A 2019 - Committee on Capital Markets Regulation

GDPR and Blockchain

GDPR and Blockchain
In these series of articles, we will be discussing the General Data Protection Regulation commonly know as GDPR, and explain its relation with Distributed Ledger Technologies such as blockchain. According to Article 8 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights on Protection of Personal Data, “Everyone has the right to the protection of personal data concerning him or her”, thus establishing data protection as one of the most important rights for EU citizens. Based on this assumption, in April 2016 the European Parliament adopted the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), urging that businesses protect the personal data and privacy of EU citizens for transactions that occur within EU member states, or even outside EU borders if transactions involve EU citizens.
The measure was considered a necessary step after a report by the RSA on privacy and security called attention to some alarming data. It emerged that out of 7,500 consumers across the UK, USA, France, Germany, and Italy, 80% said that lost banking and financial information was a top concern, while 76% stated that lost security and identity information was their major worry.
GDPR and blockchain
With the rise of blockchain technology and its cryptographic approach to personal data, which conceals information like names and addresses under a code, the need for some thorough analysis and some relevant regulation became apparent. Data protection regulation principles were designed and developed in a world that only knew a centralized data management type, while blockchain raises questions on how to apply these principles in a decentralized environment. It’s understood and accepted that the issues around the overlapping of GDPR and blockchain are not about the technology itself but how the technology is used when processing personal data. Although we developed the idea that blockchains are private and anonymous, in reality, some user information can lead back to the individual’s identity even if cryptographically secured. Therefore, since this is possible, personal data processed through a blockchain is to be considered subject to the GDPR.
Personal data includes any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person (the data subject). In the context of blockchain technology an individual’s public key would be considered their personal data and would therefore need GDPR compliance obligations. While the validity and relevance of blockchain technology in relation to GDPR are not questioned, there still exist many points of tension between the two.
What issues arise under GDPR?
We’ve seen that processing personal data in a blockchain still triggers GDPR compliance.
The two major issues involving GDPR and blockchain are:
  • The definition of Data Controllers and Data Processors when blockchain is involved;
  • The issues arising with the Right of Rectification and Right to Erasure.
What are a data controller and a data processor when a blockchain is involved?
GDPR identifies a Data Controller as “the natural or legal person, public authority, agency or other body which, alone or jointly with others, determines the purposes and means of the processing of personal data within the EU state members or when it involves an EU citizen, even if the data processing is carried out by a non-member state entity.” (Art. 4 sec 7)
In the case of a blockchain involvement, a natural person who buys or sells bitcoin on their own behalf, for instance, is not a data controller. By contrast, a natural person who trades bitcoin on behalf of professional or commercial activity, or of other natural persons, is a data controller. If a lawyer records a client’s transaction of any sort on a blockchain, the notary is a data controller. If a bank processes a client’s financial data on a blockchain, the bank is a data controller.
The data controller is the one instigating the purposes or means of data processing. He/she/they have to be identifiable so that data subjects can enforce their legal rights under EU data protection law. Blockchain’s decentralized nature replaces a central entity with a network of nodes whose consensus makes it difficult to attribute responsibility and accountability. This is where blockchain technology clashes with GDPR.

Data Protection, GDPR, and Blockchain.
Data Processors activate personal data on behalf of the controller (Art 4 sec 8 of GDPR) where data processing essentially involves any handling of personal data. Processing includes the collection, adaptation, alteration, and recording of personal data but also its simple storage.
According to the French Data Privacy Authority (CNIL), a data processor in a blockchain can be either miners or smart contract developers. For instance, a smart contract developer who processes personal data on behalf of a data controller may be a data processor. Similarly, a miner who follows the data controllers’ instructions when validating a transaction is also a data processor. CNIL mainly draws some guidelines as it has been emphasized that a case-by-case basis should be considered in the connection between the technology and GDPR, rather than the relationship being determined in a broad and general manner.
For instance, with regard to the rights of information, access, and portability it advises that they are not problematic on blockchain technology and that a transaction submitted to the blockchain contains sufficiently transparent and visible information. CNIL also views the “right of access and the right to portability as entirely compatible with blockchains’ technical properties.”
Issues arising with the Right of Rectification and Right to Erasure
The matter becomes more complicated as the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights on Protection of Personal Data provides that everyone has a right to access personal data relating to them, including a right to have such data rectified or erased.
That’s why the GDPR includes the “Right of Rectification”, that grants data subjects the right to have their data amended in case of inaccurate information; and the “Right of Erasure” (or “Right to be forgotten”) which adds the right of data subjects to obtain from a data controller and the data processor an obligation to erase their personal data.
How can something be deleted or rectified from an immutable blockchain then?
The immutability of the blockchain and the fact that it is a permanent and transparent ledger gives rise to GDPR compliance issues. As GDPR requires that personal data must not be kept longer than it is necessary for the purpose for which it is processed, this may be an issue with blockchains where the data cannot be deleted.
Not all blockchains are immutable though or subject to a predefined and permanent consensus. Permissioned (or private) blockchains, for example, allow participants to establish a governance structure where roles can be clearly defined, contractual terms satisfying GDPR requirements can be embedded, and technological solutions granting individual rights can be built into the blockchain.
With permissionless (open and public) blockchains, the most-compliant approach to these issues is to avoid storing personal data on the blockchain altogether, using for example an off-chain (append-only) data storage approach. If the data is stored off-chain, then it would be easier to process the erasure of the information. On the other hand, if the data is stored on-chain in an encrypted way, then the deletion of the encryption key could be a fair compromise. Because of the immutable nature of blockchains, the data would not be erased as such, however, it would be made inaccessible.
In essence, unless there is a blockchain rollback resorting to a hard fork, as happened with the DAO hack in 2016, open blockchain’s data cannot be deleted. The best practice would be to store all personal data “off-chain” which can then be linked back to the ledger by a hash. Through the erasure of hash functions’ private keys, editing and verifying the hashed information would no longer be possible and confidentiality would no longer be compromised.

Rather than posing a risk for individuals’ fundamental privacy rights and freedoms, blockchain technology represents a tool that grants data subjects exclusive possession and control over their personal information.
Conclusion
Without question, the EU consideration of the blockchain approach to GDPR is a further legitimization of the technology. Even though the blockchain itself may be immutable or can only be updated under specific circumstances, the requirements of GDPR may indeed still be fulfilled. It will soon become obvious that rather than posing a risk for individuals’ fundamental privacy rights and freedoms, blockchain technology represents a tool that grants data subjects exclusive possession and control over their personal information.
Furthermore, as the technology evolves, the digital ecosystem will offer a variety of peer-to-peer networks; from public distributed ledgers developed that grant unrestricted access and equal roles to everybody, to private networks developed with proprietary software that will grant access to selected participants only. Mixed private and public blockchains will provide an additional structure that could range from some nodes running a piece of the protocol to other nodes that could act as block validators.
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Why i’m bullish on Zilliqa (long read)

Edit: TL;DR added in the comments
 
Hey all, I've been researching coins since 2017 and have gone through 100s of them in the last 3 years. I got introduced to blockchain via Bitcoin of course, analyzed Ethereum thereafter and from that moment I have a keen interest in smart contact platforms. I’m passionate about Ethereum but I find Zilliqa to have a better risk-reward ratio. Especially because Zilliqa has found an elegant balance between being secure, decentralized and scalable in my opinion.
 
Below I post my analysis of why from all the coins I went through I’m most bullish on Zilliqa (yes I went through Tezos, EOS, NEO, VeChain, Harmony, Algorand, Cardano etc.). Note that this is not investment advice and although it's a thorough analysis there is obviously some bias involved. Looking forward to what you all think!
 
Fun fact: the name Zilliqa is a play on ‘silica’ silicon dioxide which means “Silicon for the high-throughput consensus computer.”
 
This post is divided into (i) Technology, (ii) Business & Partnerships, and (iii) Marketing & Community. I’ve tried to make the technology part readable for a broad audience. If you’ve ever tried understanding the inner workings of Bitcoin and Ethereum you should be able to grasp most parts. Otherwise, just skim through and once you are zoning out head to the next part.
 
Technology and some more:
 
Introduction
 
The technology is one of the main reasons why I’m so bullish on Zilliqa. First thing you see on their website is: “Zilliqa is a high-performance, high-security blockchain platform for enterprises and next-generation applications.” These are some bold statements.
 
Before we deep dive into the technology let’s take a step back in time first as they have quite the history. The initial research paper from which Zilliqa originated dates back to August 2016: Elastico: A Secure Sharding Protocol For Open Blockchains where Loi Luu (Kyber Network) is one of the co-authors. Other ideas that led to the development of what Zilliqa has become today are: Bitcoin-NG, collective signing CoSi, ByzCoin and Omniledger.
 
The technical white paper was made public in August 2017 and since then they have achieved everything stated in the white paper and also created their own open source intermediate level smart contract language called Scilla (functional programming language similar to OCaml) too.
 
Mainnet is live since the end of January 2019 with daily transaction rates growing continuously. About a week ago mainnet reached 5 million transactions, 500.000+ addresses in total along with 2400 nodes keeping the network decentralized and secure. Circulating supply is nearing 11 billion and currently only mining rewards are left. The maximum supply is 21 billion with annual inflation being 7.13% currently and will only decrease with time.
 
Zilliqa realized early on that the usage of public cryptocurrencies and smart contracts were increasing but decentralized, secure, and scalable alternatives were lacking in the crypto space. They proposed to apply sharding onto a public smart contract blockchain where the transaction rate increases almost linear with the increase in the amount of nodes. More nodes = higher transaction throughput and increased decentralization. Sharding comes in many forms and Zilliqa uses network-, transaction- and computational sharding. Network sharding opens up the possibility of using transaction- and computational sharding on top. Zilliqa does not use state sharding for now. We’ll come back to this later.
 
Before we continue dissecting how Zilliqa achieves such from a technological standpoint it’s good to keep in mind that a blockchain being decentralised and secure and scalable is still one of the main hurdles in allowing widespread usage of decentralised networks. In my opinion this needs to be solved first before blockchains can get to the point where they can create and add large scale value. So I invite you to read the next section to grasp the underlying fundamentals. Because after all these premises need to be true otherwise there isn’t a fundamental case to be bullish on Zilliqa, right?
 
Down the rabbit hole
 
How have they achieved this? Let’s define the basics first: key players on Zilliqa are the users and the miners. A user is anybody who uses the blockchain to transfer funds or run smart contracts. Miners are the (shard) nodes in the network who run the consensus protocol and get rewarded for their service in Zillings (ZIL). The mining network is divided into several smaller networks called shards, which is also referred to as ‘network sharding’. Miners subsequently are randomly assigned to a shard by another set of miners called DS (Directory Service) nodes. The regular shards process transactions and the outputs of these shards are eventually combined by the DS shard as they reach consensus on the final state. More on how these DS shards reach consensus (via pBFT) will be explained later on.
 
The Zilliqa network produces two types of blocks: DS blocks and Tx blocks. One DS Block consists of 100 Tx Blocks. And as previously mentioned there are two types of nodes concerned with reaching consensus: shard nodes and DS nodes. Becoming a shard node or DS node is being defined by the result of a PoW cycle (Ethash) at the beginning of the DS Block. All candidate mining nodes compete with each other and run the PoW (Proof-of-Work) cycle for 60 seconds and the submissions achieving the highest difficulty will be allowed on the network. And to put it in perspective: the average difficulty for one DS node is ~ 2 Th/s equaling 2.000.000 Mh/s or 55 thousand+ GeForce GTX 1070 / 8 GB GPUs at 35.4 Mh/s. Each DS Block 10 new DS nodes are allowed. And a shard node needs to provide around 8.53 GH/s currently (around 240 GTX 1070s). Dual mining ETH/ETC and ZIL is possible and can be done via mining software such as Phoenix and Claymore. There are pools and if you have large amounts of hashing power (Ethash) available you could mine solo.
 
The PoW cycle of 60 seconds is a peak performance and acts as an entry ticket to the network. The entry ticket is called a sybil resistance mechanism and makes it incredibly hard for adversaries to spawn lots of identities and manipulate the network with these identities. And after every 100 Tx Blocks which corresponds to roughly 1,5 hour this PoW process repeats. In between these 1,5 hour, no PoW needs to be done meaning Zilliqa’s energy consumption to keep the network secure is low. For more detailed information on how mining works click here.
Okay, hats off to you. You have made it this far. Before we go any deeper down the rabbit hole we first must understand why Zilliqa goes through all of the above technicalities and understand a bit more what a blockchain on a more fundamental level is. Because the core of Zilliqa’s consensus protocol relies on the usage of pBFT (practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance) we need to know more about state machines and their function. Navigate to Viewblock, a Zilliqa block explorer, and just come back to this article. We will use this site to navigate through a few concepts.
 
We have established that Zilliqa is a public and distributed blockchain. Meaning that everyone with an internet connection can send ZILs, trigger smart contracts, etc. and there is no central authority who fully controls the network. Zilliqa and other public and distributed blockchains (like Bitcoin and Ethereum) can also be defined as state machines.
 
Taking the liberty of paraphrasing examples and definitions given by Samuel Brooks’ medium article, he describes the definition of a blockchain (like Zilliqa) as: “A peer-to-peer, append-only datastore that uses consensus to synchronize cryptographically-secure data”.
 
Next, he states that: "blockchains are fundamentally systems for managing valid state transitions”. For some more context, I recommend reading the whole medium article to get a better grasp of the definitions and understanding of state machines. Nevertheless, let’s try to simplify and compile it into a single paragraph. Take traffic lights as an example: all its states (red, amber, and green) are predefined, all possible outcomes are known and it doesn’t matter if you encounter the traffic light today or tomorrow. It will still behave the same. Managing the states of a traffic light can be done by triggering a sensor on the road or pushing a button resulting in one traffic lights’ state going from green to red (via amber) and another light from red to green.
 
With public blockchains like Zilliqa, this isn’t so straightforward and simple. It started with block #1 almost 1,5 years ago and every 45 seconds or so a new block linked to the previous block is being added. Resulting in a chain of blocks with transactions in it that everyone can verify from block #1 to the current #647.000+ block. The state is ever changing and the states it can find itself in are infinite. And while the traffic light might work together in tandem with various other traffic lights, it’s rather insignificant comparing it to a public blockchain. Because Zilliqa consists of 2400 nodes who need to work together to achieve consensus on what the latest valid state is while some of these nodes may have latency or broadcast issues, drop offline or are deliberately trying to attack the network, etc.
 
Now go back to the Viewblock page take a look at the amount of transaction, addresses, block and DS height and then hit refresh. Obviously as expected you see new incremented values on one or all parameters. And how did the Zilliqa blockchain manage to transition from a previous valid state to the latest valid state? By using pBFT to reach consensus on the latest valid state.
 
After having obtained the entry ticket, miners execute pBFT to reach consensus on the ever-changing state of the blockchain. pBFT requires a series of network communication between nodes, and as such there is no GPU involved (but CPU). Resulting in the total energy consumed to keep the blockchain secure, decentralized and scalable being low.
 
pBFT stands for practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance and is an optimization on the Byzantine Fault Tolerant algorithm. To quote Blockonomi: “In the context of distributed systems, Byzantine Fault Tolerance is the ability of a distributed computer network to function as desired and correctly reach a sufficient consensus despite malicious components (nodes) of the system failing or propagating incorrect information to other peers.” Zilliqa is such a distributed computer network and depends on the honesty of the nodes (shard and DS) to reach consensus and to continuously update the state with the latest block. If pBFT is a new term for you I can highly recommend the Blockonomi article.
 
The idea of pBFT was introduced in 1999 - one of the authors even won a Turing award for it - and it is well researched and applied in various blockchains and distributed systems nowadays. If you want more advanced information than the Blockonomi link provides click here. And if you’re in between Blockonomi and the University of Singapore read the Zilliqa Design Story Part 2 dating from October 2017.
Quoting from the Zilliqa tech whitepaper: “pBFT relies upon a correct leader (which is randomly selected) to begin each phase and proceed when the sufficient majority exists. In case the leader is byzantine it can stall the entire consensus protocol. To address this challenge, pBFT offers a view change protocol to replace the byzantine leader with another one.”
 
pBFT can tolerate ⅓ of the nodes being dishonest (offline counts as Byzantine = dishonest) and the consensus protocol will function without stalling or hiccups. Once there are more than ⅓ of dishonest nodes but no more than ⅔ the network will be stalled and a view change will be triggered to elect a new DS leader. Only when more than ⅔ of the nodes are dishonest (66%) double-spend attacks become possible.
 
If the network stalls no transactions can be processed and one has to wait until a new honest leader has been elected. When the mainnet was just launched and in its early phases, view changes happened regularly. As of today the last stalling of the network - and view change being triggered - was at the end of October 2019.
 
Another benefit of using pBFT for consensus besides low energy is the immediate finality it provides. Once your transaction is included in a block and the block is added to the chain it’s done. Lastly, take a look at this article where three types of finality are being defined: probabilistic, absolute and economic finality. Zilliqa falls under the absolute finality (just like Tendermint for example). Although lengthy already we skipped through some of the inner workings from Zilliqa’s consensus: read the Zilliqa Design Story Part 3 and you will be close to having a complete picture on it. Enough about PoW, sybil resistance mechanism, pBFT, etc. Another thing we haven’t looked at yet is the amount of decentralization.
 
Decentralisation
 
Currently, there are four shards, each one of them consisting of 600 nodes. 1 shard with 600 so-called DS nodes (Directory Service - they need to achieve a higher difficulty than shard nodes) and 1800 shard nodes of which 250 are shard guards (centralized nodes controlled by the team). The amount of shard guards has been steadily declining from 1200 in January 2019 to 250 as of May 2020. On the Viewblock statistics, you can see that many of the nodes are being located in the US but those are only the (CPU parts of the) shard nodes who perform pBFT. There is no data from where the PoW sources are coming. And when the Zilliqa blockchain starts reaching its transaction capacity limit, a network upgrade needs to be executed to lift the current cap of maximum 2400 nodes to allow more nodes and formation of more shards which will allow to network to keep on scaling according to demand.
Besides shard nodes there are also seed nodes. The main role of seed nodes is to serve as direct access points (for end-users and clients) to the core Zilliqa network that validates transactions. Seed nodes consolidate transaction requests and forward these to the lookup nodes (another type of nodes) for distribution to the shards in the network. Seed nodes also maintain the entire transaction history and the global state of the blockchain which is needed to provide services such as block explorers. Seed nodes in the Zilliqa network are comparable to Infura on Ethereum.
 
The seed nodes were first only operated by Zilliqa themselves, exchanges and Viewblock. Operators of seed nodes like exchanges had no incentive to open them for the greater public. They were centralised at first. Decentralisation at the seed nodes level has been steadily rolled out since March 2020 ( Zilliqa Improvement Proposal 3 ). Currently the amount of seed nodes is being increased, they are public-facing and at the same time PoS is applied to incentivize seed node operators and make it possible for ZIL holders to stake and earn passive yields. Important distinction: seed nodes are not involved with consensus! That is still PoW as entry ticket and pBFT for the actual consensus.
 
5% of the block rewards are being assigned to seed nodes (from the beginning in 2019) and those are being used to pay out ZIL stakers. The 5% block rewards with an annual yield of 10.03% translate to roughly 610 MM ZILs in total that can be staked. Exchanges use the custodial variant of staking and wallets like Moonlet will use the non-custodial version (starting in Q3 2020). Staking is being done by sending ZILs to a smart contract created by Zilliqa and audited by Quantstamp.
 
With a high amount of DS; shard nodes and seed nodes becoming more decentralized too, Zilliqa qualifies for the label of decentralized in my opinion.
 
Smart contracts
 
Let me start by saying I’m not a developer and my programming skills are quite limited. So I‘m taking the ELI5 route (maybe 12) but if you are familiar with Javascript, Solidity or specifically OCaml please head straight to Scilla - read the docs to get a good initial grasp of how Zilliqa’s smart contract language Scilla works and if you ask yourself “why another programming language?” check this article. And if you want to play around with some sample contracts in an IDE click here. The faucet can be found here. And more information on architecture, dapp development and API can be found on the Developer Portal.
If you are more into listening and watching: check this recent webinar explaining Zilliqa and Scilla. Link is time-stamped so you’ll start right away with a platform introduction, roadmap 2020 and afterwards a proper Scilla introduction.
 
Generalized: programming languages can be divided into being ‘object-oriented’ or ‘functional’. Here is an ELI5 given by software development academy: * “all programs have two basic components, data – what the program knows – and behavior – what the program can do with that data. So object-oriented programming states that combining data and related behaviors in one place, is called “object”, which makes it easier to understand how a particular program works. On the other hand, functional programming argues that data and behavior are different things and should be separated to ensure their clarity.” *
 
Scilla is on the functional side and shares similarities with OCaml: OCaml is a general-purpose programming language with an emphasis on expressiveness and safety. It has an advanced type system that helps catch your mistakes without getting in your way. It's used in environments where a single mistake can cost millions and speed matters, is supported by an active community, and has a rich set of libraries and development tools. For all its power, OCaml is also pretty simple, which is one reason it's often used as a teaching language.
 
Scilla is blockchain agnostic, can be implemented onto other blockchains as well, is recognized by academics and won a so-called Distinguished Artifact Award award at the end of last year.
 
One of the reasons why the Zilliqa team decided to create their own programming language focused on preventing smart contract vulnerabilities is that adding logic on a blockchain, programming, means that you cannot afford to make mistakes. Otherwise, it could cost you. It’s all great and fun blockchains being immutable but updating your code because you found a bug isn’t the same as with a regular web application for example. And with smart contracts, it inherently involves cryptocurrencies in some form thus value.
 
Another difference with programming languages on a blockchain is gas. Every transaction you do on a smart contract platform like Zilliqa or Ethereum costs gas. With gas you basically pay for computational costs. Sending a ZIL from address A to address B costs 0.001 ZIL currently. Smart contracts are more complex, often involve various functions and require more gas (if gas is a new concept click here ).
 
So with Scilla, similar to Solidity, you need to make sure that “every function in your smart contract will run as expected without hitting gas limits. An improper resource analysis may lead to situations where funds may get stuck simply because a part of the smart contract code cannot be executed due to gas limits. Such constraints are not present in traditional software systems”. Scilla design story part 1
 
Some examples of smart contract issues you’d want to avoid are: leaking funds, ‘unexpected changes to critical state variables’ (example: someone other than you setting his or her address as the owner of the smart contract after creation) or simply killing a contract.
 
Scilla also allows for formal verification. Wikipedia to the rescue: In the context of hardware and software systems, formal verification is the act of proving or disproving the correctness of intended algorithms underlying a system with respect to a certain formal specification or property, using formal methods of mathematics.
 
Formal verification can be helpful in proving the correctness of systems such as: cryptographic protocols, combinational circuits, digital circuits with internal memory, and software expressed as source code.
 
Scilla is being developed hand-in-hand with formalization of its semantics and its embedding into the Coq proof assistant — a state-of-the art tool for mechanized proofs about properties of programs.”
 
Simply put, with Scilla and accompanying tooling developers can be mathematically sure and proof that the smart contract they’ve written does what he or she intends it to do.
 
Smart contract on a sharded environment and state sharding
 
There is one more topic I’d like to touch on: smart contract execution in a sharded environment (and what is the effect of state sharding). This is a complex topic. I’m not able to explain it any easier than what is posted here. But I will try to compress the post into something easy to digest.
 
Earlier on we have established that Zilliqa can process transactions in parallel due to network sharding. This is where the linear scalability comes from. We can define simple transactions: a transaction from address A to B (Category 1), a transaction where a user interacts with one smart contract (Category 2) and the most complex ones where triggering a transaction results in multiple smart contracts being involved (Category 3). The shards are able to process transactions on their own without interference of the other shards. With Category 1 transactions that is doable, with Category 2 transactions sometimes if that address is in the same shard as the smart contract but with Category 3 you definitely need communication between the shards. Solving that requires to make a set of communication rules the protocol needs to follow in order to process all transactions in a generalised fashion.
 
And this is where the downsides of state sharding comes in currently. All shards in Zilliqa have access to the complete state. Yes the state size (0.1 GB at the moment) grows and all of the nodes need to store it but it also means that they don’t need to shop around for information available on other shards. Requiring more communication and adding more complexity. Computer science knowledge and/or developer knowledge required links if you want to dig further: Scilla - language grammar Scilla - Foundations for Verifiable Decentralised Computations on a Blockchain Gas Accounting NUS x Zilliqa: Smart contract language workshop
 
Easier to follow links on programming Scilla https://learnscilla.com/home Ivan on Tech
 
Roadmap / Zilliqa 2.0
 
There is no strict defined roadmap but here are topics being worked on. And via the Zilliqa website there is also more information on the projects they are working on.
 
Business & Partnerships
 
It’s not only technology in which Zilliqa seems to be excelling as their ecosystem has been expanding and starting to grow rapidly. The project is on a mission to provide OpenFinance (OpFi) to the world and Singapore is the right place to be due to its progressive regulations and futuristic thinking. Singapore has taken a proactive approach towards cryptocurrencies by introducing the Payment Services Act 2019 (PS Act). Among other things, the PS Act will regulate intermediaries dealing with certain cryptocurrencies, with a particular focus on consumer protection and anti-money laundering. It will also provide a stable regulatory licensing and operating framework for cryptocurrency entities, effectively covering all crypto businesses and exchanges based in Singapore. According to PWC 82% of the surveyed executives in Singapore reported blockchain initiatives underway and 13% of them have already brought the initiatives live to the market. There is also an increasing list of organizations that are starting to provide digital payment services. Moreover, Singaporean blockchain developers Building Cities Beyond has recently created an innovation $15 million grant to encourage development on its ecosystem. This all suggests that Singapore tries to position itself as (one of) the leading blockchain hubs in the world.
 
Zilliqa seems to already take advantage of this and recently helped launch Hg Exchange on their platform, together with financial institutions PhillipCapital, PrimePartners and Fundnel. Hg Exchange, which is now approved by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), uses smart contracts to represent digital assets. Through Hg Exchange financial institutions worldwide can use Zilliqa's safe-by-design smart contracts to enable the trading of private equities. For example, think of companies such as Grab, Airbnb, SpaceX that are not available for public trading right now. Hg Exchange will allow investors to buy shares of private companies & unicorns and capture their value before an IPO. Anquan, the main company behind Zilliqa, has also recently announced that they became a partner and shareholder in TEN31 Bank, which is a fully regulated bank allowing for tokenization of assets and is aiming to bridge the gap between conventional banking and the blockchain world. If STOs, the tokenization of assets, and equity trading will continue to increase, then Zilliqa’s public blockchain would be the ideal candidate due to its strategic positioning, partnerships, regulatory compliance and the technology that is being built on top of it.
 
What is also very encouraging is their focus on banking the un(der)banked. They are launching a stablecoin basket starting with XSGD. As many of you know, stablecoins are currently mostly used for trading. However, Zilliqa is actively trying to broaden the use case of stablecoins. I recommend everybody to read this text that Amrit Kumar wrote (one of the co-founders). These stablecoins will be integrated in the traditional markets and bridge the gap between the crypto world and the traditional world. This could potentially revolutionize and legitimise the crypto space if retailers and companies will for example start to use stablecoins for payments or remittances, instead of it solely being used for trading.
 
Zilliqa also released their DeFi strategic roadmap (dating November 2019) which seems to be aligning well with their OpFi strategy. A non-custodial DEX is coming to Zilliqa made by Switcheo which allows cross-chain trading (atomic swaps) between ETH, EOS and ZIL based tokens. They also signed a Memorandum of Understanding for a (soon to be announced) USD stablecoin. And as Zilliqa is all about regulations and being compliant, I’m speculating on it to be a regulated USD stablecoin. Furthermore, XSGD is already created and visible on block explorer and XIDR (Indonesian Stablecoin) is also coming soon via StraitsX. Here also an overview of the Tech Stack for Financial Applications from September 2019. Further quoting Amrit Kumar on this:
 
There are two basic building blocks in DeFi/OpFi though: 1) stablecoins as you need a non-volatile currency to get access to this market and 2) a dex to be able to trade all these financial assets. The rest are built on top of these blocks.
 
So far, together with our partners and community, we have worked on developing these building blocks with XSGD as a stablecoin. We are working on bringing a USD-backed stablecoin as well. We will soon have a decentralised exchange developed by Switcheo. And with HGX going live, we are also venturing into the tokenization space. More to come in the future.”
 
Additionally, they also have this ZILHive initiative that injects capital into projects. There have been already 6 waves of various teams working on infrastructure, innovation and research, and they are not from ASEAN or Singapore only but global: see Grantees breakdown by country. Over 60 project teams from over 20 countries have contributed to Zilliqa's ecosystem. This includes individuals and teams developing wallets, explorers, developer toolkits, smart contract testing frameworks, dapps, etc. As some of you may know, Unstoppable Domains (UD) blew up when they launched on Zilliqa. UD aims to replace cryptocurrency addresses with a human-readable name and allows for uncensorable websites. Zilliqa will probably be the only one able to handle all these transactions onchain due to ability to scale and its resulting low fees which is why the UD team launched this on Zilliqa in the first place. Furthermore, Zilliqa also has a strong emphasis on security, compliance, and privacy, which is why they partnered with companies like Elliptic, ChainSecurity (part of PwC Switzerland), and Incognito. Their sister company Aqilliz (Zilliqa spelled backwards) focuses on revolutionizing the digital advertising space and is doing interesting things like using Zilliqa to track outdoor digital ads with companies like Foodpanda.
 
Zilliqa is listed on nearly all major exchanges, having several different fiat-gateways and recently have been added to Binance’s margin trading and futures trading with really good volume. They also have a very impressive team with good credentials and experience. They don't just have “tech people”. They have a mix of tech people, business people, marketeers, scientists, and more. Naturally, it's good to have a mix of people with different skill sets if you work in the crypto space.
 
Marketing & Community
 
Zilliqa has a very strong community. If you just follow their Twitter their engagement is much higher for a coin that has approximately 80k followers. They also have been ‘coin of the day’ by LunarCrush many times. LunarCrush tracks real-time cryptocurrency value and social data. According to their data, it seems Zilliqa has a more fundamental and deeper understanding of marketing and community engagement than almost all other coins. While almost all coins have been a bit frozen in the last months, Zilliqa seems to be on its own bull run. It was somewhere in the 100s a few months ago and is currently ranked #46 on CoinGecko. Their official Telegram also has over 20k people and is very active, and their community channel which is over 7k now is more active and larger than many other official channels. Their local communities also seem to be growing.
 
Moreover, their community started ‘Zillacracy’ together with the Zilliqa core team ( see www.zillacracy.com ). It’s a community-run initiative where people from all over the world are now helping with marketing and development on Zilliqa. Since its launch in February 2020 they have been doing a lot and will also run their own non-custodial seed node for staking. This seed node will also allow them to start generating revenue for them to become a self sustaining entity that could potentially scale up to become a decentralized company working in parallel with the Zilliqa core team. Comparing it to all the other smart contract platforms (e.g. Cardano, EOS, Tezos etc.) they don't seem to have started a similar initiative (correct me if I’m wrong though). This suggests in my opinion that these other smart contract platforms do not fully understand how to utilize the ‘power of the community’. This is something you cannot ‘buy with money’ and gives many projects in the space a disadvantage.
 
Zilliqa also released two social products called SocialPay and Zeeves. SocialPay allows users to earn ZILs while tweeting with a specific hashtag. They have recently used it in partnership with the Singapore Red Cross for a marketing campaign after their initial pilot program. It seems like a very valuable social product with a good use case. I can see a lot of traditional companies entering the space through this product, which they seem to suggest will happen. Tokenizing hashtags with smart contracts to get network effect is a very smart and innovative idea.
 
Regarding Zeeves, this is a tipping bot for Telegram. They already have 1000s of signups and they plan to keep upgrading it for more and more people to use it (e.g. they recently have added a quiz features). They also use it during AMAs to reward people in real-time. It’s a very smart approach to grow their communities and get familiar with ZIL. I can see this becoming very big on Telegram. This tool suggests, again, that the Zilliqa team has a deeper understanding of what the crypto space and community needs and is good at finding the right innovative tools to grow and scale.
 
To be honest, I haven’t covered everything (i’m also reaching the character limited haha). So many updates happening lately that it's hard to keep up, such as the International Monetary Fund mentioning Zilliqa in their report, custodial and non-custodial Staking, Binance Margin, Futures, Widget, entering the Indian market, and more. The Head of Marketing Colin Miles has also released this as an overview of what is coming next. And last but not least, Vitalik Buterin has been mentioning Zilliqa lately acknowledging Zilliqa and mentioning that both projects have a lot of room to grow. There is much more info of course and a good part of it has been served to you on a silver platter. I invite you to continue researching by yourself :-) And if you have any comments or questions please post here!
submitted by haveyouheardaboutit to CryptoCurrency [link] [comments]

Cryptocurrencies and Money Laundering: To What Extent They Are Actually Connected ( part 2)

Cryptocurrencies and Money Laundering: To What Extent They Are Actually Connected ( part 2)

https://preview.redd.it/rwfzet5fu2u51.jpg?width=1024&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=f27873c32c2c5435ae7ed7d51f8abf47152073bf
Cryptocurrencies are ill suited to money laundering
As a tool for money laundering, cryptocurrencies are a lot less universal and convenient than bank payments and cash.
Unlike cash transactions and bank transfers, transactions in decentralized blockchains are easily traceable. Cryptocurrencies are transparent in nature — all transactions are recorded and publicly accessible. If you can accumulate considerable volume of data, you can determine who's behind a bitcoin address used for money laundering. Besides, you cannot use the ВТС network and other cryptocurrency networks to transfer a large amount of money — such a transaction would be immediately brought to attention of law enforcement.
The experience of fighting against the Darknet (the illegal Internet) shows that states can fight against cyber crime while anonymity of cryptocurrencies is greatly exaggerated. Legal cryptocurrency platforms have demonstrated a long-standing trend of using KYC principles (provision of complete information about a user) — exchanging currencies anonymously is getting harder. Special services can connect transactions to specific users, sometimes using the blockchain technology itself to do it.
Super anonymous coins that encrypt transaction data (Monero, Dash, ZCash and others) cannot save criminals either — there are methods that can be used to break down these transactions. However, some experts state that cryptocurrency technologies evolve really fast and will soon become completely untraceable. In any case, to withdraw cryptocurrencies and turn them into fiat money, you would have to “burn” your actual bank accounts, thus reducing the entire anonymity level.
It is often mentioned that criminals use the so-called “mixers” — software and services where transactions can be run by mixing your coins and coins owned by other users to maintain confidentiality. It allows you to hide your withdrawal data and addresses, as well as your real identities. However, according to the above mentioned Chainalysis report, most users prefer to use mixers to ensure confidentiality and not to conduct illegal activity. This method is only used to launder 8 % of all money passing through.
Moreover, special services can track transactions passing through mixers which makes them suspicious by default. This is why criminals are not overenthusiastic to use them — cash and banks are more secure.
As you can see, cryptocurrencies are not all that convenient for criminals though it may seem so. They are an excessive intermediate since actual laundering requires cashing out and it's getting harder to do so anonymously by the day.
Banks are the key “laundromats” of the criminal underworld
Let's turn to the best part now. Criminals launder most money via regulated banks seen as ideal by the states. They can annually launder up to $ 2 trln. Think about it: trillions of dollars laundered through the banks.
Many of the world's biggest banks have been involved in money laundering schemes and fined for this. For instance, Wells Fargo, J. P. Morgan Chase & Co and the Bank of America, Standard Chartered and others. Last year, it turned out that Citigroup, Deutsche Bank and Raiffeisen had helped criminals launder $ 8.8 bln over a period of 7 years. It's only three bank conglomerates seen as strongholds of honesty and security. Imagine how much money has been laundered via other banks, including “shadow” banks.
In 2019, various companies around the world were fined for being involved in money laundering schemes worth of the record $ 8.14 bln. It's twice as much as in 2018. Two thirds of the fines were attributed to banks — $ 6.2 bln, and 17% — to gaming and gambling organizations. The best joke is that these fines are a drop in the ocean for the banks while money laundering cannot be undone.
According to the August report by the Mexican Finance Intelligence Unit, local criminals still prefer to launder money using conventional financial institutions, mostly banks, as well as brokerage firms and exchange companies. Seven biggest and most regulated Mexican banks that control 80 % of all assets in the national financial sector run the biggest number of transactions with black money (no specific amounts are given).
Moreover, Mexican banks have long been known to deal with activities of this kind. In 2012, one of them — HSBC — paid a record $ 1.92 bln in fines to the US authorities after the Mexican and Columbian drug cartels were caught using this bank for laundering drug-related money.
A short time ago, the international payment system SWIFT used by all of the world's banks published a report drafted in partnership with the financial research firm Bae Systems. The report noted that cryptocurrencies are rarely used for money laundering — with criminals preferring the more conventional ways. These include: using the so-called “money mules” — intermediaries who allow to use their accounts for transferring illegal money; hacking bank accounts, bribing bank officials, using shell companies and casinos.
The report also lists examples of laundering big amounts of money using cryptocurrencies while also noting that only few cases have been registered. These include use of intermediaries, prepaid crypto cards, purchase of physical assets, such as real estate or expensive cards, for cryptocurrency.
Cryptocurrencies do not launder money — they fight against money laundering
As you can see, while cryptocurrencies can be used for money laundering, they are ill suited to this purpose. Moreover, they actually work the other way around by increasing transparency, security and speed of payment transactions and giving users more independence. Coins like UMI are building an alternative financial system accessible to anyone, not a shadow market for laundering illegal money.
The fact is that today 99 % of laundered money passes through other channels, not cryptocurrencies. Criminals still prefer using fiat money for this purpose. Banking institution are their key accomplices, and the amounts of money they hide outmatches the overall capitalization of the cryptocurrency market. However, no one is threatening to prohibit banks.
At the same time, we hear all the time that cryptocurrencies should be banned or strictly regulated. Unfortunately, financial regulators and law enforcement agencies all over the world are sometimes obsessed with the idea of putting spokes in wheels for the usual people who use cryptocurrencies while also allowing bankers to launder trillions of dollars. Isn't it ironic?
UMI is fighting against this state of affairs. We're building a new, alternative and completely transparent financial system where any person on the globe can generate digital money and make instant, fast and free-of-charge payments.
To sum up, don't trust the negative publicity for cryptocurrencies Trust the facts. The negative publicity is mostly generated by people who are not happy that the existing financial system based on banks is gradually become a thing of the past while cryptocurrencies are growing rapidly. At any rate, the key point is that decentralized cryptocurrencies which belong to users from across the world cannot be banned, even from the technical point of view. Thus, there's nothing to fear and progress cannot be stopped.
Sincerely yours, UMI Team!
submitted by UMITop to u/UMITop [link] [comments]

ETHE & GBTC (Grayscale) Frequently Asked Questions

It is no doubt Grayscale’s booming popularity as a mainstream investment has caused a lot of community hullabaloo lately. As such, I felt it was worth making a FAQ regarding the topic. I’m looking to update this as needed and of course am open to suggestions / adding any questions.
The goal is simply to have a thread we can link to anyone with questions on Grayscale and its products. Instead of explaining the same thing 3 times a day, shoot those posters over to this thread. My hope is that these questions are answered in a fairly simple and easy to understand manner. I think as the sub grows it will be a nice reference point for newcomers.
Disclaimer: I do NOT work for Grayscale and as such am basing all these answers on information that can be found on their website / reports. (Grayscale’s official FAQ can be found here). I also do NOT have a finance degree, I do NOT have a Series 6 / 7 / 140-whatever, and I do NOT work with investment products for my day job. I have an accounting background and work within the finance world so I have the general ‘business’ knowledge to put it all together, but this is all info determined in my best faith effort as a layman. The point being is this --- it is possible I may explain something wrong or missed the technical terms, and if that occurs I am more than happy to update anything that can be proven incorrect
Everything below will be in reference to ETHE but will apply to GBTC as well. If those two segregate in any way, I will note that accordingly.
What is Grayscale? 
Grayscale is the company that created the ETHE product. Their website is https://grayscale.co/
What is ETHE? 
ETHE is essentially a stock that intends to loosely track the price of ETH. It does so by having each ETHE be backed by a specific amount of ETH that is held on chain. Initially, the newly minted ETHE can only be purchased by institutions and accredited investors directly from Grayscale. Once a year has passed (6 months for GBTC) it can then be listed on the OTCQX Best Market exchange for secondary trading. Once listed on OTCQX, anyone investor can purchase at this point. Additional information on ETHE can be found here.
So ETHE is an ETF? 
No. For technical reasons beyond my personal understandings it is not labeled an ETF. I know it all flows back to the “Securities Act Rule 144”, but due to my limited knowledge on SEC regulations I don’t want to misspeak past that. If anyone is more knowledgeable on the subject I am happy to input their answer here.
How long has ETHE existed? 
ETHE was formed 12/14/2017. GBTC was formed 9/25/2013.
How is ETHE created? 
The trust will issue shares to “Authorized Participants” in groups of 100 shares (called baskets). Authorized Participants are the only persons that may place orders to create these baskets and they do it on behalf of the investor.
Source: Creation and Redemption of Shares section on page 39 of the “Grayscale Ethereum Trust Annual Report (2019)” – Located Here
Note – The way their reports word this makes it sound like there is an army of authorizers doing the dirty work, but in reality there is only one Authorized Participant. At this moment the “Genesis” company is the sole Authorized Participant. Genesis is owned by the “Digital Currency Group, Inc.” which is the parent company of Grayscale as well. (And to really go down the rabbit hole it looks like DCG is the parent company of CoinDesk and is “backing 150+ companies across 30 countries, including Coinbase, Ripple, and Chainalysis.”)
Source: Digital Currency Group, Inc. informational section on page 77 of the “Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (BTC) Form 10-K (2019)” – Located Here
Source: Barry E. Silbert informational section on page 75 of the “Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (BTC) Form 10-K (2019)” – Located Here
How does Grayscale acquire the ETH to collateralize the ETHE product? 
An Investor may acquire ETHE by paying in cash or exchanging ETH already owned.
Source: Creation and Redemption of Shares section on page 40 of the “Grayscale Ethereum Trust Annual Report (2019)” – Located Here
Where does Grayscale store their ETH? Does it have a specific wallet address we can follow? 
ETH is stored with Coinbase Custody Trust Company, LLC. I am unaware of any specific address or set of addresses that can be used to verify the ETH is actually there.
As an aside - I would actually love to see if anyone knows more about this as it’s something that’s sort of peaked my interest after being asked about it… I find it doubtful we can find that however.
Source: Part C. Business Information, Item 8, subsection A. on page 16 of the “Grayscale Ethereum Trust Annual Report (2019)” – Located Here
Can ETHE be redeemed for ETH? 
No, currently there is no way to give your shares of ETHE back to Grayscale to receive ETH back. The only method of getting back into ETH would be to sell your ETHE to someone else and then use those proceeds to buy ETH yourself.
Source: Redemption Procedures on page 41 of the “Grayscale Ethereum Trust Annual Report (2019)” – Located Here
Why are they not redeeming shares? 
I think the report summarizes it best:
Redemptions of Shares are currently not permitted and the Trust is unable to redeem Shares. Subject to receipt of regulatory approval from the SEC and approval by the Sponsor in its sole discretion, the Trust may in the future operate a redemption program. Because the Trust does not believe that the SEC would, at this time, entertain an application for the waiver of rules needed in order to operate an ongoing redemption program, the Trust currently has no intention of seeking regulatory approval from the SEC to operate an ongoing redemption program.
Source: Redemption Procedures on page 41 of the “Grayscale Ethereum Trust Annual Report (2019)” – Located Here
What is the fee structure? 
ETHE has an annual fee of 2.5%. GBTC has an annual fee of 2.0%. Fees are paid by selling the underlying ETH / BTC collateralizing the asset.
Source: ETHE’s informational page on Grayscale’s website - Located Here
Source: Description of Trust on page 31 & 32 of the “Grayscale Ethereum Trust Annual Report (2019)” – Located Here
What is the ratio of ETH to ETHE? 
At the time of posting (6/19/2020) each ETHE share is backed by .09391605 ETH. Each share of GBTC is backed by .00096038 BTC.
ETHE & GBTC’s specific information page on Grayscale’s website updates the ratio daily – Located Here
For a full historical look at this ratio, it can be found on the Grayscale home page on the upper right side if you go to Tax Documents > 2019 Tax Documents > Grayscale Ethereum Trust 2019 Tax Letter.
Why is the ratio not 1:1? Why is it always decreasing? 
While I cannot say for certain why the initial distribution was not a 1:1 backing, it is more than likely to keep the price down and allow more investors a chance to purchase ETHE / GBTC.
As noted above, fees are paid by selling off the ETH collateralizing ETHE. So this number will always be trending downward as time goes on.
Source: Description of Trust on page 32 of the “Grayscale Ethereum Trust Annual Report (2019)” – Located Here
I keep hearing about how this is locked supply… explain? 
As noted above, there is currently no redemption program for converting your ETHE back into ETH. This means that once an ETHE is issued, it will remain in circulation until a redemption program is formed --- something that doesn’t seem to be too urgent for the SEC or Grayscale at the moment. Tiny amounts will naturally be removed due to fees, but the bulk of the asset is in there for good.
Knowing that ETHE cannot be taken back and destroyed at this time, the ETH collateralizing it will not be removed from the wallet for the foreseeable future. While it is not fully locked in the sense of say a totally lost key, it is not coming out any time soon.
Per their annual statement:
The Trust’s ETH will be transferred out of the ETH Account only in the following circumstances: (i) transferred to pay the Sponsor’s Fee or any Additional Trust Expenses, (ii) distributed in connection with the redemption of Baskets (subject to the Trust’s obtaining regulatory approval from the SEC to operate an ongoing redemption program and the consent of the Sponsor), (iii) sold on an as-needed basis to pay Additional Trust Expenses or (iv) sold on behalf of the Trust in the event the Trust terminates and liquidates its assets or as otherwise required by law or regulation.
Source: Description of Trust on page 31 of the “Grayscale Ethereum Trust Annual Report (2019)” – Located Here
Grayscale now owns a huge chunk of both ETH and BTC’s supply… should we be worried about manipulation, a sell off to crash the market crash, a staking cartel? 
First, it’s important to remember Grayscale is a lot more akin to an exchange then say an investment firm. Grayscale is working on behalf of its investors to create this product for investor control. Grayscale doesn’t ‘control’ the ETH it holds any more then Coinbase ‘controls’ the ETH in its hot wallet. (Note: There are likely some varying levels of control, but specific to this topic Grayscale cannot simply sell [legally, at least] the ETH by their own decision in the same manner Coinbase wouldn't be able to either.)
That said, there shouldn’t be any worry in the short to medium time-frame. As noted above, Grayscale can’t really remove ETH other than for fees or termination of the product. At 2.5% a year, fees are noise in terms of volume. Grayscale seems to be the fastest growing product in the crypto space at the moment and termination of the product seems unlikely.
IF redemptions were to happen tomorrow, it’s extremely unlikely we would see a mass exodus out of the product to redeem for ETH. And even if there was incentive to get back to ETH, the premium makes it so that it would be much more cost effective to just sell your ETHE on the secondary market and buy ETH yourself. Remember, any redemption is up to the investors and NOT something Grayscale has direct control over.
Yes, but what about [insert criminal act here]… 
Alright, yes. Technically nothing is stopping Grayscale from selling all the ETH / BTC and running off to the Bahamas (Hawaii?). BUT there is no real reason for them to do so. Barry is an extremely public figure and it won’t be easy for him to get away with that. Grayscale’s Bitcoin Trust creates SEC reports weekly / bi-weekly and I’m sure given the sentiment towards crypto is being watched carefully. Plus, Grayscale is making tons of consistent revenue and thus has little to no incentive to give that up for a quick buck.
That’s a lot of ‘happy little feels’ Bob, is there even an independent audit or is this Tether 2.0? 
Actually yes, an independent auditor report can be found in their annual reports. It is clearly aimed more towards the financial side and I doubt the auditors are crypto savants, but it is at least one extra set of eyes. Auditors are Friedman LLP – Auditor since 2015.
Source: Independent Auditor Report starting on page 116 (of the PDF itself) of the “Grayscale Ethereum Trust Annual Report (2019)” – Located Here
As mentioned by user TheCrpytosAndBloods (In Comments Below), a fun fact:
The company’s auditors Friedman LLP were also coincidentally TetheBitfinex’s auditors until They controversially parted ways in 2018 when the Tether controversy was at its height. I am not suggesting for one moment that there is anything shady about DCG - I just find it interesting it’s the same auditor.
“Grayscale sounds kind of lame” / “Not your keys not your crypto!” / “Why is anyone buying this, it sounds like a scam?” 
Welp, for starters this honestly is not really a product aimed at the people likely to be reading this post. To each their own, but do remember just because something provides no value to you doesn’t mean it can’t provide value to someone else. That said some of the advertised benefits are as follows:
So for example, I can set up an IRA at a brokerage account that has $0 trading fees. Then I can trade GBTC and ETHE all day without having to worry about tracking my taxes. All with the relative safety something like E-Trade provides over Binance.
As for how it benefits the everyday ETH holder? I think the supply lock is a positive. I also think this product exposes the Ethereum ecosystem to people who otherwise wouldn’t know about it.
Why is there a premium? Why is ETHE’s premium so insanely high compared to GBTC’s premium? 
There are a handful of theories of why a premium exists at all, some even mentioned in the annual report. The short list is as follows:
Why is ETHE’s so much higher the GBTC’s? Again, a few thoughts:

Are there any other differences between ETHE and GBTC? 
I touched on a few of the smaller differences, but one of the more interesting changes is GBTC is now a “SEC reporting company” as of January 2020. Which again goes beyond my scope of knowledge so I won’t comment on it too much… but the net result is GBTC is now putting out weekly / bi-weekly 8-K’s and annual 10-K’s. This means you can track GBTC that much easier at the moment as well as there is an extra layer of validity to the product IMO.
I’m looking for some statistics on ETHE… such as who is buying, how much is bought, etc? 
There is a great Q1 2020 report I recommend you give a read that has a lot of cool graphs and data on the product. It’s a little GBTC centric, but there is some ETHE data as well. It can be found here hidden within the 8-K filings.Q1 2020 is the 4/16/2020 8-K filing.
For those more into a GAAP style report see the 2019 annual 10-K of the same location.
Is Grayscale only just for BTC and ETH? 
No, there are other products as well. In terms of a secondary market product, ETCG is the Ethereum Classic version of ETHE. Fun Fact – ETCG was actually put out to the secondary market first. It also has a 3% fee tied to it where 1% of it goes to some type of ETC development fund.
In terms of institutional and accredited investors, there are a few ‘fan favorites’ such as Bitcoin Cash, Litcoin, Stellar, XRP, and Zcash. Something called Horizion (Backed by ZEN I guess? Idk to be honest what that is…). And a diversified Mutual Fund type fund that has a little bit of all of those. None of these products are available on the secondary market.
Are there alternatives to Grayscale? 
I know they exist, but I don’t follow them. I’ll leave this as a “to be edited” section and will add as others comment on what they know.
Per user Over-analyser (in comments below):
Coinshares (Formerly XBT provider) are the only similar product I know of. BTC, ETH, XRP and LTC as Exchange Traded Notes (ETN).
It looks like they are fully backed with the underlying crypto (no premium).
https://coinshares.com/etps/xbt-provideinvestor-resources/daily-hedging-position
Denominated in SEK and EUR. Certainly available in some UK pensions (SIPP).
As asked by pegcity - Okay so I was under the impression you can just give them your own ETH and get ETHE, but do you get 11 ETHE per ETH or do you get the market value of ETH in USD worth of ETHE? 
I have always understood that the ETHE issued directly through Grayscale is issued without the premium. As in, if I were to trade 1 ETH for ETHE I would get 11, not say only 2 or 3 because the secondary market premium is so high. And if I were paying cash only I would be paying the price to buy 1 ETH to get my 11 ETHE. Per page 39 of their annual statement, it reads as follows:
The Trust will issue Shares to Authorized Participants from time to time, but only in one or more Baskets (with a Basket being a block of 100 Shares). The Trust will not issue fractions of a Basket. The creation (and, should the Trust commence a redemption program, redemption) of Baskets will be made only in exchange for the delivery to the Trust, or the distribution by the Trust, of the number of whole and fractional ETH represented by each Basket being created (or, should the Trust commence a redemption program, redeemed), which is determined by dividing (x) the number of ETH owned by the Trust at 4:00 p.m., New York time, on the trade date of a creation or redemption order, after deducting the number of ETH representing the U.S. dollar value of accrued but unpaid fees and expenses of the Trust (converted using the ETH Index Price at such time, and carried to the eighth decimal place), by (y) the number of Shares outstanding at such time (with the quotient so obtained calculated to one one-hundred-millionth of one ETH (i.e., carried to the eighth decimal place)), and multiplying such quotient by 100 (the “Basket ETH Amount”). All questions as to the calculation of the Basket ETH Amount will be conclusively determined by the Sponsor and will be final and binding on all persons interested in the Trust. The Basket ETH Amount multiplied by the number of Baskets being created or redeemed is the “Total Basket ETH Amount.” The number of ETH represented by a Share will gradually decrease over time as the Trust’s ETH are used to pay the Trust’s expenses. Each Share represented approximately 0.0950 ETH and 0.0974 ETH as of December 31, 2019 and 2018, respectively.

submitted by Bob-Rossi to ethfinance [link] [comments]

The Travel Rule is Coming in 2021 - Here’s What You Need to Know

Link to BTCTimes: https://www.btctimes.com/news/the-travel-rule-is-coming-in-2021-here-is-what-you-need-to-know
On June 30th, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) released the outcomes of the June FATF Plenary, a report that concluded a 12-month review of cryptocurrency businesses as they prepare for the Travel Rule and its extended information sharing requirements.
The result back then: the FATF would extend the preparation period by another 12 months, allowing the industry more time to become compliant with the Travel Rule and avoid penalties.
The year-long extension did not come as a surprise: “I expect FATF to only reiterate their guideline expectations on member countries during the plenary. This will help ensure that more VASPs [virtual asset service providers] can work with greater confidence towards firm Travel Rule compliance deadlines in each country following the June plenary,” said Michael Michael Ou, CEO of CoolBitX, on June 9th, prior to the June Plenary report.
Another extension of the preparation period, however, is unlikely according to David Riegelnig, Head of Risk Management at Bitcoin Suisse AG.
“From the regulators’ point of view, they’ve granted one more year to implement the travel rule and they see that the industry is moving,” he told the BTC Times. “I expect regulations to come into effect at least mid-next year.”

What Is the FATF?

The Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (FATF) sets international standards to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing. Its primary objective is to develop and enforce FATF Recommendations, which describe a comprehensive plan for a globally coordinated effort to identify the transfer of funds for illicit purposes.

What Is the Travel Rule?

The Travel Rule was first created in the U.S. on May 28th, 1996 through the Bank Secrecy Act and was issued by the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).
The rule requires all intermediary financial institutions to share customer information with one another for fund transfers exceeding $3,000. The type of information that must be provided include the name, address, and the bank account number of the sender.
With the emergence of Bitcoin, a new, unregulated asset class has stepped into the picture and continues to draw interest from both young and established financial institutions. In light of this, the FATF is currently developing new standards for virtual asset service providers (VASPs) to comply with the Travel Rule.
On June 21st, 2019, the FATF updated the existing FATF Recommendation 16 to include the FATF Travel Rule specifically to address the challenges law enforcement faces in monitoring and identifying the use of cryptocurrency for money laundering or terrorist financing. This new Travel Rule is similar to the audit regulations of the United States’ Bank Secrecy Act, but extends the obligation to cryptocurrency transfers world-wide.

Which Cryptocurrency Companies Need to Comply With the Travel Rule?

The Travel Rule applies to businesses that exchange, transfer, or safekeep cryptocurrencies, as well as those who provide financial services related to cryptocurrencies.
“If you custody, process, or exchange crypto, you’re a VASP. But if you are a wallet software provider, you might be excluded,” David Riegelnig told the BTC Times.
But what about “decentralized” exchanges and lending protocols that facilitate transactions through smart contracts?
“FATF is increasingly thinking about this [space], especially with the recent DeFi frenzy,” Riegelnig shared. “If a smart contract is controlled by humans through admin keys, it’s very possible that they will be treated as intermediaries.”
Privacy-enhancing services such as CoinJoin providers, according to Riegelnig, likely have no reason to worry about the Travel Rule as they don’t typically control the private keys of CoinJoin participants.

What Will Change for Businesses and Customers?

With the FATF extending its review period by another 12 months, the Travel Rule is anticipated to be enforced by June 2021.
Therefore, customers of cryptocurrency businesses that operate in one of the FATF’s 39 participating member states should expect personally identifiable information to be collected and shared should they transfer cryptocurrency from one institution to another. This includes countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, China, and Japan.
However, the Travel Rule will have an impact on businesses all over the world as members may choose not to interact with those who aren’t compliant.
“It's true that FATF requirements are binding only to member states. But in reality, they are effective beyond this group. After this migration period, no transfers will be done with VASPs in countries that are ‘non-cooperative’. You can simply not risk your license for that,” Riegelnig concluded.
submitted by BlockDotCo to u/BlockDotCo [link] [comments]

The Next Crypto Wave: The Rise of Stablecoins and its Entry to the U.S. Dollar Market

The Next Crypto Wave: The Rise of Stablecoins and its Entry to the U.S. Dollar Market

Author: Christian Hsieh, CEO of Tokenomy
This paper examines some explanations for the continual global market demand for the U.S. dollar, the rise of stablecoins, and the utility and opportunities that crypto dollars can offer to both the cryptocurrency and traditional markets.
The U.S. dollar, dominant in world trade since the establishment of the 1944 Bretton Woods System, is unequivocally the world’s most demanded reserve currency. Today, more than 61% of foreign bank reserves and nearly 40% of the entire world’s debt is denominated in U.S. dollars1.
However, there is a massive supply and demand imbalance in the U.S. dollar market. On the supply side, central banks throughout the world have implemented more than a decade-long accommodative monetary policy since the 2008 global financial crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic further exacerbated the need for central banks to provide necessary liquidity and keep staggering economies moving. While the Federal Reserve leads the effort of “money printing” and stimulus programs, the current money supply still cannot meet the constant high demand for the U.S. dollar2. Let us review some of the reasons for this constant dollar demand from a few economic fundamentals.

Demand for U.S. Dollars

Firstly, most of the world’s trade is denominated in U.S. dollars. Chief Economist of the IMF, Gita Gopinath, has compiled data reflecting that the U.S. dollar’s share of invoicing was 4.7 times larger than America’s share of the value of imports, and 3.1 times its share of world exports3. The U.S. dollar is the dominant “invoicing currency” in most developing countries4.

https://preview.redd.it/d4xalwdyz8p51.png?width=535&format=png&auto=webp&s=9f0556c6aa6b29016c9b135f3279e8337dfee2a6

https://preview.redd.it/wucg40kzz8p51.png?width=653&format=png&auto=webp&s=71257fec29b43e0fc0df1bf04363717e3b52478f
This U.S. dollar preference also directly impacts the world’s debt. According to the Bank of International Settlements, there is over $67 trillion in U.S. dollar denominated debt globally, and borrowing outside of the U.S. accounted for $12.5 trillion in Q1 20205. There is an immense demand for U.S. dollars every year just to service these dollar debts. The annual U.S. dollar buying demand is easily over $1 trillion assuming the borrowing cost is at 1.5% (1 year LIBOR + 1%) per year, a conservative estimate.

https://preview.redd.it/6956j6f109p51.png?width=487&format=png&auto=webp&s=ccea257a4e9524c11df25737cac961308b542b69
Secondly, since the U.S. has a much stronger economy compared to its global peers, a higher return on investments draws U.S. dollar demand from everywhere in the world, to invest in companies both in the public and private markets. The U.S. hosts the largest stock markets in the world with more than $33 trillion in public market capitalization (combined both NYSE and NASDAQ)6. For the private market, North America’s total share is well over 60% of the $6.5 trillion global assets under management across private equity, real assets, and private debt investments7. The demand for higher quality investments extends to the fixed income market as well. As countries like Japan and Switzerland currently have negative-yielding interest rates8, fixed income investors’ quest for yield in the developed economies leads them back to the U.S. debt market. As of July 2020, there are $15 trillion worth of negative-yielding debt securities globally (see chart). In comparison, the positive, low-yielding U.S. debt remains a sound fixed income strategy for conservative investors in uncertain market conditions.

Source: Bloomberg
Last, but not least, there are many developing economies experiencing failing monetary policies, where hyperinflation has become a real national disaster. A classic example is Venezuela, where the currency Bolivar became practically worthless as the inflation rate skyrocketed to 10,000,000% in 20199. The recent Beirut port explosion in Lebanon caused a sudden economic meltdown and compounded its already troubled financial market, where inflation has soared to over 112% year on year10. For citizens living in unstable regions such as these, the only reliable store of value is the U.S. dollar. According to the Chainalysis 2020 Geography of Cryptocurrency Report, Venezuela has become one of the most active cryptocurrency trading countries11. The demand for cryptocurrency surges as a flight to safety mentality drives Venezuelans to acquire U.S. dollars to preserve savings that they might otherwise lose. The growth for cryptocurrency activities in those regions is fueled by these desperate citizens using cryptocurrencies as rails to access the U.S. dollar, on top of acquiring actual Bitcoin or other underlying crypto assets.

The Rise of Crypto Dollars

Due to the highly volatile nature of cryptocurrencies, USD stablecoin, a crypto-powered blockchain token that pegs its value to the U.S. dollar, was introduced to provide stable dollar exposure in the crypto trading sphere. Tether is the first of its kind. Issued in 2014 on the bitcoin blockchain (Omni layer protocol), under the token symbol USDT, it attempts to provide crypto traders with a stable settlement currency while they trade in and out of various crypto assets. The reason behind the stablecoin creation was to address the inefficient and burdensome aspects of having to move fiat U.S. dollars between the legacy banking system and crypto exchanges. Because one USDT is theoretically backed by one U.S. dollar, traders can use USDT to trade and settle to fiat dollars. It was not until 2017 that the majority of traders seemed to realize Tether’s intended utility and started using it widely. As of April 2019, USDT trading volume started exceeding the trading volume of bitcoina12, and it now dominates the crypto trading sphere with over $50 billion average daily trading volume13.

https://preview.redd.it/3vq7v1jg09p51.png?width=700&format=png&auto=webp&s=46f11b5f5245a8c335ccc60432873e9bad2eb1e1
An interesting aspect of USDT is that although the claimed 1:1 backing with U.S. dollar collateral is in question, and the Tether company is in reality running fractional reserves through a loose offshore corporate structure, Tether’s trading volume and adoption continues to grow rapidly14. Perhaps in comparison to fiat U.S. dollars, which is not really backed by anything, Tether still has cash equivalents in reserves and crypto traders favor its liquidity and convenience over its lack of legitimacy. For those who are concerned about Tether’s solvency, they can now purchase credit default swaps for downside protection15. On the other hand, USDC, the more compliant contender, takes a distant second spot with total coin circulation of $1.8 billion, versus USDT at $14.5 billion (at the time of publication). It is still too early to tell who is the ultimate leader in the stablecoin arena, as more and more stablecoins are launching to offer various functions and supporting mechanisms. There are three main categories of stablecoin: fiat-backed, crypto-collateralized, and non-collateralized algorithm based stablecoins. Most of these are still at an experimental phase, and readers can learn more about them here. With the continuous innovation of stablecoin development, the utility stablecoins provide in the overall crypto market will become more apparent.

Institutional Developments

In addition to trade settlement, stablecoins can be applied in many other areas. Cross-border payments and remittances is an inefficient market that desperately needs innovation. In 2020, the average cost of sending money across the world is around 7%16, and it takes days to settle. The World Bank aims to reduce remittance fees to 3% by 2030. With the implementation of blockchain technology, this cost could be further reduced close to zero.
J.P. Morgan, the largest bank in the U.S., has created an Interbank Information Network (IIN) with 416 global Institutions to transform the speed of payment flows through its own JPM Coin, another type of crypto dollar17. Although people argue that JPM Coin is not considered a cryptocurrency as it cannot trade openly on a public blockchain, it is by far the largest scale experiment with all the institutional participants trading within the “permissioned” blockchain. It might be more accurate to refer to it as the use of distributed ledger technology (DLT) instead of “blockchain” in this context. Nevertheless, we should keep in mind that as J.P. Morgan currently moves $6 trillion U.S. dollars per day18, the scale of this experiment would create a considerable impact in the international payment and remittance market if it were successful. Potentially the day will come when regulated crypto exchanges become participants of IIN, and the link between public and private crypto assets can be instantly connected, unlocking greater possibilities in blockchain applications.
Many central banks are also in talks about developing their own central bank digital currency (CBDC). Although this idea was not new, the discussion was brought to the forefront due to Facebook’s aggressive Libra project announcement in June 2019 and the public attention that followed. As of July 2020, at least 36 central banks have published some sort of CBDC framework. While each nation has a slightly different motivation behind its currency digitization initiative, ranging from payment safety, transaction efficiency, easy monetary implementation, or financial inclusion, these central banks are committed to deploying a new digital payment infrastructure. When it comes to the technical architectures, research from BIS indicates that most of the current proofs-of-concept tend to be based upon distributed ledger technology (permissioned blockchain)19.

https://preview.redd.it/lgb1f2rw19p51.png?width=700&format=png&auto=webp&s=040bb0deed0499df6bf08a072fd7c4a442a826a0
These institutional experiments are laying an essential foundation for an improved global payment infrastructure, where instant and frictionless cross-border settlements can take place with minimal costs. Of course, the interoperability of private DLT tokens and public blockchain stablecoins has yet to be explored, but the innovation with both public and private blockchain efforts could eventually merge. This was highlighted recently by the Governor of the Bank of England who stated that “stablecoins and CBDC could sit alongside each other20”. One thing for certain is that crypto dollars (or other fiat-linked digital currencies) are going to play a significant role in our future economy.

Future Opportunities

There is never a dull moment in the crypto sector. The industry narratives constantly shift as innovation continues to evolve. Twelve years since its inception, Bitcoin has evolved from an abstract subject to a familiar concept. Its role as a secured, scarce, decentralized digital store of value has continued to gain acceptance, and it is well on its way to becoming an investable asset class as a portfolio hedge against asset price inflation and fiat currency depreciation. Stablecoins have proven to be useful as proxy dollars in the crypto world, similar to how dollars are essential in the traditional world. It is only a matter of time before stablecoins or private digital tokens dominate the cross-border payments and global remittances industry.
There are no shortages of hypes and experiments that draw new participants into the crypto space, such as smart contracts, new blockchains, ICOs, tokenization of things, or the most recent trends on DeFi tokens. These projects highlight the possibilities for a much more robust digital future, but the market also needs time to test and adopt. A reliable digital payment infrastructure must be built first in order to allow these experiments to flourish.
In this paper we examined the historical background and economic reasons for the U.S. dollar’s dominance in the world, and the probable conclusion is that the demand for U.S. dollars will likely continue, especially in the middle of a global pandemic, accompanied by a worldwide economic slowdown. The current monetary system is far from perfect, but there are no better alternatives for replacement at least in the near term. Incremental improvements are being made in both the public and private sectors, and stablecoins have a definite role to play in both the traditional and the new crypto world.
Thank you.

Reference:
[1] How the US dollar became the world’s reserve currency, Investopedia
[2] The dollar is in high demand, prone to dangerous appreciation, The Economist
[3] Dollar dominance in trade and finance, Gita Gopinath
[4] Global trades dependence on dollars, The Economist & IMF working papers
[5] Total credit to non-bank borrowers by currency of denomination, BIS
[6] Biggest stock exchanges in the world, Business Insider
[7] McKinsey Global Private Market Review 2020, McKinsey & Company
[8] Central banks current interest rates, Global Rates
[9] Venezuela hyperinflation hits 10 million percent, CNBC
[10] Lebanon inflation crisis, Reuters
[11] Venezuela cryptocurrency market, Chainalysis
[12] The most used cryptocurrency isn’t Bitcoin, Bloomberg
[13] Trading volume of all crypto assets, coinmarketcap.com
[14] Tether US dollar peg is no longer credible, Forbes
[15] New crypto derivatives let you bet on (or against) Tether’s solvency, Coindesk
[16] Remittance Price Worldwide, The World Bank
[17] Interbank Information Network, J.P. Morgan
[18] Jamie Dimon interview, CBS News
[19] Rise of the central bank digital currency, BIS
[20] Speech by Andrew Bailey, 3 September 2020, Bank of England
submitted by Tokenomy to tokenomyofficial [link] [comments]

How To End The Cryptocurrency Exchange "Wild West" Without Crippling Innovation


In case you haven't noticed the consultation paper, staff notice, and report on Quadriga, regulators are now clamping down on Canadian cryptocurrency exchanges. The OSC and other regulatory bodies are still interested in industry feedback. They have not put forward any official regulation yet. Below are some ideas/insights and a proposed framework.



Many of you have limited time to read the full proposal, so here are the highlights:

Offline Multi-Signature

Effective standards to prevent both internal and external theft. Exchange operators are trained and certified, and have a legal responsibility to users.

Regular Transparent Audits

Provides visibility to Canadians that their funds are fully backed on the exchange, while protecting privacy and sensitive platform information.

Insurance Requirements

Establishment of basic insurance standards/strategy, to expand over time. Removing risk to exchange users of any hot wallet theft.


Background and Justifications


Cold Storage Custody/Management
After reviewing close to 100 cases, all thefts tend to break down into more or less the same set of problems:
• Funds stored online or in a smart contract,
• Access controlled by one person or one system,
• 51% attacks (rare),
• Funds sent to the wrong address (also rare), or
• Some combination of the above.
For the first two cases, practical solutions exist and are widely implemented on exchanges already. Offline multi-signature solutions are already industry standard. No cases studied found an external theft or exit scam involving an offline multi-signature wallet implementation. Security can be further improved through minimum numbers of signatories, background checks, providing autonomy and legal protections to each signatory, establishing best practices, and a training/certification program.
The last two transaction risks occur more rarely, and have never resulted in a loss affecting the actual users of the exchange. In all cases to date where operators made the mistake, they've been fully covered by the exchange platforms.
• 51% attacks generally only occur on blockchains with less security. The most prominent cases have been Bitcoin Gold and Ethereum Classic. The simple solution is to enforce deposit limits and block delays such that a 51% attack is not cost-effective.
• The risk of transactions to incorrect addresses can be eliminated by a simple test transaction policy on large transactions. By sending a small amount of funds prior to any large withdrawals/transfers as a standard practice, the accuracy of the wallet address can be validated.
The proposal covers all loss cases and goes beyond, while avoiding significant additional costs, risks, and limitations which may be associated with other frameworks like SOC II.

On The Subject of Third Party Custodians
Many Canadian platforms are currently experimenting with third party custody. From the standpoint of the exchange operator, they can liberate themselves from some responsibility of custody, passing that off to someone else. For regulators, it puts crypto in similar categorization to oil, gold, and other commodities, with some common standards. Platform users would likely feel greater confidence if the custodian was a brand they recognized. If the custodian was knowledgeable and had a decent team that employed multi-sig, they could keep assets safe from internal theft. With the right protections in place, this could be a great solution for many exchanges, particularly those that lack the relevant experience or human resources for their own custody systems.
However, this system is vulnerable to anyone able to impersonate the exchange operators. You may have a situation where different employees who don't know each other that well are interacting between different companies (both the custodian and all their customers which presumably isn't just one exchange). A case study of what can go wrong in this type of environment might be Bitpay, where the CEO was tricked out of 5000 bitcoins over 3 separate payments by a series of emails sent legitimately from a breached computer of another company CEO. It's also still vulnerable to the platform being compromised, as in the really large $70M Bitfinex hack, where the third party Bitgo held one key in a multi-sig wallet. The hacker simply authorized the withdrawal using the same credentials as Bitfinex (requesting Bitgo to sign multiple withdrawal transactions). This succeeded even with the use of multi-sig and two heavily security-focused companies, due to the lack of human oversight (basically, hot wallet). Of course, you can learn from these cases and improve the security, but so can hackers improve their deception and at the end of the day, both of these would have been stopped by the much simpler solution of a qualified team who knew each other and employed multi-sig with properly protected keys. It's pretty hard to beat a human being who knows the business and the typical customer behaviour (or even knows their customers personally) at spotting fraud, and the proposed multi-sig means any hacker has to get through the scrutiny of 3 (or more) separate people, all of whom would have proper training including historical case studies.
There are strong arguments both for and against using use of third party custodians. The proposal sets mandatory minimum custody standards would apply regardless if the cold wallet signatories are exchange operators, independent custodians, or a mix of both.

On The Subject Of Insurance
ShakePay has taken the first steps into this new realm (congratulations). There is no question that crypto users could be better protected by the right insurance policies, and it certainly feels better to transact with insured platforms. The steps required to obtain insurance generally place attention in valuable security areas, and in this case included a review from CipherTrace. One of the key solutions in traditional finance comes from insurance from entities such as the CDIC.
However, historically, there wasn't found any actual insurance payout to any cryptocurrency exchange, and there are notable cases where insurance has not paid. With Bitpay, for example, the insurance agent refused because the issue happened to the third party CEO's computer instead of anything to do with Bitpay itself. With the Youbit exchange in South Korea, their insurance claim was denied, and the exchange ultimately ended up instead going bankrupt with all user's funds lost. To quote Matt Johnson in the original Lloyd's article: “You can create an insurance policy that protects no one – you know there are so many caveats to the policy that it’s not super protective.”
ShakePay's insurance was only reported to cover their cold storage, and “physical theft of the media where the private keys are held”. Physical theft has never, in the history of cryptocurrency exchange cases reviewed, been reported as the cause of loss. From the limited information of the article, ShakePay made it clear their funds are in the hands of a single US custodian, and at least part of their security strategy is to "decline[] to confirm the custodian’s name on the record". While this prevents scrutiny of the custodian, it's pretty silly to speculate that a reasonably competent hacking group couldn't determine who the custodian is. A far more common infiltration strategy historically would be social engineering, which has succeeded repeatedly. A hacker could trick their way into ShakePay's systems and request a fraudulent withdrawal, impersonate ShakePay and request the custodian to move funds, or socially engineer their way into the custodian to initiate the withdrawal of multiple accounts (a payout much larger than ShakePay) exploiting the standard procedures (for example, fraudulently initiating or override the wallet addresses of a real transfer). In each case, nothing was physically stolen and the loss is therefore not covered by insurance.
In order for any insurance to be effective, clear policies have to be established about what needs to be covered. Anything short of that gives Canadians false confidence that they are protected when they aren't in any meaningful way. At this time, the third party insurance market does not appear to provide adequate options or coverage, and effort is necessary to standardize custody standards, which is a likely first step in ultimately setting up an insurance framework.
A better solution compared to third party insurance providers might be for Canadian exchange operators to create their own collective insurance fund, or a specific federal organization similar to the CDIC. Such an organization would have a greater interest or obligation in paying out actual cases, and that would be it's purpose rather than maximizing it's own profit. This would be similar to the SAFU which Binance has launched, except it would cover multiple exchanges. There is little question whether the SAFU would pay out given a breach of Binance, and a similar argument could be made for a insurance fund managed by a collective of exchange operators or a government organization. While a third party insurance provider has the strong market incentive to provide the absolute minimum coverage and no market incentive to payout, an entity managed by exchange operators would have incentive to protect the reputation of exchange operators/the industry, and the government should have the interest of protecting Canadians.

On The Subject of Fractional Reserve
There is a long history of fractional reserve failures, from the first banks in ancient times, through the great depression (where hundreds of fractional reserve banks failed), right through to the 2008 banking collapse referenced in the first bitcoin block. The fractional reserve system allows banks to multiply the money supply far beyond the actual cash (or other assets) in existence, backed only by a system of debt obligations of others. Safely supporting a fractional reserve system is a topic of far greater complexity than can be addressed by a simple policy, and when it comes to cryptocurrency, there is presently no entity reasonably able to bail anyone out in the event of failure. Therefore, this framework is addressed around entities that aim to maintain 100% backing of funds.
There may be some firms that desire but have failed to maintain 100% backing. In this case, there are multiple solutions, including outside investment, merging with other exchanges, or enforcing a gradual restoration plan. All of these solutions are typically far better than shutting down the exchange, and there are multiple cases where they've been used successfully in the past.

Proof of Reserves/Transparency/Accountability
Canadians need to have visibility into the backing on an ongoing basis.
The best solution for crypto-assets is a Proof of Reserve. Such ideas go back all the way to 2013, before even Mt. Gox. However, no Canadian exchange has yet implemented such a system, and only a few international exchanges (CoinFloor in the UK being an example) have. Many firms like Kraken, BitBuy, and now ShakePay use the Proof of Reserve term to refer to lesser proofs which do not actually cryptographically prove the full backing of all user assets on the blockchain. In order for a Proof of Reserve to be effective, it must actually be a complete proof, and it needs to be understood by the public that is expected to use it. Many firms have expressed reservations about the level of transparency required in a complete Proof of Reserve (for example Kraken here). While a complete Proof of Reserves should be encouraged, and there are some solutions in the works (ie TxQuick), this is unlikely to be suitable universally for all exchange operators and users.
Given the limitations, and that firms also manage fiat assets, a more traditional audit process makes more sense. Some Canadian exchanges (CoinSquare, CoinBerry) have already subjected themselves to annual audits. However, these results are not presently shared publicly, and there is no guarantee over the process including all user assets or the integrity and independence of the auditor. The auditor has been typically not known, and in some cases, the identity of the auditor is protected by a NDA. Only in one case (BitBuy) was an actual report generated and publicly shared. There has been no attempt made to validate that user accounts provided during these audits have been complete or accurate. A fraudulent fractional exchange, or one which had suffered a breach they were unwilling to publicly accept (see CoinBene), could easily maintain a second set of books for auditors or simply exclude key accounts to pass an individual audit.
The proposed solution would see a reporting standard which includes at a minimum - percentage of backing for each asset relative to account balances and the nature of how those assets are stored, with ownership proven by the auditor. The auditor would also publicly provide a "hash list", which they independently generate from the accounts provided by the exchange. Every exchange user can then check their information against this public "hash list". A hash is a one-way form of encryption, which fully protects the private information, yet allows anyone who knows that information already to validate that it was included. Less experienced users can take advantage of public tools to calculate the hash from their information (provided by the exchange), and thus have certainty that the auditor received their full balance information. Easy instructions can be provided.
Auditors should be impartial, their identities and process public, and they should be rotated so that the same auditor is never used twice in a row. Balancing the cost of auditing against the needs for regular updates, a 6 month cycle likely makes the most sense.

Hot Wallet Management
The best solution for hot wallets is not to use them. CoinBerry reportedly uses multi-sig on all withdrawals, and Bitmex is an international example known for their structure devoid of hot wallets.
However, many platforms and customers desire fast withdrawal processes, and human validation has a cost of time and delay in this process.
A model of self-insurance or separate funds for hot wallets may be used in these cases. Under this model, a platform still has 100% of their client balance in cold storage and holds additional funds in hot wallets for quick withdrawal. Thus, the risk of those hot wallets is 100% on exchange operators and not affecting the exchange users. Since most platforms typically only have 1%-5% in hot wallets at any given time, it shouldn't be unreasonable to build/maintain these additional reserves over time using exchange fees or additional investment. Larger withdrawals would still be handled at regular intervals from the cold storage.
Hot wallet risks have historically posed a large risk and there is no established standard to guarantee secure hot wallets. When the government of South Korea dispatched security inspections to multiple exchanges, the results were still that 3 of them got hacked after the inspections. If standards develop such that an organization in the market is willing to insure the hot wallets, this could provide an acceptable alternative. Another option may be for multiple exchange operators to pool funds aside for a hot wallet insurance fund. Comprehensive coverage standards must be established and maintained for all hot wallet balances to make sure Canadians are adequately protected.

Current Draft Proposal

(1) Proper multi-signature cold wallet storage.
(a) Each private key is the personal and legal responsibility of one person - the “signatory”. Signatories have special rights and responsibilities to protect user assets. Signatories are trained and certified through a course covering (1) past hacking and fraud cases, (2) proper and secure key generation, and (3) proper safekeeping of private keys. All private keys must be generated and stored 100% offline by the signatory. If even one private keys is ever breached or suspected to be breached, the wallet must be regenerated and all funds relocated to a new wallet.
(b) All signatories must be separate background-checked individuals free of past criminal conviction. Canadians should have a right to know who holds their funds. All signing of transactions must take place with all signatories on Canadian soil or on the soil of a country with a solid legal system which agrees to uphold and support these rules (from an established white-list of countries which expands over time).
(c) 3-5 independent signatures are required for any withdrawal. There must be 1-3 spare signatories, and a maximum of 7 total signatories. The following are all valid combinations: 3of4, 3of5, 3of6, 4of5, 4of6, 4of7, 5of6, or 5of7.
(d) A security audit should be conducted to validate the cold wallet is set up correctly and provide any additional pertinent information. The primary purpose is to ensure that all signatories are acting independently and using best practices for private key storage. A report summarizing all steps taken and who did the audit will be made public. Canadians must be able to validate the right measures are in place to protect their funds.
(e) There is a simple approval process if signatories wish to visit any country outside Canada, with a potential whitelist of exempt countries. At most 2 signatories can be outside of aligned jurisdiction at any given time. All exchanges would be required to keep a compliant cold wallet for Canadian funds and have a Canadian office if they wish to serve Canadian customers.
(2) Regular and transparent solvency audits.
(a) An audit must be conducted at founding, after 3 months of operation, and at least once every 6 months to compare customer balances against all stored cryptocurrency and fiat balances. The auditor must be known, independent, and never the same twice in a row.
(b) An audit report will be published featuring the steps conducted in a readable format. This should be made available to all Canadians on the exchange website and on a government website. The report must include what percentage of each customer asset is backed on the exchange, and how those funds are stored.
(c) The auditor will independently produce a hash of each customer's identifying information and balance as they perform the audit. This will be made publicly available on the exchange and government website, along with simplified instructions that each customer can use to verify that their balance was included in the audit process.
(d) The audit needs to include a proof of ownership for any cryptocurrency wallets included. A satoshi test (spending a small amount) or partially signed transaction both qualify.
(e) Any platform without 100% reserves should be assessed on a regular basis by a government or industry watchdog. This entity should work to prevent any further drop, support any private investor to come in, or facilitate a merger so that 100% backing can be obtained as soon as possible.
(3) Protections for hot wallets and transactions.
(a) A standardized list of approved coins and procedures will be established to constitute valid cold storage wallets. Where a multi-sig process is not natively available, efforts will be undertaken to establish a suitable and stable smart contract standard. This list will be expanded and improved over time. Coins and procedures not on the list are considered hot wallets.
(b) Hot wallets can be backed by additional funds in cold storage or an acceptable third-party insurance provider with a comprehensive coverage policy.
(c) Exchanges are required to cover the full balance of all user funds as denominated in the same currency, or double the balance as denominated in bitcoin or CAD using an established trading rate. If the balance is ever insufficient due to market movements, the firm must rectify this within 24 hours by moving assets to cold storage or increasing insurance coverage.
(d) Any large transactions (above a set threshold) from cold storage to any new wallet addresses (not previously transacted with) must be tested with a smaller transaction first. Deposits of cryptocurrency must be limited to prevent economic 51% attacks. Any issues are to be covered by the exchange.
(e) Exchange platforms must provide suitable authentication for users, including making available approved forms of two-factor authentication. SMS-based authentication is not to be supported. Withdrawals must be blocked for 48 hours in the event of any account password change. Disputes on the negligence of exchanges should be governed by case law.

Steps Forward

Continued review of existing OSC feedback is still underway. More feedback and opinions on the framework and ideas as presented here are extremely valuable. The above is a draft and not finalized.
The process of further developing and bringing a suitable framework to protect Canadians will require the support of exchange operators, legal experts, and many others in the community. The costs of not doing such are tremendous. A large and convoluted framework, one based on flawed ideas or implementation, or one which fails to properly safeguard Canadians is not just extremely expensive and risky for all Canadians, severely limiting to the credibility and reputation of the industry, but an existential risk to many exchanges.
The responsibility falls to all of us to provide our insight and make our opinions heard on this critical matter. Please take the time to give your thoughts.
submitted by azoundria2 to QuadrigaInitiative [link] [comments]

Stablecoins Are Not as Safe as You Think. How Your USDT, PAX, BUSD Get Frozen in a Moment

Stablecoins Are Not as Safe as You Think. How Your USDT, PAX, BUSD Get Frozen in a Moment
Being created on the basis of blockchain, stablecoins were considered to be a safe haven for investors… until recently. Why is their immunity elusive and how does the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) plan to control them?
Established in 1989 by the G7, the FATF inter-governmental organization develops policies to resist money laundering and financing of terrorism. It sets standards and implements legal and regulatory measures to combat illegal financial transactions.
They developed recommendations for the monitoring of money laundering and keep revising them regularly. In case of non-compliance, law enforcement is executed via regional financial organizations. As of 2019, there are 39 full members of FATF, including the USA, UK, Australia, most EU countries, Singapore, India and the Russian Federation.
Since 1st July, the FATF organization has been headed by Marcus Pleyer. During the last FATF meeting, the new president expressed his concerns about global stablecoins and organizations that issue them. Although the organization had already dealt with these cryptocurrencies, it highlighted that, “it is essential to continue closely monitoring the ML/TF risks of so-called stablecoins, including anonymous peer-to-peer transactions via unhosted wallets”.
Is it ever possible to control crypto wallets that are not hosted on online exchanges? – you’d ask. We’re used to the fact that cryptocurrencies are outside the reach of banks and governments. However, when it comes to stablecoins, things are different.

It’s in the code

What makes stablecoins special is that they are pegging to fiat currency, for example, 1 TUSD = $1 USD. This means that such assets should be backed up by real money stored in the bank accounts of the issuing organization. Consequently, stablecoin creators need to comply with the requirements of the SEC, FATF and other controlling agencies, if they are to operate in the cryptocurrency sphere and be authorised to sell stablecoins. Transparent reports are not the only requirement, stablecoins must also provide the possibility of account blocking.
Surprisingly, this feature is implemented in each stablecoin. The experts from QDAO DeFi are covering several stablecoin protocols that enable this function.

OMNI-based USDT

Issued by Tether Limited, USDT is a stablecoin that was originally created to be worth $1 with each token backed by a $1 real fiat reserve. The currency was successfully promoted and added to major cryptocurrency exchanges but stayed a controversial asset. Despite the claims of Tether Limited, they failed to provide any contractual right or other legal claims to guarantee that USDT can be swapped for dollars or be redeemed.
In April 2019, Tether’s lawyers explained that each USDT was backed by only $0.74 in cash or equivalent assets. No audit of dollar collateral was done. A month before that, it changed the backing to include loans to affiliate companies. The scandal also involved the Bitfinex exchange that was accused of using USDT funds to cover $850 million in funds lost since 2018. They were also accused of manipulating USDT to push the BTC price.
Tether is available on five blockchains: Omni, Ehereum, EOS, Tron and Liquid. Only the latter does not have a freezing feature. Omni was the first protocol for USDT. Blocking of users’ accounts is possible, thanks to the following piece of code:

https://preview.redd.it/uqho45l33om51.png?width=690&format=png&auto=webp&s=c0feebdae086b0deeccde05278eaf3cc760f9e2b
Apparently, it’s used to blacklist addresses and contracts.

PAX

The concerns about PAX were centered around the notorious MMM BSC Ponzi scheme. Before the widespread adoption of DeFi services, it was the second-largest gas consumer after Ethereum. Out of 25,000 daily transactions, 5,000 were performed by MMM BSC. It was reported to be a scam but none of the accounts were frozen. Does it mean PAX lacked the resources to regulate illicit activities?
Evidently, not. The protocol code has a LAW ENFORCEMENT FUNCTIONALITY function that allows for the freezing/unfreezing of contracts or burning assets on blacklisted accounts. It turns out, anyone risks having their PAX coins destroyed during an investigation process while their accounts stay blocked.

History of frozen accounts

In 2019, the ZCash Foundation and Eric Wall conducted research on the privacy of stablecoins and revealed several frozen addresses. It’s not clear why exactly they were blocked. Most probably, it happened shortly after the exchange withdrawal – users took this action after witnessing platforms being hacked.

https://preview.redd.it/pkbruqm83om51.png?width=838&format=png&auto=webp&s=b068c5b8c5e5439892eaf5feefa3fbc93c694c8c
USDT was implicated at least twice in scandals to do with freezing. In April 2019, about $850 million in Tether dollars sent by Crypto Capital Corp. were frozen by a New York court. Tether and Btfinex were accused of participating in a cover-up to hide about $850 million worth in clients’ funds. By July 2020, Tether had frozen 40 Ethereum addresses with millions of USDT (some of them are shown in the screenshot above).
The Centre Consortium was the next to follow their lead; about a month ago, it blacklisted an address with USDC worth $100,000. That was done in response to law enforcement.
Yet, it’s not only Europe and the USA imposing control over cryptocurrencies. Since June 2020, the Chinese government managed to block several thousands of users’ bank accounts. It was done to resist illicit activities, especially money laundering. On some of those accounts, no activity had been detected for several months. Meanwhile, prior to April 2020, Chinese residents moved over $50 billion worth of crypto outside the country borders – more than is officially allowed (a maximum of $50,000 per person).
The authorities claim that USDT and other stablecoins are often used in illegal activities. Together with the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), they are developing new ways of investigating digital crimes and money laundering operations involving exchanges and crypto wallets. Local financial bureaus and police are working tight-lipped about investigating startups and crypto exchanges. And they are succeeding at it.
In July 2020, Chinese authorities confiscated BTC, ETH and USDT worth $15 million from people who allegedly ran a fake cryptocurrency scheme.
By the way, not only corporate accounts are being closed. One investor claims his account had been frozen after using yuan to purchase crypto. Also, users who transfer illegally obtained money outside of the mainland in large amounts are under suspicion. Does it mean the Chinese government has started tightening the screws on cryptocurrency users?

DAI, USDT on Liquid and USDQ are the main options for stablecoin deposits

So, where can you store your crypto assets? USDT on Liquid and DAI are not the only solutions available. Consider making a deposit in USDQ, the stablecoin of the QDAO ecosystem. Like other stablecoins, it’s 1-to-1 pegged to USD. However, it cannot be frozen by a government, financial organization or anyone from the QDAO team. You can check it yourself by reading our Smart contract and USDQ Audit.
In QDAO, users’ accounts are never frozen by a single person – all account issues are solved by the entire QDAO community, with the help of a QDAO governance token.
In case of blocking (the chances of which are almost non-existent), you can address the QDAO community and get timely help.

Bottom Line

With FATF taking this new course of action, we might witness serious pressure on stablecoin providers. Some projects will resist it, but it’s still not safe to store your assets in popular stablecoins, especially USDT. Your account can be frozen by authorities for dozens of reasons without the possibility of retrieval.
Yet, there are a number of reliable alternatives and USDQ stablecoin is one of them. QDAO DeFi platform users feel free to manage their crypto reserves and make profitable deposits.
Want to be the first to hear QDAO DeFi news and updates? Visit our website and stay in touch with us on social media: Twitter, Facebook, Telegram and LINE (for the Japanese-speaking community).
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Why are Visa, Mastercard and PayPal ready to integrate crypto payments?

Why are Visa, Mastercard and PayPal ready to integrate crypto payments?

Why are Visa, Mastercard and PayPal ready to integrate crypto payments?
In the past few months, payment giants Visa, Mastercard and PayPal have radically changed their attitude towards cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology, announcing their intention to integrate crypto payments into their systems. It is about the process of global adoption of crypto-innovation in the world of traditional finance.

Visa experience

On March 16, 2018, Visa CFO Vasant Prabhu criticized cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin, stressing that these assets are a bubble. Then Bitcoin was worth $8,300.
On July 22 of this year, when the first cryptocurrency rose to $9,360, a message appeared on the official Visa blog with a completely different message entitled “Developing our approach to digital currency.” In this post, the company revealed that its partnership with two regulated crypto platforms, Coinbase and Fold, is part of a corporate strategy to integrate digital currencies into its payment system, reaching 61 million retailers. In its message, the company highlighted the importance of stablecoins, which “have stepped outside the fintech sphere,” and now include a number of financial institutions and central banks in their ecosystem.
From the message of the payment giant it became known that “more than 25 digital wallets have linked their services to Visa.” Visa also noted that these 25 crypto service providers will be able to leverage the payment giant’s full range of capabilities, including the Visa Direct option and the FastTrack platform. It is worth noting that the corporation also supported financially the company Anchorage, which is studying the issues of cybersecurity of cryptocurrency ecosystems. Visa says the company’s main goal is “to continue to do what we do best: develop our system, supporting new forms of commerce.”
On July 28, at a meeting with investors, in which Vasant Prabhu took part, it was said in detail that Visa sees great potential for its own development in the growing popularity of e-commerce and digital payments. It was also mentioned about the corporate payment system Visa B2B Connect, which is designed to perform international financial transfers without the help of the usually slow correspondent banking network.

Mastercard experience

A similar evolution is taking place before our eyes with Visa’s competitor — Mastercard payment system.
So, on July 26, 2018, the CEO of Mastercard, Ajay Banga, compared cryptocurrencies to things that are thrown into the trash. However, two years later, the payment corporation has largely changed its approach to cryptocurrencies. On July 20, it became known that Mastercard has signed an agreement with the Wirex cryptocurrency company. This financial startup allows you to buy and sell cryptocurrencies for fiat money. Since last month, Wirex has become a member of the Mastercard ecosystem with the right to independently issue cards from this payment giant. We will remind that earlier, in February of this year, a similar decision was made by the Visa corporation in relation to the Coinbase crypto exchange.
Moreover, Mastercard intends to launch a special program to support other crypto companies. As Raj Damodaran, Executive Vice President of Digital Assets, Blockchain Products and Partnerships, Mastercard explained, “The crypto market continues to evolve, and the corporation is helping to advance it by providing reliable and secure services for individuals and companies in the modern digital economy.

PayPal experience

Another payment giant, PayPal, has long been silent about any intention to integrate cryptocurrencies into its structure. However, on July 14, a letter from the corporation to officials of the European Commission was published in the media, where PayPal admitted that it is actively developing applications using cryptocurrencies.
The number of PayPal users worldwide exceeds 300 million people, and the company operates in Europe thanks to its banking and payment services license obtained in Luxembourg. In total, the PayPal payment service is represented in 31 European countries, where the company serves 95 million merchants and retail consumers. It is worth noting that PayPal, along with Visa and Mastercard, was previously part of the Swiss Libra Association, which is implementing Facebook’s crypto project to launch the Libra stablecoin.
The fact that PayPal is developing a roadmap for integrating its own payment crypto services is also clearly demonstrated by the announcement of the recruitment of members of the blockchain technology research team, which requires a senior research engineer. This specialist will be responsible for “development, creation and maintenance of key crypto products / services that will be focused on increasing the efficiency and scale of services provided by PayPal.” Information about the open vacancy appeared at the end of June.
PayPal does not deny its interest in the cryptosphere, but has not yet confirmed information about the development of certain crypto applications or services, for example, based on the Venmo mobile application, which is affiliated with the payment giant.

Who will be the leader in this race?

Nevertheless, crypto market players themselves are actively looking for ways to integrate with PayPal. This is illustrated by the example of blockchain company Pundi X, which integrated PayPal support for its Xpos merchant device on July 1.
Another player in the crypto industry, the fintech company Ripple, has not only supported the classic payment operator MoneyGram by buying 10% of its share capital and investing a total of $50 million, but continues to invest in the integration of cryptocurrencies into this service. Following the results of the second quarter, Ripple transferred $15.1 million to MoneyGram. It is curious that in June another payment operator, Western Union, became interested in the innovative successes of MoneyGram, which is considering buying a competitor. It is worth noting that back in January this year, experts from Credit Suisse Bank published a report in which they noted Western Union’s interest in blockchain technology and Ripple’s payment innovations.
The competition for the integration of cryptocurrencies into the services of payment operators is becoming more and more intense. And one of the main participants in this race was the People’s Bank of China with a digital yuan project. At the same time, in January, even before the aggravation of relations between the United States and China, American PayPal became the first foreign payment operator to officially enter the Chinese market after acquiring a local player GoPay.

The next development step is neobanks

Meanwhile, a number of fintech startups are engaged in the integration of cryptocurrencies into financial services, which can potentially challenge all of the above organizations, including the People’s Bank of China with its digital yuan.
Jack Dorsey’s Square company was able to receive revenue from operations with bitcoins in the amount of $306 million in the first quarter of this year. This cryptocurrency service was launched back in 2018, but only in 2020 saw a significant increase in financial indicators. At the same time, since March, through the Square Financial Services division, Jack Dorsey’s company has been able to provide services as a digital bank.
Another fintech giant, Revolut US, with the support of crypto company Paxos, began offering cryptocurrency trading services in all US states on July 15, with the exception of Tennessee. Curiously, traditional financial service providers are also interested in a new partnership with the cryptocurrency “unicorn”. So, on June 20, the international company Revolut announced that it was integrating American Express services for its customers.
In the case of Square, Robinhood and Revolut, this is not just about trading services, which are provided by various crypto exchanges. After all, all these companies are de facto neobanks — digital financial organizations that have every opportunity to integrate cryptocurrencies into their services, thanks to various partnerships. And the range of possibilities of such neobanks is much higher than that of traditional payment giants.
That is why in the near future we will witness how Visa, Mastercard and PayPal will actively explore the possibilities of buying or investing in a ready-made cryptocurrency infrastructure. These corporations are entering the crypto world, as it is increasingly becoming a matter of their survival in the rapidly changing global financial system.
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Fall of cryptocurrencies, rise of e-fiat currency?

Cryptocurrencies have been riding on some pretty rocky terrain lately and it remains to be seen what will happen should the first central bank-issued digital currency be launched. In fact, Sweden has voiced its desire to release a national digital currency in the next couple of years. Given the country’s gradual decline in cash usage, the Riksbank – Sweden’s central bank – is exploring this scenario. The e-krona, as they are expecting to call it, is being imagined as a tool that will play the same role as the tangible krona today: a currency that is independent of intermediaries, accessible to every citizen and usable for any type of payment regardless of its value.
Sweden is not the only country that has been looking into the possibility of launching a digital version of the national currency. The Bank of England, the Bank of Canada and the Bank of Israel have all set up working groups to better understand the implications of such a project and to evaluate the utility and need. Although they are all still at an exploratory stage, this could eventually come as a blow to cryptocurrencies around the globe in an age where ICOs (Initial Coin Offerings) seem to be the hottest product on the market.
Bitcoin has certainly been facing some difficulties in the past week after South Korea announced the possibility of shutting down all cryptocurrency exchanges – news that caused Bitcoin’s value to plummet by 25%. A final decision is expected to be released today on their fate in the country that is to host this year’s winter Olympics. But regardless of the outcome, these drastic fluctuations are proving how volatile and unstable cryptocurrencies are, pushing many experts to wonder if they will ever become a substitute to regulated, legal tender currencies – fiat or digital.
Even one of the world’s most admired investors, Warren Buffet, has made it clear that he and his investment firm have no intention of going in that direction as they [cryptocurrencies] “will come to a bad ending”. Software giant Microsoft and digital distribution platform Steam have also ceased to accept Bitcoin as a payment tool because of its “high fees and volatility”.
So although there is now a lot of hype around the messaging app Telegram’s announcement of a soon-to-be-launched ICO – expected to be one of the biggest ever – it might be time to start wondering why a growing number of countries are counting on (or have already) imposing a number of restrictions and regulations on these anonymous and virtual “coins”. From China to Russia and now maybe even Korea, governments are cautious – and rightly so – about these “cryptos” who are looking less and less like a “currency” and more and more like a simple product of speculation.
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The Future Of The Accounting Industry Using Blockchain

The Future Of The Accounting Industry Using Blockchain
Link to our website: https://block.co/the-future-of-the-accounting-industry-using-blockchain/
Blockchain as an immutable and incorruptible ledger of different types of data finds its natural expression in accounting. Or, we could reverse the concept in that accounting is the most natural application for blockchain technology. Modern accounting is based on the double-entry system which, since the Renaissance time, allowed managers to realize whether they could trust their own books.
In the double-entry system, transactions are recorded in terms of debits and credits. Since a debit in one account neutralizes a credit in another, the sum of all debits must equal the sum of all credits. Double-entry bookkeeping allows firms to maintain records that show what the firm owns and owes, and also what the firm has earned and spent over any given period of time. Triple entry accounting is a more recent enhancement of the traditional double-entry system in which all accounting entries, including purchases of inventory and supplies, sales, taxes, utility expenses, and so forth, are cryptographically sealed by a third entry.
With blockchain, these entries occur in the same distributed, public ledger rather than in separate books, creating an interlocking system of immutable accounting records. Being distributed and cryptographically sealed, manipulating, or destroying these entries is practically impossible. Companies using blockchain triple-entry bookkeeping acquire major benefits from adoption. First, it helps auditors quickly and easily access and verify financial data, thus reducing considerably the cost and time necessary to conduct an audit. Second, it helps preserve the integrity of a company’s financial statements since an encrypted signature of the counterparty is required in order to be accepted as valid, thus drastically reducing the risk of counterfeits.
While most operations are still performed manually or, even if delivered on software are still labor-intensive tasks and far from being automated, blockchain appears as the technology needed to simplify and improve regulatory compliance, enhance the prevalent double-entry bookkeeping, reduce fraud, auditing processes and errors. In essence, blockchain technology enables complete verification without the need of a trusted party.
https://preview.redd.it/4jhr2h0papj51.png?width=768&format=png&auto=webp&s=39112eee34bcc485c2c43fd177f72ec8873ab9ce
On 10th August, Block.co CEO Alexis Nicolaou appeared on The Future of Accounting Industry using Blockchain webcast to discuss upcoming changes in accounting along with Dr. Maria Papadaki, Managing Director at BUiD Dubai Center for Risk and Innovation and Raymond Abrea, President & CEO of Philippine Abrea Consulting Group, hosted by Legal Solutions expert and Senior Executive of CACI, Edward Logan.
Maria Papadaki has more than 10 years of experience in Risk Management from both academia and industry, with numerous years in the implementation, development, improvement, and management of risk frameworks, tools, and techniques. She believes that “Blockchain is going to introduce a new component in accounting that’s going to make the work easier. It will provide a link between the two double-entry books together in an open way and will put things in order. Auditing will also become easier while trust, fraud, and compliance issues will all become obsolete with the open and distributed blockchain because it’s hard to cheat when everybody is watching. It will reveal less human interface with immutable, accurate, and easy to verify transactions. Accounting needs to be innovated with international links between institutions, organizations, and businesses”.
Raymond Abrea, based in the Philippines, is also Co-Chair of the Ease of Doing Business (EODB) Task Force on Paying Taxes and the brainchild of the TaxWhizPH mobile app. He was recognized as one of the 2017 Outstanding Young Persons of the World. “As a tax consultant, I choose integrity over profit with our game-changing strategy to do what is right and help the client pay the right taxes while pushing for genuine tax reform as an important contribution to the nation-building of the Philippines”. “I am not a blockchain expert — continues Raymond — but someone who will benefit from it and as a company we collaborate with various institutions to help implement blockchain to fight corruption, fraud, more errors, and so forth. Tax compliance review, tax audit, and assessment will all gain efficiency with the blockchain thanks to smoother processes while saving time and money. It normally takes about one month to go through all the procedures of tax registration and payment before it’s all approved by the government, and we believe blockchain will cut that time considerably.”
So, do accountants need to fear for their jobs?
Whenever new technologies appear, there is widespread worry among different sectors that jobs might be impacted and specific professions are abolished. As webcast guests repeatedly affirmed during the event, blockchain will surely disrupt accounting in that both professionals and clients will be offered safer and more immutable records while making processes easier and faster but the responsibilities of accountants will largely remain intact. Auditing will also be disrupted with the disuse of paper trail documents and the adoption of encrypted key data verification supporting financial statements, thus reducing costs and time for the audit payer. Also, regulatory compliance can be verified more efficiently.

Alexis Nicolaou has over 25 years’ experience in C-suite positions in Accountancy, Finance, Electronic Banking, Electronic Banking Software, Media, and he currently also serves on the board of Directors of Grant Thornton Cyprus’ Distributed Ledger Technologies business unit. “I am an accountant myself and one thing accountants should not worry about is that they would lose their jobs with blockchain. On the contrary, their jobs will evolve and will be enhanced. As all entries in blockchain are distributed and cryptographically sealed, it is virtually impossible to destroy or manipulate that information. This so-called triple entry bookkeeping model will be accessible to all relevant parties. The auditor, the regulator, the client will all have an identical copy of the ledger at all times; it will be distributed across a peer to peer network of nodes and shared in multiple sites”.
Despite having all the information agreed by all parties and timestamped in the blockchain, businesses will still need to hire good accountants to interpret and categorize that information, and they will have to implement and maintain the system. So, no, the accountant’s job is not at risk. As the info is secured, encrypted, and transmitted to a network of members, accountants will be able to provide more real-time advice and guidance to the client and their role will actually be more consistent. “The future accountant will need to be more skilled in IT and not just with numbers” carries on Alexis.
Block.co has introduced electronic correspondence and filing for a while now, and that translates into a major reduction of costs, paper waste, and time. It all started in 2014 when the University of Nicosia began to issue certificates on the blockchain. They anchored the fingerprint of that document (certificate) on the blockchain. They then shared it with their students, and all a student had to do when they went for a job interview was to present that PDF file, while all the employer had to do is drag and drop that PDF file.
“Many businesses — continues Alexis — shy away from electronic archiving systems but using a blockchain makes it possible to prove the integrity of a file and the way we do it at Block.co is by generating the hash, a fingerprint of that file, and timestamping it on the open and public Bitcoin blockchain. We developed a platform where all we have to do is drag and drop a PDF file and this can be done with any type of document, an invoice, a legal document, a medical certificate. I remember back in the ’90s, when I started the profession, everything was much longer and burdensome because it was done on paper. This is what I mean when I say that the accounting profession needs to evolve and embrace more IT skills in order to stand up to the competition with other more innovative companies.”
During the webcast, Raymond asked a compelling question about how will blockchain be implemented. Will it be powered by governments or by private initiative? Since the Philippines started adopting digital systems, they still have issues with government compliance, therefore any technological innovation takes a long time to be implemented. “In Dubai for example — advises Dr. Papadaki — blockchain adoption is mandated by the government which makes everything easier. They are driving all initiatives to report improvement and adapt it in an excellent way. I think Cyprus is going that way too, therefore, it ultimately depends on the individual country”.
Alexis, also, believes that it’s extremely important for the government to be on board. Malta, for instance, was the first country to introduce legislation concerning blockchain and Cyprus is following suit and their initiative has been particularly successful because local governments actively participated and promoted the adoption of the technology. “Private institutions are running it but to have a global acceptance governments will need to embrace it too. Governments have come to understand, especially during the pandemic, that we need to push innovation in technology so hopefully, this will put pressure on them to adopt blockchain more quickly”.
For more info, contact Block.co directly or email at [email protected].
Tel +357 70007828
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Building on Bitcoin - Regulatory strategies Bitcoin- We don´t need no regulation- digital money Bitcoin Basics: #14 Bitcoin & Regulation 2of2 (47) Jerry Brito - Bitcoin, Cryptocurrencies, and Government Regulations Founder of This Currency on the future of Money Regulations

PDF On Sep 26, 2019, Kateryna SOLODAN published Legal Regulation Of Cryptocurrency Taxation in European Countries Find, read and cite all the research you need on ResearchGate Bitcoin and beyond: the 10 cryptocurrencies with the highest market capitalisation 31 3.2.1. Bitcoin (BTC) 31 3.2.2. Ethereum (ETH) 33. IPOL Policy Department for Economic, Scientific and Quality of Life Policies 4 PE 619.024 . 3.2.3. Ripple (XRP) 35 3.2.4. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) 36 3.2.5. Litecoin (LTC) 37 3.2.6. Stellar (XLM) 39 3.2.7. Cardano (ADA) 40 3.2.8. IOTA (MIOTA) 42 3.2.9. NEO (NEO ... BITCOIN, REGULATION AND THE IMPORTANCE OF NATIONAL LEGAL REFORM Article PDF Available. June 2018; Galang Prayogo; Download full-text Read full-text. Download full-text. Read full-text. Download ... Bitcoin was created in 2008 by a person or group that used t he name “Satoshi Nakamoto,” with the belief that: “[w]hat is needed is an electronic payment system based on cryptographic proof instead of trust, allowing any two This brief report provides an overview of the relevant blockchain technologies and examines several of the issues that arise when attempting to integrate blockchain into clearing and settlement systems. In improving securities clearing and settlement systems, several objectives must be considered, including settlement speeds, integration (i.e. delivery-versus-payment), security (e.g ...

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Building on Bitcoin - Regulatory strategies

Bitcoin don´t need no regulation An intresting, simple and clear explanation of why bitcon needs no goverment regulation. Bitcoin is already regulated by mat... Dec.05 -- New York State Department of Financial Services Superintendent Maria Vullo discusses bitcoin, financial services regulation and the state's relationship with the federal government. Remove all; Disconnect; The next video is starting Building on Bitcoin conference Lisbon, 3-4 July 2018 Xavier Lavayssière: Regulatory strategies. In this video i have explained about the delay of supreme court hearing about the RBI ban. I have also shared about the recent cryptocurrency regulation recommendation draft submitted to the ...

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