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.
Disclaimer: I am not and have never been affiliated with any of the mentioned parties in a private or professional matter. Presumably in an attempt to smear a local competitor, Hayden Otto inadvertently publishes irrefutable on-chain proof that he excluded non-BCH retail revenue to shape the "BCH #1 in Australia" narrative.
Scroll down to "Proof of exclusion" if you are tired of the drama recap.
Scroll down to "TLDR" if you want a summary.
In September 2019, BitcoinBCH.com started publishing so called monthly "reports" about crypto retail payments in Australia. They claimed that ~90% of Australia's crypto retail revenue is processed via their own HULA system and that ~92% of all crypto retail revenue happens in BCH. They are aggregating two data sources to come up with this claim. One is TravelByBit (TBB) who publishes their PoS transactions (BTC, LN, ETH, BNB, DASH, BCH) live on a ticker. The other source is HULA, a newly introduced POS system (BCH only) and direct competitor to TBB run by BitcoinBCH.com - the same company who created the report. Despite being on-chain their transactions are private, not published and not verifiable by third parties outside BitcoinBCH.com Two things stood out in the "reports", noted by multiple users (including vocal BCH proponents):
The non-BCH parts must have tx excluded and the report neglects to mention it (the total in their TBB analysis does not match what is reported on the TBB website.)
The BCH part has outliers included (e.g. BCH city conference in September with 35x the daily average)
Hayden Otto's reaction
In direct response to me publishing these findings on btc, Hayden Otto - an employee at BitcoinBCH.com and the author of the report who also happens to be a moderator of /BitcoinCash - banned me immediately from said sub (source). In subsequent discussion (which repeated for every monthly "report" which was flawed in the same ways as described above), Hayden responded using the same tactics: "No data was removed"
"The guy is straight out lying. There is guaranteed no missing tx as the data was collected directly from the source." (source)
"Only data I considered non-retail was removed"
"I also had these data points and went through them to remove non-retail transactions, on both TravelbyBit and HULA." (source)
He admits to have removed non-BCH tx by "Game Ranger" because he considers them non-retail (source). He also implies they might be involved in money laundering and that TBB might fail their AML obligations in processing Game Ranger's transactions (source). The report does not mention any data being excluded at all and he still fails to explain why several businesses that are clearly retail (e.g. restaurants, cafes, markets) had tx excluded (source). "You are too late to prove I altered the data"
"[...] I recorded [the data] manually from https://travelbybit.com/stats/ over the month of September. The website only shows transactions from the last 7 days and then they disappear. No way for anyone to access stats beyond that." (source)
Proof of exclusion
I published raw data as extracted from the TBB site after each report for comparison. Hayden responded that I made those numbers up and that I was pulling numbers out of my ass. Since he was under the impression that
"The website only shows transactions from the last 7 days and then they disappear. No way for anyone to access stats beyond that." (source)
he felt confident to claim that I would be
unable to provide a source for the [missing] data and/or prove that that data was not already included in the report. (source)
Luckily for us Hayden Otto seems to dislike his competitor TravelByBit so much that he attempted to reframe Bitcoin's RBF feature as a vulnerability specific to TBB PoS system (source). While doublespending a merchant using the TBB PoS he wanted to prove that the merchant successfully registered the purchase as complete and thus exposed that the PoS sales history of TBB's merchants are available to the public (source), in his own words:
"You can literally access it from a public URL in the Web browser. There is no login or anything required, just type in the name of the merchant." (source)
As of yet it is unclear if this is intentional by TBB or if Hayden Ottos followed the rules of responsible disclosure before publishing this kind of data leak. As it happens, those sale histories do not only include the merchant and time of purchases, they even include the address the funds were sent to (in case of on-chain payments). This gives us an easy method to prove that the purchases from the TBB website missing in the reports belong to a specific retail business and actually happened - something that is impossible to prove for the alleged HULA txs. In order to make it easier for you to verify it yourself, we'll focus on a single day in the dataset, September 17th, 2019 as an example:
Hayden Otto's report claims 20 tx and $713.00 in total for that day (source)
The TBB website listed 40 tx and a total of $1032.90 (daily summary)
Paste the associated crypto on-chain address 17MrHiRcKzCyuKPtvtn7iZhAZxydX8raU9 in a blockchain explorer of your choice, e.g like this. This proves that a transfer of funds has actually happened.
I let software aggregate the TBB statistics with the public sale histories and you'll find at the bottom of this post a table with the on-chain addresses conveniently linked to blockchain explorers for our example date. The total of all 40 tx is $1032.90 instead of the $713.00 reported by Hayden. 17 tx of those have a corresponding on-chain address and thus have undeniable proof of $758.10. Of the remaining 23, 22 are on Lightning and one had no merchant history available. This is just for a single day, here is a comparison for the whole month.
TBB wo. Game Ranger
TBB according to Hayden
The usual shills will respond in a predictive manner: The data must be fake even though its proof is on-chain, I would need to provide more data but HULA can be trusted without any proof, if you include outliers BCH comes out ahead, yada, yada. But this is not important. I am not here to convince them and this post doesn't aim to. The tx numbers we are talking about are less than 0.005% of Bitcoin's global volume. If you can increase adoption in your area by 100% by just buying 2 coffees more per day you get a rough idea about how irrelevant the numbers are in comparison. What is relevant though and what this post aims to highlight is that BitcoinBCH.com and the media outlets around news.bitcoin.com flooding you with the BCH #1 narrative are playing dirty. They feel justified because they feel that Bitcoin/Core/Blockstream is playing dirty as well. I am not here to judge that but you as a reader of this sub should be aware that this is happening and that you are the target. When BitcoinBCH.com excludes $1,000 Bitcoin tx because of high value but includes $15,000 BCH tx because they are made by "professionals", you should be sceptical. When BitcoinBCH.com excludes game developers, travel businesses or craftsmen accepting Bitcoin because they don't have a physical store but include a lawyer practice accepting BCH, you should be sceptical. When BitcoinBCH.com excludes restaurants, bars and supermarkets accepting Bitcoin and when pressed reiterate that they excluded non-retail businesses without ever explaning why a restaurant shouldn't be considered reatil, you should be sceptical. When BitcoinBCH.com claims the reports have been audited but omit that the data acquisition was not part of the audit, you should be sceptical. I expect that BitcoinBCH.com will stop removing transactions from TBB for their reports now that it has been shown that their exclusion can be provably uncovered. I also expect that HULA's BCH numbers will rise accordingly to maintain a similar difference. Hayden Otto assumed that nobody could cross-check the TBB data. He was wrong. Nobody will be able to disprove his claims when HULA's BCH numbers rise as he continues to refuse their release. You should treat his claims accordingly. As usual, do your own research and draw your own conclusion. Sorry for the long read.
BitcoinBCH.com claimed no transactions were removed from the TBB dataset in their BCH #1 reports and that is impossible to prove the opposite.
Hayden Otto's reveals in a double spend attempt that a TBB merchant's sale history can be accessed publicly including the merchant's on-chain addresses.
(For example,) this table shows 40 tx listed on the TBB site on Sep 17th, including their on-chain addresses where applicable. The BitcoinBCH.com report lists only 20 tx for the same day.
(Most days and every months so far has had BTC transactions excluded.)
(For September, TBB lists $10,502 yet the report only claims $3,737.
Hi Bitcoiners! I’m back with the 29th monthly Bitcoin news recap. (sorry a bit late this month) For those unfamiliar, each day I pick out the most popularelevant/interesting stories in Bitcoin and save them. At the end of the month I release them in one batch, to give you a quick (but not necessarily the best) overview of what happened in bitcoin over the past month. You can see recaps of the previous months on Bitcoinsnippets.com A recap of Bitcoin in May 2019 Adoption
I've been having difficult times lately and just started getting back into trading. I follow a lot of groups on telegram to keep up with crypto projects i deem are worth looking into. I'm putting my shit experience here so others don't fall for this scam, it seems my willingness to help others got the best of me. On telegram i got a dm from someone with the pic of a cat and struck a casual conversation with me .. i asked him where he got my username .. he said he found me in a group. Then he asked me to help him withdraw his btc from a website (12xbit.com), as he cannot withdraw cause he got banned there. (Now i know this is a scam , i found out later after researching more). I made an account in there i didn't even have to enter my email, after which that telegram guy sent me the money to my account on that website. After which i tried to withdraw , but it said my funds are frozen and i'll have to deposit 250$ to verify my account. i stupidly sent the 250 $ , at which point i stepped inside the trap. Then after that even then my account said its frozen , i got an error because of my address it said. So i had to deposit 500 $ because my account was too big and the verification was not enough. The reason i went ahead a deposited another 500$ is because the site felt genuine and i thought i was helping someone who is new to crypto and made a stupid comment in the trollbox which got him banned on the site. I talked to customer support which talked to me in a very helpful way but it was all bullshit, making reasons and excuses as to why what i did didn't work. Then customer support gave me the telegram username of the admin of the site. I talked to him and he said i'm not being able to withdraw because the website only allows big amounts to be withdrawn when the withdrawal address holds 20 % to 30% of the amount to be withdrawn. I don't know why i believed him , at this point i just wanted to get my money back at the same time getting the amount out so i could give it back to the guy who first contacted me on telegram. Cryptofor (the tech admin guy) said i can withdraw through the official extension of the website. So like an idiot i downloaded the extension, and i had to keep it open on a page where i had enough balance to be able to withdraw. I once kept it open on my binance page , during which time all my coins got sold to BTC and there was an attempt to withdraw all the coins to another address. I told cryptofor this and he said it was a "bug". I almost lost my shit because i got a withdrawal request email from binance which i hadn't initiated. After that he said to make an account on blockchain.com and try withdrawal from there. I had to put in 20% as he said , so i put in .5 btc from my binance account because it can't be withdrawn with my authentication first , or so i thought. After i realised what the extension was doing i uninstalled it and scanned for viruses, found nothing. I went ahead a deposited .55 btc to my blockchain.com account that i had made (i had kept the extension open on my blockchain.com account for a while before uninstalling it), i had written down the backup key and 2fa on. But as soon as my bitcoins reached blockchain account , it automatically got sent to another address without my confirmation. Cryptofor said the bitcoins got sent to the website's system as i didn't send enough funds (80$ less than needed). I was puzzled how is it that even after uninstalling the extension and using a different browser altogether my blockchain account was still accessible to someone else. I took cryptofor's word for it , he said i'll get my funds back once the verification goes through. He appeared helpful , although now i know what really happened. Believing him that those btc are just frozen and will be recovered .. i sent .5 btc again to that blockchain.com account , this time i had set a second password so i'd need to put in a password to send btc. But again the moment i sent btc to it , it got sent elsewhere again. I still don't know how he managed to compromise a blockchain.com account in such a way that it was undetectable. I've been using crypto for years and never saw anything like it. Here's a screenshot https://prnt.sc/n4ozdw , the moment btc got into the account it got sent .. i couldn't do anything to stop this from happening. all in all i lost everything i had in my binance account trying to recover fake btc for someone who i didn't even know. The moment i had sent the second .5btc transaction i asked cryptofor what is going on and he said its in the system again, which now i know is complete bullshit. He sent me .35 btc to my account (i'm guessing he felt bad for how much he had scammed me out of), him giving me some btc back made me believe he's genuine, after that he deleted his telegram profile and just disappeared. Overall i lost 1.15 Btc in total, I already was not doing well .. and this situation certainly didn't help. I kept in touch with cryptofor for three days trying to ask him if i can withdraw , this or that because i thought he was the website's tech manager. Now i know i got scammed , its a shame i got caught in it. If nothing else , others can read my stupid story and avoid such scams. Have a good day , i know i won't for a while .. i'm just heartbroken. P.S after this happened , i got DM from two other people claiming they needed my help in withdrawing funds from websites they got banned in. Its funny how I'm getting negative reception on this , I have nothing to gain from putting this experience here other than help others know what to avoid, but please go ahead and tell me how wrong I am that'll help solve everything. As it so happens 12xbit is denying taking any responsibility and the cryptofor dude's (Aaron) website is cryptofor.org, it has that extension which can remotely access your account and take out crypto.
ILPT: Got tons of cash to launder and not sure how? Use cryptocurrencies this way.
Let's assume you've got a ton of cash that you don't want to report for whatever reason. In order to spend that cash on anything more than gas or groceries you're gonna need a way to launder it or give that cash a story. There are a ton of ways to do this but none that are untraceable...most money laundering schemes come with a ton of risk. But if I were properly motivated, this is how I'd do it. First I'd create a private trust. No need to understand how private trusts work in this thread, just know that they exist in a jurisdiction foreign to the US or whatever statutory jurisdiction you exist in. Then have that trust create a public LLC in a state that allows for private member owned LLC such as New Mexico. Literally all that is recorded is the name of the trust on the articles of organization for the LLC. So ABC Trust is the member of the LLC. The members of the trust are private and unknown. Now the LLC needs to be a legitimate cash business that wont draw any suspicion and impossible to audit. And ideally we want to convert all of our cash into cryptocurrencies. Unlike most money laundering schemes that hope to pay taxes and deposit cash into a bank. Cryptocurrencies are superior to cash in a bank for many reasons, but I'll only touch on a few here. So the LLC creates an online peer to peer exchange. It's important that the LLC never actually touches the money because if it does then the exchange would be considered a money changing business and needs to comply with KYC and AML laws. We don't want that. So instead we set up an escrow wallet service that is nothing more than a smart self executing contract. Its computer code that executes when conditions are met. That's it. Peers come to the site to find other peers to trade with. These p2p exchanges already exist like localbitcoins.com for example. Here's how they work. I have cash or gift cards or some other form of money and I want to buy bitcoin. You've got bitcoin and want cash. So you send your BTC to an escrow wallet on the p2p exchange. This escrow wallet wont release the funds until all parties sign. The buyer and the seller and the exchange must all sign with their private keys to send the money out of the wallet. So once your BTC is locked in the wallet, we meet up and exchange cash, or I send you the gift cards or whatever payment method we agree. Once you get the cash, you sign to verify you recieved the cash. Once I send the money, I sign to verify payment was sent. If there are no disputes between the parties then the exchange signs and the BTC is sent to my personal wallet. Easy peasy. And since the exchange never actually has control of the BTC or the cash, they don't require any knowledge of the trading parties. Just 2 anonymous characters. Now in order to not attract a lot of unwanted attention, its important to set buy limits. Even those we aren't regulated as a money changing business we don't want to allow million dollar transactions without any kind of KYC... so we comply with the $1,000 limit per day. Now once the seller has cash they can spend it or deposit it into their bank or do whatever. Once I have BTC now I can do pretty much anything I want. First BTC is a transparent blockchain so I've got one more step to make this truly anonymous and untraceable. I'll send that BTC to an unverified crypto exchange account on Bitfinex or Binance or any number of other exchanges and I'll use that BTC to buy Monero. I wont explain how Monero (XMR) works here but trust me, it uses fancy cryptography to make it truly untraceable. There's no trail to follow. No XMR can be linked to any other party ever. So once I have XMR I can send it to any private wallet I want and no one will ever know I've got millions worth of XMR. It's as if the money disappears. If I ever want to spend it, I try to pay directly with XMR fir whatever. But if the vendor doesn't accept XMR then I simply send that XMR back to the exchange and trade it for BTC. Or I send it to my verified exchange account linked to my bank and I trade it directly for USD. I'll pay a capital gains tax on that single transaction vs paying gains on my millions. So in order to do this at scale with our own p2p exchange LLC we need to create a dozen fake anonymous accounts all making small random trades to other legitimate sellers of BTC. Once we have gotten rid of all of our cash and now have BTC we funnel those BTC to dozens of unverified exchange accounts and wash them with XMR. Then send those XMR to our final destination wallet that no one knows about. When we want to spend it some amount, we simply funnel the XMR back into a verified and legitimate account and pay the tax on that individual transaction. Or we go back to our p2p exchange and get cash back. That's it. That's how you hide millions of dollars without a trace. Of course I've left out a few details like how to spoof your IP address and use things like VPNs and Tor to truly access the exchange site anonymously, and you'll need to do this since you will be the one creating dozens of accounts on the exchange. Each account needs it's own IP address to appear legitimate to anyone who gets wise and wants to look closer. Other than that, you've now got millions of dollars in your pocket you can walk across any border anywhere in the world with.
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.
You may think I'm exaggerating, but those who have met Atomic wallet before are understanding and smiling. Let me tell you my story from the beginning. When I first met blockchain technology, I was dazzled by what extraordinary technology could do. I was very impressed with revolutionary innovations such as P2P, distributed ledger technology, artificial intelligence algorithms, smart contracts, Internet of Things (IoT) and Big Data. I believe that digital money is our future, like everyone else affected by blockchain technology. I also wanted to buy crypto-money and be a crypto-money investor. Then don't ask — a real disappointment. As a user of crypto living in Turkey, it is almost impossible to buy crypto-money from one of the well-known Turkish sites with your debit card. It was also a nightmare to buy, and trade any digital currency with your traditional lira. 📷 https://preview.redd.it/4kynmkyozkx21.jpg?width=276&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=44182dbae6c05c81ab86f9ab1b496b7d258be2f0 There were many blockchains such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, EOS, and Stellar. Many projects were launched every day. Almost every project opened its wallet. It was hard to go to the stock markets to trade with these coins and tokens, to make crypto-money that I wanted to save, to keep tens of public and private keys of the wallets. It was supposed to be a computer programmer, not a computer user. This is my complaint about the difficulty of handling and the complexity of the process. Besides, many stock markets don't give you your private key. You deliver all your personal information and the private key of your wallet to the stock exchange authorities. Hacking events or the negligence of the stock market workers can cause you to suffer a lot of damage at a time. Central stock markets are spooky. Finally, the commissions they receive during the transaction will cause you to get 20% more expensive each coin. I'm sure those of you who haven't studied computer technology like me have understood me. I can write a book enough to tell me what happened to a coin I want to invest in. But it's not what I want to say to you. I want to talk about Atomic wallet, the one I just met today, who saved me from these troubles. Today I want to write a few words for the atomic wallet I encountered while researching to buy bitcoin. I'il tell you about the bitcoin purchase experience I've been through. 📷 https://preview.redd.it/huplw4ru0lx21.png?width=640&format=png&auto=webp&s=11e8888a69effb3295b778bd843d213640e6986a
I'm not making investment recommendations for this project. However, I would recommend that you use our atomic friend. Atomic on the Binance DeX stock market. Whether Atomic Wallet's the iOS or Android app for your phone, or the desktop app, you can always experience the atomic wallet. You will understand that you have encountered one of the most robust projects. Written By: N.ipek Celik naz14: 0x3b19a4a034fd3687ba803a18f677927893dfeff 1.Note: As soon as you start trading in your wallet, there's an online help box that offers help from the bottom right corner of your screen, which is very comforting. 2.Note: I am adding links to guide you to download the wallet below and purchase the most preferred coins. I wish you all plenty of earnings.
_(This week’s Ledger newsletter is by David Z. Morris)_The crypto industry can be roughly divided into two groups. On the one hand, there are “crypto native” companies creating new things from scratch (think Binance or Brave). On the other hand are existing operations trying to use blockchain tech to get a further edge (think ICE’s Bakkt or Facebook’s Libra). And then there was Patrick Byrne, who had a foot in both worlds—sometimes uncomfortably. The CEO for two decades of e-commerce pioneer Overstock.com, Byrne became a vocal crypto proponent around five years ago, and has worked since then to position the company as a blockchain leader. Overstock was the first major online retailer to take payments in Bitcoin, starting in early 2014. The same year, Byrne began work on “tzero,” a blockchain-based alternative to traditional securities exchanges. Then he founded Medici Ventures, a venture fund and incubator that houses 18 blockchain startups within Overstock. And now, it appears, he’s gone. Byrne resigned suddenly as CEO of Overstock last Thursday, after mounting controversy surrounding his past romantic relationship with alleged Russian agent Maria Butina. Butina is now serving an 18 month prison sentence for conspiring to promote Russian interests through conservative U.S. political groups. Byrne’s statements on the matter have been vague and conspiratorial, including references to the “Deep State” and “Men in Black” who Byrne says drew him into “certain government matters.” He subsequently made detailed claims that the FBI directly encouraged his relationship with Butina circa 2016 as part of an investigation into Russian activities (claims dismissed by then-FBI director James Comey). Byrne says he’s resigning because these entanglements “may affect and complicate all manner of business relationships,” and that he’ll be “disappearing for some time.” This is the sort of weirdness you’d expect from the wild-west world of crypto-natives, not a public company valued at more than $1 billion as recently as a year ago. But Byrne was known as a bit of a loose cannon well before Bitcoin was invented, most notably for his aggressive (and also frequently conspiratorial) campaign against naked short sellers. (You can read _Fortune’s_coverage of those battles here.) This very enjoyable profile from Forbes dives into Byrne’s privileged and unconventional background—he has a PhD in philosophy from Stanford, and is apparently close friends with Warren Buffet through Byrne’s father. It also paints Byrne as easily distractable, and Overstock’s blockchain ventures as a boondoggle that’s destroying a once-profitable company. The boondoggle part might wind up coming true, but if Overstock’s blockchain efforts are a risky bet, they’re anything but a lark. I spent some time at the company’s headquarters in Salt Lake City this past spring, and with Medici, Byrne has built a team that’s both technically savvy and fairly unified in its deeply-held crypto-native worldview. Most notably, Medici is a hotbed of thoughtful skepticism towards government, with managers and coders ranging from left-wing anarchists to free-market libertarians. There are even signs that Overstock’s presence is helping turn Salt Lake City into a blockchain hub with its own unique feel—for instance, the Off Chain conference there caters to the overlap between crypto, firearms, and “prepping.” Byrne himself often described his worldview in libertarian terms, and he’ll be succeeded by Jonathan Johnson, who shares much of Byrne’s outlook on both politics and blockchain. Johnson is currently head of the Medici unit, and he’ll shoulder Byrne’s CEO duties on an interim basis. He’s a steady, composed counterpoint to Byrne’s swashbuckling verve, as well as a thoughtful strategist. Most significantly, his rise to the head job, even if temporary, signals that Overstock intends to stick with its blockchain bets. The question now is whether some of those bets hit before Overstock’s retail revenues fade. One final note: We’re running lean here at The Ledger this month, in part because Jeff Roberts is on book leave (look for his cryptocurrency magnum opus from Audible soon). That’s why they handed the reins over to me, the new guy. I recently joined the Fortune team from BreakerMag, a now defunct but much-loved blockchain-focused publication. In addition to reporting on the world of digital assets and decentralized technologies, I’ll be writing about A.I., Tesla, and other techie matters. I’ll also be authoring this newsletter every once in a while—hopefully, from here on out, with a header that actually has my name on it.Glad to know you. David Z. Morris |@davidzmorris| [email protected] * More Details Here
4696/5000 It is undeniable that the future of the Internet seems very promising. Aelf is a block site that is converting the potential of the Internet to a higher level, by introducing decentralized cloud computing. The main objective of the project is the creation of a 'linux bionetwork' for block chains. How does it work To achieve its objectives, Aelf will have to design a unique operating system with the ability to counteract disadvantages such as scalability, uneven distribution of resources and the lack of predefined consensus algorithms. So that it can sufficiently counteract these setbacks, Aelf comes equipped with the following characteristics: Side chains The system has a core chain and several side chains, creating a biorred. In addition, Aelf can connect with blockchain structures such as Bitcoin and Ethreum via an adapter. The different side chains are responsible for handling a problem or a specific commercial transaction individually. Therefore, this is an excellent move for the structure of Aelf that is based mainly on the satisfaction of commercial needs, and this follows the distribution of the individual mandates to the different chains that improves the processing prowess. Records The central chain receives sidechain tokens to index its data, as a sort of operating rate. The amount of chips that a side chain needs to pay is determined by its contribution to the network; the more you supply to the system, the less you pay. Consensus Protocol This will be achieved through the application of the delegated acceptance test (DPoS). The nodes of Aelf assume the responsibility of registering the data of several side chains and in the central chain. The owners of Aelf token (ELF) select the mining nodes by voting. Then, the chosen nodes determine the process of dissemination of the mining benefits to the rest of the nodes and actors. Supply of Aelf Despite not having an open ICO, the project obtained 55,000 with a sale. This involved private investors such as AlphaBit, Blocktower, and FBG Capital, among others. Currently, ELF chips in circulation are those that were available for purchase in that sale. However, there is an aggregate offer of 1,000 million ELF chips, but only 25% was released during the sale of said chips. The team behind him Aelf can be defined as "the hidden treasure" that has been off the radar for too long. In part, this is because, unlike other ICOs, the team did not carry out a public campaign and, therefore, people, including investors, still do not know what it is about. Despite this, the team has obtained significant investment support from major players such as Draper Dragon, Blockchain Ventures and even FGB Capital. However, it is interesting to note that the project rejected potential investors within two weeks of its symbolic sale because it reached its target of 55,000ETH sooner than expected. Ma Haobo, former founder and CEO of Hoopox, is also the founder of Aelf with an advisory committee composed of; J. Michael Arrignton, the original developer and CEO of TechCrunch Zhou Shouji, founding partner of FGB Capital Operations and Purchase Aelf entered the market in December 2017; after the hype among the investors who discovered it, its price went up from only 0.87 dollars (valued at 0.000068 BTC) to 2.61 dollars (approximately 0.000165BTC). Unfortunately, because its sale was not public and most people did not know it, it rather `disappeared 'once it was available in the exchanges. You can buy ELF tokens from Binance or Huobi, which are exchanged between BTC and ETH by ELF. Huobi also facilitates USDT exchanges. Wallet ELF is stored in wallets compatible with ERC20 like MyEtherWallet or Exodus. To access the enhanced security features, you should explore the Ledger Nano S. conclusion Most entrepreneurs believe that blockchain technology has an immense capacity to transform the world. However, for this to happen, the drawback of the scalability that governs most of the block chains would have to be corrected. For example, Ethereum, however popular, can only process 15 transactions in a second. Therefore, the innovation of Side Chain, the configuration that Aelf is constructing so meticulously, will definitely renew the structure of the Internet that we know now.
Hello! My name is Kristina Semenova, I am the Head of Investors Relation Department at Platinum, the world’s number one business facilitator. Our team knows how to start ICO/STO in 2019! Why are we so sure? Well, our experience speaks for itself: Platinum.fund But what is the difference between ico and sto? What is the cornerstone of ICO marketing strategy? You will know this after finishing the UBAI courses! Here’s just a quick preview of our Short Course lesson. Real World Examples Multinational accounting firm Ernst and Young found that $400 million of the $3.7 billion USD raised from ICOs (as of January 22, 2018) had been stolen. That is, up to 10% of all ICO funding is virtually being stolen from investors. Though ICO scams are the most common method of theft in the crypto world, some projects will actually operate for a period of time before disappearing with the money. Like in a Ponzi scheme, an exit scam may be planned for later, sometime after a manipulated pump; or some other time the team believes is most opportune to take the money and run. Giza: Giza marketed itself as a platform within which different cryptocurrencies could be stored securely. But after raising $2.4 million in one month, the team deleted the website and stopped replying to emails. Investors were duped by a very convincing whitepaper, and actors had been hired to appear in photographs promoting the project. No investor funds have ever been recovered. Centra: The SEC put an end to fundraising for the Centra ICO and charged the founders Robert Farkas and Sohrab Sharma with orchestrating a fraudulent ICO after they raised $32 million USD. They were promoting the ability to develop financial products backed by VISA and Mastercard, though it was later found that neither partnership was real. One of the major red flags in the Centra project was the use of celebrity endorsements for publicity, reportedly paying champion boxer Floyd Mayweather a significant sum to promote their project. Who wants to leave their Blockchain investment decisions up to Floyd Mayweather, regardless of his unbelievable skill as a boxer and regardless of his own financial success? He should still not influence where you invest your money! Ponzi Schemes: Bitconnect: This is the most infamous Ponzi scheme in the history of cryptocurrency, and certainly the most damaging. Bitconnect was a Bitcoin-based project that rose to an all-time high of $463 per token on the back of a fictitious trading bot. The Bitconnect scam operated by paying dividends to users, proportional to the number of tokens they held and the number of referrals they made. The BCC tokens were exchanged for the users’ Bitcoin, and the highly sophisticated and wildly successful trading bot would trade BTC for them and distribute profits as dividends. The value of the dividends offered was approximately 1% of the initial investment per day. In other words, that is approximately 3,780% per year in cumulative gain! The referral system was capitalized upon most heavily by many of the biggest crypto YouTube channels, including CryptoNick and Trevon James, both of whom are now under investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Shortly after the Bitconnect Token reached its all-time high, they received cease and desist orders from the security regulators of Texas and North Carolina, which caused the owners of the Bitconnect exchange to shut down operations, and the price to plummet. Davorcoin: Davorcoin was a lending platform very similar to Bitconnect. And Davorcoin was farcically promoted by the same Trevon James crypto Youtuber who promoted Bitconnect, and is currently under investigation by the FBI for promoting Ponzi schemes. The Texas State Securities Board, in likening Davor to Bitconnect, stated that “DavorCoin is telling investors they can earn lucrative profits by investing in a lending program based on a new cryptocurrency known as davorcoin. Investors allegedly purchase davorcoin and then lend it to DavorCoin”. Davorcoin promptly plunged from an all-time high of $180 to very close to zero after a cease and desist order was made against them on the 2nd of February 2018. Useless Ethereum Token: Despite brazenly stating in the name of the project that the token has no use, the UET managed to raise $340,000 in its crowdsale, and saw a significant pump of over 300% on the HitBTC exchange in February of 2018. The scam was an obvious case of pump and dump, with the total trading volume for UET crashing back down to as low as $3 per day, after reaching as high as $350,000 per day during the pump. It is currently an unfortunate consequence of the decentralized nature of cryptocurrency, but there is a distinct lack of recourse for scammed investors. It is wise to become as well-acquainted with the various indicators of good and bad ICOs as you possibly can. In weighing the factors that will allow you to avoid expensive mistakes, ask yourself in whose favor are the terms of the ICO slanted, yours or the teams? To what extent are you actually likely to profit from this investment? Cryptocurrency is inherently a grey area, whether you are investing in it or not. Investing is another inherently grey area, no matter what the area or object of investing might be. Laws and regulations are not always able to keep up. Trying to define and prove what was or was not a scam is not likely to be as simple as the scammed investor would want it to be. A project can be set up in certain ways to avoid being technically classified or provable as a scam, but the unprepared investor can still be burnt or scammed just as badly. Now we look at more individual indicators that can help you form a valid impression whether or not an ICO or even a fully-fledged exchange-listed coin is a scam or a bona fide investment opportunity. Common Signposts Contrasting Scam & Legitimate Projects Presale Bonus/Token Release If the ICO allots massive bonuses to team members, you may leave yourself open to getting dumped on by presale investors if you buy when the project tokens are listed on an exchange. Likewise, if the project has a short lock-up period for developers and founders, you run the risk of them selling as soon as the token is listed on a major exchange. The token release schedule for the founders of a worthwhile project should show long-term team commitment to that project. The Jibrel Network team tokens will be locked up for 5 years before release, and they had no early investor bonus in the main sale. Both of these factors instilled confidence in the JNT ICO investors, and the tokens were sold out weeks before the ICO was due to end. No Presale lock up If Presale investor tokens are not locked up at all for any period after listing, that could easily be a set up for an exit scam after the initial listing. No presale lockup for early investor tokens is a crystal clear warning, the project may be fatally rigged toward those in the inner circle, with little commitment to the long term health or success of that project. Unsolicited Offers or Unasked for Additions to Groups Characters running scam projects will often add you to Telegram groups out of the blue or send you unsolicited emails with information about their project. Telegram is the most widely used messaging app in the cryptocurrency community and you should familiarize yourself with it to keep yourself in the loop for specific projects in which you invest as well as all kinds of other relevant crypto info. You can adjust the settings on the Telegram app to disallow anonymous additions to cryptocurrency projects if you find yourself bombarded with offers by scammers. Reputable projects at the ICO stage will spread by word of mouth, or by eloquent and meaningful articles posted on their Medium page. A project with serious potential does not need to actively seek participants for their ICO like that. They will often be able to fill their ICO hard cap in a matter of hours, or even just minutes! Anonymous Team Alarm bells, again, immediately, if the project has minimal online presence. The individual team members could be mere fabrications. The entire project could be a farce by utterly inexperienced characters. What if the project leaders are simply unaware of the importance of a strong social media profile? That in itself would be too strange to ignore. Top-level projects will have team members with experience in crypto and the LinkedIn accounts for those members will be easily accessible right there on the project website. You should be able to easily see and evaluate each individual’s experience in their field and ascertain what they bring to the project team. Bitconnect’s anonymous team should have been the only deterrent prospective investors needed to discourage them from putting money into that doomed project. Ethhorse, a current project with anonymous founders and operators should be steered clear of at all costs for the same reasons. Community Atmosphere The subreddits or Telegram groups of scam projects will often feature moderators that do not allow any kind of criticism in the group chat. If, in the process of your due diligence, you encounter didactic admins that only wish to silence your questioning of certain aspects of the whitepaper or mechanism of the tokenomics , you should be concerned. Similarly if you see a coherent critical reply attacked by many different users who refuse to engage the substance of the point being made, that may be a subreddit infested with bots. Projects that have nothing to hide will allow free debate in the chat. Ideally, they hope to develop a positive community that is itself an asset to the long-term success and overall strength of the project. Good projects do not need to automatically brand all criticism as Fear Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD). Whitepaper One common tactic of scammers is to produce a whitepaper that uses too many buzzwords, and deliberately obfuscates and overcomplicates the explanation of the problem and/or its solution. A good whitepaper clearly and concisely lays out the problem and answer, as well as provides compelling arguments why a Blockchain solution is preferable to the current solution. Another point of concern is a whitepaper that gives unrealistic time frames and goals. Bitconnect’s almost comically optimistic profit projections are a prime example of this, as are the 1,354% yearly gains promised by Plexcoin. Respectable projects will set out development timescales in terms of quarters or years, rather than offering immediate profit projections, which are simply a red flag. Advisors/Connections in the Cryptoworld The most prestigious projects will already have partnerships made before the ICO stage, and the worst ones, i.e. the scams, will not mention any such partnerships. Icon (ICX) for example was spawned from a South Korean project named The Loop, a collaboration between 3 Korean universities and the DAYLIFinancial Group. They boasted an advisory panel consisting of the legendary investor Don Tapscott, Jehan Chu and crowdfunding expert Jason Best. On top of a solid team of advisors, good projects will also be visible at major Blockchain events such as the Consensus, and the World Blockchain Forum, etc. Scam projects will be unable to inspire this same level in confidence. As an investor, you should sense a certain presence and expect a certain feeling of trust that should guide you in your investments. After all, it is actually a people-to-people thing you are doing. Key Stress points upon the Timeline to Identify Scam Projects Post Whitepaper Release The period in the immediate aftermath of the release of the whitepaper can also be decisive in establishing the validity of a project. How a team copes with the roadmap that they have laid out for themselves is key. Valuable insight into the operational efficiency and commitment to the project can be gleaned from the quality of and amount of code committed to GitHub. If you have any experience in computer programming you can see how clean and orderly the code is, which gives insight into the skill of the developers, and in turn the quality of project leaders’ decision-making in hiring team members. Scam projects will have little or no code committed to GitHub, or at best it will be copied and pasted from other projects just to cover their tracks. Start of ICO Sometimes, a scam project, or other project in which you would be better off not investing, will change the terms of the ICO just before the ICO starts. The Key (TKY) ICO doubled the price of tokens on the day before the ICO was due to take place, because the price of NEO had risen so drastically. Currently, the TKY token price is still only half of its ICO price. Initial investors are faced with the prospect of a 50% loss on their investment. Exchange Listing Some particularly greedy scammers will create a scam project with the intent of selling tokens in the ICO for BTC and ETH, and then pumping and dumping their share of the tokens immediately after listing. The team of fraudsters behind Monero Gold used this method after the crowdfunding of their useless ERC-20 token. After listing on CoinExchange.io, the team dumped their tokens until the exchange finally ceased trading. Although it is not uncommon for ICO tokens to sold after listing (just like can happen with shares of stock after an IPO), if the price does not stabilize and massive sell walls are continually placed, a scam is likely taking place and the token is being dumped. Fake Ethereum Twitter giveaway You may have noticed Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin’s twitter handle has been changed to Vitalik “Not giving away Eth” Buterin in recent months. This is because a group of devious scammers had created fake accounts with almost exact replicas of his profile (deviating by only one character). The fake accounts promised to deposit 1 whole ETH for every 0.1 ETH the potential sucker deposited into the wallet address provided by the scammer. These fake account “Ether giveaway” scam tweets were set up to be sent in just a matter of seconds after the real person tweeted, and usually always appear immediately after the tweet of the real public figure. Fake bot profiles then came into play, thanking the fake Vitalik, or fake Elon Musk, for holding up their end of the bargain and depositing the ETH as promised. One scammer, or group of scammers, managed to fill a wallet up with almost $20 thousand worth of ETH, which they transferred out, never to be seen or heard from again. Effect of Scam Customers, Upon the Affected Parties Of course, this is no fun for the targeted public figure either. They need to take steps to avoid being targeted again. This will mean changing their handle, their username, or making their accounts private. However, the injured party with whom we are most concerned is the unfortunate scammed social media user, who has no chance whatsoever of getting his or her funds back, ever. It is a harsh lesson to learn. But it is a fact of crypto reality. Nearly every one that trades crypto will at least be exposed to frauds or scams in one way or another. In this case, we think it is better to learn about scams by studying them, rather than learn from your own unfortunate and expensive experience. In the case of Mr. Buterin, these incidents were awful public relations for the Ethereum project. It had only been a few years since cryptocurrency as a whole was primarily associated with criminality and seedy transactions on the Darkweb. Any connection with unscrupulous behavior is best avoided at all costs. Negative associations could have been particularly damaging for Ethereum’s brand because the vast majority of ICO fraud is committed using the ERC-20 token as the template for the scam tokens. Any and all the scamming or fraudulent behavior in the cryptocurrency ecosystem is bound to have a negative impact on the speed at which mainstream uptake finally takes place. Cryptocurrencies, as an emerging asset class, will be painted in the worst possible light. Crypto is aiming to, and is in fact in the process of, causing great disruption in traditional centralized finance and business. Mainstream media organizations are also part of that traditional centralized economy. Press coverage will be damning. Something is happening here, but Mr. Jones doesn’t know what it is. Legal Recourse for Scams We clearly understand, there is a possibility of being scammed. We know the scams are happening. The SEC has made some arrests and actually charged people for operating fraudulent ICOs. But it is a struggle to deal with the flood of ICOs coming from anywhere at any time. The SEC filed charges against two founders of a purported financial services startup for orchestrating a fraudulent ICO that raised more than $32million from thousands of investors. As you know from the ICOs we have covered so far, the lack of regulation allows for direct contact and dealing between the entrepreneurs, business owners and potential investors. While we believe this is a blessing according to the founding principles of Bitcoin and other alternate Cryptocurrencies, because it frees us from traditional roadblocks, middle-men, and all kinds of time-consuming procedures; it also leaves investors in a place where there is often little to no hope of ever recovering funds lost in fraudulent schemes. Actions after a Successful ICO Good post-ICO practice is characterized by stringent security, well thought-out legal strategy and clear communication. Many projects have paid the price in damage to their reputation for failing to adequately guard customer information, leaving themselves open to phishing attacks by fraudsters. Investors in the Enigma project had half a million dollars stolen from them; and a whopping $8.4 million was defrauded from investors in Veritaseum via phishing attacks. After a successful token distribution, the team’s main focus is initially on switching the enterprise from one primarily focused on fundraising, to superficially at least, a fully-fledged, functioning business. This involves removing most of the token sale-related content from their main webpage, sending newsletters to all successful ICO participants, and sending refunds to those who may have missed the deadline or the hardcap. Then, with the stressful and complicated fundraising stage finally concluded, a portion of the funds raised can be assigned to fuel the growth of the project community. This can involve hiring community managers, forum admins, and social media managers to outsource the job of keeping investors in the loop. The founders can focus on growth strategy and product development. The cultivation of a thriving and energetic community is extremely important. The community will give you free marketing for your product and your business. Community members who believe in the project, and are engaged by professional moderators, can give you very effective promotion to other prospective investors. Communication with community members is a great way to test ideas and gauge sentiment related to various aspects of your project. The project leads must set aside adequate funds for lawyers. The project will need to address potential future or imminent problems with regulators, at the very least. The transition from fundraising project to full-fledged business can be incredibly challenging, and even more stressful than the ICO itself. The main thing to remember is that your pre-sale and ICO investors are not just silent investors waiting for a return. They are the early adopters of your solution, of your product; they are the community and promoters of your project; and they are the individuals with a vested interest in the financial success of your venture. The ICO environment is not as heavily regulated, so quarterly and/or semi-annual reporting is not required the way it is in the traditional world. That means your own style of effective communication about the progress and key developments on your project matters even more. In the ICO world, you communicate with your press releases, social media, and Medium posts. You also communicate by the very nature of your relations with your exchange, and relationships with your cornerstone investors. Effective communication and good business relationships can play a prominent role in the success or failure of your venture (by token liquidity and valuation). If your investors start to lose interest, and stop trading your token on the exchange, liquidity will dry up and cause increasingly volatile price swings. You need to keep certain things in mind, and follow effective practices to maintain a happy and motivated community. Social Media & Medium In addition to your website, your social media & Medium blog most likely formed a significant part of your ICO preparations. Your purpose pivots after the ICO from one of promotion to one of communication. Consistent, informative and material Medium blogs, also Facebook and Twitter updates, ensure that investors remain engaged and well-informed of what the company is up to. Frequent activity in this space makes investors feel much more comfortable. You can foster a kind of organic community expansion that is consistently advertising your project to potential new members. Cornerstone Investors & Exchanges As we mentioned, your relationship with investors in the ICO world is different from that of the traditional silent IPO minority equity partners. Consistent, Transparent & Honest communication is incredibly important here. Even if an ICO is struggling to overcome a problem or whatever issues are occurring, honest communication from the team is key to business survival. You should think of and treat your exchange like a business partner too, a very important one at that. Exchanges provide liquidity for you and your investors. That liquidity is like the blood for your business. Many top exchanges demand nothing less than absolute honesty and integrity, it is imperative to maintain strong and comfortable relationships with exchanges. Everything we have said so far, also applies to your Telegram channel and forums too. These give you another great opportunity to build a thriving community. Team members and investors can enjoy lively debates in their Telegram channels. This can be constructive discussion, or critical commentary too. But it is always valuable as a direct link between the team and the community. It is always good to know how people are feeling and what they expect from you and your project. You are able to use your Telegram channel and forums to consistently adapt your marketing and communication strategy. Keep your investors as happy and comfortable as possible, and you will be more likely to attract new investors and allocations. Other forums around the internet operate more or less in the same manner as Telegram. After a successful funding round with the hardcap reached and time to spare, legal counsel has been secured, and the community is flourishing, the team will prepare for their first listing by paying the exchange fee and waiting for the announcement by the exchange. Unless they are willing to pay exorbitant fees for an immediate listing on Binance for example, teams will usually settle for an initial listing on a second-tier exchange. The fee charged by an exchange depends on many different factors that we will cover in more detail in the next section. ICO Company actions after a Successful ICO Real World Case Study The Basic Attention Token (BAT) project, when used in conjunction with the Brave Browser, allows users to pay micro-fees in BAT to their most-used sites. The idea was conceived by Brendan Eich, the inventor of Javascipt and former CEO of Mozilla Firefox. Investors absolutely pounced on it at ICO and the project raised an amazing $35million in under 30 seconds. The BAT/Brave project has delivered on time on nearly all of its targets, helped in no small part by having a working product, the Brave Browser, for over a year before the token launch. The project secured a listing on the premier exchange, Binance, in November 2017. A project can suffer through a disappointing funding phase and, for example, fail to reach 75% of its hardcap. The team will be only partially funded. Though they may be able to initiate the project, the value proposition of the token has been compromised, potentially forever. The market has spoken. There is limited faith in the team’s ability to complete or carry out their project. Failure to reach a hardcap is a serious obstacle on the project road map. This will mean massive revisions to the timescales for development and listing. Such a project may have to be content listing on decentralized exchanges for a period of time and they will lose any post-ICO hype that could have helped the project price to “moon” early on. There is less money to be allocated. Each section of the business will be underfunded compared to the original plan. There can be delays in code development, exchange listing, marketing and community development as well. Calling the Tezos ICO a disappointment might seem strange considering they raised over $232million. But this open-source, smart contracts fintech platform became a victim of its own success post-ICO by devolving into multiple class-action lawsuits between the founders and its foundation chairman. They suffered from a distinct lack of clearly defined roles and expectations on key positions. There was infighting at the boardroom level. This all caused an as yet unresolved delay in listing and development. This is also one example why a capped ICO can be more desirable for investors than an uncapped ICO. If the team have a set amount of capital to work with, an amount that isn’t absolutely ridiculous, like in the case of Tezos, perhaps the resultant greed and discord is less likely. Although it may not be so easy for speculative investors to make a profit from an uncapped ICO with such a massive initial market cap, it is a very impressive feat of fundraising nonetheless. Tezos’s post ICO market cap of $232million is already 64th of all projects, and would have to perform brilliantly on listing to maintain this position. Company actions after a Failed ICO Failed ICOs can mean either fundraising initiatives that have failed to reach the softcap and will therefore not be economically viable, or fraudulent projects whose sole intention was to steal from investors and do an exit scam. We’ve already covered scams and fraud projects in detail, but what happens when an ICO just fails to raise the requisite funds? Projects that are legitimate, with honest founders and developers, refund the ETH or BTC deposited by investors as quickly as possible if the softcap is not reached. The same process that is followed by ICOs that are oversubscribed is employed by those that have failed to raise enough capital. The process of returning funds back to the sender ideally should take a period of days, but more likely will take a few weeks. The Sappy Network, advised by Dan Tapscott, failed to come anywhere near to their funding goals. They are currently in the process of sending all investor funds back to the wallets from which they came. The statement from the founders read as a textbook example of how you should react to failure with the founder stating “In the spirit of transparency and honesty, we are sharing with the community that we did not reach the soft cap, and thus we will be honoring our terms and conditions and returning the Ethers to all contributors” Exchange Listing A bottleneck developed in the ICO market after the explosion of crypto prices in 2017. There was a massive increase of ICO teams on all stages along the pathway from start-up to fully listed crypto asset. Certainly, a huge part of the value proposition for both the token and the project depends on securing a listing on an exchange. It is precisely the liquidity of the token as a valuable asset on a free market exchange, that determines or even defines its value. The liquidity is what makes tokens attractive to investors, but that liquidity simply does not exist without a platform for the exchange. Unfortunately for new projects, the balance of power is heavily weighted in favor of large centralized exchanges that can pick and choose which tokens to list, and the timescale within which listing will occur. Each large exchange has its own list of pros and cons as well as its own specific procedure for coin/token listing. They also have their own particular ethos regarding the type of projects they prefer to list. ERC-20 tokens will be available for trade immediately on decentralized exchanges (IDEX Forkdelta) but those platforms are generally quite low volume, and certainly not a long term solution. Projects must often pay huge fees to be listed on the larger centralized exchanges. At first those fees will be prohibitive. The usual route is to initially list on a more reasonably priced smaller exchange like Kucoin or Gate.io. Listing Process Major centralized exchanges have the power to list anything they want, and they also each have a unique structure that projects must adhere to if they wish to be listed. Each potential new listing will undergo a rigorous examination by the exchange operators to test the feasibility for listing the token. An exchange will likely have forms available on its website that you can fill out to give them all the necessary initial information. If a particular project and token qualify for listing, the team will invariably be put under a NDA, Non-Disclosure Agreement, to avoid any insider trading or other regulatory problem s. In the case of larger exchanges like Binance, there is a period within which owners of a newly listed coin or token can transfer them to the exchange in preparation for trading. This is a fantastic opportunity for traders to make use of the likely pump that occurs after a new token is listed on a large exchange. It is common to see up to 100% increases on the first day of trading, and a subsequent dump of up to 50% or more can follow. This allows traders holding the coin already, to sell for a good profit, and maybe buy back in at a much lower price too, if they think that is a good idea. Exchange Fees There are no definitive figures available to the public regarding fees that major exchanges charge new projects to list. Binance, Bitfinex, Kraken and Bittrex have all been quoted as saying that they do not charge any fee at all but this is almost definitely untrue. Knowledgeable industry insiders estimate between $500,000 and $1,000,000 USD for listing on a top-tier exchange. (There have been more rumors of 7 figure exchange listing fees since January 2018 too). This figure will vary greatly from project to project. Various factors can affect how an exchange determines the fee for a particular project. These are some of the most important ones: Market Maker Service Required Whether or not the client project requires liquidity services directly from the exchange, or can connect proprietary ones via API, will lead to a huge reduction in listing cost. Type of Token (ERC-20 NEP-5 or DAG) Not all tokens are created equal in the listing process. ERC-20 tokens and BTC based tokens have code architecture that will almost certainly be preferred by the exchange. NEO based tokens (NEP-5) such as Ontology will be far most costly to integrate because separate new wallets have to be built to facilitate NEO transactions. The costs involved in integrating Direct Acyclic Graph projects such as Nano into the exchange structure are even worse. Expected Daily Volume Exchanges derive their profits largely from transaction fees and withdrawal fees. The trading volume a new token is likely to bring in will have a great influence on the computation of the exchange listing fee. Exchange Listing Procedures Evaluation Different exchanges have different rules for new listings. A new project must of course abide by specific rules for that exchange before they are allowed to list there. There are procedures that must generally be followed for the most noteworthy exchanges. You can get a good idea of the hurdles to be overcome before listing can take place. Ongoing relationship with Exchanges Exchanges, usually Huobi or Kucoin, will sometimes make it essential for newly listed tokens to engage in “trading competitions” after listing. Competitions can last between 2 weeks, or a month or more, aiming to increase the trading volume for that token, thereby increasing trading fees collected by the exchange, and giving the project extra publicity too. The whales may have made a nice profit already and be very happy about it; but the project token can still get stuck in a long period of stagnation and a loss of post-ICO hype. Once a coin or token has been successfully registered for trading on a particular exchange, the project must focus on maintaining regulatory compliance and paying things like annual maintenance fees too. Exchanges can investigate and delist coins or tokens to see if they have fallen below a certain standard set by the exchange. The exchange is concerned about such things as: an extended period with an extremely low volume; a team member connection to an exit scam; or other such immoral/illegal behavior. Post ICO Company Evaluation After a presumably successful ICO, the necessary funds have been obtained, and the real business, the real team challenge is now, to bring the project to life as a bona fide disruptive Blockchain endeavor! The core advantage of the ICO method of funding business startups is the lack of regulatory hurdles to navigate with regards to fundraising and fund allocation. The funds that have been raised have, in effect, been freely given to the project leads to do with what they will in a no-strings-attached transaction. Of course, there are still strings attached in that the team are tasked with making that money grow for the investors. But there is no regulatory oversight of the process. The regulatory freedom is a double edge sword. It gives a good team freedom to work however they want; and it also allows for unscrupulous thieves to use the ICO process to defraud investors of their ETH and BTC. Advantages of being Post ICO From Investor Perspective You should have little to fear in terms of fraud from a project in which you have invested, if you have done your due diligence correctly. You can expect the tokens to be distributed, and the exchange listing to take place as expected. And you know your project is totally legitimate. There are different ways to think about your ICO tokens after the crowd sale has concluded. If you are a speculative investor looking for a quick flip, you can gauge the correct moment and sell anytime you like, assuming the ICO has been well-received by the markets. From Team Perspective The post-ICO period is, from the point of view of the team, a period where stress and responsibility for the safety of investor funds is passed, in the form of ICO tokens, from the team to the investors themselves. This responsibility for tokens is replaced with the stress of building the actual company itself, and succeeding in the business as planned. A small portion of the responsibility for the project’s success is also passed on to the exchange that has listed the tokens. This is especially true if market makers have been employed by the team or the exchange to provide liquidity. After the ICO has concluded, all funds are released to the project team immediately, so they can start building their business brand, and tackling each step on the road map right away. The freedom with which startups can operate is one of the main reasons behind the explosion in Blockchain businesses in 2017. With the ICO funds safe, and money being put to work on various areas essential to the growth of the project, and the tokens already distributed to investors, the risk of fraud is greatly diminished. If KYC and Anti-money Laundering procedures have been followed correctly during the ICO phase, the risk of phishing attacks and theft will also be marginal now. At any rate, with tokens safely delivered to all participants, the responsibility has passed from the team to the investor. From Team Perspective The release of all funds and the freedom to allocate them with no supervision, as cited above, is certainly a tremendous advantage empowering the team to fulfil the entire breadth of their vision unimpeded. But it does have its drawbacks. If there is a mistake made in the allocation of funds, or an unforeseen problem arises, there is nowhere to turn to, and no means of generating further money via crowdfunding. The ICO is over; it is finished. The project simply has to work with what it has. Your community can sometimes turn against you when the market is going down. Times like that just add to the already intense pressure of presiding over a startup Blockchain business. Solution: DAICO The DAICO, or Decentralized Autonomous Organization Initial Coin Offering, is a means to integrate a more specific, rigorous and regimented smart contract schedule into the ICO process. Doing so will eliminate fraudulent ICOs, exit scams, pump and dumps, and many of the other disadvantages listed above. The DAICO method, proposed by Ethereum creator, Vitalik Buterin, will merge the core concepts of both an ICO and a DAO to leverage the most relevant features of both, in order to solve the main problems in the ICO method. For example, to eliminate the risk of an exit scam, the release of funds will be spread out over a period of time, with the next allotment only being released when a certain set of parameters are met. Buterin explains that the DAICO method will provide user protection in a manner not present in the current ICO model, ensuring funds are not misspent or used in any way contrary to the intention of investors. In simpler terms the DAICO will operate as follows: The DAICO will start with a smart contract by its executors that can set whether this is to be a capped or uncapped round of fundraising (amongst many other options) as well as including KYC requirements. After these settings have been configured, the DAICO is set into “contribution mode” and presented to the public. This stage will function identically to a normal ICO with ETH exchanged for project tokens. Once the funding period has elapsed, or the hardcap has been met, investors will have the ability to set the “tap” for the collected funds. This will set the amount per second, or amount per minute, that will be available to the executor to develop that specific portion of the project to which those funds have been assigned. If investors believe at any point that the team is misspending funds or otherwise wasting time, etc., the investors have significant options to take. Of course they could choose to release more funds to the team. But, they could also stop the tap altogether, and stop the entire ICO, by voting, and actually release all unused funds back to their own wallets from which the investment had first been made! Learn more on how to market any ICO and STO, get better understanding of security token definition and learn what a scam project is! Follow the link to read the full article: UBAI.co Contact me via Facebook or LinkedIn to know more about our services: LinkedIn Facebook
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