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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.
What was Bitcoin's value over the last several years on October 1st? In 2012 it was super low at $11 USD, with the first halving only 2 months away. In 2013 it was at $127 and the Cyprus banking crisis hit the financial markets. Also, during 2013 was the first time Bitcoin passed the price of gold for a brief moment. In 2014 it was valued at $387. By the end of the year it was given the title by The Guardian as the worst investment of the year. Mt.Gox exchange had failed and Ethereum did its ICO (Initial Coin Offering) and the silk road website was taken down. Tim Draper bought a good chunk of Bitcoins at auction and was predicting it to go to $10,000. In 2015 it was lower at $238 but in 2016 the price was at $614 with the second halving having happened. During 2017 it reached a lofty $4404. 2017 also was when ICOs became popular with a few blockchain projects raising over $200 million. In 2018 Bitcoin was at $6601 and the ICO frenzy died. During 2019 it was $8334 and some exchanges continued to get hacked. Bakt opens futures trading and bitcoiners are talking about the third halving in 2020. And so today bitcoin is valued at about $10,600. Most of those years saw massive changes up and down in value. For example, in 2013, there was a massive rise of 10,250% from $12 to $961 but in 2014 it dropped 52%. If you look at Bitcoin valuations from the October 1st lens it seems like a great time to buy especially after a halving. We continue to see Bitcoin as the number one crypto for a portfolio even though almost every week we see another new cryptocurrency pop up. Some of them even hit the top 10 on Coinmarketcap very quickly. For example, UNI (Uniswap) is up over 2700% on Binance since it was listed on Sept.17, 2020. But history shows that most altcoins over the long term are not very successful. Be careful of FOMO but happy investing, From the Madbyte Team. -- In summary, Bitcoin, on October 1st was: 2020 - $10600 2019 - $8334 2018 - $6601 2017 - $4404 2016 - $614 2015 - $238 2014 - $387 2013 - $127 2012 - $11
Crypto-Powered: Understanding Bitcoin, Ethereum, and DeFi
Until one understands the basics of this tech, they won’t be able to grasp or appreciate the impact it has on our digital bank, Genesis Block. https://reddit.com/link/ho4bif/video/n0euarkifu951/player This is the second post ofCrypto-Powered— a new series that examines what it means forGenesis Blockto be a digital bank that’s powered by crypto, blockchain, and decentralized protocols. --- Our previous post set the stage for this series. We discussed the state of consumer finance and how the success of today’s high-flying fintech unicorns will be short-lived as long as they’re building on legacy finance — a weak foundation that is ripe for massive disruption. Instead, the future of consumer finance belongs to those who are deeply familiar with blockchain tech & decentralized protocols, build on it as the foundation, and know how to take it to the world. Like Genesis Block. Today we begin our journey down the crypto rabbit hole. This post will be an important introduction for those still learning about Bitcoin, Ethereum, or DeFi (Decentralized Finance). This post (and the next few) will go into greater detail about how this technology gives Genesis Block an edge, a superpower, and an unfair advantage. Let’s dive in… https://preview.redd.it/1ugdxoqjfu951.jpg?width=650&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=36edde1079c3cff5f6b15b8cd30e6c436626d5d8
Bitcoin: The First Cryptocurrency
There are plenty of online resources to learn about Bitcoin (Coinbase, Binance, Gemini, Naval, Alex Gladstein, Marc Andreessen, Chris Dixon). I don’t wanna spend a lot of time on that here, but let’s do a quick overview for those still getting ramped up. Cryptocurrency is the most popular use-case of blockchain technology today. And Bitcoin was the first cryptocurrency to be invented.
Bitcoin is the most decentralized of all crypto assets today — no government, company, or third party can control or censor it.
Bitcoin has two primary features (as do most other cryptocurrencies):
Send Value You can send value to anyone, anywhere in the world. Nobody can intercept, delay or stop it — not even governments or financial institutions. Unlike with traditional money transfers or bank wires, there are no layers of middlemen. This results in a process that is much more cost-efficient. Some popular use-cases include remittances and cross-border payments.
A few negative moments in Bitcoin’s history include the collapse of Mt. Gox — which resulted in hundreds of millions of customer funds being stolen — as well as Bitcoin’s role in dark markets like Silk Road — where Bitcoin arguably found its initial userbase. However, like most breakthrough technology, Bitcoin is neither good nor bad. It’s neutral. People can use it for good or they can use it for evil. Thankfully, it’s being used less and less for illicit activity. Criminals are starting to understand that transactions on a blockchain are public and traceable — it’s exactly the type of system they usually try to avoid. And it’s true, at this point “a lot more” crimes are actually committed with fiat than crypto. As a result, the perception of bitcoin and cryptocurrency has been changing over the years to a more positive light. Bitcoin has even started to enter the world of media & entertainment. It’s been mentioned in Hollywood films like Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse and in songs from major artists like Eminem. It’s been mentioned in countless TV shows like Billions, The Simpsons, Big Bang Theory, Gray’s Anatomy, Family Guy, and more. As covid19 has ravaged economies and central banks have been printing money, Bitcoin has caught the attention of many legendary Wall Street investors like Paul Tudor Jones, saying that Bitcoin is a great bet against inflation (reminding him of Gold in the 1970s). Cash App already lets their 25M users buy Bitcoin. It’s rumored that PayPal and Venmo will soon let their 325M users start buying Bitcoin. Bitcoin is by far the most dominant cryptocurrency and is showing no signs of slowing down. For more than a decade it has delivered on its core use-cases — being able to send or store value.
At this point, Bitcoin has very much entered the zeitgeist of modern pop culture — at least in the West.
When Ethereum launched in 2015, it opened up a world of new possibilities and use-cases for crypto. With Ethereum Smart Contracts (i.e. applications), this exciting new digital money (cryptocurrency) became a lot less dumb. Developers could now build applications that go beyond the simple use-cases of “send value” & “store value.” They could program cryptocurrency to have rules, behavior, and logic to respond to different inputs. And always enforced by code. Additional reading on Ethereum fromLinda XieorVitalik Buterin.
Because these applications are built on blockchain technology (Ethereum), they preserve many of the same characteristics as Bitcoin: no one can stop, censor or shut down these apps because they are decentralized.
Just as tokens grew in popularity in 2017–2018, so did online marketplaces where these tokens could be bought, sold, and traded. This was a fledgling asset class — the merchants selling picks, axes, and shovels were finally starting to emerge.
I had a front-row seat — both as an investor and token creator. This was the Wild West with all the frontier drama & scandal that you’d expect.
Binance — now the world’s largest crypto exchange —was launched during this time. They along with many others (especially from Asia) made it really easy for speculators, traders, and degenerate gamblers to participate in these markets. Similar to other financial markets, the goal was straightforward: buy low and sell high. https://preview.redd.it/tytsu5jnfu951.jpg?width=600&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=fe3425b7e4a71fa953b953f0c7f6eaff6504a0d1 That period left an embarrassing stain on our industry that we’ve still been trying to recover from. It was a period rampant with market manipulation, pump-and-dumps, and scams. To some extent, the crypto industry still suffers from that today, but it’s nothing compared to what it was then.
While the potential of getting filthy rich brought a lot of fly-by-nighters and charlatans into the industry, it also brought a lot of innovators, entrepreneurs, and builders.
The launch and growth of Ethereum has been an incredible technological breakthrough. As with past tech breakthroughs, it has led to a wave of innovation, experimentation, and development. The creativity around tokens, smart contracts, and decentralized applications has been fascinating to witness. Now a few years later, the fruits of those labors are starting to be realized.
I know that for the hardcore crypto people, what we covered today is nothing new. But for those who are still getting up to speed, welcome! I hope this was helpful and that it fuels your interest to learn more. Until you understand the basics of this technology, you won’t be able to fully appreciate the impact that it has on our new digital bank, Genesis Block. You won’t be able to understand the implications, how it relates, or how it helps. After today’s post, some of you probably have a lot more questions. What are specific examples or use-cases of DeFi? Why does it need to be on a blockchain? What benefits does it bring to Genesis Block and our users? In upcoming posts, we answer these questions. Today’s post was just Level 1. It set the foundation for where we’re headed next: even deeper down the crypto rabbit hole. --- Other Ways to Consume Today's Episode:
We have a lot more content coming. Be sure to follow our channels: https://genesisblock.com/follow/ Have you already downloaded the app? We're Genesis Block, a new digital bank that's powered by crypto & decentralized protocols. The app is live in the App Store (iOS & Android). Get the link to download at https://genesisblock.com/download
In today's world of heavily nascent and volatile cryptocurrency, one point or factor stands out. That is exchanges. Cryptocurrency exchanges are sites(whether physical or virtual) where cryptocurrencies are traded for each other or traditional fiat currencies like Euro, Pound Sterling or US Dollar. They may be divided by many criteria, chief of which may be Modus Operandi or Central Control. The Degree of Control suggests a central control of exchange management and resources. There are Centralized, Decentralized and Hybrid exchanges. Now we can narrow down to Centralized Exchanges. These are where transactions are monitored and controlled by the owners of the exchange. Transactions can be made only through mechanisms provided and approved by the central body. Also there is no access to private keys by traders. Examples include Koinpro, Binance, Kucoin, Bittrex etc. About Koinpro This is a Smart Bitcoin Futures Exchange. KoinPro, your new fangled crypto exchange, that goes beyond crypto and boasts of multiple futures contracts, with its own unique features and benefits. Bitcoin Futures, Contracts for Difference are complex instruments. Trading these financial products carries a high level of risk since leverage can work both to your advantage and disadvantage. There are a lot of exchanges, both crypto and fiat(mainstream and otherwise) trading tools like CFD, oil, futures etc; but not one of them Integrates CFDs like Koinpro. Its a no-brainer choice, since going for KoinPro’s unique double-UP contract, customers can simply enter into a predefined order position that will automatically terminate when the position either gains or loses 100% of its value, or when the contract expires — whichever comes first. insurance coverage is provided as a courtesy to BitGo Prime, which is a sole counterparty Prices derived from a wide range of Tier 1 institutions such as exchanges and professional market makers Trading on a fully non-disclosed basis Fully integrated with BitGo Portfolio & Tax. At KoinPro, we take the safety and security of our clients extremely seriously. To help make KoinPro one of the safest places to trade, we store our customer funds in cold storage wallets provided by BitGo—the world leader in secure digital asset storage. BitGo custody includes a $100 million insurance plan underwritten by Lloyd’s of London—one of the UK’s largest insurance markets. This insurance coverage is provided as a courtesy to KoinPro users and hence comes at no additional cost. This insurance coverage protects digital assets held by BitGo, Inc. or BitGo Trust Company in the event of; Third-party hacks or theft of private keys Insider theft by employees of private keys Physical loss or damage of private keys BitGo has delivered institution-grade security for digital assets since 2013, and features state-of-the-art cold storage technology, which includes a bank-grade Class III vault and stringent controls designed to practically eliminate the risk of loss. Full details about the BitGo custody and insurance protection can be found here. https://koinpro.com/ https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=5219842
AMA Recap of CEO and Co-founder of Chromia, Henrik Hjelte in the @binancenigeria Telegram group on 03/05/2020.
White Paper, Miner, Pizza … | "Old Objects" in the Cryptocurrency Museum
https://preview.redd.it/giu1ssilga151.jpg?width=900&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=41510785ccdc0d99544ec74229f62427d1c0ce3e Museum has played the role of a time recorder. Talking about bitcoin, more than ten years has passed since the creation of it. Although it is uncomparable to the stock market with a hundred years of history, during the ten years, in the different stages of the development of bitcoin and blockchain have continuously poured in geeks, miners, speculators, newbies, leaving keywords such as sudden rich, myth, scam, belief, revolution, etc. There are also many “old objects” with stories in the “Museum” of the cryptocurrency realm. On Museum Day, let ’s review the stories brought by these “old objects”. The First Digital Currency White Paper — Bitcoin White Paper On Oct. 31, 2008, Satoshi Nakamoto released the Bitcoin white paper — A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System in the cryptographic mail group where he belongs, and Bitcoin was born since then. A white paper is a document that explains the purpose and technology used in cryptocurrency. Usually a cryptocurrency uses the white paper to help people understand what it provides, and it is also an important information channel for investors to understand a project. Therefore, the level of the white paper affects people’s confidence towards the coin. In a word, in the cryptocurrency and blockchain industry, the value of a white paper is equivalent to that of a standard financing speech. The white paper plays a vital role in this emerging market. The First Public Bitcoin-Physical Transaction — Pizza Since Satoshi Nakamoto mined the Bitcoin genesis block on January 3, 2009, Bitcoin has only been spread among the small crowd and has not realized its value. Not until May 22, 2010, Bitcoin enthusiast “Laszlo Hanyecz” bought a pizza coupon worth $25 with 10,000 bitcoins. This is the first public bitcoin-physical transaction. Bitcoin has its price with 0.3 cents per bitcoin. This day has also become the famous “Bitcoin Pizza Day” in Bitcoin history. Bitcoin as the imagination of the financial system has more practical significance. The tenth anniversary is coming. How will you commemorate it? Will you buy a pizza? The First Digital Asset Exchange — Bitcoinmarket.com After the birth of Bitcoin, in addition to mining, the only way to get Bitcoin in the early days was to conduct transactions on forums or IRC (commonly known as Internet Relay Chat). However, this method involves both long transaction time and great security risk. In March 2010, the first digital asset exchange — Bitcoinmarket.com launched. However, due to lack of liquidity and transaction depth, it disappeared soon after its establishment, but Bitcoinmarket.com opened the era of the operation of the cryptocurrency realm exchange 1.0. On June 9, 2011, China’s first Bitcoin exchange — Bitcoin China (BTCChina) launched. Its founder, Yang Linke, translated Bitcoin into Chinese “比特币” for the first time. In 2013, China’s bitcoin trading entered the golden age, and exchanges sprung up. China monopolized more than 90% of the world’s bitcoin transactions. Now, if the top three exchanges Binance, Huobi Global, OKEx are the Exchange 2.0, then the index exchange represented by 58COIN called the 3.0 version, leading the trend. The First Generation of High-Performance Miner — ASIC Miner When Satoshi Nakamoto created Bitcoin, the only way to get it is to use computers (including home computers) to mine, mainly relying on the CPU to calculate. However, as the value of digital currencies such as Bitcoin has become higher and higher, mining has become an industry with the competition is getting fiercer, accompanied by increasing difficulty of mining. Therefore, hardware performance competition starts. In July 2012, the genius Jiang Xinyu (Internet nickname is “Friedcat”) from the junior class of the University of Science and Technology declared at the forum that he could make ASIC miners (chips). As far as mining computing power is concerned, ASICs can be tens of thousands or more higher than the same-generation CPUs and GPUs. At the beginning of 2013, Zhang Nanqian (Pumpkin Zhang), a suspended doctoral student from the Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, developed the ASIC miner and named it “Avalon”. In June 2013, the Friedcat’s miner USB was finally released, and it maintained 20% of the computing power of the entire network. At the end of 2013, Wu Jihan, used the tens of millions yuan earned from Friedcat through investment, worked together with Jenke group, to develop the Antminer S1. Since then, the miner manufacturer Bitmain began to enter the stage of history. It is no exaggeration to say that Friedcat and Zhang Nangeng have opened the domestic “mining” era. The Birthplace of China’s Bitcoin — Garage Coffee It is not only the “old objects” that record history, but also a place that everyone in the cryptocurrency realm aspires to. Guo Hongcai once said, “Without no The Garage Café, there will be no cryptocurrency realm today. Since it is a very mysterious place that all waves of people from the café joint together to create today’s digital asset industry. ▲ In March 2013, American student Jake Smith successfully purchased a cup of coffee at The Garage Café with 0.131 bitcoins. This move attracted the attention of CCTV, and it conducted an interview. Indeed, The Garage Café is the world ’s first entrepreneurial-themed coffee shop. It has been legendary since its establishment in 2011. The Garage Cafét is not only the core coordinate on China’s Bitcoin map, but also the birthplace of the Chinese cryptocurrency circle, where digital asset realm tycoons including Guo Hongcai, Zhao Dong, Li Xiaolai, Li Lin have made their ways. The development of digital currency is only 11 years old. Through these “old objects”, we review the various stories of this wave of technology together, hoping to help you understand the development process of the digital currency field. Meanwhile, I also remind all practitioners to use history as a mirror and forge ahead. Website: https://www.58ex.com/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/58_coin Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/coin.58COIN Telegram: https://t.me/official58 Medium: https://medium.com/@58coin_blog/
here it is AMA time!Introducingu/ChaoWang — COO Bitpie Wallet andu/Kongour ambassador from China!AMA Duration: 35 minutesRounds: Team Round (first 20 min) and Community Round (last 15 min)
Thx DanielAbout myself, I heard bitcoin in 2013, started buying and a little bit mining by end of that year. And of course, I lose a lot of money during the market collapse in 2014–15, just like a lot of friends just suffered in the past weeks.Luckily, as a hodler, I didn’t sell any coin during bear market and most of those coins are still in my wallet until today.In 2017 I joined Bitpie. Prior to that, I have been in the traditional IT industry for more than a decade. During my 15-years career, I have worked for organizations including online service company, big data company and IT services company. Responsible for IT system, product R&D, business management and has been stationed in the United States to manage a series of project cooperate with IT giants such as Microsoft and Cisco.My last role before joining Bitpie was the general manager of a business division at one of largest IT service companies in China, managing the solution business related to new technologies such as cloud computing and AI, also got some chance to work with partner for business-oriented blockchain PoC projects.It is a tough time for everyone, it is my great honor to have the opportunity to meet and learn from you guys at this special moment.
Hi, all. I am Kong from Bitpie Wallet. Also ambassador of Algorand Beijing. I have been working for Bitpie since 2018 and now mainly in charge of marketing job. Tonight, Mr Wang chao will bring us his presentation and I will help answer questions if needed.Long for Bitpie and Algorand
Thanks a lot for sharing your introductionu/ChaoWangu/Kong! Seems you have been in the industry since a long while! Glad to have your experience and support for Algorand!Really appreciate Bitpie as a global partner of Algorand and you have also supported ASA these days. Could you tell us more about Bitpie Wallet and what do you think about the cooperation with Algorand?
Bitpie is an industry-leading non-custody wallet with very high market penetration in Asia area. We have been focused on the blockchain wallet for more than six years.As a professional wallet service provider, we have 3 wallet products.Bitpie Wallet — a multi-chain wallet with DeFi and DApp portal along with a lot of other crypto-based scenarios.Bither Wallet, a bitcoin.org recommended open-sourced bitcoin wallet.BitHD — an open-sourced multichain Hardware cold Wallet.Among 3 products, Bitpie is the most famous one.Our products helped millions of global users manage dozens of billions of US Dollars’ worth of cryptocurrencies in the past 6 years with 0 security accident. We are also very proud of being a contributor to the early blockchain community for we introduced a variety of novel technologies in the field of cryptology and security.The cooperation between Algorand and Bitpie began in 2018 when we met Professor Micali and Steven for the first time in Beijing. The conversation was very pleasant and soon determined willingness of both parties to cooperate.In 2019, with the launch of the Algorand mainnet, we have 360-degree cooperation with Algorand in technology, network, marketing and ecosystem support.With the launch of Algorand 2.0 and ASA assets, great innovations are emerging on Algorand blockchain. We are very happy to participate in this process and look forward to more cooperation in the future.
Thank you for the detailed introduction about Bitpie and your cooperation with Algorand!Do you have large market share for BTC, USDT or any other currencies in Asia?
Yes, we are the most popular BTC wallet in Asia, and for stable currencies, we are probably the wallet with №1 volume in the world 🙂I would like to say more about USDT.
Sure please go ahead!
We all know Stable coin is extremely important for a public chain ecology.As a wallet operator, our experience in this area is direct, and we have observed a lot in the past when the stable currency market and the underlying public chain were constantly changing. Before the launch of Algorand USDT, we had several conversations with foundation and shared our understanding of this market.Each public chain has unique development route, and this route also determine the market development route of stable currency on that Chain. The application-oriented blockchain is still in a very early stage, now it is difficult to determine which direction is better and more likely to succeed.But no matter which route you take, one thing is for sure, which is to increase the usability as much as possible and help users reduce the barrier. This is the main reason why erc20 USDT can take most of the market share from omni USDT.Market promotion is also very important. If Algorand has some related plans in the future, Bitpie as the direct entry point to reach users, is very willing to provide help as much as we can.
Glad to see our goals align Chao 🙂 We wish to have Algorand- USDT as major value capture on Algo public chain! Really excited to explore more use-cases and co-marketing opportunities with you.While on the subject, I noticed you have DeFi and Dapp portal. As a leading wallet provider, what do you think is the future of wallets ? Is it DeFi, something else?
Yes, DeFi and DApp are extremely important for wallet. But that not all we are aiming for.In the past, wallet is viewed as a tool that managed private keys to send and receive assets. With the emergence of various scenarios in the blockchain world, the functions integrated on the blockchain wallet today have far exceeded asset sending and receiving.Almost all major wallets on the market have integrated different forms of coin trade. Staking, voting, Borrowing & Lending functions have also been integrated into wallet.More wallets have even begun to support Dapp and DeFi based on different blockchain networks, thereby introducing more open scenarios.But we see that the users of the wallet are all users who already have crypto assets and already has some understanding of the blockchain.However, the proportion of such users in the entire society is very small, and currently there are few wallets or applications that can develop people who do not know the blockchain through their own scenarios. I think that will change in the future.There will be a variety of innovations constantly emerging, and some of them, although possibly a small part, will draw quite a lot of people from the general community to blockchain world.They are not typical crypto asset holders, and they do not understand what a blockchain is or what an oval algorithm is.In fact, they don’t need to understand. Both public chains and wallets will evolve, allowing ordinary users to enjoy the innovation brought to them by the blockchain without perception.At that time, the wallet, as a carrier of rights and on-chain identities, will be closely related to people’s daily lives. And the form of the wallet will be very different from now.For the simplest example, suppose a billion people have entered the world of blockchain. Can you imagine all one billion people are writing down mnemonic words like current wallet users? That’s not possible.
You make quite a few interesting points Chao. Mnemonic words is an interesting one as well! Since we are running low on time, my last question would be on Algorand itself.What are your thoughts about Algorand? 🙂
I have worked in the IT service industry for many years. The clients I have dealt with involve various industries, finance, manufacturing, retail, transportation, government.My major business focus was to provide them with the underlying business support systems. This gives me some understanding of the fundamental supporting of commercial facilities.In these mature business ecosystems, there is a complete and meticulous industry chain collaboration. Some are responsible for basic technical/science innovations, and some are responsible for the implementation of the underlying platform based on these innovations.Some people use their technical capabilities to design solutions suitable for the industry, and some people apply these solutions to help them expand their business.In the end, no matter how many layers are passed, it is the consumers who pay for all of this. Of course, consumers also enjoy the convenience brought by technological development and industrial chain collaboration.Blockchain system will also play the role to support business. However, blockchain technology and ecology are still very early, such industrial collaboration cannot yet be formed.Some public chains have focused on faster and more direct 2C scenarios. This is understandable, but in my opinion, industrial collaboration will eventually come, and at that time, tens of millions of people will enjoy the beauty that blockchain technology brings to everyone.Compared with other public chains, Algorand’s path is very solid, and it is constantly laying the foundation, not only the technical foundation, but also the basis of industrial chain collaboration. This process may not be that fast, but I think it is all necessary.
Appreciate you sharing your thoughts Chao! We are really committed towards industrial collaboration. You summed it all up really well! I will be compiling a full blog-post and publishing it for those who couldn’t join the AMAu/hereCommunity Round can start now! You can ask any questions that you have! This one would run for the next 15 minutes.
Really appreciate the time you guys are taking to have this AMAFor Bitpie, which countries are most popular for using your wallet service?By the looks of it asia, but curious on where the majority of users are from? 😄
As a team from China, users from China take the largest part. But our penetration in Southeast Asian countries is also very high.Some of our users are in China, our team are based on Hong Kong. We welcome and embrace regulation relate to wallet service. This is a must done thing before blockchain permeate everyone’s life.
Will you be offering any kind of staking on the POS networks you support?
Yes, we are providing Staking services for blockchains such as Cosmos and EOS .
I suppose there’s interest in increasing the number of tokens that can be staked on your platform yep?
Yes, everyone want to manage their asset in one wallet rather than install wallet for each blockchain network.
You’re right .. Binance is quite fierce in adopting new staking servicestoo it must be a challenge to gain market share
does the wallet support other cryptocurrencies/erc20 tokens?
Yes, we support 30+ blockchain network including BTC/ETH/Algorand.All ERC20 Tokens is supported.
Bitcoin has been given the nickname “digital gold”. This is because of its characteristic as a store of wealth. Many big investors are resorting to Bitcoin as a good place to put their money. The reason for this is not just because it can be sustained, but also because of the high tendency of appreciation in value. Here we shall be considering the top 10 richest people in the world, in Bitcoin. We will take a look at their net worth, and how much that amounts to in Bitcoin. We will also consider their primary business and a little bit of their history. How they started out in the Bitcoin ecosystem and what they have achieved so far will also enable us to understand more about them. So, here is a list of the top 10 richest people in the world, in Bitcoin. 10.Matthew Roszark Matthew Roszark is the founder of Tally Capital, and co-founder of Bloq. Roszark is widely known as the man who gave Richard Branson and Bill Clinton their first Bitcoins. Roszark made it early into the Bitcoin space and participated in the very first ICO in 2013. Although that wasn’t what it was called at the time. Roszark has investments in 20 startups in the cryptocurrency ecosystem, some of which have gone ahead to do great things. Some of the startups that he invested in include Coinbase, Kraken and BTCC. Roszark’s net worth is $1 billion, which amounts to 102,712.94 BTC (at the time of writing).
Anthony Di Iorio
Anthony Di lorio is the founder of Jaxx and Decentral, and co-founder at Ethereum. Having studied a bit of economics and trying to find out the true essence of money after the recession of early 2000, Di lorio discovered Bitcoin and decided to explore. He started a Toronto Bitcoin-meetup, where he met his eventual co-founder of Ethereum, Vitalik Buterin. Di lorio contributed his personal funds towards the coding of Ethereum, and has since been involved in a number of other crypto assets. Some of them include Qtum, VeChain and ZCash. Di lorio is a serial investor who commits to projects at an early stage, then after levelling up, he pulls his funds and moves on to something new. His net worth of $1 billion is the equivalent of 102,712.93 BTC.
This CEO of Galaxy Digital is also popular in the field of macro hedge fund management. Novogratz started investing in cryptocurrencies in 2013 and two years later he left his position at Fortress Investment Group to focus on crypto. In the cryptocurrency industry, Novogratz is known as a seasoned trader who believes that the crypto market as it is today is a bubble. According to him, his aim is to make as much money as possible from the bubble before it bursts. Novogratz is worth $1 billion which is the equivalent of 102,712.92 BTC
Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss
The Winklevoss twins arrived in the face of the public through the controversial law suit against Facebook for intellectual property theft. They eventually won the case and were paid $11 million in compensation. With many Silicon Valley startups not wanting to get into Facebook’s black book, the twins seemed to not have where to invest their money. They were introduced to Bitcoin by Brooklyn-based investor David Azar in 2012, and found their new investment ecosystem. Over the years, the astronomic rise in Bitcoin price has turned their $11 million investment to a $1 billion portfolio of 102,712.91 BTC.
Matthew Mellon’s money started as old money which he inherited from family sources. However, through his “crazy” investment approach, he has been able to build a fortune out of his family inheritance. Having bought into Bitcoin some years ago, Mellon abandoned his early investments and sold his Bitcoins at some point. His attachment with the banking industry and the XRP feasibility attracted him to the coin. Mellon spent $2 million to acquire XRP tokens a few years back. That investment has grown to $1 billion, in the equivalence of 102,712.90 BTC.
Zhao Chaopeng popularly known as CZ, is the founder of cryptocurrency exchange, Binance. Within one year of its launch, Binance became the largest cryptocurrency exchange in terms of volume. The platform’s tokens were sold at a price of 10 cents during its ICO. At the time of writing, the price of the coin has risen to over $27 and CZ owns a huge volume of the coins. In 2014, CZ sold his house in Shanghai, which was practically all he had, to go all out into Bitcoin. Today, his net worth is $1.3 billion, which is equivalent to 133,523.65 BTC.
Brian Armstrong is the CEO of Coinbase, the largest cryptocurrency exchange in America. Coinbase was founded in 2012, and is the most patronized cryptocurrency exchange in the US. The exchange has also expanded, and is now available in many countries of the world. In 2018, the exchange embarked on a financing round that saw it raise $300 million, and the company is now valued at $8 billion. Armstrong’s net worth stands at $1.3 billion, with equates to 133,523.64 BTC.
Johan Wu is the co-founder of Bitmain, a China-based Bitcoin mining giant. Together with Micree Zhan Ketuan, they have grown Bitmain to become a household name in the industry, and the main supplier of ASIC-chip miners. Wu is also popular for his open support of Bitcoin Cash. Wu is estimated to be worth up to $1.5 billion, which translates in Bitcoin to 154,065.75 BTC.
Chris Larsen is the co-founder of Ripple, a company which was founded in 2012 with Jed McCaleb, the founder of Mt Gox. Larsen is regarded as a self-made billionaire, with the bulk of his wealth coming from cryptocurrency enterprises. Ripple boasts many top end customers in its portfolio. Among the list includes Bank of America, Santander and Mitsubishi Financial. Larsen’s net worth is estimated at $1.5 billion, which is equivalent to 154,065.74 BTC.
Micree Zhan Ketuan
Zhan is the co-founder of Bitmain technologies. Bitmain is regarded as the biggest Bitcoin mining company in China. The company is also known to specialize in the sale of ASIC-chip miners. Zhan is an electrical engineer by training and is the builder of the ASIC chips on the Bitmain hardware. He is an acclaimed self-made billionaire whose source of wealth is the manufacturing and sales of cryptocurrency mining chips. Zhan’s net worth is estimated at $2.7 billion, which when converted to Bitcoin is 215,692.05 BTC. Conclusion The dominant investment industry concept is evolutionary. At different eras of existence, different industries have produced different money magnates. Serial investors at the same time have found ways of aligning with the prevailing markets as the times change. With the advent of Bitcoin and blockchain technology, the digital assets ecosystem appears to be making a strong statement in the wealth sector. The number of self made billionaires within this sector is a testimony to the impact of this concept in today’s world. The top 10 richest people in the world, in Bitcoin, parades some names that can stand side-by-side with money magnates of traditional industries. With more developments likely to emerge in the crypto ecosystem, it will not be surprising to see the number of crypto-made billionaire skyrocket in the near future. https://medium.com/@4kingsocials/top-10-richest-people-in-the-world-in-bitcoin-94183268189b
BitcoinTaxes Podcast: Crypto Audits w/ Alex Kugelman
BitcoinTaxes Podcast Link TLDR; Alex Kugelman, a tax controversy lawer, discusses crypto audits and how to avoid them. Highlights: IRS audits are a real possibility for anyone who has traded cryptocurrencies. Our guest today is Alex Kugelman, a tax controversy lawyer with an abundance of knowledge concerning cryptocurrency audits. He's here to share his expertise on IRS cryptocurrency audits, including risk reduction strategies as well as enforcement predictions and misconceptions. Alex Kugelman specializes in IRS audits. His experience includes four years of Federal government court experience at the U.S. Tax Court and a U.S. District Court.[00:40] Alex: I'm an attorney out in California. I clerked for a US District Court judge and as well as the United States Tax Court. I've been in private practice exclusively doing tax controversy work for the past five years or so. I kind of got involved with crypto towards the end of 2016. I tended to represent clients mainly with compliance & disclosure issues with respect to cryptocurrency. I just really like it. Really interesting area. The Coinbase summons in 2018 played a major role in Alex's interest in crypto audits.[01:19] Alex: What started me into the crypto space was when the IRS first issued summons for Coinbase. We started getting some interesting calls regarding that. And at that time I thought to myself, this might be an interesting area. So I started following the actual summons enforcement proceeding at the District Court here in San Francisco - from there kind of worked with people under different types of compliance, including international disclosures. Now we're starting to see some of the first cryptocurrency audits come through. First, let's get a brief rundown of how IRS audits work.[02:00] Alex: It is important to understand the IRS as an administrative agency and all different layers of it. So when it comes to an audit the term that the IRS uses is an examination and there's three basic levels. The first is a correspondence exam. That's where you get a letter that says, dear taxpayer, so-and-so reported that you had $100 of interest income that wasn't on your tax return - we're going to increase your tax. If you want to challenge that, you can. And that's basically termed an under reporter notice. That's probably not going to be a cryptocurrency audit if you get that notice. The next one is an office exam. That is someone in the local IRS office sending you a letter that says, we have selected a certain tax return for audit and we're going to look at these issues. We'd like you to call us to schedule an appointment. That's going to be usually a tax compliance officer that is doing that. The third and probably the most serious level of exam is a field examination. That's also going to be a local IRS representative, typically a revenue agent. There, the revenue agent may come to your work or ask come to your work or business to kind of conduct the audit. All three of those are going to start the same: a letter that's sent to you at your most recent address provided to the IRS. Cryptocurrency audits follow a similar protocol.[05:40] Alex: I think it's likely that most crypto audits are going to start with one of two things happening. One is that there is information from the Coinbase summons that is inconsistent with what was on a taxpayer's tax return. I think for someone who's involved with that issue, they're going to have a good sense of that one because they should've gotten an email notice from Coinbase. Or two, the audit notice is going to identify older tax years - 2013, 2014 or 2015 because those are the years that the information related to. Another reason I think people will get audited is going to be because information on the return is incomplete, in the sense that the taxpayer or the cryptocurrency owner reports some transactions, without enough detail to figure out the actual cost basis. Does reporting your data in an aggregated fashion increase your chances of being audited?[06:45] Alex: I mean one - to the extent that there's going to be a lot of taxpayers - a lot of people use TurboTax, right? If that's the way TurboTax is preparing all of those returns, it would seem to me you're kind of in a herd of people like that. And at least it's consistent with what a lot of people are doing. The second part of that is going to be at least those people who have prepare the returns in that manner, they're going to, or should have, the underlying data. So even if it's an aggregate reporting of each asset class as opposed to each individual trade, if there ever were questions then you're going to have your CSV files, you're going to have your Bitcoin.tax exports, you're going to have all the information that you need to back that up. Alex is an advocate of over-reporting your information to the IRS.[09:30] Alex: I'm a big proponent of over-reporting - and I don't mean paying too much tax. I just mean including too much information. Because at some point there's kind of two ways that your returned can be flagged: a computer flags the return for some reason or there's a special unit or a person who actually flags it. At the end of the day, a human being will be looking at that return and deciding whether it actually is going to go all the way through to an audit. I want them to completely understand what's being reported, why it's been reported, and if there's too much information, that's fine - it's less likely that someone's going to have more questions. A crypto audit is very likely to be a field exam - and it's important to hire a good rep.[11:00] Alex: It's very likely going to be a field exam, which means you're going to have a revenue agent - and those are kind of the best of the best auditors for an IRS audit. And remember - an IRS audit is a civil matter. It is not criminal at this point. Again, it's unlikely that it will become criminal. It is, however, the highest level of audit you're going to get. If you're going to hire a representative, which you have every right to do, you should contact that person, let them know what's going on and probably have them interface with the auditor. You should receive, as part of the opening notice or letter, the information document request - which is identifying what things to bring for the auditor. Also, it'll tip to what topics might be important. For example the typical things you're going to see will be bank statements, financial or asset account statements, which I view as requesting exchange statements or exchange CSV files. Any documents that show the cost basis for your cryptocurrency trades. Audits are more art than science.[13:35] Alex: The auditor has a fair amount of power. So if you play real hardball - that's not going to prevent the auditor from expanding to other years. So when you get that audit notice ,and let's say that you're going to deal with this yourself, the first thing you want to kind of figure out is what are the areas that I wouldn't want to go into, and what are the areas that I don't have good records? That will help guide the way to respond or what information to pull together. The reality is, and let's just be honest here - for most people reporting cryptocurrency gains, they have all of the information. The IRS does not have much. They might have some records from Coinbase, but it's not as if they have a treasure trove of third party data. The burden is really going to be, in every audit, on the taxpayer to prove their tax return is correct. It's difficult to say how lenient the IRS will be regarding past years.[15:35] Alex: I think the way that I would look at it is that maybe the standard of of records required to really substantiate older years might be a little bit lower for older years as opposed to now because it's different now. There's a lot better information provided by some of the exchanges. There's a lot more software out there to help you, especially for people who are newer to crypto. You should have access to all your bank records. You should still have a lot of emails, reflecting on-ramping off-ramping, or other purchases. You should be able to kind of pull this all together. I can understand when we have clients who come in and are early adopters and they're missing chunks of information. So I do think that in those types of circumstances, yes, I think there would be a little bit of leniency. But I don't think if you're asking, hey, I reported my gains in 2017 but I never really did it 14, 15 or 16 - I don't think that's going to be viewed very favorably. It is possible to substantiate your data without all of your records.[19:00] Alex: I think the first thing is, I mean, outside of cryptocurrency and just generally in audits, how many people have complete records to support everything on their tax return from three years ago? Right? It's just not the reality. The best source of information in a lot of these cryptocurrency clients are the clients themselves. They kind of know what they did and they can remember. There's some who take good notes and other people don't, but as you go through and ask people: what exchanges have you've been on, what type of coins, if you bought any ICOs, have you ever sold for actual US cash, and have you ever bought goods or services? As you talk through things people tend to recall what happened. We use that information and we cross check that against bank statements, as well as CSV files, to pick out what those transactions look like. Most people have some sort of records, at least reflecting the transfer in and the transfer back out of that exchange. So you can use historical data and historical pricing information to essentially estimate what that transaction would have been. And then what we do is we provide a written statement summary of what we're doing and why we're doing it. The other big one that we see all the time - and anybody listening to this, please hear this, do not trade for your friends on your exchange accounts - because that type of commingling causes such major problems. Essentially you are walking into those taxable gains just because you're allowing someone access to the exchange to make sales. If you need representation for an audit, get representation.[23:00] Alex: My general rule is that I think experienced representatives are really important. I probably would not hire the CPA that prepared my return unless they were: one, experienced with being a representative in audits. And two, you felt comfortable that they weren't going to go in there with a conflict of interest. But I do think if you're worried about going into audit - hiring a skilled, and experienced rep is really, really important. If they're experienced with this, they should understand the appropriate ethical standards and go in there and essentially help resolve portions of the audit and move it to a resolution that you can deal with. Taxpayers actually have a lot of leverage in an audit. And that sounds crazy to say, but there is a lot of truth to that. And so as you're kind of working through the audit itself, you want to make sure that you're not just agreeing to something to be done with it. You're not agreeing to something just because you think that you'll get in more trouble or get a worse result otherwise. There are important risk-reduction strategies you can utilize to avoid a crypto audit.[28:15] Alex: The first thing that you really want to do, is just assess; for those of you that are really worried about an audit - just assess what it is you've actually done over the years. When did you start trading, what exchanges were you on, do you have records that reflect on-ramping and off-ramping? And that's going to be your bank account statements. Do you know where you've been, what exchanges you've been on? For foreign exchanges, there may not be as much of that AML & KYC compliance, but I really believe that you do have reporting requirements under FATCA for FBAR and something called an 8938, which if you listen to the podcast with Tyson, he kind of explains what that is. But it's basically if you have ownership of a foreign bank account or asset, you have certain reporting requirements, whether you've had income or not. You want to make sure you at least track when you've actually exchanged crypto for cash or vice versa. That's partly because that's one of those areas where when people can get in trouble with some sort of federal investigators - because those types of transactions can be potentially considered money laundering. For those who believe that they've used like-kind exchange rules to defer taxable gains -you should look on your tax returns to see if you filed the form 8824, which is where like kind exchanges are actually reported. That kind of goes back to the over reporting issue I was talking about before. I think that if you didn't report the actual trades that you're taking like-kind treatment for in past years, I don't know that you've actually taken like-kind treatment to be frank with you. I think, objectively, that might be viewed as just not reporting certain transactions. You want to make sure that you address these issues sooner rather than later. 1099-K forms can be misleading - to the recipient and, potentially, the auditor.[32:40] Alex: A 1099-K is actually a merchant processing third party information returns. And it really is typically associated with people who have credit card sales - so it's going to reflect a gross amount and typically on a monthly basis. It shows the gross amount and what I've seen too is that sometimes transfers actually get caught into that amount as well. So it's not even just gross sales or purchases - it may have other information. So the 1099-K can be really inflated. That's why reconciling that against accounting records is really, really important because that is one of those issues that I think could lead to an exam. To those who think crypto isn't beholden to tax laws: you are not correct.[37:38] Alex: The current commissioner of the IRS is Charles Rettig, and he's a really well known practitioner in tax controversy. I know from people that know him well, that he's actually mentioned Reddit as one of the reasons that cryptocurrency enforcement is his number one enforcement priority right now. The other person that I've seen speak a couple of times is the head of the IRS Criminal Investigation Unit. His name is Don Fort and every year he does a presentation at the National Tax Controversy and Criminal Tax Conference. The last two years cryptocurrency has been number two and number one on his list. As much as the IRS lacks the funding and the manpower that it needs for all the enforcement, the IRS CI are really, really good and they are probably best agency at dealing with cryptocurrency enforcement issues. I really think that it's gaining steam and I think once the audits from the Coinbase summons kind of get going, I think it's going to be a really scrutinized area. I think the people who have gone through the cost and the pain of disclosing and amending returns and doing everything they can will be happy that they did in a couple of years. I think the other people are going to be sweating it out - I don't know if it's ever really worth it to be honest with you. I would recommend people do their best to get in compliance. In summary: do your best to report your crypto gains and losses - and don't try to pull one over on the IRS.[42:36] Alex: For people who have potential issues with past years, one is getting a consistent record and just amending your past years, so they're consistent. For people who have the foreign account issues - let's just say, for example, had an account with Binance, and that Binance account was never reported. The IRS has disclosure programs that allow you to amend certain returns, pay the tax that you report and pay a penalty, which would be 5% of the the highest account value that you have. For people who don't want to deal with this, I think taking evasive steps is the best way to get the worst result possible. One of the things that I learned very early in dealing with audits and tax compliance, is that you can always make things worse. I think you really just want to address it and resolve the issue while you have a good opportunity. We may see criminal prosecution of some of the "big fish" tax evaders from the Coinbase summons.[46:43] Alex: Yeah, and I think the two things that I'm fairly certain we're going to see: one is we're going to see the IRS use the information provided by Coinbase to start auditing the biggest account holders from that period. I think that's very likely. Probably the second one that I would say is very likely is that you're going to see limited criminal prosecutions related to cryptocurrency. And these are going to be people that have some sort of level of notoriety, whether actually famous or maybe famous in the cryptocurrency world. That's typically how the IRS and Department of Justice uses limited resources to prosecute criminal tax tax crimes. Alex is a great guy to reach out to with any audit-related questions, crypto or otherwise.[48:50] Alex: You can go to my website: www.kugelmanlaw.com. You can email me at [email protected]. I have clients all over the country, international clients. If you need any sort of help, whether that's representing you, or at least doing the nitty gritty audit investigation, we're always willing to talk to people and help them out as best we can. If you enjoyed our podcast, be sure to check back frequently for more great discussions about a range of topics in the crypto space. If you have any questions for Alex Kugelman, or want to schedule a consultation with him, he can be reached via his website www.kugelmanlaw.com, or via email at [email protected]. If you would like to request a topic for an interview, or have any questions related to this podcast, be sure to reach out to us at [email protected].
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