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Brief Comments on Goguen: Q4 2020, Q1 2021, utility, Marlowe, DSL, Glow, Plutus, IELE, smart contracts, thanksgiving to you, sidechains and Hydra, Goguen rollout and additions to product update
So, every time there's a post here relating to any article or information about the last new European or American fintech coming to bankrupt all the big Canadian banks, I'm the first to say that banking in Canada is a very powerful oligopoly and that they have been shutting down any effort to take over their business. Well, I think there's a new player that has a lot of potential to ruin them without leaving them a chance to say anything and I'm not talking about holding Bitcoin in Wealthsimple. There has been a new development in the crypto space and it's called decentralized apps. Without getting into details, there are now ways to deposit crypto into a vault and earn interest out of it and it's also possible to borrow coins on the same dapp. One such mature dapp and protocol is called Compound. It also gives you token that allows you to vote on decisions about the protocol. The rates are low, but higher than EQBanks' own. Considering that there are now some Visa Card working only with Crypto, I'm wondering where will be the need for banks' checking and savings account? Of course, there are big hurdles right now. For one, the fees are quite high on the Ethereum chain, the blockchain where most of the action like Compound is happening. Some days, you can be charged as much as $100 just to confirm that you can make a transaction. To address that, there's already an Ethereum 2.0 coming and other chains like Binance secure chain and EOS.IO. Also, the whole Finance Dapp scene is pretty much in beta, which means you can lose everything in a glimpse just because of a coding error. To counteract that, some platforms are already offering insurance. This in only to say that the market is pretty young; the buzz only started 2 months ago. I only see it becoming more and more customer friendly to a point where banks will lose business. I guess they will try to prompt the government to make new laws, but to the rate that everything is going, I think the technology will already have major adoption, just like Airbnb and Uber. What do y'all think about that? Do you think banks will win again with their Open Banking stuff? Do you know if any bank announced strategies to address the crypto space? TL;DR: Do you think Defi apps will once and for all take over the big Canadian Banks? And will it affect your investments?
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.
Decentralized Finance (DeFi) can be rightfully considered a third revolution in the crypto space. If you wonder what the first two are, these are the invention of blockchain itself along with the technology’s firstborn, Bitcoin, and the inception of the smart contract technology. Just like blockchain provides the basis for smart contracts, the latter give rise to DeFi. It is often said that smart contracts are poised to revolutionize the ways both humans and organizations interact in their contractual relationships. In this sense, DeFi is the stage where these relationships are set to emerge and develop. With a bigger picture in mind, it is the world that the blockchain technology lays the foundation for, while smart contracts help to build it. Why we need DeFi, how it is possible, what makes it tick and click are the main themes of this article. by StealthEX
But seriously, why do we need it?
As most financial services in existence today are provided by or involve third parties, for example, banks, exchanges, investment companies, insurance agencies etc, DeFi is an attempt to build an alternative environment, an ecosystem of applications offering the same set of services but now powered by public blockchain networks in a decentralized, transparent and permissionless way. By and large, the basic idea that guides DeFi is essentially the same ethos that drives innovation with crypto as such, but at an entirely different level. Just like cryptocurrencies try to wrest the state supremacy over money from the hands of rogue governments and central banks, DeFi takes it further and aims higher. With DeFi, it is no longer a matter of creating a coin in an effort to replace fiat money, which mostly doesn’t work anyway. However, building a whole new domain of financial services available fairly and squarely to anyone, with full control over the assets but without corrupt governments and greedy intermediaries sticking around, may pan out better after all. So, answering the question posed at the beginning of this section, we need DeFi for basically the same reasons we need cryptocurrencies. Or, put differently, if we need cryptocurrencies, an assumption that has been proved indisputable, it is inevitable as well that we will sooner or later become interested in decentralized financial services powered by these cryptocurrencies through smart contract blockchains. We can’t just create Bitcoin and say that’ll do. It is a natural development, a Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, in a sense.
How is it ever possible?
As mentioned in the introduction, DeFi emerges thanks to smart contract tech and decentralized applications (or simply dApps) running them. So how does it work in practice? To better understand the idea, let’s take a closer look at a relatively simple example of a decentralized crypto-backed stablecoin which can be created through a smart contract. Stablecoins are coins whose value is pegged to a stable asset such as a commodity like gold or a fiat currency like the US dollar. There are a few different types of stablecoins that exist in the wild. For the purpose of this exposition, we are interested in crypto-backed stablecoins. Like stablecoins collateralized by fiat, these stablecoins use cryptocurrencies as collateral. However, the key difference is that a fiat-based stablecoin is pegged to the fiat currency which is backing it up. Kinda obvious. A crypto-backed stablecoin, on the other hand, is pegged to one asset, say, the American dollar, but backed up by a completely different one, for example, Ether. Things get tricky. A crypto-collateralized stablecoin is possible through the magic and the beauty of the smart contract governing it. If the price of such a stablecoin rises above its peg, or parity, you can create more stablecoins and sell them at a premium. If the price of the stablecoin falls below parity, you can buy stablecoins and liquidate them at a discount. If the collateral itself crashes, undercollateralized stablecoins will be liquidated with their collateral now backing up fewer stablecoins. As a result, the price always gets pushed back to parity. And all this rather complicated stuff is done on the blockchain in a decentralized and automatic fashion with no banks or other third parties involved. Consequently, more services are easily possible too. And quite a few at that.
Okay, what decentralized financial services are available?
Well, one such service we have just described above. Cryptocurrencies are infamous for being extremely volatile, and stablecoins are designed to deal with this issue. There are many stablecoins out there like Tether, TrueUSD, or Gemini Coin, but they are all based on trusting third parties. Easily one of the best known crypto-backed stablecoins is MakerDAO’s DAI, which is pegged against the US dollar with a basket of crypto-assets as collateral in a truly decentralized and trustless way, that is, a blockchain way. Crypto-based stablecoins can be used on their own by offering a hedge against the price volatility of such popular cryptocurrencies as Ether or Bitcoin. Aside from that, they are also instrumental in other DeFi services, for example, in decentralized exchanges like IDEX or BiKi.com. With stablecoins, it becomes possible to create fiat trading pairs in addition to crypto ones in entirely decentralized, non-custodial trading environments as opposed to centralized exchanges like Bitfinex or Binance, which are vulnerable to high-profile hacks and personal data leaks. Unlike MakerDAO, Ampleforth doesn’t strive to create a rock-solid stablecoin. Instead, it comes up with the notion of “adaptive money built on sound economics”, with its mission stretching out as far as to marry “the scarcity of Bitcoin with the elasticity of fiat”. It tries to go beyond the relatively simple concept of a stablecoin and brings forth the idea of elastic money supply that can expand and contract depending on market demands, as well as allow the creation of a valid form of collateral for DeFi based on that idea. Obviously, DeFi is not just about stablecoins or the financial services using them. Blockchain-based borrowing and lending is another important DeFi arena. With platforms like Compound, dYdX, Dharma, you can deposit your crypto assets to either earn interest on them or use these assets as collateral for borrowing. Smart contracts automatically match borrowers and lenders, offering dynamic interest rates based on supply and demand. And with tools like LoanScan, you can also easily shop around for the best interest rates on the block. These examples are far from exhaustive, of course, as the space is rapidly expanding and evolving. However, there are some fundamental issues that put grit into the wheels of the DeFi war machine.
So where’s the catch?
There are many advantages of DeFi, but to be of any practical use, it needs up-to-date information that would be reliable and authentic. Smart contracts that DeFi is based on are hopelessly on-chain, but the data they need for processing is mostly off-chain. Without a bridge to close this gap between a smart contract and its source of external information, smart contracts are entrapped in closed-off dungeons of their blockchains. To be sure, no crypto-based stablecoin is going to work correctly without a real-time price feed for the assets taken as its collateral and used for maintaining the peg. To get around this roadblock, a concept of blockchain oracles has been suggested. But as the chain cannot be stronger than its weakest link, blockchain oracles seem to be that weak link in the field of DeFi and beyond as obtaining information in a verifiable way can be an intimidating task. What approaches dApps are taking to procure and verify sources of truth in the external world is the topic of our upcoming article about blockchain oracles. Stay with us and stay tuned! And remember if you need to exchange your coins StealthEX is here for you. We provide a selection of more than 250 coins and constantly updating the list so that our customers will find a suitable option. Our service does not require registration and allows you to remain anonymous. Why don’t you check it out? Just go to StealthEX and follow these easy steps: ✔ Choose the pair and the amount for your exchange. For example ETH to BTC. ✔ Press the “Start exchange” button. ✔ Provide the recipient address to which the coins will be transferred. ✔ Move your cryptocurrency for the exchange. ✔ Receive your coins. Follow us on Medium, Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit to get StealthEX.io updates and the latest news about the crypto world. For all requests message us via [email protected]. The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author. Every investment and trading move involves risk. You should conduct your own research when making a decision. Original article was posted onhttps://stealthex.io/blog/2020/08/04/decentralized-finance-defi/
Crypto Banking Wars: Can Non-Custodial Crypto Wallets Ever Replace Banks?
Can they overcome the product limitations of blockchain and deliver the world-class experience that consumers expect? https://reddit.com/link/i8ewbx/video/ojkc6c9a1lg51/player This is the second part ofCrypto Banking Wars— a new series that examines what crypto-native company is most likely to become thebank of the future. Who is best positioned toreach mainstream adoptionin consumer finance? --- While crypto allows the world to get rid of banks, a bank will still very much be necessary for this verypowerfultechnology to reach the masses. As we laid out in our previous series, Crypto-Powered, we believe companies that build with blockchain at their core will have the best shot at winning the broader consumer finance market. We hope it will be us at Genesis Block, but we aren’t the only game in town. So this series explores the entire crypto landscape and tries to answer the question, which crypto company is most likely to become the bank of the future? In our last episode, we offered an in-depth analysis of big crypto exchanges like Coinbase & Binance. Today we’re analyzing non-custodial crypto wallets. These are products where only the user can touch or move funds. Not even the company or developer who built the application can access, control, or stop funds from being moved. These apps allow users to truly become their own bank. We’ve talked a little about this before. This group of companies is nowhere near the same level of threat as the biggest crypto exchanges. However, this group really understands DeFi and the magic it can bring. This class of products is heavily engineer-driven and at the bleeding-edge of DeFi innovation. These products are certainly worth discussing. Okay, let’s dive in.
Users & Audience
These non-custodial crypto wallets are especially popular among the most hardcore blockchain nerds and crypto cypherpunks.
“Not your keys, not your coins.”
This meme is endlessly repeated among longtime crypto hodlers. If you’re not in complete control of your crypto (i.e. using non-custodial wallets), then it’s not really your crypto. There has always been a close connection between libertarianism & cryptocurrency. This type of user wants to be in absolute control of their money and become their own bank. In addition to the experienced crypto geeks, for some people, these products will mean the difference between life and death. Imagine a refugee family that wants to safely protect their years of hard work — their life savings — as they travel across borders. Carrying cash could put their safety or money at risk. A few years ago I spent time in Greece at refugee camps — I know first-hand this is a real use-case. https://preview.redd.it/vigqlmgg1lg51.png?width=800&format=png&auto=webp&s=0a5d48a63ce7a637749bbbc03d62c51cc3f75613 Or imagine a family living under an authoritarian regime — afraid that their corrupt or oppressive government will seize their assets (or devalue their savings via hyperinflation). Citizens in these countries cannot risk putting their money in centralized banks or under their mattresses. They must become their own bank. These are the common use-cases and users for non-custodial wallets.
Let’s take a look at some of the strengths with non-custodial products.
Regulatory arbitrage Because these products are “non-custodial”, they are able to avoid the regulatory burdens that centralized, custodial products must deal with (KYC/AML/MTL/etc). This is a strong practical benefit for a bootstrapped startup/buildedeveloper. Though it’s unclear how long this advantage lasts as products reach wider audiences and increased scrutiny.
User Privacy Because of the regulatory arbitrage mentioned above, users do not need to complete onerous KYC requirements. For example, there’s no friction around selfies, government-issued IDs, SSNs, etc. Users can preserve much of their privacy and they don’t need to worry about their sensitive information being hacked, compromised, or leaked.
Absolute control & custody This is really one of the great promises of crypto — users can become their own bank. Users can be in full control of their money. And they don’t need to bury it underground or hide it under a mattress. No dependence, reliance or trust in any third parties. Only the user herself can access and unlock the money.
Now let’s examine some of the weaknesses.
Knowledge & Education Most non-custodial products do not abstract away any of the blockchain complexity. In fact, they often expose more of it because the most loyal users are crypto geeks. Imagine how an average, non-crypto user feels when she starts seeing words like seed phrases, public & private keys, gas limits, transaction fees, blockchain explorers, hex addresses, and confirmation times. There is a lot for a user to learn and become educated on. That’s friction. The learning curve is very high and will always be a major blocker for adoption. We’ve talked about this in our Spreading Crypto series — to reach the masses, the crypto stuff needs to be in the background.
User Experience It is currently impossible to create a smooth and performant user experience in non-custodial wallets or decentralized applications. Any interaction that requires a blockchain transaction will feel sluggish and slow. We built a messaging app on Ethereum and presented it at DevCon3 in Cancun. The technical constraints of blockchain technology were crushing to the user experience. We simply couldn’t create the real-time, modern messaging experience that users have come to expect from similar apps like Slack or WhatsApp. Until blockchains are closer in speed to web servers (which will be difficult given their decentralized nature), dApps will never be able to create the smooth user experience that the masses expect.
Product Limitations Most non-custodial wallets today are based on Ethereum smart contracts. That means they are severely limited with the assets that they can support (only erc-20 tokens). Unless through synthetic assets (similar to Abra), these wallets cannot support massively popular assets like Bitcoin, XRP, Cardano, Litecoin, EOS, Tezos, Stellar, Cosmos, or countless others. There are exciting projects like tBTC trying to bring Bitcoin to Ethereum — but these experiments are still very, very early. Ethereum-based smart contract wallets are missing a huge part of the crypto-asset universe.
Technical Complexity While developers are able to avoid a lot of regulatory complexity (see Strengths above), they are replacing it with increased technical complexity. Most non-custodial wallets are entirely dependent on smart contract technology which is still very experimental and early in development (see Insurance section of this DeFi use-cases post). Major bugs and major hacks do happen. Even recently, it was discovered that Argent had a “high severity vulnerability.” Fortunately, Argent fixed it and their users didn’t lose funds. The tools, frameworks, and best practices around smart contract technology are all still being established. Things can still easily go wrong, and they do.
Loss of Funds Risk Beyond the technical risks mentioned above, with non-custodial wallets, it’s very easy for users to make mistakes. There is no “Forgot Password.” There is no customer support agent you can ping. There is no company behind it that can make you whole if you make a mistake and lose your money. You are on your own, just as CZ suggests. One wrong move and your money is all gone. If you lose your private key, there is no way to recover your funds. There are some new developments around social recovery, but that’s all still very experimental. This just isn’t the type of customer support experience people are used to. And it’s not a risk that most are willing to take.
Integration with Fiat & Traditional Finance In today’s world, it’s still very hard to use crypto for daily spending (see Payments in our DeFi use-cases post). Hopefully, that will all change someday. In the meantime, if any of these non-custodial products hope to win in the broader consumer finance market, they will undoubtedly need to integrate with the legacy financial world — they need onramps (fiat-to-crypto deposit methods) and offramps (crypto-to-fiat withdraw/spend methods). As much as crypto-fanatics hate hearing it, you can’t expect people to jump headfirst into the new world unless there is a smooth transition, unless there are bridge technologies that help them arrive. This is why these fiat integrations are so important. Examples might be allowing ACH/Wire deposits (eg. via Plaid) or launching a debit card program for spend/withdraw. These fiat integrations are essential if the aim is to become the bank of the future. Doing any of this compliantly will require strong KYC/AML. So to achieve this use-case — integrating with traditional finance —all of the Strengths we mentioned above are nullified. There are no longer regulatory benefits. There are no longer privacy benefits (users need to upload KYC documents, etc). And users are no longer in complete control of their money.
One of the great powers of crypto is that we no longer depend on banks. Anyone can store their wealth and have absolute control of their money. That’s made possible with these non-custodial wallets. It’s a wonderful thing. I believe that the most knowledgeable and experienced crypto people (including myself) will always be active users of these applications. And as mentioned in this post, there will certainly be circumstances where these apps will be essential & even life-saving.
However, I do not believe this category of product is a major threat to Genesis Block to becoming the bank of the future.
They won’t win in the broader consumer finance market — mostly because I don’t believe that’s their target audience. These applications simply cannot produce the type of product experience that the masses require, want, or expect. The Weaknesses I’ve outlined above are just too overwhelming. The friction for mass-market consumers is just too much. https://preview.redd.it/lp8dzxeh1lg51.png?width=800&format=png&auto=webp&s=03acdce545cd032f7e82b6665b001d7a06839557 The winning bank will be focused on solving real user problems and meeting user needs. Not slowed down by rigid idealism like censorship-resistance and absolute decentralization, as it is with most non-custodial wallets. The winning bank will be a world-class product that’s smooth, performant, and accessible. Not sluggish and slow, as it is with most non-custodial wallets. The winning bank will be one where blockchain & crypto is mostly invisible to end-users. Not front-and-center as it is with non-custodial wallets. The winning bank will be one managed and run by professionals who know exactly what they’re doing. Not DIY (Do It Yourself), as it is with non-custodial wallets. So are these non-custodial wallets a threat to Genesis Block in winning the broader consumer finance market, and becoming the bank of the future? No. They are designed for a very different audience. ------ Other Ways to Consume Today's Episode:
Crypto-Powered: Understanding Bitcoin, Ethereum, and DeFi
Until one understands the basics of this tech, they won’t be able to grasp or appreciate the impact it has on our digital bank, Genesis Block. https://reddit.com/link/ho4bif/video/n0euarkifu951/player This is the second post ofCrypto-Powered— a new series that examines what it means forGenesis Blockto be a digital bank that’s powered by crypto, blockchain, and decentralized protocols. --- Our previous post set the stage for this series. We discussed the state of consumer finance and how the success of today’s high-flying fintech unicorns will be short-lived as long as they’re building on legacy finance — a weak foundation that is ripe for massive disruption. Instead, the future of consumer finance belongs to those who are deeply familiar with blockchain tech & decentralized protocols, build on it as the foundation, and know how to take it to the world. Like Genesis Block. Today we begin our journey down the crypto rabbit hole. This post will be an important introduction for those still learning about Bitcoin, Ethereum, or DeFi (Decentralized Finance). This post (and the next few) will go into greater detail about how this technology gives Genesis Block an edge, a superpower, and an unfair advantage. Let’s dive in… https://preview.redd.it/1ugdxoqjfu951.jpg?width=650&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=36edde1079c3cff5f6b15b8cd30e6c436626d5d8
Bitcoin: The First Cryptocurrency
There are plenty of online resources to learn about Bitcoin (Coinbase, Binance, Gemini, Naval, Alex Gladstein, Marc Andreessen, Chris Dixon). I don’t wanna spend a lot of time on that here, but let’s do a quick overview for those still getting ramped up. Cryptocurrency is the most popular use-case of blockchain technology today. And Bitcoin was the first cryptocurrency to be invented.
Bitcoin is the most decentralized of all crypto assets today — no government, company, or third party can control or censor it.
Bitcoin has two primary features (as do most other cryptocurrencies):
Send Value You can send value to anyone, anywhere in the world. Nobody can intercept, delay or stop it — not even governments or financial institutions. Unlike with traditional money transfers or bank wires, there are no layers of middlemen. This results in a process that is much more cost-efficient. Some popular use-cases include remittances and cross-border payments.
A few negative moments in Bitcoin’s history include the collapse of Mt. Gox — which resulted in hundreds of millions of customer funds being stolen — as well as Bitcoin’s role in dark markets like Silk Road — where Bitcoin arguably found its initial userbase. However, like most breakthrough technology, Bitcoin is neither good nor bad. It’s neutral. People can use it for good or they can use it for evil. Thankfully, it’s being used less and less for illicit activity. Criminals are starting to understand that transactions on a blockchain are public and traceable — it’s exactly the type of system they usually try to avoid. And it’s true, at this point “a lot more” crimes are actually committed with fiat than crypto. As a result, the perception of bitcoin and cryptocurrency has been changing over the years to a more positive light. Bitcoin has even started to enter the world of media & entertainment. It’s been mentioned in Hollywood films like Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse and in songs from major artists like Eminem. It’s been mentioned in countless TV shows like Billions, The Simpsons, Big Bang Theory, Gray’s Anatomy, Family Guy, and more. As covid19 has ravaged economies and central banks have been printing money, Bitcoin has caught the attention of many legendary Wall Street investors like Paul Tudor Jones, saying that Bitcoin is a great bet against inflation (reminding him of Gold in the 1970s). Cash App already lets their 25M users buy Bitcoin. It’s rumored that PayPal and Venmo will soon let their 325M users start buying Bitcoin. Bitcoin is by far the most dominant cryptocurrency and is showing no signs of slowing down. For more than a decade it has delivered on its core use-cases — being able to send or store value.
At this point, Bitcoin has very much entered the zeitgeist of modern pop culture — at least in the West.
When Ethereum launched in 2015, it opened up a world of new possibilities and use-cases for crypto. With Ethereum Smart Contracts (i.e. applications), this exciting new digital money (cryptocurrency) became a lot less dumb. Developers could now build applications that go beyond the simple use-cases of “send value” & “store value.” They could program cryptocurrency to have rules, behavior, and logic to respond to different inputs. And always enforced by code. Additional reading on Ethereum fromLinda XieorVitalik Buterin.
Because these applications are built on blockchain technology (Ethereum), they preserve many of the same characteristics as Bitcoin: no one can stop, censor or shut down these apps because they are decentralized.
Just as tokens grew in popularity in 2017–2018, so did online marketplaces where these tokens could be bought, sold, and traded. This was a fledgling asset class — the merchants selling picks, axes, and shovels were finally starting to emerge.
I had a front-row seat — both as an investor and token creator. This was the Wild West with all the frontier drama & scandal that you’d expect.
Binance — now the world’s largest crypto exchange —was launched during this time. They along with many others (especially from Asia) made it really easy for speculators, traders, and degenerate gamblers to participate in these markets. Similar to other financial markets, the goal was straightforward: buy low and sell high. https://preview.redd.it/tytsu5jnfu951.jpg?width=600&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=fe3425b7e4a71fa953b953f0c7f6eaff6504a0d1 That period left an embarrassing stain on our industry that we’ve still been trying to recover from. It was a period rampant with market manipulation, pump-and-dumps, and scams. To some extent, the crypto industry still suffers from that today, but it’s nothing compared to what it was then.
While the potential of getting filthy rich brought a lot of fly-by-nighters and charlatans into the industry, it also brought a lot of innovators, entrepreneurs, and builders.
The launch and growth of Ethereum has been an incredible technological breakthrough. As with past tech breakthroughs, it has led to a wave of innovation, experimentation, and development. The creativity around tokens, smart contracts, and decentralized applications has been fascinating to witness. Now a few years later, the fruits of those labors are starting to be realized.
I know that for the hardcore crypto people, what we covered today is nothing new. But for those who are still getting up to speed, welcome! I hope this was helpful and that it fuels your interest to learn more. Until you understand the basics of this technology, you won’t be able to fully appreciate the impact that it has on our new digital bank, Genesis Block. You won’t be able to understand the implications, how it relates, or how it helps. After today’s post, some of you probably have a lot more questions. What are specific examples or use-cases of DeFi? Why does it need to be on a blockchain? What benefits does it bring to Genesis Block and our users? In upcoming posts, we answer these questions. Today’s post was just Level 1. It set the foundation for where we’re headed next: even deeper down the crypto rabbit hole. --- Other Ways to Consume Today's Episode:
We have a lot more content coming. Be sure to follow our channels: https://genesisblock.com/follow/ Have you already downloaded the app? We're Genesis Block, a new digital bank that's powered by crypto & decentralized protocols. The app is live in the App Store (iOS & Android). Get the link to download at https://genesisblock.com/download
Crypto-Powered - The Most Promising Use-Cases of Decentralized Finance (DeFi)
A whirlwind tour of Defi, paying close attention to protocols that we’re leveraging atGenesis Block. https://reddit.com/link/hrrt21/video/cvjh5rrh12b51/player This is the third post ofCrypto-Powered— a new series that examines what it means forGenesis Blockto be a digital bank that’s powered by crypto, blockchain, and decentralized protocols. Last week we explored how building on legacy finance is a fool’s errand. The future of money belongs to those who build with crypto and blockchain at their core. We also started down the crypto rabbit hole, introducing Bitcoin, Ethereum, and DeFi (decentralized finance). That post is required reading if you hope to glean any value from the rest of this series. 97% of all activity on Ethereum in the last quarter has been DeFi-related. The total value sitting inside DeFi protocols is roughly $2B — double what it was a month ago. The explosive growth cannot be ignored. All signs suggest that Ethereum & DeFi are a Match Made in Heaven, and both on their way to finding strong product/market fit. So in this post, we’re doing a whirlwind tour of DeFi. We look at specific examples and use-cases already in the wild and seeing strong growth. And we pay close attention to protocols that Genesis Block is integrating with. Alright, let’s dive in.
Stablecoins are exactly what they sound like: cryptocurrencies that are stable. They are not meant to be volatile (like Bitcoin). These assets attempt to peg their price to some external reference (eg. USD or Gold). A non-volatile crypto asset can be incredibly useful for things like merchant payments, cross-border transfers, or storing wealth — becoming your own bank but without the stress of constant price volatility. There are major governments and central banks that are experimenting with or soon launching their own stablecoins like China with their digital yuan and the US Federal Reserve with their digital dollar. There are also major corporations working in this area like JP Morgan with their JPM Coin, and of course Facebook with their Libra Project.
Stablecoin activity has grown 800% in the last year, with $290B of transaction volume (funds moving on-chain).
USDC($1B): This is the most reputable USD-backed stablecoin, at least in the West. It was created by Coinbase & Circle, both well-regarded crypto companies. They’ve been very open and transparent with their audits and bank records.
DAI ($189M): This is backed by other crypto assets — not USD in a bank account. This was arguably the first true DeFi protocol. The big benefit is that it’s more decentralized — it’s not controlled by any single organization. The downside is that the assets backing it can be volatile crypto assets (though it has mechanisms in place to mitigate that risk).
Three of the top five DeFi protocols relate to lending & borrowing. These popular lending protocols look very similar to traditional money markets. Users who want to earn interest/yield can deposit (lend) their funds into a pool of liquidity. Because it behaves similarly to traditional money markets, their funds are not locked, they can withdraw at any time. It’s highly liquid. Borrowers can tap into this pool of liquidity and take out loans. Interest rates depend on the utilization rate of the pool — how much of the deposits in the pool have already been borrowed. Supply & demand. Thus, interest rates are variable and borrowers can pay their loans back at any time.
So, who decides how much a borrower can take? What’s the process like? Are there credit checks? How is credit-worthiness determined?
These protocols are decentralized, borderless, permissionless. The people participating in these markets are from all over the world. There is no simple way to verify identity or check credit history. So none of that happens. Credit-worthiness is determined simply by how much crypto collateral the borrower puts into the protocol. For example, if a user wants to borrow $5k of USDC, then they’ll need to deposit $10k of BTC or ETH. The exact amount of collateral depends on the rules of the protocol — usually the more liquid the collateral asset, the more borrowing power the user can receive. The most prominent lending protocols include Compound, Aave, Maker, and Atomic Loans. Recently, Compound has seen meteoric growth with the introduction of their COMP token — a token used to incentivize and reward participants of the protocol. There’s almost $1B in outstanding debt in the Compound protocol. Mainframe is also working on an exciting protocol in this area and the latest iteration of their white paper should be coming out soon.
There is very little economic risk to these protocols because all loans are overcollateralized.
Buying, selling, and trading crypto assets is certainly one form of investing (though not for the faint of heart). But there are now DeFi protocols to facilitate making and managing traditional-style investments. Through DeFi, you can invest in Gold. You can invest in stocks like Amazon and Apple. You can short Tesla. You can access the S&P 500. This is done through crypto-based synthetics — which gives users exposure to assets without needing to hold or own the underlying asset. This is all possible with protocols like UMA, Synthetix, or Market protocol. Maybe your style of investing is more passive. With PoolTogether , you can participate in a no-loss lottery. Maybe you’re an advanced trader and want to trade options or futures. You can do that with DeFi protocols like Convexity, Futureswap, and dYdX. Maybe you live on the wild side and trade on margin or leverage, you can do that with protocols like Fulcrum, Nuo, and DDEX. Or maybe you’re a degenerate gambler and want to bet against Trump in the upcoming election, you can do that on Augur. And there are plenty of DeFi protocols to help with crypto investing. You could use Set Protocol if you need automated trading strategies. You could use Melonport if you’re an asset manager. You could use Balancer to automatically rebalance your portfolio. With as little as $1, people all over the world can have access to the same investment opportunities and tools that used to be reserved for only the wealthy, or those lucky enough to be born in the right country.
You can start to imagine how services like Etrade, TD Ameritrade, Schwab, and even Robinhood could be massively disrupted by a crypto-native company that builds with these types of protocols at their foundation.
As mentioned in our previous post, there are near-infinite applications one can build on Ethereum. As a result, sometimes the code doesn’t work as expected. Bugs get through, it breaks. We’re still early in our industry. The tools, frameworks, and best practices are all still being established. Things can go wrong. Sometimes the application just gets in a weird or bad state where funds can’t be recovered — like with what happened with Parity where $280M got frozen (yes, I lost some money in that). Sometimes, there are hackers who discover a vulnerability in the code and maliciously steal funds — like how dForce lost $25M a few months ago, or how The DAO lost $50M a few years ago. And sometimes the system works as designed, but the economic model behind it is flawed, so a clever user takes advantage of the system— like what recently happened with Balancer where they lost $500k. There are a lot of risks when interacting with smart contracts and decentralized applications — especially for ones that haven’t stood the test of time. This is why insurance is such an important development in DeFi.
Insurance will be an essential component in helping this technology reach the masses.
Decentralized Exchanges (DEX) were one of the first and most developed categories in DeFi. A DEX allows a user to easily exchange one crypto asset for another crypto asset — but without needing to sign up for an account, verify identity, etc. It’s all via decentralized protocols. Within the first 5 months of 2020, the top 7 DEX already achieved the 2019 trading volume. That was $2.5B. DeFi is fueling a lot of this growth. https://preview.redd.it/1dwvq4e022b51.png?width=700&format=png&auto=webp&s=97a3d756f60239cd147031eb95fc2a981db55943 There are many different flavors of DEX. Some of the early ones included 0x, IDEX, and EtherDelta — all of which had a traditional order book model where buyers are matched with sellers. Another flavor is the pooled liquidity approach where the price is determined algorithmically based on how much liquidity there is and how much the user wants to buy. This is known as an AMM (Automated Market Maker) — Uniswap and Bancor were early leaders here. Though lately, Balancer has seen incredible growth due mostly to their strong incentives for participation — similar to Compound. There are some DEXs that are more specialized — for example, Curve and mStable focus mostly only stablecoins. Because of the proliferation of these decentralized exchanges, there are now aggregators that combine and connect the liquidity of many sources. Those include Kyber, Totle, 1Inch, and Dex.ag.
These decentralized exchanges are becoming more and more connected to DeFi because they provide an opportunity for yield and earning interest.
As it relates to making payments, much of the world is still stuck on plastic cards. We’re grateful to partner with Visa and launch the Genesis Block debit card… but we still don’t believe that's the future of payments. We see that as an important bridge between the past (legacy finance) and the future (crypto). Our first post in this series shared more on why legacy finance is broken. We talked about the countless unnecessary middle-men on every card swipe (merchant, acquiring bank, processor, card network, issuing bank). We talked about the slow settlement times. The future of payments will be much better. Yes, it’ll be from a mobile phone and the user experience will be similar to ApplePay (NFC) or WePay (QR Code).
But more importantly, the underlying assets being moved/exchanged will all be crypto — digital, permissionless, and open source.
Someone making a payment at the grocery store check-out line will be able to open up Genesis Block, use contactless tech or scan a QR code, and instantly pay for their goods. All using crypto. Likely a stablecoin. Settlement will be instant. All the middlemen getting their pound of flesh will be disintermediated. The merchant can make more and the user can spend less. Blockchain FTW! Now let’s talk about a few projects working in this area. The xDai Burner Wallet experience was incredible at the ETHDenver event a few years ago, but that speed came at the expense of full decentralization (can it be censored or shut down?). Of course, Facebook’s Libra wants to become the new standard for global payments, but many are afraid to give Facebook that much control (newsflash: it isn’t very decentralized). Bitcoin is decentralized… but it’s slow and volatile. There are strong projects like Lightning Network (Zap example) that are still trying to make it happen. Projects like Connext and OmiseGo are trying to help bring payments to Ethereum. The Flexa project is leveraging the gift card rails, which is a nice hack to leverage existing pipes. And if ETH 2.0 is as fast as they say it will be, then the future of payments could just be a stablecoin like DAI (a token on Ethereum). In a way, being able to spend crypto on daily expenses is the holy grail of use-cases. It’s still early. It hasn’t yet been solved. But once we achieve this, then we can ultimately and finally say goodbye to the legacy banking & finance world. Employees can be paid in crypto. Employees can spend in crypto. It changes everything.
Legacy finance is hanging on by a thread, and it’s this use-case that they are still clinging to. Once solved, DeFi domination will be complete.
At Genesis Block, we’re excited to leverage these protocols and take this incredible technology to the world. Many of these protocols are already deeply integrated with our product. In fact, many are essential. The masses won’t know (or care about) what Tether, USDC, or DAI is. They think in dollars, euros, pounds and pesos. So while the user sees their local currency in the app, the underlying technology is all leveraging stablecoins. It’s all on “crypto rails.” https://preview.redd.it/jajzttr622b51.png?width=700&format=png&auto=webp&s=fcf55cea1216a1d2fcc3bf327858b009965f9bf8 When users deposit assets into their Genesis Block account, they expect to earn interest. They expect that money to grow. We leverage many of these low-risk lending/exchange DeFi protocols. We lend into decentralized money markets like Compound — where all loans are overcollateralized. Or we supply liquidity to AMM exchanges like Balancer. This allows us to earn interest and generate yield for our depositors. We’re the experts so our users don’t need to be. We haven’t yet integrated with any of the insurance or investment protocols — but we certainly plan on it. Our infrastructure is built with blockchain technology at the heart and our system is extensible — we’re ready to add assets and protocols when we feel they are ready, safe, secure, and stable. Many of these protocols are still in the experimental phase. It’s still early.
At Genesis Block we’re excited to continue to be at the frontlines of this incredible, innovative, technological revolution called DeFi.
--- None of these powerful DeFi protocols will be replacing Robinhood, SoFi, or Venmo anytime soon. They never will. They aren’t meant to! We’ve discussed this before, these are low-level protocols that need killer applications, like Genesis Block. So now that we’ve gone a little deeper down the rabbit hole and we’ve done this whirlwind tour of DeFi, the natural next question is: why?
Why does any of it matter?
Most of these financial services that DeFi offers already exist in the real world. So why does it need to be on a blockchain? Why does it need to be decentralized? What new value is unlocked? Next post, we answer these important questions. To look at more projects in DeFi, check outDeFi Prime,DeFi Pulse, orConsensys. ------ Other Ways to Consume Today's Episode:
https://preview.redd.it/ysi74g2vn3251.png?width=1920&format=png&auto=webp&s=63875e316556c41144ad81cf061caf5bb3f4680d We all have heard the term Smart Contract. When Satoshi invented Blockchain, it was meant to perform transactions only. Ethereum smart contracts made it the prime choice to build Dapps over it. Smart contract enhanced Ethereum’s functionality and makes it different from the traditional blockchain (Bitcoin). This functionality was replicated by other newer Blockchains. What are Smart Contracts? Smart contracts can be defined as self-executing applications that run on a blockchain. It is an agreement between two or more parties in the form of a computer code that runs on a decentralized network in a blockchain. It consists of a set of defined rules which are agreed upon by the involved parties. The contract automatically gets activated whenever certain conditions are met. This idea will remove the involvement of any trusted third-party companies (such as banks) and will be controlled by computers on a trusted network. Ethereum is one of the most popular blockchain platforms for creating smart contracts. It supports a feature called Turing-completeness that enables the developers to build customized smart contracts. Solidity, Ethereum’s original coding language is used to develop smart contracts. Ethereum blockchain's ERC-20 and ERC-721 tokens are smart contract standards. Who created it? Nick Szabo, a computer scientist, and cryptographer, first described the idea of Smart contracts in the ‘90s. He worked on the concept of defining contract laws in businesses between parties by maintaining an electronic commerce protocol on the Internet. He further designed Bit Gold, a mechanism for a decentralized digital currency in 1998. Though the idea was never implemented it created a base that led to the popularity of Bitcoin after 10 years. Properties: · Self-verifiable · Self-executable · Tamper Proof Benefits of using Smart Contract · The removal of third-party or middleman leads to direct and transparent communication between involving parties · Helps in maintaining trust as the agreement rules were predefined and agreed by the parties involved · Helps in reducing error and frauds · Time and cost-efficient · No single point of failure or data loss as data is distributed across the network https://preview.redd.it/1e5ahcqxn3251.png?width=1024&format=png&auto=webp&s=f8a1ebb9b3a84dd721fb32f96fc1950899bc3015 Different objects of Smart contracts There are three essential and main objects of Smart Contracts · Signatories- The parties who use the smart contract. · Agreement subject · Terms and Condition-. Details like rules, obligations, and associated punishments, etc are mentioned as terms and conditions as appropriate. How Smart Contract works Ethereum has 2 types of accounts · External accounts (user account) - Controlled by public-private key pairs · Contract accounts - Controlled by the code stored together with the account These accounts contain four fields: · The nonce, which ensures that each transaction can only be processed once · The current ether balance of the account · The contract code of the account · The storage of the account Model steps
External account executes a function:
a. The user initiates the process by signing the transaction using his private key corresponding to the account. b. Local validation of the transaction happens. It is broadcasted to the network. c. The transaction is added to the transaction pool. The mines maintains such pools.
Generate EVM bytecode through compiling
a. EVM is a powerful, virtual sandbox embedded within each full Ethereum node b. The job of the EVM is to update the Ethereum state by computing valid state transitions as a result of smart contact code execution c. The EVM should not run into any exceptions during the execution
Get contract address from that transaction's receipt
Trigger contract address to invoke methods of that deployed smart contract
Upon receiving a newly created block, the local node executes all the transactions in the block.
The accuracy and quality of a smart contract depends on the following things · Open and decentralized database · The environment needs to support the use of public-key cryptography · Quality programming is crucial. · Data should be reliable. · Robust rules should be used while automating the process. Features Smart contracts automatically support the features of underlying blockchain technology. · Autonomy – Complete control of the involving parties. No need of middleman as in the case of traditional contractual system · Speed – Automated computer code runs as soon as the input criteria fulfill, thereby eliminating the delays caused by manual paperwork activity · Safety – Network encryption guarantees safety against data theft or hacking · Savings – No doubt that the removal of middleman saves a lot of overall cost and time · Accuracy – Since these smart contracts are automated software codes so they ensure accurate output as long as the data fed into the system as input is accurate · Trust – Helps in building trust as the documents are encrypted in a shared ledger · Backup – Since in Blockchain network, each node has a complete backup of data which ensures protection over data loss Potential Use cases Smart contracts can be used to exchange money, property, shares, or anything without any intervention of middleman. They are now gaining popularity and adaption in various sectors. Some of the main sectors are as follows:- · Insurance Companies · Health Systems · Government’s administrative work. · Business Management I will cover each of the potential use cases in detail in my future articles separately. Conclusion Smart Contract is the greatest innovation built on Blockchain technology. We can say it as a cherry over the pie. It has given a new dimension to technology and is one of the biggest reasons behind the popularity of Ethereum. We can say without any second thought that very soon we will be entering into the era where there will be no intervention of any third party. In this way, it can help us in saving a lot of money, time, and effort. Also, we don’t need to be dependent or trust anyone while taking any crucial transactions. This will surely help in reducing fraud, unnecessary delays, and the overall cost of transactions. Smart Contracts will make many transactional jobs redundant. We can be hopeful that further development in technology will open sources for many other new jobs. Read More: Understanding Hard Fork Register in Crypto.com and get $ 50. Linkhere. Create a Binance account using my referrallink.
Answer - As for Kava, Kava was originally founded in January 2018. It was formed by cofounders Scott Stuart, Ruaridh O’Donnell and myself with the mission to tackle the problem of interoperability. We started the company working with larger projects like Ripple, MakerDao, and Cosmos on their layer 2 and interoperability problems and developed a lot of expertise in this area. It wasn’t until 2019 that we eventually decided to put our expertise to public use and create the first interoperable DeFi blockchain, Kava.
Could you please tell me what KAVA cryptocurrency is? What problem does it solve?
Answer - KAVA is the staking, governance, and reserve asset of the Kava DeFi platform. KAVA is required by node operators to secure transactions on the blockchain. Additionally, when lending fees are paid, they are converted to Kava and burned reducing the overall supply of KAVA tokens. As more users use the Kava lending platform, KAVA should become more scarce overtime.
What is the advantage of keeping the KAVA token for a long and short term?
Answer - In the short term, if you stake KAVA you can earn additional block rewards every day, block by block. This provides a nice steady return on the Kava usually in the range of 3-20% depending on the number of people staking.
We will be opening the gates of DeFi to many top tier assets such as BNB, XRP, ATOM, and BTC which have never been able to use lending, stablecoins, or other DeFi Services. If you are a KAVA hodler you can benefit from owning and having a stake in the network as we grow because as the network grows, Kava is burned and it becomes more scarce as a resource.
Chainlink is KAVA’s partner, can you explain more about this partnership?
Answer - Yes, this is not the usual chainlink partnership where a blockchain consumes data from Chainlink’s oracle solution.
No oracle solution adequate for DeFi applications on Cosmos was available. For this reason, Kava has teamed up with Chainlink to bring its data and reliable oracle solution to the Cosmos ecosystem. Chainlink nodes now will be able to securely publish data directly on the Kava blockchain where it can be used or easily transported to other Cosmos-based blockchains and applications. Chainlink oracles on Kava utilize all the industry-leading technologies of Chainlink, while enabling more frequent price updates and improving the reach and distribution of where that data can be used.
Since Kava’s blockchain is built using Tendermint, Tendermint-based blockchains within the Cosmos ecosystem (Binance, Terra, OKChain, Cosmos Hub, Agoric, Aragon, and others) will now be able to retrieve market data such as cryptocurrency, FX, and commodity prices. For DEX’s like Binance this will enable them to create futures, options, and other derivative products they were not able to do so before.
TLDR: Kava + Chainlink Data creates the ideal hub for all blockchains and applications to get their DeFi services and Data, and as result makes Kava a natural hub for the growing Cosmos ecosystem.
What is the KAVA CDP product? Do you have any exciting things down the pipeline that you can share?
Answer - First, let me clarify that CDP simply means “collateralized-debt-position” similar to CDOs that exist in the traditional finance world. What it means is a loan using collateral to back the loan.
Kava’s lending platform offers collateralized loans to users who have crypto. Getting a loan with Kava’s platform is great if you don’t want to sell your crypto position, but need short term cash for payments or if you want to use the loan to get a levered / margin position without going through KYC.
As for news! Kava’s lending platform is scheduled to officially launch on the mainnet June 10th.
At this time, DeFi will be made available to BNB for the first time ever. Also at this time, the Kava DeFi platform will be awarding the first users that have BNB extremely high rewards for being early adopters.
Each week, 74,000 KAVA will be given out to all the users who have taken out loans on Kava. Yes, you get free KAVA, for taking out a loan using BNB!
Why should BNB users use KAVA’s lending platform and take out USDX? And how to mint USDX with BNB on KAVA CDP?
Answer - Free- maybe let's call it rewards for being good users 😉
The rewards are platform growth incentives so that we can grow the platform quickly.
Well at launch, definitely the KAVA rewards are a huge reason for BNB users to use it.
As for the product long-term, the major use case for our lending platform is to get a levered position without needing an exchange or to go through KYC.
How it works is that a BNB holder can deposit their BNB and take out USDX loans - this capital they will take and buy more BNB with it. Most people will use the loan this way to get 2-3x the original BNB amount. If the price goes up on BNB, they win 2-3x the gains!
Of course if the price goes down and they cannot repay their loan, the BNB collateral might get liquidated, so be careful, it works just like a margin trading account.
Brian do you have any more information or links for our community about this?
KAVA was initially planned to launch on Ripple network but later switched to Cosmos Tendermint Core. [email protected] is that something you see in Tendermint Core that is not available anywhere?
Answer - For clarification, Kava was never planned to be on Ripple. However, Ripple is a Kava investor, shareholder, and partner.
We selected the Cosmos-SDK featuring the Tendermint BFT consensus because during our past work with Ripple, MakerDao, ETH, and other layer 2 work we learned the value of “finality” of blockchains. For example, on ETH, the finality of blocks do not happen right away. You need to reach 15+ blocks to be confirmed on Ethereum to really know a transaction has passed. This results in really slow user experiences that aren’t acceptable in finance or any application really.
Tendermint solves this because it makes every transaction final and occur in seconds.
Additionally, we chose the Cosmos-SDK as the framework to build our stand alone blockchain, Kava because it allowed us to create our own security model and design which enables Kava as a DeFi platform responsible for millions of dollars of collateral to be very secure in a way we could net get if we built it on any other network.
KAVA does cross-chain support. Compared to other DeFi platforms, KAVA offer collateralized loans and stable coins to users too. How will volatility be managed there with so many different collateral systems in CDP?
Answer - Volatility is an important consideration and accurate and timely price reference data is needed to make sure the system works.
All the collateral positions rely on price feeds from oracles to determine if they are safe or need to be liquidated. Kava has created a novel partnership with Chainlink, where Chainlink oracles that normally run on Ethereum, operate nodes directly on Kava where they can post prices. This Kava to avoid network congestion, high gas fees, and other less desirable issues found on Ethereum, while enabling the oracles with Kava’s fast blocktimes and finality so they can actually deliver price updates 10-20x more frequently than is possible elsewhere. This makes Kava’s price feed data very reliable.
In times of volatility, if liquidations occur, the Kava platform automatically auctions collateral off for USDX on the market and burns the USDX. This mechanism keeps the system balanced and USDX algorithmically stable and always fully collateralized by real assets.
And it does this transparently, unlike the real world CDOs which caused the world issues in 2008 due to the lack of transparency in their assets and risk.
Recently, Binance has released a white paper on BSC, a Binance smart chain. So, what can I get by staking through Binance Coin BNB?
Answer - Yay for smart contracts!
What can we get by staking bnb?
Staking BNB on Kava, or depositing it in a CDP and creating USDX from it earns users KAVA in rewards everyweek. A lot of rewards. In addition, you get USDX to hold which also pays out a savings rate each block that is much better than say what USD in a checking account could do.
Various platforms are in Ethereum. So why is Kava not at Ethereum?
Answer - I could speak about this for ages, but there is a reason for Ethereum being the home to many hacks and bugs.
Kava is not on ethereum because we couldn’t build our system there. The main reasons. as I have mentioned are:
(1) Ethereum has congestion, oracle issues, high fees, and slow block times.
(2) Ethereum’s open smart contracting system can do anything. This is great for building crypto kitties, but horrible for financial software as it makes all code have infinite attack vectors that hackers can use which are impossible to test for. We built our own chain so we could scope the code and limit what attack vectors are possible.
(3) Building in solidity, the language of Ethereum, is horrible. The development environment is bad, testnets don’t work, and many other things are painful. Kava is primarily built in GO which is far superior for financial applications in most respects.
(4) The future is Cosmos. Binance, Okchain, terra, Cosmos Hub(ATOM), and Kava all are created using the Cosmos-SDK framework. I believe this is the future and the blockchain developers are moving to this in mass. Over 110 projects now are building with the Cosmos-SDK.
What are ways by which Kava project generates profit/revenue to maintain project. What is your revenue model?
Answer - Kava is a for-profit financial DAO with over 80 different businesses staking Kava and voting on its evolution. They want to see Kava succeed so they vote to fund operations and developments that drive user growth in Kava. Due to fees paid in Kava and the burning mechanism, as the system grows in users, the Kava supply decreases making those that hold Kava win due to scarcity.
Lending/Borrowing has been introduced by Binance. How can this affect the Kava since people can directly borrow BUSD from Binance with BNB used as collateral than going to Kava?
Answer - Kava will be featured on Binance as well. The main benefit of Kava is that there is no counterparty. The capital is minted on demand not sourced from somewhere. Binance and other centralized parties on the otherhand need to find capital to provide loans, creating a cost of capital. Kava is much more efficient at providing capital and avoids a lot of regulator issues.
I'll add I think BUSD in the future might be usable for collateral to Kava's loans as well. It would be cool 🙂
What's your opinions on Future of DeFi & DApps? Do you think that DeFi is the future of current Financial world? Also, How do you see the future of KAVA?
Answer - I believe Centralized Finance and the existing infrastructure has a place. It has a lot of issues that cause things like the 2008 crisis and the current insolvency issues that are happening across the world due to trust-based debt with no actual backers other than the people which end up bailing out banks and other financial institutions that have made poor decisions.
DeFi's future is bright because it solves this fundamental issue. It removes trust and adds transparency. Kava is right at the foundation for all of DeFi as things grow and mature.
Recently, we have seen some big hacks in DeFi platforms. How will KAVA deal with these bad actors of crypto and what security measures have been taken by KAVA for the safety of users' funds?"
Answer - Unlike a lot of DeFi startups, we take things seriously. We don't ""move fast and break things"" as Mark Zuckerberg would say.
We do a thorough analysis before suggesting to deploy code. Our internal team works very hard to run tests and simulations, once it passes internally, we give it to 3rd party auditors who try and game it and break the code. If it passes there, we give the code to the community to review and vote into the mainnet. In this way, I’d estimate about 100+ people review our code and test it before it goes live and consumers can touch it. I don't know many other project teams that due things with such diligence.
Binance for KAVA is a very valuable partner in terms of increasing the number of users, but what is KAVA ready to give equivalent to Binance users? What applications will be integrated into Binance to expand the ecosystem?
Answer - Kava gives the BNB users loans. It gives the DEX a stablecoin and the ability to offer margin products. Kava’s connection to binance chain and chainlink data also enables Binance DEX to offer trustless derivatives like options and futures products going forward.
Cosmos has limitations on working with PoW coins. How do you technically solve the problem of implementing DeFi products for bitcoin?
Answer - Cosmos is great for hard-to-work-with blockchains like BTC. It's flexible in how you can construct bridges. For example, the validator set can have a multisig private key split up into pieces in order to create a trustless escrow and control of assets on other blockchains. In this way, we can create peg zones with Cosmos for the best assets in the world. Once a zone is established, it can be used on Kava and other Cosmos chains.
USDX is currently a little-known stable coin. Do you plan to add it to the top exchanges with good liquidity, including Binance?
Answer - USDX will be growing quickly. We have a plan to have it listed and get liquidity across several known exchanges shortly after launch.
There are several options for using USDX on the KAVA platform, one of which is Margin Trading / Leverage. Is this a selection function or a compulsory function? Wondering since there are some investors who don`t like margin. What is the level of leverage and how does a CDP auction work?
Answer - Using Kava for Margin trading is 100% optional. You can choose how you want to use the margin loan. You don’t have to spend the USDX unless you want to. It could be used for everyday payments as well in the case you simply don’t want to sell your underlying collateral. If you don’t want the risk, do small loans with lots of collateral.
Will your team have a plan to implement the DAO module on your platform, as it provides autonomy, decentralization and transparency?
Answer - DAO - Kava is a for-profit DAO and it’s fully functional already. We have on-chain governance and have underwent several votes and evolutions you can look at. You actually can see some current voting processes taking place here: https://kava.mintscan.io/proposals
We recently implemented a cool feature called committees, which enables the DAO to elect a small group of experts to make decisions without needing a vote of the whole user base. This enables the experts to have control over a small portion of the protocol - such as monitoring the debt limit, fees, etc and enables Kava to operate faster and be more adaptable in volatile market conditions.
How can we address the possible overloads and security threats caused by increased users in the DeFi scene?
Answer - Yes, this is a huge issue for Ethereum, MakerDAO and everyone in the space. I don’t see a bright future for DeFi on Etheruem unfortunately. You can’t have a blockchain do everything well. Tether alone congests most of Ethereum and makes oracle price feeds lag the market. This can cause liquidations that should not happen and real people will lose real funds. It’s a huge issue.
The hope is for a dedicated system like Kava to provide a better backbone for DeFi applications going forward.
I should point out that Kava is not just a MakerDao for Cosmos or a CDP for Bitcoin. Kava is designed to be a foundational layer for DeFi services that every new blockchain and application will need.
Every blockchain will need DeFi services like lending, stablecoins, and data and they need it to be very secure. Kava does all this with its cross-chain lending plarform, USDX stablecoin, and Chainlink data in an incredibly secure, but accessible manner.
In this way, Kava aims to connect and serve all the major cryptocurrency communities and build it’s place at the center, where every developer can get what they need to build financial applications of the future."
What distinguishes Kava from your existing competitors like Syntetix?
Answer - Synthetix isn't really a competitor, but it is an interesting project in terms of mechanism design. We share a lot of common investors and have similar token economic ideas with them. The only blockchain project that could be is MakerDAO, but they can only work with ETH assets due to their design. We are focused on the major cap assets - BTC, BNB, XRP, ATOM and others have a much larger market than ETH to address. BTC is 10x the size alone. Currently no one serves them with DeFi. We’re going after this opportunity and believe it to be a huge one.
Why is the KAVA coin not used for Mint, why am I asking that because I see it can also make the value of KAVA coins grow naturally?
Answer - Why is Kava not used as a collateral? Well, it could be I suppose. The community might vote for this in the near future if they want us to be like synthetix. It makes the Kava token more valuable and it will incentivize much more locked-up Kava reducing overall circulating supply which is fairly favorable. The main reason we have not done this yet is that we(Kava and its community) are still weighing the risks of doing this given that Kava also functions as a reserve asset. I think it's likely Kava gets added as collateral at some point, but it will likely have a high debt-collateral ratio to address the issues similar to Synthetix which is 750%.
How do you prevent in a manipulated KAVA Mint just to take advantage of a token prize when minting?
Answer - Minting rewards and manipulation. We’ve thought of this. Each week, the blockchain counts all the blocks, counts how many people had a loan in that period, then takes the average loan amount over time to calculate the rewards. If you open and close a loan - you will get very little rewards. You only get a large reward if you keep the loan open the full period.
Who are your oracle providers? Are you also an oracle provider?
Answer - Kava may run 1 oracle in the future, but we will always have many and be the minority. Most chainlink oracle node operators are large players in the space that run staking infrastructure companies like cosmostation, chainlayer, chorus one, figment networks, etc. Binance will also be one of our oracles.
If we look at all the different types of DeFi products _(decentralized exchanges, stablecoins, atomic swaps, insurance products, loan platforms, trade financing platforms, custody platforms, and crowdfunding platforms) currently covering important areas of traditional finance...where does Kava fit in?
Answer - To make any interesting financial product work you need capital, a stable store of value, and price data. These are really hard to get on current blockchain environments. Kava provides all of these.
Many people describe Kava as similar to Maker (MKR). How is Kava different? Why do you think Kava has more potential?
Answer - MakerDAO is a smart contract with a singular purpose, to serve ETH. It sadly inherited the problems of ethereum. Kava is designed from the ground up for security and interoperability. We are targeting bigger and better assets and have more capabilities to serve them with what their developers and ecosystem need.
What is the uniqueness of KAVA project that cannot be found in other project that´s been released so far ?
Answer - Well in June 10th, we will be the first ever blockchain project to bring DeFi to another blockchain in a real way. BNB users will have loans, stablecoins, and much more.
The gas fee is an issue for blockchain besides scalability. Does your Kava provide a solution for gas?
Answer - gas fees are very low on Kava, only high enough to prevent spam. We dont need high fees for TX because validators are paid in block rewards. Additionally, we dont have competing transactions from crypto-kitties or other non-financial applications. This leaves all of Kava's throughput 100% dedicated to scaling financial transactions.
Kava project works on DeFi (Decentralized Finance) But what’s the benefits of Decentralized Financial system? What are the possibilities of DeFi over Centralized Finance system?
Answer - Open access, no need for trust, and no censorship by singular governments or parties. Kava is accessible anywhere in the world, by anyone.
Data supplied by oracles are false at times, how do you prevent this? How reliable are data received by KAVA?
Answer - This is why using premium / credentialed APIs is important for oracles. These data sources tend to be more accurate and better managed. Wrong prices can happen - for liquidation systems like Kava, we factor this into our design by using an average of data overtime form all oracles as part of the calculation.
Can anyone become a KAVA validator, or is it just an invitation from the project itself? What are the requirements for becoming a KAVA verifier?
Answer - Anyone can become a validator, but you will need to stake or have enough stake delegated to you from others to be in the top 100 validators to earn block rewards.
DEFI PULSE said that a total of 902M is currently locked. According to you, how will this number change in the next few years, and how will KAVA position itself as the top player in this market segment?
Answer - DeFi will only grow through 2020. And likely grow massively.
All projects on DeFi pulse are ""ethereum"" based. Kava is going to shake the blockchain world in the next few weeks by being the first ""multi-chain"" project on DeFi pulse and by my estimations we should quickly surpass a lot of the projects on that list.
I am an testnet minter and the process seem Simplified, now I want to know if minting of USDX will continue when you launch Mainnet and do you have plans to build your own KAVA WALLET for easy minting on your mainnet
Answer - Simple blockchain experience?! high praise! Yes the process will be the same. Kava will not provide interfaces or wallets. Kava Labs builds software for the blockchain, our community members like Cosmostation, Frontier, Trust Wallet build support for people to interact with it.
What business plans does Kava have with Seoul (South Korea) after partnering with Cosmostation? Do you plan to expand your products beyond Asia? Have you thought about harnessing the potential of South America?
Answer - South Korea is a perfect market for Kava's DeFi. Regulations prohibit fiat-backed stablecoins and margin trading. Kava's platform uses crypto-backed stabvlecoins and can enable users to get loans to margin trade. I am looking forward to further developing the Korean market for Kava, working with close partners like Cosmostation and showing the world real use cases of DeFi.
Thank you for taking the time to conduct this AMA. Do you have any parting words, and where can the people go to keep up with all of the new happenings regarding Kava Labs?
Answer - Thanks for all the awesome questions! Amazingly thoughtful!
I've been promising the world cross-chain DeFi since June of last year. The IEO and mainnet went live Nov 2019. It's been a year of hard work - but an industry first is coming on June 10th. I'm excited. I hope you guys are.
Thanks for having me, I hope you become a USDX minter and get KAVA rewards. And last but not least, I love Binance - it's Kava's first home and I'm really happy to open up DeFi to BNB first.
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