Ultimate glossary of crypto currency terms, acronyms and abbreviations
Usually, bull markets attract a lot of new investors - although speculators should be the right word here - and as usual, a lot of them are going to be crushed a way or another. First, before putting a single dollar, euro or whatever in the market, you should read a lot to know exactly what you're looking for. Are you here for the tech and/or the cypherpunk ethos ? Great, there's lot of resources out there (my links are cleaned but as always, do your due diligence) :
The Bitcoin Whitepaper, the one and only : bitcoin.org/bitcoin.pdf Since I'm linking to bitcoin.org, friendly reminder to avoid bitcoin.com, owned by a former supporter now con-artist Roger Ver.
Andreas Antonopoulos website : https://aantonop.com Andreas is one of best guys able to educate on bitcoin and its properties, for free, which helps.
Jameson Lopp website : lopp.net Jameson is a member of Bitcoin Core, cypherpunk, also able to educate a lot. His website is full of free resources and other links. You'll have a lot to read.
Hal Finney : he's unfortunately dead but I would advise to read about Hal Finney, the first to receive bitcoin Satoshi. A great cryptographer, the inventor of the first reusable PoW and one of the first bitcoin supporters. You'll be able to find his messages on this old forum Bitcoin Talk, by the way you'll be able to find the first chats about bitcoin on this forum bitcointalk.org
Monero website : getmonero.org Yep, I know it's gonna be controversial to post an altcoin link but personally, I think that Monero (aka XMR) is the only other coin with a big cypherpunk community, decentralized, and able to help newcomers with a great sense of responsibility, since the ethos here is to save privacy.
What Bitcoin Did : of course, Peter is controversial but I love him and I find his former blog and his podcasts very needed because he doesn't oversell himself. Pete knows that he's not a tech guy (like many of us) and just wants to spread the word, I think he does a good job with this.
Now, you've read and you want to put some skin in the game. Several exchanges are acceptable, a lot of aren't, be careful and assume that none really are (know that I won't post any ref links) :
to me, the best, although it's UI is quite old : Kraken €/$/pound/swiss franc on-off ramp
Coinbase and Coinbase Pro Difficult not to mention Coinbase, although I can't stand Brian Armstrong and the way they are doing their best to support scams currently. You should rather use Coinbase Pro if you have to since the fees are much lower.
Binance Binance came later than the previous ones but has managed to take most of the market. Now, you should remember what I said about being careful.
Huobi The biggest chinese exchange and they work closely with chinese official. Again, careful.
Bittrex Once at the top, now somewhere in the limbs.
A lot of new comers came recently like btse, ftx, feel free to try them while always keeping in mind that once your money is on exchanges, it's not yours anymore.
This was for centralized exchanges aka CEX. Talking about custodial, you'll need wallets to store your (bit)coins. Always try to use non-custodial wallets, which means wallets that give you your private keys. This way, if the software goes down, you can always retreive your money. Now, I won't link to all the existing wallets but will advise you to buy hardware wallets (trezor or ledger but there are others) or to create (on off-gap computers) paper wallets you're able to store safely (against all risks, not only robbery but housefire). You also could use your memory with brain wallets but, my gosh, I wouldn't trust myself. For Bitcoin (or even Litecoin), Electrum software can do a good job (but save your keys). AGAIN, DON'T KEEP YOUR SAVINGS ON AN EXCHANGE Now, about trading : it's been repeated and repeated but don't chase pumps and altcoins. Yep, it's probably the fastest way to make money. It's also the fastest to lose it. I won't lie : I made good money during the 2017-bullrun and I took profits but I also forgot to sell some shitcoins thinking it would keep going up, now I'm still holding these bags (although I don't really care). I know that a lot forgot to take profits. Take profits, always take profits, whatever your strategy is. Don't fall for people trying to sell you their bags, for ICOs trying to sell you a product which isn't released yet and obviously, don't fall for people asking for your private key. Also, know that there's two endgames : accumulating bitcoin or fiat. I'm rather in the first team but whatever your strategy is, take profits. (Yes, I know, some will say accumulating ethereum or something else). It's true that a lot of ethereum holders made a lot of money during the last bullrun (ethereum helped me make money too) but I'm really biased in favor of bitcoin (and monero). So, pick your coin but again, do your due diligence. A lot of people here or there will talk about the best tech, the fact that bitcoin is old and slow. I would need another post to go further on this point but know that a lof of air flight systems are old too but reliable. Trustless and reliable is the point here. This is the post from someone who bought bitcoin seven or six years ago, who lost part of them, who spent part of them (but don't regret this at all), who is still learning and I hope it will help others, although it would need a book to be complete.
A whole new kind of lightning & fiat interface through debit cards? Announcing lastbit
Soon after Satoshi made his big announcement more than a decade ago, a lot of concerns emerged pointing towards a crucial problem on his solution: scalability. Particularly since Mt. Gox, a lot started to change for Bitcoin. Out in the open, a multitude of crypto exchanges started popping up making Bitcoin and other coins easily accessible to pretty much anyone. Nevertheless, the original concerns on Satoshi’s proposal remained. In parallel and away from the spotlight, a group of passionate developers started crafting the solution to Bitcoin’s scalability problem. Today the solution is here and it’s name is the Lightning Network. Currently, users can access for free a wide range of Bitcoin Lightning wallets. Nevertheless, instant Bitcoin payments are still far from mainstream. Most of these wallets are extremely hard to use and as such are only catered to the most experienced of users. Despite that, the future of Lightning looks bright. As of today, there are over 11K Lightning nodes out there and this number is steadily growing. Lightning’s case of becoming the solution to Bitcoin’s woes looks strong. Holding that as a North star, we started building a solution to combine hardware level security with Lightning to enable instant Bitcoin to fiat transactions on hardware at a POS through debit card emulation.This project was overly ambitious and we quickly realized not enough people cared enough about hardware level security for payments. But the ground we covered was not in vain. During the process of building our hardware solution and talking to our beta users we came across a powerful discovery: enabling small and instant Bitcoin payments with zero fees to mainstream users via Lightning could be the way to finally make Bitcoin a widely and globally used means of payment. During the last few years, we’ve seen titans, such as Coinbase and Binance, emerge. Undeniably, these projects have helped Bitcoin tremendously by raising awareness and making onboarding to the cryptocurrency easy and intuitive globally. Nevertheless, an equivalent figure to position Bitcoin as a globally usable currency via Lightning is yet to come. With this in mind, we built an interoperable payments layer between Bitcoin (Lightning & On-Chain) and Euros (to start with), using payment instruments familiar to mainstream consumers, namely IBAN’s and debit cards. This means, users can move between Bitcoin and Euros in either direction, with a single interface. This will allow users to: -(i) Send and receive Bitcoin payments both form and to Lightning wallets and Bitcoin on-chain wallets; -(ii) Send and receive Euro payments both from and to IBAN’s and debit cards; -(iii) Make Bitcoin payments, both Lightning and on-chain, directly from Euro denominated IBAN’s and/or a debit cards; and -(iv)Top-up Euro denominated debit cards directly with Bitcoin. All of this was carefully built in response to what we heard from the community and as we mention throughout our story. We’ve dedicated the last few years of our lives and the foreseeable future to make this happen and we simply want to make it possible for more people to do things with Bitcoin. TLDR: Lastbit is putting out a beta application that contains a single interface to Bitcoin, Lightning, Euros and debit cards. This app will allow users to move between these payment instruments in any direction they like. Get paid in Euros from a Lightning invoice? Sure. Pay Euros to a Lightning invoice? Sure. Swipe a debit card and pay for your purchase with a Lightning invoice? Sure. And more. *We are still in beta and will soon start to roll-out in Europe
I have been holding crypto and following the ecosystem for a long time, and I believe crypto will revolutionise the financial system and still has much potential to increase in value. However until now my holdings have been mostly handpicked. In traditional investments I am a subscriber to passive investing and usually invest in broad index funds, and I want to apply that investment philosophy to my crypto holdings. With this in mind I looked at some available crypto indices and none of them seemed to fill my needs, but looking at them helped me define some of the criteria for my own index:
Not too broad
I will be reproducing the index manually, so having too many assets will make the extra hassle of trading and storing the small-weighted assets not worth it.
I don't see the point of including stablecoins in a cryptoasset index. If I wanted to invest in the asset the stablecoin tracks I'd be better off holding the followed asset itself.
Exclude centrally managed tokens
All indices I found included assets such as Binance Coin and OKB. I see investing in such assets as investing in the managing entity and not in the crypto ecosystem itself, as those tokens will be much more correlated with the business success of the entity than with the success of the ecosystem.
Require reasonable trading availability
The asset must be available for trading in a reasonable number of exchanges.
Market capitalization weighting
Free-float market cap weighting is the standard method of weighting whole-market indices. I have seen some indices that use square root of market cap weighting in order to not be so Bitcoin-heavy, but I am not convinced that that is a better representation of the market or that it would lead to better returns. With these criteria in mind I evaluated the top coins by market capitalization. I decided to use CoinGecko as my main source, but I do cross check the values with CoinMarketCap and CoinCap.io to avoid some big flaw in CoinGecko's methodology.
Obviously the big guy is in.
I also have no issues with Ethereum.
Ripple is a bit too centrally-controlled for my taste and there's also the worry that the value of the XRP token itself may not be too correlated with the network's success, but I still consider it to be worthy for inclusion.
Tether is excluded due to being a stable coin and being centrally-controlled.
The only thing that worries me about Bitcoin Cash is that the community seems to be too worried about insisting that it is the true Bitcoin instead of developed, but I don't see any reason to exclude it given my criteria.
This is the first asset with which I don't have too much experience. Their website is a bit too heavy on buzzwords, but my research seems to show that it is a real network, there's no big problems with their whitepaper.
I personally have no idea how Bitcoin SV is so high in market capitalization, as I see it as just Craig Steven Wright's tool to strengthen his Satoshi claim, but the point of the index and the criteria is to remove my personal feelings from the decision, so it stays in.
Litecoin is one of the oldest assets around and I have no objection for it.
This is the first one where I am having a hard time deciding if it stays in or not. Its website is full of buzzwords. They have a whitepaper explaining how the network works, but I can't see it as much more than a centrally-managed token with a bunch of apps around it and no real value proposition. The company itself seems shady, having been through a name change, as it was previously called Monaco, the way their cards work smells heavily like a Ponzi scheme, they promise huge interest rates for staking random coins with them and the amount of people that show up speaking well of it in any post about it reeks of paid shills. For some reason it is also not listed on CoinCap.io, although it is listed on CoinGecko and CoinMarketCap. It is also listed on fewer exchanges than other coins we've seen so far. I couldn't find any concrete evidence of it being a scam, but I am excluding it for being a centrally-controlled token.
This is a Binance-controlled token, so it is out.
I also didn't know much about this coin, but my research didn't raise any red flags about it, so it's in.
This one is an ERC20 token, but it is managed by a smart contract and although it seems to be somewhat centrally-controlled by now it does have a governance model to make this control be diluted over time. It is also trying to solve a real problem, so it is in.
I was not too familiar with it, but after researching about it I really like the idea. I see no problem in including it.
Stellar feels to me a bit too much like Ripple 2.0, but I don't have any concrete problems with it.
This is an OKEX-controlled token, so it is out.
Another one of the old kids in town, I have no problems with it.
I have a "too buzzwordy" feeling about TRON, and I feel it is a bit too much connected to its founder, but no concrete problems as well.
This is a bitfinex-controlled token, so it is out.
USD Coin is excluded due to being a stable coin and being centrally-controlled.
This is an asset that I am not too sure I understand completely, and it is not listed from CoinCap.io and its market cap is not computed on CoinMarketCap. From what I can gather a cToken is meant to be a token that identifies that you have deposited in Compound's loan market. The only place where it is really traded is in the Compound exchange itself, and it's value is tied to the interest accrued from the loans in the platform and to the underlying asset, which in this case is DAI, a stablecoin. I find Compound Finance interesting and intend to read more about it, but I don't think cDAI is fit for my index, as it is not freely tradeable and tied to a stablecoin.
This is a Huobi-controlled token, so it is out.
This is one more buzzwordy smart contract platform with no concrete red flags to it.
A fork from the main Ethereum chain that rejects the rescue of stolen funds from a buggy smart contract. I am sympathetic to the idea of rejecting a centrally-proposed hardfork, and I see no red flags with this coin. And with this we are up to my intended 15 assets. This is the composition of the index with current market capitalizations:
This is the portfolio I intend to target from now on, with occasional rebalances of course. I would like to hear what you think about my criteria and my application of them, and where I could improve it.
Rebasing, new money, old money, the stable value, and value fluctuations.
Hello all. I have seen several people comparing ampleforth to bitconnect, so here is the simplified formula: (Oracle Price – Target Price) / 10 supply change every 24 hours. Now so long as the price fluctuations are under this amount, we never run the risk of dropping into negative territory. Now, look at the chart. What are our fluctuations? The biggest fluctuation was the 13 july 2020, from 3.46 to 1.86. Now, is this due only to the rebase? No. If you look up on the days before that, we had a massive run up. This looks like a normal market pattern cycle that got burst. But did hodlers lose? No. The marketcap just keeps going up. So, what could cause the price to dip below $1? Well, if we reached $1, and the marketcap stagnated, then a whale *COULD* crash the market. However, there are several things to consider here. First, when we reach a stagnated market value, ampleforth will have taken a strong competitive edge against tether and usdc. That means its volume will be absolutely massive. Second, it requires more money to crash an asset than it requires to jack an asset's prices up. Psychology lesson. Most people are bad traders because they treat risk and reward differently. They hold losing positions hoping the losing position will come back, and they hesitate to take winning positions if there is a chance of loss. This risk adverse mentality has an application here. Also, the lower number of say .90 is a numerically lower number than say 1.15. And trading lesson... the spot price of an asset is determined by active traders. Not by actual hodlers. Traders are necessarily reactionary. We cannot see the future. And when the price fluctuates, non market participants tend to become active market participants. This is why small price moves can spark feagreed runs. At ampleforth's target price of $1, it is going to be difficult for any one trader to crash the market, and we will NOT see price drops to .5 as a normal occurrence. If we do, there is an arbitrage that traders like me WILL do if it happens. Basically since we know that below $1 the rebase is a negative event, we will do the opposite of current actions with trading. The current trading strategy that eliminates risk while at the same time maximizes returns is to jump in with tether 5 minutes before rebase, and jump out and crash the market with the new 10% supply. Under $1, the strategy would be to buy and jump in. Right before rebase, traders sell, and then buy back in after rebase. People who are saying ampleforth is a bad investment are probably wrong. There are reasons it won't crash sub $1 when it has lots of users, and there are ways the market can remedy the situation. Now.. the ampleforth rich list IS disturbing. Just like satoshi nakamoto holding 10% of bitcoin is disturbing. However, they are a respectable crypto company, and they have plans for at least coinbase and binance, and I do not see them flash dumping on the market. That isn't to say they might sell. I am saying that if they do sell, they will do it in a nice respectful manner that does not crash the market, and doesn't cause lots of slippage for them.
tl;dr - This is the 17th monthly update on the 2019 Top Ten Experiment. Ethereum up the most in May, plus got a shout out from J.K. Rowling, so it obviously won the month. Overall, BTC in first place since January 2019, BSV in second place. Half of the 2019 Top Ten Portfolio is up at least +50%. XRP is worst performing. Total $3k (3 x $1k) investments the 2018, 2019, and 2020 Top Ten are up +3.5%, but similar approach with US stocks market would have yielded +10%.
Instead of hypothetically tracking cryptos, I made an actual $1000 investment, $100 in each of the Top 10 cryptocurrencies by market cap on the 1st of January 2018. The result? The 2018 Top Ten portfolio ended 2018 down 85%, my $1000 worth only $150. I thenrepeated the experimenton the 1st of January 2019 with the new 2019 Top Ten cryptos, then again in2020. Think of the Top Ten Experiments as a lazy man’s Index Fund (no weighting or rebalancing), less technical, but hopefully still a proxy for the market as a whole – or at the very least an interesting snapshot of the 2018, 2019, and 2020 crypto space. I am trying to keep this project simple and accessible for beginners and those looking to get into crypto but maybe not quite ready to jump in yet. I try not to take sides or analyze, but rather attempt to report in a detached manner letting the numbers speak for themselves. This is not investing advice – as a matter of fact, the vast majority of the reports will show that the Top Ten approach under performs other strategies. This experiment is designed to be documentary in nature, describing a specific period in cryptocurrency history.
Buy $100 of each the Top 10 cryptocurrencies on January 1st, 2018, 2019, and 2020. Hold only. No selling. No trading. Report monthly.
Month Seventeen – UP 43%
Unlike April’s all green month, May was more mixed. That said, the gains outweighed the losses this month in the 2019 Top Ten Portfolio.
Question of the month:
In May, Reddit launched two Ethereum-based tokens on the Cryptocurrency and FortNiteBR subreddits. What are the Cryptocurrency token called? A) Moons B) Bricks C) Satoshis D) Cryptos Scroll down for the answer.
Ranking and March Winners and Losers
Besides Stellar (down two spots to #13) and Tron (down one from #16 to #17) every other crypto was locked in place. Speaking of Stellar and Tron, they are still the only two cryptos to have dropped out of the 2019 Top Ten since January 1st, 2019. They have been replaced by Binance Coin and Tezos. May Winners – Ethereum ended the month up +16% and got a shout out from J.K. Rowling, so it obviously won May. BTC came in a close second this month, up +14%. May Losers – A tight battle for the basement this month with BSV (down -3.9%) edging out XRP (down -3.7%) for the bottom spot. For nerds those keeping score, here is tally of which coins have the most monthly wins and loses during the first seventeen months of the 2019 Top Ten Experiment: Tether is still in the lead with five monthly victories followed by BSV in second place with three. BSV also holds the most monthly losses, finishing last in six out of seventeen months.
Overall update – BTC increases lead over second place BSV, XRP still worst performing
Ahead until just last month, BSV lost a lot of ground to BTC in May. Bitcoin is now up +168% since January 2019 compared to BSV‘s +116% gain. That initial $100 investment in BTC? Now worth $273. As was the case last month, 50% of the 2019 Top Ten cryptos are up at least +50% since the beginning of the experiment. At the other end, XRP continues to struggle, now down -41% since January 2019.
Total Market Cap for the entire cryptocurrency sector:
The overall crypto market added about $35B in May, and is now near August 2019 levels. It is up +123% since January 2019.
BitDom was steady again in May. This marks the third straight month it’s been stuck at around 65% For context, the range since the beginning of the experiment in January 2019 has been between 50%-70%.
Overall return on investment since January 1st, 2019:
The 2019 Top Ten Portfolio gained about $65 in May. After the initial $1000 investment, the 2019 group of cryptos is worth $1,431, up about +43%. Here’s a look at the ROI over the life of the first seventeen months of the experiment, month by month: Almost completely green for the 2019 Top Ten, a welcome change from the all red table you’ll see in the 2018 experiment. As you can see, every month except the first month ends in positive territory. At the lowest point, the 2019 Top Ten portfolio was down -9%, at the highest point, up +114% (May 2019). How does the 2019 Top Ten Experiment compare to the parallel projects?
Taking the three portfolios together, here’s the bottom bottom bottom line: After a $3000 investment in the 2018, 2019, and 2020 Top Ten Cryptocurrencies, my portfolios are worth $3,104. That’s up about +3.5% for the combined portfolios. Better than a few months ago (aka the zombie apocalypse) where it was down -24%, but not yet back at January (+13%) or February (+6%) levels. How does this compare to traditional markets?
How does the 2019 Top Ten portfolio compare US stock market?
Excellent question, I’m glad you asked. And you’re in luck, I’m also tracking the S&P 500 as part of my experiment to have a comparison point with other popular investments options. Despite the fact that the world seemed to be on fire, May 2020 saw the continued rebound of the stock market. It’s now up +22% since the start of the 2019 Experiment. As a reminder (or just scroll up) the 2019 Top Ten portfolio is returning +43% over the same time period, which is about double the S&P 500. The initial $1k investment I put into crypto would be worth $1,220 had it been redirected to the S&P 500 in January 2019. But what if I took the same world’s-slowest-dollar-cost-averaging/$1,000-per-year-in-January approach with the S&P 500? It would yield the following:
$1000 investment in S&P 500 on January 1st, 2018: +$140
$1000 investment in S&P 500 on January 1st, 2019: +$220
$1000 investment in S&P 500 on January 1st, 2020: -$50
Taken together, here’s the bottom bottom bottom line for a similar approach with the S&P: After three $1,000 investments into an S&P 500 index fund in January 2018, 2019, and 2020, my portfolio would be worth $3,310. That $3,310 is up over+10%since January 2018, compared to the $3,104 value (+3.5%) of the combined Top Ten Crypto Experiment Portfolios. That’s about a 7% difference in favor of the stock market. Last month, there was only a 3% difference, the month before, the gap was 13% (all in favor of the stock market).
The difference between the 2019 Top Ten crypto group and the overall crypto market is stark. Since January 2019, the overall market has gained +123% compared to the 2019 Top Ten crypto group which has gained +43%. This is an absolutely massive 80% gap. A +43% return is solid compared to the stock market, but it also implies that an investor would have done much better picking different cryptos or investing in the entire market instead of focusing only on the Top Ten. There are a few examples of this approach outperforming the overall market in this 2019 Top Ten Crypto Experiment, but the cases are few and far between. The 2018 Top Ten portfolio, on the other hand, has never outperformed the overall market, at least not in the first twenty-nine months of that Experiment. For the most recent 2020 Top Ten group, the opposite had been true: the 2020 Top Ten had easily outperformed the overall market 100% of the time…until this month.
The BTC halving event came and went in May and crypto markets shrugged. As the world continues to change because of COVID-19, what will be crypto’s place when we finally emerge on the other side? Final word: Please take care of yourselves, your families, and your communities. Stay safe out there. Thanks for reading and for supporting the experiment. I hope you’ve found it helpful. I continue to be committed to seeing this process through and reporting along the way. Feel free to reach out with any questions and stay tuned for progress reports. Keep an eye out for the original 2018 Top Ten Crypto Index Fund Experiment and the recently launched 2020 Top Ten Experiment.
And the Answer is…
A) Moons According CryptoCurrency, Moons represent ownership in the subreddit, “tokens on the Ethereum blockchain controlled entirely by you, and they can be freely transferred, tipped, and spent inCryptoCurrency*.*” Check out this post for more details.
How To End The Cryptocurrency Exchange "Wild West" Without Crippling Innovation
In case you haven't noticed the consultation paper, staff notice, and report on Quadriga, regulators are now clamping down on Canadian cryptocurrency exchanges. The OSC and other regulatory bodies are still interested in industry feedback. They have not put forward any official regulation yet. Below are some ideas/insights and a proposed framework.
Typical securities frameworks will cost Canadians millions of dollars (ie Sarbanes-Oxley estimated at $5m USD/yr per firm). Implementation costs of this proposal are significantly cheaper.
Canadians can maintain a diverse set of exchanges, multiple viable business models are still fully supported, and innovation is encouraged while keeping Canadians safe.
Many of you have limited time to read the full proposal, so here are the highlights:
Effective standards to prevent both internal and external theft. Exchange operators are trained and certified, and have a legal responsibility to users.
Regular Transparent Audits
Provides visibility to Canadians that their funds are fully backed on the exchange, while protecting privacy and sensitive platform information.
Establishment of basic insurance standards/strategy, to expand over time. Removing risk to exchange users of any hot wallet theft.
Background and Justifications
Cold Storage Custody/Management After reviewing close to 100 cases, all thefts tend to break down into more or less the same set of problems: • Funds stored online or in a smart contract, • Access controlled by one person or one system, • 51% attacks (rare), • Funds sent to the wrong address (also rare), or • Some combination of the above. For the first two cases, practical solutions exist and are widely implemented on exchanges already. Offline multi-signature solutions are already industry standard. No cases studied found an external theft or exit scam involving an offline multi-signature wallet implementation. Security can be further improved through minimum numbers of signatories, background checks, providing autonomy and legal protections to each signatory, establishing best practices, and a training/certification program. The last two transaction risks occur more rarely, and have never resulted in a loss affecting the actual users of the exchange. In all cases to date where operators made the mistake, they've been fully covered by the exchange platforms. • 51% attacks generally only occur on blockchains with less security. The most prominent cases have been Bitcoin Gold and Ethereum Classic. The simple solution is to enforce deposit limits and block delays such that a 51% attack is not cost-effective. • The risk of transactions to incorrect addresses can be eliminated by a simple test transaction policy on large transactions. By sending a small amount of funds prior to any large withdrawals/transfers as a standard practice, the accuracy of the wallet address can be validated. The proposal covers all loss cases and goes beyond, while avoiding significant additional costs, risks, and limitations which may be associated with other frameworks like SOC II. On The Subject of Third Party Custodians Many Canadian platforms are currently experimenting with third party custody. From the standpoint of the exchange operator, they can liberate themselves from some responsibility of custody, passing that off to someone else. For regulators, it puts crypto in similar categorization to oil, gold, and other commodities, with some common standards. Platform users would likely feel greater confidence if the custodian was a brand they recognized. If the custodian was knowledgeable and had a decent team that employed multi-sig, they could keep assets safe from internal theft. With the right protections in place, this could be a great solution for many exchanges, particularly those that lack the relevant experience or human resources for their own custody systems. However, this system is vulnerable to anyone able to impersonate the exchange operators. You may have a situation where different employees who don't know each other that well are interacting between different companies (both the custodian and all their customers which presumably isn't just one exchange). A case study of what can go wrong in this type of environment might be Bitpay, where the CEO was tricked out of 5000 bitcoins over 3 separate payments by a series of emails sent legitimately from a breached computer of another company CEO. It's also still vulnerable to the platform being compromised, as in the really large $70M Bitfinex hack, where the third party Bitgo held one key in a multi-sig wallet. The hacker simply authorized the withdrawal using the same credentials as Bitfinex (requesting Bitgo to sign multiple withdrawal transactions). This succeeded even with the use of multi-sig and two heavily security-focused companies, due to the lack of human oversight (basically, hot wallet). Of course, you can learn from these cases and improve the security, but so can hackers improve their deception and at the end of the day, both of these would have been stopped by the much simpler solution of a qualified team who knew each other and employed multi-sig with properly protected keys. It's pretty hard to beat a human being who knows the business and the typical customer behaviour (or even knows their customers personally) at spotting fraud, and the proposed multi-sig means any hacker has to get through the scrutiny of 3 (or more) separate people, all of whom would have proper training including historical case studies. There are strong arguments both for and against using use of third party custodians. The proposal sets mandatory minimum custody standards would apply regardless if the cold wallet signatories are exchange operators, independent custodians, or a mix of both. On The Subject Of Insurance ShakePay has taken the first steps into this new realm (congratulations). There is no question that crypto users could be better protected by the right insurance policies, and it certainly feels better to transact with insured platforms. The steps required to obtain insurance generally place attention in valuable security areas, and in this case included a review from CipherTrace. One of the key solutions in traditional finance comes from insurance from entities such as the CDIC. However, historically, there wasn't found any actual insurance payout to any cryptocurrency exchange, and there are notable cases where insurance has not paid. With Bitpay, for example, the insurance agent refused because the issue happened to the third party CEO's computer instead of anything to do with Bitpay itself. With the Youbit exchange in South Korea, their insurance claim was denied, and the exchange ultimately ended up instead going bankrupt with all user's funds lost. To quote Matt Johnson in the original Lloyd's article: “You can create an insurance policy that protects no one – you know there are so many caveats to the policy that it’s not super protective.” ShakePay's insurance was only reported to cover their cold storage, and “physical theft of the media where the private keys are held”. Physical theft has never, in the history of cryptocurrency exchange cases reviewed, been reported as the cause of loss. From the limited information of the article, ShakePay made it clear their funds are in the hands of a single US custodian, and at least part of their security strategy is to "decline to confirm the custodian’s name on the record". While this prevents scrutiny of the custodian, it's pretty silly to speculate that a reasonably competent hacking group couldn't determine who the custodian is. A far more common infiltration strategy historically would be social engineering, which has succeeded repeatedly. A hacker could trick their way into ShakePay's systems and request a fraudulent withdrawal, impersonate ShakePay and request the custodian to move funds, or socially engineer their way into the custodian to initiate the withdrawal of multiple accounts (a payout much larger than ShakePay) exploiting the standard procedures (for example, fraudulently initiating or override the wallet addresses of a real transfer). In each case, nothing was physically stolen and the loss is therefore not covered by insurance. In order for any insurance to be effective, clear policies have to be established about what needs to be covered. Anything short of that gives Canadians false confidence that they are protected when they aren't in any meaningful way. At this time, the third party insurance market does not appear to provide adequate options or coverage, and effort is necessary to standardize custody standards, which is a likely first step in ultimately setting up an insurance framework. A better solution compared to third party insurance providers might be for Canadian exchange operators to create their own collective insurance fund, or a specific federal organization similar to the CDIC. Such an organization would have a greater interest or obligation in paying out actual cases, and that would be it's purpose rather than maximizing it's own profit. This would be similar to the SAFU which Binance has launched, except it would cover multiple exchanges. There is little question whether the SAFU would pay out given a breach of Binance, and a similar argument could be made for a insurance fund managed by a collective of exchange operators or a government organization. While a third party insurance provider has the strong market incentive to provide the absolute minimum coverage and no market incentive to payout, an entity managed by exchange operators would have incentive to protect the reputation of exchange operators/the industry, and the government should have the interest of protecting Canadians. On The Subject of Fractional Reserve There is a long history of fractional reserve failures, from the first banks in ancient times, through the great depression (where hundreds of fractional reserve banks failed), right through to the 2008 banking collapse referenced in the first bitcoin block. The fractional reserve system allows banks to multiply the money supply far beyond the actual cash (or other assets) in existence, backed only by a system of debt obligations of others. Safely supporting a fractional reserve system is a topic of far greater complexity than can be addressed by a simple policy, and when it comes to cryptocurrency, there is presently no entity reasonably able to bail anyone out in the event of failure. Therefore, this framework is addressed around entities that aim to maintain 100% backing of funds. There may be some firms that desire but have failed to maintain 100% backing. In this case, there are multiple solutions, including outside investment, merging with other exchanges, or enforcing a gradual restoration plan. All of these solutions are typically far better than shutting down the exchange, and there are multiple cases where they've been used successfully in the past. Proof of Reserves/Transparency/Accountability Canadians need to have visibility into the backing on an ongoing basis. The best solution for crypto-assets is a Proof of Reserve. Such ideas go back all the way to 2013, before even Mt. Gox. However, no Canadian exchange has yet implemented such a system, and only a few international exchanges (CoinFloor in the UK being an example) have. Many firms like Kraken, BitBuy, and now ShakePay use the Proof of Reserve term to refer to lesser proofs which do not actually cryptographically prove the full backing of all user assets on the blockchain. In order for a Proof of Reserve to be effective, it must actually be a complete proof, and it needs to be understood by the public that is expected to use it. Many firms have expressed reservations about the level of transparency required in a complete Proof of Reserve (for example Kraken here). While a complete Proof of Reserves should be encouraged, and there are some solutions in the works (ie TxQuick), this is unlikely to be suitable universally for all exchange operators and users. Given the limitations, and that firms also manage fiat assets, a more traditional audit process makes more sense. Some Canadian exchanges (CoinSquare, CoinBerry) have already subjected themselves to annual audits. However, these results are not presently shared publicly, and there is no guarantee over the process including all user assets or the integrity and independence of the auditor. The auditor has been typically not known, and in some cases, the identity of the auditor is protected by a NDA. Only in one case (BitBuy) was an actual report generated and publicly shared. There has been no attempt made to validate that user accounts provided during these audits have been complete or accurate. A fraudulent fractional exchange, or one which had suffered a breach they were unwilling to publicly accept (see CoinBene), could easily maintain a second set of books for auditors or simply exclude key accounts to pass an individual audit. The proposed solution would see a reporting standard which includes at a minimum - percentage of backing for each asset relative to account balances and the nature of how those assets are stored, with ownership proven by the auditor. The auditor would also publicly provide a "hash list", which they independently generate from the accounts provided by the exchange. Every exchange user can then check their information against this public "hash list". A hash is a one-way form of encryption, which fully protects the private information, yet allows anyone who knows that information already to validate that it was included. Less experienced users can take advantage of public tools to calculate the hash from their information (provided by the exchange), and thus have certainty that the auditor received their full balance information. Easy instructions can be provided. Auditors should be impartial, their identities and process public, and they should be rotated so that the same auditor is never used twice in a row. Balancing the cost of auditing against the needs for regular updates, a 6 month cycle likely makes the most sense. Hot Wallet Management The best solution for hot wallets is not to use them. CoinBerry reportedly uses multi-sig on all withdrawals, and Bitmex is an international example known for their structure devoid of hot wallets. However, many platforms and customers desire fast withdrawal processes, and human validation has a cost of time and delay in this process. A model of self-insurance or separate funds for hot wallets may be used in these cases. Under this model, a platform still has 100% of their client balance in cold storage and holds additional funds in hot wallets for quick withdrawal. Thus, the risk of those hot wallets is 100% on exchange operators and not affecting the exchange users. Since most platforms typically only have 1%-5% in hot wallets at any given time, it shouldn't be unreasonable to build/maintain these additional reserves over time using exchange fees or additional investment. Larger withdrawals would still be handled at regular intervals from the cold storage. Hot wallet risks have historically posed a large risk and there is no established standard to guarantee secure hot wallets. When the government of South Korea dispatched security inspections to multiple exchanges, the results were still that 3 of them got hacked after the inspections. If standards develop such that an organization in the market is willing to insure the hot wallets, this could provide an acceptable alternative. Another option may be for multiple exchange operators to pool funds aside for a hot wallet insurance fund. Comprehensive coverage standards must be established and maintained for all hot wallet balances to make sure Canadians are adequately protected.
Current Draft Proposal
(1) Proper multi-signature cold wallet storage. (a) Each private key is the personal and legal responsibility of one person - the “signatory”. Signatories have special rights and responsibilities to protect user assets. Signatories are trained and certified through a course covering (1) past hacking and fraud cases, (2) proper and secure key generation, and (3) proper safekeeping of private keys. All private keys must be generated and stored 100% offline by the signatory. If even one private keys is ever breached or suspected to be breached, the wallet must be regenerated and all funds relocated to a new wallet. (b) All signatories must be separate background-checked individuals free of past criminal conviction. Canadians should have a right to know who holds their funds. All signing of transactions must take place with all signatories on Canadian soil or on the soil of a country with a solid legal system which agrees to uphold and support these rules (from an established white-list of countries which expands over time). (c) 3-5 independent signatures are required for any withdrawal. There must be 1-3 spare signatories, and a maximum of 7 total signatories. The following are all valid combinations: 3of4, 3of5, 3of6, 4of5, 4of6, 4of7, 5of6, or 5of7. (d) A security audit should be conducted to validate the cold wallet is set up correctly and provide any additional pertinent information. The primary purpose is to ensure that all signatories are acting independently and using best practices for private key storage. A report summarizing all steps taken and who did the audit will be made public. Canadians must be able to validate the right measures are in place to protect their funds. (e) There is a simple approval process if signatories wish to visit any country outside Canada, with a potential whitelist of exempt countries. At most 2 signatories can be outside of aligned jurisdiction at any given time. All exchanges would be required to keep a compliant cold wallet for Canadian funds and have a Canadian office if they wish to serve Canadian customers. (2) Regular and transparent solvency audits. (a) An audit must be conducted at founding, after 3 months of operation, and at least once every 6 months to compare customer balances against all stored cryptocurrency and fiat balances. The auditor must be known, independent, and never the same twice in a row. (b) An audit report will be published featuring the steps conducted in a readable format. This should be made available to all Canadians on the exchange website and on a government website. The report must include what percentage of each customer asset is backed on the exchange, and how those funds are stored. (c) The auditor will independently produce a hash of each customer's identifying information and balance as they perform the audit. This will be made publicly available on the exchange and government website, along with simplified instructions that each customer can use to verify that their balance was included in the audit process. (d) The audit needs to include a proof of ownership for any cryptocurrency wallets included. A satoshi test (spending a small amount) or partially signed transaction both qualify. (e) Any platform without 100% reserves should be assessed on a regular basis by a government or industry watchdog. This entity should work to prevent any further drop, support any private investor to come in, or facilitate a merger so that 100% backing can be obtained as soon as possible. (3) Protections for hot wallets and transactions. (a) A standardized list of approved coins and procedures will be established to constitute valid cold storage wallets. Where a multi-sig process is not natively available, efforts will be undertaken to establish a suitable and stable smart contract standard. This list will be expanded and improved over time. Coins and procedures not on the list are considered hot wallets. (b) Hot wallets can be backed by additional funds in cold storage or an acceptable third-party insurance provider with a comprehensive coverage policy. (c) Exchanges are required to cover the full balance of all user funds as denominated in the same currency, or double the balance as denominated in bitcoin or CAD using an established trading rate. If the balance is ever insufficient due to market movements, the firm must rectify this within 24 hours by moving assets to cold storage or increasing insurance coverage. (d) Any large transactions (above a set threshold) from cold storage to any new wallet addresses (not previously transacted with) must be tested with a smaller transaction first. Deposits of cryptocurrency must be limited to prevent economic 51% attacks. Any issues are to be covered by the exchange. (e) Exchange platforms must provide suitable authentication for users, including making available approved forms of two-factor authentication. SMS-based authentication is not to be supported. Withdrawals must be blocked for 48 hours in the event of any account password change. Disputes on the negligence of exchanges should be governed by case law.
Continued review of existing OSC feedback is still underway. More feedback and opinions on the framework and ideas as presented here are extremely valuable. The above is a draft and not finalized. The process of further developing and bringing a suitable framework to protect Canadians will require the support of exchange operators, legal experts, and many others in the community. The costs of not doing such are tremendous. A large and convoluted framework, one based on flawed ideas or implementation, or one which fails to properly safeguard Canadians is not just extremely expensive and risky for all Canadians, severely limiting to the credibility and reputation of the industry, but an existential risk to many exchanges. The responsibility falls to all of us to provide our insight and make our opinions heard on this critical matter. Please take the time to give your thoughts.
A small story about how I discovered r/BTC, and some stuff I want to say
So, when I first went back to the Crypto community back November 2019, I was rather, hesitant. I just finished verification of a mobile wallet with BTC support called Coins.ph and it made me curious on the crypto it allows: BTC, BCH, ETH, and XRP. I went and shuffled money around, and once my father gave his 0.01 BTC he mined (which I lost like a fraction because of Binance, seriously that place is weird), I decided to keep it to my centralized bank. Fast forward to February, the bear drop of BTC and most crypto was like a new chance for me. I can finally get something good! So I tried the faucets. Which lead me to finding that CoinPot has decreased withdrawal rates. Well... BCH entered my crypto portfolio through Bitcoin.com. I'm just a gullible person. Any shiny thing and I go for it the last second. When I learned that BCH is actually faster than BTC (had tested the speed by placing PHP 500 or more or less 0.05 BCH , I took PHP 1,000 and placed it on my account. It was a fool's attempt, since Philippines just struck quarantine, and I can't do anything about it. The fast confirmation speed pre-Halving sold it for me, and I thought, maybe I can hold it for a while? After testing Keys4Coins by buying a steam card, it was really just a few minutes of payment, then I realized that BCH (and pre 2017 BTC) is really peer-to-peer. Back in 2019 until today I was trying to mine XMR (failed to retrieve it after dumping all my BCH and dumping XMR back, showing less money). Back in 2017, just a few weeks before the split, I was trying hard to get enough satoshis to have on my Electrum-built wallet. Which is currently empty. Right now, I decided to cash out 0.05 BCH because money is needed right now, and my PC froze while I was trying to mine Zcoin. I also decided to try a semi-unused coin named BLUR after asking you guys about what to mine with GPU. It's not worth it, mining. Now, let's say some things I want to say lately.
BCH and BTC came from one blockchain and one whitepaper. BTC doesn't follow the whitepaper.
BCH is not yet fully adopted. I know because while we have other countries adopt it, crypto news have it, trolls are fighting against it, there is not even one news of all in the mainstream media.
The IFP is a sound plan, but it doesn't work in the long run. It looks like a forced donation to some whitelisted addresses, which, while might help Bitcoin ABC, will turn Bitcoin ABC into our own Blockstream. Money does that to people, don't push it.
For some reason, I met this guy who claims that Roger Vers owes him $100. Nice guy, knows the good faucets and stuff. He's making a forum that uses Satoshis by the way. Here's a link: Bitcoin Forums.
Also for some reason, BTC trolls have a perspective that BCH is made up of BCH maxis, shills, and idiots. Let their perspective be unchallenged, even if it means that you need to agree to disagree. After all, they are only defending BTC. Let them stick to latest news too, because people don't read old stuff.
I wonder what Satoshi is doing right now? He's probably just lurking in the crypto world, mining his own dev node, doing something new with cryptography... he probably oversaw all this.
BTC is gold bars. BCH is gold coins melted from gold bars sent around. BSV is some shit I don't even understand why they even made in the first place, lol
Bitcoin is not just the name of an revolutionary idea, it's now a name of the first crypto. I have a feeling we will receive less trolls if we stop claiming Bitcoin Cash is true Bitcoin, because in name, Bitcoin (Core) is.
I wonder what will happen if Bitcoin reaches $4,999...
tl:dr; I'm an idiot with cryptocurrency, and BCH is working fine, no need to see anything here, just bored and going insane on quarantine
You made it! :) First up, SORRY! This has been a late post, I have my reasons don't question them (if you must know I'll be posting in the discord - one time only haha). Secondly, I am sure you can agree with me when I say "Wow!" What an incredible week it has been. Last week I thought it was going to take a couple more weeks for more moving price action when it had only taken a few days which has seen Bitcoin reach and pass the $10,000 region. We have also seen the total Market cap for cryptocurrencies increase from about 280B to over 300B (308B at time of writing) within just a few days. A huge injection of liquidity, about 40B, into the market and just to name a few of the best rises in the top 20 (on Coinmarketcap.com), the price of ETH BTC ADA have given good performances/positive responses (With this I will start adding screenshots at the end of each week for timestamp purposes). This may be a combination from Binance, Mastercard, Paypal, Grayscale investments, VISA AND the DEFI sector. Let me explain... Last week we read about Binance integrating with the company Swipe (SXP) to issue there own debit card expanding the use and reach of cryptocurrency to 31 countries within Europe. Binance's Q2 scheduled token burn of $60.5 Million, this figure correlates with its exchange, margin and futures trading platforms where approximately 20% of profits get burned to increase the price of BNB token (careful as the price has been steady after the burn). This week we find out Mastercard's expansion into the Cryptosphere as they expand and integrate with the Wirex team to issue a Mastercard-backed Bitcoin debit card, thus further extending the reach of cryptocurrency availability internationally. "The cryptocurrency market continues to mature and Mastercard is driving it forward, creating safe and secure experiences for consumers and businesses in today’s digital economy " "...Our work with Wirex and the wider crypto ecosystem is accelerating innovation and empowering consumers with more choice in the way they pay" Mastercard is also reaching out to other emerging cryptocurrency firms to apply to become principal members [Partners] with Mastercard as they have relaxed their digital assets program and look to expand into the Digital Assets and Blockchain environment. Paypals expression of interest in cryptocurrency facilitiation may bear fruits as it is said Paypal has partnered up with stablecoin operator Paxos (who is already in partnership with Revolut in the US) to facilitate trading through a cryptocurrency brokerage which will enable other firms to integrate cryptocurrency trading functionalities with them. In my opinion this looks much more promising than the Libra association they pulled out from last October as regulations. Grayscale Investments clears regulatory hurdle as they have been given the green light for its Bitcoin Cash Trust (BCHG) and Litecoin Trust (LTCN) to be quoted in over-the-counter (OTC) markets by US Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). “The Trusts are open-ended trusts sponsored by Grayscale and are intended to enable exposure to the price movement of the Trusts’ underlying assets through a traditional investment vehicle, avoiding the challenges of buying, storing, and safekeeping digital Bitcoin Cash or Litecoin directly.” More green lights for Cryptocurrency in the US as regulators allow banks to provide cryptocurrency custody services (which may go further than just custody services). A little bit strange as it seems unnecessary and undermines one of the key factors and uses of cryptocurrency which is to be in complete control of your own finances... On another outlook this may be bullish as it allows US banks to provide banking services directly to lawful cryptocurrency businesses and show support for Bitcoin. Visa shows support stating they have a roadmap for their further expansion into the Crypto sphere. Already working with Crypto platform Coinbase and Fold they have stated they recognise the role of digital assets in the future of money. To be frank, it appears to be focused on stable coins, cost effectiveness and transaction speeds. However they are expanding their support for crypto assets. AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, DeFI! Our very own growing section in crypto. Just like the 2017 ICO boom we are seeing exorbitant growth and FOMO into the Decentralised Finance sector (WBTC, Stablecoins, Yield farming, DEXs etc). The amount of active addresses on Ethereum has doubled but with the FOMO on their network have sky rocketed their fees! Large use-cases of stable coins such as USDT ($6B in circulation using ERC-20 standard), DAI, TUSD, and PAX. $114M Wrapped Bitcoin (WBTC) on their network acts as a fluid side chain for Bitcoin and DEX trade volume has touched $1.6B this month. With all this action happening on Ethereum I saw the 24HR volume surpass BTC briefly on Worldcoinindex.com In other news, Bitcoin has been set as a new precedent in a US federal court in a case against Larry Dean Harmon, the operator of an underground trading platform Helix. Bitcoin has now legally been ruled as a form of money. “After examination of the relevant statutes, case law, and other sources, the Court concludes that bitcoin is money under the MTA and that Helix, as described in the indictment, was an `unlicensed money transmitting business´ under applicable federal law.” Quick news in China/Asia as floods threaten miners and the most dominant ASIC Bitcoin mining rig manufacturer Bitmain loses 10,000 Antminers worth millions alledgedly goes missing or "illegally transfered" with ongoing leadership dispute between cofounders. Last but not least, Cardano (ADA) upgrade Shelley is ready to launch! Hardfork is initiated as final countdown clock is switched on. At time of writing the point of no return has been reached, stress tests done and confirmation Hardfork is coming 29/07 The Shelley Mainnet upgrade is a step toward fast, capable and decentralised crypto that can serve billions of people. With the Shelley Mainnet is ADA staking rewards and pools! Here is a chance for us Gravychainers to set up a small pool of our own. Small percentage of profits going into the development of the community, and you keep the rest! If you read all of my ramblings thanks heaps! I appreciate it! I have added an extra piece of reading called speculation. Most you can speculate on by just reading the headline some others have more depth to them. Another post next week for a weekly round up! Where do you think the market is going? What is in your portfolio? Let us know in the Gravychain Discord Channel See you soon!
🍕 Bring some virtual pizza to share 🍕 Come have a chat, stimulate a discussion, ask a question or share some knowledge. We are all friendly crypto enthusiasts up for a chat, supportive and want to help each other with knowledge and investments! Big thanks to our Telegram and My Crypto HQ for the constant news updates!
P.S. Dr Seuss collectables on the blockchain HECK YEAH! and Bitcoin enters NASCAR, remember when Doge did this? it was like when Doge was trending on TikTok. ... Oh yeah did I also mention Steve Wozniak is suing Youtube, Google over rampant Bitcoin scams. Wait, what? Sydney based law firm JPB Liberty is suing Google, Facebook and Twitter for up to $300B. Just another day in the Cryptosphere.
Bitcoin (BTC) is a peer-to-peer cryptocurrency that aims to function as a means of exchange that is independent of any central authority. BTC can be transferred electronically in a secure, verifiable, and immutable way.
Launched in 2009, BTC is the first virtual currency to solve the double-spending issue by timestamping transactions before broadcasting them to all of the nodes in the Bitcoin network. The Bitcoin Protocol offered a solution to the Byzantine Generals’ Problem with ablockchainnetwork structure, a notion first created byStuart Haber and W. Scott Stornetta in 1991.
Bitcoin’s whitepaper was published pseudonymously in 2008 by an individual, or a group, with the pseudonym “Satoshi Nakamoto”, whose underlying identity has still not been verified.
The Bitcoin protocol uses an SHA-256d-based Proof-of-Work (PoW) algorithm to reach network consensus. Its network has a target block time of 10 minutes and a maximum supply of 21 million tokens, with a decaying token emission rate. To prevent fluctuation of the block time, the network’s block difficulty is re-adjusted through an algorithm based on the past 2016 block times.
With a block size limit capped at 1 megabyte, the Bitcoin Protocol has supported both the Lightning Network, a second-layer infrastructure for payment channels, and Segregated Witness, a soft-fork to increase the number of transactions on a block, as solutions to network scalability.
Bitcoin is a peer-to-peer cryptocurrency that aims to function as a means of exchange and is independent of any central authority. Bitcoins are transferred electronically in a secure, verifiable, and immutable way.
Network validators, whom are often referred to as miners, participate in the SHA-256d-based Proof-of-Work consensus mechanism to determine the next global state of the blockchain.
The Bitcoin protocol has a target block time of 10 minutes, and a maximum supply of 21 million tokens. The only way new bitcoins can be produced is when a block producer generates a new valid block.
The protocol has a token emission rate that halves every 210,000 blocks, or approximately every 4 years.
Unlike public blockchain infrastructures supporting the development of decentralized applications (Ethereum), the Bitcoin protocol is primarily used only for payments, and has only very limited support for smart contract-like functionalities (Bitcoin “Script” is mostly used to create certain conditions before bitcoins are used to be spent).
In the Bitcoin network, anyone can join the network and become a bookkeeping service provider i.e., a validator. All validators are allowed in the race to become the block producer for the next block, yet only the first to complete a computationally heavy task will win. This feature is called Proof of Work (PoW). The probability of any single validator to finish the task first is equal to the percentage of the total network computation power, or hash power, the validator has. For instance, a validator with 5% of the total network computation power will have a 5% chance of completing the task first, and therefore becoming the next block producer. Since anyone can join the race, competition is prone to increase. In the early days, Bitcoin mining was mostly done by personal computer CPUs. As of today, Bitcoin validators, or miners, have opted for dedicated and more powerful devices such as machines based on Application-Specific Integrated Circuit (“ASIC”). Proof of Work secures the network as block producers must have spent resources external to the network (i.e., money to pay electricity), and can provide proof to other participants that they did so. With various miners competing for block rewards, it becomes difficult for one single malicious party to gain network majority (defined as more than 51% of the network’s hash power in the Nakamoto consensus mechanism). The ability to rearrange transactions via 51% attacks indicates another feature of the Nakamoto consensus: the finality of transactions is only probabilistic. Once a block is produced, it is then propagated by the block producer to all other validators to check on the validity of all transactions in that block. The block producer will receive rewards in the network’s native currency (i.e., bitcoin) as all validators approve the block and update their ledgers.
The Bitcoin protocol utilizes the Merkle tree data structure in order to organize hashes of numerous individual transactions into each block. This concept is named after Ralph Merkle, who patented it in 1979. With the use of a Merkle tree, though each block might contain thousands of transactions, it will have the ability to combine all of their hashes and condense them into one, allowing efficient and secure verification of this group of transactions. This single hash called is a Merkle root, which is stored in the Block Header of a block. The Block Header also stores other meta information of a block, such as a hash of the previous Block Header, which enables blocks to be associated in a chain-like structure (hence the name “blockchain”). An illustration of block production in the Bitcoin Protocol is demonstrated below. https://preview.redd.it/m6texxicf3151.png?width=1591&format=png&auto=webp&s=f4253304912ed8370948b9c524e08fef28f1c78d
Block time and mining difficulty
Block time is the period required to create the next block in a network. As mentioned above, the node who solves the computationally intensive task will be allowed to produce the next block. Therefore, block time is directly correlated to the amount of time it takes for a node to find a solution to the task. The Bitcoin protocol sets a target block time of 10 minutes, and attempts to achieve this by introducing a variable named mining difficulty. Mining difficulty refers to how difficult it is for the node to solve the computationally intensive task. If the network sets a high difficulty for the task, while miners have low computational power, which is often referred to as “hashrate”, it would statistically take longer for the nodes to get an answer for the task. If the difficulty is low, but miners have rather strong computational power, statistically, some nodes will be able to solve the task quickly. Therefore, the 10 minute target block time is achieved by constantly and automatically adjusting the mining difficulty according to how much computational power there is amongst the nodes. The average block time of the network is evaluated after a certain number of blocks, and if it is greater than the expected block time, the difficulty level will decrease; if it is less than the expected block time, the difficulty level will increase.
What are orphan blocks?
In a PoW blockchain network, if the block time is too low, it would increase the likelihood of nodes producingorphan blocks, for which they would receive no reward. Orphan blocks are produced by nodes who solved the task but did not broadcast their results to the whole network the quickest due to network latency. It takes time for a message to travel through a network, and it is entirely possible for 2 nodes to complete the task and start to broadcast their results to the network at roughly the same time, while one’s messages are received by all other nodes earlier as the node has low latency. Imagine there is a network latency of 1 minute and a target block time of 2 minutes. A node could solve the task in around 1 minute but his message would take 1 minute to reach the rest of the nodes that are still working on the solution. While his message travels through the network, all the work done by all other nodes during that 1 minute, even if these nodes also complete the task, would go to waste. In this case, 50% of the computational power contributed to the network is wasted. The percentage of wasted computational power would proportionally decrease if the mining difficulty were higher, as it would statistically take longer for miners to complete the task. In other words, if the mining difficulty, and therefore targeted block time is low, miners with powerful and often centralized mining facilities would get a higher chance of becoming the block producer, while the participation of weaker miners would become in vain. This introduces possible centralization and weakens the overall security of the network. However, given a limited amount of transactions that can be stored in a block, making the block time too longwould decrease the number of transactions the network can process per second, negatively affecting network scalability.
3. Bitcoin’s additional features
Segregated Witness (SegWit)
Segregated Witness, often abbreviated as SegWit, is a protocol upgrade proposal that went live in August 2017. SegWit separates witness signatures from transaction-related data. Witness signatures in legacy Bitcoin blocks often take more than 50% of the block size. By removing witness signatures from the transaction block, this protocol upgrade effectively increases the number of transactions that can be stored in a single block, enabling the network to handle more transactions per second. As a result, SegWit increases the scalability of Nakamoto consensus-based blockchain networks like Bitcoin and Litecoin. SegWit also makes transactions cheaper. Since transaction fees are derived from how much data is being processed by the block producer, the more transactions that can be stored in a 1MB block, the cheaper individual transactions become. https://preview.redd.it/depya70mf3151.png?width=1601&format=png&auto=webp&s=a6499aa2131fbf347f8ffd812930b2f7d66be48e The legacy Bitcoin block has a block size limit of 1 megabyte, and any change on the block size would require a network hard-fork. On August 1st 2017, the first hard-fork occurred, leading to the creation of Bitcoin Cash (“BCH”), which introduced an 8 megabyte block size limit. Conversely, Segregated Witness was a soft-fork: it never changed the transaction block size limit of the network. Instead, it added an extended block with an upper limit of 3 megabytes, which contains solely witness signatures, to the 1 megabyte block that contains only transaction data. This new block type can be processed even by nodes that have not completed the SegWit protocol upgrade. Furthermore, the separation of witness signatures from transaction data solves the malleability issue with the original Bitcoin protocol. Without Segregated Witness, these signatures could be altered before the block is validated by miners. Indeed, alterations can be done in such a way that if the system does a mathematical check, the signature would still be valid. However, since the values in the signature are changed, the two signatures would create vastly different hash values. For instance, if a witness signature states “6,” it has a mathematical value of 6, and would create a hash value of 12345. However, if the witness signature were changed to “06”, it would maintain a mathematical value of 6 while creating a (faulty) hash value of 67890. Since the mathematical values are the same, the altered signature remains a valid signature. This would create a bookkeeping issue, as transactions in Nakamoto consensus-based blockchain networks are documented with these hash values, or transaction IDs. Effectively, one can alter a transaction ID to a new one, and the new ID can still be valid. This can create many issues, as illustrated in the below example:
Alice sends Bob 1 BTC, and Bob sends Merchant Carol this 1 BTC for some goods.
Bob sends Carols this 1 BTC, while the transaction from Alice to Bob is not yet validated. Carol sees this incoming transaction of 1 BTC to him, and immediately ships goods to B.
At the moment, the transaction from Alice to Bob is still not confirmed by the network, and Bob can change the witness signature, therefore changing this transaction ID from 12345 to 67890.
Now Carol will not receive his 1 BTC, as the network looks for transaction 12345 to ensure that Bob’s wallet balance is valid.
As this particular transaction ID changed from 12345 to 67890, the transaction from Bob to Carol will fail, and Bob will get his goods while still holding his BTC.
With the Segregated Witness upgrade, such instances can not happen again. This is because the witness signatures are moved outside of the transaction block into an extended block, and altering the witness signature won’t affect the transaction ID. Since the transaction malleability issue is fixed, Segregated Witness also enables the proper functioning of second-layer scalability solutions on the Bitcoin protocol, such as the Lightning Network.
Lightning Network is a second-layer micropayment solution for scalability. Specifically, Lightning Network aims to enable near-instant and low-cost payments between merchants and customers that wish to use bitcoins. Lightning Network was conceptualized in a whitepaper by Joseph Poon and Thaddeus Dryja in 2015. Since then, it has been implemented by multiple companies. The most prominent of them include Blockstream, Lightning Labs, and ACINQ. A list of curated resources relevant to Lightning Network can be found here. In the Lightning Network, if a customer wishes to transact with a merchant, both of them need to open a payment channel, which operates off the Bitcoin blockchain (i.e., off-chain vs. on-chain). None of the transaction details from this payment channel are recorded on the blockchain, and only when the channel is closed will the end result of both party’s wallet balances be updated to the blockchain. The blockchain only serves as a settlement layer for Lightning transactions. Since all transactions done via the payment channel are conducted independently of the Nakamoto consensus, both parties involved in transactions do not need to wait for network confirmation on transactions. Instead, transacting parties would pay transaction fees to Bitcoin miners only when they decide to close the channel. https://preview.redd.it/cy56icarf3151.png?width=1601&format=png&auto=webp&s=b239a63c6a87ec6cc1b18ce2cbd0355f8831c3a8 One limitation to the Lightning Network is that it requires a person to be online to receive transactions attributing towards him. Another limitation in user experience could be that one needs to lock up some funds every time he wishes to open a payment channel, and is only able to use that fund within the channel. However, this does not mean he needs to create new channels every time he wishes to transact with a different person on the Lightning Network. If Alice wants to send money to Carol, but they do not have a payment channel open, they can ask Bob, who has payment channels open to both Alice and Carol, to help make that transaction. Alice will be able to send funds to Bob, and Bob to Carol. Hence, the number of “payment hubs” (i.e., Bob in the previous example) correlates with both the convenience and the usability of the Lightning Network for real-world applications.
Schnorr Signature upgrade proposal
Elliptic Curve Digital Signature Algorithm (“ECDSA”) signatures are used to sign transactions on the Bitcoin blockchain. https://preview.redd.it/hjeqe4l7g3151.png?width=1601&format=png&auto=webp&s=8014fb08fe62ac4d91645499bc0c7e1c04c5d7c4 However, many developers now advocate for replacing ECDSA with Schnorr Signature. Once Schnorr Signatures are implemented, multiple parties can collaborate in producing a signature that is valid for the sum of their public keys. This would primarily be beneficial for network scalability. When multiple addresses were to conduct transactions to a single address, each transaction would require their own signature. With Schnorr Signature, all these signatures would be combined into one. As a result, the network would be able to store more transactions in a single block. https://preview.redd.it/axg3wayag3151.png?width=1601&format=png&auto=webp&s=93d958fa6b0e623caa82ca71fe457b4daa88c71e The reduced size in signatures implies a reduced cost on transaction fees. The group of senders can split the transaction fees for that one group signature, instead of paying for one personal signature individually. Schnorr Signature also improves network privacy and token fungibility. A third-party observer will not be able to detect if a user is sending a multi-signature transaction, since the signature will be in the same format as a single-signature transaction.
4. Economics and supply distribution
The Bitcoin protocol utilizes the Nakamoto consensus, and nodes validate blocks via Proof-of-Work mining. The bitcoin token was not pre-mined, and has a maximum supply of 21 million. The initial reward for a block was 50 BTC per block. Block mining rewards halve every 210,000 blocks. Since the average time for block production on the blockchain is 10 minutes, it implies that the block reward halving events will approximately take place every 4 years. As of May 12th 2020, the block mining rewards are 6.25 BTC per block. Transaction fees also represent a minor revenue stream for miners.
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