‘Deep cold storage’ vault created for virtual currency bitcoin
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World\'s First Insured Bitcoin Storage Service Launches in UK
World's first bitcoin storage vault opens in London - A “deep cold storage” service for bitcoins underwritten by Lloyds of London and offering protection from hackers and accidental loss has launched in the UK.
World's first bitcoin storage vault opens in London - A “deep cold storage” service for bitcoins underwritten by Lloyds of London and offering protection from hackers and accidental loss has launched in the UK
World's first bitcoin storage vault opens in London - A “deep cold storage” service for bitcoins underwritten by Lloyds of London and offering protection from hackers and accidental loss has launched in the UK.
Summary: Everyone knows that when you give your assets to someone else, they always keep them safe. If this is true for individuals, it is certainly true for businesses. Custodians always tell the truth and manage funds properly. They won't have any interest in taking the assets as an exchange operator would. Auditors tell the truth and can't be misled. That's because organizations that are regulated are incapable of lying and don't make mistakes. First, some background. Here is a summary of how custodians make us more secure: Previously, we might give Alice our crypto assets to hold. There were risks:
Alice might take the assets and disappear.
Alice might spend the assets and pretend that she still has them (fractional model).
Alice might store the assets insecurely and they'll get stolen.
Alice might give the assets to someone else by mistake or by force.
Alice might lose access to the assets.
But "no worries", Alice has a custodian named Bob. Bob is dressed in a nice suit. He knows some politicians. And he drives a Porsche. "So you have nothing to worry about!". And look at all the benefits we get:
Alice can't take the assets and disappear (unless she asks Bob or never gives them to Bob).
Alice can't spend the assets and pretend that she still has them. (Unless she didn't give them to Bob or asks him for them.)
Alice can't store the assets insecurely so they get stolen. (After all - she doesn't have any control over the withdrawal process from any of Bob's systems, right?)
Alice can't give the assets to someone else by mistake or by force. (Bob will stop her, right Bob?)
Alice can't lose access to the funds. (She'll always be present, sane, and remember all secrets, right?)
See - all problems are solved! All we have to worry about now is:
Bob might take the assets and disappear.
Bob might spend the assets and pretend that he still has them (fractional model).
Bob might store the assets insecurely and they'll get stolen.
Bob might give the assets to someone else by mistake or by force.
Bob might lose access to the assets.
It's pretty simple. Before we had to trust Alice. Now we only have to trust Alice, Bob, and all the ways in which they communicate. Just think of how much more secure we are! "On top of that", Bob assures us, "we're using a special wallet structure". Bob shows Alice a diagram. "We've broken the balance up and store it in lots of smaller wallets. That way", he assures her, "a thief can't take it all at once". And he points to a historic case where a large sum was taken "because it was stored in a single wallet... how stupid". "Very early on, we used to have all the crypto in one wallet", he said, "and then one Christmas a hacker came and took it all. We call him the Grinch. Now we individually wrap each crypto and stick it under a binary search tree. The Grinch has never been back since." "As well", Bob continues, "even if someone were to get in, we've got insurance. It covers all thefts and even coercion, collusion, and misplaced keys - only subject to the policy terms and conditions." And with that, he pulls out a phone-book sized contract and slams it on the desk with a thud. "Yep", he continues, "we're paying top dollar for one of the best policies in the country!" "Can I read it?' Alice asks. "Sure," Bob says, "just as soon as our legal team is done with it. They're almost through the first chapter." He pauses, then continues. "And can you believe that sales guy Mike? He has the same year Porsche as me. I mean, what are the odds?" "Do you use multi-sig?", Alice asks. "Absolutely!" Bob replies. "All our engineers are fully trained in multi-sig. Whenever we want to set up a new wallet, we generate 2 separate keys in an air-gapped process and store them in this proprietary system here. Look, it even requires the biometric signature from one of our team members to initiate any withdrawal." He demonstrates by pressing his thumb into the display. "We use a third-party cloud validation API to match the thumbprint and authorize each withdrawal. The keys are also backed up daily to an off-site third-party." "Wow that's really impressive," Alice says, "but what if we need access for a withdrawal outside of office hours?" "Well that's no issue", Bob says, "just send us an email, call, or text message and we always have someone on staff to help out. Just another part of our strong commitment to all our customers!" "What about Proof of Reserve?", Alice asks. "Of course", Bob replies, "though rather than publish any blockchain addresses or signed transaction, for privacy we just do a SHA256 refactoring of the inverse hash modulus for each UTXO nonce and combine the smart contract coefficient consensus in our hyperledger lightning node. But it's really simple to use." He pushes a button and a large green checkmark appears on a screen. "See - the algorithm ran through and reserves are proven." "Wow", Alice says, "you really know your stuff! And that is easy to use! What about fiat balances?" "Yeah, we have an auditor too", Bob replies, "Been using him for a long time so we have quite a strong relationship going! We have special books we give him every year and he's very efficient! Checks the fiat, crypto, and everything all at once!" "We used to have a nice offline multi-sig setup we've been using without issue for the past 5 years, but I think we'll move all our funds over to your facility," Alice says. "Awesome", Bob replies, "Thanks so much! This is perfect timing too - my Porsche got a dent on it this morning. We have the paperwork right over here." "Great!", Alice replies. And with that, Alice gets out her pen and Bob gets the contract. "Don't worry", he says, "you can take your crypto-assets back anytime you like - just subject to our cancellation policy. Our annual management fees are also super low and we don't adjust them often". How many holes have to exist for your funds to get stolen? Just one. Why are we taking a powerful offline multi-sig setup, widely used globally in hundreds of different/lacking regulatory environments with 0 breaches to date, and circumventing it by a demonstrably weak third party layer? And paying a great expense to do so? If you go through the list of breaches in the past 2 years to highly credible organizations, you go through the list of major corporate frauds (only the ones we know about), you go through the list of all the times platforms have lost funds, you go through the list of times and ways that people have lost their crypto from identity theft, hot wallet exploits, extortion, etc... and then you go through this custodian with a fine-tooth comb and truly believe they have value to add far beyond what you could, sticking your funds in a wallet (or set of wallets) they control exclusively is the absolute worst possible way to take advantage of that security. The best way to add security for crypto-assets is to make a stronger multi-sig. With one custodian, what you are doing is giving them your cryptocurrency and hoping they're honest, competent, and flawlessly secure. It's no different than storing it on a really secure exchange. Maybe the insurance will cover you. Didn't work for Bitpay in 2015. Didn't work for Yapizon in 2017. Insurance has never paid a claim in the entire history of cryptocurrency. But maybe you'll get lucky. Maybe your exact scenario will buck the trend and be what they're willing to cover. After the large deductible and hopefully without a long and expensive court battle. And you want to advertise this increase in risk, the lapse of judgement, an accident waiting to happen, as though it's some kind of benefit to customers ("Free institutional-grade storage for your digital assets.")? And then some people are writing to the OSC that custodians should be mandatory for all funds on every exchange platform? That this somehow will make Canadians as a whole more secure or better protected compared with standard air-gapped multi-sig? On what planet? Most of the problems in Canada stemmed from one thing - a lack of transparency. If Canadians had known what a joke Quadriga was - it wouldn't have grown to lose $400m from hard-working Canadians from coast to coast to coast. And Gerald Cotten would be in jail, not wherever he is now (at best, rotting peacefully). EZ-BTC and mister Dave Smilie would have been a tiny little scam to his friends, not a multi-million dollar fraud. Einstein would have got their act together or been shut down BEFORE losing millions and millions more in people's funds generously donated to criminals. MapleChange wouldn't have even been a thing. And maybe we'd know a little more about CoinTradeNewNote - like how much was lost in there. Almost all of the major losses with cryptocurrency exchanges involve deception with unbacked funds. So it's great to see transparency reports from BitBuy and ShakePay where someone independently verified the backing. The only thing we don't have is:
ANY CERTAINTY BALANCES WEREN'T EXCLUDED. Quadriga's largest account was $70m. 80% of funds are in 20% of accounts (Pareto principle). All it takes is excluding a few really large accounts - and nobody's the wiser. A fractional platform can easily pass any audit this way.
ANY VISIBILITY WHATSOEVER INTO THE CUSTODIANS. BitBuy put out their report before moving all the funds to their custodian and ShakePay apparently can't even tell us who the custodian is. That's pretty important considering that basically all of the funds are now stored there.
ANY IDEA ABOUT THE OTHER EXCHANGES. In order for this to be effective, it has to be the norm. It needs to be "unusual" not to know. If obscurity is the norm, then it's super easy for people like Gerald Cotten and Dave Smilie to blend right in.
It's not complicated to validate cryptocurrency assets. They need to exist, they need to be spendable, and they need to cover the total balances. There are plenty of credible people and firms across the country that have the capacity to reasonably perform this validation. Having more frequent checks by different, independent, parties who publish transparent reports is far more valuable than an annual check by a single "more credible/official" party who does the exact same basic checks and may or may not publish anything. Here's an example set of requirements that could be mandated:
First report within 1 month of launching, another within 3 months, and further reports at minimum every 6 months thereafter.
No auditor can be repeated within a 12 month period.
All reports must be public, identifying the auditor and the full methodology used.
All auditors must be independent of the firm being audited with no conflict of interest.
Reports must include the percentage of each asset backed, and how it's backed.
The auditor publishes a hash list, which lists a hash of each customer's information and balances that were included. Hash is one-way encryption so privacy is fully preserved. Every customer can use this to have 100% confidence they were included.
If we want more extensive requirements on audits, these should scale upward based on the total assets at risk on the platform, and whether the platform has loaned their assets out.
There are ways to structure audits such that neither crypto assets nor customer information are ever put at risk, and both can still be properly validated and publicly verifiable. There are also ways to structure audits such that they are completely reasonable for small platforms and don't inhibit innovation in any way. By making the process as reasonable as possible, we can completely eliminate any reason/excuse that an honest platform would have for not being audited. That is arguable far more important than any incremental improvement we might get from mandating "the best of the best" accountants. Right now we have nothing mandated and tons of Canadians using offshore exchanges with no oversight whatsoever. Transparency does not prove crypto assets are safe. CoinTradeNewNote, Flexcoin ($600k), and Canadian Bitcoins ($100k) are examples where crypto-assets were breached from platforms in Canada. All of them were online wallets and used no multi-sig as far as any records show. This is consistent with what we see globally - air-gapped multi-sig wallets have an impeccable record, while other schemes tend to suffer breach after breach. We don't actually know how much CoinTrader lost because there was no visibility. Rather than publishing details of what happened, the co-founder of CoinTrader silently moved on to found another platform - the "most trusted way to buy and sell crypto" - a site that has no information whatsoever (that I could find) on the storage practices and a FAQ advising that “[t]rading cryptocurrency is completely safe” and that having your own wallet is “entirely up to you! You can certainly keep cryptocurrency, or fiat, or both, on the app.” Doesn't sound like much was learned here, which is really sad to see. It's not that complicated or unreasonable to set up a proper hardware wallet. Multi-sig can be learned in a single course. Something the equivalent complexity of a driver's license test could prevent all the cold storage exploits we've seen to date - even globally. Platform operators have a key advantage in detecting and preventing fraud - they know their customers far better than any custodian ever would. The best job that custodians can do is to find high integrity individuals and train them to form even better wallet signatories. Rather than mandating that all platforms expose themselves to arbitrary third party risks, regulations should center around ensuring that all signatories are background-checked, properly trained, and using proper procedures. We also need to make sure that signatories are empowered with rights and responsibilities to reject and report fraud. They need to know that they can safely challenge and delay a transaction - even if it turns out they made a mistake. We need to have an environment where mistakes are brought to the surface and dealt with. Not one where firms and people feel the need to hide what happened. In addition to a knowledge-based test, an auditor can privately interview each signatory to make sure they're not in coercive situations, and we should make sure they can freely and anonymously report any issues without threat of retaliation. A proper multi-sig has each signature held by a separate person and is governed by policies and mutual decisions instead of a hierarchy. It includes at least one redundant signature. For best results, 3of4, 3of5, 3of6, 4of5, 4of6, 4of7, 5of6, or 5of7. History has demonstrated over and over again the risk of hot wallets even to highly credible organizations. Nonetheless, many platforms have hot wallets for convenience. While such losses are generally compensated by platforms without issue (for example Poloniex, Bitstamp, Bitfinex, Gatecoin, Coincheck, Bithumb, Zaif, CoinBene, Binance, Bitrue, Bitpoint, Upbit, VinDAX, and now KuCoin), the public tends to focus more on cases that didn't end well. Regardless of what systems are employed, there is always some level of risk. For that reason, most members of the public would prefer to see third party insurance. Rather than trying to convince third party profit-seekers to provide comprehensive insurance and then relying on an expensive and slow legal system to enforce against whatever legal loopholes they manage to find each and every time something goes wrong, insurance could be run through multiple exchange operators and regulators, with the shared interest of having a reputable industry, keeping costs down, and taking care of Canadians. For example, a 4 of 7 multi-sig insurance fund held between 5 independent exchange operators and 2 regulatory bodies. All Canadian exchanges could pay premiums at a set rate based on their needed coverage, with a higher price paid for hot wallet coverage (anything not an air-gapped multi-sig cold wallet). Such a model would be much cheaper to manage, offer better coverage, and be much more reliable to payout when needed. The kind of coverage you could have under this model is unheard of. You could even create something like the CDIC to protect Canadians who get their trading accounts hacked if they can sufficiently prove the loss is legitimate. In cases of fraud, gross negligence, or insolvency, the fund can be used to pay affected users directly (utilizing the last transparent balance report in the worst case), something which private insurance would never touch. While it's recommended to have official policies for coverage, a model where members vote would fully cover edge cases. (Could be similar to the Supreme Court where justices vote based on case law.) Such a model could fully protect all Canadians across all platforms. You can have a fiat coverage governed by legal agreements, and crypto-asset coverage governed by both multi-sig and legal agreements. It could be practical, affordable, and inclusive. Now, we are at a crossroads. We can happily give up our freedom, our innovation, and our money. We can pay hefty expenses to auditors, lawyers, and regulators year after year (and make no mistake - this cost will grow to many millions or even billions as the industry grows - and it will be borne by all Canadians on every platform because platforms are not going to eat up these costs at a loss). We can make it nearly impossible for any new platform to enter the marketplace, forcing Canadians to use the same stagnant platforms year after year. We can centralize and consolidate the entire industry into 2 or 3 big players and have everyone else fail (possibly to heavy losses of users of those platforms). And when a flawed security model doesn't work and gets breached, we can make it even more complicated with even more people in suits making big money doing the job that blockchain was supposed to do in the first place. We can build a system which is so intertwined and dependent on big government, traditional finance, and central bankers that it's future depends entirely on that of the fiat system, of fractional banking, and of government bail-outs. If we choose this path, as history has shown us over and over again, we can not go back, save for revolution. Our children and grandchildren will still be paying the consequences of what we decided today. Or, we can find solutions that work. We can maintain an open and innovative environment while making the adjustments we need to make to fully protect Canadian investors and cryptocurrency users, giving easy and affordable access to cryptocurrency for all Canadians on the platform of their choice, and creating an environment in which entrepreneurs and problem solvers can bring those solutions forward easily. None of the above precludes innovation in any way, or adds any unreasonable cost - and these three policies would demonstrably eliminate or resolve all 109 historic cases as studied here - that's every single case researched so far going back to 2011. It includes every loss that was studied so far not just in Canada but globally as well. Unfortunately, finding answers is the least challenging part. Far more challenging is to get platform operators and regulators to agree on anything. My last post got no response whatsoever, and while the OSC has told me they're happy for industry feedback, I believe my opinion alone is fairly meaningless. This takes the whole community working together to solve. So please let me know your thoughts. Please take the time to upvote and share this with people. Please - let's get this solved and not leave it up to other people to do. Facts/background/sources (skip if you like):
The inspiration for the paragraph about splitting wallets was an actual quote from a Canadian company providing custodial services in response to the OSC consultation paper: "We believe that it will be in the in best interests of investors to prohibit pooled crypto assets or ‘floats’. Most Platforms pool assets, citing reasons of practicality and expense. The recent hack of the world’s largest Platform – Binance – demonstrates the vulnerability of participants’ assets when such concessions are made. In this instance, the Platform’s entire hot wallet of Bitcoins, worth over $40 million, was stolen, facilitated in part by the pooling of client crypto assets." "the maintenance of participants (and Platform) crypto assets across multiple wallets distributes the related risk and responsibility of security - reducing the amount of insurance coverage required and making insurance coverage more readily obtainable". For the record, their reply also said nothing whatsoever about multi-sig or offline storage.
In addition to the fact that the $40m hack represented only one "hot wallet" of Binance, and they actually had the vast majority of assets in other wallets (including mostly cold wallets), multiple real cases have clearly demonstrated that risk is still present with multiple wallets. Bitfinex, VinDAX, Bithumb, Altsbit, BitPoint, Cryptopia, and just recently KuCoin all had multiple wallets breached all at the same time, and may represent a significantly larger impact on customers than the Binance breach which was fully covered by Binance. To represent that simply having multiple separate wallets under the same security scheme is a comprehensive way to reduce risk is just not true.
Private insurance has historically never covered a single loss in the cryptocurrency space (at least, not one that I was able to find), and there are notable cases where massive losses were not covered by insurance. Bitpay in 2015 and Yapizon in 2017 both had insurance policies that didn't pay out during the breach, even after a lengthly court process. The same insurance that ShakePay is presently using (and announced to much fanfare) was describe by their CEO himself as covering “physical theft of the media where the private keys are held,” which is something that has never historically happened. As was said with regard to the same policy in 2018 - “I don’t find it surprising that Lloyd’s is in this space,” said Johnson, adding that to his mind the challenge for everybody is figuring out how to structure these policies so that they are actually protective. “You can create an insurance policy that protects no one – you know there are so many caveats to the policy that it’s not super protective.”
The most profitable policy for a private insurance company is one with the most expensive premiums that they never have to pay a claim on. They have no inherent incentive to take care of people who lost funds. It's "cheaper" to take the reputational hit and fight the claim in court. The more money at stake, the more the insurance provider is incentivized to avoid payout. They're not going to insure the assets unless they have reasonable certainty to make a profit by doing so, and they're not going to pay out a massive sum unless it's legally forced. Private insurance is always structured to be maximally profitable to the insurance provider.
The circumvention of multi-sig was a key factor in the massive Bitfinex hack of over $60m of bitcoin, which today still sits being slowly used and is worth over $3b. While Bitfinex used a qualified custodian Bitgo, which was and still is active and one of the industry leaders of custodians, and they set up 2 of 3 multi-sig wallets, the entire system was routed through Bitfinex, such that Bitfinex customers could initiate the withdrawals in a "hot" fashion. This feature was also a hit with the hacker. The multi-sig was fully circumvented.
Bitpay in 2015 was another example of a breach that stole 5,000 bitcoins. This happened not through the exploit of any system in Bitpay, but because the CEO of a company they worked with got their computer hacked and the hackers were able to request multiple bitcoin purchases, which Bitpay honoured because they came from the customer's computer legitimately. Impersonation is a very common tactic used by fraudsters, and methods get more extreme all the time.
A notable case in Canada was the Canadian Bitcoins exploit. Funds were stored on a server in a Rogers Data Center, and the attendee was successfully convinced to reboot the server "in safe mode" with a simple phone call, thus bypassing the extensive security and enabling the theft.
The very nature of custodians circumvents multi-sig. This is because custodians are not just having to secure the assets against some sort of physical breach but against any form of social engineering, modification of orders, fraudulent withdrawal attempts, etc... If the security practices of signatories in a multi-sig arrangement are such that the breach risk of one signatory is 1 in 100, the requirement of 3 independent signatures makes the risk of theft 1 in 1,000,000. Since hackers tend to exploit the weakest link, a comparable custodian has to make the entry and exit points of their platform 10,000 times more secure than one of those signatories to provide equivalent protection. And if the signatories beef up their security by only 10x, the risk is now 1 in 1,000,000,000. The custodian has to be 1,000,000 times more secure. The larger and more complex a system is, the more potential vulnerabilities exist in it, and the fewer people can understand how the system works when performing upgrades. Even if a system is completely secure today, one has to also consider how that system might evolve over time or work with different members.
By contrast, offline multi-signature solutions have an extremely solid record, and in the entire history of cryptocurrency exchange incidents which I've studied (listed here), there has only been one incident (796 exchange in 2015) involving an offline multi-signature wallet. It happened because the customer's bitcoin address was modified by hackers, and the amount that was stolen ($230k) was immediately covered by the exchange operators. Basically, the platform operators were tricked into sending a legitimate withdrawal request to the wrong address because hackers exploited their platform to change that address. Such an issue would not be prevented in any way by the use of a custodian, as that custodian has no oversight whatsoever to the exchange platform. It's practical for all exchange operators to test large withdrawal transactions as a general policy, regardless of what model is used, and general best practice is to diagnose and fix such an exploit as soon as it occurs.
False promises on the backing of funds played a huge role in the downfall of Quadriga, and it's been exposed over and over again (MyCoin, PlusToken, Bitsane, Bitmarket, EZBTC, IDAX). Even today, customers have extremely limited certainty on whether their funds in exchanges are actually being backed or how they're being backed. While this issue is not unique to cryptocurrency exchanges, the complexity of the technology and the lack of any regulation or standards makes problems more widespread, and there is no "central bank" to come to the rescue as in the 2008 financial crisis or during the great depression when "9,000 banks failed".
In addition to fraudulent operations, the industry is full of cases where operators have suffered breaches and not reported them. Most recently, Einstein was the largest case in Canada, where ongoing breaches and fraud were perpetrated against the platform for multiple years and nobody found out until the platform collapsed completely. While fraud and breaches suck to deal with, they suck even more when not dealt with. Lack of visibility played a role in the largest downfalls of Mt. Gox, Cryptsy, and Bitgrail. In some cases, platforms are alleged to have suffered a hack and keep operating without admitting it at all, such as CoinBene.
It surprises some to learn that a cryptographic solution has already existed since 2013, and gained widespread support in 2014 after Mt. Gox. Proof of Reserves is a full cryptographic proof that allows any customer using an exchange to have complete certainty that their crypto-assets are fully backed by the platform in real-time. This is accomplished by proving that assets exist on the blockchain, are spendable, and fully cover customer deposits. It does not prove safety of assets or backing of fiat assets.
If we didn't care about privacy at all, a platform could publish their wallet addresses, sign a partial transaction, and put the full list of customer information and balances out publicly. Customers can each check that they are on the list, that the balances are accurate, that the total adds up, and that it's backed and spendable on the blockchain. Platforms who exclude any customer take a risk because that customer can easily check and see they were excluded. So together with all customers checking, this forms a full proof of backing of all crypto assets.
However, obviously customers care about their private information being published. Therefore, a hash of the information can be provided instead. Hash is one-way encryption. The hash allows the customer to validate inclusion (by hashing their own known information), while anyone looking at the list of hashes cannot determine the private information of any other user. All other parts of the scheme remain fully intact. A model like this is in use on the exchange CoinFloor in the UK.
A Merkle tree can provide even greater privacy. Instead of a list of balances, the balances are arranged into a binary tree. A customer starts from their node, and works their way to the top of the tree. For example, they know they have 5 BTC, they plus 1 other customer hold 7 BTC, they plus 2-3 other customers hold 17 BTC, etc... until they reach the root where all the BTC are represented. Thus, there is no way to find the balances of other individual customers aside from one unidentified customer in this case.
Proposals such as this had the backing of leaders in the community including Nic Carter, Greg Maxwell, and Zak Wilcox. Substantial and significant effort started back in 2013, with massive popularity in 2014. But what became of that effort? Very little. Exchange operators continue to refuse to give visibility. Despite the fact this information can often be obtained through trivial blockchain analysis, no Canadian platform has ever provided any wallet addresses publicly. As described by the CEO of Newton "For us to implement some kind of realtime Proof of Reserves solution, which I'm not opposed to, it would have to ... Preserve our users' privacy, as well as our own. Some kind of zero-knowledge proof". Kraken describes here in more detail why they haven't implemented such a scheme. According to professor Eli Ben-Sasson, when he spoke with exchanges, none were interested in implementing Proof of Reserves.
And yet, Kraken's places their reasoning on a page called "Proof of Reserves". More recently, both BitBuy and ShakePay have released reports titled "Proof of Reserves and Security Audit". Both reports contain disclaimers against being audits. Both reports trust the customer list provided by the platform, leaving the open possibility that multiple large accounts could have been excluded from the process. Proof of Reserves is a blockchain validation where customers see the wallets on the blockchain. The report from Kraken is 5 years old, but they leave it described as though it was just done a few weeks ago. And look at what they expect customers to do for validation. When firms represent something being "Proof of Reserve" when it's not, this is like a farmer growing fruit with pesticides and selling it in a farmers market as organic produce - except that these are people's hard-earned life savings at risk here. Platforms are misrepresenting the level of visibility in place and deceiving the public by their misuse of this term. They haven't proven anything.
Fraud isn't a problem that is unique to cryptocurrency. Fraud happens all the time. Enron, WorldCom, Nortel, Bear Stearns, Wells Fargo, Moser Baer, Wirecard, Bre-X, and Nicola are just some of the cases where frauds became large enough to become a big deal (and there are so many countless others). These all happened on 100% reversible assets despite regulations being in place. In many of these cases, the problems happened due to the over-complexity of the financial instruments. For example, Enron had "complex financial statements [which] were confusing to shareholders and analysts", creating "off-balance-sheet vehicles, complex financing structures, and deals so bewildering that few people could understand them". In cryptocurrency, we are often combining complex financial products with complex technologies and verification processes. We are naïve if we think problems like this won't happen. It is awkward and uncomfortable for many people to admit that they don't know how something works. If we want "money of the people" to work, the solutions have to be simple enough that "the people" can understand them, not so confusing that financial professionals and technology experts struggle to use or understand them.
For those who question the extent to which an organization can fool their way into a security consultancy role, HB Gary should be a great example to look at. Prior to trying to out anonymous, HB Gary was being actively hired by multiple US government agencies and others in the private sector (with glowing testimonials). The published articles and hosted professional security conferences. One should also look at this list of data breaches from the past 2 years. Many of them are large corporations, government entities, and technology companies. These are the ones we know about. Undoubtedly, there are many more that we do not know about. If HB Gary hadn't been "outted" by anonymous, would we have known they were insecure? If the same breach had happened outside of the public spotlight, would it even have been reported? Or would HB Gary have just deleted the Twitter posts, brought their site back up, done a couple patches, and kept on operating as though nothing had happened?
In the case of Quadriga, the facts are clear. Despite past experience with platforms such as MapleChange in Canada and others around the world, no guidance or even the most basic of a framework was put in place by regulators. By not clarifying any sort of legal framework, regulators enabled a situation where a platform could be run by former criminal Mike Dhanini/Omar Patryn, and where funds could be held fully unchecked by one person. At the same time, the lack of regulation deterred legitimate entities from running competing platforms and Quadriga was granted a money services business license for multiple years of operation, which gave the firm the appearance of legitimacy. Regulators did little to protect Canadians despite Quadriga failing to file taxes from 2016 onward. The entire administrative team had resigned and this was public knowledge. Many people had suspicions of what was going on, including Ryan Mueller, who forwarded complaints to the authorities. These were ignored, giving Gerald Cotten the opportunity to escape without justice.
There are multiple issues with the SOC II model including the prohibitive cost (you have to find a third party accounting firm and the prices are not even listed publicly on any sites), the requirement of operating for a year (impossible for new platforms), and lack of any public visibility (SOC II are private reports that aren't shared outside the people in suits).
Securities frameworks are expensive. Sarbanes-Oxley is estimated to cost $5.1 million USD/yr for the average Fortune 500 company in the United States. Since "Fortune 500" represents the top 500 companies, that means well over $2.55 billion USD (~$3.4 billion CAD) is going to people in suits. Isn't the problem of trust and verification the exact problem that the blockchain is supposed to solve?
To use Quadriga as justification for why custodians or SOC II or other advanced schemes are needed for platforms is rather silly, when any framework or visibility at all, or even the most basic of storage policies, would have prevented the whole thing. It's just an embarrassment.
We are now seeing regulators take strong action. CoinSquare in Canada with multi-million dollar fines. BitMex from the US, criminal charges and arrests. OkEx, with full disregard of withdrawals and no communication. Who's next?
We have a unique window today where we can solve these problems, and not permanently destroy innovation with unreasonable expectations, but we need to act quickly. This is a unique historic time that will never come again.
How To End The Cryptocurrency Exchange "Wild West" Without Crippling Innovation
In case you haven't noticed the consultation paper, staff notice, and report on Quadriga, regulators are now clamping down on Canadian cryptocurrency exchanges. The OSC and other regulatory bodies are still interested in industry feedback. They have not put forward any official regulation yet. Below are some ideas/insights and a proposed framework.
Typical securities frameworks will cost Canadians millions of dollars (ie Sarbanes-Oxley estimated at $5m USD/yr per firm). Implementation costs of this proposal are significantly cheaper.
Canadians can maintain a diverse set of exchanges, multiple viable business models are still fully supported, and innovation is encouraged while keeping Canadians safe.
Many of you have limited time to read the full proposal, so here are the highlights:
Effective standards to prevent both internal and external theft. Exchange operators are trained and certified, and have a legal responsibility to users.
Regular Transparent Audits
Provides visibility to Canadians that their funds are fully backed on the exchange, while protecting privacy and sensitive platform information.
Establishment of basic insurance standards/strategy, to expand over time. Removing risk to exchange users of any hot wallet theft.
Background and Justifications
Cold Storage Custody/Management After reviewing close to 100 cases, all thefts tend to break down into more or less the same set of problems: • Funds stored online or in a smart contract, • Access controlled by one person or one system, • 51% attacks (rare), • Funds sent to the wrong address (also rare), or • Some combination of the above. For the first two cases, practical solutions exist and are widely implemented on exchanges already. Offline multi-signature solutions are already industry standard. No cases studied found an external theft or exit scam involving an offline multi-signature wallet implementation. Security can be further improved through minimum numbers of signatories, background checks, providing autonomy and legal protections to each signatory, establishing best practices, and a training/certification program. The last two transaction risks occur more rarely, and have never resulted in a loss affecting the actual users of the exchange. In all cases to date where operators made the mistake, they've been fully covered by the exchange platforms. • 51% attacks generally only occur on blockchains with less security. The most prominent cases have been Bitcoin Gold and Ethereum Classic. The simple solution is to enforce deposit limits and block delays such that a 51% attack is not cost-effective. • The risk of transactions to incorrect addresses can be eliminated by a simple test transaction policy on large transactions. By sending a small amount of funds prior to any large withdrawals/transfers as a standard practice, the accuracy of the wallet address can be validated. The proposal covers all loss cases and goes beyond, while avoiding significant additional costs, risks, and limitations which may be associated with other frameworks like SOC II. On The Subject of Third Party Custodians Many Canadian platforms are currently experimenting with third party custody. From the standpoint of the exchange operator, they can liberate themselves from some responsibility of custody, passing that off to someone else. For regulators, it puts crypto in similar categorization to oil, gold, and other commodities, with some common standards. Platform users would likely feel greater confidence if the custodian was a brand they recognized. If the custodian was knowledgeable and had a decent team that employed multi-sig, they could keep assets safe from internal theft. With the right protections in place, this could be a great solution for many exchanges, particularly those that lack the relevant experience or human resources for their own custody systems. However, this system is vulnerable to anyone able to impersonate the exchange operators. You may have a situation where different employees who don't know each other that well are interacting between different companies (both the custodian and all their customers which presumably isn't just one exchange). A case study of what can go wrong in this type of environment might be Bitpay, where the CEO was tricked out of 5000 bitcoins over 3 separate payments by a series of emails sent legitimately from a breached computer of another company CEO. It's also still vulnerable to the platform being compromised, as in the really large $70M Bitfinex hack, where the third party Bitgo held one key in a multi-sig wallet. The hacker simply authorized the withdrawal using the same credentials as Bitfinex (requesting Bitgo to sign multiple withdrawal transactions). This succeeded even with the use of multi-sig and two heavily security-focused companies, due to the lack of human oversight (basically, hot wallet). Of course, you can learn from these cases and improve the security, but so can hackers improve their deception and at the end of the day, both of these would have been stopped by the much simpler solution of a qualified team who knew each other and employed multi-sig with properly protected keys. It's pretty hard to beat a human being who knows the business and the typical customer behaviour (or even knows their customers personally) at spotting fraud, and the proposed multi-sig means any hacker has to get through the scrutiny of 3 (or more) separate people, all of whom would have proper training including historical case studies. There are strong arguments both for and against using use of third party custodians. The proposal sets mandatory minimum custody standards would apply regardless if the cold wallet signatories are exchange operators, independent custodians, or a mix of both. On The Subject Of Insurance ShakePay has taken the first steps into this new realm (congratulations). There is no question that crypto users could be better protected by the right insurance policies, and it certainly feels better to transact with insured platforms. The steps required to obtain insurance generally place attention in valuable security areas, and in this case included a review from CipherTrace. One of the key solutions in traditional finance comes from insurance from entities such as the CDIC. However, historically, there wasn't found any actual insurance payout to any cryptocurrency exchange, and there are notable cases where insurance has not paid. With Bitpay, for example, the insurance agent refused because the issue happened to the third party CEO's computer instead of anything to do with Bitpay itself. With the Youbit exchange in South Korea, their insurance claim was denied, and the exchange ultimately ended up instead going bankrupt with all user's funds lost. To quote Matt Johnson in the original Lloyd's article: “You can create an insurance policy that protects no one – you know there are so many caveats to the policy that it’s not super protective.” ShakePay's insurance was only reported to cover their cold storage, and “physical theft of the media where the private keys are held”. Physical theft has never, in the history of cryptocurrency exchange cases reviewed, been reported as the cause of loss. From the limited information of the article, ShakePay made it clear their funds are in the hands of a single US custodian, and at least part of their security strategy is to "decline to confirm the custodian’s name on the record". While this prevents scrutiny of the custodian, it's pretty silly to speculate that a reasonably competent hacking group couldn't determine who the custodian is. A far more common infiltration strategy historically would be social engineering, which has succeeded repeatedly. A hacker could trick their way into ShakePay's systems and request a fraudulent withdrawal, impersonate ShakePay and request the custodian to move funds, or socially engineer their way into the custodian to initiate the withdrawal of multiple accounts (a payout much larger than ShakePay) exploiting the standard procedures (for example, fraudulently initiating or override the wallet addresses of a real transfer). In each case, nothing was physically stolen and the loss is therefore not covered by insurance. In order for any insurance to be effective, clear policies have to be established about what needs to be covered. Anything short of that gives Canadians false confidence that they are protected when they aren't in any meaningful way. At this time, the third party insurance market does not appear to provide adequate options or coverage, and effort is necessary to standardize custody standards, which is a likely first step in ultimately setting up an insurance framework. A better solution compared to third party insurance providers might be for Canadian exchange operators to create their own collective insurance fund, or a specific federal organization similar to the CDIC. Such an organization would have a greater interest or obligation in paying out actual cases, and that would be it's purpose rather than maximizing it's own profit. This would be similar to the SAFU which Binance has launched, except it would cover multiple exchanges. There is little question whether the SAFU would pay out given a breach of Binance, and a similar argument could be made for a insurance fund managed by a collective of exchange operators or a government organization. While a third party insurance provider has the strong market incentive to provide the absolute minimum coverage and no market incentive to payout, an entity managed by exchange operators would have incentive to protect the reputation of exchange operators/the industry, and the government should have the interest of protecting Canadians. On The Subject of Fractional Reserve There is a long history of fractional reserve failures, from the first banks in ancient times, through the great depression (where hundreds of fractional reserve banks failed), right through to the 2008 banking collapse referenced in the first bitcoin block. The fractional reserve system allows banks to multiply the money supply far beyond the actual cash (or other assets) in existence, backed only by a system of debt obligations of others. Safely supporting a fractional reserve system is a topic of far greater complexity than can be addressed by a simple policy, and when it comes to cryptocurrency, there is presently no entity reasonably able to bail anyone out in the event of failure. Therefore, this framework is addressed around entities that aim to maintain 100% backing of funds. There may be some firms that desire but have failed to maintain 100% backing. In this case, there are multiple solutions, including outside investment, merging with other exchanges, or enforcing a gradual restoration plan. All of these solutions are typically far better than shutting down the exchange, and there are multiple cases where they've been used successfully in the past. Proof of Reserves/Transparency/Accountability Canadians need to have visibility into the backing on an ongoing basis. The best solution for crypto-assets is a Proof of Reserve. Such ideas go back all the way to 2013, before even Mt. Gox. However, no Canadian exchange has yet implemented such a system, and only a few international exchanges (CoinFloor in the UK being an example) have. Many firms like Kraken, BitBuy, and now ShakePay use the Proof of Reserve term to refer to lesser proofs which do not actually cryptographically prove the full backing of all user assets on the blockchain. In order for a Proof of Reserve to be effective, it must actually be a complete proof, and it needs to be understood by the public that is expected to use it. Many firms have expressed reservations about the level of transparency required in a complete Proof of Reserve (for example Kraken here). While a complete Proof of Reserves should be encouraged, and there are some solutions in the works (ie TxQuick), this is unlikely to be suitable universally for all exchange operators and users. Given the limitations, and that firms also manage fiat assets, a more traditional audit process makes more sense. Some Canadian exchanges (CoinSquare, CoinBerry) have already subjected themselves to annual audits. However, these results are not presently shared publicly, and there is no guarantee over the process including all user assets or the integrity and independence of the auditor. The auditor has been typically not known, and in some cases, the identity of the auditor is protected by a NDA. Only in one case (BitBuy) was an actual report generated and publicly shared. There has been no attempt made to validate that user accounts provided during these audits have been complete or accurate. A fraudulent fractional exchange, or one which had suffered a breach they were unwilling to publicly accept (see CoinBene), could easily maintain a second set of books for auditors or simply exclude key accounts to pass an individual audit. The proposed solution would see a reporting standard which includes at a minimum - percentage of backing for each asset relative to account balances and the nature of how those assets are stored, with ownership proven by the auditor. The auditor would also publicly provide a "hash list", which they independently generate from the accounts provided by the exchange. Every exchange user can then check their information against this public "hash list". A hash is a one-way form of encryption, which fully protects the private information, yet allows anyone who knows that information already to validate that it was included. Less experienced users can take advantage of public tools to calculate the hash from their information (provided by the exchange), and thus have certainty that the auditor received their full balance information. Easy instructions can be provided. Auditors should be impartial, their identities and process public, and they should be rotated so that the same auditor is never used twice in a row. Balancing the cost of auditing against the needs for regular updates, a 6 month cycle likely makes the most sense. Hot Wallet Management The best solution for hot wallets is not to use them. CoinBerry reportedly uses multi-sig on all withdrawals, and Bitmex is an international example known for their structure devoid of hot wallets. However, many platforms and customers desire fast withdrawal processes, and human validation has a cost of time and delay in this process. A model of self-insurance or separate funds for hot wallets may be used in these cases. Under this model, a platform still has 100% of their client balance in cold storage and holds additional funds in hot wallets for quick withdrawal. Thus, the risk of those hot wallets is 100% on exchange operators and not affecting the exchange users. Since most platforms typically only have 1%-5% in hot wallets at any given time, it shouldn't be unreasonable to build/maintain these additional reserves over time using exchange fees or additional investment. Larger withdrawals would still be handled at regular intervals from the cold storage. Hot wallet risks have historically posed a large risk and there is no established standard to guarantee secure hot wallets. When the government of South Korea dispatched security inspections to multiple exchanges, the results were still that 3 of them got hacked after the inspections. If standards develop such that an organization in the market is willing to insure the hot wallets, this could provide an acceptable alternative. Another option may be for multiple exchange operators to pool funds aside for a hot wallet insurance fund. Comprehensive coverage standards must be established and maintained for all hot wallet balances to make sure Canadians are adequately protected.
Current Draft Proposal
(1) Proper multi-signature cold wallet storage. (a) Each private key is the personal and legal responsibility of one person - the “signatory”. Signatories have special rights and responsibilities to protect user assets. Signatories are trained and certified through a course covering (1) past hacking and fraud cases, (2) proper and secure key generation, and (3) proper safekeeping of private keys. All private keys must be generated and stored 100% offline by the signatory. If even one private keys is ever breached or suspected to be breached, the wallet must be regenerated and all funds relocated to a new wallet. (b) All signatories must be separate background-checked individuals free of past criminal conviction. Canadians should have a right to know who holds their funds. All signing of transactions must take place with all signatories on Canadian soil or on the soil of a country with a solid legal system which agrees to uphold and support these rules (from an established white-list of countries which expands over time). (c) 3-5 independent signatures are required for any withdrawal. There must be 1-3 spare signatories, and a maximum of 7 total signatories. The following are all valid combinations: 3of4, 3of5, 3of6, 4of5, 4of6, 4of7, 5of6, or 5of7. (d) A security audit should be conducted to validate the cold wallet is set up correctly and provide any additional pertinent information. The primary purpose is to ensure that all signatories are acting independently and using best practices for private key storage. A report summarizing all steps taken and who did the audit will be made public. Canadians must be able to validate the right measures are in place to protect their funds. (e) There is a simple approval process if signatories wish to visit any country outside Canada, with a potential whitelist of exempt countries. At most 2 signatories can be outside of aligned jurisdiction at any given time. All exchanges would be required to keep a compliant cold wallet for Canadian funds and have a Canadian office if they wish to serve Canadian customers. (2) Regular and transparent solvency audits. (a) An audit must be conducted at founding, after 3 months of operation, and at least once every 6 months to compare customer balances against all stored cryptocurrency and fiat balances. The auditor must be known, independent, and never the same twice in a row. (b) An audit report will be published featuring the steps conducted in a readable format. This should be made available to all Canadians on the exchange website and on a government website. The report must include what percentage of each customer asset is backed on the exchange, and how those funds are stored. (c) The auditor will independently produce a hash of each customer's identifying information and balance as they perform the audit. This will be made publicly available on the exchange and government website, along with simplified instructions that each customer can use to verify that their balance was included in the audit process. (d) The audit needs to include a proof of ownership for any cryptocurrency wallets included. A satoshi test (spending a small amount) or partially signed transaction both qualify. (e) Any platform without 100% reserves should be assessed on a regular basis by a government or industry watchdog. This entity should work to prevent any further drop, support any private investor to come in, or facilitate a merger so that 100% backing can be obtained as soon as possible. (3) Protections for hot wallets and transactions. (a) A standardized list of approved coins and procedures will be established to constitute valid cold storage wallets. Where a multi-sig process is not natively available, efforts will be undertaken to establish a suitable and stable smart contract standard. This list will be expanded and improved over time. Coins and procedures not on the list are considered hot wallets. (b) Hot wallets can be backed by additional funds in cold storage or an acceptable third-party insurance provider with a comprehensive coverage policy. (c) Exchanges are required to cover the full balance of all user funds as denominated in the same currency, or double the balance as denominated in bitcoin or CAD using an established trading rate. If the balance is ever insufficient due to market movements, the firm must rectify this within 24 hours by moving assets to cold storage or increasing insurance coverage. (d) Any large transactions (above a set threshold) from cold storage to any new wallet addresses (not previously transacted with) must be tested with a smaller transaction first. Deposits of cryptocurrency must be limited to prevent economic 51% attacks. Any issues are to be covered by the exchange. (e) Exchange platforms must provide suitable authentication for users, including making available approved forms of two-factor authentication. SMS-based authentication is not to be supported. Withdrawals must be blocked for 48 hours in the event of any account password change. Disputes on the negligence of exchanges should be governed by case law.
Continued review of existing OSC feedback is still underway. More feedback and opinions on the framework and ideas as presented here are extremely valuable. The above is a draft and not finalized. The process of further developing and bringing a suitable framework to protect Canadians will require the support of exchange operators, legal experts, and many others in the community. The costs of not doing such are tremendous. A large and convoluted framework, one based on flawed ideas or implementation, or one which fails to properly safeguard Canadians is not just extremely expensive and risky for all Canadians, severely limiting to the credibility and reputation of the industry, but an existential risk to many exchanges. The responsibility falls to all of us to provide our insight and make our opinions heard on this critical matter. Please take the time to give your thoughts.
In today's world of heavily nascent and volatile cryptocurrency, one point or factor stands out. That is exchanges. Cryptocurrency exchanges are sites(whether physical or virtual) where cryptocurrencies are traded for each other or traditional fiat currencies like Euro, Pound Sterling or US Dollar. They may be divided by many criteria, chief of which may be Modus Operandi or Central Control. The Degree of Control suggests a central control of exchange management and resources. There are Centralized, Decentralized and Hybrid exchanges. Now we can narrow down to Centralized Exchanges. These are where transactions are monitored and controlled by the owners of the exchange. Transactions can be made only through mechanisms provided and approved by the central body. Also there is no access to private keys by traders. Examples include Koinpro, Binance, Kucoin, Bittrex etc. About Koinpro This is a Smart Bitcoin Futures Exchange. KoinPro, your new fangled crypto exchange, that goes beyond crypto and boasts of multiple futures contracts, with its own unique features and benefits. Bitcoin Futures, Contracts for Difference are complex instruments. Trading these financial products carries a high level of risk since leverage can work both to your advantage and disadvantage. There are a lot of exchanges, both crypto and fiat(mainstream and otherwise) trading tools like CFD, oil, futures etc; but not one of them Integrates CFDs like Koinpro. Its a no-brainer choice, since going for KoinPro’s unique double-UP contract, customers can simply enter into a predefined order position that will automatically terminate when the position either gains or loses 100% of its value, or when the contract expires — whichever comes first. insurance coverage is provided as a courtesy to BitGo Prime, which is a sole counterparty Prices derived from a wide range of Tier 1 institutions such as exchanges and professional market makers Trading on a fully non-disclosed basis Fully integrated with BitGo Portfolio & Tax. At KoinPro, we take the safety and security of our clients extremely seriously. To help make KoinPro one of the safest places to trade, we store our customer funds in cold storage wallets provided by BitGo—the world leader in secure digital asset storage. BitGo custody includes a $100 million insurance plan underwritten by Lloyd’s of London—one of the UK’s largest insurance markets. This insurance coverage is provided as a courtesy to KoinPro users and hence comes at no additional cost. This insurance coverage protects digital assets held by BitGo, Inc. or BitGo Trust Company in the event of; Third-party hacks or theft of private keys Insider theft by employees of private keys Physical loss or damage of private keys BitGo has delivered institution-grade security for digital assets since 2013, and features state-of-the-art cold storage technology, which includes a bank-grade Class III vault and stringent controls designed to practically eliminate the risk of loss. Full details about the BitGo custody and insurance protection can be found here. https://koinpro.com/ https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=5219842
KOIN PRO is an trade of exchange derivatives for everyone who is gaining momentum. The platform was created with the aim that any user, even with minimal knowledge, could understand its subtleties. The developers have made it simple and easy to use. KOIN PRO will launch a service token (KOI), which will be used to encourage users of the platform for active participation in various events, contests and campaigns conducted by the platform. The KOI token will provide its owners with countless opportunities in the BUY BACK program. https://preview.redd.it/7xxn54wuz8451.png?width=1601&format=png&auto=webp&s=c5eb8bc7355cd63a69fbe9cd46fb3186c837c4d9 In addition, KoinPro offers you innumerable possibilities. Everyone gets the opportunity to trade stocks, bitcoins and various foreign currencies. You will begin to work on a fast, secure and highly reliable platform. Guaranteed customer safety, which is considered an important task. Planning to create KoinPro as the safest and most reliable platform, the funds of users who have made investments are securely placed in the Cold Storage Wallet, a service was offered by the world-renowned and world leader in the field of security and storage of Digital data. BitGo Custodian has developed an insurance plan of $ 100 million, signed by Llodyds of London. It is the largest insurance company in the UK. If you want to join the platform now, first get acquainted with the official platform information:
The platform offers us wide opportunities for using the platform. You as a user can trade various stocks, various foreign currencies and bitcoins. You will start working on a fast, secure and completely reliable platform. Customer safety here will be considered a top priority. Developers strived to make KoinPro one of the most reliable trading platforms and safe for the user. Your customer funds will be stored in the Cold Storage Wallet. This service is world famous and is a world leader in the field of security and storage of digital assets. Your assets are under guaranteed security, as BitGo Custodian has an insurance plan worth more than $ 100 million, which was signed by Llodyds of London. It is the largest old company in the UK. KoinPro is responsible for your insurance coverage, so users will not incur additional costs. Insurance coverage will protect all digital assets under BitGo Inc. This is a standard security service of the Bank for its customers around the world, which will help to eliminate the risk of loss of funds. https://preview.redd.it/4iylb7b0fp351.png?width=1024&format=png&auto=webp&s=59146d8b09fd93f272281c04d5c5ac8d49af235d
ADVANTAGES OF THE PLATFORM
REGISTRATION BONUS: platform users receive an instant registration bonus in which they can easily exchange.
KYC IS NOT REQUIRED: unlike some platforms that force their users to pass the mandatory KYC, which is seen as a conflict with decentralization. The KoinPro platform does not oblige users to go through any KYC. Users only need to register and conduct their trading activities. 3.50% CASHBACK: Cashback is offered to users on trading commissions. Users take this rare opportunity on the KoinPro platform.
If you want to join the platform now, first get acquainted with the official platform information:
[Weekly Report] Stable Progress During the Epidemic
Recently, the global economy has experienced severe fluctuations due to the new crown epidemic, and major capital markets have declined in varying degrees, but these have no impact on the promotion of cooperation between LivesOne and BSV. After the Exchange LVTC for BSV event ended, more members of the BSV community began to pay attention to LivesOne and agreed with our concept, laying the foundation for the deeper and broader cooperation between LivesOne and BSV. LivesOne chooses BSV as the cooperation in many public chains because it agrees with the concept and development prospect of BSV chain. The existence of BSV chain is for a more secure and more binding and monitoring blockchain application. In this network, all violations will be recorded and tracked, which is more appropriate to the development of social economy. BSV is currently developing and expanding rapidly. Last December, it held the China Conference in Beijing, this February it held the UK conference in London, and this September or October it is expected to hold the US Conference in New York. Every meeting will attract many entities to participate in the ecological construction of BSV. BSV finally eliminates all doubts about the feasibility of the public chain and proves the possibility of building large-scale enterprise applications on the bitcoin blockchain. EHR data migrate to BSV Chain https://preview.redd.it/sjcikzxmcdn41.png?width=601&format=png&auto=webp&s=aaab40a48700b86078e27c6f581af40060a81422 At the BSV London conference held in February 2020, EHR data as a subsidiary of the National Health Coalition (NHC) announced that it is working with nChain to plan to use the BSV network to cope with the crisis of narcotic drugs, migrate all NHC data on the blockchain, use the BSV chain for healthcare record industry to create a single book, and efforts to achieve the digital medical data. This will benefit the entire global healthcare system, enable the formation of global electronic healthcare records and facilitate data sharing across the healthcare industry. At the same time, it will help reduce black market drug sales, and efforts to prevent "doctor shopping". By putting all patient data into one system, doctors and the whole healthcare industry can get information directly from the same single point, and patients can decide who access to their own medical data, providing greater control and transparency from pharmaceutical companies to end users. This facilitates information sharing may ultimately reduce drug use rates and illegal drug sales. Blockchain can share patient data with multiple parties on the premise of ensuring patient privacy, which can completely solve one of the biggest pain points in the medical industry. Seafooddata migrate to BSV Chain https://preview.redd.it/jd2u9mypbdn41.png?width=800&format=png&auto=webp&s=f60e2535d2b1fb87214e8a0c517015d21d2e0459 At the BSV conference in London, the blockchain supply management company UNISOT announced that it has officially launched SeafoodChain. UNISOT CEO Stephan Nilsson said that the solution will track the origin of seafood "from sea to plate" and will cover UNISOT ’s entire supply chain from ocean to land. It will bring all the entities in the seafood industry and provide greater transparency and credibility in the seafood industry's operations. This makes operations more efficient and helps companies reduce costs, making them more conducive to positive business growth. BSV recognizes that Bitcoin is transparent and regulated. The EHR and SeafoodChain projects clearly show the true value of the blockchain. BSV provides all businesses with the winning ingredients to strengthen their activities with a data solution that reduces fraud and streamlines operations. This cooperation shows the value of blockchain for correct data management and storage. We would like to see more industries and organizations make the same decisions as them, adopting blockchain in their daily operations. At present, the global financial market is struggling. In such an environment, there will be a good future only by doing a good job in ecological construction. We continue to work hard ! Symbiosism Economy Foundation Mar.18th, 2020
At the last Dash conference in London, the CEX.io CEO was on stage proudly proclaiming the new listing of Dash. Days before the next Dash conference, CEX.io is announcing to delist Dash again. I just received this announcement email: "We’ll soon be delisting ZEC and DASH coins from CEX.IO. As of September 15, trading will no longer be available for these coins, so we encourage you to finish all trades and close all your positions in ZEC and DASH before that date. On September 15, all outstanding orders will automatically be cancelled and you won’t be able to place new orders. You can store ZEC and DASH coins on CEX.IO for free through December 31, 2019. Starting January 1, 2020, a storage fee will be applied to ZEC and DASH funds kept on CEX.IO accounts." On their Telegram Channel, they clarified: "CEX.IO periodically updates listing policies, taking into account global regulatory and compliance developments, with an eye towards providing the best possible service while protecting our users. Recently, in response to regulatory developments in multiple jurisdictions, we’ve made a decision to delist several instruments, including ZEC and DASH." On some user's inquiry what regulatory risk, they clarified: "We are a regulated exchange and operate in multiple jurisdictions. The delisting decision reflects our assessment of risks these coins may pose for maintenance and progress of licensing process, partnerships, and various other aspects of business. Considering the forthcoming implementation of the Fifth AML Directive and the underlying requirements imposed on virtual currency exchanges in the UK, it was decided to reassess the company’s risk appetite to privacy-enhanced cryptocurrencies. For now, there is no available instruments for tracing and monitoring privacy-enhanced coins on the market. However, we are following all developments on the market, and once suitable and effective instrument to mitigate those risks will be offered, we definitely will reassess our approach." I thought the regulatory risk of Dash's Private Send was addressed by the Core Team? There was a long section in the recent quarterly call on how Private Send is like Bitcoin's coin mixing and to demonstrate the point, Private Send transactions were run on the Bitcoin blockchain. And in a recent blog post, Ryan T wrote: "Through a process of education, we have been effective in explaining the technology and convincing regulators that accepting Dash poses no incremental risk compared to Bitcoin." Doesn't seem that effective, after all. Has the team tried to work through these issues with CEX.io? If so, why couldn't their concerns be allayed? What does this mean for a potential Coinbase listing and other exchanges?
On Tuesday 16th July, just a few weeks ago I was invited to attend a Karatbit, Karatbars/Karatbank presentation. The presentation was touting everything including a blockchain mobile phone. Someone had approached me over the weekend to investigate an investment, they had made with Karatbit/Karatbars. I attended the presentation with some research which, to be honest, was not that favourable to the company but nevertheless still went with an open mind. KaratBank, a Singapore-based financial organization, has propelled another digital currency that it claims is bound to real physical gold. Is this a progressive thought – or a trick? KaratBank, an organization located in Singapore, has quite recently declared the dispatch of KaratBank Coins (KBC), another digital currency it said is attached to gold. Be that as it may, not just the cost of gold, as different monetary forms — to real bits of gold: they're embedded in plastic cards or banknotes. In any event, that is the way it appears upon first sight. KaratBank is a sister company of KaratBars International, located in Germany. KaratBars really sells gold in exceptionally small quantities (like 0.1g to 1g bullions), inserted into plastic cards (Karatbars) or money like notes (CashGold). The notes are famously overpriced: back when 1 gram of gold was $40, the 1g CashGold note cost $65. As per KaratBank whitepaper, 10,000 KBC can be traded for 0.1g CashGold notes. The initial coin offering kicked off earlier this year and proceeded until March 21, with the ICO starting March 22 (1 KBC = $0.05), Coin Telegraph reports. Be that as it may, KaratBars International as an organization is emphatically connected with scams. A basic search for KaratBars on Google returns three connections with the word "scam" in them on the first page. KaratBars was prohibited in Canada in 2014 over an Autorité des marchés agents (AMF) with a Scam warning. The Canadian government found that KaratBars executes some kind of multi-layered marketing (MLM), or "pyramid" scheme organisation that urged individuals to get new recruits and profit from their sales, promising a return of $15,000 to $136,000 every month. In any case, Is KaratBank is a different story? All things considered, yes and no. Upon a more intensive look at the organization's whitepaper, one finds the following: "United States of America citizens, residents (tax or otherwise) or green card holders, as well as residents of Canada, the People's Republic of China or the Republic of Singapore, are not qualified to partake in the KaratBank ICO." As indicated by the Behind MLM site, the explanation behind this may lie in the way that those nations have actualized strict regulation on ICOs, and KaratBank does not have any desire to have anything to do with them. "ICOs are not unlawful in the US or Canada. In the US, however, ICOs are ordinarily viewed as securities and require registration with the [Securities and Exchange Commission]," the site reads. "Singapore hasn't prohibited ICOs however it is one of the nations KaratBars International works in through the shell companies KaratPay and KaratBars Singapore. Singapore regulators closing those organizations down would cripple KaratBars International. The board most likely figure it's best not to take any risks." To work lawfully in any purview, KaratBars International would need to register itself with the proper securities regulator in that jurisdiction, which the organization appears to need to abstain from, raising doubts. From one's point of view what is disheartening is that blockchain is a great new technology and companies like this seem to mix their existing business with cryptocurrencies. Knowing full well that the general public does not really understand cryptocurrencies, let alone blockchain or Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT). As a blockchain consultant, one feels obligated to pose some questions anyone thinking of getting involved should be asking. At the presentation, I heard the presenters say “ Karatbars is giving its members the opportunity to buy gold in small quantities. They also encourage you to save in gold instead of paper money. This can easily be done by buying as little as 0.1 gram of gold or 1 gram - 2.5 gram or 5 grams.” They said members can keep their gold in Karatbars' vault or ask them to send it to you. Cash gold is the most popular form of buying gold as the gold is embedded in a banknote. 24kt gold 99.9% pure makes it easier for anyone to accumulate wealth. Karatbars is also involved in cryptocurrency and got their own coins, namely KBC and KCB coins. I'm going to get very deep into this, but the main thing to remember is that they say, “these coins are increasing in value and that it is backed by gold”. whereas and another Cryptocurrency is backed by nothing. As a self-proclaimed proponent of blockchain and a graduate of Digital Forensics, I feel obligated to say a few words about this presentation on Karatbit or at least as a conscious citizen of this global world of technology users. Blockchain is a magnificent emerging technology that can be harnessed to do so many things. But most importantly it is a technology that provides one single source of truth. If groups are using this single source of truth technology to spread untruths, someone concerned must come out to say something. Blockchain is a technology that can put everyone on an even playing field but it seems very few understand it. The individuals with even the fleeting basic understanding can influence the general public perception of cryptocurrencies. This leads me to ask a great quote from a book called Richest Man in Babylon …. “if you want advice on investing in expensive jewels, why would you go to a butcher?” The following is what the masses are being manipulated to attach their hopes and dreams. It is that “a further drop in the value of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies has recently left investors nursing heavy losses. Many proponents are holding out for a new breakout “if their digital assets can go mainstream.” The most important part of that statement is “if their digital assets can go mainstream”. This made me ask some questions about Karatbit and this is what I came up with. Something is fishy!! Can someone clarify the following? Claim 1: Gold mine worth $900 million provides security. Can’t find any official source as proof. Reference: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TyKQIckXyIU Claim 2: Backed by a gold mine in Africa Can’t find any official source as proof. Reference: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d5Q3ZvR4b04 Claim 3: Audit report by MM Revisors for a gold mine in Madagascar Can’t find proof that MM Revisors exists. Not sure if this report was published by Karatbars Int (can’t find it on their official website), but this is being circulated by some investors as if it were. Reference: https://karatbars-me.webnode.es/\_files/200000070-01d6002d18/audit.pdf Claim 4: Karatcoin Bank is a fully licensed crypto bank and is situated in Miami Can’t find proof that they are registered as a licensed financial institute in Miami, Florida. Can’t find Karatcoin Bank as a registered corporation, but found Karat Coin Corp. Reference: http://search.sunbiz.org/Inquiry/CorporationSearch/SearchResults?inquiryType=EntityName&searchNameOrder=KARATBANK&searchTerm=Karatbank Reference: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YXip2Fizz5U&t=152s Claim 5: Not a pyramid scheme Karatbit describes this as an affiliate program but clearly is a pyramid scheme at best, see links below; Canada: https://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/karatbars-quebec-activities-covered-by-prohibition-orders-514201571.html Namibia: https://economist.com.na/43874/extra/karatbars-international-is-a-scamsays-central-bank/ Netherlands: https://www.afm.nl/en/nieuws/2014/mei/waarschuwing-karatbars Claim 6: 100KBC = 1g of Gold at $40 per gram (1 KBC = $0.40) (guaranteed) Total supply = 12,000,000,000 KBC (can’t find figures of circulating, so using supply instead) Total gold needed to cover buy back of all coins: 12,000,000,000 / 100 = 120 000 000g = 120 tons (South Africa as a whole produced 139.9 tons of Gold in 2017). Total money needed to buy back all the coins: 120 000 000g x $40 = $4.8 Billion Can’t find proof that they have 120 tons of gold in storage (or backed up by the mines as claimed) or that they are at least worth $4.8 Billion to buy the gold? Taking a more conservative approach: According to icobench.com, they raised $100 000 000 with their ICO from 60% of the total supply. Let’s assume the 60% of 12,000,000,000 is in circulation. This equals to 7,200,000,000 KBC. Total gold needed for the buyback of 7,200,000,000 KBC: 7,200,000,000 / 100 = 72 000 000g = 72 tons Total money needed to buy back all coins: 72 000 000g x $40 = $2.88 Billion Loss for buying back the KBC that were sold during the ICO: $100,000,000 - $2,880,000,000 = - $2,780,000,000 A potential loss of $2,78 Billion!!! Or am I taking crazy pills? Reference: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KgeHjhlMfn0 Reference: https://icobench.com/ico/karatgold-coin Claim 7: This Forbes.com article gives credibility to the KBC coin This article was written by a Contributor. Reference: https://www.forbes.com/sites/joresablount/2019/05/31/10-blockchain-companies-to-watch-in-2019/#308b507e543f There is no traditional editing of contributors’ copy, at least not prior to publishing. If a story gets hot or makes the homepage, a producer will “check it more carefully,” DVorkin said. Reference: https://www.poynter.org/reporting-editing/2012/what-the-forbes-model-of-contributed-content-means-for-journalism/ “Blogging for Forbes requires being what is commonly referred to as a "self-starter." So far, nobody has said, "Um, you can't do that," or, "Oh, my God, no!" Reference: https://www.forbes.com/sites/susannahbreslin/2011/04/06/how-to-become-a-forbes-blogge#231bb9972862 “Warning over 'scammers paradise' as watchdog reveals victims lost £27m to bitcoin, cryptocurrency and forex frauds last year” • Some 1,850 cases were reported to Action Fraud, a 250% increase on 2017-18 • Victims lost an average of £14,600 - with fewer than 1 in 20 getting money back • Investors are often initially told they've made a profit • They are then encouraged to put in more money - at which point the fraudsters run off with their cash Potential victims have been warned over bogus online 'get rich quick' schemes as it emerged people lost more than £27million to cryptocurrency and foreign exchange scams last year. Fraudsters promise high returns to those who invest, according to Action Fraud and the Financial Conduct Authority. Victims lost an average of £14,600 in 2018-19 and stand little chance of getting their money back. Reports of cryptocurrency and forex investment scams increased by nearly 250 per cent in 2017-18, from 530 to nearly 1,850. The scams work by criminals promoting get-rich-quick online trading platforms through social media. Posts often use fake celebrity endorsements and images of luxury items like expensive watches and cars. Beat the scammers: These then link to professional-looking websites where consumers are persuaded to invest. Often investors are led to believe their first investment has successfully returned a profit, and are then enticed to invest more money or introduce friends in return for greater profits. But the returns stop, the customer account is closed, and the scammer disappears with no further contact. 'Anyone handing over their hard-earned cash should make sure they understand what they're getting into, they've checked it's a legitimate investment, and not rely on hype and excitement from friends or social media. 'Investing isn't a get-rich-quick scheme - and anything that uses fear of missing out or requires you to invest before thinking is best to be avoided.' Those considering an investment to check the following for tips on how to avoid investment fraud at www.fca.org.uk/scamsmart. Scammers can be very convincing so always do your own research into any firm you are considering investing with, to make sure that they are the real deal. 'It's vital that people carry out the necessary checks to ensure that an investment they're considering is legitimate. UK consumers are being increasingly targeted by crypto asset-related investment scams. Certain crypto assets, like Bitcoin and Ether (also known as cryptocurrencies), are not regulated in the UK. This means that buying, selling or transferring these crypto-assets falls outside FCA remit. The same is true for the operation of a cryptocurrency exchange. However, some types of crypto-asset products may be or may involve regulated investments depending on their nature and how they are structured. For example, firms that sell regulated investments with an underlying crypto asset element may need to be authorised by the FCA to do so. In recent months, the FCA claims it has received an increasing number of reports about crypto-asset investment scams. Some of them may involve regulated activities, others don’t, but all use similar tactics. How crypto-asset investment scams work Cryptoasset fraudsters tend to advertise on social media – often using the images of celebrities or well-known individuals to promote cryptocurrency investments. In this case, laughably they said KaratBit was endorsed by Barak Obama’s sister. Who is she and what does she know about cryptocurrencies and blockchain? The ads then link to professional-looking websites. Consumers are then persuaded to make investments with the firm using cryptocurrencies or traditional currencies. The firms operating the scams are usually based outside the UK but will claim to have a UK presence, often a prestigious City of London address. Scam firms can manipulate software to distort prices and investment returns. They may scam people into buying the non-existent crypto asset. They are also known to suddenly close consumers’ online accounts and refuse to transfer the funds to them or ask for more money before the funds can be transferred. Action Fraud has also issued a warning on cryptocurrency scams. How to protect yourself Be wary of adverts online and on social media promising high returns on investments in a crypto asset or crypto asset-related products. Most firms advertising and selling investments in crypto-assets are not authorised by the FCA. This means that if you invest in certain crypto assets you will not have access to the Financial Ombudsman Service or the Financial Services Compensation Scheme if things go wrong. The FCA doesn’t regulate crypto assets like Bitcoin or Ether which are vastly the most recognized cryptocurrencies, let alone KBC, they do regulate certain crypto-asset derivatives (such as futures contracts, CFDs and options), as well as those crypto assets I would consider securities. A firm must be authorised by FCA to advertise or sell these products in the UK – check FCA Register to make sure the firm is authorised. You can also check the FCA Warning List of firms to avoid. You should do further research on the product you are considering and the firm you are considering investing with. Check with Companies House to see if the firm is registered as a UK company and for directors' names. To see if others have posted any concerns, search online for the firm's name, directors' names and the product you are considering. If you’ve already decided you want to invest in gold, this might not be a bad company to side with. But if you’re just looking for an opportunity to earn a sustainable income and become financially independent, there are better options out there.
Hiya folks! This was one of the most eventful weeks in recent Parachute history. Strap onto your seatbelts. Here we go! Cap announced the start of a new journey with BOMB’s latest venture, BOMBX (more on that later). In short, new groups will get to explore ParJar, new tokens will be added and a ton of new communities will get to experience Parachute in all its glory. Plus, ParJar will add the Binance chain to its list of supported chains. BEP2 tokens, here we come! Cap’s interview with The Crypto Lifestyle was this week as well. Have a look! PAR got listed on MetaMorphPro through a Twitter vote. This week we added a new token to ParJar: SNTR (Silent Notary). Read more about the project here. Don’t forget Cap’s reminder: when you join a new partner project channel, read up on them, join to learn about the project, be a part of their community. We want ParJar to be used as a tool for that community. Hence, try not to tip other coins/tokens there (including PAR). Derjenige is a master of woodwork. Check out how he makes PAR coasters Ian hosted an art trivia in the Tiproom. 50k PAR given away. Noice! In the Big Chili Race, Jason is still ahead of the competition at 47 cm. Just 3 more centimeters to win 400k PAR. If you’ve been meaning to use the Parachute sticker set on Telegram but couldn’t find it, click here. Cryptonoob has been hard at work designing UX concepts for the Parachute app. This week, he interviewed Parachuters to gauge user sentiment. Chris announced the start of a British Open Pick ‘Em Tournament with a prize pot of 100k PAR. Say what! Jason’s flash game for 65k PAR to find the “weirdest product for sale on the internet” saw some super wacky items being posted. Evan, Alexis and CF picked the craziest ones. Pika, Nilzinho, Richi and Airdrop won honourable mentions. Lmao! Roberto was kind enough to translate the ParJar guide to Spanish. Big Chili Race participants. L to R: Abhijoy (8th), Tony (2nd), Jason (1st), Richi (5th) BOMB announced the launch of an exploratory incubator on the Binance Chain called BOMBX. As Zachary explained during the livestream of the launch, while BOMB signifies destruction, BOMBX signifies creation. All BOMB token holders will receive BOMBX tokens (XIO) in 1:25 ratio. Find out more from Dash’s article linked above. Check this tweet thread for the TLDR. If you plan to watch the full announcement video, check out the index to skip to the sections of your interest. This infographic should help explain the incubator ecosystem being planned. There was also a giveaway for the top lessons shared by entrepreneurs from the BOMB community. As announced in the last update, BOMB was listed on Hotbit this week. Benjamin’s latest report on tokenomics got published. And as promised, the token statistics dashboard went live this week. Opacity is also one of the partners of BOMBX. As the explained in their article, Opacity will be the preferred storage provider for startups incubated by BOMBX. Opacity’s whitepaper is also now available with an Opacity storage handle for downloading and reading. BOMBX Partners This week’s Parachute + Uptrennd brainstorm session focused on Technical Analysis. Uptrennd founder Jeff sat down with Enjin CTO Witek Radomski to talk about the Efinity scaling solution, ERC-1155 marketplace and other topics. Membership on Uptrennd has been growing steadily. This called for a celebratory giveaway with egamers.io. Plus, Idex listing of 1UP is expected next week. Another public voting for a free detailed review of a project by the Uptrennd team started this week. aXpire’s AXPR token was listed on Binance Dex. Woot woot! Like last week, the weekly aXpire burn event was for 20k AXPR. Reasons for the double burn to be released in next update. There’s also a new dashboard to track all the token burns now. Checked out Clinton’s cool aXpire mug yet? Do it! And finally, catch up on the weekly updates at aXpire and the crypto space from this video. 2gether won the second prize on Pitch Day at the Barcelona Trading Conference. Congratulations! AXPR Burn dashboard (as on 28-Jul-19) Fantom appointed their consultant Bariq Sekandari as Director of BD and Listings this week. Bariq has been the driving force behind the deluge of FTM listings on exchanges in the last few weeks. The project also entered into a partnership with The Private Office of Sheikh Saeed bin Ahmed Al Maktoum and SEED Group to join hands in the Dubai smart city project. This news was covered by The Merkle, Coin Spectator and The Daily Chain. In this week’s technical article, the Sfxdx team writes about ChainWitness consensus algorithm. If you’ve missed the July updates of Fantom, fret not. CMO Michael Chen has covered it all in this post. Fantom also joined the Government Blockchain Association (GBA) this week along with several key figures from Fantom being added to the GBA Consultant Directory. Core dev Andre Cronje will be speaking at CFN Network’s “Future of Blockchain and Bitcoin” event at London in September. Click here for deets. The infogif contest winner was declared. THORChain announced a partnership with Fantom to allow BEP2 token swaps at market rates. Benjamin Cowen’s first FTM deep dive was released. Neat! Plus, Chico Crypto, That Martini Guy, Crypto Zombie and Bloxlive featured the project in their videos this week. Fantom sets up its footing in Dubai Hydro and its molecule solution got featured in World Blockchain Forum’s latest Medium article. Hydro announced the start of its article contest and winner of the video contest. Click here and here for the latest updates on all the moving parts of Hydro. Switch and SwitchDex were covered by BitcoinNews, The Merkle, Coinspeaker, NullTx, Incrypts, Altcoin Sara and Cryptopedic. ESH got listed on AltMarkets with a BTC pairing. Ahead of the start to the SMS Beta Testing phase, Birdchain announced social media competition. 50k BIRD up for grabs! Marketeers, have a read of their article on the efficacy of Pay-per-click campaigns. The latest Bounty0x bi-weekly update is available here. We have covered most of the news items in past updates. Catch up on District0x news from the weekly update post. All the pending questions from last week’s ETHOS AMA were answered this week in another AMA with founder Shingo and Voyager CMO Steve Capone. Following a system maintenance, Update 2.0 for the Universal Wallet went out this week. Upgrades include faster transactions, fee improvement and listing of BCH. Remember Horizon State’s nomination to the Wellington Gold Awards? They have started introducing the nominees recently and featured Horizon State this week. The project also got nominated for a Blockies Award by Blockchain Australia. Woot! And last but definitely not the least, Horizon State is now conducting a vote for The Opportunities Party in New Zealand. Check it out here. Cap’s beer haul from the Parachute Beer Exchange. Courtesy: Thane And with that, it’s a wrap for this week at Parachute and partners. See you soon with another weekly update. Ciao!
An Eventful Year: Over 75 days of NEO Meetups, Workshops and Hackathons in 2018
NEO has been very busy this year. In addition to the core development progress, we’ve seen a level of community building/outreach that no other project in blockchain can seem to match. I thought it would be cool to look back on all the events and hackathons that NEO hosted or supported over the course of this year. It should be noted that I am not including any large-scale blockchain conferences (other than the NEO DevCon), no matter how notable. Any project leader can show up to an event and hold a few interviews, or offer a few sound bites in a speech. This is a post about the NEO team’s tangible efforts to finance and encourage decentralized community development by hosting dedicated NEO workshops and meetups around the world. To this end, I have attempted (no promises, this was a lot of data to go through) to omit all events without direct support/representatives from the NEO core team (sorry Dylan, I’ll buy you a beer at DevCon!) I think this is a huge indicator as to the motives of the core NEO team and is something far too few people know about. There is still this ridiculous notion floating around that NEO is reliant on the Chinese government to succeed, despite the massive global community that has been built to support the platform’s long-term success. Two things to note before the list. Firstly, a lot of these events would not have been possible without the hard work of various NEO dApp project/dev community leaders and other community members. By no means do I wish to undermine their contributions by giving full credit to the NEO core. A lot of people pitched in to make these things happen. Secondly, I’d also like to give a huge shout out to NEO News Today for its consistent and excellent coverage of all news within the NEO ecosystem. This list would not have been possible without it. For those of you who do not know, I started writing for NNT in July and joined as an editor in October. I feel incredibly blessed to have the opportunity to work with such a kind and talented group of individuals. I have much to learn from each of them. Without further ado, here’s the list. January 8th: NEO Meetup in Dublin, Ireland
That’s over 75 days of NEO events this year (and I definitely missed some). Not bad eh. Of course, this is only a list of events. We’ve also seen solid progress on the core infrastructure, the formation of multiple new dev communities, and various impressive projects joining the network. This is the reality of what progress towards decentralization looks like. The NEO community outreach has gone far above and beyond what any other blockchain project has achieved (to my knowledge). Sure, there’s value to a pile of partnerships, but do not mistake those partnerships for realistic progression towards the future of blockchain. The goal of blockchain is to put power back into the hands of the people and to hand off control of these platforms to their respective communities. It seems no project is prioritizing this on the same level as NEO. At this point, it feels like it wouldn’t particularly matter what happens in China. The NEO team and broader community have spent vast amounts of time and resources educating developers about NEO. Progress on this platform is not tied to the core team. That is the heart of decentralization, and it is why NEO will not be easily stopped.
ExpressVPN: Ranked #1 out of 100 VPNs that we tested ExpressVPN is one of the most popular VPN services on the market, but is it really the “#1 trusted leader in VPN” as it claims to be? We put ExpressVPN through rigorous testing and in this review we’ll tell you if it’s honestly the top VPN of 2019, and we’ll answer common questions like: Is ExpressVPN really that fast? Is it legit and safe to use? Does ExpressVPN unblock Netflix? Does ExpressVPN allow torrenting? How much does ExpressVPN cost? But before we jump in, here’s a quick overview of ExpressVPN’s pros and cons: Pros Cons Exceptionally fast same-country speeds Works with Netflix, BBC iPlayer & more Safe, fast & unrestricted torrenting/P2P Strong logging policy & no IP, DNS, WebRTC leaks User-friendly apps for PC, Mac, iOS, & Android Great server network across 94 countries More expensive than some rivals Fire Stick TV app needs updating Works with Netflix, BBC iPlayer, HBO, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Sky, SlingTV, Torrenting, Kodi Available on Windows Mac Ios Android Linux Price from $6.67/mo That’s just a few highlights of what’s to come. Keep reading to see if ExpressVPN is the right VPN for you, starting with how fast it is. Speed & Reliability One of the fastest VPNs we've tested ExpressVPN is one of the fastest VPN services we’ve tested – it’s extremely quick and responsive. ExpressVPN is also remarkably reliable and consistent, whether you’re connecting to a local server, or one on the other side of the world. It’s speed is also very impressive in high censorship countries like China, where most other VPN services struggle to even connect. Use the table below to see how ExpressVPN speeds fare against its top-scoring rivals in 11 locations around the world. Select server location ExpressVPN NordVPN IPVanish DOWNLOAD AVERAGE 52.10 Mbps 69.67 Mbps 44.83 Mbps UPLOAD AVERAGE 23.84 Mbps 27.86 Mbps 27.70 Mbps PING AVERAGE 141 ms 135 ms 131 ms Here are the average speeds you can expect from ExpressVPN from a handful popular regions. Europe Asia USA Australia DOWNLOAD AVERAGE 125 Mbps 47 Mbps 151 Mbps 129 Mbps UPLOAD AVERAGE 101 Mbps 34 Mbps 135 Mbps 113 Mbps PING AVERAGE 73 ms 3 ms 4 ms 2 ms Averages are calculated from our test results over the last 4 weeks. To read about our speed testing methodologies, please read How We Test VPN Speed. Speed results from our physical location in London (100Mbps fibre optic connection) to a London test server. Before using ExpressVPN: DOWNLOAD Mbps 95.71 UPLOAD Mbps 98.71 PING ms 3 When connected to ExpressVPN: DOWNLOAD Mbps 85 UPLOAD Mbps 91.22 PING ms 8 Download speed without ExpressVPN: 95.71Mbps Download speed with ExpressVPN: 85.00Mbps Our download speed loss when ExpressVPN is running: 11% On top of fast download and upload speeds, ExpressVPN’s low latency and low ping times make it a good VPN for gaming, not as good as other VPN services but a strong gaming contender nonetheless. From our location in the UK, we tested average speeds connecting out to various locations worldwide while connected to ExpressVPN: USA: 77Mbps (download) & 40Mbps (upload) Germany: 79Mbps (download) & 66Mbps (upload) Singapore: 73Mbps (download) & 22Mbps (upload) Australia: 59Mbps (download) & 1Mbps (upload) Server Locations 3,000+ servers across 160 locations Globe with a blue flag 94 Countries Image of a city landscape 160 Cities Image of a pink marker 3,000+ IP Addresses See all Server Locations ExpressVPN operates more than 3,000 VPN servers across the world, spread evenly over every continent (excluding Antarctica). No matter where you’re located you should have no trouble finding an ExpressVPN server near you. 3,000 servers is one of the widest ranges of servers we’ve seen from any VPN service, and the ExpressVPN website even lists which VPN security protocols are available in each location (either country or city). ExpressVPN provides city-level servers in a number of locations, too: US UK Australia Brazil India Singapore Netherlands Germany France Italy Spain ExpressVPN’s 27 different city-level locations in the US and in four in Australia are some of the highest totals we’ve seen. Streaming & Torrenting Instantly unlocks Netflix, BBC iPlayer and torrenting ExpressVPN easily unlocks Netflix through almost all of its US-based VPN servers (apart from New York), even if it doesn’t offer servers dedicated to streaming like some of the other top-tier VPN services like CyberGhost. ExpressVPN’s Isle of Man and Jersey servers work well with UK Netflix, while most UK servers will unlock BBC iPlayer (although customer support informed us it will only work if you’re located outside of the UK). ExpressVPN is also a popular choice with viewers of a whole range of other big streaming services. Plenty of subscribers enjoy using ExpressVPN with: Amazon Prime Video Hulu HBO Sling TV Sky Now TV PlayStation Vue The following ExpressVPN servers worked for unlocking Netflix: USA (New Jersey, Washington DC, San Francisco) Canada (Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver) UK (Isle of Man, Jersey) Torrenting Torrenting and any type of P2P traffic is allowed on all ExpressVPN servers, resulting in less congestion and faster speeds as a bonus. ExpressVPN registered fast speeds both downloading and uploading, which is fundamental for a good torrenting and P2P experience. ExpressVPN also works for those looking to stream via Kodi or similar media player apps. Privacy and security-wise, ExpressVPN’s kill switch works extremely well (should your VPN connection drop at any point) and when we tested ExpressVPN for IP or DNS leaks, we found zero. What’s more, ExpressVPN doesn’t keep any activity logs. You can read more about all of this below. Bypassing Censorship Works in China, UAE and more ExpressVPN works in China, bypassing Chinese censorship with ease, largely thanks to the company devoting significant resources into outsmarting the censors. That is why ExpressVPN is our best VPN for China. If you have protocol selection switched to Automatic, ExpressVPN’s proprietary obfuscation security protocols are activated, which are very effective in beating aggressive state-level censors. These obfuscation protocols ensure that its VPN apps easily beat even the most aggressive of blocks in countries like Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran. Platforms & Devices Works with all popular devices Apps Windows Logo Windows Mac Logo Mac iOS Logo iOS Android Logo Android Linux Logo Linux Router Logo Router ExpressVPN supports just about any operating system or device out there – Microsoft Windows, MacOS, iOS and Android – with installation instructions given for each one. Where ExpressVPN doesn’t have a native dedicated VPN app, you have access to a walkthrough on the ExpressVPN website to show you how to set up a workaround. Games Consoles & Streaming Devices AppleTV Logo AppleTV Amazon Fire TV Logo Amazon Fire TV Chromecast Logo Chromecast Nintendo Logo Nintendo PlayStation Logo PlayStation Roku Logo Roku Xbox Logo Xbox ExpressVPN is one of the best VPN services for Amazon’s Fire TV Stick, although it is not our number one choice. Why is not our top pick? Well, ExpressVPN may have been one of the first VPN providers to roll out a Fire TV Stick app, and it works fine, but it’s grown to look out-dated and lacks some of the features that we’ve enjoyed in more recent Fire TV Stick VPN apps. If you own a Fire TV Stick and want to use a VPN app with it, take a look at our top VPN picks for Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick. If you want to run ExpressVPN on other streaming devices or games consoles, you’ll need to install ExpressVPN at router level, or you can piggyback off of the VPN connection from another device, like your PC or Mac. Browser Extensions Chrome Logo Chrome Firefox Logo Firefox Safari Logo Safari ExpressVPN provides full VPN browser extensions for Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Safari. Most of the VPN browser add-ons we see from other VPN providers are proxies pretending to be full VPNs, but ExpressVPN’s extensions are the real deal. You can choose your server location from within the browser extension, which is a really neat solution. Thanks to a recent update you can now use ExpressVPN on five different devices at once, too. Encryption & Security Leader in security, with strong extras like a VPN kill switch & obfuscation protocols Protocol IKEv2/IPSec L2TP/IPSec OpenVPN (TCP/UDP) PPTP SSTP Encryption AES-256 Security DNS Leak Blocking First-party DNS IPV6 Leak Blocking VPN Kill Switch WebRTC Leak Blocking Advanced features Split Tunneling Please see our VPN Glossary if these terms confuse you and would like to learn more. ExpressVPN is a legitimate and extremely secure VPN service, with a multitude of standards and VPN protocols in place to keep your browsing data private and secure. If you leave the VPN protocol setting on Automatic then the ExpressVPN app will determine what is the best security protocol to use – a handy feature that’s not all that common. AES-256 encryption is widely regarded as near-unbreakable; OpenVPN, our favorite VPN protocol, is one of many available; and ExpressVPN also has the always-essential VPN kill switch, ensuring you stay protected in the event of your connection dropping. Split tunneling is yet another powerful feature that’s not all that common among VPN services. It allows you to protect your web traffic while keeping access to connected devices on your network, like your printer or Smart TV. We found ExpressVPN to be fully protected from any IP or DNS leaks, too. You can count on ExpressVPN to successfully hide your real IP address. ExpressVPN recently launched its TrustedServer feature, a proprietary technology that removes the need for local storage such as hard disks or solid state drives. Once again, ExpressVPN is leading the pack when it comes to security and privacy. Logging Policy Close to truly no-logs and away from 14-Eyes ExpressVPN doesn’t collect any personally identifiable activity logs. Here’s all the information collected by ExpressVPN’s VPN servers: Dates when connected to the VPN service Choice of VPN server location Total amount of data transferred per day That’s it. ExpressVPN maintains that this is the minimum amount of information required to be collected in order to keep the performance of its servers as strong as possible. The most important thing of all is that this data cannot be used to identify you, or what you do. All that’s possible to reveal is that you have used ExpressVPN’s service at some point. This is totally anonymous, and about as close to zero-logs as you can get. A recent report by the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) questioned ExpressVPN in greater detail and concluded that its servers were both “extremely difficult to compromise” and “limited in the amount of data that could be revealed” in the event that they were. ExpressVPN’s logging policy was put to the test in December 2017 when one of ExpressVPN’s Turkish VPN servers was seized and inspected by Turkish authorities investigating the assassination of Russian ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov. The investigators could not find any customer connection logs. Jurisdiction ExpressVPN was founded in 2009 and is operated by Express VPN International Ltd., which is based in the British Virgin Islands and far outside of the intrusive 14-eyes surveillance alliance. That’s an excellent choice of location for a privacy-minded VPN company, as the British Virgin Islands has full sovereignty over its own data regulations. Foreign governments can still make demands for information, but ExpressVPN makes it clear that it will never share data with them and, crucially, that it doesn’t have any personally identifiable information to share in the first place. In case you’re still wondering, you’re safe with ExpressVPN. Ease of Use Hassle-free setup and easy to get started How to Install & Set Up ExpressVPN Screenshot of the ExpressVPN installation wizard This is the screen you'll see after you've downloaded your chosen software from the ExpressVPN website. Screenshot of the ExpressVPN download success screen When the installation is complete, you'll receive a prompt to start the ExpressVPN app. Screenshot of the activation code box in the ExpressVPN app Before you can start using the app, you'll need to enter the activation code provided in your welcome email. Screenshot of the main screen of ExpressVPN's desktop app The main view of the ExpressVPN screen - just click connect to fire up your new VPN. Screenshot of ExpressVPN while connected The on/off button turns green when you're connected, and clearly displays your chosen server location. Screenshot of ExpressVPN's list of server locations Your favorite server locations display here in a separate window. Screenshot of ExpressVPN's protocol choices in the desktop app Choose your protocol here - we really like the helpful contextual information provided ExpressVPN is so easy to use that it’s hard to go wrong – not just with the main desktop client, but also with its many device-specific apps and browser extensions. The ExpressVPN home screen is simply a big on/off button and a list of VPN servers, but if you want to customize things you can also find advanced settings behind a separate menu. Even ExpressVPN’s advanced options are explained in plain and easily-understood language, so you’ll never be making changes without knowing exactly what you’re doing. Browser Extensions ExpressVPN’s browser extensions are available for Chrome, Firefox and Safari. They give you full protection that fully masks your web activity without you having to leave your browser window. Customer Support Responsive and friendly live chat 24/7 Live chat support Email Online Resources ExpressVPN’s helpful 24/7 live chat means if you ever have a problem, you’ll be back up and running as quickly as possible. ExpressVPN really is one of the most customer-focused VPN services we’ve reviewed, and the ExpressVPN support team makes sure to keep you happy before and well after you’ve become their customer. You can also reach out to ExpressVPN’s customer support via email, with equally responsive, helpful and enthusiastic responses. Pricing & Deals A little expensive, but well worth it ExpressVPN Coupon ExpressVPN logo ExpressVPN Get 3 months free with ExpressVPN's 12-month plan TestedEnds in 2 days Get CodeED Terms ExpressVPN Pricing Plan ExpressVPN provides the same features on all its price plans, so the only decision to make is how much you want to pay upfront and how much your subscription costs you per month. The longer you subscribe to ExpressVPN for, the cheaper the monthly cost: a single month of ExpressVPN costs $12.95 (which is more costly than other 1-month plans offered by its rivals), but there’s a 49% reduction to $6.67 for a 15-month plan, which is great value for the best VPN service around. Monthly US$12.95/mo Billed $12.95 every month 6 Months US$9.99/mo Billed $59.95 every 6 months Save 23% 15 Months US$6.67/mo Billed $99.95 first 15 months and 12 months thereafter Save 49% All plans have 30-day money-back guarantee Payment & Refund Options Credit Card PayPal Bitcoin AliPay UnionPay You’re entitled to a 30-day money-back guarantee when you first sign up to ExpressVPN. We found that they grant refunds quickly and with no questions asked, after we made a simple request to customer service. ExpressVPN doesn’t have a true free trial in place, but take a look at our guide on how you can make the most of the 30-day refund guarantee. There’s also a ‘Refer a Friend’ program which earns you a 30-day free ExpressVPN subscription for both you and the friend you convince to sign up – plus there’s no limit to the number of friends you can refer.
Life in 2050 – Bitcoin dominates a climate neutral world, but we paid a price...
Today is 12 March 2050. Today is my birthday. I’m now 67 years old. My alarm clock goes off at 06:30. With a groan I wake up, and reluctantly kick away the warm, heavy bed sheets. I put my feet in the cold slippers below the bed, and shuffle to the kitchen, yawning. I pour myself a cup of hot surrogate chicory coffee. The cool morning makes me shiver, it looks like winters are getting colder each year. We heat up the house as little as possible. We're too greedy to enjoy comfort. The bitter taste of the chicory makes me grimace, as it does every morning. Sitting at the table, I enjoy the first rays of sunshine that fall on my weather-beaten face. Our house comes alive with noises: on the upper floors I hear laughter and kids running around. My two sons descend from the stairs. The oldest checks the status of our solar panels on one of our computers. My youngest son looks at another screen, to check the status of our farmbots. Musing about how things used to be, I look at my sons. When I see them, my heart fills up with pride, but also with compassion. They’ll never know the comfortable life that I led up to my 36 years. Yes, the world is climate neutral now, but we paid a price for it. The big change started in 2019, with two unfortunate events that happened together: the Brexit, and the impeachment of Donald Trump. But the first seeds of the destruction of our society had been sown a lot earlier, in 2009. Brexit happened on 29 March 2019, and gave cause for great political tensions within the UK. The classical parties where torn apart or became irrelevant. After a series of chaotic elections and re-elections, the extreme right-wing party Norsefire came to power. The country went into a dark and deep recession, but this gave Norsefire only more power and control over the citizen’s daily life. In October 2019 came the other scandal: Donald Trump, the president of the United States, had already been executing for 3 years secret orders from his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin. Apparently Putin had been blackmailing him with a “golden shower” movie, in which Trump played a not very presidential role. The impeachment procedure was concluded in less than 24 hours after the start of the scandal. The next day came the well-known effect: a Wall Street crash of epic proportions. The fall of the Dow Jones also made the stock markets in Europe, London and Japan tremble and shake. In London the bank Barclays went bankrupt. Millions of UK citizens suddenly couldn’t reach the pounds on their savings accounts anymore. However complicated the explanation given by economists was, the simple fact remained: the money was gone. Of course, bloody riots ensued. Politicians were slaughtered in horrible ways. A bitter-comical news item I remember from those times, is the story of David Cameron asking political asylum in Cuba, where he was on vacation. (The demand was denied and he was deported to the UK). In the midst of these turbulent times, a monster reared its head from the darkest depths of the internet. Bitcoin. In their fearful search for certainty, the British converted their remaining Pounds in Bitcoin. Soon their entire society ran on a black circuit of Bitcoin. The British Pound wasn’t worth a penny anymore. The value of Bitcoin however, rose to unseen heights. And that did not pass unnoticed in the rest of the world. To save the paralyzed economies of Europe and the United States, the policy makers only saw one cure: inject massive amounts of money in the economy. However, this only drove the value of the Dollar and Euro downwards, and the good savers finally followed the panic investors, into the ever-growing mighty tentacles of Bitcoin. The network had by then been declared illegal, but this had no effect. Life in a society with a deflating currency is strange, if you look at it with eyes of 2019. First of all, you will try to avoid spending money as much as possible. Why buy a coffee today, if you can buy two tomorrow? This reasoning caused a global shrinkage of the economy. Investments where postponed. Vital items, such as fruit, vegetables, bread, medicines, rose in price. Superfluous items remain unsold. Factories producing those closed. Hundreds of millions of people lost their job. And for the first time in centuries, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere diminished. A second effect of this unregulated currency is that nobody payed taxes anymore. The government became poor. This made our society evolve to an ultra-liberal society. The right of strongest, richest or luckiest ruled. National and international laws where of no significance anymore. Citizens organized themselves via the internet, and local groups took over the tasks of the failing government. Carrying arms is now taken for granted. Justice is no longer done in a court of law, but in online forums, where the majority votes for the verdict and the punishment. Together with the failure of the government, came the failure of the energy grid. People switched over to local production, and storage of energy. First with diesel generators, but soon with solar panels and batteries. Even though the price of oil was extremely low because of the global recession, still people preferred to buy solar panels. They pay back their value, whereas the value of a gallon of diesel – once it’s burned – is gone forever. The discussion on nuclear power, which had been very actual only years before, became a joke. How could a failing government ever find the necessary funds to build new nuclear plants? In the meantime I have, as most people, retrained myself to farmer. It’s not a heavy job, robots do most of the work. But it’s also no luxurious. We mainly eat bread, vegetables and fruit. We only eat meat once a year. The slaughtering of the sheep is always a festive occasion. I have accepted this existence now, and can also see the pretty side of it. There are no more superpowers, waging war. They simply do not have the money to buy bombs. The gap between rich and poor is closing, albeit very slowly. A poor man must simply save harder and spend less than a rich man. Since the money is gaining in value, this strategy works, although it will take many generations. My son’s generation was too young to see the decline of our society as something abnormal. They are optimistic and strong, and look for creative solutions to the problems of these times. Health care is extremely expensive. Insurances no longer exist. If you’re seriously ill, you’ve got bad luck. It’s especially the millennials, people who are born around the year 2000, that are unhappy in today's society. They remember a youth full of opportunities and dreams, that have all vanished now. Weekend trips to Barcelona or New York are a distant dream today. I often discuss with my wife if things could have been different. She thinks: yes, if the Brexit and Trump-scandals hadn’t happened. I see things differently. The seeds of the decline had been sown long before. The fall of our society was inevitable. I wake up from my reveries, and join my sons. We’re going to check our farmbots. Each armed with a rifle, we get on our bikes. I put in the headphones of an mp3-player, a small luxury I permit myself. A song from a long time ago, the Rolling Stones. “You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you might find… You get what you need.”
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Dr. Craig Wright discusses Satoshi’s Vision, Bitcoin at CoinGeek London
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