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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.
Answer - As for Kava, Kava was originally founded in January 2018. It was formed by cofounders Scott Stuart, Ruaridh O’Donnell and myself with the mission to tackle the problem of interoperability. We started the company working with larger projects like Ripple, MakerDao, and Cosmos on their layer 2 and interoperability problems and developed a lot of expertise in this area. It wasn’t until 2019 that we eventually decided to put our expertise to public use and create the first interoperable DeFi blockchain, Kava.
Could you please tell me what KAVA cryptocurrency is? What problem does it solve?
Answer - KAVA is the staking, governance, and reserve asset of the Kava DeFi platform. KAVA is required by node operators to secure transactions on the blockchain. Additionally, when lending fees are paid, they are converted to Kava and burned reducing the overall supply of KAVA tokens. As more users use the Kava lending platform, KAVA should become more scarce overtime.
What is the advantage of keeping the KAVA token for a long and short term?
Answer - In the short term, if you stake KAVA you can earn additional block rewards every day, block by block. This provides a nice steady return on the Kava usually in the range of 3-20% depending on the number of people staking.
We will be opening the gates of DeFi to many top tier assets such as BNB, XRP, ATOM, and BTC which have never been able to use lending, stablecoins, or other DeFi Services. If you are a KAVA hodler you can benefit from owning and having a stake in the network as we grow because as the network grows, Kava is burned and it becomes more scarce as a resource.
Chainlink is KAVA’s partner, can you explain more about this partnership?
Answer - Yes, this is not the usual chainlink partnership where a blockchain consumes data from Chainlink’s oracle solution.
No oracle solution adequate for DeFi applications on Cosmos was available. For this reason, Kava has teamed up with Chainlink to bring its data and reliable oracle solution to the Cosmos ecosystem. Chainlink nodes now will be able to securely publish data directly on the Kava blockchain where it can be used or easily transported to other Cosmos-based blockchains and applications. Chainlink oracles on Kava utilize all the industry-leading technologies of Chainlink, while enabling more frequent price updates and improving the reach and distribution of where that data can be used.
Since Kava’s blockchain is built using Tendermint, Tendermint-based blockchains within the Cosmos ecosystem (Binance, Terra, OKChain, Cosmos Hub, Agoric, Aragon, and others) will now be able to retrieve market data such as cryptocurrency, FX, and commodity prices. For DEX’s like Binance this will enable them to create futures, options, and other derivative products they were not able to do so before.
TLDR: Kava + Chainlink Data creates the ideal hub for all blockchains and applications to get their DeFi services and Data, and as result makes Kava a natural hub for the growing Cosmos ecosystem.
What is the KAVA CDP product? Do you have any exciting things down the pipeline that you can share?
Answer - First, let me clarify that CDP simply means “collateralized-debt-position” similar to CDOs that exist in the traditional finance world. What it means is a loan using collateral to back the loan.
Kava’s lending platform offers collateralized loans to users who have crypto. Getting a loan with Kava’s platform is great if you don’t want to sell your crypto position, but need short term cash for payments or if you want to use the loan to get a levered / margin position without going through KYC.
As for news! Kava’s lending platform is scheduled to officially launch on the mainnet June 10th.
At this time, DeFi will be made available to BNB for the first time ever. Also at this time, the Kava DeFi platform will be awarding the first users that have BNB extremely high rewards for being early adopters.
Each week, 74,000 KAVA will be given out to all the users who have taken out loans on Kava. Yes, you get free KAVA, for taking out a loan using BNB!
Why should BNB users use KAVA’s lending platform and take out USDX? And how to mint USDX with BNB on KAVA CDP?
Answer - Free- maybe let's call it rewards for being good users 😉
The rewards are platform growth incentives so that we can grow the platform quickly.
Well at launch, definitely the KAVA rewards are a huge reason for BNB users to use it.
As for the product long-term, the major use case for our lending platform is to get a levered position without needing an exchange or to go through KYC.
How it works is that a BNB holder can deposit their BNB and take out USDX loans - this capital they will take and buy more BNB with it. Most people will use the loan this way to get 2-3x the original BNB amount. If the price goes up on BNB, they win 2-3x the gains!
Of course if the price goes down and they cannot repay their loan, the BNB collateral might get liquidated, so be careful, it works just like a margin trading account.
Brian do you have any more information or links for our community about this?
KAVA was initially planned to launch on Ripple network but later switched to Cosmos Tendermint Core. [email protected] is that something you see in Tendermint Core that is not available anywhere?
Answer - For clarification, Kava was never planned to be on Ripple. However, Ripple is a Kava investor, shareholder, and partner.
We selected the Cosmos-SDK featuring the Tendermint BFT consensus because during our past work with Ripple, MakerDao, ETH, and other layer 2 work we learned the value of “finality” of blockchains. For example, on ETH, the finality of blocks do not happen right away. You need to reach 15+ blocks to be confirmed on Ethereum to really know a transaction has passed. This results in really slow user experiences that aren’t acceptable in finance or any application really.
Tendermint solves this because it makes every transaction final and occur in seconds.
Additionally, we chose the Cosmos-SDK as the framework to build our stand alone blockchain, Kava because it allowed us to create our own security model and design which enables Kava as a DeFi platform responsible for millions of dollars of collateral to be very secure in a way we could net get if we built it on any other network.
KAVA does cross-chain support. Compared to other DeFi platforms, KAVA offer collateralized loans and stable coins to users too. How will volatility be managed there with so many different collateral systems in CDP?
Answer - Volatility is an important consideration and accurate and timely price reference data is needed to make sure the system works.
All the collateral positions rely on price feeds from oracles to determine if they are safe or need to be liquidated. Kava has created a novel partnership with Chainlink, where Chainlink oracles that normally run on Ethereum, operate nodes directly on Kava where they can post prices. This Kava to avoid network congestion, high gas fees, and other less desirable issues found on Ethereum, while enabling the oracles with Kava’s fast blocktimes and finality so they can actually deliver price updates 10-20x more frequently than is possible elsewhere. This makes Kava’s price feed data very reliable.
In times of volatility, if liquidations occur, the Kava platform automatically auctions collateral off for USDX on the market and burns the USDX. This mechanism keeps the system balanced and USDX algorithmically stable and always fully collateralized by real assets.
And it does this transparently, unlike the real world CDOs which caused the world issues in 2008 due to the lack of transparency in their assets and risk.
Recently, Binance has released a white paper on BSC, a Binance smart chain. So, what can I get by staking through Binance Coin BNB?
Answer - Yay for smart contracts!
What can we get by staking bnb?
Staking BNB on Kava, or depositing it in a CDP and creating USDX from it earns users KAVA in rewards everyweek. A lot of rewards. In addition, you get USDX to hold which also pays out a savings rate each block that is much better than say what USD in a checking account could do.
Various platforms are in Ethereum. So why is Kava not at Ethereum?
Answer - I could speak about this for ages, but there is a reason for Ethereum being the home to many hacks and bugs.
Kava is not on ethereum because we couldn’t build our system there. The main reasons. as I have mentioned are:
(1) Ethereum has congestion, oracle issues, high fees, and slow block times.
(2) Ethereum’s open smart contracting system can do anything. This is great for building crypto kitties, but horrible for financial software as it makes all code have infinite attack vectors that hackers can use which are impossible to test for. We built our own chain so we could scope the code and limit what attack vectors are possible.
(3) Building in solidity, the language of Ethereum, is horrible. The development environment is bad, testnets don’t work, and many other things are painful. Kava is primarily built in GO which is far superior for financial applications in most respects.
(4) The future is Cosmos. Binance, Okchain, terra, Cosmos Hub(ATOM), and Kava all are created using the Cosmos-SDK framework. I believe this is the future and the blockchain developers are moving to this in mass. Over 110 projects now are building with the Cosmos-SDK.
What are ways by which Kava project generates profit/revenue to maintain project. What is your revenue model?
Answer - Kava is a for-profit financial DAO with over 80 different businesses staking Kava and voting on its evolution. They want to see Kava succeed so they vote to fund operations and developments that drive user growth in Kava. Due to fees paid in Kava and the burning mechanism, as the system grows in users, the Kava supply decreases making those that hold Kava win due to scarcity.
Lending/Borrowing has been introduced by Binance. How can this affect the Kava since people can directly borrow BUSD from Binance with BNB used as collateral than going to Kava?
Answer - Kava will be featured on Binance as well. The main benefit of Kava is that there is no counterparty. The capital is minted on demand not sourced from somewhere. Binance and other centralized parties on the otherhand need to find capital to provide loans, creating a cost of capital. Kava is much more efficient at providing capital and avoids a lot of regulator issues.
I'll add I think BUSD in the future might be usable for collateral to Kava's loans as well. It would be cool 🙂
What's your opinions on Future of DeFi & DApps? Do you think that DeFi is the future of current Financial world? Also, How do you see the future of KAVA?
Answer - I believe Centralized Finance and the existing infrastructure has a place. It has a lot of issues that cause things like the 2008 crisis and the current insolvency issues that are happening across the world due to trust-based debt with no actual backers other than the people which end up bailing out banks and other financial institutions that have made poor decisions.
DeFi's future is bright because it solves this fundamental issue. It removes trust and adds transparency. Kava is right at the foundation for all of DeFi as things grow and mature.
Recently, we have seen some big hacks in DeFi platforms. How will KAVA deal with these bad actors of crypto and what security measures have been taken by KAVA for the safety of users' funds?"
Answer - Unlike a lot of DeFi startups, we take things seriously. We don't ""move fast and break things"" as Mark Zuckerberg would say.
We do a thorough analysis before suggesting to deploy code. Our internal team works very hard to run tests and simulations, once it passes internally, we give it to 3rd party auditors who try and game it and break the code. If it passes there, we give the code to the community to review and vote into the mainnet. In this way, I’d estimate about 100+ people review our code and test it before it goes live and consumers can touch it. I don't know many other project teams that due things with such diligence.
Binance for KAVA is a very valuable partner in terms of increasing the number of users, but what is KAVA ready to give equivalent to Binance users? What applications will be integrated into Binance to expand the ecosystem?
Answer - Kava gives the BNB users loans. It gives the DEX a stablecoin and the ability to offer margin products. Kava’s connection to binance chain and chainlink data also enables Binance DEX to offer trustless derivatives like options and futures products going forward.
Cosmos has limitations on working with PoW coins. How do you technically solve the problem of implementing DeFi products for bitcoin?
Answer - Cosmos is great for hard-to-work-with blockchains like BTC. It's flexible in how you can construct bridges. For example, the validator set can have a multisig private key split up into pieces in order to create a trustless escrow and control of assets on other blockchains. In this way, we can create peg zones with Cosmos for the best assets in the world. Once a zone is established, it can be used on Kava and other Cosmos chains.
USDX is currently a little-known stable coin. Do you plan to add it to the top exchanges with good liquidity, including Binance?
Answer - USDX will be growing quickly. We have a plan to have it listed and get liquidity across several known exchanges shortly after launch.
There are several options for using USDX on the KAVA platform, one of which is Margin Trading / Leverage. Is this a selection function or a compulsory function? Wondering since there are some investors who don`t like margin. What is the level of leverage and how does a CDP auction work?
Answer - Using Kava for Margin trading is 100% optional. You can choose how you want to use the margin loan. You don’t have to spend the USDX unless you want to. It could be used for everyday payments as well in the case you simply don’t want to sell your underlying collateral. If you don’t want the risk, do small loans with lots of collateral.
Will your team have a plan to implement the DAO module on your platform, as it provides autonomy, decentralization and transparency?
Answer - DAO - Kava is a for-profit DAO and it’s fully functional already. We have on-chain governance and have underwent several votes and evolutions you can look at. You actually can see some current voting processes taking place here: https://kava.mintscan.io/proposals
We recently implemented a cool feature called committees, which enables the DAO to elect a small group of experts to make decisions without needing a vote of the whole user base. This enables the experts to have control over a small portion of the protocol - such as monitoring the debt limit, fees, etc and enables Kava to operate faster and be more adaptable in volatile market conditions.
How can we address the possible overloads and security threats caused by increased users in the DeFi scene?
Answer - Yes, this is a huge issue for Ethereum, MakerDAO and everyone in the space. I don’t see a bright future for DeFi on Etheruem unfortunately. You can’t have a blockchain do everything well. Tether alone congests most of Ethereum and makes oracle price feeds lag the market. This can cause liquidations that should not happen and real people will lose real funds. It’s a huge issue.
The hope is for a dedicated system like Kava to provide a better backbone for DeFi applications going forward.
I should point out that Kava is not just a MakerDao for Cosmos or a CDP for Bitcoin. Kava is designed to be a foundational layer for DeFi services that every new blockchain and application will need.
Every blockchain will need DeFi services like lending, stablecoins, and data and they need it to be very secure. Kava does all this with its cross-chain lending plarform, USDX stablecoin, and Chainlink data in an incredibly secure, but accessible manner.
In this way, Kava aims to connect and serve all the major cryptocurrency communities and build it’s place at the center, where every developer can get what they need to build financial applications of the future."
What distinguishes Kava from your existing competitors like Syntetix?
Answer - Synthetix isn't really a competitor, but it is an interesting project in terms of mechanism design. We share a lot of common investors and have similar token economic ideas with them. The only blockchain project that could be is MakerDAO, but they can only work with ETH assets due to their design. We are focused on the major cap assets - BTC, BNB, XRP, ATOM and others have a much larger market than ETH to address. BTC is 10x the size alone. Currently no one serves them with DeFi. We’re going after this opportunity and believe it to be a huge one.
Why is the KAVA coin not used for Mint, why am I asking that because I see it can also make the value of KAVA coins grow naturally?
Answer - Why is Kava not used as a collateral? Well, it could be I suppose. The community might vote for this in the near future if they want us to be like synthetix. It makes the Kava token more valuable and it will incentivize much more locked-up Kava reducing overall circulating supply which is fairly favorable. The main reason we have not done this yet is that we(Kava and its community) are still weighing the risks of doing this given that Kava also functions as a reserve asset. I think it's likely Kava gets added as collateral at some point, but it will likely have a high debt-collateral ratio to address the issues similar to Synthetix which is 750%.
How do you prevent in a manipulated KAVA Mint just to take advantage of a token prize when minting?
Answer - Minting rewards and manipulation. We’ve thought of this. Each week, the blockchain counts all the blocks, counts how many people had a loan in that period, then takes the average loan amount over time to calculate the rewards. If you open and close a loan - you will get very little rewards. You only get a large reward if you keep the loan open the full period.
Who are your oracle providers? Are you also an oracle provider?
Answer - Kava may run 1 oracle in the future, but we will always have many and be the minority. Most chainlink oracle node operators are large players in the space that run staking infrastructure companies like cosmostation, chainlayer, chorus one, figment networks, etc. Binance will also be one of our oracles.
If we look at all the different types of DeFi products _(decentralized exchanges, stablecoins, atomic swaps, insurance products, loan platforms, trade financing platforms, custody platforms, and crowdfunding platforms) currently covering important areas of traditional finance...where does Kava fit in?
Answer - To make any interesting financial product work you need capital, a stable store of value, and price data. These are really hard to get on current blockchain environments. Kava provides all of these.
Many people describe Kava as similar to Maker (MKR). How is Kava different? Why do you think Kava has more potential?
Answer - MakerDAO is a smart contract with a singular purpose, to serve ETH. It sadly inherited the problems of ethereum. Kava is designed from the ground up for security and interoperability. We are targeting bigger and better assets and have more capabilities to serve them with what their developers and ecosystem need.
What is the uniqueness of KAVA project that cannot be found in other project that´s been released so far ?
Answer - Well in June 10th, we will be the first ever blockchain project to bring DeFi to another blockchain in a real way. BNB users will have loans, stablecoins, and much more.
The gas fee is an issue for blockchain besides scalability. Does your Kava provide a solution for gas?
Answer - gas fees are very low on Kava, only high enough to prevent spam. We dont need high fees for TX because validators are paid in block rewards. Additionally, we dont have competing transactions from crypto-kitties or other non-financial applications. This leaves all of Kava's throughput 100% dedicated to scaling financial transactions.
Kava project works on DeFi (Decentralized Finance) But what’s the benefits of Decentralized Financial system? What are the possibilities of DeFi over Centralized Finance system?
Answer - Open access, no need for trust, and no censorship by singular governments or parties. Kava is accessible anywhere in the world, by anyone.
Data supplied by oracles are false at times, how do you prevent this? How reliable are data received by KAVA?
Answer - This is why using premium / credentialed APIs is important for oracles. These data sources tend to be more accurate and better managed. Wrong prices can happen - for liquidation systems like Kava, we factor this into our design by using an average of data overtime form all oracles as part of the calculation.
Can anyone become a KAVA validator, or is it just an invitation from the project itself? What are the requirements for becoming a KAVA verifier?
Answer - Anyone can become a validator, but you will need to stake or have enough stake delegated to you from others to be in the top 100 validators to earn block rewards.
DEFI PULSE said that a total of 902M is currently locked. According to you, how will this number change in the next few years, and how will KAVA position itself as the top player in this market segment?
Answer - DeFi will only grow through 2020. And likely grow massively.
All projects on DeFi pulse are ""ethereum"" based. Kava is going to shake the blockchain world in the next few weeks by being the first ""multi-chain"" project on DeFi pulse and by my estimations we should quickly surpass a lot of the projects on that list.
I am an testnet minter and the process seem Simplified, now I want to know if minting of USDX will continue when you launch Mainnet and do you have plans to build your own KAVA WALLET for easy minting on your mainnet
Answer - Simple blockchain experience?! high praise! Yes the process will be the same. Kava will not provide interfaces or wallets. Kava Labs builds software for the blockchain, our community members like Cosmostation, Frontier, Trust Wallet build support for people to interact with it.
What business plans does Kava have with Seoul (South Korea) after partnering with Cosmostation? Do you plan to expand your products beyond Asia? Have you thought about harnessing the potential of South America?
Answer - South Korea is a perfect market for Kava's DeFi. Regulations prohibit fiat-backed stablecoins and margin trading. Kava's platform uses crypto-backed stabvlecoins and can enable users to get loans to margin trade. I am looking forward to further developing the Korean market for Kava, working with close partners like Cosmostation and showing the world real use cases of DeFi.
Thank you for taking the time to conduct this AMA. Do you have any parting words, and where can the people go to keep up with all of the new happenings regarding Kava Labs?
Answer - Thanks for all the awesome questions! Amazingly thoughtful!
I've been promising the world cross-chain DeFi since June of last year. The IEO and mainnet went live Nov 2019. It's been a year of hard work - but an industry first is coming on June 10th. I'm excited. I hope you guys are.
Thanks for having me, I hope you become a USDX minter and get KAVA rewards. And last but not least, I love Binance - it's Kava's first home and I'm really happy to open up DeFi to BNB first.
The Crypto King Report January 9th: KuCoin Picks 6/7 (Today’s Pick: EVX) NEW ICO Picks (2 New Ones!) BNTY (600%), KCS (500%), DRGN (400%), DBC (150%), ELIX (100%), SNOV (70%), PURA (10%), STRAT, NEO, TRX, POWR, ADX (NEO link), ENJ(Wallet), ICX, XEM, and ARDR
The Crypto King Report January 9th: KuCoin Picks 6/7 (Today’s Pick: EVX) NEW ICO Picks (2 New Ones!) BNTY (600%), KCS (500%), DRGN (400%), DBC (150%), ELIX (100%), SNOV (70%), PURA (10%), STRAT, NEO, TRX, POWR, ADX (NEO link), ENJ(Wallet), ICX, XEM, and ARDR I appreciate all my loyal followers! For tips and strategy hours before being posted to the message boards follow on Reddit, Instagram: JaketheCryptoKing and Twitter: JbtheCryptoKing. And now on Discord: https://discord.gg/JfkWfUy (join the group to reach me directly and see posts early!). If the title is a foreign language to you read my Cryto-101 post and let’s go from there: https://redd.it/7m48ne . See posts first in the new Subreddit: TheCryptoKingdom. Remember in trading minutes matter, hours are eternities. I wanted to start this post with saying the Kingdom has grown incredibly fast. The amount of requests and messages these last few days have grown exponentially. Before I delve into today’s topics I wanted to reach out and say thank you to all of those that show positive support and learn from these posts. If you couldn’t tell these posts are put together for free daily, and take hours to compile the information, and even longer to write it coherently and eloquently. On my Discord I have Donors that help make all this possible. Here is a thank you to all of you that have allowed me to continue researching and providing strategy in a shill laden field! I am going to make a few additions to my daily report as of tomorrow or Thursday. Instead of solely having a moonshot that is highlighted, I am going to have 1 Moonshot (if there is one out there), 1 or 2 January Plays (highest volume, highest % gainers), and a new category for the day trader. Many want a coin they can trade on 20% swings regularly while tracking charts. I will find us moonshots, day trading coins, January investments, and even long term investments (for those who want to HOLD for 2 months +). It is unfortunate the market is red today, and was yesterday. The good news is red market days make for super cheap alts! Today would be the day to add FIAT and stock up on these coins priced 10-20% lower than they were yesterday! The best part of an alt, is they overcorrect in response to the market and news. We may be down slightly today, but the growth when the market is green will be compounded. Make sure to buy moonshots (and all other coins) during dips when possible and during red days like today. Not everyone cares what’s going on in the market, but I figured I’d explain why we are experiencing 2 back to back red days leading up to the biggest 9 weeks of conferences in blockchain history. Within 2 weeks we have the North American BTC Conference, in Miami, and that same week the London Blockchain Summit. The market should be as bullish as ever (and will be in 2-3 days if not tomorrow). However, what is going on right now? There are 2 major events impacting blockchain negatively in Asia right now. There is a “lockout” of sorts in South Korea as they get their regulation in order and taxation underway. This caused a minor panic in the Korean market. This was the main factor contributing to yesterday’s red day, the Korean’s trade more than anyone and now they are in a holding pattern until Jan 20th. However, once their trading opens back up fully between now and then there should be an exponential price increase in all alts. The second issue impacting the markets is China hinting at regulating BTC mining. This doesn’t surprise me as most countries with a very low cost of electricity ban BTC mining. However, these two pieces of news, which will be resolved shortly, dramatically impacted the value of BTC and alts over the last 24hrs. I figured the Kingdom needed an update to why the market was so red the last 24hrs! What is even more surprising is not a red market day with bad news from Asia, but the fact that almost every Moonshot is in the green or plateud instead of dropping like the other 95% of the market! So let’s get to it, KuCoin’s Moonshot! Moonshot picks have been released earlier than on Reddit via Discord or Twitter(make sure to follow!). Remember always buy in dips, never in frenzied spikes! Today’s Moonshot KuCoin Pick: EVX Referral link for KuCoin: https://www.kucoin.com/#/?r=1cH1M Individuals that aren’t only traders and investors in the blockchain/crypto world understand valuable tech. They understand the purpose of what blockchain was supposed to do with governments and financial institutions. BTC was created (anonymously) following the 2008 market crash (housing, stock, etc). The populations of the world were too reliant on debt laden governments and private national banks. Underprivileged people around the world had no access to money because private banks and governments did not care to provide small loans or to care for the most impoverished people. From here coins like EVX are born! EVX fills multiple niches that other coins with a market cap 10x its size on 3 large exchanges do. EVX ensures you can use foreign currencies to directly buy EVX coins (in case you didn’t want to use crypto) directly from their wallet platform. They allow instant money transfer across borders specializing in micro loans to underdeveloped parts of the world. They provide direct payments and lending services at a fraction of the cost of other blockchain companies. EVX combines the benefits of 4 or 5 of the top 20 cryptocurrencies. EVX is a payment platform, lending platform, money transfer service, and foreign currency exchange specifically designed for the underprivileged and underbanked. With a market cap of $98million as I’m writing this I fully expect it to appreciate to above $200million following the market correction from the negative Asia news. Many coins on exchanges are working on their Alpha or Beta version of their platform, EVX has its platforms working, it’s coins being exchanged, and is looking to land on a bigger exchange. While unheard of amounts of $ are flooded into KuCoin, coins like EVX should begin to moon immediately following the market correction. I expect EVX and PURA (yesterday’s pick) to join our list of Moonshot winners as we approach the conferences, and as the market over corrects to yesterday’s news. Until yesterday we were officially 6/6 on KuCoin picks. None of the KuCoin picks have even shown signs of pulling back even during these terrible 2 days for the general crypto market. The play for today is EVX, I’d get in while it is on sale due to this lovely China and Korea news. Regarding moonshots that have already entered the outer atmosphere…KCS will continue its dominance as KuCoin is one of the few exchanges accepting new traders. Another very positive thing for us KuCoin early entrants is that Binance and Bittrex have suspended allowing new traders. That means guys like you are flocking to alternative exchanges (like KuCoin) to get involved in the crypto world. KuCoin has increased their daily volume every single day for the past 2-week, their twitter eagerly displays this info, and they updated their servers to handle significantly higher trading capacity. More money flowing into altcoins means the market caps will increase accordingly. Look for our moons to continue mooning. Remember moonshots are NOT to be day traded, they will likely end up on major exchanges which is when they will have their true moon. You could have made 70-100% on DRGN, BNTY, or KCS my first week posting moonshots, but if you held them, you would have made 600%. I have increased my portfolio % in moonshots as they’ve been outperforming all other sectors of crypto. This allows me to HOLD while still finding new moonshots! Remember Princes and Princesses of the KINGDOM HOLD through the red day. The reason our moonshots haven’t dropped in value is the whole KINGDOM is not selling. I am proud you’ve all lost your training wheels and grown an impressive set of cojones (in 2 weeks!). EVX is the undervalued moonshot for today! PURA is a coin predominantly traded on KuCoin and my pick from yesterday! It’s trading at 4300 Satoshis at 10am (as I am writing this), I expect 5500-8000 Satoshis to be approached if not surpassed by the end of the week (depending on when the market corrects to the Asia news). There are minimal sell walls and this one should be off to the races once a few big buyers are holding. In September PURA updated their systems to have INSTAPAY, PRIVATEPAY, MASTERNODES and FAIRMINING. Unlike the ridiculously slow BTC, ETH and LTC network PURA lets you send coins instantly (seconds literally). This is what makes INSTAPAY so impressive. What about Privatepay? It lets you send the crypto using a private wallet. MASTERNODES allow anyone to mine PURA on their computer creating a larger PURA network. With a wallet already out, a mining platform set up, one of the smallest market caps on KuCoin (98million), and ways to send crypto instantly and privately I expect PURA to rival many of the larger cap coins. If PURA makes it to a larger exchange I see an easy 3x here. If PURA hits $1billion as a market cap which is very achievable within months of arriving at a larger exchange this coin will be a 10xer. Finding coins that can appreciate 10x with an exchange listing and minimal news is a very difficult thing to find. PURA may be with the company of DRGN, BNTY and KCS, time will tell. SNOV was my pick 2 days ago and it appreciated nicely. It is still a favorite of mine with room to grow. Their calendar shows a very VERY active January and I expect the publicity to continue to increase the coin’s market cap. Yes, we’ve all experienced a nice gain and I always follow my rule, pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered. However, we have to compare SNOV to other recent moonshots. Anyone who has sold a moonshot to date has lost out as my first 4 picks KCS, BNTY, and DRGN are up the highest %s. This demonstrates that HOLDING is as important as monitoring important times to buy and sell. I’ve added $$ (well BTC) to KuCoin as the opportunities here are much more significant than on Binance and Bittrex with new $$ and traders flowing in and new coins being listed regularly there are endless possibilities. 3 days ago money flooded into BTC as you could see in the BTC price rise. I predicted this 48hrs prior that institutional money would get involved within the next 72hrs, and we had our 20% BTC price climb. What happens immediately following a BTC price climb? The alts respond! I expect SNOV, PURA, and EVX (today’s!) to all respond more significantly to the market rise because unlike BNTY they have yet to have their 700% price climb. EVX is my moonshot for today with a likely correction to the on sale prices occurring this afternoon. PURA should have one of the highest return rates in the next 72hrs when compared to alternatives on KuCoin. However, SNOV should continue to trend north as new traders flock to KuCoin snapping up cheap shares. BNTY should continue its rise as it gets added to a new exchange and provides actual bounties for digital tasks (so cool!). DRGN is not left to die by Disney and is leading the charge to get on Binance (they also have a production deal coming up!). I am extremely bullish on DRGN even at a 400% increase this week. I expect a Disney associated press release in the next few weeks and a new exchange listing. KCS will win because it is one of the few exchanges still accepting new traders, AND they give 90% of the trade commission back to KCS holders and as referrals. This type of referral and KCS dividend is unheard of in exchange marketplaces. DBC is downright amazing, combining AI and the blockchain (not to mention its going on Huobi this week!). The moonshots have all increased, yes, but a moon is not a 70% increase. HOLD (and accumulate EVX!). Tomorrow we will have another moonshot (possibly released at 6am EST on Discord/Twitter) as the market has left many coins underpriced currently. Something we should all be taking advantage of to the best of our ability. KuCoin has outperformed all other areas of crypto in the last 2 weeks, I’ve increased my % of portfolio holdings in KuCoin accordingly because of this. I have a higher risk tolerance than most but seek the highest returns. Your decisions are for you to make! EVX is the KuCoin pick for today! Now that most people’s favorite section is finished let’s discuss ICOs! Crypterium and Covesting met their hard caps :/ but the good news is most of you were involved in these ICOs. When an ICO meets its hard cap it is clear there was significant interest and a greater likelihood of mooning immediately after exchange listing. Both the two I am now presenting I expect to reach hard caps in the coming weeks. ICO 1: KYC Legal: KYC Legal (please use the referral as I make no $ spending countless hours researching these ICOs and coins ) referral: https://bookbuild.kyc.legal/?ref=23734776ffa2051a83eb8bc1 The first I am presenting is a new favorite of mine because of the all so dreaded KYC form. Know Your Customer. If you’ve completed an ICO recently you know the form I’m talking about. The form they give you at the end, after you’ve sent your .5eth but before they will release their tokens. Basically stating you understand this market is unregulated, etc. Well a blockchain token has in essence solved this problem. I HATE KYC forms and if the KYC system was set up in a way in which you wouldn’t have to fill out that form repeatedly for every ICO it would be more convenient for all investors and ICO companies. KYC Legal intends to do just that. According to the founder DR, “This is a simple and quick way to complete client identification procedures, which can then be used to verify the client’s identity during various financial operations (so-called KYC (“know your customer”) requirements that financial institutions and companies working with the money of private individuals use to identify and verify counterparties before starting a financial transaction). This niche is completely untapped and I HATE KYC forms enough to think this is a brilliant idea. They are calling it a “Universal alternative to Personal IDs,” on the block chain. Brilliant concept and there are 2 days left to receive the 38% discount from the final price. A 38% gain prior to token sale completion is significant, imagine what will happen when the hard cap is reached and it hits the first exchange. KYC Legal: https://bookbuild.kyc.legal/?ref=23734776ffa2051a83eb8bc1 ICO 2: HOQU Referral: https://www.hoqu.io/?ref_id=7e8ace30413be0fe224fa60d3e57868f According to HOQU directly, “HOQU is a decentralized affiliate platform combining the performance-marketing model with blockchain technology. The aim of the project is to create a decentralized ecosystem, which will be used to build CPA services, ranging from affiliate programs to affiliate networks and related products. HOQU integrates advertisers, networks and affiliates into a single platform, significantly reducing the financial costs for all market participants.” Currently we have decentralized markets for advertisers, networks, and affiliates, HOQU intends to combine all 3 into one platform on the blockchain. This satisfies the need to fulfill a niche market. Not to mention their team is exceptionally active posting on twitter and doing shows across the U.S., currently at a crypto convention in Las Vegas. This is an active team (not a scam hiding in Eastern Europe or Asia) with a niche implementable platform. I see this being a true moon candidate following listing on an exchange! Please use my referral, thank you: https://www.hoqu.io/?ref_id=7e8ace30413be0fe224fa60d3e57868f All below information has been updated on Tuesday at 10am EST. This will help individuals follow what information has been repeated/edited. Favorite coins for January: NEO, ICX, and STRAT (described below in greater detail) Update on XVG: For all of those that chewed me out for picking it and saying Wraith would be successful, have you seen the news? The coin price? Wraith has been finalized and XVG is over 1400 Satoshis when it was trading in the 800 range 1 week ago. I guess the DEV team although slow, did fulfill their promise. I held onto a portion of my XVG as I never truly lost faith. That was a good move! ENJ released their wallet and it looks great, unfortunately the release came on the only red market day this month . I expect ENJ to recover nicely directly following the overall alt market correction. Their wallet debut was successful and their Minecraft plugin is approaching quickly! My 3 favorite short term plays based on conferences for the next 2 weeks are: WAVES, ARK, and SONM. These 3 are all at events in the next 2 weeks of January (Waves and ARK are at a conference in Miami I will be attending!). The cost of attendance to these conferences start at $1,000 (I will need tips to cover costs !). However, they provide exposure to the top individuals and founders of coins with billions of dollars in market cap. In comparison to other coins speaking at the largest January events WAVES, ARK, and SONM’s price has not appreciated this week in correlation to the others. They are also the smallest market cap coins presenting at these huge conferences. This provides an opportunity to purchase WAVES, ARK, and SONM at an undervalued price. As their conferences in mid-January approach I expect their price to trend north rapidly, peaking on the day of, or day after the conference. These should be focal points if you shy away from moonshots (which you shouldn’t!). NEO (BUY and HOLD), is an important hold (and accumulate) in all portfolios as it is hands down the Asian Ether. NEO has one of the biggest January’s of any coin and is up over 70% since I recommended it originally. NEO has meetups in Dublin, Hamburg, Amsterdam, and London the first two weeks of January. Everyone sees the upcoming calendar and realizes the next 2 months will provide more exposure than any 12-month period in crypto history. NEO is the latest addition to the buy and HOLD list. They end the month of January speaking at 2 of the largest blockchain conferences in the world. This will be one of the strongest plays for January 2018. I would slowly stock up on this one on dips (especially on days like today!). TRX (BUY) TRX has a game coming out this month and I expect it to continue to trend North as one of Binance’s cheapest options with a monetized game on the horizon. I do not know if you played Cryptokitties but it crashed the Ether network. TRX is a much faster and less expensive network to process information on. I expect the game this month to be the second that monetizes gaming through cryptocurrency leading to TRX’s short term success. I’d expect another 100-300% returns leading up to the release of a game on their TRX platform. STRAT (BUY and HOLD). I truly love talking about this coin. I enjoy my % returns on moonshots but this tech, the team, the coin, and especially the 1-month vision I truly believe in. I have an interesting update!!! STRAT is developing a Breeze wallet with Tumblebit which makes Bitcoin transactions private through the STRAT network. The biggest problems with BTC is its transparency and its speed. STRAT will help alleviate the transparency aspects for those who want to conceal how much they send/receive. A wallet that manages to conceal your BTC holdings (makes it similar to privacy coins). STRAT’s money for advertising has been saved with the anticipation of a high volume publicity campaign upon release of their new wallet and ICO platform. Once funds are spent advertising the STRAT ICO platform, their 2 flagships are announced, and their wallet is functional (all happening this month) I expect the price not only to trend north but more than double if not triple. I wouldn’t be surprised to see 100%-300% returns on a fairly safe crypto investment (normally the riskiest coins provide this monthly). Their twitter confirmed the 2 ICOs coming out in the next few weeks, when the official announcement is made we are looking at 100-200% gains. STRAT is on the cusp of being able to host ICO’s for other companies. This is extremely valuable technology and they’ve announced it will be ready to go this week. Would anyone like to know the going rate of an ICO? 20-40BTC. Per ICO these small companies and their coin holders are making $250k-$600k at the current BTC prices. This is a very big business. They’ve also announced 2 Flagship ICOs that will be available on their STRATIS network in January. The platform to host ICOs goes live this week, and within 2 weeks we find out which ICOs STRAT is hosting, then their wallet and advertising rollout. This should be a very positive 2 weeks for STRAT. As the crypto market continues to expand, the need for new ICO platforms will expand as well. This is my safest, favorite coin for January. They are also extremely active on their Twitter updating and hinting at the 2 flagship ICO launches, this type of hype building increases market cap! ICX (BUY and HOLD) ICX has had about a 50% run this week and continued to perform yesterday. This is again a good opportunity as it dipped, as the whole market did, to buy as I am still very bullish on this coin. The price will trend north until the end of the month where the blast off will occur. The Koreans love this little coin so much it is hosting its first blockchain conference in the tallest building in Seoul at the end of January. This will be enormous exposure for a coin which Koreans are already in love with. Their mainnet although once delayed was promised to be released prior to their January conference. Based on big news and Asian trading volume this should continue to trend North. Asians trade more than Americans. Koreans are the highest volume trading country in Asia, and they happen to love ICX. ICX should continue to trend north leading up to their conference in the end of January. This is an accumulate on dips until the January 25th conference. I am not sure we will see many more dips unless BTC has a run to 25k but continue to accumulate, this should trend north toward $20 by the end of January. TNB (BUY) Although the price has increased almost daily there is good reason for it! TNB has a BETA version of the Android and IOS wallet being released this month. This is one of the few coins that didn’t take a beating yesterday. Being able to take your funds with you is exceptionally important. Having a good looking interface is equally important. TNB looks to accomplish both tasks this month. It is also one of the cheapest coins on Binance, a plus for those looking for cheap coin acquisitions! I like TNB as a cheap Binance coin with truly significant potential. POWR(BUY), is a semi-finalist in an event Today. If they become a finalist the publicity will be enormous. We will find out later this evening how POWR did at their contest. This is a strong coin to own for the next 48hrs. This event should provide plenty of exposure for one of the few ICOs supported by a government (Australia). A county that struggles with power grid failure could succeed in implementing the first cryptocurrency related directly to trading power, electricity on the blockchain. I expect a strong 2 weeks from POWR. Expect to see significant returns in the next 72hrs especially if they are not only a semi-finalist but make the finalist list! ARDR(BUY) Honestly, Bittrex is beginning to frustrate me (as I’m sure you too!). I haven’t received my IGNIS and ARDR has been unable to be sold, bought, or transferred in weeks. I recommend moving $ to KuCoin and enjoying these insane %s. However, currently like many of you I have a large holding in ARDR which I still believe strongly in but would like the opportunity to sell if I choose! Their platform successfully launched Jan 1st. All those NXT you’ve been holding for the free IGNIS are used specifically on the ARDR block chain. With a new platform and coins to be used on it this will be a positive week for ARDR with exceptionally high returns correlated with the new platform and IGNIS’s continued appreciation. I believe ARDR and its new network will experience positive publicity and a successful launch of IGNIS. I would continue to buy and hold as the ARDR network gets rolling. XEM(BUY), They had their pop 2 days ago and has since decreased with the rest of the market!! Each coin has a specific reason for their being undervalued. Catapult, which is version 2.0 of NEM is to be released very soon. There is nothing better to build awareness and test out their new Catapult network they’ll be releasing this week, then a worldwide hackathon and a new update to their NEM network. XEM will have a pop this week when Catapult goes live, followed by a 4-week awareness rally driven by a worldwide hackathon. ADX (BUY), has had an impressive run but taken a recent dip. It remains a favorite of mine for multiple reasons. One of my favorite parts about ADX is they have a profitable platform already for coin holders. This is essential for every coin. Without a platform for a functioning coin, the coin is just unique code using up electricity. ADX advertised space on EasyJet boarding passes successfully last month and now is selling over 1 million more advertising spaces. This is a profitable coin with a strong future already occurring. ADX wins because NEO wins, Asian markets enjoy trading even more than the U.S. currently. This trend should continue as ADX continues its trend north. Their next partnership or announcement will lead to the next big pop in price, but as far as a coin goes, this is a safe option with stable returns that has a functioning and profitable platform. Some Lovely Followers Requested I Provide Addresses for “Thank You’s and Holiday Cheer” Here are 4 address to help provide my girlfriend with presents so I can spend more time researching! What is 5% of the 200% I earned you this week? ETH: Address: 0xdef6b4415635d15b0dc50e7039ef73c33e622f22 LTC Address: LiTtwXUMCMmch5oKUXfrXMqXWnG6jLg3qD BTC Address: 1LFLx3cXD1xiqCrupZJKf8p6pR23JRZWtP DASH Address: Xi9637XDyW2Q6wtRyGLsNXbJHj4UZ2M3kN (cheapest way to send!) KCS Address: 0x56d0a5b42a8313c36d8fe7a37ee3ccade7e4e6e1 XMR Deposit Address:44tLjmXrQNrWJ5NBsEj2R77ZBEgDa3fEe9GLpSf2FRmhexPvfYDUAB7EXX1Hdb3aMQ9FLqdJ56yaAhiXoRsceGJCRS3Jxkn XMR Deposit ID: b72e438346259f2828feaec4b04f0a95034b6364853f6f33d2370f57a37a1753
A Beginners Guide to Bitcoin, Blockchain & Cryptocurrency
As cryptocurrency, and blockchain technology become more abundant throughout our society, it’s important to understand the inner workings of this technology, especially if you plan to use cryptocurrency as an investment vehicle. If you’re new to the crypto-sphere, learning about Bitcoin makes it much easier to understand other cryptocurrencies as many other altcoins' technologies are borrowed directly from Bitcoin. Bitcoin is one of those things that you look into only to discover you have more questions than answers, and right as you’re starting to wrap your head around the technology; you discover the fact that Bitcoin has six other variants (forks), the amount of politics at hand, or that there are over a thousand different cryptocurrencies just as complex if not even more complex than Bitcoin. We are currently in the infancy of blockchain technology and the effects of this technology will be as profound as the internet. This isn’t something that’s just going to fade away into history as you may have been led to believe. I believe this is something that will become an integral part of our society, eventually embedded within our technology. If you’re a crypto-newbie, be glad that you're relatively early to the industry. I hope this post will put you on the fast-track to understanding Bitcoin, blockchain, and how a large percentage of cryptocurrencies work.
Altcoin: Short for alternative coin. There are over 1,000 different cryptocurrencies. You’re probably most familiar with Bitcoin. Anything that isn’t Bitcoin is generally referred to as an altcoin. HODL: Misspelling of hold. Dank meme accidentally started by this dude. Hodlers are much more interested in long term gains rather than playing the risky game of trying to time the market. TO THE MOON: When a cryptocurrency’s price rapidly increases. A major price spike of over 1,000% can look like it’s blasting off to the moon. Just be sure you’re wearing your seatbelt when it comes crashing down. FUD: Fear. Uncertainty. Doubt. FOMO: Fear of missing out. Bull Run: Financial term used to describe a rising market. Bear Run: Financial term used to describe a falling market.
What Is Bitcoin?
Bitcoin (BTC) is a decentralized digital currency that uses cryptography to secure and ensure validity of transactions within the network. Hence the term crypto-currency. Decentralization is a key aspect of Bitcoin. There is no CEO of Bitcoin or central authoritative government in control of the currency. The currency is ran and operated by the people, for the people. One of the main development teams behind Bitcoin is blockstream. Bitcoin is a product of blockchain technology. Blockchain is what allows for the security and decentralization of Bitcoin. To understand Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, you must understand to some degree, blockchain. This can get extremely technical the further down the rabbit hole you go, and because this is technically a beginners guide, I’m going to try and simplify to the best of my ability and provide resources for further technical reading.
A Brief History
Bitcoin was created by Satoshi Nakamoto. The identity of Nakamoto is unknown. The idea of Bitcoin was first introduced in 2008 when Nakamoto released the Bitcoin white paper - Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System. Later, in January 2009, Nakamoto announced the Bitcoin software and the Bitcoin network officially began. I should also mention that the smallest unit of a Bitcoin is called a Satoshi. 1 BTC = 100,000,000 Satoshis. When purchasing Bitcoin, you don’t actually need to purchase an entire coin. Bitcoin is divisible, so you can purchase any amount greater than 1 Satoshi (0.00000001 BTC).
What Is Blockchain?
Blockchain is a distributed ledger, a distributed collection of accounts. What is being accounted for depends on the use-case of the blockchain itself. In the case of Bitcoin, what is being accounted for is financial transactions. The first block in a blockchain is referred to as the genesis block. A block is an aggregate of data. Blocks are also discovered through a process known as mining (more on this later). Each block is cryptographically signed by the previous block in the chain and visualizing this would look something akin to a chain of blocks, hence the term, blockchain. For more information regarding blockchain I’ve provided more resouces below:
Bitcoin mining is one solution to the double spend problem. Bitcoin mining is how transactions are placed into blocks and added onto the blockchain. This is done to ensure proof of work, where computational power is staked in order to solve what is essentially a puzzle. If you solve the puzzle correctly, you are rewarded Bitcoin in the form of transaction fees, and the predetermined block reward. The Bitcoin given during a block reward is also the only way new Bitcoin can be introduced into the economy. With a halving event occurring roughly every 4 years, it is estimated that the last Bitcoin block will be mined in the year 2,140. (See What is Block Reward below for more info). Mining is one of those aspects of Bitcoin that can get extremely technical and more complicated the further down the rabbit hole you go. An entire website could be created (and many have) dedicated solely to information regarding Bitcoin mining. The small paragraph above is meant to briefly expose you to the function of mining and the role it plays within the ecosystem. It doesn’t even scratch the surface regarding the topic.
How do you Purchase Bitcoin?
The most popular way to purchase Bitcoin through is through an online exchange where you trade fiat (your national currency) for Bitcoin. Popular exchanges include:
There’s tons of different exchanges. Just make sure you find one that supports your national currency.
Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies are EXTREMELY volatile. Swings of 30% or more within a few days is not unheard of. Understand that there is always inherent risks with any investment. Cryptocurrencies especially. Only invest what you’re willing to lose.
Transaction & Network Fees
Transacting on the Bitcoin network is not free. Every purchase or transfer of Bitcoin will cost X amount of BTC depending on how congested the network is. These fees are given to miners as apart of the block reward. Late 2017 when Bitcoin got up to $20,000USD, the average network fee was ~$50. Currently, at the time of writing this, the average network fee is $1.46. This data is available in real-time on BitInfoCharts.
In this new era of money, there is no central bank or government you can go to in need of assistance. This means the responsibility of your money falls 100% into your hands. That being said, the security regarding your cryptocurrency should be impeccable. The anonymity provided by cryptocurrencies alone makes you a valuable target to hackers and scammers. Below I’ve detailed out best practices regarding securing your cryptocurrency.
Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)
Two-factor authentication is a second way of authenticating your identity upon signing in to an account. Most cryptocurrency related software/websites will offer or require some form of 2FA. Upon creation of any crypto-related account find the Security section and enable 2FA.
The most basic form of 2FA which you are probably most familiar with. This form of authentication sends a text message to your smartphone with a special code that will allow access to your account upon entry. Note that this is not the safest form of 2FA as you may still be vulnerable to what is known as a SIM swap attack. SIM swapping is a social engineering method in which an attacker will call up your phone carrier, impersonating you, in attempt to re-activate your SIM card on his/her device. Once the attacker has access to your SIM card he/she now has access to your text messages which can then be used to access your online accounts. You can prevent this by using an authenticator such as Google Authenticator.
The use of an authenticator is the safest form of 2FA. An authenticator is installed on a seperate device and enabling it requires you input an ever changing six digit code in order to access your account. I recommend using Google Authenticator. If a website has the option to enable an authenticator, it will give you a QR code and secret key. Use Google Authenticator to scan the QR code. The secret key consists of a random string of numbers and letters. Write this down on a seperate sheet of paper and do not store it on a digital device. Once Google Authenticator has been enabled, every time you sign into your account, you will have to input a six-digit code that looks similar to this. If you happen to lose or damage the device you have Google Authenticator installed on, you will be locked out of your account UNLESS you have access to the secret key (which you should have written down).
A wallet is what you store Bitcoin and cryptocurrency on. I’ll provide resources on the different type of wallets later but I want to emphasize the use of a hardware wallet (aka cold storage). Hardware wallets are the safest way of storing cryptocurrency because it allows for your crypto to be kept offline in a physical device. After purchasing crypto via an exchange, I recommend transferring it to cold storage. The most popular hardware wallets include the Ledger Nano S, and Trezor. Hardware wallets come with a special key so that if it gets lost or damaged, you can recover your crypto. I recommend keeping your recovery key as well as any other sensitive information in a safety deposit box. I know this all may seem a bit manic, but it is important you take the necessary security precautions in order to ensure the safety & longevity of your cryptocurrency.
Technical Aspects of Bitcoin
Address: What you send Bitcoin to.
Wallet: Where you store your Bitcoin
Max Supply: 21 million
Block Time: ~10 minutes
Block Size: 1-2 MB
Block Reward: BTC reward received from mining.
What is a Bitcoin Address?
A Bitcoin address is what you send Bitcoin to. If you want to receive Bitcoin you’d give someone your Bitcoin address. Think of a Bitcoin address as an email address for money.
What is a Bitcoin Wallet?
As the title implies, a Bitcoin wallet is anything that can store Bitcoin. There are many different types of wallets including paper wallets, software wallets and hardware wallets. It is generally advised NOT to keep cryptocurrency on an exchange, as exchanges are prone to hacks (see Mt. Gox hack). My preferred method of storing cryptocurrency is using a hardware wallet such as the Ledger Nano S or Trezor. These allow you to keep your crypto offline in physical form and as a result, much more safe from hacks. Paper wallets also allow for this but have less functionality in my opinion. After I make crypto purchases, I transfer it to my Ledger Nano S and keep that in a safe at home. Hardware wallets also come with a special key so that if it gets lost or damaged, you can recover your crypto. I recommend keeping your recovery key in a safety deposit box.
What is Bitcoins Max Supply?
The max supply of Bitcoin is 21 million. The only way new Bitcoins can be introduced into the economy are through block rewards which are given after successfully mining a block (more on this later).
What is Bitcoins Block Time?
The average time in which blocks are created is called block time. For Bitcoin, the block time is ~10 minutes, meaning, 10 minutes is the minimum amount of time it will take for a Bitcoin transaction to be processed. Note that transactions on the Bitcoin network can take much longer depending on how congested the network is. Having to wait a few hours or even a few days in some instances for a transaction to clear is not unheard of. Other cryptocurrencies will have different block times. For example, Ethereum has a block time of ~15 seconds. For more information on how block time works, Prabath Siriwardena has a good block post on this subject which can be found here.
What is Bitcoins Block Size?
There is a limit to how large blocks can be. In the early days of Bitcoin, the block size was 36MB, but in 2010 this was reduced to 1 MB in order to prevent distributed denial of service attacks (DDoS), spam, and other malicious use on the blockchain. Nowadays, blocks are routinely in excess of 1MB, with the largest to date being somewhere around 2.1 MB. There is much debate amongst the community on whether or not to increase Bitcoin’s block size limit to account for ever-increasing network demand. A larger block size would allow for more transactions to be processed. The con argument to this is that decentralization would be at risk as mining would become more centralized. As a result of this debate, on August 1, 2017, Bitcoin underwent a hard-fork and Bitcoin Cash was created which has a block size limit of 8 MB. Note that these are two completely different blockchains and sending Bitcoin to a Bitcoin Cash wallet (or vice versa) will result in a failed transaction. Update: As of May 15th, 2018 Bitcoin Cash underwent another hard fork and the block size has increased to 32 MB. On the topic of Bitcoin vs Bitcoin Cash and which cryptocurrency is better, I’ll let you do your own research and make that decision for yourself. It is good to know that this is a debated topic within the community and example of the politics that manifest within the space. Now if you see community members arguing about this topic, you’ll at least have a bit of background to the issue.
What is Block Reward?
Block reward is the BTC you receive after discovering a block. Blocks are discovered through a process called mining. The only way new BTC can be added to the economy is through block rewards and the block reward is halved every 210,000 blocks (approximately every 4 years). Halving events are done to limit the supply of Bitcoin. At the inception of Bitcoin, the block reward was 50BTC. At the time of writing this, the block reward is 12.5BTC. Halving events will continue to occur until the amount of new Bitcoin introduced into the economy becomes less than 1 Satoshi. This is expected to happen around the year 2,140. All 21 million Bitcoins will have been mined. Once all Bitcoins have been mined, the block reward will only consist of transaction fees.
Any computer that connects to the Bitcoin network is called a node. Nodes that fully verify all of the rules of Bitcoin are called full nodes.
In other words, full nodes are what verify the Bitcoin blockchain and they play a crucial role in maintaining the decentralized network. Full nodes store the entirety of the blockchain and validate transactions. Anyone can participate in the Bitcoin network and run a full node. Bitcoin.org has information on how to set up a full node. Running a full node also gives you wallet capabilities and the ability to query the blockchain. For more information on Bitcoin nodes, see Andreas Antonopoulos’s Q&A on the role of nodes.
What is a Fork?
A fork is a divergence in a blockchain. Since Bitcoin is a peer-to-peer network, there’s an overall set of rules (protocol) in which participants within the network must abide by. These rules are put in place to form network consensus. Forks occur when implementations must be made to the blockchain or if there is disagreement amongst the network on how consensus should be achieved.
Soft Fork vs Hard Fork
The difference between soft and hard forks lies in compatibility. Soft forks are backwards compatible, hard forks are not. Think of soft forks as software upgrades to the blockchain, whereas hard forks are a software upgrade that warrant a completely new blockchain. During a soft fork, miners and nodes upgrade their software to support new consensus rules. Nodes that do not upgrade will still accept the new blockchain. Examples of Bitcoin soft forks include:
A hard fork can be thought of as the creation of a new blockchain that X percentage of the community decides to migrate too. During a hard fork, miners and nodes upgrade their software to support new consensus rules, Nodes that do not upgrade are invalid and cannot accept the new blockchain. Examples of Bitcoin hard forks include:
Note that these are completely different blockchains and independent from the Bitcoin blockchain. If you try to send Bitcoin to one of these blockchains, the transaction will fail.
A Case For Bitcoin in a World of Centralization
Our current financial system is centralized, which means the ledger(s) that operate within this centralized system are subjugated to control, manipulation, fraud, and many other negative aspects that come with this system. There are also pros that come with a centralized system, such as the ability to swiftly make decisions. However, at some point, the cons outweigh the pros, and change is needed. What makes Bitcoin so special as opposed to our current financial system is that Bitcoin allows for the decentralized transfer of money. Not one person owns the Bitcoin network, everybody does. Not one person controls Bitcoin, everybody does. A decentralized system in theory removes much of the baggage that comes with a centralized system. Not to say the Bitcoin network doesn’t have its problems (wink wink it does), and there’s much debate amongst the community as to how to go about solving these issues. But even tiny steps are significant steps in the world of blockchain, and I believe Bitcoin will ultimately help to democratize our financial system, whether or not you believe it is here to stay for good.
Well that was a lot of words… Anyways I hope this guide was beneficial, especially to you crypto newbies out there. You may have come into this realm not expecting there to be an abundance of information to learn about. I know I didn’t. Bitcoin is only the tip of the iceberg, but now that you have a fundamental understanding of Bitcoin, learning about other cryptocurrencies such as Litecoin, and Ethereum will come more naturally. Feel free to ask questions below! I’m sure either the community or myself would be happy to answer your questions. Thanks for reading!
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