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Cryptocurrency Staking As It Stands Today
Everyone and his grandma know what cryptocurrency mining is. Well, they may not indeed know what it actually is, in technical terms, but they have definitely heard the phrase as it is hard to miss the news about mining sucking in energy like a black hole gobbles up matter. On the other hand, staking, its little bro, has mostly been hiding in the shadows until recently. by StealthEX Today, with DeFi making breaking news across the cryptoverse, staking has become a new buzzword in the blockchain space and beyond, along with the fresh entries to the crypto asset investor’s vocabulary such as “yield farming”, “rug pull”, “total value locked”, and similar arcane stuff. If you are not scared off yet, then read on. Though we can’t promise you won’t be.
Cryptocurrency staking, little brother of crypto mining
There are two conceptually different approaches to achieving consensus in a distributed network, which comes down to transaction validation in the case of a cryptocurrency blockchain. You are most certainly aware of cryptocurrency mining, which is used with cryptocurrencies based on the Proof-of-Work (PoW) consensus algorithm such as Bitcoin and Ether (so far). Here miners compete against each other with their computational resources for finding the next block on the blockchain and getting a reward. Another approach, known as the Proof-of-Stake (PoS) consensus mechanism, is based not on the race among computational resources as is the case with PoW, but on the competition of balances, or stakes. In simple words, every holder of at least one stake, a minimally sufficient amount of crypto, can actively participate in creating blocks and thus also earn rewards under such network consensus model. This process came to be known as staking, and it can be loosely thought of as mining in the PoS environment. With that established, let’s now see why, after so many years of what comes pretty close to oblivion, it has turned into such a big thing.
Why has staking become so popular, all of a sudden?
The renewed popularity of staking came with the explosive expansion of decentralized finance, or DeFi for short. Essentially, staking is one of the ways to tap into the booming DeFi market, allowing users to earn staking rewards on a class of digital assets that DeFi provides easy access to. Technically, it is more correct to speak of DeFi staking as a new development of an old concept that enjoys its second coming today, or new birth if you please. So what’s the point? With old-school cryptocurrency staking, you would have to manually set up and run a validating node on a cryptocurrency network that uses a PoS consensus algo, having to keep in mind all the gory details of a specific protocol so as not to shoot yourself in the foot. This is where you should have already started to enjoy jitters if you were to take this avenu entirely on your own. Just think of it as having to run a Bitcoin mining rig for some pocket money. Put simply, DeFi staking frees you from all that hassle. At this point, let’s recall what decentralized finance is and what it strives to achieve. In broad terms, DeFi aims at offering the same products and services available today in the traditional financial world, but in a trutless and decentralized way. From this perspective, DeFi staking reseblems conventional banking where people put their money in savings accounts to earn interest. Indeed, you could try to lend out your shekels all by yourself, with varying degrees of success, but banks make it far more convenient and secure. The maturation of the DeFi space advanced the emergence of staking pools and Staking-as-a-Service (SaaS) providers that run nodes for PoS cryptocurrencies on your behalf, allowing you to stake your coins and receive staking rewards. In today’s world, interest rates on traditional savings accounts are ridiculous, while government spending, a handy euphemism for relentless money printing aka fiscal stimulus, is already translating into runaway inflation. Against this backdrop, it is easy to see why staking has been on the rise.
Okay, what are my investment options?
Now that we have gone through the basics of the state-of-the-art cryptocurrency staking, you may ask what are the options actually available for a common crypto enthusiast to earn from it? Many high-caliber exchanges like Binance or Bitfinex as well as online wallets such as Coinbase offer staking of PoS coins. In most cases, you don’t even need to do anything aside from simply holding your coins there to start receiving rewards as long as you are eligible and meet the requirements. This is called exchange staking. Further, there are platforms that specialize in staking digital assets. These are known as Staking-as-a-Service providers, while this form of staking is often referred to as soft staking. They enable even non-tech savvy customers to stake their PoS assets through a third party service, with all the technical stuff handled by the service provider. Most of these services are custodial, with the implication being that you no longer control your coins after you stake them. Figment Networks, MyContainer, Stake Capital are easily the most recognized among SaaS providers. However, while exchange staking and soft staking have everything to do with finance, they have little to nothing to do with the decentralized part of it, which is, for the record, the primary value proposition of the entire DeFi ecosystem. The point is, you have to deposit the stakable coins into your wallet with these services. And how can it then be considered decentralized? Nah, because DeFi is all about going trustless, no third parties, and, in a narrow sense, no staking that entails the transfer of private keys. This form of staking is called non-custodial, and it is of particular interest from the DeFi point of view. If you read our article about DeFi, you already know how it is possible, so we won’t dwell on this (if, on the off chance, you didn’t, it’s time to catch up). As DeFi continues to evolve, platforms that allow trustless staking with which you maintain full custody of your coins are set to emerge as well. The space is relatively new, with Staked being probably the first in the field. This type of staking allows you to remain in complete control of your funds, and it perfectly matches DeFi’s ethos, goals and ideals. Still, our story wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t mention utility tokens where staking may serve a whole range of purposes other than supporting the token network or obtaining passive income. For example, with platforms that deploy blockchain oracles such as Nexus Mutual, a decentralized insurance platform, staking tokens is necessary for encouraging correct reporting on certain events or reaching a consensus on a specific claim. In the case of Nexus Mutual, its membership token NXM is used by the token holders, the so-called assessors, for validating insurance claims. If they fail to assess claims correctly, their stakes are burned. Another example is Particl Marketplace, a decentralized eCommerce platform, which designed a standalone cryptocurrency dubbed PART. It can be used both as a cryptocurrency in its own right outside the marketplace and as a stakable utility token giving stakers voting rights facilitating the decentralized governance of the entire platform. Yet another example is the instant non-custodial cryptocurrency exchange service, ChangeNOW, that also recently came up with its stakable token, NOW Token, to be used as an internal currency and a means of earning passive income.
Nowadays, with most economies on pause or going downhill, staking has become a new avenue for generating passive income outside the traditional financial system. As DeFi continues to eat away at services previously being exclusively provided by conventional financial and banking sectors, we should expect more people to get involved in this activity along with more businesses dipping their toes into these uncharted waters. Achieving network consensus, establishing decentralized governance, and earning passive income are only three use cases for cryptocurrency staking. No matter how important they are, and they certainly are, there are many other uses along different dimensions that staking can be quite helpful and instrumental for. Again, we are mostly in uncharted waters here, and we can’t reliably say what the future holds for us. On the other hand, we can go and invent it. This should count as next. And remember if you need to exchange your coins StealthEX is here for you. We provide a selection of more than 250 coins and constantly updating the list so that our customers will find a suitable option. Our service does not require registration and allows you to remain anonymous. Why don’t you check it out? Just go to StealthEX and follow these easy steps: ✔ Choose the pair and the amount for your exchange. For example ETH to BTC. ✔ Press the “Start exchange” button. ✔ Provide the recipient address to which the coins will be transferred. ✔ Move your cryptocurrency for the exchange. ✔ Receive your coins! The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author. Every investment and trading move involves risk. You should conduct your own research when making a decision. Original article was posted onhttps://stealthex.io/blog/2020/09/08/cryptocurrency-staking-as-it-stands-today/
Trying to figure out best way to execute HODL plan -- Any Input Greatly Appreciated!
I posted this in the binance sub yesterday and received no responses, so today I tried to post in the bitcoinbeginners sub and my post was instantly removed for who knows why, so now I'm here, really hoping to get some basic insight!!! I'm pretty new to the cryptocurrency world, but after reading up on VeChain and a few other coins, I've become interested in investing one or two thousand between a few different coins. I'm not planning to do any day trading or mining. What my newbie level of research has brought to my attention is that if I want to make a full round trip of investing a few thousand, letting it mature, and say withdrawing a significant portion back into fiat USD (live in US) in a few years, what would be the best way to go about that? My current idea is something along the lines of:
Initially exchanging let's say $1000 USD for bitcoin via funding from my checking account through something like Gemini or Coinbase (Can't do that directly with binance.us right?).
From there I could create a binance account and exchange this bitcoin into VET and a few other coins.
Next I would create my own wallet, let's say with Exodus (or some other wallet: recommendations?) and store all the coins there for a number of months or years.
Finally, when I'm ready to cash out I would convert all my coins back to bitcoin (using binance again?) and transfer them back to the initial place of purchase (gemini/coinbase/betterplace?) and instantly convert that to fiat USD and then ach or wire that back to my checking account.
Please tell me if I am thinking about this all wrong? How would you execute this type of plan? p.s. Extra newby question: would a wallet like exodus have high fees for the transfers out when i'm ready to cashout in many months/years? If you made it this far, thanks for reading through! Any thoughts are appreciated!
I applied price discovery algorithms to 5 Min OHLCV data from Bitmex and CME contracts and Bitstamp, Coinbase, HitBTC, Kraken, Poloniex, Binance, and OkEx BTCUSD/BTCUSDT markets from March 2016 to May 2020. Some exciting results I got was:
Before the 2017/18 bull run, Bitfinex dominated the price discovery process. They started the run. But as the price increased, trades on other exchanges, Binance and Bitstamp played a more dominant role in leading the price up.
Since then, CME Contracts and Bitmex contracts have had an increasing role in price discovery. Today Bitmex and CME Contracts play the most substantial role in determining the direction of Bitcoin price.
In 2020, market dominance by Bitmex has been negatively correlated with price. Dominance by Bitfinex, Huobi and OkCoin has had high positive correlation with price.
Price discovery is the overall process of setting the price of an asset. Price discovery algorithms identify the leader exchanges whose traders define the price. Two approaches are most famous for use in Price Discovery. Gonzalo and Granger (1995) and Hasbrouck (1995). But they assume random walk, and a common efficient price. I do not feel comfortable assuming random walk and common efficient price in Bitcoin Markets. So I used this little know method by De Blasis (2019) for this analysis. This work assumes that "the fastest price to reflect new information releases a price signal to the other slower price series." I thought this was valid in our market. It uses Markov Chains to measure Price Discovery. Without going into the mathematical details the summary steps used was:
Data is first grouped into a daily interval. Then inside each daily interval's 5-minute candles, the change in prices between the current time t and previous time t-1 is calculated. The difference across the same time t across all exchanges in a given day is juxtaposed to create an initial matrix.
The initial matrix is used to create a Transition Matrix, which measures the probability of price changing to something else at time t+1 for its state at t.
Then other Markov Chain based algorithms are used to measure the influence an exchange at time t had over all other exchanges' price movement at time t+1 individually.
Reduction and normalization is done to this data. In the end, each exchange receives a single number that sums to 1 for a given day.
De Blasis (2019) names this number Price Leadership Share (PLS). High PLS indicates a large role in price discovery. As the sum of the numbers is 1, they can be looked at as a percentage contribution. I recommend reading the original paper if you are interested to know more about the mathematical detail.
Andersen (2000) argues that 5 Minute window provides the best trade-off between getting enough data and avoiding noise. In one of the first work on Bitcoin's Price Discovery, Brandvold et al. 2015 had used 5M window. So I obtained 5M OHLCV data using the following sources:
Poloniex, Bitfinex, Binance and HitBTC: Exchange's API through CCXT.
CME: Okay, this was was supposed to be tricky and expensive. I broke a TOS and scraped the data for free, removing the expensive part from the equation. I will not go into detail about where I scraped this data.
Futures data are different from other data because multiple futures contract trades at the same time. I formed a single data from the multiple time series by selecting the nearest contract until it was three days from expiration. I used the next contract when the contract was three days from expiration. This approach was advocated by Booth et al ( 1999 )
I can't embed the chart on reddit so open this https://warproxxx.github.io/static/price_discovery.html In the figure above, each colored line shows the total influence the exchange had towards the discovery of Bitcoin Price on that day. Its axis is on the left. The black line shows a moving average of the bitcoin price at the close in Bitfinex for comparison. The chart was created by plotting the EMA of price and dominance with a smoothing factor of 0.1. This was done to eliminate the noise. Let's start looking from the beginning. We start with a slight Bitfinex dominance at the start. When the price starts going up, Bitfinex's influence does too. This was the time large Tether printing was attributed to the rise of price by many individuals. But Bitfinex's influence wanes down as the price starts rising (remember that the chart is an exponential moving average. Its a lagging indicator). Afterward, exchanges like Binance and Bitstamp increase their role, and there isn't any single leader in the run. So although Bitfinex may have been responsible for the initial pump trades on other exchanges were responsible for the later rally. CME contracts were added to our analysis in February 2018. Initially, they don't have much influence. On a similar work Alexandar and Heck (2019) noted that initially CBOE contracts had more influence. CBOE later delisted Bitcoin futures so I couldn't get that data. Overall, Bitmex and CME contracts have been averaging around 50% of the role in price discovery. To make the dominance clear, look at this chart where I add Bitmex Futures and Perp contract's dominance figure to create a single dominance index. There bitmex leads 936 of the total 1334 days (Bitfinex leads 298 days and coinbase and binance get 64 and 6 days). That is a lot. One possible reason for this might be Bitmex's low trading fee. Bitmex has a very generous -0.025% maker fee and price discovery tend to occur primarily in the market with smaller trading costs (Booth et al, 1999). It may also be because our market is mature. In mature markets, futures lead the price discovery.
Table 1: Days Lead
Out of 1334 days in the analysis, Bitmex futures leads the discovery in 571 days or nearly 43% of the duration. Bitfinex leads for 501 days. Bitfinex's high number is due to its extreme dominance in the early days.
Table 2: Correlation between the close price and Exchange's dominance index
Binance, Huobi, CME, and OkCoin had the most significant correlation with the close price. Bitmex, Coinbase, Bitfinex, and Bitstamp's dominance were negatively correlated. This was very interesting. To know more, I captured a yearwise correlation.
Table 3: Yearwise Correlation between the close price and Exchange's dominance index Price movement is pretty complicated. If one factor, like a dominant exchange, could explain it, everyone would be making money trading. With this disclaimer out of the way, let us try to make some conclusions. This year Bitfinex, Huobi, and OkEx, Tether based exchanges, discovery power have shown a high correlation with the close price. This means that when the traders there become successful, price rises. When the traders there are failing, Bitmex traders dominate and then the price is falling. I found this interesting as I have been seeing the OkEx whale who has been preceding price rises in this sub. I leave the interpretation of other past years to the reader.
My analysis does not include market data for other derivative exchanges like Huobi, OkEx, Binance, and Deribit. So, all future market's influence may be going to Bitmex. I did not add their data because they started having an impact recently. A more fair assessment may be to conclude this as the new power of derivative markets instead of attributing it as the power of Bitmex. But Bitmex has dominated futures volume most of the time (until recently). And they brought the concept of perpetual swaps.
There is a lot in this data. If you are making a trading algo think there is some edge here. Someday I will backtest some trading logic based on this data. Then I will have more info and might write more. But, this analysis was enough for to shift my focus from a Bitfinex based trading algorithm to a Bitmex based one. It has been giving me good results. If you have any good ideas that you want me to write about or discuss further please comment. If there is enough interest in this measurement, I can setup a live interface that provides the live value.
Trying to figure out best way to execute multiple transactions with smallest amount of fees for longer term hold
I'm pretty new to the cryptocurrency world, but after reading up on VeChain and a few other coins, I've become interested in investing one or two thousand between a few different coins. I'm not planning to do any day trading or mining. What my newbie level of research has brought to my attention is that if I want to make a full round trip of investing a few thousand, letting it mature, and say withdrawing a significant portion back into fiat USD in a few years, what would be the best way to go about that? My current idea is something along the lines of:
Initially exchanging let's say $1000 worth of bitcoin via funding from my checking account via gemini or coinbase (Can't do that directly with binance right?).
From there I could create a binance account and exchange this bitcoin into VET and a few other coins.
Next I would create my own wallet, let's say with Exodus (or some other wallet: recommendations?) and store all the coins there for a number of months or years.
Finally, when I'm ready to cash out I would convert all my coins back to bitcoin (using binance again?) and transfer them back to the initial place of purchase (gemini/coinbase/betterplace?) and instantly convert that to fiat USD and then ach or wire that back to my checking account.
Please tell me if I am thinking about this all wrong? How would you execute this type of plan? p.s. Extra newby question: would a wallet like exodus have high fees for the transfers out when i'm ready to cashout in many months/years? If you made it this far, thanks for reading through! Any thoughts are appreciated!
You made it! :) First up, SORRY! This has been a late post, I have my reasons don't question them (if you must know I'll be posting in the discord - one time only haha). Secondly, I am sure you can agree with me when I say "Wow!" What an incredible week it has been. Last week I thought it was going to take a couple more weeks for more moving price action when it had only taken a few days which has seen Bitcoin reach and pass the $10,000 region. We have also seen the total Market cap for cryptocurrencies increase from about 280B to over 300B (308B at time of writing) within just a few days. A huge injection of liquidity, about 40B, into the market and just to name a few of the best rises in the top 20 (on Coinmarketcap.com), the price of ETH BTC ADA have given good performances/positive responses (With this I will start adding screenshots at the end of each week for timestamp purposes). This may be a combination from Binance, Mastercard, Paypal, Grayscale investments, VISA AND the DEFI sector. Let me explain... Last week we read about Binance integrating with the company Swipe (SXP) to issue there own debit card expanding the use and reach of cryptocurrency to 31 countries within Europe. Binance's Q2 scheduled token burn of $60.5 Million, this figure correlates with its exchange, margin and futures trading platforms where approximately 20% of profits get burned to increase the price of BNB token (careful as the price has been steady after the burn). This week we find out Mastercard's expansion into the Cryptosphere as they expand and integrate with the Wirex team to issue a Mastercard-backed Bitcoin debit card, thus further extending the reach of cryptocurrency availability internationally. "The cryptocurrency market continues to mature and Mastercard is driving it forward, creating safe and secure experiences for consumers and businesses in today’s digital economy " "...Our work with Wirex and the wider crypto ecosystem is accelerating innovation and empowering consumers with more choice in the way they pay" Mastercard is also reaching out to other emerging cryptocurrency firms to apply to become principal members [Partners] with Mastercard as they have relaxed their digital assets program and look to expand into the Digital Assets and Blockchain environment. Paypals expression of interest in cryptocurrency facilitiation may bear fruits as it is said Paypal has partnered up with stablecoin operator Paxos (who is already in partnership with Revolut in the US) to facilitate trading through a cryptocurrency brokerage which will enable other firms to integrate cryptocurrency trading functionalities with them. In my opinion this looks much more promising than the Libra association they pulled out from last October as regulations. Grayscale Investments clears regulatory hurdle as they have been given the green light for its Bitcoin Cash Trust (BCHG) and Litecoin Trust (LTCN) to be quoted in over-the-counter (OTC) markets by US Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). “The Trusts are open-ended trusts sponsored by Grayscale and are intended to enable exposure to the price movement of the Trusts’ underlying assets through a traditional investment vehicle, avoiding the challenges of buying, storing, and safekeeping digital Bitcoin Cash or Litecoin directly.” More green lights for Cryptocurrency in the US as regulators allow banks to provide cryptocurrency custody services (which may go further than just custody services). A little bit strange as it seems unnecessary and undermines one of the key factors and uses of cryptocurrency which is to be in complete control of your own finances... On another outlook this may be bullish as it allows US banks to provide banking services directly to lawful cryptocurrency businesses and show support for Bitcoin. Visa shows support stating they have a roadmap for their further expansion into the Crypto sphere. Already working with Crypto platform Coinbase and Fold they have stated they recognise the role of digital assets in the future of money. To be frank, it appears to be focused on stable coins, cost effectiveness and transaction speeds. However they are expanding their support for crypto assets. AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, DeFI! Our very own growing section in crypto. Just like the 2017 ICO boom we are seeing exorbitant growth and FOMO into the Decentralised Finance sector (WBTC, Stablecoins, Yield farming, DEXs etc). The amount of active addresses on Ethereum has doubled but with the FOMO on their network have sky rocketed their fees! Large use-cases of stable coins such as USDT ($6B in circulation using ERC-20 standard), DAI, TUSD, and PAX. $114M Wrapped Bitcoin (WBTC) on their network acts as a fluid side chain for Bitcoin and DEX trade volume has touched $1.6B this month. With all this action happening on Ethereum I saw the 24HR volume surpass BTC briefly on Worldcoinindex.com In other news, Bitcoin has been set as a new precedent in a US federal court in a case against Larry Dean Harmon, the operator of an underground trading platform Helix. Bitcoin has now legally been ruled as a form of money. “After examination of the relevant statutes, case law, and other sources, the Court concludes that bitcoin is money under the MTA and that Helix, as described in the indictment, was an `unlicensed money transmitting business´ under applicable federal law.” Quick news in China/Asia as floods threaten miners and the most dominant ASIC Bitcoin mining rig manufacturer Bitmain loses 10,000 Antminers worth millions alledgedly goes missing or "illegally transfered" with ongoing leadership dispute between cofounders. Last but not least, Cardano (ADA) upgrade Shelley is ready to launch! Hardfork is initiated as final countdown clock is switched on. At time of writing the point of no return has been reached, stress tests done and confirmation Hardfork is coming 29/07 The Shelley Mainnet upgrade is a step toward fast, capable and decentralised crypto that can serve billions of people. With the Shelley Mainnet is ADA staking rewards and pools! Here is a chance for us Gravychainers to set up a small pool of our own. Small percentage of profits going into the development of the community, and you keep the rest! If you read all of my ramblings thanks heaps! I appreciate it! I have added an extra piece of reading called speculation. Most you can speculate on by just reading the headline some others have more depth to them. Another post next week for a weekly round up! Where do you think the market is going? What is in your portfolio? Let us know in the Gravychain Discord Channel See you soon!
🍕 Bring some virtual pizza to share 🍕 Come have a chat, stimulate a discussion, ask a question or share some knowledge. We are all friendly crypto enthusiasts up for a chat, supportive and want to help each other with knowledge and investments! Big thanks to our Telegram and My Crypto HQ for the constant news updates!
P.S. Dr Seuss collectables on the blockchain HECK YEAH! and Bitcoin enters NASCAR, remember when Doge did this? it was like when Doge was trending on TikTok. ... Oh yeah did I also mention Steve Wozniak is suing Youtube, Google over rampant Bitcoin scams. Wait, what? Sydney based law firm JPB Liberty is suing Google, Facebook and Twitter for up to $300B. Just another day in the Cryptosphere.
Spreading Crypto: In Search of the Killer Application
This is the second post of ourSpreading Cryptoseries where we take a deep dive into what it’ll take to help this technology reach broader adoption. Mick exploring the state of apps in crypto Our previous post explored the history of protocols and how they only become widely adopted when a compelling application makes them more accessible and easier to use. Crypto will be no different. Blockchain technology today is mostly all low-level protocols. As with the numerous protocols that came before, these new, decentralized protocols need killer applications. So, how’s that going? Where is crypto’s killer application? What’s the state of application development within our industry? Today we’ll try to answer those questions. We’ll also take a close look at decentralized applications — as that’s where a lot of the developer energy and focus currently is. Let’s dive in.
Beyond the fact that the most popular crypto applications are all used for speculation, another common thread is that they are all centralized.
A centralized application means that ultimate power and control rests with a centralized party (the company who built it). For example, if Coinbase or Binance wants to block you from withdrawing your funds for whatever reason (maybe for suspicious activity or fraud), they can do that. They have control of their servers so they have control of your funds. Most popular applications that we all use daily are centralized (Netflix, Facebook, Youtube, etc). That’s the standard for modern, world-class applications today.
Even though the most popular crypto applications are all centralized, most of the developer energy and focus in our industry is with decentralized applications (dApps) and non-custodial products. These are products where only the user can touch or move funds. Not even the company or developer who built the application can access or control or stop funds from being moved. Only the user has control.
These applications allow users to truly become their own bank and have absolute control of their money.
If the most popular applications tend to be centralized (inside and out of crypto), why is so much of our community focused on building decentralized applications (dApps)? For the casual observer, that’s a reasonable, valid question.
“Not your keys, not your coins.”
This meme is endlessly repeated among longtime crypto hodlers. If you’re not in complete control of your crypto (i.e. using non-custodial wallets or dApps), then it’s not really your crypto. Engrained in the early culture of Bitcoin has always been a strong distrust for centralized authority and power — including the too-big-to-fail government-backed financial system. In the midst of the Financial Crisis, Satoshi Nakamoto included this headline in Bitcoin’s genesis block: “Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks.” There has always been a close connection between libertarianism & cryptocurrency. So it’s no surprise that much of the crypto developer community is spending their time building applications that are non-custodial or decentralized. It’s part of the DNA, the soul, the essence of our community. https://preview.redd.it/fy33zhkvdh551.png?width=1600&format=png&auto=webp&s=386c741f13e9119ecfcfffe1c781d09ce58704ed
When I was at Mainframe, we built Mainframe OS — a platform that developers use to build and launch decentralized applications (dApps). I’m deeply familiar with what’s possible and what’s not in the world of dApps. I have the battle scars and gray hair to prove it. We’ve hosted panels around the various challenges. We’ve even produced videos poking fun at how complicated it is for end-users to interact with.
After having spent three years in the trenches of this non-custodial world, I no longer believe that decentralized applications are capable of bringing crypto to the masses.
While I totally understand and appreciate the ethos of self-sovereignty, independence, and liberty… I think it’s a terrible mistake that as a community we are spending most of our time in this area of application development. Decentralized applications will not take crypto to the masses. Mainframe OS
The user friction that comes with decentralized applications is just too overwhelming. Let’s go through a few of the bigger points:
Knowledge & Education: Most non-custodial products do not abstract away any of the blockchain complexity. In fact, they often expose more of it because the most loyal users are crypto nerds. Imagine how a normie n00b feels when she starts seeing words like seed phrases, public & private keys, gas limits, transaction fees, blockchain explorers, hex addresses, and confirmation times. There is a lot for a user to learn and become educated on. That’s friction. The learning curve on this is just too damn high.
User Experience: It is currently impossible to create a smooth and performant user experience in non-custodial wallets or decentralized applications. Any interaction that requires a blockchain transaction will feel sluggish and slow. We built a messaging app on Ethereum and presented it at DevCon3 in Cancun. The technical constraints of blockchain technology were crushing to the user experience. We simply couldn’t create the real-time, modern messaging experience that users have come to expect from similar apps like Slack or WhatsApp. Until blockchains are closer in speed to web servers (which will be difficult given their decentralized nature), dApps will never be able to create the smooth user experience that the masses expect.
Loss of Funds Risk: There is no “Forgot Password” functionality when storing your own crypto in a non-custodial wallet. There is no customer support agent you can ping. There is no company behind it that can make you whole if you make a mistake and lose your money. You are on your own. One wrong move and your money is all gone. If you lose your private key, there is no way to recover your funds. This just isn’t the type of customer support experience people want or are used to.
Decentralized applications will always have a place in the market — especially among the most hardcore crypto people and parts of the world where these tools are essential. I’m personally an active user of many non-custodial products. I’m a blockchain early-adopter, I like to hold my own money, and I’m very forgiving of suboptimal UX.
However, I’m not afraid to say the poop stinks. Decentralized applications simply cannot produce the type of product experience that mainstream consumers expect.
If the goal is growth and adoption, as a community I believe we’re barking up the wrong tree. We are trying to make fetch happen. It isn’t gonna happen. Our Netscape Moment is unlikely to arrive as long as we’re focused on decentralized applications. \"Mean Girls\" movie There’s a reason why the most popular consumer applications are centralized (Spotify, Amazon, Instagram, etc). There’s a reason why the most popular crypto applications are centralized (Coinbase, Binance, etc). The frameworks, tooling, infrastructure, and services to support these modern, centralized applications are mature and well-established. It’s easier to build apps that are fast & performant. It’s easier to launch apps that are convenient and on all form-factors (especially mobile). It’s easier to distribute and promote via all the major app store channels (iOS/Android). It’s easier to patch, update, and upgrade. It’s easier to experiment and iterate.
It’s easier to design, build, and launch a world-class application when it is centralized! It is why we’ve chosen this path for Genesis Block.
We have a lot more content coming. Be sure to follow our channels: https://genesisblock.com/follow/ Have you already downloaded the app? We're Genesis Block, a new digital bank that's powered by crypto & decentralized protocols. The app is live in the App Store (iOS & Android). Get the link to download at https://genesisblock.com/download
Bitcoin (BTC) Trading Volumes Spike Two Weeks Before The Halving
Trading Volumes On The World’s Largest Cryptocurrency Surpassed The Levels Before The Global Market Wipeout From 12th March Despite getting into a turbulent month of intense price swings and market wipes, due to the COVID-19 virus outbreak, Bitcoin’s support seems to strengthen since the start of 2020. One of the largest crypto exchanges, like Binance and Coinbase, reported an average BTC trading volume of around $5.6 billion since the March 12 market wipeout. In contrast, Bitcoinity reported average Bitcoin trading volumes of $3,96 billion from January 1, 2020, to March 11. However, the average volume rally peaked at $9,2 billion worth of Bitcoin in the week after the global market crash. Source: Bitcoinity.org Bitcoin’s trading volume uptrend can be separated into two different models. The first model identified Bitcoin as a digital safe-haven asset, putting it alongside gold and other precious metals. Bitcoin’s haven strengths were tested during the conflict between the U.S. and Iran when the geopolitical pressure forced the stock market down while fortifying Bitcoin’s strongholds. However, Bitcoin didn’t stand to the massive fear-driven sell-off, and the price per BTC dropped in half – from $7,969 before the crisis to a yearly low of $3,858 on some exchanges. The so-called “Black Thursday” market crash, however, created a global opportunity to “buy the dip” and benefit from Bitcoin’s low trading price. Bitcoin’s trading volumes skyrocketed, and the price followed quickly. The world’s largest crypto managed to make a full recovery, trading at the levels before the crash. Volumes also took a massive boost last week, reaching higher levels than during the uptrend from Q1 of 2020. The recovery, combined with the much-anticipated mining reward halving, scheduled for May 12, brought bulls back in the race. The halving event would cut down the reward for miners from 1800 BTC daily to 900 BTC per day. Blockchain analysis company Glassnode reported that the BTC holder profile matures, as traders are going to hold Bitcoin, rather than trade it post-halving. The hold, in theory, should keep volatility and volume swings low. Data aggregator Messari, on the other hand, sees a BTC bullish rally, nevertheless. “It seems the crypto market activity settled down after the “Black Thursday” event, but with Bitcoin’s third halving coming in just a couple of weeks, there is enough time to bring the animal spirit in the crypto sector,” Messari stated in a blog post. Meanwhile, Bitcoin moves on a steady weekly gain graph. The world’s #1 crypto broke above the $8,000 resistance, with a strong volume increase in the past 24 hours. Currently, Bitcoin trades for $8,341.04. Marketwise, almost all of the top-100 cryptocurrencies mark 2-10% gains, with a total market capitalization of $234,661,359,327 and $152,634,163,535 in 24-hour reported daily volumes.
The number of bitcoin owners has exceeded 23 million
According to Glassnode, the number of bitcoin holders amounts to 23,1 million — they own 28,4 million addresses with a non-zero balance. The growth in the number of investors is linear and monotonous, which indicates the maturity of the market, the study emphasizes. Moreover, the dynamics of changes in the number of holders is purely positive. “In Bitcoin’s history there have been only 21 days so far in which the net entity growth was negative”, — Glassnode analysts point out. The largest owners were the cryptocurrency exchanges Coinbase (983,800 BTC), Huobi (369,100 BTC), Binance (240,700 BTC), Bitfinex (214,600 BTC), Bitstamp (165,400 BTC), Kraken (132,100 BTC) and Bittrex (118,100 BTC).
Current State & The Future Of Digital Assets From Ariel Ling, BitMax COO.
Ariel Ling, co-founder and COO of BitMax, has shared her thoughts on the current state of digital assets and what to expect in the next years, what retail investor should take into account when buying any cryptocurrencie and the key factors that drive the value of the token/coin. Ariel Ling, BitMax COO Why, when and how have you started your crypto journey? I started my crypto journey at the beginning of 2018 when my long-time friend, the co-founder and CEO of BitMax.io, Dr. George Cao “pulled” me out of the traditional Wall Street and asked me to join him in launching this exciting venture. Three main drivers are 1) to learn more about blockchain technology and its transformational applications in different industries; 2) to leverage in-depth traditional finance expertise to improve overall crypto trading and exchange market structure for better efficiency and transparency; 3) to have a chance to work with a talented and driven team who share similar vision, passion and conviction to build a top global digital asset trading platform as well as a wonderful organization from good to great! If your friend will ask you: should I consider cryptocurrencies as investment opportunity? What will be your answer? Will you recommend any specific digital asset? Coming from traditional finance perspective, I would explain my thoughts process from three angles — 1) types of crypto or digital assets as the foundation for understanding; 2) whether they, are more for short-term trading or mid-term investment 2) what are elements for investment valuation and decision-making so our friends can assess and make decision for themselves. First, in general there are three types of digital assets:
Major currency / coin-type like Bitcoin, ETH, XRP, Litecoin, etc. and stable coins;
Security-type tokens representing some equity or debt rights of underlying projects;
Utility tokens for usage on specific blockchain platform or network.
Each type represents different type of opportunity and risk. Second: is digital asset good for trading or investment? due to the nascent nature and very short history of market development with most of retail investors’ participation and lack of proper regulatory framework globally, there are quite some market manipulation, speculation and fraud activities in the current market, causing significant volatility and investors loss across all types within very short period of time. This made it very hard for any investors to assess the real valuation and momentum drivers behind those large swings. So at this point, I would think with its high volatility and risk, digital asset in general is more of very short-term trading product than investment vehicle. From liquidity perspective, major currency/coin-type will have more market depth across exchanges, hence more suitable for short-term trading-focused strategies. Third, from traditional investment perspective, it is critical to assess digital asset investing from valuation and fundamental perspectives, such as business model, future growth, economic return vs. person’s risk tolerance and investment objectives. For major coins, especially Bitcoin itself with its longest history among all the digital assets, have started to provide certain payment function similar to fiat currencies in certain countries. Hence, there are more interesting dynamics to the Bitcoin investing based on one’s view of Bitcoin usage over mid-term horizon and the relative valuation vs its production (mining cost) especially with the price down to 3,500–3,650 USD. For security-type or utility tokens, the performance over short-to-medium term really comes down to combination of intrinsic value of underlying blockchain projects and token economics. Similar to Internet in 1990s, blockchain technology projects are still at the early stage of development and looking for meaningful and applicable use cases to bring real economic benefit from the economics and business model perspective, so it becomes very difficult to apply traditional finance valuation and assess the real intrinsic value of those projects. Recent market crash has brought many of those tokens down to near zero value. So the investment in those tokens are extremely high risk and everyone should be really careful and prudent in the evaluation of any specific projects for the decision-making and risk protection. What is the story behind BitMax? Who are the foundefounders? When it was founded? Q1 2018, Dr. George Cao and I founded Global Digital Mercantile (GDM), global operator of digital asset platforms, including BitMax.io based on Singapore for overseas markets and North America’s trading platform aiming for the first half of 2019. BitMax.io started public beta testing mid July, 2018, and was officially launched later mid August. On November 18th , we launched our mining mechanism, the industry very first transaction-mining & reverse-mining mechanism, which has made us the industry leading third-generation cryptocurrency exchange — after first generation of traditional exchanges like Binance, Gemini, Coinbase, etc. and 2nd generation of transaction-mining ones like FCoin, Bitthumb, etc. Just a quick introduction of my partner. Dr. Cao studied Computer Science in the University of Science and Technology of China, and earned his PhD degree from the University of Chicago. Dr. Cao was the Founder and the Chief Investment Officer of Delpha Capital Management, LLC., New York, specializing in trading equity, ETFs and commodity future products in all major exchanges across the globe. He is also the founder and managing partner of Whitestone Investment Group, a New York based venture fund that invests in a large variety of startup companies that are in the high tech, fintech, big data and medical area. Before founding Delpha Capital, Mr. Cao worked at the Equity Division of Barclays Capital in both the New York and London offices. During that period, he oversaw equity electronic trading in the U.S., European and Asian markets. Prior to Barclays, he researched and traded U.S. equity as a Portfolio Manager at Knight Capital Group. For me, I have built more than 18-year extensive experience in strategic planning, business development, financial risk management and regulatory implementation across major trading asset classes (Equity, FX, and Fixed Income) at several top global banks. Previous to jumping into digital asset trading, I ran USD liquidity and investment product for top financial institutions and corporate clients at tier-one global investment bank. Before that, I ran US Broker Dealer as COO and head of Business Development for Germany 2nd largest bank. Earlier from 2007 to 2012, I was global equity trading COO across Lehman Brothers and Barclays Capital, building out trading franchise and market making businesses globally. I have four degrees — graduated top of class from Nankai University with two Bachelor degrees in Finance and English Literature and got my MBA from NYU and Master of Mass Communication from University of Georgia. Where is Bitmax located? Are you a distributed team or do you have an office to work together? How many people work for Bitmax? Our global team of 50 members are based off two main location — New York with 20 members, including all the founding members, and Beijing with 30 members. Would you be so kind to introduce briefly the core team members? Both George and I are very proud of our 10-member founding team. Similar to us, they are all from Wall Street top firms like Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, Bloomberg, and top high-frequency hedge funds with deep experience in the fields of financial engineering research and development of large-scale quant trading infrastructure. Our educational background span across multiple prestigious institutions including Columbia University, University of Chicago, Carnegie Mellon University, and New York University in the United States, as well as Peking University and Tsinghua University in China. So one special thing about BitMax.io is that very few exchanges in the crypto trading space are built by solid team like ours with strong traditional finance mindset and trading background. You’ve started BitMax during market downtrend in pretty competitive environment. What is your value proposition? Why traders should switch to BitMax? I think BitMax.io is actually very special in this market, and our team is very proud of what we have built in the short period of six months. There are at least three reasons I think traders should chooseBitMax.io:
It’s our real-word professional trading experience and expertise;
It’s is our platform, resilient, high volume quantitative-trading platform;
It’s is our top-quality customer-centric strategy.
First of all, as I mentioned in the last question, architected by a group of Wall Street veterans, BitMax.io builds upon the core value of blockchain, transparency and reliability, and delivers high-quality client services and trading experience through its innovative trading platform. Second, our quant-driven tech platform. Our development members were all from high frequency and quantitative systematic trading shops. They definitely make sure the platform was resilient and it can actually handle billions of volume during the design and build. The platform resilience and scalability were fully being tested when we launched the transaction mining and reverse-mining. The first day, we actually had, within the first 24 hours, the trading volume of 1.6 billion in notional; and our system didn’t flinch, didn’t slow down, and didn’t shut down. This is very rare in any of today’s exchanges where you can frequently see the slowdown, the crash, and very slow user responses, especially with transaction mining exchanges. Third, what we are extremely proud of and all the users can see, is our 24/7 customer services built upon the core Wall Street client-centric concept. Besides our customer support team who never sleep, George actually stands behind the platform almost 24/7 answering questions from the customers, seeking solutions for their issues, and providing the most responsive customer service for the entire crypto trading space. BitMax CEO, George Cao, is often seen in official Telegram group answering different questions. We constantly remind our team: customer first. When we design a product, when we launch a system, and when we look at user needs, we all look from customers’ perspective, from how we can protect the users. When we look at primary listing, we only select the high-quality projects because we want our users to have the best investment and trading experience on BitMax.io. Are you satisfied with the current results of BitMax? Is transaction mining model giving expected volume? What is the % of traders using this model? We are very pleased with current business development and delivery results from client acquisition and trading perspectives. On the business development side, we completed the global setup for both 50-member team organization and comprehensive legal entity structure from Asia to North Americas in 2018, which laid down foundation and paved way for 2019 business expansion especially with US. Since our platform launch in mid Aug, we successfully started Industry FIRST transaction mining and reverse-mining exchange and built out the most active global communities and users within four months in the bear market, with registered users more than 95k; average daily active traders more than quadrupled since the start of transaction mining; average daily trading volume of $465mm through the month of January and February in 2019. Those are extremely promising under this tough market condition. From the composition of trading volumes, there are two parts — transaction mining which grows exponentially; second is organic, the regular trading which has experienced healthy increase as well because of all the listing activities and all the incentives we have. The regular trading takes about 5% of total trading volume, which is very good for an exchange which was launched in August and running right into the bear market. What are the key factors that drive the value of the token/coin? From traditional finance /investment view token economics is really a balance act between business / economic model and exchange market force, driven by three factors: intrinsic value and sustainability, supply and demand, and liquidity and depth. First, from a traditional finance perspective, we need to look at the intrinsic value, the economic valuation behind a project. How does this project make money? Do they really have fundamentals? Do they really have a viable business model? Do they really have a solid user base for future growth? For example, our exchange business model is very simple. We are exchange; People trade on our platform. The more they trade, the more transaction fee the exchange collect — the revenue source. The exchange will last when people keep trading on the platform and the transaction revenue generated covers the operating cost of running an exchange. Second, it is the supply and demand of token on the market — who will buy and for what purpose; who will sell and under what scenarios. For major currency coins like Bitcoin, people might buy and sell for potential investment or use in actual payment processing. For other types of token, it is more driven by short-term trading pattern and profit taking. So it is extremely important to set up certain token mechanism to support the equilibrium of supply and demand like how Central Banks manage the supply of currency in circulation through monetary policies. Third, when the market force comes in, it comes down to the liquidity and depth. Exchange is about liquidity and market depth. That means there has to be enough of trading volumes at each pricing level for each token. For BitMax.io, we have very sophisticated market making model that is similar to Designated Market Maker model of New York Stock Exchange. We focus on providing liquidity and maintaining a fair and orderly market for those token listings who agree to engage our market making services. Every exchange is looking for good projects in order to become a premiere market for this new asset. Can you name some projects that impressed you recently (even if you are not discussing possible listing with them)? BitMax.io has strict listing requirements in order to identify high-quality projects for our users. Very proud that we have listed five industry star projects in the last several weeks, with more in the pipeline. All of them have the following attributes that made them successful — viable and profitable business model, growing user bases, strong community support, and comprehensive funding sources. One of the shining examples is European project named LTO Network listed mid Jan. Its price has been steadily rising since then, as more and more people get to know their business model and more project support comes into the market place to buy the tokens — It uses blockchain technology to streamline a lot of legal processing for one of EU governments, which is very easy to understand its economic value from a revenue perspective. This is simply what people need to see eventually, clean and clear from business economic model perspective. Let’s imagine a crypto market in 5 or 10 years. Can you make any prediction what the market will look like? What customers will expect from exchange in 5–10 years? Based off my long-time experience in traditional trading, especially how equity market evolved last twenty years, I would imagine maturing market structure and entrance of institutional investors are key mandatory and healthy development of digital asset market. First, As the market develops and expands globally, traditional institution participation is a must, in order to upgrade and strengthen the overall market structure and maturity, making it more transparent and resilient, and most importantly enabling the real broad-base adoption of digital assets. Most institutional investors, such as mutual fund, pension fund and other financial institutions, hold the majority of world investment assets, not individual retail investors. Only when those big guys join the market, will there be real revolutionary improvement and expansion of the digital asset just like any other financial markets. Second, I would expect the market to become more structured with major building blocks for transparent trade life cycle processing and separate risk analytics supporting services. Current crypto trading market is very fragmented with exchanges taking on different roles of trading, wallet management, custodian, etc. Also the lack of clear and consistence regulation on market structure has led to many aspects of market inefficiency — inconsistent liquidity and depth, wide spread, high transaction cost, high volatility, speculation, etc. This definitely hampers the broader adoption of digital assets from institutional investors. Forward looking, multi-tier structure under some level of regulatory framework with clear guidance is required for future maturing market. Similar to security market, there should be at least three layers of different and independent roles: the role of broker dealer to handle the client relationship with good KYC/ AML processes, retail clients, other financial institutions, blockchain players and to take client order as agent or dealer; the role of exchange to focus on listing and trading — liquidity provision and order matching; the role of clearing house to provide clearing and settlement and custodian on custody of assets with proper control and independence. It is very clean and clear with good check and balance in place. What are the key challenges for 2019? During our 2018 business planning, we clearly view 2019 to continue being full of challenges with market uncertainty from both asset price and valuation as well as regulatory development globally. In prep for that and further growth of our platform, we have laid out the following four main strategic objectives and they are all well underway:
To launch North America trading platform for high networth and institutional clients. With North America being heavily regulated market, there are two aspects of our plan — First is to leverage a trust structure to facilitate the major coin trading with fiat, and the second is broker-dealer license application with potential for securitized tokens pending regulatory guidance in place.
To enhance BitMax.io platform and reach global top-tier exchange. We will continue listening to our users and working hard to enhance user interface and experience by upgrading website vs. other competitors for better client retention.We will continue leading product innovation among the competitors with margin trading (successfully launched in mid Feb) and then derivative to attract new clients.
Relent focus on implementation and expansion of current business lines — listing, Market Making, marketing advisory services to grow current revenue base; and further seek new revenue opportunity through North America platform while maintaining cost discipline.
we are always on the lookout in terms of exchange alignments, acquisition target, and any business partnership from different aspects of the value chain.
When do you expect a market recovery or next bull run? What are the factors that will influence the start of the market recovery? With current market crash or correction, there are two possibilities from trading perspective — recovery depending on whether this is a V down or U curve. The U curve occurs when the market collapses, it takes a longer time for market to find the bottom and struggle to rise up. The V down is like a quick collapse — dropping down very fast and reaching the bottom, and then, with some catalyst event, either catalyst from market structure, or catalyst from the market expansion itself, suddenly it gives a boost and bounces right back up. For market recovery, besides all the investment and economics elements I’ve discussed above, I believe one critical factor is the regulatory development especially clear guidance from key regulatory bodies of those major financial markets such as US, UK, EU, etc. on those key building blocks I mentioned in the maturing market structure. Once those in place, more traditional institutional investors will be ready to get in and hence boost the liquidity and valuation of the digital assets. That is the new beginning of digital assets being accepted as part of Main Street investment globally.
Hey all, I’ve spent some time during my flight back home to discuss in detail the experience in Singapore, what talked about, things the mods and team are working on, improvements that can be made and some other things too. This post has also had input from the other moderators too. I don’t think any of the mods were massively pleased with the outcome of how we portrayed our time in Singapore during the last update and it certainly didn’t put across all the fantastic things we learnt or discussed while we were there. There was a quick turnaround with the update and with some of us were travelling and heading to other countries for various reasons it wasn’t ideal – anyway let’s begin. P.s. I apologise in advance for the lengthy post.
As most of you are aware there is a rebranding process going on for Request currently, it was really exciting to hear Robbins experience and to see the scope of the project. Request are working with an industry leading full-service digital agency to improve the understandability of Request through educational content. The current Request website is mainly catered towards ICO investors and hasn’t really changed much since the token sale – when visiting the site, it’s extremely difficult to understand what Request is, how it works and who can it benefit from the platform. One of the goals of the project is to revamp the website to cater for developers, businesses, users, community members, early adopters and investors. The concept of the blockchain, Request, and its products is daunting for the non-technical audience. While the team know it’s important to cater for developers and other industry professionals having an easy to understand project with easy to consume information is an important step towards adoption. The Request Hub will also play a critical part in the growth of the Request Network. The new website will have a focus on developers and businesses and pushing them towards the hub and how they can use the funding to help create their projects. Most of you will probably be aware that the dApps + the core protocol are different projects entirely. Internally, this is also the case. You can see an visual image of the structure here: https://imgur.com/pXF1gEK The core platform team is responsible for protocol development, things like scaling solutions, data encryption, extensions, features like cross-currency etc. Whereas the dApp teams focus on creating applications built on the Request platform, crowdfunding, invoicing, payments etc. Although this isn’t new information it’s important for sections later in the write-up.
Fiat integration is vital for the success of the Request Network for medium to long-term. What we focus on today is making sure the protocol has enough features and a solid developer experience to attract developers to build reliable financial tools on top of the Request Network. The foundation prioritizes its own development goals based on direct feedback coming from the developer community. We receive requests for features that are needed by developers, as their product depends on it. Today, the main feedback coming from the developer community is to make it easier to use the library, implementation of encryption, cross currency support and adding more cryptocurrencies. Apart from these requests, scalability of the protocol itself and developing extensions such as escrow are also prioritized as it is crucial for adoption of the protocol by developers. The above are our current priorities in development, while we in parallel are researching several fiat integration options mentioned in an update last December.
Oracle with Chainlink
Integration by partnerships with banks
Oracle and bank APIs
Partnership with credit card companies or processors`
All of the above bullet points are things the team are actively researching and looking into, we discussed how the Singapore government is looking at tokenizing the Singaporean Dollar and how many more governments in the future will look at taking this route, however this is a long way off. A decentralised Oracle with Chainlink would be ideal but it’s not ready yet. Integrations by partnerships with banks / partnering with credit card companies or processors (like Stripe) is incredibly difficult (especially being decentralised) but it’s something the team will actively work on / towards. Oracle and bank APIs – we discussed several projects here like StellarX, OmiseGo and more – each have their own pros and cons but nothing in the space is really ready for FIAT, some options are close and the team are keeping a close eye on several projects in this space. There are tonnes of regulatory issues surrounding FIAT and the blockchain, governments are dubious about the blockchain technology and banks are having a tough time getting involved too – even big companies like Binance, Coinbase and Circle still can’t obtain a banking license after many years of trying. The regulatory situation will change, crypto is still a young industry and it will take time for governments to catch up. Instead of spending time trying to achieve FIAT which wasn’t viable, their time has been spent on far more productive things such as scaling solutions, data encryption, working on various dApps, working with partners, hiring and much more. The better the platform the more impact having FIAT will have when it comes. Yes, not being able to stick to the roadmap isn’t ideal, but the team have realised there are limitations and made the best of the situation. Would it have been good if the team have been more transparent about FIAT and the issues they faced? Absolutely. Detailed articles about subjects like this do take time, and raise further questions which also take up the team’s time. We want to find a good balance going forward of keeping the team on track and keeping the community informed. We will also work with the team to improve communication for things like this (if they ever arise in the future) and how the mods can alleviate some of the time-pressure if possible. The team do realise the importance of FIAT, it hasn’t been forgotten and will be something the team will keep on the roadmap – in the future when FIAT is possible we will have a much more mature platform and many use cases live and ready to integrate FIAT.
One of the most discussed things over the past months is marketing, this is a very important topic and it’s something that can make or break a project. As per the ‘Rebranding + Restructure’ section, marketing will be broken down into two different groups, dApps and the core Request platform. The marketing for each of these aspects is very different. So, why aren’t the team marketing right now? Quite simply – the platform just isn’t ready yet, there isn’t enough value to risk marketing at this stage. This is the same with some of the dApps, they are close, but they still aren’t quite there yet. In my case if we take a look at the WooCommerce + Shopify plugins, if I go ahead and run a PPC (pay-per-click) campaign before BTC is integrated, then users may leave the site and never return. In this instance I will have lost money as well as a potential customer. This is just one example but it’s the same for other dApps too. Right now, The team are making active steps towards marking when the platform and dApps are, as well as hiring dedicated marketers. I do want to say that the team truly understand the importance of marketing, they will market the project and the dApps– it’s critical they do so. To break it down there are entirely separate game-plans to consider when marketing, the core platform and dApps.
Core Platform (Foundation)
Marketing for the core platform will focus on; educating the community about the platform, educating developers / businesses / potential partners about the Request protocol and how it can be used by / integrated into business workflows. The rebrand will have a big focus on education and driving adoption of the Request Hub + Fund. In the meantime, we are discussing ways to improve the Request Hub and how we can get more developers involved at this stage, I have covered this in more detail in the ‘Request Hub’ section.
Each dApp will in essence be its own entity (business) and will act independently of the foundation. Each dApp will have a dedicated team, individual aims and goals, potentially a custom roadmap, a proprietary marketing strategy and much more (everything you expect from a typical business). Marketing for individual dApps will vary greatly depending on what the dApp is, some will be focussed on B2B, some B2C, some dApps might be a combination of both.
Hiring + strategies to find new devs
The foundation growing at a quick rate and one of the things we discussed in Singapore was hiring and strategies to find new devs. There are several strategies that the Request team can adopt alongside job advertisements to help entice developers, not only to the foundation but also to the Request Hub. We discussed potentially using freelancers and then hiring if they are a good fit, more engagement from the team with people that contribute to the Request Hub and how the team can help (financially via the fund + time set aside for devs), hackathons with prize incentives, speaking at developer conferences (very important). Some ways of engaging with developers do require the platform / ecosystem to be more mature but we are actively working on making these things a reality. Also, improving the community sentiment will also drive hype which in turn hopefully attracts more developers.
Request Hub + Request Fund
In my opinion one of the best selling points of Request is the Request Hub + Fund. Although there is activity in the hub and some projects have receiving funding it is nowhere near as widely used as it could be. As I’ve discussed in the marketing section, the renewed website will have a big focus on pushing the Hub + Fund. Aside from the marketing aspect I have also been speaking to teams in the Hub for a while about how the flow for funding can be improved, we have discussed the barrier to entry for the fund (MVP limitations), the turnaround time for responding to funding applications (needs to be quicker), having the team engage more with the Request Hub devs as well as actively helping them with their business needs. In the future I will also look at creating a suite of tutorials, and potentially workshops, for the Request Hub to help get developers up and running.
One of the hot topics since returning from Singapore has been the bi-weekly updates, we have been discussing with the team how they can be improved without taking up too much time for the team. There are several things which are actively being discussed:
Have more clarity on what developers are working on
Talking about blockers and potential problems the developers have faced, if things are delayed – why?
Have an insight into why certain decisions have been made e.g. FIAT, transparency goes a long way here.
Is it possible for there be previews of dApps or upcoming features?
Talking about things going on behind the scenes without committing to firm dates / jeopardising anything.
Can the team promote the Request Hub projects more on social platforms?
Can we talk about the Request Hub projects? From an outsider’s perspective reading just the bi-weeklys it looks like not much is going on which couldn’t be further from the truth – it's clear there are exciting and innovative things going on behind the scenes and we want to demonstrate that as much as possible in the bi-weeklys.
This will be an ongoing discussion with the foundation, it will take time to refine the bi-weeklys and we also need to find a happy medium that suits both the foundation and the community too.
The Community Managers and our role
The goal as community managers is to firstly ensure that the social channels e.g. Reddit, Discord, Slack and Telegram are a good place for investors, the team and developers – we want to ensure it’s good for open discussions (both positive and negative) and a place where we can educate people about Request too. As community managers we want to try and stay as impartial as possible, we will help to educate when we can, we’ll shut down any false information and we’ll help alleviate any concerns where possible. We don’t want to take sides, we are simply there to be a bridge between the team and the community. We want the Request community to be an open place where anyone can discuss what they want, we want to see discussions about good things and bad – we don’t want Request to be a place where negativity is censored. We (the mods) are just normal guys, we love technology, we love the blockchain, we are just investors like all of you, and we want the best for the Request Network. We are continually improving how we and the team deliver information, but things can still be improved massively – we are already actioning some things to improve communication between the community and the team and we have plenty of other things lined up too.
During the rebrand the website will rework the dynamic roadmap to something potentially similar to Ark (https://ark.io/roadmap), with percentages (or something similar) and a breakdown of each goal on the roadmap. This will help with transparency and also allow the community to track progress more easily. I’ll cover my perspective on the dynamic roadmap looking from a developers point of view, as a lot of people are still unsure as to why the roadmap has changed and in turn it raises lots of questions. From a developers point of view. As a dev it can be incredibly difficult to hit deadlines that are more than a few weeks / over a month or two away, the further away the date the harder it is to estimate + hit deadlines. This is the case for a normal business, but as crypto is insanely fast paced and such a new industry this is even more prevalent. In the normal development world you typically work in weekly / bi-weekly sprints to produce features in small iterations which contributes to the overall project, at the end of each sprint you re-evaluate the previous weeks and re-adjust timings / resources if necessary – estimating deadlines months in advance is almost impossible. The biggest issue about committing to a firm date is that crypto adoption is moving at a fast rate, non-blockchain businesses are getting involved with cryptocurrencies and a great platform like Request is an attractive option for them. On-boarding these businesses takes money, expertise and most importantly team resources. The team is growing but for now the time spent with these partners needs to come from somewhere, and unfortunately features can sometimes get affected. Let's take BTC support - if the team was fully focused on BTC I would have no doubt there would have been no delay. But PwC came along, which took up development resources and, unfortunately, impacted the deadline. Long-term, having PwC onboard will have a more positive effect on the overall Request Network ecosystem. Partnerships won't wait around, Bitcoin support will. With these partnerships there will be a push for features they want to see. PwC for example, would be focused on the accounting so they would likely be pushing for accountancy related dApps (http://accounting.request.network/) - when the roadmap was first created the team could never predict such a huge entity like PwC would come onboard, so changing focus is sometimes required from a project. Once again, long-term this will benefit Request massively. From a development perspective changing the roadmap is a fantastic move in my opinion, the team never know what is around the corner and being able to quickly adapt to new opportunities, on-boarding companies are critical for the long-term viability of the network. As the team grow there will be more development resource available to focus on the core platform and partners which will allow the team to better predict features in the future. Once again, I’d like to reiterate things do need improving here, the team can be more transparent, and the roadmap can, and will, be improved.
The Singapore trip was fantastic, and it was an incredible experience working closely with the team and it was great to see their passion and talent while working away through the week, it’s an excellent work environment too. Every bit of feedback is incredibly important, please don’t hesitate to get in touch at any time to me or any of the mods, either by Reddit, Discord, Slack or Telegram. There is a lot of work ahead for the mods and the team, but rest assured we have every single one of your concerns in our scope; the community and the perception you guys have is so important to the team and the project. There are a lot of great things going on that we will continue to improve and lots of things that need changing – it won’t be something that happens overnight but something that will be continuously improving for the entirety of the project – we are dedicated to working hard and improving Request and the community every day. At the end of all this, actions speak louder than words, and we will take everything into consideration to help ensure Request thrives, we are already in the process of actively making changes. Apologies for the lengthy post but hopefully this clears some bits up and helps to put across some of the great things we saw in Singapore, if you have any other questions feel free to leave a comment or get in touch privately. Cheers.
An open letter to the community - We need to put our money where our mouths are and support decentralization and dApps
Hey everyone, As I'm sure you all know full well, early adoption of crypto is primarily speculative trading, so this post is gonna focus mainly on the problems with trading in this space right now (centralized exchanges, regulations, lack of investment products, etc), and how we can shift our mindsets as a community to put our money where our mouth is and rally behind startups doing the right things (decentralized exchanges, dApps, protocols and necessary infrastructure). Why? Because for the first time in history we have a disruptive new technology that can really change the landscape in every industry imaginable, and we are at the stage where we're planting the seeds of these new products and companies, so why not support the right ones so we can realize the future we're all envisioning? I recently wrote an article on this on Hackernoon here: https://hackernoon.com/its-time-to-address-the-massive-problems-of-centralized-exchanges-ac2cfb66bef8, but I thought I'd expand on it and share my thoughts on how to move this space forward in terms of getting more dApp adoption and usage.
Who uses dApps anyways?
Blockgeeks just published a report on dApp usage for those interested, there is definitely some growth but since the bear market it has definitely tapered off: https://blockgeeks.com/guides/report-dapps-november-2018/ It's obviously nowhere near mainstream adoption, but it's a great start, so there's hope! There's definitely a ton of things that should immediately be addressed and are of high importance IMO, so I'm going to lay them out:
First, we need to address the massive problems of centralized exchanges
Bitcoin aside, the crypto space as a whole is still pretty young, the current experience of trading crypto assets is understandably a fragmented experience with scattered pockets of liquidity, and a highly technical and high friction process. But the irony is that we have the technology to avoid the security flaws that plague centralized exchanges and the adoption of crypto - decentralized trading. There are a ton of centralized exchanges available to the public today, but a much smaller subset of these exchanges are properly regulated, not to mention trustworthy and reliable. I know the pro traders out there might say, "Well DEXes aren't fast enough, or I can't run bots on them yet". That's fair, but if you want to see them succeed some day, every trade helps. If it's a trade that you think is executable on a DEX, do it there instead of on a centralized one. That's how adoption happens, one user at a time. While industry pioneers like Coinbase have pushed the space forward and newer entrants like Binance raised the bar for the alt-coin trading experience, the industry still suffers from constant hacks and malicious acts. We need to stop relying on centralized trading/hot wallets as they are huge security risks As far as we know, over $1 billion worth of crypto assets have been hacked & stolen from centralized exchanges in 2018 alone. Here's the biggest incidents in 2018:
$500 million worth of NEM stolen from Coincheck — The 2nd largest exchange in Japan
$195 million hacked from BitGrail — Italian exchange and the first to list Nano (I myself was a victim of this)
$45 million hacked from Binance — One of the largest global exchanges
$40 million stolen in Coinrail hack — A boutique exchange in South Korea
$60 million hacked from Zaif — Exchange in Japan
The root cause of this is that centralized wallets are increasingly large honeypots. The nature of a centralized exchange dictates that some trusted third party is storing the crypto assets of its users to create a pool of liquidity, this being done mostly by aggregating funds into exchange-owned digital wallets where assets from users are pooled into. Millions of people could lose not just money but also their identity and data handed over to centralized exchanges as well. While we're still in a bear market this may not happen as frequent, but it's reasonable to be expect that in the next bull-run the frequency and severity of attacks will only rise and a scenario in which an attack as widespread as the recent 50 million user Facebook hack — where both private data and money were stolen — could happen. There's already plenty of exchanges that are careless with handling user identity, handing over your personal ID is not a trivial matter and exchanges should follow the best practices to store and secure them if they're asking for them.
Second, we need clearer, more sensible regulation that fosters innovation and protects investors
This may be an unpopular opinion around these parts, but sensible regulation is good for both the industry and users, to ensure exchanges coming online meet certain requirements, so we're not operating and trading in this wild wild west of shady exchanges. People who trade today need to have a pretty damn high appetite and tolerance for risk, not to mention an acute ability to discern legitimate investments from the rampant exit scams and phishing attacks. (Just see yesterday's thread about the guy's dad who bought into Onecoin on the advice of a "friend"). The vague stance on the part of governments also means many crypto startups operate in a regulatory grey area (I have first hand experience with this working in the space). The SEC only recently clarified that they view Bitcoin and Ethereum as not a security token, meaning it wouldn’t be subject to existing securities laws. IMO the current lack of regulatory clarity has lead to a low barrier of entry for operating crypto exchanges, however this is starting to change as seen with the recent EtherDelta SEC charges, they're clearly making a statement now that you need to follow the laws when you open an exchange. But we can do better, and push lawmakers to create more defined rules that we need to play by, and at the same time educate them so they understand not just the technology, but the implications and potential use cases and how we can get there while allowing companies to innovate, new startups to rise, all while protecting consumers. That way we'll have more legal clarity as the industry matures that is business friendly.
Third, we need a more diversified set of investment products/options for crypto. More wealth generated = more growth and adoption
Up until recently, you were only able to purchase tokens on their own from an exchange. Today, we are starting to see an emergence of basic index funds such as the new Coinbase Bundle and Bitwise. It wasn’t until late 2017 that we saw the introduction of Bitcoin Futures from CBOE and CME. We expect new companies to continue entering this arena, especially crypto ETFs (ie: Bakkt in Jan 2019 maybe?), as well as other attempts at index funds or derivatives. There's a bunch of teams doing great stuff:
Bitwise - They're one of the first crypto index funds
Hodlbot - Another index fund
Shrimpy - A way to automatically invest and rebalance your portfolio
LakeProject - Working on AI driven investments that automatically build a portfolio for anyone (R&D phase)
Lastly, we need to punish greed and reward companies doing the right things
While it’s not a problem particularly limited to centralized exchanges, it’s been reported that listing a token can cost as much as $3 million. In contrast, listing a stock on NASDAQ costs $125k to $300k plus annual maintenance fees. This is just one example of the greed exhibited by those who have leverage and the middlemen who stand to profit in between (consultants, brokers, ICO firms, etc). These high fees dampen innovation as they’re too great of a cost to bear for most token/ICO projects. This is crucial for most projects as they need liquidity to bootstrap their network and to remain favourable with the community that invested in them. At least 7 of the top 10 exchangesengaging in excessive wash trading from 12x to over 100x their true volume. Foul play Plenty of centralized exchanges have been suspected and accused of wash trading (creating fake volume), insider trading, and price manipulation. High user trading fees As centralized exchanges carry more risk, and have more opaque control of their platform, they often charge higher fees compared to a decentralized exchange. Withdrawal limits Centralized exchanges impose a withdrawal limit, as a security measure to limit the amount that can be withdrawn at once. However, there’s also a misalignment of incentives, as they stand to benefit when you keep your funds locked on their platform so they can maximize trading fees There's a bunch of great projects and base layer infrastructure that people should look into and support, not just the protocols but also startups building on top of them, some of my fav protocols include:
0x Project - Powering decentralized exchanges for tokens, NFTs, etc
Set protocol - These guys are building a protocol to allow anyone to easily bundle any assets to create more sophisticated investment products
dYdX Protocol - This allows anyone to integrate margin trading and derivatives in their dApp
Dharma protocol - This protocol facilitates lending in a decentralized way
Compound protocol - A money market protocol that allows hodlers to earn interest on their tokens
Cosmos Network - Working on blockchain interoperability and tooling around Ethereum and Web3
Personally I'm working in one of the many, many startups in the space trying to build on top of these decentralized infrastructures to give everyone a more seamless experience to access, trade, and use crypto. But you can imagine how hard it is to gain any traction much less build a sustainable business especially in a bear market like this, and when everyone has either completely lost their motivation or still flocking to centralized exchanges to chase pumps knowing full well the risks and unethical practices. Cool story, what are you doing about it? I work with a team called the LakeProject, and we're a group of people that came together because we believe that decentralized platforms will address a lot of these concerns, so we're putting our money where our mouth is and building them. If you want to help or learn more about what we're doing here's our site: http://lakeproject.co. We also built our first decentralized product here which is a trading platform built on 0x: https://trade.lakeproject.co
In conclusion - Vote with your money and your time, it makes a difference
I hope this post made sense and I made somewhat of a decent case (?) on why we need to shift our mindset from simply trading and hodling to proactively choosing where to participate, what dApps to use, and which startups to support. IMHO this is key for adoption and it will seriously help startups (like ours) to grow and be able to make a difference in the industry and push forward and pioneer a new paradigm of operating a decentralized business. I think everyone in the space right now is still learning and trying to understand how that might look in the future, but the more support and usage we get, the sooner we'll learn and the brighter our future will be. If you've gotten this far, thanks for putting up with my clickbaity title and reading this thread :)
The Company Is Also Researching Opportunities For Support Of STO Projects Coinbase, one of the leading cryptocurrency exchanges worldwide, is exploring their options for launching an initial exchange offering (IEO) platform in the near future. Established in 2012, the San Francisco-based company provides their users with the ability to trade with digital currencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash and Litecoin. Initial Exchange Offerings are widely considered as the evolved versions of Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs). IEOs, however, grant issuers an immediate exchange listing and cooperation with the exchange. Since exchange offerings are hosted on the exchange, the know-your-customer (KYC) and anti-money-laundering procedures take place at a higher security level. Initial exchange offerings have already received approval by some of the largest crypto exchanges, such as Binance, OKcoin, Bitfinex, and Kucoin. IEO projects heavily rely on exchanges to assist them with the crowdfunding process since crypto exchanges, such as Coinbase, have large user base. Amid the raised interest for IEO projects, Coinbase’s head of institutional sales, Kayvon Pirestani, lifted the curtains about the exchange plans. During the Invest: Asia forum, Pirestani stated that Coinbase is carefully exploring the IEO and STO options for support on their platform. “We see an interesting opportunity for Coinbase, not only in the IEO sector, but also with STOs. However, it is too early an official announcement to be made”, Pirestani added. Speaking of Security Token Offerings (STOs), Coinbase received a “green light” by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) for acquiring several security-token offering companies – Digital Wealth LLC, Venovate Marketplace, and Keystone Capital Corp. The acquisition and regulatory approval means Coinbase possess the technical capabilities for supporting STO projects. Pirestani, however, stated that STO projects “are talked about much more than traded” and Coinbase will most probably wait for increased demand in such projects. STOs are primarily backed by equity capital, giving the tokens the properties of traditional stocks. STO projects are often used for liquidity enhancements as STO tokens may represent actual shares of real estate, jewelry, art work and etc. All STOs are obliged to meet strict local and global regulatory criteria in order to be eligible for receiving issuance and listing approvals. If a company like Coinbase supports IEOs, there may be a tendency of an increased demand for IEO projects. The demand could lead to entering an IEO maturity phase, with IEO projects reaching their peak.
Blade, a new cryptocurrency derivatives exchange launching in three weeks, has raised $4.3 million in seed funding from a host of investors, including Coinbase, SV Angel, A.Capital, Slow Ventures, Justin Kan and Adam D’Angelo, according to Tech Crunch. Prior to starting the company, CEO Jeff Byun and his co-founder, Henry Lee, founded OrderAhead, a delivery start-up platform that was eventually acquired in-part by Square in 2017. The pair’s newest company shares little in common with their previous venture, but they are bringing aboard some of the same investors to support them. The exchange is tackling perpetual swap contracts. Perpetuals are a crypto-native trading instrument that Byun says are “arguably the fastest growing segment of cryptocurrency trading.” They allow traders to bet on the future values of cryptocurrencies in relation to another and the instruments have no expiration dates, unlike fixed maturity futures. Traders can bet on how the price of Bitcoin can increase relative to USD, but they can also make bets relative to other altcoins like Monero, DogeCoin, Zcash, Ripple and Binance Coin. Blade’s noteworthy spins on perpetuals trading — compared to other exchanges — are that most of the contracts will be set up on simplified vanilla contracts, the perpetuals will also be margined/settled in USD Tether and the company is offering higher leverages on trades. The crypto exchange is raising funds from Silicon Valley’s VCs, but US investors won’t be legally able to participate in the exchange. US government agencies have been a bit more stringent in regulating cryptocurrencies, so there’s more trading activity taking place on exchanges outside the jurisdiction. Blade itself is an offshore entity with a US subsidiary as its primary market is East Asia. “It’s kind of a bifurcated market,” says Byun. “Either you have exchanges like Coinbase or Gemini or Bitrex that cater to the U.S. market that are highly regulated or the exchanges that cater to the non-U.S. market that are much less regulated, but that’s where most of the volume is.” While the company is still three weeks away from launch, the founders have bold ambitions. Byun hopes that Blade will be the CME (Chicago Mercantile Exchange) of crypto. * More Details Here
Blockchain Jobs Continue To Grow Despite A 53% Yearly Drop In Blockchain Jobs` Interest
Blockchain Specialists Are Hard To Find Because Individuals Decreased Their Interest In The Blockchain Sector Since its introduction in 2009, the moving force behind every cryptocurrency – the blockchain, evolved from its origin to become a leading new technology. As the technology matures, so does the job sector, associated with it – companies are starting to seek professionals rather than enthusiasts. The companies providing blockchain-related job openings, however, have decreased their workforce expectations. The reason – decreased interest in job seekers. Indeed, one of the most popular employment websites did research, stating that although companies provide more and more blockchain-related job openings, the crypto enthusiasts with the required experience do not want to apply. “Blockchain-related jobs increased by over 26 percent. However, we see a 53 percent decrease of job searches over the past 12 months”, the report states. The interest decrease in 2019 made it the first year with a negative search in the blockchain sector, according to Indeed. In 2018, for example, there was a 214% growth in job openings from 2017, with a 14% increase in corresponding job searches. 2017 remains the best year in terms of blockchain job acquisition, with a 204% growth in job openings from 2016 and with a 326% increase in blockchain-related job searches. Bitcoin paved the way for further blockchain developments and new types of digital assets. Coins and tokens are scaling up from their initial purpose of payment methods. The number of crypto-related companies expanded, as well as the need for an increase of workforce behind every blockchain project. Indeed reports 1,457 percent growth in job offerings between September 2015 and September 2019. The job searches, however, gained “only” 469 percent. The main reason behind the explosion of crypto job offerings is the ICO boom in 2017, which created a large number of projects, aiming to raise funds in a new way. The increase, however, was followed by a massive drop, wiping 85% of the total market capitalization of the crypto sector. Over 1,000 crypto projects shut operations in 2018, according to TechCrunch. Regulators also managed to bring the trust in the crypto sector down, driving away potential workers, due to regulatory uncertainty, which drowned numerous projects. Despite the rough year for the entire crypto sector, some projects continued to grow and generate job opportunities. Binance, Coinbase, Amazon, JPMorgan Chase, and Wallmart are just some of the examples. Companies are mostly hiring full-stack developers, software engineers, front-enders, and software architects. Media and management comes second. Due to the high demand for specialists, there is not much of a supply.
I wrote a 30,000 ft. "executive summary" intro document for cryptos. Not for you, for your non-technical parents or friends.
This document was originally written for my dad, an intelligent guy who was utterly baffled about the cryptocurrency world. The aim was to be extremely concise, giving a broad overview of the industry and some popular coins while staying non-technical. For many of you there will be nothing new here, but recognize that you are in the 0.001% of the population heavily into crypto technology. I've reproduced it for Reddit below, or you can find the original post here on my website. Download the PDF there or hit the direct link: .PDF version. Donations happily accepted:
This document is purely informational. At the time of writing there are over 1000 cryptocurrencies (“cryptos”) in a highly volatile, high risk market. Many of the smaller “altcoins” require significant technical knowledge to store and transact safely. I advise you to carefully scrutinize each crypto’s flavor of blockchain, potential utility, team of developers, and guiding philosophy, before making any investment  decisions. With that out of the way, what follows are brief, extremely high-level summaries of some cryptos which have my interest, listed in current market cap order. But first, some info: Each crypto is a different implementation of a blockchain network. Originally developed as decentralized digital cash, these technologies have evolved into much broader platforms, powering the future of decentralized applications across every industry in the global economy. Without getting into the weeds,  most cryptos work on similar principles: Distributed Ledgers Each node on a blockchain network has a copy of every transaction, which enables a network of trust that eliminates fraud.  Decentralized “Miners” comprise the infrastructure of a blockchain network.  They are monetarily incentivized to add computing power to the network, simultaneously securing and processing each transaction.  Peer-to-peer Cryptos act like digital cash-- they require no third party to transact and are relatively untraceable. Unlike cash, you can back them up. Global Transactions are processed cheaply and instantly, anywhere on Earth. Using cryptos, an African peasant and a San Francisco engineer have the same access to capital, markets, and network services. Secure Blockchains are predicated on the same cryptographic technology that secures your sensitive data and government secrets. They have passed seven years of real-world penetration testing with no failures. 
The first cryptocurrency. As with first movers in any technology, there are associated pros and cons. Bitcoin has by far the strongest brand recognition and deepest market penetration, and it is the only crypto which can be used directly as a currency at over 100,000 physical and web stores around the world. In Venezuela and Zimbabwe, where geopolitical events have created hyperinflation in the centralized fiat currency, citizens have moved to Bitcoin as a de facto transaction standard.  However, Bitcoin unveiled a number of issues that have been solved by subsequent cryptos. It is experiencing significant scaling issues, resulting in high fees and long confirmation times. The argument over potential solutions created a rift in the Bitcoin developer community, who “forked” the network into two separate blockchains amidst drama and politicking in October 2017. Potential solutions to these issues abound, with some already in place, and others nearing deployment. Bitcoin currently has the highest market cap, and since it is easy to buy with fiat currency, the price of many smaller cryptos (“altcoins”) are loosely pegged to its price. This will change in the coming year(s).
Where Bitcoin is a currency, Ethereum is a platform, designed as a foundational protocol on which to develop decentralized applications (“Dapps”). Anyone can write code and deploy their program on the global network for extremely low fees. Just like Twitter wouldn’t exist without the open platform of the internet, the next world-changing Dapp can’t exist without Ethereum. CurrentDapps include a global market for idle computing power and storage, peer-to-peer real estate transactions (no trusted third party for escrow), identity networks for governments and corporations (think digital Social Security card), and monetization strategies for the internet which replace advertising. Think back 10 years to the advent of smartphones, and then to our culture today-- Ethereum could have a similar network effect on humanity. Ethereum is currently the #2 market cap crypto below Bitcoin, and many believe it will surpass it in 2018. It has a large, active group of developers working to solve scaling issues,  maintain security, and create entirely new programming conventions. If successful, platforms like Ethereum may well be the foundation of the decentralized internet of the future.
Ripple is significantly more centralized than most crypto networks, designed as a backbone for the global banking and financial technology (“fintech”) industries. It is a network for exchanging between fiat currencies and other asset classes instantly and cheaply, especially when transacting cross-border and between separate institutions. It uses large banks and remittance companies as “anchors” to allow trading between any asset on the network, and big names like Bank of America, American Express, RBC, and UBS are partners. The utility of this network is global and massive in scale. It is extremely important to note that not all cryptos have the same number of tokens. Ripple has 100 Billion tokens compared to Bitcoin’s 21 Million. Do not directly compare price between cryptos. XRP will likely never reach $1k,  but the price will rise commensurate with its utility as a financial tool. In some sense, Ripple is anathema to the original philosophical vision of this technology space. And while I agree with the cyberpunk notion of decentralized currencies, separation of money and state, this is the natural progression of the crypto world. The internet was an incredible decentralized wild west of Usenet groups and listservs before Eternal September and the dot-com boom, but its maturation affected every part of global society.
Cardano’s main claim to fame: it is the only crypto developed using academic methodologies by a global collective of engineers and researchers, built on a foundation of industry-leading, peer-reviewed cryptographic research. The network was designed from first-principles to allow scalability, system upgrades, and to balance the privacy of its users with the security needs of regulators. One part of this ecosystem is the Cardano Foundation, a Swiss non-profit founded to work proactively with governments and regulatory bodies to institute legal frameworks around the crypto industry. Detractors of Cardano claim that it doesn’t do anything innovative, but supporters see the academic backing and focus on regulation development as uniquely valuable.
Stellar Lumens (XLM)
Stellar Lumens and Ripple were founded by the same person. They initially shared the same code, but today the two are distinct in their technical back-end as well as their guiding philosophy and development goals. Ripple is closed-source, for-profit, deflationary, and intended for use by large financial institutions. Stellar is open-source, non-profit, inflationary, and intended to promote international wealth distribution. As such, they are not direct competitors. IBM is a major partner to Stellar. Their network is already processing live transactions in 12 currency corridors across the South Pacific, with plans to process 60% of all cross-border payments in the South Pacific’s retail foreign exchange corridor by Q2 2018. Beyond its utility as a financial tool, the Stellar network may become a competitor to Ethereum as a platform for application development and Initial Coin Offerings (“ICOs”). The theoretical maximum throughput for the network is higher, and it takes less computational power to run. The Stellar development team is highly active, has written extensive documentation for third-party developers, and has an impressive list of advisors, including Patrick Collison (Stripe), Sam Altman (Y Combinator), and other giants in the software development community.
Iota was developed as the infrastructure backbone for the Internet of Things (IoT), sometimes called the machine economy. As the world of inanimate objects is networked together, their need to communicate grows exponentially. Fridges, thermostats, self-driving cars, printers, planes, and industrial sensors all need a secure protocol with which to transact information. Iota uses a “Tangle” instead of a traditional blockchain, and this is the main innovation driving the crypto’s value. Each device that sends a transaction confirms two other transactions in the Tanlge. This removes the need for miners, and enables unique features like zero fees and infinite scalability. The supply of tokens is fixed forever at 2.8*1015, a staggeringly large number (almost three thousand trillion), and the price you see reported is technically “MIOT”, or the price for a million tokens.
The most successful privacy-focused cryptocurrency. In Bitcoin and most other cryptos, anyone can examine the public ledger and trace specific coins through the network. If your identity can be attached to a public address on that network, an accurate picture of your transaction history can be built-- who, what, and when. Monero builds anonymity into the system using strong cryptographic principles, which makes it functionally impossible to trace coins,  attach names to wallets, or extract metadata from transactions. The development team actively publishes in the cryptography research community. Anonymous transactions are not new-- we call it cash. Only in the past two decades has anonymity grown scarce in the first-world with the rise of credit cards and ubiquitous digital records. Personal data is becoming the most valuable resource on Earth, and there are many legitimate reasons for law-abiding citizens to want digital privacy, but it is true that with anonymity comes bad actors-- Monero is the currency of choice for the majority of black market (“darknet”) transactions. Similarly, US Dollars are the main vehicle for the $320B annual drug trade. An investment here should be based on the underlying cryptographic research and technology behind this coin, as well as competitors like Zcash. 
Zero fees and instantaneous transfer make RaiBlocks extremely attractive for exchange of value, in many senses outperforming Bitcoin at its original intended purpose. This crypto has seen an explosion in price and exposure over the past month, and it may become the network of choice for transferring value within and between crypto exchanges. Just in the first week of 2018: the CEO of Ledger (makers of the most popular hardware wallet on the market) waived the $50k code review fee to get RaiBlocks on his product, and XRB got listed on Binance and Kucoin, two of the largest altcoin exchanges globally. This is one to watch for 2018. 
Developed as a single answer to the problem of supply-chain logistics, VeChain is knocking on the door of a fast-growing $8 trillion industry. Every shipping container and packaged product in the world requires constant tracking and verification. A smart economy for logistics built on the blockchain promises greater efficiency and lower cost through the entire process flow. Don’t take my word for it-- VeChain has investment from PwC (5th largest US corporation), Groupe Renault, Kuehne & Nagel (world’s largest freight company), and DIG (China’s largest wine importer). The Chinese government has mandated VeChain to serve as blockchain technology partner to the city of Gui’an, a special economic zone and testbed for China’s smart city of the future. This crypto has some of the strongest commercial partnerships in the industry, and a large active development team.
“Investment” is a misnomer. Cryptos are traded like securities, but grant you no equity (like trading currency).
It is impossible to double-spend or create a fake transaction, as each ledger is confirmed against every other ledger.
Some utility token blockchains use DAG networks or similar non-linear networks which don’t require mining.
In practice, these are giant warehouses full of specialized computers constantly processing transactions. Miners locate to the cheapest electricity source, and the bulk of mining currently occurs in China.
Centralized second-layer exchange websites have been hacked, but the core technology is untouched.
Crypto and the Latency Arms Race: Crypto Exchanges and the HFT Crowd
News by Coindesk: Max Boonen Carrying on from an earlier post about the evolution of high frequency trading (HFT), how it can harm markets and how crypto exchanges are responding, here we focus on the potential longer-term impact on the crypto ecosystem. First, though, we need to focus on the state of HFT in a broader context.
Conventional markets are adopting anti-latency arbitrage mechanisms
In conventional markets, latency arbitrage has increased toxicity on lit venues and pushed trading volumes over-the-counter or into dark pools. In Europe, dark liquidity has increased in spite of efforts by regulators to clamp down on it. In some markets, regulation has actually contributed to this. Per the SEC:
“Using the Nasdaq market as a proxy, [Regulation] NMS did not seem to succeed in its mission to increase the display of limit orders in the marketplace. We have seen an increase in dark liquidity, smaller trade sizes, similar trading volumes, and a larger number of “small” venues.”
Why is non-lit execution remaining or becoming more successful in spite of its lower transparency? In its 2014 paper, BlackRock came out in favour of dark pools in the context of best execution requirements. It also lamented message congestion and cautioned against increasing tick sizes, features that advantage latency arbitrageurs. (This echoes the comment to CoinDesk of David Weisberger, CEO of Coinroutes, who explained that the tick sizes typical of the crypto market are small and therefore do not put slower traders at much of a disadvantage.) Major venues now recognize that the speed race threatens their business model in some markets, as it pushes those “slow” market makers with risk-absorbing capacity to provide liquidity to the likes of BlackRock off-exchange. Eurex has responded by implementing anti-latency arbitrage (ALA) mechanisms in options: “Right now, a lot of liquidity providers need to invest more into technology in order to protect themselves against other, very fast liquidity providers, than they can invest in their pricing for the end client. The end result of this is a certain imbalance, where we have a few very sophisticated liquidity providers that are very active in the order book and then a lot of liquidity providers that have the ability to provide prices to end clients, but are tending to do so more away from the order book”, commented Jonas Ullmann, Eurex’s head of market functionality. Such views are increasingly supported by academic research. XTX identifies two categories of ALA mechanisms: policy-based and technology-based. Policy-based ALA refers to a venue simply deciding that latency arbitrageurs are not allowed to trade on it. Alternative venues to exchanges (going under various acronyms such as ECN, ATS or MTF) can allow traders to either take or make, but not engage in both activities. Others can purposefully select — and advertise — their mix of market participants, or allow users to trade in separate “rooms” where undesired firms are excluded. The rise of “alternative microstructures” is mostly evidenced in crypto by the surge in electronic OTC trading, where traders can receive better prices than on exchange. Technology-based ALA encompasses delays, random or deterministic, added to an exchange’s matching engine to reduce the viability of latency arbitrage strategies. The classic example is a speed bump where new orders are delayed by a few milliseconds, but the cancellation of existing orders is not. This lets market makers place fresh quotes at the new prevailing market price without being run over by latency arbitrageurs. As a practical example, the London Metal Exchange recently announced an eight-millisecond speed bump on some contracts that are prime candidates for latency arbitrageurs due to their similarity to products trading on the much bigger CME in Chicago. Why 8 milliseconds? First, microwave transmission between Chicago and the US East Coast is 3 milliseconds faster than fibre optic lines. From there, the $250,000 a month Hibernia Express transatlantic cable helps you get to London another 4 milliseconds faster than cheaper alternatives. Add a millisecond for internal latencies such as not using FPGAs and 8 milliseconds is the difference for a liquidity provider between investing tens of millions in speed technology or being priced out of the market by latency arbitrage. With this in mind, let’s consider what the future holds for crypto.
Crypto exchanges must not forget their retail roots
We learn from conventional markets that liquidity benefits from a diverse base of market makers with risk-absorption capacity. Some have claimed that the spread compression witnessed in the bitcoin market since 2017 is due to electronification. Instead, I posit that it is greater risk-absorbing capacity and capital allocation that has improved the liquidity of the bitcoin market, not an increase in speed, as in fact being a fast exchange with colocation such as Gemini has not supported higher volumes. Old-timers will remember Coinsetter, a company that, per the Bitcoin Wiki , “was created in 2012, and operates a bitcoin exchange and ECN. Coinsetter’s CSX trading technology enables millisecond trade execution times and offers one of the fastest API data streams in the industry.” The Wiki page should use the past tense as Coinsetter failed to gain traction, was acquired in 2016 and subsequently closed. Exchanges that invest in scalability and user experience will thrive (BitMEX comes to mind). Crypto exchanges that favour the fastest traders (by reducing jitter, etc.) will find that winner-takes-all latency strategies do not improve liquidity. Furthermore, they risk antagonising the majority of their users, who are naturally suspicious of platforms that sell preferential treatment. It is baffling that the head of Russia for Huobi vaunted to CoinDesk that: “The option [of co-location] allows [selected clients] to make trades 70 to 100 times faster than other users”. The article notes that Huobi doesn’t charge — but of course, not everyone can sign up. Contrast this with one of the most successful exchanges today: Binance. It actively discourages some HFT strategies by tracking metrics such as order-to-trade ratios and temporarily blocking users that breach certain limits. Market experts know that Binance remains extremely relevant to price discovery, irrespective of its focus on a less professional user base. Other exchanges, take heed. Coinbase closed its entire Chicago office where 30 engineers had worked on a faster matching engine, an exercise that is rumoured to have cost $50mm. After much internal debate, I bet that the company finally realised that it wouldn’t recoup its investment and that its value derived from having onboarded 20 million users, not from upgrading systems that are already fast and reliable by the standards of crypto. It is also unsurprising that Kraken’s Steve Hunt, a veteran of low-latency torchbearer Jump Trading, commented to CoinDesk that: “We want all customers regardless of size or scale to have equal access to our marketplace”. Experience speaks. In a recent article on CoinDesk , Matt Trudeau of ErisX points to the lower reliability of cloud-based services compared to dedicated, co-located and cross-connected gateways. That much is true. Web-based technology puts the emphasis on serving the greatest number of users concurrently, not on serving a subset of users deterministically and at the lowest latency possible. That is the point. Crypto might be the only asset class that is accessible directly to end users with a low number of intermediaries, precisely because of the crypto ethos and how the industry evolved. It is cheaper to buy $500 of bitcoin than it is to buy $500 of Microsoft shares. Trudeau further remarks that official, paid-for co-location is better than what he pejoratively calls “unsanctioned colocation,” the fact that crypto traders can place their servers in the same cloud providers as the exchanges. The fairness argument is dubious: anyone with $50 can set up an Amazon AWS account and run next to the major crypto exchanges, whereas cheap co-location starts at $1,000 a month in the real world. No wonder “speed technology revenues” are estimated at $1 billion for the major U.S. equity exchanges. For a crypto exchange, to reside in a financial, non-cloud data centre with state-of-the-art network latencies might ironically impair the likelihood of success. The risk is that such an exchange becomes dominated on the taker side by the handful of players that already own or pay for the fastest communication routes between major financial data centres such as Equinix and the CME in Chicago, where bitcoin futures are traded. This might reduce liquidity on the exchange because a significant proportion of the crypto market’s risk-absorption capacity is coming from crypto-centric funds that do not have the scale to operate low-latency strategies, but might make up the bulk of the liquidity on, say, Binance. Such mom-and-pop liquidity providers might therefore shun an exchange that caters to larger players as a priority.
Exchanges risk losing market share to OTC liquidity providers
While voice trading in crypto has run its course, a major contribution to the market’s increase in liquidity circa 2017–2018 was the risk appetite of the original OTC voice desks such as Cumberland Mining and Circle. Automation really shines in bringing together risk-absorbing capacity tailored to each client (which is impossible on anonymous exchanges) with seamless electronic execution. In contrast, latency-sensitive venues can see liquidity evaporate in periods of stress, as happened to a well-known and otherwise successful exchange on 26 June which saw its bitcoin order book become $1,000 wide for an extended period of time as liquidity providers turned their systems off. The problem is compounded by the general unavailability of credit on cash exchanges, an issue that the OTC market’s settlement model avoids. As the crypto market matures, the business model of today’s major cash exchanges will come under pressure. In the past decade, the FX market has shown that retail traders benefit from better liquidity when they trade through different channels than institutional speculators. Systematic internalizers demonstrate the same in equities. This fact of life will apply to crypto. Exchanges have to pick a side: either cater to retail (or retail-driven intermediaries) or court HFTs. Now that an aggregator like Tagomi runs transaction cost analysis for their clients, it will become plainly obvious to investors with medium-term and long-term horizons (i.e. anyone not looking at the next 2 seconds) that their price impact on exchange is worse than against electronic OTC liquidity providers. Today, exchange fee structures are awkward because they must charge small users a lot to make up for crypto’s exceptionally high compliance and onboarding costs. Onboarding a single, small value user simply does not make sense unless fees are quite elevated. Exchanges end up over-charging large volume traders such as B2C2’s clients, another incentive to switch to OTC execution. In the alternative, what if crypto exchanges focus on HFT traders? In my opinion, the CME is a much better venue for institutional takers as fees are much lower and conventional trading firms will already be connected to it. My hypothesis is that most exchanges will not be able to compete with the CME for fast traders (after all, the CBOE itself gave up), and must cater to their retail user base instead. In a future post, we will explore other microstructures beyond all-to-all exchanges and bilateral OTC trading. Fiber threads image via Shutterstock
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