$1,000 invested in Top 10 Cryptos of 2019 now worth $1,260 (UP +26%)
EXPERIMENT - Tracking Top 10 Cryptos of 2019 - Month Eighteen - UP +26% See the full blog post with all the tableshere. tl;dr - Tether (as it's designed to do) holds its ground, all others finish the month in negative territory. Tron finishes June in second place, down -2%. BSV loses nearly 25% of value in June. Overall, since January 2019, BTC in lead, ETH takes over second place, XRP still worst performing. The 2019 Top 10 is up +26% almost equal to the the gains of the S&P 500 over the same time period (+24%).
According to a June article citing unnamed sources, which two FinTech companies are planning to allow their users to buy and sell crypto directly?
A) Paypal and Venmo B) Square and Cashapp C) Robinhood and Revolut D) Sofi and Coinbase Scroll down for the answer.
Ranking and June Winners and Losers
XRP and Stellar slipped one place each in the rankings in June, now at #4 and #14 respectively. EOS fell two spots to #11 and joins Stellar and Tron as the only three cryptos to have dropped out of the 2019 Top Ten since January 1st, 2019. They have been replaced by Binance Coin, Cardano, and newcomer CRO. Tether was the only crypto to move up in rank in June. Not a good sign when Tether is the only crypto to move up. Not a good sign when Tether enters the Top 3. June Winners – Tether. Second comes Tron, which basically held its ground at -2%. June Losers – BSV lost -23% of its value in June making it the worst performing of the 2019 Top Ten portfolio. EOS had a rough month as well, down -17%, dropping two spots in the rankings, and falling out of the Top Ten. If you’re keeping score, here is tally of which coins have the most monthly wins and loses during the first 18 months of the 2019 Top Ten Experiment: Tether is still in the lead with six monthly victories followed by BSV in second place with three. BSV also holds the most monthly losses, finishing last in seven out of eighteen months. The only crypto not to win a month so far? XRP. (In fairness, XRP has also not lost any month yet).
Overall update – BTC in lead, ETH takes over second place, XRP still worst performing
BTC is out front for the second straight month and ETH has taken over second place from BSV. Ahead until April, BSV has simply not keep up with the pack over the last two months. Bitcoin is up +144% since January 2019. The initial $100 investment in BTC is currently worth $249. Eighteen months in, 50% of the 2019 Top Ten cryptos are in the green since the beginning of the experiment. The other five cryptos are either flat or in negative territory, including last place XRP (down -50% since January 2019).
Total Market Cap for the entire cryptocurrency sector:
The crypto market as a whole is down about $20B in June, but still up +106% since January 2019.
BitDom finally wobbled in June, but not by much – it’s been in a very familiar zone for months now, indicating a lack of excitement (or at least a low risk tolerance) for altcoins. Taking a wider view, the Bitcoin Dominance range since the beginning of the experiment in January 2019 has ranged between 50%-70%.
Overall return on investment since January 1st, 2019:
The 2019 Top Ten Portfolio lost almost $175 in June. After the initial $1000 investment, the 2019 group of Top Ten cryptos is worth $1,259. That’s up about +26%. Here’s a look at the ROI over the life of the first 18 months of the 2019 Top Ten Index Fund experiment, month by month: 18 months of ROI, mostly green Unlike the completely red table you’ll see in the 2018 Top Ten Experiment, the 2019 crypto table is almost all green. The first month was the lowest point (-9%), and the highest point (+114%) was May 2019. How does the 2019 Top Ten Index Fund Portfolio compare to the parallel projects?
Taking the three portfolios together, here’s the bottom bottom bottom line: After a $3000 investment in the 2018, 2019, and 2020 Top Ten Cryptocurrencies, the combined portfolios are worth $2,710. That’s down about -10% for the three combined portfolios. Last month that figure was +4%. Better than a few months ago (aka the zombie apocalypse) where it was down -24%, but not yet back at January (+13%) or February (+6%) levels. Here’s a new table to help visualize the progress of the combined portfolios: ROI of all three combined portfolios - not exactly inspiring How do crypto returns compare to traditional markets?
Comparison to S&P 500:
Good thing I’m tracking the S&P 500 as part of my experiment to have a comparison point with other popular investments options. Even with unemployment, protests, and COVID, the US market continued to rebound in June. It’s now up +24% in the last 18 months. The initial $1k investment I put into crypto would be worth $1,240 had it been redirected to the S&P 500 in January 2019. As a reminder (or just scroll up) the 2019 Top Ten portfolio is returning +26% over last 18 months, just about equal to the return of the S&P 500 over the same time period. Just last month the ROI of the 2019 Top Ten crypto portfolio was nearly double the S&P 500 since January 1st, 2019. But what if I took the same world’s-slowest-dollar-cost-averaging/$1,000-per-year-in-January approach with the S&P 500? It would yield the following:
$1000 investment in S&P 500 on January 1st, 2018: +$170
$1000 investment in S&P 500 on January 1st, 2019: +$240
$1000 investment in S&P 500 on January 1st, 2020: -$40
Taken together, here’s the bottom bottom bottom line for a similar approach with the S&P: After three $1,000 investments into an S&P 500 index fund in January 2018, 2019, and 2020, my portfolio would be worth $3,370. That $3,370 is up over+12%since January 2018, compared to the $2,710 value (-10%) of the combined Top Ten Crypto Experiment Portfolios. Here’s another new table that compares the ROI of the combined crypto portfolios to a hypothetical similar approach with the S&P 500: We see in June the largest difference in favor of the S&P since the beginning of 2020: a 22% gap. Compare that February, when there was only a 1% difference in ROI.
Since January 2019, the crypto market as a whole has gained +106% compared to the 2019 Top Ten Crypto Portfolio which has gained +26%. That’s an 80% gap. At this point in the 2019 Experiment, an investor would have done much better picking different cryptos or investing in the entire market instead of focusing only on the 2019 Top Ten. Over the course of the first 18 months of tracking the 2019 Top Ten, there have been instances this was a winning strategy, but the cases have been few and far between. The 2018 Top Ten portfolio, on the other hand, has never outperformed the overall market, at least not in the first thirty months of that Experiment. And for the most recent 2020 Top Ten group? The opposite had been true: the 2020 Top Ten had easily outperformed the overall market 100% of the time…up until the last two months.
As the world continues to battle COVID, traditional markets seem to be recovering. Will crypto make a significant move in the second half of 2020? Final word: Stay safe and take care of each other. Thanks for reading and for supporting the experiment. I hope you’ve found it helpful. I continue to be committed to seeing this process through and reporting along the way. Feel free to reach out with any questions and stay tuned for progress reports. Keep an eye out for the original 2018 Top Ten Crypto Index Fund Experiment and the recently launched 2020 Top Ten Experiment.
And the Answer is…
A) Paypal and Venmo According to a Coindesk report in June, three sources familiar with the matter say that Paypal and Paypal-owned Venmo are planning to allow their users to buy and sell crypto. Paypal has declined to comment.
yEarn in trouble? Kirby’s gone, Andre reportedly quit, YFI lawsuit? Let’s straighten things out.
https://preview.redd.it/c1q19gjm7os51.png?width=1280&format=png&auto=webp&s=7ab151cc34ebb3371203e4d39b78fab389d89e7a There have been a lot dramatic issues that have popped up with relation to yEarn in the past few days. In this article, we will examine them one by one and see if there is cause for concern. BLUE KIRBY https://preview.redd.it/y7t8tw5o7os51.png?width=666&format=png&auto=webp&s=a6ac3394e52c18b15203e0543edb99a34e3d2559 Once the official mascot of yEarn, the meme-heavy anon twitter account has been deactivated, after being doxxed on 4chan (the thread was subsequently deleted). His actions had been very suspicious, including selling yEarn leaks to subscribers of a paid group and selling his YFI holdings while shilling the project (he claimed to be moving them through a privacy protocol called Tornado Cash). Things began to spiral out of control and he became increasingly paranoid. His last few tweet were promoting a new product, Off Blue, which was meant to be selling digital NFTs (something like an art house auction program). That project seems to have been stopped, but at the time of writing they’ve promised to return ETH to buyers of their NFTs via a portal on their site. All of this happened a few days after stepping down from any official capacity with yEarn Finance due to the EMN scandal. COINDESK ARTICLE CLAIMS ANDRE CRONJE QUIT DeFi https://preview.redd.it/xdtggk9q7os51.png?width=1108&format=png&auto=webp&s=bcb471108b8085b5e1fcaaca1c016e70f6b72b0a In a coindesk.com article dated Oct. 9, 2020, Brady Dale wrote that Andre Cronje told him in a telegram chat that he’d quit DeFi and specifically ceased to develop for yEarn. Their journalistic decision to publish information based on a private conversation that they were asked not to publish does cast some doubt on their decision making, as does the fact that Andre himself tweeted that he’s ‘Still here. Still building. Nothing has changed. Anyone that says otherwise fuck off. I’m just done tweeting and being on social media.’ Did this refutation deter coindesk? While they did acknowledge the same-day tweet response, their own response was “This article accurately reflects the Telegram chats and we stand by it.” Digging a bit deeper, we uncovered the fact that CoinDesk is owned by the same company that owns Grayscale, a prominent digital currency investment fund. Grayscale holds a massive supply of Bitcoin, so perhaps there’s some incentive to downplay altcoins and the integrity of yEarn however this is my personal opinion. The key thing to remember is that everyone has their own incentives and are trying to better their personal situation. COINTELEGRAPH ARTICLE CLAIMING LAWSUIT AGAINST ANDRE CRONJE https://preview.redd.it/7pqvfmds7os51.png?width=1530&format=png&auto=webp&s=3c4ab46329c8cba78f066440e5d9d61faa58c9c4 In another piece of questionable journalism, cointelegraph posted an article which cites a solitary, completely anonymous source stating a group is raising capital for a lawsuit. They’re raising this capital simply by publishing an ETH address and promising that the funds will go toward a future lawsuit, despite the jurisdiction or parties involved being totally opaque. This post has several hallmarks of a scam: big promises, anonymous, no recourse or contact details. This begs the question, why would cointelegraph publish it? No one else appears to be taking the legal threat seriously; thus far the fund’s ETH address has raised 0.3857 ETH ($144) and some FEW tokens. I urge the readers of this article to look past the noise and make deductions for themselves. People in the crypto space, as in all industries, are out for the betterment of themselves, their families and friends. Do your own research, especially when it comes to investing. Check multiple sources, listen to people across the crypto spectrum, and come to your own conclusions. For a video explainer on all this, check here.
A series of 51% attacks puts Ethereum Classic’s security into question
A series of 51% attacks puts Ethereum Classic’s security into question An adversary performed a successful 51% attack on the Ethereum Classic (ETC) network between July 31 and August 1. The hacker was able to steal around $5.6 million worth of ETC from the OKEx crypto exchange, according to Bitquery. Later, on August 6, the attacker used the same scheme to double-spend an additional $1.68 million worth of ETC. This time the targets were Bitfinex and another unidentified crypto service. The necessary hash power for these double-spend attacks was rented on cloud mining marketplace NiceHash — which was also used during a recent 51% attack attempt on Bitcoin Gold (BTG). The team behind BTG mitigated the attack by asking miners to follow the so-called “honest” chain instead of the longest one, basically censoring attacker’s blocks. Such controversial measures, however, would be against Ethereum Classic’s core principles of decentralization and censorship-resistance, so it’s unclear how the community is planning to deal with similar attacks in the future. Meanwhile, US-based crypto exchange Coinbase increased the confirmation time for ETC deposits to roughly 2 weeks. The second 51% attack on ETC didn’t have any significant impact on its price, though. One of the reasons for such a small market change, among other things, is that 10% of all ETC supply is held in a regulated trust run by Grayscale Investments, which also funds the development of Ethereum Classic, according to CoinDesk. Both Grayscale and CoinDesk are subsidiaries of American venture capital company Digital Currency Group (DCG) founded by Barry Silbert, a long-time supporter of ETC. Given the very low cost of a 51% attack against ETC, Vitalik Buterin suggested that switching to a proof-of-stake consensus algorithm would be a lower-risk strategy for Ethereum Classic, than using a proof-of-work algorithm. Ethereum Classic originated in 2016 as a hard fork of Ethereum, when the latter’s community made a controversial decision to reverse the DAO hack, which sparked discussions about network’s censorship-resistance.
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.
The Next Crypto Wave: The Rise of Stablecoins and its Entry to the U.S. Dollar Market
Author: Christian Hsieh, CEO of Tokenomy This paper examines some explanations for the continual global market demand for the U.S. dollar, the rise of stablecoins, and the utility and opportunities that crypto dollars can offer to both the cryptocurrency and traditional markets. The U.S. dollar, dominant in world trade since the establishment of the 1944 Bretton Woods System, is unequivocally the world’s most demanded reserve currency. Today, more than 61% of foreign bank reserves and nearly 40% of the entire world’s debt is denominated in U.S. dollars1. However, there is a massive supply and demand imbalance in the U.S. dollar market. On the supply side, central banks throughout the world have implemented more than a decade-long accommodative monetary policy since the 2008 global financial crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic further exacerbated the need for central banks to provide necessary liquidity and keep staggering economies moving. While the Federal Reserve leads the effort of “money printing” and stimulus programs, the current money supply still cannot meet the constant high demand for the U.S. dollar2. Let us review some of the reasons for this constant dollar demand from a few economic fundamentals.
Demand for U.S. Dollars
Firstly, most of the world’s trade is denominated in U.S. dollars. Chief Economist of the IMF, Gita Gopinath, has compiled data reflecting that the U.S. dollar’s share of invoicing was 4.7 times larger than America’s share of the value of imports, and 3.1 times its share of world exports3. The U.S. dollar is the dominant “invoicing currency” in most developing countries4. https://preview.redd.it/d4xalwdyz8p51.png?width=535&format=png&auto=webp&s=9f0556c6aa6b29016c9b135f3279e8337dfee2a6 https://preview.redd.it/wucg40kzz8p51.png?width=653&format=png&auto=webp&s=71257fec29b43e0fc0df1bf04363717e3b52478f This U.S. dollar preference also directly impacts the world’s debt. According to the Bank of International Settlements, there is over $67 trillion in U.S. dollar denominated debt globally, and borrowing outside of the U.S. accounted for $12.5 trillion in Q1 20205. There is an immense demand for U.S. dollars every year just to service these dollar debts. The annual U.S. dollar buying demand is easily over $1 trillion assuming the borrowing cost is at 1.5% (1 year LIBOR + 1%) per year, a conservative estimate. https://preview.redd.it/6956j6f109p51.png?width=487&format=png&auto=webp&s=ccea257a4e9524c11df25737cac961308b542b69 Secondly, since the U.S. has a much stronger economy compared to its global peers, a higher return on investments draws U.S. dollar demand from everywhere in the world, to invest in companies both in the public and private markets. The U.S. hosts the largest stock markets in the world with more than $33 trillion in public market capitalization (combined both NYSE and NASDAQ)6. For the private market, North America’s total share is well over 60% of the $6.5 trillion global assets under management across private equity, real assets, and private debt investments7. The demand for higher quality investments extends to the fixed income market as well. As countries like Japan and Switzerland currently have negative-yielding interest rates8, fixed income investors’ quest for yield in the developed economies leads them back to the U.S. debt market. As of July 2020, there are $15 trillion worth of negative-yielding debt securities globally (see chart). In comparison, the positive, low-yielding U.S. debt remains a sound fixed income strategy for conservative investors in uncertain market conditions. Source: Bloomberg Last, but not least, there are many developing economies experiencing failing monetary policies, where hyperinflation has become a real national disaster. A classic example is Venezuela, where the currency Bolivar became practically worthless as the inflation rate skyrocketed to 10,000,000% in 20199. The recent Beirut port explosion in Lebanon caused a sudden economic meltdown and compounded its already troubled financial market, where inflation has soared to over 112% year on year10. For citizens living in unstable regions such as these, the only reliable store of value is the U.S. dollar. According to the Chainalysis 2020 Geography of Cryptocurrency Report, Venezuela has become one of the most active cryptocurrency trading countries11. The demand for cryptocurrency surges as a flight to safety mentality drives Venezuelans to acquire U.S. dollars to preserve savings that they might otherwise lose. The growth for cryptocurrency activities in those regions is fueled by these desperate citizens using cryptocurrencies as rails to access the U.S. dollar, on top of acquiring actual Bitcoin or other underlying crypto assets.
The Rise of Crypto Dollars
Due to the highly volatile nature of cryptocurrencies, USD stablecoin, a crypto-powered blockchain token that pegs its value to the U.S. dollar, was introduced to provide stable dollar exposure in the crypto trading sphere. Tether is the first of its kind. Issued in 2014 on the bitcoin blockchain (Omni layer protocol), under the token symbol USDT, it attempts to provide crypto traders with a stable settlement currency while they trade in and out of various crypto assets. The reason behind the stablecoin creation was to address the inefficient and burdensome aspects of having to move fiat U.S. dollars between the legacy banking system and crypto exchanges. Because one USDT is theoretically backed by one U.S. dollar, traders can use USDT to trade and settle to fiat dollars. It was not until 2017 that the majority of traders seemed to realize Tether’s intended utility and started using it widely. As of April 2019, USDT trading volume started exceeding the trading volume of bitcoina12, and it now dominates the crypto trading sphere with over $50 billion average daily trading volume13. https://preview.redd.it/3vq7v1jg09p51.png?width=700&format=png&auto=webp&s=46f11b5f5245a8c335ccc60432873e9bad2eb1e1 An interesting aspect of USDT is that although the claimed 1:1 backing with U.S. dollar collateral is in question, and the Tether company is in reality running fractional reserves through a loose offshore corporate structure, Tether’s trading volume and adoption continues to grow rapidly14. Perhaps in comparison to fiat U.S. dollars, which is not really backed by anything, Tether still has cash equivalents in reserves and crypto traders favor its liquidity and convenience over its lack of legitimacy. For those who are concerned about Tether’s solvency, they can now purchase credit default swaps for downside protection15. On the other hand, USDC, the more compliant contender, takes a distant second spot with total coin circulation of $1.8 billion, versus USDT at $14.5 billion (at the time of publication). It is still too early to tell who is the ultimate leader in the stablecoin arena, as more and more stablecoins are launching to offer various functions and supporting mechanisms. There are three main categories of stablecoin: fiat-backed, crypto-collateralized, and non-collateralized algorithm based stablecoins. Most of these are still at an experimental phase, and readers can learn more about them here. With the continuous innovation of stablecoin development, the utility stablecoins provide in the overall crypto market will become more apparent.
In addition to trade settlement, stablecoins can be applied in many other areas. Cross-border payments and remittances is an inefficient market that desperately needs innovation. In 2020, the average cost of sending money across the world is around 7%16, and it takes days to settle. The World Bank aims to reduce remittance fees to 3% by 2030. With the implementation of blockchain technology, this cost could be further reduced close to zero. J.P. Morgan, the largest bank in the U.S., has created an Interbank Information Network (IIN) with 416 global Institutions to transform the speed of payment flows through its own JPM Coin, another type of crypto dollar17. Although people argue that JPM Coin is not considered a cryptocurrency as it cannot trade openly on a public blockchain, it is by far the largest scale experiment with all the institutional participants trading within the “permissioned” blockchain. It might be more accurate to refer to it as the use of distributed ledger technology (DLT) instead of “blockchain” in this context. Nevertheless, we should keep in mind that as J.P. Morgan currently moves $6 trillion U.S. dollars per day18, the scale of this experiment would create a considerable impact in the international payment and remittance market if it were successful. Potentially the day will come when regulated crypto exchanges become participants of IIN, and the link between public and private crypto assets can be instantly connected, unlocking greater possibilities in blockchain applications. Many central banks are also in talks about developing their own central bank digital currency (CBDC). Although this idea was not new, the discussion was brought to the forefront due to Facebook’s aggressive Libra project announcement in June 2019 and the public attention that followed. As of July 2020, at least 36 central banks have published some sort of CBDC framework. While each nation has a slightly different motivation behind its currency digitization initiative, ranging from payment safety, transaction efficiency, easy monetary implementation, or financial inclusion, these central banks are committed to deploying a new digital payment infrastructure. When it comes to the technical architectures, research from BIS indicates that most of the current proofs-of-concept tend to be based upon distributed ledger technology (permissioned blockchain)19. https://preview.redd.it/lgb1f2rw19p51.png?width=700&format=png&auto=webp&s=040bb0deed0499df6bf08a072fd7c4a442a826a0 These institutional experiments are laying an essential foundation for an improved global payment infrastructure, where instant and frictionless cross-border settlements can take place with minimal costs. Of course, the interoperability of private DLT tokens and public blockchain stablecoins has yet to be explored, but the innovation with both public and private blockchain efforts could eventually merge. This was highlighted recently by the Governor of the Bank of England who stated that “stablecoins and CBDC could sit alongside each other20”. One thing for certain is that crypto dollars (or other fiat-linked digital currencies) are going to play a significant role in our future economy.
There is never a dull moment in the crypto sector. The industry narratives constantly shift as innovation continues to evolve. Twelve years since its inception, Bitcoin has evolved from an abstract subject to a familiar concept. Its role as a secured, scarce, decentralized digital store of value has continued to gain acceptance, and it is well on its way to becoming an investable asset class as a portfolio hedge against asset price inflation and fiat currency depreciation.Stablecoins have proven to be useful as proxy dollars in the crypto world, similar to how dollars are essential in the traditional world. It is only a matter of time before stablecoins or private digital tokens dominate the cross-border payments and global remittances industry. There are no shortages of hypes and experiments that draw new participants into the crypto space, such as smart contracts, new blockchains, ICOs, tokenization of things, or the most recent trends on DeFi tokens. These projects highlight the possibilities for a much more robust digital future, but the market also needs time to test and adopt. A reliable digital payment infrastructure must be built first in order to allow these experiments to flourish. In this paper we examined the historical background and economic reasons for the U.S. dollar’s dominance in the world, and the probable conclusion is that the demand for U.S. dollars will likely continue, especially in the middle of a global pandemic, accompanied by a worldwide economic slowdown. The current monetary system is far from perfect, but there are no better alternatives for replacement at least in the near term. Incremental improvements are being made in both the public and private sectors, and stablecoins have a definite role to play in both the traditional and the new crypto world. Thank you. Reference:  How the US dollar became the world’s reserve currency, Investopedia  The dollar is in high demand, prone to dangerous appreciation, The Economist  Dollar dominance in trade and finance, Gita Gopinath  Global trades dependence on dollars, The Economist & IMF working papers  Total credit to non-bank borrowers by currency of denomination, BIS  Biggest stock exchanges in the world, Business Insider  McKinsey Global Private Market Review 2020, McKinsey & Company  Central banks current interest rates, Global Rates  Venezuela hyperinflation hits 10 million percent, CNBC  Lebanon inflation crisis, Reuters  Venezuela cryptocurrency market, Chainalysis  The most used cryptocurrency isn’t Bitcoin, Bloomberg  Trading volume of all crypto assets, coinmarketcap.com  Tether US dollar peg is no longer credible, Forbes  New crypto derivatives let you bet on (or against) Tether’s solvency, Coindesk  Remittance Price Worldwide, The World Bank  Interbank Information Network, J.P. Morgan  Jamie Dimon interview, CBS News  Rise of the central bank digital currency, BIS  Speech by Andrew Bailey, 3 September 2020, Bank of England
Update and Few Thoughts, a (Well-Typed) transcript: Liza&Charles the marketeers, Voltaire kick-off, PrisM and Ebb-and-Flow to fuck ETH2.0 Gasper, the (back)log of a man and a falcon, lots of companies, September Goguen time, Basho, 2021 Titans, Basho, Hydra and much more thoughts and prayers
Hi everybody this is Charles Hoskinson broadcasting live from warm sunny Colorado. I'm trying a new streaming service and it allows me to annotate a few things and simulcast to both periscope and youtube. Let's see how this works. I also get to put a little caption. I think for the future, I'm just for a while going to put: "I will never give away ada". So, when people repost my videos for giveaway scams they at least have that. First off, a thank you, a community member named Daryl had decided to carve a log and give his artistic impression of my twitter profile picture of me and the falcon so that always means a lot when I get these gifts from fans and also I just wanted to, on the back of the Catalyst presentation, express my profound gratitude and excitement to the community. You know it's really really cool to see how much progress has been made in such a short period of time. It was only yesterday when we were saying "when Shelley"? Now Shelley's out and it's evolving rapidly. Voltaire is now starting to evolve rapidly and we're real close to Goguen. At the end of this month we'll be able to talk around some of the realities of Goguen and some of the ideas we have and give some dates for certain things and give you a sense of where that project is at. The good news is that we have gained an enormous amount of progress and knowledge about what we need to do and how to get that done and basically people are just executing and it's a much smaller task than getting us to Shelley. With Byron to Shelley we literally had to build a completely new cryptocurrency from the ground up. We had to have new ledger rules, new update system, we had to invent a way of transitioning from one system to another system and there's hundreds of other little innovations along the way: new network stack and so forth. Byron cosmetically looks like Shelley but under the hood it's completely different and the Shelley design was built with a lot of the things that we needed for Goguen in mind. For example, we built Shelley with the idea of extended UTXO and we built Shelley understanding what the realities were for the smart contract model and that's one of the advantages you get when you do this type of bespoke engineering. There's two consequences to that, one, the integration is significantly easier, and two, the integration is significantly faster. We won't look at that same complexity there. The product update at the end of the month... We'll really start discussing around some of these things as well as talk about partners and talk about how the development ecosystem is going to evolve. There are a lot of threads throughout all three organizations that are happening simultaneously. Emurgo, they're really thinking deeply about DeFi and they've invited us to collaborate with them on things like stablecoins for example but we're also looking at oracles (oracle pools), DEX and these other things and because there are already people in market who have made mistakes, learned lessons, it gives us the benefit of hindsight. It means we can be much faster to market and we can build much more competitive things in market and the Cardano community gets first access to these next generation DeFi applications without a lot of the problems of the prior generations and that's super beneficial to us. You know, the other side of it, is that Voltaire is going to have a systemic influence not just on community funding but also the overall evolution and direction of the platform. The longer it exists the more pervasive it will become. Probably first applied towards the Cardano foundation roadmap but later on it will definitely have a lot of influence and say over every element aspect of the system including the launch dApps and these other things. Basically, long term, the types of problems that Cardano solves so that's incredibly appealing to me and very exciting to me because it's like I have this giant community brain with the best and brightest of all of you working with us to get us where we need to go. You know, another thing that was super encouraging, it's a small thing, but it shows us that we're definitely in the right direction was that we recently got a demo from Pramod (Viswanath) and his team out of university of Illinois on a protocol they create called PrisM which is a super fast proof-of-work protocol and they wrote this beautiful paper and they wrote code along with it that showed that PrisM is a ten thousand times faster than Nakamoto consensus. If you take the bitcoin proof-of-work protocol, you strip it out, you put PrisM in, you can run the entire bitcoin system 10000 times faster. They have these beautiful benchmarks to show that. Even in bad network conditions. (I'm) promoting this team, they're, they're real researchers, and they're real engineers, they use a lot of cool HPC concepts like springboarding and other things like that to accommodate that. Then I asked him in the presentation, I said well, how much faster if you replay the Ethereum chain? He says, well, that it takes a big performance hit, could be only maybe a hundred times because that model is not as easy to optimize and shard with standard computer science concepts. In fact in some cases there are limitations there that really can't be overcome. It turns out that we're more on that UTXO side than we are on the account side. As a coincidence or intent of the design of extended UTXO we're gonna have a lot easier time getting much higher performance where and when it's necessary. I also approved this week a scaling up of the Basho project. In particular, to build a hydra prototype team. The science has gotten to a point where we can make a really competitive push in that particular direction. What does that mean? It means that in just a few short months we can de-risk technological approaches that long-term will give us a lot of fruit where and when the community decides that they need infrastructure like hydra. Now, here's the beautiful thing about hydra. If you watch my whiteboard back in September of 2017 when Cardano first hit market with Byron I talked about this concept of looking at scalability with a very simple test which is as you get more people in the system it stays at the same performance or it gets faster. We all experience systems that do this, for example, bittorrent, more people downloading something you tend to be able to get it faster and we all experience the converse which is, the system gets slower when you get more people. What does this mean? It means that hydra is an actual approach towards true scalability in the system and it's a lot easier to do than sharding even though we have a beautiful approach to get the sharding on the ledger side if we truly desire to go down that way. There's beautiful ideas that we are definitely in deep discussions about. That's a very complex thing. There was recently a paper ("Ebb-and-Flow Protocols: A Resolution of the Availability-Finality Dilemma") out of Stanford that showed that the Gasper protocol as proposed for ETH2.0 does have some security concerns and it's going to be the burden on the shoulders of the Ethereum 2.0 developers and Vitalik to address those concerns from those Stanford professors. Whenever you have these very complex protocols they have so many different ways they can break and things can go wrong so it's much more appealing when you don't have to embrace complexity to achieve the same. The elegance of hydra is that stake pool operators are very natural parties to put hydra channels on and every time we add one we get much more performance out of that and the system as it gets more valuable. The k factor increases which means you get more stake pull operators, which means you get more hydra channels, so with growth we get appreciation, with appreciation we get more decentralization, with more decentralization we get more performance. In essence, this spiritually speaking, is really what we meant when we said scalability. That the system will always grow to meet its particular needs and we have a very elegant way of moving in that direction that doesn't require us to embrace very sophisticated techniques. It's not to say that these techniques don't have a place and purpose but it says that the urgency of implementing these is gone and we then have the luxury to pick the best science when it's ready instead of rushing it to market to resolve a crisis of high fees. We'll never have that crisis so there's a beauty to Cardano that is missing, I in my view, from many cryptocurrencies and blockchains in the marketplace and we're now seeing that beauty shine through. Not only through our community who are so passionate and amazing but in the science and the engineering itself and how easy it is for us to navigate the concepts. How easy it is for us to add more things, to take some things away, to clean some things up here and there and our ability to move through. I never imagined when in 2015 I signed up to go in on this crazy ride and try to build a world financial operating system we would have made as much progress as we made today. We've written more than 75 research papers as an organization many of which are directly applicable to Cardano. We've got great partners who work with Nasa and Boeing and Pfizer, massive companies, that have 10 years of history and millions of users to come in and help us grow better. We've worked with incredible organizations, major universities like university of Wyoming, university of Edinburgh, Tokyo, tech professors all across the world. We've worked with incredible engineering firms like VacuumLabs and AtixLabs and Twig and Well-Typed, runtime verification, QuviQ and dozens of others along the years and despite the fact that at times there's been delays and friction throughout this entire journey we've mostly been aligned and we keep learning and growing. It gives me so much hope that our best days are ahead of us and an almost fanatical belief that success is inevitable in a certain respect. You see because we always find a way to be here tomorrow and we always find a way to make tomorrow a better day than today and as long as that's the trend you're monotonically increasing towards a better tomorrow, you're always going to have that outcome, you're always going to be in a position where Cardano shines bright. Towards the end of the month we'll have a lot more to say about the development side and that'll be a beginning just like Voltaire is the beginning and then suddenly you now notice the beautiful parallelism of the roadmap. Shelley continues to evolve, partial delegation is coming, in fact, I signed the contract with vacuumlabs to bring that to Ledger (and Trezor). The Daedalus team is hard at work to make that feature apparent for everyone as is the Yoroi team. You see that, with now Voltaire, and soon was Goguen, and these are not endpoints, rather they're just beginnings and they're never over. We can always make staking better, more diverse, more merit-based and entertain different control models, have better delegation mechanics, have better user experience. The same for smart contracts, that's an endless river and along the way what we've discovered is it's easy for us to work with great minds and great people. For example with testing of smart contracts I would love to diversify that conversation above and beyond what we can come up with and bring in some firms who have done this for a long time to basically take that part with us shoulder to shoulder and build beautiful frameworks to assist us. For example, runtime verification is doing this with, the EVM with a beautiful project called Firefly to replace Truffle. I believe that we can achieve similar ends with Plutus smart contracts. When you ask yourself what makes a system competitive in the cryptocurrency space? In my view there are four dimensions and you have to have a good story for all four of those dimensions. You need security and correctness. A lot of people don't prioritize that but when they get that wrong it hurts retail people, it hurts everyday people, billions of dollars have been lost due to the incompetence and ineptitude of junior developers making very bad mistakes and oftentimes those developers faced no consequences. The people who lost money were innocent people who believed in cryptocurrencies and wanted to be part of the movement but didn't protect themselves adequately. That's a really sad thing and it's unethical to continue pushing a model that that is the standard or the likely outcome rather than a rare edge case. You have to as a platform, a third generation platformn invest heavily in giving the developers proper tools to ensure security and correctness. We've seen a whole industry there's been great innovations out of Quantstamp and ConsenSys and dozens of other firms in the space including runtime verification who have really made major leaps in the last few years of trying to improve that story. What's unique to Cardano is that we based our foundations on languages that were designed right the first time and there's over 35 years of history for the approach that we're following in the Haskell side that allows us to build high assurance systems and our developers in the ecosystem to build high assurance systems. We didn't reinvent the wheel, we found the best wheel and we're giving it to you. I think we're going to be dominant in that respect as we enter 2021. Second, you look at things like ease of maintenance, ease of deployment, the life cycle of the software upgrades to the software and as we've demonstrated with things like the hard fork combinator and the fact that Voltaire is not just a governance layer for ada and Cardano but will eventually be reusable for any dApp deployed on our system. You have very natural tooling that's going to allow people to upgrade their smart contracts, their dApps and enable governance for their users at an incredibly low cost and not have to reinvent the governance wheel each and every application. This is another unique property to our system and it can be reused for the dApps that you deploy on your system as I've mentioned before. Performance is a significant concern and this was often corrupted by marketers especially ICO marketers who really wanted to differentiate (and) say: "our protocol tested on a single server in someone's basement is 500000 transactions per second" and somehow that translates to real life performance and that's antithetical to anyone who's ever to study distributed systems and understands the reality of these systems and where they go and what they do and in terms of performance. I think we have the most logical approach. You know, we have 10 years of history with bitcoin, it's a massive system, we've learned a huge amount and there's a lot of papers written about, a lot of practical projects and bitcoin is about to step into the world of smart contracts. We congratulate them on getting Schnorr sigs in and the success of Taproot. That means entering 2021, 2022, we are going to start seeing legitimate dApps DeFi projects, real applications, instead of choosing Ethereum or Algorand, EOS, Cardano, choosing bitcoin and they're adding a lot to that conversation. I think that ultimately that model has a lot of promise which is why we built a better one. There are still significant limitations with what bitcoin can accomplish from settlement time to the verbosity of contracts that can be written. The extended UTXO model was designed to be the fastest accounting and most charitable accounting model ever, on and off chain, and hydra was designed to allow you to flex between those two systems seamlessly. When you look at the foundations of where we're at and how we can extend this from domain specific languages, for domain experts, such as Marlowe to financial experts, and the DSLs that will come later, for others, like lawyers and supply chain experts in medical databases and so forth and how easy it is to write and deploy these. Plutus being beautiful glue code for both on and off chain communications. I think we have an incredibly competitive offering for performance and when hydra comes, simply put, there'll be no one faster. If we need to shard, we're going to do that and definitely better than anybody else because we know where our security model sits and there won't be surprise Stanford papers to blindside us that require immediate addressing. In terms of operating costs, this is the last component, in my view, and that's basically how much does it cost you the developer to run your application? There are really two dimensions, one is predictability and the other is amount. It's not just good enough to say: it's a penny per transaction today. You need to know that after you spend millions of dollars and months or years of effort building something and deploying something that you're not going to wake up tomorrow and now it's five dollars to do what used to cost a penny. You need that cost to be as low as possible and as predictable as possible and again the way that we architectured our system and as we turn things on towards the end of this year and as we enter into the next year we believe we have a great approach to achieve low operating cost. One person asks why Cardano? Well because we have great security and correctness in the development experience and tools with 35 years of legacy that were built right the first time and don't put the burdens of mistakes on your customers. They ask why Cardano and we say: well the chain itself is going to give you great solutions with identity value transformation and governance itself and as a consequence when you talk about upgrading your applications having a relationship with your customers of your applications and you talk about the ease of maintenance of those applications. There's going to be a good story there and we have beautiful frameworks like Voltaire that allow that story to evolve and we keep adding partners and who have decades of experience to get us along. We won't stop until it's much better. They asked why Cardano? We said because at the moment we're 10 times faster today than Ethereum today and that's all we really need for this year and next year to be honest and in the future we can be as fast as we need to be because we're truly scalable. As the system gets more decentralized the system improves performance and where and when we need to shard we can do that. We'll have the luxury of time to do it right, the Cardano way, and when people ask why Cardano? Because the reality is, it's very cheap to do things on our platform and the way we're building things. That's going to continue being the case and we have the governance mechanisms to allow the community to readjust fees and parameters so that it can continue being affordable for users. Everything in the system will eventually be customizable and parameterizable: from block size, to transaction fees and the community will be in a good position to dynamically allocate these things where and when needed so that we can enjoy as an ecosystem predictability in our cost. In the coming weeks and months, especially in my company, we're going to invest a lot of time and effort into comparison marketing and product marketing. When I see people say, oh well, you've launched proof of stake, a lot of other people have done. I don't think those people fully appreciate the magnitude of what we actually accomplished as an ecosystem and the quality of the protocols that are in distribution. That's not their fault, it's our fault, because we didn't take the time in simplistic terms, not scientific papers and deep code and formal specifications, but rather everyday language, to really show why we're different. I admit that that's a product failing and that needs to be corrected so we hired a great marketing director, named Liza (Horowitz?) and she is going to work full time with me and others in the ecosystem, a great team of people, every single day to get out there and explain what we have done is novel, unique, competitive and special to our industry. Everything from Ouroboros and contrast to major other protocols from the EOSes and Algorands and the Tezos of the world. Why we're different, trade-offs we chose over them, to our network stack, to the extended UTXO model, to Plutus, to Marlowe and we're going to keep hammering away at that until we get it right and everybody acknowledges and sees what has been accomplished. I've spent five years of my life, good years of my life, and missed a lot to get this project where it needs to go. All of our employees have invested huge sums of their personal lives, their time, their brand, their careers, in trying to make this the really most magical and special cryptocurrency and blockchain infrastructure around. No one ever signed up in this company or the other companies working on Cardano to work on a mediocre protocol. That's just another blockchain, they signed up to change the world, they signed up to build a system that legitimately can look at you in the face and say: one day we have the potential to have a billion users! That's what they signed up for and they showed up to play. They built technology that evolves in that direction with some certainty and great foundations and we have an obligation to market in a way that can show the world why, succinctly, with clarity. Understandably, this has been a failing in the past but you know what? You can always be better tomorrow that monotonically increasing make it better and that's what we're going to do. We recognized it and we're going to invest in it and with Voltaire if we can't do it. You the community can do it and we'll work with you. If you can do a better job and the funding will be there to get that done. In addition to this, we think about 2021 and we ask where does the future take us? I've thought a lot about this you know I've thought a lot about how do we get the next five years as we close out 2020 and here's the reality: we're not going to leave as a company until we have smart contracts and multi-asset and Voltaire has evolved to a point where the community can comfortably make decisions about the future of the protocol and that the staking experience has solidified and it's stable. I don't care if this costs me millions or tens of millions of dollars out of my own pocket to make happen. I'm going to do that because that's my commitment to you, the community and every product update will keep pushing our way there. We'll continue to get more transparent, we'll continue to get more aggressive and hire more and parallelize more. Aware when we can, to deliver that experience so that Cardano gets where it needs to go. Then when we ask about where do we go next? The reality is that the science as an industry, the engineering as an industry has given a menu of incredibly unique attractive and sexy things that we can pursue. What we're going to do is work with the community and the very same tools that are turning on today, the Voltaire tools, the cardano.ideascale.com tools and we're going to propose a consortium and we're going to bring the best and brightest together and give a vision of where we can take the system in another five years. With the benefit of hindsight, massively improved processes, better estimation capabilities and the fact that we're not starting with two people at IOG. We're starting with 250 people and the best scientific division in our industry and the legacy of almost, nearly by the end of this year, 100 scientific papers. That's us, you know what, there's dozens of companies throughout the history who have worked on Cardano. It's about time to scale them up too and get client diversity. So come next year when the protocol has evolved to the point where it's ready for it, we'll have that conversation with you the community and that's going to be a beautiful conversation. At the conclusion of it, there's going to be certainty of how we're going to evolve over the next five years to get ourselves beyond the cryptocurrency space. I'm very tired of these conversations we have about: are you going to go to (coindesk's) consensus or not? Or who's going to be the big winner? What about Libra or what about this particular regulation and this crypto unicorn and this thing? You know I've been in the space a long time and I've noticed that people keep saying the same things year after year in the same venues. Yes, the crowd sizes get larger and the amount of value at risk gets larger but I haven't seen a lot of progress in the places where I feel it is absolutely necessary for this technology to be permanent in the developing world. We need to see economic identity. People often ask what is the mission for Cardano? For us IOG, you look at economic identity and you take a look at a roadmap. For it, you scale up and down, and each and every step along the way, from open data, to self-sovereign identity, to financial inclusion. You can keep going down: to decentralized lending, decentralized insurance, decentralized banking. Each and every step along the way to economic identity. When you admit a blockchain tells you that, there's a collection of applications and infrastructure that you need to build. My life's work is to get to a point where we have the technology to do that. The infrastructure to do that, with principles, and so we'll keep evolving Cardano and we'll keep evolving the space as a whole and the science as a whole until I can wake up and say: each box and that road to economic identity, for all people not just one group, we have a solution for that. I'm going to put those applications on Cardano and success for me is not about us being king of the crypto hill and having a higher market cap than bitcoin or being entrepreneur of the year coindesk's most influential person. It's meaningless noise, success for me is reflecting back at the things that we have accomplished together and recognizing that millions if not billions now live in a system where they all matter, they all have a voice, they all have an equal footing. The Jeff Bezos of the world have the very same experience as the person born in Rwanda and we're not done until that's the case. It's a long road, it's a hard road, but you know what? We're making progress, we have great people in Africa, we have great people in eastern Europe, we have great people in southeast Asia and great partners all along the way. Great people, Latin America, great people in south America, great people here in the United States. When we talk about economic identity there are millions, if not tens of millions of Americans who don't have it. Same for Canadians, hundreds of thousands, who don't have it. Developed western cultures, it's the greatest blind spot of policy and as we enter into a depression as a result of coronavirus, add millions if not tens of millions more onto that list. Generations are being disenfranchised by this legacy system and we as an ecosystem, we as an entire community are offering a different way forward. Not hyper centralizationn not social credit but a way forward where you own your own money, your own identity, your own data. You're not a victim of surveillance capitalism, you're not a victim of civil asset forfeiture. When you say the wrong things, you get shut out of society. Each and every human being matters and I'm optimistic to believe that when you remind people that they matter they're gonna rise to the occasion. That is the point of my company. In the things that we do each and every day, that's our mission to give the platforms to the world so that those who don't have economic identity can get it and they can keep it and no one can take it from them and they can enjoy an ever increasing growth of standard of living wealth and prosperity. However you want to measure that this is my goal post, I couldn't care less about the cryptocurrency space. It was a great place to start but the space needs to be reminded why it exists. Bitcoin was given a mandate on the back of the 2008 financial crisis to do something different. It was not given a mandate to go be a new settlement layer for central banks or a new way for the old guard to make more money and banks get bigger and for those who are in control to preserve their power. The whole point of doing something so crazy as to buy a coin that doesn't even exist in real life, that's just a bunch of numbers in the cloud, the whole point of that was so that we as a society could do something different than the way that we'd been doing things before. So, each and every member of the cryptocurrency space needs to remind everyone else from time to time why we're here and where did we come from and where are we going to go. The beauty of Cardano is we have already achieved for the most part a decentralized brain and that momentum is pushing harder than ever. More and more scientists are waking up, more and more institutions are waking up, getting us there. The code we have, the right approach and I think we have a great competitive offering for 2021 as we go and battle the titans and that's going to be a lot of fun but we know who we are and where we're going and we're in the right places. It's so incredibly encouraging to see the stake pool operators not just be from California or Texas or New York or Canada. To see a lot of stake pool operators from the place that need the most, help everybody does matter and it means a lot to me for the people who are there but it means a lot to everybody to say that we have created an equal platform. It makes the participation of all of us so much more meaningful. We're not just talking to each other, we're talking to the world and by working together on this platform we're lifting the world up and giving people hope. That's the point, there's a lot more to do, we didn't get everything done. You never do you aspire, you work hard, you set a moon, shot and sometimes you can just get to orbit with the first go but you know what? When you build the next rocket you can go to Mars. Thank you all for being with me, thank you all for being part of this. Today was a damn good day with the announcement of Voltaire. Go to cardano.ideascale.com. You can participate in that, so end of September is going to be a good day too. There's a lot of good days to come, in between a lot of hard days, doing tasks sometimes entirely forgettable but always necessary to keep the revolution going and the movement going. I cannot wait for 2021, our best days are ahead of us, because of you. You all take care now . Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BFa9zL_Dl_w Other things mentioned: https://cardano.ideascale.com/ https://www.atixlabs.com/blockchain https://www.well-typed.com/ https://www.vacuumlabs.com/ https://medium.com/interdax/what-is-taproot-and-how-will-it-benefit-bitcoin-5c8944eed8da https://medium.com/interdax/how-will-schnorr-signatures-benefit-bitcoin-b4482cf85d40 https://quantstamp.com/ https://bloxian.com/bloxian-platforms/ (TWIG) https://runtimeverification.com/firefly/ https://www.trufflesuite.com/ https://experts.illinois.edu/en/publications/prism-deconstructing-the-blockchain-to-approach-physical-limits (PrisM and not our Prism https://atalaprism.io/) Ebb-and-Flow Protocols: A Resolution of the Availability-Finality Dilemma (aka Gasper and ETH2.0 fucker) https://arxiv.org/abs/2009.04987 http://www.quviq.com/products/ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schnorr_signature
Blockchain Bites: Dorsey Challenges Coinbase, Nasdaq Lists Diginex, Ethereum Miners Profit The Australian government is investing big in modern technology, Nasdaq saw its first crypto exchange operator listing and revenues are surging for Ethereum miners amid increased network activity. Australia modernizes Australia will commit A$800 million (US$575 million) to invest in digital technologies as part of its coronavirus recovery plan, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced Tuesday. The federal plan will see US$256.6 million for a digital identity solution, $419.9 million to fully implement the Modernising Business Registers (MBR) program, $22.2 million for small businesses training to utilize digital technologies and two blockchain pilot programs totalling $6.9 million. “The Plan supports Australia’s economic recovery by removing out-dated regulatory barriers, boosting the capability of small businesses and backs the uptake of technology across the economy,” Morrison said in the announcement. Nasdaq launch Blockchain services firm Diginex has become the first crypto exchange operator to list on Nasdaq. The stock went live Thursday morning under the EQOS ticker symbol, a nod to the firm’s EQUOS.io trading platform. CoinDesk’s Nathan DiCamillo reports Diginex’s back-door listing came through a merger with a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC). Diginex CEO Richard Byworth said he expects a mix of global retail and institutional investors to buy shares. Over time, he expects the majority of Diginex shareholders to be U.S. investors because of the Nasdaq listing. Dorsey responds Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted his disapproval of Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong’s mission statement to keep his company free and clear of politics. Dorsey argued that by the very act of being a crypto exchange, Coinbase was always already engaged in politics. “Bitcoin (aka ‘crypto’) is direct activism against an unverifiable and exclusionary financial system which negatively affects so much of our society. Important to at least acknowledge and connect the related societal issues your customers face daily. This leaves people behind,” Dorsey tweeted. Armstrong made waves this week – in and out of crypto – when saying Coinbase, and its employees, should keep work and activism separate. Election predictions Putting stake to their claims, many crypto-political gamblers have cast their vote predicting who might win the contentious U.S. presidential election. CoinDesk markets editor Lawrence Lewitinn looked at the data following this week’s first presidential debate and found many are betting incumbent President Donald Trump will lose in November. While bettors on decentralized betting platforms like Augur and futures markets on FTX aren’t as bullish on the challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden, he does have the odds. “Thus what’s true at the time of publication can change on a dime. It is now fewer than five weeks until Election Day. Buckle up!” Lewitinn warns. Mining profits HIVE Blockchain has reported its best-ever quarter, as the mining firm raked in record fees from the frenzied activity in decentralized finance (DeFi) over the summer. The Toronto-listed mining company released its unaudited results Thursday, saying it mined a total of 32,000 ether (ETH) and 121,000 ethereum classic (ETC) in the second fiscal quarter ending Sept. 30. Per CoinDesk’s price data, that comes to nearly $11.8 million for mining ether, and a further $664,000 for ethereum classic – approximately $12.4 million at time of writing. The figures represent a near 30% increase from the 25,000 ETH that HIVE mined in the first quarter and a 50% increase in the same quarter in 2019. Stealth launch In the latest effort to smooth a path for buttoned-up investors, Talos, an institutional-grade conduit to the crypto ecosystem, is emerging from stealth mode to serve brokers, custodians, exchanges and over-the-counter (OTC) trading desks. The platform started out in 2018 and is backed by an impressive list of investors including Autonomous Partners, Castle Island Ventures, Coinbase Ventures and Initialized Capital. Over the past year or so, Talos has been quietly onboarding a core group of capital market participants, so that the platform can make its debut in a revenue-generating state.
Bilibili Copycat Tried to Save Itself With a $2M Crypto IEO – It Didn’t Work
A Chinese video site copycat raised $2.1 million via an initial exchange offering in August 2019 – but it appears this last resort wasn’t enough to save the company from falling apart. On Sept. 24, the Shanghai Yangpu District Court disclosed an Aug. 31 ruling that video streaming company Dilidili has infringed the trademark of Nasdaq-listed Bilibili and must pay a fine of nearly $500,000. The ruling followed a separate notice by the Shanghai Minhang District Prosecutor in July, which ordered the arrest of Dilidili’s founder for copyright infringement. The years-long case has drawn widespread attention among Chinese mainstream media given Dilidili’s outright copy-and-paste from Bilibili, which is China’s hit video site for streaming licensed Japanese anime content. The episode is also an example of a failed attempt by Chinese companies to use the concept of cryptocurrency and blockchain decentralization to rejuvenize their businesses. Founded in 2010, Bilibili.com has grown into one of the top video sites in China. It specializes in streaming licensed Japanese animation that targets China’s Generation Z population. Bilibili reportedly has some 170 million monthly active users. Bilibili went public on Nasdaq in March 2018 with a raise of $483 million. Earlier this year, Sony invested another $400 million in Bilibili and bought over 4% of its shares. The dispute between Bilibili and Dilidili started in 2015, when Dilidili was created with a name that appeared to be mimicking the incumbent. Soon after its creation, Dilidili had allegedly downloaded more than 3,000 episodes of Japanese animation from Bilibili and then uploaded it to its own platform for free viewing so that it could monetize the traffic, according to the Shanghai prosecutor’s arrest order. In January 2019, Bilibili brought a lawsuit against Dilidili and demanded some $4.3 million as damage claims due to Dilidili’s alleged trademark and copyright infringement. In a notable pivot, Dilidili tapped into the 2019 frenzy of cryptocurrency initial exchange offerings (IEO) in order to build a blockchain-based community governance ecosystem. Dilidili launched its token, DILI, on the ethereum platform and did the IEO on Chinese exchange Gate.io in August 2019. According to Gate.io’s announcement on Aug. 28, Dilidili achieved its goal of raising $2.1 million by selling 1.5 billion DILI, although the total subscription orders it received from Gate.io users were worth over $70 million. The trading started on the same date with a starting price of $0.00143 per DILI. But soon after trading began, several news reports emerged online with accusations of Dilidili running an illegal fundraise becaause China had banned token-based fundraising activities. The price of DILI on Gate.io has since plunged by over 90% to just $0.000253. Originally published by Wolfie Zhao | September 30, 2020 Coindesk
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.
dxDAO aims to power DeFi protocols through decentralized governance
I found this article on internet. It's repost of it to help educate people about all DXDao advantages: These are positive and necessary steps for DeFi. The new governance structures are intended to help coordinate across community stakeholders and make better decisions. These dynamics are influenced by the issues covered in Dose of DeFi, but I believe they deserve their own focused analysis. Govern Thisaims to educate token holders and make them better voters. Emphasis will be placed on specific governance proposals and relaying community governance discussions on forums and weekly calls. Governance is a coordination technology that has helped countries and companies build more than the sum of their parts. Blockchains are also a coordination technology, but for computers, not humans***.*** Govern Thiswill track the development of the melding of these two over the coming years. Like governance,Govern Thisis a work in progress. I would appreciate any feedback on format, topics covered or any other suggestions to make the newsletter better. Just hit reply. The first issue ofGovern Thisis below. Pleaseclick here to subscribe. Thanks for reading, Chris 📷 dxDAO aims to power DeFi protocols through decentralized governance Gnosis launched a long-awaited DEX last week with batched auctions for low-liquidity trade pairs. The front-end, Mesa.Eth.Link is owned and operated by dxDAO, a decentralized collective that hopes to power other DeFi protocols. While dYdX does not have any specific governance plans (yet), this tweet from dYdX founder Antonio Juliano is a common approach to governance. 📷Antonio Juliano @AntonioMJuliano3) 0x should focus less on governance in the short term. It’s way more important to first build something with a large amount of adoption that’s worth governing December 6th 2018 3 Retweets62 Likes The tweet at the end of 2018 was in response to 0x and its native token, ZRX. The project was popular but the token had no use case outside of governance. This governance strategy – build now, decentralize later – is widely accepted in the space and is perhaps best exemplified by the A16Z’s Jesse Walden’s post, “Progressive Decentralization: A Playbook for Building Crypto Applications”, which the A16Z-backed Compound has essentially implemented (more in the section below). dxDAO, on the other hand, maintains that decentralization must come at the beginning or else the core team and investors will have an outsized influence on the project in formal (token voting) or informal ways (dictators for life). Background dxDAO was launched in May 2019, spun out of a collaboration between Gnosis and DAOstack over managing the DutchX platform. dxDAO’s key governance design is separating financial rights to the DAO (DXD) from voting power over the DAO (Reputation). It used an Edgeware-style lock drop to distribute reputation to stakeholders in May of last year. Any user could lock up ETH or an accepted ERC-20 for a month and receive Reputation, which are voting rights in dxDAO, even though it is not a token and cannot be transferred. Over 400 unique Ethereum addresses participated in the distribution scheme. Gnosis went through a pretty extensive process in July 2019 to “step back” from its involvement in the DAO, and since then, the community and dxDAO have aligned behind a mission of “putting the ‘De’ in Decentralized Finance”. Following on last week’s launch of Mesa.ETH.Link, dxDAO is conducting a fundraiser or (“DAICO”?) to help fund its new slate of DeFi products, including a prediction market platform (Omen) and a privacy-centric DeFi dashboard (Mix). Project launch is typically when a project is most centralized. Execution is hard and direction and accountability are important. dxDAO’s approach will be an interesting counterexample to the “decentralize later” trend and may provide insight into new governance strategies. Click here for more information about the dxDAO fundraiser. Here’s what is on the dxDAO docket this week:
There are no explicit plans yet, but the widely held assumption is that the COMP distribution will be determined by the interest earned and paid by users on the protocol since its inception. This is a clever way that only incentivizes more use of the protocol and is hard to game because interests accrues over time. But the question still remains, what will the COMP community look like and what values will it espouse? Can emergent cultures arise out of Silicon Valley too? Here’s what is on the Compound docket this week:
Governance AMA with Compound CEO Robert Leshner - Robert answered a variety of questions on ETH2.0 (staking yield is of great interest), Chainlink (Compound’s oracle system is better), contentious forks (Compound would signal a preference on chain) and how Covid-19 changed his mind about remote work. They also announced…
Proposal: Add USDT Support – announced on the AMA, USDT was approved by Compound users in a poll last September but had yet to be included. The proposal to add the largest stablecoin in the world is the first test for the new governance portal. (Very) notably, the proposal does not allow USDT to be used as collateral, as Compound currently does with wBTC. It’s not clear if Compound wants to be in the largest stablecoin market or not and underscores the governance challenges of straddling both worlds.
Head of Community Rich started off with a new meme for governance: the path from intent to implementation, discussing how forums, polls and other initiatives are designed to capture the intent of the community, and then “empowered people” are tasked with implementing that, foreshadowing upcoming changes.
Half of the call was devoted to the addition of WBTC as collateral with representatives from WBTC, Bitgo and CoinList in attendance. CoinList’s WBTC announcement gives WBTC the type of liquidity needed for Maker’s auctions (“can redeem WBTC in less than 2 minutes and burn less than that”). Most of the discussion revolved around the circular loop from BTC->DAI in times of high volatility. While there was some concern that WBTC liquidity was dependent on acceptance as Maker collateral, most on the call seemed to support the addition. The strongest support seemed to come from the Maker Foundation’s market making team, who is reportedly the largest market maker for WBTC. There’s more in the Maker forum thread.
State of the peg – Vishesh’s overview (graphs can be seen here) showed that the peg had come down to $1.01x area but most of the discussion was around the debt ceiling. At the time of the call it was 4 million away from its 90m debt ceiling. Vishesh advocated for a more programmatic lifting of the debt ceiling. Update: Dai hit the 90m debt ceiling Friday evening ET. Should help the peg.
Single Collateral Dai shutdown – the process has begun. A poll passed with May 12 as the official SCD shutdown. Just yesterday, an executive just passed yesterday to make the MKR oracle fee-less, which will help with migration. Many in the community think the migration of debt from SCD will do more than enough to restore the peg. 13 MIPs and 2 sub proposals – Core to the new Maker governance process is the “Maker Improvement Proposals (MIPs), which are modeled off of BIPs (for Bitcoin) and EIPs (for Ethereum). The two sub-proposals are to appoint the Smart Contracts Team and assign Charles St. Louis as the MIP editor. The 13 MIPs are listed below:
By and large, the MIPs codify many of the informal Maker governance processes. There is currently a request for comments period (MIP forum) and there will be an informal poll on Monday, April 27 on whether to proceed with the 13 MIPs and 2 sub proposals. If it’s a “Yes”, than an executive for an official ratification vote would start on May 1 and lasts for 4 days. If it passes, the official governance cycle will begin and the rest of the MIPs will likely be approved from May 4 – 6. Other Governing Things
Synthetix trials incentivzation program to encourage ETH shorts to balance debt position Link
PieDAO community call on audit and post imBTC actions Link
Coinbase Custody double downs on DeFi governance Link
Terra considers punishing validators that don’t vote Link
0x governance proposal to decrease epoch length to 7 days Link
That’s it! Feedback definitely appreciated. Just hit reply. Written in Brooklyn where it rained all day. No euchre today, but yesterday was epic. Govern This is written byChris Powers. Opinions expressed are my own. All content is for informational purposes and is not intended as investment advice.
All you need to know about Yield Farming - The rocket fuel for Defi
Source It’s effectively July 2017 in the world of decentralized finance (DeFi), and as in the heady days of the initial coin offering (ICO) boom, the numbers are only trending up. According to DeFi Pulse, there is $1.9 billion in crypto assets locked in DeFi right now. According to the CoinDesk ICO Tracker, the ICO market started chugging past $1 billion in July 2017, just a few months before token sales started getting talked about on TV. Debate juxtaposing these numbers if you like, but what no one can question is this: Crypto users are putting more and more value to work in DeFi applications, driven largely by the introduction of a whole new yield-generating pasture, Compound’s COMP governance token. Governance tokens enable users to vote on the future of decentralized protocols, sure, but they also present fresh ways for DeFi founders to entice assets onto their platforms. That said, it’s the crypto liquidity providers who are the stars of the present moment. They even have a meme-worthy name: yield farmers. https://preview.redd.it/lxsvazp1g9l51.png?width=775&format=png&auto=webp&s=a36173ab679c701a5d5e0aac806c00fcc84d78c1
Where it started
Ethereum-based credit market Compound started distributing its governance token, COMP, to the protocol’s users this past June 15. Demand for the token (heightened by the way its automatic distribution was structured) kicked off the present craze and moved Compound into the leading position in DeFi. The hot new term in crypto is “yield farming,” a shorthand for clever strategies where putting crypto temporarily at the disposal of some startup’s application earns its owner more cryptocurrency. Another term floating about is “liquidity mining.” The buzz around these concepts has evolved into a low rumble as more and more people get interested. The casual crypto observer who only pops into the market when activity heats up might be starting to get faint vibes that something is happening right now. Take our word for it: Yield farming is the source of those vibes. But if all these terms (“DeFi,” “liquidity mining,” “yield farming”) are so much Greek to you, fear not. We’re here to catch you up. We’ll get into all of them. We’re going to go from very basic to more advanced, so feel free to skip ahead.
What are tokens?
Most CoinDesk readers probably know this, but just in case: Tokens are like the money video-game players earn while fighting monsters, money they can use to buy gear or weapons in the universe of their favorite game. But with blockchains, tokens aren’t limited to only one massively multiplayer online money game. They can be earned in one and used in lots of others. They usually represent either ownership in something (like a piece of a Uniswap liquidity pool, which we will get into later) or access to some service. For example, in the Brave browser, ads can only be bought using basic attention token (BAT). If tokens are worth money, then you can bank with them or at least do things that look very much like banking. Thus: decentralized finance. Tokens proved to be the big use case for Ethereum, the second-biggest blockchain in the world. The term of art here is “ERC-20 tokens,” which refers to a software standard that allows token creators to write rules for them. Tokens can be used a few ways. Often, they are used as a form of money within a set of applications. So the idea for Kin was to create a token that web users could spend with each other at such tiny amounts that it would almost feel like they weren’t spending anything; that is, money for the internet. Governance tokens are different. They are not like a token at a video-game arcade, as so many tokens were described in the past. They work more like certificates to serve in an ever-changing legislature in that they give holders the right to vote on changes to a protocol. So on the platform that proved DeFi could fly, MakerDAO, holders of its governance token, MKR, vote almost every week on small changes to parameters that govern how much it costs to borrow and how much savers earn, and so on. Read more:Why DeFi’s Billion-Dollar Milestone Matters One thing all crypto tokens have in common, though, is they are tradable and they have a price. So, if tokens are worth money, then you can bank with them or at least do things that look very much like banking. Thus: decentralized finance.
What is DeFi?
Fair question. For folks who tuned out for a bit in 2018, we used to call this “open finance.” That construction seems to have faded, though, and “DeFi” is the new lingo. In case that doesn’t jog your memory, DeFi is all the things that let you play with money, and the only identification you need is a crypto wallet. On the normal web, you can’t buy a blender without giving the site owner enough data to learn your whole life history. In DeFi, you can borrow money without anyone even asking for your name. I can explain this but nothing really brings it home like trying one of these applications. If you have an Ethereum wallet that has even $20 worth of crypto in it, go do something on one of these products. Pop over to Uniswap and buy yourself some FUN (a token for gambling apps) or WBTC (wrapped bitcoin). Go to MakerDAO and create $5 worth of DAI (a stablecoin that tends to be worth $1) out of the digital ether. Go to Compound and borrow $10 in USDC. (Notice the very small amounts I’m suggesting. The old crypto saying “don’t put in more than you can afford to lose” goes double for DeFi. This stuff is uber-complex and a lot can go wrong. These may be “savings” products but they’re not for your retirement savings.) Immature and experimental though it may be, the technology’s implications are staggering. On the normal web, you can’t buy a blender without giving the site owner enough data to learn your whole life history. In DeFi, you can borrow money without anyone even asking for your name. DeFi applications don’t worry about trusting you because they have the collateral you put up to back your debt (on Compound, for instance, a $10 debt will require around $20 in collateral). Read more:There Are More DAI on Compound Now Than There Are DAI in the World If you do take this advice and try something, note that you can swap all these things back as soon as you’ve taken them out. Open the loan and close it 10 minutes later. It’s fine. Fair warning: It might cost you a tiny bit in fees, and the cost of using Ethereum itself right now is much higher than usual, in part due to this fresh new activity. But it’s nothing that should ruin a crypto user. So what’s the point of borrowing for people who already have the money? Most people do it for some kind of trade. The most obvious example, to short a token (the act of profiting if its price falls). It’s also good for someone who wants to hold onto a token but still play the market.
Doesn’t running a bank take a lot of money up front?
It does, and in DeFi that money is largely provided by strangers on the internet. That’s why the startups behind these decentralized banking applications come up with clever ways to attract HODLers with idle assets. Liquidity is the chief concern of all these different products. That is: How much money do they have locked in their smart contracts? “In some types of products, the product experience gets much better if you have liquidity. Instead of borrowing from VCs or debt investors, you borrow from your users,” said Electric Capital managing partner Avichal Garg. Let’s take Uniswap as an example. Uniswap is an “automated market maker,” or AMM (another DeFi term of art). This means Uniswap is a robot on the internet that is always willing to buy and it’s also always willing to sell any cryptocurrency for which it has a market. On Uniswap, there is at least one market pair for almost any token on Ethereum. Behind the scenes, this means Uniswap can make it look like it is making a direct trade for any two tokens, which makes it easy for users, but it’s all built around pools of two tokens. And all these market pairs work better with bigger pools.
Why do I keep hearing about ‘pools’?
To illustrate why more money helps, let’s break down how Uniswap works. Let’s say there was a market for USDC and DAI. These are two tokens (both stablecoins but with different mechanisms for retaining their value) that are meant to be worth $1 each all the time, and that generally tends to be true for both. The price Uniswap shows for each token in any pooled market pair is based on the balance of each in the pool. So, simplifying this a lot for illustration’s sake, if someone were to set up a USDC/DAI pool, they should deposit equal amounts of both. In a pool with only 2 USDC and 2 DAI it would offer a price of 1 USDC for 1 DAI. But then imagine that someone put in 1 DAI and took out 1 USDC. Then the pool would have 1 USDC and 3 DAI. The pool would be very out of whack. A savvy investor could make an easy $0.50 profit by putting in 1 USDC and receiving 1.5 DAI. That’s a 50% arbitrage profit, and that’s the problem with limited liquidity. (Incidentally, this is why Uniswap’s prices tend to be accurate, because traders watch it for small discrepancies from the wider market and trade them away for arbitrage profits very quickly.) Read more:Uniswap V2 Launches With More Token-Swap Pairs, Oracle Service, Flash Loans However, if there were 500,000 USDC and 500,000 DAI in the pool, a trade of 1 DAI for 1 USDC would have a negligible impact on the relative price. That’s why liquidity is helpful. You can stick your assets on Compound and earn a little yield. But that’s not very creative. Users who look for angles to maximize that yield: those are the yield farmers. Similar effects hold across DeFi, so markets want more liquidity. Uniswap solves this by charging a tiny fee on every trade. It does this by shaving off a little bit from each trade and leaving that in the pool (so one DAI would actually trade for 0.997 USDC, after the fee, growing the overall pool by 0.003 USDC). This benefits liquidity providers because when someone puts liquidity in the pool they own a share of the pool. If there has been lots of trading in that pool, it has earned a lot of fees, and the value of each share will grow. And this brings us back to tokens. Liquidity added to Uniswap is represented by a token, not an account. So there’s no ledger saying, “Bob owns 0.000000678% of the DAI/USDC pool.” Bob just has a token in his wallet. And Bob doesn’t have to keep that token. He could sell it. Or use it in another product. We’ll circle back to this, but it helps to explain why people like to talk about DeFi products as “money Legos.”
So how much money do people make by putting money into these products?
It can be a lot more lucrative than putting money in a traditional bank, and that’s before startups started handing out governance tokens. Compound is the current darling of this space, so let’s use it as an illustration. As of this writing, a person can put USDC into Compound and earn 2.72% on it. They can put tether (USDT) into it and earn 2.11%. Most U.S. bank accounts earn less than 0.1% these days, which is close enough to nothing. However, there are some caveats. First, there’s a reason the interest rates are so much juicier: DeFi is a far riskier place to park your money. There’s no Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) protecting these funds. If there were a run on Compound, users could find themselves unable to withdraw their funds when they wanted. Plus, the interest is quite variable. You don’t know what you’ll earn over the course of a year. USDC’s rate is high right now. It was low last week. Usually, it hovers somewhere in the 1% range. Similarly, a user might get tempted by assets with more lucrative yields like USDT, which typically has a much higher interest rate than USDC. (Monday morning, the reverse was true, for unclear reasons; this is crypto, remember.) The trade-off here is USDT’s transparency about the real-world dollars it’s supposed to hold in a real-world bank is not nearly up to par with USDC’s. A difference in interest rates is often the market’s way of telling you the one instrument is viewed as dicier than another. Users making big bets on these products turn to companies Opyn and Nexus Mutual to insure their positions because there’s no government protections in this nascent space – more on the ample risks later on. So users can stick their assets in Compound or Uniswap and earn a little yield. But that’s not very creative. Users who look for angles to maximize that yield: those are the yield farmers.
OK, I already knew all of that. What is yield farming?
Broadly, yield farming is any effort to put crypto assets to work and generate the most returns possible on those assets. At the simplest level, a yield farmer might move assets around within Compound, constantly chasing whichever pool is offering the best APY from week to week. This might mean moving into riskier pools from time to time, but a yield farmer can handle risk. “Farming opens up new price arbs [arbitrage] that can spill over to other protocols whose tokens are in the pool,” said Maya Zehavi, a blockchain consultant. Because these positions are tokenized, though, they can go further. This was a brand-new kind of yield on a deposit. In fact, it was a way to earn a yield on a loan. Who has ever heard of a borrower earning a return on a debt from their lender? In a simple example, a yield farmer might put 100,000 USDT into Compound. They will get a token back for that stake, called cUSDT. Let’s say they get 100,000 cUSDT back (the formula on Compound is crazy so it’s not 1:1 like that but it doesn’t matter for our purposes here). They can then take that cUSDT and put it into a liquidity pool that takes cUSDT on Balancer, an AMM that allows users to set up self-rebalancing crypto index funds. In normal times, this could earn a small amount more in transaction fees. This is the basic idea of yield farming. The user looks for edge cases in the system to eke out as much yield as they can across as many products as it will work on. Right now, however, things are not normal, and they probably won’t be for a while.
Why is yield farming so hot right now?
Because of liquidity mining. Liquidity mining supercharges yield farming. Liquidity mining is when a yield farmer gets a new token as well as the usual return (that’s the “mining” part) in exchange for the farmer’s liquidity. “The idea is that stimulating usage of the platform increases the value of the token, thereby creating a positive usage loop to attract users,” said Richard Ma of smart-contract auditor Quantstamp. The yield farming examples above are only farming yield off the normal operations of different platforms. Supply liquidity to Compound or Uniswap and get a little cut of the business that runs over the protocols – very vanilla. But Compound announced earlier this year it wanted to truly decentralize the product and it wanted to give a good amount of ownership to the people who made it popular by using it. That ownership would take the form of the COMP token. Lest this sound too altruistic, keep in mind that the people who created it (the team and the investors) owned more than half of the equity. By giving away a healthy proportion to users, that was very likely to make it a much more popular place for lending. In turn, that would make everyone’s stake worth much more. So, Compound announced this four-year period where the protocol would give out COMP tokens to users, a fixed amount every day until it was gone. These COMP tokens control the protocol, just as shareholders ultimately control publicly traded companies. Every day, the Compound protocol looks at everyone who had lent money to the application and who had borrowed from it and gives them COMP proportional to their share of the day’s total business. The results were very surprising, even to Compound’s biggest promoters. COMP’s value will likely go down, and that’s why some investors are rushing to earn as much of it as they can right now. This was a brand-new kind of yield on a deposit into Compound. In fact, it was a way to earn a yield on a loan, as well, which is very weird: Who has ever heard of a borrower earning a return on a debt from their lender? COMP’s value has consistently been well over $200 since it started distributing on June 15. We did the math elsewhere but long story short: investors with fairly deep pockets can make a strong gain maximizing their daily returns in COMP. It is, in a way, free money. It’s possible to lend to Compound, borrow from it, deposit what you borrowed and so on. This can be done multiple times and DeFi startup Instadapp even built a tool to make it as capital-efficient as possible. “Yield farmers are extremely creative. They find ways to ‘stack’ yields and even earn multiple governance tokens at once,” said Spencer Noon of DTC Capital. COMP’s value spike is a temporary situation. The COMP distribution will only last four years and then there won’t be any more. Further, most people agree that the high price now is driven by the low float (that is, how much COMP is actually free to trade on the market – it will never be this low again). So the value will probably gradually go down, and that’s why savvy investors are trying to earn as much as they can now. Appealing to the speculative instincts of diehard crypto traders has proven to be a great way to increase liquidity on Compound. This fattens some pockets but also improves the user experience for all kinds of Compound users, including those who would use it whether they were going to earn COMP or not. As usual in crypto, when entrepreneurs see something successful, they imitate it. Balancer was the next protocol to start distributing a governance token, BAL, to liquidity providers. Flash loan provider bZx has announced a plan. Ren, Curve and Synthetixalso teamed up to promote a liquidity pool on Curve. It is a fair bet many of the more well-known DeFi projects will announce some kind of coin that can be mined by providing liquidity. The case to watch here is Uniswap versus Balancer. Balancer can do the same thing Uniswap does, but most users who want to do a quick token trade through their wallet use Uniswap. It will be interesting to see if Balancer’s BAL token convinces Uniswap’s liquidity providers to defect. So far, though, more liquidity has gone into Uniswap since the BAL announcement, according to its data site. That said, even more has gone into Balancer.
Did liquidity mining start with COMP?
No, but it was the most-used protocol with the most carefully designed liquidity mining scheme. This point is debated but the origins of liquidity mining probably date back to Fcoin, a Chinese exchange that created a token in 2018 that rewarded people for making trades. You won’t believe what happened next! Just kidding, you will: People just started running bots to do pointless trades with themselves to earn the token. Similarly, EOS is a blockchain where transactions are basically free, but since nothing is really free the absence of friction was an invitation for spam. Some malicious hacker who didn’t like EOS created a token called EIDOS on the network in late 2019. It rewarded people for tons of pointless transactions and somehow got an exchange listing. These initiatives illustrated how quickly crypto users respond to incentives. Read more:Compound Changes COMP Distribution Rules Following ‘Yield Farming’ Frenzy Fcoin aside, liquidity mining as we now know it first showed up on Ethereum when the marketplace for synthetic tokens, Synthetix, announced in July 2019 an award in its SNX token for users who helped add liquidity to the sETH/ETH pool on Uniswap. By October, that was one of Uniswap’s biggest pools. When Compound Labs, the company that launched the Compound protocol, decided to create COMP, the governance token, the firm took months designing just what kind of behavior it wanted and how to incentivize it. Even still, Compound Labs was surprised by the response. It led to unintended consequences such as crowding into a previously unpopular market (lending and borrowing BAT) in order to mine as much COMP as possible. Just last week, 115 different COMP wallet addresses – senators in Compound’s ever-changing legislature – voted to change the distribution mechanism in hopes of spreading liquidity out across the markets again.
Is there DeFi for bitcoin?
Yes, on Ethereum. Nothing has beaten bitcoin over time for returns, but there’s one thing bitcoin can’t do on its own: create more bitcoin. A smart trader can get in and out of bitcoin and dollars in a way that will earn them more bitcoin, but this is tedious and risky. It takes a certain kind of person. DeFi, however, offers ways to grow one’s bitcoin holdings – though somewhat indirectly. A long HODLer is happy to gain fresh BTC off their counterparty’s short-term win. That’s the game. For example, a user can create a simulated bitcoin on Ethereum using BitGo’s WBTC system. They put BTC in and get the same amount back out in freshly minted WBTC. WBTC can be traded back for BTC at any time, so it tends to be worth the same as BTC. Then the user can take that WBTC, stake it on Compound and earn a few percent each year in yield on their BTC. Odds are, the people who borrow that WBTC are probably doing it to short BTC (that is, they will sell it immediately, buy it back when the price goes down, close the loan and keep the difference). A long HODLer is happy to gain fresh BTC off their counterparty’s short-term win. That’s the game.
How risky is it?
Enough. “DeFi, with the combination of an assortment of digital funds, automation of key processes, and more complex incentive structures that work across protocols – each with their own rapidly changing tech and governance practices – make for new types of security risks,” said Liz Steininger of Least Authority, a crypto security auditor. “Yet, despite these risks, the high yields are undeniably attractive to draw more users.” We’ve seen big failures in DeFi products. MakerDAO had one so bad this year it’s called “Black Thursday.” There was also the exploit against flash loan provider bZx. These things do break and when they do money gets taken. As this sector gets more robust, we could see token holders greenlighting more ways for investors to profit from DeFi niches. Right now, the deal is too good for certain funds to resist, so they are moving a lot of money into these protocols to liquidity mine all the new governance tokens they can. But the funds – entities that pool the resources of typically well-to-do crypto investors – are also hedging. Nexus Mutual, a DeFi insurance provider of sorts, told CoinDesk it has maxed out its available coverage on these liquidity applications. Opyn, the trustless derivatives maker, created a way to short COMP, just in case this game comes to naught. And weird things have arisen. For example, there’s currently more DAI on Compound than have been minted in the world. This makes sense once unpacked but it still feels dicey to everyone. That said, distributing governance tokens might make things a lot less risky for startups, at least with regard to the money cops. “Protocols distributing their tokens to the public, meaning that there’s a new secondary listing for SAFT tokens, [gives] plausible deniability from any security accusation,” Zehavi wrote. (The Simple Agreement for Future Tokens was a legal structure favored by many token issuers during the ICO craze.) Whether a cryptocurrency is adequately decentralized has been a key feature of ICO settlements with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
What’s next for yield farming? (A prediction)
COMP turned out to be a bit of a surprise to the DeFi world, in technical ways and others. It has inspired a wave of new thinking. “Other projects are working on similar things,” said Nexus Mutual founder Hugh Karp. In fact, informed sources tell CoinDesk brand-new projects will launch with these models. We might soon see more prosaic yield farming applications. For example, forms of profit-sharing that reward certain kinds of behavior. Imagine if COMP holders decided, for example, that the protocol needed more people to put money in and leave it there longer. The community could create a proposal that shaved off a little of each token’s yield and paid that portion out only to the tokens that were older than six months. It probably wouldn’t be much, but an investor with the right time horizon and risk profile might take it into consideration before making a withdrawal. (There are precedents for this in traditional finance: A 10-year Treasury bond normally yields more than a one-month T-bill even though they’re both backed by the full faith and credit of Uncle Sam, a 12-month certificate of deposit pays higher interest than a checking account at the same bank, and so on.) As this sector gets more robust, its architects will come up with ever more robust ways to optimize liquidity incentives in increasingly refined ways. We could see token holders greenlighting more ways for investors to profit from DeFi niches. Questions abound for this nascent industry: What will MakerDAO do to restore its spot as the king of DeFi? Will Uniswap join the liquidity mining trend? Will anyone stick all these governance tokens into a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO)? Or would that be a yield farmers co-op? Whatever happens, crypto’s yield farmers will keep moving fast. Some fresh fields may open and some may soon bear much less luscious fruit. But that’s the nice thing about farming in DeFi: It is very easy to switch fields.
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