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Bob The Magic Custodian
Summary: Everyone knows that when you give your assets to someone else, they always keep them safe. If this is true for individuals, it is certainly true for businesses. Custodians always tell the truth and manage funds properly. They won't have any interest in taking the assets as an exchange operator would. Auditors tell the truth and can't be misled. That's because organizations that are regulated are incapable of lying and don't make mistakes. First, some background. Here is a summary of how custodians make us more secure: Previously, we might give Alice our crypto assets to hold. There were risks:
Alice might take the assets and disappear.
Alice might spend the assets and pretend that she still has them (fractional model).
Alice might store the assets insecurely and they'll get stolen.
Alice might give the assets to someone else by mistake or by force.
Alice might lose access to the assets.
But "no worries", Alice has a custodian named Bob. Bob is dressed in a nice suit. He knows some politicians. And he drives a Porsche. "So you have nothing to worry about!". And look at all the benefits we get:
Alice can't take the assets and disappear (unless she asks Bob or never gives them to Bob).
Alice can't spend the assets and pretend that she still has them. (Unless she didn't give them to Bob or asks him for them.)
Alice can't store the assets insecurely so they get stolen. (After all - she doesn't have any control over the withdrawal process from any of Bob's systems, right?)
Alice can't give the assets to someone else by mistake or by force. (Bob will stop her, right Bob?)
Alice can't lose access to the funds. (She'll always be present, sane, and remember all secrets, right?)
See - all problems are solved! All we have to worry about now is:
Bob might take the assets and disappear.
Bob might spend the assets and pretend that he still has them (fractional model).
Bob might store the assets insecurely and they'll get stolen.
Bob might give the assets to someone else by mistake or by force.
Bob might lose access to the assets.
It's pretty simple. Before we had to trust Alice. Now we only have to trust Alice, Bob, and all the ways in which they communicate. Just think of how much more secure we are! "On top of that", Bob assures us, "we're using a special wallet structure". Bob shows Alice a diagram. "We've broken the balance up and store it in lots of smaller wallets. That way", he assures her, "a thief can't take it all at once". And he points to a historic case where a large sum was taken "because it was stored in a single wallet... how stupid". "Very early on, we used to have all the crypto in one wallet", he said, "and then one Christmas a hacker came and took it all. We call him the Grinch. Now we individually wrap each crypto and stick it under a binary search tree. The Grinch has never been back since." "As well", Bob continues, "even if someone were to get in, we've got insurance. It covers all thefts and even coercion, collusion, and misplaced keys - only subject to the policy terms and conditions." And with that, he pulls out a phone-book sized contract and slams it on the desk with a thud. "Yep", he continues, "we're paying top dollar for one of the best policies in the country!" "Can I read it?' Alice asks. "Sure," Bob says, "just as soon as our legal team is done with it. They're almost through the first chapter." He pauses, then continues. "And can you believe that sales guy Mike? He has the same year Porsche as me. I mean, what are the odds?" "Do you use multi-sig?", Alice asks. "Absolutely!" Bob replies. "All our engineers are fully trained in multi-sig. Whenever we want to set up a new wallet, we generate 2 separate keys in an air-gapped process and store them in this proprietary system here. Look, it even requires the biometric signature from one of our team members to initiate any withdrawal." He demonstrates by pressing his thumb into the display. "We use a third-party cloud validation API to match the thumbprint and authorize each withdrawal. The keys are also backed up daily to an off-site third-party." "Wow that's really impressive," Alice says, "but what if we need access for a withdrawal outside of office hours?" "Well that's no issue", Bob says, "just send us an email, call, or text message and we always have someone on staff to help out. Just another part of our strong commitment to all our customers!" "What about Proof of Reserve?", Alice asks. "Of course", Bob replies, "though rather than publish any blockchain addresses or signed transaction, for privacy we just do a SHA256 refactoring of the inverse hash modulus for each UTXO nonce and combine the smart contract coefficient consensus in our hyperledger lightning node. But it's really simple to use." He pushes a button and a large green checkmark appears on a screen. "See - the algorithm ran through and reserves are proven." "Wow", Alice says, "you really know your stuff! And that is easy to use! What about fiat balances?" "Yeah, we have an auditor too", Bob replies, "Been using him for a long time so we have quite a strong relationship going! We have special books we give him every year and he's very efficient! Checks the fiat, crypto, and everything all at once!" "We used to have a nice offline multi-sig setup we've been using without issue for the past 5 years, but I think we'll move all our funds over to your facility," Alice says. "Awesome", Bob replies, "Thanks so much! This is perfect timing too - my Porsche got a dent on it this morning. We have the paperwork right over here." "Great!", Alice replies. And with that, Alice gets out her pen and Bob gets the contract. "Don't worry", he says, "you can take your crypto-assets back anytime you like - just subject to our cancellation policy. Our annual management fees are also super low and we don't adjust them often". How many holes have to exist for your funds to get stolen? Just one. Why are we taking a powerful offline multi-sig setup, widely used globally in hundreds of different/lacking regulatory environments with 0 breaches to date, and circumventing it by a demonstrably weak third party layer? And paying a great expense to do so? If you go through the list of breaches in the past 2 years to highly credible organizations, you go through the list of major corporate frauds (only the ones we know about), you go through the list of all the times platforms have lost funds, you go through the list of times and ways that people have lost their crypto from identity theft, hot wallet exploits, extortion, etc... and then you go through this custodian with a fine-tooth comb and truly believe they have value to add far beyond what you could, sticking your funds in a wallet (or set of wallets) they control exclusively is the absolute worst possible way to take advantage of that security. The best way to add security for crypto-assets is to make a stronger multi-sig. With one custodian, what you are doing is giving them your cryptocurrency and hoping they're honest, competent, and flawlessly secure. It's no different than storing it on a really secure exchange. Maybe the insurance will cover you. Didn't work for Bitpay in 2015. Didn't work for Yapizon in 2017. Insurance has never paid a claim in the entire history of cryptocurrency. But maybe you'll get lucky. Maybe your exact scenario will buck the trend and be what they're willing to cover. After the large deductible and hopefully without a long and expensive court battle. And you want to advertise this increase in risk, the lapse of judgement, an accident waiting to happen, as though it's some kind of benefit to customers ("Free institutional-grade storage for your digital assets.")? And then some people are writing to the OSC that custodians should be mandatory for all funds on every exchange platform? That this somehow will make Canadians as a whole more secure or better protected compared with standard air-gapped multi-sig? On what planet? Most of the problems in Canada stemmed from one thing - a lack of transparency. If Canadians had known what a joke Quadriga was - it wouldn't have grown to lose $400m from hard-working Canadians from coast to coast to coast. And Gerald Cotten would be in jail, not wherever he is now (at best, rotting peacefully). EZ-BTC and mister Dave Smilie would have been a tiny little scam to his friends, not a multi-million dollar fraud. Einstein would have got their act together or been shut down BEFORE losing millions and millions more in people's funds generously donated to criminals. MapleChange wouldn't have even been a thing. And maybe we'd know a little more about CoinTradeNewNote - like how much was lost in there. Almost all of the major losses with cryptocurrency exchanges involve deception with unbacked funds. So it's great to see transparency reports from BitBuy and ShakePay where someone independently verified the backing. The only thing we don't have is:
ANY CERTAINTY BALANCES WEREN'T EXCLUDED. Quadriga's largest account was $70m. 80% of funds are in 20% of accounts (Pareto principle). All it takes is excluding a few really large accounts - and nobody's the wiser. A fractional platform can easily pass any audit this way.
ANY VISIBILITY WHATSOEVER INTO THE CUSTODIANS. BitBuy put out their report before moving all the funds to their custodian and ShakePay apparently can't even tell us who the custodian is. That's pretty important considering that basically all of the funds are now stored there.
ANY IDEA ABOUT THE OTHER EXCHANGES. In order for this to be effective, it has to be the norm. It needs to be "unusual" not to know. If obscurity is the norm, then it's super easy for people like Gerald Cotten and Dave Smilie to blend right in.
It's not complicated to validate cryptocurrency assets. They need to exist, they need to be spendable, and they need to cover the total balances. There are plenty of credible people and firms across the country that have the capacity to reasonably perform this validation. Having more frequent checks by different, independent, parties who publish transparent reports is far more valuable than an annual check by a single "more credible/official" party who does the exact same basic checks and may or may not publish anything. Here's an example set of requirements that could be mandated:
First report within 1 month of launching, another within 3 months, and further reports at minimum every 6 months thereafter.
No auditor can be repeated within a 12 month period.
All reports must be public, identifying the auditor and the full methodology used.
All auditors must be independent of the firm being audited with no conflict of interest.
Reports must include the percentage of each asset backed, and how it's backed.
The auditor publishes a hash list, which lists a hash of each customer's information and balances that were included. Hash is one-way encryption so privacy is fully preserved. Every customer can use this to have 100% confidence they were included.
If we want more extensive requirements on audits, these should scale upward based on the total assets at risk on the platform, and whether the platform has loaned their assets out.
There are ways to structure audits such that neither crypto assets nor customer information are ever put at risk, and both can still be properly validated and publicly verifiable. There are also ways to structure audits such that they are completely reasonable for small platforms and don't inhibit innovation in any way. By making the process as reasonable as possible, we can completely eliminate any reason/excuse that an honest platform would have for not being audited. That is arguable far more important than any incremental improvement we might get from mandating "the best of the best" accountants. Right now we have nothing mandated and tons of Canadians using offshore exchanges with no oversight whatsoever. Transparency does not prove crypto assets are safe. CoinTradeNewNote, Flexcoin ($600k), and Canadian Bitcoins ($100k) are examples where crypto-assets were breached from platforms in Canada. All of them were online wallets and used no multi-sig as far as any records show. This is consistent with what we see globally - air-gapped multi-sig wallets have an impeccable record, while other schemes tend to suffer breach after breach. We don't actually know how much CoinTrader lost because there was no visibility. Rather than publishing details of what happened, the co-founder of CoinTrader silently moved on to found another platform - the "most trusted way to buy and sell crypto" - a site that has no information whatsoever (that I could find) on the storage practices and a FAQ advising that “[t]rading cryptocurrency is completely safe” and that having your own wallet is “entirely up to you! You can certainly keep cryptocurrency, or fiat, or both, on the app.” Doesn't sound like much was learned here, which is really sad to see. It's not that complicated or unreasonable to set up a proper hardware wallet. Multi-sig can be learned in a single course. Something the equivalent complexity of a driver's license test could prevent all the cold storage exploits we've seen to date - even globally. Platform operators have a key advantage in detecting and preventing fraud - they know their customers far better than any custodian ever would. The best job that custodians can do is to find high integrity individuals and train them to form even better wallet signatories. Rather than mandating that all platforms expose themselves to arbitrary third party risks, regulations should center around ensuring that all signatories are background-checked, properly trained, and using proper procedures. We also need to make sure that signatories are empowered with rights and responsibilities to reject and report fraud. They need to know that they can safely challenge and delay a transaction - even if it turns out they made a mistake. We need to have an environment where mistakes are brought to the surface and dealt with. Not one where firms and people feel the need to hide what happened. In addition to a knowledge-based test, an auditor can privately interview each signatory to make sure they're not in coercive situations, and we should make sure they can freely and anonymously report any issues without threat of retaliation. A proper multi-sig has each signature held by a separate person and is governed by policies and mutual decisions instead of a hierarchy. It includes at least one redundant signature. For best results, 3of4, 3of5, 3of6, 4of5, 4of6, 4of7, 5of6, or 5of7. History has demonstrated over and over again the risk of hot wallets even to highly credible organizations. Nonetheless, many platforms have hot wallets for convenience. While such losses are generally compensated by platforms without issue (for example Poloniex, Bitstamp, Bitfinex, Gatecoin, Coincheck, Bithumb, Zaif, CoinBene, Binance, Bitrue, Bitpoint, Upbit, VinDAX, and now KuCoin), the public tends to focus more on cases that didn't end well. Regardless of what systems are employed, there is always some level of risk. For that reason, most members of the public would prefer to see third party insurance. Rather than trying to convince third party profit-seekers to provide comprehensive insurance and then relying on an expensive and slow legal system to enforce against whatever legal loopholes they manage to find each and every time something goes wrong, insurance could be run through multiple exchange operators and regulators, with the shared interest of having a reputable industry, keeping costs down, and taking care of Canadians. For example, a 4 of 7 multi-sig insurance fund held between 5 independent exchange operators and 2 regulatory bodies. All Canadian exchanges could pay premiums at a set rate based on their needed coverage, with a higher price paid for hot wallet coverage (anything not an air-gapped multi-sig cold wallet). Such a model would be much cheaper to manage, offer better coverage, and be much more reliable to payout when needed. The kind of coverage you could have under this model is unheard of. You could even create something like the CDIC to protect Canadians who get their trading accounts hacked if they can sufficiently prove the loss is legitimate. In cases of fraud, gross negligence, or insolvency, the fund can be used to pay affected users directly (utilizing the last transparent balance report in the worst case), something which private insurance would never touch. While it's recommended to have official policies for coverage, a model where members vote would fully cover edge cases. (Could be similar to the Supreme Court where justices vote based on case law.) Such a model could fully protect all Canadians across all platforms. You can have a fiat coverage governed by legal agreements, and crypto-asset coverage governed by both multi-sig and legal agreements. It could be practical, affordable, and inclusive. Now, we are at a crossroads. We can happily give up our freedom, our innovation, and our money. We can pay hefty expenses to auditors, lawyers, and regulators year after year (and make no mistake - this cost will grow to many millions or even billions as the industry grows - and it will be borne by all Canadians on every platform because platforms are not going to eat up these costs at a loss). We can make it nearly impossible for any new platform to enter the marketplace, forcing Canadians to use the same stagnant platforms year after year. We can centralize and consolidate the entire industry into 2 or 3 big players and have everyone else fail (possibly to heavy losses of users of those platforms). And when a flawed security model doesn't work and gets breached, we can make it even more complicated with even more people in suits making big money doing the job that blockchain was supposed to do in the first place. We can build a system which is so intertwined and dependent on big government, traditional finance, and central bankers that it's future depends entirely on that of the fiat system, of fractional banking, and of government bail-outs. If we choose this path, as history has shown us over and over again, we can not go back, save for revolution. Our children and grandchildren will still be paying the consequences of what we decided today. Or, we can find solutions that work. We can maintain an open and innovative environment while making the adjustments we need to make to fully protect Canadian investors and cryptocurrency users, giving easy and affordable access to cryptocurrency for all Canadians on the platform of their choice, and creating an environment in which entrepreneurs and problem solvers can bring those solutions forward easily. None of the above precludes innovation in any way, or adds any unreasonable cost - and these three policies would demonstrably eliminate or resolve all 109 historic cases as studied here - that's every single case researched so far going back to 2011. It includes every loss that was studied so far not just in Canada but globally as well. Unfortunately, finding answers is the least challenging part. Far more challenging is to get platform operators and regulators to agree on anything. My last post got no response whatsoever, and while the OSC has told me they're happy for industry feedback, I believe my opinion alone is fairly meaningless. This takes the whole community working together to solve. So please let me know your thoughts. Please take the time to upvote and share this with people. Please - let's get this solved and not leave it up to other people to do. Facts/background/sources (skip if you like):
The inspiration for the paragraph about splitting wallets was an actual quote from a Canadian company providing custodial services in response to the OSC consultation paper: "We believe that it will be in the in best interests of investors to prohibit pooled crypto assets or ‘floats’. Most Platforms pool assets, citing reasons of practicality and expense. The recent hack of the world’s largest Platform – Binance – demonstrates the vulnerability of participants’ assets when such concessions are made. In this instance, the Platform’s entire hot wallet of Bitcoins, worth over $40 million, was stolen, facilitated in part by the pooling of client crypto assets." "the maintenance of participants (and Platform) crypto assets across multiple wallets distributes the related risk and responsibility of security - reducing the amount of insurance coverage required and making insurance coverage more readily obtainable". For the record, their reply also said nothing whatsoever about multi-sig or offline storage.
In addition to the fact that the $40m hack represented only one "hot wallet" of Binance, and they actually had the vast majority of assets in other wallets (including mostly cold wallets), multiple real cases have clearly demonstrated that risk is still present with multiple wallets. Bitfinex, VinDAX, Bithumb, Altsbit, BitPoint, Cryptopia, and just recently KuCoin all had multiple wallets breached all at the same time, and may represent a significantly larger impact on customers than the Binance breach which was fully covered by Binance. To represent that simply having multiple separate wallets under the same security scheme is a comprehensive way to reduce risk is just not true.
Private insurance has historically never covered a single loss in the cryptocurrency space (at least, not one that I was able to find), and there are notable cases where massive losses were not covered by insurance. Bitpay in 2015 and Yapizon in 2017 both had insurance policies that didn't pay out during the breach, even after a lengthly court process. The same insurance that ShakePay is presently using (and announced to much fanfare) was describe by their CEO himself as covering “physical theft of the media where the private keys are held,” which is something that has never historically happened. As was said with regard to the same policy in 2018 - “I don’t find it surprising that Lloyd’s is in this space,” said Johnson, adding that to his mind the challenge for everybody is figuring out how to structure these policies so that they are actually protective. “You can create an insurance policy that protects no one – you know there are so many caveats to the policy that it’s not super protective.”
The most profitable policy for a private insurance company is one with the most expensive premiums that they never have to pay a claim on. They have no inherent incentive to take care of people who lost funds. It's "cheaper" to take the reputational hit and fight the claim in court. The more money at stake, the more the insurance provider is incentivized to avoid payout. They're not going to insure the assets unless they have reasonable certainty to make a profit by doing so, and they're not going to pay out a massive sum unless it's legally forced. Private insurance is always structured to be maximally profitable to the insurance provider.
The circumvention of multi-sig was a key factor in the massive Bitfinex hack of over $60m of bitcoin, which today still sits being slowly used and is worth over $3b. While Bitfinex used a qualified custodian Bitgo, which was and still is active and one of the industry leaders of custodians, and they set up 2 of 3 multi-sig wallets, the entire system was routed through Bitfinex, such that Bitfinex customers could initiate the withdrawals in a "hot" fashion. This feature was also a hit with the hacker. The multi-sig was fully circumvented.
Bitpay in 2015 was another example of a breach that stole 5,000 bitcoins. This happened not through the exploit of any system in Bitpay, but because the CEO of a company they worked with got their computer hacked and the hackers were able to request multiple bitcoin purchases, which Bitpay honoured because they came from the customer's computer legitimately. Impersonation is a very common tactic used by fraudsters, and methods get more extreme all the time.
A notable case in Canada was the Canadian Bitcoins exploit. Funds were stored on a server in a Rogers Data Center, and the attendee was successfully convinced to reboot the server "in safe mode" with a simple phone call, thus bypassing the extensive security and enabling the theft.
The very nature of custodians circumvents multi-sig. This is because custodians are not just having to secure the assets against some sort of physical breach but against any form of social engineering, modification of orders, fraudulent withdrawal attempts, etc... If the security practices of signatories in a multi-sig arrangement are such that the breach risk of one signatory is 1 in 100, the requirement of 3 independent signatures makes the risk of theft 1 in 1,000,000. Since hackers tend to exploit the weakest link, a comparable custodian has to make the entry and exit points of their platform 10,000 times more secure than one of those signatories to provide equivalent protection. And if the signatories beef up their security by only 10x, the risk is now 1 in 1,000,000,000. The custodian has to be 1,000,000 times more secure. The larger and more complex a system is, the more potential vulnerabilities exist in it, and the fewer people can understand how the system works when performing upgrades. Even if a system is completely secure today, one has to also consider how that system might evolve over time or work with different members.
By contrast, offline multi-signature solutions have an extremely solid record, and in the entire history of cryptocurrency exchange incidents which I've studied (listed here), there has only been one incident (796 exchange in 2015) involving an offline multi-signature wallet. It happened because the customer's bitcoin address was modified by hackers, and the amount that was stolen ($230k) was immediately covered by the exchange operators. Basically, the platform operators were tricked into sending a legitimate withdrawal request to the wrong address because hackers exploited their platform to change that address. Such an issue would not be prevented in any way by the use of a custodian, as that custodian has no oversight whatsoever to the exchange platform. It's practical for all exchange operators to test large withdrawal transactions as a general policy, regardless of what model is used, and general best practice is to diagnose and fix such an exploit as soon as it occurs.
False promises on the backing of funds played a huge role in the downfall of Quadriga, and it's been exposed over and over again (MyCoin, PlusToken, Bitsane, Bitmarket, EZBTC, IDAX). Even today, customers have extremely limited certainty on whether their funds in exchanges are actually being backed or how they're being backed. While this issue is not unique to cryptocurrency exchanges, the complexity of the technology and the lack of any regulation or standards makes problems more widespread, and there is no "central bank" to come to the rescue as in the 2008 financial crisis or during the great depression when "9,000 banks failed".
In addition to fraudulent operations, the industry is full of cases where operators have suffered breaches and not reported them. Most recently, Einstein was the largest case in Canada, where ongoing breaches and fraud were perpetrated against the platform for multiple years and nobody found out until the platform collapsed completely. While fraud and breaches suck to deal with, they suck even more when not dealt with. Lack of visibility played a role in the largest downfalls of Mt. Gox, Cryptsy, and Bitgrail. In some cases, platforms are alleged to have suffered a hack and keep operating without admitting it at all, such as CoinBene.
It surprises some to learn that a cryptographic solution has already existed since 2013, and gained widespread support in 2014 after Mt. Gox. Proof of Reserves is a full cryptographic proof that allows any customer using an exchange to have complete certainty that their crypto-assets are fully backed by the platform in real-time. This is accomplished by proving that assets exist on the blockchain, are spendable, and fully cover customer deposits. It does not prove safety of assets or backing of fiat assets.
If we didn't care about privacy at all, a platform could publish their wallet addresses, sign a partial transaction, and put the full list of customer information and balances out publicly. Customers can each check that they are on the list, that the balances are accurate, that the total adds up, and that it's backed and spendable on the blockchain. Platforms who exclude any customer take a risk because that customer can easily check and see they were excluded. So together with all customers checking, this forms a full proof of backing of all crypto assets.
However, obviously customers care about their private information being published. Therefore, a hash of the information can be provided instead. Hash is one-way encryption. The hash allows the customer to validate inclusion (by hashing their own known information), while anyone looking at the list of hashes cannot determine the private information of any other user. All other parts of the scheme remain fully intact. A model like this is in use on the exchange CoinFloor in the UK.
A Merkle tree can provide even greater privacy. Instead of a list of balances, the balances are arranged into a binary tree. A customer starts from their node, and works their way to the top of the tree. For example, they know they have 5 BTC, they plus 1 other customer hold 7 BTC, they plus 2-3 other customers hold 17 BTC, etc... until they reach the root where all the BTC are represented. Thus, there is no way to find the balances of other individual customers aside from one unidentified customer in this case.
Proposals such as this had the backing of leaders in the community including Nic Carter, Greg Maxwell, and Zak Wilcox. Substantial and significant effort started back in 2013, with massive popularity in 2014. But what became of that effort? Very little. Exchange operators continue to refuse to give visibility. Despite the fact this information can often be obtained through trivial blockchain analysis, no Canadian platform has ever provided any wallet addresses publicly. As described by the CEO of Newton "For us to implement some kind of realtime Proof of Reserves solution, which I'm not opposed to, it would have to ... Preserve our users' privacy, as well as our own. Some kind of zero-knowledge proof". Kraken describes here in more detail why they haven't implemented such a scheme. According to professor Eli Ben-Sasson, when he spoke with exchanges, none were interested in implementing Proof of Reserves.
And yet, Kraken's places their reasoning on a page called "Proof of Reserves". More recently, both BitBuy and ShakePay have released reports titled "Proof of Reserves and Security Audit". Both reports contain disclaimers against being audits. Both reports trust the customer list provided by the platform, leaving the open possibility that multiple large accounts could have been excluded from the process. Proof of Reserves is a blockchain validation where customers see the wallets on the blockchain. The report from Kraken is 5 years old, but they leave it described as though it was just done a few weeks ago. And look at what they expect customers to do for validation. When firms represent something being "Proof of Reserve" when it's not, this is like a farmer growing fruit with pesticides and selling it in a farmers market as organic produce - except that these are people's hard-earned life savings at risk here. Platforms are misrepresenting the level of visibility in place and deceiving the public by their misuse of this term. They haven't proven anything.
Fraud isn't a problem that is unique to cryptocurrency. Fraud happens all the time. Enron, WorldCom, Nortel, Bear Stearns, Wells Fargo, Moser Baer, Wirecard, Bre-X, and Nicola are just some of the cases where frauds became large enough to become a big deal (and there are so many countless others). These all happened on 100% reversible assets despite regulations being in place. In many of these cases, the problems happened due to the over-complexity of the financial instruments. For example, Enron had "complex financial statements [which] were confusing to shareholders and analysts", creating "off-balance-sheet vehicles, complex financing structures, and deals so bewildering that few people could understand them". In cryptocurrency, we are often combining complex financial products with complex technologies and verification processes. We are naïve if we think problems like this won't happen. It is awkward and uncomfortable for many people to admit that they don't know how something works. If we want "money of the people" to work, the solutions have to be simple enough that "the people" can understand them, not so confusing that financial professionals and technology experts struggle to use or understand them.
For those who question the extent to which an organization can fool their way into a security consultancy role, HB Gary should be a great example to look at. Prior to trying to out anonymous, HB Gary was being actively hired by multiple US government agencies and others in the private sector (with glowing testimonials). The published articles and hosted professional security conferences. One should also look at this list of data breaches from the past 2 years. Many of them are large corporations, government entities, and technology companies. These are the ones we know about. Undoubtedly, there are many more that we do not know about. If HB Gary hadn't been "outted" by anonymous, would we have known they were insecure? If the same breach had happened outside of the public spotlight, would it even have been reported? Or would HB Gary have just deleted the Twitter posts, brought their site back up, done a couple patches, and kept on operating as though nothing had happened?
In the case of Quadriga, the facts are clear. Despite past experience with platforms such as MapleChange in Canada and others around the world, no guidance or even the most basic of a framework was put in place by regulators. By not clarifying any sort of legal framework, regulators enabled a situation where a platform could be run by former criminal Mike Dhanini/Omar Patryn, and where funds could be held fully unchecked by one person. At the same time, the lack of regulation deterred legitimate entities from running competing platforms and Quadriga was granted a money services business license for multiple years of operation, which gave the firm the appearance of legitimacy. Regulators did little to protect Canadians despite Quadriga failing to file taxes from 2016 onward. The entire administrative team had resigned and this was public knowledge. Many people had suspicions of what was going on, including Ryan Mueller, who forwarded complaints to the authorities. These were ignored, giving Gerald Cotten the opportunity to escape without justice.
There are multiple issues with the SOC II model including the prohibitive cost (you have to find a third party accounting firm and the prices are not even listed publicly on any sites), the requirement of operating for a year (impossible for new platforms), and lack of any public visibility (SOC II are private reports that aren't shared outside the people in suits).
Securities frameworks are expensive. Sarbanes-Oxley is estimated to cost $5.1 million USD/yr for the average Fortune 500 company in the United States. Since "Fortune 500" represents the top 500 companies, that means well over $2.55 billion USD (~$3.4 billion CAD) is going to people in suits. Isn't the problem of trust and verification the exact problem that the blockchain is supposed to solve?
To use Quadriga as justification for why custodians or SOC II or other advanced schemes are needed for platforms is rather silly, when any framework or visibility at all, or even the most basic of storage policies, would have prevented the whole thing. It's just an embarrassment.
We are now seeing regulators take strong action. CoinSquare in Canada with multi-million dollar fines. BitMex from the US, criminal charges and arrests. OkEx, with full disregard of withdrawals and no communication. Who's next?
We have a unique window today where we can solve these problems, and not permanently destroy innovation with unreasonable expectations, but we need to act quickly. This is a unique historic time that will never come again.
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Payment: Bitcoin or Crypto get priority! (include "Paying Crypto" in PM title to move to the front of the line). Else I'll accept Venmo, CashApp, or PayPalFF NO COMMENTS! Shipping is $5 for under 5oz, else $8 OLD THREAD HERE..... OLD THREAD HERE!!!OLD THREAD HERE..... OLD THREAD HERE!!!OLD THREAD HERE..... OLD THREAD HERE!!!OLD THREAD HERE..... OLD THREAD HERE!!!OLD THREAD HERE..... OLD THREAD HERE!!!OLD THREAD HERE..... OLD THREAD HERE!!!OLD THREAD HERE..... OLD THREAD HERE!!! PROOF! Hi, I have A LOT more items for sale & trade: The rest of my HUGE sale is here. FOR TRADE. Trade Proof COMPLETE! THANK YOU!!I want to propose an ASE for ASE trade to fill out my missing dates. If yours is a key date, I'm ok in paying extra. All of my ASEs are in perfect, pristine condition, have been in their tube their whole lives. We would exchange pictures of the actual coins we will send and then do the trade so everyone is happy, and everyone pays for their own shipping. to make the trade worth your time, I’ll include a clad Ike dollar to every trade of two or more coins :) I have these dates to give: 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2016 I need any date NOT in this list:
I also have still sealed 2020 Philharmonics I could trade for ASE, Libertads, other year Phils, or modern Maples. If you'd like to trade one of my ASE for some of these other coins, hit me up too. FOR SALE Also selling the following: Constitutional Silver
For items where it's not included, shipping is $5 tracked for <5oz or $8 USPS Priority for >5oz PAYMENT: Bitcoin/Crypto is preferred and given priority (mention paying BTC in title of PM to move to the front of the line). Else Venmo, CashApp, PayPal FF NO COMMENTS are also accepted.
I want to thank everyone who replied to our survey! Your feedback is extremely valuable! Here are the results and how they're helping shape our direction.
What goals would you like to see us accomplish? What's most important to you in how this Quadriga situation ends?
This was an open-ended question and the answers varied widely (and there was definitely a lot of responses which mentioned multiple goals). Here's a summary:
65% mentioned recovering losses for affected users.
45% described a desire to get better standards on Canadian exchanges.
30% included justice for victims.
25% desired education on crypto-asset protection.
20% had the creation of the new exchange.
The justice theme has been entirely overlooked by what we're doing. Discussing the idea on the Quadriga Uncovered Telegram group, it was determined that there was definite interest in a potential letter-writing initiative. One possibility would be sending letters to the RCMP to request the exhumation.
Is there any part of our initiative which confuses you?
Almost universally, there was no mention of any confusion. The feedback we did receive:
"The website landing page could provide an executive summary of the key aspects of the initiative".
The front page was last updated March 30th. We are constantly experimenting and improving the front of the website and our presentation of ideas and welcome any insight.
"I was worried with the proposal to have a token for affected users. The intention may be ok, but tokens and ICOs have a bad reputation for being scams. I confess that I didn't read the website of the Initiative, but from communications, I didn't see the association between the Initiative and the official committee."
We should make clear we are fully separate from the bankruptcy process. There is no tie to the official committee, although we have gotten their feedback throughout. This is an opportunity for the business community to provide additional help for victims.
We are contemplating the need for having blockchain-backing, however it does provide the ability to have greater transparency in the distribution/supply, more control in the form of a multi-sig smart contract, and easier liquidity options.
What we are doing is fundamentally different from any ICO. Tokens are distributed 100% free against verified losses. Redemption happens over time for utility (products/services) or goodwill (best-effort redemption) and it's always a fixed value of $1.
"Generally i understand. Confused about progress and value offer to crypto enthusiasts."
The initial (very first) value proposition for the tokens will be the ability to offset trading fees on the partner exchange, where we expect that traders may adopt having a small stash to cover their trading expenses as they trade. From there, we have other businesses interested in accepting partial payment in tokens. Basically, tokens are spent in place of dollars to get a discount at participating businesses which wish to support affected users.
In terms of progress, we are still waiting for three things:
Partner exchange full launch.
First bankruptcy payout to complete.
Reaching 1,000 signups (as necessary for our deal).
Please feel free to reach out on Telegram and Reddit if there are any further questions!
Is it more important to you that we focus on (a) helping victims of Quadriga recover, (b) educating more people about Quadriga and other exchange fraud, or (c) preventing future exchange fraud events like Quadriga?
Of the first or only choice picked, 70% chose (a) helping victims of Quadriga recover, while 30% chose (c) preventing future exchange fraud events like Quadriga. (a) was mentioned in 80% of cases, and top choice in 70%. (b) was a second choice in 30% of cases and mentioned in 35%. (c) was mentioned in 65% of responses and top choice in 30%. The educational portion of our initiative was seen as the lowest value. We are floating the idea of replacing the Education goal with a separate Justice goal, which is composed of letter-writing and other advocacy to help speed up any potential criminal investigations.
What bothers you most about Canadian cryptocurrency exchanges?
The responses varied widely. Here's a selection:
"The lack of unbiased information on how trustworthy exchanges are."
"The lack of transparency."
"that they are unregulated"
"I only use a non-custodial exchange now (Bull Bitcoin). The inertia and apathy of the government bothers me a lot. After Quadriga there should have been an inquiry. Even my emails to MPs Marie-France Lalonde and Bill Blair got no response. It's not realistic to wait for exchanges to 'self-regulate'."
"Terrible for trading and unreliable"
"Where is the regulation and oversight?"
"It's difficult to know which one is safe and w[h]ich one is not. It's easier to go to a bigger exchange (eg. Binance, Kraken, ... ) who has a solid reputation than Canadian one (at least for now)"
"Slow volume, difficulty to access for some, security"
"Security, trust, support, education"
There is clearly a lack of satisfaction.
Should preventing events like Quadriga focus more on regulatory reform (working with regulators) or trying to create change through setting the example on one exchange and go from there (similar to how "Tesla" has electrified vehicles)?
40% of respondents desired an approach which included both aspects.
40% of respondents desired an approach of setting an example in one exchange.
20% preferred a regulatory approach.
"(c), creating an independent classification/review system that would allow users to know which exchanges are most trustworthy, and to force less trustworthy ones to shape up."
There are a few such services out there. Key issues are that these opinions can be influenced by referral bonuses, the exchange reputations change over time (as was the case in Quadriga), and there is limited information on which to base the evaluation. Many reputable third parties have recommended shady services that subsequently failed.
Pressing forward on both fronts appears to make the most sense.
Would you rather have the recovery run inside of a for-profit exchange (sort of a marketing/promotion idea to push people onto a safer exchange) or as an independent group of affected users pushing for our own interests (working with the safer exchange and other businesses potentially similar to a labour union or political advocacy)?
The end result:
The majority (55%) prefer to have the independent group advocating for affected users.
A minority (35%) prefer to have it run in a for-profit/promotional way inside the exchange.
There were 10% of responses indicating both would be acceptable, or no clear preference.
We will be working to run this independently, however working closely with our partner exchange as a joint project (and it is definitely a promotional tool for them).
If given the choice, would you prefer (a) $20 cash each year for 10 years (slower recovery with full choice), or (b) your choice of $200 worth of discounts on products/services that are donated by small businesses which you could use this year (faster recovery with less choices)?
60% indicated a preference for (b), and 40% had the preference for (a). There is clear interest in focusing on both, which will push the fastest and most flexible recovery.
Affected users have a liquidation option which allows non-victims to purchase their tokens on the exchange. How do you feel about charging non-victims a small fee (5 cents per token) that is split between funding the project and a pool for affected user payout?
50% expressed outright support for the idea. Below are more detailed responses and comments:
"indifferent, although I think any fee will end up factoring in to the exchange rate on the value of the token. If people are willing to pay $10 for a $15 coupon, then a 5% fee might mean they'll only pay $9.50"
This is undoubtedly true. In your example, 25 cents would go to the project, 25 cents to affected users, and $9.50 to the seller. As opposed to $10 going to the seller.
"I am not yet clear on the cost structure of the proposed solution. Has the cost of managing the recovery effort been accounted for?"
It hasn't been properly accounted for, and this is one possible solution.
"I think that it is more important to have broad communication, reaching out to public at large and crypto communities in other countries. Then there should be multiple ways for different communities to contribute financially to affected users. I don't like the idea of fees and tokens because it seems to distract from the larger tasks of communication, rallying, documenting and advocating."
You bring up great points. Outreach is important, as is flexibility in approach. If you have more concrete ideas we would love to consider them!
"Good idea, but it restricts the on boarding of new users"
This is a fair point. The hope is that those participating want to help.
"I would prefer to avoid this option, Unless we can show that there are many added benefits from using this platform over others, thus justifying the fees and making it more acceptable to users."
Absolutely. Hopefully there will be many added benefits.
"I think it a good idea, fees will go anyway to affected users, I totally agree"
Awesome. That's definitely the intent.
"better not tax when tokens are transferred to the blockchain - tax the transaction (something small, in order not to affect the volume/liquidity too much) like what they are doing with the flight tickets in Quebec"
Absolutely! This would be a transaction cost only.
At the moment this has not yet been agreed upon by the partner exchange.
Have you discussed the project with anyone else who lost funds in Quadriga? What kind of feedback are you hearing?
40% said they've discussed it. 40% have not. 20% didn't answer (or it was hard to understand). Some of the responses:
"only online, and there there seems to be some confusion about the projects goals, some concerns about the connection to a for-profit exchange, and a general 'one bitten twice shy' mentality."
"Yes, Matt and my spouse. The problem was foreseeable. We just all ignored the risk because we were sold on the simplicity. The first red flag I saw was that accounts could be reloaded through an entity in China, which did not make sense, but I ignored it because of my perceived impression of protection given that the operator was in Canada."
"Yes - most have given up hope of recovering funds"
" I can't follow the chats on Telegram. I gained no knowledge the times I tried to read the discussions there. In fact the discussions there seemed to be not very polite. I wasn't able to connect with any other affected user. I wish there were some more structured gathering. Maybe a webinar would be nice."
Note: This sounds like it may be talking about the separate and more popular Quadriga Uncovered Telegram group. We would be very interested for any examples of impolite discussions on our Telegram group.
"This recovery process started out fine, but has turned into a circus show as is usual with lawyers who naturally want to stretch cases out to steal more money from victims."
"Not for now, I don't know any other victim (except members of Quadriga initiative)"
"Its your fault for keeping it on an exchange, what did you think was going to happen. There will be no money left after the 'bankruptcy'.. Lightning will solve all these problems other than recovery of funds."
Many affected users have strong privacy concerns and shame regarding what happened to them, such that they are even hesitant to share basic details. What do you feel is the best way to build trust and openness among the affected user community?
Here are some of the replies:
"I really don't know. Keeping things as anonymous as possible might help, but then the project would also need accountability to show that most of the tokens weren't sent to your own account. It's a tricky problem."
Absolutely. We also need to consider the various ways the project could be defrauded.
"What you are doing now. I am just not clear on the sustainab[i]lility of this effort without appropriate financial support."
"We all lost. We got burned. No shame in getting burned. It happens."
"There must be a way for affected users to connect to each other. Communication is the foundation, and it can be done preserving privacy. Some ideas include a webinar, chat tools that preserve privacy, etc. I heard of the documentary but I don't know what will be there. I think it is important also for the public at large to know how Quadriga affected users. That is, it's important for some personal stories to be published, ideally in the mainstream press."
We have Telegram, Reddit, and Twitter. A webinar would be great! There have been a number of mainstream news articles on Quadriga, although it's not well known outside of the crypto community. We welcome any further ideas for platforms.
"I would use the angle that crypto will continue to gain traction as time goes on, and that although the affected users were victims of a terrible fraud, we have an opportunity to prevent this from happening to others. I would also use the fact that this initiative has gained a considerable following and that affected users are all in this together, whether we want it or not."
"Maybe a guarantee that nobody will be further persecuted would help."
Hopefully no affected users are persecuted. Who's being persecuted?
"I don't know what else could be done for now."
"Just let us go forward."
"Once you demonstrate positive effects (and communicating about them), and set up ways to contact you securely, the users who have privacy concerns will contact you. You should have anonymous way to communicate with you (maybe using memo.cash?)"
Feel free to use an anonymous handle for any communication with us via Reddit, Twitter, Telegram, or email.
"Simple questions, good job :). Wonder about the stages of loss/gr[ie]f. Maybe the stinging pain needs to subside before people will trust."
Notes: Percentages rounded to the nearest 5%. Thank you very much for everyone who took the time to respond! We will continue to study your answers as we move forward!
Thanks for the taxes. We don't give a fuck about your business
This is an all-too-familiar sentiment from government to Canada's startup (specifically bitcoin-startup) community. On March 27th, 2020 the Prime Minister proudly announced a $40,000 government backed loan. "For small businesses, there's a $40,000 loan of which $10,000 will not have to be repaid if they meet certain conditions. There are many things we're doing out there with low interest or no interest loans to help businesses get through this, but the wage subsidy and the Canada Emergency Response Benefit for people who lose their jobs are going to be there to make sure that we come through this strongly." ref Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a news conference while in self-isolation at Rideau Cottage in Ottawa Friday, March 13, 2020. (Fred Chartrand/The Canadian Press) I, like many small business owners, let out a sigh of relief as we have all seen revenues vanish over the previous weeks following the necessary public health measures put into place. That $40,000 meant one more payroll run. Maybe it made up for the payables or rent that was coming due in 4 days. A $40,000 injection of "worry-about-it-later" money would mean breathing room. The equivalent of a pool noodle while wading in the middle of the ocean. Enough to keep you thinking "you can do this". Banking is hard to come by as a bitcoin/fintech startup. We are not "welcomed into the traditional banking atmosphere with open arms" regardless of our balance sheets or longevity. Even the bank for Alberta's Entrepreneurs (which promotes their "blockchain friendliness") refuses to work with businesses that touch cryptocurrency. Hi Adam - hope all is well. What is wrong with the markets and BTC as a safe haven ? You did mention a few months ago that we will see sub $6k soon and I wasn't sure how … well you were right. You are an Oracle. Regarding banking - When me and [redacted ATB employee] met you, we extended the offer to help out and support your retail banking needs. You decided not to take it. I just heard back from our Compliance team that their Pause extends to all retail accounts as well. Basically, anything that touches crypto / even personal accounts is not supported right now. Unfortunately, I can't help and I am sorry. Hopefully, if the markets turn positive / and pause is lifted / I can try to seek support for your retail and business needs. For now, it is a full stop. I am also moving to a new role at ATB this week and not sure who would manage the crypto portfolio. I will keep you looped in. best, [redacted ATB employee] So forget ATB, I thought SURELY the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) would be there to lend a helping hand during this unprecedented economic and health crisis. The fact that our revenue dropped nearly 70% week-over-week with the onset of the pandemic, and the fact that I have paid well into the six figures in provincial and federal taxes last year would mean that, during these hard times, Canada's Small and Medium Sized Business savior wouldn't be as prejudiced. I was wrong. One week after my application went unanswered I was put in touch with a rep through a personal connection of mine. Within minutes a chipper response pinged my inbox: Hi Adam Happy to try and help you. Can you send 2 years of Financial statements to me and: How much do you need? What are your revenue expectations during and after the crisis - do you have a budget and cashflow projections? What would be your ball park cash burn rate per month for the next few months/ Thanks - when I get these I will see if it will be me or another colleague that will be able to help and then we will reach out to arrange a zoom chat. Best, Moments later, before I could prepare the info, he followed up (even threw in an emoji) Hi Again - more info below Best This is the latest from CRA and all the links you'll need to understand and apply😊 https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/campaigns/covid-19-update/frequently-asked-questions-wage-subsidy-small-businesses.html#h2 https://www.bakertilly.ca/en/btc/publications/taxflash-temporary-wage-subsidy-for-employers https://www.taxtemplates.ca/wage-subsidy/ I thought we had it. I thought my country 🇨🇦 was coming to my rescue to help me and my 11-person locally-employed team pay the bills for a few more weeks. Until I received a third follow up… Hi Adam I just reached out to our Tech Finance Manager and unfortunately we are unable to Bitcoin clients as our board has deemed them ineligible due to potential money laundering. I am very sorry - this is news to me. Being a Crown Corp we have very strict rules. I think you can still access some Federal support though via some of the links I sent earlier. Best Wishes to you and yours, Potential. Money. Laundering. You'll notice he does not ask for my documentation (FINTRAC Registration as a Money Services Business) which should be the first step to verifying that our business goes above and beyond to prevent the money laundering that they claim to be concerned about. Despite sending him our industry-leading policies and FINTRAC Registration the final response was polite but stern: Morning - Thx for the info. Policy such as this are from the Board of Dir's and Minister of Industry. But things change - I now have hemp clients. It will take time though. When we get to the other side, I would love to have a beer with you and [redacted personal connection name] and learn more about your biz and future. I personally believe crypto will be a important solution in rebuilding the world economy. Best, And that was apparently that. However, you don't get to be one of Canada's leading Bitcoin ATM companies without a little bit of grit and resilience. So I tried again through conventional channels. This time the response was just as useless but even more robotic (you'll notice they spelled my last name wrong…) Dear Mr. O`Brian, Thank you for submitting a request for financing. After examination of your application, we regret to inform you that BDC is not able to provide financing for your business. We understand how deeply the COVID-19 situation is affecting. However, we are unable to respond positively to your request that does not meet the eligibility criteria. An evolving situation As the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve, BDC's response is evolving as well and we are working closely with government, financial institutions and our partners. Ensure that you have spoken to your primary financial institution to see if they are able to help with financing: As you may know, additional measures to support entrepreneurs have been announced by the Government of Canada, including anew Canada Emergency Business Account as well as a SME Loan and Guarantee Program. As these programs are not administered by BDC, your primary financial institution is best suited to assess if you may benefit from these relief measures as they get deployed shortly. For the latest updates by the Government of Canada on COVID-19, visit Resources for Canadian businesses: COVID-19. Thank you, This response left me frustrated. How could it not? How could our small, innovative, and incredibly compliant business not be within the "guidelines" set out by Mr Trudeau last week? My response was heated: This is extremely frustrating. The fact that I am denied help, despite paying 100s of thousands in taxes, is discouraging. Why do you take my tax money, but then deny my eligibility based on "crown rules". The eligibility criteria of BDC should be companies that are striving to employ local workers with cutting edge business practices and revolutionizing the world. All of which we do (and have been doing for 7 years) I know you will cite "compliance", and yet refuse to look at my compliance manual. A policy that was written by a previous compliance officer from a schedule 1 "big 5" bank. A policy that has been approved by 2 third party auditors. A policy finalized by my Chief Compliance Officer with 10+ years as a compliance master who has prevented millions of dollars worth of fraud AND played a key role investigating. It is disappointing to see you promoting the narrative that you are "for entrepreneurs" when in fact I have found it to be quite the opposite. We are a licensed money service business and I personally spend my time working with local authorities educating them how to prevent fraud within this space. Yet somehow I've been labeled "ineligible" for assistance when I really need it. What is the point of innovating? Is "the first guy through the wall gets the bloodiest" really the narrative you support? "Don't think outside the box because we don't like that?" The prejudice of the BDC towards alternative financial companies is disappointing to say the least. I would appreciate your response, though if past experience has taught me anything I know better than to expect one. Perhaps the Canadian business environment is not one that is as friendly as you promote. Stay healthy, Adam As you might have guessed this went unanswered (though the robots did manage to regurgitate the exact same original message) and here we are. My initial sentiment from the most recent response to the BDC remain. What is the point of innovating? Why do I spend tens of thousands of dollars every single year to ensure that our compliance is industry-leading? Why do I spend hours and hours working (for free) with local authorities to educate them about Bitcoin and how to prevent fraud? Why do I stretch my hand out so far only to have it slapped when I am looking for the same support everyone else is getting? I've endured years of prejudice from the traditional banking industry. I've built an incredibly successful business that exclusively employs local labour even though it would be all too "easy" to off-shore the work. We've paid our taxes, donated to the community all without the help of the bank's lending products, but being denied support relief during this unprecedented crisi due to "potential money laundering" is as prejudicial as it gets. All of this to ask, Mr. Morneau, will these subsidies affect my taxes? I understand the economic cash injection. As a whole, I am onboard with the injection to help stimulate the economy. But we all know who will end up paying for it. We all know that money doesn't grow on trees (it's printed dummy) and that it will eventually have to be paid back in some capacity… which will eventually be through increased taxes. Taxes that hard-working citizens continue to pay every year. If only you knew how much you were contributing to Bitcoin's adoption… Finally, dear reader, I beg you to think. Listen to my story and ask yourself "is my industry next?" "Can I trust them with my taxes… can I trust them with my money?" I fully believe what I am experiencing is a direct extension of the reason Bitcoin was created. Bitcoin exists to give its owners choice. A choice that doesn't exist with fiat money, printed at will by a centralized body of power. Right now the majority of "industry" is getting help, the government is listening to their people. I am unfortunately in the minority. My business is too edgy. My business is too "risky". My business doesn't deserve help. Will your industry, your business, your pension, your family be next? Adam | www.bitcoinsolutions.ca
I will tell you exactly what is going on here, this is critical information to understand if you are going to make money in this space. How prices work, and what moves them - and it's not money invested/withdrawn.
/edit: Hi /all. While I have your attention, I want to take 5 seconds of your time and bring some exposure to something that is threatening our existence as the human race. If you aren't interested, please skip down to the main article. I'm talking about finding a way to live sustainably on this planet, regenerative agriculture, where we get our food from, and how we can make sure that our kids and grandkids have something left once we leave. Please consider reading up on Permaculture, sustainable living, Forest gardening, Backyard Chickens, etc. Consider following what I did and do it for yourself. This all used to be a useless lawn. Bored for a night? Go watch "Sustainable" on Netflix. Look into people like Geoff Lawton, Mark Shepard, Sepp Holzer, these people are going to save us. Want to make a small change yourself? Grow a tomato plant on your balcony in a pot. Reduce transport of the tomatoes you eat, and make ~$50 per plant in saved money. Want to do something bigger? Plant a fruit tree in your backyard. Maybe two. Maybe a raspberry bush. You are now part of saving the human race. If everyone reading this planted a fruit tree, or even some wild flowers, we could save the bees. While you are at it, planting a fruit tree has been shown to be one of the best investments on the planet. There's pretty much no investment on the planet that is more financially lucrative (while still being nearly bullet-proof safe) than planting a fruit tree. You can get a tree at an end of sale auction for literally 5-10 bucks, and that tree will produce THOUSANDS of dollars of fruit for you in it's lifetime. Go spend $200 bucks at an end of season sale, plant 10-20 trees (if you have room), and that $200 will be worth tens of thousands of dollars of saved money. Do it right, set it up right and it's almost no work because you offload the work to nature - as it has done for the last few billion years. Go learn how, let me show you how. If you do it right, it's zero work after you have planted and wood-chipped, and all you do is pull dollars off a tree. Original post starts below. I apologize for the shilling of Permaculture, but I think loss of topsoil will impact us all if we don't reverse it soon. We need soil, we need bees, we need food. We need to stop buying December Bananas in Canada. We need to start supporting local permaculture sustainable farms. We need to do this or we may not make it, and our grandkids stand no chance. I also expended the "now what happens" section, to explain how these pullbacks are a good thing, make crypto more stable, and why we keep seeing larger ceilings after every pullback... this stuff is really important for you to make money on this thing, if that's your goal.... I've made a similar post in a few spots, and this is something that is absolutely critical for people to understand... what impacts price, and what is going on lately. Price has only a very minor correlation with money invested, and a major correlation with opinion. ... and Humans are an emotional bunch. So what drives price of any commodity, crypto, gold, pizzas, whatever? The money invested in it, right? Kind of, but not really. What if I told you that you could theoretically raise bitcoin from $15k to $20k by spending $1, and lower it from $25k to $1k by spending the same $1? Crazy right? AN EXAMPLE This is going to start out slow, I want to make sure I get everyone on the same page before I pick things up and lift the curtain. Stick with me here.... This is an example to help illustrate why prices aren't driven by money invested, but rather consensus and opinion. Lets imagine the following exists (we will use bitcoin as an example, but this is how everything on the planet works) Lets say Bitcoin is currently priced at $10k (the last sale). From $11k to $99k, every $1k there is someone with a sell order of 1 full bitcoin. From $9k to $1 dollar, every $1k on the way down there is someone with a buy order of 1 full bitcoin. So, right now if you wanted to buy bitcoin you have several options... meet the lowest seller's price of $11k, or, put your own buy order up, above the highest buyer's bid order (overcut them). If you decide to just place an order, the price doesn't change. If you decide the buy the $11k bitcoin, now bitcoins value is $11k, with a new lowest sell offer of $12k, and a highest buy bid of $10k. Someone else comes in an overcuts the buy bid and puts 1 BTC for sale for $11k. No trades are made until someone matches a buy/sell. Okay, that's kindergarten stuff, most people here understand that. So how much money drove the price up in this situation? $11k, and BTC price raised 11/10, 1.10, or 10% from the last sale. Now the entire marketcap of BTC raised 10% (last sale multiplied by circulating supply). So it takes $11k to drive a 10% increase, right? Not at all. Lets look at what happens when news is released. News comes out that Warren Buffet thinks bitcoin is a scam, a bubble, and he wouldn't touch it with a 10 foot pole because he only invests in things he understands and he doesn't understand crypto. People panic everywhere, and believe "this guy is smart, I'm overvaluing this thing". Suddenly people don't want to buy this scam anymore, and the buy orders for $11k, $10, and $9k are taken down. At the same time, the people wanting to sell start to panic and just want out. The guy at $32k (who just had that offer up "just incase it moons") drops down to $11k sell order. The guy at $12k, who was the lowest, now undercuts him to $10k. The other buyers see the sellers undercutting and think that if these people want out, why am I buying in. The $8k guy pulls his offer, and so do the $7k, $6k and $5k guys. The highest offer is now $4k. The sellers panic further and the $14k guy undercuts the $10k guy and puts up a $9k sell. The $15k, 17k and 11k guys all see this flurry of panic and now a storm undercutting is triggered, to $8k, $7k, and $6k. The $8k order pulls his again and goes down to $5k. The price on the buy and sell orders has moved around a ton, but no sales have actually happened yet. Technically, BTC is still "worth" $11k, and the market cap reflects that. All this horseshit has happened, and it only happened in 10 seconds, but the price hasn't moved yet. The $27k guy wakes up and checks his phone. He had a $27k offer just incase the price moved also, and he also only has a tiny infinitesimal fraction of a BTC. Well, he decides "he's out" and fills $1 worth of the part of the $4k guys buy offer. The latest price information is now updated, and BTC fell from $11k to $4k price per BTC with the movement of a single dollar. This is exaggerated example, but this is what moves price. Not money in vs money out. The ONLY THING that moves price is perception. OPINION FLOW AND NOT MONEY FLOW Now the above example only happens if everyone simultaneously believe the same thing... this the asset they are holding is a steaming turd. What happens in reality is there's no black and white, it's shades of gray. It's flow in vs flow out. But again, not flow MONEY, but rather OPINIONS. If 66% of the holders of something all of a sudden unanimously decide that their asset is overvalued, then they panic sell. Even if 33% of the people decide they are going to buy up as much as these panic sellers sell, if the panic is strong enough, and they are slitting eachother's throat to sell, then the buyers just happily sit and let them do that, and time their buys in. Very little money has to actually change hands in order for this price to crash, all that matters is the FLOW OF OPINION has to be swift and violent, and in majority. The sellers will leapfrog eachother on the way down, faster than the buyers scoop up their sales, and the net result is a crashed price. Note, this happens both ways... fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) as well as overhyped FOMO (Fear of missing out). So now what happens? Time goes by and all holders opinions of their asset hasn't changed. They still think it's worth $11k and they got great deals scooping up what these sellers were selling. The weak hands have left the market and have been replaced with holders. Overall, now a higher percentage of holders believe in the product they are holding and are unwilling to sell for the panic prices of the last week. Panic sellers were also replaced by new money, people who have wanted in for a while and are now in on their perceived ground floor. Also, people who bought BTC at $1 ten years ago and have been looking for an exit to cash profits have now been replaced by either long term holders, or by these new people who are thrilled to have finally entered, and they are looking to hold long. So what happens on pullbacks? The number of people waiting to jump off the ship has decreased. The new ground floor is established. Are we done? Who knows, this could go on for another year, but what matters is that people who want off are getting off and people that want on are getting on. People who have panic sold and never believed in this in the firstplace... people who have wanted out for 10 years... they have been replaced by people who are now getting in on THEIR GROUND FLOOR, and are going to be holding long. The market is suddenly increasingly more stable today than it was yesterday, even though prices are down. This is a good thing. This is why crypto keeps bouncing back from pullbacks and reaches new higher ceilings and floors each time. Old money who wanted out, and new panic holders, they are gone. They are replaced with adopters, holders, believers in this technology. These people aren't selling anytime soon, because they believe that this thing is going to revolutionize the world. Every crash brings more of these people in, and removes more panic sellers out. Moving forward Now news releases start coming out about how stock ETFs are being created, NASDAQ index funds, bank support, government support. Companies are using this tech, and companies who use blockchain for transportation are putting non-blockchain companies out of business. The people on the outside looking-in feel they are missing out. They now start coming in and buying. They start overpricing eachother on their buy orders, and eventually it gets close enough to a sell order that someone decides they are just going to meet the sell price. The sale goes through. Sellers (HODLERs) see this action, and they start pulling sell orders off the table almost as fast as they fill. Sure some trades go through, and incoming money is driving the price up as market orders are filled. But what's also happening is people are seeing this flurry of volume, and sellers are pulling sell orders and placing them higher. Junk coins and pump and dump scam coins are dying by the millions. In their ashes, good solid technology projects whose coins have fundamental economic reasons for growth, these are rising. Corporate partnerships continue forming. The real world continues to create actual use cases. Companies start storing more and more corporate information on blockchain. Public companies use blockchain to store scientific research (See Canadian Research Council announcements), and blockchain acts as a Library of Alexandria. People can travel out of country without any monetary exchange, using their chosen cryptocurrency to buy the things they need abroad. The world is slowly actually USING this technology. Money is coming in, but more importantly, OPINION IS CHANGING. Literally nothing could have happened in terms of fundamentals, partnerships, etc... this can all be driven entirely emotional, so long as it's wide-spread and strong. Infact, the market could THEORETICALLY rebound in this way from $4000/BTC to $1 MILLION PER BITCOIN by the sale of ONE PENNY. $4000 sound low? Does that number make you uncomfortable? We may go that low. We may not. If we do, I'm not panicking and selling, I'm buying more. SO WHAT HAS HAPPENED IN THE LAST FEW MONTHS? and where are we going? A lot of new money has come in from Nov-Jan, and they don't really know what they are investing in. Sure some of them have done great research and are smart investors but most people aren't and isntead they are buying Symbols and Names and trading on speculation. They are treating their favorite coins like a sports team, and will follow them irrationally off a cliff. These new people came in and invested in cryptocurrency because their OPINION was heavily influenced in Nov, Dec, Jan, from media. They saw this money making machine called crypto. They were willing to pay huge, ride the wave up, keep buying, etc. They were "ground floor adopters" and were going to get rich. They outnumber the old money by A LOT. Their OPINION MATTERS. It matters the most. To keep this in perspective, they are also a VAST MINORITY of "new money" that will enter the game in the next decade. This cycle will continue over and over and over. Their opinion rose nearly unbounded and price rose accordingly. Market cap rose from 10B to 750B, and it could have been VERY LITTLE actual money that did this. How much did it need to be though? Literally ONE PENNY, theoretically. All that matters in moving price is MOMENTUM OF OPINION. I believe it has been estimated that as low as 6B USD was responsible for the bull rush. These people then started hearing "Bubble", "Scam", Fake news about governments banning. They don't understand how technology wins, always. Crypto is beyond government control. If they could have stopped Bitcoin they would have done it already. WHO IS DRIVING ALL THIS? Most investment opportunities go first to "accredited investors". You need to have multimillions in order to get in on the ground floor for most stock IPOs, and we're seeing that start to happen with coin ICOs. Bitcoin was a joke for the first few years, while lunatics picked it up. At this point, it was really too late to get in "early", and who would have wanted to anyways, it was all still a joke. So Wallstreet, banks, governments have generally watched on the sidelines as average Joes who were crazy enough to be early adopters and toss $100 on fake internet money slowly became millionaires. Not only that, but the idea of blockchain started to become understood. The power and value in it became understood. Not only as a way to track "monetary value" but for many other applications as well. Platforms were created, business uses brainstormed, products started being made. This thing started taking off, and wasn't a joke anymore. But regardless, big money wasn't in on the ground floor. They have stakeholders opinions to think of, and what do they say to investors when they lose all their money on magic internet points? But they have woken up now. This thing has "popped" many times now and keeps recovering. This thing won't die. could they have been wrong all along? If they want in, how do they get in? They are no dummies, they have been controlling the world their whole lives? Look at the media experiment that Trump is doing? He is testing just how we work... you can do literally anything and we remember it for like 30 seconds, until the next news story comes out. We change opinions very easily. We are swayed very easily. We are their puppets. Media controls the world. They know their way in. They have ONE WEAPON against cryptocurrency. YOUR OPINION OF IT. And they know it. Media. That's why FUD is so powerful and needs to be respected. It's why we need to read more than titles on news articles. We need to question what we read, whether it's good news or bad news. We need to think about "what are the motives of the person saying this to me". Does the government have a conflict of interest when they state that crypto is gambling? Do they have skin in the game? What about wall street? Does WEISS ratings possibly have incentive to come out with poor ratings? Do banks have incentive to lock accounts in order to "protect" customers from "unsafe investments" when their entire business model revolves around holding as much of your money as possible and making money off it? Do you think banks have any super secret hidden interest in preventing you from storing your money elsewhere? I'm not sure, maybe you can critically think about that. Just understand that this goes both ways. When crypto is booming and Fox news is showing people how to buy $4 ripple on prime time, you may want to start putting in some stop loss orders. When the suicide hotline is stickied at the top of /cryptocurrency and everyone is panic selling, you may want to start picking up some firesale deals. So, the question is this... Is crypto undervalued or overvalued at it's price today? Where is the price going long term? I'm not talking about it's use case, I'm talking about in the court of public opinion, where is THAT going? Because THAT is what is going to drive price in the future. Without a crystal ball, this is of course impossible to know. Do your own research and form your own opinion. It could very well be that the technology having a use-case will in and of itself drive opinion, and thus price. But make sure you understand that it's not the technology itself, it's not the value of the business itself, it's not the use case itself that will drive price, it is the publics OPINION of that thing which drives price. They are intertwined, but they are NOT the same thing. TLDR: VERY VERY little money has to move around in order to swing prices drastically, up or down. Money in and out doesn't drive price, OPINION does. How do you let the news you read impact your opinion?How are you being played (on both sides, shilling and FUD). Something is only worth what people think it's worth. Often that's based on reality, value, business, money, but often it's entirely emotional. Structure your portfolio in a balance, intelligent way, using risk methodology.. Invest money you are willing to lose. Support legitimate technology and teams who are actively driving their product to completion, coding, and marketing. Stop trying to make money overnight in pump and dump scams, or pyramid schemes. Every day, take one coin, do a deep dive on it, learn it inside and out. Look into their team and their past. Do that every day for a year, and you just learned 365 coins inside and out. Ask yourself the following key questions: Have those members consistently jumped ship on previous projects? Is that where you want to invest in? Is their team capable of executing on their vision? Are they trying to solve world hunger, and their team is a few 16 year olds in a garage? How active is their github? Are they adding chunks of code regularly, or is a ghost town? Are they marketing their product at all? Or is marketing the only thing they are doing? What are the economics of their coin itself? Is it required to be used to gain access to their technology? Are there burns? How premined is it, and what portion do the founders hold? What about their vision? Are they trying to solve a problem that needs to be solved? What are the economics of that problem and how much money does the solution potentially save clients? These are all questions you should be asking when you give your money to someone else. We're a lot more stable than we were - a correction was bound to happen. Too much early money wanted to cash in profits. These people have been replaced by new money who is holding on their own ground floor. The whole industry in general is still in very early stages. Rest assured that anyone reading this is still very much an early adopter. Just make sure you are investing in actual technology, and supporting capable teams, and not buying air. Buy the Googles and Amazons of Crypto, not the pets.com or flooz.com of cryptos. Happy investing everyone. /EDIT: some have asked to donate some crypto. Do me a favour instead, sub to my YouTube channel (link at top) watch my videos how to get started properly, and plant your own trees and establish food sovereignty for your family and your community, and help save the bees, save our topsoil, and sequester carbon to reverse global warming. My goal is to get a gardener back into every home on the planet. THAT is how we heal this world.
Bull Bitcoin’s Dollar-Cost Averaging tool for Canadians: a detailed overview
Hello fellow Canadian Bitcoiners! I'm Francis Pouliot, CEO and founder of Bull Bitcoin (previously known as Bitcoin Outlet) and Bylls. I haven't been active on Reddit for a while but I thought I'd pop back here to let the community know about our new dollar-cost averaging feature, "Recurring Buy" This post is a copy of my most recent medium article which you can read here if you want to see the screenshots. https://medium.com/bull-bitcoin/bull-bitcoins-dollar-cost-averaging-tool-for-canadians-the-right-time-to-buy-bitcoin-is-every-day-82a992ca22c1 Thanks in advance for any feedback and suggestions! [Post starts here] The Bull Bitcoin team is constantly trying to reduce the frictions ordinary people face when investing in Bitcoin and propose innovative features which ensure our users follow Bitcoin best practices and minimize their risks. We are particularly excited and proud about our latest feature: an automated Bitcoin dollar-cost averaging tool which we dubbed “Recurring Buy”. The Recurring Buy feature lets Bull Bitcoin users create an automated schedule that will buy Bitcoin every day using the funds in their account balance and send the Bitcoin directly to their Bitcoin wallet straight away. We put a lot of thought in the implementation details and striking the right trade-offs for a simple and elegant solution. Our hope is that it will become a standard other Bitcoin exchanges will emulate for the benefit of their users. This standard will certainly evolve over time as we accumulate feedback and operational experience. In this article, I cover: The problem that we are trying to solve Recurring Buy feature details, processes and instructions The rationale (and tradeoffs) behind the main feature design choices Bull Bitcoin is only available to Canadians, but non-Canadians that wish to have a look at how it works are welcome to make a Bull Bitcoin account and check out how it works here. You will be able to go through the process of create the schedule for testing purposes, but you wont be able to fund your account and actually purchase Bitcoin. What problems does Dollar-Cost Averaging solve? The most common concern of Bitcoin investors is, not surprisingly, “when is the right time to buy Bitcoin?”. Bitcoin is indeed a very volatile asset. A quick glance at a Bitcoin price chart shows there are without a doubt “worse times” and “better times” to invest in Bitcoin. But is that the same as the “right” time? Gurus, analysts and journalists continuously offer their theories explaining what affects the Bitcoin price, supported by fancy trading charts and geopolitical analysis, further reinforcing the false notion that it is possible to predict the price of Bitcoin. Newbies are constantly bombarded with mainstream media headlines of spectacular gains and devastating losses. For some, this grows into an irresistible temptation to get rich quick. Others become crippled with the fear of becoming “the sucker” on which early adopters dump their bags. Veterans are haunted by past Bitcoin purchases which were quickly followed by a crash in the price. “I should have waited to buy the dip…” Many Bitcoin veterans and long-term investors often shrug off the question of when is the right time to buy with the philosophy: “just hodl”. But even those holding until their death will recognize that buying more Bitcoin for the same price is a better outcome. Given the very high daily volatility of Bitcoin, a hodler can find himself in many years having significantly less wealth just because he once bought Bitcoin on a Monday instead of a Wednesday. His options are either to leave it up to chance or make an attempt to “time the market” and “buy the dip”, which can turn into a stressful trading obsession, irrational decisions (which have a negative impact on budget, income and expenses) and severe psychological trauma. In addition, trying to “buy the dip” is often synonymous to keeping large amounts of fiat on an exchange to be ready for “when the time comes”. There must be a better way. Bitcoin investors should be rewarded for having understood Bitcoin’s long-term value proposition early on, for having taken the risk to invest accordingly and for having followed best practices. Not for being lucky. Overview of features and rules In this section I go into every detail of the Recurring Buy feature. In the following section, I focus on explaining why we chose this particular user experience. The user first decides his target investment amount. Ideally, this is a monthly budget or yearly budget he allocates to investing in Bitcoin based on his projected income and expenses. The user then chooses either the duration of the Recurring Buy schedule or the daily purchase amount. The longer the better. The frequency is each day and cannot be modified. The user must submit a Bitcoin address before activating a Recurring Buy schedule. By default, every transaction will be sent to that Bitcoin address. It’s the fallback address in case they don’t provide multiple addresses later. Once the user has filled the form with target amount, the duration and the Bitcoin address, he can activate the Recurring Buy Schedule. The user is not required to already have funds in his account balance to activate the schedule. We will randomly select a time of day at which his transaction will be processed (every hour, so 24 possible times). If the user insists on another time of day, he can cancel his Recurring Buy schedule and try again. ￼ ￼ The Recurring Buy feature as displayed on bullbitcoin.com/recurring-buys The schedule is then displayed to the user, showing the time and date at which transactions that will take place in the future. The user will be able to see how long his current balance will last. He can follow the progress of the dollar-cost averaging schedule, monitor in real time his average acquisition cost, and audit each transaction individually. At this point, the user can and should change the Bitcoin address of his next transactions to avoid address re-use. Address re-use is not forbidden, but it is highly discouraged. After having modified the Bitcoin addresses, there is nothing left for the user to do except watch the bitcoins appear in his Bitcoin wallet every day! The Bitcoins are sent right away at the time of purchase. Bitcoin transactions using the Recurring Buy feature will have the lowest possible Bitcoin network transaction fee to avoid creating upwards pressure on the fee market impact other network users. ￼ ￼ What users see after first activating a schedule The Recurring Buy schedule will be cancelled automatically at the time of the next purchase if the balance is insufficient. He can add more funds to his balance whenever he wants. The Recurring Buy schedule will continue until the target amount is reached or until the account balance runs out. The user can cancel his Recurring Buy schedule whenever he wants. If the user wants to change the amount or duration of the schedule, he can simply cancel his current schedule and create a new one. Each schedule has a unique identifier so that users can keep track of various schedules they perform over time. Once a schedule is completed, either fully or partially, a summary will be provided which shows the number of transactions completed, the average acquisition cost, the total amount of Bitcoin purchase and the total amount of fiat spent. Useful for accounting! ￼ ￼ A partially completed Recurring Buy schedule cancelled after 9 days due to insufficient funds Though process in making our design choices Recurring Bitcoin Purchases vs. Recurring Payment/Funding The first and most important design choice was to separate the processes of funding the account balance with fiat (the payment) from the process of buying Bitcoin (the purchase). Users do not need to make a bank transaction every time they do a Bitcoin purchase. They first fund their account manually on their own terms, and the recurring purchases are debited from their pre-funded account balance. Another approach would have been to automatically withdraw fiat from the user’s bank account (e.g. a direct debit or subscription billing) for each transaction (like our friends at Amber) or to instruct the user to set-up recurring payments to Bull Bitcoin from their bank account (like our friends at Bittr). The downside of these strategies is that they require numerous bank transactions which increases transaction fees and the likelihood of triggering fraud and compliance flags at the user’s bank. However, this does remove the user’s need to keep larger amounts of fiat on the exchange and reduces the friction of having to make manual bank payments. Bull Bitcoin is currently working on a separate “Recurring Funding” feature that will automatically debit fiat from the user’s bank accounts using a separate recurring schedule with a minimum frequency of once a week, with a target of once every two weeks or once a month to match the user’s income frequency. This can, and will, be used in combination from the “Recurring Buy” feature, but both can be used separately. The ultimate experience that we wish to achieve is that users will automatically set aside, each paycheck (two weeks), a small budget to invest in Bitcoin using the “Recurring Funding” feature which is sufficient to refill their account balance for the next two weeks of daily recurring purchases. Frequency of transactions The second important decision was about customizing the frequency of the schedule. We decided to make it “each day” only. This is specifically to ensure users have a large enough sample size and remain consistent which are the two key components to a successful dollar-cost averaging strategy. A higher amount of recurring transactions (larger sample size) will result in the user’s average acquisition being closer to the actual average Bitcoin price over that period of time. Weekly or monthly recurring purchases can provide the same effectiveness if they are performed over a duration of time which is 7x longer (weekly) or 30x longer (monthly). It is our belief that the longer the duration of the schedule, the more likely the user is to cancel the recurring buy schedule in order to “buy the dip”. Dollar-cost averaging is boring, and watching sats appear in the wallet every day is a good way to reduce the temptation of breaking the consistency. We do not force this on users: they can still cancel the schedule if they want and go all-in. We consider it more of a gentle nudge in the right direction. Frequency of withdrawals (one purchase = one bitcoin transaction) This is one of the most interesting design choices because it is a trade-off between scalability (costs), privacy and custody. Ultimately, we decided that trust-minimization (no custody) and privacy were the most important at the expense of long-term scalability and costs. Realistically, Bitcoin network fees are currently low and we expect them to remain low for the near future, although they will certainly increase massively over the long-term. One of the ways we mitigated this problem was to select the smallest possible transaction fee for transactions done in the context of Recurring Buy, separate from regular transaction fees on regular Bitcoin purchases (which, at Bull Bitcoin, are very generous). Note: users must merge their UTXOs periodically to avoid being stuck with a large amount of small UTXOs in the future when fees become more expensive. This is what makes me most uncomfortable about our solution. I hope to also solve this problem, but it is ultimately something Bitcoin wallets need to address as well. Perhaps an automated tool in Bitcoin wallets which merges UTXOs periodically when the fees are low? Food for thought. When transaction fees and scalability becomes a problem for us, it will have become a problem for all other small payments on the Bitcoin network, and we will use whatever solution is most appropriate at that time. It is possible that Lightning Network ends up being the scalability solution, although currently it is logistically very difficult to perform automated payouts to users using Lightning, particularly recurring payouts, which require users to create Bolt11 invoices and to convince other peers in the network to open channels and fund channels with them for inbound capacity. These are the general trade-offs: Send a Bitcoin transaction for every purchase (what we do) - Most expensive for the exchange - Most expensive for the user (many UTXOs) - Increases Bitcoin Network UTXOs set - Inefficient usage of block space - Most private - Zero custody risk Keep custody of the Bitcoin until the schedule is over or when the user requests a withdrawal (what Coinbase does) - No additional costs -No blockchain bloating - Same level of privacy - High custody risk Batch user transactions together at fixed intervals (e.g. every day) - Slightly lower transaction costs for the exchange - Same costs for the user - Slightly more efficient use of block space - Same level of UTXO set bloating - Much lower level of privacy - Slightly higher custody risk Single address vs multiple addresses vs HD keys (xpubs) The final decision we had to make was preventing address re-use and allowing users to provide an HD key (xpub) rather than a Bitcoin address. Address re-use generally decreases privacy because it becomes possible for third-party blockchain snoops to figure out that multiple Bitcoin transactions are going to the same user. But we must also consider that even transactions are sent to multiple addresses, particularly if they are small amounts, it is highly likely that the user will “merge” the coins into a single transaction when spending from his wallet. It is always possible for users to prevent this using Coinjoin, in which there is a large privacy gain in not re-using addresses compared to using a single address. It is important to note that this does not decrease privacy compared to regular Bitcoin purchases on Bull Bitcoin outside of “Recurring Buy”. Whether a user has one transaction of $1000 going to a Bitcoin address or 10x$100 going that same Bitcoin address doesn’t reveal any new information about the user other than the fact he is likely using a dollar-cost averaging mechanism. It is rather a missed opportunity to gain more privacy. Another smaller decision was whether or not we should ask the user to provide all his addresses upfront before being able to activate the schedule, which would completely remove the possibility of address re-use. We ultimately decided that because this process can take a very long time (imagine doing Recurring Buy every day for 365 days) it is better to let the user do this at his own pace, particularly because he may eventually change his Bitcoin wallet and forget to change the addresses in the schedule. There are also various legitimate use-cases where users have no choice but to re-use the same address . A discussion for another day! Asking the user to provide an XPUB is a great solution to address re-use. The exchange must dynamically derive a new Bitcoin address for the user at each transaction, which is not really a technical challenge. As far as I can tell, Bittr is the only Bitcoin exchange exchange which has implemented this technique. Kudos! It is however important that the user doesn’t reuse this XPUB for anything else, otherwise the exchange can track his entire wallet balance and transaction history. It is worth noting that not all wallets support HD keys or have HD keys by default (e.g. Bitcoin Core). So it is imperative that we offer the option to give Bitcoin addresses. We believe there is a lot of potential to create wallet coordination mechanisms between senders and recipients which would make this process a lot more streamlined. In the future, we will certainly allow users to submit an XPUB instead of having to manually input a different address. But for now, we wanted to reduce the complexity to a minimum. Conclusion: personal thoughts I have a somewhat unique perspective on Bitcoin users due to the fact that I worked at the Bitcoin Embassy for almost 4 years. During this time, I had the opportunity to discuss face-to-face with thousands of Bitcoin investors. One of my favourite anecdotes is a nocoiner showing up at our office in December 2013 with a bag full of cash attempting to buy Bitcoin, “I know how to read a chart”, furious after being turned away. Many people who went “all-in” for short-term gains (usually altcoins) would show up to the Bitcoin Embassy office months later with heart-breaking stories. This isn’t what I signed up for. My goal is to help people opt-out of fiat and, ultimately, to destroy the fiat currency system entirely. This instilled in me a deep-rooted concern for gambling addiction and strong aversion to “trading”. I do not believe that Bitcoin exchanges should blindly follow “what the market dictates”. More often than not, what dictates the market is bad habits users formed because of the other Bitcoin services they used in the past, what other people are used to, and what feels familiar. Running a Bitcoin company should be inseparable from educating users on the best practices, and embedding these best practices into the user experience is the best way for them to learn. Another important anecdote which motivated me to build a dollar-cost averaging tool is a person very close to me that had made the decision to buy Bitcoin, but was so stressed out about when was the right time to buy that they ended up not buying Bitcoin for a whole 6 months after funding their Bull Bitcoin account. That person eventually gave up and ultimately invested a large amount all at once. In hindsight, it turned out to be one of the worst possible times to invest in Bitcoin during that year. Investing in Bitcoin can, and should be, a positive and rewarding experience. Buying Bitcoin every day is the right strategy, but it is not necessarily lead to the best outcome. The reality is that the best time to buy Bitcoin is at when market hits rock bottom (obviously). Sometimes, the upside from buying the dip can be much bigger than the risk (e.g. when the price dropped below $200 in 2015). But these are exceptions rather than the rule. And the cost of chasing dips is very high: stress, investing time and mental energy, and the very real psychological trauma which results from making bad trading decisions. Ultimately, it’s better to do the right thing than being lucky, but it’s not always a bad idea to cheat on your dollar-cost averaging from time to time if you can live with the costs and consequences. Yours truly, Francis
Something small I noticed on my LG G5 and a little experiment
Recently, two weeks ago friday, I broke my phone. I was using an LG G5, a flagship from 5 years ago because removable battery, expandable storage, easier to open up and clean when I spill my Arizona Tea on it. Before I broke my phone, I think I mentioned it in a random comment, I found out Facebook had some settings which made me uncomfortable, namely microphone and ability to overwrite system settings. I also found out Facebook paid LG money to make Facebook built in and irremovable (without resorting to other stuff like rooting that is). When I was looking around for an new phone, I decided to buy another LG G5, but, one detail that I missed, was that even the same phone (ie same year and specific phone in the lineup) can have different versions for different markets because different frequencies and ways of connecting. Since Canada is just America-lite version, the Canadian version works. In fact, I realized I had the Canadian LG G5, the H831. Since Canada is a test market for the USA, I figured maybe Facebook realized paying other companies to put their app on their phones is a terrible idea since nobody uses Facebook anymore (not really, one of my college professors uses it. I remind him that its really bad idea, and at the very least download some tools to mitigate the damage.) Now the LG G5 I bought recently, was the American ATT version, the H820, which you would think would be worse, and it is (more crapware, but granted a lot of it is a bunch of smaller apps that don't up as much space as I anticipated), but at least no Facebook. For another reason, which is a long story itself, but I have another fairly cheap 120 dollar android, and since I no longer need it, I decided to do a little experiment. I'm going to use that daily and see how long it takes before Google figures out who I am based on advertising. I'm not going to login into any of the accounts, and Google algorithm magic might figure it out before I do or they know, but I actually wonder. I went through the app permissions and reduced permissions dramatically, and I mainly use it to lookup stuff on Wikipedia and google, and play candy crush since it was built in (but you can uninstall it like any other app though, I guess taking advantage of convenience, while not paying extra to make it harder to remove since its not worth that it seems.) I use firefox, facebook and google containers, ghostery, and noscript so hopefully its harder to track me. While I have more or less given up on privacy in terms of absolutes or putting in a lot of effort, I still try to use simple tools since I don't have the time, money, or energy. Now if I really wanted to hide my trail, I would at the minimum be using Linux with Tor and a VPN, but that's basically telling everyone else that I'm committing a crime lol, or maybe sending money via bitcoin to dissidents overseas in authoritarian regimes.
Imagine if there was one desk that all stories could cross so that, at 4am, a media plan could be decided upon and disseminated where all news outlets coordinated to set the goalposts of debate and hyper focused on specific issues to drive a narrative to control how you vote and how you spend money; where Internet shills were given marching orders in tandem to what was shown on television, printed in newspapers and spread throughout articles on the World Wide Web. https://i.imgur.com/Elnci0M.png In the past, we had Operation Mockingbird, where the program was supremely confident that it could control stories around the world, even in instructions to cover up any story about a possible “Yeti” sighting, should it turn out they were real. https://i.imgur.com/121LXqy.png If, in 1959, the government was confident in its ability to control a story about a Yeti, then what is their level of confidence in controlling stories, today? https://i.imgur.com/jQFVYew.png https://i.imgur.com/ZKMYGJj.png In fact, we have a recent example of a situation similar to the Yeti. When Bill Clinton and Loretta Lynch met on the TARMAC to spike the Hillary email investigation, the FBI was so confident it wasn’t them, that their entire focus was finding the leaker, starting with searching within the local PD. We have documentation that demonstrates the state of mind of the confidence the upper levels of the FBI have when dealing with the media. https://i.imgur.com/IbjDOkI.png https://i.imgur.com/NH86ozU.png The marriage between mainstream media and government is a literal one and this arrangement is perfectly legal. https://i.imgur.com/OAd4vpf.png But, this problem extends far beyond politics; the private sector, the scientific community, even advice forums are shilled heavily. People are paid to cause anxiety, recommend people break up and otherwise sow depression and nervousness. This is due to a correlating force that employs “systems psychodynamics”, focusing on “tension centered” strategies to create “organizational paradoxes” by targeting people’s basic assumptions about the world around them to create division and provide distraction. https://i.imgur.com/6OEWYFN.png https://i.imgur.com/iG4sdD4.png https://i.imgur.com/e89Rx6B.png https://i.imgur.com/uotm9Cg.png https://i.imgur.com/74wt9tD.png In this day and age, it is even easier to manage these concepts and push a controlled narrative from a central figure than it has ever been. Allen & Co is a “boutique investment firm” that managed the merger between Disney and Fox and operates as an overseeing force for nearly all media and Internet shill armies, while having it’s fingers in sports, social media, video games, health insurance, etc. https://i.imgur.com/zlpBh3c.png https://i.imgur.com/e5ZvFFJ.png Former director of the CIA and Paul Brennan’s former superior George Tenet, holds the reigns of Allen & Co. The cast of characters involves a lot of the usual suspects. https://i.imgur.com/3OlrX7G.png
In 1973, Allen & Company bought a stake in Columbia Pictures. When the business was sold in 1982 to Coca-Cola, it netted a significant profit. Since then, Herbert Allen, Jr. has had a place on Coca-Cola's board of directors. Since its founding in 1982, the Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference has regularly drawn high-profile attendees such as Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Rupert Murdoch, Barry Diller, Michael Eisner, Oprah Winfrey, Robert Johnson, Andy Grove, Richard Parsons, and Donald Keough. Allen & Co. was one of ten underwriters for the Google initial public offering in 2004. In 2007, Allen was sole advisor to Activision in its $18 billion merger with Vivendi Games. In 2011, the New York Mets hired Allen & Co. to sell a minority stake of the team. That deal later fell apart. In November 2013, Allen & Co. was one of seven underwriters on the initial public offering of Twitter. Allen & Co. was the adviser of Facebook in its $19 billion acquisition of WhatsApp in February 2014. In 2015, Allen & Co. was the advisor to Time Warner in its $80 billion 2015 merger with Charter Communications, AOL in its acquisition by Verizon, Centene Corporation in its $6.8 billion acquisition of Health Net, and eBay in its separation from PayPal. In 2016, Allen & Co was the lead advisor to Time Warner in its $108 billion acquisition by AT&T, LinkedIn for its merger talks with Microsoft, Walmart in its $3.3 billion purchase of Jet.com, and Verizon in its $4.8 billion acquisition of Yahoo!. In 2017, Allen & Co. was the advisor to Chewy.com in PetSmart’s $3.35 billion purchase of the online retailer.
Previous conference guests have included Bill and Melinda Gates, Warren and Susan Buffett, Tony Blair, Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Allen alumnus and former Philippine Senator Mar Roxas, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt, Quicken Loans Founder & Chairman Dan Gilbert, Yahoo! co-founder Jerry Yang, financier George Soros, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Media Mogul Rupert Murdoch, eBay CEO Meg Whitman, BET founder Robert Johnson, Time Warner Chairman Richard Parsons, Nike founder and chairman Phil Knight, Dell founder and CEO Michael Dell, NBA player LeBron James, Professor and Entrepreneur Sebastian Thrun, Governor Chris Christie, entertainer Dan Chandler, Katharine Graham of The Washington Post, Diane Sawyer, InterActiveCorp Chairman Barry Diller, Linkedin co-founder Reid Hoffman, entrepreneur Wences Casares, EXOR and FCA Chairman John Elkann, Sandro Salsano from Salsano Group, and Washington Post CEO Donald E. Graham, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, and Oprah Winfrey.
https://i.imgur.com/VZ0OtFa.png George Tenet, with the reigns of Allen & Co in his hands, is able to single-handedly steer the entire Mockingbird apparatus from cable television to video games to Internet shills from a singular location determining the spectrum of allowable debate. Not only are they able to target people’s conscious psychology, they can target people’s endocrine systems with food and pornography; where people are unaware, on a conscious level, of how their moods and behavior are being manipulated. https://i.imgur.com/mA3MzTB.png
"The problem with George Tenet is that he doesn't seem to care to get his facts straight. He is not meticulous. He is willing to make up stories that suit his purposes and to suppress information that does not." "Sadly but fittingly, 'At the Center of the Storm' is likely to remind us that sometimes what lies at the center of a storm is a deafening silence."
https://i.imgur.com/YHMJnnP.png Tenet joined President-elect Bill Clinton's national security transition team in November 1992. Clinton appointed Tenet Senior Director for Intelligence Programs at the National Security Council, where he served from 1993 to 1995. Tenet was appointed Deputy Director of Central Intelligence in July 1995. Tenet held the position as the DCI from July 1997 to July 2004. Citing "personal reasons," Tenet submitted his resignation to President Bush on June 3, 2004. Tenet said his resignation "was a personal decision and had only one basis—in fact, the well-being of my wonderful family—nothing more and nothing less. In February 2008, he became a managing director at investment bank Allen & Company. https://i.imgur.com/JnGHqOS.png We have the documentation that demonstrates what these people could possibly be doing with all of these tools of manipulation at their fingertips. The term for it is “covert political action” for which all media put before your eyes is used to serve as a veneer… a reality TV show facade of a darker modus operandum. https://i.imgur.com/vZC4D29.png https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intelligence/kent-csi/vol36no3/html/v36i3a05p_0001.htm
It is now clear that we are facing an implacable enemy whose avowed objective is world domination by whatever means and at whatever costs. There are no rules in such a game. Hitherto acceptable norms of human conduct do not apply. If the US is to survive, longstanding American concepts of "fair play" must be reconsidered. We must develop effective espionage and counterespionage services and must learn to subvert, sabotage and destroy our enemies by more clever, more sophisticated means than those used against us. It may become necessary that the American people be made acquainted with, understand and support this fundamentally repugnant philosophy.
Intelligence historian Jeffrey T. Richelson says the S.A. has covered a variety of missions. The group, which recently was reorganized, has had about 200 officers, divided among several groups: the Special Operations Group; the Foreign Training Group, which trains foreign police and intelligence officers; the Propaganda and Political Action Group, which handles disinformation; the Computer Operations Group, which handles information warfare; and the Proprietary Management Staff, which manages whatever companies the CIA sets up as covers for the S.A.
…Those operations we inaugurated in the years 1955-7 are still secret, but, for present purposes, I can say all that’s worth saying about them in a few sentences – after, that is, I offer these few words of wisdom. The ‘perfect’ political action operation is, by definition, uneventful. Nothing ‘happens’ in it. It is a continuing arrangement, neither a process nor a series of actions proceeding at a starting point and ending with a conclusion.
CIA FBI NSA Personnel Active in Scientology: https://i.imgur.com/acu2Eti.png When you consider the number of forces that can be contained within a single “political action group” in the form on a “boutique investment firm,” where all sides of political arguments are predetermined by a selected group of actors who have been planted, compromised or leveraged in some way in order to control the way they spin their message. https://i.imgur.com/tU4MD4S.png The evidence of this coordinated effort is overwhelming and the “consensus” that you see on TV, in sports, in Hollywood, in the news and on the Internet is fabricated.
Under the guise of a fake account a posting is made which looks legitimate and is towards the truth is made - but the critical point is that it has a VERY WEAK PREMISE without substantive proof to back the posting. Once this is done then under alternative fake accounts a very strong position in your favour is slowly introduced over the life of the posting. It is IMPERATIVE that both sides are initially presented, so the uninformed reader cannot determine which side is the truth. As postings and replies are made the stronger 'evidence' or disinformation in your favour is slowly 'seeded in.' Thus the uninformed reader will most likely develop the same position as you, and if their position is against you their opposition to your posting will be most likely dropped. However in some cases where the forum members are highly educated and can counter your disinformation with real facts and linked postings, you can then 'abort' the consensus cracking by initiating a 'forum slide.'
When you find yourself feeling like common sense and common courtesy aren’t as common as they ought to be, it is because there is a massive psychological operation controlled from the top down to ensure that as many people as possible are caught in a “tension based” mental loop that is inflicted on them by people acting with purpose to achieve goals that are not in the interest of the general population, but a method of operating in secret and corrupt manner without consequences. Notice that Jeffrey Katzenberg, of Disney, who is intertwined with Allen & Co funds the Young Turks. He is the perfect example of the relationship between media and politics.
Katzenberg has also been involved in politics. With his active support of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, he was called "one of Hollywood's premier political kingmakers and one of the Democratic Party's top national fundraisers."
Last week, former DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg’s new mobile entertainment company WndrCo was part of a $20 million funding round in TYT Network, which oversees 30 news and commentary shows covering politics, pop culture, sports and more. This includes the flagship “The Young Turks” program that streams live on YouTube every day. Other investors in the round included venture capital firms Greycroft Partners, E.ventures and 3L Capital, which led the round. This brings total funding for Young Turks to $24 million.
Hollywood activism long has been depicted as a club controlled by a handful of powerful white men: Katzenberg, Spielberg, Lear, David Geffen, Haim Saban and Bob Iger are the names most often mentioned. But a new generation of power brokers is ascendant, including J.J. Abrams and his wife, Katie McGrath, cited for their personal donations and bundling skills; Shonda Rhimes, who held a get-out-the-vote rally at USC's Galen Center on Sept. 28 that drew 10,000 people; CAA's Darnell Strom, who has hosted events for Nevada congresswoman Jacky Rosen and Arizona congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema; and former Spotify executive Troy Carter, who held three fundraisers for Maryland gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous (Carter also was a fundraiser for President Obama).
Viacom, after splitting off from Les Moonves Les Moonves ' CBS , still holds Paramount Pictures, and that movie studio in December agreed to acquire DreamWorks SKG, the creative shop founded by the Hollywood triumvirate of Steven Spielberg, David Geffen and Jeffrey Katzenberg (a former exec at The Walt Disney Co.). DreamWorks Animation had been spun off into a separate company. Now it's time for Freston to make back some money--and who better to do a little business with than George Soros? The billionaire financier leads a consortium of Soros Strategic Partners LP and Dune Entertainment II LLC, which together are buying the DreamWorks library--a collection of 59 flicks, including Saving Private Ryan, Gladiator, and American Beauty.
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