Putting $400M of Bitcoin on your company balance sheet
Also posted on my blog as usual. Read it there if you can, there are footnotes and inlined plots. A couple of months ago, MicroStrategy (MSTR) had a spare $400M of cash which it decided to shift to Bitcoin (BTC). Today we'll discuss in excrutiating detail why this is not a good idea. When a company has a pile of spare money it doesn't know what to do with, it'll normally do buybacks or start paying dividends. That gives the money back to the shareholders, and from an economic perspective the money can get better invested in other more promising companies. If you have a huge pile of of cash, you probably should be doing other things than leave it in a bank account to gather dust. However, this statement from MicroStrategy CEO Michael Saylor exists to make it clear he's buying into BTC for all the wrong reasons:
“This is not a speculation, nor is it a hedge. This was a deliberate corporate strategy to adopt a bitcoin standard.”
Let's unpack it and jump into the economics Bitcoin:
Is Bitcoin money?
No. Or rather BTC doesn't act as money and there's no serious future path for BTC to become a form of money. Let's go back to basics. There are 3 main economic problems money solves: 1. Medium of Exchange. Before money we had to barter, which led to the double coincidence of wants problem. When everyone accepts the same money you can buy something from someone even if they don't like the stuff you own. As a medium of exchange, BTC is not good. There are significant transaction fees and transaction waiting times built-in to BTC and these worsen the more popular BTC get. You can test BTC's usefulness as a medium of exchange for yourself right now: try to order a pizza or to buy a random item with BTC. How many additional hurdles do you have to go through? How many fewer options do you have than if you used a regular currency? How much overhead (time, fees) is there? 2. Unit of Account. A unit of account is what you compare the value of objects against. We denominate BTC in terms of how many USD they're worth, so BTC is a unit of account presently. We can say it's because of lack of adoption, but really it's also because the market value of BTC is so volatile. If I buy a $1000 table today or in 2017, it's roughly a $1000 table. We can't say that a 0.4BTC table was a 0.4BTC table in 2017. We'll expand on this in the next point: 3. Store of Value. When you create economic value, you don't want to be forced to use up the value you created right away. For instance, if I fix your washing machine and you pay me in avocados, I'd be annoyed. I'd have to consume my payment before it becomes brown, squishy and disgusting. Avocado fruit is not good money because avocadoes loses value very fast. On the other hand, well-run currencies like the USD, GBP, CAD, EUR, etc. all lose their value at a low and most importantly fairly predictible rate. Let's look at the chart of the USD against BTC While the dollar loses value at a predictible rate, BTC is all over the place, which is bad. One important use money is to write loan contracts. Loans are great. They let people spend now against their future potential earnings, so they can buy houses or start businesses without first saving up for a decade. Loans are good for the economy. If you want to sign something that says "I owe you this much for that much time" then you need to be able to roughly predict the value of the debt in at the point in time where it's due. Otherwise you'll have a hard time pricing the risk of the loan effectively. This means that you need to charge higher interests. The risk of making a loan in BTC needs to be priced into the interest of a BTC-denominated loan, which means much higher interest rates. High interests on loans are bad, because buying houses and starting businesses are good things.
BTC has a fixed supply, so these problems are built in
Some people think that going back to a standard where our money was denominated by a stock of gold (the Gold Standard) would solve economic problems. This is nonsense. Having control over supply of your currency is a good thing, as long as it's well run. See here Remember that what is desirable is low variance in the value, not the value itself. When there are wild fluctuations in value, it's hard for money to do its job well. Since the 1970s, the USD has been a fiat money with no intrinsic value. This means we control the supply of money. Let's look at a classic poorly drawn econ101 graph The market price for USD is where supply meets demand. The problem with a currency based on an item whose supply is fixed is that the price will necessarily fluctuate in response to changes in demand. Imagine, if you will, that a pandemic strikes and that the demand for currency takes a sharp drop. The US imports less, people don't buy anything anymore, etc. If you can't print money, you get deflation, which is worsens everything. On the other hand, if you can make the money printers go brrrr you can stabilize the price Having your currency be based on a fixed supply isn't just bad because in/deflation is hard to control. It's also a national security risk... The story of the guy who crashed gold prices in North Africa In the 1200s, Mansa Munsa, the emperor of the Mali, was rich and a devout Muslim and wanted everyone to know it. So he embarked on a pilgrimage to make it rain all the way to Mecca. He in fact made it rain so hard he increased the overall supply of gold and unintentionally crashed gold prices in Cairo by 20%, wreaking an economic havoc in North Africa that lasted a decade. This story is fun, the larger point that having your inflation be at the mercy of foreign nations is an undesirable attribute in any currency. The US likes to call some countries currency manipulators, but this problem would be serious under a gold standard.
Currencies are based on trust
Since the USD is based on nothing except the US government's word, how can we trust USD not to be mismanaged? The answer is that you can probably trust the fed until political stooges get put in place. Currently, the US's central bank managing the USD, the Federal Reserve (the Fed for friends & family), has administrative authority. The fed can say "no" to dumb requests from the president. People who have no idea what the fed does like to chant "audit the fed", but the fed is already one of the best audited US federal entities. The transcripts of all their meetings are out in the open. As is their balance sheet, what they plan to do and why. If the US should audit anything it's the Department of Defense which operates without any accounting at all. It's easy to see when a central bank will go rogue: it's when political yes-men are elected to the board. For example, before printing themselves into hyperinflation, the Venezuelan president appointed a sociologist who publicly stated “Inflation does not exist in real life” and instead is a made up capitalist lie. Note what happened mere months after his gaining control over the Venezuelan currency This is a key policy. One paper I really like, Sargent (1984) "The end of 4 big inflations" states:
The essential measures that ended hyperinflation in each of Germany,Austria, Hungary, and Poland were, first, the creation of an independentcentral bank that was legally committed to refuse the government'sdemand or additional unsecured credit and, second, a simultaneousalteration in the fiscal policy regime.
In english: *hyperinflation stops when the central bank can say "no" to the government." The US Fed, like other well good central banks, is run by a bunch of nerds. When it prints money, even as aggressively as it has it does so for good reasons. You can see why they started printing on March 15th as the COVID lockdowns started:
The Federal Reserve is prepared to use its full range of tools to support the flow of credit to households and businesses and thereby promote its maximum employment and price stability goals.
In english: We're going to keep printing and lowering rates until jobs are back and inflation is under control. If we print until the sun is blotted out, we'll print in the shade.
BTC is not gold
Gold is a good asset for doomsday-preppers. If society crashes, gold will still have value. How do we know that? Gold has held value throughout multiple historic catastrophes over thousands of years. It had value before and after the Bronze Age Collapse, the Fall of the Western Roman Empire and Gengis Khan being Gengis Khan. Even if you erased humanity and started over, the new humans would still find gold to be economically valuable. When Europeans d̶i̶s̶c̶o̶v̶e̶r̶e̶d̶ c̶o̶n̶q̶u̶e̶r̶e̶d̶ g̶e̶n̶o̶c̶i̶d̶e̶d̶ went to America, they found gold to be an important item over there too. This is about equivalent to finding humans on Alpha-Centauri and learning that they think gold is a good store of value as well. Some people are puzzled at this: we don't even use gold for much! But it has great properties: First, gold is hard to fake and impossible to manufacture. This makes it good to ascertain payment. Second, gold doesnt react to oxygen, so it doesn't rust or tarnish. So it keeps value over time unlike most other materials. Last, gold is pretty. This might sound frivolous, and you may not like it, but jewelry has actual value to humans. It's no coincidence if you look at a list of the wealthiest families, a large number of them trade in luxury goods. To paraphrase Veblen humans have a profound desire to signal social status, for the same reason peacocks have unwieldy tails. Gold is a great way to achieve that. On the other hand, BTC lacks all these attributes. Its value is largely based on common perception of value. There are a few fundamental drivers of demand:
Means of Exchange: if people seriously start using BTC to buy pizzas, then this creates a real demand for the currency to accomplish the short-term exchanges. As we saw previously, I'm not personally sold on this one and it's currently a negligible fraction of overall demand.
Criminal uses: Probably the largest inbuilt advantage of BTC is that it's anonymous, and so a great way to launder money. Hacker gangs use BTC to demand ransom on cryptolocker type attacks because it's a shared way for an honest company to pay and for the criminals to receive money without going to jail.
Apart from these, it's hard to argue that BTC will retain value throughout some sort of economic catastrophe.
BTC is really risky
One last statement from Michael Saylor I take offense to is this:
“We feel pretty confident that Bitcoin is less risky than holding cash, less risky than holding gold,” MicroStrategy CEO said in an interview
"BTC is less risky than holding cash or gold long term" is nonsense. We saw before that BTC is more volatile on face value, and that as long as the Fed isn't run by spider monkeys stacked in a trench coat, the inflation is likely to be within reasonable bounds. But on top of this, BTC has Abrupt downside risks that normal currencies don't. Let's imagine a few:
A critical software vulnerability is found in the BTC codebase, leading to a possible exploitation.
Xi Jinping decides he's had enough of rich people in China hiding their assets from him and bans BTC.
Some form of bank run takes hold for whatever reason. Because BTC wallets are uninsured, unlike regular banks, this compounds into a Black Tuesday style crash.
Blockchain solutions are fundamentally inefficient
Blockchain was a genius idea. I still marvel at the initial white paper which is a great mix of economics and computer science. That said, blockchain solutions make large tradeoffs in design because they assume almost no trust between parties. This leads to intentionally wasteful designs on a massive scale. The main problem is that all transactions have to be validated by expensive computational operations and double checked by multiple parties. This means waste:
BTC was estimated to use as much electricity as Belgium in 2019. It's hard to trace where the BTC mining comes from, but we can assume it has a huge carbon footprint.
A single transactions is necessarily expensive. A single transaction takes as much electricity as 800,000 VISA transactions, or watching 50,000 hours of youtube videos.
There is a large necessary tax on the transaction, since those checking the transaction extract a few BTC from it to be incentivized to do the work of checking it.
Many design problems can be mitigated by various improvements over BTC, but it remains that a simple database always works better than a blockchain if you can trust the parties to the transaction.
What r/fatFIRE can learn from the book, Psychology of Money
My favorite author, Morgan Housel, released his new book, The Psychology of Money, last week. In the book, Housel discussed many interesting psychological phenomenon, through the lens of finance. As I flipped through the pages, I started to realize so much of what's happening in fatFIRE are examples of what's discussed in the book. No One's Crazy The book begins with how your personal experiences with money make up maybe 0.000000001% of what's happened in the world, but maybe 80% of how you think the world works. For example, if you were born in 1970, the S&P 500 increased almost 10-fold, adjusted for inflation, during your teens and 20s. That's an amazing return. If you were born in 1950, the market went literally nowhere in your teens and 20s adjusted for inflation. Two groups of people, separated by chance of their birth year, go through life with a completely different view on how the stock market works. Takeaways forfatFIRE: When you read other posts and comments about what stocks to buy, what startups to join, what's the economy going to be like, what's the best asset allocation, etc., remember that is just a single person's point of view. That person may be from a different generation, earns different incomes, upholds different values, keeps different jobs, and has different degrees of luck. And remember, don't be mean to others. A view about money that one group of people thinks is outrageous can make perfect sense to another. Luck & Risk The next chapter discusses the big role luck and risk plays in someone's life. Luck and risk are two sides of the same coin. Examples from the book: Countless fortunes (and mistakes) owe their outcomes to leverage. The best (and worst) managers drive their employees as hard as they can. "The customers are always right" and "customers don't know what they want" are both accepted business wisdom. The line between "inspiringly bold" and "foolishly reckless" can be a millimeter thick and only visible with hindsight. Risk and luck are doppelgängers. Takeaways forfatFIRE: Be careful who you praise and admire. That commenter who joined a unicorn at Series A may look like a genius on the outside, but they may just be lucky and cannot repeat it again. Be careful who you look down upon and wish to avoid becoming. That poster who joined WeWork may look like a fool, but they made the best decision based on the information they had at a time. They took a risk and got unlucky. Therefore, focus less on specific individuals and case studies and more on broad patterns. Furthermore, when things are going extremely well, realize it's not as good as you think -- like the stock market right now. On the other hand, we should forgive ourselves and leave room for understanding when judging failures -- like the stock market in March. Never Enough The hardest financial skill is getting the goalpost to stop moving. It gets dangerous when the taste of having more -- more money, more power, more prestige -- increases ambition faster than satisfaction. Social comparison is the problem here. A rookie baseball players who earns $500k a year envies Mike Trout who has a 12-year, $430 million contract envies a hedge fund manager who makes $340 million a year envies Warren Buffett who had a $3.5 billion increase in fortune in 2018. There are many things never worth risking, no matter the potential gain. Reputation is invaluable. Freedom and independence are invaluable. Friends and family are invaluable. Being loved by those who you want to love you is invaluable. Happiness is invaluable. And your best shot at keeping these things is knowing when it's time to stop taking risks that might harm them. Knowing when you have enough. Takeaways forfatFIRE: When you make a big gain, it's totally okay to take profit, as long as you keep your ambition down and acknowledge the possibility that it may go higher. If that happens, no need to play the would've should've could've game, because it very well might've gone the other way. When you see someone who got 20x return on Shopify or bet big into Ethereum in 2016, remember they may envy the pre-IPO employees at Shopify or the genius who held Bitcoin since 2010. At the end of the day, do not risk more than what's comfortable in your life for the sake of making huge amount of money, because even if you do make it, you may not find it worth it. Tails, You Win Skipping a few chapters to talk about the prominence of tail events. At the Berkshire Hathaway shareholder meeting in 2013 Warren Buffet said he's owned 400 to 500 stocks during his life and made most of his money on 10 of them. Charlie Munger followed up: "If you remove just a few of Berkshire's top investments, its long-term track record is pretty average." In 2018, Amazon drove 6% of the S&P 500's returns. And Amazon's growth is almost entirely due to Prime and Amazon Web Services, which itself are tail events in a company that has experimented with hundreds of products, from the Fire Phone to travel agencies. Apple was responsible for almost 7% of the index's returns in 2018. And it is driven overwhelmingly by the iPhone, which in the world of tech products is as tail--y as tails get. And who's working at these companies? Google's hiring acceptance rate if 0.2%. Facebook's is 0.1%. Apple's is about 2%. So the people working on these tail projects that drive tail returns have tail careers. Takeaways forfatFIRE: When we pay special attention to a role model's successes we overlook that their gains came from a small percent of their actions. That makes our own failures, losses, and setbacks feel like we're doing something wrong. When you accept that tails drive everything is business, investing and finance you will realize that it's normal for lots of things to go wrong, break, fail and fall. If you are a good stock picker you'll be right maybe half the time. If you're a good business leader maybe half of your product and strategy ideas will work. If you're a good investor most years will be just OK, and plenty will be bad. If you're a good worker you'll find the right company in the right field after several attempts and trials. And that's if you're good. Freedom The highest form of wealth is the ability to wake up every morning and say "I can do whatever I want today." The ability to do what you want, when you want, with who you want, for as long as you want, is priceless. It is the highest dividend money pays. Research has shown having a strong sense of controlling one's life is a more dependable predictor of positive feelings of wellbeing than any of the objective conditions of life we have considered. People like to feel like they're in control -- in the drivers' seat. When we try to get them to do something, they feel disempowered. Rather than feeling like they made the choice, they feel like we made it for them. So they say no or do something else, even when they might have originally been happy to go along. Takeaways forfatFIRE: Most of you probably are working thought-based and decision job, your tool is your head, which never leaves you. You might be thinking about your project during your commute, as you're making dinner, while you put your kids to sleep, and when you wake up stressed at three in the morning. You might be on the clock for fewer hours than you would in 1050. But it feels like you're working 24/7. If this feels like you, and you do not like it, it is totally fine to switch to a job that pays less but gives you more freedom and independence, because freedom and independence are what FatFire is all about. --- I'm only half way into the book, but I can tell this will be one of the best finance book of 2020. If you guys find this useful, happy to come back next week with more insights once I've gotten to the end. I like talking about these things on Twitter too. Edit: here's part 2 and here's a Twitter thread of the best snippets
Ultimate glossary of crypto currency terms, acronyms and abbreviations
What we can learn from Litecoin falling out of Top10
So as LTC is dropping out of Top10 coins on cmc for the first time (currently sitting at 12) I think it is time to get some insights out of its demise. Many people in crypto community (especially here in btc) know that LTC is, while not being an outright shitcoin, basically a useless coin. The advantages it had over BTC were really small for most of its lifetime (except for BTC high fee times), and compared to most other alts it was inferior. It had no roadmap other than being a testing ground for BTC and backporting their changes. But what it had, was a clever marketing or "story to tell". Litecoin is silver to BTC's gold. With this simple marketing trick it managed to closely align it to Cryptos biggest Community (BTC) and also paved the way for the greatest dogma in crypto that developed over the years: that Bitcoin is not meant to be spend BTC rather hoarded like gold and if you need to make actual crypto payment you do it with Litecoin. This marketing ensured that LTC could stay in Top10 for almost a decade, whereas other coins out of the 2011-2013 copycat altcoin era, even some that provided actual advantage (think of Peercoin for example) have long been forgotton. So what can we learn from this? In crypto community there is a lot of joking about the market being irrational, shitcoins like IOTA which do not even work having the same price development as legit projects, useless projects pumping like mad because they spend all their ICO money on marketing, sentiments like "the market can stay longer irrational than you can solvent" and so and so on. In the case of LTC it is now possible to quantify how long the market can stay irrational in extreme cases: Almost a decade. Measured in crypto time frames almost an eternity, but not a lifespan. Also important to note is that Litecoin compared to BCH has (even before their current artificial increase) better onchain stats regarding transaction count, active adresses etc. Nevertheless the gap between the coins continues to widen. The market DOES price in tech, future outlook, roadmap and things alike. So in conclusion: 1. Marketing is extremely important and can outweigh actual tech and roadmap in the short and mid-term (up to 8 years in extreme cases), but not in the long term. 2. Community sentiment can have tremendous impact, just because LTC aligned closely with BTC community they managed to survive much longer than similiar projects from the era. 3. Over time the market does take into account future perspective and outlook. BCH should take steps accordingly, continue to invest in solid and novel tech, but also increase its reputation in the wider crypto community (pro tip: not constantly shitting on other projects help). In a few years we can earn the fruit of it. Another thing that came to my mind is that crypto market actually works the direct opposite of current stock market. In crypto, everything changes super fast but the actual market elements to work (valuing fundamental value, expectation trading) takes ages. In stock market (if you look at Tesla for example) things go way slower but basic market functions are comparably quicker (as seen in Tesla having better stock than other car manufacturers, despite being arguably profitable and delivering much less cars, but what matters is actual tech and future expectations). What do you think of the analysis?
What r/investing can learn from the book, Psychology of Money
My favorite author, Morgan Housel, released his new book, The Psychology of Money, last week. In the book, Housel discussed many interesting psychological phenomenon, through the lens of finance. As I flipped through the pages, I started to realize so much of what's happening in investing are examples of what's discussed in the book. No One's Crazy The book begins with how your personal experiences with money make up maybe 0.000000001% of what's happened in the world, but maybe 80% of how you think the world works. For example, if you were born in 1970, the S&P 500 increased almost 10-fold, adjusted for inflation, during your teens and 20s. That's an amazing return. If you were born in 1950, the market went literally nowhere in your teens and 20s adjusted for inflation. Two groups of people, separated by chance of their birth year, go through life with a completely different view on how the stock market works. Takeaways forinvesting: When you read other posts and comments about what stocks to buy, when to sell, what's likely to happen next, what's the best asset allocation, etc., remember that is just a single person's point of view. That person may be from a different generation, earns different incomes, upholds different values, keeps different jobs, and has different degrees of luck. And remember, don't be mean to others. A view about money that one group of people thinks is outrageous can make perfect sense to another. Luck & Risk The next chapter discusses the big role luck and risk plays in someone's life. Luck and risk are two sides of the same coin. Examples from the book: Countless fortunes (and mistakes) owe their outcomes to leverage. The best (and worst) managers drive their employees as hard as they can. "The customers are always right" and "customers don't know what they want" are both accepted business wisdom. The line between "inspiringly bold" and "foolishly reckless" can be a millimeter thick and only visible with hindsight. Risk and luck are doppelgängers. Takeaways forinvesting: Be careful who you praise and admire. That commenter who bought $SHOP at $30 may look like a genius on the outside, but they may just be lucky and cannot repeat it again. Be careful who you look down upon and wish to avoid becoming. That poster who put a bull argument for Luckin Coffee may look like a fool, but they made the best decision based on the information they had at a time. They took a risk and got unlucky. Therefore, focus less on specific individuals and case studies and more on broad patterns. Furthermore, when things are going extremely well, realize it's not as good as you think -- like the stock market right now. On the other hand, we should forgive ourselves and leave room for understanding when judging failures -- like the stock market in March. Never Enough The hardest financial skill is getting the goalpost to stop moving. It gets dangerous when the taste of having more -- more money, more power, more prestige -- increases ambition faster than satisfaction. Social comparison is the problem here. A rookie baseball players who earns $500k a year envies Mike Trout who has a 12-year, $430 million contract envies a hedge fund manager who makes $340 million a year envies Warren Buffett who had a $3.5 billion increase in fortune in 2018. There are many things never worth risking, no matter the potential gain. Reputation is invaluable. Freedom and independence are invaluable. Friends and family are invaluable. Being loved by those who you want to love you is invaluable. Happiness is invaluable. And your best shot at keeping these things is knowing when it's time to stop taking risks that might harm them. Knowing when you have enough. Takeaways forinvesting: When you make a big gain, it's totally okay to take profit, as long as you keep your ambition down and acknowledge the possibility that it may go higher. If that happens, no need to play the would've should've could've game, because it very well might've gone the other way. When you see someone who got 20x return on Amazon or bet big into Ethereum in 2016, remember they may envy the pre-IPO employees at Amazon or the genius who held Bitcoin since 2010. At the end of the day, do not risk more than what's comfortable in your life for the sake of making huge amount of money, because even if you do make it, you may not find it worth it. Tails, You Win Skipping a few chapters to talk about the prominence of tail events. At the Berkshire Hathaway shareholder meeting in 2013 Warren Buffet said he's owned 400 to 500 stocks during his life and made most of his money on 10 of them. Charlie Munger followed up: "If you remove just a few of Berkshire's top investments, its long-term track record is pretty average." In 2018, Amazon drove 6% of the S&P 500's returns. And Amazon's growth is almost entirely due to Prime and Amazon Web Services, which itself are tail events in a company that has experimented with hundreds of products, from the Fire Phone to travel agencies. Apple was responsible for almost 7% of the index's returns in 2018. And it is driven overwhelmingly by the iPhone, which in the world of tech products is as tail--y as tails get. And who's working at these companies? Google's hiring acceptance rate if 0.2%. Facebook's is 0.1%. Apple's is about 2%. So the people working on these tail projects that drive tail returns have tail careers. Takeaways forinvesting: When we pay special attention to a role model's successes we overlook that their gains came from a small percent of their actions. That makes our own failures, losses, and setbacks feel like we're doing something wrong. When you accept that tails drive everything is business, investing and finance you will realize that it's normal for lots of things to go wrong, break, fail and fall. If you are a good stock picker you'll be right maybe half the time. If you're a good business leader maybe half of your product and strategy ideas will work. If you're a good investor most years will be just OK, and plenty will be bad. If you're a good worker you'll find the right company in the right field after several attempts and trials. And that's if you're good. Freedom The highest form of wealth is the ability to wake up every morning and say "I can do whatever I want today." The ability to do what you want, when you want, with who you want, for as long as you want, is priceless. It is the highest dividend money pays. Research has shown having a strong sense of controlling one's life is a more dependable predictor of positive feelings of wellbeing than any of the objective conditions of life we have considered. People like to feel like they're in control -- in the drivers' seat. When we try to get them to do something, they feel disempowered. Rather than feeling like they made the choice, they feel like we made it for them. So they say no or do something else, even when they might have originally been happy to go along. Takeaways forinvesting: If your job is a thought-based and decision job, your tool is your head, which never leaves you. You might be thinking about your project during your commute, as you're making dinner, while you put your kids to sleep, and when you wake up stressed at three in the morning. You might be on the clock for fewer hours than you would in 1050. But it feels like you're working 24/7. If this feels like you, and you do not like it, it is totally fine to switch to a job that pays less but gives you more freedom and independence, because freedom and independence are ultimate form of wealth. --- I'm only half way into the book, but I can tell this will be one of the best finance book of 2020. If you guys find this useful, happy to come back next week with more insights once I've gotten to the end.
Should you Buy Bitcoin? If you understand what it is, and where it's going; then Yes. If you don't know what it is and would sell at any sign of a 5%, 10%, 50%, or more dip; then, No.
Bitcoin is only a safe investment if you understand what it is, and how it will continue to be adopted into this world at this point in its life, regardless of the market price swings in the short term. Because only then will you never cement a loss by panic selling, and then seeing Bitcoin runaway in price while you're still out, therefore losing both your Dollar value and your Bitcoin position value. I've been in Bitcoin for over 8 years now, and have seen many friends, family, and acquaintances come into Bitcoin, and many panic sell and FUD out during a down market. Most eventually coming back after learning more about Bitcoin, but some, for some it takes a long time to return. And for an even smaller few, well they never return, or at least not yet. But in essence, Bitcoin is only a safe investment if someone understands that their amount of Bitcoin is more important than whatever dollar value it has in the short term. That all they should be focused on is acquiring more Bitcoin, and that every 5 years after a halving happens, they'll see their coins grow in value. That they'll grow in value thanks to the math of its limited 21 million total coin supply, the new coin supply getting cut in half by the halvings making a more and more or the total supply being held by hodlers every year, and that its continued adoption into the global markets will always force it to eventually go up in price because those new adopters will always have to find what price those hodlers are willing to sell, finding Bitcoins new value that hodlers are willing to sell each time that happens, regardless of the short term evaluation corrections after a parabolic runs. Corrections mind, you that on average are only 80%, leaving anyone in before a 1000% growth parabolic runs to still being up 200% as long as they bought before the parabolic run started. The .com stock fluctuations were fluctuating on averages of 99% corrections during its first 15 years of life from the '90s to the early 2000s. And the ones that survived those early days were previously the best investments in history before Bitcoin came along. So Bitcoin is holding a better correction in its early day pattern than the biggest internet companies when they started, and its returns have already broken any records they previously held. Records they'll never be able to catch up to as Bitcoin continues its path. If they don't understand this, then even if they don't leave the market, they'll panic sell every time. And for some friends I know, they'll always sell at a dip right before a parabolic run, and then FOMO back in at a new all-time high, only to experience the next correction and sell again at their break-even point. With this, losing more Bitcoin position every time, but maintaining the same initial investment point which in their eyes as a win. I have one friend who came in with 10k in 2013, and today in 2020 is still only at 10k thanks to this pattern of buying and selling. Don't get me wrong, they've been up well over 100k$ at times, but they kept panicking selling at every parabolic run's slightest dip, then buying back in at the new all-time highs, only to then sell low in a repetitive cycle until they broke even. People like that friend try to play the market, and yes while they do win sometimes, that pattern of buying and selling will almost always lead you to get rekt during times of parabolic growth, and correction. Had my friend just held his initial 10k investment in 2013, he'd be a multi-millionaire right now. It's one of the most golden rules with investing in any market. If you try to play it, eventually it will play you. Instead, just find a market on the path of growth, and longevity, and do everything you can to just increase your piece of that market's pie, no matter what the price. If it goes down in price in the short term, then just think of it like a rare Gucci purse or limited edition rare popular shoes that are being released on sale. Buy the damn discount and hold onto that shit until the market catches up with what you know and realizes it's true value. Because of all these experiences throughout the years, if I'm trying to help anyone start buying Bitcoin, I tell them to learn about it first before buying any. To learn what it is, study its history, it's adoption growth, where it can be adopted, where it is being adopted, what it's limited 21 million coin supply is, and about what the halvings mean to its long term value. How it can and will be used, how they can protect it, etc. I always want them to learn enough about it to understand why HODLing is so important, and that the only thing that matters is that they increase their Bitcoin supply. That's the safest way to win in this game. Without understanding that, then they're a financial danger to themselves if investing in Bitcoin. Not because Bitcoin is a bad investment, but because they'll be a bad investor.
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!
Analysis of good and bad advice for investing in Bitcoin
A common advice platitude that is carelessly thrown about in /Bitcoin is something to the effect of "Bitcoin is a speculative asset; no one can know how it will play out and it could go to zero. You should never invest more than you can afford to lose" I find this to be a particularly meaningless and nonsensical statement. First the assertion that Bitcoin is a speculative asset should immediately disqualify the person from giving advice. Not only does this statement reveal that the person making it does not know if Bitcoin is going to increase in value, it also implies that no one else can know this as well. This is a profoundly arrogant claim and is of no use. Contrast this to this article written by Pierre Rochard back in February of 2013. At the time of this article Bitcoin was worth $22/coin and was widely viewed as toy money and ridiculed as a joke. Pierre's article assesses the monetary policy of this "toy money" and concludes that it has a superior monetary policy to the US Federal Reserve and will therefore necessarily grow to overtake the US dollar and end the fed. Bitcoin has increased in value over 500x since Rochard's article was published. If you hear someone giving advice and they say that "no one can know if Bitcoin will succeed" they are revealing their profound ignorance of monetary economics and their arrogance that no one else could possibly know something they fail to understand. Conversely we have people who have looked at Bitcoin when it was considered a joke and correctly concluded it would grow to take over the global economy and kill every central bank in the process. It should be obvious who is more qualified to speak on the matter and who should be ignored. The last part of the advice is rather curious and reveals a glaring and very dangerous status quo bias. What is meant by "Do not invest more than you can afford to lose"? More importantly, if you choose not to invest in Bitcoin you are necessarily invested in something else. The investment in something else--USD perhaps, is dismissed as if that investment cannot lose. No one ever says "Do not invest more in the US Dollar than you can afford to lose", but perhaps they should. Considering the fact that the USD has been rapidly losing market share to a new currency competitor with a monetary policy unlike anything humanity has ever seen, perhaps this would be the best possible advice as it suggest there is a risk most people are unaware of. My personal advice to people is this- If you do not understand monetary economics you have no business investing in a currency because you have no idea what you are doing. Most people would agree with this if I state this with regard to Bitcoin, but it is also true for holding significant amounts of US Dollars. Currencies can and do fail; currencies perceived as stable and "strong" collapse when they encounter competition from a currency with a superior monetary policy. If you do not understand this, you should educate yourself perhaps starting with people who correctly predicted Bitcoin's rise when it was worth $22/coin.
Summary: Everyone knows that when you give your assets to someone else, they always keep them safe. If this is true for individuals, it is certainly true for businesses. Custodians always tell the truth and manage funds properly. They won't have any interest in taking the assets as an exchange operator would. Auditors tell the truth and can't be misled. That's because organizations that are regulated are incapable of lying and don't make mistakes. First, some background. Here is a summary of how custodians make us more secure: Previously, we might give Alice our crypto assets to hold. There were risks:
Alice might take the assets and disappear.
Alice might spend the assets and pretend that she still has them (fractional model).
Alice might store the assets insecurely and they'll get stolen.
Alice might give the assets to someone else by mistake or by force.
Alice might lose access to the assets.
But "no worries", Alice has a custodian named Bob. Bob is dressed in a nice suit. He knows some politicians. And he drives a Porsche. "So you have nothing to worry about!". And look at all the benefits we get:
Alice can't take the assets and disappear (unless she asks Bob or never gives them to Bob).
Alice can't spend the assets and pretend that she still has them. (Unless she didn't give them to Bob or asks him for them.)
Alice can't store the assets insecurely so they get stolen. (After all - she doesn't have any control over the withdrawal process from any of Bob's systems, right?)
Alice can't give the assets to someone else by mistake or by force. (Bob will stop her, right Bob?)
Alice can't lose access to the funds. (She'll always be present, sane, and remember all secrets, right?)
See - all problems are solved! All we have to worry about now is:
Bob might take the assets and disappear.
Bob might spend the assets and pretend that he still has them (fractional model).
Bob might store the assets insecurely and they'll get stolen.
Bob might give the assets to someone else by mistake or by force.
Bob might lose access to the assets.
It's pretty simple. Before we had to trust Alice. Now we only have to trust Alice, Bob, and all the ways in which they communicate. Just think of how much more secure we are! "On top of that", Bob assures us, "we're using a special wallet structure". Bob shows Alice a diagram. "We've broken the balance up and store it in lots of smaller wallets. That way", he assures her, "a thief can't take it all at once". And he points to a historic case where a large sum was taken "because it was stored in a single wallet... how stupid". "Very early on, we used to have all the crypto in one wallet", he said, "and then one Christmas a hacker came and took it all. We call him the Grinch. Now we individually wrap each crypto and stick it under a binary search tree. The Grinch has never been back since." "As well", Bob continues, "even if someone were to get in, we've got insurance. It covers all thefts and even coercion, collusion, and misplaced keys - only subject to the policy terms and conditions." And with that, he pulls out a phone-book sized contract and slams it on the desk with a thud. "Yep", he continues, "we're paying top dollar for one of the best policies in the country!" "Can I read it?' Alice asks. "Sure," Bob says, "just as soon as our legal team is done with it. They're almost through the first chapter." He pauses, then continues. "And can you believe that sales guy Mike? He has the same year Porsche as me. I mean, what are the odds?" "Do you use multi-sig?", Alice asks. "Absolutely!" Bob replies. "All our engineers are fully trained in multi-sig. Whenever we want to set up a new wallet, we generate 2 separate keys in an air-gapped process and store them in this proprietary system here. Look, it even requires the biometric signature from one of our team members to initiate any withdrawal." He demonstrates by pressing his thumb into the display. "We use a third-party cloud validation API to match the thumbprint and authorize each withdrawal. The keys are also backed up daily to an off-site third-party." "Wow that's really impressive," Alice says, "but what if we need access for a withdrawal outside of office hours?" "Well that's no issue", Bob says, "just send us an email, call, or text message and we always have someone on staff to help out. Just another part of our strong commitment to all our customers!" "What about Proof of Reserve?", Alice asks. "Of course", Bob replies, "though rather than publish any blockchain addresses or signed transaction, for privacy we just do a SHA256 refactoring of the inverse hash modulus for each UTXO nonce and combine the smart contract coefficient consensus in our hyperledger lightning node. But it's really simple to use." He pushes a button and a large green checkmark appears on a screen. "See - the algorithm ran through and reserves are proven." "Wow", Alice says, "you really know your stuff! And that is easy to use! What about fiat balances?" "Yeah, we have an auditor too", Bob replies, "Been using him for a long time so we have quite a strong relationship going! We have special books we give him every year and he's very efficient! Checks the fiat, crypto, and everything all at once!" "We used to have a nice offline multi-sig setup we've been using without issue for the past 5 years, but I think we'll move all our funds over to your facility," Alice says. "Awesome", Bob replies, "Thanks so much! This is perfect timing too - my Porsche got a dent on it this morning. We have the paperwork right over here." "Great!", Alice replies. And with that, Alice gets out her pen and Bob gets the contract. "Don't worry", he says, "you can take your crypto-assets back anytime you like - just subject to our cancellation policy. Our annual management fees are also super low and we don't adjust them often". How many holes have to exist for your funds to get stolen? Just one. Why are we taking a powerful offline multi-sig setup, widely used globally in hundreds of different/lacking regulatory environments with 0 breaches to date, and circumventing it by a demonstrably weak third party layer? And paying a great expense to do so? If you go through the list of breaches in the past 2 years to highly credible organizations, you go through the list of major corporate frauds (only the ones we know about), you go through the list of all the times platforms have lost funds, you go through the list of times and ways that people have lost their crypto from identity theft, hot wallet exploits, extortion, etc... and then you go through this custodian with a fine-tooth comb and truly believe they have value to add far beyond what you could, sticking your funds in a wallet (or set of wallets) they control exclusively is the absolute worst possible way to take advantage of that security. The best way to add security for crypto-assets is to make a stronger multi-sig. With one custodian, what you are doing is giving them your cryptocurrency and hoping they're honest, competent, and flawlessly secure. It's no different than storing it on a really secure exchange. Maybe the insurance will cover you. Didn't work for Bitpay in 2015. Didn't work for Yapizon in 2017. Insurance has never paid a claim in the entire history of cryptocurrency. But maybe you'll get lucky. Maybe your exact scenario will buck the trend and be what they're willing to cover. After the large deductible and hopefully without a long and expensive court battle. And you want to advertise this increase in risk, the lapse of judgement, an accident waiting to happen, as though it's some kind of benefit to customers ("Free institutional-grade storage for your digital assets.")? And then some people are writing to the OSC that custodians should be mandatory for all funds on every exchange platform? That this somehow will make Canadians as a whole more secure or better protected compared with standard air-gapped multi-sig? On what planet? Most of the problems in Canada stemmed from one thing - a lack of transparency. If Canadians had known what a joke Quadriga was - it wouldn't have grown to lose $400m from hard-working Canadians from coast to coast to coast. And Gerald Cotten would be in jail, not wherever he is now (at best, rotting peacefully). EZ-BTC and mister Dave Smilie would have been a tiny little scam to his friends, not a multi-million dollar fraud. Einstein would have got their act together or been shut down BEFORE losing millions and millions more in people's funds generously donated to criminals. MapleChange wouldn't have even been a thing. And maybe we'd know a little more about CoinTradeNewNote - like how much was lost in there. Almost all of the major losses with cryptocurrency exchanges involve deception with unbacked funds. So it's great to see transparency reports from BitBuy and ShakePay where someone independently verified the backing. The only thing we don't have is:
ANY CERTAINTY BALANCES WEREN'T EXCLUDED. Quadriga's largest account was $70m. 80% of funds are in 20% of accounts (Pareto principle). All it takes is excluding a few really large accounts - and nobody's the wiser. A fractional platform can easily pass any audit this way.
ANY VISIBILITY WHATSOEVER INTO THE CUSTODIANS. BitBuy put out their report before moving all the funds to their custodian and ShakePay apparently can't even tell us who the custodian is. That's pretty important considering that basically all of the funds are now stored there.
ANY IDEA ABOUT THE OTHER EXCHANGES. In order for this to be effective, it has to be the norm. It needs to be "unusual" not to know. If obscurity is the norm, then it's super easy for people like Gerald Cotten and Dave Smilie to blend right in.
It's not complicated to validate cryptocurrency assets. They need to exist, they need to be spendable, and they need to cover the total balances. There are plenty of credible people and firms across the country that have the capacity to reasonably perform this validation. Having more frequent checks by different, independent, parties who publish transparent reports is far more valuable than an annual check by a single "more credible/official" party who does the exact same basic checks and may or may not publish anything. Here's an example set of requirements that could be mandated:
First report within 1 month of launching, another within 3 months, and further reports at minimum every 6 months thereafter.
No auditor can be repeated within a 12 month period.
All reports must be public, identifying the auditor and the full methodology used.
All auditors must be independent of the firm being audited with no conflict of interest.
Reports must include the percentage of each asset backed, and how it's backed.
The auditor publishes a hash list, which lists a hash of each customer's information and balances that were included. Hash is one-way encryption so privacy is fully preserved. Every customer can use this to have 100% confidence they were included.
If we want more extensive requirements on audits, these should scale upward based on the total assets at risk on the platform, and whether the platform has loaned their assets out.
There are ways to structure audits such that neither crypto assets nor customer information are ever put at risk, and both can still be properly validated and publicly verifiable. There are also ways to structure audits such that they are completely reasonable for small platforms and don't inhibit innovation in any way. By making the process as reasonable as possible, we can completely eliminate any reason/excuse that an honest platform would have for not being audited. That is arguable far more important than any incremental improvement we might get from mandating "the best of the best" accountants. Right now we have nothing mandated and tons of Canadians using offshore exchanges with no oversight whatsoever. Transparency does not prove crypto assets are safe. CoinTradeNewNote, Flexcoin ($600k), and Canadian Bitcoins ($100k) are examples where crypto-assets were breached from platforms in Canada. All of them were online wallets and used no multi-sig as far as any records show. This is consistent with what we see globally - air-gapped multi-sig wallets have an impeccable record, while other schemes tend to suffer breach after breach. We don't actually know how much CoinTrader lost because there was no visibility. Rather than publishing details of what happened, the co-founder of CoinTrader silently moved on to found another platform - the "most trusted way to buy and sell crypto" - a site that has no information whatsoever (that I could find) on the storage practices and a FAQ advising that “[t]rading cryptocurrency is completely safe” and that having your own wallet is “entirely up to you! You can certainly keep cryptocurrency, or fiat, or both, on the app.” Doesn't sound like much was learned here, which is really sad to see. It's not that complicated or unreasonable to set up a proper hardware wallet. Multi-sig can be learned in a single course. Something the equivalent complexity of a driver's license test could prevent all the cold storage exploits we've seen to date - even globally. Platform operators have a key advantage in detecting and preventing fraud - they know their customers far better than any custodian ever would. The best job that custodians can do is to find high integrity individuals and train them to form even better wallet signatories. Rather than mandating that all platforms expose themselves to arbitrary third party risks, regulations should center around ensuring that all signatories are background-checked, properly trained, and using proper procedures. We also need to make sure that signatories are empowered with rights and responsibilities to reject and report fraud. They need to know that they can safely challenge and delay a transaction - even if it turns out they made a mistake. We need to have an environment where mistakes are brought to the surface and dealt with. Not one where firms and people feel the need to hide what happened. In addition to a knowledge-based test, an auditor can privately interview each signatory to make sure they're not in coercive situations, and we should make sure they can freely and anonymously report any issues without threat of retaliation. A proper multi-sig has each signature held by a separate person and is governed by policies and mutual decisions instead of a hierarchy. It includes at least one redundant signature. For best results, 3of4, 3of5, 3of6, 4of5, 4of6, 4of7, 5of6, or 5of7. History has demonstrated over and over again the risk of hot wallets even to highly credible organizations. Nonetheless, many platforms have hot wallets for convenience. While such losses are generally compensated by platforms without issue (for example Poloniex, Bitstamp, Bitfinex, Gatecoin, Coincheck, Bithumb, Zaif, CoinBene, Binance, Bitrue, Bitpoint, Upbit, VinDAX, and now KuCoin), the public tends to focus more on cases that didn't end well. Regardless of what systems are employed, there is always some level of risk. For that reason, most members of the public would prefer to see third party insurance. Rather than trying to convince third party profit-seekers to provide comprehensive insurance and then relying on an expensive and slow legal system to enforce against whatever legal loopholes they manage to find each and every time something goes wrong, insurance could be run through multiple exchange operators and regulators, with the shared interest of having a reputable industry, keeping costs down, and taking care of Canadians. For example, a 4 of 7 multi-sig insurance fund held between 5 independent exchange operators and 2 regulatory bodies. All Canadian exchanges could pay premiums at a set rate based on their needed coverage, with a higher price paid for hot wallet coverage (anything not an air-gapped multi-sig cold wallet). Such a model would be much cheaper to manage, offer better coverage, and be much more reliable to payout when needed. The kind of coverage you could have under this model is unheard of. You could even create something like the CDIC to protect Canadians who get their trading accounts hacked if they can sufficiently prove the loss is legitimate. In cases of fraud, gross negligence, or insolvency, the fund can be used to pay affected users directly (utilizing the last transparent balance report in the worst case), something which private insurance would never touch. While it's recommended to have official policies for coverage, a model where members vote would fully cover edge cases. (Could be similar to the Supreme Court where justices vote based on case law.) Such a model could fully protect all Canadians across all platforms. You can have a fiat coverage governed by legal agreements, and crypto-asset coverage governed by both multi-sig and legal agreements. It could be practical, affordable, and inclusive. Now, we are at a crossroads. We can happily give up our freedom, our innovation, and our money. We can pay hefty expenses to auditors, lawyers, and regulators year after year (and make no mistake - this cost will grow to many millions or even billions as the industry grows - and it will be borne by all Canadians on every platform because platforms are not going to eat up these costs at a loss). We can make it nearly impossible for any new platform to enter the marketplace, forcing Canadians to use the same stagnant platforms year after year. We can centralize and consolidate the entire industry into 2 or 3 big players and have everyone else fail (possibly to heavy losses of users of those platforms). And when a flawed security model doesn't work and gets breached, we can make it even more complicated with even more people in suits making big money doing the job that blockchain was supposed to do in the first place. We can build a system which is so intertwined and dependent on big government, traditional finance, and central bankers that it's future depends entirely on that of the fiat system, of fractional banking, and of government bail-outs. If we choose this path, as history has shown us over and over again, we can not go back, save for revolution. Our children and grandchildren will still be paying the consequences of what we decided today. Or, we can find solutions that work. We can maintain an open and innovative environment while making the adjustments we need to make to fully protect Canadian investors and cryptocurrency users, giving easy and affordable access to cryptocurrency for all Canadians on the platform of their choice, and creating an environment in which entrepreneurs and problem solvers can bring those solutions forward easily. None of the above precludes innovation in any way, or adds any unreasonable cost - and these three policies would demonstrably eliminate or resolve all 109 historic cases as studied here - that's every single case researched so far going back to 2011. It includes every loss that was studied so far not just in Canada but globally as well. Unfortunately, finding answers is the least challenging part. Far more challenging is to get platform operators and regulators to agree on anything. My last post got no response whatsoever, and while the OSC has told me they're happy for industry feedback, I believe my opinion alone is fairly meaningless. This takes the whole community working together to solve. So please let me know your thoughts. Please take the time to upvote and share this with people. Please - let's get this solved and not leave it up to other people to do. Facts/background/sources (skip if you like):
The inspiration for the paragraph about splitting wallets was an actual quote from a Canadian company providing custodial services in response to the OSC consultation paper: "We believe that it will be in the in best interests of investors to prohibit pooled crypto assets or ‘floats’. Most Platforms pool assets, citing reasons of practicality and expense. The recent hack of the world’s largest Platform – Binance – demonstrates the vulnerability of participants’ assets when such concessions are made. In this instance, the Platform’s entire hot wallet of Bitcoins, worth over $40 million, was stolen, facilitated in part by the pooling of client crypto assets." "the maintenance of participants (and Platform) crypto assets across multiple wallets distributes the related risk and responsibility of security - reducing the amount of insurance coverage required and making insurance coverage more readily obtainable". For the record, their reply also said nothing whatsoever about multi-sig or offline storage.
In addition to the fact that the $40m hack represented only one "hot wallet" of Binance, and they actually had the vast majority of assets in other wallets (including mostly cold wallets), multiple real cases have clearly demonstrated that risk is still present with multiple wallets. Bitfinex, VinDAX, Bithumb, Altsbit, BitPoint, Cryptopia, and just recently KuCoin all had multiple wallets breached all at the same time, and may represent a significantly larger impact on customers than the Binance breach which was fully covered by Binance. To represent that simply having multiple separate wallets under the same security scheme is a comprehensive way to reduce risk is just not true.
Private insurance has historically never covered a single loss in the cryptocurrency space (at least, not one that I was able to find), and there are notable cases where massive losses were not covered by insurance. Bitpay in 2015 and Yapizon in 2017 both had insurance policies that didn't pay out during the breach, even after a lengthly court process. The same insurance that ShakePay is presently using (and announced to much fanfare) was describe by their CEO himself as covering “physical theft of the media where the private keys are held,” which is something that has never historically happened. As was said with regard to the same policy in 2018 - “I don’t find it surprising that Lloyd’s is in this space,” said Johnson, adding that to his mind the challenge for everybody is figuring out how to structure these policies so that they are actually protective. “You can create an insurance policy that protects no one – you know there are so many caveats to the policy that it’s not super protective.”
The most profitable policy for a private insurance company is one with the most expensive premiums that they never have to pay a claim on. They have no inherent incentive to take care of people who lost funds. It's "cheaper" to take the reputational hit and fight the claim in court. The more money at stake, the more the insurance provider is incentivized to avoid payout. They're not going to insure the assets unless they have reasonable certainty to make a profit by doing so, and they're not going to pay out a massive sum unless it's legally forced. Private insurance is always structured to be maximally profitable to the insurance provider.
The circumvention of multi-sig was a key factor in the massive Bitfinex hack of over $60m of bitcoin, which today still sits being slowly used and is worth over $3b. While Bitfinex used a qualified custodian Bitgo, which was and still is active and one of the industry leaders of custodians, and they set up 2 of 3 multi-sig wallets, the entire system was routed through Bitfinex, such that Bitfinex customers could initiate the withdrawals in a "hot" fashion. This feature was also a hit with the hacker. The multi-sig was fully circumvented.
Bitpay in 2015 was another example of a breach that stole 5,000 bitcoins. This happened not through the exploit of any system in Bitpay, but because the CEO of a company they worked with got their computer hacked and the hackers were able to request multiple bitcoin purchases, which Bitpay honoured because they came from the customer's computer legitimately. Impersonation is a very common tactic used by fraudsters, and methods get more extreme all the time.
A notable case in Canada was the Canadian Bitcoins exploit. Funds were stored on a server in a Rogers Data Center, and the attendee was successfully convinced to reboot the server "in safe mode" with a simple phone call, thus bypassing the extensive security and enabling the theft.
The very nature of custodians circumvents multi-sig. This is because custodians are not just having to secure the assets against some sort of physical breach but against any form of social engineering, modification of orders, fraudulent withdrawal attempts, etc... If the security practices of signatories in a multi-sig arrangement are such that the breach risk of one signatory is 1 in 100, the requirement of 3 independent signatures makes the risk of theft 1 in 1,000,000. Since hackers tend to exploit the weakest link, a comparable custodian has to make the entry and exit points of their platform 10,000 times more secure than one of those signatories to provide equivalent protection. And if the signatories beef up their security by only 10x, the risk is now 1 in 1,000,000,000. The custodian has to be 1,000,000 times more secure. The larger and more complex a system is, the more potential vulnerabilities exist in it, and the fewer people can understand how the system works when performing upgrades. Even if a system is completely secure today, one has to also consider how that system might evolve over time or work with different members.
By contrast, offline multi-signature solutions have an extremely solid record, and in the entire history of cryptocurrency exchange incidents which I've studied (listed here), there has only been one incident (796 exchange in 2015) involving an offline multi-signature wallet. It happened because the customer's bitcoin address was modified by hackers, and the amount that was stolen ($230k) was immediately covered by the exchange operators. Basically, the platform operators were tricked into sending a legitimate withdrawal request to the wrong address because hackers exploited their platform to change that address. Such an issue would not be prevented in any way by the use of a custodian, as that custodian has no oversight whatsoever to the exchange platform. It's practical for all exchange operators to test large withdrawal transactions as a general policy, regardless of what model is used, and general best practice is to diagnose and fix such an exploit as soon as it occurs.
False promises on the backing of funds played a huge role in the downfall of Quadriga, and it's been exposed over and over again (MyCoin, PlusToken, Bitsane, Bitmarket, EZBTC, IDAX). Even today, customers have extremely limited certainty on whether their funds in exchanges are actually being backed or how they're being backed. While this issue is not unique to cryptocurrency exchanges, the complexity of the technology and the lack of any regulation or standards makes problems more widespread, and there is no "central bank" to come to the rescue as in the 2008 financial crisis or during the great depression when "9,000 banks failed".
In addition to fraudulent operations, the industry is full of cases where operators have suffered breaches and not reported them. Most recently, Einstein was the largest case in Canada, where ongoing breaches and fraud were perpetrated against the platform for multiple years and nobody found out until the platform collapsed completely. While fraud and breaches suck to deal with, they suck even more when not dealt with. Lack of visibility played a role in the largest downfalls of Mt. Gox, Cryptsy, and Bitgrail. In some cases, platforms are alleged to have suffered a hack and keep operating without admitting it at all, such as CoinBene.
It surprises some to learn that a cryptographic solution has already existed since 2013, and gained widespread support in 2014 after Mt. Gox. Proof of Reserves is a full cryptographic proof that allows any customer using an exchange to have complete certainty that their crypto-assets are fully backed by the platform in real-time. This is accomplished by proving that assets exist on the blockchain, are spendable, and fully cover customer deposits. It does not prove safety of assets or backing of fiat assets.
If we didn't care about privacy at all, a platform could publish their wallet addresses, sign a partial transaction, and put the full list of customer information and balances out publicly. Customers can each check that they are on the list, that the balances are accurate, that the total adds up, and that it's backed and spendable on the blockchain. Platforms who exclude any customer take a risk because that customer can easily check and see they were excluded. So together with all customers checking, this forms a full proof of backing of all crypto assets.
However, obviously customers care about their private information being published. Therefore, a hash of the information can be provided instead. Hash is one-way encryption. The hash allows the customer to validate inclusion (by hashing their own known information), while anyone looking at the list of hashes cannot determine the private information of any other user. All other parts of the scheme remain fully intact. A model like this is in use on the exchange CoinFloor in the UK.
A Merkle tree can provide even greater privacy. Instead of a list of balances, the balances are arranged into a binary tree. A customer starts from their node, and works their way to the top of the tree. For example, they know they have 5 BTC, they plus 1 other customer hold 7 BTC, they plus 2-3 other customers hold 17 BTC, etc... until they reach the root where all the BTC are represented. Thus, there is no way to find the balances of other individual customers aside from one unidentified customer in this case.
Proposals such as this had the backing of leaders in the community including Nic Carter, Greg Maxwell, and Zak Wilcox. Substantial and significant effort started back in 2013, with massive popularity in 2014. But what became of that effort? Very little. Exchange operators continue to refuse to give visibility. Despite the fact this information can often be obtained through trivial blockchain analysis, no Canadian platform has ever provided any wallet addresses publicly. As described by the CEO of Newton "For us to implement some kind of realtime Proof of Reserves solution, which I'm not opposed to, it would have to ... Preserve our users' privacy, as well as our own. Some kind of zero-knowledge proof". Kraken describes here in more detail why they haven't implemented such a scheme. According to professor Eli Ben-Sasson, when he spoke with exchanges, none were interested in implementing Proof of Reserves.
And yet, Kraken's places their reasoning on a page called "Proof of Reserves". More recently, both BitBuy and ShakePay have released reports titled "Proof of Reserves and Security Audit". Both reports contain disclaimers against being audits. Both reports trust the customer list provided by the platform, leaving the open possibility that multiple large accounts could have been excluded from the process. Proof of Reserves is a blockchain validation where customers see the wallets on the blockchain. The report from Kraken is 5 years old, but they leave it described as though it was just done a few weeks ago. And look at what they expect customers to do for validation. When firms represent something being "Proof of Reserve" when it's not, this is like a farmer growing fruit with pesticides and selling it in a farmers market as organic produce - except that these are people's hard-earned life savings at risk here. Platforms are misrepresenting the level of visibility in place and deceiving the public by their misuse of this term. They haven't proven anything.
Fraud isn't a problem that is unique to cryptocurrency. Fraud happens all the time. Enron, WorldCom, Nortel, Bear Stearns, Wells Fargo, Moser Baer, Wirecard, Bre-X, and Nicola are just some of the cases where frauds became large enough to become a big deal (and there are so many countless others). These all happened on 100% reversible assets despite regulations being in place. In many of these cases, the problems happened due to the over-complexity of the financial instruments. For example, Enron had "complex financial statements [which] were confusing to shareholders and analysts", creating "off-balance-sheet vehicles, complex financing structures, and deals so bewildering that few people could understand them". In cryptocurrency, we are often combining complex financial products with complex technologies and verification processes. We are naïve if we think problems like this won't happen. It is awkward and uncomfortable for many people to admit that they don't know how something works. If we want "money of the people" to work, the solutions have to be simple enough that "the people" can understand them, not so confusing that financial professionals and technology experts struggle to use or understand them.
For those who question the extent to which an organization can fool their way into a security consultancy role, HB Gary should be a great example to look at. Prior to trying to out anonymous, HB Gary was being actively hired by multiple US government agencies and others in the private sector (with glowing testimonials). The published articles and hosted professional security conferences. One should also look at this list of data breaches from the past 2 years. Many of them are large corporations, government entities, and technology companies. These are the ones we know about. Undoubtedly, there are many more that we do not know about. If HB Gary hadn't been "outted" by anonymous, would we have known they were insecure? If the same breach had happened outside of the public spotlight, would it even have been reported? Or would HB Gary have just deleted the Twitter posts, brought their site back up, done a couple patches, and kept on operating as though nothing had happened?
In the case of Quadriga, the facts are clear. Despite past experience with platforms such as MapleChange in Canada and others around the world, no guidance or even the most basic of a framework was put in place by regulators. By not clarifying any sort of legal framework, regulators enabled a situation where a platform could be run by former criminal Mike Dhanini/Omar Patryn, and where funds could be held fully unchecked by one person. At the same time, the lack of regulation deterred legitimate entities from running competing platforms and Quadriga was granted a money services business license for multiple years of operation, which gave the firm the appearance of legitimacy. Regulators did little to protect Canadians despite Quadriga failing to file taxes from 2016 onward. The entire administrative team had resigned and this was public knowledge. Many people had suspicions of what was going on, including Ryan Mueller, who forwarded complaints to the authorities. These were ignored, giving Gerald Cotten the opportunity to escape without justice.
There are multiple issues with the SOC II model including the prohibitive cost (you have to find a third party accounting firm and the prices are not even listed publicly on any sites), the requirement of operating for a year (impossible for new platforms), and lack of any public visibility (SOC II are private reports that aren't shared outside the people in suits).
Securities frameworks are expensive. Sarbanes-Oxley is estimated to cost $5.1 million USD/yr for the average Fortune 500 company in the United States. Since "Fortune 500" represents the top 500 companies, that means well over $2.55 billion USD (~$3.4 billion CAD) is going to people in suits. Isn't the problem of trust and verification the exact problem that the blockchain is supposed to solve?
To use Quadriga as justification for why custodians or SOC II or other advanced schemes are needed for platforms is rather silly, when any framework or visibility at all, or even the most basic of storage policies, would have prevented the whole thing. It's just an embarrassment.
We are now seeing regulators take strong action. CoinSquare in Canada with multi-million dollar fines. BitMex from the US, criminal charges and arrests. OkEx, with full disregard of withdrawals and no communication. Who's next?
We have a unique window today where we can solve these problems, and not permanently destroy innovation with unreasonable expectations, but we need to act quickly. This is a unique historic time that will never come again.
How EpiK Protocol “Saved the Miners” from Filecoin with the E2P Storage Model?
https://preview.redd.it/n5jzxozn27v51.png?width=2222&format=png&auto=webp&s=6cd6bd726582bbe2c595e1e467aeb3fc8aabe36f On October 20, Eric Yao, Head of EpiK China, and Leo, Co-Founder & CTO of EpiK, visited Deep Chain Online Salon, and discussed “How EpiK saved the miners eliminated by Filecoin by launching E2P storage model”. ‘?” The following is a transcript of the sharing. Sharing Session Eric: Hello, everyone, I’m Eric, graduated from School of Information Science, Tsinghua University. My Master’s research was on data storage and big data computing, and I published a number of industry top conference papers. Since 2013, I have invested in Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, Dogcoin, EOS and other well-known blockchain projects, and have been settling in the chain circle as an early technology-based investor and industry observer with 2 years of blockchain experience. I am also a blockchain community initiator and technology evangelist Leo: Hi, I’m Leo, I’m the CTO of EpiK. Before I got involved in founding EpiK, I spent 3 to 4 years working on blockchain, public chain, wallets, browsers, decentralized exchanges, task distribution platforms, smart contracts, etc., and I’ve made some great products. EpiK is an answer to the question we’ve been asking for years about how blockchain should be landed, and we hope that EpiK is fortunate enough to be an answer for you as well. Q & A Deep Chain Finance: First of all, let me ask Eric, on October 15, Filecoin’s main website launched, which aroused everyone’s attention, but at the same time, the calls for fork within Filecoin never stopped. The EpiK protocol is one of them. What I want to know is, what kind of project is EpiK Protocol? For what reason did you choose to fork in the first place? What are the differences between the forked project and Filecoin itself? Eric: First of all, let me answer the first question, what kind of project is EpiK Protocol. With the Fourth Industrial Revolution already upon us, comprehensive intelligence is one of the core goals of this stage, and the key to comprehensive intelligence is how to make machines understand what humans know and learn new knowledge based on what they already know. And the knowledge graph scale is a key step towards full intelligence. In order to solve the many challenges of building large-scale knowledge graphs, the EpiK Protocol was born. EpiK Protocol is a decentralized, hyper-scale knowledge graph that organizes and incentivizes knowledge through decentralized storage technology, decentralized autonomous organizations, and generalized economic models. Members of the global community will expand the horizons of artificial intelligence into a smarter future by organizing all areas of human knowledge into a knowledge map that will be shared and continuously updated for the eternal knowledge vault of humanity And then, for what reason was the fork chosen in the first place? EpiK’s project founders are all senior blockchain industry practitioners and have been closely following the industry development and application scenarios, among which decentralized storage is a very fresh application scenario. However, in the development process of Filecoin, the team found that due to some design mechanisms and historical reasons, the team found that Filecoin had some deviations from the original intention of the project at that time, such as the overly harsh penalty mechanism triggered by the threat to weaken security, and the emergence of the computing power competition leading to the emergence of computing power monopoly by large miners, thus monopolizing the packaging rights, which can be brushed with computing power by uploading useless data themselves. The emergence of these problems will cause the data environment on Filecoin to get worse and worse, which will lead to the lack of real value of the data in the chain, high data redundancy, and the difficulty of commercializing the project to land. After paying attention to the above problems, the project owner proposes to introduce multi-party roles and a decentralized collaboration platform DAO to ensure the high value of the data on the chain through a reasonable economic model and incentive mechanism, and store the high-value data: knowledge graph on the blockchain through decentralized storage, so that the lack of value of the data on the chain and the monopoly of large miners’ computing power can be solved to a large extent. Finally, what differences exist between the forked project and Filecoin itself? On the basis of the above-mentioned issues, EpiK’s design is very different from Filecoin, first of all, EpiK is more focused in terms of business model, and it faces a different market and track from the cloud storage market where Filecoin is located because decentralized storage has no advantage over professional centralized cloud storage in terms of storage cost and user experience. EpiK focuses on building a decentralized knowledge graph, which reduces data redundancy and safeguards the value of data in the distributed storage chain while preventing the knowledge graph from being tampered with by a few people, thus making the commercialization of the entire project reasonable and feasible. From the perspective of ecological construction, EpiK treats miners more friendly and solves the pain point of Filecoin to a large extent, firstly, it changes the storage collateral and commitment collateral of Filecoin to one-time collateral. Miners participating in EpiK Protocol are only required to pledge 1000 EPK per miner, and only once before mining, not in each sector. What is the concept of 1000 EPKs, you only need to participate in pre-mining for about 50 days to get this portion of the tokens used for pledging. The EPK pre-mining campaign is currently underway, and it runs from early September to December, with a daily release of 50,000 ERC-20 standard EPKs, and the pre-mining nodes whose applications are approved will divide these tokens according to the mining ratio of the day, and these tokens can be exchanged 1:1 directly after they are launched on the main network. This move will continue to expand the number of miners eligible to participate in EPK mining. Secondly, EpiK has a more lenient penalty mechanism, which is different from Filecoin’s official consensus, storage and contract penalties, because the protocol can only be uploaded by field experts, which is the “Expert to Person” mode. Every miner needs to be backed up, which means that if one or more miners are offline in the network, it will not have much impact on the network, and the miner who fails to upload the proof of time and space in time due to being offline will only be forfeited by the authorities for the effective computing power of this sector, not forfeiting the pledged coins. If the miner can re-submit the proof of time and space within 28 days, he will regain the power. Unlike Filecoin’s 32GB sectors, EpiK’s encapsulated sectors are smaller, only 8M each, which will solve Filecoin’s sector space wastage problem to a great extent, and all miners have the opportunity to complete the fast encapsulation, which is very friendly to miners with small computing power. The data and quality constraints will also ensure that the effective computing power gap between large and small miners will not be closed. Finally, unlike Filecoin’s P2P data uploading model, EpiK changes the data uploading and maintenance to E2P uploading, that is, field experts upload and ensure the quality and value of the data on the chain, and at the same time introduce the game relationship between data storage roles and data generation roles through a rational economic model to ensure the stability of the whole system and the continuous high-quality output of the data on the chain. Deep Chain Finance: Eric, on the eve of Filecoin’s mainline launch, issues such as Filecoin’s pre-collateral have aroused a lot of controversy among the miners. In your opinion, what kind of impact will Filecoin bring to itself and the whole distributed storage ecosystem after it launches? Do you think that the current confusing FIL prices are reasonable and what should be the normal price of FIL? Eric: Filecoin mainnet has launched and many potential problems have been exposed, such as the aforementioned high pre-security problem, the storage resource waste and computing power monopoly caused by unreasonable sector encapsulation, and the harsh penalty mechanism, etc. These problems are quite serious, and will greatly affect the development of Filecoin ecology. These problems are relatively serious, and will greatly affect the development of Filecoin ecology, here are two examples to illustrate. For example, the problem of big miners computing power monopoly, now after the big miners have monopolized computing power, there will be a very delicate state — — the miners save a file data with ordinary users. There is no way to verify this matter in the chain, whether what he saved is uploaded by himself or someone else. And after the big miners have monopolized computing power, there will be a very delicate state — — the miners will save a file data with ordinary users, there is no way to verify this matter in the chain, whether what he saved is uploaded by himself or someone else. Because I can fake another identity to upload data for myself, but that leads to the fact that for any miner I go to choose which data to save. I have only one goal, and that is to brush my computing power and how fast I can brush my computing power. There is no difference between saving other people’s data and saving my own data in the matter of computing power. When I save someone else’s data, I don’t know that data. Somewhere in the world, the bandwidth quality between me and him may not be good enough. The best option is to store my own local data, which makes sense, and that results in no one being able to store data on the chain at all. They only store their own data, because it’s the most economical for them, and the network has essentially no storage utility, no one is providing storage for the masses of retail users. The harsh penalty mechanism will also severely deplete the miner’s profits, because DDOS attacks are actually a very common attack technique for the attacker, and for a big miner, he can get a very high profit in a short period of time if he attacks other customers, and this thing is a profitable thing for all big miners. Now as far as the status quo is concerned, the vast majority of miners are actually not very well maintained, so they are not very well protected against these low-DDOS attacks. So the penalty regime is grim for them. The contradiction between the unreasonable system and the demand will inevitably lead to the evolution of the system in a more reasonable direction, so there will be many forked projects that are more reasonable in terms of mechanism, thus attracting Filecoin miners and a diversion of storage power. Since each project is in the field of decentralized storage track, the demand for miners is similar or even compatible with each other, so miners will tend to fork the projects with better economic benefits and business scenarios, so as to filter out the projects with real value on the ground. For the chaotic FIL price, because FIL is also a project that has gone through several years, carrying too many expectations, so it can only be said that the current situation has its own reasons for existence. As for the reasonable price of FIL there is no way to make a prediction because in the long run, it is necessary to consider the commercialization of the project to land and the value of the actual chain of data. In other words, we need to keep observing whether Filecoin will become a game of computing power or a real value carrier. Deep Chain Finance: Leo, we just mentioned that the pre-collateral issue of Filecoin caused the dissatisfaction of miners, and after Filecoin launches on the main website, the second round of space race test coins were directly turned into real coins, and the official selling of FIL hit the market phenomenon, so many miners said they were betrayed. What I want to know is, EpiK’s main motto is “save the miners eliminated by Filecoin”, how to deal with the various problems of Filecoin, and how will EpiK achieve “save”? Leo: Originally Filecoin’s tacit approval of the computing power makeup behavior was to declare that the official directly chose to abandon the small miners. And this test coin turned real coin also hurt the interests of the loyal big miners in one cut, we do not know why these low-level problems, we can only regret. EpiK didn’t do it to fork Filecoin, but because EpiK to build a shared knowledge graph ecology, had to integrate decentralized storage in, so the most hardcore Filecoin’s PoRep and PoSt decentralized verification technology was chosen. In order to ensure the quality of knowledge graph data, EpiK only allows community-voted field experts to upload data, so EpiK naturally prevents miners from making up computing power, and there is no reason for the data that has no value to take up such an expensive decentralized storage resource. With the inability to make up computing power, the difference between big miners and small miners is minimal when the amount of knowledge graph data is small. We can’t say that we can save the big miners, but we are definitely the optimal choice for the small miners who are currently in the market to be eliminated by Filecoin. Deep Chain Finance: Let me ask Eric: According to EpiK protocol, EpiK adopts the E2P model, which allows only experts in the field who are voted to upload their data. This is very different from Filecoin’s P2P model, which allows individuals to upload data as they wish. In your opinion, what are the advantages of the E2P model? If only voted experts can upload data, does that mean that the EpiK protocol is not available to everyone? Eric: First, let me explain the advantages of the E2P model over the P2P model. There are five roles in the DAO ecosystem: miner, coin holder, field expert, bounty hunter and gateway. These five roles allocate the EPKs generated every day when the main network is launched. The miner owns 75% of the EPKs, the field expert owns 9% of the EPKs, and the voting user shares 1% of the EPKs. The other 15% of the EPK will fluctuate based on the daily traffic to the network, and the 15% is partly a game between the miner and the field expert. The first describes the relationship between the two roles. The first group of field experts are selected by the Foundation, who cover different areas of knowledge (a wide range of knowledge here, including not only serious subjects, but also home, food, travel, etc.) This group of field experts can recommend the next group of field experts, and the recommended experts only need to get 100,000 EPK votes to become field experts. The field expert’s role is to submit high-quality data to the miner, who is responsible for encapsulating this data into blocks. Network activity is judged by the amount of EPKs pledged by the entire network for daily traffic (1 EPK = 10 MB/day), with a higher percentage indicating higher data demand, which requires the miner to increase bandwidth quality. If the data demand decreases, this requires field experts to provide higher quality data. This is similar to a library with more visitors needing more seats, i.e., paying the miner to upgrade the bandwidth. When there are fewer visitors, more money is needed to buy better quality books to attract visitors, i.e., money for bounty hunters and field experts to generate more quality knowledge graph data. The game between miners and field experts is the most important game in the ecosystem, unlike the game between the authorities and big miners in the Filecoin ecosystem. The game relationship between data producers and data storers and a more rational economic model will inevitably lead to an E2P model that generates stored on-chain data of much higher quality than the P2P model, and the quality of bandwidth for data access will be better than the P2P model, resulting in greater business value and better landing scenarios. I will then answer the question of whether this means that the EpiK protocol will not be universally accessible to all. The E2P model only qualifies the quality of the data generated and stored, not the roles in the ecosystem; on the contrary, with the introduction of the DAO model, the variety of roles introduced in the EpiK ecosystem (which includes the roles of ordinary people) is not limited. (Bounty hunters who can be competent in their tasks) gives roles and possibilities for how everyone can participate in the system in a more logical way. For example, a miner with computing power can provide storage, a person with a certain domain knowledge can apply to become an expert (this includes history, technology, travel, comics, food, etc.), and a person willing to mark and correct data can become a bounty hunter. The presence of various efficient support tools from the project owner will lower the barriers to entry for various roles, thus allowing different people to do their part in the system and together contribute to the ongoing generation of a high-quality decentralized knowledge graph. Deep Chain Finance: Leo, some time ago, EpiK released a white paper and an economy whitepaper, explaining the EpiK concept from the perspective of technology and economy model respectively. What I would like to ask is, what are the shortcomings of the current distributed storage projects, and how will EpiK protocol be improved? Leo: Distributed storage can easily be misunderstood as those of Ali’s OceanDB, but in the field of blockchain, we should focus on decentralized storage first. There is a big problem with the decentralized storage on the market now, which is “why not eat meat porridge”. How to understand it? Decentralized storage is cheaper than centralized storage because of its technical principle, and if it is, the centralized storage is too rubbish for comparison. What incentive does the average user have to spend more money on decentralized storage to store data? Is it safer? Existence miners can shut down at any time on decentralized storage by no means save a share of security in Ariadne and Amazon each. More private? There’s no difference between encrypted presence on decentralized storage and encrypted presence on Amazon. Faster? The 10,000 gigabytes of bandwidth in decentralized storage simply doesn’t compare to the fiber in a centralized server room. This is the root problem of the business model, no one is using it, no one is buying it, so what’s the big vision. The goal of EpiK is to guide all community participants in the co-construction and sharing of field knowledge graph data, which is the best way for robots to understand human knowledge, and the more knowledge graph data there is, the more knowledge a robot has, the more intelligent it is exponentially, i.e., EpiK uses decentralized storage technology. The value of exponentially growing data is captured with linearly growing hardware costs, and that’s where the buy-in for EPK comes in. Organized data is worth a lot more than organized hard drives, and there is a demand for EPK when robots have the need for intelligence. Deep Chain Finance: Let me ask Leo, how many forked projects does Filecoin have so far, roughly? Do you think there will be more or less waves of fork after the mainnet launches? Have the requirements of the miners at large changed when it comes to participation? Leo: We don’t have specific statistics, now that the main network launches, we feel that forking projects will increase, there are so many restricted miners in the market that they need to be organized efficiently. However, we currently see that most forked projects are simply modifying the parameters of Filecoin’s economy model, which is undesirable, and this level of modification can’t change the status quo of miners making up computing power, and the change to the market is just to make some of the big miners feel more comfortable digging up, which won’t help to promote the decentralized storage ecology to land. We need more reasonable landing scenarios so that idle mining resources can be turned into effective productivity, pitching a 100x coin instead of committing to one Fomo sentiment after another. Deep Chain Finance: How far along is the EpiK Protocol project, Eric? What other big moves are coming in the near future? Eric: The development of the EpiK Protocol is divided into 5 major phases. (a) Phase I testing of the network “Obelisk”. Phase II Main Network 1.0 “Rosetta”. Phase III Main Network 2.0 “Hammurabi”. (a) The Phase IV Enrichment Knowledge Mapping Toolkit. The fifth stage is to enrich the knowledge graph application ecology. Currently in the first phase of testing network “Obelisk”, anyone can sign up to participate in the test network pre-mining test to obtain ERC20 EPK tokens, after the mainnet exchange on a one-to-one basis. We have recently launched ERC20 EPK on Uniswap, you can buy and sell it freely on Uniswap or download our EpiK mobile wallet. In addition, we will soon launch the EpiK Bounty platform, and welcome all community members to do tasks together to build the EpiK community. At the same time, we are also pushing forward the centralized exchange for token listing. Users’ Questions User 1: Some KOLs said, Filecoin consumed its value in the next few years, so it will plunge, what do you think? Eric: First of all, the judgment of the market is to correspond to the cycle, not optimistic about the FIL first judgment to do is not optimistic about the economic model of the project, or not optimistic about the distributed storage track. First of all, we are very confident in the distributed storage track and will certainly face a process of growth and decline, so as to make a choice for a better project. Since the existing group of miners and the computing power already produced is fixed, and since EpiK miners and FIL miners are compatible, anytime miners will also make a choice for more promising and economically viable projects. Filecoin consumes the value of the next few years this time, so it will plunge. Regarding the market issues, the plunge is not a prediction, in the industry or to keep learning iteration and value judgment. Because up and down market sentiment is one aspect, there will be more very important factors. For example, the big washout in March this year, so it can only be said that it will slow down the development of the FIL community. But prices are indeed unpredictable. User2: Actually, in the end, if there are no applications and no one really uploads data, the market value will drop, so what are the landing applications of EpiK? Leo: The best and most direct application of EpiK’s knowledge graph is the question and answer system, which can be an intelligent legal advisor, an intelligent medical advisor, an intelligent chef, an intelligent tour guide, an intelligent game strategy, and so on.
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