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Bob The Magic Custodian
Summary: Everyone knows that when you give your assets to someone else, they always keep them safe. If this is true for individuals, it is certainly true for businesses. Custodians always tell the truth and manage funds properly. They won't have any interest in taking the assets as an exchange operator would. Auditors tell the truth and can't be misled. That's because organizations that are regulated are incapable of lying and don't make mistakes. First, some background. Here is a summary of how custodians make us more secure: Previously, we might give Alice our crypto assets to hold. There were risks:
Alice might take the assets and disappear.
Alice might spend the assets and pretend that she still has them (fractional model).
Alice might store the assets insecurely and they'll get stolen.
Alice might give the assets to someone else by mistake or by force.
Alice might lose access to the assets.
But "no worries", Alice has a custodian named Bob. Bob is dressed in a nice suit. He knows some politicians. And he drives a Porsche. "So you have nothing to worry about!". And look at all the benefits we get:
Alice can't take the assets and disappear (unless she asks Bob or never gives them to Bob).
Alice can't spend the assets and pretend that she still has them. (Unless she didn't give them to Bob or asks him for them.)
Alice can't store the assets insecurely so they get stolen. (After all - she doesn't have any control over the withdrawal process from any of Bob's systems, right?)
Alice can't give the assets to someone else by mistake or by force. (Bob will stop her, right Bob?)
Alice can't lose access to the funds. (She'll always be present, sane, and remember all secrets, right?)
See - all problems are solved! All we have to worry about now is:
Bob might take the assets and disappear.
Bob might spend the assets and pretend that he still has them (fractional model).
Bob might store the assets insecurely and they'll get stolen.
Bob might give the assets to someone else by mistake or by force.
Bob might lose access to the assets.
It's pretty simple. Before we had to trust Alice. Now we only have to trust Alice, Bob, and all the ways in which they communicate. Just think of how much more secure we are! "On top of that", Bob assures us, "we're using a special wallet structure". Bob shows Alice a diagram. "We've broken the balance up and store it in lots of smaller wallets. That way", he assures her, "a thief can't take it all at once". And he points to a historic case where a large sum was taken "because it was stored in a single wallet... how stupid". "Very early on, we used to have all the crypto in one wallet", he said, "and then one Christmas a hacker came and took it all. We call him the Grinch. Now we individually wrap each crypto and stick it under a binary search tree. The Grinch has never been back since." "As well", Bob continues, "even if someone were to get in, we've got insurance. It covers all thefts and even coercion, collusion, and misplaced keys - only subject to the policy terms and conditions." And with that, he pulls out a phone-book sized contract and slams it on the desk with a thud. "Yep", he continues, "we're paying top dollar for one of the best policies in the country!" "Can I read it?' Alice asks. "Sure," Bob says, "just as soon as our legal team is done with it. They're almost through the first chapter." He pauses, then continues. "And can you believe that sales guy Mike? He has the same year Porsche as me. I mean, what are the odds?" "Do you use multi-sig?", Alice asks. "Absolutely!" Bob replies. "All our engineers are fully trained in multi-sig. Whenever we want to set up a new wallet, we generate 2 separate keys in an air-gapped process and store them in this proprietary system here. Look, it even requires the biometric signature from one of our team members to initiate any withdrawal." He demonstrates by pressing his thumb into the display. "We use a third-party cloud validation API to match the thumbprint and authorize each withdrawal. The keys are also backed up daily to an off-site third-party." "Wow that's really impressive," Alice says, "but what if we need access for a withdrawal outside of office hours?" "Well that's no issue", Bob says, "just send us an email, call, or text message and we always have someone on staff to help out. Just another part of our strong commitment to all our customers!" "What about Proof of Reserve?", Alice asks. "Of course", Bob replies, "though rather than publish any blockchain addresses or signed transaction, for privacy we just do a SHA256 refactoring of the inverse hash modulus for each UTXO nonce and combine the smart contract coefficient consensus in our hyperledger lightning node. But it's really simple to use." He pushes a button and a large green checkmark appears on a screen. "See - the algorithm ran through and reserves are proven." "Wow", Alice says, "you really know your stuff! And that is easy to use! What about fiat balances?" "Yeah, we have an auditor too", Bob replies, "Been using him for a long time so we have quite a strong relationship going! We have special books we give him every year and he's very efficient! Checks the fiat, crypto, and everything all at once!" "We used to have a nice offline multi-sig setup we've been using without issue for the past 5 years, but I think we'll move all our funds over to your facility," Alice says. "Awesome", Bob replies, "Thanks so much! This is perfect timing too - my Porsche got a dent on it this morning. We have the paperwork right over here." "Great!", Alice replies. And with that, Alice gets out her pen and Bob gets the contract. "Don't worry", he says, "you can take your crypto-assets back anytime you like - just subject to our cancellation policy. Our annual management fees are also super low and we don't adjust them often". How many holes have to exist for your funds to get stolen? Just one. Why are we taking a powerful offline multi-sig setup, widely used globally in hundreds of different/lacking regulatory environments with 0 breaches to date, and circumventing it by a demonstrably weak third party layer? And paying a great expense to do so? If you go through the list of breaches in the past 2 years to highly credible organizations, you go through the list of major corporate frauds (only the ones we know about), you go through the list of all the times platforms have lost funds, you go through the list of times and ways that people have lost their crypto from identity theft, hot wallet exploits, extortion, etc... and then you go through this custodian with a fine-tooth comb and truly believe they have value to add far beyond what you could, sticking your funds in a wallet (or set of wallets) they control exclusively is the absolute worst possible way to take advantage of that security. The best way to add security for crypto-assets is to make a stronger multi-sig. With one custodian, what you are doing is giving them your cryptocurrency and hoping they're honest, competent, and flawlessly secure. It's no different than storing it on a really secure exchange. Maybe the insurance will cover you. Didn't work for Bitpay in 2015. Didn't work for Yapizon in 2017. Insurance has never paid a claim in the entire history of cryptocurrency. But maybe you'll get lucky. Maybe your exact scenario will buck the trend and be what they're willing to cover. After the large deductible and hopefully without a long and expensive court battle. And you want to advertise this increase in risk, the lapse of judgement, an accident waiting to happen, as though it's some kind of benefit to customers ("Free institutional-grade storage for your digital assets.")? And then some people are writing to the OSC that custodians should be mandatory for all funds on every exchange platform? That this somehow will make Canadians as a whole more secure or better protected compared with standard air-gapped multi-sig? On what planet? Most of the problems in Canada stemmed from one thing - a lack of transparency. If Canadians had known what a joke Quadriga was - it wouldn't have grown to lose $400m from hard-working Canadians from coast to coast to coast. And Gerald Cotten would be in jail, not wherever he is now (at best, rotting peacefully). EZ-BTC and mister Dave Smilie would have been a tiny little scam to his friends, not a multi-million dollar fraud. Einstein would have got their act together or been shut down BEFORE losing millions and millions more in people's funds generously donated to criminals. MapleChange wouldn't have even been a thing. And maybe we'd know a little more about CoinTradeNewNote - like how much was lost in there. Almost all of the major losses with cryptocurrency exchanges involve deception with unbacked funds. So it's great to see transparency reports from BitBuy and ShakePay where someone independently verified the backing. The only thing we don't have is:
ANY CERTAINTY BALANCES WEREN'T EXCLUDED. Quadriga's largest account was $70m. 80% of funds are in 20% of accounts (Pareto principle). All it takes is excluding a few really large accounts - and nobody's the wiser. A fractional platform can easily pass any audit this way.
ANY VISIBILITY WHATSOEVER INTO THE CUSTODIANS. BitBuy put out their report before moving all the funds to their custodian and ShakePay apparently can't even tell us who the custodian is. That's pretty important considering that basically all of the funds are now stored there.
ANY IDEA ABOUT THE OTHER EXCHANGES. In order for this to be effective, it has to be the norm. It needs to be "unusual" not to know. If obscurity is the norm, then it's super easy for people like Gerald Cotten and Dave Smilie to blend right in.
It's not complicated to validate cryptocurrency assets. They need to exist, they need to be spendable, and they need to cover the total balances. There are plenty of credible people and firms across the country that have the capacity to reasonably perform this validation. Having more frequent checks by different, independent, parties who publish transparent reports is far more valuable than an annual check by a single "more credible/official" party who does the exact same basic checks and may or may not publish anything. Here's an example set of requirements that could be mandated:
First report within 1 month of launching, another within 3 months, and further reports at minimum every 6 months thereafter.
No auditor can be repeated within a 12 month period.
All reports must be public, identifying the auditor and the full methodology used.
All auditors must be independent of the firm being audited with no conflict of interest.
Reports must include the percentage of each asset backed, and how it's backed.
The auditor publishes a hash list, which lists a hash of each customer's information and balances that were included. Hash is one-way encryption so privacy is fully preserved. Every customer can use this to have 100% confidence they were included.
If we want more extensive requirements on audits, these should scale upward based on the total assets at risk on the platform, and whether the platform has loaned their assets out.
There are ways to structure audits such that neither crypto assets nor customer information are ever put at risk, and both can still be properly validated and publicly verifiable. There are also ways to structure audits such that they are completely reasonable for small platforms and don't inhibit innovation in any way. By making the process as reasonable as possible, we can completely eliminate any reason/excuse that an honest platform would have for not being audited. That is arguable far more important than any incremental improvement we might get from mandating "the best of the best" accountants. Right now we have nothing mandated and tons of Canadians using offshore exchanges with no oversight whatsoever. Transparency does not prove crypto assets are safe. CoinTradeNewNote, Flexcoin ($600k), and Canadian Bitcoins ($100k) are examples where crypto-assets were breached from platforms in Canada. All of them were online wallets and used no multi-sig as far as any records show. This is consistent with what we see globally - air-gapped multi-sig wallets have an impeccable record, while other schemes tend to suffer breach after breach. We don't actually know how much CoinTrader lost because there was no visibility. Rather than publishing details of what happened, the co-founder of CoinTrader silently moved on to found another platform - the "most trusted way to buy and sell crypto" - a site that has no information whatsoever (that I could find) on the storage practices and a FAQ advising that “[t]rading cryptocurrency is completely safe” and that having your own wallet is “entirely up to you! You can certainly keep cryptocurrency, or fiat, or both, on the app.” Doesn't sound like much was learned here, which is really sad to see. It's not that complicated or unreasonable to set up a proper hardware wallet. Multi-sig can be learned in a single course. Something the equivalent complexity of a driver's license test could prevent all the cold storage exploits we've seen to date - even globally. Platform operators have a key advantage in detecting and preventing fraud - they know their customers far better than any custodian ever would. The best job that custodians can do is to find high integrity individuals and train them to form even better wallet signatories. Rather than mandating that all platforms expose themselves to arbitrary third party risks, regulations should center around ensuring that all signatories are background-checked, properly trained, and using proper procedures. We also need to make sure that signatories are empowered with rights and responsibilities to reject and report fraud. They need to know that they can safely challenge and delay a transaction - even if it turns out they made a mistake. We need to have an environment where mistakes are brought to the surface and dealt with. Not one where firms and people feel the need to hide what happened. In addition to a knowledge-based test, an auditor can privately interview each signatory to make sure they're not in coercive situations, and we should make sure they can freely and anonymously report any issues without threat of retaliation. A proper multi-sig has each signature held by a separate person and is governed by policies and mutual decisions instead of a hierarchy. It includes at least one redundant signature. For best results, 3of4, 3of5, 3of6, 4of5, 4of6, 4of7, 5of6, or 5of7. History has demonstrated over and over again the risk of hot wallets even to highly credible organizations. Nonetheless, many platforms have hot wallets for convenience. While such losses are generally compensated by platforms without issue (for example Poloniex, Bitstamp, Bitfinex, Gatecoin, Coincheck, Bithumb, Zaif, CoinBene, Binance, Bitrue, Bitpoint, Upbit, VinDAX, and now KuCoin), the public tends to focus more on cases that didn't end well. Regardless of what systems are employed, there is always some level of risk. For that reason, most members of the public would prefer to see third party insurance. Rather than trying to convince third party profit-seekers to provide comprehensive insurance and then relying on an expensive and slow legal system to enforce against whatever legal loopholes they manage to find each and every time something goes wrong, insurance could be run through multiple exchange operators and regulators, with the shared interest of having a reputable industry, keeping costs down, and taking care of Canadians. For example, a 4 of 7 multi-sig insurance fund held between 5 independent exchange operators and 2 regulatory bodies. All Canadian exchanges could pay premiums at a set rate based on their needed coverage, with a higher price paid for hot wallet coverage (anything not an air-gapped multi-sig cold wallet). Such a model would be much cheaper to manage, offer better coverage, and be much more reliable to payout when needed. The kind of coverage you could have under this model is unheard of. You could even create something like the CDIC to protect Canadians who get their trading accounts hacked if they can sufficiently prove the loss is legitimate. In cases of fraud, gross negligence, or insolvency, the fund can be used to pay affected users directly (utilizing the last transparent balance report in the worst case), something which private insurance would never touch. While it's recommended to have official policies for coverage, a model where members vote would fully cover edge cases. (Could be similar to the Supreme Court where justices vote based on case law.) Such a model could fully protect all Canadians across all platforms. You can have a fiat coverage governed by legal agreements, and crypto-asset coverage governed by both multi-sig and legal agreements. It could be practical, affordable, and inclusive. Now, we are at a crossroads. We can happily give up our freedom, our innovation, and our money. We can pay hefty expenses to auditors, lawyers, and regulators year after year (and make no mistake - this cost will grow to many millions or even billions as the industry grows - and it will be borne by all Canadians on every platform because platforms are not going to eat up these costs at a loss). We can make it nearly impossible for any new platform to enter the marketplace, forcing Canadians to use the same stagnant platforms year after year. We can centralize and consolidate the entire industry into 2 or 3 big players and have everyone else fail (possibly to heavy losses of users of those platforms). And when a flawed security model doesn't work and gets breached, we can make it even more complicated with even more people in suits making big money doing the job that blockchain was supposed to do in the first place. We can build a system which is so intertwined and dependent on big government, traditional finance, and central bankers that it's future depends entirely on that of the fiat system, of fractional banking, and of government bail-outs. If we choose this path, as history has shown us over and over again, we can not go back, save for revolution. Our children and grandchildren will still be paying the consequences of what we decided today. Or, we can find solutions that work. We can maintain an open and innovative environment while making the adjustments we need to make to fully protect Canadian investors and cryptocurrency users, giving easy and affordable access to cryptocurrency for all Canadians on the platform of their choice, and creating an environment in which entrepreneurs and problem solvers can bring those solutions forward easily. None of the above precludes innovation in any way, or adds any unreasonable cost - and these three policies would demonstrably eliminate or resolve all 109 historic cases as studied here - that's every single case researched so far going back to 2011. It includes every loss that was studied so far not just in Canada but globally as well. Unfortunately, finding answers is the least challenging part. Far more challenging is to get platform operators and regulators to agree on anything. My last post got no response whatsoever, and while the OSC has told me they're happy for industry feedback, I believe my opinion alone is fairly meaningless. This takes the whole community working together to solve. So please let me know your thoughts. Please take the time to upvote and share this with people. Please - let's get this solved and not leave it up to other people to do. Facts/background/sources (skip if you like):
The inspiration for the paragraph about splitting wallets was an actual quote from a Canadian company providing custodial services in response to the OSC consultation paper: "We believe that it will be in the in best interests of investors to prohibit pooled crypto assets or ‘floats’. Most Platforms pool assets, citing reasons of practicality and expense. The recent hack of the world’s largest Platform – Binance – demonstrates the vulnerability of participants’ assets when such concessions are made. In this instance, the Platform’s entire hot wallet of Bitcoins, worth over $40 million, was stolen, facilitated in part by the pooling of client crypto assets." "the maintenance of participants (and Platform) crypto assets across multiple wallets distributes the related risk and responsibility of security - reducing the amount of insurance coverage required and making insurance coverage more readily obtainable". For the record, their reply also said nothing whatsoever about multi-sig or offline storage.
In addition to the fact that the $40m hack represented only one "hot wallet" of Binance, and they actually had the vast majority of assets in other wallets (including mostly cold wallets), multiple real cases have clearly demonstrated that risk is still present with multiple wallets. Bitfinex, VinDAX, Bithumb, Altsbit, BitPoint, Cryptopia, and just recently KuCoin all had multiple wallets breached all at the same time, and may represent a significantly larger impact on customers than the Binance breach which was fully covered by Binance. To represent that simply having multiple separate wallets under the same security scheme is a comprehensive way to reduce risk is just not true.
Private insurance has historically never covered a single loss in the cryptocurrency space (at least, not one that I was able to find), and there are notable cases where massive losses were not covered by insurance. Bitpay in 2015 and Yapizon in 2017 both had insurance policies that didn't pay out during the breach, even after a lengthly court process. The same insurance that ShakePay is presently using (and announced to much fanfare) was describe by their CEO himself as covering “physical theft of the media where the private keys are held,” which is something that has never historically happened. As was said with regard to the same policy in 2018 - “I don’t find it surprising that Lloyd’s is in this space,” said Johnson, adding that to his mind the challenge for everybody is figuring out how to structure these policies so that they are actually protective. “You can create an insurance policy that protects no one – you know there are so many caveats to the policy that it’s not super protective.”
The most profitable policy for a private insurance company is one with the most expensive premiums that they never have to pay a claim on. They have no inherent incentive to take care of people who lost funds. It's "cheaper" to take the reputational hit and fight the claim in court. The more money at stake, the more the insurance provider is incentivized to avoid payout. They're not going to insure the assets unless they have reasonable certainty to make a profit by doing so, and they're not going to pay out a massive sum unless it's legally forced. Private insurance is always structured to be maximally profitable to the insurance provider.
The circumvention of multi-sig was a key factor in the massive Bitfinex hack of over $60m of bitcoin, which today still sits being slowly used and is worth over $3b. While Bitfinex used a qualified custodian Bitgo, which was and still is active and one of the industry leaders of custodians, and they set up 2 of 3 multi-sig wallets, the entire system was routed through Bitfinex, such that Bitfinex customers could initiate the withdrawals in a "hot" fashion. This feature was also a hit with the hacker. The multi-sig was fully circumvented.
Bitpay in 2015 was another example of a breach that stole 5,000 bitcoins. This happened not through the exploit of any system in Bitpay, but because the CEO of a company they worked with got their computer hacked and the hackers were able to request multiple bitcoin purchases, which Bitpay honoured because they came from the customer's computer legitimately. Impersonation is a very common tactic used by fraudsters, and methods get more extreme all the time.
A notable case in Canada was the Canadian Bitcoins exploit. Funds were stored on a server in a Rogers Data Center, and the attendee was successfully convinced to reboot the server "in safe mode" with a simple phone call, thus bypassing the extensive security and enabling the theft.
The very nature of custodians circumvents multi-sig. This is because custodians are not just having to secure the assets against some sort of physical breach but against any form of social engineering, modification of orders, fraudulent withdrawal attempts, etc... If the security practices of signatories in a multi-sig arrangement are such that the breach risk of one signatory is 1 in 100, the requirement of 3 independent signatures makes the risk of theft 1 in 1,000,000. Since hackers tend to exploit the weakest link, a comparable custodian has to make the entry and exit points of their platform 10,000 times more secure than one of those signatories to provide equivalent protection. And if the signatories beef up their security by only 10x, the risk is now 1 in 1,000,000,000. The custodian has to be 1,000,000 times more secure. The larger and more complex a system is, the more potential vulnerabilities exist in it, and the fewer people can understand how the system works when performing upgrades. Even if a system is completely secure today, one has to also consider how that system might evolve over time or work with different members.
By contrast, offline multi-signature solutions have an extremely solid record, and in the entire history of cryptocurrency exchange incidents which I've studied (listed here), there has only been one incident (796 exchange in 2015) involving an offline multi-signature wallet. It happened because the customer's bitcoin address was modified by hackers, and the amount that was stolen ($230k) was immediately covered by the exchange operators. Basically, the platform operators were tricked into sending a legitimate withdrawal request to the wrong address because hackers exploited their platform to change that address. Such an issue would not be prevented in any way by the use of a custodian, as that custodian has no oversight whatsoever to the exchange platform. It's practical for all exchange operators to test large withdrawal transactions as a general policy, regardless of what model is used, and general best practice is to diagnose and fix such an exploit as soon as it occurs.
False promises on the backing of funds played a huge role in the downfall of Quadriga, and it's been exposed over and over again (MyCoin, PlusToken, Bitsane, Bitmarket, EZBTC, IDAX). Even today, customers have extremely limited certainty on whether their funds in exchanges are actually being backed or how they're being backed. While this issue is not unique to cryptocurrency exchanges, the complexity of the technology and the lack of any regulation or standards makes problems more widespread, and there is no "central bank" to come to the rescue as in the 2008 financial crisis or during the great depression when "9,000 banks failed".
In addition to fraudulent operations, the industry is full of cases where operators have suffered breaches and not reported them. Most recently, Einstein was the largest case in Canada, where ongoing breaches and fraud were perpetrated against the platform for multiple years and nobody found out until the platform collapsed completely. While fraud and breaches suck to deal with, they suck even more when not dealt with. Lack of visibility played a role in the largest downfalls of Mt. Gox, Cryptsy, and Bitgrail. In some cases, platforms are alleged to have suffered a hack and keep operating without admitting it at all, such as CoinBene.
It surprises some to learn that a cryptographic solution has already existed since 2013, and gained widespread support in 2014 after Mt. Gox. Proof of Reserves is a full cryptographic proof that allows any customer using an exchange to have complete certainty that their crypto-assets are fully backed by the platform in real-time. This is accomplished by proving that assets exist on the blockchain, are spendable, and fully cover customer deposits. It does not prove safety of assets or backing of fiat assets.
If we didn't care about privacy at all, a platform could publish their wallet addresses, sign a partial transaction, and put the full list of customer information and balances out publicly. Customers can each check that they are on the list, that the balances are accurate, that the total adds up, and that it's backed and spendable on the blockchain. Platforms who exclude any customer take a risk because that customer can easily check and see they were excluded. So together with all customers checking, this forms a full proof of backing of all crypto assets.
However, obviously customers care about their private information being published. Therefore, a hash of the information can be provided instead. Hash is one-way encryption. The hash allows the customer to validate inclusion (by hashing their own known information), while anyone looking at the list of hashes cannot determine the private information of any other user. All other parts of the scheme remain fully intact. A model like this is in use on the exchange CoinFloor in the UK.
A Merkle tree can provide even greater privacy. Instead of a list of balances, the balances are arranged into a binary tree. A customer starts from their node, and works their way to the top of the tree. For example, they know they have 5 BTC, they plus 1 other customer hold 7 BTC, they plus 2-3 other customers hold 17 BTC, etc... until they reach the root where all the BTC are represented. Thus, there is no way to find the balances of other individual customers aside from one unidentified customer in this case.
Proposals such as this had the backing of leaders in the community including Nic Carter, Greg Maxwell, and Zak Wilcox. Substantial and significant effort started back in 2013, with massive popularity in 2014. But what became of that effort? Very little. Exchange operators continue to refuse to give visibility. Despite the fact this information can often be obtained through trivial blockchain analysis, no Canadian platform has ever provided any wallet addresses publicly. As described by the CEO of Newton "For us to implement some kind of realtime Proof of Reserves solution, which I'm not opposed to, it would have to ... Preserve our users' privacy, as well as our own. Some kind of zero-knowledge proof". Kraken describes here in more detail why they haven't implemented such a scheme. According to professor Eli Ben-Sasson, when he spoke with exchanges, none were interested in implementing Proof of Reserves.
And yet, Kraken's places their reasoning on a page called "Proof of Reserves". More recently, both BitBuy and ShakePay have released reports titled "Proof of Reserves and Security Audit". Both reports contain disclaimers against being audits. Both reports trust the customer list provided by the platform, leaving the open possibility that multiple large accounts could have been excluded from the process. Proof of Reserves is a blockchain validation where customers see the wallets on the blockchain. The report from Kraken is 5 years old, but they leave it described as though it was just done a few weeks ago. And look at what they expect customers to do for validation. When firms represent something being "Proof of Reserve" when it's not, this is like a farmer growing fruit with pesticides and selling it in a farmers market as organic produce - except that these are people's hard-earned life savings at risk here. Platforms are misrepresenting the level of visibility in place and deceiving the public by their misuse of this term. They haven't proven anything.
Fraud isn't a problem that is unique to cryptocurrency. Fraud happens all the time. Enron, WorldCom, Nortel, Bear Stearns, Wells Fargo, Moser Baer, Wirecard, Bre-X, and Nicola are just some of the cases where frauds became large enough to become a big deal (and there are so many countless others). These all happened on 100% reversible assets despite regulations being in place. In many of these cases, the problems happened due to the over-complexity of the financial instruments. For example, Enron had "complex financial statements [which] were confusing to shareholders and analysts", creating "off-balance-sheet vehicles, complex financing structures, and deals so bewildering that few people could understand them". In cryptocurrency, we are often combining complex financial products with complex technologies and verification processes. We are naïve if we think problems like this won't happen. It is awkward and uncomfortable for many people to admit that they don't know how something works. If we want "money of the people" to work, the solutions have to be simple enough that "the people" can understand them, not so confusing that financial professionals and technology experts struggle to use or understand them.
For those who question the extent to which an organization can fool their way into a security consultancy role, HB Gary should be a great example to look at. Prior to trying to out anonymous, HB Gary was being actively hired by multiple US government agencies and others in the private sector (with glowing testimonials). The published articles and hosted professional security conferences. One should also look at this list of data breaches from the past 2 years. Many of them are large corporations, government entities, and technology companies. These are the ones we know about. Undoubtedly, there are many more that we do not know about. If HB Gary hadn't been "outted" by anonymous, would we have known they were insecure? If the same breach had happened outside of the public spotlight, would it even have been reported? Or would HB Gary have just deleted the Twitter posts, brought their site back up, done a couple patches, and kept on operating as though nothing had happened?
In the case of Quadriga, the facts are clear. Despite past experience with platforms such as MapleChange in Canada and others around the world, no guidance or even the most basic of a framework was put in place by regulators. By not clarifying any sort of legal framework, regulators enabled a situation where a platform could be run by former criminal Mike Dhanini/Omar Patryn, and where funds could be held fully unchecked by one person. At the same time, the lack of regulation deterred legitimate entities from running competing platforms and Quadriga was granted a money services business license for multiple years of operation, which gave the firm the appearance of legitimacy. Regulators did little to protect Canadians despite Quadriga failing to file taxes from 2016 onward. The entire administrative team had resigned and this was public knowledge. Many people had suspicions of what was going on, including Ryan Mueller, who forwarded complaints to the authorities. These were ignored, giving Gerald Cotten the opportunity to escape without justice.
There are multiple issues with the SOC II model including the prohibitive cost (you have to find a third party accounting firm and the prices are not even listed publicly on any sites), the requirement of operating for a year (impossible for new platforms), and lack of any public visibility (SOC II are private reports that aren't shared outside the people in suits).
Securities frameworks are expensive. Sarbanes-Oxley is estimated to cost $5.1 million USD/yr for the average Fortune 500 company in the United States. Since "Fortune 500" represents the top 500 companies, that means well over $2.55 billion USD (~$3.4 billion CAD) is going to people in suits. Isn't the problem of trust and verification the exact problem that the blockchain is supposed to solve?
To use Quadriga as justification for why custodians or SOC II or other advanced schemes are needed for platforms is rather silly, when any framework or visibility at all, or even the most basic of storage policies, would have prevented the whole thing. It's just an embarrassment.
We are now seeing regulators take strong action. CoinSquare in Canada with multi-million dollar fines. BitMex from the US, criminal charges and arrests. OkEx, with full disregard of withdrawals and no communication. Who's next?
We have a unique window today where we can solve these problems, and not permanently destroy innovation with unreasonable expectations, but we need to act quickly. This is a unique historic time that will never come again.
How To End The Cryptocurrency Exchange "Wild West" Without Crippling Innovation
In case you haven't noticed the consultation paper, staff notice, and report on Quadriga, regulators are now clamping down on Canadian cryptocurrency exchanges. The OSC and other regulatory bodies are still interested in industry feedback. They have not put forward any official regulation yet. Below are some ideas/insights and a proposed framework.
Typical securities frameworks will cost Canadians millions of dollars (ie Sarbanes-Oxley estimated at $5m USD/yr per firm). Implementation costs of this proposal are significantly cheaper.
Canadians can maintain a diverse set of exchanges, multiple viable business models are still fully supported, and innovation is encouraged while keeping Canadians safe.
Many of you have limited time to read the full proposal, so here are the highlights:
Effective standards to prevent both internal and external theft. Exchange operators are trained and certified, and have a legal responsibility to users.
Regular Transparent Audits
Provides visibility to Canadians that their funds are fully backed on the exchange, while protecting privacy and sensitive platform information.
Establishment of basic insurance standards/strategy, to expand over time. Removing risk to exchange users of any hot wallet theft.
Background and Justifications
Cold Storage Custody/Management After reviewing close to 100 cases, all thefts tend to break down into more or less the same set of problems: • Funds stored online or in a smart contract, • Access controlled by one person or one system, • 51% attacks (rare), • Funds sent to the wrong address (also rare), or • Some combination of the above. For the first two cases, practical solutions exist and are widely implemented on exchanges already. Offline multi-signature solutions are already industry standard. No cases studied found an external theft or exit scam involving an offline multi-signature wallet implementation. Security can be further improved through minimum numbers of signatories, background checks, providing autonomy and legal protections to each signatory, establishing best practices, and a training/certification program. The last two transaction risks occur more rarely, and have never resulted in a loss affecting the actual users of the exchange. In all cases to date where operators made the mistake, they've been fully covered by the exchange platforms. • 51% attacks generally only occur on blockchains with less security. The most prominent cases have been Bitcoin Gold and Ethereum Classic. The simple solution is to enforce deposit limits and block delays such that a 51% attack is not cost-effective. • The risk of transactions to incorrect addresses can be eliminated by a simple test transaction policy on large transactions. By sending a small amount of funds prior to any large withdrawals/transfers as a standard practice, the accuracy of the wallet address can be validated. The proposal covers all loss cases and goes beyond, while avoiding significant additional costs, risks, and limitations which may be associated with other frameworks like SOC II. On The Subject of Third Party Custodians Many Canadian platforms are currently experimenting with third party custody. From the standpoint of the exchange operator, they can liberate themselves from some responsibility of custody, passing that off to someone else. For regulators, it puts crypto in similar categorization to oil, gold, and other commodities, with some common standards. Platform users would likely feel greater confidence if the custodian was a brand they recognized. If the custodian was knowledgeable and had a decent team that employed multi-sig, they could keep assets safe from internal theft. With the right protections in place, this could be a great solution for many exchanges, particularly those that lack the relevant experience or human resources for their own custody systems. However, this system is vulnerable to anyone able to impersonate the exchange operators. You may have a situation where different employees who don't know each other that well are interacting between different companies (both the custodian and all their customers which presumably isn't just one exchange). A case study of what can go wrong in this type of environment might be Bitpay, where the CEO was tricked out of 5000 bitcoins over 3 separate payments by a series of emails sent legitimately from a breached computer of another company CEO. It's also still vulnerable to the platform being compromised, as in the really large $70M Bitfinex hack, where the third party Bitgo held one key in a multi-sig wallet. The hacker simply authorized the withdrawal using the same credentials as Bitfinex (requesting Bitgo to sign multiple withdrawal transactions). This succeeded even with the use of multi-sig and two heavily security-focused companies, due to the lack of human oversight (basically, hot wallet). Of course, you can learn from these cases and improve the security, but so can hackers improve their deception and at the end of the day, both of these would have been stopped by the much simpler solution of a qualified team who knew each other and employed multi-sig with properly protected keys. It's pretty hard to beat a human being who knows the business and the typical customer behaviour (or even knows their customers personally) at spotting fraud, and the proposed multi-sig means any hacker has to get through the scrutiny of 3 (or more) separate people, all of whom would have proper training including historical case studies. There are strong arguments both for and against using use of third party custodians. The proposal sets mandatory minimum custody standards would apply regardless if the cold wallet signatories are exchange operators, independent custodians, or a mix of both. On The Subject Of Insurance ShakePay has taken the first steps into this new realm (congratulations). There is no question that crypto users could be better protected by the right insurance policies, and it certainly feels better to transact with insured platforms. The steps required to obtain insurance generally place attention in valuable security areas, and in this case included a review from CipherTrace. One of the key solutions in traditional finance comes from insurance from entities such as the CDIC. However, historically, there wasn't found any actual insurance payout to any cryptocurrency exchange, and there are notable cases where insurance has not paid. With Bitpay, for example, the insurance agent refused because the issue happened to the third party CEO's computer instead of anything to do with Bitpay itself. With the Youbit exchange in South Korea, their insurance claim was denied, and the exchange ultimately ended up instead going bankrupt with all user's funds lost. To quote Matt Johnson in the original Lloyd's article: “You can create an insurance policy that protects no one – you know there are so many caveats to the policy that it’s not super protective.” ShakePay's insurance was only reported to cover their cold storage, and “physical theft of the media where the private keys are held”. Physical theft has never, in the history of cryptocurrency exchange cases reviewed, been reported as the cause of loss. From the limited information of the article, ShakePay made it clear their funds are in the hands of a single US custodian, and at least part of their security strategy is to "decline to confirm the custodian’s name on the record". While this prevents scrutiny of the custodian, it's pretty silly to speculate that a reasonably competent hacking group couldn't determine who the custodian is. A far more common infiltration strategy historically would be social engineering, which has succeeded repeatedly. A hacker could trick their way into ShakePay's systems and request a fraudulent withdrawal, impersonate ShakePay and request the custodian to move funds, or socially engineer their way into the custodian to initiate the withdrawal of multiple accounts (a payout much larger than ShakePay) exploiting the standard procedures (for example, fraudulently initiating or override the wallet addresses of a real transfer). In each case, nothing was physically stolen and the loss is therefore not covered by insurance. In order for any insurance to be effective, clear policies have to be established about what needs to be covered. Anything short of that gives Canadians false confidence that they are protected when they aren't in any meaningful way. At this time, the third party insurance market does not appear to provide adequate options or coverage, and effort is necessary to standardize custody standards, which is a likely first step in ultimately setting up an insurance framework. A better solution compared to third party insurance providers might be for Canadian exchange operators to create their own collective insurance fund, or a specific federal organization similar to the CDIC. Such an organization would have a greater interest or obligation in paying out actual cases, and that would be it's purpose rather than maximizing it's own profit. This would be similar to the SAFU which Binance has launched, except it would cover multiple exchanges. There is little question whether the SAFU would pay out given a breach of Binance, and a similar argument could be made for a insurance fund managed by a collective of exchange operators or a government organization. While a third party insurance provider has the strong market incentive to provide the absolute minimum coverage and no market incentive to payout, an entity managed by exchange operators would have incentive to protect the reputation of exchange operators/the industry, and the government should have the interest of protecting Canadians. On The Subject of Fractional Reserve There is a long history of fractional reserve failures, from the first banks in ancient times, through the great depression (where hundreds of fractional reserve banks failed), right through to the 2008 banking collapse referenced in the first bitcoin block. The fractional reserve system allows banks to multiply the money supply far beyond the actual cash (or other assets) in existence, backed only by a system of debt obligations of others. Safely supporting a fractional reserve system is a topic of far greater complexity than can be addressed by a simple policy, and when it comes to cryptocurrency, there is presently no entity reasonably able to bail anyone out in the event of failure. Therefore, this framework is addressed around entities that aim to maintain 100% backing of funds. There may be some firms that desire but have failed to maintain 100% backing. In this case, there are multiple solutions, including outside investment, merging with other exchanges, or enforcing a gradual restoration plan. All of these solutions are typically far better than shutting down the exchange, and there are multiple cases where they've been used successfully in the past. Proof of Reserves/Transparency/Accountability Canadians need to have visibility into the backing on an ongoing basis. The best solution for crypto-assets is a Proof of Reserve. Such ideas go back all the way to 2013, before even Mt. Gox. However, no Canadian exchange has yet implemented such a system, and only a few international exchanges (CoinFloor in the UK being an example) have. Many firms like Kraken, BitBuy, and now ShakePay use the Proof of Reserve term to refer to lesser proofs which do not actually cryptographically prove the full backing of all user assets on the blockchain. In order for a Proof of Reserve to be effective, it must actually be a complete proof, and it needs to be understood by the public that is expected to use it. Many firms have expressed reservations about the level of transparency required in a complete Proof of Reserve (for example Kraken here). While a complete Proof of Reserves should be encouraged, and there are some solutions in the works (ie TxQuick), this is unlikely to be suitable universally for all exchange operators and users. Given the limitations, and that firms also manage fiat assets, a more traditional audit process makes more sense. Some Canadian exchanges (CoinSquare, CoinBerry) have already subjected themselves to annual audits. However, these results are not presently shared publicly, and there is no guarantee over the process including all user assets or the integrity and independence of the auditor. The auditor has been typically not known, and in some cases, the identity of the auditor is protected by a NDA. Only in one case (BitBuy) was an actual report generated and publicly shared. There has been no attempt made to validate that user accounts provided during these audits have been complete or accurate. A fraudulent fractional exchange, or one which had suffered a breach they were unwilling to publicly accept (see CoinBene), could easily maintain a second set of books for auditors or simply exclude key accounts to pass an individual audit. The proposed solution would see a reporting standard which includes at a minimum - percentage of backing for each asset relative to account balances and the nature of how those assets are stored, with ownership proven by the auditor. The auditor would also publicly provide a "hash list", which they independently generate from the accounts provided by the exchange. Every exchange user can then check their information against this public "hash list". A hash is a one-way form of encryption, which fully protects the private information, yet allows anyone who knows that information already to validate that it was included. Less experienced users can take advantage of public tools to calculate the hash from their information (provided by the exchange), and thus have certainty that the auditor received their full balance information. Easy instructions can be provided. Auditors should be impartial, their identities and process public, and they should be rotated so that the same auditor is never used twice in a row. Balancing the cost of auditing against the needs for regular updates, a 6 month cycle likely makes the most sense. Hot Wallet Management The best solution for hot wallets is not to use them. CoinBerry reportedly uses multi-sig on all withdrawals, and Bitmex is an international example known for their structure devoid of hot wallets. However, many platforms and customers desire fast withdrawal processes, and human validation has a cost of time and delay in this process. A model of self-insurance or separate funds for hot wallets may be used in these cases. Under this model, a platform still has 100% of their client balance in cold storage and holds additional funds in hot wallets for quick withdrawal. Thus, the risk of those hot wallets is 100% on exchange operators and not affecting the exchange users. Since most platforms typically only have 1%-5% in hot wallets at any given time, it shouldn't be unreasonable to build/maintain these additional reserves over time using exchange fees or additional investment. Larger withdrawals would still be handled at regular intervals from the cold storage. Hot wallet risks have historically posed a large risk and there is no established standard to guarantee secure hot wallets. When the government of South Korea dispatched security inspections to multiple exchanges, the results were still that 3 of them got hacked after the inspections. If standards develop such that an organization in the market is willing to insure the hot wallets, this could provide an acceptable alternative. Another option may be for multiple exchange operators to pool funds aside for a hot wallet insurance fund. Comprehensive coverage standards must be established and maintained for all hot wallet balances to make sure Canadians are adequately protected.
Current Draft Proposal
(1) Proper multi-signature cold wallet storage. (a) Each private key is the personal and legal responsibility of one person - the “signatory”. Signatories have special rights and responsibilities to protect user assets. Signatories are trained and certified through a course covering (1) past hacking and fraud cases, (2) proper and secure key generation, and (3) proper safekeeping of private keys. All private keys must be generated and stored 100% offline by the signatory. If even one private keys is ever breached or suspected to be breached, the wallet must be regenerated and all funds relocated to a new wallet. (b) All signatories must be separate background-checked individuals free of past criminal conviction. Canadians should have a right to know who holds their funds. All signing of transactions must take place with all signatories on Canadian soil or on the soil of a country with a solid legal system which agrees to uphold and support these rules (from an established white-list of countries which expands over time). (c) 3-5 independent signatures are required for any withdrawal. There must be 1-3 spare signatories, and a maximum of 7 total signatories. The following are all valid combinations: 3of4, 3of5, 3of6, 4of5, 4of6, 4of7, 5of6, or 5of7. (d) A security audit should be conducted to validate the cold wallet is set up correctly and provide any additional pertinent information. The primary purpose is to ensure that all signatories are acting independently and using best practices for private key storage. A report summarizing all steps taken and who did the audit will be made public. Canadians must be able to validate the right measures are in place to protect their funds. (e) There is a simple approval process if signatories wish to visit any country outside Canada, with a potential whitelist of exempt countries. At most 2 signatories can be outside of aligned jurisdiction at any given time. All exchanges would be required to keep a compliant cold wallet for Canadian funds and have a Canadian office if they wish to serve Canadian customers. (2) Regular and transparent solvency audits. (a) An audit must be conducted at founding, after 3 months of operation, and at least once every 6 months to compare customer balances against all stored cryptocurrency and fiat balances. The auditor must be known, independent, and never the same twice in a row. (b) An audit report will be published featuring the steps conducted in a readable format. This should be made available to all Canadians on the exchange website and on a government website. The report must include what percentage of each customer asset is backed on the exchange, and how those funds are stored. (c) The auditor will independently produce a hash of each customer's identifying information and balance as they perform the audit. This will be made publicly available on the exchange and government website, along with simplified instructions that each customer can use to verify that their balance was included in the audit process. (d) The audit needs to include a proof of ownership for any cryptocurrency wallets included. A satoshi test (spending a small amount) or partially signed transaction both qualify. (e) Any platform without 100% reserves should be assessed on a regular basis by a government or industry watchdog. This entity should work to prevent any further drop, support any private investor to come in, or facilitate a merger so that 100% backing can be obtained as soon as possible. (3) Protections for hot wallets and transactions. (a) A standardized list of approved coins and procedures will be established to constitute valid cold storage wallets. Where a multi-sig process is not natively available, efforts will be undertaken to establish a suitable and stable smart contract standard. This list will be expanded and improved over time. Coins and procedures not on the list are considered hot wallets. (b) Hot wallets can be backed by additional funds in cold storage or an acceptable third-party insurance provider with a comprehensive coverage policy. (c) Exchanges are required to cover the full balance of all user funds as denominated in the same currency, or double the balance as denominated in bitcoin or CAD using an established trading rate. If the balance is ever insufficient due to market movements, the firm must rectify this within 24 hours by moving assets to cold storage or increasing insurance coverage. (d) Any large transactions (above a set threshold) from cold storage to any new wallet addresses (not previously transacted with) must be tested with a smaller transaction first. Deposits of cryptocurrency must be limited to prevent economic 51% attacks. Any issues are to be covered by the exchange. (e) Exchange platforms must provide suitable authentication for users, including making available approved forms of two-factor authentication. SMS-based authentication is not to be supported. Withdrawals must be blocked for 48 hours in the event of any account password change. Disputes on the negligence of exchanges should be governed by case law.
Continued review of existing OSC feedback is still underway. More feedback and opinions on the framework and ideas as presented here are extremely valuable. The above is a draft and not finalized. The process of further developing and bringing a suitable framework to protect Canadians will require the support of exchange operators, legal experts, and many others in the community. The costs of not doing such are tremendous. A large and convoluted framework, one based on flawed ideas or implementation, or one which fails to properly safeguard Canadians is not just extremely expensive and risky for all Canadians, severely limiting to the credibility and reputation of the industry, but an existential risk to many exchanges. The responsibility falls to all of us to provide our insight and make our opinions heard on this critical matter. Please take the time to give your thoughts.
I want to thank everyone who replied to our survey! Your feedback is extremely valuable! Here are the results and how they're helping shape our direction.
What goals would you like to see us accomplish? What's most important to you in how this Quadriga situation ends?
This was an open-ended question and the answers varied widely (and there was definitely a lot of responses which mentioned multiple goals). Here's a summary:
65% mentioned recovering losses for affected users.
45% described a desire to get better standards on Canadian exchanges.
30% included justice for victims.
25% desired education on crypto-asset protection.
20% had the creation of the new exchange.
The justice theme has been entirely overlooked by what we're doing. Discussing the idea on the Quadriga Uncovered Telegram group, it was determined that there was definite interest in a potential letter-writing initiative. One possibility would be sending letters to the RCMP to request the exhumation.
Is there any part of our initiative which confuses you?
Almost universally, there was no mention of any confusion. The feedback we did receive:
"The website landing page could provide an executive summary of the key aspects of the initiative".
The front page was last updated March 30th. We are constantly experimenting and improving the front of the website and our presentation of ideas and welcome any insight.
"I was worried with the proposal to have a token for affected users. The intention may be ok, but tokens and ICOs have a bad reputation for being scams. I confess that I didn't read the website of the Initiative, but from communications, I didn't see the association between the Initiative and the official committee."
We should make clear we are fully separate from the bankruptcy process. There is no tie to the official committee, although we have gotten their feedback throughout. This is an opportunity for the business community to provide additional help for victims.
We are contemplating the need for having blockchain-backing, however it does provide the ability to have greater transparency in the distribution/supply, more control in the form of a multi-sig smart contract, and easier liquidity options.
What we are doing is fundamentally different from any ICO. Tokens are distributed 100% free against verified losses. Redemption happens over time for utility (products/services) or goodwill (best-effort redemption) and it's always a fixed value of $1.
"Generally i understand. Confused about progress and value offer to crypto enthusiasts."
The initial (very first) value proposition for the tokens will be the ability to offset trading fees on the partner exchange, where we expect that traders may adopt having a small stash to cover their trading expenses as they trade. From there, we have other businesses interested in accepting partial payment in tokens. Basically, tokens are spent in place of dollars to get a discount at participating businesses which wish to support affected users.
In terms of progress, we are still waiting for three things:
Partner exchange full launch.
First bankruptcy payout to complete.
Reaching 1,000 signups (as necessary for our deal).
Please feel free to reach out on Telegram and Reddit if there are any further questions!
Is it more important to you that we focus on (a) helping victims of Quadriga recover, (b) educating more people about Quadriga and other exchange fraud, or (c) preventing future exchange fraud events like Quadriga?
Of the first or only choice picked, 70% chose (a) helping victims of Quadriga recover, while 30% chose (c) preventing future exchange fraud events like Quadriga. (a) was mentioned in 80% of cases, and top choice in 70%. (b) was a second choice in 30% of cases and mentioned in 35%. (c) was mentioned in 65% of responses and top choice in 30%. The educational portion of our initiative was seen as the lowest value. We are floating the idea of replacing the Education goal with a separate Justice goal, which is composed of letter-writing and other advocacy to help speed up any potential criminal investigations.
What bothers you most about Canadian cryptocurrency exchanges?
The responses varied widely. Here's a selection:
"The lack of unbiased information on how trustworthy exchanges are."
"The lack of transparency."
"that they are unregulated"
"I only use a non-custodial exchange now (Bull Bitcoin). The inertia and apathy of the government bothers me a lot. After Quadriga there should have been an inquiry. Even my emails to MPs Marie-France Lalonde and Bill Blair got no response. It's not realistic to wait for exchanges to 'self-regulate'."
"Terrible for trading and unreliable"
"Where is the regulation and oversight?"
"It's difficult to know which one is safe and w[h]ich one is not. It's easier to go to a bigger exchange (eg. Binance, Kraken, ... ) who has a solid reputation than Canadian one (at least for now)"
"Slow volume, difficulty to access for some, security"
"Security, trust, support, education"
There is clearly a lack of satisfaction.
Should preventing events like Quadriga focus more on regulatory reform (working with regulators) or trying to create change through setting the example on one exchange and go from there (similar to how "Tesla" has electrified vehicles)?
40% of respondents desired an approach which included both aspects.
40% of respondents desired an approach of setting an example in one exchange.
20% preferred a regulatory approach.
"(c), creating an independent classification/review system that would allow users to know which exchanges are most trustworthy, and to force less trustworthy ones to shape up."
There are a few such services out there. Key issues are that these opinions can be influenced by referral bonuses, the exchange reputations change over time (as was the case in Quadriga), and there is limited information on which to base the evaluation. Many reputable third parties have recommended shady services that subsequently failed.
Pressing forward on both fronts appears to make the most sense.
Would you rather have the recovery run inside of a for-profit exchange (sort of a marketing/promotion idea to push people onto a safer exchange) or as an independent group of affected users pushing for our own interests (working with the safer exchange and other businesses potentially similar to a labour union or political advocacy)?
The end result:
The majority (55%) prefer to have the independent group advocating for affected users.
A minority (35%) prefer to have it run in a for-profit/promotional way inside the exchange.
There were 10% of responses indicating both would be acceptable, or no clear preference.
We will be working to run this independently, however working closely with our partner exchange as a joint project (and it is definitely a promotional tool for them).
If given the choice, would you prefer (a) $20 cash each year for 10 years (slower recovery with full choice), or (b) your choice of $200 worth of discounts on products/services that are donated by small businesses which you could use this year (faster recovery with less choices)?
60% indicated a preference for (b), and 40% had the preference for (a). There is clear interest in focusing on both, which will push the fastest and most flexible recovery.
Affected users have a liquidation option which allows non-victims to purchase their tokens on the exchange. How do you feel about charging non-victims a small fee (5 cents per token) that is split between funding the project and a pool for affected user payout?
50% expressed outright support for the idea. Below are more detailed responses and comments:
"indifferent, although I think any fee will end up factoring in to the exchange rate on the value of the token. If people are willing to pay $10 for a $15 coupon, then a 5% fee might mean they'll only pay $9.50"
This is undoubtedly true. In your example, 25 cents would go to the project, 25 cents to affected users, and $9.50 to the seller. As opposed to $10 going to the seller.
"I am not yet clear on the cost structure of the proposed solution. Has the cost of managing the recovery effort been accounted for?"
It hasn't been properly accounted for, and this is one possible solution.
"I think that it is more important to have broad communication, reaching out to public at large and crypto communities in other countries. Then there should be multiple ways for different communities to contribute financially to affected users. I don't like the idea of fees and tokens because it seems to distract from the larger tasks of communication, rallying, documenting and advocating."
You bring up great points. Outreach is important, as is flexibility in approach. If you have more concrete ideas we would love to consider them!
"Good idea, but it restricts the on boarding of new users"
This is a fair point. The hope is that those participating want to help.
"I would prefer to avoid this option, Unless we can show that there are many added benefits from using this platform over others, thus justifying the fees and making it more acceptable to users."
Absolutely. Hopefully there will be many added benefits.
"I think it a good idea, fees will go anyway to affected users, I totally agree"
Awesome. That's definitely the intent.
"better not tax when tokens are transferred to the blockchain - tax the transaction (something small, in order not to affect the volume/liquidity too much) like what they are doing with the flight tickets in Quebec"
Absolutely! This would be a transaction cost only.
At the moment this has not yet been agreed upon by the partner exchange.
Have you discussed the project with anyone else who lost funds in Quadriga? What kind of feedback are you hearing?
40% said they've discussed it. 40% have not. 20% didn't answer (or it was hard to understand). Some of the responses:
"only online, and there there seems to be some confusion about the projects goals, some concerns about the connection to a for-profit exchange, and a general 'one bitten twice shy' mentality."
"Yes, Matt and my spouse. The problem was foreseeable. We just all ignored the risk because we were sold on the simplicity. The first red flag I saw was that accounts could be reloaded through an entity in China, which did not make sense, but I ignored it because of my perceived impression of protection given that the operator was in Canada."
"Yes - most have given up hope of recovering funds"
" I can't follow the chats on Telegram. I gained no knowledge the times I tried to read the discussions there. In fact the discussions there seemed to be not very polite. I wasn't able to connect with any other affected user. I wish there were some more structured gathering. Maybe a webinar would be nice."
Note: This sounds like it may be talking about the separate and more popular Quadriga Uncovered Telegram group. We would be very interested for any examples of impolite discussions on our Telegram group.
"This recovery process started out fine, but has turned into a circus show as is usual with lawyers who naturally want to stretch cases out to steal more money from victims."
"Not for now, I don't know any other victim (except members of Quadriga initiative)"
"Its your fault for keeping it on an exchange, what did you think was going to happen. There will be no money left after the 'bankruptcy'.. Lightning will solve all these problems other than recovery of funds."
Many affected users have strong privacy concerns and shame regarding what happened to them, such that they are even hesitant to share basic details. What do you feel is the best way to build trust and openness among the affected user community?
Here are some of the replies:
"I really don't know. Keeping things as anonymous as possible might help, but then the project would also need accountability to show that most of the tokens weren't sent to your own account. It's a tricky problem."
Absolutely. We also need to consider the various ways the project could be defrauded.
"What you are doing now. I am just not clear on the sustainab[i]lility of this effort without appropriate financial support."
"We all lost. We got burned. No shame in getting burned. It happens."
"There must be a way for affected users to connect to each other. Communication is the foundation, and it can be done preserving privacy. Some ideas include a webinar, chat tools that preserve privacy, etc. I heard of the documentary but I don't know what will be there. I think it is important also for the public at large to know how Quadriga affected users. That is, it's important for some personal stories to be published, ideally in the mainstream press."
We have Telegram, Reddit, and Twitter. A webinar would be great! There have been a number of mainstream news articles on Quadriga, although it's not well known outside of the crypto community. We welcome any further ideas for platforms.
"I would use the angle that crypto will continue to gain traction as time goes on, and that although the affected users were victims of a terrible fraud, we have an opportunity to prevent this from happening to others. I would also use the fact that this initiative has gained a considerable following and that affected users are all in this together, whether we want it or not."
"Maybe a guarantee that nobody will be further persecuted would help."
Hopefully no affected users are persecuted. Who's being persecuted?
"I don't know what else could be done for now."
"Just let us go forward."
"Once you demonstrate positive effects (and communicating about them), and set up ways to contact you securely, the users who have privacy concerns will contact you. You should have anonymous way to communicate with you (maybe using memo.cash?)"
Feel free to use an anonymous handle for any communication with us via Reddit, Twitter, Telegram, or email.
"Simple questions, good job :). Wonder about the stages of loss/gr[ie]f. Maybe the stinging pain needs to subside before people will trust."
Notes: Percentages rounded to the nearest 5%. Thank you very much for everyone who took the time to respond! We will continue to study your answers as we move forward!
Stellar Lumens HODL alert: 2017 Round up, Partnerships, Lumens vs. Other Cryptos
Welcome everyone! The future of Stellar Lumens is bright! Today we will look at the accomplishments of Stellar.org in 2017. . . 2017 Round Up • IBM / Stellar Partnership • Kik Messenger’s KIN coin to move from Ethereum to Stellar in 2018 • Stellar ATM introduced in Singapore • Jed McCaleb confirms IBM/Stellar has 30 banks on board (Youtube Video) • Lightyear.io enables forward thinking financial entities to easily join the Stellar ecosystem. • IBM adds 8 new validators from 8 different countries onto the Stellar network (article) • Forbes calls Stellar “venmo, but on a global scale - and for larger bodies like banks and corporations.” • Stellar Lumens Is Up 6,300% Since March and Is Aiming for Big Blockchain Partners (article) • Many new partnerships (listed below) that will be using the Stellar network in 2018. • Binance and GoPax Exchanges Adds Stellar • Ledger Nano S support is now available for Lumens (XLM) • The next coin to break into the top 10 cryptos (article) . . 2017 Partnerships & Financial Institutions • IBM - is an American multinational technology company headquartered in Armonk, New York, United States, with operations in over 170 countries. IBM partnered with Stellar to help financial institutions address the processes of universal cross-border payments, designed to reduce the settlement time and lower the cost of completing global payments for businesses and consumers. • SatoshiPay - a web payment system that helps online publishers monetize digital assets like news articles, videos, or PDFs in tiny increments without friction. • EXCH.ONE - is a FinTech software company based in Switzerland currently working to integrate its platform and its first technology adopter Euro Exchange Securities UK Ltd. into the Stellar network. This addition to the Stellar network will bring access to currency markets of South and Central America,UK and a number of EU countries. • Novati (ASX:NOV) - is an Australian-based software technology and payment services provider. Novatti is currently working to integrate it’s platform into the Stellar network with the ultimate aim to build a global money transfer solution to provide cross border, cross currency and cross asset payments. • Pundi X - is an Indonesia based fintech company that provides POS device, debit card, multi-currency wallet that empowers individuals to buy and sell cryptocurrency at any physical store in the world. They say "buying cryptocurrency should be as easy as buying a bottled water." • MoneyMatch - is a Malaysia based fintech startup that provides a fully-digital peer-to-peer currency exchange platform for customers to transfer and exchange foreign currencies with complete ease and at great value. The company plans to integrate with the Stellar network and enable pay in and pay out from Malaysia. • Streami - is a Korea based fintech company that offers blockchain enabled cross-border remittance service and recently launched a cryptocurrency exchange. The partnership extends both on the exchange side and remittance operations. • Neoframe - is developing and marketing trading solutions for big brokerage firms in Korea and extends its business to blockchain based applications. Neoframe developed high performance centralized cryptocurrency exchange as well as secure wallet solutions and is working with big financial players. The company is planning to launch a remittance business for ASEAN countries (Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Myanmar (Burma), Cambodia, Laos, Brunei) using Stellar. • SureRemit($RMT) - is a Nigeria based global non-cash remittances company. SureRemit leverages the Stellar blockchain platform to connect immigrants abroad directly with merchants that provide the services needed by their loved ones back home. With Remit tokens, immigrants all over the world can access digital shopping vouchers that can be spent on goods and services at accepting merchants wherever they are. • Cowrie Integrated Systems - is a Nigerian based Value Added Service Provider. Cowrie provides services at the intersection between telecoms and finance. Cowrie recently joined the Stellar network to bring novel fintech services to the African market. • Smartlands - is a Stellar-based platform designed to create a new class of low-risk tokens, secured by real, profitable assets in the real-world economy. Smartlands is designed to promote investments in the agricultural sector by allowing investment in individual projects, agricultural companies or indexes of groups of projects. These investments will be fully collateralized by agricultural real estate, other productive assets such as fruit or nut trees or, in some cases, the actual crop. • Klick-Ex - is an award winning regional cross-border payments system delivering financial infrastructure for emerging markets. It has been responsible for dramatic uptake in digital financial services in unbanked regions of the world, and lowering costs for banks, central banks and consumers in low liquidity currencies. Its key presence is in the Pacific and Europe, and it is a founding member of www.APFII.org processing more than 775,000 transactions per second, per billion of population (source). • Mobius - Mobius connects any app, device, and data stream to the blockchain ecosystem. Our simple and easy to use bidirectional API allows non-blockchain developers to easily connect resources to smart contracts and more. The Mobius MVP acts like Stripe for Blockchain by introducing innovative standards for cross-blockchain login, payment, smart contract management, and oracles. The Mobius Team includes David Gobaud, Jed McCaleb (Stellar.org founder), Jackson Palmer (creator of Dogecoin), and Chandler Guo (notorious Bitcoin & blockchain investor). • Chaineum - Chaineum, the first French ICO Boutique, will use the Stellar network for upcoming ICOs. “Chaineum is positioned as the first “ICO Boutique” in France, providing a range of end-to-end services to companies and international start-ups wishing to develop with this new funding mechanism. Chaineum is preparing 8 ICOs by the end of 2017, for European, North American and Asian companies, of which cumulative amount could reach € 200 million." (source) • Poseidon Foundation - Poseidon will simplify the carbon credit market with the creation of an ecosystem built on Stellar.org’s blockchain technology. This technology will prevent double counting of carbon and will be consistent across jurisdictions, making it easier for companies to deliver and measure progress towards their climate targets or other goals such as deforestation-free commitments. • Remitr - Remitr is a global platform for cross border payments, licensed in Canada. Remitr uses the Stellar network for international settlements for businesses as well as other payment partners. Remitr’s own payout network of 63 countries, comprising several currencies, is extended onto the Stellar network. • MSewa Software Solution (MSS) - MSewa Software Solution (MSS) Payments provides a one-stop digital payment service available across the Globe. MSS Payments aims at serving the consumers (Banked, Unbanked and Underbanked) with mobile banking facilities on the move from anywhere by transferring funds in their mobile phone. • PesaChoice - PesaChoice is a leader in international bill payment services for the African diaspora. PesaChoice aims at making international bill payment process easy, seamless, secure, with reasonable and competitive service fees, and up to date technological advances. • SendX - Singapore based SendX, in partnership with Stellar, is the better way to move money worldwide. The SendX team believes that the future of transactions is decentralized and distributed, bringing true equity to everyone across the value chain. • VoguePay - VoguePay, with offices in the United Kingdom and Nigeria, is partnering with Stellar to become the cheapest and most efficient way to send money between the United Kingdom and Nigeria. In the coming months, they expect to expand this service to other selected African countries. • HashCash - Hashcash consultants build financial solutions for banks and financial institutions over blockchain. We leverage the Stellar platform to build products that vastly improve the remittance and payments experience for banks and their customers. Transfers happen lightning fast at a fraction of current rates and operational cost is significantly reduced. HashCash is headquartered in India, with operations across South Asia and the Gulf. . . Stellar Lumens vs Other Cryptocurrencies • Lumens vs. Bitcoin: Jed McCaleb spoke at Distributed Markets in 2017 about the advantages, but more importantly, the disadvantages of Bitcoin. Listen to the talk here. Jed said, “Bitcoin is this awesome innovation. The first thing it does is converts a real world resource, electricity, into a digital asset. So it takes something from the real world and puts it into the digital realm. The second thing it does is provides immutable public record. It’s basically a database that everyone can see but no one change arbitrarily… That’s great, Bitcoin solves the double spin problem [ of proving possession and transmitting volume]… [However, to fix the problems of bitcoin] you might think well maybe we’ll just kind of keep adding [software] to Bitcoin until we get there, but that’s not really the way software works. You want to have the design from the beginning and solve these simple issues. Bitcoin was designed to be a new currency, it wasn’t really designed to be this unifying universal payment network. So that’s what Stellar does. It solves these three remaining issues.” • Lumens vs. Bitcoin #2: According to wired.com, "Bitcoin mining guzzles energy - and it's carbon footprint just keeps growing." Wired says "Today, each bitcoin transaction requires the same amount of energy used to power nine homes in the US for one day... The total energy use of this web of hardware is huge—an estimated 31 terawatt-hours per year. More than 150 individual countries in the world consume less energy annually. And that power-hungry network is currently increasing its energy use every day by about 450 gigawatt-hours, roughly the same amount of electricity the entire country of Haiti uses in a year." Because Stellar is based on a consensus algorithm rather than mining, it takes much less energy to run the Stellar network. The Poseidon Foundation decided to build their platform on Stellar rather than Ethereum or Bitcoin because of this (twitter source). • Lumens ICO tokens vs. Ethereum ICO tokens: According to Stellar.org, "traditionally, ICO tokens have been issued on the Ethereum network in the form of ERC20 tokens. ERC20 tokens are easy to issue and are infinitely customizable using Ethereum’s smart contracting language. However, recent events have highlighted and exacerbated some weaknesses of the network, including slow transaction processing times for the network during ICOs and increasingly expensive gas prices (by fiat standards) for transactions and smart contract execution. Moreover, many organizations require only basic tokens; they adopt the risk of Ethereum’s Turing complete programming language without taking advantage of many of its benefits." "While Ethereum has the most expressive programming capabilities, we believe Stellar is the best choice for ICOs that do not require complex smart contracts. Stellar’s primary goal is to facilitate issuing and trading tokens, especially those tied to legal commitments by known organizations, such as claims on real-world assets or fiat currency." • Stellar vs. Ethereum #2: The median transaction time on Stellar is 5 seconds, compared to approximately 3.5 minutes on Ethereum (source). Stellar has a negligible transaction fee (.00001 XLM ~= $0.0000002) with no gas fee for computation, while depending on the complexity of the computation, the median cost for a transfer on the Ethereum network is $0.094. Security: While both Stellar and Ethereum run on a decentralized network, the Stellar network has fewer security pitfalls. Stellar uses atomic transactions comprised of simple, declarative operations while Ethereum uses turing complete programming capabilities which produces less auditable code and greater risk of exploitable vulnerabilities(source). Recently, a security flaw in the Ethereum network froze millions of dollars. According to Mobius ariticle written by David Gobaud, "On November 6, 2017, Github user deveps199 'accidentally' triggered a bug in Parity, a popular Ethereum mult-sig wallet, that froze more than $152 million in Ether across 151 addresses. The bug impacted several token sales including Polkadot, which has had ~$98 million out of its recent $145 million sale frozen." "Mobius had none of its ongoing pre-sale Ether frozen because we do not trust Ethereum’s Smart Contract based multi-sig wallets given the vast Turing complete attack surface and did not use one. Security broadly is one of the main reasons the MOBI token that powers the DApp Store is a Stellar Protocol token and not an Ethereum token." • Lumens vs. Ripple: According to Wall Street Bitcoin Exchange, "Many investors like to compare the company [Stellar] to Ripple, and there are a lot of similarities, being that some of the founders worked on the Ripple team. In what can now be looked at as another blockchain development drama that plays out on chat boards and in interviews all across the globe. Stellar declared they fixed Ripple’s problems with their hard fork, however, Ripple has failed to admit to any of the flaws in its design that the Stellar team has pointed out." The article concludes by saying, "We Choose XLM Over XRP For 2018. That is why we are going with Stellar Lumens over Ripple in our portfolio for the rest of 2017 and 2018. After holding Ripple for a long time this year, it just never seems to make the big break like other names with bigger market caps like Bitcoin Cash, Dash, and Litecoin have. While we are holding on most all our larger market caps, we feel that Stellar Lumens will be one of the break out coins for 2018." . . Conclusion The stellar.org team is doing an amazing job making partnerships and pioneering the use of blockchain technology for various types of transactions. What we are seeing is a new technology that can actually be used to solve real-world problems. As a community, we need to continue supporting Stellar and we will quickly see it power transactions across the world. What are your thoughts about Stellar? What do you see in the future of Stellar? Any important news you want to share? Comment below.
Buying Ether in Canada, my experience with different exchanges
Hello, I'm writing about my experiences buying ethereum in Canada, essentially converting CAD to ETH. The goal is to help beginners that are interested in getting started but don't know where to actually buy ether. There's a lot of info out there but most of it seems to be centered around USD, which doesn't always translate for CAD and our banking system. I'm by no means an expert but I figured someone might find this information helpful. I've verified and used the following sites, so I'll be writing about them:
If you just want the gist of it, a super-quick summary of what I found:
Coinbase: great if you just want to try things out. Fast to get ether, fast to verify, high fees.
QuadrigaCX: great if you're looking to get more seriously into cryptocurrency. Most deposit options, lower fees.
Kraken: great if you have a ton of money you want to transfer into cryptocurrency or if you want to play around with trading. Low fees, slow CAD deposit because wire transfer.
Coinsquare: Fees aren't bad, low volume though.
With every one of these sites, there's usually some form of verification. This involves taking a picture of some piece of government ID (usually passport or drivers license), as well as some sort of proof of address such as a utlity bill. Some sites require you to take a selfie with some of that documentation or holding a handwritten sign. It seemed sketchy to me at first, but every place does it. Coinbase This was the first place I tried. Their only payment methods I could find are Visa and MasterCard, of which they charge a 3.75% convenience. With reward cards you might get 1%-2% back, but this is a fairly high fee. The bright side is it's just about instantaneous. One thing I noticed is that their sell price is about ~$5 higher than a few exchanges. For example, as I write this, it's $119.23 on coinbase. On kraken it's 113.99 for a market order. There is a weekly $200 limit on the amount to buy. A 30 day countdown started after I spent $500 to increase the limit. I can't find what the new limit amount will be once that countdown reaches 0 though. So far, I've been with them for over a month and I've bought $600 worth of ether. The first time I bought it only took a minute to get sent to my private address. The second time it took ~40 minutes for it to actually get sent to my private ether address, but this was due to some issues they were having, probably just a fluke. I've bought two more times since then and both times it was instant. To summarize Pros:
Fast to verify, took a couple minutes, seemed to be completely automated
Almost instantly sent funds via Visa/Mastercard
Instantly got the ether I bought
Probably the easiest to use
Generally $5 over Kraken prices
High fees at 3.75%. Might be able to brought lower with a good rewards card
Low $200 weekly limit
QuadrigaCX Hoping to get lower fees, this was the second place I tried. They accept a lot more payments with a variety of fees, I'll list them out:
Electronic Funds Transfer
Min $250, Max $10,000
5 Business Days
Min $500, Max $5,000
Next Business Day
2% + $5
Min $50, Max $2,000
Instant (but may be held 24 hours by security)
1.5% (min. $5)
Min $100,000, Max $500,000
2-4 Business Days
Min $500, Max $500,000
Electronic Funds Transfer replaced their "direct bank transfer" option, and while I think it's great since I think every bank supports it, it unfortunately has a rather high fee at 5%. I don't really see why you would use this though, if you can use Interac Online, it's faster. If you need the higher daily limit, a bank wire would be cheaper too. Interac e-Transfer I'd go with this if your bank doesn't support Interac Online and if you don't mind the 2% fee. If you're doing a large amount, the Bank Wire would be a better choice, depending on how much your bank charges you. Interac Online seems like the best choice for less than $2000. Unfortunately even though my bank card says "Interac" on it, and the bank is listed as supported, I can't use it for Interac Online because the card is both a debit and visa card. I've read that RBC and BMO are the only banks that support this, so it may be worth signing up with them. Bank Wire ended up being what I used (EDIT: back then the minimum for a wire transfer was $500). I wanted to deposit a larger sum, so just paying my bank for the cost of the transfer ended up being worthwhile (about 0.5% fee). The downside is I had to go in person to a branch to send a wire transfer and it's only really worthwhile for larger transfers. Crypto Capital seems like a 3rd party that you can wire to and then transfer that to QuadrigaCX. I don't see the appeal in using this to fund an account since you can just wire to QuadrigaCX directly. I sent the wire transfer a few days ago, and it seems like it will take 3-5 business days for it to complete. I'll update this post if the money somehow just disappears. Wire transfer came through today, no problems :) Once you do get CAD on QuadrigaCX, the fees to buy Ether are 0.5%. Combined with my wire transfer cost, I expect to only have paid a total of 1% in fees. To summarize Pros:
Fast to verify, I was able to verify the same day I made my account
Lots of variety in funding choices
Lower fees compared to coinbase
High daily fund limits
Not as many deposit options if they don't support your bank
0.5% per completed trade is a little high compared to other exchanges
Some transfer options have higher fees than coinbase for low amounts
Some transfer options can take up to 5 days
Kraken The latest site I've tried, they have multiple tiers of verification. You can't deposit CAD until you reach tier 3 verification, which can take up to 48 hours. Tier 1 and tier 2 were verified within the hour but tier 3 was still not verified 3 days later. When I submitted a support ticket, they were very quick to respond the next day and told me I needed to submit a Confirmation ID. Their site listed the Confirmation ID for a few countries and some criteria but it didn't seem like Canada applied to any of the criteria. Regardless, I submitted the Confirmation ID and was verified with tier 3 that same day. The only way to deposit CAD with Kraken is through wire transfer and it seems like there's some unlisted fees based on what their banks charge them to receive a wire transfer (as well as any intermediary bank). I have not done this so I cannot tell what the costs would be. Once you do have CAD on their exchange, their fees are better than QuadrigaCX with a MakeTaker rate at 0.16%/0.26%. I have sent ether to Kraken just for playing around with trading and I've had no problems. To summarize Pros:
Low trading fees
Potentially lower CAD->ETH fee than QuadrigaCX, depending on if there are wire transfer hidden costs. Lower trading fee helps
High fund limits
Only one way to deposit CAD and it's slow
Unclear what the wire transfer costs are
Little confusing verification process for tier3
Min $100, Max $2,000
Instant (withheld for 3 days)
Min $100, Max $3,000
1-3 days (withheld 0-7 days)
Min $20, Max $500
Min $1000, Max $9,000
0-2 days (withheld 0-5 days)
Min $100, Max $1,000
0-2 days (withheld 0-5 days)
Min $10,000, Max $300,000
0-1 day (withheld 0-2 days)
They have this concept of withholding funds, where you basically have to keep the money on the account. You can trade with it as much as you want, but you won't be able to withdraw until after the withholding time. Pros:
Lowish trading fees
Some options are fast to fund
Reasonable fund limits
The direct way to go from CAD->ETH has higher trading fees. Have to go CAD->BTC and then BTC->ETH.
Horrible interface. Until they fix their site, some stuff is broken (unless it works in other browsers?), or if you know how to edit html. Wow! They really fixed their site and it looks great now! Only thing that bothers me is in the advanced section, it lists the CAD/BTC price in terms of bitcoin. So instead of saying $3400/bitcoin, it says 0.00029378BTC
Fairly high withdraw fees (unfortunately I can't find them listed on their site, and I can't find it listed anywhere, but some people have reported it being far too high)
Alternatives There are of course other sites to get ether, and there's always the option of getting bitcoin and exchanging it through an exchange like Kraken or Poloniex for ether. There are bitcoin ATMs scattered around as well, but I can't comment on any fees involved or how close they match exchange prices. Other sites I checked out:
Local Bitcoins - It looks like I'd have to find another user to trade with and prices seem far higher than the exchanges.
Poloniex - Doesn't look like you can deposit CAD.
Gemini - Don't see a way to deposit CAD. Also sent verification 2 days ago and have not been verified.
Bitfinex - Can't wire transfer USD out at this moment and I don't see a way to deposit CAD.
Coinswitch - Can't deposit CAD.
GDAX - Can't deposit CAD.
CEX.IO - Price quotes are signficantly higher than other exchanges, and it looks like it only does USD. Right now, their site says you can buy 1 ETH as $289.25 USD, compare that to GDAX which has them trading at $259.98 USD. You can sell on it too, but again, the price isn't favorable, sell on it for $250 USD vs selling on GDAX for $260 USD.
QuickBT - Only small amounts of ETH, and fees seem to range between 5-9% depending on how much you buy. Only supports interac online and flexepin.
Alt Coins The main sites for getting CAD into the cryptocurrency space like QuadrigaCX, Coinbase, Kraken, and Coinsquare don't have a lot of altcoins. Fortunately once you have ether you can send it to another exchange and trade that for altcoins. These are my favourite ones:
Bittrex - You can't buy ETH with CAD directly, but it has a lot of other cryptocurrencies. I used this until Binance came out. They closed accounts for people unverified or from some countries, so I'd be wary about using it.
Binance - You also can't buy ETH with CAD directly on this one, but it's my favourite for getting into other cryptocurrency coins. Fees are also lower than bittrex if you hold their BNB coin and they add new coins much faster. Referral | Non-Referral
Kucoin - Registration on Binance/Bittrex has been up and down lately and I've had success using this exchange. They seem to add coins even faster than Binance, but the site is a little bit slower and less polished. Still functional and good to pickup a few alts that you can't get elsewhere. Referral | Non-referral
Funnily enough, this whole experience has made me appreciate the flexibility cryptocurrency like ether has and served as a reminder to how slow and cumbersome transactions become once the banking system is involved. EDIT: received wire transfer through QuadrigaCX, made account with coinsquare. EDIT2: added coinsquare section EDIT3: updated QuadrigaCX and coinsquare section, updated alternatives list EDIT4: Added e-transfer for QuadrigaCX! EDIT5: Cleaned up alt coins section.
Hashrate: went from 54 to 76 PH/s, the low was 50 and the new all-time high is 100 PH/s. BeePool share rose to ~50% while F2Pool shrank to 30%, followed by coinmine.pl at 5% and Luxor at 3%. Staking: 30-day average ticket price is 95.6 DCR (+3.0) as of Sep 3. During the month, ticket price fluctuated between a low of 92.2 and high of 100.5 DCR. Locked DCR represented between 3.8 and 3.9 million or 46.3-46.9% of the supply. Nodes: there are 217 public listening and 281 normal nodes per dcred.eu. Version distribution: 2% at v1.4.0(pre) (dev builds), 5% on v1.3.0 (RC1), 62% on v1.2.0 (-5%), 22% on v1.1.2 (-2%), 6% on v1.1.0 (-1%). Almost 69% of nodes are v.1.2.0 and higher and support client filters. Data snapshot of Aug 31.
Obelisk posted 3 email updates in August. DCR1 units are reportedly shipping with 1 TH/s hashrate and will be upgraded with firmware to 1.5 TH/s. Batch 1 customers will receive compensation for missed shipment dates, but only after Batch 5 ships. Batch 2-5 customers will be receiving the updated slim design. Innosilicon announced the new D9+ DecredMaster: 2.8 TH/s at 1,230 W priced $1,499. Specified shipping date was Aug 10-15. FFMiner DS19 claims 3.1 TH/s for Blake256R14 at 680 W and simultaneously 1.55 TH/s for Blake2B at 410 W, the price is $1,299. Shipping Aug 20-25. Another newly noticed miner offer is this unit that does 46 TH/s at 2,150 W at the price of $4,720. It is shipping Nov 2018 and the stats look very close to Pangolin Whatsminer DCR (which has now a page on asicminervalue).
www.d1pool.com joined the list of stakepools for a total of 16. Australian CoinTreeadded DCR trading. The platform supports fiat, there are some limitations during the upgrade to a new system but also no fees in the "Early access mode". On a related note, CoinTree is working on a feature to pay household bills with cryptocurrencies it supports. Three new OTC desks were added to exchanges page at decred.org. Two mobile wallets integrated Decred:
Coinomiadded Decred to their Android and iOS wallets. In addition to the Apple App Store and Google Play you can download the APK directly. Coinomi features an integrated cryptocurrency exchange and is the first company to offer a mobile Decred wallet.
Reminder: do your best to understand the security and privacy model before using any wallet software. Points to consider: who controls the seed, does the wallet talk to the nodes directly or via middlemen, is it open source or not?
Bit Dialsannounced DCR support via GloBee at their bitdials.eu luxury boutique. Their separate supercar and classic car shop bitcars.eu also accepts DCR, either via GloBee or with manual invoicing in case of privacy concerns.
Targeted advertising report for August was posted by @timhebel. Facebook appeal is pending, some Google and Twitter campaigns were paused and some updated. Read more here. Contribution to the @decredproject Twitter account has evolved over the past few months. A #twitter_ops channel is being used on Matrix to collaboratively draft and execute project account tweets (including retweets). Anyone with an interest in contributing to the Twitter account can ask for an invitation to the channel and can start contributing content and ideas there for evaluation by the Twitter group. As a result, no minority or unilateral veto over tweets is possible. (from GitHub)
Meetup in Puebla City, Mexico, organized by @elian. (photo, slides, missed in July issue)
@joshuam discussed Decred and decentralized organizations with Craig Laundy, Federal Minister for Small Business, the Workplace, and Deregulation with the Australian Government, at @YBFVentures. (photos)
Meetup at @TheBlockCafe in Lisbon, Portugal. @mm presented "Decred 101 - Governance with Skin in the Game" and @moo31337 talked about Decred's 2018 roadmap. (photos: 123)
Meetup in Taipei, Taiwan. @morphymore made a short intro of Decred and noted: "After the talk, many have approached to tell me that they literally don’t hear of Decred until today, and are interested in finding out more about the merit of a hybrid consensus system.". Longer report here, some photos and a video are here.
@eSizeDave introduced Decred to the SILC Undergraduate Program students at @YBFVentures. (photo)
OKEx Global Meetup Tour in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. @joshuam gave a brief presentation covering the history of Decred, how the project functions, and the importance of governance. Afterwards he joined a panel discussion and spoke about Decred's incentives for long term viability. (video, video, photo)
Blockchain Futurist Conference in Toronto, Canada. @zubairzia0 noted: "Devs and the community were held in high regard for the people who knew about decred ... one positive thing I remember was someone defending us saying 'Decred does not need a booth', I believe that comment was reflective of the quality of projects being showcased at the conference.". (photo)
Meetup at @YBFVentures in Melbourne, Australia. @joshuam discussed Decred with Graham Stuart, U.K. Minister for International Trade. (news, photos)
Small meetup with Jackson Palmer in Melbourne, Australia. (photo)
Hawthorne Street Fair in Portland, USA. Raedah Group was out answering questions about crypto and Decred. (photos)
Blockchain APAC in Melbourne, Australia. @joshuam joined a panel discussion with reps from banking, university and ISO/TC 307. @eSizeDave reports: "This enterprise conference was indeed a whole lot better than I expected. The presentations were actually full of very worthwhile information from credible people, articulated aptly to a very government, academic, and corporate crowd, who genuinely took on board valuable insights. Good to know some of these key people are Decred holders and stakers as well. I got to use the entire day to speak directly with some of the most pivotal personalities in this particular populace. Ongoing relationships have been built and strengthened.". (photos: 123)
For those willing to help with the events:
BAB: Hey all, we are gearing up for conference season. I have a list of places we hope to attend but need to know who besides @joshuam and @Haon are willing to do public speaking, willing to work booths, or help out at them? You will need to be well versed on not just what is Decred, but the history of Decred etc... DM me if you are interested. (#event_planning) The Decred project is looking for ambassadors. If you are looking for a fun cryptocurrency to get involved in send me a DM or come talk to me on Decred slack. (@marco_peereboom, longer version here)
One private work channel was successfully migrated to Matrix.
Stylish room avatars were set.
@Haon has prepared a short guide to help new Matrix users get started and join the Decred rooms.
A thread was started to discuss changes to Decred jargon with the intent to make it more consistent and accessible to newcomers. The question whether changing "official" terminology requires stakeholder approval was touched in this thread and in #documentation.
Project fund transparency and constitution were extensively discussed on Reddit and in #general.
Pre-proposal to use Politeia to approve Politeia as a legitimate decision-making tool for Decred.
Reddit: substantive discussion about Decred cons; ecosystem fund; a thread about voter engagement, Politeia UX and trolling; idea of a social media system for Decred by @michae2xl; how profitable is the Obelisk DCR1. Chats: cross-chain trading via LN; plans for contractor management system, lower-level decision making and contractor privacy vs transparency for stakeholders; measuring dev activity; what if the network stalls, multiple implementations of Decred for more resilience, long term vision behind those extensive tests and accurate comments in the codebase; ideas for process for policy documents, hosting them in Pi and approving with ticket voting; about SPV wallet disk size, how compact filters work; odds of a wallet fetching a wrong block in SPV; new module system in Go; security of allowing Android app backups; why PoW algo change proposal must be specified in great detail; thoughts about NIPoPoWs and SPV; prerequisites for shipping SPV by default (continued); Decred vs Dash treasury and marketing expenses, spending other people's money; why Decred should not invade a country, DAO and nation states, entangling with nation state is poor resource allocation; how winning tickets are determined and attack vectors; Politeia proposal moderation, contractor clearance, the scale of proposals and decision delegation, initial Politeia vote to approve Politeia itself; chat systems, Matrix/Slack/Discord/RocketChat/Keybase (continued); overview of Korean exchanges; no breaking changes in vgo; why project fund burn rate must keep low; asymptotic behavior of Decred and other ccs, tail emission; count of full nodes and incentives to run them; Politeia proposal translations and multilingual environment. An unusual event was the chat about double negatives and other oddities in languages in #trading.
DCR started the month at USD 56 / BTC 0.0073 and had a two week decline. On Aug 14 the whole market took a huge drop and briefly went below USD 200 billion. Bitcoin went below USD 6,000 and top 100 cryptos lost 5-30%. The lowest point coincided with Bitcoin dominance peak at 54.5%. On that day Decred dived -17% and reached the bottom of USD 32 / BTC 0.00537. Since then it went sideways in the USD 35-45 / BTC 0.0054-0.0064 range. Around Aug 24, Huobi showed DCR trading volume above USD 5M and this coincided with a minor recovery. @ImacallyouJawdy posted some creative analysis based on ticket data.
StopAndDecrypt published an extensive article "ASIC Resistance is Nothing but a Blockchain Buzzword" that is much in line with Decred's stance on ASICs. The ongoing debates about the possible Sia fork yet again demonstrate the importance of a robust dispute resolution mechanism. Also, we are lucky to have the treasury. Mark B Lundeberg, who found a vulnerability in atomicswap earlier, published a concept of more private peer-to-peer atomic swaps. (missed in July issue) Medium took a cautious stance on cryptocurrencies and triggered at least one project to migrate to Ghost (that same project previously migrated away from Slack). Regulation: Vietnam bans mining equipment imports, China halts crypto events and tightens control of crypto chat groups. Reddit was hacked by intercepting 2FA codes sent via SMS. The announcement explains the impact. Yet another data breach suggests to think twice before sharing any data with any company and shift to more secure authentication systems. Intel and x86 dumpsterfire keeps burning brighter. Seek more secure hardware and operating systems for your coins. Finally, unrelated to Decred but good for a laugh: yetanotherico.com.
About This Issue
This is the 5th issue of Decred Journal. It is mirrored on GitHub, Medium and Reddit. Past issues are available here. Most information from third parties is relayed directly from source after a minimal sanity check. The authors of Decred Journal have no ability to verify all claims. Please beware of scams and do your own research. Feedback is appreciated: please comment on Reddit, GitHub or #writers_room on Matrix or Slack. Contributions are welcome too. Some areas are collecting content, pre-release review or translations to other languages. Check out @Richard-Red's guide how to contribute to Decred using GitHub without writing code. Credits (Slack names, alphabetical order): bee, Haon, jazzah, Richard-Red and thedecreddigest.
The biggest announcement of the month was the new kind of decentralized exchange proposed by @jy-p of Company 0. The Community Discussions section considers the stakeholders' response. dcrd: Peer management and connectivity improvements. Some work for improved sighash algo. A new optimization that gives 3-4x faster serving of headers, which is great for SPV. This was another step towards multipeer parallel downloads – check this issue for a clear overview of progress and planned work for next months (and some engineering delight). As usual, codebase cleanup, improvements to error handling, test infrastructure and test coverage. Decrediton: work towards watching only wallets, lots of bugfixes and visual design improvements. Preliminary work to integrate SPV has begun. Politeia is live on testnet! Useful links: announcement, introduction, command line voting example, example proposal with some votes, mini-guide how to compose a proposal. Trezor: Decred appeared in the firmware update and on Trezor website, currently for testnet only. Next steps are mainnet support and integration in wallets. For the progress of Decrediton support you can track this meta issue. dcrdata: Continued work on Insight API support, see this meta issue for progress overview. It is important for integrations due to its popularity. Ongoing work to add charts. A big database change to improve sorting on the Address page was merged and bumped version to 3.0. Work to visualize agenda voting continues. Ticket splitting: 11-way ticket split from last month has voted (transaction). Ethereum support in atomicswap is progressing and welcomes more eyeballs. decred.org: revamped Press page with dozens of added articles, and a shiny new Roadmap page. decredinfo.com: a new Decred dashboard by lte13. Reddit announcement here. Dev activity stats for June: 245 active PRs, 184 master commits, 25,973 added and 13,575 deleted lines spread across 8 repositories. Contributions came from 2 to 10 developers per repository. (chart)
Hashrate: growth continues, the month started at 15 and ended at 44 PH/s with some wild 30% swings on the way. The peak was 53.9 PH/s. F2Pool was the leader varying between 36% and 59% hashrate, followed by coinmine.pl holding between 18% and 29%. In response to concerns about its hashrate share, F2Pool made a statement that they will consider measures like rising the fees to prevent growing to 51%. Staking: 30-day average ticket price is 94.7 DCR (+3.4). The price was steadily rising from 90.7 to 95.8 peaking at 98.1. Locked DCR grew from 3.68 to 3.81 million DCR, the highest value was 3.83 million corresponding to 47.87% of supply (+0.7% from previous peak). Nodes: there are 240 public listening and 115 normal nodes per dcred.eu. Version distribution: 57% on v1.2.0 (+12%), 25% on v1.1.2 (-13%), 14% on v1.1.0 (-1%). Note: the reported count of non-listening nodes has dropped significantly due to data reset at decred.eu. It will take some time before the crawler collects more data. On top of that, there is no way to exactly count non-listening nodes. To illustrate, an alternative data source, charts.dcr.farm showed 690 reachable nodes on Jul 1. Extraordinary event: 247361 and 247362 were two nearly full blocks. Normally blocks are 10-20 KiB, but these blocks were 374 KiB (max is 384 KiB).
Update from Obelisk: shipping is expected in first half of July and there is non-zero chance to meet hashrate target. Another Chinese ASIC spotted on the web: Flying Fish D18 with 340 GH/s at 180 W costing 2,200 CNY (~340 USD). (asicok.com – translated, also on asicminervalue) dcrASIC team posted a farewell letter. Despite having an awesome 16 nm chip design, they decided to stop the project citing the saturated mining ecosystem and low profitability for their potential customers.
Changenow announced the option to buy DCR with fiat.
TokenPride: "We are seeking feedback on the general setup of our payment processor. We have tried to make it simple and user friendly. 10% of all purchases made in Decred will be donated to the Decred Development fund - and we will be releasing original Decred designs in the future".
BlueYard Capital announced investment in Decred and the intent to be long term supporters and to actively participate in the network's governance. In an overview post they stressed core values of the project:
There are a few other remarkable characteristics that are a testament to the DNA of the team behind Decred: there was no sale of DCR to investors, no venture funding, and no payment to exchanges to be listed – underscoring that the Decred team and contributors are all about doing the right thing for long term (as manifested in their constitution for the project). The most encouraging thing we can see is both the quality and quantity of high calibre developers flocking to the project, in addition to a vibrant community attaching their identity to the project.
The company will be hosting an event in Berlin, see Events below. Arbitrade is now mining Decred.
Campus Party in Brasilia, Brazil. @girino, @Rhama and @matheusd talked about Decred. Matheus was interviewed by a TV channel. Check this quick report about the event, click "Show newer" to continue reading. (photos: 123)
Blockchain Summit in London, UK. This was not a full blown presence with stand but rather investigation of opportunities by @kyle and @Ani. The resulting detailed report is a good example of a document advising to stakeholders whether it is worth spending project funds.
Meetup in Berlin, Germany on July 18. @jz will give a talk and Q&A about Decred and chat with Ele from @oscoin about incentivizing developers. Hosted by BlueYard Capital.
Hey guys! I'd like to share with you my latest adventure: Stakey Club, hosted at stakey.club, is a website dedicated to Decred. I posted a few articles in Brazilian Portuguese and in English. I also translated to Portuguese some posts from the Decred Blog. I hope you like it! (slack)
Decred Assembly - Ep20 - Governance: Driving the Future (youtube) @cburniske and @traceagain discuss the importance of governance protocols being foundational and problems with delegated proof of stake
"I think that developers in the future are going to base their decision on where to build on the basis of governance and community. And so I look for good governance mechanisms and strong communities in blockchains." (@decredproject)
What is on-chain cryptocurrency governance? Is it plutocratic? by Richard Red (medium)
Apples to apples, Decred is 20x more expensive to attack than Bitcoin by Zubair Zia (medium)
What makes Decred different and better from other cryptocurrencies? (cxihub.com)
Community stats: Twitter followers 40,209 (+1,091), Reddit subscribers 8,410 (+243), Slack users 5,830 (+172), GitHub 392 stars and 918 forks of dcrd repository. An update on our communication systems:
Matrix chat logs are nowviewable on the web with the exception of some channels that are not bridged. The new web logs means our chats are now fully public and indexed by search engines.
Slack had an outage on Jun 27 that disturbed communications for a few hours, discussions continued on Decred's bridged platforms.
Jake Yocom-Piatt did an AMA on CryptoTechnology, a forum for serious crypto tech discussion. Some topics covered were Decred attack cost and resistance, voting policies, smart contracts, SPV security, DAO and DPoS. A new kind of DEX was the subject of an extensive discussion in #general, #random, #trading channels as well as Reddit. New channel #thedex was created and attracted more than 100 people. A frequent and fair question is how the DEX would benefit Decred. @lukebp has put it well:
Projects like these help Decred attract talent. Typically, the people that are the best at what they do aren’t driven solely by money. They want to work on interesting projects that they believe in with other talented individuals. Launching a DEX that has no trading fees, no requirement to buy a 3rd party token (including Decred), and that cuts out all middlemen is a clear demonstration of the ethos that Decred was founded on. It helps us get our name out there and attract the type of people that believe in the same mission that we do. (slack)
Another concern that it will slow down other projects was addressed by @davecgh:
The intent is for an external team to take up the mantle and build it, so it won't have any bearing on the current c0 roadmap. The important thing to keep in mind is that the goal of Decred is to have a bunch of independent teams on working on different things. (slack)
A chat about Decred fork resistance started on Twitter and continued in #trading. Community members continue to discuss the finer points of Decred's hybrid system, bringing new users up to speed and answering their questions. The key takeaway from this chat is that the Decred chain is impossible to advance without votes, and to get around that the forker needs to change the protocol in a way that would make it clearly not Decred. "Against community governance" article was discussed on Reddit and #governance. "The Downside of Democracy (and What it Means for Blockchain Governance)" was another article arguing against on-chain governance, discussed here. Reddit recap: mining rig shops discussion; how centralized is Politeia; controversial debate on photos of models that yielded useful discussion on our marketing approach; analysis of a drop in number of transactions; concerns regarding project bus factor, removing central authorities, advertising and full node count – received detailed responses; an argument by insette for maximizing aggregate tx fees; coordinating network upgrades; a new "Why Decred?" thread; a question about quantum resistance with a detailed answer and a recap of current status of quantum resistant algorithms. Chats recap: Programmatic Proof-of-Work (ProgPoW) discussion; possible hashrate of Blake-256 miners is at least ~30% higher than SHA-256d; how Decred is not vulnerable to SPV leaf/node attack.
DCR opened the month at ~$93, reached monthly high of $110, gradually dropped to the low of $58 and closed at $67. In BTC terms it was 0.0125 -> 0.0150 -> 0.0098 -> 0.0105. The downturn coincided with a global decline across the whole crypto market. In the middle of the month Decred was noticed to be #1 in onchainfx "% down from ATH" chart and on this chart by @CoinzTrader. Towards the end of the month it dropped to #3.
Please note: we will not accept any kind of payment to list an asset.
Bithumb got hacked with a $30 m loss. Zcash organized Zcon0, an event in Canada that focused on privacy tech and governance. An interesting insight from Keynote Panel on governance: "There is no such thing as on-chain governance". Microsoft acquired GitHub. There was some debate about whether it is a reason to look into alternative solutions like GitLab right now. It is always a good idea to have a local copy of Decred source code, just in case. Status update from @sumiflow on correcting DCR supply on various sites:
To begin with, none of the below sites were showing the correct supply or market cap for Decred but we've made some progress. coingecko.com, coinlib.io, cryptocompare.com, livecoinwatch.com, worldcoinindex.com - corrected! cryptoindex.co, onchainfx.com - awaiting fix coinmarketcap.com - refused to fix because devs have coins too? (slack)
About This Issue
This is the third issue of Decred Journal after April and May. Most information from third parties is relayed directly from source after a minimal sanity check. The authors of Decred Journal have no ability to verify all claims. Please beware of scams and do your own research. The new public Matrix logs look promising and we hope to transition from Slack links to Matrix links. In the meantime, the way to read Slack links is explained in the previous issue. As usual, any feedback is appreciated: please comment on Reddit, GitHub or #writers_room. Contributions are welcome too, anything from initial collection to final review to translations. Credits (Slack names, alphabetical order): bee and Richard-Red. Special thanks to @Haon for bringing May 2018 issue to medium.
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