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.
The team’s overall technical background is good, and the CTO and CEO of the project have rich experience in related industries;
The current business scope of CoinEx has been expanded, and the development of the public chain has a decisive role in promoting the development of the exchange business;
The project operation information is transparent, and the development process is consistent with the road map;
The unlocking schedule is clear, and the token held by the team will be unlocked continuously in the next five years;
The project uses POS consensus mechanism. At present, it has been launched on the main network, and the block time is stable, between 2–3 seconds.
It is not clear enough yet whether the trichain operation planning can achieve the project’s development goals;
There is limited information on implementation details about cross-chain and other related technologies, and the development status needs to be assessed based on the later project development disclosure information;
The team currently hold a large share of the token, hence the distribution of tokens is relatively concentrated;
There are few application scenarios for project tokens, and more ecosystem scenarios need to be developed;
As a deflationary token, CET needs to be balanced by dealing with the contradiction between public chain users and token holders.
The development of CoinEx Chain contributes to the future development of CoinEx’s centralized and decentralized exchanges; the concept of trichain operation simplifies the functions of each chain, improving their performance. At present, there are few exchanges working on the public chain, and no fierce competition has occurred.
Considering the status and development prospects of the project, TokenInsight gives CoinEx a rating of BB with a stable outlook.
1. Multidimensional evaluation
2. Project analysis
CoinEx (CoinEx Technology Limited) was established in December 2017 and is headquartered in Hong Kong, China. It is a sub-brand of the ViaBTC mining pool. At present, CoinEx’s business scope includes CoinEx exchange, CoinEx public chain, and CoinEx decentralized exchange. The current development focus of the CoinEx platform are public chain and exchange. The main purpose of the public chain is to build a decentralized exchange (DEX) infrastructure and an ecosystem around DEX. CoinEx business structure，Source: CoinEx; TokenInsight
“ CoinEx Chain uses the parallel operation of three chains which are DEX, Smart, and Privacy, as well as cross-chain technologies to create a rich decentralized exchange ecosystem and blockchain financial infrastructure. The core of CoinEx’s early business was the exchange, consisted of two major categories which were spot and derivatives trading. Currently, there are 123 trading currencies online, covering 302 trading pairs. On June 28, 2019, CoinEx released the CoinEx Chain public chain white paper, aiming to build a decentralized trading system (CoinEx DEX) with community-based operations and transparent transaction rules, and providing user-controlled asset trading scenario by the highest technical standards in the industry; CoinEx Chain has become another development focus of CoinEx. CoinEx Token (CET), which was originally a native token of the CoinEx exchange, will also be developed mainly as a built-in token of the public chain. CoinEx Chain is a public chain based on the Tendermint consensus protocol and Cosmos SDK, and it uses POS mechanism. CoinEx Chain plans to support 42 nodes when the project starts, and any entity in the ecosystem can participate in the validator’s campaign by staking CET. CoinEx Chain will use the new block reward and the transaction fee contained in the block as the reward for running the node. CoinEx Chain has developed three public chains with different positioning and different functions in order to meet the needs of blockchain transactions for transaction performance, smart contracts, and privacy protection at the same time. They operate in parallel and collaborate with each other through cross-chain technology. At present, the block time of the public chain is between 2–3 seconds. According to the observation of TokenInsight, the block time is stable, but the number of transactions through the CoinEx public chain is still low at present, the number of transactions in 24 hours is about 30,000; The TPS on public chain disclosed by CoinEx can reach up to 1500 per second. CoinEx Chain uses a trichain parallel model to build a more vibrant ecosystem around DEX. The three chains are DEX public chain, Smart public chain, and Privacy public chain, respectively responsible for decentralized transactions, smart contracts, and on-chain privacy protection. CETs that need to participate in complex financial contracts can be transferred to the Smart public chain through the DEX public chain, then moved back to the DEX public chain after that. CET tokens that need to participate in token confusion can also be carried out through the privacy transaction of the Privacy public chain, and can eventually be returned to the DEX public chain. The three public chains are responsible for their respective duties, and they are interconnected through the cross-chain technology through the relay mechanism. In addition to ensuring their respective transaction processing speed and functional attributes, they can also jointly provide richer and safer functions, and synergistically constitute the CoinEx decentralized public chain ecosystem. In addition, CoinEx Chain also supports any participant to issue new tokens on the chain and create new trading pairs for the issued tokens. CoinEx Chain guarantees the circulation of new tokens by establishing a trading pair between the new token and CET.
2.2 Component architecture
“ Tendermint Core and Cosmos SDK have improved the performance and operation capability of the blockchain. The SDK packaging reduces the consideration of non-related logic, hence reducing the development complexity. CoinEx Chain is based on Tendermint Core and Cosmos SDK, both of which have brought a big boost to the development of CoinEx public chain performance. Cosmos-SDK will implement the application logic of the blockchain. Together with the Tendermint consensus engine, it implements the three-layer architecture of the CoinEx public chain: the application layer, the consensus layer, and the network layer. Tendermint Tendermint is based on the state machine replication technology and is suitable for blockchain ledger storage. It is a list of transactions making consensus with Byzantine fault tolerance, the transactions are executed in the same order, and eventually the same state is obtained. Tendermint can be used to build various distributed applications. Cosmos SDK Cosmos-SDK is a blockchain framework that supports the construction of multiple assets with a consensus mechanism of POS (Proof of Stake) or POA (Proof of Authority). The goal of the Cosmos SDK is to allow developers to easily build custom blockchains from 0, while enabling the interaction with other blockchains. Cosmos-SDK is a blockchain framework that supports the construction of multiple assets with a consensus mechanism of POS (Proof of Stake) or POA (Proof of Authority). The goal of the Cosmos SDK is to allow developers to easily build custom blockchains from 0, while enabling the interaction with other blockchains. The blockchain development framework Cosmos SDK implements general functions such as account management, community governance, and staking in a modular form. Therefore, using the Cosmos SDK to build a public chain can simplify development procedures and facilitate operation. Tendermint is a fixed protocol in a partially synchronized environment, which can achieve throughput within a delay range of the network and each process itself. The CoinEx public chain is developed based on both, improving the performance and operability of the blockchain. The SDK packaging further reduces considerations of non-related logic and reduces the complexity of developers creating. The two components of Tendermint and Cosmos SDK are connected and interacted through the Application Blockchain Interface. Cosmos SDK and Tendermint interworking structure，Source:CoinEx; TokenInsight
2.3 Project public chain planning
The development plan of the CoinEx public chain is to create a series of public chains with specific application directions, including:
DEX public chain: solve the problems of lack of security and opacity that are widely criticized by centralized exchanges at present; aim to build a transparent, safe, and permission-free financial platform; restore the experience of central exchanges to the greatest extent；
Smart public chain: a public chain that specifically supports smart contracts and provides a platform for building complex financial applications;
Privacy public chain: mainly provides transaction amount, account balance, and information protection and the hiding of both parties to the transaction.
In order to achieve the performance of each specific application public chain, each public chain in the CoinEx public chain focuses on the development of a certain function. For example, in order to improve the transaction processing speed of the DEX public chain, the DEX public chain only supports the necessary functions and does not support smart contracts. To achieve the smart contract function support, cross-chain connection between the DEX public chain and the Smart public chain is required.
2.4 Operation analysis
“ The CoinEx platform publishes monthly ecosystem reports with high transparency; but the monthly reports are limited to contents about transactions and development, and lack progress in ecosystem and community construction, making them relatively simple. 2.4.1 Disclosure of ecosystem information Operational risks have a direct impact on platform users. Whether platform operations are smooth and whether there is transparency are issues that platform users care about. The CoinEx platform was established in 2017 and has around 3 years of development. It is also one of the platforms that has been developing for a long time in the exchange industry. It has obtained a digital currency trading license issued by the Estonian Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), and the platform’s compliance is guaranteed to some degree. The actual operation of the CoinEx platform will be displayed in the form of ecosystem monthly reports. The monthly report contains various types of content such as online currencies, new activities, plans for the next month, and ecosystem dynamics. It involves multiple business dimensions including the CoinEx exchange, CoinEx Public Chain, and CET token. https://preview.redd.it/4mt0999ere551.png?width=631&format=png&auto=webp&s=cba27a7c90275f4c033bdd2445a72e6f294265e8 Snippet of a CoinEx ecosystem monthly report，Source: CoinEx; TokenInsight 2.4.2 Roadmap CoinEx Chain released its development roadmap for the four quarters of 2020 in January 2020. The roadmap shows that CoinEx Chain will undergo major updates on smart contracts and DEX hard fork upgrades. The project roadmap is basically planned on a monthly basis, with a clear plan and a clear direction of development. CoinEx Public Chain 2020 Development Roadmap，Source: CoinEx; TokenInsight In addition to the development route planned in the roadmap, CoinEx public chain also discloses its goals for next month in its monthly ecological report. The project’s main net was launched online in November 2019. According to TokenInsight’s review of the development of CoinEx public chain from January to April and the disclosure of the project’s ecosystem monthly report, the project’s plan about development of the smart contract Demo in February failed to be completed as planned; the project completed launching of the new version of the blockchain browser and the Asian Atlantis upgrade; the smart contract virtual machine development was planned to be completed in April, but the progress related to supporting cross-chain agreements was not disclosed yet. Overall, the project’s development route planning is clear, and the project’s development schedule is consistent with the plan, but there are still some discrepancies. Operation and development information is disclosed every month, and information transparency is high.
3. Industry & Competitors
The earliest origin of the exchange layout in the public chain field began in early 2018 when Binance released an announcement to start the development of the Binance Public Chain officially. In June of the same year, Huobi announced at its brand upgrade conference that it will combine the technical capabilities of the Huobi technical team and the community developers to develop the Huobi public chain called “Huobi Chain”. In December of the same year, OK Group announced the launch of its self-developed public chain OKchain, dedicating to provide underlying technical support and services for startups stationed in B-Labs. The successful launch of the public chain brings huge strategic significance to the exchange, which can not only improve the performance of the existing business of the exchange but also achieve further expansion of its influence. As one of the most important blockchain infrastructures, the public chain can benefit the exchanges behind it. As a platform for developing public chain technology exchanges, CoinEx’s main competitors in the field of public chain development include Binance, Huobi, and OKEx. Although they are all exchange platforms for deploying public chains, the above four are different in terms of specific functions, economic models, and critical points of the public chain.
3.1 Development progress comparison
In 2019, Binance became the first exchange to launch a public chain among all digital asset exchanges, and its main product is Binance exchange (DEX). In April 2020, Binance announced the launch of a second smart contract chain, using Ethereum’s virtual machine, so that developers can build decentralized applications without affecting the performance and functionality of their original chain. OKEx launched OKChain’s testnet in February 2020 and completed open source two months later. OKChain is designed as the basis of large-scale blockchain-driven business applications, with the characteristics of source code decentralization, point-to-point, irreversibility, and efficient autonomy. Huobi released Huobi Chain for the first time in July 2019, the code is open source, and the testnet was released in February 2020. As a “regulator-friendly financial blockchain”, Huobi Chain focuses on providing compliance services for companies and financial institutions. The CoinEx public chain officially completed the main online launch in November 2019 and completed the new block browser’s launch in March 2020. On April 3, 2020, CoinEx DEX uploaded the underlying code to Github to achieve open source. The CoinEx public chain is more inclined to build a full DEX ecosystem to achieve a one-stop solution for issuing, listing, storing, and trading. The long-term goal is to create a blockchain financial infrastructure.
3.2 Comparison of economic models
At present, the exchange is more inclined to use its existing platform currency as the native token of the public chain in the construction of public chain ecology. CoinEx’s CET, Binance’s BNB, and Huobi’s HT all fall into this category. OKEx is the only exchange that issues new tokens for its OKChain, which means OKT is the only ‘inflation token’ in the exchange’s public chain, while CET, HT, and BNB are all deflationary.
3.3 Decentralization of public chain
The initial number of CoinEx public chain verification nodes is 42, which is currently the most decentralized among all exchange public chains, and able to take both efficiency and decentralization into account; OKChain also currently has a relatively high degree of decentralization in the exchange public chain (21 verification nodes), its nodes have a high degree of autonomy; by contrast, Binance still firmly controls the operation of nodes and transactions; In terms of encourages cooperation between regulators and the private financial aspects, Huobi provides a lesser degree of decentralization. Huobi Chain uses a variant of the DPoS consensus algorithm to provide functions such as “supervision nodes”, allowing regulators to become validators. Comparison of some dimensions of CoinEx, Huobi, Binance and OKEx public chain，Source: TokenInsight
4. Token Economy
CoinEx Token (CET) is a native token of the CoinEx ecosystem. It was issued in January 2018. Token holders can enjoy some user value-added services within the ecosystem. Currently, it is mainly used as a native token on the CoinEx Chain. As of 11 am on April 23, 2020, the current circulation of CET tokens in the market is 3,215,354,906.31, with a total of 5,842,177,609.53. CET tokens will not be further issued or inflated. Currently, daily repurchase and quarterly destruction are carried out. The repurchase destruction dynamics can now be tracked real-time on the CET repurchase system on the platform.
4.1 Token Distribution
The CET token used to be based on the ERC-20 token developed by Ethereum. Since the CoinEx Chain mainnet was launched in November 2019, some ERC-20 CET tokens have been mapped to the mainnet CET, and the rest of the CET will be mapped before November 10, 2020. CET holders need to deposit ERC-20 CET to the COinEX exchange, and the exchange will conduct the main network mapping. At present, CET is mainly circulated in the form of mainnet tokens, and only a small portion of ERC-20 CET has not been mapped. The distribution of token holdings currently circulating on the mainnet can be seen in the figure below. At present, the number of tokens held by the top ten holders accounts for about 60.44% of all mainnet CET tokens. Distribution of CET token holding addresses，Source: Etherscan; TokenInsight The following figure shows the initial distribution of tokens after the mainnet mapping preset by CoinEx. From the initial distribution map of CET, it shows that, after mapping, a large portion of CET remains concentrated in the hands of the team (31%), and the actual number of CET circulating in the market only accounts for 49% of the total. The initial distribution of CET token，Source: CoinEx; TokenInsight After the main net mapping, the 31% of the total CET (1.8 billion) held by the team will be gradually unlocked in the five years from 2020 to 2024, and 360 million CET will be unlocked each year. By 2024, the CET held by the team will be completely unlocked. From the current CET dynamics, the CET share held by some teams has been used for destruction purposes to achieve the purpose of CET austerity. If the frozen 1.8 billion CET held by the team are used for similar purposes, the development of CET and its platform can benefit from it. Team’s CET unlocking plan，Source: CoinEx; TokenInsight
4.2 Token economic model
4.2.1 Deflation mechanism Since the CET token went online in January 2018, CoinEx has increased the circulation of CET through airdrops, transaction fee refunds, operation promotion, and team unlocking. As one of the existing platform coins with long development time, the deflation mechanism of CET token has undergone a series of changes with the development of the industry. In 2018, when the concept of coin-based mining prevailed, CET used transaction mining, stake mining, and pending order mining, which were cancelled in October, December and, April respectively of the following year. The repurchase and destruction model currently used by CET was updated by CoinEx on April 11, 2020. The original CET quarterly repurchase and destruction policy of the platform will be adjusted to daily repurchase and quarterly destruction. After the implementation of the daily repurchase policy, CoinEx will take out 50% of the daily fee income for CET repurchase in the secondary market and implement quarterly destruction until the total remaining circulation is 3 billion (currently about 5.8 billion). At the same time that CoinEx updated the repurchase and destruction plan on April 11, the platform also launched a page dedicated to displaying CET repurchase information, so that users can clearly understand the progress of CET repurchase and destruction. As of April 23, 2020, the platform has destroyed 4,157,822,390.46 CET tokens, accounting for 41.6% of the initial total issuance. At the end of January 2019, it had destroyed 4 billion CETs (single destruction volume peak) at the end of this quarter. The number of CETs to be destroyed is 3,422,983.56. CET historical destruction data，Source: CoinEx; TokenInsight 4.2.2 Application scenarios The current usage scenarios of CET are discounted platform transaction fees, VIP services, special activities rights and interests, CoinEx Chain internal circulation fuel, and use of external scenarios. Deduction and discount of platform transaction fees CoinEx platform users can use CET to deduct transaction fees when conducting transactions within the platform. At the same time, using CET to pay transaction fees can enjoy the exclusive preferential rates provided by the platform. CET fee discount amount，Source：CoinEx; TokenInsight VIP service Holding a certain number of CETs can make a user become a platform VIP user. Users can also use CET to purchase platform VIPs to obtain corresponding privileges such as discounted rates, accelerated withdrawals, and exclusive customers. Special activity rights CET holders can enjoy special rights and interests in platform marketing activities, such as participating in the airdrop of tokens on the platform or accelerating opportunities for high-quality projects. CoinEx Chain built-in token CET will serve as a native token of CoinEx Chain, circulate and serve as fuel in CoinEx Chain, and users can also use CET to invest or trade other digital assets. In addition, CET can also serve as transaction fees and function fees (issuing Token, creating new trading pairs, account activation), etc. in the platform, and users can also participate in the campaign of validators by staking CET tokens. CET is currently used as a circulation token as well for CoinEx DEX to issue tokens, create orders, Bancor, address activation, set address aliases, and other application scenarios. In general, the types of application scenarios of CET are not plenty enough. In order to better develop the internal ecosystem of the platform, it is necessary to design and develop more CET usage scenarios and incentive mechanisms to increase the retention rate of users while adding new users. 4.2.3 Token incentive As the native token of the CoinEx public chain, CET will be used as a block incentive to increase community participation after the mainnet of the public chain launched. The 315 million CET held by the foundation in the total CET issuance will be used to incentivize initial verification nodes and Staking participants. CET annual incentive information，Source：CoinEx; TokenInsight
CoinEx’s investment is led by Bitmain and its main partners include Matrixport, Bitcoin.com, CoinBull, Consensus Lab, BTC.com, BTC.top, Hoo Exchange, Wa Yi, ChainFor.com, etc. Investment institutions and major partners have rich experience in the industry, which can promote the development of projects to a certain extent. However, the current industry involved by the partners is not wide enough, and it will have a limited role in promoting the future of CoinEx’s enriching business lines and increasing ecosystem functions. https://preview.redd.it/zjgzvv6ise551.png?width=533&format=png&auto=webp&s=a3f7fe3abb2c2d522e289213ae6fbc4e899825e0
6. Community Analysis
According to TokenInsight’s research of the CoinEx platform community, as of April 23, 2020, its official Twitter has 19,800 followers and 932 tweets; the official Telegram has 45 official groups, 3 in Chinese and English, and the other is Korean, Arabic, Vietnamese, Indian and other small language groups, with a total number of 56088 people; the current number of followers on Facebook accounts is 3,107. The overall community followers still have a lot of room for improvement, and community activeness needs to be improved. Number of followers on the CoinEx social platform，Source:TokenInsight At present, the project’s search popularity and official website visits are both top-notch, and monthly visits have slowly returned to their previous visit levels after experiencing a significant decline in December 2019. CoinEx visit popularity，Source: TokenInsight, Similarweb, Google At present, the visitors of the CoinEx website are distributed in multiple countries, and there are no visits concentration from a single country or region. Therefore, CoinEx’s comprehensive global influence is widely distributed and has a reasonable degree of internationalization. CoinEx official website’s top 5 countries by number of visitors，Source: CoinEx, TokenInsight Original article Click here to register on CoinEx!
[Part 2] KAVA Historical AMA Tracker! (Questions & Answers)
ATTN: These AMA questions are from Autumn 2019 - before the official launch of the Kava Mainnet, and it's fungible Kava Token. These questions may no longer be relevant to the current Kava landscape, however, they do provide important historical background on the early origins of Kava Labs. Please note, that there are several repeat questions/answers.
How do you think about France in Kava market development plan?
What is your next plan to raise awareness among French about Kava?
Answer: It is important to reach many top markets. For countries like France we need to find 1st regulator partners such as Binance that can help provide access to KAVA for users. When our CDP platform launches, we will work through local validator partners to help translate content and work with local users.
We have some great community efforts where people create content for us.
Why did you choose Cosmos instead of Aion, which comes with AVM built on JAVA, which can be accepted by many developers?
Will there be a possibility that one day we will be able to collateralize a privacy coin, such as Monero, on KAVA?
Answer: We like programming in GO, interfaces are OK for Java. Cosmos will also feature a WASM module and EVM later. The Cosmos-SDK is very flexible and it allowed us to choose our own security model. That was unique compared to other frameworks where we had to adopt the underlying blockchains. In Cosmos-SDK we can create our own blockchain.
Re: privacy - you can do some fun things in payment channels to make transactions more private. Such as onion routing clearing and settlement across different nodes. This can be possible in the future, but not our priority now.
The biggest advantage of finance is the efficient allocation of resource allocation. If KAVA connects assets of multiple platforms through the interchain technology, the efficiency across the market will be improved.
But in terms of connectivity, Facebook's Libra, with its centralized giant platform, could be a big threat for the future. Of course, regulatory uncertainty still exists. KAVA wonders what big platform companies think about entering the blockchain field and how they can cope with their competition.
Answer: We think of Kava as a DeFi service that can integrate with wallets, exchanges, and other platforms when users want loans or stable coins for payments. We don't see competition with Libra, but we see lots of users potentially getting into crypto which will be good for the market, good for BTC, and good for Kava.
What will you do with the money after IEO?
What is the most important markets that Kava is focusing?
What is your marketing strategy to approach those markets?
Answer: What will we do with the IEO money? Put it in a bank and keep building. We keep our funds safe in secure accounts that are insured. We always maintain at least 2 years runway in pure fiat to ensure we can survive in any bear market conditions and come out on top in the end.
On mainnet, which function/feature can we expect to see on Kava since i only saw informations about its testnet?
Answer: mainnet will feature KAVA, staking, delegating, validator software, voting and governance / parameter changes. Following mainnet, the validators will vote to enable transactions and the CDP platform. We expect this to be towards the end of the yeaQ1 2020
How does Kava maintain the stability of its stablecoin? Are there any opportunties for outsiders to arbitrage or any other mechanisms to maintain price stabilization?
Answer: Kava users deposit crypto assets as collateral and can withdraw a loan based on the amount they deposited. They must always provide more collateral than the loan is worth. When the value of the collateral drops due to market conditions, before it reaches the value of the loaned amount, the platform will auction off the crypto assets for USDX that is on the market at a discount. Holders of USDX can buy these assets at a profit. This removes USDX from the market and makes sure that the global USDX to collateral in the system remains balanced. Similar to MakerDao, 3rd parties can run "keepers" - very simple implementations which continuously monitors the Kava/USDX credit system for unsafe CDPs, and execute the liquidation function the moment they become unsafe. Keepers can also perform arbitrage on DEX/Exchanges executing trades across the Kava platform and the markets.
Alright! So KAVA is doing DeFi right, could you explain DeFi in layman term to us.
Answer: Decentralized Finance. Finance is really ensuring everything about past, present, and future value of money. You need safe custody and a store of value to keep money you earned in the past safe to be used later when you need it. You need something liquid and easily tradable to be used in the present. And the trickier one is the future - people need to get loans on the assets they have or hedge against the assets they have in order to ensure they can build for a better future. That’s finance.
DeFi is taking all those things and making them open access and unregulated so that regardless if you were born with out an ID, if your credit score is bad, or if the government is trying to censor your actions and limit your spending - DeFi promises to give you a way to get access to the financial products you need.
Could you please briefly explain your projects, and why you choose DeFi as a problem to solve?
Answer: Kava is a cross-chain DeFi platform for cryptocurrencies. Kava offers decentralized loans and stable coins for any other crypto asset such as BTC, XRP, BNB, and ATOM.
DeFi is the killer use case of crypto today. I think most people see this clearly now. We believe providing the basic DeFi services is the very first step that is required before blockchain technology can really become wide spread - so we started here.
Why the name of the project KAVA?
Answer: We started in crypto thinking we would build banking products and we wanted a more relaxed cool name to stand out from other solutions. Turns out Kava means many things.
Kava = Hippopotamus in Japanese
Kava = crow in hindi
Cava = wine region in spain
Kava = a medicinal root you add to Tea
Kava = now a cross-chain DeFi platform
But TLDR - we liked the name and thought it sounded short and sweet.
What do you think of the future of DeFi in this space? Will DeFi one day take over the traditional financial systems? -- any wild guess on when it might happen?
Answer: I think centralized solutions will always have certain advantages and DeFi will also have certain advantages.
But truthfully, KYC is a problem from a user experience point of view. One of the big things with DeFi is there is no need to make people go through a KYC process anymore.
If we imagine a world where USD Is king, or Renminbi is king, or BTC is king. DeFi has a place in all of them because open access to financial services is a basic human necessity.
As we have known, Lending is not the only problem to solve in the whole financial areas, are you planning on going beyond lending? What other financial products are in your pipeline?
Answer: Thats a good #Q .
While we have a lot to solve to offer lending to other crypto assets - we can expand our support to non-crypto assets, to NFT tokens, and other assets.
We also have plans to offer derivatives and other synthetics other than USDX - such as synthetic bitcoin and Yuan. What is exciting about Kava and the oracle system run by validators is that we can leverage this infrastructure around the world to do all sort of things.
One of the more interesting products is creating under-collateralized loans using payment channel (layer-2 tech) of our USDX coin. Two parties can lock funds in payment channels and place bets on the price feeds from the oracles. When the funds reach a maximum threshold, the bet closes. Since a price feed is just a data set, we can have the settlement rules be multiples of the real data. In simple terms we can create 100x leverage products for the craziest of traders 😉
Btw KAVA is a bit unique because it use Cosmos/Tendermint. While other DeFi use Ethereum , why you guys choose Cosmos?
Answer: Cosmos is the future. Even facebook’s Libra consensus design was just a copy of Tendermint. Kava, Binance, the Cosmos Hub and many other blockchains are built on the same Cosmos-SDK framework.
It’s very flexible and soon interoperable. This is a huge advantage over Ethereum. Where system’s like MakerDAO will be forced to develop in a slowly evolving chain like Ethereum and only touching Erc20 assets, Kava will be able to rapidly evolve, program in GO rather than solidity, and interoperate with chains like Binance directly.
We’re very excited to get BNB and BTCB onto Kava’s CDPs and to put KAVA and USDX onto the Binance DEX. This is fairly easy on Cosmos.
I saw in KAVA deck that you guys will use USDX, is it a stable coin? How is it going to work and its relationship with KAVA token itself?
Answer: USDX is an algorithmically stable token pegged to the USD. USDX is the token users recieve when they get a loan from the Kava platform. USDX is collateralized or backed by crypto assets so the Kava platform should always hold more crypto value than the USDX it loans making USDX a very safe store of value even if the market crashes 10x overnight. That is what a stable coin should do.
USDX is special though. Natively, users can spend or trade USDX freely like other stable coins, but the important difference is that 1) USDX is free of censorship and does not require a bank or anything else. 2) USDX can be “bonded” or “staked” providing an interest bearing yield between 2-10% APR. This is substantially more than what I can even get from my bank account.
From your point of view as KAVA team, what would be most anticipated feature in KAVA ?
Answer: Our CDP platform launch later this year. The first USDX will be minted then.
Support of BTC in the CDP smart contracts. No blockchain has supported a real decentralized custody and use of BTC with smart contracts before.
Indonesia is one of the “developing” countries, how is DeFi can help in making a difference in those “developing” countries?
Answer: I can’t speak for developing countries as it’s not my expertise, but DeFi in general is trying to offer the exact same services to EVERYONE. Whether you are in San Francisco or Indonesia, the financial services you should have should be similar. The rates and fees you pay should be the same. DeFi is fair treatment and open access for everyone. That is what’s nice about having things run on a protocol.
Last but no least, since we are doing AMA in Indonesian group, I believed our members wants to know if you are interested in going to Indonesia to expand your community and reach?
Answer: As I said, I have not been before! I am traveling throughout South East Asia for a lot of the year. It is one of my destinations. I hope to meet many of you while I am out there.
Defi companies are growing at a rapid pace, but they're actually smaller than traditional financial institutions. In order for Defy to become a global trend, it must eventually acquire consumers within the traditional financial industry.
Traditional financial consumers, however, have poor technical understanding and want psychological stability through government guarantees such as deposit insurance. After all, what does KAVA think about long-term competitors as traditional financial institutions, and what long-term strategies do they have to embrace traditional financial consumers?
Answer: We think of financial institutions as big honey pots of potential DeFi users. For example, if Kava can offer margin lending at better rates than a bank because there is no middle men or compliance costs, users should want to use that service.
As crypto grows, I believe more FIs will integrate crypto assets and DeFi services. For example, in the US you cannot currently margin trade crypto as a retail user. But it could be possible for a regulated FI to integrate a lending service like KAVA without causing issues with regulators due to Kava having no counter party risk other than the user itself.
MakerDAO is only for ethereum but Kava support multiple assets, is this only difference?
What are Kava main advantages compared to MakerDAO?
Answer: Kava supports multiple assets THAT are on different blockchains. Maker can only support ETH. This is a huge difference. In addtion, the role of Maker is quite likely a security token. It represents fees paid by others. Where in Kava, the token is used in security of the blockchain protocol itself. The holders of Kava have a lot at stake and need it to govern the system. Maker holders have nothing at stake.
I think a huge difference is that with our model being POS and based on validators with slashing if they don't participate our governance participation and management will be much more effective than MakerDao.
Ticket claim for KAVA Launchpad is comming around the corner. This maybe last IEO ticket claim of this year. With this hype and expectation of investors/traders, do you think KAVA will be a big boom to end this year with happy tears?
If someone wants to manipulate Governance function of KAVA by changing voting result by possessing many Validators Node through buying over 51% KAVA of market, what will KAVA team do? Do you think Emergency Shutdown(Maker has this) can be considerd as a solution?
How will USDX be minted and backed on KAVA platform? If its based on uses crypto collateral, how will KAVA team make it stable since the inflation of crypto price?
Answer: I believe Kava to be underpriced currently, especially compared to maker which is 10x the value and serving ETH which is much smaller market than ours.
But I cannot tell you with certain if Kava will boom or bust - only the market can decide that. As with all speculative assets, do your homework and trade at your own risk. We here at kava are very LONG Kava, but we are biased 😉
Stablecoin is the word that I heard everyday, so do you have any plans to release wallet for stablecoin?
Answer: There are already wallets created for Kava that can hold our tokens 😉
My first question is: Why do traders choose to use KAVA instead of margin on exchanges?
My second #Q is: What happens whenKAVA doesn't have enough cash to loan out?
Answer: Traders who cannot get passed KYC can use Kava. Traders who want better rates than exchanges can use Kava. If regulators like in the US prevent margin trading, Kava is a great solution.
Kava creates USDX out of thin air when users withdraw loans. It will only create Kava is the user locks a great value of crypto in the system to back it. When the USDX loan is repaid, it is destroyed. In this way, Kava can scale however big it wants - it will never run out of cash.
i heard as you said before in San Fransisco, Silicon Valley. what is the relationship about Silicon Valley and KAVA? and what will KAVA done in this Q1 ?
Answer: I am born and raised in Silicon Valley. I am blessed to have grown up in this area where lots of tech innovation is. However, I am the only one at Kava that lives here full time. The others on my team are in the Cayman Islands and Cambridge.
San Francisco is a hub for the largest crypto projects - Ripple, Coinbase, Stellar, etc. It's a great place to network with founders and feel inspired to do big things. It is not the best weather here, but the people are focused and extremely helpful if they can be if you aim to do big things.
With regard to minting new USDX, is there any potential chance to against Global financial law? Likewise USDT, issuing money should guarantee deposit of real collateral as I have known.
Answer: USDX is debt. It is not a guarantee, but the protocol's rules state it must have more crypto assets behind it than the # of USDX issued. In this way, rules are better than guarantees. Tether guaranteed 1:1 USD, it turned out not to be true because their funds were seized by regulators. That is impossible in the case of Kava.
What is the uniqueness of KAVA project that cannot be found in other project that´s been released before?
Answer: Cross-chain is unique for us. But most unique is our partners and validator group that is launching our blockchain. We have incredible partners that support our work including Ripple, Cosmos, Arrington, Hashkey, SNZ, Lemniscap, etc.
KAVA was initially planned to launch on Ripple network but later switched to Cosmos Tindermint Core. What is that something you see in Tindermint Core that is not available anywhere.
Answer: We did not plan to launch on ripple and did not launch on "Tinder"-mint. I have a fiance - she would be quite mad.
We did however use the Cosmos SDK - a tool set, to build our blockchain that features tendermint consensus.
Tendermint is just the consensus so I assume you mean the SDK. The SDK is very much "choose your own adventure" you can build anything and design all the spec of your blockchain easily. In this way you choose the tradeoffs that make the most sense for your special application/network
How much portion of USDX is backed from crypto/fiat money ...& please mention why any trader, hodler will prefer USDX over other stable coins?
What are the biggest challenges you expect to face and how do you plan to overcome these challenges?
Answer: 150% of USDX or more is backed by crypto. Traders will use USDX because it offers a savings rate. This rate allows traders heding bitcoin or other assets to not only store value, but earn a return.
What do you think about creating liquidity for the Kava project?
Answer: It's the biggest challenge. My hope is the savings rate USDX offers will give it natural organic demand over existing stable coins. It will definitely be a large BD process to get USDX listed and used worldwide.
We work with some of the worlds best market makers to seed liquidity today. But we will need organic demand in the long-term
So many IEO projects consistently drop in price after listing. Whats different with KAVA, what are some special highlights?
Answer: Why is Kava based on Cosmos? Based on what considerations?
How do you see the chinese language community? How do you view the opportunities for growth in the chinese community?
Answer: You will be soon listing on Binance, what are your plans on the business side after listing? In one years time, what are your thoughts on where Kava's development will be?
If we take a look at all the different types of DeFi products/apps out there, including decentralized exchanges, stablecoins, atomic swaps, insurance products, lending platforms, trade financing platforms, custodial platforms, crowd investment platforms, etc, nearly cover all the important areas of traditional finance.
In this age of all these different platforms taking hold, where does Kava see itself appealing to its app developers, users, investors?
Answer: What does Kava do? What can a normal user (of crypto) achieve by using KAVA?
How does Kava maintain the stability of its stablecoin? Are there any opportunities for outsiders to arbitrage or any other mechanisms to maintain price stabilization
Answer: What is the reason for the IEO price reaching 6x the first round private sale price? How did you come about to reaching this valuation?
What would you be able to do more for Russian-speaking communities and regions?
Answer: one thing to keep in mind is that yes, we do have limitations and regulations to follow when it comes to certain countries and we will adhere to those regulations in hopes of proving ourselves to be a thoughtful and long-term solution. while we may not directly work with some countries, we hope that communities there can understand that we're here focused on being sustainable rather than another project around shorter-term gains.
for myself, I'm actually belarusian myself so I absolutely see the value of working in the CIS/Russian-speaking regions. we'll continue to do AMAs, interviews, and always engage with Russian-speaking communities to better understand what the #Q s, concerns, and thoughts.
If there's anything else we can do in this region and with the @gagarin_ico communities, please let us know!
What are your major goals to archive in the next 3-4 years? Where can we KAVA ecosystem in this period? What are your plans to expand and gain more adoption?
Do you guys feel satisfied by seeing your progresses and achievements till now, when you look back to the day when you have started this project?
Answer: We want to really build out great DeFi products for the masses. I really believe that DeFi will be a major force to allow much more mass adoption for crypto over the coming years. In the sorter term, we want to push out our blockchain and build on top of that our CDP platform, which allows users to trustlessly put collateral onto the Kava blockchain, and receive a loan in USDX that will be also trustlessly administered.
We will then build out more complex products and financial derivatives for crypto users and traders. We have barely scratched the surface in what we can do with DeFi so I can't predict the future, but we want to build products that are pegged to BTC values so that traders have more leverage purely in crypto.
Which one of your milestone do you think was difficult and which was the encouragement that courages you to achieve it?
What were the Minimum and Maximum limit of KAVA tokens that one can be able to STAKE after the Mainnet launch ? And What will be the percentage of reward one gets and will it in future ?
Answer: Good #Q ! Well we've been working on open source cross-chain technologies for a number of years and honestly it can be a pain. I think the Cosmos SDK made it significantly easier to implement the features that we wanted into the software.
I think the largest challenges for Kava are not software based but in market adoption. Makerdao is a great project and they have spearheaded a lot of the work in the lending field. Hopefully Kava can be a very meaningful contributor as well
What if someone fails to repay the debt? Is that KAVA is taking collateral system to enterprise level & if so, what's the plan? How secure KAVA is to safely handle the collateral tokens?
Answer: These CDPs or "collateral debt positions" are always over-collateralized, which means you have to have more asset locked up in the bucket than you can draw from the bucket. The system leaves a margin when the collateral is 'called' to be able to sell off. If the asset cannot be fully redeemed KAVA is minted to cover the balance. Hence KAVA is a 'lender of last resort". This is why its important that we select good initially assets to support 👍
I am very impressed with your voting method, how does it work? Whether users can vote to change things in the platform, are you a programmer with filters to decide what can be voted on and what is not possible?
Answer: Thanks. A lot of this was pioneered with the Tendermint team. Basically voting is entirely open and asynchronous, meaning anyone can submit a proposal to be voted on. All the project in the Cosmos ecosystem are working diligently to expand the space of variable or features that can be modified via this governance method in protocol. For example, we were the first to enable transactions directly via governance in our Testnet-2000!
Where does the interest rate come from for holding USDX specifically & technically?
Answer: Great #Q ! Just like in MakerDAO, lenders of collateral (e.g. BTC, BNB) pay an annual interest rate to borrow USDX. A portion of that interest rate accretes to holders of KAVA, the rest we can apply a 'carrot' for users to adopt USDX. In short, Savings rate is loan interest rate less 'rents' collected from KAVA holders
As far as I understand it KaVa is used both as a staking token and as collateral for Kava stablecoins (UsDX) .Can you talk a bit about the stability mechanism? Can other forms of collateral be used to create Kava stablecoins (a la Multi-Collateral Dai)?
Answer: KAVA will not be used as a collateral type in the CDPs. Collateral types will be assets exogenous to the system, like BTC and BNB. Of course BTC and BNB's value fluctuates. To make USDX not fluctate we ensure there is always more BTC or BNB in the CDP bucket than 'stable' USDX. Therefore BTC could increase or decrease a lot, as long as its less than the 'stable' debt of USDX that you have drawn, the system is healthy and functional 👌
As far as I know, KAVA had 150 Validators in the test. Why do you have so much. Which conditions are your team based on to choose / invite them to stay decentralized, important for a Defi platform like KAVA?
Answer: KAVA mainnet will launch with a cap of 100 validators. We want as many validators as possible. The reason? What if KAVA was run by just you and me. Well that works if people trust us, but its pretty for us to collude and act maliciously. Its harder for 100 people to collude -- its still possible, but harder. And so we put a lot of effort in to promoting a healthy and large validator community, and empowering them to grow their stake in the system
As a developer, which program languages can i use in kava core smart contracts?
2How secure your fully on-chain liquidity protocol & What's is a core Smart Contract ?can you briefly explain.
Answer: Yay developers! 🤓 The Cosmos SDK is currently written in Golang. So thats a good start. What other language would you like to work in?
What do you think of DEFI in the Blockchain space?
DeFi brings many benefits to users, but conflicts of interests with the Bank. What is the solution of kava?
Answer: Defi to me is offering financial primates, the supplies of which are spreadout amongst many participants, as opposed to few. People offer loans on BTC today. Kava's goal is to maximize the amount of counterparties to any loan, thereby 'socializing' the returns on any activiely used financial product
What is the crucial thing, in your opinion,that would increase adoption of KAVA and possibly the rest of crypto. What’s the KAVA economic model and how will it is architecture ensure scarcity of the token and help to growth token price?
Can you tell me more about the new technology that combines the benefits and interactive functions of Cosmos with the DeFi applications you have built?
Answer: Principly what I believe is 'new' about the KAVA tech stack is that we are building a standalone piece of software that treats other network techologies as 'first class citizens'. This means from the ground up our design is mean to easily incorporate and work with other software. A lot of blockchain is a story of "everyone will use my software, because its the best". Kava Labs worked for years against this view while bringing open Interledger to market.
As Per Kava website ! $KAVA was done many partnerships with Big project like Ripple, Cosmos, TenderMint, Hashkey, etc ! So, whats the major reason and benefits of these partnerships to kava project?
Kava Project have their own Mainnet Blockchain So, whats the main work of Cosmos Blockchain in Kava ? Is Kava projects is on Both mainnet and Cosmos OR Kava is just using the Cosmos Blockchain services?
Answer: Working together. Pooling resources and talent to make something bigger! Crypto is still a little fish in a huge ocean of financial services. Kava Labs has always had an eye for inclusivity. Grow the pie!
I have been too involved in KAVA's AMA, I think I know all about your technology.I want to ask a successful person like you why come with cryptocurrencies and blockchain, with talent. There are many other areas for you to choose, so why are you targeting such a risky market?
Answer: Successful ay? hehe. Depends how you define success and what your goals are. I love delivering products to users. Crypto has some fantastic users, and there is still sooo much to be built. I think KAVA has a lot of promise, but there is still so much work to be done and I hope users like you all become producers some day as well
What's the most critical and innovative point of KAVA to ensure users that it is the best under DeFi niche?
How can you compete MakerDAO which has done good number of business with recent market! If I hold KAVA tokens how KAVA leverage the tokens value and make it moon for me? 🙈
Answer: "IF" you hold KAVA tokens now? 😂 Again I think this a markets concern. To the extend that users on other chains begin to trust KAVA brand for loan issuance, and we get some solid adoption of USDX I think we're in a good spot. I would say a benefit of KAVA is that we are FOCUSED. We're not trying to be everything for everyone. This is lending, quite simply, for the large market cap coins -- and that's hard enough
Why KAVA needs to create it's own stable coin, whereas there are are many other options available in the market? Is that crypto tokens can be stable!!?
Answer: Yeah there are a lot of USD backed stable coins that is true. Indeed we have looked around with working together with a number of them. The difference with USDX (and DAI) is that its crypto-collateral backed. Doesnt mean we won't work with others in the future 😉
Processing fees on loans we need to pay in kava or usdx?
Which types of success you've been seen in testnet? Why on Nov 5th you've planned to launch mainnet? How many testnet was processed in the past?
Answer: Three major testnets with some minor iterations therein. Testnet-3000's software was pinned to KAVA mainnet software. That testnet is looking good which is a good indicator for smooth sailing on mainnet launch, we'll see 🤞
DeFi is a hot niche when it comes to crypto/blockchain project! Most of the projects are developing aiming DeFi, How KAVA is looking to contribute in DeFi ecosystem? What will be the approach of KAVA to systemize & increase adoptability?
Answer: DeFi is big. Mostly on Ethereum, which is great! KAVA is for non-ethereum networks 😇
What is the main reason that you think that Cosmos-based Kava zone will present a new validator opportunity :- a complex and multi-faceted governance system that allows differentiation?
Answer: Validator #Q , nice. I believe its important for validators to be able to distiguish there service in multiple ways, not just on security (otherwise they will be treated as a commodity). KAVA present an opportunity for validators to distiguish themselves on the basis of proper governance of system parameters on behalf of their delegating constituents. KAVA is a "lender of last resort", so delegating to a sophisticated validator could lead to better results beyond security.
How is kavas tendermint better than other defi consensus especially with the introduction of etheruem 2.0 which many believe will be better than all others - considering kavas association with ripple, is it possible to foresee defi loans from crypto to fiat ?
Maybe kava partnership with centralised banks?
Answer: IDK about that. But we will be working closely with the great folks over at Ripple, thats for sure!
Adoption is one of the important factor that all sustainable blockchain projects should focus to be more attractive in the invertors' eyes.
Can you tell me what KAVA has done and plan to do to achieve Adoption in the reality, real use cases, our real society?
Answer: Bitcoin is real!? I'm continuously impressed by the demand and size of that network. Help us capture that demand! Really, if we can I think the future looks bright for KAVA!
Introduction: Greetings, fellow ethtraders! Happy New Year! In the next few months, taxpayers across the US will be filing their 2017 tax returns. As an Enrolled Agent and a ETH/cryptocurrency investor and enthusiast, I wanted to write up a brief guide on how your investments in ETH and other cryptocurrencies are taxed in the US.
1. Are ETH/cryptocurrency realized gains taxable? Yes. The IRS treats virtual currency (such as cryptocurrency) as property. That means if you sell ETH, BTC, or any other cryptocurrency that has appreciated in value, you have realized a capital gain and must pay taxes on this income. If you held the position for one year or less, it is a short-term capital gain which is taxed at your ordinary income tax rate. If you held the position for more than one year, it is a long-term capital gain which is taxed at your long-term capital gains tax rate. In most cases, this is 15%, but could also be 0% or 20% depending on your specific ordinary income tax bracket.
2. If I sell my ETH for USD on Coinbase but do not transfer the USD from Coinbase to my bank account, am I still taxed? Yes. The only thing that matters is that you sold the ETH, which creates a taxable transaction. Whether you transfer the USD to your bank account or not does not matter.
3. If I use my ETH to buy OMG or another cryptocurrency, is this a taxable transaction? Most likely yes. See #4 below for a more detailed explanation. If assuming crypto to crypto trades are not able to be like-kind exchanged, then continue on to the next paragraph here. This is actually two different transactions. The first transaction is selling your ETH for USD. The second transaction is buying the OMG with your USD. You must manually calculate these amounts. For example, I buy 1 ETH for $600 on Coinbase. Later on, the price of 1 ETH rises to $700. I transfer that 1 ETH to Bittrex and use it to buy 37 OMG. I have to report a capital gain of $100 because of this transaction. My total cost basis for the 37 OMG I purchased is $700.
5. How do I calculate the realized capital gain or loss on the sale of my cryptocurrency? The realized gain or loss is your total proceeds from the sale minus what you purchased those positions for (your cost basis). For example, you bought 1 ETH for $300 in June of 2017. In December of 2017, you sold that 1 ETH for $800. Your realized gain would be $800 - $300 = $500. Since you held it for one year or less, the $500 would be a short-term capital gain taxed at your ordinary income tax rate.
6. Which ETH's cost basis do I use if I have multiple purchases? The cost basis reporting method is up to you. For example, I buy my first ETH at $300, a second ETH at $530, and a third ETH at $400. Later on, I sell one ETH for $800. I can use: FIFO (first in first out) - cost basis would the first ETH, $300, which would result in a gain of $500. LIFO (last in first out) - cost basis would be the third ETH, $400, which would result in a gain of $400. Average cost - cost basis would be the average of the three ETH, $410, which would result in a gain of $390. Specific identification - I can just choose which coin's cost basis to use. For example, I can choose the second ETH's cost basis, $530, which would result in the lowest capital gains possible of $270.
7. If I end up with a net capital loss, can I claim this on my tax return? Capital gains and capital losses are netted on your tax return. If the net result of this is a capital loss, you may offset it against ordinary income on your tax return, but only at a maximum of $3,000 per year. The remaining losses are carried forward until you use them up.
9. If I mine ETH or any other cryptocurrency, is this taxable? Yes. IRS Notice 2014-21 states that mining cryptocurrency is taxable. For example, if you mined $7,000 worth of ETH in 2017, you must report $7,000 of income on your 2017 tax return. For many taxpayers, this will be reported on your Schedule C, and you will most likely owe self-employment taxes on this income as well. The $7,000 becomes the cost basis in your ETH position.
10. How do I calculate income for the cryptocurrency I mined? This is the approach I would take. Say I mined 1 ETH on December 31, 2017. I would look up the daily historical prices for ETH and average the high and low prices for ETH on December 31, 2017, which is ($760.35 + $710.12) / 2 = $735.24. I would report $735.24 of income on my tax return. This would also be the cost basis of the 1 ETH I mined.
11. Can I deduct mining expenses on my tax return? If you are reporting the income from mining on Schedule C, then you can deduct expenses on Schedule C as well. You can deduct the portion of your electricity costs allocated to mining, and then you depreciate the cost of your mining rig over time (probably over five years). Section 179 also allows for the full deduction of the cost of certain equipment in year 1, so you could choose to do that if you wanted to instead.
12. If I receive ETH or other cryptocurrency as a payment for my business, is this taxable? Yes. Similar to mining, your income would be what the value of the coins you received was. This would also be your cost basis in the coins.
13. If I received Bitcoin Cash as a result of the hard fork on August 1, 2017, is this taxable? Most likely yes. For example, if you owned 1 Bitcoin and received 1 Bitcoin Cash on August 1, 2017 as a result of the hard fork, your income would be the value of 1 Bitcoin Cash on that date. Bitcoin.tax uses a value of $277. This value would also be your cost basis in the position. Any other hard forks would probably be treated similarly. Airdrops may be treated similarly as well, in the IRS' view. Here are a couple more good articles about reporting the Bitcoin Cash fork as taxable ordinary income. The second one goes into depth and cites a US Supreme Court decision as precedent: one, two
14. If I use ETH, BTC, or other cryptocurrency to purchase goods or services, is this a taxable transaction? Yes. It would be treated as selling your cryptocurrency for USD, and then using that USD to purchase those goods or services. This is because the IRS treats cryptocurrency as property and not currency.
15. Are cryptocurrencies subject to the wash sale rule? Probably not. Section 1091 only applies to stock or securities. Cryptocurrencies are not classified as stocks or securities. Therefore, you could sell your ETH at a loss, repurchase it immediately, and still realize this loss on your tax return, whereas you cannot do the same with a stock. Please see this link for more information.
16. What if I hold cryptocurrency on an exchange based outside of the US? There are two separate foreign account reporting requirements: FBAR and FATCA. A FBAR must be filed if you held more than $10,000 on an exchange based outside of the US at any point during the tax year. A Form 8938 (FATCA) must be filed if you held more than $75,000 on an exchange based outside of the US at any point during the tax year, or more than $50,000 on the last day of the tax year. The penalties are severe for not filing these two forms if you are required to. Please see the second half of this post for more information on foreign account reporting.
17. What are the tax implications of gifting cryptocurrency? Small gifts of cryptocurrency do not have a tax implication for the gift giver or for the recipient. The recipient would retain the gift giver's old cost basis, so it could be a good idea for the gift giver to provide records of the original cost basis to the recipient as well (or else the recipient would have to assume a cost basis of $0 if the recipient ever sells the cryptocurrency). Large gifts of cryptocurrency could start having gift and estate tax implications on the giver if the value exceeds more than $14,000 (in 2017) or $15,000 (in 2018) per year per recipient. Here's a good article on Investopedia on this issue. An important exception applies if the gift giver gives cryptocurrency that has a cost basis that is higher than the market value at the time of the gift. Please see the middle of this post for more information on that.
19. Are there any websites that you recommend in helping me with all of this? Yes - I have used bitcoin.tax and highly recommend it. You can import directly from an exchange to the website using API, and/or export a .csv/excel file from the exchange and import it into the website. The exchanges I successfully imported from were Coinbase, GDAX, Bittrex, and Binance. The result is a .csv or other file that you can import into your tax software. I have also heard good things about cointracking.info but have not personally used it myself.
20. Taxation is theft! I can't help you there.
That is the summary I have for now. There have been a lot of excellent cryptocurrency tax guides on reddit, such as this one, this one, and this one, but I wanted to post my short summary guide on ethtrader which hopefully answers some of the questions you all may have about US taxation of ETH and other cryptocurrencies. Please let me know if you have any more questions, and I’d be happy to answer them to the best of my ability. Thank you! Regarding edits: I have made many edits to my post since I originally posted it. Please refresh to see the latest edits to my guide. Thank you.
Disclaimer: The information contained within this post is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to substitute for obtaining tax, accounting, or financial advice from a professional. Any U.S. federal tax advice contained in this post is not intended to be used for the purpose of avoiding penalties under U.S. federal tax law. Presentation of the information via the Internet is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, an advisor-client relationship. Internet users are advised not to act upon this information without seeking the service of a tax professional.
BittyTax - New open source project for cryptoasset accounting/audit/tax tools
BittyTax I wrote this code last year to do my own tax return as at the time there was nothing available for UK tax rules. I decided to make it open source here https://github.com/BittyTax/BittyTax. It’s command line tools only at the moment, but I’m working on next version which will integrate directly into Excel to make it a bit easier to use. I've done a lot of testing and some friends have used it for their tax returns, but bear in mind it is still in beta. If you get any problems or there's any feature you would like added, please raise an issue here. It currently handles these data file formats: Wallets:
Qt Wallet (i.e. Bitcoin Core)
Historic price data for fiat/crypto are taken from these sources:
The ‘Bitcoin Rich List’ Has Grown 30% in the Last Year, But Why?
The Bitcoin Rich List, or the number of addresses holding more than 1,000 BTC, has swelled in the past 12 months, possibly reflecting an influx of high-net-worth investors. The metric has registered growth of 30 percent since September 2018, according to Coin Metrics data. Even when adjusted to exclude addresses known to belong to exchanges, the figure shows a similar surge. At press time, 2,148 addresses contain more than 1,000 bitcoins, amounting to just 0.01 percent of all bitcoin addresses, as per BitInfoCharts’ Bitcoin Rich List. Note that BTC fell from $6,400 to $3,100 in the final quarter of 2018 and experienced investors may have taken advantage of the price dip to snap up the top cryptocurrency on the cheap, leading to the rise in the addresses with more than 1,000 bitcoins. Other observers, however, are not convinced that the number of individuals with 1,000+ BTCs has increased. After all, an individual can move 50,000 bitcoins from a single wallet to 50 different wallets for custody purposes. Also, a cryptocurrency exchange like Binance holds bitcoins belonging to millions of users and can store coins in different wallets. “It’s mostly the exchanges … both the amount of BTC held in exchanges and the number of exchanges/custodians have been growing,” trader Alex Kruger told CoinDesk. He noted that on-chain transaction volume in BTC terms has been relatively flat since September 2018 – a sign the rich list is possibly increasing due to exchanges, which tend to have low on-chain transaction frequency. For instance, top addresses have fewer withdrawals compared to deposits and could, therefore, be exchanges’ cold, or offline wallets. While trading volume is the lifeblood of exchanges, it is not necessarily reflected on-chain, since these companies may internally debit or credit client addresses without executing a transaction on the public ledger. That said, it is not possible to know for sure whether a given address with infrequent transactions is an exchange or a whale. Further, as shown in the chart below, if you take out known exchange addresses, the rich list still grew by almost 30 percent over the 12-month period, to more than 2,100 addresses, pretty much the same rate as for all addresses. This supports Woo’s interpretation that the influx of high-net-worth individuals was a primary reason for the rise in addresses with more than 1,000 bitcoins. One more possible reason for the rise could be the distribution of ownership over time, according to Qiao Wang, director of product at crypto data source Messari. “In the beginning it was Satoshi, then a few early miners, who owned all the bitcoin. But over time their share decreased and other people entered the market,” Wang said. Looking forward, both wealthy investors and exchanges may continue to drive the rise in the number of “rich” addresses. With the next mining reward halving – a historically price-bullish event – due in six months, new investors may enter the market. Also, trading volumes at the Bakkt bitcoin futures exchange, which needs to store bitcoin for its physically delivered futures, are increasing. Recently, futures volume jumped by more than 250 percent to $11 million. The exchange, a subsidiary of Intercontinental Exchange, is set to launch options on futures on Dec. 8.
Consensus Network EP36: Buy, Borrow and Die: Bitcoin Style
Catch the full episode: https://www.consensusnetwork.io/podcastepisodes/2019/10/5/ep36-buy-borrow-and-die-bitcoin-style-1 Buck: Welcome back to the show everyone. Today my guest on Wealth Formula Podcast is Zack Prince. He's Founder and CEO of BlockFi. BlockFi bridges the gap between blockchain and the basic financial products that you're used to including interest-bearing accounts and loans. Zack, welcome to Wealth Formula Podcast. I think you we might have had you on before as a Consensus Network replay but first time on Wealth Formula Podcast specifically, so welcome. Zac: Yeah, excited to be here, Buck. Thanks for having me. And it's good to chat with you again Buck: Yeah so remind me how you got into this you know Bitcoin stuff in the first place, I mean you were as I understand you were a traditional finance guy right so where did the blockchain part come in? Zac: Sure so I was I was working at a company in the FinTech world that provided data and technology solutions to institutional investors that wanted to participate in some of the new online lending platforms, whether they were real estate platforms or consumer lending platforms, and I kind of became the FinTech guy amongst my friend group and people would ask me you know should I invest in these real estate deals on fund rise or buy loans from Lending Club and I started writing a blog to share the information more efficiently with my friends basically and I started expanding a little bit writing about Robo advisory and some other things that were going on in the FinTech space and that's what led me to Bitcoin, and this is back in early 2015. I didn't start BlockFi until 2017 because I started following the market in the background, still working in traditional financial services in FinTech and then in early 2017 it started to feel like mainstream adoption was starting to happen in the crypto ecosystem. I'm started going to some meetups in New York City because at a certain point my wife said Zac, you're talking about crypto all the time and you're talking to me about it and I don't want to talk about it so you should find some other people to talk about this with. And the meetup composition started to change and in 2016 when I started going to these meetups it was the early crypto adopters you know libertarians, computer scientists and then in early 2017 I started to see some venture capitalists, some guys who had just left their job at Wall Street still wearing a suit, some more entrepreneurs and it was a really exciting time in the ecosystem, things like the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance were getting announced which had participation microsoft and a lot of other you know fortune 500 companies and I had started to believe in it. I was drinking the kool-aid a little bit so I decided to find a way to get involved in the space full-time and that's what led me to start BlockFi. Buck: So I have to imagine that the response you got from the traditional finance people around that time when you started talking about the blockchain space and when you started being more and more involved with that was probably not a very positive response initially or did you did you experience some of that sort of you know rejection initially to what you were doing? Zac: Yeah absolutely. But you know throughout my career this is now kind of the third emerging technology industry that I've worked in. I was originally an advertising technology starting like you know 15 years ago and I was in FinTech specifically the online lending side of FinTech which in its early days was called peer-to-peer lending and now in crypto. So having to do a lot of education explain it you know why something isn't crazy and it might work and here's why and here's the value proposition and here's what it is, I've gotten very used to that and comfortable with it. But yeah there were a lot of people who are like you know I've heard Bitcoin is only used by drug dealers and money launderers. I've heard that I'm supposed to care about blockchain and not Bitcoin. And you know at BlockFi we’re providing financial products into the market so it's a heavily regulated business so we also had to communicate with regulators. We had to explain to state regulators, federal regulators why what we were doing with Bitcoin and other cryptos than when you're doing these same types of things with assets that they're more familiar with. Buck: So when you were talking to people back in, I don't know I guess 2016/17 and it's not a long time ago, it's only two years ago, but I have to imagine that the response or the you know the approach that people take to you when you speak to investors is very different. Has it become more mainstream in that regard for you know for big money investors? Zac: It's absolutely become more mainstream you know the end of 2017 Q3/Q4. Point was going on that parabolic run it started to get covered everywhere, I mean it was on CNBC every day it was in Bloomberg New York Times Wall Street Journal. If you were paying attention to the financial industry and markets you heard about Bitcoin at that time if you hadn't heard about it before. So from a baseline of awareness perspective it got a lot better and then in 2018 you had a number of positive developments for the sector including one that I think is probably the most noteworthy which is that Bitcoin futures were listed on the CME the institutional investor perspective that's massive. You now have a well regulated well known super trustworthy venue where you can get exposure to this asset class, you also had companies like Grayscale bringing products to the market which are accessible to certain types of investors and their low bridge accounts and you started to see some adoption from companies like FinTech companies like Robin Hood and Square making Bitcoin available on their platforms. So the conversation has absolutely changed a lot and it's become less about whether or not this is something that's going to continue to exist whether or not it's something that was just a bubble and is going to die and now it's more about ok how is it going to get used how big could it get what are the interesting applications of it and what could have potentially disrupt in the traditional financial ecosystem. Buck: So you know we had obviously following this you know pop in 2017, you know I actually like you kind of really got into this early 2017 so timing was pretty good I guess now regards. Good or bad depending how you look at it but I was there before before the parabolic move. And then we have you know then we followed this up with a crypto winter and and you know who knows if we're done with it, I guess we certainly are much better off than we were. You know a unit buddy it's funny Zac I don’t know if you remember this but I was about to, we'll talk about BlockFi specifically in a minute but, I was about to use BlockFi for borrowing because I like this idea of borrowing you know collateralized debt and collateralized debt on assets and buying something else. So I was about to do it and then Bitcoin lost a clip and I was like literally and I remember I was just emailing with somebody somebody over there and I was like sorry dude I guess I just sold it, I just sold all that Bitcoin I had and you sent one email back to me and it said “capitulation” but it you know and so now we're looking back at these we go down from 3,000 back up you know been sort of flirting around this 10,000 and it seems like we're kind of maybe that we're stuck there, maybe we're kind of out of winter, maybe we're in a holding pattern but it seems like to me that since that two years not only is the awareness increase but the development of the ecosystem itself is so much further advanced than it was in 2017. Is this an unusual case where the technology and maybe even the infrastructure is actually outpacing the price? Zac: You know it's really hard to say. I would argue that in some ways it's typical. In other industries that showed a lot of promise where investors could you know participate maybe a little bit ahead of the adoption curve you saw crazy price run ups with the tech bubble and you know ‘99-2000 being the one that's kind of top of mind in recent memory and then on the other side of things, are we behind where the price should be now? It's really hard to say because this is kind of like a commodity type asset built on a payment network and valuing that is challenging and there's not a perfect model for for doing it today. It's not as easy as something that's cashflow producing but I'm incredibly bullish. I'm on record as saying at the beginning of this year that Bitcoin has only had one year in its 10-year existence where it had a lower low than the year before and parted this year around the low price for 2018 and I predicted that we would in the year had a higher price than where we started the year pretty soon and now we're up and you know around 300 percent from where we started the year. As that happens in investing is people frequently look at things on a year-to-year performance basis and when people are looking at Bitcoin even if all we do is stay around 10 K from here when they're looking at how Bitcoin performed rather than other relative to other assets at the end of 2019 it's probably going to look fantastic. And you also have an event coming up and in the summer of next year called The Halvening where basically the supply that's produced by miners is going to get cut in half and so if you believe in the stock the flow type models of valuation for Bitcoin that is usually a very big driver of price appreciation. Buck: I believe May of 2020, right? Zac: That's right. Buck: In May of 2020. Can you just talked a little bit about that just so people know because people hear about it, I've been talking about it but I don't think that it really explained it. Zac: Yeah and you know I'm not I'm not a computer scientist so I can explain it in a you know in a very simple… Buck: No one else here is either. Zac: So basically the way that new Bitcoin is created is through this process called mining. And it's analogous to mining gold except instead of finding a place in the earth where gold exists and then getting your trucks and mining equipment and digging it out of the ground, the way bitcoin is mined is using this computer program and there is now specialized computer hardware that's built specifically and optimized for mining Bitcoin. And you have this network of machines around the world where the input is energy into the mining hardware and the output is new Bitcoin and those miners are what provides the power for the payment network a Bitcoin to run and when we say that there is this event called The Halvening, what that basically means is that the output that's built into the Bitcoin program that the miners are receiving as their payment for contributing energy to the network, is going to get cut in half. So the miners are going to have the same you know relative input but the amount that they're receiving is going to get cut in half for that input. This should, if the demand side for Bitcoin remains equal, it should drive up the price and historically Bitcoin has had three of these Halvening events in its lifetime so far I believe and around each Halvening you have seen you know six months before or six months after a pretty material run up in price. Buck: Yeah so it also goes along with that sort of that the entire idea that Bitcoin unlike you know other assets including gold is it's a deflationary asset ultimately and and that's one of the things that makes that happening really significant. Apart from and I have one more question before we get to block five which is apart from the Halvening, you know thing that's happening, what is maybe the biggest development or upcoming thing that's coming up that makes you the most bullish on the future of Bitcoin or blockchain in general? Zac: Sure so I think I wouldn't actually point to any one specific thing, I would point to two broad trends. So one is institutional adoption and participation in the asset class and the other is better ramps for retail participation into the asset class and just focusing here you know on the US market because it really is an international story but just in the US market. In September we should have Bakkt launching their futures platform. Bakkt is owned by ICE, the Intercontinental Exchange, and there's a big core difference between their futures and the current futures that are available on the CME in that futures on Bakkt platform are going to be physically settled so that means that actual Bitcoin is going to be needed to facilitate the trading on Bakkt’s platform which does not happen on CMEs exchange so that's that should be a very positive catalyst in terms of demand for physical Bitcoin that could have an impact on the price. Also on the institutional side this year I believe earlier this year, the first pension fund made an investment into an asset management vehicle that was focused on investing in Bitcoin and private equity opportunities in the Bitcoin and blockchain sector. So that will be a trend. Buck: Which pension fund was it? Zac: It was in North Carolina so I think it was like the North Carolina Firefighters and the group that raised the money from them was Morgan Creek Digital it’s actually invested in BlockFi by Anthony Pompliano Twitter and Mark Yusko so that's on the institutional side. And then on the retail side you've seen FinTech companies like Square and Robin Hood offer Bitcoin trading to their users. But soon you will also have companies like TD Ameritrade E-Trade and others offer Bitcoin to their users sometimes be a partnership sometimes because they've built it directly. You also at some point might see progress made in terms of an ETF getting approved that would give retail investors in the US market exposure to Bitcoin in a really easy and familiar way. All of those things are tremendously positive catalysts and the caliber of people working on them only continues to increase. Talent was attracted into the sector very, very rapidly these days. Buck: You know one question that leads me to is that all of this is happening with Bitcoin for the most part. Are alt coins in your opinion is that market coming back or is that something that we're gonna see probably select you know group of tokens projects emerge and then the rest will kind of just get left in the dust, what do you think? Zac: I mean I'll tell you exactly what I'm doing with my portfolio and then I'll provide a bit more color. So my asset allocation in the crypto side of my investing is I'm like 90% Bitcoin 5% Ethereum and 5% B&B; which is the Binance right. So I'm super bullish on Bitcoin. I think that you know there's a chance that Ether makes a comeback specifically I think that a lot of the stable coins that have been launched have been built on Ethereum if you're not familiar with stable coins it's basically the concept of a dollar but on a blockchain which could be really really powerful because it creates the opportunity for the delivery of US dollar denominated financial services at a global scale not using the traditional banking rails. And then B&B; I mean Binance is the biggest and most successful exchange they have a history of innovating, creating new products, going fast and so I'm taking a bit of a flyer with them but I'm 90% Bitcoin. I don't think that I'm not bullish on any of the other all coins frankly I struggle to see you know the big upside I have heard whispers in the community that there's kind of like a new wave of altcoins 3.0 might emerge, you know could see some some good returns similar to what some of the ICOs did in 2017 but it's not an area of focus for me. So that's my view. Buck: Yeah let's talk about BlockFi. Remind us exactly what BlockFi is. Zac: Sure so we're a wealth management platform for crypto investors. Today we have two products that we offer. One product is analogous to a savings account from a traditional bank where you're able to earn interest on your holdings except on BlockFi, the assets instead of being dollars are bitcoin and Ether and we don't have FDIC insurance so it's not exactly the same risk profile as a savings account at a bank, but conceptually you're able to hold Bitcoin and an account with BlockFi and earn interest on it paid in Bitcoin every month. That's one product that we have. The second product that we have which you are alluding to earlier offers our clients the ability to borrow dollars secured by the value of their cryptocurrency and it's analogous to a securities backed loan or a liquidity access line in the traditional world except instead of securities we're taking Bitcoin or other digital assets as collateral and lending it rates as low as four point five lending USD that rates as low as four point five percent a year. Buck: I wanna pick these apart a little bit if you don't mind. In terms of this savings account first of all is it just bitcoin or is it bitcoin, Ethereum? Zac: We actually support three assets in the interest account currently Bitcoin, Ether and GUSD which is the stable coin from Gemini. Buck: Got it. And talk about the interest because it's not one flat interest rate right it's different depending on how much cryptocurrency actually is held? Zac: Correct so there's a tiered interest rate structure. Currently on Bitcoin for balances up to ten Bitcoin, we offer a six point two percent annual yield and for balances above ten Bitcoin it's a 2.2 percent annual yield. On Ether, for balances up to two hundred Ether it's a 3.3 percent annual yield and balances above two hundred Ether is 0.5% annual yield and for GUSD the stable coin it's an eight point six percent interest rate with no tier so yeah those are the different rates. Buck: Why did, I mean was it just a matter of like an issue with people dumping like a thousand Bitcoin and trying to get six you know 6% of that, was it just too hard to you know make that a long-term part of the business model or why did the higher levels end up changing to a lower rate? Zac: Sure so I wanted to function of market conditions and to it's a function of supply and demand. So we launched the interest account in March of this year. We were just starting to come out of the bear market and one of the things that happened as we switched from being in a bear market to being in a bull market is the futures switched from being in backwardation to contango which basically means that our institutional borrowers the groups that we lend to that enable us to pay the rate to depositors had less of a need they had less demand to borrow and they were willing to pay lower rates to borrow crypto than they were when we were building and planning to launch this product. The second thing that happened is we were surprised to the upside in terms of the level of interest that we received from depositors and especially depositors with very large sums of cryptocurrency. So to give you an example you know within a day or two of making the product available publicly, we had a number of groups that were depositing 5, 10, 15, 20 million dollars worth of Bitcoin and so the supply-demand that we have to manage is, the amount that we have on deposit relative to the size of this market that will borrow Bitcoin size of the market that will borrow Bitcoin is partially a function of market sentiments partially a function of number of trading venues and the liquidity profile and it's partially a function of you know BlockFi’s efforts in terms of sales and client development relationship management. So the supply side got a little bit ahead of the demand side on deposit and how much there was available to borrow so we made a few tweaks. We want to keep the 6%, 6.2% rate on Bitcoin available to as many people as possible for as long as possible so that's why we went with the tiered structure where we made it available on balances up to 10 and reduced it for balances above that. Buck: Got it and the interest on that, when you say 6.2 percent that six point like it's all denominated in Bitcoin, you're not paying cash out right? Zac: Correct so to use round numbers to provide an easy example you start on January first with a hundred Bitcoin in an account, by the subsequent January first you will have 106 point 2 Bitcoin in your account. Buck: Yeah and that that's kind of neat too because then you're you know you're also getting potentially the upside of that you know I mean they made 6% but if you if you're really bullish on the market you could be potentially looking at a lot more than 6% on your money. How about in terms of the, is there like a you know do you do it sort of a month-to-month or six month or month you know year-long contracts for these things? Zac: It's month-to-month. So the rates are subject to change on a monthly basis. We provide notifications at least a week in advance before the end of one month on what the rates will be for the subsequent month and people are able to you know withdraw any time without penalty. We reserve up to 7 days to process withdrawals but we've never taken more than one business day to process a withdrawal so they're pretty quick but not instant for security reasons and yeah it's pretty flexible. Buck: How about the lump in the lending side how does how does that work? So now I've got like 10 Bitcoin and so I would deposit that I guess and you guys I understand that maybe that that goes into like a Gemini account or something, is that still how it works? Zac: Correct so we have a partnership with Gemini for custody. So when you log into a BlockFi account you'll have a deposit address. When you send Bitcoin to that deposit address it actually goes directly into storage with Gemini. Gemini was the first custodian in the crypto sector to receive insurance against cyber hacks on their platform. They were also the first custodian to get to complete a SOC 2 compliance audit and they have a really long track record of custody billions of dollars worth of crypto without ever having any issues. So it goes directly to Gemini and then you're able to interact with block-wise platform to take any actions that you might deem necessary. So you can view your interest payments you can withdraw you can deposit more you can also take out a loan. So in terms of taking out a loan, if you have ten Bitcoin that's worth roughly a hundred thousand US dollars at this point in time, you can borrow up to fifty percent of that value in a US dollar loan which can be funded be a wire or stable coin and then the structure of those loans is that you make interest-only payments on the amount that you borrowed throughout the duration and you can prepay at any time without penalty. Buck: And what's the typical you said it was four point six. Zac: We have interest rates as low as four point five. The interest rates on borrowing USD vary according to your initial loan to value ratio. So if you have a hundred thousand dollars worth of Bitcoin we actually have three loan-to-value ratio options. You can borrow at a 50 percent initial loan-to-value ratio which would mean you're borrowing 50k, the interest rate on that will be eleven point two five, if you borrow thirty five percent of the value so 35k the interest rate is seven point nine, and if you borrow twenty five percent of the value of the interest rate is four point five percent per year. Buck: Got it. In terms of you know the technical, so you basically pay that on a month-to-month basis and then in terms of contracts, are those also month-to-month loans or how does that work? Zac: Those are one-year term loans well now it's the ability to renew without repaying the principal at the end of the term at current rates and our rates for those loans have always come down so far. So it's a one-year term loan BlockFi committed for a year at that rate your payments stay the same but you can prepay at any time without penalty. Buck: Right. When do you do when would you do an actual sort of I guess a cap will call like what loan-to-value because you can go up to say you're borrowing at you know you're borrowing at the lowest rate you know you're at 4.5% you're borrowing see you know just for round numbers 100 Bitcoin you borrowed or you said 10 Bitcoin hundred thousand dollars but you only borrowed twenty-five thousand dollars at four point five percent, what if Bitcoin you know loses 50 percent of its value then what happens? Zac: Well you wouldn't have a margin call based on on that example. If your loan to value ratio hits 70 percent that's when we have a margin call and the way the margin call works is our clients have the option to either post more collateral, pay down the loan using USD or some of the collateral that's posted for the loan or take no action. If they take no action there's a 72-hour window where we'll wait to see if the price recovers, if it does then no action is required, if the price keeps going down further then we will initiate a partial collateral sale to rebalance that LTV to a healthy level at the end of that window. Buck: So in terms of the clients that you see doing this kind of stuff, I mean who are you seeing borrowing because you don't have a cap I mean you can on the borrow side, I mean and the rates don't really change like if you're depositing a hundred Bitcoin you're getting the same rate differences as somebody who's depositing ten for borrowing right? Zac: That's right. Buck: So who are the people who are putting I mean what are these businesses that are putting are using these loans who are the typical clients? Zac: Sure so it's a mix of retail and corporate. On the retail side we actually did a survey recently on use cases and the number one use case about a third of our borrowers expressed is that they were using the funds that they borrowed to start a business, which we were really excited about. So the other popular use cases were investing in real estate, investing in other types of traditional assets like stocks and bonds, home improvement, larger purchases, vacations were all used cases, paying down higher cost debt was another use case, and then on the corporate side the loans are used for operating capital. So we have some mining companies that borrow from BlockFi. Other types of companies who you know maybe have crypto denominated inventory like exchanges or crypto ATM businesses our frequent borrowers from BlockFi and our loan sizes rearranged from you know as low as five thousand dollars all the way up to seven figures. So it's a pretty diverse group of borrowers. Buck: So recently it sounds like you guys partnered with another company called Casa. What is Casa and I guess how does that benefit both companies? Zac: Sure. So Casa is a leader in fighting self sovereign storage solutions for cryptocurrency owners so if you're alone that owns Bitcoin and to use a gold analogy. If you want to own gold but you keep it in your vault or in your backyard you want to have physical possession of it yourself if you want to do that same type of custody with Bitcoin. Casa has a solution that makes that really easy. Our partnership with Casa provides mutual benefits to clients on either side. So Casa clients are able to receive some discounts in terms of accessing BlockFi products and vice-versa BlockFi clients are able to receive discounts in terms of accessing kasam products and over time we'll build some things in to the user experience specifically on Casa’s platform that will make it you know a bit more seamless to interact with BlockFi products while you're on their platform. In general that partnership strategy is something that you'll see more of we think there are in the ecosystem that are specializing in areas that BlockFi's not focused on and doing things where we can provide benefits to clients on both sides is a win-win for us then and our clients. Buck: Last thing I want to ask you about, last time I spoke to you, you had talked about the idea of potentially Bitcoin backed credit cards meaning like you know getting Bitcoin back instead of miles or dollars back. You guys any closer to that, because I definitely want one of those cards. Zac: I'm so glad you brought it up. We're definitely closer, but we're not you're not going to have the card until like Q3 of next year probably. It's getting worked on, these things you know for better or worse they take a long time launching a credit program is no small feat you know we're working on it. We've identified some of the key partners that we'll be working with to bring that product to market it is going to happen and I share your sentiment like I wish I had it now. Buck: Yeah seriously that'd be great. Well listen it was great talking you. So it's BlockFi.com and it's spelled like block and then fi and tell us you know tell us the process of doing is pretty simple okay how long does it take to apply for these things… Zac: Yeah I mean nothing takes any time really. So you could come in and start earning interest and get a loan from us all in under five minutes. And we also have a client service team that's super responsive in in terms of communication however you want to communicate with them, over email, over the phone, over text message so you know don't don't hesitate to reach out to us. We're also on twitter. My twitter handle is BlockFiZac and our company twitter handle is @therealBlockFi so we're very active on those platforms and happy to chat with you there as well. Buck: Zac Prince, thank you very much for being on Wealth Formula Podcast today. Zac: Thanks for having me, Buck, I appreciate it. Buck: We’ll be right back.
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