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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.
UYT Main-Net pre-launching AMA successfully completed with a blast
7 pm, 29th September 2020 Beijing time the UYT Main-Net pre-launching AMA successfully completed with a blast! Here is a full record of the AMA: Host: Hello everyone, it’s a great honor to host the first AMA of UYT network in China. Today, we have invited the person in charge of UYT Dao. Let’s ask Mr. Woo to introduce himself Woo: Hello, I’m Ben. I’ve met you in the previous global live broadcast. I’m the director of UYT Dao and the founder of IGNISVC. At present, I’m the CEO of the TKNT foundation and have been engaged in the blockchain industry. Q1. At present, different types of blockchains have emerged, but cross-chain interaction is still suffering a lot. In your opinion, what is the necessity and significance of cross-chain? Answer: The full name of UYT is to unite all your tokens, which is to integrate all public chains and increase the liquidity of the whole industry. Our purpose is not to create another public chain, but to become a platform for the exchange of value, technology, and resources of all public chains. What we need to solve is that each individual chain can circulate with each other. The full name of UYT is to unite all your tokens, which is to integrate all public chains and increase the liquidity of the whole industry. Our purpose is not to create another public chain, but to become a platform for the exchange of value, technology, and resources of all public chains. What we need to solve is that each individual chain can circulate with each other. Q2. The founder of Ethereum, V Shen, once wrote a cross-chain operation report for bank alliance chain R3, which mentioned three cross-chain methods. Which one does UYT belong to? Can you briefly introduce the cross-chain solution of UYT? Answer: In Vitalik’s cross-chain report, there are three main cross-chain methods. The first is that both parties do not know that they are crossing the chain, or that they cannot “read” each other, such as the centralized exchange. The second way is that one of the links can read other chains, such as side-chain / relay chain. That is, a can read B, and B cannot read a; The third is that both a and B can read each other’s, which can achieve the value and information exchange between a, B, and the platform. UYT belongs to the third kind. Our new official website will be online soon. Here are a few simple points: first of all, the architecture of UYT includes relay chain, parachain, parathreads, and bridges. In terms of ductility, it has exceeded almost all the public chains currently online. In the UYT network, there are four kinds of consensus participants, namely collector, fisherman, nominator, and validator. The characteristics of this model are: first, all people can participate without loss. Secondly, as long as anyone makes more contribution to the ecology, he will get more rewards, otherwise, he will receive corresponding punishment. The underlying layer of UYT is the substrate, which uses the rust programming language. Rust is committed to becoming a programming language that can solve the problems of high concurrency and high-security systems elegantly. This is also a great advantage that we are different from other blockchain projects in technology. Q3. What are the roles in the UYT network? What are their respective functions? Answer: After the main network of UYT is online, there will be four roles: collector, fisherman, nominator, and validator, which is totally different from the current system of the test network. The collector, in short, is responsible for collecting all kinds of information in the parallel chain and packaging the information to the verifier. Fishermen, to put it bluntly, is fishing law enforcement, which specifically checks out malicious acts and gets rewards after being checked out. The nominator, in fact, is a group of rights and interests. The verifier is its representative, and they entrust the deposit to the verifier. Verifier, package new blocks in the network. It must mortgage enough deposits and run a relay chain client on a highly available and high bandwidth machine. It can be understood as a mining pool. It can also be understood as the node in the current UYT DAPP. Q4. What is the mining mechanism of the UYT network? The only way to obtain UYT after its issuance is to participate in mining activities. In the initial stage, the daily constant output times of UYT are set to 1440000, and the cycle of bitcoin is halved. Mining rewards can be obtained in the following five ways: 1) Asset pledge mapping mining 2) Become the intermediate chain node of uyt network 3) Recommendation and reward mechanism 4) Voting reward 5) UYT network Dao will take out 10% of gas revenue from block packaging for community construction and reward of excellent community personnel Q5. The rise and fall of the blockchain are very fast. In order to give investors confidence, is there a detailed development plan, implementation steps, and application direction of UYT network in the next few months? Answer: UYT Network test network has been running stably for a year. After the main network is launched, all mechanisms will undergo major changes. The relationship between the UYT test network and the main network can be understood as the relationship between KSM (dot test network) and dot the main network, and the feasibility of the technology can be reflected more quickly by the UYT test network because of its faster timeliness and all future technology updates Some will move to the main network after the stable operation of the test network. In order to give users a better experience and give more rewards to excellent nodes, all Dao organizers are working hard for it. The development team has completed the cross-chain of bitcoin and some high-quality Ethereum based tokens in the early stage, and now the code has all been open source. For other mainstream currencies, community members can apply for funds to develop. In order to develop the ecology and make a better technical reserve, we will set up a special ecological development fund when the main network goes online. The transfer bridge is our key funding direction. The maximum application amount of a team is as high as 100000 US dollars. In addition, if other public chains want to connect to UYT, they will get technical support. In order to encourage developers to participate in ecological construction, Dao also launched a series of grants to support development. Developers can directly pull the better applications on Eth and EOS directly, or develop new products according to their own advantages. These directions are now the focus of funding. Due to the early online testing time of uyt network, it is based on the earlier version of substrate1.0. The on-chain governance mode can only be realized after the upgrade of 2.0 is completed. At present, the upgrading work is going on steadily, and the on-chain governance will be implemented in the main network with the launch of the uyt main network. As a heterogeneous cross-chain solution with high scalability and scalability, UYT network can perfectly bridge the parallel encryption system and its encryption assets in theory, and its wide applicability in the future can be expected. Therefore, we do not limit the areas where UYT network will play its advantages and roles. But in the general direction, there will be mainly DEFI and DEX ecological plates. From the industry, it can cover a wide range of fields, not only finance but also games, entertainment, shopping malls, real estate, and so on. Q6、How can UYT help DEFI? Answer: UYT network can not only link different public chains but also make parallel chains independent and interlinked. Just like the ACALA project some time ago, it has successfully obtained Pantera capital’s $7 million saft agreement. Although the concept of DEFI is very popular now, all DEFI products are still in the ecology of each public chain, and the cross-chain DEFI ecology has not been developed. UYT is to achieve cross-chain communication, value exchange, and develop truly decentralized financial services and products. For example, cross-chain decentralized flash cash, cross-chain asset support, cross-chain decentralized lending, Oracle machine, and other products. At present, our technical team is also speeding up the construction of infrastructure suitable for the landing of more DEFI products and services and is committed to creating a real cross-chain DEFI ecology, which is only a small step of UYT’s future plan. Q7、TKNT should be one of the hottest projects in the UYT ecosystem recently. Please give us a brief introduction to the TKNT project and the value of TKNT in the UYT ecosystem. Why can TKNT increase 400 times in 7 days? And what is the cooperative relationship between UTC and TKNT? Answer: I will answer each project from the technical and resource aspects. Let’s first introduce UTC. UTC is the token of Copernican network and the first project of UYT game entertainment ecology. In the future, it will be responsible for linking. Due to the high-quality public chain in the entertainment industry, because of the limited slots of UYT, each field will seek a high-quality partner and help the partner become the secondary relay chain of UYT. After the main network of UYT goes online, many chains will want to access UYT Greater value circulation, due to the limited external slots of UYT, the cost is also very high. At this time, you can choose to connect to UTC first, and then connect UTC to UYT. With more and more links with UYT, it will gradually evolve into a secondary relay chain of UYT network. UTC’s resources, online and offline, offline payment and offline entity applications, also have a very large community base. The ecological partners have very good operation experience in the game industry. They will use blockchain technology to change the whole game entertainment industry to make it more transparent and fair. At the same time, there are enough entity consumption scenarios. This is also UYT Because of the reason why the network chose to cooperate with it, the UTC project has been supported by the UYT ecological fund. The support fund includes that after the main network is launched, it will also be the first ecological cooperation project supported by UYT. Because of the online time of the main network of UYT, UTC can’t directly form a chain at present and will give priority to issuing on Ethereum. TKNT is a new concept project TKN.com TKN is the largest online centralized guessing game platform in the world at present. TKNT mixes bet mining and DEFI, so it can carry out fixed mining through platform games, build a system that can realize game participation and in application payment in all Dapps based on ERC20, and combine with various financial services. The reason why TKNT has created a myth of 400 times in 7 days is that the TkN platform has a buyback plan. As we all know, the online quiz game entertainment platform has an amazing profit. Every quarter, the profit will be used to buyback. The strong profit support has led to the huge increase of token. In the future, all users can use UTC to participate in TkN games. Therefore, the main network of UYT is that Line is also of great significance to TKNT. With the maturity of UYT ecology and technology, TKNT can have a more powerful performance. If TKNT wants to link more public chains, it needs to access UYT network, and realize a bigger vision with cross-chain interaction of UYT. After TKNT was launched on the exchange, the highest price has risen to $14, and now it has dropped to about $2.50. You will see that it will once again set a record high and create greater miracles. You will also see that $3 will be the best buying point for TKNT, because there will be several major moves in TKNT, and the global MLM plan will be launched on October 7 in Korea, China, and other countries There will be many marketing teams in Europe to promote TKNT, including DAPP.com As a shareholder of TkN, TKNT will also make every effort to promote TKNT. Secondly, TKNT will be launched next month on the largest digital currency exchange in South Korea, and Chinese users will see the shadow of TKNT on Binance in November. Of course, the decentralized trading platform of UYT will also be launched in the future. Q8. What is the significance of the launch of UYT’s main network for the industry and ecology? Answer: UYT is one of the few cross-chain platform projects in the industry at present. There are many public chains and coin issuing projects. Why? Because of less work, more money. However, there are very high technical and capital requirements for cross-chain and platform. This barrier is very high, so almost no project side is willing to do this. But once this is done, it will be of great significance to the whole industry of digital currency and blockchain. Because it will subvert the current situation of the whole currency circle and chain circle acting on their own, and the painting land is king. Let each independent ecosystem achieve a truly decentralized and trust-free cooperative relationship. This huge change will promote the whole industry to develop into a healthy and virtuous circle macro ecosystem. Q9. The slogan of many project supporters is that UYT should surpass Ethereum. What is the difference in technology between UYT network and Ethereum? Answer: Thank you so much for supporting UYT. In fact, the correct understanding is that UYT is the next era of Ethereum. First of all, UYT has a different vision from Ethereum. Before the emergence of UYT, Ethereum, and EOS, no matter how well they developed, belonged to the era of a single chain. The popular metaphor is a LAN. However, UYT can realize the interoperability of each chain and bring the blockchain into the Internet era. Secondly, UYT is far superior to Ethereum in technology. It mainly includes three aspects: shared security, heterogeneous cross-chain, and no fork upgrade. In the case that Ethereum 2.0 has not been implemented, UYT is the most friendly bottom layer for the DFI projects and other Dapps on Ethereum. Now, the hair chain architecture substrate of UYT is compatible with Ethereum smart contract language solidity, so eth developers can easily migrate their smart contracts to UYT. Up to now, there is no good solution to the congestion problem of Ethereum, while UYT network not only solves the network congestion problem. What’s more, UYT can easily realize one-click online upgrade, instead of having to redeploy a set of contracts on Ethereum for each version upgraded and then require users to follow them to migrate the original assets from the old contract to the new contract. Developers can quickly and flexibly iterate their own protocols to change their application solutions according to the situation, so as to serve more users and solve more problems. At the same time, they can also repair the loopholes in the contract very quickly. In the case of hacker attacks, they can also solve the hacker stealing money and a series of other problems through parallel chain management. We can find that for Ethereum, UYT not only solves the congestion problem we see in front of us but also provides the most important infrastructure for the future applications such as DFI on Ethereum to truly mature into an open financial application that can serve all people. It also opens the Web 3.0 era of the blockchain industry. In terms of market value, Ethereum currently has a strong ecological construction, with a market value of US $40 billion. UYT will also focus on the development of this aspect after the main network goes online. No matter in terms of market value or ecological construction, I have enough confidence in UYT, after all, we are fully prepared. Q10. What is the progress of the ecological construction of UYT? What opportunities do current ecological partners see in UYT or what changes may be brought about by UYT ecology? Answer: After the main network of UYT goes online, there will be a series of ecological construction actions, and more attention will be paid to establishing contact with traditional partners. Cross-chain decentralized flash cash, cross-chain asset support, cross-chain decentralized lending, Oracle machine, and other products will also be the key cooperation direction of UYT. UYT will give priority to the game and entertainment industry because this industry is most easily subverted by blockchain. As the ecological construction of UYT gets bigger and bigger, the future slots will become more and more expensive. The earlier you join UYT ecology, you will get more support from the ecological fund because the ecological fund is also limited. From the perspective of token value-added, all the project parties will cooperate with the project side in the future, and the project side needs to pledge a certain number of UYT to bid for slots, except for ecological rewards, others need to be purchased from market transactions. The difference between the pledge here and the pledge we understand is that the UYT of the ecological partner participating in the auction pledge cannot enjoy the computing power for mining. UYT main network has several opportunities for Eco partners to look forward to, the first point is bitcoin, bitcoin will be later than other assets late, but eventually, all the bubble and value will return to BTC, after the wave of DeFi bubble elimination, the focus will be very much in the bitcoin. UYT ecology can provide a more mature bottom layer for defi. In addition, now Ethereum’s DEFI is that of Ethereum and ERC 20 tokens, and the outbreak point of bitcoin has not yet arrived. Therefore, the DEFI of UYT ecology may be the next opportunity, which is a good opportunity for everyone. The second opportunity is that after the main network goes online, the future UYT ecological projects will compete to bid for slots. In fact, the original intention of UYT is to realize the interconnection of all chains. The chain outside the UYT ecology also needs to communicate. The third is cross-fi. The BIFI is hatched on Ethereum, and the def on UYT can realize multi-chain operation. For example, TkN games or future UTC game platform users can call bitcoin on the UYT chain. This form only belongs to the decentralized finance in the cross-chain era of UYT, which can be called cross-fi. Q11. Which exchanges will UYT go online next? What is the online strategy like? Answer: As the founder of ignisvc and as UYT As the head of the Dao organization, we have always had good cooperative relations with major exchanges all over the world. TKNT will appear in several exchanges one after another. Hitbtc exchange in the United Kingdom, Upbit and Bithumb Exchange in South Korea, Bitfinex exchange in the United States, Binance exchange in China, BKEX exchange, and Kucoin exchange in China are all our partners, and they have been paying close attention to UYT Development, UYT is the public chain with the largest user base and the highest community participation in the cross-chain field, so the future value is immeasurable. If we have to go to the exchange, then we will choose one of the above exchanges to launch. But the vision of UYT is to create a fairer, safer, and transparent circulation in the field of digital currency, and users can master all the assets by themselves, Therefore, in the beginning, there is a simple DEX on the UYT wallet, which is a simple matchmaking transaction and is also an on-chain transaction. After the completion of the UYT DEX, more transactions may occur in the UYT DEX. However, after the main network of UYT is online, centralized exchanges can directly access the block data synchronization of UYT, and it is not ruled out that some exchanges will directly go online for UYT trading. Such exchanges will not enjoy the support of the ecological support fund of UYT. The network project is a community-led project. Each cooperation plan of the exchange will be carried out in the way shared by the community in the future. Dao organization can only implement it according to the voting results. Q12. What are the plans for the promotion of ecological development and market by the launch of UYT main network? Answer: The launch of the main network will be completed around October 15. On the offline side, due to the epidemic situation, we will jointly organize corresponding market activities with nodes in different countries. At present, there are three large-scale offline meetups that have been identified. We will also start a global roadshow when the epidemic is over. On the online side, we have opened online Wechat, Kakao, Twitter, Reddit, and telegram communities. We will carry out AMA activities in various countries and promote them all over the world in various ways. Of course, we will launch MLM plans and cooperate with more marketing teams.
The power players of consumer finance in the 21st century will be crypto-native companies who build with blockchain technology at their core.
The crypto landscape is still nascent. We’re still very much in the fragmented, unbundled phase of the industry lifecycle. Beyond what Genesis Block is doing, there are signs of other companies slowly starting to bundle financial services into what could be an all-in-one bank replacement. So the key question that this series hopes to answer:
Which crypto-native company will successfully become the bank of the future?
We obviously think Genesis Block is well-positioned to win. But we certainly aren’t the only game in town. In this series, we’ll be doing an analysis of who is most capable of thwarting our efforts. We’ll look at categories like crypto exchanges, crypto wallets, centralized lending & borrowing services, and crypto debit card companies. Each category will have its own dedicated post. Today we’re analyzing big crypto exchanges. The two companies we’ll focus on today are Coinbase (biggest American exchange) and Binance (biggest global exchange). They are the top two exchanges in terms of Bitcoin trading volume. They are in pole position to winning this market — they have a huge existing userbase and strong financial resources. Will Coinbase or Binance become the bank of the future? Can their early success propel them to winning the broader consumer finance market? Is their growth too far ahead for anyone else to catch up? Let’s dive in. https://preview.redd.it/lau4hevpm7f51.png?width=800&format=png&auto=webp&s=2c5de1ba497199f36aa194e5809bd86e5ab533d8
The most formidable exchange on the global stage is Binance (Crunchbase). All signs suggest they have significantly more users and a stronger balance sheet than Coinbase. No other exchange is executing as aggressively and relentlessly as Binance is. The cadence at which they are shipping and launching new products is nothing short of impressive. As Tushar Jain from Multicoin argues, Binance is Blitzscaling. Here are some of the products that they’ve launched in the last 18 months. Only a few are announced but still pre-launch.
Binance is well-positioned to become the crypto-powered, all-in-one, bundled solution for financial services. They already have so many of the pieces. But the key question is:
Can they create a cohesive & united product experience?
Binance is strong, but they do have a few major weaknesses that could slow them down.
Traders & Speculators Binance is currently very geared for speculators, traders, and financial professionals. Their bread-and-butter is trading (spot, margin, options, futures). Their UI is littered with depth charts, order books, candlesticks, and other financial concepts that are beyond the reach of most normal consumers. Their product today is not at all tailored for the broader consumer market. Given Binance’s popularity and strength among the pro audience, it’s unlikely that they will dumb down or simplify their product any time soon. That would jeopardize their core business. Binance will likely need an entirely new product/brand to go beyond the pro user crowd. That will take time (or an acquisition). So the question remains, is Binance even interested in the broader consumer market? Or will they continue to focus on their core product, the one-stop-shop for pro crypto traders?
Controversies & Hot Water Binance has had a number of controversies. No one seems to know where they are based — so what regulatory agencies can hold them accountable? Last year, some sensitive, private user data got leaked. When they announced their debit card program, they had to remove mentions of Visa quickly after. And though the “police raid” story proved to be untrue, there are still a lot of questions about what happened with their Shanghai office shut down (where there is smoke, there is fire). If any company has had a “move fast and break things” attitude, it is Binance. That attitude has served them well so far but as they try to do business in more regulated countries like America, this will make their road much more difficult — especially in the consumer market where trust takes a long time to earn, but can be destroyed in an instant. This is perhaps why the Binance US product is an empty shell when compared to their main global product.
Disjointed Product Experience Because Binance has so many different teams launching so many different services, their core product is increasingly feeling disjointed and disconnected. Many of the new features are sloppily integrated with each other. There’s no cohesive product experience. This is one of the downsides of executing and shipping at their relentless pace. For example, users don’t have a single wallet that shows their balances. Depending on if the user wants to do spot trading, margin, futures, or savings… the user needs to constantly be transferring their assets from one wallet to another. It’s not a unified, frictionless, simple user experience. This is one major downside of the “move fast and break things” approach.
BNB token Binance raised $15M in a 2017 ICO by selling their $BNB token. The current market cap of $BNB is worth more than $2.6B. Financially this token has served them well. However, given how BNB works (for example, their token burn), there are a lot of open questions as to how BNB will be treated with US security laws. Their Binance US product so far is treading very lightly with its use of BNB. Their token could become a liability for Binance as it enters more regulated markets. Whether the crypto community likes it or not, until regulators get caught up and understand the power of decentralized technology, tokens will still be a regulatory burden — especially for anything that touches consumers.
Binance Chain & Smart Contract Platform Binance is launching its own smart contract platform soon. Based on compatibility choices, they have their sights aimed at the Ethereum developer community. It’s unclear how easy it’ll be to convince developers to move to Binance chain. Most of the current developer energy and momentum around smart contracts is with Ethereum. Because Binance now has their own horse in the race, it’s unlikely they will ever decide to leverage Ethereum’s DeFi protocols. This could likely be a major strategic mistake — and hubris that goes a step too far. Binance will be pushing and promoting protocols on their own platform. The major risk of being all-in on their own platform is that they miss having a seat on the Ethereum rocket ship — specifically the growth of DeFi use-cases and the enormous value that can be unlocked. Integrating with Ethereum’s protocols would be either admitting defeat of their own platform or competing directly against themselves.
The crypto-native company that I believe is more likely to become the bank of the future is Coinbase (crunchbase). Their dominance in America could serve as a springboard to winning the West (Binance has a stronger foothold in Asia). Coinbase has more than 30M users. Their exchange business is a money-printing machine. They have a solid reputation as it relates to compliance and working with regulators. Their CEO is a longtime member of the crypto community. They are rumored to be going public soon.
Let’s look at what makes them strong and a likely contender for winning the broader consumer finance market.
Different Audience, Different Experience Coinbase has been smart to create a unique product experience for each audience — the pro speculator crowd and the common retail user. Their simple consumer version is at Coinbase.com. That’s the default. Their product for the more sophisticated traders and speculators is at Coinbase Pro (formerly GDAX). Unlike Binance, Coinbase can slowly build out the bank of the future for the broad consumer market while still having a home for their hardcore crypto traders. They aren’t afraid to have different experiences for different audiences.
Brand & Design Coinbase has a strong product design team. Their brand is capable of going beyond the male-dominated crypto audience. Their product is clean and simple — much more consumer-friendly than Binance. It’s clear they spend a lot of time thinking about their user experience. Interacting directly with crypto can sometimes be rough and raw (especially for n00bs). When I was at Mainframe we hosted a panel about Crypto UX challenges at the DevCon4 Dapp Awards. Connie Yang (Head of Design at Coinbase) was on the panel. She was impressive. Some of their design philosophies will bode well as they push to reach the broader consumer finance market.
Early Signs of Bundling Though Coinbase has nowhere near as many products & services as Binance, they are slowly starting to add more financial services that may appeal to the broader market. They are now letting depositors earn interest on USDC (also DAI & Tezos). In the UK they are piloting a debit card. Users can now invest in crypto with dollar-cost-averaging. It’s not much, but it’s a start. You can start to see hints of a more bundled solution around financial services.
Let’s now look at some things that could hold them back.
Slow Cadence In the fast-paced world of crypto, and especially when compared to Binance, Coinbase does not ship very many new products very often. This is perhaps their greatest weakness. Smaller, more nimble startups may run circles around them. They were smart to launch Coinbase Ventures where tey invest in early-stage startups. They can now keep an ear to the ground on innovation. Perhaps their cadence is normal for a company of their size — but the Binance pace creates quite the contrast.
Institutional Focus As a company, we are a Coinbase client. We love their institutional offering. It’s clear they’ve been investing a lot in this area. A recent Coinbase blog post made it clear that this has been a focus: “Over the past 12 months, Coinbase has been laser-focused on building out the types of features and services that our institutional customers need.” Their Tagomi acquisition only re-enforced this focus. Perhaps this is why their consumer product has felt so neglected. They’ve been heavily investing in their institutional services since May 2018. For a company that’s getting very close to an IPO, it makes sense that they’d focus on areas that present strong revenue opportunities — as they do with institutional clients. Even for big companies like Coinbase, it’s hard to have a split focus. If they are “laser-focused” on the institutional audience, it’s unlikely they’ll be launching any major consumer products anytime soon.
Coinbase Wrap Up
At Genesis Block, we‘re proud to be working with Coinbase. They are a fantastic company. However, I don’t believe that they’ll succeed in building their own product for the broader consumer finance market. While they have incredible design, there are no signs that they are focused on or capable of internally building this type of product. Similar to Binance, I think it’s far more likely that Coinbase acquires a promising young startup with strong growth.
Other US-based exchanges worth mentioning are Kraken, Gemini, and Bittrex. So far we’ve seen very few signs that any of them will aggressively attack broader consumer finance. Most are going in the way of Binance — listing more assets and adding more pro tools like margin and futures trading. And many, like Coinbase, are trying to attract more institutional customers. For example, Gemini with their custody product.
Coinbase and Binance have huge war chests and massive reach. For that alone, they should always be considered threats to Genesis Block. However, their products are very, very different than the product we’re building. And their approach is very different as well. They are trying to educate and onboard people into crypto. At Genesis Block, we believe the masses shouldn’t need to know or care about it. We did an entire series about this, Spreading Crypto. Most everyone needs banking — whether it be to borrow, spend, invest, earn interest, etc. Not everyone needs a crypto exchange. For non-crypto consumers (the mass market), the differences between a bank and a crypto exchange are immense. Companies like Binance and Coinbase make a lot of money on their crypto exchange business. It would be really difficult, gutsy, and risky for any of them to completely change their narrative, messaging, and product to focus on the broader consumer market. I don’t believe they would ever risk biting the hand that feeds them. In summary, as it relates to a digital bank aimed at the mass market, I believe both Coinbase and Binance are much more likely to acquire a startup in this space than they are to build it themselves. And I think they would want to keep the brand/product distinct and separate from their core crypto exchange business. So back to the original question, is Coinbase and Binance a threat to Genesis Block? Not really. Not today. But they could be, and for that, we want to stay close to them. ------ Other Ways to Consume Today's Episode:
Monthly Nano News: December 2019 + Year Recap Special
This is what NANO has been up to lately. I don't think I lie if I say it has been quite an amazing year! See you soon and happy new year! Something nice is coming soon that I have been working on for a while, stay tuned..
[Part 2] KAVA Historical AMA Tracker! (Questions & Answers)
ATTN: These AMA questions are from Autumn 2019 - before the official launch of the Kava Mainnet, and it's fungible Kava Token. These questions may no longer be relevant to the current Kava landscape, however, they do provide important historical background on the early origins of Kava Labs. Please note, that there are several repeat questions/answers.
How do you think about France in Kava market development plan?
What is your next plan to raise awareness among French about Kava?
Answer: It is important to reach many top markets. For countries like France we need to find 1st regulator partners such as Binance that can help provide access to KAVA for users. When our CDP platform launches, we will work through local validator partners to help translate content and work with local users.
We have some great community efforts where people create content for us.
Why did you choose Cosmos instead of Aion, which comes with AVM built on JAVA, which can be accepted by many developers?
Will there be a possibility that one day we will be able to collateralize a privacy coin, such as Monero, on KAVA?
Answer: We like programming in GO, interfaces are OK for Java. Cosmos will also feature a WASM module and EVM later. The Cosmos-SDK is very flexible and it allowed us to choose our own security model. That was unique compared to other frameworks where we had to adopt the underlying blockchains. In Cosmos-SDK we can create our own blockchain.
Re: privacy - you can do some fun things in payment channels to make transactions more private. Such as onion routing clearing and settlement across different nodes. This can be possible in the future, but not our priority now.
The biggest advantage of finance is the efficient allocation of resource allocation. If KAVA connects assets of multiple platforms through the interchain technology, the efficiency across the market will be improved.
But in terms of connectivity, Facebook's Libra, with its centralized giant platform, could be a big threat for the future. Of course, regulatory uncertainty still exists. KAVA wonders what big platform companies think about entering the blockchain field and how they can cope with their competition.
Answer: We think of Kava as a DeFi service that can integrate with wallets, exchanges, and other platforms when users want loans or stable coins for payments. We don't see competition with Libra, but we see lots of users potentially getting into crypto which will be good for the market, good for BTC, and good for Kava.
What will you do with the money after IEO?
What is the most important markets that Kava is focusing?
What is your marketing strategy to approach those markets?
Answer: What will we do with the IEO money? Put it in a bank and keep building. We keep our funds safe in secure accounts that are insured. We always maintain at least 2 years runway in pure fiat to ensure we can survive in any bear market conditions and come out on top in the end.
On mainnet, which function/feature can we expect to see on Kava since i only saw informations about its testnet?
Answer: mainnet will feature KAVA, staking, delegating, validator software, voting and governance / parameter changes. Following mainnet, the validators will vote to enable transactions and the CDP platform. We expect this to be towards the end of the yeaQ1 2020
How does Kava maintain the stability of its stablecoin? Are there any opportunties for outsiders to arbitrage or any other mechanisms to maintain price stabilization?
Answer: Kava users deposit crypto assets as collateral and can withdraw a loan based on the amount they deposited. They must always provide more collateral than the loan is worth. When the value of the collateral drops due to market conditions, before it reaches the value of the loaned amount, the platform will auction off the crypto assets for USDX that is on the market at a discount. Holders of USDX can buy these assets at a profit. This removes USDX from the market and makes sure that the global USDX to collateral in the system remains balanced. Similar to MakerDao, 3rd parties can run "keepers" - very simple implementations which continuously monitors the Kava/USDX credit system for unsafe CDPs, and execute the liquidation function the moment they become unsafe. Keepers can also perform arbitrage on DEX/Exchanges executing trades across the Kava platform and the markets.
Alright! So KAVA is doing DeFi right, could you explain DeFi in layman term to us.
Answer: Decentralized Finance. Finance is really ensuring everything about past, present, and future value of money. You need safe custody and a store of value to keep money you earned in the past safe to be used later when you need it. You need something liquid and easily tradable to be used in the present. And the trickier one is the future - people need to get loans on the assets they have or hedge against the assets they have in order to ensure they can build for a better future. That’s finance.
DeFi is taking all those things and making them open access and unregulated so that regardless if you were born with out an ID, if your credit score is bad, or if the government is trying to censor your actions and limit your spending - DeFi promises to give you a way to get access to the financial products you need.
Could you please briefly explain your projects, and why you choose DeFi as a problem to solve?
Answer: Kava is a cross-chain DeFi platform for cryptocurrencies. Kava offers decentralized loans and stable coins for any other crypto asset such as BTC, XRP, BNB, and ATOM.
DeFi is the killer use case of crypto today. I think most people see this clearly now. We believe providing the basic DeFi services is the very first step that is required before blockchain technology can really become wide spread - so we started here.
Why the name of the project KAVA?
Answer: We started in crypto thinking we would build banking products and we wanted a more relaxed cool name to stand out from other solutions. Turns out Kava means many things.
Kava = Hippopotamus in Japanese
Kava = crow in hindi
Cava = wine region in spain
Kava = a medicinal root you add to Tea
Kava = now a cross-chain DeFi platform
But TLDR - we liked the name and thought it sounded short and sweet.
What do you think of the future of DeFi in this space? Will DeFi one day take over the traditional financial systems? -- any wild guess on when it might happen?
Answer: I think centralized solutions will always have certain advantages and DeFi will also have certain advantages.
But truthfully, KYC is a problem from a user experience point of view. One of the big things with DeFi is there is no need to make people go through a KYC process anymore.
If we imagine a world where USD Is king, or Renminbi is king, or BTC is king. DeFi has a place in all of them because open access to financial services is a basic human necessity.
As we have known, Lending is not the only problem to solve in the whole financial areas, are you planning on going beyond lending? What other financial products are in your pipeline?
Answer: Thats a good #Q .
While we have a lot to solve to offer lending to other crypto assets - we can expand our support to non-crypto assets, to NFT tokens, and other assets.
We also have plans to offer derivatives and other synthetics other than USDX - such as synthetic bitcoin and Yuan. What is exciting about Kava and the oracle system run by validators is that we can leverage this infrastructure around the world to do all sort of things.
One of the more interesting products is creating under-collateralized loans using payment channel (layer-2 tech) of our USDX coin. Two parties can lock funds in payment channels and place bets on the price feeds from the oracles. When the funds reach a maximum threshold, the bet closes. Since a price feed is just a data set, we can have the settlement rules be multiples of the real data. In simple terms we can create 100x leverage products for the craziest of traders 😉
Btw KAVA is a bit unique because it use Cosmos/Tendermint. While other DeFi use Ethereum , why you guys choose Cosmos?
Answer: Cosmos is the future. Even facebook’s Libra consensus design was just a copy of Tendermint. Kava, Binance, the Cosmos Hub and many other blockchains are built on the same Cosmos-SDK framework.
It’s very flexible and soon interoperable. This is a huge advantage over Ethereum. Where system’s like MakerDAO will be forced to develop in a slowly evolving chain like Ethereum and only touching Erc20 assets, Kava will be able to rapidly evolve, program in GO rather than solidity, and interoperate with chains like Binance directly.
We’re very excited to get BNB and BTCB onto Kava’s CDPs and to put KAVA and USDX onto the Binance DEX. This is fairly easy on Cosmos.
I saw in KAVA deck that you guys will use USDX, is it a stable coin? How is it going to work and its relationship with KAVA token itself?
Answer: USDX is an algorithmically stable token pegged to the USD. USDX is the token users recieve when they get a loan from the Kava platform. USDX is collateralized or backed by crypto assets so the Kava platform should always hold more crypto value than the USDX it loans making USDX a very safe store of value even if the market crashes 10x overnight. That is what a stable coin should do.
USDX is special though. Natively, users can spend or trade USDX freely like other stable coins, but the important difference is that 1) USDX is free of censorship and does not require a bank or anything else. 2) USDX can be “bonded” or “staked” providing an interest bearing yield between 2-10% APR. This is substantially more than what I can even get from my bank account.
From your point of view as KAVA team, what would be most anticipated feature in KAVA ?
Answer: Our CDP platform launch later this year. The first USDX will be minted then.
Support of BTC in the CDP smart contracts. No blockchain has supported a real decentralized custody and use of BTC with smart contracts before.
Indonesia is one of the “developing” countries, how is DeFi can help in making a difference in those “developing” countries?
Answer: I can’t speak for developing countries as it’s not my expertise, but DeFi in general is trying to offer the exact same services to EVERYONE. Whether you are in San Francisco or Indonesia, the financial services you should have should be similar. The rates and fees you pay should be the same. DeFi is fair treatment and open access for everyone. That is what’s nice about having things run on a protocol.
Last but no least, since we are doing AMA in Indonesian group, I believed our members wants to know if you are interested in going to Indonesia to expand your community and reach?
Answer: As I said, I have not been before! I am traveling throughout South East Asia for a lot of the year. It is one of my destinations. I hope to meet many of you while I am out there.
Defi companies are growing at a rapid pace, but they're actually smaller than traditional financial institutions. In order for Defy to become a global trend, it must eventually acquire consumers within the traditional financial industry.
Traditional financial consumers, however, have poor technical understanding and want psychological stability through government guarantees such as deposit insurance. After all, what does KAVA think about long-term competitors as traditional financial institutions, and what long-term strategies do they have to embrace traditional financial consumers?
Answer: We think of financial institutions as big honey pots of potential DeFi users. For example, if Kava can offer margin lending at better rates than a bank because there is no middle men or compliance costs, users should want to use that service.
As crypto grows, I believe more FIs will integrate crypto assets and DeFi services. For example, in the US you cannot currently margin trade crypto as a retail user. But it could be possible for a regulated FI to integrate a lending service like KAVA without causing issues with regulators due to Kava having no counter party risk other than the user itself.
MakerDAO is only for ethereum but Kava support multiple assets, is this only difference?
What are Kava main advantages compared to MakerDAO?
Answer: Kava supports multiple assets THAT are on different blockchains. Maker can only support ETH. This is a huge difference. In addtion, the role of Maker is quite likely a security token. It represents fees paid by others. Where in Kava, the token is used in security of the blockchain protocol itself. The holders of Kava have a lot at stake and need it to govern the system. Maker holders have nothing at stake.
I think a huge difference is that with our model being POS and based on validators with slashing if they don't participate our governance participation and management will be much more effective than MakerDao.
Ticket claim for KAVA Launchpad is comming around the corner. This maybe last IEO ticket claim of this year. With this hype and expectation of investors/traders, do you think KAVA will be a big boom to end this year with happy tears?
If someone wants to manipulate Governance function of KAVA by changing voting result by possessing many Validators Node through buying over 51% KAVA of market, what will KAVA team do? Do you think Emergency Shutdown(Maker has this) can be considerd as a solution?
How will USDX be minted and backed on KAVA platform? If its based on uses crypto collateral, how will KAVA team make it stable since the inflation of crypto price?
Answer: I believe Kava to be underpriced currently, especially compared to maker which is 10x the value and serving ETH which is much smaller market than ours.
But I cannot tell you with certain if Kava will boom or bust - only the market can decide that. As with all speculative assets, do your homework and trade at your own risk. We here at kava are very LONG Kava, but we are biased 😉
Stablecoin is the word that I heard everyday, so do you have any plans to release wallet for stablecoin?
Answer: There are already wallets created for Kava that can hold our tokens 😉
My first question is: Why do traders choose to use KAVA instead of margin on exchanges?
My second #Q is: What happens whenKAVA doesn't have enough cash to loan out?
Answer: Traders who cannot get passed KYC can use Kava. Traders who want better rates than exchanges can use Kava. If regulators like in the US prevent margin trading, Kava is a great solution.
Kava creates USDX out of thin air when users withdraw loans. It will only create Kava is the user locks a great value of crypto in the system to back it. When the USDX loan is repaid, it is destroyed. In this way, Kava can scale however big it wants - it will never run out of cash.
i heard as you said before in San Fransisco, Silicon Valley. what is the relationship about Silicon Valley and KAVA? and what will KAVA done in this Q1 ?
Answer: I am born and raised in Silicon Valley. I am blessed to have grown up in this area where lots of tech innovation is. However, I am the only one at Kava that lives here full time. The others on my team are in the Cayman Islands and Cambridge.
San Francisco is a hub for the largest crypto projects - Ripple, Coinbase, Stellar, etc. It's a great place to network with founders and feel inspired to do big things. It is not the best weather here, but the people are focused and extremely helpful if they can be if you aim to do big things.
With regard to minting new USDX, is there any potential chance to against Global financial law? Likewise USDT, issuing money should guarantee deposit of real collateral as I have known.
Answer: USDX is debt. It is not a guarantee, but the protocol's rules state it must have more crypto assets behind it than the # of USDX issued. In this way, rules are better than guarantees. Tether guaranteed 1:1 USD, it turned out not to be true because their funds were seized by regulators. That is impossible in the case of Kava.
What is the uniqueness of KAVA project that cannot be found in other project that´s been released before?
Answer: Cross-chain is unique for us. But most unique is our partners and validator group that is launching our blockchain. We have incredible partners that support our work including Ripple, Cosmos, Arrington, Hashkey, SNZ, Lemniscap, etc.
KAVA was initially planned to launch on Ripple network but later switched to Cosmos Tindermint Core. What is that something you see in Tindermint Core that is not available anywhere.
Answer: We did not plan to launch on ripple and did not launch on "Tinder"-mint. I have a fiance - she would be quite mad.
We did however use the Cosmos SDK - a tool set, to build our blockchain that features tendermint consensus.
Tendermint is just the consensus so I assume you mean the SDK. The SDK is very much "choose your own adventure" you can build anything and design all the spec of your blockchain easily. In this way you choose the tradeoffs that make the most sense for your special application/network
How much portion of USDX is backed from crypto/fiat money ...& please mention why any trader, hodler will prefer USDX over other stable coins?
What are the biggest challenges you expect to face and how do you plan to overcome these challenges?
Answer: 150% of USDX or more is backed by crypto. Traders will use USDX because it offers a savings rate. This rate allows traders heding bitcoin or other assets to not only store value, but earn a return.
What do you think about creating liquidity for the Kava project?
Answer: It's the biggest challenge. My hope is the savings rate USDX offers will give it natural organic demand over existing stable coins. It will definitely be a large BD process to get USDX listed and used worldwide.
We work with some of the worlds best market makers to seed liquidity today. But we will need organic demand in the long-term
So many IEO projects consistently drop in price after listing. Whats different with KAVA, what are some special highlights?
Answer: Why is Kava based on Cosmos? Based on what considerations?
How do you see the chinese language community? How do you view the opportunities for growth in the chinese community?
Answer: You will be soon listing on Binance, what are your plans on the business side after listing? In one years time, what are your thoughts on where Kava's development will be?
If we take a look at all the different types of DeFi products/apps out there, including decentralized exchanges, stablecoins, atomic swaps, insurance products, lending platforms, trade financing platforms, custodial platforms, crowd investment platforms, etc, nearly cover all the important areas of traditional finance.
In this age of all these different platforms taking hold, where does Kava see itself appealing to its app developers, users, investors?
Answer: What does Kava do? What can a normal user (of crypto) achieve by using KAVA?
How does Kava maintain the stability of its stablecoin? Are there any opportunities for outsiders to arbitrage or any other mechanisms to maintain price stabilization
Answer: What is the reason for the IEO price reaching 6x the first round private sale price? How did you come about to reaching this valuation?
What would you be able to do more for Russian-speaking communities and regions?
Answer: one thing to keep in mind is that yes, we do have limitations and regulations to follow when it comes to certain countries and we will adhere to those regulations in hopes of proving ourselves to be a thoughtful and long-term solution. while we may not directly work with some countries, we hope that communities there can understand that we're here focused on being sustainable rather than another project around shorter-term gains.
for myself, I'm actually belarusian myself so I absolutely see the value of working in the CIS/Russian-speaking regions. we'll continue to do AMAs, interviews, and always engage with Russian-speaking communities to better understand what the #Q s, concerns, and thoughts.
If there's anything else we can do in this region and with the @gagarin_ico communities, please let us know!
What are your major goals to archive in the next 3-4 years? Where can we KAVA ecosystem in this period? What are your plans to expand and gain more adoption?
Do you guys feel satisfied by seeing your progresses and achievements till now, when you look back to the day when you have started this project?
Answer: We want to really build out great DeFi products for the masses. I really believe that DeFi will be a major force to allow much more mass adoption for crypto over the coming years. In the sorter term, we want to push out our blockchain and build on top of that our CDP platform, which allows users to trustlessly put collateral onto the Kava blockchain, and receive a loan in USDX that will be also trustlessly administered.
We will then build out more complex products and financial derivatives for crypto users and traders. We have barely scratched the surface in what we can do with DeFi so I can't predict the future, but we want to build products that are pegged to BTC values so that traders have more leverage purely in crypto.
Which one of your milestone do you think was difficult and which was the encouragement that courages you to achieve it?
What were the Minimum and Maximum limit of KAVA tokens that one can be able to STAKE after the Mainnet launch ? And What will be the percentage of reward one gets and will it in future ?
Answer: Good #Q ! Well we've been working on open source cross-chain technologies for a number of years and honestly it can be a pain. I think the Cosmos SDK made it significantly easier to implement the features that we wanted into the software.
I think the largest challenges for Kava are not software based but in market adoption. Makerdao is a great project and they have spearheaded a lot of the work in the lending field. Hopefully Kava can be a very meaningful contributor as well
What if someone fails to repay the debt? Is that KAVA is taking collateral system to enterprise level & if so, what's the plan? How secure KAVA is to safely handle the collateral tokens?
Answer: These CDPs or "collateral debt positions" are always over-collateralized, which means you have to have more asset locked up in the bucket than you can draw from the bucket. The system leaves a margin when the collateral is 'called' to be able to sell off. If the asset cannot be fully redeemed KAVA is minted to cover the balance. Hence KAVA is a 'lender of last resort". This is why its important that we select good initially assets to support 👍
I am very impressed with your voting method, how does it work? Whether users can vote to change things in the platform, are you a programmer with filters to decide what can be voted on and what is not possible?
Answer: Thanks. A lot of this was pioneered with the Tendermint team. Basically voting is entirely open and asynchronous, meaning anyone can submit a proposal to be voted on. All the project in the Cosmos ecosystem are working diligently to expand the space of variable or features that can be modified via this governance method in protocol. For example, we were the first to enable transactions directly via governance in our Testnet-2000!
Where does the interest rate come from for holding USDX specifically & technically?
Answer: Great #Q ! Just like in MakerDAO, lenders of collateral (e.g. BTC, BNB) pay an annual interest rate to borrow USDX. A portion of that interest rate accretes to holders of KAVA, the rest we can apply a 'carrot' for users to adopt USDX. In short, Savings rate is loan interest rate less 'rents' collected from KAVA holders
As far as I understand it KaVa is used both as a staking token and as collateral for Kava stablecoins (UsDX) .Can you talk a bit about the stability mechanism? Can other forms of collateral be used to create Kava stablecoins (a la Multi-Collateral Dai)?
Answer: KAVA will not be used as a collateral type in the CDPs. Collateral types will be assets exogenous to the system, like BTC and BNB. Of course BTC and BNB's value fluctuates. To make USDX not fluctate we ensure there is always more BTC or BNB in the CDP bucket than 'stable' USDX. Therefore BTC could increase or decrease a lot, as long as its less than the 'stable' debt of USDX that you have drawn, the system is healthy and functional 👌
As far as I know, KAVA had 150 Validators in the test. Why do you have so much. Which conditions are your team based on to choose / invite them to stay decentralized, important for a Defi platform like KAVA?
Answer: KAVA mainnet will launch with a cap of 100 validators. We want as many validators as possible. The reason? What if KAVA was run by just you and me. Well that works if people trust us, but its pretty for us to collude and act maliciously. Its harder for 100 people to collude -- its still possible, but harder. And so we put a lot of effort in to promoting a healthy and large validator community, and empowering them to grow their stake in the system
As a developer, which program languages can i use in kava core smart contracts?
2How secure your fully on-chain liquidity protocol & What's is a core Smart Contract ?can you briefly explain.
Answer: Yay developers! 🤓 The Cosmos SDK is currently written in Golang. So thats a good start. What other language would you like to work in?
What do you think of DEFI in the Blockchain space?
DeFi brings many benefits to users, but conflicts of interests with the Bank. What is the solution of kava?
Answer: Defi to me is offering financial primates, the supplies of which are spreadout amongst many participants, as opposed to few. People offer loans on BTC today. Kava's goal is to maximize the amount of counterparties to any loan, thereby 'socializing' the returns on any activiely used financial product
What is the crucial thing, in your opinion,that would increase adoption of KAVA and possibly the rest of crypto. What’s the KAVA economic model and how will it is architecture ensure scarcity of the token and help to growth token price?
Can you tell me more about the new technology that combines the benefits and interactive functions of Cosmos with the DeFi applications you have built?
Answer: Principly what I believe is 'new' about the KAVA tech stack is that we are building a standalone piece of software that treats other network techologies as 'first class citizens'. This means from the ground up our design is mean to easily incorporate and work with other software. A lot of blockchain is a story of "everyone will use my software, because its the best". Kava Labs worked for years against this view while bringing open Interledger to market.
As Per Kava website ! $KAVA was done many partnerships with Big project like Ripple, Cosmos, TenderMint, Hashkey, etc ! So, whats the major reason and benefits of these partnerships to kava project?
Kava Project have their own Mainnet Blockchain So, whats the main work of Cosmos Blockchain in Kava ? Is Kava projects is on Both mainnet and Cosmos OR Kava is just using the Cosmos Blockchain services?
Answer: Working together. Pooling resources and talent to make something bigger! Crypto is still a little fish in a huge ocean of financial services. Kava Labs has always had an eye for inclusivity. Grow the pie!
I have been too involved in KAVA's AMA, I think I know all about your technology.I want to ask a successful person like you why come with cryptocurrencies and blockchain, with talent. There are many other areas for you to choose, so why are you targeting such a risky market?
Answer: Successful ay? hehe. Depends how you define success and what your goals are. I love delivering products to users. Crypto has some fantastic users, and there is still sooo much to be built. I think KAVA has a lot of promise, but there is still so much work to be done and I hope users like you all become producers some day as well
What's the most critical and innovative point of KAVA to ensure users that it is the best under DeFi niche?
How can you compete MakerDAO which has done good number of business with recent market! If I hold KAVA tokens how KAVA leverage the tokens value and make it moon for me? 🙈
Answer: "IF" you hold KAVA tokens now? 😂 Again I think this a markets concern. To the extend that users on other chains begin to trust KAVA brand for loan issuance, and we get some solid adoption of USDX I think we're in a good spot. I would say a benefit of KAVA is that we are FOCUSED. We're not trying to be everything for everyone. This is lending, quite simply, for the large market cap coins -- and that's hard enough
Why KAVA needs to create it's own stable coin, whereas there are are many other options available in the market? Is that crypto tokens can be stable!!?
Answer: Yeah there are a lot of USD backed stable coins that is true. Indeed we have looked around with working together with a number of them. The difference with USDX (and DAI) is that its crypto-collateral backed. Doesnt mean we won't work with others in the future 😉
Processing fees on loans we need to pay in kava or usdx?
Which types of success you've been seen in testnet? Why on Nov 5th you've planned to launch mainnet? How many testnet was processed in the past?
Answer: Three major testnets with some minor iterations therein. Testnet-3000's software was pinned to KAVA mainnet software. That testnet is looking good which is a good indicator for smooth sailing on mainnet launch, we'll see 🤞
DeFi is a hot niche when it comes to crypto/blockchain project! Most of the projects are developing aiming DeFi, How KAVA is looking to contribute in DeFi ecosystem? What will be the approach of KAVA to systemize & increase adoptability?
Answer: DeFi is big. Mostly on Ethereum, which is great! KAVA is for non-ethereum networks 😇
What is the main reason that you think that Cosmos-based Kava zone will present a new validator opportunity :- a complex and multi-faceted governance system that allows differentiation?
Answer: Validator #Q , nice. I believe its important for validators to be able to distiguish there service in multiple ways, not just on security (otherwise they will be treated as a commodity). KAVA present an opportunity for validators to distiguish themselves on the basis of proper governance of system parameters on behalf of their delegating constituents. KAVA is a "lender of last resort", so delegating to a sophisticated validator could lead to better results beyond security.
How is kavas tendermint better than other defi consensus especially with the introduction of etheruem 2.0 which many believe will be better than all others - considering kavas association with ripple, is it possible to foresee defi loans from crypto to fiat ?
Maybe kava partnership with centralised banks?
Answer: IDK about that. But we will be working closely with the great folks over at Ripple, thats for sure!
Adoption is one of the important factor that all sustainable blockchain projects should focus to be more attractive in the invertors' eyes.
Can you tell me what KAVA has done and plan to do to achieve Adoption in the reality, real use cases, our real society?
Answer: Bitcoin is real!? I'm continuously impressed by the demand and size of that network. Help us capture that demand! Really, if we can I think the future looks bright for KAVA!
Answer - As for Kava, Kava was originally founded in January 2018. It was formed by cofounders Scott Stuart, Ruaridh O’Donnell and myself with the mission to tackle the problem of interoperability. We started the company working with larger projects like Ripple, MakerDao, and Cosmos on their layer 2 and interoperability problems and developed a lot of expertise in this area. It wasn’t until 2019 that we eventually decided to put our expertise to public use and create the first interoperable DeFi blockchain, Kava.
Could you please tell me what KAVA cryptocurrency is? What problem does it solve?
Answer - KAVA is the staking, governance, and reserve asset of the Kava DeFi platform. KAVA is required by node operators to secure transactions on the blockchain. Additionally, when lending fees are paid, they are converted to Kava and burned reducing the overall supply of KAVA tokens. As more users use the Kava lending platform, KAVA should become more scarce overtime.
What is the advantage of keeping the KAVA token for a long and short term?
Answer - In the short term, if you stake KAVA you can earn additional block rewards every day, block by block. This provides a nice steady return on the Kava usually in the range of 3-20% depending on the number of people staking.
We will be opening the gates of DeFi to many top tier assets such as BNB, XRP, ATOM, and BTC which have never been able to use lending, stablecoins, or other DeFi Services. If you are a KAVA hodler you can benefit from owning and having a stake in the network as we grow because as the network grows, Kava is burned and it becomes more scarce as a resource.
Chainlink is KAVA’s partner, can you explain more about this partnership?
Answer - Yes, this is not the usual chainlink partnership where a blockchain consumes data from Chainlink’s oracle solution.
No oracle solution adequate for DeFi applications on Cosmos was available. For this reason, Kava has teamed up with Chainlink to bring its data and reliable oracle solution to the Cosmos ecosystem. Chainlink nodes now will be able to securely publish data directly on the Kava blockchain where it can be used or easily transported to other Cosmos-based blockchains and applications. Chainlink oracles on Kava utilize all the industry-leading technologies of Chainlink, while enabling more frequent price updates and improving the reach and distribution of where that data can be used.
Since Kava’s blockchain is built using Tendermint, Tendermint-based blockchains within the Cosmos ecosystem (Binance, Terra, OKChain, Cosmos Hub, Agoric, Aragon, and others) will now be able to retrieve market data such as cryptocurrency, FX, and commodity prices. For DEX’s like Binance this will enable them to create futures, options, and other derivative products they were not able to do so before.
TLDR: Kava + Chainlink Data creates the ideal hub for all blockchains and applications to get their DeFi services and Data, and as result makes Kava a natural hub for the growing Cosmos ecosystem.
What is the KAVA CDP product? Do you have any exciting things down the pipeline that you can share?
Answer - First, let me clarify that CDP simply means “collateralized-debt-position” similar to CDOs that exist in the traditional finance world. What it means is a loan using collateral to back the loan.
Kava’s lending platform offers collateralized loans to users who have crypto. Getting a loan with Kava’s platform is great if you don’t want to sell your crypto position, but need short term cash for payments or if you want to use the loan to get a levered / margin position without going through KYC.
As for news! Kava’s lending platform is scheduled to officially launch on the mainnet June 10th.
At this time, DeFi will be made available to BNB for the first time ever. Also at this time, the Kava DeFi platform will be awarding the first users that have BNB extremely high rewards for being early adopters.
Each week, 74,000 KAVA will be given out to all the users who have taken out loans on Kava. Yes, you get free KAVA, for taking out a loan using BNB!
Why should BNB users use KAVA’s lending platform and take out USDX? And how to mint USDX with BNB on KAVA CDP?
Answer - Free- maybe let's call it rewards for being good users 😉
The rewards are platform growth incentives so that we can grow the platform quickly.
Well at launch, definitely the KAVA rewards are a huge reason for BNB users to use it.
As for the product long-term, the major use case for our lending platform is to get a levered position without needing an exchange or to go through KYC.
How it works is that a BNB holder can deposit their BNB and take out USDX loans - this capital they will take and buy more BNB with it. Most people will use the loan this way to get 2-3x the original BNB amount. If the price goes up on BNB, they win 2-3x the gains!
Of course if the price goes down and they cannot repay their loan, the BNB collateral might get liquidated, so be careful, it works just like a margin trading account.
Brian do you have any more information or links for our community about this?
KAVA was initially planned to launch on Ripple network but later switched to Cosmos Tendermint Core. [email protected] is that something you see in Tendermint Core that is not available anywhere?
Answer - For clarification, Kava was never planned to be on Ripple. However, Ripple is a Kava investor, shareholder, and partner.
We selected the Cosmos-SDK featuring the Tendermint BFT consensus because during our past work with Ripple, MakerDao, ETH, and other layer 2 work we learned the value of “finality” of blockchains. For example, on ETH, the finality of blocks do not happen right away. You need to reach 15+ blocks to be confirmed on Ethereum to really know a transaction has passed. This results in really slow user experiences that aren’t acceptable in finance or any application really.
Tendermint solves this because it makes every transaction final and occur in seconds.
Additionally, we chose the Cosmos-SDK as the framework to build our stand alone blockchain, Kava because it allowed us to create our own security model and design which enables Kava as a DeFi platform responsible for millions of dollars of collateral to be very secure in a way we could net get if we built it on any other network.
KAVA does cross-chain support. Compared to other DeFi platforms, KAVA offer collateralized loans and stable coins to users too. How will volatility be managed there with so many different collateral systems in CDP?
Answer - Volatility is an important consideration and accurate and timely price reference data is needed to make sure the system works.
All the collateral positions rely on price feeds from oracles to determine if they are safe or need to be liquidated. Kava has created a novel partnership with Chainlink, where Chainlink oracles that normally run on Ethereum, operate nodes directly on Kava where they can post prices. This Kava to avoid network congestion, high gas fees, and other less desirable issues found on Ethereum, while enabling the oracles with Kava’s fast blocktimes and finality so they can actually deliver price updates 10-20x more frequently than is possible elsewhere. This makes Kava’s price feed data very reliable.
In times of volatility, if liquidations occur, the Kava platform automatically auctions collateral off for USDX on the market and burns the USDX. This mechanism keeps the system balanced and USDX algorithmically stable and always fully collateralized by real assets.
And it does this transparently, unlike the real world CDOs which caused the world issues in 2008 due to the lack of transparency in their assets and risk.
Recently, Binance has released a white paper on BSC, a Binance smart chain. So, what can I get by staking through Binance Coin BNB?
Answer - Yay for smart contracts!
What can we get by staking bnb?
Staking BNB on Kava, or depositing it in a CDP and creating USDX from it earns users KAVA in rewards everyweek. A lot of rewards. In addition, you get USDX to hold which also pays out a savings rate each block that is much better than say what USD in a checking account could do.
Various platforms are in Ethereum. So why is Kava not at Ethereum?
Answer - I could speak about this for ages, but there is a reason for Ethereum being the home to many hacks and bugs.
Kava is not on ethereum because we couldn’t build our system there. The main reasons. as I have mentioned are:
(1) Ethereum has congestion, oracle issues, high fees, and slow block times.
(2) Ethereum’s open smart contracting system can do anything. This is great for building crypto kitties, but horrible for financial software as it makes all code have infinite attack vectors that hackers can use which are impossible to test for. We built our own chain so we could scope the code and limit what attack vectors are possible.
(3) Building in solidity, the language of Ethereum, is horrible. The development environment is bad, testnets don’t work, and many other things are painful. Kava is primarily built in GO which is far superior for financial applications in most respects.
(4) The future is Cosmos. Binance, Okchain, terra, Cosmos Hub(ATOM), and Kava all are created using the Cosmos-SDK framework. I believe this is the future and the blockchain developers are moving to this in mass. Over 110 projects now are building with the Cosmos-SDK.
What are ways by which Kava project generates profit/revenue to maintain project. What is your revenue model?
Answer - Kava is a for-profit financial DAO with over 80 different businesses staking Kava and voting on its evolution. They want to see Kava succeed so they vote to fund operations and developments that drive user growth in Kava. Due to fees paid in Kava and the burning mechanism, as the system grows in users, the Kava supply decreases making those that hold Kava win due to scarcity.
Lending/Borrowing has been introduced by Binance. How can this affect the Kava since people can directly borrow BUSD from Binance with BNB used as collateral than going to Kava?
Answer - Kava will be featured on Binance as well. The main benefit of Kava is that there is no counterparty. The capital is minted on demand not sourced from somewhere. Binance and other centralized parties on the otherhand need to find capital to provide loans, creating a cost of capital. Kava is much more efficient at providing capital and avoids a lot of regulator issues.
I'll add I think BUSD in the future might be usable for collateral to Kava's loans as well. It would be cool 🙂
What's your opinions on Future of DeFi & DApps? Do you think that DeFi is the future of current Financial world? Also, How do you see the future of KAVA?
Answer - I believe Centralized Finance and the existing infrastructure has a place. It has a lot of issues that cause things like the 2008 crisis and the current insolvency issues that are happening across the world due to trust-based debt with no actual backers other than the people which end up bailing out banks and other financial institutions that have made poor decisions.
DeFi's future is bright because it solves this fundamental issue. It removes trust and adds transparency. Kava is right at the foundation for all of DeFi as things grow and mature.
Recently, we have seen some big hacks in DeFi platforms. How will KAVA deal with these bad actors of crypto and what security measures have been taken by KAVA for the safety of users' funds?"
Answer - Unlike a lot of DeFi startups, we take things seriously. We don't ""move fast and break things"" as Mark Zuckerberg would say.
We do a thorough analysis before suggesting to deploy code. Our internal team works very hard to run tests and simulations, once it passes internally, we give it to 3rd party auditors who try and game it and break the code. If it passes there, we give the code to the community to review and vote into the mainnet. In this way, I’d estimate about 100+ people review our code and test it before it goes live and consumers can touch it. I don't know many other project teams that due things with such diligence.
Binance for KAVA is a very valuable partner in terms of increasing the number of users, but what is KAVA ready to give equivalent to Binance users? What applications will be integrated into Binance to expand the ecosystem?
Answer - Kava gives the BNB users loans. It gives the DEX a stablecoin and the ability to offer margin products. Kava’s connection to binance chain and chainlink data also enables Binance DEX to offer trustless derivatives like options and futures products going forward.
Cosmos has limitations on working with PoW coins. How do you technically solve the problem of implementing DeFi products for bitcoin?
Answer - Cosmos is great for hard-to-work-with blockchains like BTC. It's flexible in how you can construct bridges. For example, the validator set can have a multisig private key split up into pieces in order to create a trustless escrow and control of assets on other blockchains. In this way, we can create peg zones with Cosmos for the best assets in the world. Once a zone is established, it can be used on Kava and other Cosmos chains.
USDX is currently a little-known stable coin. Do you plan to add it to the top exchanges with good liquidity, including Binance?
Answer - USDX will be growing quickly. We have a plan to have it listed and get liquidity across several known exchanges shortly after launch.
There are several options for using USDX on the KAVA platform, one of which is Margin Trading / Leverage. Is this a selection function or a compulsory function? Wondering since there are some investors who don`t like margin. What is the level of leverage and how does a CDP auction work?
Answer - Using Kava for Margin trading is 100% optional. You can choose how you want to use the margin loan. You don’t have to spend the USDX unless you want to. It could be used for everyday payments as well in the case you simply don’t want to sell your underlying collateral. If you don’t want the risk, do small loans with lots of collateral.
Will your team have a plan to implement the DAO module on your platform, as it provides autonomy, decentralization and transparency?
Answer - DAO - Kava is a for-profit DAO and it’s fully functional already. We have on-chain governance and have underwent several votes and evolutions you can look at. You actually can see some current voting processes taking place here: https://kava.mintscan.io/proposals
We recently implemented a cool feature called committees, which enables the DAO to elect a small group of experts to make decisions without needing a vote of the whole user base. This enables the experts to have control over a small portion of the protocol - such as monitoring the debt limit, fees, etc and enables Kava to operate faster and be more adaptable in volatile market conditions.
How can we address the possible overloads and security threats caused by increased users in the DeFi scene?
Answer - Yes, this is a huge issue for Ethereum, MakerDAO and everyone in the space. I don’t see a bright future for DeFi on Etheruem unfortunately. You can’t have a blockchain do everything well. Tether alone congests most of Ethereum and makes oracle price feeds lag the market. This can cause liquidations that should not happen and real people will lose real funds. It’s a huge issue.
The hope is for a dedicated system like Kava to provide a better backbone for DeFi applications going forward.
I should point out that Kava is not just a MakerDao for Cosmos or a CDP for Bitcoin. Kava is designed to be a foundational layer for DeFi services that every new blockchain and application will need.
Every blockchain will need DeFi services like lending, stablecoins, and data and they need it to be very secure. Kava does all this with its cross-chain lending plarform, USDX stablecoin, and Chainlink data in an incredibly secure, but accessible manner.
In this way, Kava aims to connect and serve all the major cryptocurrency communities and build it’s place at the center, where every developer can get what they need to build financial applications of the future."
What distinguishes Kava from your existing competitors like Syntetix?
Answer - Synthetix isn't really a competitor, but it is an interesting project in terms of mechanism design. We share a lot of common investors and have similar token economic ideas with them. The only blockchain project that could be is MakerDAO, but they can only work with ETH assets due to their design. We are focused on the major cap assets - BTC, BNB, XRP, ATOM and others have a much larger market than ETH to address. BTC is 10x the size alone. Currently no one serves them with DeFi. We’re going after this opportunity and believe it to be a huge one.
Why is the KAVA coin not used for Mint, why am I asking that because I see it can also make the value of KAVA coins grow naturally?
Answer - Why is Kava not used as a collateral? Well, it could be I suppose. The community might vote for this in the near future if they want us to be like synthetix. It makes the Kava token more valuable and it will incentivize much more locked-up Kava reducing overall circulating supply which is fairly favorable. The main reason we have not done this yet is that we(Kava and its community) are still weighing the risks of doing this given that Kava also functions as a reserve asset. I think it's likely Kava gets added as collateral at some point, but it will likely have a high debt-collateral ratio to address the issues similar to Synthetix which is 750%.
How do you prevent in a manipulated KAVA Mint just to take advantage of a token prize when minting?
Answer - Minting rewards and manipulation. We’ve thought of this. Each week, the blockchain counts all the blocks, counts how many people had a loan in that period, then takes the average loan amount over time to calculate the rewards. If you open and close a loan - you will get very little rewards. You only get a large reward if you keep the loan open the full period.
Who are your oracle providers? Are you also an oracle provider?
Answer - Kava may run 1 oracle in the future, but we will always have many and be the minority. Most chainlink oracle node operators are large players in the space that run staking infrastructure companies like cosmostation, chainlayer, chorus one, figment networks, etc. Binance will also be one of our oracles.
If we look at all the different types of DeFi products _(decentralized exchanges, stablecoins, atomic swaps, insurance products, loan platforms, trade financing platforms, custody platforms, and crowdfunding platforms) currently covering important areas of traditional finance...where does Kava fit in?
Answer - To make any interesting financial product work you need capital, a stable store of value, and price data. These are really hard to get on current blockchain environments. Kava provides all of these.
Many people describe Kava as similar to Maker (MKR). How is Kava different? Why do you think Kava has more potential?
Answer - MakerDAO is a smart contract with a singular purpose, to serve ETH. It sadly inherited the problems of ethereum. Kava is designed from the ground up for security and interoperability. We are targeting bigger and better assets and have more capabilities to serve them with what their developers and ecosystem need.
What is the uniqueness of KAVA project that cannot be found in other project that´s been released so far ?
Answer - Well in June 10th, we will be the first ever blockchain project to bring DeFi to another blockchain in a real way. BNB users will have loans, stablecoins, and much more.
The gas fee is an issue for blockchain besides scalability. Does your Kava provide a solution for gas?
Answer - gas fees are very low on Kava, only high enough to prevent spam. We dont need high fees for TX because validators are paid in block rewards. Additionally, we dont have competing transactions from crypto-kitties or other non-financial applications. This leaves all of Kava's throughput 100% dedicated to scaling financial transactions.
Kava project works on DeFi (Decentralized Finance) But what’s the benefits of Decentralized Financial system? What are the possibilities of DeFi over Centralized Finance system?
Answer - Open access, no need for trust, and no censorship by singular governments or parties. Kava is accessible anywhere in the world, by anyone.
Data supplied by oracles are false at times, how do you prevent this? How reliable are data received by KAVA?
Answer - This is why using premium / credentialed APIs is important for oracles. These data sources tend to be more accurate and better managed. Wrong prices can happen - for liquidation systems like Kava, we factor this into our design by using an average of data overtime form all oracles as part of the calculation.
Can anyone become a KAVA validator, or is it just an invitation from the project itself? What are the requirements for becoming a KAVA verifier?
Answer - Anyone can become a validator, but you will need to stake or have enough stake delegated to you from others to be in the top 100 validators to earn block rewards.
DEFI PULSE said that a total of 902M is currently locked. According to you, how will this number change in the next few years, and how will KAVA position itself as the top player in this market segment?
Answer - DeFi will only grow through 2020. And likely grow massively.
All projects on DeFi pulse are ""ethereum"" based. Kava is going to shake the blockchain world in the next few weeks by being the first ""multi-chain"" project on DeFi pulse and by my estimations we should quickly surpass a lot of the projects on that list.
I am an testnet minter and the process seem Simplified, now I want to know if minting of USDX will continue when you launch Mainnet and do you have plans to build your own KAVA WALLET for easy minting on your mainnet
Answer - Simple blockchain experience?! high praise! Yes the process will be the same. Kava will not provide interfaces or wallets. Kava Labs builds software for the blockchain, our community members like Cosmostation, Frontier, Trust Wallet build support for people to interact with it.
What business plans does Kava have with Seoul (South Korea) after partnering with Cosmostation? Do you plan to expand your products beyond Asia? Have you thought about harnessing the potential of South America?
Answer - South Korea is a perfect market for Kava's DeFi. Regulations prohibit fiat-backed stablecoins and margin trading. Kava's platform uses crypto-backed stabvlecoins and can enable users to get loans to margin trade. I am looking forward to further developing the Korean market for Kava, working with close partners like Cosmostation and showing the world real use cases of DeFi.
Thank you for taking the time to conduct this AMA. Do you have any parting words, and where can the people go to keep up with all of the new happenings regarding Kava Labs?
Answer - Thanks for all the awesome questions! Amazingly thoughtful!
I've been promising the world cross-chain DeFi since June of last year. The IEO and mainnet went live Nov 2019. It's been a year of hard work - but an industry first is coming on June 10th. I'm excited. I hope you guys are.
Thanks for having me, I hope you become a USDX minter and get KAVA rewards. And last but not least, I love Binance - it's Kava's first home and I'm really happy to open up DeFi to BNB first.
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