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Bob The Magic Custodian
Summary: Everyone knows that when you give your assets to someone else, they always keep them safe. If this is true for individuals, it is certainly true for businesses. Custodians always tell the truth and manage funds properly. They won't have any interest in taking the assets as an exchange operator would. Auditors tell the truth and can't be misled. That's because organizations that are regulated are incapable of lying and don't make mistakes. First, some background. Here is a summary of how custodians make us more secure: Previously, we might give Alice our crypto assets to hold. There were risks:
Alice might take the assets and disappear.
Alice might spend the assets and pretend that she still has them (fractional model).
Alice might store the assets insecurely and they'll get stolen.
Alice might give the assets to someone else by mistake or by force.
Alice might lose access to the assets.
But "no worries", Alice has a custodian named Bob. Bob is dressed in a nice suit. He knows some politicians. And he drives a Porsche. "So you have nothing to worry about!". And look at all the benefits we get:
Alice can't take the assets and disappear (unless she asks Bob or never gives them to Bob).
Alice can't spend the assets and pretend that she still has them. (Unless she didn't give them to Bob or asks him for them.)
Alice can't store the assets insecurely so they get stolen. (After all - she doesn't have any control over the withdrawal process from any of Bob's systems, right?)
Alice can't give the assets to someone else by mistake or by force. (Bob will stop her, right Bob?)
Alice can't lose access to the funds. (She'll always be present, sane, and remember all secrets, right?)
See - all problems are solved! All we have to worry about now is:
Bob might take the assets and disappear.
Bob might spend the assets and pretend that he still has them (fractional model).
Bob might store the assets insecurely and they'll get stolen.
Bob might give the assets to someone else by mistake or by force.
Bob might lose access to the assets.
It's pretty simple. Before we had to trust Alice. Now we only have to trust Alice, Bob, and all the ways in which they communicate. Just think of how much more secure we are! "On top of that", Bob assures us, "we're using a special wallet structure". Bob shows Alice a diagram. "We've broken the balance up and store it in lots of smaller wallets. That way", he assures her, "a thief can't take it all at once". And he points to a historic case where a large sum was taken "because it was stored in a single wallet... how stupid". "Very early on, we used to have all the crypto in one wallet", he said, "and then one Christmas a hacker came and took it all. We call him the Grinch. Now we individually wrap each crypto and stick it under a binary search tree. The Grinch has never been back since." "As well", Bob continues, "even if someone were to get in, we've got insurance. It covers all thefts and even coercion, collusion, and misplaced keys - only subject to the policy terms and conditions." And with that, he pulls out a phone-book sized contract and slams it on the desk with a thud. "Yep", he continues, "we're paying top dollar for one of the best policies in the country!" "Can I read it?' Alice asks. "Sure," Bob says, "just as soon as our legal team is done with it. They're almost through the first chapter." He pauses, then continues. "And can you believe that sales guy Mike? He has the same year Porsche as me. I mean, what are the odds?" "Do you use multi-sig?", Alice asks. "Absolutely!" Bob replies. "All our engineers are fully trained in multi-sig. Whenever we want to set up a new wallet, we generate 2 separate keys in an air-gapped process and store them in this proprietary system here. Look, it even requires the biometric signature from one of our team members to initiate any withdrawal." He demonstrates by pressing his thumb into the display. "We use a third-party cloud validation API to match the thumbprint and authorize each withdrawal. The keys are also backed up daily to an off-site third-party." "Wow that's really impressive," Alice says, "but what if we need access for a withdrawal outside of office hours?" "Well that's no issue", Bob says, "just send us an email, call, or text message and we always have someone on staff to help out. Just another part of our strong commitment to all our customers!" "What about Proof of Reserve?", Alice asks. "Of course", Bob replies, "though rather than publish any blockchain addresses or signed transaction, for privacy we just do a SHA256 refactoring of the inverse hash modulus for each UTXO nonce and combine the smart contract coefficient consensus in our hyperledger lightning node. But it's really simple to use." He pushes a button and a large green checkmark appears on a screen. "See - the algorithm ran through and reserves are proven." "Wow", Alice says, "you really know your stuff! And that is easy to use! What about fiat balances?" "Yeah, we have an auditor too", Bob replies, "Been using him for a long time so we have quite a strong relationship going! We have special books we give him every year and he's very efficient! Checks the fiat, crypto, and everything all at once!" "We used to have a nice offline multi-sig setup we've been using without issue for the past 5 years, but I think we'll move all our funds over to your facility," Alice says. "Awesome", Bob replies, "Thanks so much! This is perfect timing too - my Porsche got a dent on it this morning. We have the paperwork right over here." "Great!", Alice replies. And with that, Alice gets out her pen and Bob gets the contract. "Don't worry", he says, "you can take your crypto-assets back anytime you like - just subject to our cancellation policy. Our annual management fees are also super low and we don't adjust them often". How many holes have to exist for your funds to get stolen? Just one. Why are we taking a powerful offline multi-sig setup, widely used globally in hundreds of different/lacking regulatory environments with 0 breaches to date, and circumventing it by a demonstrably weak third party layer? And paying a great expense to do so? If you go through the list of breaches in the past 2 years to highly credible organizations, you go through the list of major corporate frauds (only the ones we know about), you go through the list of all the times platforms have lost funds, you go through the list of times and ways that people have lost their crypto from identity theft, hot wallet exploits, extortion, etc... and then you go through this custodian with a fine-tooth comb and truly believe they have value to add far beyond what you could, sticking your funds in a wallet (or set of wallets) they control exclusively is the absolute worst possible way to take advantage of that security. The best way to add security for crypto-assets is to make a stronger multi-sig. With one custodian, what you are doing is giving them your cryptocurrency and hoping they're honest, competent, and flawlessly secure. It's no different than storing it on a really secure exchange. Maybe the insurance will cover you. Didn't work for Bitpay in 2015. Didn't work for Yapizon in 2017. Insurance has never paid a claim in the entire history of cryptocurrency. But maybe you'll get lucky. Maybe your exact scenario will buck the trend and be what they're willing to cover. After the large deductible and hopefully without a long and expensive court battle. And you want to advertise this increase in risk, the lapse of judgement, an accident waiting to happen, as though it's some kind of benefit to customers ("Free institutional-grade storage for your digital assets.")? And then some people are writing to the OSC that custodians should be mandatory for all funds on every exchange platform? That this somehow will make Canadians as a whole more secure or better protected compared with standard air-gapped multi-sig? On what planet? Most of the problems in Canada stemmed from one thing - a lack of transparency. If Canadians had known what a joke Quadriga was - it wouldn't have grown to lose $400m from hard-working Canadians from coast to coast to coast. And Gerald Cotten would be in jail, not wherever he is now (at best, rotting peacefully). EZ-BTC and mister Dave Smilie would have been a tiny little scam to his friends, not a multi-million dollar fraud. Einstein would have got their act together or been shut down BEFORE losing millions and millions more in people's funds generously donated to criminals. MapleChange wouldn't have even been a thing. And maybe we'd know a little more about CoinTradeNewNote - like how much was lost in there. Almost all of the major losses with cryptocurrency exchanges involve deception with unbacked funds. So it's great to see transparency reports from BitBuy and ShakePay where someone independently verified the backing. The only thing we don't have is:
ANY CERTAINTY BALANCES WEREN'T EXCLUDED. Quadriga's largest account was $70m. 80% of funds are in 20% of accounts (Pareto principle). All it takes is excluding a few really large accounts - and nobody's the wiser. A fractional platform can easily pass any audit this way.
ANY VISIBILITY WHATSOEVER INTO THE CUSTODIANS. BitBuy put out their report before moving all the funds to their custodian and ShakePay apparently can't even tell us who the custodian is. That's pretty important considering that basically all of the funds are now stored there.
ANY IDEA ABOUT THE OTHER EXCHANGES. In order for this to be effective, it has to be the norm. It needs to be "unusual" not to know. If obscurity is the norm, then it's super easy for people like Gerald Cotten and Dave Smilie to blend right in.
It's not complicated to validate cryptocurrency assets. They need to exist, they need to be spendable, and they need to cover the total balances. There are plenty of credible people and firms across the country that have the capacity to reasonably perform this validation. Having more frequent checks by different, independent, parties who publish transparent reports is far more valuable than an annual check by a single "more credible/official" party who does the exact same basic checks and may or may not publish anything. Here's an example set of requirements that could be mandated:
First report within 1 month of launching, another within 3 months, and further reports at minimum every 6 months thereafter.
No auditor can be repeated within a 12 month period.
All reports must be public, identifying the auditor and the full methodology used.
All auditors must be independent of the firm being audited with no conflict of interest.
Reports must include the percentage of each asset backed, and how it's backed.
The auditor publishes a hash list, which lists a hash of each customer's information and balances that were included. Hash is one-way encryption so privacy is fully preserved. Every customer can use this to have 100% confidence they were included.
If we want more extensive requirements on audits, these should scale upward based on the total assets at risk on the platform, and whether the platform has loaned their assets out.
There are ways to structure audits such that neither crypto assets nor customer information are ever put at risk, and both can still be properly validated and publicly verifiable. There are also ways to structure audits such that they are completely reasonable for small platforms and don't inhibit innovation in any way. By making the process as reasonable as possible, we can completely eliminate any reason/excuse that an honest platform would have for not being audited. That is arguable far more important than any incremental improvement we might get from mandating "the best of the best" accountants. Right now we have nothing mandated and tons of Canadians using offshore exchanges with no oversight whatsoever. Transparency does not prove crypto assets are safe. CoinTradeNewNote, Flexcoin ($600k), and Canadian Bitcoins ($100k) are examples where crypto-assets were breached from platforms in Canada. All of them were online wallets and used no multi-sig as far as any records show. This is consistent with what we see globally - air-gapped multi-sig wallets have an impeccable record, while other schemes tend to suffer breach after breach. We don't actually know how much CoinTrader lost because there was no visibility. Rather than publishing details of what happened, the co-founder of CoinTrader silently moved on to found another platform - the "most trusted way to buy and sell crypto" - a site that has no information whatsoever (that I could find) on the storage practices and a FAQ advising that “[t]rading cryptocurrency is completely safe” and that having your own wallet is “entirely up to you! You can certainly keep cryptocurrency, or fiat, or both, on the app.” Doesn't sound like much was learned here, which is really sad to see. It's not that complicated or unreasonable to set up a proper hardware wallet. Multi-sig can be learned in a single course. Something the equivalent complexity of a driver's license test could prevent all the cold storage exploits we've seen to date - even globally. Platform operators have a key advantage in detecting and preventing fraud - they know their customers far better than any custodian ever would. The best job that custodians can do is to find high integrity individuals and train them to form even better wallet signatories. Rather than mandating that all platforms expose themselves to arbitrary third party risks, regulations should center around ensuring that all signatories are background-checked, properly trained, and using proper procedures. We also need to make sure that signatories are empowered with rights and responsibilities to reject and report fraud. They need to know that they can safely challenge and delay a transaction - even if it turns out they made a mistake. We need to have an environment where mistakes are brought to the surface and dealt with. Not one where firms and people feel the need to hide what happened. In addition to a knowledge-based test, an auditor can privately interview each signatory to make sure they're not in coercive situations, and we should make sure they can freely and anonymously report any issues without threat of retaliation. A proper multi-sig has each signature held by a separate person and is governed by policies and mutual decisions instead of a hierarchy. It includes at least one redundant signature. For best results, 3of4, 3of5, 3of6, 4of5, 4of6, 4of7, 5of6, or 5of7. History has demonstrated over and over again the risk of hot wallets even to highly credible organizations. Nonetheless, many platforms have hot wallets for convenience. While such losses are generally compensated by platforms without issue (for example Poloniex, Bitstamp, Bitfinex, Gatecoin, Coincheck, Bithumb, Zaif, CoinBene, Binance, Bitrue, Bitpoint, Upbit, VinDAX, and now KuCoin), the public tends to focus more on cases that didn't end well. Regardless of what systems are employed, there is always some level of risk. For that reason, most members of the public would prefer to see third party insurance. Rather than trying to convince third party profit-seekers to provide comprehensive insurance and then relying on an expensive and slow legal system to enforce against whatever legal loopholes they manage to find each and every time something goes wrong, insurance could be run through multiple exchange operators and regulators, with the shared interest of having a reputable industry, keeping costs down, and taking care of Canadians. For example, a 4 of 7 multi-sig insurance fund held between 5 independent exchange operators and 2 regulatory bodies. All Canadian exchanges could pay premiums at a set rate based on their needed coverage, with a higher price paid for hot wallet coverage (anything not an air-gapped multi-sig cold wallet). Such a model would be much cheaper to manage, offer better coverage, and be much more reliable to payout when needed. The kind of coverage you could have under this model is unheard of. You could even create something like the CDIC to protect Canadians who get their trading accounts hacked if they can sufficiently prove the loss is legitimate. In cases of fraud, gross negligence, or insolvency, the fund can be used to pay affected users directly (utilizing the last transparent balance report in the worst case), something which private insurance would never touch. While it's recommended to have official policies for coverage, a model where members vote would fully cover edge cases. (Could be similar to the Supreme Court where justices vote based on case law.) Such a model could fully protect all Canadians across all platforms. You can have a fiat coverage governed by legal agreements, and crypto-asset coverage governed by both multi-sig and legal agreements. It could be practical, affordable, and inclusive. Now, we are at a crossroads. We can happily give up our freedom, our innovation, and our money. We can pay hefty expenses to auditors, lawyers, and regulators year after year (and make no mistake - this cost will grow to many millions or even billions as the industry grows - and it will be borne by all Canadians on every platform because platforms are not going to eat up these costs at a loss). We can make it nearly impossible for any new platform to enter the marketplace, forcing Canadians to use the same stagnant platforms year after year. We can centralize and consolidate the entire industry into 2 or 3 big players and have everyone else fail (possibly to heavy losses of users of those platforms). And when a flawed security model doesn't work and gets breached, we can make it even more complicated with even more people in suits making big money doing the job that blockchain was supposed to do in the first place. We can build a system which is so intertwined and dependent on big government, traditional finance, and central bankers that it's future depends entirely on that of the fiat system, of fractional banking, and of government bail-outs. If we choose this path, as history has shown us over and over again, we can not go back, save for revolution. Our children and grandchildren will still be paying the consequences of what we decided today. Or, we can find solutions that work. We can maintain an open and innovative environment while making the adjustments we need to make to fully protect Canadian investors and cryptocurrency users, giving easy and affordable access to cryptocurrency for all Canadians on the platform of their choice, and creating an environment in which entrepreneurs and problem solvers can bring those solutions forward easily. None of the above precludes innovation in any way, or adds any unreasonable cost - and these three policies would demonstrably eliminate or resolve all 109 historic cases as studied here - that's every single case researched so far going back to 2011. It includes every loss that was studied so far not just in Canada but globally as well. Unfortunately, finding answers is the least challenging part. Far more challenging is to get platform operators and regulators to agree on anything. My last post got no response whatsoever, and while the OSC has told me they're happy for industry feedback, I believe my opinion alone is fairly meaningless. This takes the whole community working together to solve. So please let me know your thoughts. Please take the time to upvote and share this with people. Please - let's get this solved and not leave it up to other people to do. Facts/background/sources (skip if you like):
The inspiration for the paragraph about splitting wallets was an actual quote from a Canadian company providing custodial services in response to the OSC consultation paper: "We believe that it will be in the in best interests of investors to prohibit pooled crypto assets or ‘floats’. Most Platforms pool assets, citing reasons of practicality and expense. The recent hack of the world’s largest Platform – Binance – demonstrates the vulnerability of participants’ assets when such concessions are made. In this instance, the Platform’s entire hot wallet of Bitcoins, worth over $40 million, was stolen, facilitated in part by the pooling of client crypto assets." "the maintenance of participants (and Platform) crypto assets across multiple wallets distributes the related risk and responsibility of security - reducing the amount of insurance coverage required and making insurance coverage more readily obtainable". For the record, their reply also said nothing whatsoever about multi-sig or offline storage.
In addition to the fact that the $40m hack represented only one "hot wallet" of Binance, and they actually had the vast majority of assets in other wallets (including mostly cold wallets), multiple real cases have clearly demonstrated that risk is still present with multiple wallets. Bitfinex, VinDAX, Bithumb, Altsbit, BitPoint, Cryptopia, and just recently KuCoin all had multiple wallets breached all at the same time, and may represent a significantly larger impact on customers than the Binance breach which was fully covered by Binance. To represent that simply having multiple separate wallets under the same security scheme is a comprehensive way to reduce risk is just not true.
Private insurance has historically never covered a single loss in the cryptocurrency space (at least, not one that I was able to find), and there are notable cases where massive losses were not covered by insurance. Bitpay in 2015 and Yapizon in 2017 both had insurance policies that didn't pay out during the breach, even after a lengthly court process. The same insurance that ShakePay is presently using (and announced to much fanfare) was describe by their CEO himself as covering “physical theft of the media where the private keys are held,” which is something that has never historically happened. As was said with regard to the same policy in 2018 - “I don’t find it surprising that Lloyd’s is in this space,” said Johnson, adding that to his mind the challenge for everybody is figuring out how to structure these policies so that they are actually protective. “You can create an insurance policy that protects no one – you know there are so many caveats to the policy that it’s not super protective.”
The most profitable policy for a private insurance company is one with the most expensive premiums that they never have to pay a claim on. They have no inherent incentive to take care of people who lost funds. It's "cheaper" to take the reputational hit and fight the claim in court. The more money at stake, the more the insurance provider is incentivized to avoid payout. They're not going to insure the assets unless they have reasonable certainty to make a profit by doing so, and they're not going to pay out a massive sum unless it's legally forced. Private insurance is always structured to be maximally profitable to the insurance provider.
The circumvention of multi-sig was a key factor in the massive Bitfinex hack of over $60m of bitcoin, which today still sits being slowly used and is worth over $3b. While Bitfinex used a qualified custodian Bitgo, which was and still is active and one of the industry leaders of custodians, and they set up 2 of 3 multi-sig wallets, the entire system was routed through Bitfinex, such that Bitfinex customers could initiate the withdrawals in a "hot" fashion. This feature was also a hit with the hacker. The multi-sig was fully circumvented.
Bitpay in 2015 was another example of a breach that stole 5,000 bitcoins. This happened not through the exploit of any system in Bitpay, but because the CEO of a company they worked with got their computer hacked and the hackers were able to request multiple bitcoin purchases, which Bitpay honoured because they came from the customer's computer legitimately. Impersonation is a very common tactic used by fraudsters, and methods get more extreme all the time.
A notable case in Canada was the Canadian Bitcoins exploit. Funds were stored on a server in a Rogers Data Center, and the attendee was successfully convinced to reboot the server "in safe mode" with a simple phone call, thus bypassing the extensive security and enabling the theft.
The very nature of custodians circumvents multi-sig. This is because custodians are not just having to secure the assets against some sort of physical breach but against any form of social engineering, modification of orders, fraudulent withdrawal attempts, etc... If the security practices of signatories in a multi-sig arrangement are such that the breach risk of one signatory is 1 in 100, the requirement of 3 independent signatures makes the risk of theft 1 in 1,000,000. Since hackers tend to exploit the weakest link, a comparable custodian has to make the entry and exit points of their platform 10,000 times more secure than one of those signatories to provide equivalent protection. And if the signatories beef up their security by only 10x, the risk is now 1 in 1,000,000,000. The custodian has to be 1,000,000 times more secure. The larger and more complex a system is, the more potential vulnerabilities exist in it, and the fewer people can understand how the system works when performing upgrades. Even if a system is completely secure today, one has to also consider how that system might evolve over time or work with different members.
By contrast, offline multi-signature solutions have an extremely solid record, and in the entire history of cryptocurrency exchange incidents which I've studied (listed here), there has only been one incident (796 exchange in 2015) involving an offline multi-signature wallet. It happened because the customer's bitcoin address was modified by hackers, and the amount that was stolen ($230k) was immediately covered by the exchange operators. Basically, the platform operators were tricked into sending a legitimate withdrawal request to the wrong address because hackers exploited their platform to change that address. Such an issue would not be prevented in any way by the use of a custodian, as that custodian has no oversight whatsoever to the exchange platform. It's practical for all exchange operators to test large withdrawal transactions as a general policy, regardless of what model is used, and general best practice is to diagnose and fix such an exploit as soon as it occurs.
False promises on the backing of funds played a huge role in the downfall of Quadriga, and it's been exposed over and over again (MyCoin, PlusToken, Bitsane, Bitmarket, EZBTC, IDAX). Even today, customers have extremely limited certainty on whether their funds in exchanges are actually being backed or how they're being backed. While this issue is not unique to cryptocurrency exchanges, the complexity of the technology and the lack of any regulation or standards makes problems more widespread, and there is no "central bank" to come to the rescue as in the 2008 financial crisis or during the great depression when "9,000 banks failed".
In addition to fraudulent operations, the industry is full of cases where operators have suffered breaches and not reported them. Most recently, Einstein was the largest case in Canada, where ongoing breaches and fraud were perpetrated against the platform for multiple years and nobody found out until the platform collapsed completely. While fraud and breaches suck to deal with, they suck even more when not dealt with. Lack of visibility played a role in the largest downfalls of Mt. Gox, Cryptsy, and Bitgrail. In some cases, platforms are alleged to have suffered a hack and keep operating without admitting it at all, such as CoinBene.
It surprises some to learn that a cryptographic solution has already existed since 2013, and gained widespread support in 2014 after Mt. Gox. Proof of Reserves is a full cryptographic proof that allows any customer using an exchange to have complete certainty that their crypto-assets are fully backed by the platform in real-time. This is accomplished by proving that assets exist on the blockchain, are spendable, and fully cover customer deposits. It does not prove safety of assets or backing of fiat assets.
If we didn't care about privacy at all, a platform could publish their wallet addresses, sign a partial transaction, and put the full list of customer information and balances out publicly. Customers can each check that they are on the list, that the balances are accurate, that the total adds up, and that it's backed and spendable on the blockchain. Platforms who exclude any customer take a risk because that customer can easily check and see they were excluded. So together with all customers checking, this forms a full proof of backing of all crypto assets.
However, obviously customers care about their private information being published. Therefore, a hash of the information can be provided instead. Hash is one-way encryption. The hash allows the customer to validate inclusion (by hashing their own known information), while anyone looking at the list of hashes cannot determine the private information of any other user. All other parts of the scheme remain fully intact. A model like this is in use on the exchange CoinFloor in the UK.
A Merkle tree can provide even greater privacy. Instead of a list of balances, the balances are arranged into a binary tree. A customer starts from their node, and works their way to the top of the tree. For example, they know they have 5 BTC, they plus 1 other customer hold 7 BTC, they plus 2-3 other customers hold 17 BTC, etc... until they reach the root where all the BTC are represented. Thus, there is no way to find the balances of other individual customers aside from one unidentified customer in this case.
Proposals such as this had the backing of leaders in the community including Nic Carter, Greg Maxwell, and Zak Wilcox. Substantial and significant effort started back in 2013, with massive popularity in 2014. But what became of that effort? Very little. Exchange operators continue to refuse to give visibility. Despite the fact this information can often be obtained through trivial blockchain analysis, no Canadian platform has ever provided any wallet addresses publicly. As described by the CEO of Newton "For us to implement some kind of realtime Proof of Reserves solution, which I'm not opposed to, it would have to ... Preserve our users' privacy, as well as our own. Some kind of zero-knowledge proof". Kraken describes here in more detail why they haven't implemented such a scheme. According to professor Eli Ben-Sasson, when he spoke with exchanges, none were interested in implementing Proof of Reserves.
And yet, Kraken's places their reasoning on a page called "Proof of Reserves". More recently, both BitBuy and ShakePay have released reports titled "Proof of Reserves and Security Audit". Both reports contain disclaimers against being audits. Both reports trust the customer list provided by the platform, leaving the open possibility that multiple large accounts could have been excluded from the process. Proof of Reserves is a blockchain validation where customers see the wallets on the blockchain. The report from Kraken is 5 years old, but they leave it described as though it was just done a few weeks ago. And look at what they expect customers to do for validation. When firms represent something being "Proof of Reserve" when it's not, this is like a farmer growing fruit with pesticides and selling it in a farmers market as organic produce - except that these are people's hard-earned life savings at risk here. Platforms are misrepresenting the level of visibility in place and deceiving the public by their misuse of this term. They haven't proven anything.
Fraud isn't a problem that is unique to cryptocurrency. Fraud happens all the time. Enron, WorldCom, Nortel, Bear Stearns, Wells Fargo, Moser Baer, Wirecard, Bre-X, and Nicola are just some of the cases where frauds became large enough to become a big deal (and there are so many countless others). These all happened on 100% reversible assets despite regulations being in place. In many of these cases, the problems happened due to the over-complexity of the financial instruments. For example, Enron had "complex financial statements [which] were confusing to shareholders and analysts", creating "off-balance-sheet vehicles, complex financing structures, and deals so bewildering that few people could understand them". In cryptocurrency, we are often combining complex financial products with complex technologies and verification processes. We are naïve if we think problems like this won't happen. It is awkward and uncomfortable for many people to admit that they don't know how something works. If we want "money of the people" to work, the solutions have to be simple enough that "the people" can understand them, not so confusing that financial professionals and technology experts struggle to use or understand them.
For those who question the extent to which an organization can fool their way into a security consultancy role, HB Gary should be a great example to look at. Prior to trying to out anonymous, HB Gary was being actively hired by multiple US government agencies and others in the private sector (with glowing testimonials). The published articles and hosted professional security conferences. One should also look at this list of data breaches from the past 2 years. Many of them are large corporations, government entities, and technology companies. These are the ones we know about. Undoubtedly, there are many more that we do not know about. If HB Gary hadn't been "outted" by anonymous, would we have known they were insecure? If the same breach had happened outside of the public spotlight, would it even have been reported? Or would HB Gary have just deleted the Twitter posts, brought their site back up, done a couple patches, and kept on operating as though nothing had happened?
In the case of Quadriga, the facts are clear. Despite past experience with platforms such as MapleChange in Canada and others around the world, no guidance or even the most basic of a framework was put in place by regulators. By not clarifying any sort of legal framework, regulators enabled a situation where a platform could be run by former criminal Mike Dhanini/Omar Patryn, and where funds could be held fully unchecked by one person. At the same time, the lack of regulation deterred legitimate entities from running competing platforms and Quadriga was granted a money services business license for multiple years of operation, which gave the firm the appearance of legitimacy. Regulators did little to protect Canadians despite Quadriga failing to file taxes from 2016 onward. The entire administrative team had resigned and this was public knowledge. Many people had suspicions of what was going on, including Ryan Mueller, who forwarded complaints to the authorities. These were ignored, giving Gerald Cotten the opportunity to escape without justice.
There are multiple issues with the SOC II model including the prohibitive cost (you have to find a third party accounting firm and the prices are not even listed publicly on any sites), the requirement of operating for a year (impossible for new platforms), and lack of any public visibility (SOC II are private reports that aren't shared outside the people in suits).
Securities frameworks are expensive. Sarbanes-Oxley is estimated to cost $5.1 million USD/yr for the average Fortune 500 company in the United States. Since "Fortune 500" represents the top 500 companies, that means well over $2.55 billion USD (~$3.4 billion CAD) is going to people in suits. Isn't the problem of trust and verification the exact problem that the blockchain is supposed to solve?
To use Quadriga as justification for why custodians or SOC II or other advanced schemes are needed for platforms is rather silly, when any framework or visibility at all, or even the most basic of storage policies, would have prevented the whole thing. It's just an embarrassment.
We are now seeing regulators take strong action. CoinSquare in Canada with multi-million dollar fines. BitMex from the US, criminal charges and arrests. OkEx, with full disregard of withdrawals and no communication. Who's next?
We have a unique window today where we can solve these problems, and not permanently destroy innovation with unreasonable expectations, but we need to act quickly. This is a unique historic time that will never come again.
On May 6th, 2017, Bitcoin hit an all-time high in transactions processed on the network in a single day: it moved 375,000 transactions which accounted for a nominal output of about $2.5b. Average fees on the Bitcoin network had climbed over a dollar for the first time a couple days prior. And they kept climbing: by early June average fees hit an eye-watering $5.66. This was quite unprecedented. In the three-year period from Jan. 1 2014 to Jan. 1 2017, per-transaction fees had never exceeded 31 cents on a weekly average. And the hits kept coming. Before 2017 was over, average fees would top out at $48 on a weekly basis. When the crypto-recession set in, transaction count collapsed and fees crept back below $1. During the most feverish days of the Bitcoin run-up, when normal users found themselves with balances that would cost more to send than they were worth, cries for batching — the aggregation of many outputs into a single transaction — grew louder than ever. David Harding had written a blog post on the cost-savings of batching at the end of August and it was reposted to the Bitcoin subreddit on a daily basis. The idea was simple: for entities sending many transactions at once, clustering outputs into a single transaction was more space- (and cost-) efficient, because each transaction has a fixed data overhead. David found that if you combined 10 payments into one transaction, rather than sending them individually, you could save 75% of the block space. Essentially, batching is one way to pack as many transactions as possible into the finite block space available on Bitcoin. When fees started climbing in mid-2017, users began to scrutinize the behavior of heavy users of the Bitcoin blockchain, to determine whether they were using block space efficiently. By and large, they were not — and an informal lobbying campaign began, in which these major users — principally exchanges — were asked to start batching transactions and be good stewards of the scarce block space at their disposal. Some exchanges had been batching for years, others relented and implemented it. The question faded from view after Bitcoin’s price collapsed in Q1 2018 from roughly $19,000 to $6000, and transaction load — and hence average fee — dropped off. But we remained curious. A common refrain, during the collapse in on-chain usage, was that transaction count was an obfuscated method of apprehending actual usage. The idea was that transactions could encode an arbitrarily large (within reason) number of payments, and so if batching had become more and more prevalent, those payments were still occurring, just under a regime of fewer transactions. “hmmm” Some sites popped up to report outputs and payments per day rather than transactions, seemingly bristling at the coverage of declining transaction count. However, no one conducted an analysis of the changing relationship between transaction count and outputs or payments. We took it upon ourselves to find out. Table Of Contents: Introduction to batching A timeline Analysis Conclusion Bonus content: UTXO consolidation
Introduction to batching
Bitcoin uses a UTXO model, which stands for Unspent Transaction Output. In comparison, Ripple and Ethereum use an account/balance model. In bitcoin, a user has no balances, only UTXOs that they control. If they want to transfer money to someone else, their wallet selects one or more UTXOs as inputs that in sum need to add up to the amount they want to transfer. The desired amount then goes to the recipient, which is called the output, and the difference goes back to the sender, which is called change output. Each output can carry a virtually unlimited amount of value in the form of satoshis. A satoshi is a unit representing a one-hundred-millionth of a Bitcoin. This is very similar to a physical wallet full of different denominations of bills. If you’re buying a snack for $2.50 and only have a $5, you don’t hand the cashier half of your 5 dollar bill — you give him the 5 and receive some change instead. Unknown to some, there is no hardcoded limit to the number of transactions that can fit in a block. Instead, each transaction has a certain size in megabytes and constitutes an economic incentive for miners to include it in their block. Because miners have limited space of 2 MB to sell to transactors, larger transactions (in size, not bitcoin!) will need to pay higher fees to be included. Additionally, each transaction can have a virtually unlimited number of inputs or outputs — the record stands at transactions with 20,000 inputs and 13,107 outputs. So each transaction has at least one input and at one output, but often more, as well as some additional boilerplate stuff. Most of that space is taken up by the input (often 60% or more, because of the signature that proves they really belong to the sender), while the output(s) account for 15–30%. In order to keep transactions as small as possible and save fees, Bitcoin users have two major choices: Use as few inputs as possible. In order to minimize inputs, you can periodically send your smaller UTXOs to yourself in times when fees are very low, getting one large UTXO back. That is called UTXO consolidation or consolidating your inputs. Users who frequently make transfers (especially within the same block) can include an almost unlimited amount of outputs (to different people!) in the same transaction. That is called transaction batching. A typical single output transaction takes up 230 bytes, while a two output transaction only takes up 260 bytes, instead of 460 if you were to send them individually. This is something that many casual commentators overlook when comparing Bitcoin with other payment systems — a Bitcoin transaction can aggregate thousands of individual economic transfers! It’s important to recognize this, as it is the source of a great deal of misunderstanding and mistaken analysis. We’ve never encountered a common definition of a batched transaction — so for the purposes of this study we define it in the loosest possible sense: a transaction with three or more outputs. Commonly, batching is understood as an activity undertaken primarily by mining pools or exchanges who can trade off immediacy for efficiency. It is rare that a normal bitcoin user would have cause to batch, and indeed most wallets make it difficult to impossible to construct batched transactions. For everyday purposes, normal bitcoiners will likely not go to the additional effort of batching transactions. We set the threshold at three for simplicity’s sake — a normal unbatched transaction will have one transactional output and one change output — but the typical major batched transaction from an exchange will have dozens if not hundreds of outputs. For this reason we are careful to provide data on various different batch sizes, so we could determine the prevalence of three-output transactions and colossal, 100-output ones. We find it helpful to think of a Bitcoin transaction as a mail truck full of boxes. Each truck (transaction) contains boxes (outputs), each of contains some number of letters (satoshis). So when you’re looking at transaction count as a measure of the performance and economic throughput of the Bitcoin network, it’s a bit like counting mail trucks to discern how many letters are being sent on a given day, even though the number of letters can vary wildly. The truck analogy also makes it clear why many see Bitcoin as a settlement layer in the future — just as mail trucks aren’t dispatched until they’re full, some envision that the same will ultimately be the case for Bitcoin. Batching
So what actually happened in the last six months? Let’s look at some data. Daily transactions on the Bitcoin network rose steadily until about May 2017, when average fees hit about $4. This precipitated the first collapse in usage. Then began a series of feedback loops over the next six months in which transaction load grew, fees grew to match, and transactions dropped off. This cycle repeated itself five times over the latter half of 2017. more like this on coinmetrics.io The solid red line in the above chart is fees in BTC terms (not USD) and the shaded red area is daily transaction count. You can see the cycle of transaction load precipitating higher fees which in turn cause a reduction in usage. It repeats itself five or six times before the detente in spring 2018. The most notable period was the December-January fee crisis, but fees were actually fairly typical in BTC terms — the rising BTC price in USD however meant that USD fees hit extreme figures. In mid-November when fees hit double digits in USD terms, users began a concerted campaign to convince exchanges to be better stewards of block space. Both Segwit and batching were held up as meaningful approaches to maximize the compression of Bitcoin transactions into the finite block space available. Data on when exchanges began batching is sparse, but we collected information where it was available into a chart summarizing when exchanges began batching. Batching adoption at selected exchanges We’re ignoring Segwit adoption by exchanges in this analysis; as far as batching is concerned, the campaign to get exchanges to batch appears to have persuaded Bitfinex, Binance, and Shapeshift to batch. Coinbase/GDAX have stated their intention to begin batching, although they haven’t managed to integrate it yet. As far as we can tell, Gemini hasn’t mentioned batching, although we have some mixed evidence that they may have begun recently. If you know about the status of batching on Gemini or other major exchanges please get in touch. So some exchanges have been batching all along, and some have never bothered at all. Did the subset of exchanges who flipped the switch materially affect the prevalence of batched transactions? Let’s find out.
3.1 How common is batching? We measured the prevalence of batching in three different ways, by transaction count, by output value and by output count. The tl;dr. Batching accounts for roughly 12% of all transactions, 40% of all outputs, and 30–60% of all raw BTC output value. Not bad. 3.2 Have batched transactions become more common over time? From the chart in 3.1, we can already see a small, but steady uptrend in all three metrics, but we want to dig a little deeper. So we first looked at the relationship of payments (all outputs that actually pay someone, so total outputs minus change outputs) and transactions. More at transactionfee.info/charts The first thing that becomes obvious is that the popular narrative — that the drop in transactions was caused by an increase in batching — is not the case; payments dropped by roughly the same proportion as well. Dividing payment count by transaction count gives us some insight into the relationship between the two. In our analysis we want to zoom into the time frame between November 2017 and today, and we can see that payments per transactions have actually been rallying, from 1.5 payments per transaction in early 2017 to almost two today. 3.3 What are popular batch sizes? In this next part, we will look at batch sizes to see which are most popular. To determine which transactions were batched, we downloaded a dataset of all transactions on the Bitcoin network between November 2017 and May 2018from Blockchair. We picked that period because the fee crisis really got started in mid-November, and with it, the demands for exchanges to batch. So we wanted to capture the effect of exchanges starting to batch. Naturally a bigger sample would have been more instructive, but we were constrained in our resources, so we began with the six month sample. We grouped transactions into “batched” and “unbatched” groups with batched transactions being those with three or more outputs. We then divided batched transactions into roughly equal groups on the basis of how much total output in BTC they had accounted for in the six-month period. We didn’t select the batch sizes manually — we picked batch sizes that would split the sample into equal parts on the basis of transaction value. Here’s what we ended up with: All of the batch buckets have just about the same fraction of total BTC output over the period, but they account for radically different transaction and output counts over the period. Notice that there were only 183,108 “extra large” batches (with 41 or more outputs) in the six-month period, but between them there were 23m outputs and 30m BTC worth of value transmitted. Note that output value in this context refers to the raw or unadjusted figure — it would have been prohibitively difficult for us to adjust output for change or mixers, so we’re using the “naive” estimate. Let’s look at how many transactions various batch sizes accounted for in the sample period: Batched transactions steadily increased relative to unbatched ones, although the biggest fraction is the small batch with between 3 and 5 outputs. The story for output counts is a bit more illuminating. Even though batched transactions are a relatively small fraction of overall transaction count, they contain a meaningful number of overall outputs. Let’s see how it breaks down: Lastly, let’s look at output value. Here we see that batched transactions represent a significant fraction of value transmitted on Bitcoin. As we can see, even though batched transactions make up an average of only 12% of all transactions, they move between 30%-60% of all Bitcoins, at peak times even 70%. We think this is quite remarkable. Keep in mind, however that the ‘total output’ figure has not been altered to account for change outputs, mixers, or self-churn; that is, it is the raw and unadjusted figure. The total output value is therefore not an ideal approximation of economic volume on the Bitcoin network. 3.4 Has transaction count become an unreliable measure of Bitcoin’s usage because of batching? Yes. We strongly encourage any analysts, investors, journalists, and developers to look past mere transaction count from now on. The default measure of Bitcoin’s performance should be “payments per day” rather than transaction count. This also makes Bitcoin more comparable with other UTXO chains. They generally have significantly variable payments-per-transaction ratios, so just using payments standardizes that. (Stay tuned: Coinmetrics will be rolling out tools to facilitate this very soon.) More generally, we think that the economic value transmitted on the network is its most fundamental characteristic. Both the naive and the adjusted figures deserve to be considered. Adjusting raw output value is still more art than science, and best practices are still being developed. Again, Coinmetrics is actively developing open-source tools to make these adjustments available.
We started by revisiting the past year in Bitcoin and showed that while the mempool was congested, the community started looking for ways to use the blockspace more efficiently. Attention quickly fell on batching, the practice of combining multiple outputs into a single transaction, for heavy users. We showed how batching works on a technical level and when different exchanges started implementing the technique. Today, around 12% of all transactions on the Bitcoin network are batched, and these account for about 40% of all outputs and between 30–60% of all transactional value. The fact such that a small set of transactions carries so much economic weight makes us hopeful that Bitcoin still has a lot of room to scale on the base layer, especially if usage trends continue. Lastly, it’s worth noting that the increase in batching on the Bitcoin network may not be entirely due to deliberate action by exchanges, but rather a function of its recessionary behavior in the last few months. Since batching is generally done by large industrial players like exchanges, mixers, payment processors, and mining pools, and unbatched transactions are generally made by normal individuals, the batched/unbatched ratio is also a strong proxy for how much average users are using Bitcoin. Since the collapse in price, it is quite possible that individual usage of Bitcoin decreased while “industrial” usage remained strong. This is speculation, but one explanation for what happened. Alternatively, the industrial players appear to be taking their role as stewards of the scarce block space more seriously. This is a significant boon to the network, and a nontrivial development in its history. If a culture of parsimony can be encouraged, Bitcoin will be able to compress more data into its block space and everyday users will continue to be able to run nodes for the foreseeable future. We view this as a very positive development. Members of the Bitcoin community that lobbied exchanges to add support for Segwit and batching should be proud of themselves.
Bonus content: UTXO consolidation
Remember that we said that a second way to systematically save transaction fees in the Bitcoin network was to consolidate your UTXOs when fees were low? Looking at the relationship between input count and output count allows us to spot such consolidation phases quite well. Typically, inputs and outputs move together. When the network is stressed, they decouple. If you look at the above chart carefully, you’ll notice that when transactions are elevated (and block space is at a premium), outputs outpace inputs — look at the gaps in May and December 2017. However, prolonged activity always results in fragmented UTXO sets and wallets full of dust, which need to be consolidated. For this, users often wait until pressure on the network has decreased and fees are lower. Thus, after transactions decrease, inputs become more common than outputs. You can see this clearly in February/March 2017. Here we’ve taken the ratio of inputs to outputs (which have been smoothed on a trailing 7 day basis). When the ratio is higher, there are more inputs than outputs on that day, and vice versa. You can clearly see the spam attack in summer 2015 in which thousands (possibly millions) of outputs were created and then consolidated. Once the ratio spikes upwards, that’s consolidation. The spike in February 2018 after the six weeks of high fees in December 2017 was the most pronounced sigh of relief in Bitcoin’s history; the largest ever departure from the in/out ratio norm. There were a huge number of UTXOs to be consolidated. It’s also interesting to note where inputs and outputs cluster. Here we have histograms of transactions with large numbers of inputs or outputs. Unsurprisingly, round numbers are common which shows that exchanges don’t publish a transaction every, say, two minutes, but instead wait for 100 or 200 outputs to queue up and then publish their transaction. Curiously, 200-input transactions were more popular than 100-input transactions in the period. We ran into more curiosities when researching this piece, but we’ll leave those for another time. Future work on batching might focus on: Determining batched transactions as a portion of (adjusted) economic rather than raw volume Looking at the behavior of specific exchanges with regards to batching Investigating how much space and fees could be saved if major exchanges were batching transactions Lastly, we encourage everyone to run their transactions through the service at transactionfee.info to assess the efficiency of their transactions and determine whether exchanges are being good stewards of the block space. Update 31.05.2018 Antoine Le Calvez has created a series of live-updated charts to track batching and batch sizes, which you can find here. We’d like to thank 0xB10C for their generous assistance with datasets and advice, the people at Blockchair for providing the core datasets, and David A. Harding for writing the initial piece and answering our questions.
Hello! My name is Mihail Kudryashev, I am a frontend engineer at Platinum. We are a an international STO/IEO/ICO/POST ICO consulting, promotion and fundraising company with huge experience in STO and ICO marketing and best STO blockchain platform in the world! Learn more about it: Platinum.fund Our company gained popularity after launching the world’s number one online university with only practical knowledge on crypto economics. Now you can learn how to create and develop your own ICO and STO, how to market your campaign and make it super successful. Who are cryptocurrency investors? What drives people to invest in cryptocurrency? Read the extract of the UBAI lesson to get all the answers. Introduction to the Investors §2 In 2017, the total cryptocurrency market capitalization was approaching $850B which begs the question: Why are investors turning to cryptocurrencies? A survey by Blockchain Capital indicated that at least 30% of millennials would rather invest in bitcoin than invest in traditional stocks. Cryptocurrency investors, like traditional investors, expect a return at least proportionate to the risk they take. Due to the fundamental lack of regulation, incredible volatility and astronomical relative risk, many cryptocurrency investors expect to earn meteoric returns. Returns in the ranges of multiples from 200% to 1000%. Let us first begin by examining the kinds of people who invest in cryptocurrency, and then let’s see the reasons why each of them is investing in this relatively new market. Types of Investors The “Newbie” Cryptocurrency Investor This investor is just starting out. They probably have not had any significant experience in any form of investing before and bitcoin is their first experience. They have heard about people making incredible returns from cryptocurrency investing, or some aspect of the entire blockchain and crypto revolution attracts them, and they decide they want to invest too. Unfortunately, most of the newbie investors will end up losing their money, primarily because of one specific misconception; they think cryptocurrency investing is an easy way to make huge profits. “ “Types of Investors §2 “Gambler” or “Get Rich Quick” Investor This is the second class of cryptocurrency investor, and is actually not really an investor at all. This type of person is out to make a fortune as fast as possible. They will fall for whatever sweet-sounding scheme they hear. They love ideas that promise to double or triple their investment quickly. Like the Newbie, they do not understand how cryptocurrencies work, and they don’t care. The difference between this kind of investor and the successful individual or professional investor is that the gambler does not care about the management of risk, or about the timing of trades. They place their money on the table, and they hope it will make a good return. They are gambling rather than creating an investment thesis and executing a well-thought out strategy. They might even have an infectious positive attitude, but unfortunately it is not backed by knowledge or the due diligence required to be a successful investor. A good example of this style of thinking, outside of cryptocurrency, is high yield investment plans (HYIPs) that promise to multiply an investors capital by a certain factor. This is not to say that all HYIP programs are scams, but a good number of them are. Most importantly, the investors who flock into such plans have similar characteristics to that of the Get Rich Quick investor in that they will not take the time to learn about the field in which they are investing. They are just looking for fast money and an overnight success. “ “Types of Investors §3 Short Term Traders (Day/Swing Traders) Short term traders must, without a doubt, be the most knowledgeable investors if they are going to succeed at their chosen profession. They have, or they should have, studied the art and science of trading more thoroughly than other people. This is the kind of investor who has taken the time to learn about cryptocurrencies and the markets on which they trade. Short term traders create deliberate and timed strategies in an attempt to profit from fast market movements. Maybe many of the short term traders started off as Newbies, but these are the individuals who took the time and effort to learn about the market. They wanted to know what they were doing. These are the people who survived and thrived to grow into the type of trader that they want to be. Interestingly, the Day Trader does not attach emotion to any given coin. They do not need to believe in the sustainability/whitepapevision/road map, etc. of the project they are buying into at any particular time. They just need to be confident about the direction and timing of the potential price movement of the coin. “ “Types of Investors §4 Long Term Investors/ Hodlers A great majority of successful cryptocurrency investors can be most properly classified as Long Term Investors, or HODLers in true crypto terminology. These are investors who understand quite a bit about cryptocurrency and blockchain technology and believe in the sustainability of the coins in which they are investing. Think of the first few investors who bought bitcoin in the early days and years, when it was still deep under the radar for most people. These are the people who believed in the blockchain and cryptocurrency revolution. They didn’t sell their bitcoin for fast profit, although they had many chances to do so. They knew what they were doing, holding for the long term. These early investors and HODLers enjoyed astronomical growth all the way up to 2016 and 2017. But to be a long-term holder despite all the bad news and negative factors surrounding this brand new asset class, they must have really believed that bitcoin and the blockchain were going to change the world. This belief can only be established through study and research about the blockchain industry and the specific currencies and tokens in which you are going to invest. Follow up and learn more on www.ubai.co!” “Types of Investors §5 Sophisticated/Professional Investors These are experts in cryptocurrency investing. They most likely have a background in other forms of trading and investing, such as in stocks, bonds or options etc. They may also be earning fees by investing or managing money for other people. The Iconomi fund managers are a good example. Each Fund Manager manages an array of digital assets. Investors might choose Iconomi because it offers a platform for the investor to allocate funds to specific fund managers, with the ability to swap between managers instantly if the investor desires to do so. Each fund manager selects a number of coins in which they wish to trade or invest, with specified time horizons, short or long term. Investors can buy into the array of mutually held coins. This allows investors to utilize the knowledge and experience of professional fund managers to trade an allocated pool of capital, hopefully generating returns greater than the individual investor would be able to produce on his own. The fund managers are motivated by the fees and commissions they earn, and perhaps a performance-linked bonus. You can certainly be properly classified as a Sophisticated Investor without any need to be a fund manager for other peoples’ money. But a professional fund manager has the ability to trade with a larger pool of capital, manage complicated risk, and diversify trading strategy to generate various streams of income. “ “Between Countries A particular country’s participation in cryptocurrencies largely has to do with the legal regulations about blockchain projects and crypto currency investment in that jurisdiction. When China banned the use of cryptocurrency, most Chinese nationals had to withdraw their investments. Many other countries have also placed bans on the use or trade of cryptocurrencies. Countries like Japan that have allowed the use of cryptocurrencies have witnessed a significant rise in cryptocurrency investments as a result. Japan and South Korea are home to several high-traffic cryptocurrency exchanges, meaning that a notable proportion of their population is investing in cryptocurrencies. Another way to look at cryptocurrency investment demographics is to look at the bitcoin ATMs present in each country. The United States of America is the leading country, followed by Canada and then the United Kingdom. According to a report by Google trends, the five top countries interested in bitcoin are: South Africa, Slovenia, Nigeria, Colombia and Bolivia. Remember, cryptocurrency demographics can be a little tricky due to the anonymity involved. Many people may be afraid to participate in surveys, especially when their governments have placed legal restrictions on cryptocurrency investing. The main point the research seems to validate is that the demographics of the cryptocurrency investor base is diverse. While the average investor may be a white or Asian male between the ages of 26-30 with at least a university degree, the entire investor base is so much larger than that. Many big investors are likely to be significantly older, and have connections and businesses in the traditional economy as well. “ “Notable Investors in Cryptocurrency While many people have made fortunes from cryptocurrency investing, a handful of them stand out as being particularly remarkable. We will take a more detailed look at some of the biggest investment success stories to see how they did it and learn about their investing strategy. The Winklevoss Twins After being awarded their settlement from the lawsuit against Facebook, the Winklevoss twins decided to invest a significant portion of their money in Bitcoin. They invested $11million of the $65million they received. At that time, the price of a single bitcoin was about $120. This high-risk investment paid off handsomely and they became the first publicly known Bitcoin Billionaires, perhaps owning more than 1% of the total bitcoin in circulation. In an interview with Financial Times in 2016, the twins jointly said that they consider “Bitcoin as potentially the greatest social network because it is designed to transfer value over the internet”. They also pointed out that compared to gold, bitcoin has equal or greater foundational traits of scarcity and portability. “ “Notable Investors in Cryptocurrency §2 Michael Novogratz A self-made billionaire ex-Goldman Sachs investment banker, Novogratz has invested more than 30% of his fortune in cryptocurrency. In 2015, he announced a $500million cryptocurrency hedge fund, including $150million of his own money. Novogratz believes that “the blockchain, the computer code that underpins all cryptocurrencies, will reshape finance, just as the internet reshaped communication”. The investment thesis of Mr. Novogratz is similar to that of the Winklevoss twins. He has taken and maintains a long-term position while he trades in and out of short term moves, based on his fundamental belief in the potential and likely application of the underlying blockchain technology. By starting an investment fund in addition to his other cryptocurrency related ventures, he is demonstrating a strong fundamental grasp of the technology, including its applicability and impact across so many industries. Slide Barry Silbert In December 2014 after the US Marshal’s office seized 50,000 bitcoins from the Silk Road, Barry Silbert purchased just 2,000 of those bitcoins at $350 per coin. A few years later of course, those coins were worth millions of dollars. Barry is the founder and CEO of the Digital Currency Group (DCG) a cryptocurrency investment firm. Barry also made significant profits from Ethereum Classic, purchasing the coin in its very first days. He has invested in over 75 bitcoin related companies, including CoinDesk. As founder of the Digital Currency Group, Barry endeavors to support bitcoin and blockchain companies and accelerate the development of the global financial system. “ “Directly through Exchanges Step One: Register on a reputable cryptocurrency exchange To start investing, you first need to register on a reputable cryptocurrency exchange where you can buy bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Binance is a good exchange to use in this lesson. While it may or may not be the best, it is currently the largest, and they provide a very supportive layout and customer service department. You should remember, to buy most altcoins (cryptocurrencies other than bitcoin), you specifically need to use an exchange like Coinbase or Kraken that allows you to convert fiat currency into cryptocurrency. From there, if you want to trade altcoins not listed on that exchange, you will have to transfer your BTC or ETH to a larger exchange like Binance, and buy the altcoin you want, using whichever trading pair that is best suited (BTC and ETH pairs are most common). As we have already explained, if you are buying Bitcoin or any cryptocurrencies, you should invest in a wallet to safely store your coins. It is not advisable to store your BTC or other crypto on the exchanges for too long, due to hacking and other risks. “ “Directly through Exchanges Step Two: Determine your Strategy There are different ways to invest. You need to find a strategy that works for you and your specific set of skills. The value of a cryptocurrency is not defined by a formula or something out a textbook. If everyone was able to calculate the actual value of a share of stock, for example, or a bond, or other tradeable asset, then the price on an open market exchange would never move. Buyers and sellers would know exactly how much the asset is worth, so there would be no reason to sell lower or buy higher than the actual value. You need to come up with your own ideas and strategies to take advantage of market moves. Sometimes you will have a position that is contrary to the general market. Other times you might be trading in agreement with a majority of other market participants. Investors are basically separable into one of two groups of thinkers. Contrarian investors go against the crowd, swimming against the current; Momentum investors ride the wave feeling secure in the majority. Being different can be good or it can be bad. You do not always want to necessarily get caught up in the most crowded trade. “ “Things to keep in Mind Bitcoin Futures We need to mention the bitcoin futures market as another potential way to invest. Toward the close of 2017, Bitcoin started trading on two fully recognized and well-established futures markets; the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange CME. The key quote from the exchanges was “because the futures can be traded on regulated markets, it will attract investors, making the market liquid, stabilizing prices and it will not suffer from low transaction speeds of Bitcoin Exchanges.” For a risk averse investor, this offers a safer entry into cryptocurrency investing. A futures contract commits its owner to buy or sell the underlying asset, BTC, at a set price, and at a set date in the future. The investor in the futures contract does not actually own the underlying asset, but rather is trading on fluctuations in the price of the asset over a certain timeframe, as specified in the futures contract. “ “Things to keep in Mind §2 Common Pitfalls We cannot conclude this lesson without one more look at the common pitfalls a new cryptocurrency investor should avoid. The problem areas are: -Falling for scams by failing to carry out due diligence. -Relying solely upon self-acclaimed crypto gurus and experts. If you want to trade, you must understand how to read news and charts for yourself. -Too much Greed. Not taking profit when you should. It is better to take a 20% gain, than wait for a 100% gain, only to lose it all in the end. -Lacking an investment strategy or exit plan. -Not sticking to your investment plan or strategy. -Allowing emotions to rule your decisions. Chasing your losses. -Investing what you cannot afford to lose. And finally, some time-tested wisdom from Wall Street: Bulls make money. Bears make money. Pigs get slaughtered every time. (Don’t be greedy!) We cannot overemphasize the risk involved in cryptocurrency investing. The potential to make huge gains over a short period of time does not come without risk. There is no doubt that significant players in the global financial markets are entering the cryptocurrency markets too. We are likely to witness more and more government authorities trying to regulate cryptocurrencies, hopefully to the overall benefit of a healthy market. It seems safe to say we will see cryptocurrencies become more mainstream due to the intense interest from the traditional financial industry and institutional investing community all over the world. What are better ways to successfully invest in cryptocurrencies? Which pitfalls should you avoid? Learn all on successful ICOs and STOs after reading the full lesson: UBAI.co How to start your STO/ICO campaign in 2019? 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Thermodynamics & Silent Weapons for Secret Wars or Crypto Anarchy 101: Statists Failing & Anarchists Thriving
Crypto Anarchy 101: Statists Failing & Anarchists Thriving The black-market, the free-market, is what kept people alive throughout the worst of oppressions. The black market has been the art of surviving amidst all types of tyrannies and slaveries. The black market, aka System D, is something that everyone in the world will need to start getting comfortable with. CryptoAnarchy is the ultimate manifestation of complete market freedom, and it is here to stay. Libertarians are beginning to finally realize their incredible advantage within this new market environment. The unfortunate statist masses have been programmed to feel uncomfortable with the mere idea of complete market freedom. Keep in mind that as of 2009, half of the world’s workers- around 1.8 billion – were employed by System D. The black market is only expected to grow even more so with the incentive structures being built out in order to advance the technological advancements of cryptography. Humanity has never experienced a true free-market until now. For the first time in history one is beginning to take shape. The traditional business sector is beginning to realize that they are not even mentally equipped for the implications of having applied cryptography that is powered by market incentives. This is evident in their trite attempts at integrating these new technologies with traditional banking and financial systems. Their lack of creativity, and dependence on government, is a clear testament to how much they will be hurt in the coming future. Statists Double Down after Failure: Tether and Stablecoins Many within the crypto space have attempted to bridge the gap between legacy banking and cryptocurrencies. Amongst the various attempts at capitalizing with these new technologies, the idea of a stablecoin entered the space via Tether (USDT). A stable coin is a cryptocurrency that is pegged on a 1 to 1 ratio to the US dollar, or any other asset- like gold- or fiat. Tether operated as a stable coin pegged to the US dollar on a 1 to 1 ratio. The biggest attribute behind stablecoins resided in their ability to provide stability in an otherwise volatile market. For a long time many within the crypto space were curious about Tether’s means of operating with USD. Earlier this year TDV was the first entity to exclusively reported to its subscribers the origin of Tether’s “secret sauce;” fractional reserve banking. The laws of fractional reserve banking allowed the Noble Bank of Puerto Rico to provide Tether with the legal means of operating as a stable coin pegged to the US dollar. The Noble Bank recently went bankrupt due to being insolvent. Noble Bank was the bank of Bitfinex and Tether. As a result, Tether and Bitfinex ended their relationship with Noble Bank. It is important that you as a subscriber move your crypto out of Bitfinex. You should never keep your cryptoin exchanges. When you do this you don’t actually control the private keys of your coins. (If you are an active trader, please consider using Bisq. Bisq is an open source decentralized exchange that does not control your private keys while trading. It is the most Anarchist exchange in the market right now.) After losing its partnership with Noble Bank, Bitfinex began banking with HSBC. On October 15th, Bitfinex tweeted that their fiat deposit system was re-enabled. Overall, Bitfinex is still in the midst of reorganizing itself as an exchange with proper banking liquidity. For this reason we are of the opinion that it is best to stay away from Bitfinex until they are more solvent in their banking partnerships. Tether (USDT) on the other hand is suffering from a lack of proper banking structures. Binance paused all USDT withdrawals and KuCoin, the exchange, also paused USDT deposits and withdrawals. Tether is currently at around 2.1bn dollar market cap. Tether holders are having a difficult time cashing out of their Tether for USD. It is expected that unless Tether gets its banking situation sorted out, we will see movement out of Tether. This situation has caused the price of Tether to hit a low of $0.90 to the USD. As of writing this, Tether is trading at around $0.97 to the dollar. The situation for Tether is dire at the present moment. We expect to see many Tether holders drop their Tether for Bitcoin, or other more cryptographically secure cryptocurrencies. This will more than likely be one of the main strategies that will be implemented in order to cash out of Tether. This overall situation is once again showing us how unstable things are when dealing with fiat. We hope for the market to realize that there is more security in cryptocurrencies than there is in fiat backed stablecoins. Stablecoins will always have the instability of the fiat currencies that they are pegged to. The time will eventually come when people will realize that cryptocurrencies are a better store of value than stablecoins. In spite of all of the issues circulating Tether, statist entrepreneurs are doubling down on their desire for stablecoins. We are seeing the beginning of what we believe will be a trend in the upcoming future; that is, stable coins pegged to various countries’ fiat and assets like precious metals. The new USD stablecoins recently announced to the market are GeminiUSD, TrueUSD, and Paxos Standard. Volatility as a Sign of Life in the Market Contrary to the statist perception on volatility, one can also view volatility in crypto as proper to a market that is fully alive. Crypto, for the first time in history, freed the market from bankster manipulation. Arguably, volatility is to be expected in an unregulated free-market where everyone in the world is for the first time welcomed to participate. In comparison to the legacy financial system, crypto is fully alive while the former is handicapped by regulations, coercion, and disconnected from true free-market signals. That is, volatility signals of a free-market that breathes freely for the first time. Volatility is indicative of a market that is fully alive. The desire for individuals to attach crypto to the legacy financial system, under the pretense of “less volatility,” is indicative of individuals that will have a hard time operating outside the bounds of regulation and government coercion. As long as we have statists uncomfortable with Anarchy, we will have stablecoins pegged to fiat. Various Libertarian entrepreneurs are also beginning to dabble with the idea of a stablecoin that is pegged to precious metals. The challenge of these projects will be the same regulation that oversees fiat. Remember that the difference offered to the world by cryptocurrencies resides in crypto’s ability to operate freely within System D, without regulation. It is this new market, the true free-market, that for the first time is unstoppable. Bitfinex’s Effect on EOS Bitfinex is one of the entities that holds the greatest amount of votes for EOS Block Producers (BPs). For this and other reasons, we are currently expecting a shakeup of votes for selected top BPs. It is important that you remain attentive to the happenings within EOS and move your votes accordingly. We will soon be coming out with more details on our perceptions regarding various BPs. There are various discussions regarding BPs pending arbitration. This is a good thing. All shakeups lead us closer to more transparency and accountability. This should not directly affect the price of EOS, aside from what will result from the expected FUD of future BP shake-ups. The Resilience of CryptoAnarchy after Blockstream’s Fake Sidechain Amongst the various innovations within Bitcoin, sidechains have- for the past 5 years- existed as one of the holy grails of innovation. Blockstream, as a company, was put together to manifest sidechains. They sold us the concept of a sidechain as they were sourcing capital during their first rounds of investment; this was in October of 2014. Sidechains were supposed to be delivered by Blockstream as a way to make Bitcoin innovation competitive to that of altcoin innovation. Sidechains were supposed to be “the Altcoin killer.” After all of this time, Blockstream only delivered Liquid - which is not a sidechain- and called it a “sidechain.” That is, Liquid is not a sidechain when properly defined. Liquid is a multi-signature layer that allows for multiple exchanges to pool their money together to transfer funds amongst themselves. Liquid is not a true sidechain, it is more precisely a multi-signature wallet. Calling Liquid a “sidechain” was just a marketing scheme by Blockstream in order to impress the illusion that they had delivered what they had promised. They didn’t. Blockstream gave up in attempting to create a true sidechain and created a multi-signature wallet instead. Keep in mind that Liquid is a “private sidechain.” Note that a proper sidechain ought to be made with open-source innovation in mind. Many of us see the actions of Blockstream as a bait and switch marketing scheme. (For the rest of this article I will use the words “Drivechains” and “sidechains” interchangeably as synonyms. Drivechains are what sidechains originally were supposed to be- according to the original Blockstream Sidechain white paper. Blockstream’s bait and switch marketing scheme led to them calling “sidechain” a multisignature wallet that is not at all what they promoted on their white paper. Paul Sztorc, in an attempt to differentiate himself from the Blockstream perversion of the word “sidechains,” called his development of true sidechains “Drivechains.”) Drivechain Sidechains Paul Sztorc, the creator of decentralized prediction markets, was very much looking forward to Blockstream’s creation of sidechains. It was his hope that his decentralized prediction market would run as a Bitcoin sidechain. At about the end of 2015 Sztorc was done with BitcoinHiveMind, his decentralized predictions market (previously known as TruthCoin). After realizing that Blockstream was not going to deliver on sidechains, as promised, Sztorc felt he needed to build it himself. The creation of his Drivechains started off as a means to an end for Sztorc; he needed true Sidechains for his decentralized predictions market- so he build it himself. On September 24, 2018 Paul Sztorc announced the launch of the first Drivechain release. This release was accompanied with fervent followingof old-school Bitcoiners that immediately jumped into experimenting with Drivechains on the testnet known as “Testdrive.” The Drivechain protocol is an alternative to the sidechain project originally proposed by Blockstream. It is a simpler design that enables blockchain compatibility in which the system still utilizes the same 21 million bitcoin ruleset- the Nakamoto consensus. Drivechains are intended to allow for permissionless innovation without diluting or challenging the value of the main cryptocurrency. Contrary to other means of innovation within crypto, any innovation that comes from a Drivechain sidechain actually adds value to the Bitcoin protocol- for it does not dilute the main cryptocurrency. Satoshi vaguely discussed the importance of the ideas of sidechains and multi-blockchain connectivity on June 17, 2010. This creation, of providing varied market options, make infighting and political discourses regarding consensus upgrades now seem infantile. Drivechains will provide the market with ongoing competitive solutions for blockchain development. Investors will now be exposed to options that would otherwise have been shunned in a less free environment. The strategic advantage of Drivechain sidechains is that they will offer investors various options in the form of alternative chains. It is important to keep in mind that Drivechains are available for blockchains with the same UTXO set. That is, Drivechains are available for both BitcoinCore (BTC) and BitcoinCash (BCH). How Drivechains work Namecoin was the vision of early Bitcoin adopters of creating a DNS and identity infrastructure based on Bitcoin; that is, .bit DNS. This technology piggy backed on top of Bitcoin mining. That is, if you so chose you could merged-mined Namecoin alongside BTC or BCH. Namecoin can absorb hashrate from BTC or BCH without needing its own miners. Merge-mining with BTC or BCH is also the process of validating and safeguarding Drivechain sidechains. Unlike Namecoin, Drivechain sidechains don’t require miners to run special software. For Drivechain sidechains miners implement what is known as blind-merge-mining. In blind-merge-mining the nodes of the sidechain run the software, not the miners. This operates under the assumption that the nodes running the software also hold BTC or BCH. A payment fee is paid to miners to blind-merge-mine the sidechain, in a similar way that Namecoin merge-mining pays a fee. In this process, miners don’t have to run any software- they just passively make money for blind-merge-mining blocks with sidechains. The main difference with sidechains is that you are not mining another coin like Namecoin, but rather you are mining the same BTC or BCH in another sidechain when you do the blind-merge-mining. Miners don’t get paid with the sidechain, they receive payment from the mainchain that they already trust when they blind-merge-mine. Miners are also economically benefited by always getting paid in the superior coin that they are already intentionally mining; BTC or BCH. As BTC or BCH moves in and out from the mainchain to a sidechain, there might be claims of ownership that may cause disputes. Drivechain prevents this by emphasizing the superiority of the mainchain over sidechains. Sidechains have to report on exactly what it is doing- at all times- to the main chain. Whenever a sidechain wants to transfer money back to the mainchain it has to do it very slowly. This safeguards the network from theft. The slow movement of funds from the sidechain to the mainchain can be arbitrage by individuals who will be willing to purchase sidechain receipts for BTC or BCH coming from sidechains at a discount. People will also be able to do atomic swaps between chains in the near future. (Atomic swaps, or atomic cross chain trading, is the exchange of one cryptocurrency to another cryptocurrency, without the need of trusting a third-party). It is the intent of Drivechains to create the interaction of miners with sidechains as seamless as possible. However, it is still important to have guarantee that money ends up in the right place. This is the reason for the slow movement of funds from sidechains to the mainchain. The movement of a certain amount of transactions coming from a sidechain to the mainchain is batched up into one transaction with its own transaction ID. This transaction is frozen in place where miners and developers can examine it for at least a month (there are talks of even making this process longer between 3 to 6 months). During this time miners vote on whether to allow the payment to go through or not. Upon receiving enough upvotes, the batched up transactions are released unto the mainchain. The slowing down of movement of BTC or BCH from sidechains to mainchain decreases the threat of miners stealing BTC or BCH from a sidechain. The sidechains are always watching the mainchain, so they know to credit people immediately when the mainchain sends money to it. Sidechains also know when the miners have accepted the release of batched up locked funds that are released unto the mainchain. Once the sidechain receives notification of the miners acceptance of funds in the mainchain, the sidechain destroys the funds that were frozen awaiting miner upvotes. It is overall acknowledged that sidechains increase the value of BTC and BCH, which eventually make mining more profitable. It would be counterproductive for miners to attack and steal funds from sidechains. That is, miners acting maliciously decreases the value of their own equipment. In spite of this fact, it is good that Drivechains make it increasingly more difficult for theft to occur. Miners, through their voting process, also get to punish bad sidechain actors. Any malicious sidechain will be cleaned out by miners. This is the opposite of the Ethereum model where anyone can code anything into the Ethereum blockchain, to the point that it could become a detriment to the Ethereum mainchain itself. That is, anyone can create a new ERC20 or ERC721 token without any vetting from the network. Coins are moved from the mainchain to the sidechain by means of sending coins to an address that represents the sending of funds from the mainchain to the sidechain. Anyone running the given sidechain software will recognize that funds were sent to the sidechain- this will automatically credit the person with the same amount of BTC or BCH on the sidechain. Also, the sidechain is programmed to recognize the reception of funds unto the mainchain address from where it will automatically credit the user the same amount of BTC or BCH unto a sidechain wallet. People on the mainchain don’t have to know anything about this particular address. As far as they know, it is just another address. Embrace the Spontaneous Order of Market Anarchy It is important that people within BTC and BCH take on a more Hayekian approach to entrepreneurship. Many within crypto are uncomfortable with the mere notion of spontaneous order. It is important that we as Ancaps lead the way in motivating people to experiment with their entrepreneurship. In the past few years, the desire of individuals to covet the development of crypto has become more apparent. These people need to be ignored. No one is the leader of Bitcoin or crypto development. The best innovators within crypto are those that create tools that empower other entrepreneurs to create more options. It is this spontaneous order that we should welcome and promote at all times. Many within BTC and BCH will not accept or feel comfortable with the radical spontaneous order enabled by Drivechains. This is good reasonto brush up on your Austrian Economics in order to properly confront minds that are fearful of human freedom. The Ancap entrepreneurs who are most comfortable with spontaneous order will be the same ones who will produce the greatest amount of value. The development of CryptoAnarchy is guided by the science of praxeology and Austrian Economics. Drivechains are testament to the augmentation of our libertarian order are necessary for CryptoAnarchy to thrive. Drivechains and Investment Strategy The philosophical and economic advantage of sidechain innovation is that it enables the development of BTC and BCH with an investor-centric intention. It is the market’s investment that now decides the best means for scaling and development. Politics and propaganda take an almost insignificant backseat to that of market forces. The technology is now readily available for investors to test drive with their BTC or BCH on any given proposed sidechain. That is, you actually get to experience the value, or lack of value of a new innovation without jeopardizing your position as an investor. All investment decisions are about strategy. Sidechains empower the investor’s strategy by allowing the investor to survey all of the possible value propositions of his/her original investment without having to incur any actual costs. In a similar way, sidechains also provide developers with quick market feedback on the aspects of development that are most favored by the market. Drivechains are a pivotal step in maturing the crypto space into becoming more conscientious in considering the investment strategy of those buying the coins. It is important for innovators to start taking the investor’s strategy into account. Drivechains force developers to consider what is best for the investor, not just what is desired by a given team of developers. Here we have not only a better proposition for investors, but also an incentive for developers to use Drivechains in future crypto experimentation. When experimenting with an altcoin, the measure of success is contingent on this new altcoin gathering a new pool of investors to literally buy into the project. With a sidechain you are already dealing with a more seasoned group of investors that will provide you with more accurate market feedback, being that their investment is now fortified by all other sidechain experimentations that they have already tested at no cost. Altcoins will soon no longer be the locus of innovation within crypto. All future innovation will be offered the option to experiment within BTC or BCH via sidechains. Keep in mind that all previous innovations, already tested in the market by successful altcoins, are now easily adopted by BTC or BCH. It is also important to note that creative experimentation on sidechains do not at all jeopardize the mainnets of BTC or BCH. On the contrary, sidechains will make BTC and BCH much more valuable. When the Drivechain craze begins we will see a BTC and BCH bull run. Don’t be surprised if sidechains are the main reason for the next all time highs. Statists Failing & Anarchists Thriving It is important that we understand that the legacy banking system is completely dead. They are barely adopting simulations of cryptocurrencies unto their banking structures to stay alive. Stablecoins are a manifestation of this bankster angst to remain current. True market innovation is found in the embrace of Market Anarchy. CryptoAnarchy is growing exponentially with tools that are beyond the reach of state megalomaniacs. Drivechains are an example of the CryptoAnarchist tools that will result in further anti-fragility of this new crypto free-market. Proper Austrian Economic incentive structures coupled with applied cryptography is our lethal weapon against nation states and central banks. Arguably, our Ancap philosophy is what guides applied cryptography in the market towards success. For this reason it is important that we keep revisiting the texts of Rothbard, Mises, Hayek, and Konkin throughout our crypto endeavors. Peace! by Rafael LaVerde Source TL;DR: How familiar are you with thermodynamics and silent weapons for secret wars? How familiar are you with the Brave New World Order?
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