In September, this decentralized exchange (DEX) overtook Coinbase in trading volume:
A) UniswapB) AaveC) CompoundD) Both A and B Scroll down for the answer.
Ranking and September Winners and Losers
2020 Top 10 Rank Lots of movement this month: six out of the Top Ten changed positions in September. BCH climbed one from #6 to #5 and BNB made a big move from #10 to #6. Going the opposite direction were BSV, EOS, and Tezos, dropping one, two, and four places respectively. The big story though, at least for anyone who’s been watching crypto for a while, was the ejection of Litecoin from the Top Ten. In just 30 days, LTC fell five places from #7 to #12. For some context, Litecoin’s absence from the Top Ten is a Top Ten Experiment first. It is also the first time since CoinMarketCap has tracked crypto rankings that Litecoin has not has not held a spot in the Top Ten. Drop outs: after nine months of the experiment, 30% of the cryptos that started 2020 in the Top Ten have dropped out. LTC, EOS, and Tezos have been replaced by ADA,LINK, and most recently, DOT. September Winners – Winner, singular: BNB was the only crypto to finish in the green, finished up +25% for the month, and gained four places in the rankings. A very good month for Binance Coin. September Losers – Tezos was the worst performing crypto of the 2020 Top Ten portfolio, losing nearly a third of its value, down -31% for the month. LTC also had a bad month, losing -24% and dropping out of the Top Ten. Since COVID-19 has hammered the sporting world, let’s be overly competitive and pit these cryptos against each other, shall we? Here’s a table showing which cryptos have the most monthly wins and losses nine months into the 2020 Top Ten Crypto Index Fund Experiment: Wins/Losses ETH is in the lead three monthly Ws, followed by Tether and Tezos with two wins each. Even though it is up +79% since January 1st, 2020, BSV has the most monthly losses: it has been the worst performing crypto of the group four out of the first nine months in 2020.
Overall update – ETH maintains strong lead, followed by BNB. 100% of Top Ten are in positive territory.
Ethereum remains firmly in the lead, up +187% on the year. Thanks to a strong month for BNB and a weak month for Tezos,Binance Coin has overtaken XTZ for second place, and is now up +109% in 2020. Discounting Tether (no offense Big-T), EOS (+4%) is the worst performing cryptocurrency of the 2020 Top Ten Portfolio. 100% of the cryptos in this group are in positive territory.
Total Market Cap for the cryptocurrency sector:
The overall crypto market lost about $35B in September, ending the month up +85% since the beginning of this year’s experiment in January 2020. Despite a rough month, this is the second highest month-end level since the 2020 Top Ten Experiment started nine months ago.
Monthly BitDom - 2020 BitDom ticked up slightly this month, but is still lower than it has been for most of the year. As always, a low BitDom reflects a greater appetite for altcoins. For context, the BitDom range since the beginning of the experiment in January 2020 has been roughly between 57% and 68%.
Overall return on investment since January 1st, 2020:
After an initial $1000 investment on January 1st, the 2020 Top Ten Portfolio is now worth $1,536, up +56%. This is the best performing of the three Top Ten Crypto Index Fund Portfolios, but not by much: the 2019 Top Ten came in at +54% in September. Here’s the month by month ROI of the 2020 Top Ten Experiment, hopefully helpful to maintain perspective and provide an overview as we go along: Monthly ROI - 2020 Top Ten Even during the zombie apocalypse blip in March, the 2020 Top Ten has managed to end every month so far in the green (for a mirror image, check out the all red table you’ll find in the 2018 experiment). The range of monthly ROI for the 2020 Top Ten has been between a low of +7% in March and high of +83% in August. So, how does the 2020 Top Ten Experiment compare to the parallel projects?
Taken together, here’s the bottom bottom bottom line for the three portfolios: After a $3000 investment in the 2018, 2019, and 2020 Top Ten Cryptocurrencies, the combined portfolios are worth $3,340 ($238+ $1,538 +$1,564). That’s up about +11% for the three combined portfolios, compared to +31% last month. Here’s a table to help visualize the progress of the combined portfolios: Combined ROI - UP +11% That’s a +11% gain by buying $1k of the cryptos that happened to be in the Top Ten on January 1st, 2018, 2019, and 2020. But what if I’d gone all in on only one Top Ten crypto for the past three years? While many have come and gone over the life of the experiment, five cryptos have started in Top Ten for all three years: BTC, ETH, XRP, BCH, and LTC (Big L, no pressure, but if you don’t claw yourself back in the Top Ten by January 2021, you’re out of the club). Let’s take a look: Three Year Club At this point in the Experiments, Ethereum (+104%) would have easily returned the most, followed by BTC (+77%). On the other hand, following this approach with XRP, I would have been down nearly a third at -31%. So that’s the Top Ten Crypto Index Fund Experiments snapshot. Let’s take a look at how traditional markets are doing.
Comparison to S&P 500
I’m also tracking the S&P 500 as part of my experiment to have a comparison point to traditional markets. The S&P slipped a bit from an all time high in August and is now up just +5% in 2020. Over the same time period, the 2020 Top Ten Crypto Portfolio is returning about +56%. The initial $1k investment in crypto is now worth about $1,563. That same $1k I put into crypto in January 2020 would be worth $1050 had it been redirected to the S&P 500 instead. That’s a $513 difference on a $1k investment, one of the largest gaps in favor of crypto all year. But that’s just 2020. What about in the longer term? What if I invested in the S&P 500 the same way I did during the first three years of the Top Ten Crypto Index Fund Experiments? What I like to call the world’s slowest dollar cost averaging method? Here are the figures:
$1000 investment in S&P 500 on January 1st, 2018 = $1260 today
$1000 investment in S&P 500 on January 1st, 2019 = $1350 today
$1000 investment in S&P 500 on January 1st, 2020 = $1050 today
So, taken together, here’s the bottom bottom bottom line for a similar approach with the S&P: After three $1,000 investments into an S&P 500 index fund in January 2018, 2019, and 2020, my portfolio would be worth $3,660. That $3,660 is up +22%since January 2018, compared to a +11% gain of the combined Top Ten Crypto Experiment Portfolios over the same period of time. That’s an 11% swing in favor of the S&P 500 and breaks a two month mini-streak of wins from the Top Ten crypto portfolios. For those keeping track or unable to see the table above: that’s seven monthly victories for the S&P vs. two monthly victories for crypto. The largest gap so far was a 22% difference in favor of the S&P back in June.
September saw losses for both traditional and crypto markets, but crypto got hit harder. What can we expect for the rest of 2020? The Neverending Year is entering the final quarter and is not finished with us yet: a lot can and will happen in the remaining months. More volatility is no doubt to come as we enter the final stretch of a truly unpredictable and exhausting year. Buckle up. Stay healthy and take care of yourselves out there. Thanks for reading and for supporting the experiment. I hope you’ve found it helpful. I continue to be committed to seeing this process through and reporting along the way. Feel free to reach out with any questions and stay tuned for progress reports. Keep an eye out for the original 2018 Top Ten Crypto Index Fund Experiment and the 2019 Top Ten Experiment follow up experiment.
I like moons, I like music. I also like burying musical references in crypto reports. First one to name the two musical references gets some moons.
Remember the panic in early Sept? Despite a tough month, the 2019 Top Ten are +54% and still well ahead of the stock market.
What's this all about? I purchased $100 of each of Top Ten Cryptos in Jan. 2019, haven't sold or traded. Did the same in 2018 and 2020. Learn more about the history and rules of the Experimentshere.
September - all cryptos in the red, so I guess Tether wins the month.
Overall since Jan. 2019 - ETH loses lead to BTC which is +189%. Only 2 out of the Top Ten in negative territory.
Combining all three three years, Top Ten cryptos underperforming S&P if I'd taken a similar approach.
Month Twenty One – UP 54%
2019 Top Ten Summary for September Although crypto recovered a bit from an early September dive, the 2019 Top Ten Portfolio ended the month completely in the red, similar to what we saw in June. Litecoin dropped out of the Top Ten this month, the first time since these Experiments began.
Question of the month:
In September, Tether moved 1 billion USDT coins from TRON to this blockchain:
A) Ethereum B) Neo C) Polkadot D) EOS Scroll down for the answer.
Ranking and September Winners and Losers
2019 Top Ten Ranking Here come the new coins: with the exception of BCH (up one place from #6 to #5) every crypto either remained in place or dropped. BSV, down one place, EOS and Tron down two, and Stellar fell three. Litecoin dropped a massive five places to land itself outside of the Top Ten, the first time since I began the Experiments back in January 2018. Due to Litecoin’s expulsion from the Top Ten, 40% of the crypotos have dropped out of the Top Ten since January 1st, 2019: Tron, Stellar, Litecoin and EOS have been replaced by BNB, DOT, ADA, and LINK. September Winners – With all cryptos in the red, stablecoin Tether outperformed the rest. BTC finished second, down -8% in September, followed by BSV, down -10%. September Losers – LTC had a truly horrible month, losing nearly a quarter of its value (-24%), falling five places in the ranking, and falling out of the Top Ten. Close behind was Stellar and ETH, down -23% and -22%. For overly competitive nerds, here is a tally of which coins have the most monthly wins and losses during the first 21 months of the 2019 Top Ten Experiment: 2019 Ws and Ls Depressingly, Tether is still far ahead with seven monthly victories, more than twice as much as second place BSV and ETH. And although BSV is up 87% since January 2019, it dominates the monthly loss count: it has now finished last in eight out of twenty-one months. Swing trade anyone? And XRP is still the only crypto that has yet to notch a win.
Overall update – BTC takes lead from ETH. Stellar now worst performing since Jan. 1st, 2019
After briefly pulling ahead of BTClast month, ETH gave up its overall lead in September. The top two are up +189% and +169% respectively followed distantly by BSV, up +87% since January 2019. The initial $100 investment in BTC is currently worth $295. Twenty-one months into the 2019 Top Ten Index Fund Experiment, 80% of the 2019 Top Ten cryptos are either flat or in the green. The other two cryptos are well in negative territory: last place Stellar (-33%) and second to last place XRP (-32%) have each lost about one third of their value since January 2019). At +54%, the 2019 Top Ten Portfolio is just behind the 2020 Top Ten Portfolio’s +56% gain and both are far, far ahead of the 2018 group (much more on that below).
Total Market Cap for the entire cryptocurrency sector:
Monthly total market cap, since Jan 2019 Since January 2019, the total market cap for crypto is up +176%. The overall market fell around $35B in September, ending the month around $351B. Despite the tough month, this is the second highest month-end level since the 2019 Top Ten Experiment started 21 months ago.
BitDom ticked up slightly this month, but is trending lower than the last year or so, where it had remained in the mid-60s%. As always, a low BitDom signals a greater appetite for altcoins. Zooming out, the BitDom range since the beginning of the experiment in January 2019 has been between 50%-70%.
Overall return on investment since January 1st, 2019:
The 2019 Top Ten Portfolio lost nearly $300 in September. After the initial $1000 investment, the 2019 Top Ten Crypto Portfolio is worth $1,538. That’s up about +54%. Here’s a look at the ROI over the life of the first 21 months of the 2019 Top Ten Index Fund experiment, month by month: Monthly ROI on Top Ten since Jan 2019 Unlike the completely red table you’ll see in the 2018 Top Ten Experiment, the 2019 crypto table is almost all green. The first month was the lowest point (-9%), and the highest point (+114%) was May 2019. At +54%, the 2019 Top Ten Portfolio is now the second best performing out of the three but just barely (the 2020 Top Ten is up +56%). Speaking of the other Experiments, let’s take a look at how the 2019 Top Ten Index Fund Portfolio compare to the parallel projects:
Taking the three portfolios together, here’s the bottom bottom bottom line: After a $3000 investment in the 2018, 2019, and 2020 Top Ten Cryptocurrencies, my combined portfolios are worth $3,340 ($238+ $1,538 +$1,564). That’s up about +11% for the three combined portfolios, compared to +31% last month. Lost in the numbers? Here’s a table to help visualize the progress of the combined portfolios: Combined ROI on $3k over 3 years - UP +11% To sum up: 11% gain by dropping $1k once a year on whichever cryptos happened to be in the Top Ten on January 1st, 2018, 2019, and 2020. But what if I’d gone all in on only one Top Ten crypto for the past three years? While many have come and gone over the life of the experiment, only five cryptos have started in Top Ten for all three years: BTC, ETH, XRP, BCH, and LTC (Litecoin, no pressure, but if you’re not back in the Top Ten in the next few months, you’re out of the club). Let’s take a look at those five: ETH leading the three year club Ethereum (+104%) would have returned the most at this point, followed by BTC (+77%). On the other hand, following this approach with XRP, I would have been down -31%. Alright, that’s crypto. How does crypto compare to the stock market?
Comparison to S&P 500:
I’m also tracking the S&P 500 as part of the experiments to have a comparison point with traditional markets. Although the S&P fell from an all time high the month before, it is up +35% since January 2019. The initial $1k investment I put into crypto 21 months ago would be worth $1,350 had it been redirected to the S&P 500 in January 2019. +35%, not bad at all. But the 2019 Top Ten Portfolio is up +54% over the same time period. That’s 2019. But what if I took the same world’s-slowest-dollar-cost-averaging $1,000-per-year-on-January-1st crypto approach with the S&P 500? It would yield the following:
$1000 investment in S&P 500 on January 1st, 2018 = $1260 today
$1000 investment in S&P 500 on January 1st, 2019 = $1350 today
$1000 investment in S&P 500 on January 1st, 2020 = $1050 today
Taken together, here’s the bottom bottom bottom line for a similar approach with the S&P: After three $1,000 investments into an S&P 500 index fund in January 2018, 2019, and 2020, my portfolio would be worth $3,660. That is up +22%since January 2018, compared to a +11% gain of the combined Top Ten Crypto Experiment Portfolios. As you can see in the table below, that’s a 11% swing in favor of the S&P 500. September breaks a two month mini-streak of wins from the Top Ten crypto portfolios. S&P takes the lead in Sept.
After a strong August, both the stock and crypto markets fell in September. In a year that feels neverending, a lot can and will happen in the remaining months of 2020. Be safe and take care of each other out there. Thanks for reading and for supporting the experiment. I hope you’ve found it helpful. I continue to be committed to seeing this process through and reporting along the way. Feel free to reach out with any questions and stay tuned for progress reports. Keep an eye out for the original 2018 Top Ten Crypto Index Fund Experiment and the 2020 Top Ten Experiment.
Ultimate glossary of crypto currency terms, acronyms and abbreviations
From rags to riches and back to rags. I became aware of Bitcoin in 2012, but didn't invest until 2014 @ $440. A few years prior, it had hit $1k, dropped, and much of the public lost interest except for users of Silk Road. I sold all my BTC once it hit $1k for the second time. The more I read about ETH, the more I was convinced that this shit was wild. I didn't get it at first, but given my background (product engineering) I started to recognize use cases that Ethereum could take on: Debt vehicles owned by communities (rather than..JP Morgan). Music platforms owned by users. Ethereum is/was a software engineer's economic API. Prior to Ethereum, we could write apps that fit into real-world government/economies, but now, we could write entire governments and economies -- and we all know the economy is mankind's most influential behavioral system. Once that clicked, I put all my money into Ethereum. I told my friends and family to invest a bit too. I bought some in February of 2017 and continued to buy until my ether chest became my savings. Once ETH breached $100, I was extremely confident that the world was seeing Ethereum for what I saw (an economic/government-building toolset) -- wow was I wrong. ETH grew and grew, as we all know, topping out around ~$1400. I vividly remember waking up one morning, checking how much $ my investment was worth -- almost a half million. "I'll sell some once my stake reaches $500k," I said to myself idiotically. The prior night, I had gotten into a debate with a friend (who also invested) who had doubts about how long the asset would increase. I argued that the utility of Ethereum had barely hit the market, he argued that had nothing to do with the rise -- he was right. The rise of price was fueled by people telling friends/family 'I JUST MADE THIS MUCH MONEY YOU HAVE TO INVEST!!!', and had absolutely nothing to do with Ethereum's true value to society. My friend sold all of his investment around this time. I did not. I watched my investment dwindle from some ~$450k to just a few thousand. During this time, I was funding my business, so I would sell my ETH slowly as the price dropped. My stack of crypto is almost nothing today, but one thing I took away was the value of money. When my stack had reached nearly half a million, I felt the same as I do today. I felt the same as I did before I earned the money. Nothing in my life changed -- my happiness was exactly the same, except for the fact that I didn't have any stress around money. What made me happy was using my money for good causes - I donated a decent amount to ocean relief funds and used my money to build a business which made people happy via convenience. I'm sharing this because I don't know how many other people have made half a million dollars in under a year (after being broke), then lost it all, but I'm sure it's not common. This experience taught me the value of money and its limits to happiness contributions. That said -- when you're under the poverty line, the personal value of money is way higher. It's like a maslow's hierarchy of needs situation -- once you've satisfied your basic financial needs, your increase in happiness is fueled by further endeavors outside of 'earning money'.
You've probably been hearing a lot about Bitcoin recently and are wondering what's the big deal? Most of your questions should be answered by the resources below but if you have additional questions feel free to ask them in the comments. It all started with the release of the release of Satoshi Nakamoto's whitepaper however that will probably go over the head of most readers so we recommend the following videos for a good starting point for understanding how bitcoin works and a little about its long term potential:
Limited Supply - There will only ever be 21,000,000 bitcoins created and they are issued in a predictable fashion, you can view the inflation schedule here. Once they are all issued Bitcoin will be truly deflationary. The halving countdown can be found here.
Open source - Bitcoin code is fully auditable. You can read the source code yourself here.
Accountable - The public ledger is transparent, all transactions are seen by everyone.
Decentralized - Bitcoin is globally distributed across thousands of nodes with no single point of failure and as such can't be shut down similar to how Bittorrent works. You can even run a node on a Raspberry Pi.
Censorship resistant - No one can prevent you from interacting with the bitcoin network and no one can censor, alter or block transactions that they disagree with, see Operation Chokepoint.
Push system - There are no chargebacks in bitcoin because only the person who owns the address where the bitcoins reside has the authority to move them.
Low fee scaling - On chain transaction fees depend on network demand and how much priority you wish to assign to the transaction. Most wallets calculate on chain fees automatically but you can view current fees here and mempool activity here. On chain fees may rise occasionally due to network demand, however instant micropayments that do not require confirmations are happening via the Lightning Network, a second layer scaling solution currently rolling out on the Bitcoin mainnet.
Borderless - No country can stop it from going in/out, even in areas currently unserved by traditional banking as the ledger is globally distributed.
Portable - Bitcoins are digital so they are easier to move than cash or gold. They can even be transported by simply memorizing a string of words for wallet recovery (while cool this method is generally not recommended due to potential for insecure key generation by inexperienced users. Hardware wallets are the preferred method for new users due to ease of use and additional security).
Bitcoin.org and BuyBitcoinWorldwide.com are helpful sites for beginners. You can buy or sell any amount of bitcoin (even just a few dollars worth) and there are several easy methods to purchase bitcoin with cash, credit card or bank transfer. Some of the more popular resources are below, also check out the bitcoinity exchange resources for a larger list of options for purchases.
Here is a listing of local ATMs. If you would like your paycheck automatically converted to bitcoin use Bitwage. Note: Bitcoins are valued at whatever market price people are willing to pay for them in balancing act of supply vs demand. Unlike traditional markets, bitcoin markets operate 24 hours per day, 365 days per year. Preev is a useful site that that shows how much various denominations of bitcoin are worth in different currencies. Alternatively you can just Google "1 bitcoin in (your local currency)".
Securing your bitcoins
With bitcoin you can "Be your own bank" and personally secure your bitcoins OR you can use third party companies aka "Bitcoin banks" which will hold the bitcoins for you.
If you prefer to "Be your own bank" and have direct control over your coins without having to use a trusted third party, then you will need to create your own wallet and keep it secure. If you want easy and secure storage without having to learn computer security best practices, then a hardware wallet such as the Trezor, Ledger or ColdCard is recommended. Alternatively there are many software wallet options to choose from here depending on your use case.
If you prefer to let third party "Bitcoin banks" manage your coins, try Gemini but be aware you may not be in control of your private keys in which case you would have to ask permission to access your funds and be exposed to third party risk.
Note: For increased security, use Two Factor Authentication (2FA) everywhere it is offered, including email! 2FA requires a second confirmation code to access your account making it much harder for thieves to gain access. Google Authenticator and Authy are the two most popular 2FA services, download links are below. Make sure you create backups of your 2FA codes.
As mentioned above, Bitcoin is decentralized, which by definition means there is no official website or Twitter handle or spokesperson or CEO. However, all money attracts thieves. This combination unfortunately results in scammers running official sounding names or pretending to be an authority on YouTube or social media. Many scammers throughout the years have claimed to be the inventor of Bitcoin. Websites like bitcoin(dot)com and the btc subreddit are active scams. Almost all altcoins (shitcoins) are marketed heavily with big promises but are really just designed to separate you from your bitcoin. So be careful: any resource, including all linked in this document, may in the future turn evil. Don't trust, verify. Also as they say in our community "Not your keys, not your coins".
Where can I spend bitcoins?
Check out spendabit or bitcoin directory for millions of merchant options. Also you can spend bitcoin anywhere visa is accepted with bitcoin debit cards such as the CashApp card. Some other useful site are listed below.
Mining bitcoins can be a fun learning experience, but be aware that you will most likely operate at a loss. Newcomers are often advised to stay away from mining unless they are only interested in it as a hobby similar to folding at home. If you want to learn more about mining you can read more here. Still have mining questions? The crew at /BitcoinMining would be happy to help you out. If you want to contribute to the bitcoin network by hosting the blockchain and propagating transactions you can run a full node using this setup guide. If you would prefer to keep it simple there are several good options. You can view the global node distribution here.
Just like any other form of money, you can also earn bitcoins by being paid to do a job.
You can also earn bitcoins by participating as a market maker on JoinMarket by allowing users to perform CoinJoin transactions with your bitcoins for a small fee (requires you to already have some bitcoins.
The following is a short list of ongoing projects that might be worth taking a look at if you are interested in current development in the bitcoin space.
One Bitcoin is quite large (hundreds of £/$/€) so people often deal in smaller units. The most common subunits are listed below:
one bitcoin is equal to 100 million satoshis
1,000 per bitcoin
used as default unit in recent Electrum wallet releases
1,000,000 per bitcoin
colloquial "slang" term for microbitcoin (μBTC)
100,000,000 per bitcoin
smallest unit in bitcoin, named after the inventor
For example, assuming an arbitrary exchange rate of $10000 for one Bitcoin, a $10 meal would equal:
For more information check out the Bitcoin units wiki. Still have questions? Feel free to ask in the comments below or stick around for our weekly Mentor Monday thread. If you decide to post a question in /Bitcoin, please use the search bar to see if it has been answered before, and remember to follow the community rules outlined on the sidebar to receive a better response. The mods are busy helping manage our community so please do not message them unless you notice problems with the functionality of the subreddit. Note: This is a community created FAQ. If you notice anything missing from the FAQ or that requires clarification you can edit it here and it will be included in the next revision pending approval. Welcome to the Bitcoin community and the new decentralized economy!
Some Bitcoin Analysts and Prediction Today and Yesterday & Why "It's not the Price, Dummy"
This is just for fun, I generally have no strong feelings toward bitcoin price (I'm just fundamentally against zero-sum get rich schemes). But today I decided to do a little bitcoin search in news.google.com and see what today's bulls were predicting in 2018. Side note, almost all of the news articles came from crypto sites. I tried my best to stay away from them. Farming magazine telling you agriculture is the future isn't exactly shocking. To people who invest, please don't consider this as a prediction that price will fall. I'm not astute or smart enough to predict either way. The only possible use is to make sure you are more skeptic regarding predictions. Keep in mind, a rich CEO or consultant can lose 100 million and not really affect his life that much, but a 10k or 100k lose for some people can be devastating. And remember, some of these rich hedge managers don't believe their own bullshit, and hopefully, some of these quotes will emulate that. (Note, I won't waste time linking them all, but by quoting them directly, it should be easy to google) (another side note, I didn't purposely search out specific names. I went by the first names I came across, and only ignoring those that I couldn't find anything regarding crypto in past years)
Present: Business Inside: Bitcoin is like 'digital gold' and won't be used the same as a traditional currency in at least 5 years, billionaire investor Mike Novogratz says Past: On Nov, 2017, he said: "Bitcoin could ‘easily’ reach $40,000 by the end of 2018, hedge fund legend Novogratz says" 2018: "Michael Novogratz calls a bottom in cryptocurrencies" (it wasn't) Novogratz started a crypto funding in 2018. First 9 months "Mike Novogratz’s Crypto Trading Desk Lost $136 Million in Nine Months" (Bloomberg). Quarter 4: "Galaxy Digital Posts $32.9 Million in Net Loss for Q4 2019". Feb 2020 "Mike Novogratz’s Galaxy Digital Slashes 15% Staff"
Present: "For Raoul Pal, CEO of Real Vision, the bullish atmosphere had been reinforced, and further gains were more likely than ever. “There are literally only two resistances left on the #bitcoin chart - 14,000 and then the old all-time high at 20,000,” he tweeted." In a tweet today, he said, "Bitcoin is eating the world... It has become a supermassive black hole that is sucking in everything around it and destroying it. This narrative is only going to grow over the next 18 months. You see, gold is breaking down versus bitcoin...and gold investors will flip to BTC" Past: 2014: "Put them in the same kind of equation we get a value of bitcoin and that value is a million dollars. Now, you'll never hear an analyst say this—but I don't mind this—I could be wrong by 90%, and it's still worth $100,000." (to be honest, that's a bit of an impressive prediction in 2014) On the other hand, he probably didn't really believe his own prediction because in June, 2017 (when it was 2000 USD or so), he said: " “This is the most exponential move we have seen. I don’t know how far it goes, but I sold out last week… and I’ve [owned Bitcoin] since it was $200. Anything that moves exponentially, always [blows up].”" In 2016, "This view brings Pal to the asset he favors most over the next year out of bonds, equities, currencies and commodities: the dollar."
Eh, that was just two. I was hoping to mention several people, but it appears not many people are actually making predictions anymore, and anyone mentioned are basically not big people so I couldn't find much on them regarding bitcoin before 2019. So, the main thing I like to highlight are the analysts and such are going to make money whatever happens. Fund managers are playing with people's money and, as long as they are not involved in frauds, there is no real harm to them against wrong predictions. Generally, successful business people are successful because they were loud, confident, and were able to convince others that they had the right idea. Even when wrong, they bounce back. Most of us aren't like that. Some bitcoiners come here to boast when price goes up, as if the increase in price is an indication that argument against bitcoin has been proven wrong. While some people here are fanatically anti-bitcoin, I am not one of those. I have nothing against people making money (why would I be upset that people I don't know around the world became wealthier??). But since bitcoin investing is by design a zero sum game, certain people will eventually lose, and it is most likely it is the people who were listening to predictions by experts that would ultimately be financially hurt, and not the experts making the predictions. Crypto investing has been a platform where the average person works hard in his day to day life, and then brings the fruits of his labor into this field. The actual productive part of that person's life is the one outside crypto, where they had been productive for the community, and in exchange, they receive wages. Crypto investing's promise is for this wage to increase without the actual productivity. The concern is mainly that the result of all that labor will be misused by crypto "experts" who's own income (their labor) is directly linked to predictions on crypto. The above paragraph is badly explained, but the main point is that the average person brings in outside money they worked hard for, while "experts" there is generally no outside money, crypto fund management or consulting itself is their job. --- Money can be made, of course, but money being made isn't necessarily an argument for something. Bitcoin, and crypto, has for the past 1.5 decades still largely just about numbers going up. Google trend on "bitcoin" show top related queries being "bitcoin price", "bitcoin usd", "bitcoin usd price". When people come here when it hits a particular arbitrary price point thinking it's their gotcha moment, it actually just reinforces my argument that it is only about the price. Nothing in the history of human economy has ever lasted based only on the economic model of who you could resell it for at a higher price. Even DeFi's smart contracts (as much as I could understand it) is about prices going up. It's like for these people the concept of contracts are based purely on money exchanging hands, and no actual task being done. Almost all contracts globally are based on specific productive tasks being done, such as employee contract, supplier contract, property contract, and so on. Only a tiny amount of it is based on "if this currency goes up, then give me that currency" contracts. ---
In August, which socialite sold a drawing of her cat for $17,000 worth of Ethereum?
A) Ivanka Trump B) Paris Hilton C) Kim Kardashian D) That other one Scroll down for the answer.
Ranking and August Winners and Losers
2020 Top Ten Rank Despite another strong month overall, most of our 2020 Top Ten Cryptos either held steady or lost ground. XRP, BCH, and EOS each fell one position to #4, #6, and #12. BSV dropped two spots from #6 to #8. Heading the other direction, stablecoin Tether ended August climbing back up to #3. August Winners – ETH backed up July‘s massive +55% gain with another very solid month, finishing August up +32%. Tezos finished in second place, +15% on the month. August Losers – BSV and BCH were the worst performing of the 2020 Top Ten Portfolio, down -17% and -9% respectively Since COVID-19 has hammered the sporting world, let’s be overly competitive and pit these cryptos against themselves, shall we? Here’s a table showing which cryptos have the most monthly wins and losses at this point in the experiment. With its second straight win ETH is now in the lead with three monthly Ws. On the other hand, BSV, even though it is up +100% since January 1st, 2020, has been the worst performing crypto of the bunch four out of the first eight months so far this year. 2020 Top Ten Ws and Ls
Overall update – ETH far out in front, followed Tezos. 100% of Top Ten are in positive territory.
Ethereum pulled farther ahead this month and now is up +266% on the year. Thanks to a strong month for Tezos and a week month for BSV, Tezos has now overtaken BSV for second place, up +158% in 2020. Discounting Tether (no offense Big-T), BCH (+32%) is now the worst performing cryptocurrency of the 2020 Top Ten portfolio. 100% of the cryptos in this group are in positive territory.
Total Market Cap for the cryptocurrency sector:
The overall crypto market gained almost $43B in August, ending the month up +104% since the beginning of this year’s experiment in January 2020.
2020 monthly BitDom BitDom finally saw significant movement in August: it fell to 56.8%, the lowest level of the year. This of course signals a greater appetite for altcoins. The range up to this point in the year has been roughly 57% to 68%.
Overall return on investment since January 1st, 2020:
After an initial $1000 investment, the 2020 Top Ten Portfolio is now worth $1,825, up +82.52%. It is back to being the best performing of the three Top Ten Crypto Index Fund Portfolios, but by the smallest of margins: the 2019 group came in at +82.51% in August. Here’s the month by month ROI of the 2020 Top Ten Experiment, hopefully helpful to maintain perspective and provide an overview as we go along: Monthly ROI to 2020 Top Ten Even during the zombie apocalypse blip in March, the 2020 Top Ten managed to end every month so far in the green (for a mirror image, check out the all red table you’ll in the 2018 experiment). The range of monthly ROI for the 2020 Top Ten has been between a low of +7% in March and high of +83% in August. So, how does the 2020 Top Ten Experiment compare to the parallel projects?
Taken together, here’s the bottom bottom bottom line: After a $3000 investment in the 2018, 2019, and 2020 Top Ten Cryptocurrencies, my combined portfolios are worth $3,937 ($287+ $1,825 +$1,825). That’s up about +31% for the three combined portfolios. It also marks the highest ROI of the three combined portfolios since I started keeping track in January 2020. The previous high was last month‘s +23%. Lost in the numbers? Here’s a table to help visualize the progress of the combined portfolios: ROI on $1k + $1k +$1k over three years That’s a +31% gain by buying $1k of the cryptos that happened to be in the Top Ten on January 1st, 2018, 2019, and 2020. But what if I’d gone all in on only one Top Ten crypto for the past three years? While most have come and gone over the life of the experiment, five cryptos have remained in Top Ten for all three years: BTC, ETH, XRP, BCH, and LTC. Let’s take a look at those five: Three year club. ETH would have been your best bet. At this point in the Experiments, Ethereum (+160%) would have easily returned the most, followed by BTC (+93%). On the other hand, following this approach with XRP, I would have been down -17%. So that’s the Top Ten Crypto Index Fund Experiments snapshot. Let’s take a look at how traditional markets are doing.
Comparison to S&P 500
I’m also tracking the S&P 500 as part of my experiment to have a comparison point to traditional markets. The S&P continued its recovery and set an all time high in August. It is now up +9% in 2020. S&P throughout 2020 Over the same time period, the 2020 Top Ten Crypto Portfolio is returning about +83%. The initial $1k investment in crypto is now worth about $1,825. That sane $1k I put into crypto in January 2020 would be worth $1090 had it been redirected to the S&P 500 instead. That’s a $735 difference on a $1k investment, the largest gap in favor of crypto all year. But that’s just 2020. What if I invested in the S&P 500 the same way I did during the first three years of the Top Ten Crypto Index Fund Experiments? What I like to call the world’s slowest dollar cost averaging method? Here are the figures:
$1000 investment in S&P 500 on January 1st, 2018: +$310
$1000 investment in S&P 500 on January 1st, 2019: +$400
$1000 investment in S&P 500 on January 1st, 2020: +$90
Taken together, here’s the bottom bottom bottom line for a similar approach with the S&P: After three $1,000 investments into an S&P 500 index fund in January 2018, 2019, and 2020, my portfolio would be worth $3,800. That $3,800 is up over +27%since January 2018, compared to a +31% gain of the combined Top Ten Crypto Experiment Portfolios over the same period of time. For the second month in a row, the better overall investment would be (drum roll please): the Top Ten Crypto Portfolios! As you’ll see in the table below, this is only the second time since I started recording this metric that crypto has outperformed a hypothetical identical investment in the S&P. Combined crypto vs. S&P over three years
August was the second straight strong month in crypto and the 2020 Top Ten continue to do very well compared to traditional markets. As I’m putting together these reports, both crypto and traditional markets are diving, but these Experiments are great for a bit of perspective: there is no question that crypto has been a better investment than traditional markets so far this year. It’s not even close. How the rest of the year will develop is another question entirely, stay tuned and buckle up. Stay healthy and take care of yourselves out there. Or better yet, just pop some popcorn and enjoy staying in. Thanks for reading and for supporting the experiment. I hope you’ve found it helpful. I continue to be committed to seeing this process through and reporting along the way. Feel free to reach out with any questions and stay tuned for progress reports. Keep an eye out for the original 2018 Top Ten Crypto Index Fund Experiment and the 2019 Top Ten Experiment follow up experiment.
And the Answer is…
B) Paris Hilton At an auction in August, Paris Hilton sold a portrait of her cat that fetched 40 ETH, about $17,000 at the time. She donated the proceeds of the sale to charity. That's hot.
purchased $100 of each of Top Ten Cryptos in Jan. 2019, haven't sold or traded. Did the same in 2018 and 2020. Learn more about the history and rules of the Experimentshere.
August - solid month for the 2019 Top Ten, led by Tron and ETH.
Since Jan. 2019 - ETH takes lead from BTC. XRP worst performing since Jan. 1st, 2019
Over three years, cryptos outperforming S&P if I'd taken a similar approach.
Month Twenty – UP 83%
2019 Top Ten Overview Although not quite a strong as red-hot July, the 2019 Top Ten Cryptos had a solid month. Overall, modest losses were offset by strong performances by Tron (+53%) and ETH (+32%).
Question of the month:
In August, this financial services giant filed for a new Bitcoin fund with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
A) Goldman Sachs B) Vanguard C) Charles Schwab D) Fidelity Scroll down for the answer.
Ranking and August Winners and Losers
A whole lot of shaking going on this month as the 2019 Top Ten cryptos jostled for position. XRP, BCH, EOS, and XLM each fell one spot while BSV dropped two. Moving the other direction: Tether climbed up one, and is now back in the #3 position. Thanks to a very strong August, Tron made the most upward progress, advancing two slots to #14. Only three cryptos have dropped out of the 2019 Top Ten since January 1st, 2019: Tron, Stellar, and EOS. Not bad after 20 months considering crypto’s volatility. As of August, they have been replaced by BNB, CRO, and LINK. August Winners – Tron, with a +53% gain, easily outperformed its peers. Tron was followed by ETH (+32%), a solid follow up to its +55% gain in July. August Losers – The Forks.BCH and BSV under performed the pack, finishing the month down -17% and -9% respectively. For overly competitive nerds, here is tally of which coins have the most monthly wins and loses during the first 20 months of the 2019 Top Ten Experiment: Tether is still in the lead with six monthly victories, twice as much as second place BSV and ETH. And although BSV is up over +100% since January 2019, it is running away with the monthly loss count: it has now finished last in eight out of twenty months. Swing trade anyone? XRP still hasn’t been able to take home a single W. Ws and Ls
Overall update – ETH takes lead from BTC. XRP still worst performing since Jan. 1st, 2019
After three straight months ahead, BTC (+215%) lost its front-runner status to ETH (up +244% since January 2019). A distant third is BSV up +109%. The initial $100 investment in ETH is currently worth $353. Twenty months in to the 2019 Top Ten Index Fund Experiment, 80% of the 2019 Top Ten cryptos are either flat or in the green. The other two cryptos are in negative territory, including last place XRP (down -19% since January 2019). At +82.5%, the 2019 Top Ten is essentially tied with the 2020 Top Ten, both far ahead of the 2018 group, which is down -71% (but trending upward).
Total Market Cap for the cryptocurrency sector:
Monthly market cap since Jan. 1, 2019 Since January 2019, the total market cap for crypto is up +204%. The overall market picked up nearly $43B in August and is approaching $400B. For the second month in a row, the market is at its highest month-end level since the 2019 Top Ten Experiment started 20 months ago.
The last 20 months of BitDom BitDom‘s wobble in July is nothing compared to the more than 5% dip we saw in August. It had been locked in the mid-60s% range for months, but started dipping in July, signaling a greater appetite for altcoins. Zooming out, the BitDom range since the beginning of the experiment in January 2019 has been between 50%-70%.
Overall return on investment since January 1st, 2019:
The 2019 Top Ten Portfolio gained over $100 in August, nothing like July‘s +$450 but still solid. After the initial $1000 investment, the 2019 group of Top Ten cryptos is worth $1,825. With some generous rounding, that’s up about +83%. Here’s a look at the ROI over the life of the first 20 months of the 2019 Top Ten Index Fund experiment, month by month: Month by month ROI of 2019 Top Ten Unlike the completely red table you’ll see in the 2018 Top Ten Experiment, the 2019 crypto table is almost all green. The first month was the lowest point (-9%), and the highest point (+114%) was May 2019. At +82.51%, the 2019 Top Ten Portfolio has lost its hard-fought position as the best performing of the three Top Ten Experiments, but just barely (the 2020 Top Ten is up +82.52%) Speaking of the other Experiments, let’s take a look at how the 2019 Top Ten Index Fund Portfolio compare to the parallel projects:
Taking the three portfolios together, here’s the bottom bottom bottom line: After a $3000 investment in the 2018, 2019, and 2020 Top Ten Cryptocurrencies, my combined portfolios are worth $3,937 ($287+ $1,825 +$1,825). That’s up about +31% for the three combined portfolios. It also marks the highest ROI of the three combined portfolios since I started keeping track in January 2020. The previous high was last month‘s +23%. Here’s a table to help visualize the progress of the combined portfolios: Combined ROI on $3k That’s a +31% gain by dropping $1k once a year on whichever cryptos happened to be in the Top Ten on January 1st, 2018, 2019, and 2020. But what if I’d gone all in on only one Top Ten crypto for the past three years? While many have come and gone over the life of the experiment, five cryptos have remained in Top Ten for all three years: BTC, ETH, XRP, BCH, and LTC. Let’s take a look at those five: Three year club - ETH out in front Ethereum (+160%) would have returned the most at this point, followed by BTC (+93%). On the other hand, following this approach with XRP, I would have been down -17%. Alright, that’s crypto. How does crypto compare to the stock market?
Comparison to S&P 500:
I’m also tracking the S&P 500 as part of the experiments to have a comparison point with more traditional markets. Even with everything that’s going on in the world, the S&P continues adding value and reached an all time high in August. It is now up +40% since January 2019. Monthly S&P levels since Jan. 2019 The initial $1k investment I put into crypto 20 months ago would be worth $1,400 had it been redirected to the S&P 500 in January 2019. The 2019 Top Ten portfolio is returning +83% over last 20 months, over double the ROI of the S&P 500 over the same time period. But what if I took the same world’s-slowest-dollar-cost-averaging/$1,000-per-year-on-January-1st approach with the S&P 500? It would yield the following:
$1000 investment in S&P 500 on January 1st, 2018: +$310
$1000 investment in S&P 500 on January 1st, 2019: +$400
$1000 investment in S&P 500 on January 1st, 2020: +$90
Taken together, here’s the bottom bottom bottom line for a similar approach with the S&P: After three $1,000 investments into an S&P 500 index fund in January 2018, 2019, and 2020, my portfolio would be worth $3,800. That is up over+27%since January 2018, compared to a +31% gain of the combined Top Ten Crypto Experiment Portfolios. As you can see in the table below, August’s 4% difference in favor of crypto marks the second month in a row the Top Ten Crypto Portfolios have outperformed the S&P had I taken a similar investment approach. Combined crypto vs. S&P
Thanks to a strong couple of months, the 2019 Top Ten Portfolio is doing just as well as the 2020 Top Ten group, both of which are far, far ahead of the 2018 Top Ten. Meanwhile, despite the presence of a global pandemic and all the uncertainty associated with an election year, the US stock markets reached all time highs in August. As we approach the fall, I’m buckling up for an unpredictable final stretch of an unpredictable year. Be safe and take care of each other out there. Thanks for reading and for supporting the experiment. I hope you’ve found it helpful. I continue to be committed to seeing this process through and reporting along the way. Feel free to reach out with any questions and stay tuned for progress reports. Keep an eye out for the original 2018 Top Ten Crypto Index Fund Experiment and the 2020 Top Ten Experiment.
And the Answer is…
D) Fidelity In August, the SEC published a new filing for a Bitcoin fund, submitted by financial services giant Fidelity.
$1,000 invested in Top 10 Cryptos of 2019 now worth $1,260 (UP +26%)
EXPERIMENT - Tracking Top 10 Cryptos of 2019 - Month Eighteen - UP +26% See the full blog post with all the tableshere. tl;dr - Tether (as it's designed to do) holds its ground, all others finish the month in negative territory. Tron finishes June in second place, down -2%. BSV loses nearly 25% of value in June. Overall, since January 2019, BTC in lead, ETH takes over second place, XRP still worst performing. The 2019 Top 10 is up +26% almost equal to the the gains of the S&P 500 over the same time period (+24%).
According to a June article citing unnamed sources, which two FinTech companies are planning to allow their users to buy and sell crypto directly?
A) Paypal and Venmo B) Square and Cashapp C) Robinhood and Revolut D) Sofi and Coinbase Scroll down for the answer.
Ranking and June Winners and Losers
XRP and Stellar slipped one place each in the rankings in June, now at #4 and #14 respectively. EOS fell two spots to #11 and joins Stellar and Tron as the only three cryptos to have dropped out of the 2019 Top Ten since January 1st, 2019. They have been replaced by Binance Coin, Cardano, and newcomer CRO. Tether was the only crypto to move up in rank in June. Not a good sign when Tether is the only crypto to move up. Not a good sign when Tether enters the Top 3. June Winners – Tether. Second comes Tron, which basically held its ground at -2%. June Losers – BSV lost -23% of its value in June making it the worst performing of the 2019 Top Ten portfolio. EOS had a rough month as well, down -17%, dropping two spots in the rankings, and falling out of the Top Ten. If you’re keeping score, here is tally of which coins have the most monthly wins and loses during the first 18 months of the 2019 Top Ten Experiment: Tether is still in the lead with six monthly victories followed by BSV in second place with three. BSV also holds the most monthly losses, finishing last in seven out of eighteen months. The only crypto not to win a month so far? XRP. (In fairness, XRP has also not lost any month yet).
Overall update – BTC in lead, ETH takes over second place, XRP still worst performing
BTC is out front for the second straight month and ETH has taken over second place from BSV. Ahead until April, BSV has simply not keep up with the pack over the last two months. Bitcoin is up +144% since January 2019. The initial $100 investment in BTC is currently worth $249. Eighteen months in, 50% of the 2019 Top Ten cryptos are in the green since the beginning of the experiment. The other five cryptos are either flat or in negative territory, including last place XRP (down -50% since January 2019).
Total Market Cap for the entire cryptocurrency sector:
The crypto market as a whole is down about $20B in June, but still up +106% since January 2019.
BitDom finally wobbled in June, but not by much – it’s been in a very familiar zone for months now, indicating a lack of excitement (or at least a low risk tolerance) for altcoins. Taking a wider view, the Bitcoin Dominance range since the beginning of the experiment in January 2019 has ranged between 50%-70%.
Overall return on investment since January 1st, 2019:
The 2019 Top Ten Portfolio lost almost $175 in June. After the initial $1000 investment, the 2019 group of Top Ten cryptos is worth $1,259. That’s up about +26%. Here’s a look at the ROI over the life of the first 18 months of the 2019 Top Ten Index Fund experiment, month by month: 18 months of ROI, mostly green Unlike the completely red table you’ll see in the 2018 Top Ten Experiment, the 2019 crypto table is almost all green. The first month was the lowest point (-9%), and the highest point (+114%) was May 2019. How does the 2019 Top Ten Index Fund Portfolio compare to the parallel projects?
Taking the three portfolios together, here’s the bottom bottom bottom line: After a $3000 investment in the 2018, 2019, and 2020 Top Ten Cryptocurrencies, the combined portfolios are worth $2,710. That’s down about -10% for the three combined portfolios. Last month that figure was +4%. Better than a few months ago (aka the zombie apocalypse) where it was down -24%, but not yet back at January (+13%) or February (+6%) levels. Here’s a new table to help visualize the progress of the combined portfolios: ROI of all three combined portfolios - not exactly inspiring How do crypto returns compare to traditional markets?
Comparison to S&P 500:
Good thing I’m tracking the S&P 500 as part of my experiment to have a comparison point with other popular investments options. Even with unemployment, protests, and COVID, the US market continued to rebound in June. It’s now up +24% in the last 18 months. The initial $1k investment I put into crypto would be worth $1,240 had it been redirected to the S&P 500 in January 2019. As a reminder (or just scroll up) the 2019 Top Ten portfolio is returning +26% over last 18 months, just about equal to the return of the S&P 500 over the same time period. Just last month the ROI of the 2019 Top Ten crypto portfolio was nearly double the S&P 500 since January 1st, 2019. But what if I took the same world’s-slowest-dollar-cost-averaging/$1,000-per-year-in-January approach with the S&P 500? It would yield the following:
$1000 investment in S&P 500 on January 1st, 2018: +$170
$1000 investment in S&P 500 on January 1st, 2019: +$240
$1000 investment in S&P 500 on January 1st, 2020: -$40
Taken together, here’s the bottom bottom bottom line for a similar approach with the S&P: After three $1,000 investments into an S&P 500 index fund in January 2018, 2019, and 2020, my portfolio would be worth $3,370. That $3,370 is up over+12%since January 2018, compared to the $2,710 value (-10%) of the combined Top Ten Crypto Experiment Portfolios. Here’s another new table that compares the ROI of the combined crypto portfolios to a hypothetical similar approach with the S&P 500: We see in June the largest difference in favor of the S&P since the beginning of 2020: a 22% gap. Compare that February, when there was only a 1% difference in ROI.
Since January 2019, the crypto market as a whole has gained +106% compared to the 2019 Top Ten Crypto Portfolio which has gained +26%. That’s an 80% gap. At this point in the 2019 Experiment, an investor would have done much better picking different cryptos or investing in the entire market instead of focusing only on the 2019 Top Ten. Over the course of the first 18 months of tracking the 2019 Top Ten, there have been instances this was a winning strategy, but the cases have been few and far between. The 2018 Top Ten portfolio, on the other hand, has never outperformed the overall market, at least not in the first thirty months of that Experiment. And for the most recent 2020 Top Ten group? The opposite had been true: the 2020 Top Ten had easily outperformed the overall market 100% of the time…up until the last two months.
As the world continues to battle COVID, traditional markets seem to be recovering. Will crypto make a significant move in the second half of 2020? Final word: Stay safe and take care of each other. Thanks for reading and for supporting the experiment. I hope you’ve found it helpful. I continue to be committed to seeing this process through and reporting along the way. Feel free to reach out with any questions and stay tuned for progress reports. Keep an eye out for the original 2018 Top Ten Crypto Index Fund Experiment and the recently launched 2020 Top Ten Experiment.
And the Answer is…
A) Paypal and Venmo According to a Coindesk report in June, three sources familiar with the matter say that Paypal and Paypal-owned Venmo are planning to allow their users to buy and sell crypto. Paypal has declined to comment.
I bought $1k of the Top 10 Cryptos on January 1st, 2020 (July Update)
EXPERIMENT - Tracking Top 10 Cryptos of 2020 - Month 7 +71% See the full blog post with all the nerdy tableshere. If you're just joining us, this probably isn't what you think it is: it's more of a documentary than investing advice. See the rules of the Experimentshere. tl;dr: As of the end of July, the 2020 Top Ten Cryptos were up +71%. ETH best performer in July followed by XRP and BSV. Overall since Jan 2020: ETH moves into first place, followed by BSV. 100% of 2020 Top Ten are in positive territory, all ahead of Tether. Over three years, July 2020 is the first month that the combined crypto Top Ten Portfolios have outperformed a hypothetical same approach with the S&P. Details:
Which cryptocurrency surged in value after a TikTok challenge that encouraged users to buy went viral?
A) Dogecoin B) Chainlink C) Bitcoin D) Ethereum Scroll down for the answer.
Ranking and June Winners and Losers
2020 Top Ten Rank Another month of mostly downward movement: the “T”s (Tether and Tezos) both fell one spot. BNB dropped two spots and now is at the very edge of the Top Ten. XRP climbed one in the rankings, taking back third place from Tether. Regardless of how you feel about XRP, it was a bad sign to many crypto observers to find a stablcoin in the Top Three last month (no offense meant, USDT). July Winners – ETH, up a massive +55% in July. XRP and BSV tied for second place, both up +52% on the month. July Losers – Tether. The second worst performing crypto, Tezos, finished the month up +19%. Since COVID has hammered the sporting world, let’s be overly competitive and pit these cryptos against themselves, shall we? Here’s a table showing which cryptos have the most monthly wins and losses at this point in the experiment. In a three way tie for first place we have ETH,Tether, and Tezos, each with two Ws. BSV and Tether have the most Ls – both have finished in last place three out of the first seven months of the 2020 Top Ten Experiment.
Overall update – ETH moves into first place, followed by BSV. 100% of Top Ten are in positive territory.
Ethereum has moved into a commanding lead, up +177% on the year, followed by BSV, up +141%. After three straight months in the lead, Tezos fell hard in July, now sitting in third place (although still up an impressive +124% in 2020). Discounting Tether (again, no offense Big-T), EOS (+27%) is the worst performing cryptocurrency of the 2020 Top Ten portfolio. 100% of the cryptos in this group are either flat or in positive territory.
Total Market Cap for the cryptocurrency sector:
The overall crypto market gained more than $80B in July, and is now up over +80% since the beginning of this year’s experiment in January 2020.
BitDom BitDom finally budged: it fell about 2.5% percent to land at 62.3%, signaling a greater appetite for altcoins this month. The range up to this point in the year has been roughly 62% to 68%.
Overall return on investment since January 1st, 2020:
After an initial $1000 investment, the 2020 Top Ten Portfolio is now worth $1,713, up +71%. It is no longer the best performing of the three Top Ten Crypto Index Fund Portfolios, but isn’t too far behind: the 2019 group came in at +72% in July. Here’s the month by month ROI of the 2020 Top Ten Experiment, hopefully helpful to maintain perspective and provide an overview as we go along: ROI, month by month Besides the zombie apocalypse blip in March, so far so good: all green is good to see and a nice change from the all red table you’ll see in the 2018 experiment. The range of monthly ROI for the 2020 Top Ten has been between +7% in March and +71% in July. So, how does the 2020 Top Ten Experiment compare to the parallel projects?
Taken together, here’s the bottom bottom bottom line: After a $3000 investment in the 2018, 2019, and 2020 Top Ten Cryptocurrencies, my combined portfolios are worth $3,695 ($260+ $1,722 +$1,713). That’s up about +23% for the three combined portfolios, compared to -10% last month. It also marks the highest ROI of the three combined portfolios since I started keeping track in January 2020. The previous high was +13% back in January 2020. Lost in the numbers? Here’s a new table to help visualize the progress of the combined portfolios: Combined $3k ROI That’s a +23% gain by buying $1k of the cryptos that happened to be in the Top Ten on January 1st, 2018, 2019, and 2020. But what if I’d gone all in on only one Top Ten crypto for the past three years? While most have come and gone over the life of the experiment, five cryptos have remained in Top Ten for all three years: BTC, ETH, XRP, BCH, and LTC. Let’s take a look at those five: ETH then BTC well in front There you have it: Ethereum (+98%) would have returned the most at this point, followed closely by BTC (+88%). Following this approach with XRP, I would have been down -23%. Many thanks to Reddit user u/sebikun for the idea for a new metric. So that’s the Top Ten Crypto Index Fund Experiments snapshot. Let’s take a look at how traditional markets are doing.
Comparison to S&P 500
I’m also tracking the S&P 500 as part of my experiment to have a comparison point to traditional markets. Even with no end to the COVID pandemic in sight, the S&P continued its recovery. In July it moved into positive territory for the year. S&P breaks even Over the same time period, the 2020 Top Ten Crypto Portfolio is returning about +71%. The initial $1k investment in crypto is now worth about $1,713. The money I put into crypto in January 2020 would be worth $1010 had it been redirected to the S&P 500. That’s a $703 difference on a $1k investment, the largest gap in favor of crypto all year. But that’s just 2020. What if I invested in the S&P 500 the same way I did during the first three years of the Top Ten Crypto Index Fund Experiments? What I like to call the world’s slowest dollar cost averaging method? Here are the figures:
$1000 investment in S&P 500 on January 1st, 2018: +$220
$1000 investment in S&P 500 on January 1st, 2019: +$310
$1000 investment in S&P 500 on January 1st, 2020: +$10
Taken together, here’s the bottom bottom bottom line for a similar approach with the S&P: After three $1,000 investments into an S&P 500 index fund in January 2018, 2019, and 2020, my portfolio would be worth $3,540. That $3,540 is up over +18%since January 2018, compared to a +23% gain of the combined Top Ten Crypto Experiment Portfolios over the same period of time. Do you know what that means? That means we have a first this month: a 5% swing in favor of theTop Ten Crypto Portfolios! As you’ll see in the table below, this is the first time since I started recording this metric that crypto has outperformed a hypothetical identical investment in the S&P. This is a big turnaround from the 22% difference in favor of the S&P just last month. Crypto takes the lead
The crypto market as a whole is up +81% since the beginning of the year compared to the 2020 Top Ten Portfolio which has gained +71%. For the third month in a row, focusing on the Top Ten cryptos has yielded less than the overall market. This approach has seen mixed results with the 2020 group. For the first four months, the Top Ten outperformed the market as a whole. This was a bit of a surprise, as this strategy did not work out very well in the other experiment years. Although there are a few examples of the Top Ten strategy outperforming the overall market in the 2019 Top Ten Experiment, it’s interesting to note at no point in the first thirty-one months of the Top Ten 2018 Experiment has the approach of focusing on the Top Ten cryptos outperformed the overall market. Not even once.
July was undoubtedly a strong month in crypto. Where do we go from here? Do we consolidate for a time, fall back down, or continue the ascent? Will Bitcoin dominance continue to decline as altcoins receive more attention? Final word: Please take care of yourselves and your neighbors. FYI – everyone is your neighbor. Thanks for reading and for supporting the experiment. I hope you’ve found it helpful. I continue to be committed to seeing this process through and reporting along the way. Feel free to reach out with any questions and stay tuned for progress reports. Keep an eye out for the original 2018 Top Ten Crypto Index Fund Experiment and the 2019 Top Ten Experiment follow up experiment.
Summary: Everyone knows that when you give your assets to someone else, they always keep them safe. If this is true for individuals, it is certainly true for businesses. Custodians always tell the truth and manage funds properly. They won't have any interest in taking the assets as an exchange operator would. Auditors tell the truth and can't be misled. That's because organizations that are regulated are incapable of lying and don't make mistakes. First, some background. Here is a summary of how custodians make us more secure: Previously, we might give Alice our crypto assets to hold. There were risks:
Alice might take the assets and disappear.
Alice might spend the assets and pretend that she still has them (fractional model).
Alice might store the assets insecurely and they'll get stolen.
Alice might give the assets to someone else by mistake or by force.
Alice might lose access to the assets.
But "no worries", Alice has a custodian named Bob. Bob is dressed in a nice suit. He knows some politicians. And he drives a Porsche. "So you have nothing to worry about!". And look at all the benefits we get:
Alice can't take the assets and disappear (unless she asks Bob or never gives them to Bob).
Alice can't spend the assets and pretend that she still has them. (Unless she didn't give them to Bob or asks him for them.)
Alice can't store the assets insecurely so they get stolen. (After all - she doesn't have any control over the withdrawal process from any of Bob's systems, right?)
Alice can't give the assets to someone else by mistake or by force. (Bob will stop her, right Bob?)
Alice can't lose access to the funds. (She'll always be present, sane, and remember all secrets, right?)
See - all problems are solved! All we have to worry about now is:
Bob might take the assets and disappear.
Bob might spend the assets and pretend that he still has them (fractional model).
Bob might store the assets insecurely and they'll get stolen.
Bob might give the assets to someone else by mistake or by force.
Bob might lose access to the assets.
It's pretty simple. Before we had to trust Alice. Now we only have to trust Alice, Bob, and all the ways in which they communicate. Just think of how much more secure we are! "On top of that", Bob assures us, "we're using a special wallet structure". Bob shows Alice a diagram. "We've broken the balance up and store it in lots of smaller wallets. That way", he assures her, "a thief can't take it all at once". And he points to a historic case where a large sum was taken "because it was stored in a single wallet... how stupid". "Very early on, we used to have all the crypto in one wallet", he said, "and then one Christmas a hacker came and took it all. We call him the Grinch. Now we individually wrap each crypto and stick it under a binary search tree. The Grinch has never been back since." "As well", Bob continues, "even if someone were to get in, we've got insurance. It covers all thefts and even coercion, collusion, and misplaced keys - only subject to the policy terms and conditions." And with that, he pulls out a phone-book sized contract and slams it on the desk with a thud. "Yep", he continues, "we're paying top dollar for one of the best policies in the country!" "Can I read it?' Alice asks. "Sure," Bob says, "just as soon as our legal team is done with it. They're almost through the first chapter." He pauses, then continues. "And can you believe that sales guy Mike? He has the same year Porsche as me. I mean, what are the odds?" "Do you use multi-sig?", Alice asks. "Absolutely!" Bob replies. "All our engineers are fully trained in multi-sig. Whenever we want to set up a new wallet, we generate 2 separate keys in an air-gapped process and store them in this proprietary system here. Look, it even requires the biometric signature from one of our team members to initiate any withdrawal." He demonstrates by pressing his thumb into the display. "We use a third-party cloud validation API to match the thumbprint and authorize each withdrawal. The keys are also backed up daily to an off-site third-party." "Wow that's really impressive," Alice says, "but what if we need access for a withdrawal outside of office hours?" "Well that's no issue", Bob says, "just send us an email, call, or text message and we always have someone on staff to help out. Just another part of our strong commitment to all our customers!" "What about Proof of Reserve?", Alice asks. "Of course", Bob replies, "though rather than publish any blockchain addresses or signed transaction, for privacy we just do a SHA256 refactoring of the inverse hash modulus for each UTXO nonce and combine the smart contract coefficient consensus in our hyperledger lightning node. But it's really simple to use." He pushes a button and a large green checkmark appears on a screen. "See - the algorithm ran through and reserves are proven." "Wow", Alice says, "you really know your stuff! And that is easy to use! What about fiat balances?" "Yeah, we have an auditor too", Bob replies, "Been using him for a long time so we have quite a strong relationship going! We have special books we give him every year and he's very efficient! Checks the fiat, crypto, and everything all at once!" "We used to have a nice offline multi-sig setup we've been using without issue for the past 5 years, but I think we'll move all our funds over to your facility," Alice says. "Awesome", Bob replies, "Thanks so much! This is perfect timing too - my Porsche got a dent on it this morning. We have the paperwork right over here." "Great!", Alice replies. And with that, Alice gets out her pen and Bob gets the contract. "Don't worry", he says, "you can take your crypto-assets back anytime you like - just subject to our cancellation policy. Our annual management fees are also super low and we don't adjust them often". How many holes have to exist for your funds to get stolen? Just one. Why are we taking a powerful offline multi-sig setup, widely used globally in hundreds of different/lacking regulatory environments with 0 breaches to date, and circumventing it by a demonstrably weak third party layer? And paying a great expense to do so? If you go through the list of breaches in the past 2 years to highly credible organizations, you go through the list of major corporate frauds (only the ones we know about), you go through the list of all the times platforms have lost funds, you go through the list of times and ways that people have lost their crypto from identity theft, hot wallet exploits, extortion, etc... and then you go through this custodian with a fine-tooth comb and truly believe they have value to add far beyond what you could, sticking your funds in a wallet (or set of wallets) they control exclusively is the absolute worst possible way to take advantage of that security. The best way to add security for crypto-assets is to make a stronger multi-sig. With one custodian, what you are doing is giving them your cryptocurrency and hoping they're honest, competent, and flawlessly secure. It's no different than storing it on a really secure exchange. Maybe the insurance will cover you. Didn't work for Bitpay in 2015. Didn't work for Yapizon in 2017. Insurance has never paid a claim in the entire history of cryptocurrency. But maybe you'll get lucky. Maybe your exact scenario will buck the trend and be what they're willing to cover. After the large deductible and hopefully without a long and expensive court battle. And you want to advertise this increase in risk, the lapse of judgement, an accident waiting to happen, as though it's some kind of benefit to customers ("Free institutional-grade storage for your digital assets.")? And then some people are writing to the OSC that custodians should be mandatory for all funds on every exchange platform? That this somehow will make Canadians as a whole more secure or better protected compared with standard air-gapped multi-sig? On what planet? Most of the problems in Canada stemmed from one thing - a lack of transparency. If Canadians had known what a joke Quadriga was - it wouldn't have grown to lose $400m from hard-working Canadians from coast to coast to coast. And Gerald Cotten would be in jail, not wherever he is now (at best, rotting peacefully). EZ-BTC and mister Dave Smilie would have been a tiny little scam to his friends, not a multi-million dollar fraud. Einstein would have got their act together or been shut down BEFORE losing millions and millions more in people's funds generously donated to criminals. MapleChange wouldn't have even been a thing. And maybe we'd know a little more about CoinTradeNewNote - like how much was lost in there. Almost all of the major losses with cryptocurrency exchanges involve deception with unbacked funds. So it's great to see transparency reports from BitBuy and ShakePay where someone independently verified the backing. The only thing we don't have is:
ANY CERTAINTY BALANCES WEREN'T EXCLUDED. Quadriga's largest account was $70m. 80% of funds are in 20% of accounts (Pareto principle). All it takes is excluding a few really large accounts - and nobody's the wiser. A fractional platform can easily pass any audit this way.
ANY VISIBILITY WHATSOEVER INTO THE CUSTODIANS. BitBuy put out their report before moving all the funds to their custodian and ShakePay apparently can't even tell us who the custodian is. That's pretty important considering that basically all of the funds are now stored there.
ANY IDEA ABOUT THE OTHER EXCHANGES. In order for this to be effective, it has to be the norm. It needs to be "unusual" not to know. If obscurity is the norm, then it's super easy for people like Gerald Cotten and Dave Smilie to blend right in.
It's not complicated to validate cryptocurrency assets. They need to exist, they need to be spendable, and they need to cover the total balances. There are plenty of credible people and firms across the country that have the capacity to reasonably perform this validation. Having more frequent checks by different, independent, parties who publish transparent reports is far more valuable than an annual check by a single "more credible/official" party who does the exact same basic checks and may or may not publish anything. Here's an example set of requirements that could be mandated:
First report within 1 month of launching, another within 3 months, and further reports at minimum every 6 months thereafter.
No auditor can be repeated within a 12 month period.
All reports must be public, identifying the auditor and the full methodology used.
All auditors must be independent of the firm being audited with no conflict of interest.
Reports must include the percentage of each asset backed, and how it's backed.
The auditor publishes a hash list, which lists a hash of each customer's information and balances that were included. Hash is one-way encryption so privacy is fully preserved. Every customer can use this to have 100% confidence they were included.
If we want more extensive requirements on audits, these should scale upward based on the total assets at risk on the platform, and whether the platform has loaned their assets out.
There are ways to structure audits such that neither crypto assets nor customer information are ever put at risk, and both can still be properly validated and publicly verifiable. There are also ways to structure audits such that they are completely reasonable for small platforms and don't inhibit innovation in any way. By making the process as reasonable as possible, we can completely eliminate any reason/excuse that an honest platform would have for not being audited. That is arguable far more important than any incremental improvement we might get from mandating "the best of the best" accountants. Right now we have nothing mandated and tons of Canadians using offshore exchanges with no oversight whatsoever. Transparency does not prove crypto assets are safe. CoinTradeNewNote, Flexcoin ($600k), and Canadian Bitcoins ($100k) are examples where crypto-assets were breached from platforms in Canada. All of them were online wallets and used no multi-sig as far as any records show. This is consistent with what we see globally - air-gapped multi-sig wallets have an impeccable record, while other schemes tend to suffer breach after breach. We don't actually know how much CoinTrader lost because there was no visibility. Rather than publishing details of what happened, the co-founder of CoinTrader silently moved on to found another platform - the "most trusted way to buy and sell crypto" - a site that has no information whatsoever (that I could find) on the storage practices and a FAQ advising that “[t]rading cryptocurrency is completely safe” and that having your own wallet is “entirely up to you! You can certainly keep cryptocurrency, or fiat, or both, on the app.” Doesn't sound like much was learned here, which is really sad to see. It's not that complicated or unreasonable to set up a proper hardware wallet. Multi-sig can be learned in a single course. Something the equivalent complexity of a driver's license test could prevent all the cold storage exploits we've seen to date - even globally. Platform operators have a key advantage in detecting and preventing fraud - they know their customers far better than any custodian ever would. The best job that custodians can do is to find high integrity individuals and train them to form even better wallet signatories. Rather than mandating that all platforms expose themselves to arbitrary third party risks, regulations should center around ensuring that all signatories are background-checked, properly trained, and using proper procedures. We also need to make sure that signatories are empowered with rights and responsibilities to reject and report fraud. They need to know that they can safely challenge and delay a transaction - even if it turns out they made a mistake. We need to have an environment where mistakes are brought to the surface and dealt with. Not one where firms and people feel the need to hide what happened. In addition to a knowledge-based test, an auditor can privately interview each signatory to make sure they're not in coercive situations, and we should make sure they can freely and anonymously report any issues without threat of retaliation. A proper multi-sig has each signature held by a separate person and is governed by policies and mutual decisions instead of a hierarchy. It includes at least one redundant signature. For best results, 3of4, 3of5, 3of6, 4of5, 4of6, 4of7, 5of6, or 5of7. History has demonstrated over and over again the risk of hot wallets even to highly credible organizations. Nonetheless, many platforms have hot wallets for convenience. While such losses are generally compensated by platforms without issue (for example Poloniex, Bitstamp, Bitfinex, Gatecoin, Coincheck, Bithumb, Zaif, CoinBene, Binance, Bitrue, Bitpoint, Upbit, VinDAX, and now KuCoin), the public tends to focus more on cases that didn't end well. Regardless of what systems are employed, there is always some level of risk. For that reason, most members of the public would prefer to see third party insurance. Rather than trying to convince third party profit-seekers to provide comprehensive insurance and then relying on an expensive and slow legal system to enforce against whatever legal loopholes they manage to find each and every time something goes wrong, insurance could be run through multiple exchange operators and regulators, with the shared interest of having a reputable industry, keeping costs down, and taking care of Canadians. For example, a 4 of 7 multi-sig insurance fund held between 5 independent exchange operators and 2 regulatory bodies. All Canadian exchanges could pay premiums at a set rate based on their needed coverage, with a higher price paid for hot wallet coverage (anything not an air-gapped multi-sig cold wallet). Such a model would be much cheaper to manage, offer better coverage, and be much more reliable to payout when needed. The kind of coverage you could have under this model is unheard of. You could even create something like the CDIC to protect Canadians who get their trading accounts hacked if they can sufficiently prove the loss is legitimate. In cases of fraud, gross negligence, or insolvency, the fund can be used to pay affected users directly (utilizing the last transparent balance report in the worst case), something which private insurance would never touch. While it's recommended to have official policies for coverage, a model where members vote would fully cover edge cases. (Could be similar to the Supreme Court where justices vote based on case law.) Such a model could fully protect all Canadians across all platforms. You can have a fiat coverage governed by legal agreements, and crypto-asset coverage governed by both multi-sig and legal agreements. It could be practical, affordable, and inclusive. Now, we are at a crossroads. We can happily give up our freedom, our innovation, and our money. We can pay hefty expenses to auditors, lawyers, and regulators year after year (and make no mistake - this cost will grow to many millions or even billions as the industry grows - and it will be borne by all Canadians on every platform because platforms are not going to eat up these costs at a loss). We can make it nearly impossible for any new platform to enter the marketplace, forcing Canadians to use the same stagnant platforms year after year. We can centralize and consolidate the entire industry into 2 or 3 big players and have everyone else fail (possibly to heavy losses of users of those platforms). And when a flawed security model doesn't work and gets breached, we can make it even more complicated with even more people in suits making big money doing the job that blockchain was supposed to do in the first place. We can build a system which is so intertwined and dependent on big government, traditional finance, and central bankers that it's future depends entirely on that of the fiat system, of fractional banking, and of government bail-outs. If we choose this path, as history has shown us over and over again, we can not go back, save for revolution. Our children and grandchildren will still be paying the consequences of what we decided today. Or, we can find solutions that work. We can maintain an open and innovative environment while making the adjustments we need to make to fully protect Canadian investors and cryptocurrency users, giving easy and affordable access to cryptocurrency for all Canadians on the platform of their choice, and creating an environment in which entrepreneurs and problem solvers can bring those solutions forward easily. None of the above precludes innovation in any way, or adds any unreasonable cost - and these three policies would demonstrably eliminate or resolve all 109 historic cases as studied here - that's every single case researched so far going back to 2011. It includes every loss that was studied so far not just in Canada but globally as well. Unfortunately, finding answers is the least challenging part. Far more challenging is to get platform operators and regulators to agree on anything. My last post got no response whatsoever, and while the OSC has told me they're happy for industry feedback, I believe my opinion alone is fairly meaningless. This takes the whole community working together to solve. So please let me know your thoughts. Please take the time to upvote and share this with people. Please - let's get this solved and not leave it up to other people to do. Facts/background/sources (skip if you like):
The inspiration for the paragraph about splitting wallets was an actual quote from a Canadian company providing custodial services in response to the OSC consultation paper: "We believe that it will be in the in best interests of investors to prohibit pooled crypto assets or ‘floats’. Most Platforms pool assets, citing reasons of practicality and expense. The recent hack of the world’s largest Platform – Binance – demonstrates the vulnerability of participants’ assets when such concessions are made. In this instance, the Platform’s entire hot wallet of Bitcoins, worth over $40 million, was stolen, facilitated in part by the pooling of client crypto assets." "the maintenance of participants (and Platform) crypto assets across multiple wallets distributes the related risk and responsibility of security - reducing the amount of insurance coverage required and making insurance coverage more readily obtainable". For the record, their reply also said nothing whatsoever about multi-sig or offline storage.
In addition to the fact that the $40m hack represented only one "hot wallet" of Binance, and they actually had the vast majority of assets in other wallets (including mostly cold wallets), multiple real cases have clearly demonstrated that risk is still present with multiple wallets. Bitfinex, VinDAX, Bithumb, Altsbit, BitPoint, Cryptopia, and just recently KuCoin all had multiple wallets breached all at the same time, and may represent a significantly larger impact on customers than the Binance breach which was fully covered by Binance. To represent that simply having multiple separate wallets under the same security scheme is a comprehensive way to reduce risk is just not true.
Private insurance has historically never covered a single loss in the cryptocurrency space (at least, not one that I was able to find), and there are notable cases where massive losses were not covered by insurance. Bitpay in 2015 and Yapizon in 2017 both had insurance policies that didn't pay out during the breach, even after a lengthly court process. The same insurance that ShakePay is presently using (and announced to much fanfare) was describe by their CEO himself as covering “physical theft of the media where the private keys are held,” which is something that has never historically happened. As was said with regard to the same policy in 2018 - “I don’t find it surprising that Lloyd’s is in this space,” said Johnson, adding that to his mind the challenge for everybody is figuring out how to structure these policies so that they are actually protective. “You can create an insurance policy that protects no one – you know there are so many caveats to the policy that it’s not super protective.”
The most profitable policy for a private insurance company is one with the most expensive premiums that they never have to pay a claim on. They have no inherent incentive to take care of people who lost funds. It's "cheaper" to take the reputational hit and fight the claim in court. The more money at stake, the more the insurance provider is incentivized to avoid payout. They're not going to insure the assets unless they have reasonable certainty to make a profit by doing so, and they're not going to pay out a massive sum unless it's legally forced. Private insurance is always structured to be maximally profitable to the insurance provider.
The circumvention of multi-sig was a key factor in the massive Bitfinex hack of over $60m of bitcoin, which today still sits being slowly used and is worth over $3b. While Bitfinex used a qualified custodian Bitgo, which was and still is active and one of the industry leaders of custodians, and they set up 2 of 3 multi-sig wallets, the entire system was routed through Bitfinex, such that Bitfinex customers could initiate the withdrawals in a "hot" fashion. This feature was also a hit with the hacker. The multi-sig was fully circumvented.
Bitpay in 2015 was another example of a breach that stole 5,000 bitcoins. This happened not through the exploit of any system in Bitpay, but because the CEO of a company they worked with got their computer hacked and the hackers were able to request multiple bitcoin purchases, which Bitpay honoured because they came from the customer's computer legitimately. Impersonation is a very common tactic used by fraudsters, and methods get more extreme all the time.
A notable case in Canada was the Canadian Bitcoins exploit. Funds were stored on a server in a Rogers Data Center, and the attendee was successfully convinced to reboot the server "in safe mode" with a simple phone call, thus bypassing the extensive security and enabling the theft.
The very nature of custodians circumvents multi-sig. This is because custodians are not just having to secure the assets against some sort of physical breach but against any form of social engineering, modification of orders, fraudulent withdrawal attempts, etc... If the security practices of signatories in a multi-sig arrangement are such that the breach risk of one signatory is 1 in 100, the requirement of 3 independent signatures makes the risk of theft 1 in 1,000,000. Since hackers tend to exploit the weakest link, a comparable custodian has to make the entry and exit points of their platform 10,000 times more secure than one of those signatories to provide equivalent protection. And if the signatories beef up their security by only 10x, the risk is now 1 in 1,000,000,000. The custodian has to be 1,000,000 times more secure. The larger and more complex a system is, the more potential vulnerabilities exist in it, and the fewer people can understand how the system works when performing upgrades. Even if a system is completely secure today, one has to also consider how that system might evolve over time or work with different members.
By contrast, offline multi-signature solutions have an extremely solid record, and in the entire history of cryptocurrency exchange incidents which I've studied (listed here), there has only been one incident (796 exchange in 2015) involving an offline multi-signature wallet. It happened because the customer's bitcoin address was modified by hackers, and the amount that was stolen ($230k) was immediately covered by the exchange operators. Basically, the platform operators were tricked into sending a legitimate withdrawal request to the wrong address because hackers exploited their platform to change that address. Such an issue would not be prevented in any way by the use of a custodian, as that custodian has no oversight whatsoever to the exchange platform. It's practical for all exchange operators to test large withdrawal transactions as a general policy, regardless of what model is used, and general best practice is to diagnose and fix such an exploit as soon as it occurs.
False promises on the backing of funds played a huge role in the downfall of Quadriga, and it's been exposed over and over again (MyCoin, PlusToken, Bitsane, Bitmarket, EZBTC, IDAX). Even today, customers have extremely limited certainty on whether their funds in exchanges are actually being backed or how they're being backed. While this issue is not unique to cryptocurrency exchanges, the complexity of the technology and the lack of any regulation or standards makes problems more widespread, and there is no "central bank" to come to the rescue as in the 2008 financial crisis or during the great depression when "9,000 banks failed".
In addition to fraudulent operations, the industry is full of cases where operators have suffered breaches and not reported them. Most recently, Einstein was the largest case in Canada, where ongoing breaches and fraud were perpetrated against the platform for multiple years and nobody found out until the platform collapsed completely. While fraud and breaches suck to deal with, they suck even more when not dealt with. Lack of visibility played a role in the largest downfalls of Mt. Gox, Cryptsy, and Bitgrail. In some cases, platforms are alleged to have suffered a hack and keep operating without admitting it at all, such as CoinBene.
It surprises some to learn that a cryptographic solution has already existed since 2013, and gained widespread support in 2014 after Mt. Gox. Proof of Reserves is a full cryptographic proof that allows any customer using an exchange to have complete certainty that their crypto-assets are fully backed by the platform in real-time. This is accomplished by proving that assets exist on the blockchain, are spendable, and fully cover customer deposits. It does not prove safety of assets or backing of fiat assets.
If we didn't care about privacy at all, a platform could publish their wallet addresses, sign a partial transaction, and put the full list of customer information and balances out publicly. Customers can each check that they are on the list, that the balances are accurate, that the total adds up, and that it's backed and spendable on the blockchain. Platforms who exclude any customer take a risk because that customer can easily check and see they were excluded. So together with all customers checking, this forms a full proof of backing of all crypto assets.
However, obviously customers care about their private information being published. Therefore, a hash of the information can be provided instead. Hash is one-way encryption. The hash allows the customer to validate inclusion (by hashing their own known information), while anyone looking at the list of hashes cannot determine the private information of any other user. All other parts of the scheme remain fully intact. A model like this is in use on the exchange CoinFloor in the UK.
A Merkle tree can provide even greater privacy. Instead of a list of balances, the balances are arranged into a binary tree. A customer starts from their node, and works their way to the top of the tree. For example, they know they have 5 BTC, they plus 1 other customer hold 7 BTC, they plus 2-3 other customers hold 17 BTC, etc... until they reach the root where all the BTC are represented. Thus, there is no way to find the balances of other individual customers aside from one unidentified customer in this case.
Proposals such as this had the backing of leaders in the community including Nic Carter, Greg Maxwell, and Zak Wilcox. Substantial and significant effort started back in 2013, with massive popularity in 2014. But what became of that effort? Very little. Exchange operators continue to refuse to give visibility. Despite the fact this information can often be obtained through trivial blockchain analysis, no Canadian platform has ever provided any wallet addresses publicly. As described by the CEO of Newton "For us to implement some kind of realtime Proof of Reserves solution, which I'm not opposed to, it would have to ... Preserve our users' privacy, as well as our own. Some kind of zero-knowledge proof". Kraken describes here in more detail why they haven't implemented such a scheme. According to professor Eli Ben-Sasson, when he spoke with exchanges, none were interested in implementing Proof of Reserves.
And yet, Kraken's places their reasoning on a page called "Proof of Reserves". More recently, both BitBuy and ShakePay have released reports titled "Proof of Reserves and Security Audit". Both reports contain disclaimers against being audits. Both reports trust the customer list provided by the platform, leaving the open possibility that multiple large accounts could have been excluded from the process. Proof of Reserves is a blockchain validation where customers see the wallets on the blockchain. The report from Kraken is 5 years old, but they leave it described as though it was just done a few weeks ago. And look at what they expect customers to do for validation. When firms represent something being "Proof of Reserve" when it's not, this is like a farmer growing fruit with pesticides and selling it in a farmers market as organic produce - except that these are people's hard-earned life savings at risk here. Platforms are misrepresenting the level of visibility in place and deceiving the public by their misuse of this term. They haven't proven anything.
Fraud isn't a problem that is unique to cryptocurrency. Fraud happens all the time. Enron, WorldCom, Nortel, Bear Stearns, Wells Fargo, Moser Baer, Wirecard, Bre-X, and Nicola are just some of the cases where frauds became large enough to become a big deal (and there are so many countless others). These all happened on 100% reversible assets despite regulations being in place. In many of these cases, the problems happened due to the over-complexity of the financial instruments. For example, Enron had "complex financial statements [which] were confusing to shareholders and analysts", creating "off-balance-sheet vehicles, complex financing structures, and deals so bewildering that few people could understand them". In cryptocurrency, we are often combining complex financial products with complex technologies and verification processes. We are naïve if we think problems like this won't happen. It is awkward and uncomfortable for many people to admit that they don't know how something works. If we want "money of the people" to work, the solutions have to be simple enough that "the people" can understand them, not so confusing that financial professionals and technology experts struggle to use or understand them.
For those who question the extent to which an organization can fool their way into a security consultancy role, HB Gary should be a great example to look at. Prior to trying to out anonymous, HB Gary was being actively hired by multiple US government agencies and others in the private sector (with glowing testimonials). The published articles and hosted professional security conferences. One should also look at this list of data breaches from the past 2 years. Many of them are large corporations, government entities, and technology companies. These are the ones we know about. Undoubtedly, there are many more that we do not know about. If HB Gary hadn't been "outted" by anonymous, would we have known they were insecure? If the same breach had happened outside of the public spotlight, would it even have been reported? Or would HB Gary have just deleted the Twitter posts, brought their site back up, done a couple patches, and kept on operating as though nothing had happened?
In the case of Quadriga, the facts are clear. Despite past experience with platforms such as MapleChange in Canada and others around the world, no guidance or even the most basic of a framework was put in place by regulators. By not clarifying any sort of legal framework, regulators enabled a situation where a platform could be run by former criminal Mike Dhanini/Omar Patryn, and where funds could be held fully unchecked by one person. At the same time, the lack of regulation deterred legitimate entities from running competing platforms and Quadriga was granted a money services business license for multiple years of operation, which gave the firm the appearance of legitimacy. Regulators did little to protect Canadians despite Quadriga failing to file taxes from 2016 onward. The entire administrative team had resigned and this was public knowledge. Many people had suspicions of what was going on, including Ryan Mueller, who forwarded complaints to the authorities. These were ignored, giving Gerald Cotten the opportunity to escape without justice.
There are multiple issues with the SOC II model including the prohibitive cost (you have to find a third party accounting firm and the prices are not even listed publicly on any sites), the requirement of operating for a year (impossible for new platforms), and lack of any public visibility (SOC II are private reports that aren't shared outside the people in suits).
Securities frameworks are expensive. Sarbanes-Oxley is estimated to cost $5.1 million USD/yr for the average Fortune 500 company in the United States. Since "Fortune 500" represents the top 500 companies, that means well over $2.55 billion USD (~$3.4 billion CAD) is going to people in suits. Isn't the problem of trust and verification the exact problem that the blockchain is supposed to solve?
To use Quadriga as justification for why custodians or SOC II or other advanced schemes are needed for platforms is rather silly, when any framework or visibility at all, or even the most basic of storage policies, would have prevented the whole thing. It's just an embarrassment.
We are now seeing regulators take strong action. CoinSquare in Canada with multi-million dollar fines. BitMex from the US, criminal charges and arrests. OkEx, with full disregard of withdrawals and no communication. Who's next?
We have a unique window today where we can solve these problems, and not permanently destroy innovation with unreasonable expectations, but we need to act quickly. This is a unique historic time that will never come again.
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