inflation Argentine peso versus the USD. That being said, the near frictionless transfer of bitcoins across borders makes it a potentially highly attractive borrowing instrument for Argentineans, as the high inflation rate for peso-denominated loans potentially justifies taking on some intermediate currency volatility risk in a bitcoin-denominated loan funded outside Argentina. Similarly, funders outside Argentina can earn a higher return under this scheme than they can by using other debt instruments, denominated in their home currency, potentially offsetting some of the risks of exposure to the high inflation Argentine market.
Tax Treatment Lifts Volatility
According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), bitcoin is actually considered an asset for tax purposes. This has had a mixed impact on bitcoin's volatility. On the upside, any statement recognizing the currency has a positive effect on the market valuation of the currency. Conversely, the decision by the IRS to call it property had at least two negative effects. The first was the added complexity for users who want to use it as a form of payment. Under the new tax law, users would have to record the market value of the currency at the time of every transaction, no matter how small. This need for record keeping can understandably slow adoption as it seems to be too much trouble for what it is worth for many users. Secondly, the decision to call the currency a form of property for tax purposes may be a signal to some market participants that the IRS is preparing to enforce stronger regulations later. Very strong regulation of the currency could cause the adoption rate of the currency to slow to the point where it is not able to achieve the mass adoption that is critical for its overall utility in society. Recent moves by the IRS are not clear as to their signaling motives and therefore have mixed signals to the market for bitcoin.
Global internet / internet everywhere is being worked on with Space-x "StarLink", thousands of satellites connecting everyone globally to the internet. Therefore infrastructure for the digital currencies,
Too private makes it ideal for illegal activities. / Can't be controlled as easy, taxed as easy.
All of the above is a partial list of factors devaluing the Dollar and trust in it from several ways and views. At the end of the day it has a huge amount of enemies, that are all looking for ways to get out of it. Some of what I'm seeing personally.
Prices are outpacing wages.
Education is required for a good job vs how things used to be, jobs are getting more technical for same wage value.
Real Estate has been rapidly climbing in price, even homes that haven't been remodeled. A $80,000 home in my area is now $180k in the last 6-7 years. Wages haven't moved.
Rents have been climbing with the real estate prices.
Taxes have increased on said real estate
Insurance cost are up
Repair costs are up
It is a death spiral for the working person, where it used to be "No more than 30% of your wage going to housing" It is now well over 50%....Just look at this recent post in Frugalhttps://www.reddit.com/Frugal/comments/ifqah1/is_it_normal_for_a_third_to_a_half_of_you?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x&context=3 This death spiral I foresee getting worse. And historically any "tax" / regulation cost will just be passed down to the consumer in form of increased prices until people / businesses move elsewhere as we've seen in several cities around the US. So what can we do? Buy Gold! Silver! Bitcoin! Stocks! I hear people roar, They aren't exactly wrong as history shows... but have you considered the 30-40% tax on the "gain"? Even when that asset buys the same value before tax? What if the government makes it illegal like the 1933 order: 6102 Where you couldn't own gold for nearly 50 years? You're frozen out, or even out on taxes (which will likely be more strict and controlled later in time). I'd say Invest in things that will
Help you be independent
Can help you save
That you will use anyways in normal living
Things that can be productive not only for you, but for others $
Bonus points if its easy to trade off / has demand
Extra bonus if it is durable (lasts many years)
Helps your health
Metals are the next step when a person has plenty of the above. You get to a point where you have hundreds of thousands, if not millions that you need to condense into something real. It is all about the savings or productivity gain of the investment. For instance I would wager that many preppers have gotten more use / value out of a $800 clothes washer than a $800 rifle. (have you ever had to do manual laundry???) Sure the rifle will hold value...but it often doesn't pay you back with time / what it saved and / or what it has produced during its life unless you are using it. Same can be said of security cameras, a generator, a tractor, trailer, garden, tools, ect. Look at history even, in countries that have experienced hyperinflation people that already had tangibles they regularly use were way ahead. It could even be honey, a tool, extra maintenance parts, can of food, that bottle of medicine, a computer to keep your intel on point, (cough # PrepperIntel plug) use of your equipment to do or make something for someone. Real Estate is good too, it rides inflation well and has many ways of being productive. Your metals could be sitting there like the rifle, and could be subject to hot debate and laws. Meanwhile that garden is paying back, chainsaw is helping saw up wood, or your tractor is helping a job, your tools just helped you fix something / saved you much loss, Your security stopped a loss not by a person, but an random animal stealing things. Or that $25,000 solar array is paying you back by the day in spades...while making you independent...running all your tools you're using to make things to sell, and even heating / cooling some of the house with the extra juice while places around you experience rolling blackouts. You were even smart and took the current 24% tax benefit the government has saving you $5000 on it for batteries. Don't get me started if you have an electric vehicle with solar... I'm rambling at this point...and all those stealthy / direct and passive background savings...even if the crap doesn't hit the fan. So anyways, With out of control central banks and big governments, digital currencies, How do you think it will play out? Are we heading to dystopia?
The Next Crypto Wave: The Rise of Stablecoins and its Entry to the U.S. Dollar Market
Author: Christian Hsieh, CEO of Tokenomy This paper examines some explanations for the continual global market demand for the U.S. dollar, the rise of stablecoins, and the utility and opportunities that crypto dollars can offer to both the cryptocurrency and traditional markets. The U.S. dollar, dominant in world trade since the establishment of the 1944 Bretton Woods System, is unequivocally the world’s most demanded reserve currency. Today, more than 61% of foreign bank reserves and nearly 40% of the entire world’s debt is denominated in U.S. dollars1. However, there is a massive supply and demand imbalance in the U.S. dollar market. On the supply side, central banks throughout the world have implemented more than a decade-long accommodative monetary policy since the 2008 global financial crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic further exacerbated the need for central banks to provide necessary liquidity and keep staggering economies moving. While the Federal Reserve leads the effort of “money printing” and stimulus programs, the current money supply still cannot meet the constant high demand for the U.S. dollar2. Let us review some of the reasons for this constant dollar demand from a few economic fundamentals.
Demand for U.S. Dollars
Firstly, most of the world’s trade is denominated in U.S. dollars. Chief Economist of the IMF, Gita Gopinath, has compiled data reflecting that the U.S. dollar’s share of invoicing was 4.7 times larger than America’s share of the value of imports, and 3.1 times its share of world exports3. The U.S. dollar is the dominant “invoicing currency” in most developing countries4. https://preview.redd.it/d4xalwdyz8p51.png?width=535&format=png&auto=webp&s=9f0556c6aa6b29016c9b135f3279e8337dfee2a6 https://preview.redd.it/wucg40kzz8p51.png?width=653&format=png&auto=webp&s=71257fec29b43e0fc0df1bf04363717e3b52478f This U.S. dollar preference also directly impacts the world’s debt. According to the Bank of International Settlements, there is over $67 trillion in U.S. dollar denominated debt globally, and borrowing outside of the U.S. accounted for $12.5 trillion in Q1 20205. There is an immense demand for U.S. dollars every year just to service these dollar debts. The annual U.S. dollar buying demand is easily over $1 trillion assuming the borrowing cost is at 1.5% (1 year LIBOR + 1%) per year, a conservative estimate. https://preview.redd.it/6956j6f109p51.png?width=487&format=png&auto=webp&s=ccea257a4e9524c11df25737cac961308b542b69 Secondly, since the U.S. has a much stronger economy compared to its global peers, a higher return on investments draws U.S. dollar demand from everywhere in the world, to invest in companies both in the public and private markets. The U.S. hosts the largest stock markets in the world with more than $33 trillion in public market capitalization (combined both NYSE and NASDAQ)6. For the private market, North America’s total share is well over 60% of the $6.5 trillion global assets under management across private equity, real assets, and private debt investments7. The demand for higher quality investments extends to the fixed income market as well. As countries like Japan and Switzerland currently have negative-yielding interest rates8, fixed income investors’ quest for yield in the developed economies leads them back to the U.S. debt market. As of July 2020, there are $15 trillion worth of negative-yielding debt securities globally (see chart). In comparison, the positive, low-yielding U.S. debt remains a sound fixed income strategy for conservative investors in uncertain market conditions. Source: Bloomberg Last, but not least, there are many developing economies experiencing failing monetary policies, where hyperinflation has become a real national disaster. A classic example is Venezuela, where the currency Bolivar became practically worthless as the inflation rate skyrocketed to 10,000,000% in 20199. The recent Beirut port explosion in Lebanon caused a sudden economic meltdown and compounded its already troubled financial market, where inflation has soared to over 112% year on year10. For citizens living in unstable regions such as these, the only reliable store of value is the U.S. dollar. According to the Chainalysis 2020 Geography of Cryptocurrency Report, Venezuela has become one of the most active cryptocurrency trading countries11. The demand for cryptocurrency surges as a flight to safety mentality drives Venezuelans to acquire U.S. dollars to preserve savings that they might otherwise lose. The growth for cryptocurrency activities in those regions is fueled by these desperate citizens using cryptocurrencies as rails to access the U.S. dollar, on top of acquiring actual Bitcoin or other underlying crypto assets.
The Rise of Crypto Dollars
Due to the highly volatile nature of cryptocurrencies, USD stablecoin, a crypto-powered blockchain token that pegs its value to the U.S. dollar, was introduced to provide stable dollar exposure in the crypto trading sphere. Tether is the first of its kind. Issued in 2014 on the bitcoin blockchain (Omni layer protocol), under the token symbol USDT, it attempts to provide crypto traders with a stable settlement currency while they trade in and out of various crypto assets. The reason behind the stablecoin creation was to address the inefficient and burdensome aspects of having to move fiat U.S. dollars between the legacy banking system and crypto exchanges. Because one USDT is theoretically backed by one U.S. dollar, traders can use USDT to trade and settle to fiat dollars. It was not until 2017 that the majority of traders seemed to realize Tether’s intended utility and started using it widely. As of April 2019, USDT trading volume started exceeding the trading volume of bitcoina12, and it now dominates the crypto trading sphere with over $50 billion average daily trading volume13. https://preview.redd.it/3vq7v1jg09p51.png?width=700&format=png&auto=webp&s=46f11b5f5245a8c335ccc60432873e9bad2eb1e1 An interesting aspect of USDT is that although the claimed 1:1 backing with U.S. dollar collateral is in question, and the Tether company is in reality running fractional reserves through a loose offshore corporate structure, Tether’s trading volume and adoption continues to grow rapidly14. Perhaps in comparison to fiat U.S. dollars, which is not really backed by anything, Tether still has cash equivalents in reserves and crypto traders favor its liquidity and convenience over its lack of legitimacy. For those who are concerned about Tether’s solvency, they can now purchase credit default swaps for downside protection15. On the other hand, USDC, the more compliant contender, takes a distant second spot with total coin circulation of $1.8 billion, versus USDT at $14.5 billion (at the time of publication). It is still too early to tell who is the ultimate leader in the stablecoin arena, as more and more stablecoins are launching to offer various functions and supporting mechanisms. There are three main categories of stablecoin: fiat-backed, crypto-collateralized, and non-collateralized algorithm based stablecoins. Most of these are still at an experimental phase, and readers can learn more about them here. With the continuous innovation of stablecoin development, the utility stablecoins provide in the overall crypto market will become more apparent.
In addition to trade settlement, stablecoins can be applied in many other areas. Cross-border payments and remittances is an inefficient market that desperately needs innovation. In 2020, the average cost of sending money across the world is around 7%16, and it takes days to settle. The World Bank aims to reduce remittance fees to 3% by 2030. With the implementation of blockchain technology, this cost could be further reduced close to zero. J.P. Morgan, the largest bank in the U.S., has created an Interbank Information Network (IIN) with 416 global Institutions to transform the speed of payment flows through its own JPM Coin, another type of crypto dollar17. Although people argue that JPM Coin is not considered a cryptocurrency as it cannot trade openly on a public blockchain, it is by far the largest scale experiment with all the institutional participants trading within the “permissioned” blockchain. It might be more accurate to refer to it as the use of distributed ledger technology (DLT) instead of “blockchain” in this context. Nevertheless, we should keep in mind that as J.P. Morgan currently moves $6 trillion U.S. dollars per day18, the scale of this experiment would create a considerable impact in the international payment and remittance market if it were successful. Potentially the day will come when regulated crypto exchanges become participants of IIN, and the link between public and private crypto assets can be instantly connected, unlocking greater possibilities in blockchain applications. Many central banks are also in talks about developing their own central bank digital currency (CBDC). Although this idea was not new, the discussion was brought to the forefront due to Facebook’s aggressive Libra project announcement in June 2019 and the public attention that followed. As of July 2020, at least 36 central banks have published some sort of CBDC framework. While each nation has a slightly different motivation behind its currency digitization initiative, ranging from payment safety, transaction efficiency, easy monetary implementation, or financial inclusion, these central banks are committed to deploying a new digital payment infrastructure. When it comes to the technical architectures, research from BIS indicates that most of the current proofs-of-concept tend to be based upon distributed ledger technology (permissioned blockchain)19. https://preview.redd.it/lgb1f2rw19p51.png?width=700&format=png&auto=webp&s=040bb0deed0499df6bf08a072fd7c4a442a826a0 These institutional experiments are laying an essential foundation for an improved global payment infrastructure, where instant and frictionless cross-border settlements can take place with minimal costs. Of course, the interoperability of private DLT tokens and public blockchain stablecoins has yet to be explored, but the innovation with both public and private blockchain efforts could eventually merge. This was highlighted recently by the Governor of the Bank of England who stated that “stablecoins and CBDC could sit alongside each other20”. One thing for certain is that crypto dollars (or other fiat-linked digital currencies) are going to play a significant role in our future economy.
There is never a dull moment in the crypto sector. The industry narratives constantly shift as innovation continues to evolve. Twelve years since its inception, Bitcoin has evolved from an abstract subject to a familiar concept. Its role as a secured, scarce, decentralized digital store of value has continued to gain acceptance, and it is well on its way to becoming an investable asset class as a portfolio hedge against asset price inflation and fiat currency depreciation.Stablecoins have proven to be useful as proxy dollars in the crypto world, similar to how dollars are essential in the traditional world. It is only a matter of time before stablecoins or private digital tokens dominate the cross-border payments and global remittances industry. There are no shortages of hypes and experiments that draw new participants into the crypto space, such as smart contracts, new blockchains, ICOs, tokenization of things, or the most recent trends on DeFi tokens. These projects highlight the possibilities for a much more robust digital future, but the market also needs time to test and adopt. A reliable digital payment infrastructure must be built first in order to allow these experiments to flourish. In this paper we examined the historical background and economic reasons for the U.S. dollar’s dominance in the world, and the probable conclusion is that the demand for U.S. dollars will likely continue, especially in the middle of a global pandemic, accompanied by a worldwide economic slowdown. The current monetary system is far from perfect, but there are no better alternatives for replacement at least in the near term. Incremental improvements are being made in both the public and private sectors, and stablecoins have a definite role to play in both the traditional and the new crypto world. Thank you. Reference:  How the US dollar became the world’s reserve currency, Investopedia  The dollar is in high demand, prone to dangerous appreciation, The Economist  Dollar dominance in trade and finance, Gita Gopinath  Global trades dependence on dollars, The Economist & IMF working papers  Total credit to non-bank borrowers by currency of denomination, BIS  Biggest stock exchanges in the world, Business Insider  McKinsey Global Private Market Review 2020, McKinsey & Company  Central banks current interest rates, Global Rates  Venezuela hyperinflation hits 10 million percent, CNBC  Lebanon inflation crisis, Reuters  Venezuela cryptocurrency market, Chainalysis  The most used cryptocurrency isn’t Bitcoin, Bloomberg  Trading volume of all crypto assets, coinmarketcap.com  Tether US dollar peg is no longer credible, Forbes  New crypto derivatives let you bet on (or against) Tether’s solvency, Coindesk  Remittance Price Worldwide, The World Bank  Interbank Information Network, J.P. Morgan  Jamie Dimon interview, CBS News  Rise of the central bank digital currency, BIS  Speech by Andrew Bailey, 3 September 2020, Bank of England
Hey nerds, Duncan here. You might remember me from last week's DD, in which I argued that a company whose entire business model consists of exploiting the poor is worthy of your totally un-earned NEET bux. In today's not financial advice we are going to talk about the currency without a state, the oldest medium of trade, Scrooge McDuck's drug of choice...I'm talking about gold. Now, there is a reason that commercial advertisements for gold target demographics that we will generously call "unsophisticated". Gold is perfect for short term thinkers/investors because doesn't actually grow in the long term the way equities or bonds do. But to understand the powerful short term play I'm talking about, we need to understand the role gold actually plays in the international monetary system. After WW2, the Allied powers got together and realized that they needed a way to avoid the hyperinflation of 1930's Germany which had led to the war. In order to ensure currency stability the entire world agreed to peg their currencies to USD. And USD would be backed by gold. If one of the currencies was too much in demand, threatening the carefully managed exchange rates, than the IMF would step in and pump or dump the currency until it returned to the right exchange rate. That system worked great until around 1971, when Nixon lost tons of the government's tendies napalming rice paddies. The US government paid for the war with debt, and by 1971, Nixon was afraid of actually getting margin called. So he, with no notice to anyone, announced that the US dollar was no longer backed by gold. Suddenly it was a free for all. The US economy was hit with both high unemployment and high inflation, other currencies floated all over the place. Basically, it was the chaos we have today. So Duncan, you might ask, does anyone buy gold today? Well, almost every central bank in the world continues to hold gold, and lots of it. The reason they do so is the same reason almost all historic currencies were based on gold: that because gold can't easily be printed, it can't be easily be manipulated, and it can't easily be degraded or destroyed. In fact, it's perks strongly parallel those of Bitcoin. In the event of a crisis, a country can liquidate its gold reserves for more currency. This is especially helpful when a reserve currency, or the native currency is in trouble. For example, we see Venezuela, whose own currency is totally worthless, USD reserves are useless due to sactions, and therefore it has turned to its gold reserves to pay for imports of food and medicine. Gold's reputation as a systemic-risk hedge is so great, that in times of market instability or crisis, it actually assumes a negative beta. That is, it moves opposite equities. However because it is an almost fixed quantity asset, it also changes value against other currencies. So, when we have our friend Jerome running his printer like crazy, increasing the money supply at an unprecedented rate, he should be increasing the price of gold, or rather, making the USD/Gold exchange rate higher. In fact, we see that around late 2018 the trump tax cut began to pump more liquidity into an already hot economy, starting a USD/Gold price increase. Likewise, as the world economies look more and more risky, and the world's reserve currency's M2 expands faster than Boogie2988 after a breakup; we should see central banks continue to purchase gold as a hedge against continued economic instability. The Fed has made it clear, that it will do everything possible to avoid deflation. However, after 10 years of historically low interest rates and at times QE, consumers simply have not seen wages or prices increase significantly. So where has that steadily increasing money supply gone? Well, the answer appears to be that some assets are experiencing inflation: Financial instruments, urban housing, medical care, and college tuition--anything that can be funded through cheap debt--have taken the brunt of inflation. Meanwhile the average American consumer can't even find 4 hundred dollar bills to rub together in an emergency. So we can be almost certain that the Fed will keep printing, in the misguided belief that its freshly minted money will eventually trickle down to the American consumer, but in the process the Fed will raise the price of stocks, bonds, houses, colleges, medicine, and most importantly gold. As we have discussed, gold is good for two things: hedging inflation, and reducing systematic risk. And right now, both of those traits are looking very, very valuable. Edit: Since every post I get accused of pump and dump, I will disclose my current related positions: UGLD, and about 1-1.5 oz of physical gold. I include an option recommendation for the algos, but honestly, if you don't know how to gain exposure to gold, this post probably won't help you. 8/1 180c GLD
Written bySatoshisAngels Published by read.cash On August 5th 2020, Satoshi’s Angels hosted an AMA for CoinEx on “How BCH and Avalanche Are Bringing Financial Freedom to 6 Billion People” on a Chinese platform Bihu. During the 100-minute event, Haipo Yang of ViaBTC and CoinEx, and Emin Gun Sirer of AVA Labs shared their in-depth views on such topics as different consensus mechanisms, community governance, IPFS, Defi. And Haipo explained why he wants to fork BCH. This is the full text. You can check out the full AMA here (mostly in Chinese with some English translation). https://preview.redd.it/x790bw58axf51.png?width=1920&format=png&auto=webp&s=03c8af942f8f14d98d5dd693adf9e2a50448d61d Cindy Wang (Satoshi’s Angels): There are news saying that you are to fork BCH. Is it a marketing makeover? Are you serious about it? Haipo Yang: It’s definitely not a marketing makeover. But the details are not decided yet. Over the past three years, the BCH community has gone through multiple discussions from reducing block time, changing mining algorithms, adding smart contracts, etc. But none of these disputes have been well settled. BCH is a big failure in terms of governance. A lack of good governance has made it fall in disorder. It is too decentralized to make progress. You may know that the first BCH block was mined by ViaBTC. And we gave a lot of support to it indeed. But we didn’t dominate the fork. The Chinese community in particular thought I had a lot of influence, but it was not true. I think the whole community is very dissatisfied with Bitcoin ABC, but it is difficult to replace them or change the status quo. So I am thinking of creating a new branch of BCH. The idea is still in early stage. I welcome anyone interested to participate and discuss it with me. Wang: Professor Emin, what’s your attitude to fork? Do you think it’s a good timing to fork BCH? Emin Gun Sirer: I am a big fan of BCH. It adheres to the original vision of Satoshi Nakamoto. I like the technical roadmap of BCH. But just like what Haipo mentioned, BCH lacks a good governance mechanism. There are always something that can cause BCH community to divide itself. But I think it’s not enough to just have a good governance mechanism. There are many good proposals in the community but failed to be adopted in the end. I think BCH needs social leadership to encourage discussion when there are new proposals. Wang: We are all curious to know How Avalanche got its name? I know that Avalanche doesn’t mean well in Chinese. But in English, it’s a very powerful word. Avalanche represents a series of algorithms piling together like a mountain. When decisions slowly form, the ball (nodes in the network) on top of the mountain starts going down the hill on one side, and it gets bigger and bigger, and like an avalanche and it becomes unstoppable, making the transaction final. Wang: Prof. Emin, I know that you are a big blocker. Have you ever considered implementing Avalanche based on BCH? Why create another chain? Sirer: Of course I considered that. Satoshi Nakamoto consensus is wonderful, but the proof-of-work mechanism and Nakamoto consensus base protocols have some shortcomings, such as network latency, and it is hard to scale. Avalanche, instead, is totally different, and is the new biggest breakthrough in the past 45 years. It is flexible, fast, and scalable. I’d love to implement BCH on top of avalanche in the future, to make BCH even better by making 0-conf transactions much more secure. Wang: As an old miner, why did CoinEx Chain choose to “abandon” POW, and turn to POS mechanism? Haipo: Both POW and POS consensus algorithms have their own advantages. POW is not just a consensus algorithm, but also a more transparent and open distribution method of digital currency. Anyone can participate in it through mining. POW is fairer. For a POS-based network, participants must have coins. For example, you need to invest ICO projects to obtain coins. But developers can get a lot of coins almost for free. In addition, POW is more open. Anyone can participate without holding tokens. For example, as long as you have a computer and mining rigs, you can participate in mining. Openness and fairness are two great features of POW. POS is more advanced, safe and efficient. POS is jointly maintained by the token holders, and there is no problem of 51% attacks. Those who hold tokens are more inclined to protect the network than to destroy the network for their own interests. To disrupt the network, you need to buy at least two-thirds of the token, which is very difficult to achieve. And when you actually hold so many coins, it’s barely possible for you to destroy the network. POW has the problem of 51% attack. For example, ETC just suffered the 51% attack on August 3. And the cost to do that is very low. It can be reorganized with only tens of thousands of dollars. This is also a defect of POW. In addition, in terms of TPS and block speed, POS can achieve second-level speed and higher TPS. Therefore, CoinEx Chain chose POS because it can bring a faster transaction experience. This is very important for decentralized exchanges. Both POW and POS have their own advantages. It’s a matter of personal choice. When choosing a consensus mechanism, the choice must be made according to the characteristics of the specific project. https://preview.redd.it/upbayijaaxf51.jpg?width=1055&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=703e3b6a493a76f86bc9045e784d174bde9d3c42 Wang: Ethereum is switching to ETH 2.0. If they succeed, do you think it will lead the next bull market? Sirer: If Ethereum 2.0 can be realized, it must be a huge success. But I doubt it can be launched anytime soon considering that it has been constantly delayed. And even if it comes out, I am not so sure if it will address the core scaling problem. And the main technology in Ethereum 2.0 is sharding. Sharding technology divides the Ethereum networks into small parallel groups, but I think what will happen is everyone wants to be in the same “shard” so the sharding advantages might not be realizable in Ethereum 2.0. Avalanche supports Ethereum’s virtual machine, and Avalanche can realize 1 second level confirmation, while with sharding finalizing confirmation takes 5–6 seconds at best. Avalanche approach to make Ethereum scale is superior to Ethereum 2.0. There are many big players behind Ethereum 2.0, and I wish them success. But I believe that Avalanche will be the fastest and best Smart Contract platform in the crypto space, and it is compatible with Ethereum. Wang: Why is Avalanche a real breakthrough？ Sirer: Avalanche is fundamentally different from previous consensus mechanisms. It’s very fast with TPS surpasses 6500, which is three times that of VISA. Six confirmations can be achieved in one second. Compared with the POW mechanism of Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash, Avalanche’s participation threshold is very low. It allows multiple virtual machines to be built on the Avalanche protocol. Avalanche is not created to compete with Bitcoin or fiat currencies such as the US dollar and RMB. It’s not made to compete with Ethereum, which is defined as the “world’s computer”. Avalanche is positioned to be an asset issuance platform to tokenize assets in the real world. Wang: How do you rank the importance of community, development, governance, and technology to a public chain? Sirer: These four are like the legs of a table. Every foot is very important. The table cannot stand without strong support. A good community needs to be open to welcome developers and people. Good governance is especially important, to figure out what users need and respect their voices. Development needs to be decentralized. Avalanche has developers all over the world. And it has big companies building on top of Avalanche. Yang: From a long-term perspective, I think governance is the most important thing, which is the same as running a company. In the long run, technology is not important. Blockchain technology is developed based on an open source softwares that are free to the community. Community is also not the most important factor. I think the most important thing is governance. Decentralization is more about technical. For example, Bitcoin, through a decentralized network method, ensures the openness and transparency of data assets, and the data on the chain cannot be tampered with, ensuring that the total amount of coins has a fixed upper limit. But at the governance level, all coins are centralized at some degree. For example, BCH developers can decide to modify the protocol. In a sense, it is the same as managing a company. Historically, the reasons for the success and failure of companies all stem from bad governance. For example, Apple succeeded based on Steve Jobs’s charisma, leadership and the pursuit of user experience. When Jobs was kicked out, Apple suffered great losses. After Jobs returned, he made Apple great again. Issues behind Bitmain is also about governance. Simply put, governance requires leaders who have a longer-term vision and are more capable of coordinating and balancing the resources and interests of all parties to lead the community. In the blockchain world, many people focus on technology. In fact, technology is not enough to make great products. User experience is most important. Users don’t care about the blockchain technology itself, but more concerned about whether it is easy to use and whether it can solve my problem. We need to figure out how to deliver a product like Apple. The pursuit of user experience is also governance in nature. And governance itself lies in the soul of key leaders in the community. Realize tokenization of assets in. https://preview.redd.it/14jf1bvcaxf51.jpg?width=1082&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=c312912142c38de986f42912086e205354162190 Wang: Speaking of asset tokenization, I would like to ask Haipo, do you think the market for assets on the chain is big? Yang: It must be very big. We need to see which assets can be tokenized. Assets that can be tokenized are standardized assets, sush as currencies and securities.
In terms of currency, Tether has issued over 10 billion U.S. dollars. Many people think that’s too much. But I think this market is underestimated. The market for stablecoins in the future must be hundreds of billions or even trillions, especially after the release of Facebook’s Libra. Even US dollar might be issued based on the blockchain in the future.
At present, the settlement of USD currency is through the SWIFT system. But the SWIFT system itself is only a clearing network, a messaging system, not a settlement network. It takes a long time for clearing and settlement, and it is not reliable. But both USDT and USDC can quickly realize cross-border transfers in seconds and realize asset delivery. Even sovereign currencies are likely to be issued on the blockchain. I believe RMB also has such a plan.
Equity and securities markets are the largest market. But they have strict requirements for market access.
Whether a stock is listed on A-shares or in the American markets, it’s hard to obtain them. I believe that the blockchain can completely release the demand through decentralization. It can allow any tiny company or even a project to issue, circulate and finance a token. There may be only tens of thousands of stocks currently traded globally. There are also tens of thousands of tokens in the crypto space. I believe that millions or more of assets will be traded and circulated in the future. This can only be realized through decentralized technology and organization. The market for assets tokenization will be huge. And at present, the entire blockchain technology is still very primitive. Bitcoin and Ethereum only have a few or a dozen TPS, which is far from meeting market demand. This is why CoinEx is committed to building a decentralized Dex public chain. Wang: Avalanche’s paper was first published on IPFS. What do you think of IPFS? Sirer: I personally like IPFS very much. It is a decentralized storage solution. Yang: There is no doubt that IPFS solves the problem of decentralized storage, and can be robust in the blockchain world, and can replace HPPT services. But there are still three problems:
IPFS is not for ordinary users. Everybody needs BCH and BTC, but only developers need IPFS, which is a relatively niche market;
IPFS is more expensive than traditional storage solutions, which further reduces its practicality. In order to achieve decentralization, more copies must be stored, and more hardware devices must be consumed. In the end, these costs will be on to users.
There may be compliance issues. If you use IPFS to store sensitive information, such as info from WikiLeaks, it may end up threatening national security. I doubt that decentralized storage and decentralized public chains can survive under the joint pressure of global governments.
The IPFS project solves certain problems. But from the perspective of application prospects, I am pessimistic. Wang: What do you think of Defi? Yang: I want to talk about the concept first. Broadly speaking, the entire blockchain industry is DeFi in nature. Blockchain is to realize the circulation of currency, equity, and asset value through decentralization. So in a broad sense, blockchain itself is DeFi. In a narrow sense, DeFi is a financial agreement based on smart contracts. DeFi, through smart contracts, can build applications more flexibly. For example, before we could only use Bitcoin to transfer and pay. Now with smart contracts, flexible functions such as lending, exchange, mortgage , etc. are available. The entire blockchain industry is gradually evolving under the conditions of DeFi. DeFi will definitely get greater development in the future. Sirer: I think Defi will definitely have a huge impact. DeFi is not only an innovation in the cryptocurrency field, but also an innovation in the financial field. Wall Street companies have stagnated for years with no innovation. Avalanche fits different DeFi needs, including performance and compliance. In the future, not only will Wall Street simply adopt DeFi, but DeFi will grow into a huge market that will eventually replace the traditional financial system. Questions from the community: 1. How does Avalanche integrate with DeFi? Sirer: At present, all DeFi applications on Avalanche have surpassed Ethereum. What can be achieved on Ethereum can be achieved on Avalanche with better user experience. We are currently connecting with popular DeFi projects such as Compound and MakerDao to add part of or all of their functions. At present, Avalanche is working on decentralized exchange (DEX). The current DEXs are limited by speed and performance but when they are built on top of Avalanche it will be real-time and very fast. 2. How many developers does BCH have? Yang: I think it does not matter how many developers there are. What matters is what should be developed. I watched Jobs’ video the other day, and it inspired me a lot. We are not piecing together technology to see what technology can do. It’s we figure out what we want first and then we use the technology we need. The entire blockchain community worship developers. Such as they call Vitalik “V God”. It’s not necessary to treat developers as wizards. Developers are programmers, and I myself is also a programmer. ViaBTC has a development team of over 100 people, including core members from Copernicus (a dev team formerly belonged to Bitmain). Technically we are very confident to build faster, stabler, and better user experience products.
Bitcoin price today is $13,157.97 USD with a 24-hour trading volume of $23,730,036,740 USD. Bitcoin is up 1.33% in the last 24 hours. The current CoinMarketCap ranking is #1, with a market cap of $243,779,373,909 USD. It has a circulating supply of 18,527,131 BTC coins and a max. supply of 21,000,000 BTC coins. You can find the top exchanges to trade Bitcoin listed on our Get historical data for the Bitcoin prices. You'll find the historical Bitcoin market data for the selected range of dates. The data can be viewed in daily, weekly or monthly time intervals. Several early adopters were wise or fortunate enough to earn, buy or mine vast quantities of Bitcoin before it held significant value. The most famous of these is Bitcoin’s creator, Satoshi Nakomoto. Satoshi is thought to hold one million bitcoins or roughly 4.75% of the total supply (of 21 million). If Satoshi were to dump these coins on the market, the ensuing supply glut would collapse ... On the price chart there is shown historical value of BTC cryptocurrency, log graph of Bitcoin market capitalization and the most reasonable historical dates. Bitcoin in 2008 . History of Bitcoin price in 2008, 2009, 2010. On 18 August 2008, the domain name bitcoin.org was registered. Later that year on October 31st, a link to a paper authored by Satoshi Nakamoto titled Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer ... Discover historical prices for BTC-USD stock on Yahoo Finance. View daily, weekly or monthly format back to when Bitcoin USD stock was issued.
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