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Bob The Magic Custodian
Summary: Everyone knows that when you give your assets to someone else, they always keep them safe. If this is true for individuals, it is certainly true for businesses. Custodians always tell the truth and manage funds properly. They won't have any interest in taking the assets as an exchange operator would. Auditors tell the truth and can't be misled. That's because organizations that are regulated are incapable of lying and don't make mistakes. First, some background. Here is a summary of how custodians make us more secure: Previously, we might give Alice our crypto assets to hold. There were risks:
Alice might take the assets and disappear.
Alice might spend the assets and pretend that she still has them (fractional model).
Alice might store the assets insecurely and they'll get stolen.
Alice might give the assets to someone else by mistake or by force.
Alice might lose access to the assets.
But "no worries", Alice has a custodian named Bob. Bob is dressed in a nice suit. He knows some politicians. And he drives a Porsche. "So you have nothing to worry about!". And look at all the benefits we get:
Alice can't take the assets and disappear (unless she asks Bob or never gives them to Bob).
Alice can't spend the assets and pretend that she still has them. (Unless she didn't give them to Bob or asks him for them.)
Alice can't store the assets insecurely so they get stolen. (After all - she doesn't have any control over the withdrawal process from any of Bob's systems, right?)
Alice can't give the assets to someone else by mistake or by force. (Bob will stop her, right Bob?)
Alice can't lose access to the funds. (She'll always be present, sane, and remember all secrets, right?)
See - all problems are solved! All we have to worry about now is:
Bob might take the assets and disappear.
Bob might spend the assets and pretend that he still has them (fractional model).
Bob might store the assets insecurely and they'll get stolen.
Bob might give the assets to someone else by mistake or by force.
Bob might lose access to the assets.
It's pretty simple. Before we had to trust Alice. Now we only have to trust Alice, Bob, and all the ways in which they communicate. Just think of how much more secure we are! "On top of that", Bob assures us, "we're using a special wallet structure". Bob shows Alice a diagram. "We've broken the balance up and store it in lots of smaller wallets. That way", he assures her, "a thief can't take it all at once". And he points to a historic case where a large sum was taken "because it was stored in a single wallet... how stupid". "Very early on, we used to have all the crypto in one wallet", he said, "and then one Christmas a hacker came and took it all. We call him the Grinch. Now we individually wrap each crypto and stick it under a binary search tree. The Grinch has never been back since." "As well", Bob continues, "even if someone were to get in, we've got insurance. It covers all thefts and even coercion, collusion, and misplaced keys - only subject to the policy terms and conditions." And with that, he pulls out a phone-book sized contract and slams it on the desk with a thud. "Yep", he continues, "we're paying top dollar for one of the best policies in the country!" "Can I read it?' Alice asks. "Sure," Bob says, "just as soon as our legal team is done with it. They're almost through the first chapter." He pauses, then continues. "And can you believe that sales guy Mike? He has the same year Porsche as me. I mean, what are the odds?" "Do you use multi-sig?", Alice asks. "Absolutely!" Bob replies. "All our engineers are fully trained in multi-sig. Whenever we want to set up a new wallet, we generate 2 separate keys in an air-gapped process and store them in this proprietary system here. Look, it even requires the biometric signature from one of our team members to initiate any withdrawal." He demonstrates by pressing his thumb into the display. "We use a third-party cloud validation API to match the thumbprint and authorize each withdrawal. The keys are also backed up daily to an off-site third-party." "Wow that's really impressive," Alice says, "but what if we need access for a withdrawal outside of office hours?" "Well that's no issue", Bob says, "just send us an email, call, or text message and we always have someone on staff to help out. Just another part of our strong commitment to all our customers!" "What about Proof of Reserve?", Alice asks. "Of course", Bob replies, "though rather than publish any blockchain addresses or signed transaction, for privacy we just do a SHA256 refactoring of the inverse hash modulus for each UTXO nonce and combine the smart contract coefficient consensus in our hyperledger lightning node. But it's really simple to use." He pushes a button and a large green checkmark appears on a screen. "See - the algorithm ran through and reserves are proven." "Wow", Alice says, "you really know your stuff! And that is easy to use! What about fiat balances?" "Yeah, we have an auditor too", Bob replies, "Been using him for a long time so we have quite a strong relationship going! We have special books we give him every year and he's very efficient! Checks the fiat, crypto, and everything all at once!" "We used to have a nice offline multi-sig setup we've been using without issue for the past 5 years, but I think we'll move all our funds over to your facility," Alice says. "Awesome", Bob replies, "Thanks so much! This is perfect timing too - my Porsche got a dent on it this morning. We have the paperwork right over here." "Great!", Alice replies. And with that, Alice gets out her pen and Bob gets the contract. "Don't worry", he says, "you can take your crypto-assets back anytime you like - just subject to our cancellation policy. Our annual management fees are also super low and we don't adjust them often". How many holes have to exist for your funds to get stolen? Just one. Why are we taking a powerful offline multi-sig setup, widely used globally in hundreds of different/lacking regulatory environments with 0 breaches to date, and circumventing it by a demonstrably weak third party layer? And paying a great expense to do so? If you go through the list of breaches in the past 2 years to highly credible organizations, you go through the list of major corporate frauds (only the ones we know about), you go through the list of all the times platforms have lost funds, you go through the list of times and ways that people have lost their crypto from identity theft, hot wallet exploits, extortion, etc... and then you go through this custodian with a fine-tooth comb and truly believe they have value to add far beyond what you could, sticking your funds in a wallet (or set of wallets) they control exclusively is the absolute worst possible way to take advantage of that security. The best way to add security for crypto-assets is to make a stronger multi-sig. With one custodian, what you are doing is giving them your cryptocurrency and hoping they're honest, competent, and flawlessly secure. It's no different than storing it on a really secure exchange. Maybe the insurance will cover you. Didn't work for Bitpay in 2015. Didn't work for Yapizon in 2017. Insurance has never paid a claim in the entire history of cryptocurrency. But maybe you'll get lucky. Maybe your exact scenario will buck the trend and be what they're willing to cover. After the large deductible and hopefully without a long and expensive court battle. And you want to advertise this increase in risk, the lapse of judgement, an accident waiting to happen, as though it's some kind of benefit to customers ("Free institutional-grade storage for your digital assets.")? And then some people are writing to the OSC that custodians should be mandatory for all funds on every exchange platform? That this somehow will make Canadians as a whole more secure or better protected compared with standard air-gapped multi-sig? On what planet? Most of the problems in Canada stemmed from one thing - a lack of transparency. If Canadians had known what a joke Quadriga was - it wouldn't have grown to lose $400m from hard-working Canadians from coast to coast to coast. And Gerald Cotten would be in jail, not wherever he is now (at best, rotting peacefully). EZ-BTC and mister Dave Smilie would have been a tiny little scam to his friends, not a multi-million dollar fraud. Einstein would have got their act together or been shut down BEFORE losing millions and millions more in people's funds generously donated to criminals. MapleChange wouldn't have even been a thing. And maybe we'd know a little more about CoinTradeNewNote - like how much was lost in there. Almost all of the major losses with cryptocurrency exchanges involve deception with unbacked funds. So it's great to see transparency reports from BitBuy and ShakePay where someone independently verified the backing. The only thing we don't have is:
ANY CERTAINTY BALANCES WEREN'T EXCLUDED. Quadriga's largest account was $70m. 80% of funds are in 20% of accounts (Pareto principle). All it takes is excluding a few really large accounts - and nobody's the wiser. A fractional platform can easily pass any audit this way.
ANY VISIBILITY WHATSOEVER INTO THE CUSTODIANS. BitBuy put out their report before moving all the funds to their custodian and ShakePay apparently can't even tell us who the custodian is. That's pretty important considering that basically all of the funds are now stored there.
ANY IDEA ABOUT THE OTHER EXCHANGES. In order for this to be effective, it has to be the norm. It needs to be "unusual" not to know. If obscurity is the norm, then it's super easy for people like Gerald Cotten and Dave Smilie to blend right in.
It's not complicated to validate cryptocurrency assets. They need to exist, they need to be spendable, and they need to cover the total balances. There are plenty of credible people and firms across the country that have the capacity to reasonably perform this validation. Having more frequent checks by different, independent, parties who publish transparent reports is far more valuable than an annual check by a single "more credible/official" party who does the exact same basic checks and may or may not publish anything. Here's an example set of requirements that could be mandated:
First report within 1 month of launching, another within 3 months, and further reports at minimum every 6 months thereafter.
No auditor can be repeated within a 12 month period.
All reports must be public, identifying the auditor and the full methodology used.
All auditors must be independent of the firm being audited with no conflict of interest.
Reports must include the percentage of each asset backed, and how it's backed.
The auditor publishes a hash list, which lists a hash of each customer's information and balances that were included. Hash is one-way encryption so privacy is fully preserved. Every customer can use this to have 100% confidence they were included.
If we want more extensive requirements on audits, these should scale upward based on the total assets at risk on the platform, and whether the platform has loaned their assets out.
There are ways to structure audits such that neither crypto assets nor customer information are ever put at risk, and both can still be properly validated and publicly verifiable. There are also ways to structure audits such that they are completely reasonable for small platforms and don't inhibit innovation in any way. By making the process as reasonable as possible, we can completely eliminate any reason/excuse that an honest platform would have for not being audited. That is arguable far more important than any incremental improvement we might get from mandating "the best of the best" accountants. Right now we have nothing mandated and tons of Canadians using offshore exchanges with no oversight whatsoever. Transparency does not prove crypto assets are safe. CoinTradeNewNote, Flexcoin ($600k), and Canadian Bitcoins ($100k) are examples where crypto-assets were breached from platforms in Canada. All of them were online wallets and used no multi-sig as far as any records show. This is consistent with what we see globally - air-gapped multi-sig wallets have an impeccable record, while other schemes tend to suffer breach after breach. We don't actually know how much CoinTrader lost because there was no visibility. Rather than publishing details of what happened, the co-founder of CoinTrader silently moved on to found another platform - the "most trusted way to buy and sell crypto" - a site that has no information whatsoever (that I could find) on the storage practices and a FAQ advising that “[t]rading cryptocurrency is completely safe” and that having your own wallet is “entirely up to you! You can certainly keep cryptocurrency, or fiat, or both, on the app.” Doesn't sound like much was learned here, which is really sad to see. It's not that complicated or unreasonable to set up a proper hardware wallet. Multi-sig can be learned in a single course. Something the equivalent complexity of a driver's license test could prevent all the cold storage exploits we've seen to date - even globally. Platform operators have a key advantage in detecting and preventing fraud - they know their customers far better than any custodian ever would. The best job that custodians can do is to find high integrity individuals and train them to form even better wallet signatories. Rather than mandating that all platforms expose themselves to arbitrary third party risks, regulations should center around ensuring that all signatories are background-checked, properly trained, and using proper procedures. We also need to make sure that signatories are empowered with rights and responsibilities to reject and report fraud. They need to know that they can safely challenge and delay a transaction - even if it turns out they made a mistake. We need to have an environment where mistakes are brought to the surface and dealt with. Not one where firms and people feel the need to hide what happened. In addition to a knowledge-based test, an auditor can privately interview each signatory to make sure they're not in coercive situations, and we should make sure they can freely and anonymously report any issues without threat of retaliation. A proper multi-sig has each signature held by a separate person and is governed by policies and mutual decisions instead of a hierarchy. It includes at least one redundant signature. For best results, 3of4, 3of5, 3of6, 4of5, 4of6, 4of7, 5of6, or 5of7. History has demonstrated over and over again the risk of hot wallets even to highly credible organizations. Nonetheless, many platforms have hot wallets for convenience. While such losses are generally compensated by platforms without issue (for example Poloniex, Bitstamp, Bitfinex, Gatecoin, Coincheck, Bithumb, Zaif, CoinBene, Binance, Bitrue, Bitpoint, Upbit, VinDAX, and now KuCoin), the public tends to focus more on cases that didn't end well. Regardless of what systems are employed, there is always some level of risk. For that reason, most members of the public would prefer to see third party insurance. Rather than trying to convince third party profit-seekers to provide comprehensive insurance and then relying on an expensive and slow legal system to enforce against whatever legal loopholes they manage to find each and every time something goes wrong, insurance could be run through multiple exchange operators and regulators, with the shared interest of having a reputable industry, keeping costs down, and taking care of Canadians. For example, a 4 of 7 multi-sig insurance fund held between 5 independent exchange operators and 2 regulatory bodies. All Canadian exchanges could pay premiums at a set rate based on their needed coverage, with a higher price paid for hot wallet coverage (anything not an air-gapped multi-sig cold wallet). Such a model would be much cheaper to manage, offer better coverage, and be much more reliable to payout when needed. The kind of coverage you could have under this model is unheard of. You could even create something like the CDIC to protect Canadians who get their trading accounts hacked if they can sufficiently prove the loss is legitimate. In cases of fraud, gross negligence, or insolvency, the fund can be used to pay affected users directly (utilizing the last transparent balance report in the worst case), something which private insurance would never touch. While it's recommended to have official policies for coverage, a model where members vote would fully cover edge cases. (Could be similar to the Supreme Court where justices vote based on case law.) Such a model could fully protect all Canadians across all platforms. You can have a fiat coverage governed by legal agreements, and crypto-asset coverage governed by both multi-sig and legal agreements. It could be practical, affordable, and inclusive. Now, we are at a crossroads. We can happily give up our freedom, our innovation, and our money. We can pay hefty expenses to auditors, lawyers, and regulators year after year (and make no mistake - this cost will grow to many millions or even billions as the industry grows - and it will be borne by all Canadians on every platform because platforms are not going to eat up these costs at a loss). We can make it nearly impossible for any new platform to enter the marketplace, forcing Canadians to use the same stagnant platforms year after year. We can centralize and consolidate the entire industry into 2 or 3 big players and have everyone else fail (possibly to heavy losses of users of those platforms). And when a flawed security model doesn't work and gets breached, we can make it even more complicated with even more people in suits making big money doing the job that blockchain was supposed to do in the first place. We can build a system which is so intertwined and dependent on big government, traditional finance, and central bankers that it's future depends entirely on that of the fiat system, of fractional banking, and of government bail-outs. If we choose this path, as history has shown us over and over again, we can not go back, save for revolution. Our children and grandchildren will still be paying the consequences of what we decided today. Or, we can find solutions that work. We can maintain an open and innovative environment while making the adjustments we need to make to fully protect Canadian investors and cryptocurrency users, giving easy and affordable access to cryptocurrency for all Canadians on the platform of their choice, and creating an environment in which entrepreneurs and problem solvers can bring those solutions forward easily. None of the above precludes innovation in any way, or adds any unreasonable cost - and these three policies would demonstrably eliminate or resolve all 109 historic cases as studied here - that's every single case researched so far going back to 2011. It includes every loss that was studied so far not just in Canada but globally as well. Unfortunately, finding answers is the least challenging part. Far more challenging is to get platform operators and regulators to agree on anything. My last post got no response whatsoever, and while the OSC has told me they're happy for industry feedback, I believe my opinion alone is fairly meaningless. This takes the whole community working together to solve. So please let me know your thoughts. Please take the time to upvote and share this with people. Please - let's get this solved and not leave it up to other people to do. Facts/background/sources (skip if you like):
The inspiration for the paragraph about splitting wallets was an actual quote from a Canadian company providing custodial services in response to the OSC consultation paper: "We believe that it will be in the in best interests of investors to prohibit pooled crypto assets or ‘floats’. Most Platforms pool assets, citing reasons of practicality and expense. The recent hack of the world’s largest Platform – Binance – demonstrates the vulnerability of participants’ assets when such concessions are made. In this instance, the Platform’s entire hot wallet of Bitcoins, worth over $40 million, was stolen, facilitated in part by the pooling of client crypto assets." "the maintenance of participants (and Platform) crypto assets across multiple wallets distributes the related risk and responsibility of security - reducing the amount of insurance coverage required and making insurance coverage more readily obtainable". For the record, their reply also said nothing whatsoever about multi-sig or offline storage.
In addition to the fact that the $40m hack represented only one "hot wallet" of Binance, and they actually had the vast majority of assets in other wallets (including mostly cold wallets), multiple real cases have clearly demonstrated that risk is still present with multiple wallets. Bitfinex, VinDAX, Bithumb, Altsbit, BitPoint, Cryptopia, and just recently KuCoin all had multiple wallets breached all at the same time, and may represent a significantly larger impact on customers than the Binance breach which was fully covered by Binance. To represent that simply having multiple separate wallets under the same security scheme is a comprehensive way to reduce risk is just not true.
Private insurance has historically never covered a single loss in the cryptocurrency space (at least, not one that I was able to find), and there are notable cases where massive losses were not covered by insurance. Bitpay in 2015 and Yapizon in 2017 both had insurance policies that didn't pay out during the breach, even after a lengthly court process. The same insurance that ShakePay is presently using (and announced to much fanfare) was describe by their CEO himself as covering “physical theft of the media where the private keys are held,” which is something that has never historically happened. As was said with regard to the same policy in 2018 - “I don’t find it surprising that Lloyd’s is in this space,” said Johnson, adding that to his mind the challenge for everybody is figuring out how to structure these policies so that they are actually protective. “You can create an insurance policy that protects no one – you know there are so many caveats to the policy that it’s not super protective.”
The most profitable policy for a private insurance company is one with the most expensive premiums that they never have to pay a claim on. They have no inherent incentive to take care of people who lost funds. It's "cheaper" to take the reputational hit and fight the claim in court. The more money at stake, the more the insurance provider is incentivized to avoid payout. They're not going to insure the assets unless they have reasonable certainty to make a profit by doing so, and they're not going to pay out a massive sum unless it's legally forced. Private insurance is always structured to be maximally profitable to the insurance provider.
The circumvention of multi-sig was a key factor in the massive Bitfinex hack of over $60m of bitcoin, which today still sits being slowly used and is worth over $3b. While Bitfinex used a qualified custodian Bitgo, which was and still is active and one of the industry leaders of custodians, and they set up 2 of 3 multi-sig wallets, the entire system was routed through Bitfinex, such that Bitfinex customers could initiate the withdrawals in a "hot" fashion. This feature was also a hit with the hacker. The multi-sig was fully circumvented.
Bitpay in 2015 was another example of a breach that stole 5,000 bitcoins. This happened not through the exploit of any system in Bitpay, but because the CEO of a company they worked with got their computer hacked and the hackers were able to request multiple bitcoin purchases, which Bitpay honoured because they came from the customer's computer legitimately. Impersonation is a very common tactic used by fraudsters, and methods get more extreme all the time.
A notable case in Canada was the Canadian Bitcoins exploit. Funds were stored on a server in a Rogers Data Center, and the attendee was successfully convinced to reboot the server "in safe mode" with a simple phone call, thus bypassing the extensive security and enabling the theft.
The very nature of custodians circumvents multi-sig. This is because custodians are not just having to secure the assets against some sort of physical breach but against any form of social engineering, modification of orders, fraudulent withdrawal attempts, etc... If the security practices of signatories in a multi-sig arrangement are such that the breach risk of one signatory is 1 in 100, the requirement of 3 independent signatures makes the risk of theft 1 in 1,000,000. Since hackers tend to exploit the weakest link, a comparable custodian has to make the entry and exit points of their platform 10,000 times more secure than one of those signatories to provide equivalent protection. And if the signatories beef up their security by only 10x, the risk is now 1 in 1,000,000,000. The custodian has to be 1,000,000 times more secure. The larger and more complex a system is, the more potential vulnerabilities exist in it, and the fewer people can understand how the system works when performing upgrades. Even if a system is completely secure today, one has to also consider how that system might evolve over time or work with different members.
By contrast, offline multi-signature solutions have an extremely solid record, and in the entire history of cryptocurrency exchange incidents which I've studied (listed here), there has only been one incident (796 exchange in 2015) involving an offline multi-signature wallet. It happened because the customer's bitcoin address was modified by hackers, and the amount that was stolen ($230k) was immediately covered by the exchange operators. Basically, the platform operators were tricked into sending a legitimate withdrawal request to the wrong address because hackers exploited their platform to change that address. Such an issue would not be prevented in any way by the use of a custodian, as that custodian has no oversight whatsoever to the exchange platform. It's practical for all exchange operators to test large withdrawal transactions as a general policy, regardless of what model is used, and general best practice is to diagnose and fix such an exploit as soon as it occurs.
False promises on the backing of funds played a huge role in the downfall of Quadriga, and it's been exposed over and over again (MyCoin, PlusToken, Bitsane, Bitmarket, EZBTC, IDAX). Even today, customers have extremely limited certainty on whether their funds in exchanges are actually being backed or how they're being backed. While this issue is not unique to cryptocurrency exchanges, the complexity of the technology and the lack of any regulation or standards makes problems more widespread, and there is no "central bank" to come to the rescue as in the 2008 financial crisis or during the great depression when "9,000 banks failed".
In addition to fraudulent operations, the industry is full of cases where operators have suffered breaches and not reported them. Most recently, Einstein was the largest case in Canada, where ongoing breaches and fraud were perpetrated against the platform for multiple years and nobody found out until the platform collapsed completely. While fraud and breaches suck to deal with, they suck even more when not dealt with. Lack of visibility played a role in the largest downfalls of Mt. Gox, Cryptsy, and Bitgrail. In some cases, platforms are alleged to have suffered a hack and keep operating without admitting it at all, such as CoinBene.
It surprises some to learn that a cryptographic solution has already existed since 2013, and gained widespread support in 2014 after Mt. Gox. Proof of Reserves is a full cryptographic proof that allows any customer using an exchange to have complete certainty that their crypto-assets are fully backed by the platform in real-time. This is accomplished by proving that assets exist on the blockchain, are spendable, and fully cover customer deposits. It does not prove safety of assets or backing of fiat assets.
If we didn't care about privacy at all, a platform could publish their wallet addresses, sign a partial transaction, and put the full list of customer information and balances out publicly. Customers can each check that they are on the list, that the balances are accurate, that the total adds up, and that it's backed and spendable on the blockchain. Platforms who exclude any customer take a risk because that customer can easily check and see they were excluded. So together with all customers checking, this forms a full proof of backing of all crypto assets.
However, obviously customers care about their private information being published. Therefore, a hash of the information can be provided instead. Hash is one-way encryption. The hash allows the customer to validate inclusion (by hashing their own known information), while anyone looking at the list of hashes cannot determine the private information of any other user. All other parts of the scheme remain fully intact. A model like this is in use on the exchange CoinFloor in the UK.
A Merkle tree can provide even greater privacy. Instead of a list of balances, the balances are arranged into a binary tree. A customer starts from their node, and works their way to the top of the tree. For example, they know they have 5 BTC, they plus 1 other customer hold 7 BTC, they plus 2-3 other customers hold 17 BTC, etc... until they reach the root where all the BTC are represented. Thus, there is no way to find the balances of other individual customers aside from one unidentified customer in this case.
Proposals such as this had the backing of leaders in the community including Nic Carter, Greg Maxwell, and Zak Wilcox. Substantial and significant effort started back in 2013, with massive popularity in 2014. But what became of that effort? Very little. Exchange operators continue to refuse to give visibility. Despite the fact this information can often be obtained through trivial blockchain analysis, no Canadian platform has ever provided any wallet addresses publicly. As described by the CEO of Newton "For us to implement some kind of realtime Proof of Reserves solution, which I'm not opposed to, it would have to ... Preserve our users' privacy, as well as our own. Some kind of zero-knowledge proof". Kraken describes here in more detail why they haven't implemented such a scheme. According to professor Eli Ben-Sasson, when he spoke with exchanges, none were interested in implementing Proof of Reserves.
And yet, Kraken's places their reasoning on a page called "Proof of Reserves". More recently, both BitBuy and ShakePay have released reports titled "Proof of Reserves and Security Audit". Both reports contain disclaimers against being audits. Both reports trust the customer list provided by the platform, leaving the open possibility that multiple large accounts could have been excluded from the process. Proof of Reserves is a blockchain validation where customers see the wallets on the blockchain. The report from Kraken is 5 years old, but they leave it described as though it was just done a few weeks ago. And look at what they expect customers to do for validation. When firms represent something being "Proof of Reserve" when it's not, this is like a farmer growing fruit with pesticides and selling it in a farmers market as organic produce - except that these are people's hard-earned life savings at risk here. Platforms are misrepresenting the level of visibility in place and deceiving the public by their misuse of this term. They haven't proven anything.
Fraud isn't a problem that is unique to cryptocurrency. Fraud happens all the time. Enron, WorldCom, Nortel, Bear Stearns, Wells Fargo, Moser Baer, Wirecard, Bre-X, and Nicola are just some of the cases where frauds became large enough to become a big deal (and there are so many countless others). These all happened on 100% reversible assets despite regulations being in place. In many of these cases, the problems happened due to the over-complexity of the financial instruments. For example, Enron had "complex financial statements [which] were confusing to shareholders and analysts", creating "off-balance-sheet vehicles, complex financing structures, and deals so bewildering that few people could understand them". In cryptocurrency, we are often combining complex financial products with complex technologies and verification processes. We are naïve if we think problems like this won't happen. It is awkward and uncomfortable for many people to admit that they don't know how something works. If we want "money of the people" to work, the solutions have to be simple enough that "the people" can understand them, not so confusing that financial professionals and technology experts struggle to use or understand them.
For those who question the extent to which an organization can fool their way into a security consultancy role, HB Gary should be a great example to look at. Prior to trying to out anonymous, HB Gary was being actively hired by multiple US government agencies and others in the private sector (with glowing testimonials). The published articles and hosted professional security conferences. One should also look at this list of data breaches from the past 2 years. Many of them are large corporations, government entities, and technology companies. These are the ones we know about. Undoubtedly, there are many more that we do not know about. If HB Gary hadn't been "outted" by anonymous, would we have known they were insecure? If the same breach had happened outside of the public spotlight, would it even have been reported? Or would HB Gary have just deleted the Twitter posts, brought their site back up, done a couple patches, and kept on operating as though nothing had happened?
In the case of Quadriga, the facts are clear. Despite past experience with platforms such as MapleChange in Canada and others around the world, no guidance or even the most basic of a framework was put in place by regulators. By not clarifying any sort of legal framework, regulators enabled a situation where a platform could be run by former criminal Mike Dhanini/Omar Patryn, and where funds could be held fully unchecked by one person. At the same time, the lack of regulation deterred legitimate entities from running competing platforms and Quadriga was granted a money services business license for multiple years of operation, which gave the firm the appearance of legitimacy. Regulators did little to protect Canadians despite Quadriga failing to file taxes from 2016 onward. The entire administrative team had resigned and this was public knowledge. Many people had suspicions of what was going on, including Ryan Mueller, who forwarded complaints to the authorities. These were ignored, giving Gerald Cotten the opportunity to escape without justice.
There are multiple issues with the SOC II model including the prohibitive cost (you have to find a third party accounting firm and the prices are not even listed publicly on any sites), the requirement of operating for a year (impossible for new platforms), and lack of any public visibility (SOC II are private reports that aren't shared outside the people in suits).
Securities frameworks are expensive. Sarbanes-Oxley is estimated to cost $5.1 million USD/yr for the average Fortune 500 company in the United States. Since "Fortune 500" represents the top 500 companies, that means well over $2.55 billion USD (~$3.4 billion CAD) is going to people in suits. Isn't the problem of trust and verification the exact problem that the blockchain is supposed to solve?
To use Quadriga as justification for why custodians or SOC II or other advanced schemes are needed for platforms is rather silly, when any framework or visibility at all, or even the most basic of storage policies, would have prevented the whole thing. It's just an embarrassment.
We are now seeing regulators take strong action. CoinSquare in Canada with multi-million dollar fines. BitMex from the US, criminal charges and arrests. OkEx, with full disregard of withdrawals and no communication. Who's next?
We have a unique window today where we can solve these problems, and not permanently destroy innovation with unreasonable expectations, but we need to act quickly. This is a unique historic time that will never come again.
How To End The Cryptocurrency Exchange "Wild West" Without Crippling Innovation
In case you haven't noticed the consultation paper, staff notice, and report on Quadriga, regulators are now clamping down on Canadian cryptocurrency exchanges. The OSC and other regulatory bodies are still interested in industry feedback. They have not put forward any official regulation yet. Below are some ideas/insights and a proposed framework.
Typical securities frameworks will cost Canadians millions of dollars (ie Sarbanes-Oxley estimated at $5m USD/yr per firm). Implementation costs of this proposal are significantly cheaper.
Canadians can maintain a diverse set of exchanges, multiple viable business models are still fully supported, and innovation is encouraged while keeping Canadians safe.
Many of you have limited time to read the full proposal, so here are the highlights:
Effective standards to prevent both internal and external theft. Exchange operators are trained and certified, and have a legal responsibility to users.
Regular Transparent Audits
Provides visibility to Canadians that their funds are fully backed on the exchange, while protecting privacy and sensitive platform information.
Establishment of basic insurance standards/strategy, to expand over time. Removing risk to exchange users of any hot wallet theft.
Background and Justifications
Cold Storage Custody/Management After reviewing close to 100 cases, all thefts tend to break down into more or less the same set of problems: • Funds stored online or in a smart contract, • Access controlled by one person or one system, • 51% attacks (rare), • Funds sent to the wrong address (also rare), or • Some combination of the above. For the first two cases, practical solutions exist and are widely implemented on exchanges already. Offline multi-signature solutions are already industry standard. No cases studied found an external theft or exit scam involving an offline multi-signature wallet implementation. Security can be further improved through minimum numbers of signatories, background checks, providing autonomy and legal protections to each signatory, establishing best practices, and a training/certification program. The last two transaction risks occur more rarely, and have never resulted in a loss affecting the actual users of the exchange. In all cases to date where operators made the mistake, they've been fully covered by the exchange platforms. • 51% attacks generally only occur on blockchains with less security. The most prominent cases have been Bitcoin Gold and Ethereum Classic. The simple solution is to enforce deposit limits and block delays such that a 51% attack is not cost-effective. • The risk of transactions to incorrect addresses can be eliminated by a simple test transaction policy on large transactions. By sending a small amount of funds prior to any large withdrawals/transfers as a standard practice, the accuracy of the wallet address can be validated. The proposal covers all loss cases and goes beyond, while avoiding significant additional costs, risks, and limitations which may be associated with other frameworks like SOC II. On The Subject of Third Party Custodians Many Canadian platforms are currently experimenting with third party custody. From the standpoint of the exchange operator, they can liberate themselves from some responsibility of custody, passing that off to someone else. For regulators, it puts crypto in similar categorization to oil, gold, and other commodities, with some common standards. Platform users would likely feel greater confidence if the custodian was a brand they recognized. If the custodian was knowledgeable and had a decent team that employed multi-sig, they could keep assets safe from internal theft. With the right protections in place, this could be a great solution for many exchanges, particularly those that lack the relevant experience or human resources for their own custody systems. However, this system is vulnerable to anyone able to impersonate the exchange operators. You may have a situation where different employees who don't know each other that well are interacting between different companies (both the custodian and all their customers which presumably isn't just one exchange). A case study of what can go wrong in this type of environment might be Bitpay, where the CEO was tricked out of 5000 bitcoins over 3 separate payments by a series of emails sent legitimately from a breached computer of another company CEO. It's also still vulnerable to the platform being compromised, as in the really large $70M Bitfinex hack, where the third party Bitgo held one key in a multi-sig wallet. The hacker simply authorized the withdrawal using the same credentials as Bitfinex (requesting Bitgo to sign multiple withdrawal transactions). This succeeded even with the use of multi-sig and two heavily security-focused companies, due to the lack of human oversight (basically, hot wallet). Of course, you can learn from these cases and improve the security, but so can hackers improve their deception and at the end of the day, both of these would have been stopped by the much simpler solution of a qualified team who knew each other and employed multi-sig with properly protected keys. It's pretty hard to beat a human being who knows the business and the typical customer behaviour (or even knows their customers personally) at spotting fraud, and the proposed multi-sig means any hacker has to get through the scrutiny of 3 (or more) separate people, all of whom would have proper training including historical case studies. There are strong arguments both for and against using use of third party custodians. The proposal sets mandatory minimum custody standards would apply regardless if the cold wallet signatories are exchange operators, independent custodians, or a mix of both. On The Subject Of Insurance ShakePay has taken the first steps into this new realm (congratulations). There is no question that crypto users could be better protected by the right insurance policies, and it certainly feels better to transact with insured platforms. The steps required to obtain insurance generally place attention in valuable security areas, and in this case included a review from CipherTrace. One of the key solutions in traditional finance comes from insurance from entities such as the CDIC. However, historically, there wasn't found any actual insurance payout to any cryptocurrency exchange, and there are notable cases where insurance has not paid. With Bitpay, for example, the insurance agent refused because the issue happened to the third party CEO's computer instead of anything to do with Bitpay itself. With the Youbit exchange in South Korea, their insurance claim was denied, and the exchange ultimately ended up instead going bankrupt with all user's funds lost. To quote Matt Johnson in the original Lloyd's article: “You can create an insurance policy that protects no one – you know there are so many caveats to the policy that it’s not super protective.” ShakePay's insurance was only reported to cover their cold storage, and “physical theft of the media where the private keys are held”. Physical theft has never, in the history of cryptocurrency exchange cases reviewed, been reported as the cause of loss. From the limited information of the article, ShakePay made it clear their funds are in the hands of a single US custodian, and at least part of their security strategy is to "decline to confirm the custodian’s name on the record". While this prevents scrutiny of the custodian, it's pretty silly to speculate that a reasonably competent hacking group couldn't determine who the custodian is. A far more common infiltration strategy historically would be social engineering, which has succeeded repeatedly. A hacker could trick their way into ShakePay's systems and request a fraudulent withdrawal, impersonate ShakePay and request the custodian to move funds, or socially engineer their way into the custodian to initiate the withdrawal of multiple accounts (a payout much larger than ShakePay) exploiting the standard procedures (for example, fraudulently initiating or override the wallet addresses of a real transfer). In each case, nothing was physically stolen and the loss is therefore not covered by insurance. In order for any insurance to be effective, clear policies have to be established about what needs to be covered. Anything short of that gives Canadians false confidence that they are protected when they aren't in any meaningful way. At this time, the third party insurance market does not appear to provide adequate options or coverage, and effort is necessary to standardize custody standards, which is a likely first step in ultimately setting up an insurance framework. A better solution compared to third party insurance providers might be for Canadian exchange operators to create their own collective insurance fund, or a specific federal organization similar to the CDIC. Such an organization would have a greater interest or obligation in paying out actual cases, and that would be it's purpose rather than maximizing it's own profit. This would be similar to the SAFU which Binance has launched, except it would cover multiple exchanges. There is little question whether the SAFU would pay out given a breach of Binance, and a similar argument could be made for a insurance fund managed by a collective of exchange operators or a government organization. While a third party insurance provider has the strong market incentive to provide the absolute minimum coverage and no market incentive to payout, an entity managed by exchange operators would have incentive to protect the reputation of exchange operators/the industry, and the government should have the interest of protecting Canadians. On The Subject of Fractional Reserve There is a long history of fractional reserve failures, from the first banks in ancient times, through the great depression (where hundreds of fractional reserve banks failed), right through to the 2008 banking collapse referenced in the first bitcoin block. The fractional reserve system allows banks to multiply the money supply far beyond the actual cash (or other assets) in existence, backed only by a system of debt obligations of others. Safely supporting a fractional reserve system is a topic of far greater complexity than can be addressed by a simple policy, and when it comes to cryptocurrency, there is presently no entity reasonably able to bail anyone out in the event of failure. Therefore, this framework is addressed around entities that aim to maintain 100% backing of funds. There may be some firms that desire but have failed to maintain 100% backing. In this case, there are multiple solutions, including outside investment, merging with other exchanges, or enforcing a gradual restoration plan. All of these solutions are typically far better than shutting down the exchange, and there are multiple cases where they've been used successfully in the past. Proof of Reserves/Transparency/Accountability Canadians need to have visibility into the backing on an ongoing basis. The best solution for crypto-assets is a Proof of Reserve. Such ideas go back all the way to 2013, before even Mt. Gox. However, no Canadian exchange has yet implemented such a system, and only a few international exchanges (CoinFloor in the UK being an example) have. Many firms like Kraken, BitBuy, and now ShakePay use the Proof of Reserve term to refer to lesser proofs which do not actually cryptographically prove the full backing of all user assets on the blockchain. In order for a Proof of Reserve to be effective, it must actually be a complete proof, and it needs to be understood by the public that is expected to use it. Many firms have expressed reservations about the level of transparency required in a complete Proof of Reserve (for example Kraken here). While a complete Proof of Reserves should be encouraged, and there are some solutions in the works (ie TxQuick), this is unlikely to be suitable universally for all exchange operators and users. Given the limitations, and that firms also manage fiat assets, a more traditional audit process makes more sense. Some Canadian exchanges (CoinSquare, CoinBerry) have already subjected themselves to annual audits. However, these results are not presently shared publicly, and there is no guarantee over the process including all user assets or the integrity and independence of the auditor. The auditor has been typically not known, and in some cases, the identity of the auditor is protected by a NDA. Only in one case (BitBuy) was an actual report generated and publicly shared. There has been no attempt made to validate that user accounts provided during these audits have been complete or accurate. A fraudulent fractional exchange, or one which had suffered a breach they were unwilling to publicly accept (see CoinBene), could easily maintain a second set of books for auditors or simply exclude key accounts to pass an individual audit. The proposed solution would see a reporting standard which includes at a minimum - percentage of backing for each asset relative to account balances and the nature of how those assets are stored, with ownership proven by the auditor. The auditor would also publicly provide a "hash list", which they independently generate from the accounts provided by the exchange. Every exchange user can then check their information against this public "hash list". A hash is a one-way form of encryption, which fully protects the private information, yet allows anyone who knows that information already to validate that it was included. Less experienced users can take advantage of public tools to calculate the hash from their information (provided by the exchange), and thus have certainty that the auditor received their full balance information. Easy instructions can be provided. Auditors should be impartial, their identities and process public, and they should be rotated so that the same auditor is never used twice in a row. Balancing the cost of auditing against the needs for regular updates, a 6 month cycle likely makes the most sense. Hot Wallet Management The best solution for hot wallets is not to use them. CoinBerry reportedly uses multi-sig on all withdrawals, and Bitmex is an international example known for their structure devoid of hot wallets. However, many platforms and customers desire fast withdrawal processes, and human validation has a cost of time and delay in this process. A model of self-insurance or separate funds for hot wallets may be used in these cases. Under this model, a platform still has 100% of their client balance in cold storage and holds additional funds in hot wallets for quick withdrawal. Thus, the risk of those hot wallets is 100% on exchange operators and not affecting the exchange users. Since most platforms typically only have 1%-5% in hot wallets at any given time, it shouldn't be unreasonable to build/maintain these additional reserves over time using exchange fees or additional investment. Larger withdrawals would still be handled at regular intervals from the cold storage. Hot wallet risks have historically posed a large risk and there is no established standard to guarantee secure hot wallets. When the government of South Korea dispatched security inspections to multiple exchanges, the results were still that 3 of them got hacked after the inspections. If standards develop such that an organization in the market is willing to insure the hot wallets, this could provide an acceptable alternative. Another option may be for multiple exchange operators to pool funds aside for a hot wallet insurance fund. Comprehensive coverage standards must be established and maintained for all hot wallet balances to make sure Canadians are adequately protected.
Current Draft Proposal
(1) Proper multi-signature cold wallet storage. (a) Each private key is the personal and legal responsibility of one person - the “signatory”. Signatories have special rights and responsibilities to protect user assets. Signatories are trained and certified through a course covering (1) past hacking and fraud cases, (2) proper and secure key generation, and (3) proper safekeeping of private keys. All private keys must be generated and stored 100% offline by the signatory. If even one private keys is ever breached or suspected to be breached, the wallet must be regenerated and all funds relocated to a new wallet. (b) All signatories must be separate background-checked individuals free of past criminal conviction. Canadians should have a right to know who holds their funds. All signing of transactions must take place with all signatories on Canadian soil or on the soil of a country with a solid legal system which agrees to uphold and support these rules (from an established white-list of countries which expands over time). (c) 3-5 independent signatures are required for any withdrawal. There must be 1-3 spare signatories, and a maximum of 7 total signatories. The following are all valid combinations: 3of4, 3of5, 3of6, 4of5, 4of6, 4of7, 5of6, or 5of7. (d) A security audit should be conducted to validate the cold wallet is set up correctly and provide any additional pertinent information. The primary purpose is to ensure that all signatories are acting independently and using best practices for private key storage. A report summarizing all steps taken and who did the audit will be made public. Canadians must be able to validate the right measures are in place to protect their funds. (e) There is a simple approval process if signatories wish to visit any country outside Canada, with a potential whitelist of exempt countries. At most 2 signatories can be outside of aligned jurisdiction at any given time. All exchanges would be required to keep a compliant cold wallet for Canadian funds and have a Canadian office if they wish to serve Canadian customers. (2) Regular and transparent solvency audits. (a) An audit must be conducted at founding, after 3 months of operation, and at least once every 6 months to compare customer balances against all stored cryptocurrency and fiat balances. The auditor must be known, independent, and never the same twice in a row. (b) An audit report will be published featuring the steps conducted in a readable format. This should be made available to all Canadians on the exchange website and on a government website. The report must include what percentage of each customer asset is backed on the exchange, and how those funds are stored. (c) The auditor will independently produce a hash of each customer's identifying information and balance as they perform the audit. This will be made publicly available on the exchange and government website, along with simplified instructions that each customer can use to verify that their balance was included in the audit process. (d) The audit needs to include a proof of ownership for any cryptocurrency wallets included. A satoshi test (spending a small amount) or partially signed transaction both qualify. (e) Any platform without 100% reserves should be assessed on a regular basis by a government or industry watchdog. This entity should work to prevent any further drop, support any private investor to come in, or facilitate a merger so that 100% backing can be obtained as soon as possible. (3) Protections for hot wallets and transactions. (a) A standardized list of approved coins and procedures will be established to constitute valid cold storage wallets. Where a multi-sig process is not natively available, efforts will be undertaken to establish a suitable and stable smart contract standard. This list will be expanded and improved over time. Coins and procedures not on the list are considered hot wallets. (b) Hot wallets can be backed by additional funds in cold storage or an acceptable third-party insurance provider with a comprehensive coverage policy. (c) Exchanges are required to cover the full balance of all user funds as denominated in the same currency, or double the balance as denominated in bitcoin or CAD using an established trading rate. If the balance is ever insufficient due to market movements, the firm must rectify this within 24 hours by moving assets to cold storage or increasing insurance coverage. (d) Any large transactions (above a set threshold) from cold storage to any new wallet addresses (not previously transacted with) must be tested with a smaller transaction first. Deposits of cryptocurrency must be limited to prevent economic 51% attacks. Any issues are to be covered by the exchange. (e) Exchange platforms must provide suitable authentication for users, including making available approved forms of two-factor authentication. SMS-based authentication is not to be supported. Withdrawals must be blocked for 48 hours in the event of any account password change. Disputes on the negligence of exchanges should be governed by case law.
Continued review of existing OSC feedback is still underway. More feedback and opinions on the framework and ideas as presented here are extremely valuable. The above is a draft and not finalized. The process of further developing and bringing a suitable framework to protect Canadians will require the support of exchange operators, legal experts, and many others in the community. The costs of not doing such are tremendous. A large and convoluted framework, one based on flawed ideas or implementation, or one which fails to properly safeguard Canadians is not just extremely expensive and risky for all Canadians, severely limiting to the credibility and reputation of the industry, but an existential risk to many exchanges. The responsibility falls to all of us to provide our insight and make our opinions heard on this critical matter. Please take the time to give your thoughts.
Hàng triệu người mất tích sau sự sụp đổ của sàn giao dịch Wex
Một lập trình viên người Nga – người có liên quan đến sự sụp đổ của một sàn giao dịch lớn – cho biết mình đã bị lừa mất toàn bộ tài sản bởi những kẻ tự nhận là đặc vụ FSB. 📷 Alexei Bilyuchenko là nhân vật chủ chốt của Wex, đã ngừng giao dịch vào năm 2018, khiến khách hàng không thể tiếp cận các khoản đầu tư với tổng trị giá gần nửa tỷ đô la Mỹ. Nhiều người đã cố gắng hiểu về những mặt trái của giao dịch tiền điện tử Nga, đồng thời tìm ra dấu vết của số tiền đó. Câu chuyện đó rất giống với drama McMafia, bao gồm một loạt các nhân vật đáng gờm như các chuyên viên máy tính, đặc vụ FBI, một nhà tài phiệt liên quan đến cuộc chiến ở Ukraine.Xem thêm: ltc là gì Hai người bạn bị dồn vào chân tường Câu chuyện bắt đầu tại thành phố Novosibirsk của Nga vào tháng 8 năm 2017, nơi Alexei Bilyuchenko, cựu giám đốc IT của một chuỗi cửa hàng nội thất, bị bắt trong kỳ nghỉ ở Hy Lạp. 6 năm trước, ông và đối tác kinh doanh Alexander Vinnik, một chuyên gia chuyển tiền điện tử, đã gặp nhau và quyết định tham gia trade coin. Alexander Vinnik và Alexei Bilyuchenko đều rất nhút nhát nhưng lại có niềm đam mê đặc biệt với máy tính, vì vậy, cả 2 đã quyết định thiết lập một sàn giao dịch khét tiếng có tên BTC-e. Cũng giống với các sàn giao dịch khác, BTC-e mang đến cho các nhà đầu tư cơ hội sử dụng tiền thật để mua tiền ảo. Điểm khác biệt giữa sàn giao dịch BTC-e và các sàn giao dịch khác ở châu Âu, Mỹ là BTC-e không yêu cầu ID khách hàng, không lôi kéo các nhà đầu tư hợp pháp, cung cấp cho mạng lưới tội phạm cách rửa tiền. Khách hàng đổ xô đầu tư vào BTC-e. Theo Global Witness, vào năm 2016, nó đã trở thành sàn giao dịch lớn thứ ba trên thế giới. Hai đối tác luôn liên lạc online và họ chỉ gặp nhau vào năm 2014 khi giao dịch bitcoin hàng ngày đạt 2 triệu đô la. Năm 2016, con số này là 10 triệu đô la. Để ăn mừng, họ đã cùng nhau tổ chức một bữa tiệc tại Moscow. Vào tháng 7 năm 2017, họ cùng nhau đi nghỉ ở Hy Lạp mà không hề biết rằng các đặc vụ liên bang Hoa Kỳ cũng có mặt trong chuyến đi đó để điều tra về hoạt động rửa tiền của họ. FBI nghi ngờ BTC-e đã nhúng tay vào vụ hack sàn giao dịch Mt Gox. Các chuyên gia về tội phạm mạng cũng cho rằng vụ việc này có liên quan đến nhóm hacker bí ẩn người Nga, Fancy Bears. Alexander Vinnik bị bắt và cảnh sát Hy Lạp đã giam giữ ông ngay trên bãi biển, trước sự chứng kiến của vợ con ông. Mẹ Vinnik đã gọi cho Alexei Bilyuchenko đang ở một khu nghỉ mát khác. Trong cơn hoảng loạn, Bilyuchenko đã đập vỡ máy tính xách tay của mình, ném xuống biển và nhảy lên chuyến bay tới Moscow.Xem thêm: binance là gì Nhà tỷ phú có quan hệ với Kremlin Trở về nhà ở thành phố Novosibirsk, Bilyuchenko quyết định phải lấy lại khoản lỗ bằng cách thiết lập một sàn giao dịch Wex. FBI đã niêm phong trang web của BTC-e nhưng Bilyuchenko vẫn có nhiều server dự phòng và thông qua Wex, ông có thể trả lại các khoản đầu tư cho một số khách hàng BTC-e. Ở giai đoạn này, theo những gì đã nói với cảnh sát, Alexei Bilyuchenko cần một người chống lưng, ủng hộ Wex. Và dường như, Konstantin Malofeyev chính là sự lựa chọn tốt nhất. Ông là một tỷ phú tại Moscow, có mối quan hệ chặt chẽ với cả Kremlin lẫn Chính thống giáo Nga. Malofeyev hiện đang chịu lệnh trừng phạt của Mỹ và EU vì cáo buộc liên kết với các chiến binh nổi loạn ở Đông Ukraine. Trong các tuyên bố của cảnh sát, Alexei Bilyuchenko cho biết ông được mời đến Moscow nhiều lần để gặp Malofeyev trong các văn phòng tại một khu mua sắm cao cấp. Cuộc trò chuyện của họ đều xoay quanh vấn đề Wex đã tạo ra bao nhiêu tiền, điều gì xảy ra với số tiền đó khi FBI bắt đầu vào cuộc. “Trong vài tháng qua, Malofeyev yêu cầu tôi nói cho anh ta biết số dư tiền điện tử Wex”, Bilyuchencko nói với cảnh sát. Ông Malofeyev phủ nhận mọi mối quan hệ với Bilyuchenko hoặc Wex. Những người đàn ông “từ dịch vụ bảo mật” là ai? Vào mùa hè 2018, giao dịch trên Wex đã chậm lại và đến cuối năm, nó đã dừng hoàn toàn. Tiền kỹ thuật số trị giá 450 triệu đô la không cánh mà bay. Nhiều khách hàng đã rất tức giận, yêu cầu hoàn tiền ngay lập tức. Một người đã đệ đơn khiếu nại lên cảnh sát ở khu vực Chuvashiya của Nga. Alexei Bilyuchenko được triệu tập và yêu cầu làm nhân chứng, kể chi tiết về vụ việc. Ông cho biết mình đã thực sự mất quyền kiểm soát ở Wex vào mùa xuân năm 2018, vài tháng trước khi nó chính thức sụp đổ. Trong một cuộc họp tại văn phòng Moscow của Konstantin Malofeyev, ông được giới thiệu tới một số người tự nhận mình là đặc vụ FSB. Họ đưa ông đến một tòa nhà được sử dụng bởi FSB, cách Nhà hát Bolshoi không xa. Họ hỏi ông về Wex và sau đó đưa ông đến khách sạn Lotte sang trọng gần Bộ ngoại giao Nga, dưới sự giám sát nghiêm ngặt. Sáng hôm sau, ông được đưa về văn phòng của Malofeyev, họ đề nghị ông chuyển tiền từ các quỹ do Wex hold sang “quỹ FSB” và ông đã đồng ý. Trong chuyến đi tới Moscow, ông đã chuyển mọi thứ theo yêu cầu. Bilyuchenko trở về nhà ở thành phố Novosibirsk khi trời đã sáng. Ông tuyên bố mình là nạn nhân của một vụ scam và thay vì chuyển tiền vào kho bạc nhà nước, ông đã giao nó cho cộng sự của Malofeyev. Sau khi kể câu chuyện đó với cảnh sát, người ta không còn thấy bóng dáng của Bilyuchenko nữa. Nhân viên bảo vệ tư nhân hiện đang bảo vệ nhà của ông và ông không muốn nói bất cứ chuyện gì về Wex. Vụ đánh bom lừa đảo và hàng triệu người mất tích Vậy những lời nói của Alexei Bilyuchenko là thật hay giả? Alexander Terentiev, người đứng đầu nhóm chiến dịch các nhà đầu tư lừa đảo, nói rằng ông không tin câu chuyện đó, nhưng những người khác dường như vẫn tin. Kể từ cuối tháng 11, các tòa án, tòa nhà công cộng, ga tàu điện ngầm và trung tâm mua sắm ở Moscow và St Petersburg bị chi phối bởi các vụ đánh bom gần như hàng ngày. Theo các báo cáo trên phương tiện truyền thông Nga, có một số cảnh báo được gửi qua email bao gồm các tài liệu liên quan đến hàng triệu người mất tích của Wex và liên quan đến Malofeyev. Một tuyên bố được đưa ra qua kênh truyền hình Tsargrad của Malofeyev cho rằng các vụ đánh bom là một phần của “chiến dịch làm mất uy tín” chống lại ông. “Cả Konstantin Malofeyev và các công ty của ông đều không liên quan gì đến việc đánh cắp Bitcoin, sàn giao dịch Wex hoặc việc quản lý của nó,” họ nói. Trong khi đó, tại Hy Lạp, 2 năm sau khi bị bắt giữ trên bãi biển, đối tác kinh doanh cũ của Alexei Bilyuchenko, Alexander Vinnik vẫn đang ngồi tù. Hoa Kỳ, Nga và Pháp đều đang tìm cách dẫn độ ông. Trong 2 năm nay, ông không được gặp vợ mình và giờ đây còn gặp phải vấn đề về sức khỏe: khối u não. Luật sư của ông, Timofei Musatov nói rằng cựu triệu phú bitcoin đã tuyệt thực từ lâu, tình trạng hiện tại của Vinnik rất giống với mình trước đây. Nguồn: Tapchibitcoin.vn
Best Cryptocurrency Exchanges for Beginners Before we get into exchanges, let’s refresh our minds about what cryptocurrency is. The concept behind cryptocurrencies is relatively simple, while the math and technology are not. Essentially, a cryptocurrency is a virtual or digital currency that utilizes cryptography as a means for protection and security. Cryptography is also used to regulate the creation of additional units, so as to not drive the overall digital currency market wild. One of the greatest appeals of cryptocurrencies is that they are not regulated by any government agencies. The most popular digital asset is the bitcoin, followed by ethereum.
What Are Cryptocurrency Exchanges?
Cryptocurrencies can be traded through cryptocurrency exchanges. These cryptocurrency exchanges are platforms through which you can purchase or sell digital currencies for dollars, euros, and pounds, as well as other digital assets. For example, you can sell bitcoins and purchase dollars with the sold bitcoins, or you could exchange bitcoins for ether. These exchanges are a vital part of the virtual currency expansion rate. There are private exchanges, which are exclusive and operate by invite only, as well as those available for the public. Local exchanges also exist. Some are easier to use than others are; certain exchanges are so flexible that digital assets can be traded directly through the built-in chat features of specific popular messengers, like Telegram.
What to Consider When Picking the Best Cryptocurrency Exchanges
Here are a few things you will want to consider before picking the best cryptocurrency exchange suited for your trading and speculative needs. Fees – Almost all exchanges charge fees for you to do business on their platforms. Make sure that when you are signing up or committing yourself to a specific exchange that you know everything about its fees. Verification Requirements and Security – These are vital to understand before starting out on an exchange. Most exchanges require some sort of identity verification in the form of a passport, driver’s license, proof of residence, or other similar document before joining. The more complex the verification process, the safer the exchange platform. Exchange Rates – Exchange rates are also important, as you don’t want to join a cryptocurrency exchange that charges draconian fees for transactions and exchanges. That just wouldn’t be fair to you or financially savvy. Reputation – The best cryptocurrency exchanges always have ups and downs. However, the general opinion of the top ones is positive. The best exchanges have a solid reputation and are well trusted by traders. Region – It’s also important to find an exchange that supports your geographic region. Some exchanges may support all of the countries in South America, while not supporting any of the countries in Asia, and vice versa. If you are living in Russia, for example, make sure you pick the best exchange platform that supports your region. Now, let’s take a look at some of the best cryptocurrency exchanges out there.
Something which is important to bare in mind when choosing a cryptocurrency exchange to make your trades and purchases on is their security measures. It is well-known that many exchanges have been hacked in the past, most notably the Mt Gox exchange, which people are still feeling the fall-out from ever since. You should know that the your funds or coins on an exchange or not really yours, unless you own the private keys to the wallet of your coins you are relying on someone else to be custodian of your funds. Luckily there are some basic measures you can take when using an exchange. The most important is to never store more there than you are willing to lose, if you have a significant balance, you should withdraw it back to your own wallet and for extra security, use a Hardware wallet to secure these funds. Exchanges should be used for quick purchases of your desired cryptocurrency or for trading an amount you are happy with. They should never be used as your primary wallet, that is not their intended function. Another important step to take is to use all the security options available on the site, make sure that two-factor authentication (2FA) is setup correctly and you use an app like Authy or Google authenticator. Do not use the mobile phone option which texts you a code, this is not safe as their have been a number of high-profile hacks involving sim-swaps which allow a would-be hacker to take over your phone number and then gain access to your account.
Coinbase is one of the, if not the, most trusted cryptocurrency exchange platforms in the world. It is also the largest digital asset exchange platform in the world. The platform supports more than 32 countries and has more than 4 million active users. Traders are allowed to acquire and sell bitcoins using their bank account, credit card, PayPal, and other payment methods, as well. In order to begin trading on Coinbase, you will have to set up an e-wallet for buying and selling cryptocurrencies. Furthermore, users have to be able to link a valid bank account in order to purchase bitcoins. https://preview.redd.it/dauw912k1ze31.jpg?width=808&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=25f1df9624cea90cc1359160ac7fd8b133eba1e7 Currently, fully verified U.S. residents are only allowed to hold up to 50,000 bitcoins per day. Overall, Coinbase has a great reputation and is highly respected in the trader community. Most transactions through Coinbase only have a 1 percent transaction fee in addition to any fees that your selected payment method may carry. As with CEX, you can only purchase a few currencies: Bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin. You would then need to use Changelly to convert these to other crypto currencies. Another benefit of registering with Coinbase is the fact you are then able to use the Coinbase Pro exchange which is owed by the same company. Coinbase Pro allows to more advanced trading features such as margin trading and Market, Limit, & Stop Orders. Coinbase Pro also has lower fees than Coinbase. Read our full Coinbase Review here to learn more. We have also conducted a thourough look at Coinbase’s security measures here. Visit Coinbase
Binance is a newer exchange but one we have grown to love, it has a wide range of cryptocurrencies available to purchase and trade and has a basic and advanced view which you can switch between easily. Their fees are very reasonable and they allow you to register and trade immediately without having to verify your account. You will then be able to make withdrawals of up to 2 BTC per day, if you want to withdraw higher amounts you will then need to upload your photo ID and a “selfie” photo. https://preview.redd.it/01yawgfl1ze31.jpg?width=808&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=28c23efac9899a48ce174693ed30a6dba08d94db The public opinion of Binance at this time is very high with people praising the speed of the site, ease of use and cheap fees. For more details you can read our complete review of Binance here. Visit Binance
KuCoin is a new but very exciting exchange based in South Korea. They operate similarly to Binance in the fact that they list new altcoins much quicker than other exchanges so it’s a good place to purchase cryptocurrencies shortly after their ICO meaning there is a greater opportunity to profit by getting in early. The interface is very clean and modern and much easier to operate than other older and more clunky exchanges. They also offer their own token KCS which allows all holders to receive a daily share of profits of the platform, this is a great token to hold as you are paid in the many different currencies that the site allows people to trade in. https://preview.redd.it/qav0qx9m1ze31.jpg?width=808&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=2635f1242f7474a56f21fe123c0ad1c7718a8ee8 Visit Kucoin
LocalBitcoins is a peer-to-peer cryptocurrency exchange used in most big cities around the world. The general principle behind this exchange is that you can find people who live in your area or city and meet with them in person to conduct an exchange. The platform also offers options for purchasing digital currencies via PayPal, Square, direct-to-bank transfers, and many other payment-processing methods. The platform charges a small fee of 1 percent per transaction in cases where sellers apply their own exchange rate. https://preview.redd.it/p3igqf3n1ze31.jpg?width=808&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=2eae56e0e8dbe452e1d327f24ecc96642de2bc70 Similar to the way Uber passengers and drivers are rated, LocalBitcoins applies a rating to each trader that uses the platform, and this rating is publicly displayed. Trades first have to undergo an escrow process to ensure that nobody will be scammed by using the platform. Once everything is verified, the funds and cryptocurrencies transfer between traders. LocalBitcoins takes a commission of 1 percent from sellers. W Take a look at our LocalBitcoins Review to find out more. Visit LocalBitcoins
CoinMama is a large bitcoin brokerage that allows users to acquire coins with their debit or credit cards. The platform issues small fees for transactions. To make up for this, however, the limits for how many bitcoins a user can buy are much higher in comparison to Coinbase. Users can acquire up to $5,000 of coins per day or up to $20,000 per month. All users need to do to use CoinMama is to set up an account, log in, and navigate to the profile page section to fill in personal information. https://preview.redd.it/rafwelwn1ze31.jpg?width=808&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=e1ee6986f8f04ebfb40f0110fabab246203c2c66 Following this, users will be introduced to a page that allows them to select how many bitcoins they would like to purchase, and once a fitting amount has been selected, users will be allowed to add their preferred payment methods and bitcoin addresses. Users will also be required to verify their phone number and email address. CoinMama does not require most users to upload their government-issued ID. After completing the aforementioned steps and passing the verification process, users will be able to acquire bitcoins through CoinMama. Read our complete CoinMama Review here. Visit CoinMama
CEX.IO is one of the oldest cryptocurrency exchanges in the world. However, despite being referred to as a cryptocurrency exchange, CEX.IO can only be used with bitcoins and ethereum which are the main two trading pairs for alt-coins. If you want to purchase other currencies, you can use CEX and then a service named Changelly to convert them to many other cryptos. The platform is registered with the FINCEN and applies KYC and AML principles. In other words, users have to completely verify their identity before they can get involved in any trades with this platform. Currently, the platform supports purchases with credit cards, wire transfers, or SEPA transfers for European residents. https://preview.redd.it/dvrr5yto1ze31.jpg?width=808&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=46fa36889957b7742bf1eb1f682c6c8c31c1f164 Once you enter a trade, the platform automatically calculates the price of the transaction and freezes the exchange rate for 120 seconds, which is quite convenient. However, many users note that there are occasional hidden fees. CEX.IO has a flat fee of 7 percent for anything involving fiat currencies. For example, if you acquire $100 in bitcoins, you will only receive $93 in coins. Read our indepth CEX Review here to learn more. Visit CEX
Bittrex is well established and highly regarded crypto trading platform, with many coins and tokens to choose from. The interface is not for complete beginner’s but you should be able to find your way around after a little while. https://preview.redd.it/xa00ycmp1ze31.jpg?width=808&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=e42aedf2b51ff01005847ec0867c69ba94e8a7dd Read our full review of Bittrex here. Unsurprisingly, Bittrex’s most popular trading pairs are BTC and ETH. It must be noted that the exchange currently does not offer any kind of fiat-to-crypto pairs, e.g. with U.S. dollars, euros, or British pounds). One thing investors can do is buy USDT (Tether tokens) via wired bank transfers in order to use USDT for crypto-to-crypto exchanges. However, you’ll need to be fully verified and willing to slap down at least $10,000 USD for Bittrex to even consider the transfer. And we here at Blockonomi don’t remind this approach anyways; there’s been a lot of controversy surrounding Tether lately, and it’s best just to stay away for now until further developments actualize. Visit Bittrex
Picking the ideal cryptocurrency exchange platform for your specific needs may be a difficult and time-consuming process. Remember to pay attention to the fees, reputation, security, verification processes, and geographical services an exchange platform has to offer. Remember that you are not limited to using only one cryptocurrency exchange. Hopefully, the information provided will assist you in deciding which exchange platform to use. We have selected 6 Cryptocurrency exchanges here which are trustworthy and easy to use for beginners to get started building their investment portfolios. Original article link: https://blockonomi.com/cryptocurrency-exchanges/
A Beginners Guide to Bitcoin, Blockchain & Cryptocurrency
As cryptocurrency, and blockchain technology become more abundant throughout our society, it’s important to understand the inner workings of this technology, especially if you plan to use cryptocurrency as an investment vehicle. If you’re new to the crypto-sphere, learning about Bitcoin makes it much easier to understand other cryptocurrencies as many other altcoins' technologies are borrowed directly from Bitcoin. Bitcoin is one of those things that you look into only to discover you have more questions than answers, and right as you’re starting to wrap your head around the technology; you discover the fact that Bitcoin has six other variants (forks), the amount of politics at hand, or that there are over a thousand different cryptocurrencies just as complex if not even more complex than Bitcoin. We are currently in the infancy of blockchain technology and the effects of this technology will be as profound as the internet. This isn’t something that’s just going to fade away into history as you may have been led to believe. I believe this is something that will become an integral part of our society, eventually embedded within our technology. If you’re a crypto-newbie, be glad that you're relatively early to the industry. I hope this post will put you on the fast-track to understanding Bitcoin, blockchain, and how a large percentage of cryptocurrencies work.
Altcoin: Short for alternative coin. There are over 1,000 different cryptocurrencies. You’re probably most familiar with Bitcoin. Anything that isn’t Bitcoin is generally referred to as an altcoin. HODL: Misspelling of hold. Dank meme accidentally started by this dude. Hodlers are much more interested in long term gains rather than playing the risky game of trying to time the market. TO THE MOON: When a cryptocurrency’s price rapidly increases. A major price spike of over 1,000% can look like it’s blasting off to the moon. Just be sure you’re wearing your seatbelt when it comes crashing down. FUD: Fear. Uncertainty. Doubt. FOMO: Fear of missing out. Bull Run: Financial term used to describe a rising market. Bear Run: Financial term used to describe a falling market.
What Is Bitcoin?
Bitcoin (BTC) is a decentralized digital currency that uses cryptography to secure and ensure validity of transactions within the network. Hence the term crypto-currency. Decentralization is a key aspect of Bitcoin. There is no CEO of Bitcoin or central authoritative government in control of the currency. The currency is ran and operated by the people, for the people. One of the main development teams behind Bitcoin is blockstream. Bitcoin is a product of blockchain technology. Blockchain is what allows for the security and decentralization of Bitcoin. To understand Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, you must understand to some degree, blockchain. This can get extremely technical the further down the rabbit hole you go, and because this is technically a beginners guide, I’m going to try and simplify to the best of my ability and provide resources for further technical reading.
A Brief History
Bitcoin was created by Satoshi Nakamoto. The identity of Nakamoto is unknown. The idea of Bitcoin was first introduced in 2008 when Nakamoto released the Bitcoin white paper - Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System. Later, in January 2009, Nakamoto announced the Bitcoin software and the Bitcoin network officially began. I should also mention that the smallest unit of a Bitcoin is called a Satoshi. 1 BTC = 100,000,000 Satoshis. When purchasing Bitcoin, you don’t actually need to purchase an entire coin. Bitcoin is divisible, so you can purchase any amount greater than 1 Satoshi (0.00000001 BTC).
What Is Blockchain?
Blockchain is a distributed ledger, a distributed collection of accounts. What is being accounted for depends on the use-case of the blockchain itself. In the case of Bitcoin, what is being accounted for is financial transactions. The first block in a blockchain is referred to as the genesis block. A block is an aggregate of data. Blocks are also discovered through a process known as mining (more on this later). Each block is cryptographically signed by the previous block in the chain and visualizing this would look something akin to a chain of blocks, hence the term, blockchain. For more information regarding blockchain I’ve provided more resouces below:
Bitcoin mining is one solution to the double spend problem. Bitcoin mining is how transactions are placed into blocks and added onto the blockchain. This is done to ensure proof of work, where computational power is staked in order to solve what is essentially a puzzle. If you solve the puzzle correctly, you are rewarded Bitcoin in the form of transaction fees, and the predetermined block reward. The Bitcoin given during a block reward is also the only way new Bitcoin can be introduced into the economy. With a halving event occurring roughly every 4 years, it is estimated that the last Bitcoin block will be mined in the year 2,140. (See What is Block Reward below for more info). Mining is one of those aspects of Bitcoin that can get extremely technical and more complicated the further down the rabbit hole you go. An entire website could be created (and many have) dedicated solely to information regarding Bitcoin mining. The small paragraph above is meant to briefly expose you to the function of mining and the role it plays within the ecosystem. It doesn’t even scratch the surface regarding the topic.
How do you Purchase Bitcoin?
The most popular way to purchase Bitcoin through is through an online exchange where you trade fiat (your national currency) for Bitcoin. Popular exchanges include:
There’s tons of different exchanges. Just make sure you find one that supports your national currency.
Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies are EXTREMELY volatile. Swings of 30% or more within a few days is not unheard of. Understand that there is always inherent risks with any investment. Cryptocurrencies especially. Only invest what you’re willing to lose.
Transaction & Network Fees
Transacting on the Bitcoin network is not free. Every purchase or transfer of Bitcoin will cost X amount of BTC depending on how congested the network is. These fees are given to miners as apart of the block reward. Late 2017 when Bitcoin got up to $20,000USD, the average network fee was ~$50. Currently, at the time of writing this, the average network fee is $1.46. This data is available in real-time on BitInfoCharts.
In this new era of money, there is no central bank or government you can go to in need of assistance. This means the responsibility of your money falls 100% into your hands. That being said, the security regarding your cryptocurrency should be impeccable. The anonymity provided by cryptocurrencies alone makes you a valuable target to hackers and scammers. Below I’ve detailed out best practices regarding securing your cryptocurrency.
Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)
Two-factor authentication is a second way of authenticating your identity upon signing in to an account. Most cryptocurrency related software/websites will offer or require some form of 2FA. Upon creation of any crypto-related account find the Security section and enable 2FA.
The most basic form of 2FA which you are probably most familiar with. This form of authentication sends a text message to your smartphone with a special code that will allow access to your account upon entry. Note that this is not the safest form of 2FA as you may still be vulnerable to what is known as a SIM swap attack. SIM swapping is a social engineering method in which an attacker will call up your phone carrier, impersonating you, in attempt to re-activate your SIM card on his/her device. Once the attacker has access to your SIM card he/she now has access to your text messages which can then be used to access your online accounts. You can prevent this by using an authenticator such as Google Authenticator.
The use of an authenticator is the safest form of 2FA. An authenticator is installed on a seperate device and enabling it requires you input an ever changing six digit code in order to access your account. I recommend using Google Authenticator. If a website has the option to enable an authenticator, it will give you a QR code and secret key. Use Google Authenticator to scan the QR code. The secret key consists of a random string of numbers and letters. Write this down on a seperate sheet of paper and do not store it on a digital device. Once Google Authenticator has been enabled, every time you sign into your account, you will have to input a six-digit code that looks similar to this. If you happen to lose or damage the device you have Google Authenticator installed on, you will be locked out of your account UNLESS you have access to the secret key (which you should have written down).
A wallet is what you store Bitcoin and cryptocurrency on. I’ll provide resources on the different type of wallets later but I want to emphasize the use of a hardware wallet (aka cold storage). Hardware wallets are the safest way of storing cryptocurrency because it allows for your crypto to be kept offline in a physical device. After purchasing crypto via an exchange, I recommend transferring it to cold storage. The most popular hardware wallets include the Ledger Nano S, and Trezor. Hardware wallets come with a special key so that if it gets lost or damaged, you can recover your crypto. I recommend keeping your recovery key as well as any other sensitive information in a safety deposit box. I know this all may seem a bit manic, but it is important you take the necessary security precautions in order to ensure the safety & longevity of your cryptocurrency.
Technical Aspects of Bitcoin
Address: What you send Bitcoin to.
Wallet: Where you store your Bitcoin
Max Supply: 21 million
Block Time: ~10 minutes
Block Size: 1-2 MB
Block Reward: BTC reward received from mining.
What is a Bitcoin Address?
A Bitcoin address is what you send Bitcoin to. If you want to receive Bitcoin you’d give someone your Bitcoin address. Think of a Bitcoin address as an email address for money.
What is a Bitcoin Wallet?
As the title implies, a Bitcoin wallet is anything that can store Bitcoin. There are many different types of wallets including paper wallets, software wallets and hardware wallets. It is generally advised NOT to keep cryptocurrency on an exchange, as exchanges are prone to hacks (see Mt. Gox hack). My preferred method of storing cryptocurrency is using a hardware wallet such as the Ledger Nano S or Trezor. These allow you to keep your crypto offline in physical form and as a result, much more safe from hacks. Paper wallets also allow for this but have less functionality in my opinion. After I make crypto purchases, I transfer it to my Ledger Nano S and keep that in a safe at home. Hardware wallets also come with a special key so that if it gets lost or damaged, you can recover your crypto. I recommend keeping your recovery key in a safety deposit box.
What is Bitcoins Max Supply?
The max supply of Bitcoin is 21 million. The only way new Bitcoins can be introduced into the economy are through block rewards which are given after successfully mining a block (more on this later).
What is Bitcoins Block Time?
The average time in which blocks are created is called block time. For Bitcoin, the block time is ~10 minutes, meaning, 10 minutes is the minimum amount of time it will take for a Bitcoin transaction to be processed. Note that transactions on the Bitcoin network can take much longer depending on how congested the network is. Having to wait a few hours or even a few days in some instances for a transaction to clear is not unheard of. Other cryptocurrencies will have different block times. For example, Ethereum has a block time of ~15 seconds. For more information on how block time works, Prabath Siriwardena has a good block post on this subject which can be found here.
What is Bitcoins Block Size?
There is a limit to how large blocks can be. In the early days of Bitcoin, the block size was 36MB, but in 2010 this was reduced to 1 MB in order to prevent distributed denial of service attacks (DDoS), spam, and other malicious use on the blockchain. Nowadays, blocks are routinely in excess of 1MB, with the largest to date being somewhere around 2.1 MB. There is much debate amongst the community on whether or not to increase Bitcoin’s block size limit to account for ever-increasing network demand. A larger block size would allow for more transactions to be processed. The con argument to this is that decentralization would be at risk as mining would become more centralized. As a result of this debate, on August 1, 2017, Bitcoin underwent a hard-fork and Bitcoin Cash was created which has a block size limit of 8 MB. Note that these are two completely different blockchains and sending Bitcoin to a Bitcoin Cash wallet (or vice versa) will result in a failed transaction. Update: As of May 15th, 2018 Bitcoin Cash underwent another hard fork and the block size has increased to 32 MB. On the topic of Bitcoin vs Bitcoin Cash and which cryptocurrency is better, I’ll let you do your own research and make that decision for yourself. It is good to know that this is a debated topic within the community and example of the politics that manifest within the space. Now if you see community members arguing about this topic, you’ll at least have a bit of background to the issue.
What is Block Reward?
Block reward is the BTC you receive after discovering a block. Blocks are discovered through a process called mining. The only way new BTC can be added to the economy is through block rewards and the block reward is halved every 210,000 blocks (approximately every 4 years). Halving events are done to limit the supply of Bitcoin. At the inception of Bitcoin, the block reward was 50BTC. At the time of writing this, the block reward is 12.5BTC. Halving events will continue to occur until the amount of new Bitcoin introduced into the economy becomes less than 1 Satoshi. This is expected to happen around the year 2,140. All 21 million Bitcoins will have been mined. Once all Bitcoins have been mined, the block reward will only consist of transaction fees.
Any computer that connects to the Bitcoin network is called a node. Nodes that fully verify all of the rules of Bitcoin are called full nodes.
In other words, full nodes are what verify the Bitcoin blockchain and they play a crucial role in maintaining the decentralized network. Full nodes store the entirety of the blockchain and validate transactions. Anyone can participate in the Bitcoin network and run a full node. Bitcoin.org has information on how to set up a full node. Running a full node also gives you wallet capabilities and the ability to query the blockchain. For more information on Bitcoin nodes, see Andreas Antonopoulos’s Q&A on the role of nodes.
What is a Fork?
A fork is a divergence in a blockchain. Since Bitcoin is a peer-to-peer network, there’s an overall set of rules (protocol) in which participants within the network must abide by. These rules are put in place to form network consensus. Forks occur when implementations must be made to the blockchain or if there is disagreement amongst the network on how consensus should be achieved.
Soft Fork vs Hard Fork
The difference between soft and hard forks lies in compatibility. Soft forks are backwards compatible, hard forks are not. Think of soft forks as software upgrades to the blockchain, whereas hard forks are a software upgrade that warrant a completely new blockchain. During a soft fork, miners and nodes upgrade their software to support new consensus rules. Nodes that do not upgrade will still accept the new blockchain. Examples of Bitcoin soft forks include:
A hard fork can be thought of as the creation of a new blockchain that X percentage of the community decides to migrate too. During a hard fork, miners and nodes upgrade their software to support new consensus rules, Nodes that do not upgrade are invalid and cannot accept the new blockchain. Examples of Bitcoin hard forks include:
Note that these are completely different blockchains and independent from the Bitcoin blockchain. If you try to send Bitcoin to one of these blockchains, the transaction will fail.
A Case For Bitcoin in a World of Centralization
Our current financial system is centralized, which means the ledger(s) that operate within this centralized system are subjugated to control, manipulation, fraud, and many other negative aspects that come with this system. There are also pros that come with a centralized system, such as the ability to swiftly make decisions. However, at some point, the cons outweigh the pros, and change is needed. What makes Bitcoin so special as opposed to our current financial system is that Bitcoin allows for the decentralized transfer of money. Not one person owns the Bitcoin network, everybody does. Not one person controls Bitcoin, everybody does. A decentralized system in theory removes much of the baggage that comes with a centralized system. Not to say the Bitcoin network doesn’t have its problems (wink wink it does), and there’s much debate amongst the community as to how to go about solving these issues. But even tiny steps are significant steps in the world of blockchain, and I believe Bitcoin will ultimately help to democratize our financial system, whether or not you believe it is here to stay for good.
Well that was a lot of words… Anyways I hope this guide was beneficial, especially to you crypto newbies out there. You may have come into this realm not expecting there to be an abundance of information to learn about. I know I didn’t. Bitcoin is only the tip of the iceberg, but now that you have a fundamental understanding of Bitcoin, learning about other cryptocurrencies such as Litecoin, and Ethereum will come more naturally. Feel free to ask questions below! I’m sure either the community or myself would be happy to answer your questions. Thanks for reading!
Want to relay my recent experience to help other canucks entering the cryptocurrency scene. I wanted to invest 100K in both main coins and some alt coins. Depositing that amount can’t be done using ETF/bank-transfeetc. – the only reasonably quick way is to wire funds. For wires, most exchanges have a percentage based deposit fee – something that makes absolutely no sense to me. Whether you wire 1K or 1MM, the amount of work for the exchange is identical, so it should be a flat fee. Deciding on an exchange is more complicated than that though: each one has their own rules for minimums/maximums, trading fees, supported coins, holding periods, and withdrawal fees. They also can vary greatly on the amount of time verification takes. One thing to note is that pretty much all exchanges don’t charge a fee for inbound crypto transfers. 2 months ago I signed up for 10 exchanges (Coinbase/GDAX, Binance, Coinsquare, Kraken, ezBTC, QuadrigaCX, Bitfinex, Gemeni, Bittrex, Poloniex) and was verified on 7 of them (I’m still in queue for Gemeni, Bittrex, and Poloniex). Verification times gave me what I thought was a decent indicator of the level and quality of support I would receive. Of these exchanges, some have what I believe to be relatively high trading fees (Gemeni .25%, Bittrex, .25%, ezBTC .30%, QuadrigaCX .50%) vs lower maketaker fees (GDAX 0/.3%, Binance .1/.1%, Gitfinex .1/.2%, Coinsquare .1/.2%, Kraken .16/.26%). Still others have high percentage based wire fees. And finally, there’s a big disparity between withdrawal fees: free on some exchanes, vs fixed rate based on the coin for others, vs Coinsquare’s insane fixed 0.0025 BTC regardless of what coin or the amount being withdrawn. So here are some observations on the exchanges. Please note that the below is not a reflection on any of the people who work at the exchanges. I’m sure they are working as hard as they can and are doing their best. It’s just my experience. It’s also not financial advice. Also, I’m only human so feel free to offer corrections or better advice. Coinsquare: amazingly fast verification time, and for very large deposits seems to likely be the best option as they will let you speak to a human being by phone and will waive the deposit fee (I didn’t know this until later though). I excluded them because of their high 0.5% percentage based deposit fee and their crazy high withdrawal fee. They also only have support for 6 coins. QuadrigaCX: I had a terrible initial experience with QuadrigaCX’s support, so I immediately excluded them. They have high trading fees and there are many complaints of support tickets being ignored or having extremely lengthy wait times. They have a crazy high 1% percentage based CAD wire fee, but offer free USD wires. Note that they only support wires for large amounts. GDAX/Coinbase: Loads of good reviews, but only has support for 4 coins. Seems like they also don’t have a fee for crypto withdrawals. You also can’t seem to wire CAD or USD funds directly to GDAX. I think you may have to wire USD funds to Coinbase and then transfer them over to GDAX (for free). Kraken: I created an account but the verification page just appeared blank for me. After a few days, their support team got back to me telling me that they had a bug and that I needed to create a new account using a different email address and try again. That worked. I decided to use them as they seemed like the best all-around alternative. I was impressed with their support response (they gave me an answer that worked and responded in days as opposed to weeks), they offer a no-fee inbound CAD wire, support 16 coins, and have low (though not free) crypto withdrawal fees. They have also been around a while and have a good reputation (They were picked to handle MtGox claims). Wiring funds to them was a hair-raising experience though. You basically need to send your funds to an unknown bank in Tokyo, Japan. Kraken also has two slightly different sets of wire instructions: one that is on their website, and the other that their support folks send out. Only one of them mentions that you should tell your bank not to use an intermediary that will convert your currency. If you do things properly, and are lucky, you end up only paying ~$40 in fees. But chances are, you don’t, and end up paying 4%! (see https://www.reddit.com/BitcoinCA/comments/7rd6k8/fees_when_sending_to_krakencom/). You also have no idea how much the fees will be until the money finally shows up in your account. That’s tremendously unsettling. Luckily my bank branch manager was familiar with crypto currency wires and helped me do things properly. But, the wire took over 2 weeks to show up (Jan 18th), and Kraken support is so overloaded that they didn’t’ respond, despite me escalating my support ticket several times. I eventually had to resort to a reddit post to get a response to my support ticket. I gave support my wire receipt and answered lots of additional questions to help them try to “locate” it. Perhaps the worst part of my entire experience was that while my wire was being located, the entire crypto market tanked by 50%...and no one would respond to my support ticket…I felt helpless. A Kraken support rep a few days ago said that they are handing >50K new user registrations per day and have >20K new support tickets per day. I feel they should turn off new user registrations until they are capable of servicing existing customers. This is what their competitors have done. I found it disheartening to learn that the only way to get a response to my support ticket was to complain via social media --- many others have found the same. While I was waiting for my wire to appear Kraken had a >48h outage. Prior to the outage, the site was almost unusable as you’d receive constant 50x errors (I found this out prior to wiring my funds). After the outage, I find that their site is still barely usable. Pages take 10-15 seconds to load and when they do load many times they display errors so you have to continually retry until things work. At the end of the day though, they did come through for me: my wire arrived safely. So with my funds in Kraken, I tried to use them to purchase crypto. But no matter what I tried, none of the CAD dollar trading pairs would appear. I logged out and back in a few times and 15 minutes later, it suddenly started appearing. With the flakiness in Kraken’s platform, I had no choice but to transfer everything to a more stable and faster exchange: Binance: These guys have their shit in order. Super simple site navigation once you get used to it, fast verification times, blazingly fast website and trading engine, more than 50 coins supported, etc. But, they don’t support fiat – you must use one of the other exchanges to buy crypto with fiat and then transfer in your crypto. Gotta say it again: everything is super fast. Not just the page loads, but also trading, email confirmations, and withdrawals. Trading takes a bit of getting used to as you aren’t really buying or selling crypto…you are instead “trading” one crypto coin for another. Depending on the coin you want to purchase, you might have to trade your coin for BNB (binance’s own coin) and then trade BNB for the coin you desire. Be Your Own Bank: One final word of advice. Binance is awesome, but don’t trust anyone as despite everyone’s best intentions: no matter how secure a platform is, it can and will be hacked. As soon as you have done your shopping, transfer your coins off to your own wallet. This is why withdrawal fees are important. You might be asking: in hindsight, if I had to do it all over again, what would I do differently? To wire CAD funds I would try to use Coinsquare if it’s a big amount (after re-reading other people’s recent reviews). For USD wires, I might try using Gemeni, but I still haven’t been verified by them and have been waiting for almost 2 months. Before using either I would re-test how long it takes for a support ticket to be responded to. If you do wire funds, don't wire an exact round amount like "10,000.00", instead I would wire "10,070.45" so that it's easier to locate if things go wrong. Once the account has been funded I wouldn’t hesitate to transfer everything to another exchange if I wasn’t happy with the platform, the number of coin offerings, or quality of service I was receiving: you can always come back when things improve. Things change so quickly so not sure how helpful this will be…just wished I had known some of the above before starting.
Hello! My name is Inna Halahuz, I am a sales manager at Platinum, the largest listing service provider for the STO and ICO projects. We know all about the best and most useful STO and ICO marketing services. By the way, we developed the best blockchain platform: [Platinum.fund] (https://platinum.fund/sto/) We also created the UBAI, the unique educational project with the best and most useful online courses. We not only share our knowledge but also help the best graduates to find a job! After finishing our courses you will know all about crypto securities, ICO and STO advertizing and best blockchain platforms. What a Blockchain Wallet is? What is its purpose? Find the answer after reading this article. Public/Private Key The public key is the digital code you give to someone that wants to transfer ownership of a unit of cryptocurrency to you; and a private key is what you need to be able to unlock your own wallet to transfer a unit of a cryptocurrency to someone else. The encoding of information within a wallet is done by the private and public keys. That is the main component of the encryption that maintains the security of the wallet. Both keys function in simultaneous encryption systems called symmetric and asymmetric encryption. The former, alternatively known as private key encryption, makes use of the same key for encryption and decryption. The latter, asymmetric encryption, utilizes two keys, the public and private key, wherein a message-sender encrypts the message with the public key, and the recipient decodes it with their private key. The public key uses asymmetric algorithms that convert messages into an unreadable format. A person who possesses a public key can encrypt the message for a specific receiver. Accessing wallets Methods of wallet access vary depending on the type of wallet being used. Various types of currency wallets on an exchange will normally be accessed via the exchange’s entrance portal, normally involving a combination of a username/password and optionally, 2FA (Two factor authentication, which we explain in more detail later). Whereas hardware wallets need to be connected to an internet enabled device, and then have a pin code entered manually by the user in possession of the hardware wallet in order for access to be gained. Phone wallets are accessed through the device on which the wallet application has been downloaded. Ordinarily, a passcode and/or security pattern must be entered before entry is granted, in addition to 2FA for withdrawals. Satoshi Nakamoto built the Satoshi client which evolved into Bitcoin in 2009. This software allowed users to create wallets and send money to other addresses. However, it proved to be a nightmarish user experience, with many transactions being sent to incorrect addresses and private keys being lost. The MtGox (Magic the Gathering Online exchange, named after the original intended use of the exchange) incident, which will be covered in greater detail later, serves as a reminder of the dangers present in the cryptosphere regarding security, and the need to constantly upgrade your defenses against all potential hacks. The resulting loss of 850k BTC is a still unresolved problem, weighing heavily on the victims and the markets at large. This caused a huge push for a constantly evolving and improving focus on security. Exchanges that developed later, and are thus considered more legitimate and secure, such as Gemini and Coinbase, put a much greater emphasis on vigilance as a direct result of the MtGox hacking incident. We also saw the evolution of wallet security into the physical realm with the creation of hardware wallets, most notable among them the Ledger and Trezor wallets. Types of Wallets & Storage Methods The simplest way to sift through the dozens of cryptocurrency storage methods available today, is to divide them up into digital and non-digital, software and hardware wallets. There are also less commonly used methods of storage of private keys, like paper wallets and brain wallets. We will examine them all at least briefly, because in the course of your interaction with cryptocurrencies and Blockchain technology, it is essential to master all the different types of hardware and software wallets. Another distinction must be made between hot wallets and cold wallets. A hot wallet is one that is connected to the internet, and a cold wallet is one that is not. Fun fact: The level below cold storage, deep cold storage has just recently been implemented by the Regal RA DMCC, a subsidiary of an internationally renowned gold trading company licensed in the Middle East. After having been granted a crypto trading license, Regal RA launched their “deep cold” storage solution for traders and investors, which offers the ability to store crypto assets in vaults deep below the Almas Tower in Dubai. This storage method is so secure that at no point is the vault connected to a network or the internet; meaning the owners of the assets can be sure that the private keys are known only to the rightful owners. Lets take a quick look at specific features and functionality of varieties of crypto wallets. Software wallets: wallet applications installed on a laptop, desktop, phone or tablet. Web Wallets: A hot wallet by definition. Web Wallets are accessible through the web browser on your phone or computer. The most important feature to recognize about any kind of web wallet, is that the private keys are held and managed by a trusted third party. MyEtherWallet is the most commonly used non-exchange web wallet, but it can only be used to store Ethereum and ERC-20 tokens. Though the avenue of access to MEW is through the web, it is not strictly speaking a web wallet, though this label will suffice for the time being. The MEW site gives you the ability to create a new wallet so you can store your ETH yourself. All the data is created and stored on your CPU rather than their servers. This makes MEW a hybrid kind of web wallet and desktop wallet. Exchange Wallets: A form of Web Wallet contained within an exchange. An exchange will hold a wallet for each individual variety of cryptocurrency you hold on that exchange. Desktop Wallets: A software program downloaded onto your computer or tablet hard drive that usually holds only one kind of cryptocurrency. The Nano Wallet (Formerly Raiwallet) and Neon wallet for storage of NEO and NEP-5 tokens are notable examples of desktop wallets Phone Wallets: These are apps downloaded onto a mobile phone that function in the same manner as a desktop wallet, but actually can hold many different kinds of cryptocurrency. The Eidoo Wallet for storing Ethereum and its associated tokens and Blockchain Wallet which currently is configured to hold BTC, ETH and Bitcoin Cash, are some of the most widely used examples. Hardware wallets — LedgeTrezoAlternatives Hardware wallets are basically physical pathways and keys to the unique location of your crypto assets on the Blockchain. These are thought to be more secure than any variety of web wallet because the private key is stored within your own hard wallet, an actual physical device. This forcibly removes the risk your online wallet, or your exchange counter party, might be hacked in the same manner as MtGox. In hardware wallet transactions, the wallet’s API creates the transaction when a user requests a payment. An API is a set of functions that facilitates the creation of applications that interact and access features or data of an operating system. The hardware then signs the transaction, and produces a public key, which is given to the network. This means the signing keys never leave the hardware wallet. The user must both enter a personal identification number and physically press buttons on the hardware wallet in order to gain access to their Blockchain wallet address through this method, and do the same to initiate transfers. Paper Wallets Possibly the safest form of cryptocurrency storage in terms of avoiding hacking, Paper Wallets are an offline form of crypto storage that is free to set up, and probably the most secure way for users, from beginners to experts, to hold on to their crypto assets. To say it simply, paper wallets are an offline cold storage method of storing cryptocurrency. This includes actually printing out your public and private keys on a piece of paper, which you then store and save in a secure place. The keys are printed in the form of QR codes which you can scan in the future for all your transactions. The reason why it is so safe is that it gives complete control to you, the user. You do not need to worry about the security or condition of a piece of hardware, nor do you have to worry about hackers on the net, or any other piece of malware. You just need to take care of one piece of paper! Real World Historical Examples of Different Wallet Types Web Wallet: Blockchain.info Brief mechanism & Security Blockchain.info is both a cryptocurrency wallet, supporting Bitcoin, Ethereum and Bitcoin cash, and also a block explorer service. The wallet service provided by blockchain.info has both a Web Wallet, and mobile phone application wallet, both of which involve signing up with an email address, and both have downloadable private keys. Two Factor Authentication is enabled for transfers from the web and mobile wallets, as well as email confirmation (as with most withdrawals from exchanges). Phone Wallet: Eidoo The Eidoo wallet is a multi-currency mobile phone app wallet for storage of Ethereum and ERC-20 tokens. The security level is the standard phone wallet level of email registration, confirmation, password login, and 2 factor authentication used in all transfers out. You may find small volumes of different varieties of cryptocurrencies randomly turning up in your Eidoo wallet address. Certain projects have deals with individual wallets to allow for “airdrops” to take place of a particular token into the wallet, without the consent of the wallet holder. There is no need to be alarmed, and the security of the wallet is not in any way compromised by these airdrops. Neon Wallet The NEON wallet sets the standard for web wallets in terms of security and user-friendly functionality. This wallet is only designed for storing NEO, Gas, and NEP-5 tokens (Ontology, Deep Brain Chain, RPX etc.). As with all single-currency wallets, be forewarned, if you send the wrong cryptocurrency type to a wallet for which it is not designed, you will probably lose your tokens or coins. MyEtherWallet My Ether Wallet, often referred to as MEW, is the most widely used and highly regarded wallet for Ethereum and its related ERC-20 tokens. You can access your MEW account with a hardware wallet, or a different program. Or you can also get access by typing or copying in your private key. However, you should understand this method is the least safe way possible,and therefore is the most likely to result in a hack. Hardware: TrezoLedger Brief History Mechanism and Security A hardware wallet is a physical key to your on-chain wallet location, with the private keys contained within a secure sector of the device. Your private key never leaves your hardware wallet. This is one of the safest possible methods of access to your crypto assets. Many people feel like the hardware wallet strikes the right balance between security, peace of mind, and convenience. Paper Wallet Paper wallets can be generated at various websites, such as https://bitcoinpaperwallet.com/ and https://walletgenerator.net/. They enable wallet holders to store their private keys totally offline, in as secure a manner as is possible. Real World Example — Poor Practices MtGox Hack history effects and security considerations MtGox was the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the world before it was hacked in 2014. They were handling over 70% of BTC transactions before they were forced to liquidate their business. The biggest theft of cryptocurrency in history began when the private keys for the hot wallets were stolen in 2011 from a wallet.dat file, possibly by hacking, possibly by a rogue employee. Over the course of the next 3 years the hot wallets were emptied of approximately 650000 BTC. The hacker only needed wallet.dat file to access and make transfers from the hot wallet, as wallet encryption was only in operation from the time of the Bitcoin 0.4.0 release on Sept 23rd 2011. Even as the wallets were being emptied, the employees at Mt Gox were apparently oblivious to what was taking place. It seems that Mt Gox workers were interpreting these withdrawals as large transfers being made to more secure wallets. The former CEO of the exchange, Mark Karpeles, is currently on trial for embezzlement and faces up to 5 years in prison if found guilty. The Mt Gox hack precipitated the acceleration of security improvements on other exchanges, for wallets, and the architecture of bitcoin itself. As a rule of thumb, no small-to-medium scale crypto holders should use exchange wallets as a long-term storage solution. Investors and experienced traders may do this to take advantage of market fluctuations, but exchange wallets are perhaps the most prone to hacking, and storing assets on exchanges for an extended time is one of the riskiest ways to hold your assets. In a case strikingly similar to the MtGox of 2011–2014, the operators of the BitGrail exchange “discovered” that approximately 17 million XRB ($195 million worth in early 2018) were missing. The operators of the exchange were inexplicably still accepting deposits, long after they knew about the hack. Then they proceeded to block withdrawals from non-EU users. And then they even requested a hard fork of the code to restore the funds. This would have meant the entire XRB Blockchain would have had to accept all transactions from their first “invalid” transaction that were invalid, and rollback the ledger. The BitGrailexchange attempted to open operations in May 2018 but was immediately forced to close by order of the Italian courts. BitGrail did not institute mandatory KYC (Know your customer) procedures for their clients until after the theft had been reported, and allegedly months after the hack was visible. They also did not have 2 factor authentication mandatory for withdrawals. All big, and very costly mistakes. Case Study: Good Practice Binance, the Attempted Hack During the 2017 bull run, China-based exchange Binance quickly rose to the status of biggest altcoin exchange in the world, boasting daily volumes that surged to over $4 billion per day in late December. Unfortunately, this success attracted the attention of some crafty hackers. These hackers purchased domain names that were confusingly similar to “binance.com”. And then they created sufficiently convincing replica websites so they could phish traders for their login information. After obtaining this vital info, the scammers created API keys to place large buy orders for VIAcoin, an obscure, low volume digital currency. Those large buy orders spiked VIA’s price. Within minutes they traded the artificially high-priced VIA for BTC. Then they immediately made withdrawal requests from the hacked BTC wallets to wallets outside of the exchange. Almost a perfect fait accompli! But, Binance’s “automating risk management system” kicked in, as it should, and all withdrawals were temporarily suspended, resulting in a foiled hacking attempt. Software Wallets Web/Desktop/Phone/Exchange Advantages and Limitations As we said before, it is inadvisable to store crypto assets in exchange wallets, and, to a lesser extent, Web Wallets. The specific reason we say that is because you need to deliver your private keys into the hands of another party, and rely on that website or exchange to keep your private key, and thus your assets, safe. The advantages of the less-secure exchange or web wallets, are the speed at which you can transfer assets into another currency, or into another exchange for sale or for arbitrage purposes. Despite the convenience factor, all software wallets will at some point have been connected to the internet or a network. So, you can never be 100% sure that your system has not been infected with malware, or some kind of keylogging software, that will allow a third party to record your passwords or private keys. How well the type of storage method limits your contact with such hazards is a good way to rate the security of said variety of wallet. Of all the software wallets, desktop and mobile wallets are the most secure because you download and store your own private key, preferably on a different system. By taking the responsibility of private key storage you can be sure that only one person has possession of it, and that is you! Thereby greatly increasing the security of your crypto assets. By having their assets in a desktop wallet, traders can guard their private key and enjoy the associated heightened security levels, as well keep their assets just one swift transfer away from an exchange. Hardware Wallets Advantages and Limitations We briefly touched on the features and operation of the two most popular hardware wallets currently on the market, the Ledger and Trezor wallets. Now it will be helpful to take a closer look into the pros and cons of the hardware wallet storage method. With hardware wallets, the private keys are stored within a protected area of the microcontroller, and they are prevented from being exported out of the device in plain text. They are fortified with state-of-the-art cryptography that makes them immune to computer viruses and malware. And much of the time, the software is open source, which allows user validation of the entire performance of the device. The advantages of a hardware wallet over the perhaps more secure paper wallet method of crypto storage is the interactive user experience, and also the fact that the private key must at some stage be downloaded in order to use the paper wallet. The main disadvantage of a hardware wallet is the time-consuming extra steps needed to transfer funds out of this mode of storage to an exchange, which could conceivably result in some traders missing out on profits. But with security being the main concern of the vast majority of holders, investors and traders too, this slight drawback is largely inconsequential in most situations. Paper Wallets Advantages and Limitations Paper wallets are thought by some to be the safest way to store your crypto assets, or more specifically, the best method of guarding the pathways to your assets on the Blockchain. By printing out your private key information, the route to your assets on the Blockchain is stored 100% offline (apart from the act of printing the private key out, the entire process is totally offline). This means that you will not run the risk of being infected with malware or become the victim of keylogging scams. The main drawback of using paper wallets is that you are in effect putting all your eggs in one basket, and if the physical document is destroyed, you will lose access to your crypto assets forever. Key things to keep in mind about your Wallet Security: Recovery Phrases/Private Key Storage/2FA/Email Security Recovery phrases are used to recover the on-chain location for your wallet with your assets for hardware wallets like ledgers and Trezors that have been lost. When you purchase a new ledger for example, you just have to set it up again by entering the recovery phrase into the display and the lost wallets will appear with your assets intact. Private key storage is of paramount importance to maintain the safety of your on-chain assets! This should be done in paper wallet form, or stored offline on a different computer, or USB device, from the one you would typically use to connect to the 2 Factor Authentication (2FA) sometimes known as “two step authentication”. This feature offers an extra security layer when withdrawing funds from cryptocurrency wallets. A specialized app, most commonly Google Authenticator, is synced up to the exchange to provide a constantly changing code. This code must be entered within a short time window to initiate transfers, or to log into an exchange, if it has also been enabled for that purpose. You must always consider the level of fees, or the amount of Gas, that will be needed to carry out the transaction. In times of high network activity Gas prices can be quite high. In fact, in December 2017 network fees became so high that some Bitcoin transactions became absolutely unfeasible. But that was basically due to the anomalous network congestion caused by frantic trading of Bitcoin as it was skyrocketing in value. When copying wallet addresses, double check and triple check that they are correct. If you make a mistake and enter an incorrect address, it is most likely your funds will be irretrievably lost; you will never see those particular assets again. Also check that you haven’t input the address of another one of your wallets that is designed to hold a different variety of cryptocurrency. You would similarly run the very great risk of losing your funds forever. Or, at the very least, if you have sent the wrong crypto to a large exchange wallet, for example on Coinbase, maybe you could eventually get those funds back, but it would still entail a long and unenjoyable wait. How to Monitor Funds There are two ways to monitor you funds and your wallets. The first is by searching for individual wallet addresses on websites specifically designed to let you view all the transactions on a particular Blockchain. The other is to store a copy of your wallet contents on an application that tracks the prices of all cryptocurrencies. Blockchain.info is the block explorer for Bitcoin, and it allows you to track all wallet movements so you can view your holdings and all the historical transactions within the wallet. The Ethereum blockchain’s block explorer is called Ether scanner, and it functions in the same way. There is a rival to Ether scanner produced by the Jibrel Network, called JSearch which will be released soon. JSearch will aim to offer a more streamlined and faster search method for Ethereum blockchain transactions. There are many different kinds of block explorer for each individual crypto currency, including nanoexplorer.io for Nano (formerly Rai Blocks) and Neotracker for NEO. If you simply want to view the value of your portfolio, the Delta and Blockfolio apps allow you to easily do that. But they are not actually linked to your specific wallet address, they just show price movements and total value of the coins you want to monitor. That’s not all! You can learn how to transfer and monitor the funds in and out of your wallet by clicking on the link. To be continued! UBAI.co Contact me via Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn to learn more about the best online education: LinkedInFacebookInstagram
Coinbase Binance Dance. Guide to Purchasing Altcoins.
Coinbase Binance Dance. Guide to purchasing altcoins.
The Coinbase Binance dance is a multi-step process used to purchase altcoins. (An altcoin is any cryptocurrency that is not Bitcoin). Reddit in particular is very fond of this method as it is commonly recommended to newcomers. How it works: You purchase Ethereum using Coinbase, send that Ethereum to your Binance account, then execute a trade selling said Ethereum for your cryptocurrency of choice. This is a process that seems very tedious and a bit complicated to crypto-newbies. No need to worry, I’m going to walk you through the process with photos included for visual aid. Using this method, you can purchase various types of cryptocurrencies including:
Etc… the list goes on. So long as it’s listed on Binance, you will be able to trade for the coin.
Both Coinbase and Binance are cryptocurrency exchanges you must sign up for in order to do this method. I recommend you create these accounts sooner rather than later as it can take a few days to get fully verified (especially for Coinbase). If you’re having issues, or questions, or would just like more information, I have full detailed tutorials regarding both Coinbase & Binance. See below:
Awesome! You’ve got the accounts created, now it’s time to do the dance. For the sake of this tutorial I’ll be purchasing the cryptocurrency XRP. Remember, this method works with any cryptocurrency so long as it’s listed on Binance.
Step 1: Make sure your token can be purchased with Ethereum. Go to Binance's home page and select ETH Markets use the search bar to look for your tokens ticker. See photo. If your token does not appear, check BTC Markets. If you see it there, you'll need to buy BTC and send it to Binance instead of ETH.
Step 2: Purchase Ethereum using Coinbase. See photo. For the lowest possible fee in Coinbase, link your bank account the downside is that it will take 5-7 business days for your funds to be available to send from your account. To have instant access to your funds, pay with a credit/debit card. The downside to this being that fees will be higher.
Step 3: Send your Ethereum from Coinbase to your Binance Ethereum wallet address. See photo.
Optional: Depending on your location, you may or may not have to pay a Coinbase transfer fee. If you see that you do and would rather not, you can mitigate this fee by sending your crypto to Coinbase Pro or GDAX then to Binance. If this otherwise does not concern you, please continue below. To find your Binance Ethereum wallet address, go to: Funds > Deposits > ETH - Ethereum and click Copy Address. See photo. Once you click confirm, you’ll be asked to complete 2-step verification provided by your phone. See photo. You can view the transaction in Coinbase. After a few minutes you’ll see confirmations coming through. Refresh the Binance deposits page as well and you’ll see confirmations. See photo. You’ll get two emails during this process. One from Coinbase, another from Binance. Cryptocurrency transactions are not instantaneous on the Ethereum blockchain. In this case it took ~6 minutes for this transfer to complete, however this may vary depending on how congested the network is. During high periods of high traffic on the Ethereum blockchain, you can expect it to take longer than 6 minutes so don’t worry if it’s taking longer. As long as you’re seeing confirmation, you should be good. See photo. Once you receive the Deposit Success Alerts email from Binance, go to Funds > Balances in Binance. You’ll see that you’re Ethereum balance has increased. See photo.
Step 4: In Binance, go to Exchange > Basic. You’ll be met with a screen that looks like this. See photo. I know this screen looks a bit confusing. It’s really not. First thing we need to do is make sure Ethereum (ETH) is set as our baseline currency for trade.
Step 5: Set Ethereum as baseline currency. See photo. You can see in that photo what is shown is all the possible cryptocurrencies pairings available with Ethereum.
Step 6: Use the search bar to search for the token’s ticker you’d like to purchase. See photo. In the case for Ripple, the ticker is XRP. If you don’t know your coins ticker, Google it.
Step 7: Set your prefered parameters and click Buy. See photo. The 25% 50% 75% and 100% buttons refer to how much of your set baseline funds you would like to dedicate towards your purchase. In my case, by clicking 100% I am saying I’d like to use 100% of my Ethereum funds to purchase XRP. Clicking 75% would be 75% of my ETH funds etc… The Amount and Totals sections are automatically filled out based off your % choice.
Step 8: Wait for your order to be filled! Depending on the market, your order may be filled right away or not. If you’re getting impatient you can always cancel the order and try again at a slightly higher price. If you’re going to edit the price per coin section, just be sure you don’t accidentally end up paying a ridiculously high amount. If you click into the price field a blurb will appear showing you how much you’re paying per coin. See photo.
Congratulations! You’ve just done the Coinbase Binanace dance. Wasn’t so hard was it? Once your order has been completely filled, the Funds > Balances page should reflect your purchase. See photo.
Lower Fees using BNB
It helps to purchase a little bit of Binance native token BNB to help save on fees. Make sure you enable it in your account settings! See photo. You can purchase BNB using the same method described above.
Selling your crypto.
Selling your crypto is a very similar process. In my instance with my XRP, if I wanted to sell that back to USD. I’d need to sell the XRP for Ethereum, then sell that Ethereum for USD on Coinbase. The process would look something like this:
Sell my XRP for Ethereum in Binance
Withdrawal the Ethereum from Binance to Coinbase
Sell the Ethereum for USD through Coinbase.
If you consider yourself a hodler, and do not plan to actively be making trades, I highly recommend you send your crypto to a hardware wallet such as the Ledger Nano S. Hardware wallets are a form of cold storage and are the safest way to store cryptocurrency. It is highly recommended you DO NOT store crypto on any exchange as exchanges themselves are prone to hacks (see Mt. Gox hack). I also highly recommend you secure your Binance and Coinbase accounts with 2-factor authentication (2FA) and google authenticator to reduce the risk of a hack.
In the end, be glad that you learned how to do this process! Figuring out how to actually purchase cryptocurrency is one of the most challenging things for newbies, and now that you have a Coinbase and Binance account setup, you have the ability to purchase 95% of coins. If you have any questions feel free to comment down below or send me a message. I’d be happy to help!
Frequently Asked Questions
Why not use Bitcoin to send to Binance. Why use Ethereum?
Transactions on the Ethereum blockchain are faster than Bitcoin's. Ethereum has a block time of ~15s, Bitcoin has a block time of ~10min. This means on average, Ethereum transactions will be faster than Bitcoins. Fees are also lower on the Ethereum blockchain so I consider Ethereum to be a much better bridge currency in the use of purchasing altcoins.
You could also use Litecoin if you wanted to. Litecoin has a smaller block time (2m 34s) compared to Bitcoin and the fees are much lower. To see block time data on blockchains, BitInfoCharts is a very good resource.
No one remembers the first Mt. Gox hack. It was a small sum, even by 2011’s standards, and the exchange reimbursed all users. The incident was to prove significant, however, for it set in motion a string of attacks on other bitcoin platforms that began the very next day. By the time the dust had settled six weeks later, four separate thefts had occurred, culminating in the loss of more than ... Binance, one of the world’s biggest cryptocurrency exchanges, has been hit by a $41m hack — just the latest in a string of thefts in the crypto world.. Malta-based Binance announced in a blog post on Wednesday that “hackers used a variety of techniques, including phishing, viruses and other attacks” to withdraw 7,000 bitcoin.. Binance has suspended withdrawals for the time being but ... While Binance is one of the largest crypto-currency exchanges, the heist is not the largest the Bitcoin world has seen. In 2014, Mt Gox was hacked to the tune of $470m. One of the biggest such cases was Mt. Gox, which collapsed in 2014 after losing $460 million, apparently to hackers. In 2016, hackers stole $72 million worth of bitcoin from exchange Bitfinex. The sixth richest Bitcoin wallet with nearly BTC 80,000 (c. USD 653 million) has been lying dormant ever since March 2011. The coins originate from the first major hack of the now bankrupt Mt. Gox exchange, and the owner of the wallet has ... Why bitcoin exchanges keep getting hacked — and how to protect yourself The biggest bitcoin exchange heist occurred in 2014, when Japan-based Mt. Gox said that attackers stole nearly $500 ... At the beginning of 2014, Mt Gox, a bitcoin exchange based in Japan, was the largest bitcoin exchange in the world, handling over 70% of all bitcoin transactions worldwide. By the end of February of that year, it was bankrupt. Anyone who was using Mt. Gox lost access to their assets, and it has been a cautionary tale for crypto investors. While the assets weren’t all lost, anything that was ...
MT. GOX TO CRASH BITCOIN AGAIN! - A HISTORY OF MT. GOX SCANDAL STORY
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