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Reminder from previous bull markets
Usually, bull markets attract a lot of new investors - although speculators should be the right word here - and as usual, a lot of them are going to be crushed a way or another. First, before putting a single dollar, euro or whatever in the market, you should read a lot to know exactly what you're looking for. Are you here for the tech and/or the cypherpunk ethos ? Great, there's lot of resources out there (my links are cleaned but as always, do your due diligence) :
The Bitcoin Whitepaper, the one and only : bitcoin.org/bitcoin.pdf Since I'm linking to bitcoin.org, friendly reminder to avoid bitcoin.com, owned by a former supporter now con-artist Roger Ver.
Andreas Antonopoulos website : https://aantonop.com Andreas is one of best guys able to educate on bitcoin and its properties, for free, which helps.
Jameson Lopp website : lopp.net Jameson is a member of Bitcoin Core, cypherpunk, also able to educate a lot. His website is full of free resources and other links. You'll have a lot to read.
Hal Finney : he's unfortunately dead but I would advise to read about Hal Finney, the first to receive bitcoin Satoshi. A great cryptographer, the inventor of the first reusable PoW and one of the first bitcoin supporters. You'll be able to find his messages on this old forum Bitcoin Talk, by the way you'll be able to find the first chats about bitcoin on this forum bitcointalk.org
Monero website : getmonero.org Yep, I know it's gonna be controversial to post an altcoin link but personally, I think that Monero (aka XMR) is the only other coin with a big cypherpunk community, decentralized, and able to help newcomers with a great sense of responsibility, since the ethos here is to save privacy.
What Bitcoin Did : of course, Peter is controversial but I love him and I find his former blog and his podcasts very needed because he doesn't oversell himself. Pete knows that he's not a tech guy (like many of us) and just wants to spread the word, I think he does a good job with this.
Now, you've read and you want to put some skin in the game. Several exchanges are acceptable, a lot of aren't, be careful and assume that none really are (know that I won't post any ref links) :
to me, the best, although it's UI is quite old : Kraken €/$/pound/swiss franc on-off ramp
Coinbase and Coinbase Pro Difficult not to mention Coinbase, although I can't stand Brian Armstrong and the way they are doing their best to support scams currently. You should rather use Coinbase Pro if you have to since the fees are much lower.
Binance Binance came later than the previous ones but has managed to take most of the market. Now, you should remember what I said about being careful.
Huobi The biggest chinese exchange and they work closely with chinese official. Again, careful.
Bittrex Once at the top, now somewhere in the limbs.
A lot of new comers came recently like btse, ftx, feel free to try them while always keeping in mind that once your money is on exchanges, it's not yours anymore.
This was for centralized exchanges aka CEX. Talking about custodial, you'll need wallets to store your (bit)coins. Always try to use non-custodial wallets, which means wallets that give you your private keys. This way, if the software goes down, you can always retreive your money. Now, I won't link to all the existing wallets but will advise you to buy hardware wallets (trezor or ledger but there are others) or to create (on off-gap computers) paper wallets you're able to store safely (against all risks, not only robbery but housefire). You also could use your memory with brain wallets but, my gosh, I wouldn't trust myself. For Bitcoin (or even Litecoin), Electrum software can do a good job (but save your keys). AGAIN, DON'T KEEP YOUR SAVINGS ON AN EXCHANGE Now, about trading : it's been repeated and repeated but don't chase pumps and altcoins. Yep, it's probably the fastest way to make money. It's also the fastest to lose it. I won't lie : I made good money during the 2017-bullrun and I took profits but I also forgot to sell some shitcoins thinking it would keep going up, now I'm still holding these bags (although I don't really care). I know that a lot forgot to take profits. Take profits, always take profits, whatever your strategy is. Don't fall for people trying to sell you their bags, for ICOs trying to sell you a product which isn't released yet and obviously, don't fall for people asking for your private key. Also, know that there's two endgames : accumulating bitcoin or fiat. I'm rather in the first team but whatever your strategy is, take profits. (Yes, I know, some will say accumulating ethereum or something else). It's true that a lot of ethereum holders made a lot of money during the last bullrun (ethereum helped me make money too) but I'm really biased in favor of bitcoin (and monero). So, pick your coin but again, do your due diligence. A lot of people here or there will talk about the best tech, the fact that bitcoin is old and slow. I would need another post to go further on this point but know that a lof of air flight systems are old too but reliable. Trustless and reliable is the point here. This is the post from someone who bought bitcoin seven or six years ago, who lost part of them, who spent part of them (but don't regret this at all), who is still learning and I hope it will help others, although it would need a book to be complete.
[WRITEUP] Criticism of r/privacy and r/privacytoolsio moderation censorship and how Apple/Brave/Chrome/GrapheneOS cult armies are destroying privacy communities
Hello! I wanted to discuss this on the soon-to-come occasion of 400 subscribers (398 as I write this), but I guess I will do it now, since the time is just right. This is a long post, so embrace yourself. This is an untalked topic, and you will rarely, if ever, find a record or post about the same. Censorship in privacy communities is ironic, especially when the communities stand as the biggest ones on reddit. A lot of voices either go silent by account deletion and reappearing as new usernames, or they never speak up since they have been effectively "banned" so have no representation. A lot of this can be easily credited to folks breaking rules, which moderation would claim is certainly a need to manage large public forums. However, there is a section of people who criticise the Apple/Brave/Chrome/GrapheneOS cult armies, and this is where the problem starts to rise.
The moderator u trai_dep has taken his time to censor me off completely, so that none of my criticisms can be ever read about his dictatorial moderation and the GrapheneOS discussion I had with its lead developer, who at the end gave me plenty evidence about his rudeness, ironically which was against the rules of the subreddit. https://removeddit.com/privacytoolsIO/comments/gs4uv7/_/fs2ysdm/ Criticism of GrapheneOS lies on one of his comments about OnePlus and Xiaomi apparently not making good enough devices: https://np.reddit.com/privacytoolsIO/comments/gs4uv7/i_dont_fully_trust_grapheneos/fs82fdv/ There is also the issue that he always claims Google Pixel 3/3a is a must with Titan M chip running non verifiable code that one has to rely on for Google's claim of being same as open sourced code, and that it does not have spyware. And he maintains his stand about developing the ROM exclusively for the Pixel devices, which also house Pixel Visual Core, a proprietary Google-only CPU+GPU unit independent of the Snapdragon SoC and with negligible documentation claimed "only" to be used for HDR+ camera algorithm processing. Google has had a history of lying with things like the Location History toggle, or their known data collection business and known relationship with NSA.
I have managed to collect and create what is an evidence record establishing the fact that select moderators either have some kind of agenda or are destroying the privacy community as a whole on the internet itself. The below large part is a direct copy of the "Criticism of..." section in my Threat Model writeup in the sidebar.
OTHER ISSUES, CRITICISM OF MODERATION OF R_PRIVACY
Telling me that I am a burden to the subreddit is outright super offensive, in my most humble opinion. Moreover, they have a strong opinionated bias towards Apple (here too), however no reason to complain for their opinions if they talk outside /privacy and /privacytoolsIO where they moderate. Take the mod hat off if you want. To their credit, one of them did confirm they have a light threat model and primary goal is to thwart mass surveillance, around Level 3 in my book. You will always be criticised for complaining about US and rationally judging Chinese technology, and effectively repeatedly banned by American moderators and muted from modmail everytime you complain about people personally name calling you "Chinese intelligence proponent" or "Chinese/Huawei plant" or "idiot". I cannot make text posts anymore in that subreddit as of 11/02/2020. Lots of evidence events happened followed after my smartphone guide linked above: https://imgur.com/a/TqOkQk6 In atomicratsen image, you can see proof of them allowing Sinophobic propaganda in the name of arguments, followed by the last image. So that is another thing allowed here. Below comment is the admission of being lazy, incompetent and calling actual gilded contributor users "burden": https://np.reddit.com/privacy/comments/enoui9/5_reasons_not_to_use_whatsapp/fe6qgd7/Just in case comment goes poof, screenshot. Moreover, one of them made it clear in modmail that Sinophobic propaganda are "arguments" and will go uncriticised, likely patriotism owing to a global subreddit's moderation which seems unfair and caters not to all but to favouritism to a larger US/West EU audience on reddit, as said earlier:
The thing is, making an argument that China is shady is that: an argument. I mean, geez: Hong Kong. Enough said. So long as they're being civil about it, it's actually what this Sub is for. Do you mention anything related to China or their products in your post? If so, it's fair game, and we expect everyone to conduct themselves like rational adults. I'll check out the reports, but if they're conducting themselves along the lines of our sidebar rules, I (obviously) won't be taking any action. But I also hope that you don't get drawn into arguments that might end up earning yourself a time-out. We're somewhat patient, but at the same time, we can't spend too many man-hours tending a particular subscriber too much. Our time is volunteered and there are 600K+ subscribers. It's not fair to them.
Is this all fair to me, a cooperating member? If moderation and volunteering time is such a great issue, it would be a good step to take a backseat and discuss this in a rational non-prejudiced and less authoritarian manner. Why not allow others to take part and aid in moderating that subreddit? They have repeatedly banned me for nonsensical reasons, standing on last warning, and will likely do so after this post (once for claiming this comment means I called the user asshat instead of their comment, when it never violated /privacy 's rule 5, and another comment where I said to use Win 7/8.1 instead of Win 10, mods claimed it as gatekeeping and banned me for 14 days because I am criticising some things they truly love). New evidence as of few days ago (Feb 11, 2020): https://i.imgur.com/vOyaidS.png
The moderator trai_dep now wants a sitewide ban on me for what is informing a reddit user of legitimate logical criticism of GrapheneOS. He calls this harassment, as he has done this multiple times with me in the past (unfortunately for which comments are deleted and evidence not being able to be recorded). However, this is taking it too far. https://i.imgur.com/dX73ZNX.png
This happened with me on privacy, which is a major why I started this community. There must exist a place free of prejudiced bias and free of any forms of bigotry for privacy, truth and freedom loving folks. The fact that the moderators can get away with it by saying nice words after the ban reeks of a dictator that loves to give speech about care of its citizens, yet will slice anyone up. trai_dep and his friends continue to support the bigotry and these cult armies, which is likely because they do not understand nearly any higher order of technical aspect of privacy threat modelling, and have got no education on the same.
Privacy communities on reddit are a huge problem when it comes to dealing with the cult brigading, and instead critics are targeted by the cult armies which are let loose in these very communities. privacy and /privacytoolsIO are not true representatives of communities giving good advice for higher privacy and security, unfortunately ruined both by the moderators (many of whom are iPhone users themselves just like trai_dep) and the cult brigade armies.
The events of a SIM swap attack (and defense tips)
Posted this on Coinbase and someone recommend it also be posted here. The information below on an attempted SIM swap attack was pieced together through a combination of login and security logs, recovering emails initiated by the attacker that were deleted and then deleted again from the trash folder, and learning from AT&T’s fraud representatives. The majority if this is factual, and we do our best to note where we are speculating or providing a circumstantial suspicion. TLDRs at the bottom. The full story: We were going about our business and received a text from AT&T that says “…Calls & texts will go to your new phone/SIM card. Call 866-563-4705 if you did not request.” We did not request this, and were suspicious that the text itself could be a phishing scam since we searched the phone number and it wasn’t overtly associated with AT&T. Thus, we tried calling AT&T’s main line at 611 but all we hear is beep beep beep. The phone number is already gone. We use another phone to call AT&T and at the same time start working on our already compromised email. While we didn’t see everything real time, this is what the recovered emails show. In less than 2 minutes after receiving the text from AT&T, there is already an email indicating that the stolen phone number was used to sign into our email account associated with Coinbase. 2 minutes after that, there is an email from Coinbase saying: "We have received your request for password reset from an unverified device. As a security precaution, an e-mail with a reset link will be sent to you in 24 hours. Alternatively, if you would like your password reset to be processed immediately, please submit a request using a verified device. This 24 hour review period is designed to protect your Coinbase account." This is where Coinbase got it right to have a 24 hour review period (actually a recovery period) before allowing the password to be reset. However, the attackers knew this and planned to steal the second email from Coinbase by setting email rules to forward all emails to a burner address and also have any emails containing “coinbase” re-routed so they don’t appear in the Inbox. 5 minutes later, they request a password reset from Gemini and the password was reset to the attacker’s password within a minute after that. The next minute they target and reset DropBox’s password followed immediately with Binance. Less than 2 minutes later, an email from Binance indicates that the password has been reset and another email arrives a minute later indicating a new device has been authorized. It’s at this point that we begin locking the attacker out by (1) removing the phone number as 2FA (2) changing the email password, (3) and three forcing a logout of all sessions from the email. There was a bit of back and forth where they still had an active login and re-added the stolen phone number as 2FA. They added only one more password reset to a gaming account that was not deleted. I can only suspect that was a decoy to make it look like the attack was directed at gaming rather than finances. The Gemini and Binance accounts were empty and effectively abandoned, with no balances and inactive bank accounts (if any), and no transactions in 1-3 years. DropBox had no meaningful files (they probably look for private keys and authenticator backups) and the phone number they stole from us was suspended, so as far as the attacker is concerned, there is no meat on this bone to attack again… unless they had inside information. This is where I suspect someone internal at Coinbase receiving wire deposits has been compromised in tipping off ripe accounts – accounts with new and somewhat large balances. We had completed a full withdrawal of funds from Coinbase earlier in the year, and had a balance of less than $20 heading into May. Deposits to Coinbase staggered in to get above six figures through mid-May then stopped. The attack occurred 7 days after the last large wire deposit was made to Coinbase. From the perspective of an attacker that had no inside information, we were a dead end with abandoned Gemini and Binance accounts with zero balances and stale transactions, no DropBox information, and the suspended phone number access. Our Coinbase deposits were known to no one except us, Coinbase, and our bank. We were also able to stop the hacker’s email forwarding before Coinbase’s 24 hour period to send the password reset, so this one didn’t work out for the attackers and it would make sense for them to move on to the next rather than put efforts into a second attack only for Coinbase - for what would appear to be a zero-balance Coinbase account based on the other stale accounts. Then…23 hours and 42 minutes after the first attack, another message from AT&T “…Calls & texts will go to your new phone/SIM card. Call 866-563-4705 if you did not request.” Here we go again. We had been confident in AT&T’s assurances that our account had been locked and would not be SIM swapped again, so we unwisely added the phone number back to our email account as a backup (it’s now removed permanently and we use burner emails for account recovery like we should have all along). Upon seeing that our phone number had been stolen again I knew they were after the Coinbase reset email that was delayed by 24 hours from Coinbase as part of their security. We did 4 things within 2 minutes of that text: (1) removed the phone number again from the email account – this time for good, (2) market sell all Bitcoin on Coinbase, (3) withdraw from Coinbase, (4) have AT&T suspend service on the phone line. In speaking with AT&T, they were floored that our SIM would be transferred again in light of all the notes about fraud on the account and the PIN being changed to random digits that had never been used by us before. Based on the response of disbelief from AT&T on the second port, I suspect that this attack also involved a compromised AT&T employee that worked with the attacker to provide timely access to the Coinbase password reset email. Apparently, this has been going on for years: https://www.flashpoint-intel.com/blog/sim-swap-fraud-account-takeove with phone carrier employees swapping SIMs for $80s a swap. Remember that most of this was hidden in real time, and was only known because we were able to recover emails deleted from Trash by the attacker. Since we require any withdrawals to use Google Authenticator on Coinbase, our funds may have been secure nonetheless. However, under the circumstances with attackers that were apparently working with insiders to take our phone number twice in attempts to steal Bitcoin, and it being unknown if they had additional tools related to our Google Authenticator, we decided it was safer on the sidelines. The coins were held on the exchange for a quick exit depending on whether Bitcoin was going to break up or down from $10,000. A hardware wallet is always safest, but we were looking to time the market and not have transaction delays. For some some security recommendations: AT&T: If you are going to send a text saying that calls and texts are moving to a new number, provide a 10 minute window for the phone number to reply with a “NO” or “STOP” to prevent the move. This can escalate the SIM dispute to more trusted employees to determine who actually owns the line. Don’t let entry level employees swap SIMs. Coinbase: Do not default to phone numbers as 2FA. Also, if someone logs in successfully with the password before the 24 hours are up, the password is known and there is no need to send the password reset email again for attacker to have forwarded to them. At least have an option to stop the password reset email from being sent. We did not tag our account at Coinbase with fraud because of the stories of frozen funds once an account is tagged. I’m not sure what the solution is there, but that is another problem. Being a trader, it would be nice to think of Coinbase as any other type of security brokerage where your assets are yours (someone can’t steal your phone number and transfer your stocks to their account). We fell into that mindset of security, yet this experience has reminded us of the uniqueness of cryptocurrency and the lack of custodial assurance and insurance from exchanges because of the possession-is-everything properties of cryptocurrency. As many have said before, 2FA with a phone number quickly becomes 1-factor authentication as soon as that phone number is associated with password recovery on your email or other accounts. Our overall recommendation is to avoid having a phone number associated with any recovery options across all your accounts. TLDR on the process: Scammers will steal your phone number (in our case twice in 24 hours) and use your phone number to access your email and accounts. They will use your email to reset passwords at financial accounts and file hosting such as DropBox. They will then use that combination to transfer any assets they can access from your accounts to theirs. They will do their best to hide this from you by (1) not resetting your email password so as to raise suspicion, (2) immediately delete any password reset emails you may receive from financial accounts to hide them from you, (3) attempt to forward all emails sent to your address to a burner email, and (4) set email rules to forward emails containing “coinbase” to an email folder other than your Inbox so that you don’t see the transactions and password reset emails that arrive to your inbox. TLDR on defense tips: If your phone stops working or you receive a text of your number being ported do the following as soon as possible: (1) log into your email account(s) associated with your financial accounts and remove your phone number as 2FA immediately (2) change your email password, (3) force a logout of all sessions from your email (at this point you have locked them out), then (4) check your mail forwarding settings for forwards to burner addresses, (5) check your mail rules for rerouting of emails from accounts such as Coinbase, and (6) call your carrier to have them suspend service on your lost phone number and ask them to reinstate your SIM or get a new SIM. This will require a second phone because your personal phone number has been stolen. We hope this helps some others be safe out there in protecting their coins. The more we know, the more we can protect ourselves. Wishing you all the best!
The events of a SIM swap attack directed at Coinbase (and defense tips)
The information below on an attempted SIM swap attack was pieced together through a combination of login and security logs, recovering emails initiated by the attacker that were deleted and then deleted again from the trash folder, and learning from AT&T’s fraud representatives. The majority if this is factual, and we do our best to note where we are speculating or providing a circumstantial suspicion. TLDRs at the bottom. The full story: We were going about our business and received a text from AT&T that says “…Calls & texts will go to your new phone/SIM card. Call 866-563-4705 if you did not request.” We did not request this, and were suspicious that the text itself could be a phishing scam since we searched the phone number and it wasn’t overtly associated with AT&T. Thus, we tried calling AT&T’s main line at 611 but all we hear is beep beep beep. The phone number is already gone. We use another phone to call AT&T and at the same time start working on our already compromised email. While we didn’t see everything real time, this is what the recovered emails show. In less than 2 minutes after receiving the text from AT&T, there is already an email indicating that the stolen phone number was used to sign into our email account associated with Coinbase. 2 minutes after that, there is an email from Coinbase saying: "We have received your request for password reset from an unverified device. As a security precaution, an e-mail with a reset link will be sent to you in 24 hours. Alternatively, if you would like your password reset to be processed immediately, please submit a request using a verified device. This 24 hour review period is designed to protect your Coinbase account." This is where Coinbase got it right to have a 24 hour review period (actually a recovery period) before allowing the password to be reset. However, the attackers knew this and planned to steal the second email from Coinbase by setting email rules to forward all emails to a burner address and also have any emails containing “coinbase” re-routed so they don’t appear in the Inbox. 5 minutes later, they request a password reset from Gemini and the password was reset to the attacker’s password within a minute after that. The next minute they target and reset DropBox’s password followed immediately with Binance. Less than 2 minutes later, an email from Binance indicates that the password has been reset and another email arrives a minute later indicating a new device has been authorized. It’s at this point that we begin locking the attacker out by (1) removing the phone number as 2FA (2) changing the email password, (3) and three forcing a logout of all sessions from the email. There was a bit of back and forth where they still had an active login and re-added the stolen phone number as 2FA. They added only one more password reset to a gaming account that was not deleted. I can only suspect that was a decoy to make it look like the attack was directed at gaming rather than finances. The Gemini and Binance accounts were empty and effectively abandoned, with no balances and inactive bank accounts (if any), and no transactions in 1-3 years. DropBox had no meaningful files (they probably look for private keys and authenticator backups) and the phone number they stole from us was suspended, so as far as the attacker is concerned, there is no meat on this bone to attack again… unless they had inside information. This is where I suspect someone internal at Coinbase receiving wire deposits has been compromised in tipping off ripe accounts – accounts with new and somewhat large balances. We had completed a full withdrawal of funds from Coinbase earlier in the year, and had a balance of less than $20 heading into May. Deposits to Coinbase staggered in to get above six figures through mid-May then stopped. The attack occurred 7 days after the last large wire deposit was made to Coinbase. From the perspective of an attacker that had no inside information, we were a dead end with abandoned Gemini and Binance accounts with zero balances and stale transactions, no DropBox information, and the suspended phone number access. Our Coinbase deposits were known to no one except us, Coinbase, and our bank. We were also able to stop the hacker’s email forwarding before Coinbase’s 24 hour period to send the password reset, so this one didn’t work out for the attackers and it would make sense for them to move on to the next rather than put efforts into a second attack only for Coinbase - for what would appear to be a zero-balance Coinbase account based on the other stale accounts. Then…23 hours and 42 minutes after the first attack, another message from AT&T “…Calls & texts will go to your new phone/SIM card. Call 866-563-4705 if you did not request.” Here we go again. We had been confident in AT&T’s assurances that our account had been locked and would not be SIM swapped again, so we unwisely added the phone number back to our email account as a backup (it’s now removed permanently and we use burner emails for account recovery like we should have all along). Upon seeing that our phone number had been stolen again I knew they were after the Coinbase reset email that was delayed by 24 hours from Coinbase as part of their security. We did 4 things within 2 minutes of that text: (1) removed the phone number again from the email account – this time for good, (2) market sell all Bitcoin on Coinbase, (3) withdraw from Coinbase, (4) have AT&T suspend service on the phone line. In speaking with AT&T, they were floored that our SIM would be transferred again in light of all the notes about fraud on the account and the PIN being changed to random digits that had never been used by us before. Based on the response of disbelief from AT&T on the second port, I suspect that this attack also involved a compromised AT&T employee that worked with the attacker to provide timely access to the Coinbase password reset email. Apparently, this has been going on for years: https://www.flashpoint-intel.com/blog/sim-swap-fraud-account-takeove with phone carrier employees swapping SIMs for $80s a swap. Remember that most of this was hidden in real time, and was only known because we were able to recover emails deleted from Trash by the attacker. Since we require any withdrawals to use Google Authenticator on Coinbase, our funds may have been secure nonetheless. However, under the circumstances with attackers that were apparently working with insiders to take our phone number twice in attempts to steal Bitcoin, and it being unknown if they had additional tools related to our Google Authenticator, we decided it was safer on the sidelines. The coins were held on the exchange for a quick exit depending on whether Bitcoin was going to break up or down from $10,000. A hardware wallet is always safest, but we were looking to time the market and not have transaction delays. For some some security recommendations: AT&T: If you are going to send a text saying that calls and texts are moving to a new number, provide a 10 minute window for the phone number to reply with a “NO” or “STOP” to prevent the move. This can escalate the SIM dispute to more trusted employees to determine who actually owns the line. Don’t let entry level employees swap SIMs. Coinbase: Do not default to phone numbers as 2FA. Also, if someone logs in successfully with the password before the 24 hours are up, the password is known and there is no need to send the password reset email again for attacker to have forwarded to them. At least have an option to stop the password reset email from being sent. We did not tag our account at Coinbase with fraud because of the stories of frozen funds once an account is tagged. I’m not sure what the solution is there, but that is another problem. Being a trader, it would be nice to think of Coinbase as any other type of security brokerage where your assets are yours (someone can’t steal your phone number and transfer your stocks to their account). We fell into that mindset of security, yet this experience has reminded us of the uniqueness of cryptocurrency and the lack of custodial assurance and insurance from exchanges because of the possession-is-everything properties of cryptocurrency. As many have said before, 2FA with a phone number quickly becomes 1-factor authentication as soon as that phone number is associated with password recovery on your email or other accounts. Our overall recommendation is to avoid having a phone number associated with any recovery options across all your accounts. TLDR on the process: Scammers will steal your phone number (in our case twice in 24 hours) and use your phone number to access your email and accounts. They will use your email to reset passwords at financial accounts and file hosting such as DropBox. They will then use that combination to transfer any assets they can access from your accounts to theirs. They will do their best to hide this from you by (1) not resetting your email password so as to raise suspicion, (2) immediately delete any password reset emails you may receive from financial accounts to hide them from you, (3) attempt to forward all emails sent to your address to a burner email, and (4) set email rules to forward emails containing “coinbase” to an email folder other than your Inbox so that you don’t see the transactions and password reset emails that arrive to your inbox. TLDR on defense tips: If your phone stops working or you receive a text of your number being ported do the following as soon as possible: (1) log into your email account(s) associated with your financial accounts and remove your phone number as 2FA immediately (2) change your email password, (3) force a logout of all sessions from your email (at this point you have locked them out), then (4) check your mail forwarding settings for forwards to burner addresses, (5) check your mail rules for rerouting of emails from accounts such as Coinbase, and (6) call your carrier to have them suspend service on your lost phone number and ask them to reinstate your SIM or get a new SIM. This will require a second phone because your personal phone number has been stolen. We hope this helps some others be safe out there in protecting their coins. The more we know, the more we can protect ourselves. Wishing you all the best!
Crypto Banking Wars: Can BlockFi & Celsius Disrupt Banking?
These crypto lending & borrowing services found early traction. Are they capable of bundling more financial services and winning the broader consumer finance market? https://reddit.com/link/icps9l/video/98kl1y596zh51/player This is the third part ofCrypto Banking Wars— a new series that examines what crypto-native company is most likely to become thebank of the future. Who is best positioned toreach mainstream adoptionin consumer finance? While crypto allows the world to get rid of banks, a bank will still very much be necessary for this verypowerfultechnology to reach the masses. As we laid out in our previous series, Crypto-Powered, we believe a crypto-native company will ultimately become the bank of the future. We’re confident Genesis Block will have a seat at that table, but we aren’t the only game in town. In the first post of this series, we did an analysis of big crypto exchanges like Coinbase & Binance. In our second episode, we looked at the world of non-custodial wallets. Today we’re analyzing crypto lending & borrowing services. The Earn and Borrow use-case covers a lot of what traditional banks deliver today. This category of companies is a threat worth analyzing. As we look at this market, we’ll mostly be focused on custodial, centralized products like BlockFi, Nexo, and Celsius. Many of these companies found early traction among crypto users. Are they capable of bundling more financial services and winning the broader consumer finance market? Let’s find out.
Because speculation and trading remains one of the most popular use-cases of crypto, a new crypto sub-industry around credit has emerged. Much of the borrowing demand has been driven by institutional needs. For example, a Bitcoin mining company might need to borrow fiat to pay for operational costs (salaries, electricity). Or a crypto company might need to borrow USD to pay for engineering salaries. Or a crypto hedge fund needs to borrow for leverage or to take a specific market position. While all of these companies have sufficient crypto to cover the costs, they might not want to sell it — either for tax or speculative reasons (they may believe these crypto assets will appreciate, as with most in the industry). Instead of selling their crypto, these companies can use their crypto as collateral for loans. For example, they can provide $1.5M in Bitcoin as collateral, and borrow $1M. Given the collateralization happening, the underwriting process becomes straightforward. Companies all around the world can participate — language and cultural barriers are removed. https://preview.redd.it/z9pby83d6zh51.png?width=600&format=png&auto=webp&s=54bf425215c3ed6d5ff0ca7dbe571e735b994613 The leader (and one of our partners) in this space is Genesis Capital. While they are always the counterparty for both lenders and borrowers, they are effectively a broker. They are at the center of the institutional crypto lending & borrowing markets. Their total active loans as of March 2020 was $649M. That number shot up to $1.42B in active loans as of June 2020. The growth of this entire market segment is impressive and it’s what is driving this opportunity for consumers downstream.
While most of the borrowing demand comes from institutional players, there is a growing desire from consumers to participate on the lend/supply side of the market. Crypto consumers would love to be able to deposit their assets with a service and watch it grow. Why let crypto assets sit on an exchange or in cold storage when it can be earning interest? A number of consumer-facing products have emerged in the last few years to make this happen. While they also allow users to borrow (always with collateral), most of the consumer attraction is around growing their crypto, even while they sleep. Earning interest. These products usually partner with institutional players like Genesis Capital to match the deposits with borrowing demand. And it’s exactly part of our strategy as well, beyond leveraging DeFi (decentralized finance protocols). A few of the most popular consumer services in this category include BlockFi, Nexo, and Celsius. https://preview.redd.it/vptig5mg6zh51.png?width=1051&format=png&auto=webp&s=b5fdc241cb9b6f5b495173667619f8d2c93371ca
BlockFi (Crunchbase) is the leader in this category (at least in the West). They are well-capitalized. In August 2019, they raised $18.3M in their Series A. In Feb 2020, they raised $30M in their Series B. In that same time period, they went from $250M in assets under management to $650M. In a recent blog post, they announced that they saw a 100% revenue increase in Q2 and that they were on track to do $50M in revenue this year. Their growth is impressive. BlockFi did not do an ICO, unlike Celsius, Nexo, Salt, and Cred. BlockFi has a lot of institutional backing so it is perceived as the most reputable in the space. BlockFi started with borrowing — allowing users to leverage their crypto as collateral and taking out a loan against it. They later got into Earning — allowing users to deposit assets and earn interest on it. They recently expanded their service to “exchange” functionality and say they are coming out with a credit card later this year. https://preview.redd.it/byv2tbui6zh51.png?width=800&format=png&auto=webp&s=bac080dcfc85e89574c30dfb396db0b537d46706 Security Woes It’s incredible that BlockFi has been able to see such strong growth despite their numerous product and security woes. A few months ago, their systems were compromised. A hacker was able to access confidential data, such as names, dates of birth, postal addresses, and activity histories. While no funds were lost, this was a massive embarrassment and caused reputational damage. https://preview.redd.it/lwmxbz5l6zh51.png?width=606&format=png&auto=webp&s=ebd8e6e5c31c56da055824254b35b218b49f80e0 Unrelated to that massive security breach and earlier in the year, a user discovered a major bug that allowed him to send the same funds to himself over and over again, ultimately accumulating more than a million dollars in his BlockFi account. BlockFi fortunately caught him just before withdrawal. Poor Product Execution Beyond their poor security — which they are now trying to get serious about — their products are notoriously buggy and hard-to-use. I borrowed from them a year ago and used their interest account product until very recently. I have first-hand experience of how painful it is. But don’t take my word for it… here are just a few tweets from customers just recently. https://preview.redd.it/wcqu3icn6zh51.png?width=1055&format=png&auto=webp&s=870e2f06a6ec377a87e5d6d1f24579a901de66b5 For a while, their interest-earning product had a completely different authentication system than their loan product (users had two sets of usernames/passwords). Many people have had issues with withdrawals. The app is constantly logging people out, blank screens, ugly error messages. Emails with verification codes are sometimes delayed by hours (or days). I do wonder if their entire app has been outsourced. The sloppiness shines through. Not only is their product buggy and UX confusing, but their branding & design is quite weak. To the left is a t-shirt they once sent me. It looks like they just found a bunch of quirky fonts, added their name, and slapped it on a t-shirt. https://preview.redd.it/mi6yeppp6zh51.png?width=600&format=png&auto=webp&s=fd4cd8201ad0d5bc667498096388377895b72953 Culture To the innocent bystander, many of these issues seem totally fixable. They could hire an amazing design agency to completely revamp their product or brand. They could hire a mercenary group of engineers to fix their bugs, etc. While it could stop the bleeding for a time, it may not solve the underlying issues. Years of sloppy product execution represents something much more destructive. It represents a top-down mentality that shipping anything other than excellence is okay: product experience doesn’t matter; design doesn’t matter; craftsmanship doesn’t matter; strong execution doesn’t matter; precision doesn’t matter. That’s very different from our culture at Genesis Block. This cancerous mentality rarely stays contained within product & engineering — this leaks to all parts of the organization. No design agency or consulting firm will fix some of the pernicious values of a company’s soul. These are deeper issues that only leadership can course-correct. If BlockFi’s sloppiness were due to constant experimentation, iteration, shipping, or some “move fast and break things” hacker culture… like Binance… I would probably cut them more slack. But there is zero evidence of that. “Move fast and break things” is always scary when dealing with financial products. But in BlockFi’s case, when it’s more like “move slow and break things,” they are really playing with fire. Next time a massive security breach occurs, like what happened earlier this year, they may not be so lucky. Institutional Focus Based on who is on their team, their poor product execution shouldn’t be a surprise. Their team comes mostly from Wall Street, not the blockchain community (where our roots are). Most of BlockFi’s blockchain/crypto integration is very superficial. They take crypto assets as deposits, but they aren’t leveraging any of the exciting, low-level DeFi protocols like we are. While their Wall Street heritage isn’t doing them any favors on the product/tech side, it’s served them very well on winning institutional clients. This is perhaps their greatest strength. BlockFi has a strong institutional business. They recently brought on Three Arrows Capital as a strategic investor — a crypto hedge fund who does a lot of borrowing. In that announcement, BlockFi’s founder said that bringing them on “aligns well with our focus on international expansion of our institutional services offering.” They also recently brought someone on who will lead business development in Asia among institutional clients. BlockFi Wrap Up There are certainly BlockFi features that overlap with Genesis Block’s offering. It’s possible that they are angling to become the bank of the future. However, they simply have not proven they are capable of designing, building, and launching world-class consumer products. They’ve constantly had issues around security and poor product execution. Their company account and their founder’s account seem to onlytweetaboutBitcoin. I don’t think they understand, appreciate, or value the power of DeFi. It’s unlikely they’ll be leveraging it any time soon. All of these reasons are why I don’t see them as a serious threat to Genesis Block. However, because of their strong institutional offering, I hope that Genesis Block will ultimately have a very collaborative and productive partnership with them. Assuming they figure out their security woes, we could park some of our funds with BlockFi (just as we will with Genesis Capital and others). I think what’s likely to happen is that we’ll corner the consumer market and we’ll work closely with BlockFi on the institutional side. I’ve been hard on BlockFi because I care. I think they have a great opportunity at helping elevate the entire industry in a positive way. But they have a lot of issues they need to work through. I really don’t want to see users lose millions of dollars in a security breach. It could set back the entire industry. But if they do things well… a rising tide lifts all boats.
While many companies in this category seem to be slowly adding more financial services, I don’t believe any of them are focused on the broader consumer market like we are. To use services like BlockFi, Nexo, or Celsius, users need to be onboarded and educated on how crypto works. At Genesis Block, we don’t believe that’s the winning approach. We think blockchain complexity should be abstracted away from the end-user. We did an entire series about this, Spreading Crypto. For many of these services, there is additional friction due to ICO tokens that are forcefully integrated into the product (see NEXO token or CEL Token). None of these services have true banking functionality or integration with traditional finance —for example, easy offramp or spending methods like debit cards. None of them are taking DeFi seriously — they are leveraging crypto for only the asset class, not the underlying technology around financial protocols. So are these companies potential competitors to Genesis Block? For the crypto crowd, yes. For the mass market, no. None of these companies are capable of reaching the billions of people around the world that we hope to reach at Genesis Block. ------ Other Ways to Consume Today's Episode:
Crypto Banking Wars: Can Non-Custodial Crypto Wallets Ever Replace Banks?
Can they overcome the product limitations of blockchain and deliver the world-class experience that consumers expect? https://reddit.com/link/i8ewbx/video/ojkc6c9a1lg51/player This is the second part ofCrypto Banking Wars— a new series that examines what crypto-native company is most likely to become thebank of the future. Who is best positioned toreach mainstream adoptionin consumer finance? --- While crypto allows the world to get rid of banks, a bank will still very much be necessary for this verypowerfultechnology to reach the masses. As we laid out in our previous series, Crypto-Powered, we believe companies that build with blockchain at their core will have the best shot at winning the broader consumer finance market. We hope it will be us at Genesis Block, but we aren’t the only game in town. So this series explores the entire crypto landscape and tries to answer the question, which crypto company is most likely to become the bank of the future? In our last episode, we offered an in-depth analysis of big crypto exchanges like Coinbase & Binance. Today we’re analyzing non-custodial crypto wallets. These are products where only the user can touch or move funds. Not even the company or developer who built the application can access, control, or stop funds from being moved. These apps allow users to truly become their own bank. We’ve talked a little about this before. This group of companies is nowhere near the same level of threat as the biggest crypto exchanges. However, this group really understands DeFi and the magic it can bring. This class of products is heavily engineer-driven and at the bleeding-edge of DeFi innovation. These products are certainly worth discussing. Okay, let’s dive in.
Users & Audience
These non-custodial crypto wallets are especially popular among the most hardcore blockchain nerds and crypto cypherpunks.
“Not your keys, not your coins.”
This meme is endlessly repeated among longtime crypto hodlers. If you’re not in complete control of your crypto (i.e. using non-custodial wallets), then it’s not really your crypto. There has always been a close connection between libertarianism & cryptocurrency. This type of user wants to be in absolute control of their money and become their own bank. In addition to the experienced crypto geeks, for some people, these products will mean the difference between life and death. Imagine a refugee family that wants to safely protect their years of hard work — their life savings — as they travel across borders. Carrying cash could put their safety or money at risk. A few years ago I spent time in Greece at refugee camps — I know first-hand this is a real use-case. https://preview.redd.it/vigqlmgg1lg51.png?width=800&format=png&auto=webp&s=0a5d48a63ce7a637749bbbc03d62c51cc3f75613 Or imagine a family living under an authoritarian regime — afraid that their corrupt or oppressive government will seize their assets (or devalue their savings via hyperinflation). Citizens in these countries cannot risk putting their money in centralized banks or under their mattresses. They must become their own bank. These are the common use-cases and users for non-custodial wallets.
Let’s take a look at some of the strengths with non-custodial products.
Regulatory arbitrage Because these products are “non-custodial”, they are able to avoid the regulatory burdens that centralized, custodial products must deal with (KYC/AML/MTL/etc). This is a strong practical benefit for a bootstrapped startup/buildedeveloper. Though it’s unclear how long this advantage lasts as products reach wider audiences and increased scrutiny.
User Privacy Because of the regulatory arbitrage mentioned above, users do not need to complete onerous KYC requirements. For example, there’s no friction around selfies, government-issued IDs, SSNs, etc. Users can preserve much of their privacy and they don’t need to worry about their sensitive information being hacked, compromised, or leaked.
Absolute control & custody This is really one of the great promises of crypto — users can become their own bank. Users can be in full control of their money. And they don’t need to bury it underground or hide it under a mattress. No dependence, reliance or trust in any third parties. Only the user herself can access and unlock the money.
Now let’s examine some of the weaknesses.
Knowledge & Education Most non-custodial products do not abstract away any of the blockchain complexity. In fact, they often expose more of it because the most loyal users are crypto geeks. Imagine how an average, non-crypto user feels when she starts seeing words like seed phrases, public & private keys, gas limits, transaction fees, blockchain explorers, hex addresses, and confirmation times. There is a lot for a user to learn and become educated on. That’s friction. The learning curve is very high and will always be a major blocker for adoption. We’ve talked about this in our Spreading Crypto series — to reach the masses, the crypto stuff needs to be in the background.
User Experience It is currently impossible to create a smooth and performant user experience in non-custodial wallets or decentralized applications. Any interaction that requires a blockchain transaction will feel sluggish and slow. We built a messaging app on Ethereum and presented it at DevCon3 in Cancun. The technical constraints of blockchain technology were crushing to the user experience. We simply couldn’t create the real-time, modern messaging experience that users have come to expect from similar apps like Slack or WhatsApp. Until blockchains are closer in speed to web servers (which will be difficult given their decentralized nature), dApps will never be able to create the smooth user experience that the masses expect.
Product Limitations Most non-custodial wallets today are based on Ethereum smart contracts. That means they are severely limited with the assets that they can support (only erc-20 tokens). Unless through synthetic assets (similar to Abra), these wallets cannot support massively popular assets like Bitcoin, XRP, Cardano, Litecoin, EOS, Tezos, Stellar, Cosmos, or countless others. There are exciting projects like tBTC trying to bring Bitcoin to Ethereum — but these experiments are still very, very early. Ethereum-based smart contract wallets are missing a huge part of the crypto-asset universe.
Technical Complexity While developers are able to avoid a lot of regulatory complexity (see Strengths above), they are replacing it with increased technical complexity. Most non-custodial wallets are entirely dependent on smart contract technology which is still very experimental and early in development (see Insurance section of this DeFi use-cases post). Major bugs and major hacks do happen. Even recently, it was discovered that Argent had a “high severity vulnerability.” Fortunately, Argent fixed it and their users didn’t lose funds. The tools, frameworks, and best practices around smart contract technology are all still being established. Things can still easily go wrong, and they do.
Loss of Funds Risk Beyond the technical risks mentioned above, with non-custodial wallets, it’s very easy for users to make mistakes. There is no “Forgot Password.” There is no customer support agent you can ping. There is no company behind it that can make you whole if you make a mistake and lose your money. You are on your own, just as CZ suggests. One wrong move and your money is all gone. If you lose your private key, there is no way to recover your funds. There are some new developments around social recovery, but that’s all still very experimental. This just isn’t the type of customer support experience people are used to. And it’s not a risk that most are willing to take.
Integration with Fiat & Traditional Finance In today’s world, it’s still very hard to use crypto for daily spending (see Payments in our DeFi use-cases post). Hopefully, that will all change someday. In the meantime, if any of these non-custodial products hope to win in the broader consumer finance market, they will undoubtedly need to integrate with the legacy financial world — they need onramps (fiat-to-crypto deposit methods) and offramps (crypto-to-fiat withdraw/spend methods). As much as crypto-fanatics hate hearing it, you can’t expect people to jump headfirst into the new world unless there is a smooth transition, unless there are bridge technologies that help them arrive. This is why these fiat integrations are so important. Examples might be allowing ACH/Wire deposits (eg. via Plaid) or launching a debit card program for spend/withdraw. These fiat integrations are essential if the aim is to become the bank of the future. Doing any of this compliantly will require strong KYC/AML. So to achieve this use-case — integrating with traditional finance —all of the Strengths we mentioned above are nullified. There are no longer regulatory benefits. There are no longer privacy benefits (users need to upload KYC documents, etc). And users are no longer in complete control of their money.
One of the great powers of crypto is that we no longer depend on banks. Anyone can store their wealth and have absolute control of their money. That’s made possible with these non-custodial wallets. It’s a wonderful thing. I believe that the most knowledgeable and experienced crypto people (including myself) will always be active users of these applications. And as mentioned in this post, there will certainly be circumstances where these apps will be essential & even life-saving.
However, I do not believe this category of product is a major threat to Genesis Block to becoming the bank of the future.
They won’t win in the broader consumer finance market — mostly because I don’t believe that’s their target audience. These applications simply cannot produce the type of product experience that the masses require, want, or expect. The Weaknesses I’ve outlined above are just too overwhelming. The friction for mass-market consumers is just too much. https://preview.redd.it/lp8dzxeh1lg51.png?width=800&format=png&auto=webp&s=03acdce545cd032f7e82b6665b001d7a06839557 The winning bank will be focused on solving real user problems and meeting user needs. Not slowed down by rigid idealism like censorship-resistance and absolute decentralization, as it is with most non-custodial wallets. The winning bank will be a world-class product that’s smooth, performant, and accessible. Not sluggish and slow, as it is with most non-custodial wallets. The winning bank will be one where blockchain & crypto is mostly invisible to end-users. Not front-and-center as it is with non-custodial wallets. The winning bank will be one managed and run by professionals who know exactly what they’re doing. Not DIY (Do It Yourself), as it is with non-custodial wallets. So are these non-custodial wallets a threat to Genesis Block in winning the broader consumer finance market, and becoming the bank of the future? No. They are designed for a very different audience. ------ Other Ways to Consume Today's Episode:
The power players of consumer finance in the 21st century will be crypto-native companies who build with blockchain technology at their core.
The crypto landscape is still nascent. We’re still very much in the fragmented, unbundled phase of the industry lifecycle. Beyond what Genesis Block is doing, there are signs of other companies slowly starting to bundle financial services into what could be an all-in-one bank replacement. So the key question that this series hopes to answer:
Which crypto-native company will successfully become the bank of the future?
We obviously think Genesis Block is well-positioned to win. But we certainly aren’t the only game in town. In this series, we’ll be doing an analysis of who is most capable of thwarting our efforts. We’ll look at categories like crypto exchanges, crypto wallets, centralized lending & borrowing services, and crypto debit card companies. Each category will have its own dedicated post. Today we’re analyzing big crypto exchanges. The two companies we’ll focus on today are Coinbase (biggest American exchange) and Binance (biggest global exchange). They are the top two exchanges in terms of Bitcoin trading volume. They are in pole position to winning this market — they have a huge existing userbase and strong financial resources. Will Coinbase or Binance become the bank of the future? Can their early success propel them to winning the broader consumer finance market? Is their growth too far ahead for anyone else to catch up? Let’s dive in. https://preview.redd.it/lau4hevpm7f51.png?width=800&format=png&auto=webp&s=2c5de1ba497199f36aa194e5809bd86e5ab533d8
The most formidable exchange on the global stage is Binance (Crunchbase). All signs suggest they have significantly more users and a stronger balance sheet than Coinbase. No other exchange is executing as aggressively and relentlessly as Binance is. The cadence at which they are shipping and launching new products is nothing short of impressive. As Tushar Jain from Multicoin argues, Binance is Blitzscaling. Here are some of the products that they’ve launched in the last 18 months. Only a few are announced but still pre-launch.
Binance is well-positioned to become the crypto-powered, all-in-one, bundled solution for financial services. They already have so many of the pieces. But the key question is:
Can they create a cohesive & united product experience?
Binance is strong, but they do have a few major weaknesses that could slow them down.
Traders & Speculators Binance is currently very geared for speculators, traders, and financial professionals. Their bread-and-butter is trading (spot, margin, options, futures). Their UI is littered with depth charts, order books, candlesticks, and other financial concepts that are beyond the reach of most normal consumers. Their product today is not at all tailored for the broader consumer market. Given Binance’s popularity and strength among the pro audience, it’s unlikely that they will dumb down or simplify their product any time soon. That would jeopardize their core business. Binance will likely need an entirely new product/brand to go beyond the pro user crowd. That will take time (or an acquisition). So the question remains, is Binance even interested in the broader consumer market? Or will they continue to focus on their core product, the one-stop-shop for pro crypto traders?
Controversies & Hot Water Binance has had a number of controversies. No one seems to know where they are based — so what regulatory agencies can hold them accountable? Last year, some sensitive, private user data got leaked. When they announced their debit card program, they had to remove mentions of Visa quickly after. And though the “police raid” story proved to be untrue, there are still a lot of questions about what happened with their Shanghai office shut down (where there is smoke, there is fire). If any company has had a “move fast and break things” attitude, it is Binance. That attitude has served them well so far but as they try to do business in more regulated countries like America, this will make their road much more difficult — especially in the consumer market where trust takes a long time to earn, but can be destroyed in an instant. This is perhaps why the Binance US product is an empty shell when compared to their main global product.
Disjointed Product Experience Because Binance has so many different teams launching so many different services, their core product is increasingly feeling disjointed and disconnected. Many of the new features are sloppily integrated with each other. There’s no cohesive product experience. This is one of the downsides of executing and shipping at their relentless pace. For example, users don’t have a single wallet that shows their balances. Depending on if the user wants to do spot trading, margin, futures, or savings… the user needs to constantly be transferring their assets from one wallet to another. It’s not a unified, frictionless, simple user experience. This is one major downside of the “move fast and break things” approach.
BNB token Binance raised $15M in a 2017 ICO by selling their $BNB token. The current market cap of $BNB is worth more than $2.6B. Financially this token has served them well. However, given how BNB works (for example, their token burn), there are a lot of open questions as to how BNB will be treated with US security laws. Their Binance US product so far is treading very lightly with its use of BNB. Their token could become a liability for Binance as it enters more regulated markets. Whether the crypto community likes it or not, until regulators get caught up and understand the power of decentralized technology, tokens will still be a regulatory burden — especially for anything that touches consumers.
Binance Chain & Smart Contract Platform Binance is launching its own smart contract platform soon. Based on compatibility choices, they have their sights aimed at the Ethereum developer community. It’s unclear how easy it’ll be to convince developers to move to Binance chain. Most of the current developer energy and momentum around smart contracts is with Ethereum. Because Binance now has their own horse in the race, it’s unlikely they will ever decide to leverage Ethereum’s DeFi protocols. This could likely be a major strategic mistake — and hubris that goes a step too far. Binance will be pushing and promoting protocols on their own platform. The major risk of being all-in on their own platform is that they miss having a seat on the Ethereum rocket ship — specifically the growth of DeFi use-cases and the enormous value that can be unlocked. Integrating with Ethereum’s protocols would be either admitting defeat of their own platform or competing directly against themselves.
The crypto-native company that I believe is more likely to become the bank of the future is Coinbase (crunchbase). Their dominance in America could serve as a springboard to winning the West (Binance has a stronger foothold in Asia). Coinbase has more than 30M users. Their exchange business is a money-printing machine. They have a solid reputation as it relates to compliance and working with regulators. Their CEO is a longtime member of the crypto community. They are rumored to be going public soon.
Let’s look at what makes them strong and a likely contender for winning the broader consumer finance market.
Different Audience, Different Experience Coinbase has been smart to create a unique product experience for each audience — the pro speculator crowd and the common retail user. Their simple consumer version is at Coinbase.com. That’s the default. Their product for the more sophisticated traders and speculators is at Coinbase Pro (formerly GDAX). Unlike Binance, Coinbase can slowly build out the bank of the future for the broad consumer market while still having a home for their hardcore crypto traders. They aren’t afraid to have different experiences for different audiences.
Brand & Design Coinbase has a strong product design team. Their brand is capable of going beyond the male-dominated crypto audience. Their product is clean and simple — much more consumer-friendly than Binance. It’s clear they spend a lot of time thinking about their user experience. Interacting directly with crypto can sometimes be rough and raw (especially for n00bs). When I was at Mainframe we hosted a panel about Crypto UX challenges at the DevCon4 Dapp Awards. Connie Yang (Head of Design at Coinbase) was on the panel. She was impressive. Some of their design philosophies will bode well as they push to reach the broader consumer finance market.
Early Signs of Bundling Though Coinbase has nowhere near as many products & services as Binance, they are slowly starting to add more financial services that may appeal to the broader market. They are now letting depositors earn interest on USDC (also DAI & Tezos). In the UK they are piloting a debit card. Users can now invest in crypto with dollar-cost-averaging. It’s not much, but it’s a start. You can start to see hints of a more bundled solution around financial services.
Let’s now look at some things that could hold them back.
Slow Cadence In the fast-paced world of crypto, and especially when compared to Binance, Coinbase does not ship very many new products very often. This is perhaps their greatest weakness. Smaller, more nimble startups may run circles around them. They were smart to launch Coinbase Ventures where tey invest in early-stage startups. They can now keep an ear to the ground on innovation. Perhaps their cadence is normal for a company of their size — but the Binance pace creates quite the contrast.
Institutional Focus As a company, we are a Coinbase client. We love their institutional offering. It’s clear they’ve been investing a lot in this area. A recent Coinbase blog post made it clear that this has been a focus: “Over the past 12 months, Coinbase has been laser-focused on building out the types of features and services that our institutional customers need.” Their Tagomi acquisition only re-enforced this focus. Perhaps this is why their consumer product has felt so neglected. They’ve been heavily investing in their institutional services since May 2018. For a company that’s getting very close to an IPO, it makes sense that they’d focus on areas that present strong revenue opportunities — as they do with institutional clients. Even for big companies like Coinbase, it’s hard to have a split focus. If they are “laser-focused” on the institutional audience, it’s unlikely they’ll be launching any major consumer products anytime soon.
Coinbase Wrap Up
At Genesis Block, we‘re proud to be working with Coinbase. They are a fantastic company. However, I don’t believe that they’ll succeed in building their own product for the broader consumer finance market. While they have incredible design, there are no signs that they are focused on or capable of internally building this type of product. Similar to Binance, I think it’s far more likely that Coinbase acquires a promising young startup with strong growth.
Other US-based exchanges worth mentioning are Kraken, Gemini, and Bittrex. So far we’ve seen very few signs that any of them will aggressively attack broader consumer finance. Most are going in the way of Binance — listing more assets and adding more pro tools like margin and futures trading. And many, like Coinbase, are trying to attract more institutional customers. For example, Gemini with their custody product.
Coinbase and Binance have huge war chests and massive reach. For that alone, they should always be considered threats to Genesis Block. However, their products are very, very different than the product we’re building. And their approach is very different as well. They are trying to educate and onboard people into crypto. At Genesis Block, we believe the masses shouldn’t need to know or care about it. We did an entire series about this, Spreading Crypto. Most everyone needs banking — whether it be to borrow, spend, invest, earn interest, etc. Not everyone needs a crypto exchange. For non-crypto consumers (the mass market), the differences between a bank and a crypto exchange are immense. Companies like Binance and Coinbase make a lot of money on their crypto exchange business. It would be really difficult, gutsy, and risky for any of them to completely change their narrative, messaging, and product to focus on the broader consumer market. I don’t believe they would ever risk biting the hand that feeds them. In summary, as it relates to a digital bank aimed at the mass market, I believe both Coinbase and Binance are much more likely to acquire a startup in this space than they are to build it themselves. And I think they would want to keep the brand/product distinct and separate from their core crypto exchange business. So back to the original question, is Coinbase and Binance a threat to Genesis Block? Not really. Not today. But they could be, and for that, we want to stay close to them. ------ Other Ways to Consume Today's Episode:
Hey guys hope you are all well, I was scammed today and I knew I was going to get scammed but I just had that little feeling that it could possibly be real and was gifted this money. In the discord this morning on 4/22/20 I received a message saying congratulations you have won't .72 of a bitcoin which is 4,200 at the time and was skeptical .it gave me a code to input into the website which is called bifBIT.com .so I look into the website and it looks just like Binance .so I quickly make an account put in the code and just like that I have $4,200 in the balance of my account so I try to withdraw it asap (who wouldn't) then it tells me that I must first put in 0.05 of a bitcoin ($360) to make it look like I'm, not a bot and then that's when it looked really scammy. so I searched up the IP and the website was created 3 days ago on April 18 in Estonia. the company is linked to a financial firm on LinkedIn with a single digit of employees in Estonia which is where it was all connected. So many red flags but I kept thinking what if I do get this money out, what if its real, in times like this money is scarce with no work. So then I put 360 dollars of bitcoin into coinbase from my bank savings account and send it to the address in bifBIT.com one hour delivery is complete and I try to withdraw again than these fu### come up with some stupid VIP contract. not I have to put in 0.15 of a bitcoin into the balance which is $2,600 to withdraw the rest of the money. NOWHERE DID I READ ABOUT A VIP CONTRACT. I read everything on the website about the security policies and nowhere did it say about putting in more money just to take it out.contacted customer support and the guy told me that my money would only be returned if I deposit the rest of the $2,600 into bitcoin address. So that's how I lost 360 dollars today. with no work and no more money, I hope to make that up. I don't want ANYONE ELSE TO GIVE THESE FU### MONEY feasting on people's fears and anxieties of the situation we are in.
Warning! beldextrade.com is a scam - another fake giveaway
I wasn't too privy to this specific scam before today, and I searched for the website in question but found nothing. The red flags were everywhere the entire time I was going through this, but it initially seemed legitimate enough for people to be easily deceived. Hopefully any potential victims can find this post and save themselves from being scammed. It all started when I got a message on Discord (https://imgur.com/1fMZ3qS) from a guy (ironically) named "Crooked" telling me I won $69 of bitcoin in a random giveaway. This was the first red flag but I clicked through just to take a look. I went to the site, created an account, and tried to withdraw my 0.008 BTC... https://imgur.com/s1J4D5u I have to gamble some of it away to withdraw it? Second major red flag. At this point I had nothing to lose so I went ahead and bet the minimum of $15 on the roulette. When the timer hit 0, I was greeted with this: https://imgur.com/xtXt80t. I won $2k in bitcoin!? Yeah, obviously this is too good to be true, but in the moment I just blinked at the screen. There's a "live" chat with the gamblers chatting away, so I asked if I really just won. Some of them quickly answered me with the affirmative. It all looked pretty convincing, but I wouldn't be surprised if these are paid actors or even AI chatbots. Then I tried to withdraw again, but I got a message telling me I need to talk to support to activate a "bot app". So I do, and support linked me to a chrome extension: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/a%D1%80%D1%80-cr%D1%83%D1%80t%D0%BE/bhihlepfeofebhiafmidfeipambijdgl. I need to install it and log into coinbase / binance / etc to "verify I'm not a bot or money launderer." I read the reviews on the extension and it's glaringly obvious. The extension steals the login info of the wallet and the scammers empty it out. At this point I was certain this is a scam, but I spun up a VM to install it so I can get to the bottom of this. Sure enough, another attempt to withdraw was met with failure, and further talk with the support rep informed me that I need to have at least $500 of bitcoin in my online wallet in order to be verified. After all these red flags, I'd have to be an idiot to go through with that, so I finally called them out on it. Alas, the rep promptly disconnected from the live chat and banned me from the gambling chat for good measure. I know enough about scams to not fall for stuff like this, but I can totally see how people can. There's some techniques used in order quell the doubts that pop up while going through the hoops. There's the low initial giveaway (>$100 seems believable), the rush of gambling (ESPECIALLY for people who are prone to these addictive behaviors) and "winning" $2k in realtime. This all reminds me of the old "sign up for x to unlock free y" scams that were all over the internet a decade ago, but a lot more nuanced and sophisticated. There's probably dozens, if not hundreds of these sites out there, but I feel the more info is out there the less people will end up falling for it. TL;DR: If you get a message on Discord saying you won a small amount of bitcoin, ignore it. It's a scam.
[EU] [FIAT GATEWAY] Bitvavo.com is a new fiat ramp for NANO!
Hello dear NANO'ers, I come with great news. Bitvavo - a DUTCH exchange, secretly has fully implemented NANO on their exchange! This means you can buy AND sell NANO for Euros! Bitvavo is a DUTCH exchange, under Dutch/European law, having its HQ within the Netherlands. This is AMAZING. I made a post about Bitvavo adding nanos last year, back then you couldnt send/withdraw NANO (so it was fully artificial), but now its fully operational! Why is this a big deal? Its an European exchange, falling under European laws (Dutch to be precise). Since i live in the Netherlands, this to me is just amazing. The dutch are a meticulously kind of folk. Dutch laws are quite strong and complicated and regulations are strong here. To have a working fiat ramp exchange that hasnt been shutdown by authorities, means it has a certain degree of Trustworthiness (at least for me and Dutch laws, which are stricter then European laws mostly). Is it any good? Well, i first deposited euro's on the website (which you cant hold for longer then 5 days, since it isnt a bank and certain laws are preventing that), which went 'pretty' fast. I bought nano's with it (which was instant), and then i withdrew NANO's from it...which went through in SECONDS. Yes. Seconds. I put the order in, went to Binance to check things out and literally a few seconds later i heard the ping from CANOE. I couldnt believe it lol. I actually was in awe and suddenly became extremely enthusiastic, and immediately bought more lol. What about fees? They take maketrader fees of 0.25%. In my eyes, that isnt much. For withdrawal they also have fee, but its around 0.00025 nano if im right. Its crazy low. And crazy fast. Are there any negative parts? Well, its a dutch company but it isnt coinbase. If the whole world flocks towards it, i can see the website going down because the server can't hold that weight. This is theoretically, but those who experienced the 2017 run know that a lot of exchanges either went down (for a few hours/days) or stopped accepting new registrations because their servers couldnt handle it. I feel the same is with Bitvavo, its a small dutch exchange, not a big one. Other negative parts? I don't think they have much nano lol. After my first purchase i was SO impressed with the speed and low cost of it, i bought more. The second time i bought, i received a message that this was going to be processed manually. For the long run i cant see this being a problem, it just means they have to buy more NANO, which will only help NANO :) Now besides those, you do need to do a KYC, and i havent read in about any international KYC. The KYC is necessary for you to trade on the exchange. For me, i had to link my bank account to my account on Bitvavo (the same way you do it with Paypal). You can only send/receive money from/to your (linked) bank account to Bitvavo (if through IDEAL, not sure about SEPA etc). I find this acceptable to be honest for a EUROPEAN/trustworthy fiat gateway. Payment methods (including fees):
SEPA Overboeking (0%)
It has been a while since i sold crypto for Euro's on the site, but it worked pretty fast. The next day, the money was sitting in my bank account :) it wasnt much though (around 100 euros), but it passed the test for me back then. Unless we go in to a massive bullrun, i prob wont be selling my NANO for fiat anytime soon anyways. I am more searching for ways to pay internet services for NANO :) Hopefully one day we can pay for everyday things with NANO, like groceries or liqueur etc. Bitvavo has many many other coins too (besides btc,eth, xrp) like ADA, ICX, IOTA, Vechain, NEO etc. So if you want to trade your NANO with other crypto's, it is another way besides Binance (though i would still use binance for it). THis is a huge step. For very low cost, and extremely fast speed, we (Europeans in general) have an amazing gateway towards NANO. Together with Coingate integration of NANO, and NANO amazing ease of use - i cant see any other way besides NANO becoming a smashing succes. The only weird thing about this is Bitvavo own marketing. They did this all in silent, for reasons unknown to me since this is HUGE news for me (and a lot of Dutch/European citizens that have access to IDEAL). Now, i have to SHILL NANO a bit more here, because i am really getting hyped once again. I feel even more positive about NANO then back in dec 2017 to be honest. Remember guys, NANO is just at #48 in CMC. 48! While its utility is much better then 99% of ALL crypto! Infact, NANO is the ONLY usuable crypto RIGHT NOW besides maybe Eth for Dapps. Look at the marketcap of LTC, which in EVERY aspect is a worse coin then NANO. Then calculate how much a single NANO would be worth if it would have LTC marketcap... NANO has STILL SO MUCH to grow, its crazy. Its like getting Bitcoin back in 2011/2013. Pay for your products online FASTER and more reliable AND cheaper then Paypal (conversation rate), credit card (% rate per month/year) or bank. Since V18 has come out i have been EXTREMELY impressed by NANO. So much that i have doubled my (relatively small) stack and i have (once again) started to accumulate slowly. News like this (Bitvavo) just makes me more hyped for NANO. Together with a website where i can actually buy their services with NANO - and i am planning to use it more, i cant be more positive. NANO may have had a hard time in 2018 price wise, but DAMN the team has done an amazing job with its tech throughout the bear market. Mad props to you Colin AND your amazing team. Props to Coingate for having an amazing service too! Once NANO has been proven to scale to 1k+ (with 7K being a nicely goal) + an automatically representative node assignment through wallets (to make NANO more decentralized), i cant see nano NOT becoming a top 10 - or even a top 5 coin. As a payment coin, NANO truly knows no equal! EDIT: a MAJOR edit here, before you guys get TOO excited. PLEASE look in to the exchange pricing too! Bitvavo might be selling (or probably IS) NANO for a higher rate then for example Binance (this is apart from maketaker fee and withdrawal fee!). It isnt the same price as you pay on Binance, with the conversion rate. So for the same EUUSD, you will get less NANO compared to Binance (if you could pay directly for it). So keep that in mind, u/dotcoml said it actually was 2%. I personally didnt bother doing the math nor do i mind a 2% fee to exchange my fiat for NANO (it still is better then credit card, and for its speed/usability, i dont mind paying 2% more compared to FIAT either), but it still is 2%. Keep this in mind! EDIT2: other users are reporting Bitvavo actually having LOWER prices then Binance :) please check it out for yourself!
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!
Hello everyone, I translated a discussion I had with my little brother, he wrote me his opinion on ADA Cardano, which I find interesting. I am someone that put my cash in ADA, my brother has been in the crypto game way longer than me and I always ask for his advice even if he’s younger than me (that dude is smart), I just want to share it with you. He wrote : I started to invest in crypto on June the 19th 2017, I put 500 euros of my student loan because I thought that it was money I could lose or spend, since I don’t have to reimburse it before 2019. At this moment, the capitalization of all the crypto were USD 112 Billions: I had the feeling that it would raise because the technology behind it is interesting and can have an impact on all industries. That was a bet. On July the 16th 2017, the capitalization was at USD 68 billions, -40%. I wasn’t touched too much because I was lucky in the crypto I invested in at first. On December the 21st, the capitalization was at 648 billions : when I’m sending you this message, it’s 575 billions. To make it simple : the average earning from an investor has been around 380%. If we take it from Jan the 1st, it has been 3185% : it is absolutely gigantic. I have the feeling that in a year, we’ll be above today’s level, if I had to answer to a survey with the answers : 0-500 Billions, 500bil – 1 tr, 1tr – 1,5tr, 1,5tr – 2tr, 2tr - 2tr+ / I’d say between 1 and 1.5 for December the 31st 2018. We can fall at 200 Bil before rising again, it’s a big roller coaster, but globally I think that it will continue to grow and that’s the reason why I didn’t cash out my investment. There are multiple « Big Risks » that can affect the market right now : - If the stock market falls, which is a risk that will probably happen before the end of Trump presidency, I don’t really know how it will affect the crypto market, but there’s a high probability that It will fall.
If the bitcoin price falls, since most coins are traded in BTC, most of them risk to fall too.
If some countries start to install regulations and other, which will happen, it can slow down the market growth.
“If”. It’s my feeling, I’m not saying I’m right, but I’d rather share with you why I think that for you to take your decisions having different opinions.
I don’t know when your friends started to invest, neither what amount they put or on what crypto, but I’m going to give you my opinion on Cardano, it’s JUST MY 2 CENTS, but I’d rather be honest with you : Cardano wants to become a platform. The principal engine to a platform and its value is the network effect: Google, Facebook, Amazon, Uber, Airbnb, Netflix; All those companies created platforms that are successful because they knew how to bring X and Y in the same place : (X: Search, friends, advertising, drivers, housing, content providers; Y : customers). The more houses or drivers, the more YOU, as a customer will want to use the platform because it will be easier, less expensive and faster to find what you’re looking for (in theory). Today, cardano is scheduling its platform launch around mid-2018. Today, Cardano is valued at 18 billions. It was at 1 billion 35 days ago : to you, what does justify a growth of 1800% ? Speculation or a real project advancement ? 18 billions for a platform that still isn’t on the market. It also has multiple competitors : Etherum, NEO, EOS, Ark. Ethereum has hundreds of projects that are being built. NEO has more than 20, some already launched, 15 that will come in January (disclaimer: I invested money on NEO because I estimate that its value is under evaluated compared to other platforms like Ethereum, EOS, Cardano lol). SpaceX, sending rockets into space was evaluated at 21billions in July. Peugeot, sending millions of cars, is evaluated at 15.5 billions : can Cardano, that didn’t deploy its platform yet, can legitimately be worth more than Peugeot today ? not for me, it’s a bet I wouldn’t take. For me, Cardano still didn’t ‘Deserve’ this capitalization, because it still didn’t deliver projects that justify it. Maybe in 5 years It will be the biggest blockchain platform, with the best technology, and the capitalization will be worth 300 billions, Idk, time will tell, but when I look today’s value compared to what it was 35 days ago, and I look at the road map, I wouldn’t take the risk of putting (X€ amount – what I put on it) on this project today : it’s always a question of risk/earning. Another point : the project is still new, there are no platform allowing to buy directly ADA from euros or dollars, it’s not on Bitfinex or Coinbase and it’s a reason why you should be careful regarding its value. I think most of Cardano is owned by Japanese funds : which means that the trading volume is limited because a lot of these funds are ‘locked’. Bots can easily artificially raise the trading volume, and the price too, if a good share of the owners can’t « sell » when they wish to. Putting everything on a project is a real Poker play : and it was a winning one for you in just 24 hours (I -baneparis- invested some savings when cardano was worth 0.4388 eur all tax included (fees from binance etc)). I just wanted to share with you 😊 I translated everything from french to english so sorry for the mistakes if there are some. I just wanted to share with the community. I'm not sponsoring anything, I'm just someone that invested in ADA and that is curious as I'm very new to the crypto world :) Happy New Year ! And I hope for the best in the coming months.
Hashrate: went from 54 to 76 PH/s, the low was 50 and the new all-time high is 100 PH/s. BeePool share rose to ~50% while F2Pool shrank to 30%, followed by coinmine.pl at 5% and Luxor at 3%. Staking: 30-day average ticket price is 95.6 DCR (+3.0) as of Sep 3. During the month, ticket price fluctuated between a low of 92.2 and high of 100.5 DCR. Locked DCR represented between 3.8 and 3.9 million or 46.3-46.9% of the supply. Nodes: there are 217 public listening and 281 normal nodes per dcred.eu. Version distribution: 2% at v1.4.0(pre) (dev builds), 5% on v1.3.0 (RC1), 62% on v1.2.0 (-5%), 22% on v1.1.2 (-2%), 6% on v1.1.0 (-1%). Almost 69% of nodes are v.1.2.0 and higher and support client filters. Data snapshot of Aug 31.
Obelisk posted 3 email updates in August. DCR1 units are reportedly shipping with 1 TH/s hashrate and will be upgraded with firmware to 1.5 TH/s. Batch 1 customers will receive compensation for missed shipment dates, but only after Batch 5 ships. Batch 2-5 customers will be receiving the updated slim design. Innosilicon announced the new D9+ DecredMaster: 2.8 TH/s at 1,230 W priced $1,499. Specified shipping date was Aug 10-15. FFMiner DS19 claims 3.1 TH/s for Blake256R14 at 680 W and simultaneously 1.55 TH/s for Blake2B at 410 W, the price is $1,299. Shipping Aug 20-25. Another newly noticed miner offer is this unit that does 46 TH/s at 2,150 W at the price of $4,720. It is shipping Nov 2018 and the stats look very close to Pangolin Whatsminer DCR (which has now a page on asicminervalue).
www.d1pool.com joined the list of stakepools for a total of 16. Australian CoinTreeadded DCR trading. The platform supports fiat, there are some limitations during the upgrade to a new system but also no fees in the "Early access mode". On a related note, CoinTree is working on a feature to pay household bills with cryptocurrencies it supports. Three new OTC desks were added to exchanges page at decred.org. Two mobile wallets integrated Decred:
Coinomiadded Decred to their Android and iOS wallets. In addition to the Apple App Store and Google Play you can download the APK directly. Coinomi features an integrated cryptocurrency exchange and is the first company to offer a mobile Decred wallet.
Reminder: do your best to understand the security and privacy model before using any wallet software. Points to consider: who controls the seed, does the wallet talk to the nodes directly or via middlemen, is it open source or not?
Bit Dialsannounced DCR support via GloBee at their bitdials.eu luxury boutique. Their separate supercar and classic car shop bitcars.eu also accepts DCR, either via GloBee or with manual invoicing in case of privacy concerns.
Targeted advertising report for August was posted by @timhebel. Facebook appeal is pending, some Google and Twitter campaigns were paused and some updated. Read more here. Contribution to the @decredproject Twitter account has evolved over the past few months. A #twitter_ops channel is being used on Matrix to collaboratively draft and execute project account tweets (including retweets). Anyone with an interest in contributing to the Twitter account can ask for an invitation to the channel and can start contributing content and ideas there for evaluation by the Twitter group. As a result, no minority or unilateral veto over tweets is possible. (from GitHub)
Meetup in Puebla City, Mexico, organized by @elian. (photo, slides, missed in July issue)
@joshuam discussed Decred and decentralized organizations with Craig Laundy, Federal Minister for Small Business, the Workplace, and Deregulation with the Australian Government, at @YBFVentures. (photos)
Meetup at @TheBlockCafe in Lisbon, Portugal. @mm presented "Decred 101 - Governance with Skin in the Game" and @moo31337 talked about Decred's 2018 roadmap. (photos: 123)
Meetup in Taipei, Taiwan. @morphymore made a short intro of Decred and noted: "After the talk, many have approached to tell me that they literally don’t hear of Decred until today, and are interested in finding out more about the merit of a hybrid consensus system.". Longer report here, some photos and a video are here.
@eSizeDave introduced Decred to the SILC Undergraduate Program students at @YBFVentures. (photo)
OKEx Global Meetup Tour in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. @joshuam gave a brief presentation covering the history of Decred, how the project functions, and the importance of governance. Afterwards he joined a panel discussion and spoke about Decred's incentives for long term viability. (video, video, photo)
Blockchain Futurist Conference in Toronto, Canada. @zubairzia0 noted: "Devs and the community were held in high regard for the people who knew about decred ... one positive thing I remember was someone defending us saying 'Decred does not need a booth', I believe that comment was reflective of the quality of projects being showcased at the conference.". (photo)
Meetup at @YBFVentures in Melbourne, Australia. @joshuam discussed Decred with Graham Stuart, U.K. Minister for International Trade. (news, photos)
Small meetup with Jackson Palmer in Melbourne, Australia. (photo)
Hawthorne Street Fair in Portland, USA. Raedah Group was out answering questions about crypto and Decred. (photos)
Blockchain APAC in Melbourne, Australia. @joshuam joined a panel discussion with reps from banking, university and ISO/TC 307. @eSizeDave reports: "This enterprise conference was indeed a whole lot better than I expected. The presentations were actually full of very worthwhile information from credible people, articulated aptly to a very government, academic, and corporate crowd, who genuinely took on board valuable insights. Good to know some of these key people are Decred holders and stakers as well. I got to use the entire day to speak directly with some of the most pivotal personalities in this particular populace. Ongoing relationships have been built and strengthened.". (photos: 123)
For those willing to help with the events:
BAB: Hey all, we are gearing up for conference season. I have a list of places we hope to attend but need to know who besides @joshuam and @Haon are willing to do public speaking, willing to work booths, or help out at them? You will need to be well versed on not just what is Decred, but the history of Decred etc... DM me if you are interested. (#event_planning) The Decred project is looking for ambassadors. If you are looking for a fun cryptocurrency to get involved in send me a DM or come talk to me on Decred slack. (@marco_peereboom, longer version here)
One private work channel was successfully migrated to Matrix.
Stylish room avatars were set.
@Haon has prepared a short guide to help new Matrix users get started and join the Decred rooms.
A thread was started to discuss changes to Decred jargon with the intent to make it more consistent and accessible to newcomers. The question whether changing "official" terminology requires stakeholder approval was touched in this thread and in #documentation.
Project fund transparency and constitution were extensively discussed on Reddit and in #general.
Pre-proposal to use Politeia to approve Politeia as a legitimate decision-making tool for Decred.
Reddit: substantive discussion about Decred cons; ecosystem fund; a thread about voter engagement, Politeia UX and trolling; idea of a social media system for Decred by @michae2xl; how profitable is the Obelisk DCR1. Chats: cross-chain trading via LN; plans for contractor management system, lower-level decision making and contractor privacy vs transparency for stakeholders; measuring dev activity; what if the network stalls, multiple implementations of Decred for more resilience, long term vision behind those extensive tests and accurate comments in the codebase; ideas for process for policy documents, hosting them in Pi and approving with ticket voting; about SPV wallet disk size, how compact filters work; odds of a wallet fetching a wrong block in SPV; new module system in Go; security of allowing Android app backups; why PoW algo change proposal must be specified in great detail; thoughts about NIPoPoWs and SPV; prerequisites for shipping SPV by default (continued); Decred vs Dash treasury and marketing expenses, spending other people's money; why Decred should not invade a country, DAO and nation states, entangling with nation state is poor resource allocation; how winning tickets are determined and attack vectors; Politeia proposal moderation, contractor clearance, the scale of proposals and decision delegation, initial Politeia vote to approve Politeia itself; chat systems, Matrix/Slack/Discord/RocketChat/Keybase (continued); overview of Korean exchanges; no breaking changes in vgo; why project fund burn rate must keep low; asymptotic behavior of Decred and other ccs, tail emission; count of full nodes and incentives to run them; Politeia proposal translations and multilingual environment. An unusual event was the chat about double negatives and other oddities in languages in #trading.
DCR started the month at USD 56 / BTC 0.0073 and had a two week decline. On Aug 14 the whole market took a huge drop and briefly went below USD 200 billion. Bitcoin went below USD 6,000 and top 100 cryptos lost 5-30%. The lowest point coincided with Bitcoin dominance peak at 54.5%. On that day Decred dived -17% and reached the bottom of USD 32 / BTC 0.00537. Since then it went sideways in the USD 35-45 / BTC 0.0054-0.0064 range. Around Aug 24, Huobi showed DCR trading volume above USD 5M and this coincided with a minor recovery. @ImacallyouJawdy posted some creative analysis based on ticket data.
StopAndDecrypt published an extensive article "ASIC Resistance is Nothing but a Blockchain Buzzword" that is much in line with Decred's stance on ASICs. The ongoing debates about the possible Sia fork yet again demonstrate the importance of a robust dispute resolution mechanism. Also, we are lucky to have the treasury. Mark B Lundeberg, who found a vulnerability in atomicswap earlier, published a concept of more private peer-to-peer atomic swaps. (missed in July issue) Medium took a cautious stance on cryptocurrencies and triggered at least one project to migrate to Ghost (that same project previously migrated away from Slack). Regulation: Vietnam bans mining equipment imports, China halts crypto events and tightens control of crypto chat groups. Reddit was hacked by intercepting 2FA codes sent via SMS. The announcement explains the impact. Yet another data breach suggests to think twice before sharing any data with any company and shift to more secure authentication systems. Intel and x86 dumpsterfire keeps burning brighter. Seek more secure hardware and operating systems for your coins. Finally, unrelated to Decred but good for a laugh: yetanotherico.com.
About This Issue
This is the 5th issue of Decred Journal. It is mirrored on GitHub, Medium and Reddit. Past issues are available here. Most information from third parties is relayed directly from source after a minimal sanity check. The authors of Decred Journal have no ability to verify all claims. Please beware of scams and do your own research. Feedback is appreciated: please comment on Reddit, GitHub or #writers_room on Matrix or Slack. Contributions are welcome too. Some areas are collecting content, pre-release review or translations to other languages. Check out @Richard-Red's guide how to contribute to Decred using GitHub without writing code. Credits (Slack names, alphabetical order): bee, Haon, jazzah, Richard-Red and thedecreddigest.
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