Binance Hacked for $41,000,00 USD - are Funds Safe?
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Summary: Everyone knows that when you give your assets to someone else, they always keep them safe. If this is true for individuals, it is certainly true for businesses. Custodians always tell the truth and manage funds properly. They won't have any interest in taking the assets as an exchange operator would. Auditors tell the truth and can't be misled. That's because organizations that are regulated are incapable of lying and don't make mistakes. First, some background. Here is a summary of how custodians make us more secure: Previously, we might give Alice our crypto assets to hold. There were risks:
Alice might take the assets and disappear.
Alice might spend the assets and pretend that she still has them (fractional model).
Alice might store the assets insecurely and they'll get stolen.
Alice might give the assets to someone else by mistake or by force.
Alice might lose access to the assets.
But "no worries", Alice has a custodian named Bob. Bob is dressed in a nice suit. He knows some politicians. And he drives a Porsche. "So you have nothing to worry about!". And look at all the benefits we get:
Alice can't take the assets and disappear (unless she asks Bob or never gives them to Bob).
Alice can't spend the assets and pretend that she still has them. (Unless she didn't give them to Bob or asks him for them.)
Alice can't store the assets insecurely so they get stolen. (After all - she doesn't have any control over the withdrawal process from any of Bob's systems, right?)
Alice can't give the assets to someone else by mistake or by force. (Bob will stop her, right Bob?)
Alice can't lose access to the funds. (She'll always be present, sane, and remember all secrets, right?)
See - all problems are solved! All we have to worry about now is:
Bob might take the assets and disappear.
Bob might spend the assets and pretend that he still has them (fractional model).
Bob might store the assets insecurely and they'll get stolen.
Bob might give the assets to someone else by mistake or by force.
Bob might lose access to the assets.
It's pretty simple. Before we had to trust Alice. Now we only have to trust Alice, Bob, and all the ways in which they communicate. Just think of how much more secure we are! "On top of that", Bob assures us, "we're using a special wallet structure". Bob shows Alice a diagram. "We've broken the balance up and store it in lots of smaller wallets. That way", he assures her, "a thief can't take it all at once". And he points to a historic case where a large sum was taken "because it was stored in a single wallet... how stupid". "Very early on, we used to have all the crypto in one wallet", he said, "and then one Christmas a hacker came and took it all. We call him the Grinch. Now we individually wrap each crypto and stick it under a binary search tree. The Grinch has never been back since." "As well", Bob continues, "even if someone were to get in, we've got insurance. It covers all thefts and even coercion, collusion, and misplaced keys - only subject to the policy terms and conditions." And with that, he pulls out a phone-book sized contract and slams it on the desk with a thud. "Yep", he continues, "we're paying top dollar for one of the best policies in the country!" "Can I read it?' Alice asks. "Sure," Bob says, "just as soon as our legal team is done with it. They're almost through the first chapter." He pauses, then continues. "And can you believe that sales guy Mike? He has the same year Porsche as me. I mean, what are the odds?" "Do you use multi-sig?", Alice asks. "Absolutely!" Bob replies. "All our engineers are fully trained in multi-sig. Whenever we want to set up a new wallet, we generate 2 separate keys in an air-gapped process and store them in this proprietary system here. Look, it even requires the biometric signature from one of our team members to initiate any withdrawal." He demonstrates by pressing his thumb into the display. "We use a third-party cloud validation API to match the thumbprint and authorize each withdrawal. The keys are also backed up daily to an off-site third-party." "Wow that's really impressive," Alice says, "but what if we need access for a withdrawal outside of office hours?" "Well that's no issue", Bob says, "just send us an email, call, or text message and we always have someone on staff to help out. Just another part of our strong commitment to all our customers!" "What about Proof of Reserve?", Alice asks. "Of course", Bob replies, "though rather than publish any blockchain addresses or signed transaction, for privacy we just do a SHA256 refactoring of the inverse hash modulus for each UTXO nonce and combine the smart contract coefficient consensus in our hyperledger lightning node. But it's really simple to use." He pushes a button and a large green checkmark appears on a screen. "See - the algorithm ran through and reserves are proven." "Wow", Alice says, "you really know your stuff! And that is easy to use! What about fiat balances?" "Yeah, we have an auditor too", Bob replies, "Been using him for a long time so we have quite a strong relationship going! We have special books we give him every year and he's very efficient! Checks the fiat, crypto, and everything all at once!" "We used to have a nice offline multi-sig setup we've been using without issue for the past 5 years, but I think we'll move all our funds over to your facility," Alice says. "Awesome", Bob replies, "Thanks so much! This is perfect timing too - my Porsche got a dent on it this morning. We have the paperwork right over here." "Great!", Alice replies. And with that, Alice gets out her pen and Bob gets the contract. "Don't worry", he says, "you can take your crypto-assets back anytime you like - just subject to our cancellation policy. Our annual management fees are also super low and we don't adjust them often". How many holes have to exist for your funds to get stolen? Just one. Why are we taking a powerful offline multi-sig setup, widely used globally in hundreds of different/lacking regulatory environments with 0 breaches to date, and circumventing it by a demonstrably weak third party layer? And paying a great expense to do so? If you go through the list of breaches in the past 2 years to highly credible organizations, you go through the list of major corporate frauds (only the ones we know about), you go through the list of all the times platforms have lost funds, you go through the list of times and ways that people have lost their crypto from identity theft, hot wallet exploits, extortion, etc... and then you go through this custodian with a fine-tooth comb and truly believe they have value to add far beyond what you could, sticking your funds in a wallet (or set of wallets) they control exclusively is the absolute worst possible way to take advantage of that security. The best way to add security for crypto-assets is to make a stronger multi-sig. With one custodian, what you are doing is giving them your cryptocurrency and hoping they're honest, competent, and flawlessly secure. It's no different than storing it on a really secure exchange. Maybe the insurance will cover you. Didn't work for Bitpay in 2015. Didn't work for Yapizon in 2017. Insurance has never paid a claim in the entire history of cryptocurrency. But maybe you'll get lucky. Maybe your exact scenario will buck the trend and be what they're willing to cover. After the large deductible and hopefully without a long and expensive court battle. And you want to advertise this increase in risk, the lapse of judgement, an accident waiting to happen, as though it's some kind of benefit to customers ("Free institutional-grade storage for your digital assets.")? And then some people are writing to the OSC that custodians should be mandatory for all funds on every exchange platform? That this somehow will make Canadians as a whole more secure or better protected compared with standard air-gapped multi-sig? On what planet? Most of the problems in Canada stemmed from one thing - a lack of transparency. If Canadians had known what a joke Quadriga was - it wouldn't have grown to lose $400m from hard-working Canadians from coast to coast to coast. And Gerald Cotten would be in jail, not wherever he is now (at best, rotting peacefully). EZ-BTC and mister Dave Smilie would have been a tiny little scam to his friends, not a multi-million dollar fraud. Einstein would have got their act together or been shut down BEFORE losing millions and millions more in people's funds generously donated to criminals. MapleChange wouldn't have even been a thing. And maybe we'd know a little more about CoinTradeNewNote - like how much was lost in there. Almost all of the major losses with cryptocurrency exchanges involve deception with unbacked funds. So it's great to see transparency reports from BitBuy and ShakePay where someone independently verified the backing. The only thing we don't have is:
ANY CERTAINTY BALANCES WEREN'T EXCLUDED. Quadriga's largest account was $70m. 80% of funds are in 20% of accounts (Pareto principle). All it takes is excluding a few really large accounts - and nobody's the wiser. A fractional platform can easily pass any audit this way.
ANY VISIBILITY WHATSOEVER INTO THE CUSTODIANS. BitBuy put out their report before moving all the funds to their custodian and ShakePay apparently can't even tell us who the custodian is. That's pretty important considering that basically all of the funds are now stored there.
ANY IDEA ABOUT THE OTHER EXCHANGES. In order for this to be effective, it has to be the norm. It needs to be "unusual" not to know. If obscurity is the norm, then it's super easy for people like Gerald Cotten and Dave Smilie to blend right in.
It's not complicated to validate cryptocurrency assets. They need to exist, they need to be spendable, and they need to cover the total balances. There are plenty of credible people and firms across the country that have the capacity to reasonably perform this validation. Having more frequent checks by different, independent, parties who publish transparent reports is far more valuable than an annual check by a single "more credible/official" party who does the exact same basic checks and may or may not publish anything. Here's an example set of requirements that could be mandated:
First report within 1 month of launching, another within 3 months, and further reports at minimum every 6 months thereafter.
No auditor can be repeated within a 12 month period.
All reports must be public, identifying the auditor and the full methodology used.
All auditors must be independent of the firm being audited with no conflict of interest.
Reports must include the percentage of each asset backed, and how it's backed.
The auditor publishes a hash list, which lists a hash of each customer's information and balances that were included. Hash is one-way encryption so privacy is fully preserved. Every customer can use this to have 100% confidence they were included.
If we want more extensive requirements on audits, these should scale upward based on the total assets at risk on the platform, and whether the platform has loaned their assets out.
There are ways to structure audits such that neither crypto assets nor customer information are ever put at risk, and both can still be properly validated and publicly verifiable. There are also ways to structure audits such that they are completely reasonable for small platforms and don't inhibit innovation in any way. By making the process as reasonable as possible, we can completely eliminate any reason/excuse that an honest platform would have for not being audited. That is arguable far more important than any incremental improvement we might get from mandating "the best of the best" accountants. Right now we have nothing mandated and tons of Canadians using offshore exchanges with no oversight whatsoever. Transparency does not prove crypto assets are safe. CoinTradeNewNote, Flexcoin ($600k), and Canadian Bitcoins ($100k) are examples where crypto-assets were breached from platforms in Canada. All of them were online wallets and used no multi-sig as far as any records show. This is consistent with what we see globally - air-gapped multi-sig wallets have an impeccable record, while other schemes tend to suffer breach after breach. We don't actually know how much CoinTrader lost because there was no visibility. Rather than publishing details of what happened, the co-founder of CoinTrader silently moved on to found another platform - the "most trusted way to buy and sell crypto" - a site that has no information whatsoever (that I could find) on the storage practices and a FAQ advising that “[t]rading cryptocurrency is completely safe” and that having your own wallet is “entirely up to you! You can certainly keep cryptocurrency, or fiat, or both, on the app.” Doesn't sound like much was learned here, which is really sad to see. It's not that complicated or unreasonable to set up a proper hardware wallet. Multi-sig can be learned in a single course. Something the equivalent complexity of a driver's license test could prevent all the cold storage exploits we've seen to date - even globally. Platform operators have a key advantage in detecting and preventing fraud - they know their customers far better than any custodian ever would. The best job that custodians can do is to find high integrity individuals and train them to form even better wallet signatories. Rather than mandating that all platforms expose themselves to arbitrary third party risks, regulations should center around ensuring that all signatories are background-checked, properly trained, and using proper procedures. We also need to make sure that signatories are empowered with rights and responsibilities to reject and report fraud. They need to know that they can safely challenge and delay a transaction - even if it turns out they made a mistake. We need to have an environment where mistakes are brought to the surface and dealt with. Not one where firms and people feel the need to hide what happened. In addition to a knowledge-based test, an auditor can privately interview each signatory to make sure they're not in coercive situations, and we should make sure they can freely and anonymously report any issues without threat of retaliation. A proper multi-sig has each signature held by a separate person and is governed by policies and mutual decisions instead of a hierarchy. It includes at least one redundant signature. For best results, 3of4, 3of5, 3of6, 4of5, 4of6, 4of7, 5of6, or 5of7. History has demonstrated over and over again the risk of hot wallets even to highly credible organizations. Nonetheless, many platforms have hot wallets for convenience. While such losses are generally compensated by platforms without issue (for example Poloniex, Bitstamp, Bitfinex, Gatecoin, Coincheck, Bithumb, Zaif, CoinBene, Binance, Bitrue, Bitpoint, Upbit, VinDAX, and now KuCoin), the public tends to focus more on cases that didn't end well. Regardless of what systems are employed, there is always some level of risk. For that reason, most members of the public would prefer to see third party insurance. Rather than trying to convince third party profit-seekers to provide comprehensive insurance and then relying on an expensive and slow legal system to enforce against whatever legal loopholes they manage to find each and every time something goes wrong, insurance could be run through multiple exchange operators and regulators, with the shared interest of having a reputable industry, keeping costs down, and taking care of Canadians. For example, a 4 of 7 multi-sig insurance fund held between 5 independent exchange operators and 2 regulatory bodies. All Canadian exchanges could pay premiums at a set rate based on their needed coverage, with a higher price paid for hot wallet coverage (anything not an air-gapped multi-sig cold wallet). Such a model would be much cheaper to manage, offer better coverage, and be much more reliable to payout when needed. The kind of coverage you could have under this model is unheard of. You could even create something like the CDIC to protect Canadians who get their trading accounts hacked if they can sufficiently prove the loss is legitimate. In cases of fraud, gross negligence, or insolvency, the fund can be used to pay affected users directly (utilizing the last transparent balance report in the worst case), something which private insurance would never touch. While it's recommended to have official policies for coverage, a model where members vote would fully cover edge cases. (Could be similar to the Supreme Court where justices vote based on case law.) Such a model could fully protect all Canadians across all platforms. You can have a fiat coverage governed by legal agreements, and crypto-asset coverage governed by both multi-sig and legal agreements. It could be practical, affordable, and inclusive. Now, we are at a crossroads. We can happily give up our freedom, our innovation, and our money. We can pay hefty expenses to auditors, lawyers, and regulators year after year (and make no mistake - this cost will grow to many millions or even billions as the industry grows - and it will be borne by all Canadians on every platform because platforms are not going to eat up these costs at a loss). We can make it nearly impossible for any new platform to enter the marketplace, forcing Canadians to use the same stagnant platforms year after year. We can centralize and consolidate the entire industry into 2 or 3 big players and have everyone else fail (possibly to heavy losses of users of those platforms). And when a flawed security model doesn't work and gets breached, we can make it even more complicated with even more people in suits making big money doing the job that blockchain was supposed to do in the first place. We can build a system which is so intertwined and dependent on big government, traditional finance, and central bankers that it's future depends entirely on that of the fiat system, of fractional banking, and of government bail-outs. If we choose this path, as history has shown us over and over again, we can not go back, save for revolution. Our children and grandchildren will still be paying the consequences of what we decided today. Or, we can find solutions that work. We can maintain an open and innovative environment while making the adjustments we need to make to fully protect Canadian investors and cryptocurrency users, giving easy and affordable access to cryptocurrency for all Canadians on the platform of their choice, and creating an environment in which entrepreneurs and problem solvers can bring those solutions forward easily. None of the above precludes innovation in any way, or adds any unreasonable cost - and these three policies would demonstrably eliminate or resolve all 109 historic cases as studied here - that's every single case researched so far going back to 2011. It includes every loss that was studied so far not just in Canada but globally as well. Unfortunately, finding answers is the least challenging part. Far more challenging is to get platform operators and regulators to agree on anything. My last post got no response whatsoever, and while the OSC has told me they're happy for industry feedback, I believe my opinion alone is fairly meaningless. This takes the whole community working together to solve. So please let me know your thoughts. Please take the time to upvote and share this with people. Please - let's get this solved and not leave it up to other people to do. Facts/background/sources (skip if you like):
The inspiration for the paragraph about splitting wallets was an actual quote from a Canadian company providing custodial services in response to the OSC consultation paper: "We believe that it will be in the in best interests of investors to prohibit pooled crypto assets or ‘floats’. Most Platforms pool assets, citing reasons of practicality and expense. The recent hack of the world’s largest Platform – Binance – demonstrates the vulnerability of participants’ assets when such concessions are made. In this instance, the Platform’s entire hot wallet of Bitcoins, worth over $40 million, was stolen, facilitated in part by the pooling of client crypto assets." "the maintenance of participants (and Platform) crypto assets across multiple wallets distributes the related risk and responsibility of security - reducing the amount of insurance coverage required and making insurance coverage more readily obtainable". For the record, their reply also said nothing whatsoever about multi-sig or offline storage.
In addition to the fact that the $40m hack represented only one "hot wallet" of Binance, and they actually had the vast majority of assets in other wallets (including mostly cold wallets), multiple real cases have clearly demonstrated that risk is still present with multiple wallets. Bitfinex, VinDAX, Bithumb, Altsbit, BitPoint, Cryptopia, and just recently KuCoin all had multiple wallets breached all at the same time, and may represent a significantly larger impact on customers than the Binance breach which was fully covered by Binance. To represent that simply having multiple separate wallets under the same security scheme is a comprehensive way to reduce risk is just not true.
Private insurance has historically never covered a single loss in the cryptocurrency space (at least, not one that I was able to find), and there are notable cases where massive losses were not covered by insurance. Bitpay in 2015 and Yapizon in 2017 both had insurance policies that didn't pay out during the breach, even after a lengthly court process. The same insurance that ShakePay is presently using (and announced to much fanfare) was describe by their CEO himself as covering “physical theft of the media where the private keys are held,” which is something that has never historically happened. As was said with regard to the same policy in 2018 - “I don’t find it surprising that Lloyd’s is in this space,” said Johnson, adding that to his mind the challenge for everybody is figuring out how to structure these policies so that they are actually protective. “You can create an insurance policy that protects no one – you know there are so many caveats to the policy that it’s not super protective.”
The most profitable policy for a private insurance company is one with the most expensive premiums that they never have to pay a claim on. They have no inherent incentive to take care of people who lost funds. It's "cheaper" to take the reputational hit and fight the claim in court. The more money at stake, the more the insurance provider is incentivized to avoid payout. They're not going to insure the assets unless they have reasonable certainty to make a profit by doing so, and they're not going to pay out a massive sum unless it's legally forced. Private insurance is always structured to be maximally profitable to the insurance provider.
The circumvention of multi-sig was a key factor in the massive Bitfinex hack of over $60m of bitcoin, which today still sits being slowly used and is worth over $3b. While Bitfinex used a qualified custodian Bitgo, which was and still is active and one of the industry leaders of custodians, and they set up 2 of 3 multi-sig wallets, the entire system was routed through Bitfinex, such that Bitfinex customers could initiate the withdrawals in a "hot" fashion. This feature was also a hit with the hacker. The multi-sig was fully circumvented.
Bitpay in 2015 was another example of a breach that stole 5,000 bitcoins. This happened not through the exploit of any system in Bitpay, but because the CEO of a company they worked with got their computer hacked and the hackers were able to request multiple bitcoin purchases, which Bitpay honoured because they came from the customer's computer legitimately. Impersonation is a very common tactic used by fraudsters, and methods get more extreme all the time.
A notable case in Canada was the Canadian Bitcoins exploit. Funds were stored on a server in a Rogers Data Center, and the attendee was successfully convinced to reboot the server "in safe mode" with a simple phone call, thus bypassing the extensive security and enabling the theft.
The very nature of custodians circumvents multi-sig. This is because custodians are not just having to secure the assets against some sort of physical breach but against any form of social engineering, modification of orders, fraudulent withdrawal attempts, etc... If the security practices of signatories in a multi-sig arrangement are such that the breach risk of one signatory is 1 in 100, the requirement of 3 independent signatures makes the risk of theft 1 in 1,000,000. Since hackers tend to exploit the weakest link, a comparable custodian has to make the entry and exit points of their platform 10,000 times more secure than one of those signatories to provide equivalent protection. And if the signatories beef up their security by only 10x, the risk is now 1 in 1,000,000,000. The custodian has to be 1,000,000 times more secure. The larger and more complex a system is, the more potential vulnerabilities exist in it, and the fewer people can understand how the system works when performing upgrades. Even if a system is completely secure today, one has to also consider how that system might evolve over time or work with different members.
By contrast, offline multi-signature solutions have an extremely solid record, and in the entire history of cryptocurrency exchange incidents which I've studied (listed here), there has only been one incident (796 exchange in 2015) involving an offline multi-signature wallet. It happened because the customer's bitcoin address was modified by hackers, and the amount that was stolen ($230k) was immediately covered by the exchange operators. Basically, the platform operators were tricked into sending a legitimate withdrawal request to the wrong address because hackers exploited their platform to change that address. Such an issue would not be prevented in any way by the use of a custodian, as that custodian has no oversight whatsoever to the exchange platform. It's practical for all exchange operators to test large withdrawal transactions as a general policy, regardless of what model is used, and general best practice is to diagnose and fix such an exploit as soon as it occurs.
False promises on the backing of funds played a huge role in the downfall of Quadriga, and it's been exposed over and over again (MyCoin, PlusToken, Bitsane, Bitmarket, EZBTC, IDAX). Even today, customers have extremely limited certainty on whether their funds in exchanges are actually being backed or how they're being backed. While this issue is not unique to cryptocurrency exchanges, the complexity of the technology and the lack of any regulation or standards makes problems more widespread, and there is no "central bank" to come to the rescue as in the 2008 financial crisis or during the great depression when "9,000 banks failed".
In addition to fraudulent operations, the industry is full of cases where operators have suffered breaches and not reported them. Most recently, Einstein was the largest case in Canada, where ongoing breaches and fraud were perpetrated against the platform for multiple years and nobody found out until the platform collapsed completely. While fraud and breaches suck to deal with, they suck even more when not dealt with. Lack of visibility played a role in the largest downfalls of Mt. Gox, Cryptsy, and Bitgrail. In some cases, platforms are alleged to have suffered a hack and keep operating without admitting it at all, such as CoinBene.
It surprises some to learn that a cryptographic solution has already existed since 2013, and gained widespread support in 2014 after Mt. Gox. Proof of Reserves is a full cryptographic proof that allows any customer using an exchange to have complete certainty that their crypto-assets are fully backed by the platform in real-time. This is accomplished by proving that assets exist on the blockchain, are spendable, and fully cover customer deposits. It does not prove safety of assets or backing of fiat assets.
If we didn't care about privacy at all, a platform could publish their wallet addresses, sign a partial transaction, and put the full list of customer information and balances out publicly. Customers can each check that they are on the list, that the balances are accurate, that the total adds up, and that it's backed and spendable on the blockchain. Platforms who exclude any customer take a risk because that customer can easily check and see they were excluded. So together with all customers checking, this forms a full proof of backing of all crypto assets.
However, obviously customers care about their private information being published. Therefore, a hash of the information can be provided instead. Hash is one-way encryption. The hash allows the customer to validate inclusion (by hashing their own known information), while anyone looking at the list of hashes cannot determine the private information of any other user. All other parts of the scheme remain fully intact. A model like this is in use on the exchange CoinFloor in the UK.
A Merkle tree can provide even greater privacy. Instead of a list of balances, the balances are arranged into a binary tree. A customer starts from their node, and works their way to the top of the tree. For example, they know they have 5 BTC, they plus 1 other customer hold 7 BTC, they plus 2-3 other customers hold 17 BTC, etc... until they reach the root where all the BTC are represented. Thus, there is no way to find the balances of other individual customers aside from one unidentified customer in this case.
Proposals such as this had the backing of leaders in the community including Nic Carter, Greg Maxwell, and Zak Wilcox. Substantial and significant effort started back in 2013, with massive popularity in 2014. But what became of that effort? Very little. Exchange operators continue to refuse to give visibility. Despite the fact this information can often be obtained through trivial blockchain analysis, no Canadian platform has ever provided any wallet addresses publicly. As described by the CEO of Newton "For us to implement some kind of realtime Proof of Reserves solution, which I'm not opposed to, it would have to ... Preserve our users' privacy, as well as our own. Some kind of zero-knowledge proof". Kraken describes here in more detail why they haven't implemented such a scheme. According to professor Eli Ben-Sasson, when he spoke with exchanges, none were interested in implementing Proof of Reserves.
And yet, Kraken's places their reasoning on a page called "Proof of Reserves". More recently, both BitBuy and ShakePay have released reports titled "Proof of Reserves and Security Audit". Both reports contain disclaimers against being audits. Both reports trust the customer list provided by the platform, leaving the open possibility that multiple large accounts could have been excluded from the process. Proof of Reserves is a blockchain validation where customers see the wallets on the blockchain. The report from Kraken is 5 years old, but they leave it described as though it was just done a few weeks ago. And look at what they expect customers to do for validation. When firms represent something being "Proof of Reserve" when it's not, this is like a farmer growing fruit with pesticides and selling it in a farmers market as organic produce - except that these are people's hard-earned life savings at risk here. Platforms are misrepresenting the level of visibility in place and deceiving the public by their misuse of this term. They haven't proven anything.
Fraud isn't a problem that is unique to cryptocurrency. Fraud happens all the time. Enron, WorldCom, Nortel, Bear Stearns, Wells Fargo, Moser Baer, Wirecard, Bre-X, and Nicola are just some of the cases where frauds became large enough to become a big deal (and there are so many countless others). These all happened on 100% reversible assets despite regulations being in place. In many of these cases, the problems happened due to the over-complexity of the financial instruments. For example, Enron had "complex financial statements [which] were confusing to shareholders and analysts", creating "off-balance-sheet vehicles, complex financing structures, and deals so bewildering that few people could understand them". In cryptocurrency, we are often combining complex financial products with complex technologies and verification processes. We are naïve if we think problems like this won't happen. It is awkward and uncomfortable for many people to admit that they don't know how something works. If we want "money of the people" to work, the solutions have to be simple enough that "the people" can understand them, not so confusing that financial professionals and technology experts struggle to use or understand them.
For those who question the extent to which an organization can fool their way into a security consultancy role, HB Gary should be a great example to look at. Prior to trying to out anonymous, HB Gary was being actively hired by multiple US government agencies and others in the private sector (with glowing testimonials). The published articles and hosted professional security conferences. One should also look at this list of data breaches from the past 2 years. Many of them are large corporations, government entities, and technology companies. These are the ones we know about. Undoubtedly, there are many more that we do not know about. If HB Gary hadn't been "outted" by anonymous, would we have known they were insecure? If the same breach had happened outside of the public spotlight, would it even have been reported? Or would HB Gary have just deleted the Twitter posts, brought their site back up, done a couple patches, and kept on operating as though nothing had happened?
In the case of Quadriga, the facts are clear. Despite past experience with platforms such as MapleChange in Canada and others around the world, no guidance or even the most basic of a framework was put in place by regulators. By not clarifying any sort of legal framework, regulators enabled a situation where a platform could be run by former criminal Mike Dhanini/Omar Patryn, and where funds could be held fully unchecked by one person. At the same time, the lack of regulation deterred legitimate entities from running competing platforms and Quadriga was granted a money services business license for multiple years of operation, which gave the firm the appearance of legitimacy. Regulators did little to protect Canadians despite Quadriga failing to file taxes from 2016 onward. The entire administrative team had resigned and this was public knowledge. Many people had suspicions of what was going on, including Ryan Mueller, who forwarded complaints to the authorities. These were ignored, giving Gerald Cotten the opportunity to escape without justice.
There are multiple issues with the SOC II model including the prohibitive cost (you have to find a third party accounting firm and the prices are not even listed publicly on any sites), the requirement of operating for a year (impossible for new platforms), and lack of any public visibility (SOC II are private reports that aren't shared outside the people in suits).
Securities frameworks are expensive. Sarbanes-Oxley is estimated to cost $5.1 million USD/yr for the average Fortune 500 company in the United States. Since "Fortune 500" represents the top 500 companies, that means well over $2.55 billion USD (~$3.4 billion CAD) is going to people in suits. Isn't the problem of trust and verification the exact problem that the blockchain is supposed to solve?
To use Quadriga as justification for why custodians or SOC II or other advanced schemes are needed for platforms is rather silly, when any framework or visibility at all, or even the most basic of storage policies, would have prevented the whole thing. It's just an embarrassment.
We are now seeing regulators take strong action. CoinSquare in Canada with multi-million dollar fines. BitMex from the US, criminal charges and arrests. OkEx, with full disregard of withdrawals and no communication. Who's next?
We have a unique window today where we can solve these problems, and not permanently destroy innovation with unreasonable expectations, but we need to act quickly. This is a unique historic time that will never come again.
Aryacoin is a new cryptocurrency, which allows for decentralized, peer to peer transactions of electronic cash. It is like Bitcoin and Litecoin, but the trading of the coin occurs on sales platforms that have no restriction to use. Further, it was created with the goal of addressing the double spend issues of Bitcoin and does so using a timestamp server to verify transactions. It works by taking the hash of a block of items to be timestamped and widely publishing the hash. The timestamp proves that the data must have existed at the time in order to get the hash. Each timestamp then includes the previous timestamp in its hash, forming a chain. The Aryacoin team is continuously developing new use cases for the coin, including exchanges where users can exchange the coins without any fees or restrictions, and offline options where the coins can be bought and sold for cash. The coins can also be used on the company’s other platform, mrdigicoin.io. Along with the coin, there is a digital wallet that can be created and controlled by the user entirely, with no control being retained by the Aryacoin team.
The concept of Blockchain first came to fame in October 2008, as part of a proposal for Bitcoin, with the aim to create P2P money without banks. Bitcoin introduced a novel solution to the age-old human problem of trust. The underlying blockchain technology allows us to trust the outputs of the system without trusting any actor within it. People and institutions who do not know or trust each other, reside in different countries, are subject to different jurisdictions, and who have no legally binding agreements with each other, can now interact over the Internet without the need for trusted third parties like banks, Internet platforms, or other types of clearing institutions. When bitcoin was launched it was revolutionary allowing people to transfer money to anytime and anywhere with very low transaction fees . It was decentralized and their is no third party involved in the transaction , only the sender and receiver were involved. This paper provide a solution to the double-spending problem using a peer-to-peer distributed timestamp server to generate computational proof of the chronological order of transactions.The system is secure as long as honest nodes collectively control more CPU power than any cooperating group of attacker nodes. Bitcoin was made so that it would not be controlled or regulated but now exchanges and governments are regulating bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies at every step. Aryacoin was developed to overcome these restrictions on a free currency. Aryacoin is a new age cryptocurrency, which withholds the original principle on which the concept of cryptocurrency was established. Combining the best in blockchain technology since the time of its creation, Aryacoin strives to deliver the highest trading and mining standards for its community.
1.1 OVERVIEW ABOUT ARYACOIN
Aryacoin is a new age cryptocurrency, which withholds the original principle on which the concept of cryptocurrency was established. Combining the best in blockchain technology since the time of its creation, Aryacoin strives to deliver the highest trading and mining standards for its community. Aryacoin is a blockchain based project that allows users to access their wallet on the web and mobile browsers, using their login details. Aryacoin can be mined; it also can be exchanged by other digital currencies in several world-famous exchanges such as Hitbtc, CoinEx, P2pb2b, WhiteBit, Changelly and is also listed in reputable wallets such as Coinomi and Guarda. Aryacoin is a coin, which can be used by anyone looking to use cryptocurrency which allows them to keep their privacy even when buying/selling the coin along with while using the coin during transactions. Proof of work and cryptographic hashes allows transactions to verified. Stable Fee Per AYA is a unique feature of Aryacoin, so by increasing the amount or volume of the transaction, there is no change in the fee within the network, which means that the fee for sending an amount less than 1 AYA is equal to several hundred million AYA. Another unique feature of Aryacoin is the undetectability of transactions in Explorer, such as the DASH and Monero, of course, this operation is unique to Aryacoin. Using Aryacoin digital currency, like other currencies, international transactions can be done very quickly and there are no limitations in this area as the creators claim. Aryacoin aims to allow users to access the Aryacoin wallet via the web and mobile browsers using their login details. Aryacoin is a peer-to-peer electronic cash system that enables users to send and receive payments directly from one party to another, and allow them to transfer funds across borders with no restriction or third party involvement. The blockchain-based system embraces the digital signature, which prevents double spending and low transfer fees, which enables users to transfer huge amounts with very low fees. The proof-of-work consensus mechanism allows each transaction to be verified and confirmed, while anonymity enables users to use the coin anywhere at any time. According to the website of the operation, each wallet is divided into 2 or more AYA wallet addresses for each transaction, and depending on the volume of the transaction block, the origin, and destination of transactions in the network can not be traced and displayed to the public. In fact, each wallet in Aryacoin consists of a total of several wallets. The number of these wallets increases per transaction to increase both security and privacy. Aryacoin also uses the dPoW protocol. In the dPoW protocol, a second layer is added to the network to verify transactions, which makes “51% attack” impossible even with more than half of the network hash, and blocks whose Blockchain uses this second layer of security never run the risk of 51% attacks. AYA has been listed on a number of crypto exchanges, unlike other main cryptocurrencies, it cannot be directly purchased with fiats money. However, You can still easily buy this coin by first buying Bitcoin from any large exchanges and then transfer to the exchange that offers to trade this coin.
1.1.1 ARYACOIN HISTORY
Aryacoin (AYA) is a new cryptocurrency, which has been created by a group of Iranian developers, is an altcoin which allows for decentralised, peer to peer transactions of electronic cash without any fees whatsoever. Along with the coin, there is a digital wallet that can be created and managed by the user entirely, with no control being retained by the Aryacoin team. Aryacoin’s founder, Kiumars Parsa, has been a fan of alternative currencies and particularly Bitcoin. “We see people from all around the world using Blockchain technology and the great benefits that came with it and it then that I decided to solve this puzzle for find a way of bringing the last missing piece to the jigsaw. The idea for Aryacoin was born.” Parsa said. Parsa and his team of Iranian ex-pats not only persevered but expedited the project and just a year later, in the summer of 2019, the first version of Aryacoin was released. In 2020, Aryacoin is the first and only Iranian coin listed on CMC. Parsa goes on to state that it is now the strength of the community that has invested in the coin that will ultimately drive its success, alongside its robust technology and appealing 0% network fees. “We have thousands of voices behind Aryacoin. People for the people make this coin. It is a massive shout out for democracy. This had made us base the whole team strategy on the benefits for both our users and our traders.” “One key example is that the network fee on AYA Blockchain is 0%. Yes, absolutely nothing, which which differentiates us from other networks. What also differentiates us from other coins is that we have AYAPAY which is the first cryptocurrency Gateway in the world which does not save funds on third party storage with all funds being forwarded directly to any wallet address that the Gateway owner requests”. “So for the first time ever, and unlike other gateways, incoming funds will be saved on the users account with submitted withdrawal requests then made on the Gateway host website. In AYAPAY which has also been developed by the Aryacoin team, all funds without extra fees or extra costs will directly forwarded to users wallets. We have named this technology as CloudWithdrawal.” “We are continuously challenging ourselves as it is a crowded marketplace. We are striving to have a safer Blockchain against 51% attacks, faster confirmations speeds of transactions, cheaper network fee, growing the market by cooperation with Top tier Exchangers.”
1.1.2 ARYACOIN’S MAIN GOAL
Aryacoin’s main goal is to educate people and give them the freedom to use cryptocurrency in any way they want. Aryacoin empowers the users to transfer, pay, trade cryptocurrency from any country around the globe. Platforms that have been created by Aryacoin Team, as well as those that will go live in future, operate on the same principle and exclude absolutely no one.
1.1.3 PROBLEM ARYACOIN SEEKS TO SOLVE
Aryacoin aims to provide a long-term solution to the problem of double spending, which is still common in the crypto market. The developers of the system have created a peer-to-peer distributed timestamp server that generates computational proof of the transactions as they occur. Besides, the system remains secure provided honest nodes control more CPU power than any cooperating group of attacker nodes. While Bitcoin was designed not to be regulated or controlled, many exchanges and governments have put regulatory measures on the pioneer cryptocurrency at every step. Aryacoin aims to overcome these restrictions as a free digital currency.
1.1.4 BENEFITS OF USING ARYACOIN
Aryacoin solution offers the following benefits:
Real-time update: whether you’re going on a holiday or a business trip, no problem. You can access your coins all over the world.
Instant operations: Aryacoin makes it quite easy for you to use your digital wallet and perform various operations with it.
Safe and secure: all your data is stored encrypted and can only be decrypted with your private key, seed, or password.
Strong security: The system has no control over your wallet. You are 100% in charge of your wallet and funds.
1.1.5 ARYACOIN FEATURES
1. Anonymity The coin provides decent level of anonymity for all its users. The users can send their transactions to any of the public nodes to be broadcasted , the transaction sent to the nodes should be signed by the private key of the sender address . This allows the users to use the coin anywhere any time , sending transactions directly to the node allows users from any place and country . 2. Real Life Usage aryacoin’s team is continuously developing new and innovative ways to use the coins , they are currently developing exchanges where the users can exchange the coins without any fees and any restrictions . They also are currently developing other innovative technologies, which would allow users to spend our coins everywhere and anywhere. 3. Offline Exchanges They are also working with different offline vendors which would enable them to buy and sell the coins directly to our users on a fixed/variable price this would allow easy buy/sell directly using cash . This would allow the coins to be accessible to users without any restrictions which most of the online exchanges have, also increase the value and number of users along with new ways to spend the coin. This would increase anonymity level of the coin. In addition, introduce new users into the cryptomarket and technology. Creating a revolution, which educates people about crypto and introduce them to the crypto world, which introduces a completely new group of people into crypto and a move towards a Decentralized future! 4. Transactions When it comes to transactions, Aryacoin embraces a chain of digital signatures, where each owner simply transfers the coin to the next person by digitally signing a hash of the previous transaction and the public key of the next owner. The recipient can then verify the signatures to confirm the chain of ownership. Importantly, Aryacoin comes with a trusted central authority that checks every transaction for double spending. 5. Business Partner with Simplex Aryacoin is the first and only Iranian digital currency that managed to obtain a trading license in other countries. In collaboration with the foundation and financial giant Simplex, a major cryptocurrency company that has large companies such as Binance, P2P, Changelly, etc. Aryacoin has been licensed to enter the world’s major exchanges, as well as the possibility of purchasing AYA through Credit Cards, which will begin in the second half of 2020. Also, the possibility of purchasing Aryacoin through Visa and MasterCard credit cards will be activated simultaneously inside the Aryacoin site. plus, in less than a year, AYA will be placed next to big names such as CoinCapMarket, Coinomi, P2P, Coinpayments and many other world-class brands today.
1.1.6 WHY CHOOSE ARYACOIN?
If you want to use a cryptocurrency that allows you to keep your privacy online even when buying and selling the coins, the Aryacoin team claims that AYA is the way to go. Aryacoin is putting in the work: with more ways to buy and sell, and fixing the issues that were present in the original Bitcoin, plus pushing the boundaries with innovative solutions in cryptocurrencies. You can get started using Aryacoin (AYA) payments simply by having a CoinPayments account!
1.1.7 ARYANA CENTRALIZED EXCHANGE
Aryana, the first Iranian exchange is a unique platform with the following features:
The first real international Persian exchange that obtains international licenses and is listed in CoinMarketCap.
The first Iranian exchange that has been cooperating with a legal and European exchange for 3 years.
The possibility of trading in Tomans (available currency in Iran) at the user’s desired price and getting rid of the transaction prices imposed by domestic sites inside Iran.
There is an internal fee payment plan by Iranian domestic banks for depositing and withdrawing Tomans for Aryacoin holders in Aryana Exchange.
The number that you see on the monitor and in your account will be equal to the number that is transferred to your bank account without a difference of one Rial.
The last but not least, noting the fact that there is a trading in Tomans possibility in Aryana exchange.
Aryana Exchange is using the most powerful, fastest, and most expensive server in the world, Google Cloud Platform (GCP), which is currently the highest quality server for an Iranian site, so that professional traders do not lag behind the market even for a second. The feature of Smart Trading Robots is one of the most powerful features for digital currency traders. Digital cryptocurrency traders are well aware of how much they will benefit from smart trading robots. In the Aryana exchange, it is possible to connect exchange user accounts to intelligent trading bots and trade even when they are offline. The injection of $ 1 million a day in liquidity by the WhiteBite exchange to maintain and support the price of Tether and eliminate the Tether fluctuations with Bitcoin instabilities used by profiteers to become a matter of course.
1.1.8 HOW DOES ARYACOIN WORK?
Aryacoin (AYA) tries to ensure a high level of security and privacy. The team has made sure to eliminate any trading restrictions for the network users: no verification is required to carry out transactions on AYA, making the project truly anonymous, decentralized, and giving it a real use in day-to-day life. The Delayed-Proof-of-Work (dPoW) algorithm makes the Aryacoin blockchain immune to any attempts of a 51% attack. AYA defines a coin as a chain of digital signatures — each owner transfers the coin to the next owner by digitally signing the hash of the previous transaction and the public key of the next owner, and the receiver verifies the signatures and the chain of ownership.
2. ARYACOIN TECHNOLOGY
They use a proof-of-work system similar to Adam Back’s Hashcash to implement a distributed timestamp server on a peer-to-peer basis, rather than newspaper or Usenet publications. The proof-of-work involves scanning for a value that when hashed, such as with SHA-256, the hash begins with a number of zero bits. The average work required is exponential in the number of zero bits required and can be verified by executing a single hash. For their timestamp network, they implement the proof-of-work by incrementing a nonce in the block until a value is found that gives the block’s hash the required zero bits. Once the CPU effort has been expended to make it satisfy the proof-of-work, the block cannot be changed without redoing the work. As later blocks are chained after it, the work to change the block would include redoing all the blocks after it. The proof-of-work also solves the problem of determining representation in majority decision making. If the majority were based on one-IP-address-one-vote, it could be subverted by anyone able to allocate many IPs. Proof-of-work is essentially one-CPU-one-vote. The majority decision is represented by the longest chain, which has the greatest proof-of-work effort invested in it. If honest nodes control a majority of CPU power, the honest chain will grow the fastest and outpace any competing chains. To modify a past block, an attacker would have to redo the proof-of-work of the block and all blocks after it, then catch up with, and surpass the work of the honest nodes.
The steps to run the network are as follows:
New transactions are broadcast to all nodes.
Each node collects new transactions into a block.
Each node works on finding a difficult proof-of-work for its block.
When a node finds a proof-of-work, it broadcasts the block to all nodes.
Nodes accept the block only if all transactions in it are valid and not already spent.
This is a very simple system that makes the network fast and scalable, while also providing a decent level of anonymity for all users. Users can send their transactions to any of the public nodes to be broadcast, and the private key of the sender’s address should sign any transaction sent to the nodes. This way, all transaction info remains strictly confidential. It also allows users to send transactions directly to the node from any place at any time and allows the transferring of huge amounts with very low fees.
2.3 AYAPAY PAYMENT SERVICES GATEWAY:
According to creators Aryacoin, the development team has succeeded in inventing a new blockchain technology for the first time in the world, which is undoubtedly a big step and great news for all digital currency enthusiasts around the world. This new technology has been implemented on the Aryacoin AYAPAY platform and was unveiled on October 2. AYAPAY payment platform is the only payment gateway in the world that does not save money in users’ accounts and transfers incoming coins directly to any wallet address requested by the gateway owner without any additional transaction or fee. In other similar systems or even systems such as PayPal, money is stored in the user account.
2.4 CONSENSUS ALGORITHM IN ARYACOIN
The devs introduced the Delayed-Proof-of-Work (dPoW) algorithm, which represents a hybrid consensus method that allows one blockchain to take advantage of the security provided by the hashing power of another blockchain. The AYA blockchain works on dPoW and can use such consensus methods as Proof-of-Work (PoW) or Proof-of-Stake (PoS) and join to any desired PoW blockchain. The main purpose of this is to allow the blockchain to continue operating without notary nodes on the basis of its original consensus method. In this situation, additional security will no longer be provided through the attached blockchain, but this is not a particularly significant problem. dPoW can improve the security level and reduce energy consumption for any blockchain.
2.5 DOUBLE-SPEND PROBLEM AND SOLUTION
One of the main problems in the blockchain world is that a receiver is unable to verify whether or not one of the senders did not double-spend. Aryacoin provides the solution, and has established a trusted central authority, or mint, that checks every transaction for double-spending. Only the mint can issue a new coin and all the coins issued directly from the mint are trusted and cannot be double-spent. However, such a system cannot therefore be fully decentralized because it depends on the company running the mint, similar to a bank. Aryacoin implements a scheme where the receiver knows that the previous owners did not sign any earlier transactions. The mint is aware of all transactions including which of them arrived first. The developers used an interesting solution called the Timestamp Server, which works by taking a hash of a block of items to be ‘timestamped’ and publishing the hash. Each timestamp includes the previous timestamp in its hash, forming a chain. To modify a block, an attacker would have to redo the proof-of-work of all previous blocks, then catch up with, and surpass the work of the honest nodes. This is almost impossible, and makes the network processes more secure. The proof-of-work difficulty varies according to circumstances. Such an approach ensures reliability and high throughput.
3. ARYACOIN ROADMAP
April 2019: The launch of Aryacoin; AYA ICO, resulting in over 30BTC collected December 2019: The launch of AYA Pay April 2020: The successful Hamedan Hardfork, supported by all AYA exchanges, aimed at integrating the dPoW algorithm, improving the security of the AYA blockchain. June 2020: Aryana Exchange goes live, opening more trading opportunities globally July 2020: The enabling of our Coin Exchanger November 2020: The implementation of Smart Contracts into the Aryacoin Ecosystem Q1 2021: Alef B goes live (more details coming soon)
Aryacoin (AYA) is a new age cryptocurrency that combines the best of the blockchain technology and strives to deliver high trading and mining standards, enabling users to make peer-to-peer decentralized transactions of electronic cash. Aryacoin is part of an ecosystem that includes payment gateway Ayapay and the Ayabank. AYA has a partnership with the Microsoft Azure cloud platform, which provides the ability to develop applications and store data on servers located in distributed data centers. The network fee for the AYA Blockchain is 0%. In Ayapay service, which has been developed by the Aryacoin team, all funds without extra fees or costs are directly forwarded to users’ wallets with technology called CloudWithdrawal. The devs team is introducing new use cases including exchanges where users will exchange AYA without any restrictions. You can buy AYA on an exchange of your choice, create an Aryacoin wallet, and store it in Guarda.
It is no doubt Grayscale’s booming popularity as a mainstream investment has caused a lot of community hullabaloo lately. As such, I felt it was worth making a FAQ regarding the topic. I’m looking to update this as needed and of course am open to suggestions / adding any questions. The goal is simply to have a thread we can link to anyone with questions on Grayscaleand its products. Instead of explaining the same thing 3 times a day, shoot those posters over to this thread.My hope is that these questions are answered in a fairly simple and easy to understand manner. I think as the sub grows it will be a nice reference point for newcomers. Disclaimer: I do NOT work for Grayscale and as such am basing all these answers on information that can be found on their website / reports. (Grayscale’s official FAQ can be found here). I also do NOT have a finance degree, I do NOT have a Series 6 / 7 / 140-whatever, and I do NOT work with investment products for my day job. I have an accounting background and work within the finance world so I have the general ‘business’ knowledge to put it all together, but this is all info determined in my best faith effort as a layman. The point being is this --- it is possible I may explain something wrong or missed the technical terms, and if that occurs I am more than happy to update anything that can be proven incorrect Everything below will be in reference to ETHE but will apply to GBTC as well.If those two segregate in any way, I will note that accordingly.
ETHE is essentially a stock that intends to loosely track the price of ETH. It does so by having each ETHE be backed by a specific amount of ETH that is held on chain. Initially, the newly minted ETHE can only be purchased by institutions and accredited investors directly from Grayscale. Once a year has passed (6 months for GBTC) it can then be listed on the OTCQX Best Market exchange for secondary trading. Once listed on OTCQX, anyone investor can purchase at this point. Additional information on ETHE can be found here.
So ETHE is an ETF?
No. For technical reasons beyond my personal understandings it is not labeled an ETF. I know it all flows back to the “Securities Act Rule 144”, but due to my limited knowledge on SEC regulations I don’t want to misspeak past that. If anyone is more knowledgeable on the subject I am happy to input their answer here.
How long has ETHE existed?
ETHE was formed 12/14/2017. GBTC was formed 9/25/2013.
How is ETHE created?
The trust will issue shares to “Authorized Participants” in groups of 100 shares (called baskets). Authorized Participants are the only persons that may place orders to create these baskets and they do it on behalf of the investor. Source: Creation and Redemption of Shares section on page 39 of the “Grayscale Ethereum Trust Annual Report (2019)” – Located Here Note – The way their reports word this makes it sound like there is an army of authorizers doing the dirty work, but in reality there is only one Authorized Participant. At this moment the “Genesis” company is the sole Authorized Participant. Genesis is owned by the “Digital Currency Group, Inc.” which is the parent company of Grayscale as well. (And to really go down the rabbit hole it looks like DCG is the parent company of CoinDesk and is “backing 150+ companies across 30 countries, including Coinbase, Ripple, and Chainalysis.”) Source: Digital Currency Group, Inc. informational section on page 77 of the “Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (BTC) Form 10-K (2019)” – Located Here Source: Barry E. Silbert informational section on page 75 of the “Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (BTC) Form 10-K (2019)” – Located Here
How does Grayscale acquire the ETH to collateralize the ETHE product?
An Investor may acquire ETHE by paying in cash or exchanging ETH already owned.
Cash: The investor pays the subscription amount in cash and the Authorized Participant will use that cash to purchase ETH.
ETH: The investor transfers the ETH to the Authorized Participant, which will contribute the ETH in-kind to the Trust.
Source: Creation and Redemption of Shares section on page 40 of the “Grayscale Ethereum Trust Annual Report (2019)” – Located Here
Where does Grayscale store their ETH? Does it have a specific wallet address we can follow?
ETH is stored with Coinbase Custody Trust Company, LLC. I am unaware of any specific address or set of addresses that can be used to verify the ETH is actually there. As an aside - I would actually love to see if anyone knows more about this as it’s something that’s sort of peaked my interest after being asked about it… I find it doubtful we can find that however. Source: Part C. Business Information, Item 8, subsection A. on page 16 of the “Grayscale Ethereum Trust Annual Report (2019)” – Located Here
Can ETHE be redeemed for ETH?
No, currently there is no way to give your shares of ETHE back to Grayscale to receive ETH back. The only method of getting back into ETH would be to sell your ETHE to someone else and then use those proceeds to buy ETH yourself. Source: Redemption Procedures on page 41 of the “Grayscale Ethereum Trust Annual Report (2019)” – Located Here
Why are they not redeeming shares?
I think the report summarizes it best:
Redemptions of Shares are currently not permitted and the Trust is unable to redeem Shares. Subject to receipt of regulatory approval from the SEC and approval by the Sponsor in its sole discretion, the Trust may in the future operate a redemption program. Because the Trust does not believe that the SEC would, at this time, entertain an application for the waiver of rules needed in order to operate an ongoing redemption program, the Trust currently has no intention of seeking regulatory approval from the SEC to operate an ongoing redemption program.
Source: Redemption Procedures on page 41 of the “Grayscale Ethereum Trust Annual Report (2019)” – Located Here
What is the fee structure?
ETHE has an annual fee of 2.5%. GBTC has an annual fee of 2.0%. Fees are paid by selling the underlying ETH / BTC collateralizing the asset. Source: ETHE’s informational page on Grayscale’s website - Located Here Source: Description of Trust on page 31 & 32 of the “Grayscale Ethereum Trust Annual Report (2019)” – Located Here
What is the ratio of ETH to ETHE?
At the time of posting (6/19/2020) each ETHE share is backed by .09391605 ETH. Each share of GBTC is backed by .00096038 BTC. ETHE & GBTC’s specific information page on Grayscale’s website updates the ratio daily – Located Here For a full historical look at this ratio, it can be found on the Grayscale home page on the upper right side if you go to Tax Documents > 2019 Tax Documents > Grayscale Ethereum Trust 2019 Tax Letter.
Why is the ratio not 1:1? Why is it always decreasing?
While I cannot say for certain why the initial distribution was not a 1:1 backing, it is more than likely to keep the price down and allow more investors a chance to purchase ETHE / GBTC. As noted above, fees are paid by selling off the ETH collateralizing ETHE. So this number will always be trending downward as time goes on. Source: Description of Trust on page 32 of the “Grayscale Ethereum Trust Annual Report (2019)” – Located Here
I keep hearing about how this is locked supply… explain?
As noted above, there is currently no redemption program for converting your ETHE back into ETH. This means that once an ETHE is issued, it will remain in circulation until a redemption program is formed --- something that doesn’t seem to be too urgent for the SEC or Grayscale at the moment. Tiny amounts will naturally be removed due to fees, but the bulk of the asset is in there for good. Knowing that ETHE cannot be taken back and destroyed at this time, the ETH collateralizing it will not be removed from the wallet for the foreseeable future. While it is not fully locked in the sense of say a totally lost key, it is not coming out any time soon. Per their annual statement:
The Trust’s ETH will be transferred out of the ETH Account only in the following circumstances: (i) transferred to pay the Sponsor’s Fee or any Additional Trust Expenses, (ii) distributed in connection with the redemption of Baskets (subject to the Trust’s obtaining regulatory approval from the SEC to operate an ongoing redemption program and the consent of the Sponsor), (iii) sold on an as-needed basis to pay Additional Trust Expenses or (iv) sold on behalf of the Trust in the event the Trust terminates and liquidates its assets or as otherwise required by law or regulation.
Source: Description of Trust on page 31 of the “Grayscale Ethereum Trust Annual Report (2019)” – Located Here
Grayscale now owns a huge chunk of both ETH and BTC’s supply… should we be worried about manipulation, a sell off to crash the market crash, a staking cartel?
First, it’s important to remember Grayscale is a lot more akin to an exchange then say an investment firm. Grayscale is working on behalf of its investors to create this product for investor control. Grayscale doesn’t ‘control’ the ETH it holds any more then Coinbase ‘controls’ the ETH in its hot wallet. (Note: There are likely some varying levels of control, but specific to this topic Grayscale cannot simply sell [legally, at least] the ETH by their own decision in the same manner Coinbase wouldn't be able to either.) That said, there shouldn’t be any worry in the short to medium time-frame. As noted above, Grayscale can’t really remove ETH other than for fees or termination of the product. At 2.5% a year, fees are noise in terms of volume. Grayscale seems to be the fastest growing product in the crypto space at the moment and termination of the product seems unlikely. IF redemptions were to happen tomorrow, it’s extremely unlikely we would see a mass exodus out of the product to redeem for ETH. And even if there was incentive to get back to ETH, the premium makes it so that it would be much more cost effective to just sell your ETHE on the secondary market and buy ETH yourself. Remember, any redemption is up to the investors and NOT something Grayscale has direct control over.
Yes, but what about [insert criminal act here]…
Alright, yes. Technically nothing is stopping Grayscale from selling all the ETH / BTC and running off to the Bahamas (Hawaii?). BUT there is no real reason for them to do so. Barry is an extremely public figure and it won’t be easy for him to get away with that. Grayscale’s Bitcoin Trust creates SEC reports weekly / bi-weekly and I’m sure given the sentiment towards crypto is being watched carefully. Plus, Grayscale is making tons of consistent revenue and thus has little to no incentive to give that up for a quick buck.
That’s a lot of ‘happy little feels’ Bob, is there even an independent audit or is this Tether 2.0?
Actually yes, an independent auditor report can be found in their annual reports. It is clearly aimed more towards the financial side and I doubt the auditors are crypto savants, but it is at least one extra set of eyes. Auditors are Friedman LLP – Auditor since 2015. Source: Independent Auditor Report starting on page 116 (of the PDF itself) of the “Grayscale Ethereum Trust Annual Report (2019)” – Located Here As mentioned by user TheCrpytosAndBloods (In Comments Below), a fun fact:
The company’s auditors Friedman LLP were also coincidentally TetheBitfinex’s auditors until They controversially parted ways in 2018 when the Tether controversy was at its height. I am not suggesting for one moment that there is anything shady about DCG - I just find it interesting it’s the same auditor.
“Grayscale sounds kind of lame” / “Not your keys not your crypto!” / “Why is anyone buying this, it sounds like a scam?”
Welp, for starters this honestly is not really a product aimed at the people likely to be reading this post. To each their own, but do remember just because something provides no value to you doesn’t mean it can’t provide value to someone else. That said some of the advertised benefits are as follows:
Access to trading within a tax advantaged retirement account
Institutions can easily and safely get exposure to crypto in a more legal-friendly manner
Ease of use for those who are not very technologically savvy
Ease of access for someone who doesn’t want to set up a Coinbase account
Perceived trust in institutional platforms over something like Coinbase or Kraken
Degen traders who just want access to the volatility ETHE provides that have no interest in crypto beyond that
So for example, I can set up an IRA at a brokerage account that has $0 trading fees. Then I can trade GBTC and ETHE all day without having to worry about tracking my taxes. All with the relative safety something like E-Trade provides over Binance. As for how it benefits the everyday ETH holder? I think the supply lock is a positive. I also think this product exposes the Ethereum ecosystem to people who otherwise wouldn’t know about it.
Why is there a premium? Why is ETHE’s premium so insanely high compared to GBTC’s premium?
There are a handful of theories of why a premium exists at all, some even mentioned in the annual report. The short list is as follows:
ETHE is NOT redeeming shares and as such doesn’t have an effective arbitrage mechanism
ETHE has a 1 year wait to be sold on the secondary market, again negating the ability to effectively arbitrage the premium
People may simply be willing to pay a premium for the benefits stated above.
Why is ETHE’s so much higher the GBTC’s? Again, a few thoughts:
ETHE hasn’t been around as long, so there is less secondary market supply to go around
ETHE was listed at an insanely high premium to begin with
ETHE might simply be more popular at the moment
Could just be sheer stupidity (investors think ETHE is a 1:1 ratio not 1:11)
Are there any other differences between ETHE and GBTC?
I touched on a few of the smaller differences, but one of the more interesting changes is GBTC is now a “SEC reporting company” as of January 2020. Which again goes beyond my scope of knowledge so I won’t comment on it too much… but the net result is GBTC is now putting out weekly / bi-weekly 8-K’s and annual 10-K’s. This means you can track GBTC that much easier at the moment as well as there is an extra layer of validity to the product IMO.
I’m looking for some statistics on ETHE… such as who is buying, how much is bought, etc?
There is a great Q1 2020 report I recommend you give a read that has a lot of cool graphs and data on the product. It’s a little GBTC centric, but there is some ETHE data as well. It can be found here hidden within the 8-K filings.Q1 2020 is the 4/16/2020 8-K filing. For those more into a GAAP style report see the 2019 annual 10-K of the same location.
Is Grayscale only just for BTC and ETH?
No, there are other products as well. In terms of a secondary market product, ETCG is the Ethereum Classic version of ETHE. Fun Fact – ETCG was actually put out to the secondary market first. It also has a 3% fee tied to it where 1% of it goes to some type of ETC development fund. In terms of institutional and accredited investors, there are a few ‘fan favorites’ such as Bitcoin Cash, Litcoin, Stellar, XRP, and Zcash. Something called Horizion (Backed by ZEN I guess? Idk to be honest what that is…). And a diversified Mutual Fund type fund that has a little bit of all of those. None of these products are available on the secondary market.
Are there alternatives to Grayscale?
I know they exist, but I don’t follow them. I’ll leave this as a “to be edited” section and will add as others comment on what they know. Per user Over-analyser (in comments below):
As asked by pegcity - Okay so I was under the impression you can just give them your own ETH and get ETHE, but do you get 11 ETHE per ETH or do you get the market value of ETH in USD worth of ETHE?
I have always understood that the ETHE issued directly through Grayscale is issued without the premium. As in, if I were to trade 1 ETH for ETHE I would get 11, not say only 2 or 3 because the secondary market premium is so high. And if I were paying cash only I would be paying the price to buy 1 ETH to get my 11 ETHE. Per page 39 of their annual statement, it reads as follows:
The Trust will issue Shares to Authorized Participants from time to time, but only in one or more Baskets (with a Basket being a block of 100 Shares). The Trust will not issue fractions of a Basket. The creation (and, should the Trust commence a redemption program, redemption) of Baskets will be made only in exchange for the delivery to the Trust, or the distribution by the Trust, of the number of whole and fractional ETH represented by each Basket being created (or, should the Trust commence a redemption program, redeemed), which is determined by dividing (x) the number of ETH owned by the Trust at 4:00 p.m., New York time, on the trade date of a creation or redemption order, after deducting the number of ETH representing the U.S. dollar value of accrued but unpaid fees and expenses of the Trust (converted using the ETH Index Price at such time, and carried to the eighth decimal place), by (y) the number of Shares outstanding at such time (with the quotient so obtained calculated to one one-hundred-millionth of one ETH (i.e., carried to the eighth decimal place)), and multiplying such quotient by 100 (the “Basket ETH Amount”). All questions as to the calculation of the Basket ETH Amount will be conclusively determined by the Sponsor and will be final and binding on all persons interested in the Trust. The Basket ETH Amount multiplied by the number of Baskets being created or redeemed is the “Total Basket ETH Amount.” The number of ETH represented by a Share will gradually decrease over time as the Trust’s ETH are used to pay the Trust’s expenses. Each Share represented approximately 0.0950 ETH and 0.0974 ETH as of December 31, 2019 and 2018, respectively.
tl;dr - This is the 17th monthly update on the 2019 Top Ten Experiment. Ethereum up the most in May, plus got a shout out from J.K. Rowling, so it obviously won the month. Overall, BTC in first place since January 2019, BSV in second place. Half of the 2019 Top Ten Portfolio is up at least +50%. XRP is worst performing. Total $3k (3 x $1k) investments the 2018, 2019, and 2020 Top Ten are up +3.5%, but similar approach with US stocks market would have yielded +10%.
Instead of hypothetically tracking cryptos, I made an actual $1000 investment, $100 in each of the Top 10 cryptocurrencies by market cap on the 1st of January 2018. The result? The 2018 Top Ten portfolio ended 2018 down 85%, my $1000 worth only $150. I thenrepeated the experimenton the 1st of January 2019 with the new 2019 Top Ten cryptos, then again in2020. Think of the Top Ten Experiments as a lazy man’s Index Fund (no weighting or rebalancing), less technical, but hopefully still a proxy for the market as a whole – or at the very least an interesting snapshot of the 2018, 2019, and 2020 crypto space. I am trying to keep this project simple and accessible for beginners and those looking to get into crypto but maybe not quite ready to jump in yet. I try not to take sides or analyze, but rather attempt to report in a detached manner letting the numbers speak for themselves. This is not investing advice – as a matter of fact, the vast majority of the reports will show that the Top Ten approach under performs other strategies. This experiment is designed to be documentary in nature, describing a specific period in cryptocurrency history.
Buy $100 of each the Top 10 cryptocurrencies on January 1st, 2018, 2019, and 2020. Hold only. No selling. No trading. Report monthly.
Month Seventeen – UP 43%
Unlike April’s all green month, May was more mixed. That said, the gains outweighed the losses this month in the 2019 Top Ten Portfolio.
Question of the month:
In May, Reddit launched two Ethereum-based tokens on the Cryptocurrency and FortNiteBR subreddits. What are the Cryptocurrency token called? A) Moons B) Bricks C) Satoshis D) Cryptos Scroll down for the answer.
Ranking and March Winners and Losers
Besides Stellar (down two spots to #13) and Tron (down one from #16 to #17) every other crypto was locked in place. Speaking of Stellar and Tron, they are still the only two cryptos to have dropped out of the 2019 Top Ten since January 1st, 2019. They have been replaced by Binance Coin and Tezos. May Winners – Ethereum ended the month up +16% and got a shout out from J.K. Rowling, so it obviously won May. BTC came in a close second this month, up +14%. May Losers – A tight battle for the basement this month with BSV (down -3.9%) edging out XRP (down -3.7%) for the bottom spot. For nerds those keeping score, here is tally of which coins have the most monthly wins and loses during the first seventeen months of the 2019 Top Ten Experiment: Tether is still in the lead with five monthly victories followed by BSV in second place with three. BSV also holds the most monthly losses, finishing last in six out of seventeen months.
Overall update – BTC increases lead over second place BSV, XRP still worst performing
Ahead until just last month, BSV lost a lot of ground to BTC in May. Bitcoin is now up +168% since January 2019 compared to BSV‘s +116% gain. That initial $100 investment in BTC? Now worth $273. As was the case last month, 50% of the 2019 Top Ten cryptos are up at least +50% since the beginning of the experiment. At the other end, XRP continues to struggle, now down -41% since January 2019.
Total Market Cap for the entire cryptocurrency sector:
The overall crypto market added about $35B in May, and is now near August 2019 levels. It is up +123% since January 2019.
BitDom was steady again in May. This marks the third straight month it’s been stuck at around 65% For context, the range since the beginning of the experiment in January 2019 has been between 50%-70%.
Overall return on investment since January 1st, 2019:
The 2019 Top Ten Portfolio gained about $65 in May. After the initial $1000 investment, the 2019 group of cryptos is worth $1,431, up about +43%. Here’s a look at the ROI over the life of the first seventeen months of the experiment, month by month: Almost completely green for the 2019 Top Ten, a welcome change from the all red table you’ll see in the 2018 experiment. As you can see, every month except the first month ends in positive territory. At the lowest point, the 2019 Top Ten portfolio was down -9%, at the highest point, up +114% (May 2019). How does the 2019 Top Ten Experiment compare to the parallel projects?
Taking the three portfolios together, here’s the bottom bottom bottom line: After a $3000 investment in the 2018, 2019, and 2020 Top Ten Cryptocurrencies, my portfolios are worth $3,104. That’s up about +3.5% for the combined portfolios. Better than a few months ago (aka the zombie apocalypse) where it was down -24%, but not yet back at January (+13%) or February (+6%) levels. How does this compare to traditional markets?
How does the 2019 Top Ten portfolio compare US stock market?
Excellent question, I’m glad you asked. And you’re in luck, I’m also tracking the S&P 500 as part of my experiment to have a comparison point with other popular investments options. Despite the fact that the world seemed to be on fire, May 2020 saw the continued rebound of the stock market. It’s now up +22% since the start of the 2019 Experiment. As a reminder (or just scroll up) the 2019 Top Ten portfolio is returning +43% over the same time period, which is about double the S&P 500. The initial $1k investment I put into crypto would be worth $1,220 had it been redirected to the S&P 500 in January 2019. But what if I took the same world’s-slowest-dollar-cost-averaging/$1,000-per-year-in-January approach with the S&P 500? It would yield the following:
$1000 investment in S&P 500 on January 1st, 2018: +$140
$1000 investment in S&P 500 on January 1st, 2019: +$220
$1000 investment in S&P 500 on January 1st, 2020: -$50
Taken together, here’s the bottom bottom bottom line for a similar approach with the S&P: After three $1,000 investments into an S&P 500 index fund in January 2018, 2019, and 2020, my portfolio would be worth $3,310. That $3,310 is up over+10%since January 2018, compared to the $3,104 value (+3.5%) of the combined Top Ten Crypto Experiment Portfolios. That’s about a 7% difference in favor of the stock market. Last month, there was only a 3% difference, the month before, the gap was 13% (all in favor of the stock market).
The difference between the 2019 Top Ten crypto group and the overall crypto market is stark. Since January 2019, the overall market has gained +123% compared to the 2019 Top Ten crypto group which has gained +43%. This is an absolutely massive 80% gap. A +43% return is solid compared to the stock market, but it also implies that an investor would have done much better picking different cryptos or investing in the entire market instead of focusing only on the Top Ten. There are a few examples of this approach outperforming the overall market in this 2019 Top Ten Crypto Experiment, but the cases are few and far between. The 2018 Top Ten portfolio, on the other hand, has never outperformed the overall market, at least not in the first twenty-nine months of that Experiment. For the most recent 2020 Top Ten group, the opposite had been true: the 2020 Top Ten had easily outperformed the overall market 100% of the time…until this month.
The BTC halving event came and went in May and crypto markets shrugged. As the world continues to change because of COVID-19, what will be crypto’s place when we finally emerge on the other side? Final word: Please take care of yourselves, your families, and your communities. Stay safe out there. Thanks for reading and for supporting the experiment. I hope you’ve found it helpful. I continue to be committed to seeing this process through and reporting along the way. Feel free to reach out with any questions and stay tuned for progress reports. Keep an eye out for the original 2018 Top Ten Crypto Index Fund Experiment and the recently launched 2020 Top Ten Experiment.
And the Answer is…
A) Moons According CryptoCurrency, Moons represent ownership in the subreddit, “tokens on the Ethereum blockchain controlled entirely by you, and they can be freely transferred, tipped, and spent inCryptoCurrency*.*” Check out this post for more details.
Weekly Update: Parachute Crypto League, new assets on Voyager’s Interest Program, Fantom Lachesis now ABCI compatible, CyberFM + Blockchain Radio... – 1 May - 7 May'20
Hi everyone, it’s been a difficult few weeks for everyone around the world with a constant barrage of sobering news – from COVID-19 to super cyclonic storms to George Floyd. I hope this update offers some much needed respite. Here’s your week at Parachute + partners (1 May - 7 May'20): Congratulations to Foo for winning the inaugural Parachute Crypto League (which started last week). New leagues (including ones with $PAR prizes) were added this week. New Parachute league was added as well. How does it work? Click here to find out. Hope you got a chance to partake in the Tiproom giveaway event. Bose hosted a Football-themed trivia in TTR for some sweet $PAR rewards. Noice! Gamerboy’s random quiz for 1k $PAR per question got everyone scratching their heads. Unique and Victor’s trivias were pretty as well. Charlotte changed up the format of standard tiproom quizzes with a new one this week. Cap shared a sneak peek of what’s to come in the next few weeks. New $PAR use-case as well. Plus, latest digestives coming up. The 2FT ongoing theme continued with "videos featuring bands or artists whose name starts with the letters U, V, W, X or Y" this week. Check out all the cool music that got posted from Sebastian’s playlist. Epic gif Peace Love. Haha! Want to get some $PAR for staying in shape during the lockdown? Don’t forget to check out the TTR Pushups Contest. And if you were a fan of Jason’s Financial Fridays in 2gether, stay tuned for next week since it is coming back to Parachute. ParJar is currently at 32k+ users and 1.4M+ tips. Epic! Jason shared a sneak peek into his computing setup. Pretty cool! aXpire COO Matthew Markham wrote about the effect of legal billing software on law practice management. The monthly 200k $AXPR burn can be tracked here. 2gether CEO Ramon Ferraz routinely sends out emailers with project updates to all Founders (registered 2gether members). Click here to check out the latest. The crew also compiled a list of 7 books to read in order to learn about cryptocurrencies. Voyager introduced $XRP (Ripple), $EOS, $XLM (Stellar), $OMG (OmiseGO) and $ZRX (0x) to its Interest Program. Read more about it here. They celebrated it with a massive 5k $XRP giveaway along with an interest boost program. CEO Stephen Ehrlich sat down for an interview on Scott Melker’s (The Wolf of All Streets) podcast this week. Stephen was also interviewed by Jason Hartman (host of Creating Wealth Show). Switch released the first set of a 10 part series blog posts this week chronicling the story of the project starting with the beginning, move from Ethershift to Switch, launch of SwitchDex and the various Switch tokens. More to come next week. Fantom submitted a proposal to the MakerDAO community for adding $FTM as a collateral for $DAI. The latest technical update was published as well. The update covers news such as Fantom’s consensus protocol now being compatible to Application BlockChain Interface (ABCI). ABCI allows blockchain "transactions to be processed in any programming language". Saweet! Read more about ABCI compatibility here. The first Uptrennd Halvening ($1UP gets doubly difficult to earn) is expected to happen around the time of bitcoin halvening. Altcoin Buzz talked about it in their latest video. Huge congratulations on crossing 100k members! Uptrennd also announced a Citizenship program aimed at improving the overall quality of posts and comments by offering more giving power to higher ranked members. Jeff also sat down for interviews with Scott Cunningham for BeInCrypto and with Cash Alternative TV this week. Amazing achievement, Uptrennd! Following the launch of Pangaea Phase 3 last week, Harmony started an incentivised testnet staking program this week for delegators in partnership with Binance. The April #pow thread (i.e. project updates from April) can be found here. It was also summarised into an article. If you missed last week’s AMA, you can catch up from the transcript. Pangaea Phase 3 testing now has 1k+ validators and delegators. Noice! Part 2 from last week’s smart contract webinar was released. Harmony's Edgar Aroutiounian gave a presentation at Ready Layer One's online conference on BLS Aggregate Signatures. The project joined Indian state Telangana’s Blockchain District Accelerator program T-Block Accelerator as an official platform partner. Cointelegraph covered this news as well. The team also shared the latest updates through a community hangout. IntelliShare founder Raymond Xiong will appear for an AMA with CoinKeeper next week. Elections for the 6th Autonomous Committee started this week. GET Protocol shared their thoughts on how to reopen Dutch museums safely. COTI’s April rewards were distributed. Crypto analysis collective Trade Dog’s in-dept project review was released. Congratulations on getting the highest rating. If you have missed the events of April, the latest newsletter’s got your back. DoYourTip announced a partnership with InFocus Games to have their mascot Tipply as a playable character in the Pathfinders game in the form of an ERC1155 asset. The demo is live already. Have fun gaming! A DYT trading league on Crypto Leagues was started as well. Harmony’s Pangaea P3 testing turned out to be a success with high participation throughout Read all about Opacity’s April updates here. District0x’s latest weekly update report can be read here. The latest Hydro blogpost cleared some FAQs about prepaid cards. Community requests for the latest Sentivate update was closed this week. The update includes browser upgrade, devMode toggles etc. The code commits can be tracked on GitHub. Check out how stream and play works here. If you are worried about censorship resistance of the Universal Web, have a read of this tweet thread. Plus, a $BTC giveaway contest was launched by the crew as well. Chief Engagement Officer at OST, Simona Pop, spoke at the first ever Ethereal Virtual Summit this week in addition to speaking at Ready Layer One’s community event (as mentioned in the last update). The SelfKey team explored if there was a causal relationship between developer activity and market cap of a project. The data breach compilation article was updated. The crew will be hosting an AMA next week. The progress report for April was published. Now that Constellation’s Hypergraph Mainnet is live, read all about the current status and what next here. The team sat down for an AMA with KuCoin. The community-built balance-checker lets you look at mainnet wallet balances. The Yazom Mobile app got approved by Google Play. You can register for early access on the website. Blockchain Radio was integrated with CyberFM this week. This means all 17 featured shows and 23 radio hosts of Blockchain Radio will now be available on the CyberFM app. And with that, we close for another week in the Parachuteverse. See you again with another update. Ciao.
How to get in on the highly anticipated Crypto Derivatives Boom
In March, we saw over $53 billion in crypto derivatives traded in one single day. During the economic crash and while businesses were shutting down, cryptocurrencies saw one of the best months in a very long time. Amidst the turmoil, politicians globally spoke on contingency plans which involved simply printing more cash. With the added fear and lack of faith in current financial systems, many turned to Bitcoin as a safe haven asset. TokenInsight predicted that the crypto derivatives market will surpass the spot trading scene by as much as 100 percent. As an upward trend in crypto derivatives continues, and more investors enter the space, here’s how you can leverage and take advantage of the opportunities available:
Find an exchange which provides transparency and security, and offers low trading fees
The ability to go long or short on a derivatives platform plus the presence of healthy margin trading is also another factor to consider when choosing a crypto derivatives exchange
-- Higher liquidity and well management of Insurance Funds After doing all due diligence, I found out Delta Exchange. Top reasons I choose Delta is - It never faced system overload issue like Bitmex and Binance did in the past & it has 30+ alts listed on the Exchange. I can write tens of reasons but I don't want to make this post. If you want, you can check out the Exchange here Dalta Exchange
Technical: A Brief History of Payment Channels: from Satoshi to Lightning Network
Who cares about political tweets from some random country's president when payment channels are a much more interesting and are actually capable of carrying value? So let's have a short history of various payment channel techs!
Generation 0: Satoshi's Broken nSequence Channels
Because Satoshi's Vision included payment channels, except his implementation sucked so hard we had to go fix it and added RBF as a by-product. Originally, the plan for nSequence was that mempools would replace any transaction spending certain inputs with another transaction spending the same inputs, but only if the nSequence field of the replacement was larger. Since 0xFFFFFFFF was the highest value that nSequence could get, this would mark a transaction as "final" and not replaceable on the mempool anymore. In fact, this "nSequence channel" I will describe is the reason why we have this weird rule about nLockTime and nSequence. nLockTime actually only works if nSequence is not 0xFFFFFFFF i.e. final. If nSequence is 0xFFFFFFFF then nLockTime is ignored, because this if the "final" version of the transaction. So what you'd do would be something like this:
You go to a bar and promise the bartender to pay by the time the bar closes. Because this is the Bitcoin universe, time is measured in blockheight, so the closing time of the bar is indicated as some future blockheight.
For your first drink, you'd make a transaction paying to the bartender for that drink, paying from some coins you have. The transaction has an nLockTime equal to the closing time of the bar, and a starting nSequence of 0. You hand over the transaction and the bartender hands you your drink.
For your succeeding drink, you'd remake the same transaction, adding the payment for that drink to the transaction output that goes to the bartender (so that output keeps getting larger, by the amount of payment), and having an nSequence that is one higher than the previous one.
Eventually you have to stop drinking. It comes down to one of two possibilities:
You drink until the bar closes. Since it is now the nLockTime indicated in the transaction, the bartender is able to broadcast the latest transaction and tells the bouncers to kick you out of the bar.
You wisely consider the state of your liver. So you re-sign the last transaction with a "final" nSequence of 0xFFFFFFFF i.e. the maximum possible value it can have. This allows the bartender to get his or her funds immediately (nLockTime is ignored if nSequence is 0xFFFFFFFF), so he or she tells the bouncers to let you out of the bar.
Now that of course is a payment channel. Individual payments (purchases of alcohol, so I guess buying coffee is not in scope for payment channels). Closing is done by creating a "final" transaction that is the sum of the individual payments. Sure there's no routing and channels are unidirectional and channels have a maximum lifetime but give Satoshi a break, he was also busy inventing Bitcoin at the time. Now if you noticed I called this kind of payment channel "broken". This is because the mempool rules are not consensus rules, and cannot be validated (nothing about the mempool can be validated onchain: I sigh every time somebody proposes "let's make block size dependent on mempool size", mempool state cannot be validated by onchain data). Fullnodes can't see all of the transactions you signed, and then validate that the final one with the maximum nSequence is the one that actually is used onchain. So you can do the below:
Become friends with Jihan Wu, because he owns >51% of the mining hashrate (he totally reorged Bitcoin to reverse the Binance hack right?).
Slip Jihan Wu some of the more interesting drinks you're ordering as an incentive to cooperate with you. So say you end up ordering 100 drinks, you split it with Jihan Wu and give him 50 of the drinks.
When the bar closes, Jihan Wu quickly calls his mining rig and tells them to mine the version of your transaction with nSequence 0. You know, that first one where you pay for only one drink.
Because fullnodes cannot validate nSequence, they'll accept even the nSequence=0 version and confirm it, immutably adding you paying for a single alcoholic drink to the blockchain.
The bartender, pissed at being cheated, takes out a shotgun from under the bar and shoots at you and Jihan Wu.
Jihan Wu uses his mystical chi powers (actually the combined exhaust from all of his mining rigs) to slow down the shotgun pellets, making them hit you as softly as petals drifting in the wind.
The bartender mutters some words, clothes ripping apart as he or she (hard to believe it could be a she but hey) turns into a bear, ready to maul you for cheating him or her of the payment for all the 100 drinks you ordered from him or her.
Steely-eyed, you stand in front of the bartender-turned-bear, daring him to touch you. You've watched Revenant, you know Leonardo di Caprio could survive a bear mauling, and if some posh actor can survive that, you know you can too. You make a pose. "Drunken troll logic attack!"
I think I got sidetracked here.
Bears are bad news.
You can't reasonably invoke "Satoshi's Vision" and simultaneously reject the Lightning Network because it's not onchain. Satoshi's Vision included a half-assed implementation of payment channels with nSequence, where the onchain transaction represented multiple logical payments, exactly what modern offchain techniques do (except modern offchain techniques actually work). nSequence (the field, but not its modern meaning) has been in Bitcoin since BitCoin For Windows Alpha 0.1.0. And its original intent was payment channels. You can't get nearer to Satoshi's Vision than being a field that Satoshi personally added to transactions on the very first public release of the BitCoin software, like srsly.
Miners can totally bypass mempool rules. In fact, the reason why nSequence has been repurposed to indicate "optional" replace-by-fee is because miners are already incentivized by the nSequence system to always follow replace-by-fee anyway. I mean, what do you think those drinks you passed to Jihan Wu are, other than the fee you pay him to mine a specific version of your transaction?
Satoshi made mistakes. The original design for nSequence is one of them. Today, we no longer use nSequence in this way. So diverging from Satoshi's original design is part and parcel of Bitcoin development, because over time, we learn new lessons that Satoshi never knew about. Satoshi was an important landmark in this technology. He will not be the last, or most important, that we will remember in the future: he will only be the first.
Incentive-compatible time-limited unidirectional channel; or, Satoshi's Vision, Fixed (if transaction malleability hadn't been a problem, that is). Now, we know the bartender will turn into a bear and maul you if you try to cheat the payment channel, and now that we've revealed you're good friends with Jihan Wu, the bartender will no longer accept a payment channel scheme that lets one you cooperate with a miner to cheat the bartender. Fortunately, Jeremy Spilman proposed a better way that would not let you cheat the bartender. First, you and the bartender perform this ritual:
You get some funds and create a transaction that pays to a 2-of-2 multisig between you and the bartender. You don't broadcast this yet: you just sign it and get its txid.
You create another transaction that spends the above transaction. This transaction (the "backoff") has an nLockTime equal to the closing time of the bar, plus one block. You sign it and give this backoff transaction (but not the above transaction) to the bartender.
The bartender signs the backoff and gives it back to you. It is now valid since it's spending a 2-of-2 of you and the bartender, and both of you have signed the backoff transaction.
Now you broadcast the first transaction onchain. You and the bartender wait for it to be deeply confirmed, then you can start ordering.
The above is probably vaguely familiar to LN users. It's the funding process of payment channels! The first transaction, the one that pays to a 2-of-2 multisig, is the funding transaction that backs the payment channel funds. So now you start ordering in this way:
For your first drink, you create a transaction spending the funding transaction output and sending the price of the drink to the bartender, with the rest returning to you.
You sign the transaction and pass it to the bartender, who serves your first drink.
For your succeeding drinks, you recreate the same transaction, adding the price of the new drink to the sum that goes to the bartender and reducing the money returned to you. You sign the transaction and give it to the bartender, who serves you your next drink.
At the end:
If the bar closing time is reached, the bartender signs the latest transaction, completing the needed 2-of-2 signatures and broadcasting this to the Bitcoin network. Since the backoff transaction is the closing time + 1, it can't get used at closing time.
If you decide you want to leave early because your liver is crying, you just tell the bartender to go ahead and close the channel (which the bartender can do at any time by just signing and broadcasting the latest transaction: the bartender won't do that because he or she is hoping you'll stay and drink more).
If you ended up just hanging around the bar and never ordering, then at closing time + 1 you broadcast the backoff transaction and get your funds back in full.
Now, even if you pass 50 drinks to Jihan Wu, you can't give him the first transaction (the one which pays for only one drink) and ask him to mine it: it's spending a 2-of-2 and the copy you have only contains your own signature. You need the bartender's signature to make it valid, but he or she sure as hell isn't going to cooperate in something that would lose him or her money, so a signature from the bartender validating old state where he or she gets paid less isn't going to happen. So, problem solved, right? Right? Okay, let's try it. So you get your funds, put them in a funding tx, get the backoff tx, confirm the funding tx... Once the funding transaction confirms deeply, the bartender laughs uproariously. He or she summons the bouncers, who surround you menacingly. "I'm refusing service to you," the bartender says. "Fine," you say. "I was leaving anyway;" You smirk. "I'll get back my money with the backoff transaction, and posting about your poor service on reddit so you get negative karma, so there!" "Not so fast," the bartender says. His or her voice chills your bones. It looks like your exploitation of the Satoshi nSequence payment channel is still fresh in his or her mind. "Look at the txid of the funding transaction that got confirmed." "What about it?" you ask nonchalantly, as you flip open your desktop computer and open a reputable blockchain explorer. What you see shocks you. "What the --- the txid is different! You--- you changed my signature?? But how? I put the only copy of my private key in a sealed envelope in a cast-iron box inside a safe buried in the Gobi desert protected by a clan of nomads who have dedicated their lives and their childrens' lives to keeping my private key safe in perpetuity!" "Didn't you know?" the bartender asks. "The components of the signature are just very large numbers. The sign of one of the signature components can be changed, from positive to negative, or negative to positive, and the signature will remain valid. Anyone can do that, even if they don't know the private key. But because Bitcoin includes the signatures in the transaction when it's generating the txid, this little change also changes the txid." He or she chuckles. "They say they'll fix it by separating the signatures from the transaction body. They're saying that these kinds of signature malleability won't affect transaction ids anymore after they do this, but I bet I can get my good friend Jihan Wu to delay this 'SepSig' plan for a good while yet. Friendly guy, this Jihan Wu, it turns out all I had to do was slip him 51 drinks and he was willing to mine a tx with the signature signs flipped." His or her grin widens. "I'm afraid your backoff transaction won't work anymore, since it spends a txid that is not existent and will never be confirmed. So here's the deal. You pay me 99% of the funds in the funding transaction, in exchange for me signing the transaction that spends with the txid that you see onchain. Refuse, and you lose 100% of the funds and every other HODLer, including me, benefits from the reduction in coin supply. Accept, and you get to keep 1%. I lose nothing if you refuse, so I won't care if you do, but consider the difference of getting zilch vs. getting 1% of your funds." His or her eyes glow. "GENUFLECT RIGHT NOW." Lesson learned?
Payback's a bitch.
Transaction malleability is a bitchier bitch. It's why we needed to fix the bug in SegWit. Sure, MtGox claimed they were attacked this way because someone kept messing with their transaction signatures and thus they lost track of where their funds went, but really, the bigger impetus for fixing transaction malleability was to support payment channels.
Yes, including the signatures in the hash that ultimately defines the txid was a mistake. Satoshi made a lot of those. So we're just reiterating the lesson "Satoshi was not an infinite being of infinite wisdom" here. Satoshi just gets a pass because of how awesome Bitcoin is.
CLTV-protected Spilman Channels
Using CLTV for the backoff branch. This variation is simply Spilman channels, but with the backoff transaction replaced with a backoff branch in the SCRIPT you pay to. It only became possible after OP_CHECKLOCKTIMEVERIFY (CLTV) was enabled in 2015. Now as we saw in the Spilman Channels discussion, transaction malleability means that any pre-signed offchain transaction can easily be invalidated by flipping the sign of the signature of the funding transaction while the funding transaction is not yet confirmed. This can be avoided by simply putting any special requirements into an explicit branch of the Bitcoin SCRIPT. Now, the backoff branch is supposed to create a maximum lifetime for the payment channel, and prior to the introduction of OP_CHECKLOCKTIMEVERIFY this could only be done by having a pre-signed nLockTime transaction. With CLTV, however, we can now make the branches explicit in the SCRIPT that the funding transaction pays to. Instead of paying to a 2-of-2 in order to set up the funding transaction, you pay to a SCRIPT which is basically "2-of-2, OR this singlesig after a specified lock time". With this, there is no backoff transaction that is pre-signed and which refers to a specific txid. Instead, you can create the backoff transaction later, using whatever txid the funding transaction ends up being confirmed under. Since the funding transaction is immutable once confirmed, it is no longer possible to change the txid afterwards.
Todd Micropayment Networks
The old hub-spoke model (that isn't how LN today actually works). One of the more direct predecessors of the Lightning Network was the hub-spoke model discussed by Peter Todd. In this model, instead of payers directly having channels to payees, payers and payees connect to a central hub server. This allows any payer to pay any payee, using the same channel for every payee on the hub. Similarly, this allows any payee to receive from any payer, using the same channel. Remember from the above Spilman example? When you open a channel to the bartender, you have to wait around for the funding tx to confirm. This will take an hour at best. Now consider that you have to make channels for everyone you want to pay to. That's not very scalable. So the Todd hub-spoke model has a central "clearing house" that transport money from payers to payees. The "Moonbeam" project takes this model. Of course, this reveals to the hub who the payer and payee are, and thus the hub can potentially censor transactions. Generally, though, it was considered that a hub would more efficiently censor by just not maintaining a channel with the payer or payee that it wants to censor (since the money it owned in the channel would just be locked uselessly if the hub won't process payments to/from the censored user). In any case, the ability of the central hub to monitor payments means that it can surveill the payer and payee, and then sell this private transactional data to third parties. This loss of privacy would be intolerable today. Peter Todd also proposed that there might be multiple hubs that could transport funds to each other on behalf of their users, providing somewhat better privacy. Another point of note is that at the time such networks were proposed, only unidirectional (Spilman) channels were available. Thus, while one could be a payer, or payee, you would have to use separate channels for your income versus for your spending. Worse, if you wanted to transfer money from your income channel to your spending channel, you had to close both and reshuffle the money between them, both onchain activities.
Poon-Dryja Lightning Network
Bidirectional two-participant channels. The Poon-Dryja channel mechanism has two important properties:
No time limit.
Both the original Satoshi and the two Spilman variants are unidirectional: there is a payer and a payee, and if the payee wants to do a refund, or wants to pay for a different service or product the payer is providing, then they can't use the same unidirectional channel. The Poon-Dryjam mechanism allows channels, however, to be bidirectional instead: you are not a payer or a payee on the channel, you can receive or send at any time as long as both you and the channel counterparty are online. Further, unlike either of the Spilman variants, there is no time limit for the lifetime of a channel. Instead, you can keep the channel open for as long as you want. Both properties, together, form a very powerful scaling property that I believe most people have not appreciated. With unidirectional channels, as mentioned before, if you both earn and spend over the same network of payment channels, you would have separate channels for earning and spending. You would then need to perform onchain operations to "reverse" the directions of your channels periodically. Secondly, since Spilman channels have a fixed lifetime, even if you never used either channel, you would have to periodically "refresh" it by closing it and reopening. With bidirectional, indefinite-lifetime channels, you may instead open some channels when you first begin managing your own money, then close them only after your lawyers have executed your last will and testament on how the money in your channels get divided up to your heirs: that's just two onchain transactions in your entire lifetime. That is the potentially very powerful scaling property that bidirectional, indefinite-lifetime channels allow. I won't discuss the transaction structure needed for Poon-Dryja bidirectional channels --- it's complicated and you can easily get explanations with cute graphics elsewhere. There is a weakness of Poon-Dryja that people tend to gloss over (because it was fixed very well by RustyReddit):
You have to store all the revocation keys of a channel. This implies you are storing 1 revocation key for every channel update, so if you perform millions of updates over your entire lifetime, you'd be storing several megabytes of keys, for only a single channel. RustyReddit fixed this by requiring that the revocation keys be generated from a "Seed" revocation key, and every key is just the application of SHA256 on that key, repeatedly. For example, suppose I tell you that my first revocation key is SHA256(SHA256(seed)). You can store that in O(1) space. Then for the next revocation, I tell you SHA256(seed). From SHA256(key), you yourself can compute SHA256(SHA256(seed)) (i.e. the previous revocation key). So you can remember just the most recent revocation key, and from there you'd be able to compute every previous revocation key. When you start a channel, you perform SHA256 on your seed for several million times, then use the result as the first revocation key, removing one layer of SHA256 for every revocation key you need to generate. RustyReddit not only came up with this, but also suggested an efficient O(log n) storage structure, the shachain, so that you can quickly look up any revocation key in the past in case of a breach. People no longer really talk about this O(n) revocation storage problem anymore because it was solved very very well by this mechanism.
Another thing I want to emphasize is that while the Lightning Network paper and many of the earlier presentations developed from the old Peter Todd hub-and-spoke model, the modern Lightning Network takes the logical conclusion of removing a strict separation between "hubs" and "spokes". Any node on the Lightning Network can very well work as a hub for any other node. Thus, while you might operate as "mostly a payer", "mostly a forwarding node", "mostly a payee", you still end up being at least partially a forwarding node ("hub") on the network, at least part of the time. This greatly reduces the problems of privacy inherent in having only a few hub nodes: forwarding nodes cannot get significantly useful data from the payments passing through them, because the distance between the payer and the payee can be so large that it would be likely that the ultimate payer and the ultimate payee could be anyone on the Lightning Network. Lessons learned?
We can decentralize if we try hard enough!
"Hubs bad" can be made "hubs good" if everybody is a hub.
Smart people can solve problems. It's kinda why they're smart.
After LN, there's also the Decker-Wattenhofer Duplex Micropayment Channels (DMC). This post is long enough as-is, LOL. But for now, it uses a novel "decrementing nSequence channel", using the new relative-timelock semantics of nSequence (not the broken one originally by Satoshi). It actually uses multiple such "decrementing nSequence" constructs, terminating in a pair of Spilman channels, one in both directions (thus "duplex"). Maybe I'll discuss it some other time. The realization that channel constructions could actually hold more channel constructions inside them (the way the Decker-Wattenhofer puts a pair of Spilman channels inside a series of "decrementing nSequence channels") lead to the further thought behind Burchert-Decker-Wattenhofer channel factories. Basically, you could host multiple two-participant channel constructs inside a larger multiparticipant "channel" construct (i.e. host multiple channels inside a factory). Further, we have the Decker-Russell-Osuntokun or "eltoo" construction. I'd argue that this is "nSequence done right". I'll write more about this later, because this post is long enough. Lessons learned?
Bitcoin offchain scaling is more powerful than you ever thought.
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