Putting $400M of Bitcoin on your company balance sheet
Also posted on my blog as usual. Read it there if you can, there are footnotes and inlined plots. A couple of months ago, MicroStrategy (MSTR) had a spare $400M of cash which it decided to shift to Bitcoin (BTC). Today we'll discuss in excrutiating detail why this is not a good idea. When a company has a pile of spare money it doesn't know what to do with, it'll normally do buybacks or start paying dividends. That gives the money back to the shareholders, and from an economic perspective the money can get better invested in other more promising companies. If you have a huge pile of of cash, you probably should be doing other things than leave it in a bank account to gather dust. However, this statement from MicroStrategy CEO Michael Saylor exists to make it clear he's buying into BTC for all the wrong reasons:
“This is not a speculation, nor is it a hedge. This was a deliberate corporate strategy to adopt a bitcoin standard.”
Let's unpack it and jump into the economics Bitcoin:
Is Bitcoin money?
No. Or rather BTC doesn't act as money and there's no serious future path for BTC to become a form of money. Let's go back to basics. There are 3 main economic problems money solves: 1. Medium of Exchange. Before money we had to barter, which led to the double coincidence of wants problem. When everyone accepts the same money you can buy something from someone even if they don't like the stuff you own. As a medium of exchange, BTC is not good. There are significant transaction fees and transaction waiting times built-in to BTC and these worsen the more popular BTC get. You can test BTC's usefulness as a medium of exchange for yourself right now: try to order a pizza or to buy a random item with BTC. How many additional hurdles do you have to go through? How many fewer options do you have than if you used a regular currency? How much overhead (time, fees) is there? 2. Unit of Account. A unit of account is what you compare the value of objects against. We denominate BTC in terms of how many USD they're worth, so BTC is a unit of account presently. We can say it's because of lack of adoption, but really it's also because the market value of BTC is so volatile. If I buy a $1000 table today or in 2017, it's roughly a $1000 table. We can't say that a 0.4BTC table was a 0.4BTC table in 2017. We'll expand on this in the next point: 3. Store of Value. When you create economic value, you don't want to be forced to use up the value you created right away. For instance, if I fix your washing machine and you pay me in avocados, I'd be annoyed. I'd have to consume my payment before it becomes brown, squishy and disgusting. Avocado fruit is not good money because avocadoes loses value very fast. On the other hand, well-run currencies like the USD, GBP, CAD, EUR, etc. all lose their value at a low and most importantly fairly predictible rate. Let's look at the chart of the USD against BTC While the dollar loses value at a predictible rate, BTC is all over the place, which is bad. One important use money is to write loan contracts. Loans are great. They let people spend now against their future potential earnings, so they can buy houses or start businesses without first saving up for a decade. Loans are good for the economy. If you want to sign something that says "I owe you this much for that much time" then you need to be able to roughly predict the value of the debt in at the point in time where it's due. Otherwise you'll have a hard time pricing the risk of the loan effectively. This means that you need to charge higher interests. The risk of making a loan in BTC needs to be priced into the interest of a BTC-denominated loan, which means much higher interest rates. High interests on loans are bad, because buying houses and starting businesses are good things.
BTC has a fixed supply, so these problems are built in
Some people think that going back to a standard where our money was denominated by a stock of gold (the Gold Standard) would solve economic problems. This is nonsense. Having control over supply of your currency is a good thing, as long as it's well run. See here Remember that what is desirable is low variance in the value, not the value itself. When there are wild fluctuations in value, it's hard for money to do its job well. Since the 1970s, the USD has been a fiat money with no intrinsic value. This means we control the supply of money. Let's look at a classic poorly drawn econ101 graph The market price for USD is where supply meets demand. The problem with a currency based on an item whose supply is fixed is that the price will necessarily fluctuate in response to changes in demand. Imagine, if you will, that a pandemic strikes and that the demand for currency takes a sharp drop. The US imports less, people don't buy anything anymore, etc. If you can't print money, you get deflation, which is worsens everything. On the other hand, if you can make the money printers go brrrr you can stabilize the price Having your currency be based on a fixed supply isn't just bad because in/deflation is hard to control. It's also a national security risk... The story of the guy who crashed gold prices in North Africa In the 1200s, Mansa Munsa, the emperor of the Mali, was rich and a devout Muslim and wanted everyone to know it. So he embarked on a pilgrimage to make it rain all the way to Mecca. He in fact made it rain so hard he increased the overall supply of gold and unintentionally crashed gold prices in Cairo by 20%, wreaking an economic havoc in North Africa that lasted a decade. This story is fun, the larger point that having your inflation be at the mercy of foreign nations is an undesirable attribute in any currency. The US likes to call some countries currency manipulators, but this problem would be serious under a gold standard.
Currencies are based on trust
Since the USD is based on nothing except the US government's word, how can we trust USD not to be mismanaged? The answer is that you can probably trust the fed until political stooges get put in place. Currently, the US's central bank managing the USD, the Federal Reserve (the Fed for friends & family), has administrative authority. The fed can say "no" to dumb requests from the president. People who have no idea what the fed does like to chant "audit the fed", but the fed is already one of the best audited US federal entities. The transcripts of all their meetings are out in the open. As is their balance sheet, what they plan to do and why. If the US should audit anything it's the Department of Defense which operates without any accounting at all. It's easy to see when a central bank will go rogue: it's when political yes-men are elected to the board. For example, before printing themselves into hyperinflation, the Venezuelan president appointed a sociologist who publicly stated “Inflation does not exist in real life” and instead is a made up capitalist lie. Note what happened mere months after his gaining control over the Venezuelan currency This is a key policy. One paper I really like, Sargent (1984) "The end of 4 big inflations" states:
The essential measures that ended hyperinflation in each of Germany,Austria, Hungary, and Poland were, first, the creation of an independentcentral bank that was legally committed to refuse the government'sdemand or additional unsecured credit and, second, a simultaneousalteration in the fiscal policy regime.
In english: *hyperinflation stops when the central bank can say "no" to the government." The US Fed, like other well good central banks, is run by a bunch of nerds. When it prints money, even as aggressively as it has it does so for good reasons. You can see why they started printing on March 15th as the COVID lockdowns started:
The Federal Reserve is prepared to use its full range of tools to support the flow of credit to households and businesses and thereby promote its maximum employment and price stability goals.
In english: We're going to keep printing and lowering rates until jobs are back and inflation is under control. If we print until the sun is blotted out, we'll print in the shade.
BTC is not gold
Gold is a good asset for doomsday-preppers. If society crashes, gold will still have value. How do we know that? Gold has held value throughout multiple historic catastrophes over thousands of years. It had value before and after the Bronze Age Collapse, the Fall of the Western Roman Empire and Gengis Khan being Gengis Khan. Even if you erased humanity and started over, the new humans would still find gold to be economically valuable. When Europeans d̶i̶s̶c̶o̶v̶e̶r̶e̶d̶ c̶o̶n̶q̶u̶e̶r̶e̶d̶ g̶e̶n̶o̶c̶i̶d̶e̶d̶ went to America, they found gold to be an important item over there too. This is about equivalent to finding humans on Alpha-Centauri and learning that they think gold is a good store of value as well. Some people are puzzled at this: we don't even use gold for much! But it has great properties: First, gold is hard to fake and impossible to manufacture. This makes it good to ascertain payment. Second, gold doesnt react to oxygen, so it doesn't rust or tarnish. So it keeps value over time unlike most other materials. Last, gold is pretty. This might sound frivolous, and you may not like it, but jewelry has actual value to humans. It's no coincidence if you look at a list of the wealthiest families, a large number of them trade in luxury goods. To paraphrase Veblen humans have a profound desire to signal social status, for the same reason peacocks have unwieldy tails. Gold is a great way to achieve that. On the other hand, BTC lacks all these attributes. Its value is largely based on common perception of value. There are a few fundamental drivers of demand:
Means of Exchange: if people seriously start using BTC to buy pizzas, then this creates a real demand for the currency to accomplish the short-term exchanges. As we saw previously, I'm not personally sold on this one and it's currently a negligible fraction of overall demand.
Criminal uses: Probably the largest inbuilt advantage of BTC is that it's anonymous, and so a great way to launder money. Hacker gangs use BTC to demand ransom on cryptolocker type attacks because it's a shared way for an honest company to pay and for the criminals to receive money without going to jail.
Apart from these, it's hard to argue that BTC will retain value throughout some sort of economic catastrophe.
BTC is really risky
One last statement from Michael Saylor I take offense to is this:
“We feel pretty confident that Bitcoin is less risky than holding cash, less risky than holding gold,” MicroStrategy CEO said in an interview
"BTC is less risky than holding cash or gold long term" is nonsense. We saw before that BTC is more volatile on face value, and that as long as the Fed isn't run by spider monkeys stacked in a trench coat, the inflation is likely to be within reasonable bounds. But on top of this, BTC has Abrupt downside risks that normal currencies don't. Let's imagine a few:
A critical software vulnerability is found in the BTC codebase, leading to a possible exploitation.
Xi Jinping decides he's had enough of rich people in China hiding their assets from him and bans BTC.
Some form of bank run takes hold for whatever reason. Because BTC wallets are uninsured, unlike regular banks, this compounds into a Black Tuesday style crash.
Blockchain solutions are fundamentally inefficient
Blockchain was a genius idea. I still marvel at the initial white paper which is a great mix of economics and computer science. That said, blockchain solutions make large tradeoffs in design because they assume almost no trust between parties. This leads to intentionally wasteful designs on a massive scale. The main problem is that all transactions have to be validated by expensive computational operations and double checked by multiple parties. This means waste:
BTC was estimated to use as much electricity as Belgium in 2019. It's hard to trace where the BTC mining comes from, but we can assume it has a huge carbon footprint.
A single transactions is necessarily expensive. A single transaction takes as much electricity as 800,000 VISA transactions, or watching 50,000 hours of youtube videos.
There is a large necessary tax on the transaction, since those checking the transaction extract a few BTC from it to be incentivized to do the work of checking it.
Many design problems can be mitigated by various improvements over BTC, but it remains that a simple database always works better than a blockchain if you can trust the parties to the transaction.
NightOwl Halloween Drop: Descriptions, Info, FAQ and Tips
This will be the last I'll post in-regards to NightOwl drops.From now on drop info will be posted in the NightOwlseeds subreddit We can only pin 2 posts at a time, and it can get confusing for new and existing users. I will be updating this thread throughout the day, check last edited.- NightOwl subreddit linked,
"My pack has a blank label, how do I know what I have?"
Those are the "Secret Owl Society" packs, they come labeled with UV ink. Daz almost always provides a small blacklight keychain, use it to reveal the pack name.
"Can I make multiple orders and get the tester pack?"
As long as the combined total is $250, and hasn't been shipped yet, then you get 1 tester pack ($500 for 2 tester packs). A new bit of info, you get another tester pack per $250 spent, dealer's choice.
No, you don't need TSB Premium to make a purchase. This was an option for paying members to get a chance to access the drop early. Nothing was exclusive to premium, everyone has access to all the strains.
"I got a confirmation email, it still says "processing", should I be worried?"
As long as you have a confirmation email (maybe a paid email), then there's nothing to worry about your order has been received.
When purchasing NightOwl seeds from The Seed Bazaar on 10/10 at 12 AM, WHATEVER IS IN YOUR CART, ISN'T RESERVED. NEW TIPS ITEMS ARE ADDED/UPDATED ONE BY ONE. THERE ARE TWO PAGES OF SEEDS. IF YOU HAVE AN ISSUE WITH YOUR ORDER EMAIL [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected]) PREMIUM ISN'T NECESSARY. It's best to purchase what you want FAST, everything is and always has been limited in quantity. Don't leave the item(s) in your cart and go check your plants and start some LST or a res change, don't go start cleaning your tent, CHECK YOUR ITEMS OUT FAST. Orders usually are combined to help with shipping, this should help with ordering fast, and comments have been enabled at checkout too 👍. Last tip, make an account ahead of time, and login. Should help speed up the checkout process. Price per pack is $50 USD. Website and packaging say 3 seeds but typically get 5 no option for other pack sizes, plus free international shipping. This is the LAST SCHEDULED DROP from NightOwl till Valentine's day, which is expected to have the new F4 photo to auto cultivars. This is if there aren't any delays or setbacks in the timeline. The new NightOwl Sweater doesn't have a set date yet, could be some time in November. Chocolates are for the US only, food and customs don't go together. I THINK Daz said put it in the comments if you'd like the chocolate and he'd get back to you to figure out how to ship it (might have to pay for packaging and postage). Only If there are chocolates or ashtrays left, Daz will offer them up as an item on the seed bazaar for the cost of shipping which is usually around $15. Seedopoly boards are being sent out, pieces won't go out till the New Year, and the prizes are US only.
Spend $250 get an UNRELEASED TESTER PACK
Spend $500 get 2 UNRELEASED TESTER PACKS
Tester packs are labeled, but unknown till you receive it.
Scratch Card Game
Match the Mummies, scratch card game *WHILE SUPPLIES LAST, 1st COME 1st SERVED\*
Zamaldelica Express x Cosmic Queen 75/25 Sativa/Indica 75-80 days from sprout A long time coming, the Galaxy Brain is finally here! These large, branchy plants are covered with frost from the stems up! Piercingly sweet fruit scents and mouth coating flavors accompany a soaring euphoric head high, along with a relaxing body effect that doesn’t hamper your daily activities. I’m expecting this one to become a staple in the autoflower connoisseur’s garden. The reversal used was selected from over 40 Cosmic Queens and was extremely sativa dominant. I used this same expression for an unreleased seed run a few years back and she produced some of the most exquisitely beautiful and flavorful flowers. The female used was extremely pungent, with sappy and bulbous resin heads that stink up the whole room when burst. She also had extremely fat calyxes, providing massive amounts of surface area for the resin heads to call home.
Fugue State x Cosmic Queen True F1 Hybrid Limited Edition 75/25 Sativa/Indica 75-85 days from sprout 2-4 ounces average 3 Feminized Seeds Large, easy growing sativa dominant plants with heavy branching and intense crystal production. Super sweet, peppery, and buttery flavors accompany an intensely uplifting head high and an electrically charged body feel. The Spotless Mind name gives a tip of the cap to the Amnesia Haze in her heritage, which carries through to this cross. Overindulge and you will find yourself becoming forgetful and may experience recollection difficulties, but in a fun way. She has also been known to encourage bedroom activities, making for a nice nightstand stash. If you are looking for an anytime sativa that won’t make your mind race aimlessly, look no further. The same reversal that was used for Galaxy Brain and Cosmic Apprentice was also used for this Limited Edition.
Blue Microverse F4 x Cosmic Queen F4 *Quick Finish* 50/50 Sativa/Indica 65-75 days from sprout 1.5-3 ounce average 3 Feminized Seeds Expect medium to large plants with creamy blue raspberry lemonade golf ball buds running along the side branches, leading up to chunky top colas all wrapped in gooey, long-stemmed trichomes. Another beautiful true F1 hybrid with a 50/50 blend for a balanced, comforting mind and body experience. Great for relaxing after work when you’re ready to start winding down. For the reversal I used a stocky, faster finishing Cosmic Queen as the pollen donor which will help add vigor and potency while keeping the stretch down. **Be sure to keep airflow and humidity in check during the final few weeks, as the flower density can lead to bud rot in the wrong conditions. **
Strawberry Nuggets F4 x Cosmic Queen F4 *Quick Finish* 40/60 Sativa/Indica 65-75 days from sprout 1.5-3 ounce average 3 Feminized Seeds Expect medium-sized bushes with very sturdy branches that reach up and fill the canopy alongside the main cola. Rock hard nugs of pinks, purples, emerald, and blue hues will create all the bag appeal you could ask for, with a sweet cheesy strawberry funk that will have you smelling the bag again and again. Another true F1 and the heaviest indica hybrid of the lot, ranging from therapeutic to narcotic depending on your intake. Perfect for a dessert smoke or nightcap to relax your body before sailing off into the dream world. For the reversal I used a stocky, faster finishing Cosmic Queen as the pollen donor which will help add vigor and potency while keeping the stretch down. ***Be sure to keep an eye on these during early as the Strawberry Nuggets line can throw a ball or two during sexing, right where the side branches meet the main stem. It is rare, but can be brought about by stress or too strong an application of nutes during the sexing stage and seems to be most common when using humic acid. If you do see a ball pop up it can be removed and the plant will continue on fully female to finish her life. Also, keep airflow and humidity in check during the final few weeks, as the flower density can lead to bud rot in the wrong conditions. **\*
(Chem City Blues x Chemdogging) X Cosmic Queen F4 *Super Sativa* 60/40 Sativa/Indica 75-85 days from sprout 2-4 ounce average 3 Feminized Seeds Expect large, easy growing plants with satellite branches that reach up to the shoulders of the canopy, but be sure to stake her before she goes too far into flower or she will buckle under the weight of her blooms. The piercing old school perfumes she puts off range from skunky blueberries to creamy chems, and her soda can cola structure is sure to impress! This F1 polyhybrid is recommended for heavier smokers and those looking for help with pain management, and can be a bit too much too fast for the uninitiated. Carbon filters are always a must indoors, and best to make sure they’re in proper working order before running these. The Cosmic Queen reversal used for this cross was what I consider the super sativa expression of CQ. Tall, stretchy, thinner leaves, incredibly sweet resin, bag appeal, pest, and pm resistant with an elongated bud structure that is excellent for outdoors and in. Don’t miss out!
Mango Smile x Cosmic Queen F4 *Super Sativa* 70/30 Sativa/Indica 75-85 days from sprout 2-4 ounce average 3 Feminized Seeds Expect large, easy growing plants with sturdy branching and individual bud sites running their length, met with a small cola cluster at their end. This true F1 hybrid has beautiful tropical citrus flavors that will send you off on an island vacation, while the effects will leave you physically and mentally heightened and ready for anything the day throws your way! Extremely pleasant all day/everyday smoke, sure to be a crowd-pleaser. The Cosmic Queen reversal used for this cross was what I consider the super sativa expression of CQ. Tall, stretchy, thinner leaves, incredibly sweet resin, bag appeal, pest, and pm resistant with an elongated bud structure that is excellent for outdoors and in. Don’t miss out!
Forum Stomper x Cosmic Queen F4 *Quick Finish* 60/40 Sativa/Indica 65-75 days from sprout 1.5-3 ounce average 3 Feminized Seeds Expect medium-sized bushes with stout branches that reach up and form a canopy surrounding the main cola. Incredibly resinous chunky white nugs and dark forest green foliage fade to the deepest purples and blacks under cooler temperatures. She will have true F1 hybrid vigor and produce a delicious mix of forum cookies and cosmic cream flavors along with an abundance of “fall off the stalk” gland heads that will put everything else around your trimbin to shame. Effects are stoney, both physically and mentally, without the couchlock. She could easily fill the role of all day/everyday smoke if you have a decent tolerance already. For the reversal I used a stocky, faster finishing Cosmic Queen as the pollen donor which will help add vigor and potency while keeping the stretch down.
Super Orange Haze F4 X Cosmic Queen F4 *Super Sativa* 70/30 Sativa/Indica 70-80 days from sprout 1.5-3 ounce average 3 Feminized Seeds Expect medium-sized, easy growing plants with shorter side branches that reach about half the height of the main cola. Floral and sour citrus flavors with an uplifting effect that is great for early morning and afternoon indulgences. Bag appeal is also of no concern, as this true F1 hybrid has it in spades! The Cosmic Queen reversal used for this cross was what I consider the super sativa expression of CQ. Tall, stretchy, thinner leaves, incredibly sweet resin, bag appeal, pest, and pm resistant with an elongated bud structure that is excellent for outdoors and in. Don’t miss out!
Toof Decay x Cosmic Queen F4 *Quick Finish* 50/50 Sativa/Indica 65-75 days from sprout 1.5-3 ounce average 3 Feminized Seeds Expect medium-sized bushes with stout branches that almost reach the height of the main cola. Extremely dense buds covered in sweet bakery and candy-flavored resin that will leave you wanting more. Cooler temperatures can bring out some beautiful fall colors that only add to her visual appeal. Stoney without the narcotic effect, great for an afternoon delight or as a post-meal treat. For the reversal I used a stocky, faster finishing Cosmic Queen as the pollen donor which will help add vigor and potency to this true F1, while keeping the stretch down. ***Be sure to keep an eye on these during early as the Toof Decay line can throw a ball or two during sexing, right where the side branches meet the main stem. It is rare, but can be brought about by stress or too strong an application of nutes during the sexing stage and seems to be most common when using humic acid. If you do see a ball pop up it can be removed and the plant will continue on fully female to finish her life. Also, keep airflow and humidity in check during the final few weeks, as the flower density can lead to bud rot in the wrong conditions. **\*
Creme de la Soul F1 x Cosmic Queen F4 Quick Finish 50/50 Sativa/Indica 65-75 days from sprout 1.5-3 ounce average 3 Feminized Seeds Expect medium plants with stout satellite branches reaching up to the shoulders of the main colas. Dense nugs covered in oily resin ranging in smells from red berries and sneakers to creamy grapes, this F1 polyhybrid has a lot to offer! Cooler temperatures can bring on fades of reds and purples, making her an absolute beauty in her final days. She has a balanced physical and mental high, leaning towards the stoney end of the spectrum, and will make for a great evening smoke. For the reversal I used a stocky, faster finishing Cosmic Queen as the pollen donor which will help add vigor and potency while keeping the stretch down. Be sure to keep airflow and humidity in check during the final few weeks, as the flower density can lead to bud rot.
Supernatural OG x Cosmic Queen F4 Super Sativa 70/30 Sativa/Indica 75-85 days from sprout 2-4 ounce average 3 Feminized Seeds Expect large, easy growing plants with sturdy branching and individual bud sites running their length, met with a medium cola cluster at their ends, with a large main cola. This F1 poly hybrid is chock full of hazey goodness! Flavors range from effervescent lemon-lime, to heavy juniper laced gin and tonic. The juniper flavors are my personal favorite and tend to kick my ass and get me super stoney, while the citrusy ones are more motivational. There’s a variety of outstanding expressions to be found in these, all on the sativa end of the spectrum. The Cosmic Queen reversal used for this cross was what I consider the super sativa expression of CQ. Tall, stretchy, thinner leaves, incredibly sweet resin, bag appeal, pest and pm resistant with an elongated bud structure that is excellent for outdoors and in. Don’t miss out! Blessed by Hoodoo Moses I
Cosmic Apprentice (No Video)
Wizard’s Apprentice F4 x Cosmic Queen F4 Sativa 75 days from sprout "Ready to get heady? Crossing a big-bodied sativa dominant Wizard’s Apprentice to the rush inducing Cosmic Queen resulted in a whole new variety that will keep your head in the clouds! Large plants with denser buds than Cosmic Queen, an overload of frost, and nostril piercing neon sweet and hazey scents finishing right around 75 days. If you’re into uplifting sativa effects with chunkier buds then she is definitely worth checking out."
Wizard’s Apprentice F4 x Tyrone Stomper F6 Indica 70 days from sprout A long time coming, the Cheech Biggums is sure to impress! Using a heavy Cheech Wizard dominant Wizard’s Apprentice mated to the ever-impressive Tyrone Stomper will produce medium to large, extra vigorous true F1 hybrids with fruity OG gas flavors and an occasional piney/floral expression in a quick 70ish days from sprout. Picture of Post
February Drop Info
Copied from Daz's IG post.
Thank you all for your patience with me these past few weeks. I've been handling a lot of business behind the scenes in preparation for big things next year. 2020 was the year of staying off the radar with most of my big projects and not drawing any unnecessary attention. 2021 is the year of getting licensed and really showing you what it's all about! Thank you for your trust and faith in me during my overly cautious past few months/years. I won't let you down.🙏🌱🦉🌱🙏New photo to autos scheduled for the first half of 2021: Pre '98 Bubba Kush x Auto Skywalker F4 Dosidos x Forum Stomper F4 Purple Punch x Forum Stomper F4 Sunset Sherbet x Forum Stomper F4
A common sentiment is brewing online; a shared desire for the internet that might have been. After decades of corporate encroachment, you don't need to be a power user to realize that something has gone very wrong. In the early days of the internet, the future was bright. In that future, when you sent an instant message, it traveled directly to the recipient. When you needed to pay a friend, you announced a transfer of value to their public key. When an app was missing a feature you wanted, you opened up the source code and implemented it. When you took a picture on your phone, it was immediately encrypted and backed up to storage that you controlled. In that future, people would laugh at the idea of having to authenticate themselves to some corporation before doing these things. What did we get instead? Rather than a network of human-sized communities, we have a handful of enormous commons, each controlled by a faceless corporate entity. Hey user, want to send a message? You can, but we'll store a copy of it indefinitely, unencrypted, for our preference-learning algorithms to pore over; how else could we slap targeted ads on every piece of content you see? Want to pay a friend? You can—in our Monopoly money. Want a new feature? Submit a request to our Support Center and we'll totally maybe think about it. Want to backup a photo? You can—inside our walled garden, which only we (and the NSA, of course) can access. Just be careful what you share, because merely locking you out of your account and deleting all your data is far from the worst thing we could do. You rationalize this: "MEGACORP would never do such a thing; it would be bad for business." But we all know, at some level, that this state of affairs, this inversion of power, is not merely "unfortunate" or "suboptimal" – No. It is degrading. Even if MEGACORP were purely benevolent, it is degrading that we must ask its permission to talk to our friends; that we must rely on it to safeguard our treasured memories; that our digital lives are completely beholden to those who seek only to extract value from us. At the root of this issue is the centralization of data. MEGACORP can surveil you—because your emails and video chats flow through their servers. And MEGACORP can control you—because they hold your data hostage. But centralization is a solution to a technical problem: How can we make the user's data accessible from anywhere in the world, on any device? For a long time, no alternative solution to this problem was forthcoming. Today, thanks to a confluence of established techniques and recent innovations, we have solved the accessibility problem without resorting to centralization. Hashing, encryption, and erasure encoding got us most of the way, but one barrier remained: incentives. How do you incentivize an anonymous stranger to store your data? Earlier protocols like BitTorrent worked around this limitation by relying on altruism, tit-for-tat requirements, or "points" – in other words, nothing you could pay your electric bill with. Finally, in 2009, a solution appeared: Bitcoin. Not long after, Sia was born. Cryptography has unleashed the latent power of the internet by enabling interactions between mutually-distrustful parties. Sia harnesses this power to turn the cloud storage market into a proper marketplace, where buyers and sellers can transact directly, with no intermediaries, anywhere in the world. No more silos or walled gardens: your data is encrypted, so it can't be spied on, and it's stored on many servers, so no single entity can hold it hostage. Thanks to projects like Sia, the internet is being re-decentralized. Sia began its life as a startup, which means it has always been subjected to two competing forces: the ideals of its founders, and the profit motive inherent to all businesses. Its founders have taken great pains to never compromise on the former, but this often threatened the company's financial viability. With the establishment of the Sia Foundation, this tension is resolved. The Foundation, freed of the obligation to generate profit, is a pure embodiment of the ideals from which Sia originally sprung. The goals and responsibilities of the Foundation are numerous: to maintain core Sia protocols and consensus code; to support developers building on top of Sia and its protocols; to promote Sia and facilitate partnerships in other spheres and communities; to ensure that users can easily acquire and safely store siacoins; to develop network scalability solutions; to implement hardforks and lead the community through them; and much more. In a broader sense, its mission is to commoditize data storage, making it cheap, ubiquitous, and accessible to all, without compromising privacy or performance. Sia is a perfect example of how we can achieve better living through cryptography. We now begin a new chapter in Sia's history. May our stewardship lead it into a bright future.
Today, we are proposing the creation of the Sia Foundation: a new non-profit entity that builds and supports distributed cloud storage infrastructure, with a specific focus on the Sia storage platform. What follows is an informal overview of the Sia Foundation, covering two major topics: how the Foundation will be funded, and what its funds will be used for.
The Sia Foundation will be structured as a non-profit entity incorporated in the United States, likely a 501(c)(3) organization or similar. The actions of the Foundation will be constrained by its charter, which formalizes the specific obligations and overall mission outlined in this document. The charter will be updated on an annual basis to reflect the current goals of the Sia community. The organization will be operated by a board of directors, initially comprising Luke Champine as President and Eddie Wang as Chairman. Luke Champine will be leaving his position at Nebulous to work at the Foundation full-time, and will seek to divest his shares of Nebulous stock along with other potential conflicts of interest. Neither Luke nor Eddie personally own any siafunds or significant quantities of siacoin.
The primary source of funding for the Foundation will come from a new block subsidy. Following a hardfork, 30 KS per block will be allocated to the "Foundation Fund," continuing in perpetuity. The existing 30 KS per block miner reward is not affected. Additionally, one year's worth of block subsidies (approximately 1.57 GS) will be allocated to the Fund immediately upon activation of the hardfork. As detailed below, the Foundation will provably burn any coins that it cannot meaningfully spend. As such, the 30 KS subsidy should be viewed as a maximum. This allows the Foundation to grow alongside Sia without requiring additional hardforks. The Foundation will not be funded to any degree by the possession or sale of siafunds. Siafunds were originally introduced as a means of incentivizing growth, and we still believe in their effectiveness: a siafund holder wants to increase the amount of storage on Sia as much as possible. While the Foundation obviously wants Sia to succeed, its driving force should be its charter. Deriving significant revenue from siafunds would jeopardize the Foundation's impartiality and focus. Ultimately, we want the Foundation to act in the best interests of Sia, not in growing its own budget.
The Foundation inherits a great number of responsibilities from Nebulous. Each quarter, the Foundation will publish the progress it has made over the past quarter, and list the responsibilities it intends to prioritize over the coming quarter. This will be accompanied by a financial report, detailing each area of expenditure over the past quarter, and forecasting expenditures for the coming quarter. Below, we summarize some of the myriad responsibilities towards which the Foundation is expected to allocate its resources.
Maintain and enhance core Sia software
Arguably, this is the most important responsibility of the Foundation. At the heart of Sia is its consensus algorithm: regardless of other differences, all Sia software must agree upon the content and rules of the blockchain. It is therefore crucial that the algorithm be stewarded by an entity that is accountable to the community, transparent in its decision-making, and has no profit motive or other conflicts of interest. Accordingly, Sia’s consensus functionality will no longer be directly maintained by Nebulous. Instead, the Foundation will release and maintain an implementation of a "minimal Sia full node," comprising the Sia consensus algorithm and P2P networking code. The source code will be available in a public repository, and signed binaries will be published for each release. Other parties may use this code to provide alternative full node software. For example, Nebulous may extend the minimal full node with wallet, renter, and host functionality. The source code of any such implementation may be submitted to the Foundation for review. If the code passes review, the Foundation will provide "endorsement signatures" for the commit hash used and for binaries compiled internally by the Foundation. Specifically, these signatures assert that the Foundation believes the software contains no consensus-breaking changes or other modifications to imported Foundation code. Endorsement signatures and Foundation-compiled binaries may be displayed and distributed by the receiving party, along with an appropriate disclaimer. A minimal full node is not terribly useful on its own; the wallet, renter, host, and other extensions are what make Sia a proper developer platform. Currently, the only implementations of these extensions are maintained by Nebulous. The Foundation will contract Nebulous to ensure that these extensions continue to receive updates and enhancements. Later on, the Foundation intends to develop its own implementations of these extensions and others. As with the minimal node software, these extensions will be open source and available in public repositories for use by any Sia node software. With the consensus code now managed by the Foundation, the task of implementing and orchestrating hardforks becomes its responsibility as well. When the Foundation determines that a hardfork is necessary (whether through internal discussion or via community petition), a formal proposal will be drafted and submitted for public review, during which arguments for and against the proposal may be submitted to a public repository. During this time, the hardfork code will be implemented, either by Foundation employees or by external contributors working closely with the Foundation. Once the implementation is finished, final arguments will be heard. The Foundation board will then vote whether to accept or reject the proposal, and announce their decision along with appropriate justification. Assuming the proposal was accepted, the Foundation will announce the block height at which the hardfork will activate, and will subsequently release source code and signed binaries that incorporate the hardfork code. Regardless of the Foundation's decision, it is the community that ultimately determines whether a fork is accepted or rejected – nothing can change that. Foundation node software will never automatically update, so all forks must be explicitly adopted by users. Furthermore, the Foundation will provide replay and wipeout protection for its hard forks, protecting other chains from unintended or malicious reorgs. Similarly, the Foundation will ensure that any file contracts formed prior to a fork activation will continue to be honored on both chains until they expire. Finally, the Foundation also intends to pursue scalability solutions for the Sia blockchain. In particular, work has already begun on an implementation of Utreexo, which will greatly reduce the space requirements of fully-validating nodes (allowing a full node to be run on a smartphone) while increasing throughput and decreasing initial sync time. A hardfork implementing Utreexo will be submitted to the community as per the process detailed above. As this is the most important responsibility of the Foundation, it will receive a significant portion of the Foundation’s budget, primarily in the form of developer salaries and contracting agreements.
Support community services
We intend to allocate 25% of the Foundation Fund towards the community. This allocation will be held and disbursed in the form of siacoins, and will pay for grants, bounties, hackathons, and other community-driven endeavours. Any community-run service, such as a Skynet portal, explorer or web wallet, may apply to have its costs covered by the Foundation. Upon approval, the Foundation will reimburse expenses incurred by the service, subject to the exact terms agreed to. The intent of these grants is not to provide a source of income, but rather to make such services "break even" for their operators, so that members of the community can enrich the Sia ecosystem without worrying about the impact on their own finances.
Ensure easy acquisition and storage of siacoins
Most users will acquire their siacoins via an exchange. The Foundation will provide support to Sia-compatible exchanges, and pursue relevant integrations at its discretion, such as Coinbase's new Rosetta standard. The Foundation may also release DEX software that enables trading cryptocurrencies without the need for a third party. (The Foundation itself will never operate as a money transmitter.) Increasingly, users are storing their cryptocurrency on hardware wallets. The Foundation will maintain the existing Ledger Nano S integration, and pursue further integrations at its discretion. Of course, all hardware wallets must be paired with software running on a computer or smartphone, so the Foundation will also develop and/or maintain client-side wallet software, including both full-node wallets and "lite" wallets. Community-operated wallet services, i.e. web wallets, may be funded via grants. Like core software maintenance, this responsibility will be funded in the form of developer salaries and contracting agreements.
Protect the ecosystem
When it comes to cryptocurrency security, patching software vulnerabilities is table stakes; there are significant legal and social threats that we must be mindful of as well. As such, the Foundation will earmark a portion of its fund to defend the community from legal action. The Foundation will also safeguard the network from 51% attacks and other threats to network security by implementing softforks and/or hardforks where necessary. The Foundation also intends to assist in the development of a new FOSS software license, and to solicit legal memos on various Sia-related matters, such as hosting in the United States and the EU. In a broader sense, the establishment of the Foundation makes the ecosystem more robust by transferring core development to a more neutral entity. Thanks to its funding structure, the Foundation will be immune to various forms of pressure that for-profit companies are susceptible to.
Drive adoption of Sia
Although the overriding goal of the Foundation is to make Sia the best platform it can be, all that work will be in vain if no one uses the platform. There are a number of ways the Foundation can promote Sia and get it into the hands of potential users and developers. In-person conferences are understandably far less popular now, but the Foundation can sponsor and/or participate in virtual conferences. (In-person conferences may be held in the future, permitting circumstances.) Similarly, the Foundation will provide prizes for hackathons, which may be organized by community members, Nebulous, or the Foundation itself. Lastly, partnerships with other companies in the cryptocurrency space—or the cloud storage space—are a great way to increase awareness of Sia. To handle these responsibilities, one of the early priorities of the Foundation will be to hire a marketing director.
The Foundation Fund will be controlled by a multisig address. Each member of the Foundation's board will control one of the signing keys, with the signature threshold to be determined once the final composition of the board is known. (This threshold may also be increased or decreased if the number of board members changes.) Additionally, one timelocked signing key will be controlled by David Vorick. This key will act as a “dead man’s switch,” to be used in the event of an emergency that prevents Foundation board members from reaching the signature threshold. The timelock ensures that this key cannot be used unless the Foundation fails to sign a transaction for several months. On the 1st of each month, the Foundation will use its keys to transfer all siacoins in the Fund to two new addresses. The first address will be controlled by a high-security hot wallet, and will receive approximately one month's worth of Foundation expenditures. The second address, receiving the remaining siacoins, will be a modified version of the source address: specifically, it will increase the timelock on David Vorick's signing key by one month. Any other changes to the set of signing keys, such as the arrival or departure of board members, will be incorporated into this address as well. The Foundation Fund is allocated in SC, but many of the Foundation's expenditures must be paid in USD or other fiat currency. Accordingly, the Foundation will convert, at its discretion, a portion of its monthly withdrawals to fiat currency. We expect this conversion to be primarily facilitated by private "OTC" sales to accredited investors. The Foundation currently has no plans to speculate in cryptocurrency or other assets. Finally, it is important that the Foundation adds value to the Sia platform well in excess of the inflation introduced by the block subsidy. For this reason, the Foundation intends to provably burn, on a quarterly basis, any coins that it cannot allocate towards any justifiable expense. In other words, coins will be burned whenever doing so provides greater value to the platform than any other use. Furthermore, the Foundation will cap its SC treasury at 5% of the total supply, and will cap its USD treasury at 4 years’ worth of predicted expenses. Addendum: Hardfork Timeline We would like to see this proposal finalized and accepted by the community no later than September 30th. A new version of siad, implementing the hardfork, will be released no later than October 15th. The hardfork will activate at block 293220, which is expected to occur around 12pm EST on January 1st, 2021.
Addendum: Inflation specifics The total supply of siacoins as of January 1st, 2021 will be approximately 45.243 GS. The initial subsidy of 1.57 GS thus increases the supply by 3.47%, and the total annual inflation in 2021 will be at most 10.4% (if zero coins are burned). In 2022, total annual inflation will be at most 6.28%, and will steadily decrease in subsequent years.
We see the establishment of the Foundation as an important step in the maturation of the Sia project. It provides the ecosystem with a sustainable source of funding that can be exclusively directed towards achieving Sia's ambitious goals. Compared to other projects with far deeper pockets, Sia has always punched above its weight; once we're on equal footing, there's no telling what we'll be able to achieve. Nevertheless, we do not propose this change lightly, and have taken pains to ensure that the Foundation will act in accordance with the ideals that this community shares. It will operate transparently, keep inflation to a minimum, and respect the user's fundamental role in decentralized systems. We hope that everyone in the community will consider this proposal carefully, and look forward to a productive discussion.
You've probably been hearing a lot about Bitcoin recently and are wondering what's the big deal? Most of your questions should be answered by the resources below but if you have additional questions feel free to ask them in the comments. It all started with the release of the release of Satoshi Nakamoto's whitepaper however that will probably go over the head of most readers so we recommend the following videos for a good starting point for understanding how bitcoin works and a little about its long term potential:
Limited Supply - There will only ever be 21,000,000 bitcoins created and they are issued in a predictable fashion, you can view the inflation schedule here. Once they are all issued Bitcoin will be truly deflationary. The halving countdown can be found here.
Open source - Bitcoin code is fully auditable. You can read the source code yourself here.
Accountable - The public ledger is transparent, all transactions are seen by everyone.
Decentralized - Bitcoin is globally distributed across thousands of nodes with no single point of failure and as such can't be shut down similar to how Bittorrent works. You can even run a node on a Raspberry Pi.
Censorship resistant - No one can prevent you from interacting with the bitcoin network and no one can censor, alter or block transactions that they disagree with, see Operation Chokepoint.
Push system - There are no chargebacks in bitcoin because only the person who owns the address where the bitcoins reside has the authority to move them.
Low fee scaling - On chain transaction fees depend on network demand and how much priority you wish to assign to the transaction. Most wallets calculate on chain fees automatically but you can view current fees here and mempool activity here. On chain fees may rise occasionally due to network demand, however instant micropayments that do not require confirmations are happening via the Lightning Network, a second layer scaling solution currently rolling out on the Bitcoin mainnet.
Borderless - No country can stop it from going in/out, even in areas currently unserved by traditional banking as the ledger is globally distributed.
Portable - Bitcoins are digital so they are easier to move than cash or gold. They can even be transported by simply memorizing a string of words for wallet recovery (while cool this method is generally not recommended due to potential for insecure key generation by inexperienced users. Hardware wallets are the preferred method for new users due to ease of use and additional security).
Bitcoin.org and BuyBitcoinWorldwide.com are helpful sites for beginners. You can buy or sell any amount of bitcoin (even just a few dollars worth) and there are several easy methods to purchase bitcoin with cash, credit card or bank transfer. Some of the more popular resources are below, also check out the bitcoinity exchange resources for a larger list of options for purchases.
Here is a listing of local ATMs. If you would like your paycheck automatically converted to bitcoin use Bitwage. Note: Bitcoins are valued at whatever market price people are willing to pay for them in balancing act of supply vs demand. Unlike traditional markets, bitcoin markets operate 24 hours per day, 365 days per year. Preev is a useful site that that shows how much various denominations of bitcoin are worth in different currencies. Alternatively you can just Google "1 bitcoin in (your local currency)".
Securing your bitcoins
With bitcoin you can "Be your own bank" and personally secure your bitcoins OR you can use third party companies aka "Bitcoin banks" which will hold the bitcoins for you.
If you prefer to "Be your own bank" and have direct control over your coins without having to use a trusted third party, then you will need to create your own wallet and keep it secure. If you want easy and secure storage without having to learn computer security best practices, then a hardware wallet such as the Trezor, Ledger or ColdCard is recommended. Alternatively there are many software wallet options to choose from here depending on your use case.
If you prefer to let third party "Bitcoin banks" manage your coins, try Gemini but be aware you may not be in control of your private keys in which case you would have to ask permission to access your funds and be exposed to third party risk.
Note: For increased security, use Two Factor Authentication (2FA) everywhere it is offered, including email! 2FA requires a second confirmation code to access your account making it much harder for thieves to gain access. Google Authenticator and Authy are the two most popular 2FA services, download links are below. Make sure you create backups of your 2FA codes.
As mentioned above, Bitcoin is decentralized, which by definition means there is no official website or Twitter handle or spokesperson or CEO. However, all money attracts thieves. This combination unfortunately results in scammers running official sounding names or pretending to be an authority on YouTube or social media. Many scammers throughout the years have claimed to be the inventor of Bitcoin. Websites like bitcoin(dot)com and the btc subreddit are active scams. Almost all altcoins (shitcoins) are marketed heavily with big promises but are really just designed to separate you from your bitcoin. So be careful: any resource, including all linked in this document, may in the future turn evil. Don't trust, verify. Also as they say in our community "Not your keys, not your coins".
Where can I spend bitcoins?
Check out spendabit or bitcoin directory for millions of merchant options. Also you can spend bitcoin anywhere visa is accepted with bitcoin debit cards such as the CashApp card. Some other useful site are listed below.
Mining bitcoins can be a fun learning experience, but be aware that you will most likely operate at a loss. Newcomers are often advised to stay away from mining unless they are only interested in it as a hobby similar to folding at home. If you want to learn more about mining you can read more here. Still have mining questions? The crew at /BitcoinMining would be happy to help you out. If you want to contribute to the bitcoin network by hosting the blockchain and propagating transactions you can run a full node using this setup guide. If you would prefer to keep it simple there are several good options. You can view the global node distribution here.
Just like any other form of money, you can also earn bitcoins by being paid to do a job.
You can also earn bitcoins by participating as a market maker on JoinMarket by allowing users to perform CoinJoin transactions with your bitcoins for a small fee (requires you to already have some bitcoins.
The following is a short list of ongoing projects that might be worth taking a look at if you are interested in current development in the bitcoin space.
One Bitcoin is quite large (hundreds of £/$/€) so people often deal in smaller units. The most common subunits are listed below:
one bitcoin is equal to 100 million satoshis
1,000 per bitcoin
used as default unit in recent Electrum wallet releases
1,000,000 per bitcoin
colloquial "slang" term for microbitcoin (μBTC)
100,000,000 per bitcoin
smallest unit in bitcoin, named after the inventor
For example, assuming an arbitrary exchange rate of $10000 for one Bitcoin, a $10 meal would equal:
For more information check out the Bitcoin units wiki. Still have questions? Feel free to ask in the comments below or stick around for our weekly Mentor Monday thread. If you decide to post a question in /Bitcoin, please use the search bar to see if it has been answered before, and remember to follow the community rules outlined on the sidebar to receive a better response. The mods are busy helping manage our community so please do not message them unless you notice problems with the functionality of the subreddit. Note: This is a community created FAQ. If you notice anything missing from the FAQ or that requires clarification you can edit it here and it will be included in the next revision pending approval. Welcome to the Bitcoin community and the new decentralized economy!
Some Bitcoin Analysts and Prediction Today and Yesterday & Why "It's not the Price, Dummy"
This is just for fun, I generally have no strong feelings toward bitcoin price (I'm just fundamentally against zero-sum get rich schemes). But today I decided to do a little bitcoin search in news.google.com and see what today's bulls were predicting in 2018. Side note, almost all of the news articles came from crypto sites. I tried my best to stay away from them. Farming magazine telling you agriculture is the future isn't exactly shocking. To people who invest, please don't consider this as a prediction that price will fall. I'm not astute or smart enough to predict either way. The only possible use is to make sure you are more skeptic regarding predictions. Keep in mind, a rich CEO or consultant can lose 100 million and not really affect his life that much, but a 10k or 100k lose for some people can be devastating. And remember, some of these rich hedge managers don't believe their own bullshit, and hopefully, some of these quotes will emulate that. (Note, I won't waste time linking them all, but by quoting them directly, it should be easy to google) (another side note, I didn't purposely search out specific names. I went by the first names I came across, and only ignoring those that I couldn't find anything regarding crypto in past years)
Present: Business Inside: Bitcoin is like 'digital gold' and won't be used the same as a traditional currency in at least 5 years, billionaire investor Mike Novogratz says Past: On Nov, 2017, he said: "Bitcoin could ‘easily’ reach $40,000 by the end of 2018, hedge fund legend Novogratz says" 2018: "Michael Novogratz calls a bottom in cryptocurrencies" (it wasn't) Novogratz started a crypto funding in 2018. First 9 months "Mike Novogratz’s Crypto Trading Desk Lost $136 Million in Nine Months" (Bloomberg). Quarter 4: "Galaxy Digital Posts $32.9 Million in Net Loss for Q4 2019". Feb 2020 "Mike Novogratz’s Galaxy Digital Slashes 15% Staff"
Present: "For Raoul Pal, CEO of Real Vision, the bullish atmosphere had been reinforced, and further gains were more likely than ever. “There are literally only two resistances left on the #bitcoin chart - 14,000 and then the old all-time high at 20,000,” he tweeted." In a tweet today, he said, "Bitcoin is eating the world... It has become a supermassive black hole that is sucking in everything around it and destroying it. This narrative is only going to grow over the next 18 months. You see, gold is breaking down versus bitcoin...and gold investors will flip to BTC" Past: 2014: "Put them in the same kind of equation we get a value of bitcoin and that value is a million dollars. Now, you'll never hear an analyst say this—but I don't mind this—I could be wrong by 90%, and it's still worth $100,000." (to be honest, that's a bit of an impressive prediction in 2014) On the other hand, he probably didn't really believe his own prediction because in June, 2017 (when it was 2000 USD or so), he said: " “This is the most exponential move we have seen. I don’t know how far it goes, but I sold out last week… and I’ve [owned Bitcoin] since it was $200. Anything that moves exponentially, always [blows up].”" In 2016, "This view brings Pal to the asset he favors most over the next year out of bonds, equities, currencies and commodities: the dollar."
Eh, that was just two. I was hoping to mention several people, but it appears not many people are actually making predictions anymore, and anyone mentioned are basically not big people so I couldn't find much on them regarding bitcoin before 2019. So, the main thing I like to highlight are the analysts and such are going to make money whatever happens. Fund managers are playing with people's money and, as long as they are not involved in frauds, there is no real harm to them against wrong predictions. Generally, successful business people are successful because they were loud, confident, and were able to convince others that they had the right idea. Even when wrong, they bounce back. Most of us aren't like that. Some bitcoiners come here to boast when price goes up, as if the increase in price is an indication that argument against bitcoin has been proven wrong. While some people here are fanatically anti-bitcoin, I am not one of those. I have nothing against people making money (why would I be upset that people I don't know around the world became wealthier??). But since bitcoin investing is by design a zero sum game, certain people will eventually lose, and it is most likely it is the people who were listening to predictions by experts that would ultimately be financially hurt, and not the experts making the predictions. Crypto investing has been a platform where the average person works hard in his day to day life, and then brings the fruits of his labor into this field. The actual productive part of that person's life is the one outside crypto, where they had been productive for the community, and in exchange, they receive wages. Crypto investing's promise is for this wage to increase without the actual productivity. The concern is mainly that the result of all that labor will be misused by crypto "experts" who's own income (their labor) is directly linked to predictions on crypto. The above paragraph is badly explained, but the main point is that the average person brings in outside money they worked hard for, while "experts" there is generally no outside money, crypto fund management or consulting itself is their job. --- Money can be made, of course, but money being made isn't necessarily an argument for something. Bitcoin, and crypto, has for the past 1.5 decades still largely just about numbers going up. Google trend on "bitcoin" show top related queries being "bitcoin price", "bitcoin usd", "bitcoin usd price". When people come here when it hits a particular arbitrary price point thinking it's their gotcha moment, it actually just reinforces my argument that it is only about the price. Nothing in the history of human economy has ever lasted based only on the economic model of who you could resell it for at a higher price. Even DeFi's smart contracts (as much as I could understand it) is about prices going up. It's like for these people the concept of contracts are based purely on money exchanging hands, and no actual task being done. Almost all contracts globally are based on specific productive tasks being done, such as employee contract, supplier contract, property contract, and so on. Only a tiny amount of it is based on "if this currency goes up, then give me that currency" contracts. ---
The story of how I paid 90 USD for Modafinil worth 7$ (and waited a month for it).
I hope it's okay to re-post it here. I would hate to have it deleted from Reddit and I would really appreciate this community opinion. On 4th of September I ordered 50x Modalert 200mg from High Street Pharma. I paid with Bitcoin for extra 30% pills and 25% discount. In total I paid 90$ for order shipped from their EU warehouse: Exhibit A. 3 days later I got an email from them informing me of "stock problems" and asking:
is it fine if we ship Modaawake 200mg and Artvigil 150mg? (...) We will add extras for you.
I did some research on Modawake-200mg and discovered it is just cheaper version of Modalert. Getting Artvigil-150mg was actually great news for me, because I wanted to order it later from HSP anyway. It is still much cheaper than Modalert-200, but I assumed I will be getting some extras to make up the difference. Spoiler alert:I was wrong. After agreeing - I waited for my tracking number and stayed in touch with HSP customer service. I never had to wait long for reply. I was offered refund on 15th of September (11 days after ordering) if I don't get tracking number next day. Luckily I got it! Well... my order wasn't shipped on 16th, it was shipped 2 days later, but tracking code was generated on 16th, so technically HSP kept the promise. I had no idea Hungarian Post is so slow. It took 12 days to get to UK. One could walk this distance in 12 days! (Well, almost. It actually takes a little over 13 days). My parcel arrived shortly after, on 3rd of October: Exhibit B. What I found inside was really disappointing. All I got was 60 Modawake-200 pills! No Artvigil-150 at all! Not only that - my order was also 5 pills short (30% of 50 is 15, so I should get 65 pills). I've sent an email to HSP and I was told:
Unfortunately it is not allowed to cut the pills and ship. However we can add extra 5 with your next order. (...) There was no Artvigil in order that was placed so we didn't give that.
I've replied with (IMO) valid question - how are they going to add 5 pills if they can't cut it? I also reminded him what I agreed to - "is it fine if we ship Modaawake 200mgandArtvigil 150mg?" . Now - you may say I'm being difficult. It's the same substance, I was short only 5 pills and I misunderstood them in the first place. Maybe you're right, but do you know "Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price" [per 10 tabs] of different brands of Modafinil?
As you can see - I paid 90$ for pills worth 6.54$ + shipping from Hungary to UK (30 days long shipping). I know paying 90$ for 65x Modalert-200 (MSRP 21.71$) is not much better, but... it still is3 times better! Next time you get all excited about the amazing 20%!, 25%!, 30%! off and all those extra pills! you're getting from your amazing vendor! - remember how much money he actually makes off you. I really hope my story won't end here and HSP will get back to me (it is weekend after all!). Obviously I will keep you guys updated! If you're curious why there's such a big difference in price between brands of the same product: first three are manufactured by HAB and the last two by SunPharma. There should be MSRP (MRP) per 10 tablets printed on every blister pack you got - "Rs" stands for Indian Rupee ₹.
Hunting Scammers... 8/16/20 If you don’t care about the background skip to: [************************************************] So... I am in a unique position where I am aware of new and old scams daily. I often help those that are wronged and I frequently pass this information along to family so they don’t fall prey... Recently my mother told me that she was a victim of a scam, but not just a few hundred dollars, not a few thousand... She got taken for around $125,000, 401k cleaned out, retirement gone, second mortgage, credit cards opened and maxed out, sold her car, loans taken out and emptied... How did they do it? They hacked a Facebook account of one of her cousins and that compromised account blasted out the message: “Hey I just got a grant from the IDA (Independent Development Association) I saw your name on the list, did you get your $150,000 check yet?” That spiral led into her texting an “agent” who got all of her information and told her that she needed to pay for the secure courier which was $1,000... Months go by with regular contact, always a new “problem” like “the check got delayed here for a customs check and you need to pay $500”. They told her that she was bound to secrecy as if she told anyone beyond my step dad, they would be disqualified. They told her that they needed to monitor her phone calls to make sure she didn’t tell anyone, they provided her with a “court order subpoena” which was obviously fake, but she didn’t know. They logged into her cell account and ordered 20+ new iPhone 11 Pro Max from her cell provider on her credit. Then they actually paid her account for 2 months before ghosting her... They hacked her Facebook and tried to recruit more people into their scam... It was always a promise of more money if you do this or that... $150,000 then $250,000 all the way to $750,000... [************************************************] Preface: Always be safe when scam hunting/baiting Use an encrypted email (ProtonMail is free) Use a good proxy/VPN (pay for it, it’s worth it) NEVER give out your personal details I got all the information from my mother about: The phone number she texted. The person she talked to. Where/who she shipped the cell phones to. Where/who she sent cash to. (1) First contact/a little payback From that I started by contacting the scammer... My Facebook is already locked down so the information you get from my profile is very little, I reached out to my mother’s compromised FB through messenger and got a bite. They told me to text a number from the US to which I happily obliged. I used a texting app in conjunction with a VPN on my computer running a VM (virtual machine) I can control all the information released like OS, browser and such if they know how to look it’ll all be spoofed. I spoke with the scammer who had me “fill out a form” and he was working from a script, which is hard to break them from... This form he sent me, he accidentally forgot to clear it off from the last person he scammed so I had all of the information from the victim *I immediately call this guy and saved him before he sent any money luckily. So I digress, I occupy the scammers time for about 6 hours, giving him issues and excuses finally getting him off script. He directs me to a “local” bitcoin ATM to send a deposit of $1,500. I go through a host of issues while he gave me his first BTC address. I google a good picture of a bitcoin ATM and began photoshopping error messages until I had an epiphany... I told the scammer that the machine was giving me an error that his account was unverified and that he needed to “mirror” the transaction by first sending me $1,500 to unlock the transfer and it would be immediately refunded and my “$1,500” would be sent too. Unfortunately it didn’t work, so he gives me the second BTC address. What do ya know, same error lol... After a back and forth for about an hour, I couldn’t believe it, he agreed to “mirror” the transaction... So I scrambled to get a clean BTC address and sent it to him. He agreed to send $200 to see if it worked... Low and behold I just received $200... So what do I do next? Give in? No. I just changed the photoshop to say “Pending $1,300” now lol... He bit, hard. After more talking and pretending to be a helpless 64 year old guy with $20,000 ready to give him the scammer saw green and got greedy... More debate, more discussion, he sent another $500. Give in now? No... Back to photoshop... “Pending $800” To cut it short, he sure as hell sent the other $800... After a back and forth I sent him doctored up transaction receipts saying it was all transferred back to him. Getting him off script and getting him to pay a fraction of what he stole, is that enough? No. I promptly withdrew the money and gave it to my mom, it wasn’t much but just a little victory for now... (2) Finding the mules The next day the scammer cuts all contact with me, so I spoof a new number and call him. It rings and goes to voicemail and I hear his voice, sounds distorted with a British accent but broken English, I assume African. I leave only my telephone number on the recording saying “call me back” (we’ll come back to this) I move on to the places the phones were sent, first up, an apartment complex about an hour from me. But I’m not looking for a direct contact situation as I don’t know who or what they’re capable of... So I get the shipping details and find a very unique name but for Reddit we’ll call her Mrs. “E”. I begin tearing into her life, public records, credit report info, and phone records, I get it all... Time to make contact, I send an unassuming text to her number, asking for help. Surprisingly she responded, I began by asking her about a shipment she got in and the name of the shipping company she was receiving packages for. Radio silence for a few hours, then the denial began... I hit her with the hard facts, and just enough information so she knows I know everything about her... Mrs. E breaks and gives me the info I need. She was contacted by a friend who owns a shipping company in Lagos, Nigeria, they asked her to take the package of iPhones and forward them to him via another courier service. Mrs. E gave me everything. Next is Mrs. R who my mother sent actual cash to... I looked up the address and find it’s a duplex in Midwest. So I do a quick search of the name and nothing comes up... I then use the County Assessment District to get the public tax records and owner information. I contact the owner and give him the name I have and explain why I’m looking for her information. He gave me all the details he could as Mrs. R is the girlfriend of his tenant and the name I had was wrong. Waiting to get Mrs. R’s records right now I’ll get everything on her just like Mrs. E, she’ll bend to my will. (3) International Phone Calls So while I was searching for Mrs. R’s records I get a phone call... It’s a Nigerian number... I answered and find out it’s my scammer that I left a message for... This genius calls me from his actual cell number, which is not the number I called and left a message for. Currently working on getting his subscriber information but it’s proving hard (if anyone can help reply). I call up the owner of the shipping company in Nigeria and tell him that I’m looking for shipping details and quotes, I’m still working on his information... He’s a pleasant person to talk to, I will ruin him... So that’s where I’m at for now, but I definitely will keep you all updated. Mini-update 8/16/20: The owner of the shipping company apologized that his courier service had anything to do with the transactions. I’m not sure if I believe that but he did give me a name and 2 phone numbers he had on file for the customer. I’m really needing someone who can check these numbers out... If I can get a carrier identified I can work my magic on them to get the info I need. Update #1: 8/17/2020 Today I got all of Mrs. “R”s info minus good contact information... Pitty... But I’ll find it. The number on her file with her last loan didn’t pan out... I’ll come back to this tomorrow... I back traced the scammers cell phones with a little help from a friend, both phones are confirmed cell phones with active service with 2 different cell phone providers in Nigeria. I’m still lacking on the subscriber information, but I know where to look now... I reached out to the Nigerian Police Force to see if they can help, I doubt they can but you never know what you can get without asking... The scammer himself reached out to another dummy account I set up. I gave him a little scare, he asked who referred me to him... I gave him his own name, he hasn’t responded yet... https://imgur.com/gallery/EvfLcgy Update #2: 8/31/2020 So after name dropping the scammer I got dead silence. Luckily I was able to capture his IP address. I worked with a few contacts I made and found he was using the “Text Now” app, did a little magic and found out the “main scammer” actually is working in a call center. But interestingly enough I found that the workers there on average make like $500usd a month... (more on that later) So I have numerous fake Facebook accounts optimized for international connections, even though they look and are set up American, with them connected to the profiles from Africa or Russia, you can set your profile up to show up to them first, and you’ll be flooded with friends and messages... Another scammer reached out to me and I played along and made friends with them. I ran a game on him for a little bit and just came out and told him what I was trying to do. I asked him to help me, but it was off how he was replying, I called him on the phone and he told me that he was “busy in the office”. So he ghosted me, or so I thought... I get a text message from a Nigerian number that I did not know a few hours later. He tells me that he was the one I was talking to, he went on to explain that everything they do is monitored, there are about 20 of them in this room with computers, and several cell phones at their station. This guy goes on to explain that he controls about 15 different profiles, as many phone numbers as he can, and several emails, all of which are for scamming. So I think I’ve just developed an asset in Nigeria........ He has agreed to help me for money. He explained to me that he pulls on average $40,000 usd a month, I don’t know if that figure is true, but it’s believable... Mr. Asset goes on to tell me that if they hit their goal they make $250 a month, and for every so many $$$’s above their goal they get bonuses. So ladies and gents’ I’ve got boots on the ground. (Hopefully) I’ll keep you all updated. Not officially an update but figured I’d share it anyway! https://www.reddit.com/SuicideWatch/comments/ikfno1/went_looking_to_ruin_a_life_ended_up_saving_one/?utm_source=share&utm_medium=ios_app&utm_name=iossmf
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If you don’t know anything about crypto, i highly suggest you learn. It’s still very early and its growing super quick. cryptocurrency has gained a ton of attention in the past couple years and is actually starting to become a real actual currencies (already is, but according to our governments) many different types of crypto is starting to become accepted in a bunch of stores, realtors are taking as payment for a house, and colleges are even accepting as tuition. I started researching bitcoin a short amount of time after Satoshi Nakamoto released it (2009) and bought my first few in 2013 at 15$!! From early 2013 the price was about $11 USD and at the end of 2017, $20,000. But they fell and recovered as the stock market does. But the 24-hour trading Volume today, in 2020 is is INSANE ($20,690,383,231) with an even crazier market cap of $209,783,036,693, which by the middle-end of next month should reach $210 billion, possibly sooner. Its just a really smart investment, buy a little over time. Some analysts are predicting that BTC could reach anywhere from $100k to $1,000,000 for BTC in the next few years. Im not sure exactly where i would name the price in 5 years, but know there is only a limited supply of BTC. They are mined (basically just means that the transactions and blocks on the ledger or blockchain are verified) by sophisticated pieces of hardware called ASIIC miners, or some even use GPU, and CPU in expensive computers. Although CPU mining can be very inefficient anymore as the mathematical calculations and problems the miners need to solve get more and more complicated over time. This, the limited supply, the increasing interest, usability, and need for blockchain technology all add the the idea of BTC reaching such incredibly high futures. Their is a total of 20,999,976 bitcoin and that is it. With a total of 18,517,418.75 in circulation. The last BTC is estimated to be 2140. Big difference from the 18.5M mined in 10 years, right? Thats because of the halving. Anyway, I’m sure you have heard some things about BTC, probably from the media, and if it was, it probably wasn’t good. You probably heard that people buy illegal dangerous stuff off of the “Darknet” and that its completely untraceable. Or that money can be laundered through BTC. But that is hardly partly true for BTC and other cryptocurrencies, and completely true for the USD. While the blockchain doesn’t include any personal information connected to wallets (unless you want it there, or you have the wallet through a service that makes you use personal information, which many services are doing), all transactions can still be tracked and seen by anyone who has an internet connection at https://www.blockchain.com. So if the identity of one of the wallet addresses is known, it would be easier to figure the other out. But for paper, money that cannot be said... completely untraceable, has been prone to money laundering since it’s inception, can be used to purchase various drugs—hookers, guns, dynamite, and even politicians... since its inception, without a trace. The reason not just bitcoin, but i think even more exciting, is just blockchain technology and a host of things that are coming with it. It can be used for tons of things, software and can be built directly into blockchains, they can hold and process data at enormous speeds, while being extremely, extremely secure. More secure in a lot ways than banks. There are tons of new cryptocurrency projects being started everyday. For the most part, all of these projects have some sort of token integrated, because its what powers, and processes the data. If people find the project interesting or a great idea you like you’ll be able to invest in it buy buying/selling, or holding the token/coin. When these projects gain enough traction by like-minded individuals, the coin gains a value. This value can then be exchanged for other crypto, or traded directly for Fiat currencies ($,€,₽,¥,£,₩). For some examples of how wonderful the community is, and reveal what the true nature of blockchain and crypto was founded on, ill list 3 of my favorite crypto projects of 2020 so far along with a little excerpt from the white paper or other:
AIDCOIN: “allows websites to embed a widget into their website and accept donations in any cryptocurrency. Any donated crypto is transferred into AID token, which is also a stable coin. At first, this might seem like not such a good thing but the more I looked into it, the more I realized accepting a stable coin might actually make more sense for a charity as it reduces their risk exposure to volatility.”
BRAVE BROWSER—Privacy Internet Browser: “As far as I’m concerned, keeping people safe and protecting their privacy and security is a noble endeavor. For far too long, giants like Google and Facebook have gotten away with unethical data practices with nothing more than a slap on the wrist. They have been able to spy on their users, abuse their data and use it for whatever purpose they deem fit. Brave Browser is looking to put an end to that through the most secure browser that exists on the market today.” Basically Brave takes on the responsibility of completely protecting privacy and from ads. As an added available option, brave allows you, to watch and look at sponsored ads while you browse. So basically just a stand-in for other browsers ads, but instead you make money WITH brave. You are awarded BAT (Basic Attention Token) for your service. BAT’s are currently at .21¢.
Power Ledger: Last but not least. Power Ledger is probably one of my favorite projects that is actually making a real use-case out of crypto and blockchain. They are aiming to disrupt the energy sector with a heightened focus on renewable energy. Their software allows for three core things: 1. Energy Trading (if you have excess energy from your solar panels, for example, you can trade that to your neighbor through Power Ledger). 2. Environmental commodities trading (to help for the reliable tracking of renewable energy credits). 3. Renewable asset ownership (This will allow people who cannot afford their own renewable energy set-up to invest in fractional ownership). I honestly think Power Ledger is doing God’s work and wish them all the best.
As those projects above outlined, the basic principles behind pretty much every currency and upcoming project i have ever seen is, Trust, Sharing profit with the users who help make it into what it becomes, actual transparency, no central authority (due to decentralization), and lastly i believe it gives opportunity to those who are out if opportunity’s way. This is because it reaches so far, like into oppressive governments and 3rd work countries. Anyways, i hope to have given you a little insight during this read. Crypto has so much potential to fill and has already done so much. Looking forward to seeing where else all of this goes.
Let's set aside the tickename issue for a second and think as scientists about the upcoming experiment. Assuming there will be a split, I think it's going to be interesting. (If the split is somehow avoided, then all of the following makes no sense, of course) I frankly think the experiment of "hashrate-funded centrally-developed Bitcoin Cash" vs "hodler-funded multi-team-developed Bitcoin Cash" is very interesting. I don't mean "centrally-developed" as an offence here, it's just a fact - ABC will be developing it. Before you start throwing in tomatos, let's think about it. We all have front-row seats - each gets equal amount of both coins, so either coin wins - you have your cut. It might even be that BOTH coins will be winners, since unlike the BSV situation, this is going to be probably developed under MIT license, so either side can copy code from other side. (Unless, of course, ABC goes BSV-way and protects their code with a restrictive license, while the other side will be using MIT/BSD licenses for sure) Let's consider both sides' pros and cons.
I don't really like IFP, but I think what Amaury did was pretty clever and worth considering. With this plan he gets to control his coin fully and impose any rules he sees as best for his coin, be it drift correction, 6-month releases or whatever else. He believes in his power to make this coin the best, so let's see if he can. [+] Corporations are often pretty efficient at what they do. Usually, with capitalism and democracy they will perfect their game like no one, because of competition. [-] But this won't be exactly like capitalism, more like socialism, because ABC/Amaury will get paid no matter their performance. They will always get 8%. That makes people lazy. Why bother if you get your salary anyway? [+] ABC has a track record of 3 years and BCH didn't die, which gives them some credit that they could do it. [+] Amaury and ABC will get paid in their own coin, so the more valuable it is, the richer they get. (Unless they sell for USD immediately) Also, they will get close to $8 million in funding in first year alone (at the current price), which would allow him to hire, well, best of the best in their class (cryptographers, developers, etc...). Amaury knows that and he's right - developers are freaking expensive ($100,000+/year). (Well, again, assuming Amaury will be hiring...) [-] They don't have to listen to the community, so they have no force feedback if what they do is of any value or is it a useless distraction.
BCHN + others
[+] Hodler-funded means that you don't get paid unless you promise to deliver useful value and have proven to provide value in the past. So you have to perfect your game always - that's much closer to capitalism. [-] Very hard to raise funds. Amaury will get $8m/year while BCHN and other nodes barely managed to collect $100-200K, probably for the next year or so. Hodlers don't want to give away their money too much, because it might 10x or 20x in very short amount of time. [+] If BCHN/other nodes do their job well and the coin value raise - their money becomes more valuable, so $100K might become $1M in a year. Assuming they haven't sold for USD. Something tells me they didn't. [-] Grass-roots things can be short-lived. People are free to join and leave any time, so eventually you get tired of everything.
Potential problems with the experiment
Tickename, obviously pretty bad issue;
Reputation/community loss (BCH splitting again);
Confusion for next few years about what Bitcoin Cash is (just like it was with BCH/BTC split);
No replay protection (this one is nasty), so it's hard to split your money at fork time, you need to wait to get some miner dust to mix in with your coins to split them properly;
Potential that one side might be without wallets at first (i.e. if all wallets and services like Fountainhead/rest.bitcoin.com, which are used by wallets, leave ABC - how would you transfer your money?) - that surely will be a blow, but it's fixable. BCH started this way too.
EDIT: Merchant dis-adoption. Many will be tired of non-stop drama and leave. Maybe, stability of BCHN site will lure some back later. (comment about this)
I don't see miners as an issue (I explained why here and here) I'm actually curious. Whether corporate efficiency (but with a bit of socialism) or grass-roots (barely with any funding in comparison) will get ahead. Even though there is already a similar experiment going (BSV), but it's still interesting - each corporation is different and where Apple succeeded, many other phone/computer companies failed. Is listening to market critical? Remember Henry Ford: "If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses." On the other hand we have plenty of coins with a lot of funding not even in Top 10. Get your tickets (coins) ready, we're in for a ride!
Summary: Everyone knows that when you give your assets to someone else, they always keep them safe. If this is true for individuals, it is certainly true for businesses. Custodians always tell the truth and manage funds properly. They won't have any interest in taking the assets as an exchange operator would. Auditors tell the truth and can't be misled. That's because organizations that are regulated are incapable of lying and don't make mistakes. First, some background. Here is a summary of how custodians make us more secure: Previously, we might give Alice our crypto assets to hold. There were risks:
Alice might take the assets and disappear.
Alice might spend the assets and pretend that she still has them (fractional model).
Alice might store the assets insecurely and they'll get stolen.
Alice might give the assets to someone else by mistake or by force.
Alice might lose access to the assets.
But "no worries", Alice has a custodian named Bob. Bob is dressed in a nice suit. He knows some politicians. And he drives a Porsche. "So you have nothing to worry about!". And look at all the benefits we get:
Alice can't take the assets and disappear (unless she asks Bob or never gives them to Bob).
Alice can't spend the assets and pretend that she still has them. (Unless she didn't give them to Bob or asks him for them.)
Alice can't store the assets insecurely so they get stolen. (After all - she doesn't have any control over the withdrawal process from any of Bob's systems, right?)
Alice can't give the assets to someone else by mistake or by force. (Bob will stop her, right Bob?)
Alice can't lose access to the funds. (She'll always be present, sane, and remember all secrets, right?)
See - all problems are solved! All we have to worry about now is:
Bob might take the assets and disappear.
Bob might spend the assets and pretend that he still has them (fractional model).
Bob might store the assets insecurely and they'll get stolen.
Bob might give the assets to someone else by mistake or by force.
Bob might lose access to the assets.
It's pretty simple. Before we had to trust Alice. Now we only have to trust Alice, Bob, and all the ways in which they communicate. Just think of how much more secure we are! "On top of that", Bob assures us, "we're using a special wallet structure". Bob shows Alice a diagram. "We've broken the balance up and store it in lots of smaller wallets. That way", he assures her, "a thief can't take it all at once". And he points to a historic case where a large sum was taken "because it was stored in a single wallet... how stupid". "Very early on, we used to have all the crypto in one wallet", he said, "and then one Christmas a hacker came and took it all. We call him the Grinch. Now we individually wrap each crypto and stick it under a binary search tree. The Grinch has never been back since." "As well", Bob continues, "even if someone were to get in, we've got insurance. It covers all thefts and even coercion, collusion, and misplaced keys - only subject to the policy terms and conditions." And with that, he pulls out a phone-book sized contract and slams it on the desk with a thud. "Yep", he continues, "we're paying top dollar for one of the best policies in the country!" "Can I read it?' Alice asks. "Sure," Bob says, "just as soon as our legal team is done with it. They're almost through the first chapter." He pauses, then continues. "And can you believe that sales guy Mike? He has the same year Porsche as me. I mean, what are the odds?" "Do you use multi-sig?", Alice asks. "Absolutely!" Bob replies. "All our engineers are fully trained in multi-sig. Whenever we want to set up a new wallet, we generate 2 separate keys in an air-gapped process and store them in this proprietary system here. Look, it even requires the biometric signature from one of our team members to initiate any withdrawal." He demonstrates by pressing his thumb into the display. "We use a third-party cloud validation API to match the thumbprint and authorize each withdrawal. The keys are also backed up daily to an off-site third-party." "Wow that's really impressive," Alice says, "but what if we need access for a withdrawal outside of office hours?" "Well that's no issue", Bob says, "just send us an email, call, or text message and we always have someone on staff to help out. Just another part of our strong commitment to all our customers!" "What about Proof of Reserve?", Alice asks. "Of course", Bob replies, "though rather than publish any blockchain addresses or signed transaction, for privacy we just do a SHA256 refactoring of the inverse hash modulus for each UTXO nonce and combine the smart contract coefficient consensus in our hyperledger lightning node. But it's really simple to use." He pushes a button and a large green checkmark appears on a screen. "See - the algorithm ran through and reserves are proven." "Wow", Alice says, "you really know your stuff! And that is easy to use! What about fiat balances?" "Yeah, we have an auditor too", Bob replies, "Been using him for a long time so we have quite a strong relationship going! We have special books we give him every year and he's very efficient! Checks the fiat, crypto, and everything all at once!" "We used to have a nice offline multi-sig setup we've been using without issue for the past 5 years, but I think we'll move all our funds over to your facility," Alice says. "Awesome", Bob replies, "Thanks so much! This is perfect timing too - my Porsche got a dent on it this morning. We have the paperwork right over here." "Great!", Alice replies. And with that, Alice gets out her pen and Bob gets the contract. "Don't worry", he says, "you can take your crypto-assets back anytime you like - just subject to our cancellation policy. Our annual management fees are also super low and we don't adjust them often". How many holes have to exist for your funds to get stolen? Just one. Why are we taking a powerful offline multi-sig setup, widely used globally in hundreds of different/lacking regulatory environments with 0 breaches to date, and circumventing it by a demonstrably weak third party layer? And paying a great expense to do so? If you go through the list of breaches in the past 2 years to highly credible organizations, you go through the list of major corporate frauds (only the ones we know about), you go through the list of all the times platforms have lost funds, you go through the list of times and ways that people have lost their crypto from identity theft, hot wallet exploits, extortion, etc... and then you go through this custodian with a fine-tooth comb and truly believe they have value to add far beyond what you could, sticking your funds in a wallet (or set of wallets) they control exclusively is the absolute worst possible way to take advantage of that security. The best way to add security for crypto-assets is to make a stronger multi-sig. With one custodian, what you are doing is giving them your cryptocurrency and hoping they're honest, competent, and flawlessly secure. It's no different than storing it on a really secure exchange. Maybe the insurance will cover you. Didn't work for Bitpay in 2015. Didn't work for Yapizon in 2017. Insurance has never paid a claim in the entire history of cryptocurrency. But maybe you'll get lucky. Maybe your exact scenario will buck the trend and be what they're willing to cover. After the large deductible and hopefully without a long and expensive court battle. And you want to advertise this increase in risk, the lapse of judgement, an accident waiting to happen, as though it's some kind of benefit to customers ("Free institutional-grade storage for your digital assets.")? And then some people are writing to the OSC that custodians should be mandatory for all funds on every exchange platform? That this somehow will make Canadians as a whole more secure or better protected compared with standard air-gapped multi-sig? On what planet? Most of the problems in Canada stemmed from one thing - a lack of transparency. If Canadians had known what a joke Quadriga was - it wouldn't have grown to lose $400m from hard-working Canadians from coast to coast to coast. And Gerald Cotten would be in jail, not wherever he is now (at best, rotting peacefully). EZ-BTC and mister Dave Smilie would have been a tiny little scam to his friends, not a multi-million dollar fraud. Einstein would have got their act together or been shut down BEFORE losing millions and millions more in people's funds generously donated to criminals. MapleChange wouldn't have even been a thing. And maybe we'd know a little more about CoinTradeNewNote - like how much was lost in there. Almost all of the major losses with cryptocurrency exchanges involve deception with unbacked funds. So it's great to see transparency reports from BitBuy and ShakePay where someone independently verified the backing. The only thing we don't have is:
ANY CERTAINTY BALANCES WEREN'T EXCLUDED. Quadriga's largest account was $70m. 80% of funds are in 20% of accounts (Pareto principle). All it takes is excluding a few really large accounts - and nobody's the wiser. A fractional platform can easily pass any audit this way.
ANY VISIBILITY WHATSOEVER INTO THE CUSTODIANS. BitBuy put out their report before moving all the funds to their custodian and ShakePay apparently can't even tell us who the custodian is. That's pretty important considering that basically all of the funds are now stored there.
ANY IDEA ABOUT THE OTHER EXCHANGES. In order for this to be effective, it has to be the norm. It needs to be "unusual" not to know. If obscurity is the norm, then it's super easy for people like Gerald Cotten and Dave Smilie to blend right in.
It's not complicated to validate cryptocurrency assets. They need to exist, they need to be spendable, and they need to cover the total balances. There are plenty of credible people and firms across the country that have the capacity to reasonably perform this validation. Having more frequent checks by different, independent, parties who publish transparent reports is far more valuable than an annual check by a single "more credible/official" party who does the exact same basic checks and may or may not publish anything. Here's an example set of requirements that could be mandated:
First report within 1 month of launching, another within 3 months, and further reports at minimum every 6 months thereafter.
No auditor can be repeated within a 12 month period.
All reports must be public, identifying the auditor and the full methodology used.
All auditors must be independent of the firm being audited with no conflict of interest.
Reports must include the percentage of each asset backed, and how it's backed.
The auditor publishes a hash list, which lists a hash of each customer's information and balances that were included. Hash is one-way encryption so privacy is fully preserved. Every customer can use this to have 100% confidence they were included.
If we want more extensive requirements on audits, these should scale upward based on the total assets at risk on the platform, and whether the platform has loaned their assets out.
There are ways to structure audits such that neither crypto assets nor customer information are ever put at risk, and both can still be properly validated and publicly verifiable. There are also ways to structure audits such that they are completely reasonable for small platforms and don't inhibit innovation in any way. By making the process as reasonable as possible, we can completely eliminate any reason/excuse that an honest platform would have for not being audited. That is arguable far more important than any incremental improvement we might get from mandating "the best of the best" accountants. Right now we have nothing mandated and tons of Canadians using offshore exchanges with no oversight whatsoever. Transparency does not prove crypto assets are safe. CoinTradeNewNote, Flexcoin ($600k), and Canadian Bitcoins ($100k) are examples where crypto-assets were breached from platforms in Canada. All of them were online wallets and used no multi-sig as far as any records show. This is consistent with what we see globally - air-gapped multi-sig wallets have an impeccable record, while other schemes tend to suffer breach after breach. We don't actually know how much CoinTrader lost because there was no visibility. Rather than publishing details of what happened, the co-founder of CoinTrader silently moved on to found another platform - the "most trusted way to buy and sell crypto" - a site that has no information whatsoever (that I could find) on the storage practices and a FAQ advising that “[t]rading cryptocurrency is completely safe” and that having your own wallet is “entirely up to you! You can certainly keep cryptocurrency, or fiat, or both, on the app.” Doesn't sound like much was learned here, which is really sad to see. It's not that complicated or unreasonable to set up a proper hardware wallet. Multi-sig can be learned in a single course. Something the equivalent complexity of a driver's license test could prevent all the cold storage exploits we've seen to date - even globally. Platform operators have a key advantage in detecting and preventing fraud - they know their customers far better than any custodian ever would. The best job that custodians can do is to find high integrity individuals and train them to form even better wallet signatories. Rather than mandating that all platforms expose themselves to arbitrary third party risks, regulations should center around ensuring that all signatories are background-checked, properly trained, and using proper procedures. We also need to make sure that signatories are empowered with rights and responsibilities to reject and report fraud. They need to know that they can safely challenge and delay a transaction - even if it turns out they made a mistake. We need to have an environment where mistakes are brought to the surface and dealt with. Not one where firms and people feel the need to hide what happened. In addition to a knowledge-based test, an auditor can privately interview each signatory to make sure they're not in coercive situations, and we should make sure they can freely and anonymously report any issues without threat of retaliation. A proper multi-sig has each signature held by a separate person and is governed by policies and mutual decisions instead of a hierarchy. It includes at least one redundant signature. For best results, 3of4, 3of5, 3of6, 4of5, 4of6, 4of7, 5of6, or 5of7. History has demonstrated over and over again the risk of hot wallets even to highly credible organizations. Nonetheless, many platforms have hot wallets for convenience. While such losses are generally compensated by platforms without issue (for example Poloniex, Bitstamp, Bitfinex, Gatecoin, Coincheck, Bithumb, Zaif, CoinBene, Binance, Bitrue, Bitpoint, Upbit, VinDAX, and now KuCoin), the public tends to focus more on cases that didn't end well. Regardless of what systems are employed, there is always some level of risk. For that reason, most members of the public would prefer to see third party insurance. Rather than trying to convince third party profit-seekers to provide comprehensive insurance and then relying on an expensive and slow legal system to enforce against whatever legal loopholes they manage to find each and every time something goes wrong, insurance could be run through multiple exchange operators and regulators, with the shared interest of having a reputable industry, keeping costs down, and taking care of Canadians. For example, a 4 of 7 multi-sig insurance fund held between 5 independent exchange operators and 2 regulatory bodies. All Canadian exchanges could pay premiums at a set rate based on their needed coverage, with a higher price paid for hot wallet coverage (anything not an air-gapped multi-sig cold wallet). Such a model would be much cheaper to manage, offer better coverage, and be much more reliable to payout when needed. The kind of coverage you could have under this model is unheard of. You could even create something like the CDIC to protect Canadians who get their trading accounts hacked if they can sufficiently prove the loss is legitimate. In cases of fraud, gross negligence, or insolvency, the fund can be used to pay affected users directly (utilizing the last transparent balance report in the worst case), something which private insurance would never touch. While it's recommended to have official policies for coverage, a model where members vote would fully cover edge cases. (Could be similar to the Supreme Court where justices vote based on case law.) Such a model could fully protect all Canadians across all platforms. You can have a fiat coverage governed by legal agreements, and crypto-asset coverage governed by both multi-sig and legal agreements. It could be practical, affordable, and inclusive. Now, we are at a crossroads. We can happily give up our freedom, our innovation, and our money. We can pay hefty expenses to auditors, lawyers, and regulators year after year (and make no mistake - this cost will grow to many millions or even billions as the industry grows - and it will be borne by all Canadians on every platform because platforms are not going to eat up these costs at a loss). We can make it nearly impossible for any new platform to enter the marketplace, forcing Canadians to use the same stagnant platforms year after year. We can centralize and consolidate the entire industry into 2 or 3 big players and have everyone else fail (possibly to heavy losses of users of those platforms). And when a flawed security model doesn't work and gets breached, we can make it even more complicated with even more people in suits making big money doing the job that blockchain was supposed to do in the first place. We can build a system which is so intertwined and dependent on big government, traditional finance, and central bankers that it's future depends entirely on that of the fiat system, of fractional banking, and of government bail-outs. If we choose this path, as history has shown us over and over again, we can not go back, save for revolution. Our children and grandchildren will still be paying the consequences of what we decided today. Or, we can find solutions that work. We can maintain an open and innovative environment while making the adjustments we need to make to fully protect Canadian investors and cryptocurrency users, giving easy and affordable access to cryptocurrency for all Canadians on the platform of their choice, and creating an environment in which entrepreneurs and problem solvers can bring those solutions forward easily. None of the above precludes innovation in any way, or adds any unreasonable cost - and these three policies would demonstrably eliminate or resolve all 109 historic cases as studied here - that's every single case researched so far going back to 2011. It includes every loss that was studied so far not just in Canada but globally as well. Unfortunately, finding answers is the least challenging part. Far more challenging is to get platform operators and regulators to agree on anything. My last post got no response whatsoever, and while the OSC has told me they're happy for industry feedback, I believe my opinion alone is fairly meaningless. This takes the whole community working together to solve. So please let me know your thoughts. Please take the time to upvote and share this with people. Please - let's get this solved and not leave it up to other people to do. Facts/background/sources (skip if you like):
The inspiration for the paragraph about splitting wallets was an actual quote from a Canadian company providing custodial services in response to the OSC consultation paper: "We believe that it will be in the in best interests of investors to prohibit pooled crypto assets or ‘floats’. Most Platforms pool assets, citing reasons of practicality and expense. The recent hack of the world’s largest Platform – Binance – demonstrates the vulnerability of participants’ assets when such concessions are made. In this instance, the Platform’s entire hot wallet of Bitcoins, worth over $40 million, was stolen, facilitated in part by the pooling of client crypto assets." "the maintenance of participants (and Platform) crypto assets across multiple wallets distributes the related risk and responsibility of security - reducing the amount of insurance coverage required and making insurance coverage more readily obtainable". For the record, their reply also said nothing whatsoever about multi-sig or offline storage.
In addition to the fact that the $40m hack represented only one "hot wallet" of Binance, and they actually had the vast majority of assets in other wallets (including mostly cold wallets), multiple real cases have clearly demonstrated that risk is still present with multiple wallets. Bitfinex, VinDAX, Bithumb, Altsbit, BitPoint, Cryptopia, and just recently KuCoin all had multiple wallets breached all at the same time, and may represent a significantly larger impact on customers than the Binance breach which was fully covered by Binance. To represent that simply having multiple separate wallets under the same security scheme is a comprehensive way to reduce risk is just not true.
Private insurance has historically never covered a single loss in the cryptocurrency space (at least, not one that I was able to find), and there are notable cases where massive losses were not covered by insurance. Bitpay in 2015 and Yapizon in 2017 both had insurance policies that didn't pay out during the breach, even after a lengthly court process. The same insurance that ShakePay is presently using (and announced to much fanfare) was describe by their CEO himself as covering “physical theft of the media where the private keys are held,” which is something that has never historically happened. As was said with regard to the same policy in 2018 - “I don’t find it surprising that Lloyd’s is in this space,” said Johnson, adding that to his mind the challenge for everybody is figuring out how to structure these policies so that they are actually protective. “You can create an insurance policy that protects no one – you know there are so many caveats to the policy that it’s not super protective.”
The most profitable policy for a private insurance company is one with the most expensive premiums that they never have to pay a claim on. They have no inherent incentive to take care of people who lost funds. It's "cheaper" to take the reputational hit and fight the claim in court. The more money at stake, the more the insurance provider is incentivized to avoid payout. They're not going to insure the assets unless they have reasonable certainty to make a profit by doing so, and they're not going to pay out a massive sum unless it's legally forced. Private insurance is always structured to be maximally profitable to the insurance provider.
The circumvention of multi-sig was a key factor in the massive Bitfinex hack of over $60m of bitcoin, which today still sits being slowly used and is worth over $3b. While Bitfinex used a qualified custodian Bitgo, which was and still is active and one of the industry leaders of custodians, and they set up 2 of 3 multi-sig wallets, the entire system was routed through Bitfinex, such that Bitfinex customers could initiate the withdrawals in a "hot" fashion. This feature was also a hit with the hacker. The multi-sig was fully circumvented.
Bitpay in 2015 was another example of a breach that stole 5,000 bitcoins. This happened not through the exploit of any system in Bitpay, but because the CEO of a company they worked with got their computer hacked and the hackers were able to request multiple bitcoin purchases, which Bitpay honoured because they came from the customer's computer legitimately. Impersonation is a very common tactic used by fraudsters, and methods get more extreme all the time.
A notable case in Canada was the Canadian Bitcoins exploit. Funds were stored on a server in a Rogers Data Center, and the attendee was successfully convinced to reboot the server "in safe mode" with a simple phone call, thus bypassing the extensive security and enabling the theft.
The very nature of custodians circumvents multi-sig. This is because custodians are not just having to secure the assets against some sort of physical breach but against any form of social engineering, modification of orders, fraudulent withdrawal attempts, etc... If the security practices of signatories in a multi-sig arrangement are such that the breach risk of one signatory is 1 in 100, the requirement of 3 independent signatures makes the risk of theft 1 in 1,000,000. Since hackers tend to exploit the weakest link, a comparable custodian has to make the entry and exit points of their platform 10,000 times more secure than one of those signatories to provide equivalent protection. And if the signatories beef up their security by only 10x, the risk is now 1 in 1,000,000,000. The custodian has to be 1,000,000 times more secure. The larger and more complex a system is, the more potential vulnerabilities exist in it, and the fewer people can understand how the system works when performing upgrades. Even if a system is completely secure today, one has to also consider how that system might evolve over time or work with different members.
By contrast, offline multi-signature solutions have an extremely solid record, and in the entire history of cryptocurrency exchange incidents which I've studied (listed here), there has only been one incident (796 exchange in 2015) involving an offline multi-signature wallet. It happened because the customer's bitcoin address was modified by hackers, and the amount that was stolen ($230k) was immediately covered by the exchange operators. Basically, the platform operators were tricked into sending a legitimate withdrawal request to the wrong address because hackers exploited their platform to change that address. Such an issue would not be prevented in any way by the use of a custodian, as that custodian has no oversight whatsoever to the exchange platform. It's practical for all exchange operators to test large withdrawal transactions as a general policy, regardless of what model is used, and general best practice is to diagnose and fix such an exploit as soon as it occurs.
False promises on the backing of funds played a huge role in the downfall of Quadriga, and it's been exposed over and over again (MyCoin, PlusToken, Bitsane, Bitmarket, EZBTC, IDAX). Even today, customers have extremely limited certainty on whether their funds in exchanges are actually being backed or how they're being backed. While this issue is not unique to cryptocurrency exchanges, the complexity of the technology and the lack of any regulation or standards makes problems more widespread, and there is no "central bank" to come to the rescue as in the 2008 financial crisis or during the great depression when "9,000 banks failed".
In addition to fraudulent operations, the industry is full of cases where operators have suffered breaches and not reported them. Most recently, Einstein was the largest case in Canada, where ongoing breaches and fraud were perpetrated against the platform for multiple years and nobody found out until the platform collapsed completely. While fraud and breaches suck to deal with, they suck even more when not dealt with. Lack of visibility played a role in the largest downfalls of Mt. Gox, Cryptsy, and Bitgrail. In some cases, platforms are alleged to have suffered a hack and keep operating without admitting it at all, such as CoinBene.
It surprises some to learn that a cryptographic solution has already existed since 2013, and gained widespread support in 2014 after Mt. Gox. Proof of Reserves is a full cryptographic proof that allows any customer using an exchange to have complete certainty that their crypto-assets are fully backed by the platform in real-time. This is accomplished by proving that assets exist on the blockchain, are spendable, and fully cover customer deposits. It does not prove safety of assets or backing of fiat assets.
If we didn't care about privacy at all, a platform could publish their wallet addresses, sign a partial transaction, and put the full list of customer information and balances out publicly. Customers can each check that they are on the list, that the balances are accurate, that the total adds up, and that it's backed and spendable on the blockchain. Platforms who exclude any customer take a risk because that customer can easily check and see they were excluded. So together with all customers checking, this forms a full proof of backing of all crypto assets.
However, obviously customers care about their private information being published. Therefore, a hash of the information can be provided instead. Hash is one-way encryption. The hash allows the customer to validate inclusion (by hashing their own known information), while anyone looking at the list of hashes cannot determine the private information of any other user. All other parts of the scheme remain fully intact. A model like this is in use on the exchange CoinFloor in the UK.
A Merkle tree can provide even greater privacy. Instead of a list of balances, the balances are arranged into a binary tree. A customer starts from their node, and works their way to the top of the tree. For example, they know they have 5 BTC, they plus 1 other customer hold 7 BTC, they plus 2-3 other customers hold 17 BTC, etc... until they reach the root where all the BTC are represented. Thus, there is no way to find the balances of other individual customers aside from one unidentified customer in this case.
Proposals such as this had the backing of leaders in the community including Nic Carter, Greg Maxwell, and Zak Wilcox. Substantial and significant effort started back in 2013, with massive popularity in 2014. But what became of that effort? Very little. Exchange operators continue to refuse to give visibility. Despite the fact this information can often be obtained through trivial blockchain analysis, no Canadian platform has ever provided any wallet addresses publicly. As described by the CEO of Newton "For us to implement some kind of realtime Proof of Reserves solution, which I'm not opposed to, it would have to ... Preserve our users' privacy, as well as our own. Some kind of zero-knowledge proof". Kraken describes here in more detail why they haven't implemented such a scheme. According to professor Eli Ben-Sasson, when he spoke with exchanges, none were interested in implementing Proof of Reserves.
And yet, Kraken's places their reasoning on a page called "Proof of Reserves". More recently, both BitBuy and ShakePay have released reports titled "Proof of Reserves and Security Audit". Both reports contain disclaimers against being audits. Both reports trust the customer list provided by the platform, leaving the open possibility that multiple large accounts could have been excluded from the process. Proof of Reserves is a blockchain validation where customers see the wallets on the blockchain. The report from Kraken is 5 years old, but they leave it described as though it was just done a few weeks ago. And look at what they expect customers to do for validation. When firms represent something being "Proof of Reserve" when it's not, this is like a farmer growing fruit with pesticides and selling it in a farmers market as organic produce - except that these are people's hard-earned life savings at risk here. Platforms are misrepresenting the level of visibility in place and deceiving the public by their misuse of this term. They haven't proven anything.
Fraud isn't a problem that is unique to cryptocurrency. Fraud happens all the time. Enron, WorldCom, Nortel, Bear Stearns, Wells Fargo, Moser Baer, Wirecard, Bre-X, and Nicola are just some of the cases where frauds became large enough to become a big deal (and there are so many countless others). These all happened on 100% reversible assets despite regulations being in place. In many of these cases, the problems happened due to the over-complexity of the financial instruments. For example, Enron had "complex financial statements [which] were confusing to shareholders and analysts", creating "off-balance-sheet vehicles, complex financing structures, and deals so bewildering that few people could understand them". In cryptocurrency, we are often combining complex financial products with complex technologies and verification processes. We are naïve if we think problems like this won't happen. It is awkward and uncomfortable for many people to admit that they don't know how something works. If we want "money of the people" to work, the solutions have to be simple enough that "the people" can understand them, not so confusing that financial professionals and technology experts struggle to use or understand them.
For those who question the extent to which an organization can fool their way into a security consultancy role, HB Gary should be a great example to look at. Prior to trying to out anonymous, HB Gary was being actively hired by multiple US government agencies and others in the private sector (with glowing testimonials). The published articles and hosted professional security conferences. One should also look at this list of data breaches from the past 2 years. Many of them are large corporations, government entities, and technology companies. These are the ones we know about. Undoubtedly, there are many more that we do not know about. If HB Gary hadn't been "outted" by anonymous, would we have known they were insecure? If the same breach had happened outside of the public spotlight, would it even have been reported? Or would HB Gary have just deleted the Twitter posts, brought their site back up, done a couple patches, and kept on operating as though nothing had happened?
In the case of Quadriga, the facts are clear. Despite past experience with platforms such as MapleChange in Canada and others around the world, no guidance or even the most basic of a framework was put in place by regulators. By not clarifying any sort of legal framework, regulators enabled a situation where a platform could be run by former criminal Mike Dhanini/Omar Patryn, and where funds could be held fully unchecked by one person. At the same time, the lack of regulation deterred legitimate entities from running competing platforms and Quadriga was granted a money services business license for multiple years of operation, which gave the firm the appearance of legitimacy. Regulators did little to protect Canadians despite Quadriga failing to file taxes from 2016 onward. The entire administrative team had resigned and this was public knowledge. Many people had suspicions of what was going on, including Ryan Mueller, who forwarded complaints to the authorities. These were ignored, giving Gerald Cotten the opportunity to escape without justice.
There are multiple issues with the SOC II model including the prohibitive cost (you have to find a third party accounting firm and the prices are not even listed publicly on any sites), the requirement of operating for a year (impossible for new platforms), and lack of any public visibility (SOC II are private reports that aren't shared outside the people in suits).
Securities frameworks are expensive. Sarbanes-Oxley is estimated to cost $5.1 million USD/yr for the average Fortune 500 company in the United States. Since "Fortune 500" represents the top 500 companies, that means well over $2.55 billion USD (~$3.4 billion CAD) is going to people in suits. Isn't the problem of trust and verification the exact problem that the blockchain is supposed to solve?
To use Quadriga as justification for why custodians or SOC II or other advanced schemes are needed for platforms is rather silly, when any framework or visibility at all, or even the most basic of storage policies, would have prevented the whole thing. It's just an embarrassment.
We are now seeing regulators take strong action. CoinSquare in Canada with multi-million dollar fines. BitMex from the US, criminal charges and arrests. OkEx, with full disregard of withdrawals and no communication. Who's next?
We have a unique window today where we can solve these problems, and not permanently destroy innovation with unreasonable expectations, but we need to act quickly. This is a unique historic time that will never come again.
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