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Bob The Magic Custodian
Summary: Everyone knows that when you give your assets to someone else, they always keep them safe. If this is true for individuals, it is certainly true for businesses. Custodians always tell the truth and manage funds properly. They won't have any interest in taking the assets as an exchange operator would. Auditors tell the truth and can't be misled. That's because organizations that are regulated are incapable of lying and don't make mistakes. First, some background. Here is a summary of how custodians make us more secure: Previously, we might give Alice our crypto assets to hold. There were risks:
Alice might take the assets and disappear.
Alice might spend the assets and pretend that she still has them (fractional model).
Alice might store the assets insecurely and they'll get stolen.
Alice might give the assets to someone else by mistake or by force.
Alice might lose access to the assets.
But "no worries", Alice has a custodian named Bob. Bob is dressed in a nice suit. He knows some politicians. And he drives a Porsche. "So you have nothing to worry about!". And look at all the benefits we get:
Alice can't take the assets and disappear (unless she asks Bob or never gives them to Bob).
Alice can't spend the assets and pretend that she still has them. (Unless she didn't give them to Bob or asks him for them.)
Alice can't store the assets insecurely so they get stolen. (After all - she doesn't have any control over the withdrawal process from any of Bob's systems, right?)
Alice can't give the assets to someone else by mistake or by force. (Bob will stop her, right Bob?)
Alice can't lose access to the funds. (She'll always be present, sane, and remember all secrets, right?)
See - all problems are solved! All we have to worry about now is:
Bob might take the assets and disappear.
Bob might spend the assets and pretend that he still has them (fractional model).
Bob might store the assets insecurely and they'll get stolen.
Bob might give the assets to someone else by mistake or by force.
Bob might lose access to the assets.
It's pretty simple. Before we had to trust Alice. Now we only have to trust Alice, Bob, and all the ways in which they communicate. Just think of how much more secure we are! "On top of that", Bob assures us, "we're using a special wallet structure". Bob shows Alice a diagram. "We've broken the balance up and store it in lots of smaller wallets. That way", he assures her, "a thief can't take it all at once". And he points to a historic case where a large sum was taken "because it was stored in a single wallet... how stupid". "Very early on, we used to have all the crypto in one wallet", he said, "and then one Christmas a hacker came and took it all. We call him the Grinch. Now we individually wrap each crypto and stick it under a binary search tree. The Grinch has never been back since." "As well", Bob continues, "even if someone were to get in, we've got insurance. It covers all thefts and even coercion, collusion, and misplaced keys - only subject to the policy terms and conditions." And with that, he pulls out a phone-book sized contract and slams it on the desk with a thud. "Yep", he continues, "we're paying top dollar for one of the best policies in the country!" "Can I read it?' Alice asks. "Sure," Bob says, "just as soon as our legal team is done with it. They're almost through the first chapter." He pauses, then continues. "And can you believe that sales guy Mike? He has the same year Porsche as me. I mean, what are the odds?" "Do you use multi-sig?", Alice asks. "Absolutely!" Bob replies. "All our engineers are fully trained in multi-sig. Whenever we want to set up a new wallet, we generate 2 separate keys in an air-gapped process and store them in this proprietary system here. Look, it even requires the biometric signature from one of our team members to initiate any withdrawal." He demonstrates by pressing his thumb into the display. "We use a third-party cloud validation API to match the thumbprint and authorize each withdrawal. The keys are also backed up daily to an off-site third-party." "Wow that's really impressive," Alice says, "but what if we need access for a withdrawal outside of office hours?" "Well that's no issue", Bob says, "just send us an email, call, or text message and we always have someone on staff to help out. Just another part of our strong commitment to all our customers!" "What about Proof of Reserve?", Alice asks. "Of course", Bob replies, "though rather than publish any blockchain addresses or signed transaction, for privacy we just do a SHA256 refactoring of the inverse hash modulus for each UTXO nonce and combine the smart contract coefficient consensus in our hyperledger lightning node. But it's really simple to use." He pushes a button and a large green checkmark appears on a screen. "See - the algorithm ran through and reserves are proven." "Wow", Alice says, "you really know your stuff! And that is easy to use! What about fiat balances?" "Yeah, we have an auditor too", Bob replies, "Been using him for a long time so we have quite a strong relationship going! We have special books we give him every year and he's very efficient! Checks the fiat, crypto, and everything all at once!" "We used to have a nice offline multi-sig setup we've been using without issue for the past 5 years, but I think we'll move all our funds over to your facility," Alice says. "Awesome", Bob replies, "Thanks so much! This is perfect timing too - my Porsche got a dent on it this morning. We have the paperwork right over here." "Great!", Alice replies. And with that, Alice gets out her pen and Bob gets the contract. "Don't worry", he says, "you can take your crypto-assets back anytime you like - just subject to our cancellation policy. Our annual management fees are also super low and we don't adjust them often". How many holes have to exist for your funds to get stolen? Just one. Why are we taking a powerful offline multi-sig setup, widely used globally in hundreds of different/lacking regulatory environments with 0 breaches to date, and circumventing it by a demonstrably weak third party layer? And paying a great expense to do so? If you go through the list of breaches in the past 2 years to highly credible organizations, you go through the list of major corporate frauds (only the ones we know about), you go through the list of all the times platforms have lost funds, you go through the list of times and ways that people have lost their crypto from identity theft, hot wallet exploits, extortion, etc... and then you go through this custodian with a fine-tooth comb and truly believe they have value to add far beyond what you could, sticking your funds in a wallet (or set of wallets) they control exclusively is the absolute worst possible way to take advantage of that security. The best way to add security for crypto-assets is to make a stronger multi-sig. With one custodian, what you are doing is giving them your cryptocurrency and hoping they're honest, competent, and flawlessly secure. It's no different than storing it on a really secure exchange. Maybe the insurance will cover you. Didn't work for Bitpay in 2015. Didn't work for Yapizon in 2017. Insurance has never paid a claim in the entire history of cryptocurrency. But maybe you'll get lucky. Maybe your exact scenario will buck the trend and be what they're willing to cover. After the large deductible and hopefully without a long and expensive court battle. And you want to advertise this increase in risk, the lapse of judgement, an accident waiting to happen, as though it's some kind of benefit to customers ("Free institutional-grade storage for your digital assets.")? And then some people are writing to the OSC that custodians should be mandatory for all funds on every exchange platform? That this somehow will make Canadians as a whole more secure or better protected compared with standard air-gapped multi-sig? On what planet? Most of the problems in Canada stemmed from one thing - a lack of transparency. If Canadians had known what a joke Quadriga was - it wouldn't have grown to lose $400m from hard-working Canadians from coast to coast to coast. And Gerald Cotten would be in jail, not wherever he is now (at best, rotting peacefully). EZ-BTC and mister Dave Smilie would have been a tiny little scam to his friends, not a multi-million dollar fraud. Einstein would have got their act together or been shut down BEFORE losing millions and millions more in people's funds generously donated to criminals. MapleChange wouldn't have even been a thing. And maybe we'd know a little more about CoinTradeNewNote - like how much was lost in there. Almost all of the major losses with cryptocurrency exchanges involve deception with unbacked funds. So it's great to see transparency reports from BitBuy and ShakePay where someone independently verified the backing. The only thing we don't have is:
ANY CERTAINTY BALANCES WEREN'T EXCLUDED. Quadriga's largest account was $70m. 80% of funds are in 20% of accounts (Pareto principle). All it takes is excluding a few really large accounts - and nobody's the wiser. A fractional platform can easily pass any audit this way.
ANY VISIBILITY WHATSOEVER INTO THE CUSTODIANS. BitBuy put out their report before moving all the funds to their custodian and ShakePay apparently can't even tell us who the custodian is. That's pretty important considering that basically all of the funds are now stored there.
ANY IDEA ABOUT THE OTHER EXCHANGES. In order for this to be effective, it has to be the norm. It needs to be "unusual" not to know. If obscurity is the norm, then it's super easy for people like Gerald Cotten and Dave Smilie to blend right in.
It's not complicated to validate cryptocurrency assets. They need to exist, they need to be spendable, and they need to cover the total balances. There are plenty of credible people and firms across the country that have the capacity to reasonably perform this validation. Having more frequent checks by different, independent, parties who publish transparent reports is far more valuable than an annual check by a single "more credible/official" party who does the exact same basic checks and may or may not publish anything. Here's an example set of requirements that could be mandated:
First report within 1 month of launching, another within 3 months, and further reports at minimum every 6 months thereafter.
No auditor can be repeated within a 12 month period.
All reports must be public, identifying the auditor and the full methodology used.
All auditors must be independent of the firm being audited with no conflict of interest.
Reports must include the percentage of each asset backed, and how it's backed.
The auditor publishes a hash list, which lists a hash of each customer's information and balances that were included. Hash is one-way encryption so privacy is fully preserved. Every customer can use this to have 100% confidence they were included.
If we want more extensive requirements on audits, these should scale upward based on the total assets at risk on the platform, and whether the platform has loaned their assets out.
There are ways to structure audits such that neither crypto assets nor customer information are ever put at risk, and both can still be properly validated and publicly verifiable. There are also ways to structure audits such that they are completely reasonable for small platforms and don't inhibit innovation in any way. By making the process as reasonable as possible, we can completely eliminate any reason/excuse that an honest platform would have for not being audited. That is arguable far more important than any incremental improvement we might get from mandating "the best of the best" accountants. Right now we have nothing mandated and tons of Canadians using offshore exchanges with no oversight whatsoever. Transparency does not prove crypto assets are safe. CoinTradeNewNote, Flexcoin ($600k), and Canadian Bitcoins ($100k) are examples where crypto-assets were breached from platforms in Canada. All of them were online wallets and used no multi-sig as far as any records show. This is consistent with what we see globally - air-gapped multi-sig wallets have an impeccable record, while other schemes tend to suffer breach after breach. We don't actually know how much CoinTrader lost because there was no visibility. Rather than publishing details of what happened, the co-founder of CoinTrader silently moved on to found another platform - the "most trusted way to buy and sell crypto" - a site that has no information whatsoever (that I could find) on the storage practices and a FAQ advising that “[t]rading cryptocurrency is completely safe” and that having your own wallet is “entirely up to you! You can certainly keep cryptocurrency, or fiat, or both, on the app.” Doesn't sound like much was learned here, which is really sad to see. It's not that complicated or unreasonable to set up a proper hardware wallet. Multi-sig can be learned in a single course. Something the equivalent complexity of a driver's license test could prevent all the cold storage exploits we've seen to date - even globally. Platform operators have a key advantage in detecting and preventing fraud - they know their customers far better than any custodian ever would. The best job that custodians can do is to find high integrity individuals and train them to form even better wallet signatories. Rather than mandating that all platforms expose themselves to arbitrary third party risks, regulations should center around ensuring that all signatories are background-checked, properly trained, and using proper procedures. We also need to make sure that signatories are empowered with rights and responsibilities to reject and report fraud. They need to know that they can safely challenge and delay a transaction - even if it turns out they made a mistake. We need to have an environment where mistakes are brought to the surface and dealt with. Not one where firms and people feel the need to hide what happened. In addition to a knowledge-based test, an auditor can privately interview each signatory to make sure they're not in coercive situations, and we should make sure they can freely and anonymously report any issues without threat of retaliation. A proper multi-sig has each signature held by a separate person and is governed by policies and mutual decisions instead of a hierarchy. It includes at least one redundant signature. For best results, 3of4, 3of5, 3of6, 4of5, 4of6, 4of7, 5of6, or 5of7. History has demonstrated over and over again the risk of hot wallets even to highly credible organizations. Nonetheless, many platforms have hot wallets for convenience. While such losses are generally compensated by platforms without issue (for example Poloniex, Bitstamp, Bitfinex, Gatecoin, Coincheck, Bithumb, Zaif, CoinBene, Binance, Bitrue, Bitpoint, Upbit, VinDAX, and now KuCoin), the public tends to focus more on cases that didn't end well. Regardless of what systems are employed, there is always some level of risk. For that reason, most members of the public would prefer to see third party insurance. Rather than trying to convince third party profit-seekers to provide comprehensive insurance and then relying on an expensive and slow legal system to enforce against whatever legal loopholes they manage to find each and every time something goes wrong, insurance could be run through multiple exchange operators and regulators, with the shared interest of having a reputable industry, keeping costs down, and taking care of Canadians. For example, a 4 of 7 multi-sig insurance fund held between 5 independent exchange operators and 2 regulatory bodies. All Canadian exchanges could pay premiums at a set rate based on their needed coverage, with a higher price paid for hot wallet coverage (anything not an air-gapped multi-sig cold wallet). Such a model would be much cheaper to manage, offer better coverage, and be much more reliable to payout when needed. The kind of coverage you could have under this model is unheard of. You could even create something like the CDIC to protect Canadians who get their trading accounts hacked if they can sufficiently prove the loss is legitimate. In cases of fraud, gross negligence, or insolvency, the fund can be used to pay affected users directly (utilizing the last transparent balance report in the worst case), something which private insurance would never touch. While it's recommended to have official policies for coverage, a model where members vote would fully cover edge cases. (Could be similar to the Supreme Court where justices vote based on case law.) Such a model could fully protect all Canadians across all platforms. You can have a fiat coverage governed by legal agreements, and crypto-asset coverage governed by both multi-sig and legal agreements. It could be practical, affordable, and inclusive. Now, we are at a crossroads. We can happily give up our freedom, our innovation, and our money. We can pay hefty expenses to auditors, lawyers, and regulators year after year (and make no mistake - this cost will grow to many millions or even billions as the industry grows - and it will be borne by all Canadians on every platform because platforms are not going to eat up these costs at a loss). We can make it nearly impossible for any new platform to enter the marketplace, forcing Canadians to use the same stagnant platforms year after year. We can centralize and consolidate the entire industry into 2 or 3 big players and have everyone else fail (possibly to heavy losses of users of those platforms). And when a flawed security model doesn't work and gets breached, we can make it even more complicated with even more people in suits making big money doing the job that blockchain was supposed to do in the first place. We can build a system which is so intertwined and dependent on big government, traditional finance, and central bankers that it's future depends entirely on that of the fiat system, of fractional banking, and of government bail-outs. If we choose this path, as history has shown us over and over again, we can not go back, save for revolution. Our children and grandchildren will still be paying the consequences of what we decided today. Or, we can find solutions that work. We can maintain an open and innovative environment while making the adjustments we need to make to fully protect Canadian investors and cryptocurrency users, giving easy and affordable access to cryptocurrency for all Canadians on the platform of their choice, and creating an environment in which entrepreneurs and problem solvers can bring those solutions forward easily. None of the above precludes innovation in any way, or adds any unreasonable cost - and these three policies would demonstrably eliminate or resolve all 109 historic cases as studied here - that's every single case researched so far going back to 2011. It includes every loss that was studied so far not just in Canada but globally as well. Unfortunately, finding answers is the least challenging part. Far more challenging is to get platform operators and regulators to agree on anything. My last post got no response whatsoever, and while the OSC has told me they're happy for industry feedback, I believe my opinion alone is fairly meaningless. This takes the whole community working together to solve. So please let me know your thoughts. Please take the time to upvote and share this with people. Please - let's get this solved and not leave it up to other people to do. Facts/background/sources (skip if you like):
The inspiration for the paragraph about splitting wallets was an actual quote from a Canadian company providing custodial services in response to the OSC consultation paper: "We believe that it will be in the in best interests of investors to prohibit pooled crypto assets or ‘floats’. Most Platforms pool assets, citing reasons of practicality and expense. The recent hack of the world’s largest Platform – Binance – demonstrates the vulnerability of participants’ assets when such concessions are made. In this instance, the Platform’s entire hot wallet of Bitcoins, worth over $40 million, was stolen, facilitated in part by the pooling of client crypto assets." "the maintenance of participants (and Platform) crypto assets across multiple wallets distributes the related risk and responsibility of security - reducing the amount of insurance coverage required and making insurance coverage more readily obtainable". For the record, their reply also said nothing whatsoever about multi-sig or offline storage.
In addition to the fact that the $40m hack represented only one "hot wallet" of Binance, and they actually had the vast majority of assets in other wallets (including mostly cold wallets), multiple real cases have clearly demonstrated that risk is still present with multiple wallets. Bitfinex, VinDAX, Bithumb, Altsbit, BitPoint, Cryptopia, and just recently KuCoin all had multiple wallets breached all at the same time, and may represent a significantly larger impact on customers than the Binance breach which was fully covered by Binance. To represent that simply having multiple separate wallets under the same security scheme is a comprehensive way to reduce risk is just not true.
Private insurance has historically never covered a single loss in the cryptocurrency space (at least, not one that I was able to find), and there are notable cases where massive losses were not covered by insurance. Bitpay in 2015 and Yapizon in 2017 both had insurance policies that didn't pay out during the breach, even after a lengthly court process. The same insurance that ShakePay is presently using (and announced to much fanfare) was describe by their CEO himself as covering “physical theft of the media where the private keys are held,” which is something that has never historically happened. As was said with regard to the same policy in 2018 - “I don’t find it surprising that Lloyd’s is in this space,” said Johnson, adding that to his mind the challenge for everybody is figuring out how to structure these policies so that they are actually protective. “You can create an insurance policy that protects no one – you know there are so many caveats to the policy that it’s not super protective.”
The most profitable policy for a private insurance company is one with the most expensive premiums that they never have to pay a claim on. They have no inherent incentive to take care of people who lost funds. It's "cheaper" to take the reputational hit and fight the claim in court. The more money at stake, the more the insurance provider is incentivized to avoid payout. They're not going to insure the assets unless they have reasonable certainty to make a profit by doing so, and they're not going to pay out a massive sum unless it's legally forced. Private insurance is always structured to be maximally profitable to the insurance provider.
The circumvention of multi-sig was a key factor in the massive Bitfinex hack of over $60m of bitcoin, which today still sits being slowly used and is worth over $3b. While Bitfinex used a qualified custodian Bitgo, which was and still is active and one of the industry leaders of custodians, and they set up 2 of 3 multi-sig wallets, the entire system was routed through Bitfinex, such that Bitfinex customers could initiate the withdrawals in a "hot" fashion. This feature was also a hit with the hacker. The multi-sig was fully circumvented.
Bitpay in 2015 was another example of a breach that stole 5,000 bitcoins. This happened not through the exploit of any system in Bitpay, but because the CEO of a company they worked with got their computer hacked and the hackers were able to request multiple bitcoin purchases, which Bitpay honoured because they came from the customer's computer legitimately. Impersonation is a very common tactic used by fraudsters, and methods get more extreme all the time.
A notable case in Canada was the Canadian Bitcoins exploit. Funds were stored on a server in a Rogers Data Center, and the attendee was successfully convinced to reboot the server "in safe mode" with a simple phone call, thus bypassing the extensive security and enabling the theft.
The very nature of custodians circumvents multi-sig. This is because custodians are not just having to secure the assets against some sort of physical breach but against any form of social engineering, modification of orders, fraudulent withdrawal attempts, etc... If the security practices of signatories in a multi-sig arrangement are such that the breach risk of one signatory is 1 in 100, the requirement of 3 independent signatures makes the risk of theft 1 in 1,000,000. Since hackers tend to exploit the weakest link, a comparable custodian has to make the entry and exit points of their platform 10,000 times more secure than one of those signatories to provide equivalent protection. And if the signatories beef up their security by only 10x, the risk is now 1 in 1,000,000,000. The custodian has to be 1,000,000 times more secure. The larger and more complex a system is, the more potential vulnerabilities exist in it, and the fewer people can understand how the system works when performing upgrades. Even if a system is completely secure today, one has to also consider how that system might evolve over time or work with different members.
By contrast, offline multi-signature solutions have an extremely solid record, and in the entire history of cryptocurrency exchange incidents which I've studied (listed here), there has only been one incident (796 exchange in 2015) involving an offline multi-signature wallet. It happened because the customer's bitcoin address was modified by hackers, and the amount that was stolen ($230k) was immediately covered by the exchange operators. Basically, the platform operators were tricked into sending a legitimate withdrawal request to the wrong address because hackers exploited their platform to change that address. Such an issue would not be prevented in any way by the use of a custodian, as that custodian has no oversight whatsoever to the exchange platform. It's practical for all exchange operators to test large withdrawal transactions as a general policy, regardless of what model is used, and general best practice is to diagnose and fix such an exploit as soon as it occurs.
False promises on the backing of funds played a huge role in the downfall of Quadriga, and it's been exposed over and over again (MyCoin, PlusToken, Bitsane, Bitmarket, EZBTC, IDAX). Even today, customers have extremely limited certainty on whether their funds in exchanges are actually being backed or how they're being backed. While this issue is not unique to cryptocurrency exchanges, the complexity of the technology and the lack of any regulation or standards makes problems more widespread, and there is no "central bank" to come to the rescue as in the 2008 financial crisis or during the great depression when "9,000 banks failed".
In addition to fraudulent operations, the industry is full of cases where operators have suffered breaches and not reported them. Most recently, Einstein was the largest case in Canada, where ongoing breaches and fraud were perpetrated against the platform for multiple years and nobody found out until the platform collapsed completely. While fraud and breaches suck to deal with, they suck even more when not dealt with. Lack of visibility played a role in the largest downfalls of Mt. Gox, Cryptsy, and Bitgrail. In some cases, platforms are alleged to have suffered a hack and keep operating without admitting it at all, such as CoinBene.
It surprises some to learn that a cryptographic solution has already existed since 2013, and gained widespread support in 2014 after Mt. Gox. Proof of Reserves is a full cryptographic proof that allows any customer using an exchange to have complete certainty that their crypto-assets are fully backed by the platform in real-time. This is accomplished by proving that assets exist on the blockchain, are spendable, and fully cover customer deposits. It does not prove safety of assets or backing of fiat assets.
If we didn't care about privacy at all, a platform could publish their wallet addresses, sign a partial transaction, and put the full list of customer information and balances out publicly. Customers can each check that they are on the list, that the balances are accurate, that the total adds up, and that it's backed and spendable on the blockchain. Platforms who exclude any customer take a risk because that customer can easily check and see they were excluded. So together with all customers checking, this forms a full proof of backing of all crypto assets.
However, obviously customers care about their private information being published. Therefore, a hash of the information can be provided instead. Hash is one-way encryption. The hash allows the customer to validate inclusion (by hashing their own known information), while anyone looking at the list of hashes cannot determine the private information of any other user. All other parts of the scheme remain fully intact. A model like this is in use on the exchange CoinFloor in the UK.
A Merkle tree can provide even greater privacy. Instead of a list of balances, the balances are arranged into a binary tree. A customer starts from their node, and works their way to the top of the tree. For example, they know they have 5 BTC, they plus 1 other customer hold 7 BTC, they plus 2-3 other customers hold 17 BTC, etc... until they reach the root where all the BTC are represented. Thus, there is no way to find the balances of other individual customers aside from one unidentified customer in this case.
Proposals such as this had the backing of leaders in the community including Nic Carter, Greg Maxwell, and Zak Wilcox. Substantial and significant effort started back in 2013, with massive popularity in 2014. But what became of that effort? Very little. Exchange operators continue to refuse to give visibility. Despite the fact this information can often be obtained through trivial blockchain analysis, no Canadian platform has ever provided any wallet addresses publicly. As described by the CEO of Newton "For us to implement some kind of realtime Proof of Reserves solution, which I'm not opposed to, it would have to ... Preserve our users' privacy, as well as our own. Some kind of zero-knowledge proof". Kraken describes here in more detail why they haven't implemented such a scheme. According to professor Eli Ben-Sasson, when he spoke with exchanges, none were interested in implementing Proof of Reserves.
And yet, Kraken's places their reasoning on a page called "Proof of Reserves". More recently, both BitBuy and ShakePay have released reports titled "Proof of Reserves and Security Audit". Both reports contain disclaimers against being audits. Both reports trust the customer list provided by the platform, leaving the open possibility that multiple large accounts could have been excluded from the process. Proof of Reserves is a blockchain validation where customers see the wallets on the blockchain. The report from Kraken is 5 years old, but they leave it described as though it was just done a few weeks ago. And look at what they expect customers to do for validation. When firms represent something being "Proof of Reserve" when it's not, this is like a farmer growing fruit with pesticides and selling it in a farmers market as organic produce - except that these are people's hard-earned life savings at risk here. Platforms are misrepresenting the level of visibility in place and deceiving the public by their misuse of this term. They haven't proven anything.
Fraud isn't a problem that is unique to cryptocurrency. Fraud happens all the time. Enron, WorldCom, Nortel, Bear Stearns, Wells Fargo, Moser Baer, Wirecard, Bre-X, and Nicola are just some of the cases where frauds became large enough to become a big deal (and there are so many countless others). These all happened on 100% reversible assets despite regulations being in place. In many of these cases, the problems happened due to the over-complexity of the financial instruments. For example, Enron had "complex financial statements [which] were confusing to shareholders and analysts", creating "off-balance-sheet vehicles, complex financing structures, and deals so bewildering that few people could understand them". In cryptocurrency, we are often combining complex financial products with complex technologies and verification processes. We are naïve if we think problems like this won't happen. It is awkward and uncomfortable for many people to admit that they don't know how something works. If we want "money of the people" to work, the solutions have to be simple enough that "the people" can understand them, not so confusing that financial professionals and technology experts struggle to use or understand them.
For those who question the extent to which an organization can fool their way into a security consultancy role, HB Gary should be a great example to look at. Prior to trying to out anonymous, HB Gary was being actively hired by multiple US government agencies and others in the private sector (with glowing testimonials). The published articles and hosted professional security conferences. One should also look at this list of data breaches from the past 2 years. Many of them are large corporations, government entities, and technology companies. These are the ones we know about. Undoubtedly, there are many more that we do not know about. If HB Gary hadn't been "outted" by anonymous, would we have known they were insecure? If the same breach had happened outside of the public spotlight, would it even have been reported? Or would HB Gary have just deleted the Twitter posts, brought their site back up, done a couple patches, and kept on operating as though nothing had happened?
In the case of Quadriga, the facts are clear. Despite past experience with platforms such as MapleChange in Canada and others around the world, no guidance or even the most basic of a framework was put in place by regulators. By not clarifying any sort of legal framework, regulators enabled a situation where a platform could be run by former criminal Mike Dhanini/Omar Patryn, and where funds could be held fully unchecked by one person. At the same time, the lack of regulation deterred legitimate entities from running competing platforms and Quadriga was granted a money services business license for multiple years of operation, which gave the firm the appearance of legitimacy. Regulators did little to protect Canadians despite Quadriga failing to file taxes from 2016 onward. The entire administrative team had resigned and this was public knowledge. Many people had suspicions of what was going on, including Ryan Mueller, who forwarded complaints to the authorities. These were ignored, giving Gerald Cotten the opportunity to escape without justice.
There are multiple issues with the SOC II model including the prohibitive cost (you have to find a third party accounting firm and the prices are not even listed publicly on any sites), the requirement of operating for a year (impossible for new platforms), and lack of any public visibility (SOC II are private reports that aren't shared outside the people in suits).
Securities frameworks are expensive. Sarbanes-Oxley is estimated to cost $5.1 million USD/yr for the average Fortune 500 company in the United States. Since "Fortune 500" represents the top 500 companies, that means well over $2.55 billion USD (~$3.4 billion CAD) is going to people in suits. Isn't the problem of trust and verification the exact problem that the blockchain is supposed to solve?
To use Quadriga as justification for why custodians or SOC II or other advanced schemes are needed for platforms is rather silly, when any framework or visibility at all, or even the most basic of storage policies, would have prevented the whole thing. It's just an embarrassment.
We are now seeing regulators take strong action. CoinSquare in Canada with multi-million dollar fines. BitMex from the US, criminal charges and arrests. OkEx, with full disregard of withdrawals and no communication. Who's next?
We have a unique window today where we can solve these problems, and not permanently destroy innovation with unreasonable expectations, but we need to act quickly. This is a unique historic time that will never come again.
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.
How To End The Cryptocurrency Exchange "Wild West" Without Crippling Innovation
In case you haven't noticed the consultation paper, staff notice, and report on Quadriga, regulators are now clamping down on Canadian cryptocurrency exchanges. The OSC and other regulatory bodies are still interested in industry feedback. They have not put forward any official regulation yet. Below are some ideas/insights and a proposed framework.
Typical securities frameworks will cost Canadians millions of dollars (ie Sarbanes-Oxley estimated at $5m USD/yr per firm). Implementation costs of this proposal are significantly cheaper.
Canadians can maintain a diverse set of exchanges, multiple viable business models are still fully supported, and innovation is encouraged while keeping Canadians safe.
Many of you have limited time to read the full proposal, so here are the highlights:
Effective standards to prevent both internal and external theft. Exchange operators are trained and certified, and have a legal responsibility to users.
Regular Transparent Audits
Provides visibility to Canadians that their funds are fully backed on the exchange, while protecting privacy and sensitive platform information.
Establishment of basic insurance standards/strategy, to expand over time. Removing risk to exchange users of any hot wallet theft.
Background and Justifications
Cold Storage Custody/Management After reviewing close to 100 cases, all thefts tend to break down into more or less the same set of problems: • Funds stored online or in a smart contract, • Access controlled by one person or one system, • 51% attacks (rare), • Funds sent to the wrong address (also rare), or • Some combination of the above. For the first two cases, practical solutions exist and are widely implemented on exchanges already. Offline multi-signature solutions are already industry standard. No cases studied found an external theft or exit scam involving an offline multi-signature wallet implementation. Security can be further improved through minimum numbers of signatories, background checks, providing autonomy and legal protections to each signatory, establishing best practices, and a training/certification program. The last two transaction risks occur more rarely, and have never resulted in a loss affecting the actual users of the exchange. In all cases to date where operators made the mistake, they've been fully covered by the exchange platforms. • 51% attacks generally only occur on blockchains with less security. The most prominent cases have been Bitcoin Gold and Ethereum Classic. The simple solution is to enforce deposit limits and block delays such that a 51% attack is not cost-effective. • The risk of transactions to incorrect addresses can be eliminated by a simple test transaction policy on large transactions. By sending a small amount of funds prior to any large withdrawals/transfers as a standard practice, the accuracy of the wallet address can be validated. The proposal covers all loss cases and goes beyond, while avoiding significant additional costs, risks, and limitations which may be associated with other frameworks like SOC II. On The Subject of Third Party Custodians Many Canadian platforms are currently experimenting with third party custody. From the standpoint of the exchange operator, they can liberate themselves from some responsibility of custody, passing that off to someone else. For regulators, it puts crypto in similar categorization to oil, gold, and other commodities, with some common standards. Platform users would likely feel greater confidence if the custodian was a brand they recognized. If the custodian was knowledgeable and had a decent team that employed multi-sig, they could keep assets safe from internal theft. With the right protections in place, this could be a great solution for many exchanges, particularly those that lack the relevant experience or human resources for their own custody systems. However, this system is vulnerable to anyone able to impersonate the exchange operators. You may have a situation where different employees who don't know each other that well are interacting between different companies (both the custodian and all their customers which presumably isn't just one exchange). A case study of what can go wrong in this type of environment might be Bitpay, where the CEO was tricked out of 5000 bitcoins over 3 separate payments by a series of emails sent legitimately from a breached computer of another company CEO. It's also still vulnerable to the platform being compromised, as in the really large $70M Bitfinex hack, where the third party Bitgo held one key in a multi-sig wallet. The hacker simply authorized the withdrawal using the same credentials as Bitfinex (requesting Bitgo to sign multiple withdrawal transactions). This succeeded even with the use of multi-sig and two heavily security-focused companies, due to the lack of human oversight (basically, hot wallet). Of course, you can learn from these cases and improve the security, but so can hackers improve their deception and at the end of the day, both of these would have been stopped by the much simpler solution of a qualified team who knew each other and employed multi-sig with properly protected keys. It's pretty hard to beat a human being who knows the business and the typical customer behaviour (or even knows their customers personally) at spotting fraud, and the proposed multi-sig means any hacker has to get through the scrutiny of 3 (or more) separate people, all of whom would have proper training including historical case studies. There are strong arguments both for and against using use of third party custodians. The proposal sets mandatory minimum custody standards would apply regardless if the cold wallet signatories are exchange operators, independent custodians, or a mix of both. On The Subject Of Insurance ShakePay has taken the first steps into this new realm (congratulations). There is no question that crypto users could be better protected by the right insurance policies, and it certainly feels better to transact with insured platforms. The steps required to obtain insurance generally place attention in valuable security areas, and in this case included a review from CipherTrace. One of the key solutions in traditional finance comes from insurance from entities such as the CDIC. However, historically, there wasn't found any actual insurance payout to any cryptocurrency exchange, and there are notable cases where insurance has not paid. With Bitpay, for example, the insurance agent refused because the issue happened to the third party CEO's computer instead of anything to do with Bitpay itself. With the Youbit exchange in South Korea, their insurance claim was denied, and the exchange ultimately ended up instead going bankrupt with all user's funds lost. To quote Matt Johnson in the original Lloyd's article: “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.” ShakePay's insurance was only reported to cover their cold storage, and “physical theft of the media where the private keys are held”. Physical theft has never, in the history of cryptocurrency exchange cases reviewed, been reported as the cause of loss. From the limited information of the article, ShakePay made it clear their funds are in the hands of a single US custodian, and at least part of their security strategy is to "decline to confirm the custodian’s name on the record". While this prevents scrutiny of the custodian, it's pretty silly to speculate that a reasonably competent hacking group couldn't determine who the custodian is. A far more common infiltration strategy historically would be social engineering, which has succeeded repeatedly. A hacker could trick their way into ShakePay's systems and request a fraudulent withdrawal, impersonate ShakePay and request the custodian to move funds, or socially engineer their way into the custodian to initiate the withdrawal of multiple accounts (a payout much larger than ShakePay) exploiting the standard procedures (for example, fraudulently initiating or override the wallet addresses of a real transfer). In each case, nothing was physically stolen and the loss is therefore not covered by insurance. In order for any insurance to be effective, clear policies have to be established about what needs to be covered. Anything short of that gives Canadians false confidence that they are protected when they aren't in any meaningful way. At this time, the third party insurance market does not appear to provide adequate options or coverage, and effort is necessary to standardize custody standards, which is a likely first step in ultimately setting up an insurance framework. A better solution compared to third party insurance providers might be for Canadian exchange operators to create their own collective insurance fund, or a specific federal organization similar to the CDIC. Such an organization would have a greater interest or obligation in paying out actual cases, and that would be it's purpose rather than maximizing it's own profit. This would be similar to the SAFU which Binance has launched, except it would cover multiple exchanges. There is little question whether the SAFU would pay out given a breach of Binance, and a similar argument could be made for a insurance fund managed by a collective of exchange operators or a government organization. While a third party insurance provider has the strong market incentive to provide the absolute minimum coverage and no market incentive to payout, an entity managed by exchange operators would have incentive to protect the reputation of exchange operators/the industry, and the government should have the interest of protecting Canadians. On The Subject of Fractional Reserve There is a long history of fractional reserve failures, from the first banks in ancient times, through the great depression (where hundreds of fractional reserve banks failed), right through to the 2008 banking collapse referenced in the first bitcoin block. The fractional reserve system allows banks to multiply the money supply far beyond the actual cash (or other assets) in existence, backed only by a system of debt obligations of others. Safely supporting a fractional reserve system is a topic of far greater complexity than can be addressed by a simple policy, and when it comes to cryptocurrency, there is presently no entity reasonably able to bail anyone out in the event of failure. Therefore, this framework is addressed around entities that aim to maintain 100% backing of funds. There may be some firms that desire but have failed to maintain 100% backing. In this case, there are multiple solutions, including outside investment, merging with other exchanges, or enforcing a gradual restoration plan. All of these solutions are typically far better than shutting down the exchange, and there are multiple cases where they've been used successfully in the past. Proof of Reserves/Transparency/Accountability Canadians need to have visibility into the backing on an ongoing basis. The best solution for crypto-assets is a Proof of Reserve. Such ideas go back all the way to 2013, before even Mt. Gox. However, no Canadian exchange has yet implemented such a system, and only a few international exchanges (CoinFloor in the UK being an example) have. Many firms like Kraken, BitBuy, and now ShakePay use the Proof of Reserve term to refer to lesser proofs which do not actually cryptographically prove the full backing of all user assets on the blockchain. In order for a Proof of Reserve to be effective, it must actually be a complete proof, and it needs to be understood by the public that is expected to use it. Many firms have expressed reservations about the level of transparency required in a complete Proof of Reserve (for example Kraken here). While a complete Proof of Reserves should be encouraged, and there are some solutions in the works (ie TxQuick), this is unlikely to be suitable universally for all exchange operators and users. Given the limitations, and that firms also manage fiat assets, a more traditional audit process makes more sense. Some Canadian exchanges (CoinSquare, CoinBerry) have already subjected themselves to annual audits. However, these results are not presently shared publicly, and there is no guarantee over the process including all user assets or the integrity and independence of the auditor. The auditor has been typically not known, and in some cases, the identity of the auditor is protected by a NDA. Only in one case (BitBuy) was an actual report generated and publicly shared. There has been no attempt made to validate that user accounts provided during these audits have been complete or accurate. A fraudulent fractional exchange, or one which had suffered a breach they were unwilling to publicly accept (see CoinBene), could easily maintain a second set of books for auditors or simply exclude key accounts to pass an individual audit. The proposed solution would see a reporting standard which includes at a minimum - percentage of backing for each asset relative to account balances and the nature of how those assets are stored, with ownership proven by the auditor. The auditor would also publicly provide a "hash list", which they independently generate from the accounts provided by the exchange. Every exchange user can then check their information against this public "hash list". A hash is a one-way form of encryption, which fully protects the private information, yet allows anyone who knows that information already to validate that it was included. Less experienced users can take advantage of public tools to calculate the hash from their information (provided by the exchange), and thus have certainty that the auditor received their full balance information. Easy instructions can be provided. Auditors should be impartial, their identities and process public, and they should be rotated so that the same auditor is never used twice in a row. Balancing the cost of auditing against the needs for regular updates, a 6 month cycle likely makes the most sense. Hot Wallet Management The best solution for hot wallets is not to use them. CoinBerry reportedly uses multi-sig on all withdrawals, and Bitmex is an international example known for their structure devoid of hot wallets. However, many platforms and customers desire fast withdrawal processes, and human validation has a cost of time and delay in this process. A model of self-insurance or separate funds for hot wallets may be used in these cases. Under this model, a platform still has 100% of their client balance in cold storage and holds additional funds in hot wallets for quick withdrawal. Thus, the risk of those hot wallets is 100% on exchange operators and not affecting the exchange users. Since most platforms typically only have 1%-5% in hot wallets at any given time, it shouldn't be unreasonable to build/maintain these additional reserves over time using exchange fees or additional investment. Larger withdrawals would still be handled at regular intervals from the cold storage. Hot wallet risks have historically posed a large risk and there is no established standard to guarantee secure hot wallets. When the government of South Korea dispatched security inspections to multiple exchanges, the results were still that 3 of them got hacked after the inspections. If standards develop such that an organization in the market is willing to insure the hot wallets, this could provide an acceptable alternative. Another option may be for multiple exchange operators to pool funds aside for a hot wallet insurance fund. Comprehensive coverage standards must be established and maintained for all hot wallet balances to make sure Canadians are adequately protected.
Current Draft Proposal
(1) Proper multi-signature cold wallet storage. (a) Each private key is the personal and legal responsibility of one person - the “signatory”. Signatories have special rights and responsibilities to protect user assets. Signatories are trained and certified through a course covering (1) past hacking and fraud cases, (2) proper and secure key generation, and (3) proper safekeeping of private keys. All private keys must be generated and stored 100% offline by the signatory. If even one private keys is ever breached or suspected to be breached, the wallet must be regenerated and all funds relocated to a new wallet. (b) All signatories must be separate background-checked individuals free of past criminal conviction. Canadians should have a right to know who holds their funds. All signing of transactions must take place with all signatories on Canadian soil or on the soil of a country with a solid legal system which agrees to uphold and support these rules (from an established white-list of countries which expands over time). (c) 3-5 independent signatures are required for any withdrawal. There must be 1-3 spare signatories, and a maximum of 7 total signatories. The following are all valid combinations: 3of4, 3of5, 3of6, 4of5, 4of6, 4of7, 5of6, or 5of7. (d) A security audit should be conducted to validate the cold wallet is set up correctly and provide any additional pertinent information. The primary purpose is to ensure that all signatories are acting independently and using best practices for private key storage. A report summarizing all steps taken and who did the audit will be made public. Canadians must be able to validate the right measures are in place to protect their funds. (e) There is a simple approval process if signatories wish to visit any country outside Canada, with a potential whitelist of exempt countries. At most 2 signatories can be outside of aligned jurisdiction at any given time. All exchanges would be required to keep a compliant cold wallet for Canadian funds and have a Canadian office if they wish to serve Canadian customers. (2) Regular and transparent solvency audits. (a) An audit must be conducted at founding, after 3 months of operation, and at least once every 6 months to compare customer balances against all stored cryptocurrency and fiat balances. The auditor must be known, independent, and never the same twice in a row. (b) An audit report will be published featuring the steps conducted in a readable format. This should be made available to all Canadians on the exchange website and on a government website. The report must include what percentage of each customer asset is backed on the exchange, and how those funds are stored. (c) The auditor will independently produce a hash of each customer's identifying information and balance as they perform the audit. This will be made publicly available on the exchange and government website, along with simplified instructions that each customer can use to verify that their balance was included in the audit process. (d) The audit needs to include a proof of ownership for any cryptocurrency wallets included. A satoshi test (spending a small amount) or partially signed transaction both qualify. (e) Any platform without 100% reserves should be assessed on a regular basis by a government or industry watchdog. This entity should work to prevent any further drop, support any private investor to come in, or facilitate a merger so that 100% backing can be obtained as soon as possible. (3) Protections for hot wallets and transactions. (a) A standardized list of approved coins and procedures will be established to constitute valid cold storage wallets. Where a multi-sig process is not natively available, efforts will be undertaken to establish a suitable and stable smart contract standard. This list will be expanded and improved over time. Coins and procedures not on the list are considered hot wallets. (b) Hot wallets can be backed by additional funds in cold storage or an acceptable third-party insurance provider with a comprehensive coverage policy. (c) Exchanges are required to cover the full balance of all user funds as denominated in the same currency, or double the balance as denominated in bitcoin or CAD using an established trading rate. If the balance is ever insufficient due to market movements, the firm must rectify this within 24 hours by moving assets to cold storage or increasing insurance coverage. (d) Any large transactions (above a set threshold) from cold storage to any new wallet addresses (not previously transacted with) must be tested with a smaller transaction first. Deposits of cryptocurrency must be limited to prevent economic 51% attacks. Any issues are to be covered by the exchange. (e) Exchange platforms must provide suitable authentication for users, including making available approved forms of two-factor authentication. SMS-based authentication is not to be supported. Withdrawals must be blocked for 48 hours in the event of any account password change. Disputes on the negligence of exchanges should be governed by case law.
Continued review of existing OSC feedback is still underway. More feedback and opinions on the framework and ideas as presented here are extremely valuable. The above is a draft and not finalized. The process of further developing and bringing a suitable framework to protect Canadians will require the support of exchange operators, legal experts, and many others in the community. The costs of not doing such are tremendous. A large and convoluted framework, one based on flawed ideas or implementation, or one which fails to properly safeguard Canadians is not just extremely expensive and risky for all Canadians, severely limiting to the credibility and reputation of the industry, but an existential risk to many exchanges. The responsibility falls to all of us to provide our insight and make our opinions heard on this critical matter. Please take the time to give your thoughts.
This is where you can find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions. If you can't find what you are looking for then perhaps try browsing our WIKI, or one of our past AMA Recaps! The "most asked" questions are listed first. These will consistently change to reflect Kava's current landscape.
Relevant Questions (Timely)
When will Kava’s DeFi Lending Platform become available?
Kava’s DeFi Lending Platform will go live on June 10th (pending the approval of the current governance vote)
How/where can I access the new DeFi Lending features
The new features will be accessible via integrated wallet and exchange applications such as Cosmostation, Forbole, Trust Wallet, and Frontier.
When is the first Crypto Payday?
On July 15th, 74,000 KAVA tokens (95k USD as of Jul 2020) will be distributed amongst a pool of USDX minters.
How many “Crypto Paydays” will there be?
There will be a new Crypto Payday every wednesday for an entire calendar year - each Payday pool will be composed of that week's USDX minters.
What does the future hold for Kava's DeFi Lending Platform?
The next step will be to adopt new assets.
The governance group will vote for which asset Kava’s DeFi Lending Platform will support next.
Likely candidates are BTC, XRP, or ATOM.
How do I qualify for Crypto Payday?
Use Kava's DeFi Lending Platform to mint USDX.
Currently USDX can only be minted w/ BNB.
When are Crypto Paydays?
Staring July 15th, 2020
Ending July 16th, 2021
Where can I go to mint BNB?
The new features will be accessible via integrated wallet and exchange applications such as Cosmostation, Forbole, Trust Wallet, and Frontier.
Welcome to dashpay! If you are new to Dash, we encourage you to check out our wiki, where the Dash project is explained from the ground up with many links to valuable information resources. Also check out the menu bar on top and the sidebar to the right. We have very active Discord and Telegram channels where the community is happy to answer any and all newcomer questions.
Purpose of this post
This post is directed towards community members who wish to rapidly access information on current developments surrounding the Dash cryptocurrency. Lately we've noticed how the pace of events picked up significantly within the Dash project due to many years of hard work coming together and pieces falling into place ("Evolution" is finally here. It's called Dash Platform). For the purpose of keeping these many pieces of information together, however, singular Reddit submissions are insufficient. Thus we decided to maintain a pinned thread collecting blog posts, interviews, articles, podcasts, videos & announcements. Check back regularly, as this thread will always feature the latest news around Dash, while also serving as a mid-term archive for important announcements and developments. Journalists looking for news and contact opportunities wrt Dash, please bookmark:
[Part 2] KAVA Historical AMA Tracker! (Questions & Answers)
ATTN: These AMA questions are from Autumn 2019 - before the official launch of the Kava Mainnet, and it's fungible Kava Token. These questions may no longer be relevant to the current Kava landscape, however, they do provide important historical background on the early origins of Kava Labs. Please note, that there are several repeat questions/answers.
How do you think about France in Kava market development plan?
What is your next plan to raise awareness among French about Kava?
Answer: It is important to reach many top markets. For countries like France we need to find 1st regulator partners such as Binance that can help provide access to KAVA for users. When our CDP platform launches, we will work through local validator partners to help translate content and work with local users.
We have some great community efforts where people create content for us.
Why did you choose Cosmos instead of Aion, which comes with AVM built on JAVA, which can be accepted by many developers?
Will there be a possibility that one day we will be able to collateralize a privacy coin, such as Monero, on KAVA?
Answer: We like programming in GO, interfaces are OK for Java. Cosmos will also feature a WASM module and EVM later. The Cosmos-SDK is very flexible and it allowed us to choose our own security model. That was unique compared to other frameworks where we had to adopt the underlying blockchains. In Cosmos-SDK we can create our own blockchain.
Re: privacy - you can do some fun things in payment channels to make transactions more private. Such as onion routing clearing and settlement across different nodes. This can be possible in the future, but not our priority now.
The biggest advantage of finance is the efficient allocation of resource allocation. If KAVA connects assets of multiple platforms through the interchain technology, the efficiency across the market will be improved.
But in terms of connectivity, Facebook's Libra, with its centralized giant platform, could be a big threat for the future. Of course, regulatory uncertainty still exists. KAVA wonders what big platform companies think about entering the blockchain field and how they can cope with their competition.
Answer: We think of Kava as a DeFi service that can integrate with wallets, exchanges, and other platforms when users want loans or stable coins for payments. We don't see competition with Libra, but we see lots of users potentially getting into crypto which will be good for the market, good for BTC, and good for Kava.
What will you do with the money after IEO?
What is the most important markets that Kava is focusing?
What is your marketing strategy to approach those markets?
Answer: What will we do with the IEO money? Put it in a bank and keep building. We keep our funds safe in secure accounts that are insured. We always maintain at least 2 years runway in pure fiat to ensure we can survive in any bear market conditions and come out on top in the end.
On mainnet, which function/feature can we expect to see on Kava since i only saw informations about its testnet?
Answer: mainnet will feature KAVA, staking, delegating, validator software, voting and governance / parameter changes. Following mainnet, the validators will vote to enable transactions and the CDP platform. We expect this to be towards the end of the yeaQ1 2020
How does Kava maintain the stability of its stablecoin? Are there any opportunties for outsiders to arbitrage or any other mechanisms to maintain price stabilization?
Answer: Kava users deposit crypto assets as collateral and can withdraw a loan based on the amount they deposited. They must always provide more collateral than the loan is worth. When the value of the collateral drops due to market conditions, before it reaches the value of the loaned amount, the platform will auction off the crypto assets for USDX that is on the market at a discount. Holders of USDX can buy these assets at a profit. This removes USDX from the market and makes sure that the global USDX to collateral in the system remains balanced. Similar to MakerDao, 3rd parties can run "keepers" - very simple implementations which continuously monitors the Kava/USDX credit system for unsafe CDPs, and execute the liquidation function the moment they become unsafe. Keepers can also perform arbitrage on DEX/Exchanges executing trades across the Kava platform and the markets.
Alright! So KAVA is doing DeFi right, could you explain DeFi in layman term to us.
Answer: Decentralized Finance. Finance is really ensuring everything about past, present, and future value of money. You need safe custody and a store of value to keep money you earned in the past safe to be used later when you need it. You need something liquid and easily tradable to be used in the present. And the trickier one is the future - people need to get loans on the assets they have or hedge against the assets they have in order to ensure they can build for a better future. That’s finance.
DeFi is taking all those things and making them open access and unregulated so that regardless if you were born with out an ID, if your credit score is bad, or if the government is trying to censor your actions and limit your spending - DeFi promises to give you a way to get access to the financial products you need.
Could you please briefly explain your projects, and why you choose DeFi as a problem to solve?
Answer: Kava is a cross-chain DeFi platform for cryptocurrencies. Kava offers decentralized loans and stable coins for any other crypto asset such as BTC, XRP, BNB, and ATOM.
DeFi is the killer use case of crypto today. I think most people see this clearly now. We believe providing the basic DeFi services is the very first step that is required before blockchain technology can really become wide spread - so we started here.
Why the name of the project KAVA?
Answer: We started in crypto thinking we would build banking products and we wanted a more relaxed cool name to stand out from other solutions. Turns out Kava means many things.
Kava = Hippopotamus in Japanese
Kava = crow in hindi
Cava = wine region in spain
Kava = a medicinal root you add to Tea
Kava = now a cross-chain DeFi platform
But TLDR - we liked the name and thought it sounded short and sweet.
What do you think of the future of DeFi in this space? Will DeFi one day take over the traditional financial systems? -- any wild guess on when it might happen?
Answer: I think centralized solutions will always have certain advantages and DeFi will also have certain advantages.
But truthfully, KYC is a problem from a user experience point of view. One of the big things with DeFi is there is no need to make people go through a KYC process anymore.
If we imagine a world where USD Is king, or Renminbi is king, or BTC is king. DeFi has a place in all of them because open access to financial services is a basic human necessity.
As we have known, Lending is not the only problem to solve in the whole financial areas, are you planning on going beyond lending? What other financial products are in your pipeline?
Answer: Thats a good #Q .
While we have a lot to solve to offer lending to other crypto assets - we can expand our support to non-crypto assets, to NFT tokens, and other assets.
We also have plans to offer derivatives and other synthetics other than USDX - such as synthetic bitcoin and Yuan. What is exciting about Kava and the oracle system run by validators is that we can leverage this infrastructure around the world to do all sort of things.
One of the more interesting products is creating under-collateralized loans using payment channel (layer-2 tech) of our USDX coin. Two parties can lock funds in payment channels and place bets on the price feeds from the oracles. When the funds reach a maximum threshold, the bet closes. Since a price feed is just a data set, we can have the settlement rules be multiples of the real data. In simple terms we can create 100x leverage products for the craziest of traders 😉
Btw KAVA is a bit unique because it use Cosmos/Tendermint. While other DeFi use Ethereum , why you guys choose Cosmos?
Answer: Cosmos is the future. Even facebook’s Libra consensus design was just a copy of Tendermint. Kava, Binance, the Cosmos Hub and many other blockchains are built on the same Cosmos-SDK framework.
It’s very flexible and soon interoperable. This is a huge advantage over Ethereum. Where system’s like MakerDAO will be forced to develop in a slowly evolving chain like Ethereum and only touching Erc20 assets, Kava will be able to rapidly evolve, program in GO rather than solidity, and interoperate with chains like Binance directly.
We’re very excited to get BNB and BTCB onto Kava’s CDPs and to put KAVA and USDX onto the Binance DEX. This is fairly easy on Cosmos.
I saw in KAVA deck that you guys will use USDX, is it a stable coin? How is it going to work and its relationship with KAVA token itself?
Answer: USDX is an algorithmically stable token pegged to the USD. USDX is the token users recieve when they get a loan from the Kava platform. USDX is collateralized or backed by crypto assets so the Kava platform should always hold more crypto value than the USDX it loans making USDX a very safe store of value even if the market crashes 10x overnight. That is what a stable coin should do.
USDX is special though. Natively, users can spend or trade USDX freely like other stable coins, but the important difference is that 1) USDX is free of censorship and does not require a bank or anything else. 2) USDX can be “bonded” or “staked” providing an interest bearing yield between 2-10% APR. This is substantially more than what I can even get from my bank account.
From your point of view as KAVA team, what would be most anticipated feature in KAVA ?
Answer: Our CDP platform launch later this year. The first USDX will be minted then.
Support of BTC in the CDP smart contracts. No blockchain has supported a real decentralized custody and use of BTC with smart contracts before.
Indonesia is one of the “developing” countries, how is DeFi can help in making a difference in those “developing” countries?
Answer: I can’t speak for developing countries as it’s not my expertise, but DeFi in general is trying to offer the exact same services to EVERYONE. Whether you are in San Francisco or Indonesia, the financial services you should have should be similar. The rates and fees you pay should be the same. DeFi is fair treatment and open access for everyone. That is what’s nice about having things run on a protocol.
Last but no least, since we are doing AMA in Indonesian group, I believed our members wants to know if you are interested in going to Indonesia to expand your community and reach?
Answer: As I said, I have not been before! I am traveling throughout South East Asia for a lot of the year. It is one of my destinations. I hope to meet many of you while I am out there.
Defi companies are growing at a rapid pace, but they're actually smaller than traditional financial institutions. In order for Defy to become a global trend, it must eventually acquire consumers within the traditional financial industry.
Traditional financial consumers, however, have poor technical understanding and want psychological stability through government guarantees such as deposit insurance. After all, what does KAVA think about long-term competitors as traditional financial institutions, and what long-term strategies do they have to embrace traditional financial consumers?
Answer: We think of financial institutions as big honey pots of potential DeFi users. For example, if Kava can offer margin lending at better rates than a bank because there is no middle men or compliance costs, users should want to use that service.
As crypto grows, I believe more FIs will integrate crypto assets and DeFi services. For example, in the US you cannot currently margin trade crypto as a retail user. But it could be possible for a regulated FI to integrate a lending service like KAVA without causing issues with regulators due to Kava having no counter party risk other than the user itself.
MakerDAO is only for ethereum but Kava support multiple assets, is this only difference?
What are Kava main advantages compared to MakerDAO?
Answer: Kava supports multiple assets THAT are on different blockchains. Maker can only support ETH. This is a huge difference. In addtion, the role of Maker is quite likely a security token. It represents fees paid by others. Where in Kava, the token is used in security of the blockchain protocol itself. The holders of Kava have a lot at stake and need it to govern the system. Maker holders have nothing at stake.
I think a huge difference is that with our model being POS and based on validators with slashing if they don't participate our governance participation and management will be much more effective than MakerDao.
Ticket claim for KAVA Launchpad is comming around the corner. This maybe last IEO ticket claim of this year. With this hype and expectation of investors/traders, do you think KAVA will be a big boom to end this year with happy tears?
If someone wants to manipulate Governance function of KAVA by changing voting result by possessing many Validators Node through buying over 51% KAVA of market, what will KAVA team do? Do you think Emergency Shutdown(Maker has this) can be considerd as a solution?
How will USDX be minted and backed on KAVA platform? If its based on uses crypto collateral, how will KAVA team make it stable since the inflation of crypto price?
Answer: I believe Kava to be underpriced currently, especially compared to maker which is 10x the value and serving ETH which is much smaller market than ours.
But I cannot tell you with certain if Kava will boom or bust - only the market can decide that. As with all speculative assets, do your homework and trade at your own risk. We here at kava are very LONG Kava, but we are biased 😉
Stablecoin is the word that I heard everyday, so do you have any plans to release wallet for stablecoin?
Answer: There are already wallets created for Kava that can hold our tokens 😉
My first question is: Why do traders choose to use KAVA instead of margin on exchanges?
My second #Q is: What happens whenKAVA doesn't have enough cash to loan out?
Answer: Traders who cannot get passed KYC can use Kava. Traders who want better rates than exchanges can use Kava. If regulators like in the US prevent margin trading, Kava is a great solution.
Kava creates USDX out of thin air when users withdraw loans. It will only create Kava is the user locks a great value of crypto in the system to back it. When the USDX loan is repaid, it is destroyed. In this way, Kava can scale however big it wants - it will never run out of cash.
i heard as you said before in San Fransisco, Silicon Valley. what is the relationship about Silicon Valley and KAVA? and what will KAVA done in this Q1 ?
Answer: I am born and raised in Silicon Valley. I am blessed to have grown up in this area where lots of tech innovation is. However, I am the only one at Kava that lives here full time. The others on my team are in the Cayman Islands and Cambridge.
San Francisco is a hub for the largest crypto projects - Ripple, Coinbase, Stellar, etc. It's a great place to network with founders and feel inspired to do big things. It is not the best weather here, but the people are focused and extremely helpful if they can be if you aim to do big things.
With regard to minting new USDX, is there any potential chance to against Global financial law? Likewise USDT, issuing money should guarantee deposit of real collateral as I have known.
Answer: USDX is debt. It is not a guarantee, but the protocol's rules state it must have more crypto assets behind it than the # of USDX issued. In this way, rules are better than guarantees. Tether guaranteed 1:1 USD, it turned out not to be true because their funds were seized by regulators. That is impossible in the case of Kava.
What is the uniqueness of KAVA project that cannot be found in other project that´s been released before?
Answer: Cross-chain is unique for us. But most unique is our partners and validator group that is launching our blockchain. We have incredible partners that support our work including Ripple, Cosmos, Arrington, Hashkey, SNZ, Lemniscap, etc.
KAVA was initially planned to launch on Ripple network but later switched to Cosmos Tindermint Core. What is that something you see in Tindermint Core that is not available anywhere.
Answer: We did not plan to launch on ripple and did not launch on "Tinder"-mint. I have a fiance - she would be quite mad.
We did however use the Cosmos SDK - a tool set, to build our blockchain that features tendermint consensus.
Tendermint is just the consensus so I assume you mean the SDK. The SDK is very much "choose your own adventure" you can build anything and design all the spec of your blockchain easily. In this way you choose the tradeoffs that make the most sense for your special application/network
How much portion of USDX is backed from crypto/fiat money ...& please mention why any trader, hodler will prefer USDX over other stable coins?
What are the biggest challenges you expect to face and how do you plan to overcome these challenges?
Answer: 150% of USDX or more is backed by crypto. Traders will use USDX because it offers a savings rate. This rate allows traders heding bitcoin or other assets to not only store value, but earn a return.
What do you think about creating liquidity for the Kava project?
Answer: It's the biggest challenge. My hope is the savings rate USDX offers will give it natural organic demand over existing stable coins. It will definitely be a large BD process to get USDX listed and used worldwide.
We work with some of the worlds best market makers to seed liquidity today. But we will need organic demand in the long-term
So many IEO projects consistently drop in price after listing. Whats different with KAVA, what are some special highlights?
Answer: Why is Kava based on Cosmos? Based on what considerations?
How do you see the chinese language community? How do you view the opportunities for growth in the chinese community?
Answer: You will be soon listing on Binance, what are your plans on the business side after listing? In one years time, what are your thoughts on where Kava's development will be?
If we take a look at all the different types of DeFi products/apps out there, including decentralized exchanges, stablecoins, atomic swaps, insurance products, lending platforms, trade financing platforms, custodial platforms, crowd investment platforms, etc, nearly cover all the important areas of traditional finance.
In this age of all these different platforms taking hold, where does Kava see itself appealing to its app developers, users, investors?
Answer: What does Kava do? What can a normal user (of crypto) achieve by using KAVA?
How does Kava maintain the stability of its stablecoin? Are there any opportunities for outsiders to arbitrage or any other mechanisms to maintain price stabilization
Answer: What is the reason for the IEO price reaching 6x the first round private sale price? How did you come about to reaching this valuation?
What would you be able to do more for Russian-speaking communities and regions?
Answer: one thing to keep in mind is that yes, we do have limitations and regulations to follow when it comes to certain countries and we will adhere to those regulations in hopes of proving ourselves to be a thoughtful and long-term solution. while we may not directly work with some countries, we hope that communities there can understand that we're here focused on being sustainable rather than another project around shorter-term gains.
for myself, I'm actually belarusian myself so I absolutely see the value of working in the CIS/Russian-speaking regions. we'll continue to do AMAs, interviews, and always engage with Russian-speaking communities to better understand what the #Q s, concerns, and thoughts.
If there's anything else we can do in this region and with the @gagarin_ico communities, please let us know!
What are your major goals to archive in the next 3-4 years? Where can we KAVA ecosystem in this period? What are your plans to expand and gain more adoption?
Do you guys feel satisfied by seeing your progresses and achievements till now, when you look back to the day when you have started this project?
Answer: We want to really build out great DeFi products for the masses. I really believe that DeFi will be a major force to allow much more mass adoption for crypto over the coming years. In the sorter term, we want to push out our blockchain and build on top of that our CDP platform, which allows users to trustlessly put collateral onto the Kava blockchain, and receive a loan in USDX that will be also trustlessly administered.
We will then build out more complex products and financial derivatives for crypto users and traders. We have barely scratched the surface in what we can do with DeFi so I can't predict the future, but we want to build products that are pegged to BTC values so that traders have more leverage purely in crypto.
Which one of your milestone do you think was difficult and which was the encouragement that courages you to achieve it?
What were the Minimum and Maximum limit of KAVA tokens that one can be able to STAKE after the Mainnet launch ? And What will be the percentage of reward one gets and will it in future ?
Answer: Good #Q ! Well we've been working on open source cross-chain technologies for a number of years and honestly it can be a pain. I think the Cosmos SDK made it significantly easier to implement the features that we wanted into the software.
I think the largest challenges for Kava are not software based but in market adoption. Makerdao is a great project and they have spearheaded a lot of the work in the lending field. Hopefully Kava can be a very meaningful contributor as well
What if someone fails to repay the debt? Is that KAVA is taking collateral system to enterprise level & if so, what's the plan? How secure KAVA is to safely handle the collateral tokens?
Answer: These CDPs or "collateral debt positions" are always over-collateralized, which means you have to have more asset locked up in the bucket than you can draw from the bucket. The system leaves a margin when the collateral is 'called' to be able to sell off. If the asset cannot be fully redeemed KAVA is minted to cover the balance. Hence KAVA is a 'lender of last resort". This is why its important that we select good initially assets to support 👍
I am very impressed with your voting method, how does it work? Whether users can vote to change things in the platform, are you a programmer with filters to decide what can be voted on and what is not possible?
Answer: Thanks. A lot of this was pioneered with the Tendermint team. Basically voting is entirely open and asynchronous, meaning anyone can submit a proposal to be voted on. All the project in the Cosmos ecosystem are working diligently to expand the space of variable or features that can be modified via this governance method in protocol. For example, we were the first to enable transactions directly via governance in our Testnet-2000!
Where does the interest rate come from for holding USDX specifically & technically?
Answer: Great #Q ! Just like in MakerDAO, lenders of collateral (e.g. BTC, BNB) pay an annual interest rate to borrow USDX. A portion of that interest rate accretes to holders of KAVA, the rest we can apply a 'carrot' for users to adopt USDX. In short, Savings rate is loan interest rate less 'rents' collected from KAVA holders
As far as I understand it KaVa is used both as a staking token and as collateral for Kava stablecoins (UsDX) .Can you talk a bit about the stability mechanism? Can other forms of collateral be used to create Kava stablecoins (a la Multi-Collateral Dai)?
Answer: KAVA will not be used as a collateral type in the CDPs. Collateral types will be assets exogenous to the system, like BTC and BNB. Of course BTC and BNB's value fluctuates. To make USDX not fluctate we ensure there is always more BTC or BNB in the CDP bucket than 'stable' USDX. Therefore BTC could increase or decrease a lot, as long as its less than the 'stable' debt of USDX that you have drawn, the system is healthy and functional 👌
As far as I know, KAVA had 150 Validators in the test. Why do you have so much. Which conditions are your team based on to choose / invite them to stay decentralized, important for a Defi platform like KAVA?
Answer: KAVA mainnet will launch with a cap of 100 validators. We want as many validators as possible. The reason? What if KAVA was run by just you and me. Well that works if people trust us, but its pretty for us to collude and act maliciously. Its harder for 100 people to collude -- its still possible, but harder. And so we put a lot of effort in to promoting a healthy and large validator community, and empowering them to grow their stake in the system
As a developer, which program languages can i use in kava core smart contracts?
2How secure your fully on-chain liquidity protocol & What's is a core Smart Contract ?can you briefly explain.
Answer: Yay developers! 🤓 The Cosmos SDK is currently written in Golang. So thats a good start. What other language would you like to work in?
What do you think of DEFI in the Blockchain space?
DeFi brings many benefits to users, but conflicts of interests with the Bank. What is the solution of kava?
Answer: Defi to me is offering financial primates, the supplies of which are spreadout amongst many participants, as opposed to few. People offer loans on BTC today. Kava's goal is to maximize the amount of counterparties to any loan, thereby 'socializing' the returns on any activiely used financial product
What is the crucial thing, in your opinion,that would increase adoption of KAVA and possibly the rest of crypto. What’s the KAVA economic model and how will it is architecture ensure scarcity of the token and help to growth token price?
Can you tell me more about the new technology that combines the benefits and interactive functions of Cosmos with the DeFi applications you have built?
Answer: Principly what I believe is 'new' about the KAVA tech stack is that we are building a standalone piece of software that treats other network techologies as 'first class citizens'. This means from the ground up our design is mean to easily incorporate and work with other software. A lot of blockchain is a story of "everyone will use my software, because its the best". Kava Labs worked for years against this view while bringing open Interledger to market.
As Per Kava website ! $KAVA was done many partnerships with Big project like Ripple, Cosmos, TenderMint, Hashkey, etc ! So, whats the major reason and benefits of these partnerships to kava project?
Kava Project have their own Mainnet Blockchain So, whats the main work of Cosmos Blockchain in Kava ? Is Kava projects is on Both mainnet and Cosmos OR Kava is just using the Cosmos Blockchain services?
Answer: Working together. Pooling resources and talent to make something bigger! Crypto is still a little fish in a huge ocean of financial services. Kava Labs has always had an eye for inclusivity. Grow the pie!
I have been too involved in KAVA's AMA, I think I know all about your technology.I want to ask a successful person like you why come with cryptocurrencies and blockchain, with talent. There are many other areas for you to choose, so why are you targeting such a risky market?
Answer: Successful ay? hehe. Depends how you define success and what your goals are. I love delivering products to users. Crypto has some fantastic users, and there is still sooo much to be built. I think KAVA has a lot of promise, but there is still so much work to be done and I hope users like you all become producers some day as well
What's the most critical and innovative point of KAVA to ensure users that it is the best under DeFi niche?
How can you compete MakerDAO which has done good number of business with recent market! If I hold KAVA tokens how KAVA leverage the tokens value and make it moon for me? 🙈
Answer: "IF" you hold KAVA tokens now? 😂 Again I think this a markets concern. To the extend that users on other chains begin to trust KAVA brand for loan issuance, and we get some solid adoption of USDX I think we're in a good spot. I would say a benefit of KAVA is that we are FOCUSED. We're not trying to be everything for everyone. This is lending, quite simply, for the large market cap coins -- and that's hard enough
Why KAVA needs to create it's own stable coin, whereas there are are many other options available in the market? Is that crypto tokens can be stable!!?
Answer: Yeah there are a lot of USD backed stable coins that is true. Indeed we have looked around with working together with a number of them. The difference with USDX (and DAI) is that its crypto-collateral backed. Doesnt mean we won't work with others in the future 😉
Processing fees on loans we need to pay in kava or usdx?
Which types of success you've been seen in testnet? Why on Nov 5th you've planned to launch mainnet? How many testnet was processed in the past?
Answer: Three major testnets with some minor iterations therein. Testnet-3000's software was pinned to KAVA mainnet software. That testnet is looking good which is a good indicator for smooth sailing on mainnet launch, we'll see 🤞
DeFi is a hot niche when it comes to crypto/blockchain project! Most of the projects are developing aiming DeFi, How KAVA is looking to contribute in DeFi ecosystem? What will be the approach of KAVA to systemize & increase adoptability?
Answer: DeFi is big. Mostly on Ethereum, which is great! KAVA is for non-ethereum networks 😇
What is the main reason that you think that Cosmos-based Kava zone will present a new validator opportunity :- a complex and multi-faceted governance system that allows differentiation?
Answer: Validator #Q , nice. I believe its important for validators to be able to distiguish there service in multiple ways, not just on security (otherwise they will be treated as a commodity). KAVA present an opportunity for validators to distiguish themselves on the basis of proper governance of system parameters on behalf of their delegating constituents. KAVA is a "lender of last resort", so delegating to a sophisticated validator could lead to better results beyond security.
How is kavas tendermint better than other defi consensus especially with the introduction of etheruem 2.0 which many believe will be better than all others - considering kavas association with ripple, is it possible to foresee defi loans from crypto to fiat ?
Maybe kava partnership with centralised banks?
Answer: IDK about that. But we will be working closely with the great folks over at Ripple, thats for sure!
Adoption is one of the important factor that all sustainable blockchain projects should focus to be more attractive in the invertors' eyes.
Can you tell me what KAVA has done and plan to do to achieve Adoption in the reality, real use cases, our real society?
Answer: Bitcoin is real!? I'm continuously impressed by the demand and size of that network. Help us capture that demand! Really, if we can I think the future looks bright for KAVA!
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