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Bob The Magic Custodian
Summary: Everyone knows that when you give your assets to someone else, they always keep them safe. If this is true for individuals, it is certainly true for businesses. Custodians always tell the truth and manage funds properly. They won't have any interest in taking the assets as an exchange operator would. Auditors tell the truth and can't be misled. That's because organizations that are regulated are incapable of lying and don't make mistakes. First, some background. Here is a summary of how custodians make us more secure: Previously, we might give Alice our crypto assets to hold. There were risks:
Alice might take the assets and disappear.
Alice might spend the assets and pretend that she still has them (fractional model).
Alice might store the assets insecurely and they'll get stolen.
Alice might give the assets to someone else by mistake or by force.
Alice might lose access to the assets.
But "no worries", Alice has a custodian named Bob. Bob is dressed in a nice suit. He knows some politicians. And he drives a Porsche. "So you have nothing to worry about!". And look at all the benefits we get:
Alice can't take the assets and disappear (unless she asks Bob or never gives them to Bob).
Alice can't spend the assets and pretend that she still has them. (Unless she didn't give them to Bob or asks him for them.)
Alice can't store the assets insecurely so they get stolen. (After all - she doesn't have any control over the withdrawal process from any of Bob's systems, right?)
Alice can't give the assets to someone else by mistake or by force. (Bob will stop her, right Bob?)
Alice can't lose access to the funds. (She'll always be present, sane, and remember all secrets, right?)
See - all problems are solved! All we have to worry about now is:
Bob might take the assets and disappear.
Bob might spend the assets and pretend that he still has them (fractional model).
Bob might store the assets insecurely and they'll get stolen.
Bob might give the assets to someone else by mistake or by force.
Bob might lose access to the assets.
It's pretty simple. Before we had to trust Alice. Now we only have to trust Alice, Bob, and all the ways in which they communicate. Just think of how much more secure we are! "On top of that", Bob assures us, "we're using a special wallet structure". Bob shows Alice a diagram. "We've broken the balance up and store it in lots of smaller wallets. That way", he assures her, "a thief can't take it all at once". And he points to a historic case where a large sum was taken "because it was stored in a single wallet... how stupid". "Very early on, we used to have all the crypto in one wallet", he said, "and then one Christmas a hacker came and took it all. We call him the Grinch. Now we individually wrap each crypto and stick it under a binary search tree. The Grinch has never been back since." "As well", Bob continues, "even if someone were to get in, we've got insurance. It covers all thefts and even coercion, collusion, and misplaced keys - only subject to the policy terms and conditions." And with that, he pulls out a phone-book sized contract and slams it on the desk with a thud. "Yep", he continues, "we're paying top dollar for one of the best policies in the country!" "Can I read it?' Alice asks. "Sure," Bob says, "just as soon as our legal team is done with it. They're almost through the first chapter." He pauses, then continues. "And can you believe that sales guy Mike? He has the same year Porsche as me. I mean, what are the odds?" "Do you use multi-sig?", Alice asks. "Absolutely!" Bob replies. "All our engineers are fully trained in multi-sig. Whenever we want to set up a new wallet, we generate 2 separate keys in an air-gapped process and store them in this proprietary system here. Look, it even requires the biometric signature from one of our team members to initiate any withdrawal." He demonstrates by pressing his thumb into the display. "We use a third-party cloud validation API to match the thumbprint and authorize each withdrawal. The keys are also backed up daily to an off-site third-party." "Wow that's really impressive," Alice says, "but what if we need access for a withdrawal outside of office hours?" "Well that's no issue", Bob says, "just send us an email, call, or text message and we always have someone on staff to help out. Just another part of our strong commitment to all our customers!" "What about Proof of Reserve?", Alice asks. "Of course", Bob replies, "though rather than publish any blockchain addresses or signed transaction, for privacy we just do a SHA256 refactoring of the inverse hash modulus for each UTXO nonce and combine the smart contract coefficient consensus in our hyperledger lightning node. But it's really simple to use." He pushes a button and a large green checkmark appears on a screen. "See - the algorithm ran through and reserves are proven." "Wow", Alice says, "you really know your stuff! And that is easy to use! What about fiat balances?" "Yeah, we have an auditor too", Bob replies, "Been using him for a long time so we have quite a strong relationship going! We have special books we give him every year and he's very efficient! Checks the fiat, crypto, and everything all at once!" "We used to have a nice offline multi-sig setup we've been using without issue for the past 5 years, but I think we'll move all our funds over to your facility," Alice says. "Awesome", Bob replies, "Thanks so much! This is perfect timing too - my Porsche got a dent on it this morning. We have the paperwork right over here." "Great!", Alice replies. And with that, Alice gets out her pen and Bob gets the contract. "Don't worry", he says, "you can take your crypto-assets back anytime you like - just subject to our cancellation policy. Our annual management fees are also super low and we don't adjust them often". How many holes have to exist for your funds to get stolen? Just one. Why are we taking a powerful offline multi-sig setup, widely used globally in hundreds of different/lacking regulatory environments with 0 breaches to date, and circumventing it by a demonstrably weak third party layer? And paying a great expense to do so? If you go through the list of breaches in the past 2 years to highly credible organizations, you go through the list of major corporate frauds (only the ones we know about), you go through the list of all the times platforms have lost funds, you go through the list of times and ways that people have lost their crypto from identity theft, hot wallet exploits, extortion, etc... and then you go through this custodian with a fine-tooth comb and truly believe they have value to add far beyond what you could, sticking your funds in a wallet (or set of wallets) they control exclusively is the absolute worst possible way to take advantage of that security. The best way to add security for crypto-assets is to make a stronger multi-sig. With one custodian, what you are doing is giving them your cryptocurrency and hoping they're honest, competent, and flawlessly secure. It's no different than storing it on a really secure exchange. Maybe the insurance will cover you. Didn't work for Bitpay in 2015. Didn't work for Yapizon in 2017. Insurance has never paid a claim in the entire history of cryptocurrency. But maybe you'll get lucky. Maybe your exact scenario will buck the trend and be what they're willing to cover. After the large deductible and hopefully without a long and expensive court battle. And you want to advertise this increase in risk, the lapse of judgement, an accident waiting to happen, as though it's some kind of benefit to customers ("Free institutional-grade storage for your digital assets.")? And then some people are writing to the OSC that custodians should be mandatory for all funds on every exchange platform? That this somehow will make Canadians as a whole more secure or better protected compared with standard air-gapped multi-sig? On what planet? Most of the problems in Canada stemmed from one thing - a lack of transparency. If Canadians had known what a joke Quadriga was - it wouldn't have grown to lose $400m from hard-working Canadians from coast to coast to coast. And Gerald Cotten would be in jail, not wherever he is now (at best, rotting peacefully). EZ-BTC and mister Dave Smilie would have been a tiny little scam to his friends, not a multi-million dollar fraud. Einstein would have got their act together or been shut down BEFORE losing millions and millions more in people's funds generously donated to criminals. MapleChange wouldn't have even been a thing. And maybe we'd know a little more about CoinTradeNewNote - like how much was lost in there. Almost all of the major losses with cryptocurrency exchanges involve deception with unbacked funds. So it's great to see transparency reports from BitBuy and ShakePay where someone independently verified the backing. The only thing we don't have is:
ANY CERTAINTY BALANCES WEREN'T EXCLUDED. Quadriga's largest account was $70m. 80% of funds are in 20% of accounts (Pareto principle). All it takes is excluding a few really large accounts - and nobody's the wiser. A fractional platform can easily pass any audit this way.
ANY VISIBILITY WHATSOEVER INTO THE CUSTODIANS. BitBuy put out their report before moving all the funds to their custodian and ShakePay apparently can't even tell us who the custodian is. That's pretty important considering that basically all of the funds are now stored there.
ANY IDEA ABOUT THE OTHER EXCHANGES. In order for this to be effective, it has to be the norm. It needs to be "unusual" not to know. If obscurity is the norm, then it's super easy for people like Gerald Cotten and Dave Smilie to blend right in.
It's not complicated to validate cryptocurrency assets. They need to exist, they need to be spendable, and they need to cover the total balances. There are plenty of credible people and firms across the country that have the capacity to reasonably perform this validation. Having more frequent checks by different, independent, parties who publish transparent reports is far more valuable than an annual check by a single "more credible/official" party who does the exact same basic checks and may or may not publish anything. Here's an example set of requirements that could be mandated:
First report within 1 month of launching, another within 3 months, and further reports at minimum every 6 months thereafter.
No auditor can be repeated within a 12 month period.
All reports must be public, identifying the auditor and the full methodology used.
All auditors must be independent of the firm being audited with no conflict of interest.
Reports must include the percentage of each asset backed, and how it's backed.
The auditor publishes a hash list, which lists a hash of each customer's information and balances that were included. Hash is one-way encryption so privacy is fully preserved. Every customer can use this to have 100% confidence they were included.
If we want more extensive requirements on audits, these should scale upward based on the total assets at risk on the platform, and whether the platform has loaned their assets out.
There are ways to structure audits such that neither crypto assets nor customer information are ever put at risk, and both can still be properly validated and publicly verifiable. There are also ways to structure audits such that they are completely reasonable for small platforms and don't inhibit innovation in any way. By making the process as reasonable as possible, we can completely eliminate any reason/excuse that an honest platform would have for not being audited. That is arguable far more important than any incremental improvement we might get from mandating "the best of the best" accountants. Right now we have nothing mandated and tons of Canadians using offshore exchanges with no oversight whatsoever. Transparency does not prove crypto assets are safe. CoinTradeNewNote, Flexcoin ($600k), and Canadian Bitcoins ($100k) are examples where crypto-assets were breached from platforms in Canada. All of them were online wallets and used no multi-sig as far as any records show. This is consistent with what we see globally - air-gapped multi-sig wallets have an impeccable record, while other schemes tend to suffer breach after breach. We don't actually know how much CoinTrader lost because there was no visibility. Rather than publishing details of what happened, the co-founder of CoinTrader silently moved on to found another platform - the "most trusted way to buy and sell crypto" - a site that has no information whatsoever (that I could find) on the storage practices and a FAQ advising that “[t]rading cryptocurrency is completely safe” and that having your own wallet is “entirely up to you! You can certainly keep cryptocurrency, or fiat, or both, on the app.” Doesn't sound like much was learned here, which is really sad to see. It's not that complicated or unreasonable to set up a proper hardware wallet. Multi-sig can be learned in a single course. Something the equivalent complexity of a driver's license test could prevent all the cold storage exploits we've seen to date - even globally. Platform operators have a key advantage in detecting and preventing fraud - they know their customers far better than any custodian ever would. The best job that custodians can do is to find high integrity individuals and train them to form even better wallet signatories. Rather than mandating that all platforms expose themselves to arbitrary third party risks, regulations should center around ensuring that all signatories are background-checked, properly trained, and using proper procedures. We also need to make sure that signatories are empowered with rights and responsibilities to reject and report fraud. They need to know that they can safely challenge and delay a transaction - even if it turns out they made a mistake. We need to have an environment where mistakes are brought to the surface and dealt with. Not one where firms and people feel the need to hide what happened. In addition to a knowledge-based test, an auditor can privately interview each signatory to make sure they're not in coercive situations, and we should make sure they can freely and anonymously report any issues without threat of retaliation. A proper multi-sig has each signature held by a separate person and is governed by policies and mutual decisions instead of a hierarchy. It includes at least one redundant signature. For best results, 3of4, 3of5, 3of6, 4of5, 4of6, 4of7, 5of6, or 5of7. History has demonstrated over and over again the risk of hot wallets even to highly credible organizations. Nonetheless, many platforms have hot wallets for convenience. While such losses are generally compensated by platforms without issue (for example Poloniex, Bitstamp, Bitfinex, Gatecoin, Coincheck, Bithumb, Zaif, CoinBene, Binance, Bitrue, Bitpoint, Upbit, VinDAX, and now KuCoin), the public tends to focus more on cases that didn't end well. Regardless of what systems are employed, there is always some level of risk. For that reason, most members of the public would prefer to see third party insurance. Rather than trying to convince third party profit-seekers to provide comprehensive insurance and then relying on an expensive and slow legal system to enforce against whatever legal loopholes they manage to find each and every time something goes wrong, insurance could be run through multiple exchange operators and regulators, with the shared interest of having a reputable industry, keeping costs down, and taking care of Canadians. For example, a 4 of 7 multi-sig insurance fund held between 5 independent exchange operators and 2 regulatory bodies. All Canadian exchanges could pay premiums at a set rate based on their needed coverage, with a higher price paid for hot wallet coverage (anything not an air-gapped multi-sig cold wallet). Such a model would be much cheaper to manage, offer better coverage, and be much more reliable to payout when needed. The kind of coverage you could have under this model is unheard of. You could even create something like the CDIC to protect Canadians who get their trading accounts hacked if they can sufficiently prove the loss is legitimate. In cases of fraud, gross negligence, or insolvency, the fund can be used to pay affected users directly (utilizing the last transparent balance report in the worst case), something which private insurance would never touch. While it's recommended to have official policies for coverage, a model where members vote would fully cover edge cases. (Could be similar to the Supreme Court where justices vote based on case law.) Such a model could fully protect all Canadians across all platforms. You can have a fiat coverage governed by legal agreements, and crypto-asset coverage governed by both multi-sig and legal agreements. It could be practical, affordable, and inclusive. Now, we are at a crossroads. We can happily give up our freedom, our innovation, and our money. We can pay hefty expenses to auditors, lawyers, and regulators year after year (and make no mistake - this cost will grow to many millions or even billions as the industry grows - and it will be borne by all Canadians on every platform because platforms are not going to eat up these costs at a loss). We can make it nearly impossible for any new platform to enter the marketplace, forcing Canadians to use the same stagnant platforms year after year. We can centralize and consolidate the entire industry into 2 or 3 big players and have everyone else fail (possibly to heavy losses of users of those platforms). And when a flawed security model doesn't work and gets breached, we can make it even more complicated with even more people in suits making big money doing the job that blockchain was supposed to do in the first place. We can build a system which is so intertwined and dependent on big government, traditional finance, and central bankers that it's future depends entirely on that of the fiat system, of fractional banking, and of government bail-outs. If we choose this path, as history has shown us over and over again, we can not go back, save for revolution. Our children and grandchildren will still be paying the consequences of what we decided today. Or, we can find solutions that work. We can maintain an open and innovative environment while making the adjustments we need to make to fully protect Canadian investors and cryptocurrency users, giving easy and affordable access to cryptocurrency for all Canadians on the platform of their choice, and creating an environment in which entrepreneurs and problem solvers can bring those solutions forward easily. None of the above precludes innovation in any way, or adds any unreasonable cost - and these three policies would demonstrably eliminate or resolve all 109 historic cases as studied here - that's every single case researched so far going back to 2011. It includes every loss that was studied so far not just in Canada but globally as well. Unfortunately, finding answers is the least challenging part. Far more challenging is to get platform operators and regulators to agree on anything. My last post got no response whatsoever, and while the OSC has told me they're happy for industry feedback, I believe my opinion alone is fairly meaningless. This takes the whole community working together to solve. So please let me know your thoughts. Please take the time to upvote and share this with people. Please - let's get this solved and not leave it up to other people to do. Facts/background/sources (skip if you like):
The inspiration for the paragraph about splitting wallets was an actual quote from a Canadian company providing custodial services in response to the OSC consultation paper: "We believe that it will be in the in best interests of investors to prohibit pooled crypto assets or ‘floats’. Most Platforms pool assets, citing reasons of practicality and expense. The recent hack of the world’s largest Platform – Binance – demonstrates the vulnerability of participants’ assets when such concessions are made. In this instance, the Platform’s entire hot wallet of Bitcoins, worth over $40 million, was stolen, facilitated in part by the pooling of client crypto assets." "the maintenance of participants (and Platform) crypto assets across multiple wallets distributes the related risk and responsibility of security - reducing the amount of insurance coverage required and making insurance coverage more readily obtainable". For the record, their reply also said nothing whatsoever about multi-sig or offline storage.
In addition to the fact that the $40m hack represented only one "hot wallet" of Binance, and they actually had the vast majority of assets in other wallets (including mostly cold wallets), multiple real cases have clearly demonstrated that risk is still present with multiple wallets. Bitfinex, VinDAX, Bithumb, Altsbit, BitPoint, Cryptopia, and just recently KuCoin all had multiple wallets breached all at the same time, and may represent a significantly larger impact on customers than the Binance breach which was fully covered by Binance. To represent that simply having multiple separate wallets under the same security scheme is a comprehensive way to reduce risk is just not true.
Private insurance has historically never covered a single loss in the cryptocurrency space (at least, not one that I was able to find), and there are notable cases where massive losses were not covered by insurance. Bitpay in 2015 and Yapizon in 2017 both had insurance policies that didn't pay out during the breach, even after a lengthly court process. The same insurance that ShakePay is presently using (and announced to much fanfare) was describe by their CEO himself as covering “physical theft of the media where the private keys are held,” which is something that has never historically happened. As was said with regard to the same policy in 2018 - “I don’t find it surprising that Lloyd’s is in this space,” said Johnson, adding that to his mind the challenge for everybody is figuring out how to structure these policies so that they are actually protective. “You can create an insurance policy that protects no one – you know there are so many caveats to the policy that it’s not super protective.”
The most profitable policy for a private insurance company is one with the most expensive premiums that they never have to pay a claim on. They have no inherent incentive to take care of people who lost funds. It's "cheaper" to take the reputational hit and fight the claim in court. The more money at stake, the more the insurance provider is incentivized to avoid payout. They're not going to insure the assets unless they have reasonable certainty to make a profit by doing so, and they're not going to pay out a massive sum unless it's legally forced. Private insurance is always structured to be maximally profitable to the insurance provider.
The circumvention of multi-sig was a key factor in the massive Bitfinex hack of over $60m of bitcoin, which today still sits being slowly used and is worth over $3b. While Bitfinex used a qualified custodian Bitgo, which was and still is active and one of the industry leaders of custodians, and they set up 2 of 3 multi-sig wallets, the entire system was routed through Bitfinex, such that Bitfinex customers could initiate the withdrawals in a "hot" fashion. This feature was also a hit with the hacker. The multi-sig was fully circumvented.
Bitpay in 2015 was another example of a breach that stole 5,000 bitcoins. This happened not through the exploit of any system in Bitpay, but because the CEO of a company they worked with got their computer hacked and the hackers were able to request multiple bitcoin purchases, which Bitpay honoured because they came from the customer's computer legitimately. Impersonation is a very common tactic used by fraudsters, and methods get more extreme all the time.
A notable case in Canada was the Canadian Bitcoins exploit. Funds were stored on a server in a Rogers Data Center, and the attendee was successfully convinced to reboot the server "in safe mode" with a simple phone call, thus bypassing the extensive security and enabling the theft.
The very nature of custodians circumvents multi-sig. This is because custodians are not just having to secure the assets against some sort of physical breach but against any form of social engineering, modification of orders, fraudulent withdrawal attempts, etc... If the security practices of signatories in a multi-sig arrangement are such that the breach risk of one signatory is 1 in 100, the requirement of 3 independent signatures makes the risk of theft 1 in 1,000,000. Since hackers tend to exploit the weakest link, a comparable custodian has to make the entry and exit points of their platform 10,000 times more secure than one of those signatories to provide equivalent protection. And if the signatories beef up their security by only 10x, the risk is now 1 in 1,000,000,000. The custodian has to be 1,000,000 times more secure. The larger and more complex a system is, the more potential vulnerabilities exist in it, and the fewer people can understand how the system works when performing upgrades. Even if a system is completely secure today, one has to also consider how that system might evolve over time or work with different members.
By contrast, offline multi-signature solutions have an extremely solid record, and in the entire history of cryptocurrency exchange incidents which I've studied (listed here), there has only been one incident (796 exchange in 2015) involving an offline multi-signature wallet. It happened because the customer's bitcoin address was modified by hackers, and the amount that was stolen ($230k) was immediately covered by the exchange operators. Basically, the platform operators were tricked into sending a legitimate withdrawal request to the wrong address because hackers exploited their platform to change that address. Such an issue would not be prevented in any way by the use of a custodian, as that custodian has no oversight whatsoever to the exchange platform. It's practical for all exchange operators to test large withdrawal transactions as a general policy, regardless of what model is used, and general best practice is to diagnose and fix such an exploit as soon as it occurs.
False promises on the backing of funds played a huge role in the downfall of Quadriga, and it's been exposed over and over again (MyCoin, PlusToken, Bitsane, Bitmarket, EZBTC, IDAX). Even today, customers have extremely limited certainty on whether their funds in exchanges are actually being backed or how they're being backed. While this issue is not unique to cryptocurrency exchanges, the complexity of the technology and the lack of any regulation or standards makes problems more widespread, and there is no "central bank" to come to the rescue as in the 2008 financial crisis or during the great depression when "9,000 banks failed".
In addition to fraudulent operations, the industry is full of cases where operators have suffered breaches and not reported them. Most recently, Einstein was the largest case in Canada, where ongoing breaches and fraud were perpetrated against the platform for multiple years and nobody found out until the platform collapsed completely. While fraud and breaches suck to deal with, they suck even more when not dealt with. Lack of visibility played a role in the largest downfalls of Mt. Gox, Cryptsy, and Bitgrail. In some cases, platforms are alleged to have suffered a hack and keep operating without admitting it at all, such as CoinBene.
It surprises some to learn that a cryptographic solution has already existed since 2013, and gained widespread support in 2014 after Mt. Gox. Proof of Reserves is a full cryptographic proof that allows any customer using an exchange to have complete certainty that their crypto-assets are fully backed by the platform in real-time. This is accomplished by proving that assets exist on the blockchain, are spendable, and fully cover customer deposits. It does not prove safety of assets or backing of fiat assets.
If we didn't care about privacy at all, a platform could publish their wallet addresses, sign a partial transaction, and put the full list of customer information and balances out publicly. Customers can each check that they are on the list, that the balances are accurate, that the total adds up, and that it's backed and spendable on the blockchain. Platforms who exclude any customer take a risk because that customer can easily check and see they were excluded. So together with all customers checking, this forms a full proof of backing of all crypto assets.
However, obviously customers care about their private information being published. Therefore, a hash of the information can be provided instead. Hash is one-way encryption. The hash allows the customer to validate inclusion (by hashing their own known information), while anyone looking at the list of hashes cannot determine the private information of any other user. All other parts of the scheme remain fully intact. A model like this is in use on the exchange CoinFloor in the UK.
A Merkle tree can provide even greater privacy. Instead of a list of balances, the balances are arranged into a binary tree. A customer starts from their node, and works their way to the top of the tree. For example, they know they have 5 BTC, they plus 1 other customer hold 7 BTC, they plus 2-3 other customers hold 17 BTC, etc... until they reach the root where all the BTC are represented. Thus, there is no way to find the balances of other individual customers aside from one unidentified customer in this case.
Proposals such as this had the backing of leaders in the community including Nic Carter, Greg Maxwell, and Zak Wilcox. Substantial and significant effort started back in 2013, with massive popularity in 2014. But what became of that effort? Very little. Exchange operators continue to refuse to give visibility. Despite the fact this information can often be obtained through trivial blockchain analysis, no Canadian platform has ever provided any wallet addresses publicly. As described by the CEO of Newton "For us to implement some kind of realtime Proof of Reserves solution, which I'm not opposed to, it would have to ... Preserve our users' privacy, as well as our own. Some kind of zero-knowledge proof". Kraken describes here in more detail why they haven't implemented such a scheme. According to professor Eli Ben-Sasson, when he spoke with exchanges, none were interested in implementing Proof of Reserves.
And yet, Kraken's places their reasoning on a page called "Proof of Reserves". More recently, both BitBuy and ShakePay have released reports titled "Proof of Reserves and Security Audit". Both reports contain disclaimers against being audits. Both reports trust the customer list provided by the platform, leaving the open possibility that multiple large accounts could have been excluded from the process. Proof of Reserves is a blockchain validation where customers see the wallets on the blockchain. The report from Kraken is 5 years old, but they leave it described as though it was just done a few weeks ago. And look at what they expect customers to do for validation. When firms represent something being "Proof of Reserve" when it's not, this is like a farmer growing fruit with pesticides and selling it in a farmers market as organic produce - except that these are people's hard-earned life savings at risk here. Platforms are misrepresenting the level of visibility in place and deceiving the public by their misuse of this term. They haven't proven anything.
Fraud isn't a problem that is unique to cryptocurrency. Fraud happens all the time. Enron, WorldCom, Nortel, Bear Stearns, Wells Fargo, Moser Baer, Wirecard, Bre-X, and Nicola are just some of the cases where frauds became large enough to become a big deal (and there are so many countless others). These all happened on 100% reversible assets despite regulations being in place. In many of these cases, the problems happened due to the over-complexity of the financial instruments. For example, Enron had "complex financial statements [which] were confusing to shareholders and analysts", creating "off-balance-sheet vehicles, complex financing structures, and deals so bewildering that few people could understand them". In cryptocurrency, we are often combining complex financial products with complex technologies and verification processes. We are naïve if we think problems like this won't happen. It is awkward and uncomfortable for many people to admit that they don't know how something works. If we want "money of the people" to work, the solutions have to be simple enough that "the people" can understand them, not so confusing that financial professionals and technology experts struggle to use or understand them.
For those who question the extent to which an organization can fool their way into a security consultancy role, HB Gary should be a great example to look at. Prior to trying to out anonymous, HB Gary was being actively hired by multiple US government agencies and others in the private sector (with glowing testimonials). The published articles and hosted professional security conferences. One should also look at this list of data breaches from the past 2 years. Many of them are large corporations, government entities, and technology companies. These are the ones we know about. Undoubtedly, there are many more that we do not know about. If HB Gary hadn't been "outted" by anonymous, would we have known they were insecure? If the same breach had happened outside of the public spotlight, would it even have been reported? Or would HB Gary have just deleted the Twitter posts, brought their site back up, done a couple patches, and kept on operating as though nothing had happened?
In the case of Quadriga, the facts are clear. Despite past experience with platforms such as MapleChange in Canada and others around the world, no guidance or even the most basic of a framework was put in place by regulators. By not clarifying any sort of legal framework, regulators enabled a situation where a platform could be run by former criminal Mike Dhanini/Omar Patryn, and where funds could be held fully unchecked by one person. At the same time, the lack of regulation deterred legitimate entities from running competing platforms and Quadriga was granted a money services business license for multiple years of operation, which gave the firm the appearance of legitimacy. Regulators did little to protect Canadians despite Quadriga failing to file taxes from 2016 onward. The entire administrative team had resigned and this was public knowledge. Many people had suspicions of what was going on, including Ryan Mueller, who forwarded complaints to the authorities. These were ignored, giving Gerald Cotten the opportunity to escape without justice.
There are multiple issues with the SOC II model including the prohibitive cost (you have to find a third party accounting firm and the prices are not even listed publicly on any sites), the requirement of operating for a year (impossible for new platforms), and lack of any public visibility (SOC II are private reports that aren't shared outside the people in suits).
Securities frameworks are expensive. Sarbanes-Oxley is estimated to cost $5.1 million USD/yr for the average Fortune 500 company in the United States. Since "Fortune 500" represents the top 500 companies, that means well over $2.55 billion USD (~$3.4 billion CAD) is going to people in suits. Isn't the problem of trust and verification the exact problem that the blockchain is supposed to solve?
To use Quadriga as justification for why custodians or SOC II or other advanced schemes are needed for platforms is rather silly, when any framework or visibility at all, or even the most basic of storage policies, would have prevented the whole thing. It's just an embarrassment.
We are now seeing regulators take strong action. CoinSquare in Canada with multi-million dollar fines. BitMex from the US, criminal charges and arrests. OkEx, with full disregard of withdrawals and no communication. Who's next?
We have a unique window today where we can solve these problems, and not permanently destroy innovation with unreasonable expectations, but we need to act quickly. This is a unique historic time that will never come again.
https://preview.redd.it/vrq329h41vs51.png?width=1000&format=png&auto=webp&s=a9cdd74e5bfd8c7ca678fcb6663d37d87bc9f7b2 With the dramatic increase in the number of traders and investors in Canada that are using PrimeXBT, one question has been asked recently more than others which is whether PrimeXBT is safe for Canadian traders. The number of Canadian users at PrimeXBT has been growing rapidly throughout 2020 as a sign that the tools and features on the platform are opening up new opportunities for interacting in the market in more optimal ways. This guide covers whether or not PrimeXBT is safe for Canadian traders, and looks at some of the features and tools of the platform. The Canadian Market in 2020 Like much of the rest of the world, the Canadian market has seen some of the highest levels of all volatility in 2020 that have been seen in many years, or even at all throughout the history of cryptocurrency. The Canadian market has seen renewed growth following the contractions throughout 2018 and much of 2019 when the global bear market in the cryptocurrency space drove many retail investors back out of the market after the exponential growth of 2017. This has led many Canadian traders to wonder whether we are on the brink of another major bull run as was seen both in 2017 as well as 2013, and that would potentially see the price of Bitcoin driven up to the range of $50,000 or more. The Exponential Growth of PrimeXBT With the backdrop of the excitement within the global cryptocurrency market in general, and the Canadian cryptocurrency market more specifically, PrimeXBT has been perfectly positioned for exponential growth since its launch in early 2018. The platform initially launched at the start of 2018 with a waiting list of more than 150,000 traders, and this showed the interest in the platform that was present even before it came onto the market. As a result of the unique tools and features provided by PrimeXBT, it has grown exponentially over the past few years to become the world’s leading multi-asset margin trading platform and today managing up to $2 billion worth of global trade every day. What is PrimeXBT? https://preview.redd.it/iax449j91vs51.png?width=1000&format=png&auto=webp&s=24ea73d33d4f74afedf75a55b5a51967e95dea04 PrimeXBT is a margin trading-centric platform that provides high leverage trading on a wide range of cryptoassets as well as many of the world’s leading traditional assets. Traders at PrimeXBT are able to access up to 100X leverage on a wide range of cryptoassets that include BTC, ETH, XRP, LTC, and EOS. This is whilst also being able to access up to 500X leverage on a range of traditional assets like stock indices such as the S&P500 and FTSE100, forex pairs such as USD/EUR and AUD/CAD, and commodities such as gold and oil. PrimeXBT: Security Features From a security perspective, PrimeXBT is one of the leading trading platforms in the crypto market, and has built a strong reputation for being a safe and reliable platform to trade on. Much of this is as a result of the bank-grade security features that are implemented throughout PrimeXBT that include mandatory Bitcoin address whitelisting and hardware security modules with rating of FIPS PUB 140-2 Level 3 or higher. By working to add advanced security solutions throughout its platform, PrimeXBT has shown a strong commitment to protecting the funds and data of its users. PrimeXBT: Security Track Record While there are many other platforms in the cryptocurrency space that have suffered devastating hacks over the past 2 or 3 years, PrimeXBT is one of a small number of top tier platforms that have remained hack-free throughout this period. A good example of this is the Binance hack in 2019 that saw the platform lose more than $40 million of its users’ funds, and more recently the KuCoin hack where more than $150 million was lost by that platform. In contrast, PrimeXBT has never been hacked and has never been breached by hackers and as such remains as one of the most trusted platforms in the market, having a clean security track record. PrimeXBT: Excellent Customer Support In 2019, a study of the top 5 crypto margin trading platforms found that PrimeXBT has the best customer service of all 5, and also was the only platform out of the 5 to have full marks for all for metrics. These metrics were politeness, responsiveness, helpfulness, and the range of different communication channels that were available to users. By having an excellent customer support structure, PrimeXBT has ensured that its users are able to get fast and easy solutions to the problems and that there is always a direct line of communication open with the admin at the platform to be able to effectively deal with any issues that arise. Other Advantages of Using PrimeXBT PrimeXBT also provides a number of other advantages that are unique to the platform including providing the lowest fee schedule of any major cryptocurrency trading platform in the market with a low flat rate of 0.05% applied to all trades, irrespective of the size of a trade or the asset being traded. As well as this, PrimeXBT’s users can enjoy a robust trading engine that is built into the core of the PrimeXBT platform and that can execute up to 12,000 trades per second with an average trade time of less than 7.02 ms. PrimeXBT also has a unique 4-tier referral program where the traders can generate revenue streams from direct referrals, as well as indirect referrals up to 4 levels deep, with this dramatically increasing the profitability of affiliate activities, and netting the top 3 affiliates on the platform more than $1 million in 2019. In Summary PrimeXBT is a safe and well-reputed trading platform for Canadian traders and this is the reason for its exponential growth of users and volume within Canada over the past months. As well as being a safe platform to trade at, PrimeXBT also provides a range of unique tools and features to use in order to maximize profitability in the cryptocurrency and traditional asset markets. To understand more about the security features on PrimeXBT that have protected its users, check out PrimeXBT’s Security page.
How To End The Cryptocurrency Exchange "Wild West" Without Crippling Innovation
In case you haven't noticed the consultation paper, staff notice, and report on Quadriga, regulators are now clamping down on Canadian cryptocurrency exchanges. The OSC and other regulatory bodies are still interested in industry feedback. They have not put forward any official regulation yet. Below are some ideas/insights and a proposed framework.
Typical securities frameworks will cost Canadians millions of dollars (ie Sarbanes-Oxley estimated at $5m USD/yr per firm). Implementation costs of this proposal are significantly cheaper.
Canadians can maintain a diverse set of exchanges, multiple viable business models are still fully supported, and innovation is encouraged while keeping Canadians safe.
Many of you have limited time to read the full proposal, so here are the highlights:
Effective standards to prevent both internal and external theft. Exchange operators are trained and certified, and have a legal responsibility to users.
Regular Transparent Audits
Provides visibility to Canadians that their funds are fully backed on the exchange, while protecting privacy and sensitive platform information.
Establishment of basic insurance standards/strategy, to expand over time. Removing risk to exchange users of any hot wallet theft.
Background and Justifications
Cold Storage Custody/Management After reviewing close to 100 cases, all thefts tend to break down into more or less the same set of problems: • Funds stored online or in a smart contract, • Access controlled by one person or one system, • 51% attacks (rare), • Funds sent to the wrong address (also rare), or • Some combination of the above. For the first two cases, practical solutions exist and are widely implemented on exchanges already. Offline multi-signature solutions are already industry standard. No cases studied found an external theft or exit scam involving an offline multi-signature wallet implementation. Security can be further improved through minimum numbers of signatories, background checks, providing autonomy and legal protections to each signatory, establishing best practices, and a training/certification program. The last two transaction risks occur more rarely, and have never resulted in a loss affecting the actual users of the exchange. In all cases to date where operators made the mistake, they've been fully covered by the exchange platforms. • 51% attacks generally only occur on blockchains with less security. The most prominent cases have been Bitcoin Gold and Ethereum Classic. The simple solution is to enforce deposit limits and block delays such that a 51% attack is not cost-effective. • The risk of transactions to incorrect addresses can be eliminated by a simple test transaction policy on large transactions. By sending a small amount of funds prior to any large withdrawals/transfers as a standard practice, the accuracy of the wallet address can be validated. The proposal covers all loss cases and goes beyond, while avoiding significant additional costs, risks, and limitations which may be associated with other frameworks like SOC II. On The Subject of Third Party Custodians Many Canadian platforms are currently experimenting with third party custody. From the standpoint of the exchange operator, they can liberate themselves from some responsibility of custody, passing that off to someone else. For regulators, it puts crypto in similar categorization to oil, gold, and other commodities, with some common standards. Platform users would likely feel greater confidence if the custodian was a brand they recognized. If the custodian was knowledgeable and had a decent team that employed multi-sig, they could keep assets safe from internal theft. With the right protections in place, this could be a great solution for many exchanges, particularly those that lack the relevant experience or human resources for their own custody systems. However, this system is vulnerable to anyone able to impersonate the exchange operators. You may have a situation where different employees who don't know each other that well are interacting between different companies (both the custodian and all their customers which presumably isn't just one exchange). A case study of what can go wrong in this type of environment might be Bitpay, where the CEO was tricked out of 5000 bitcoins over 3 separate payments by a series of emails sent legitimately from a breached computer of another company CEO. It's also still vulnerable to the platform being compromised, as in the really large $70M Bitfinex hack, where the third party Bitgo held one key in a multi-sig wallet. The hacker simply authorized the withdrawal using the same credentials as Bitfinex (requesting Bitgo to sign multiple withdrawal transactions). This succeeded even with the use of multi-sig and two heavily security-focused companies, due to the lack of human oversight (basically, hot wallet). Of course, you can learn from these cases and improve the security, but so can hackers improve their deception and at the end of the day, both of these would have been stopped by the much simpler solution of a qualified team who knew each other and employed multi-sig with properly protected keys. It's pretty hard to beat a human being who knows the business and the typical customer behaviour (or even knows their customers personally) at spotting fraud, and the proposed multi-sig means any hacker has to get through the scrutiny of 3 (or more) separate people, all of whom would have proper training including historical case studies. There are strong arguments both for and against using use of third party custodians. The proposal sets mandatory minimum custody standards would apply regardless if the cold wallet signatories are exchange operators, independent custodians, or a mix of both. On The Subject Of Insurance ShakePay has taken the first steps into this new realm (congratulations). There is no question that crypto users could be better protected by the right insurance policies, and it certainly feels better to transact with insured platforms. The steps required to obtain insurance generally place attention in valuable security areas, and in this case included a review from CipherTrace. One of the key solutions in traditional finance comes from insurance from entities such as the CDIC. However, historically, there wasn't found any actual insurance payout to any cryptocurrency exchange, and there are notable cases where insurance has not paid. With Bitpay, for example, the insurance agent refused because the issue happened to the third party CEO's computer instead of anything to do with Bitpay itself. With the Youbit exchange in South Korea, their insurance claim was denied, and the exchange ultimately ended up instead going bankrupt with all user's funds lost. To quote Matt Johnson in the original Lloyd's article: “You can create an insurance policy that protects no one – you know there are so many caveats to the policy that it’s not super protective.” ShakePay's insurance was only reported to cover their cold storage, and “physical theft of the media where the private keys are held”. Physical theft has never, in the history of cryptocurrency exchange cases reviewed, been reported as the cause of loss. From the limited information of the article, ShakePay made it clear their funds are in the hands of a single US custodian, and at least part of their security strategy is to "decline to confirm the custodian’s name on the record". While this prevents scrutiny of the custodian, it's pretty silly to speculate that a reasonably competent hacking group couldn't determine who the custodian is. A far more common infiltration strategy historically would be social engineering, which has succeeded repeatedly. A hacker could trick their way into ShakePay's systems and request a fraudulent withdrawal, impersonate ShakePay and request the custodian to move funds, or socially engineer their way into the custodian to initiate the withdrawal of multiple accounts (a payout much larger than ShakePay) exploiting the standard procedures (for example, fraudulently initiating or override the wallet addresses of a real transfer). In each case, nothing was physically stolen and the loss is therefore not covered by insurance. In order for any insurance to be effective, clear policies have to be established about what needs to be covered. Anything short of that gives Canadians false confidence that they are protected when they aren't in any meaningful way. At this time, the third party insurance market does not appear to provide adequate options or coverage, and effort is necessary to standardize custody standards, which is a likely first step in ultimately setting up an insurance framework. A better solution compared to third party insurance providers might be for Canadian exchange operators to create their own collective insurance fund, or a specific federal organization similar to the CDIC. Such an organization would have a greater interest or obligation in paying out actual cases, and that would be it's purpose rather than maximizing it's own profit. This would be similar to the SAFU which Binance has launched, except it would cover multiple exchanges. There is little question whether the SAFU would pay out given a breach of Binance, and a similar argument could be made for a insurance fund managed by a collective of exchange operators or a government organization. While a third party insurance provider has the strong market incentive to provide the absolute minimum coverage and no market incentive to payout, an entity managed by exchange operators would have incentive to protect the reputation of exchange operators/the industry, and the government should have the interest of protecting Canadians. On The Subject of Fractional Reserve There is a long history of fractional reserve failures, from the first banks in ancient times, through the great depression (where hundreds of fractional reserve banks failed), right through to the 2008 banking collapse referenced in the first bitcoin block. The fractional reserve system allows banks to multiply the money supply far beyond the actual cash (or other assets) in existence, backed only by a system of debt obligations of others. Safely supporting a fractional reserve system is a topic of far greater complexity than can be addressed by a simple policy, and when it comes to cryptocurrency, there is presently no entity reasonably able to bail anyone out in the event of failure. Therefore, this framework is addressed around entities that aim to maintain 100% backing of funds. There may be some firms that desire but have failed to maintain 100% backing. In this case, there are multiple solutions, including outside investment, merging with other exchanges, or enforcing a gradual restoration plan. All of these solutions are typically far better than shutting down the exchange, and there are multiple cases where they've been used successfully in the past. Proof of Reserves/Transparency/Accountability Canadians need to have visibility into the backing on an ongoing basis. The best solution for crypto-assets is a Proof of Reserve. Such ideas go back all the way to 2013, before even Mt. Gox. However, no Canadian exchange has yet implemented such a system, and only a few international exchanges (CoinFloor in the UK being an example) have. Many firms like Kraken, BitBuy, and now ShakePay use the Proof of Reserve term to refer to lesser proofs which do not actually cryptographically prove the full backing of all user assets on the blockchain. In order for a Proof of Reserve to be effective, it must actually be a complete proof, and it needs to be understood by the public that is expected to use it. Many firms have expressed reservations about the level of transparency required in a complete Proof of Reserve (for example Kraken here). While a complete Proof of Reserves should be encouraged, and there are some solutions in the works (ie TxQuick), this is unlikely to be suitable universally for all exchange operators and users. Given the limitations, and that firms also manage fiat assets, a more traditional audit process makes more sense. Some Canadian exchanges (CoinSquare, CoinBerry) have already subjected themselves to annual audits. However, these results are not presently shared publicly, and there is no guarantee over the process including all user assets or the integrity and independence of the auditor. The auditor has been typically not known, and in some cases, the identity of the auditor is protected by a NDA. Only in one case (BitBuy) was an actual report generated and publicly shared. There has been no attempt made to validate that user accounts provided during these audits have been complete or accurate. A fraudulent fractional exchange, or one which had suffered a breach they were unwilling to publicly accept (see CoinBene), could easily maintain a second set of books for auditors or simply exclude key accounts to pass an individual audit. The proposed solution would see a reporting standard which includes at a minimum - percentage of backing for each asset relative to account balances and the nature of how those assets are stored, with ownership proven by the auditor. The auditor would also publicly provide a "hash list", which they independently generate from the accounts provided by the exchange. Every exchange user can then check their information against this public "hash list". A hash is a one-way form of encryption, which fully protects the private information, yet allows anyone who knows that information already to validate that it was included. Less experienced users can take advantage of public tools to calculate the hash from their information (provided by the exchange), and thus have certainty that the auditor received their full balance information. Easy instructions can be provided. Auditors should be impartial, their identities and process public, and they should be rotated so that the same auditor is never used twice in a row. Balancing the cost of auditing against the needs for regular updates, a 6 month cycle likely makes the most sense. Hot Wallet Management The best solution for hot wallets is not to use them. CoinBerry reportedly uses multi-sig on all withdrawals, and Bitmex is an international example known for their structure devoid of hot wallets. However, many platforms and customers desire fast withdrawal processes, and human validation has a cost of time and delay in this process. A model of self-insurance or separate funds for hot wallets may be used in these cases. Under this model, a platform still has 100% of their client balance in cold storage and holds additional funds in hot wallets for quick withdrawal. Thus, the risk of those hot wallets is 100% on exchange operators and not affecting the exchange users. Since most platforms typically only have 1%-5% in hot wallets at any given time, it shouldn't be unreasonable to build/maintain these additional reserves over time using exchange fees or additional investment. Larger withdrawals would still be handled at regular intervals from the cold storage. Hot wallet risks have historically posed a large risk and there is no established standard to guarantee secure hot wallets. When the government of South Korea dispatched security inspections to multiple exchanges, the results were still that 3 of them got hacked after the inspections. If standards develop such that an organization in the market is willing to insure the hot wallets, this could provide an acceptable alternative. Another option may be for multiple exchange operators to pool funds aside for a hot wallet insurance fund. Comprehensive coverage standards must be established and maintained for all hot wallet balances to make sure Canadians are adequately protected.
Current Draft Proposal
(1) Proper multi-signature cold wallet storage. (a) Each private key is the personal and legal responsibility of one person - the “signatory”. Signatories have special rights and responsibilities to protect user assets. Signatories are trained and certified through a course covering (1) past hacking and fraud cases, (2) proper and secure key generation, and (3) proper safekeeping of private keys. All private keys must be generated and stored 100% offline by the signatory. If even one private keys is ever breached or suspected to be breached, the wallet must be regenerated and all funds relocated to a new wallet. (b) All signatories must be separate background-checked individuals free of past criminal conviction. Canadians should have a right to know who holds their funds. All signing of transactions must take place with all signatories on Canadian soil or on the soil of a country with a solid legal system which agrees to uphold and support these rules (from an established white-list of countries which expands over time). (c) 3-5 independent signatures are required for any withdrawal. There must be 1-3 spare signatories, and a maximum of 7 total signatories. The following are all valid combinations: 3of4, 3of5, 3of6, 4of5, 4of6, 4of7, 5of6, or 5of7. (d) A security audit should be conducted to validate the cold wallet is set up correctly and provide any additional pertinent information. The primary purpose is to ensure that all signatories are acting independently and using best practices for private key storage. A report summarizing all steps taken and who did the audit will be made public. Canadians must be able to validate the right measures are in place to protect their funds. (e) There is a simple approval process if signatories wish to visit any country outside Canada, with a potential whitelist of exempt countries. At most 2 signatories can be outside of aligned jurisdiction at any given time. All exchanges would be required to keep a compliant cold wallet for Canadian funds and have a Canadian office if they wish to serve Canadian customers. (2) Regular and transparent solvency audits. (a) An audit must be conducted at founding, after 3 months of operation, and at least once every 6 months to compare customer balances against all stored cryptocurrency and fiat balances. The auditor must be known, independent, and never the same twice in a row. (b) An audit report will be published featuring the steps conducted in a readable format. This should be made available to all Canadians on the exchange website and on a government website. The report must include what percentage of each customer asset is backed on the exchange, and how those funds are stored. (c) The auditor will independently produce a hash of each customer's identifying information and balance as they perform the audit. This will be made publicly available on the exchange and government website, along with simplified instructions that each customer can use to verify that their balance was included in the audit process. (d) The audit needs to include a proof of ownership for any cryptocurrency wallets included. A satoshi test (spending a small amount) or partially signed transaction both qualify. (e) Any platform without 100% reserves should be assessed on a regular basis by a government or industry watchdog. This entity should work to prevent any further drop, support any private investor to come in, or facilitate a merger so that 100% backing can be obtained as soon as possible. (3) Protections for hot wallets and transactions. (a) A standardized list of approved coins and procedures will be established to constitute valid cold storage wallets. Where a multi-sig process is not natively available, efforts will be undertaken to establish a suitable and stable smart contract standard. This list will be expanded and improved over time. Coins and procedures not on the list are considered hot wallets. (b) Hot wallets can be backed by additional funds in cold storage or an acceptable third-party insurance provider with a comprehensive coverage policy. (c) Exchanges are required to cover the full balance of all user funds as denominated in the same currency, or double the balance as denominated in bitcoin or CAD using an established trading rate. If the balance is ever insufficient due to market movements, the firm must rectify this within 24 hours by moving assets to cold storage or increasing insurance coverage. (d) Any large transactions (above a set threshold) from cold storage to any new wallet addresses (not previously transacted with) must be tested with a smaller transaction first. Deposits of cryptocurrency must be limited to prevent economic 51% attacks. Any issues are to be covered by the exchange. (e) Exchange platforms must provide suitable authentication for users, including making available approved forms of two-factor authentication. SMS-based authentication is not to be supported. Withdrawals must be blocked for 48 hours in the event of any account password change. Disputes on the negligence of exchanges should be governed by case law.
Continued review of existing OSC feedback is still underway. More feedback and opinions on the framework and ideas as presented here are extremely valuable. The above is a draft and not finalized. The process of further developing and bringing a suitable framework to protect Canadians will require the support of exchange operators, legal experts, and many others in the community. The costs of not doing such are tremendous. A large and convoluted framework, one based on flawed ideas or implementation, or one which fails to properly safeguard Canadians is not just extremely expensive and risky for all Canadians, severely limiting to the credibility and reputation of the industry, but an existential risk to many exchanges. The responsibility falls to all of us to provide our insight and make our opinions heard on this critical matter. Please take the time to give your thoughts.
https://preview.redd.it/31n208r4i4y21.jpg?width=1024&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=ddedc6a6f95c5699a5de15c28d7f46dada6968a0 French crypto hardware firm Ledger will provide its technology to Americanpayments startup Uphold to improve security, according to a press release shared with Cointelegraph on May 13. Formerly known) as Bitreserve, Uphold will reportedly incorporate Ledger’s institutional custody platform Ledger Vault to boost its anti-hack protection by adding an additional layer of security. J. P. Thieriot, co-founder and CEO of Uphold, said that Ledger Vault integration was mainly driven by customer demand for thorough security measures. According to the press release, the integration of Ledger’s tech will enable a number of key benefits for Uphold, including a multi-authorization governance model, support of new ERC-20stablecoins and other proxy assets such as the Universal Protocol-based tokens, among the others. Ledger Vault first rolled out in May 2018 as a digital asset security tool targeting institutional investors. The firm subsequently announced that it was expanding its business to New York in November 2018, also appointing a former Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) executive as head of global operations. Recently, Ledger announced that Canadian crypto exchange National Digital Asset Exchange (NDAX) would use Ledger Vault to secure its assets. Yesterday, major crypto exchange Binance announced that the platform was planning to fully resume deposits and withdrawals, following a major hack that resulted in the loss of $40 million worth of bitcoin (BTC).
Cryptocurrencies continue to slide with Bloomberg Digital Assets 10 Index now down 80% YTD, surpassing the Nasdaq Composite’s drop during dot-com bubble in CY2000
AirSwap, a decentralized cryptocurrency trading platform announced a new partnership Tuesday that will tokenize New York’s real estate markets. AirSwap will partner with FINRA-registered broker dealer Propellr. In a statement, AirSwap said their main goal is to reduce time to complete secondary market transactions of private securities from months to days.
Alive Casino is building a blockchain platform that allows users to participate in VR online gambling. Based in Costa Rica, Alive Casino is currently in the process of selling 15% of its AL tokens in order to raise the necessary funds to develop the platform. AL tokens have a value of USD$0.015/token and can be purchased with ETH, with a maximum purchase cap of 75 ETH.
The Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade), the country’s trade agency, and the Australian Digital Commerce Association are jointly sending a delegation of domestic blockchain startups to visit some of China’s largest fintech companies this week. China is one of the world’s leaders in innovative blockchain technology, having filed over 10% of the world’s blockchain patents.
Authorities from US states Illinois and Arizona are asking India’s Criminal Investigation Department (CID) to seize property of promoters of Bitcoin investment firm BitConnect. The two US states are accusing BitConnect of being a Ponzi scheme, having raised approximately USD$5.6 billion from investors. India’s Criminal Investigation Department also claims BitConnect is suspected of money-laundering.
After Bitcoinist reported Tuesday that investment bank State Street will back stablecoin Gemini Dollar, the Bitcion Foundation’s Charlie Shrem said solid stablecoins are going to serve as a bridge for mainstream investors that will span decades. Shrem elaborated, saying stablecoins’ biggest accomplishment is eliminating the risks associated with high volatility digital coins.
A Canadian town in the Ontario Province is paying hackers a ransom in Bitcoin in order to get its computer network working again. The town of Midland had its computer systems breached and infected with ransom malware that encrypted files at the beginning of this month. Although critical services, like waste management ad fire response, were not affected, the town has begun paying the hackers Bitcoin in exchange for the decryption keys.
CoinDesk is reporting that there is a new major competitor for Bitmain. Bitewei, a Shenzhen-based mining chip manufacturer led by the former director of design at Bitmain, Yang Zuoxing, raised CNY40 million (USD$20 million) to bring to mining hardware to market. Bitewei and Bitmain have been battling over the past 2 years in regards to intellectual property designed by Yang.
Researchers from China’s Xi’an Jiaoton University published a report Wednesday saying at least 4 in 5 altcoins have stolen and plagiarized about 90% of their code. The report examined 488 digital currencies and found the code underpinning 405 digital coins (83%) yielded a ‘similarity score’ of between 90% and 100%.
A variety of blockchain funds, exchanges, and startup have come together to form the Blockchain Association, a lobbying group for the crypto industry. Reported Tuesday, some founding members include Coinbase, Polychain Capital, Protocol Labs, and Digital Currency Group. One of the association’s first hires is Kristin Smith, former Senate aide. The Blockchain Association will specifically focus on lobbying for tax laws and know your customers/anti-money laundering regulations.
Japanese telecom company, Softbank Corporation, has completed a proof-of-concept (PoC) for a blockchain that would allow peer to peer mobile payments across different carriers. Announced early Wednesday, the technology is the product of a partnership with blockchain startup TBCASoft, and Synchronoss, a publicly traded company that works with a communications protocol in Japan called Rich Communication Service.
Decentralized security token exchange, DSTOQ, has launched a platform called its minimum viable product (MVP). MVP allows people to invest in real assets such as stocks, bonds, and commodities using cryptocurrencies. This platform runs using Stellar’s blockchain testnet, and all transactions will happen completely on-chain.
Agricultural Bank of China (ABC), the world fourth largest bank by assets, announces it will making its first loan on a blockchain system. The loan, valued at USD$300k, is meant to support the local tea industry in the Guizhou province and is backed by a piece of agricultural land.
“Civilized blockchain”1 company Billon, has partnered with Fidelity National Information Services (FIS) to develop blockchain technology solutions. Billon implements blockchain solutions for the main purpose of processing fiat currencies. FIS will utilize Billon for document and identity management, the exploration of joint sales and product development opportunities, and smartphone micropayments among other services.
SBI Group, a Japanese financial services company, has announced plans to develop a platform to trade cryptocurrency derivatives. The platform would help crypto investors hedge their risk by offering cryptocurrency credit default swap (CDS) trading. SBI will accomplish this through its recent 12% purchase of North Carolina-based digital marketplace developer Clear Markets.
Equity research provider Fundstrat Global Advisors has announced that it will begin accepting Bitcoin (BTC) as payment for accessing research reports. Fundstrat is using payment operator BitPay, which has processed over USD$1 billion in Bitcoin payments CY2017, to process their new BTC payments accepted from institutional investors, high net-worth clients, and financial advisors.
The most popular cryptocurrency markets tracking platform, CoinMarketCap (CMC), has added a professional-grade API, and support for derivatives markets to its services. The API provides developers with access to aggregated data packages, providing everything from price and market cap, to trading pair data and conversions. CMC is marketing this product to those who need to back-test trading strategies, and run simulations more accurately.
Logos Network, a decentralized payments platform, successfully raised USD$3mm in seed funding. Logos is hoping to build a quick and scalable P2P payments network on a new blockchain. The payments network plans to be quick, scalable, and secure.
The Stuggart Börse, Germany’s second largest stock exchange, has announced an initiative to construct a multilateral cryptocurrency trading platform, as well as an initial coin offering (ICO) platform. The exchange already launched in May a crypto trading app called Bison, which features zero-fee transactions.
Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), operator of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and 22 others, will develop a Microsoft cloud-based digital asset ecosystem. ICE is creating a new company for this, called Bakkt, which will work closely with companies including Starbucks and BCG. The ecosystem is planned to be a one-stop-shop for all consumers, from retail to institutional, to buy, hold, sell, and spend cryptocurrencies on a communal network. ICE will also launch physically-delivered BTC futures contracts.
The Chamber of Digital Commerce, an American advocacy group promoting the blockchain industry, is producing new guidelines to aid the in the responsible growth of the initial coin offering (ICO) markets and cryptocurrency markets all together. These guidelines were released in a whitepaper detailing current and future regulations for investor reference, a set of principles for trading platforms and token sponsors to follow, and a general discussion about the growth of the cryptocurrency industry so far.
The South Korean government has proposed revisions to its tax law, affecting cryptocurrency exchanges. The proposition states that cryptocurrency exchanges will be exempt from the tax benefits given to startups and small-mid-sized businesses. It is important to note that new propositions might be made to change this before implementation, but the South Korean government doesn’t believe that crypto transaction companies do not generate added value like other companies do.
Indian cryptocurrency traders are finding ways to circumvent the India government’s decision to ban cryptocurrency trading. Traders are now making use of a Dabba trading which refers to making OTC trades that are off the books. Dabba traders execute trades through platforms at international banks in Dubbai, Europe and the UK. Indian stock traders have used this method for years, and has experienced an upsurge after the crypto ban.
The U.S. Consumer financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has created an Office of Innovation. The Office of innovation is responsible for the development of a regulatory framework surrounding new products and services in the cryptocurrency, blockchain, and microlending fields. This regulatory sandbox could give some guidance on creation of regulatory frameworks around innovative fintech companies.
South Korea Financial Supervisory Service is advising local regulators to work towards creating an integrated blockchain system for stocks transactions. The group finds the use of a centralized ledger to be inefficient and vulnerable to hacks.
It was recently reported that HTC will be releasing a new mobile phone utilizing decentralized ledger technology, but Litecoin (LTC) founder Charlie Lee announced July 29th that he will be one of HTC’s advisors on the smartphone. The phone will be called Exodus and is expected to be the first blockchain phone. Exodus’s built-in cryptocurrency wallet will now natively support LTC and the Lightning Network (LN), in addition to Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH).
Cointelegraph.com reported that digital asset exchange Huobi will begin supporting trades in the Indian rupee (INR) on its over-the-counter (OTC) service. Huobi’s peer-to-peer (P2P) trading platform will allow INR users free trading in Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), and Tether (USDT). This comes at a good time for Indian cryptocurrency traders after the Reserve Bank of India banned banks from dealing with cryptocurrency-related companies in early July.
IOHK, the company behind the popular cryptocurrency Cardano (ADA), announced that it has launched the testnet for a new Cardano virtual machine. The virtual machine, called IELE, provides developers with a stronger and more reliable platform for developing smart contracts on Cardano’s blockchain.
IoT and blockchain platform Ambrosus has announced the launch of its mainnet, called AMB-NET 1.0. Ambrosus improves pharmaceutical and food supply chains by allowing companies to record private and public supply chain data on its blockchain. Organizations can work with the Ambrosus Network through its native AMB token.
San Francisco-based platform, DCEX, will begin accepting registration applications for its new cryptocurrency exchange. DCEX’s base currency, the currency participants use to exchange for other currencies, will be Ripple’s XRP. This is a change from the cryptocurrency exchange norm of using Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH) as base currencies. Not basing all transactions off of Bitcoin is a step in the right directions for pushing the market to be more independent from it.
Thomson Reuters, a Canadian mass-media and information company, has announced a partnership with CryptoCompare, a cryptocurrency data tracking resource. CryptoCompare will provide Thomson Reuters will trade and order book data on 50 cryptocurrencies.
Major Cineplex, the largest movie theater chain in Thailand, is integrating cryptocurrency payments to permits moviegoers to buy anything from tickets to popcorn. Major Cineplex is partnering with RapizPay to deploy the digital currency payment system. This comes a week after the Thai Securities and Exchange Commission began allowing cryptocurrency operators to file license applications.
Coinbase, one of the largest cryptocurrency services in the world, has announced in a blog post that Jeff Horowitz, an ex-Pershing exec, has joined as company’s new Chief Compliance Officer. Horowitz has ample background experience for this position, as he was Managing Director and Global Head of Compliance for Pershing, a banking regulator for the FDIC, and even led compliance and anti-money-laundering (AML) programs at Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, and Salomon Brothers.
Binance, the world’s most popular cryptocurrency exchange, has made its first-ever acquisition, purchasing crypto wallet provider Trust Wallet. This move appeals to cryptocurrency investors wary of keeping their coins on centralized custodial services as Trust Wallet now introduces Binance users to decentralized custody. The decentralized wallet will be offered on mobile platforms, and supports coins built off of Ethereum’s protocol. You can read more about decentralized exchanges in our latest Crypto Quant Shot: Atomic Swaps, Decentralized Exchanges, and the Future of Crypto Exchanges.
Google has announced that later this year, it will introduce open-source integrations of Ethereum and Hyperledger applications through its Google Cloud Product marketplace. This move pushes Google into the blockchain services industry, thereby joining others such as Amazon Web Services, IBM, Oracle, and Microsoft Azure.
U.S. lawmakers working with the Congressional Valley Fever Task Force are looking for blockchain applications to help fight infectious fungal diseases. The lawmakers have proposed a bill as a part of the FORWARD Act for the creation of a blockchain pilot hoping to improve the way doctors share information about endemic fungal diseases such as Valley Fever. If information could be exchanged between doctors quicker and more efficiently, they would be better equipped to treat these infectious diseases.
Mobile engagement firm MobileBridge, has launched a blockchain loyalty program called Momentum. Momentum will offer other companies many data-based insights, and consumers full custody of their earned cryptocurrency rewards. Consumers can earn loyalty cards and other rewards for simply shopping at their favorite stores. These rewards can be exchanged for Momentum tokens, and then other branded reward tokens to be used with other companies.
CoinMarketApp, a cryptocurrency news multi-use app, has released compatibility with iOS and Android smartphones. CoinMarketApp is not like typical cryptocurrency apps, in that it offers crypto historic data, prices, mining information, trustworthy news, and even portfolio services.
Northern Trust, an asset manager with USD$954bn in AUM announces plans to start a custody service for digital assets. Pete Cherecwich, Northern Trust’s head of corporate and institutional business, explained that the firm plans to offer custodial services similar to others, but with lower fees.
Swissquote, a Switzerland-based online banking firm which recently added cryptocurrency investing to its services, has seen a 44% profit increase in this C1H2018 relative to C1H2017. Throughout the second half of CY2017, Swiss quote has allowed trading in Bitcoin (BTC) with the EUR and USD, as well as Ethereum (ETH), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Litecoin (LTC), and Ripple (XRP).
MINDOL is a blockchain platform aiming to disrupt the entertainment provider industry in Japan. MINDOL’s whitepaper states a growing demand for and heavy government investing in spreading Japanese culture throughout the world, including animations, games, music, and movies. MINDOL hopes to regularly produce programs on TV. MINDOL’s central network, called eMINDOL, lets consumers purchase products, watch content, and even invest in the projects and artists they like.
Telegram, a popular desktop and mobile app messenger, recently executed an ICO, raising USD$1.7 billion. However, US-based cybersecurity startup Virgil Security, praised the fact that Telegram published the application’s API on an open source platform for developers to review, but has uncovered several security flaws with Telegram’s ID verification app Passport. Virgil discovered issues with their encryption methods and the way they protect stored data. These issues are very important to fix if Telegram wishes to begin accepting payments on its platform.
Coinbase, one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency trading services, has now allowed users in the UK to purchase cryptocurrencies with the British Pound. Before this announcement, users in the UK would have had to acquire Euros in order to purchase cryptos on Coinbase, which sometimes took multiple days.
The government of Queensland, Australia is giving USD$8.3mm to a crypto start-up as part of the state’s innovation funding initiative. The start-up’s goal is to increase the number of tourists to Central Queensland through selling travel offers based in different cryptocurrencies.
RandomCrypto, a fintech firm working with cryptocurrencies has released a Bitcoin (BTC) mining calculator, which improves upon the details given by competing products. Random Crypto CEO Josh Metnick says he developed this product after “many years of getting screwed… by mining companies,” and that his goal is to “bring more truth, accuracy, and transparency to [proof-of-work] mining.”1 The calculator shows that at today’s current BTC prices, most bitcoin mining hardware on the markets is unprofitable.
Chinese company Seven Stars Cloud, has announced plans to build a USD$300 million crypto hub in Hartford, CT. Seven Stars Cloud is a fintech company hoping to create a community for itself and other fintech firms to collaborate on machine-learning, robotics, and crypto-related projects. The firm is also trying to launch a fintech college at schools near Hartford, CT such as Yale University, University of Hartford, University of New Haven, and University of Connecticut.
Canaan Creative, the world’s second largest provider of Bitcoin mining components has announced a new product called the AvalonMiner Inside. The Avalon Miner Inside is essentially a television with built-in Bitcoin (BTC) mining capabilities. The TV will be powered by artificial intelligence and will also enable voice dictation. The mining components possess a 2.8 trillion hashes-per-second hash rate, and even includes a profitability calculator to measure performance.
Bitfi, a cryptocurrency hardware wallet manufacturer claiming it is “unhackable”, denies claims that it was hacked. Bitfi and its official partner John McAfee offered a $100,000 bug bounty in July to try to get people to hack its wallet. But when one twitter user claimed to have done this, Bitfi CEO Daniel Khesin denied these claims amid no evidence of a hack, and because of the fact that the “hacker” refused the bounty reward.
Switzerland-based cryptocurrency platform MCO has added Litecoin (LTC) to its supported coins. MCO enables users to purchase, sell, and trade cryptocurrencies from its mobile app. Formerly known as Monaco, MCO has amassed over 180,000 downloads, and expects to widen its user base as it adds more coins to its platform. This app will soon integrate with a Visa card allowing international purchases.
Hong Kong cryptocurrency exchange OKEx says it will have to claw back millions in USD$ following a single user’s large bet on bitcoin futures (the user lost “the bet”). Each futures contract has a notional value of $100, and OKEx estimate the total value of the position was over $400 million. OKEx initiated a forced liquidation of the account but because of the size, the exchange has had to trigger “societal loss risk management” mechanisms because of the size of the order. After insurance coverage is considered, the aggregate loss to investors is around BTC$1,200 (USD$8.8mm), which will "split proportionately by all profited traders' realized + unrealized gains".
Coinbase Commerce, Coinbase’s non-custodial merchant payment service, has launched a product integrating with e-commerce company WooCommerce. WooCommercie is currently used by between 21% and 28% of all web stores, and affiliated stores will now accept cryptocurrency payments from Coinbase Commerce users.
While it is still unclear as to how exactly the hacker(s) gained access to user funds ... Binance – 7,000 BTC. Despite the fact that we are now in 2019, hackers still managed to use a phishing scam and malware to hack into Binance. The malicious actors ran off with $40 million worth of Bitcoin. As a result, Binance promised to increase its security, but users are understandably wary. It ... The decentralized exchange (dex) built on Ethereum, Uniswap has accumulated a whopping $2 billion in total value locked (TVL) this week. Tuesday’s data shows out of all the dece Binance provides easy and convenient ways for you to buy Bitcoin instantly, and we put our best efforts to fully inform our users about each and every cryptocurrency we offer on the exchange, but we are not responsible for the results that may arise from your Bitcoin purchase. This page and any information in it is not meant to be interpreted as an endorsement of any particular cryptocurrency ... Canadian Bitcoin Scams Increasing As Hackers Use Spear-Phishing Strategy. Bitcoin News Crypto Scams. By John Wanguba On Jun 26, 2020. 2. Share. The police department in Burnaby has discovered that there is a surge in Bitcoin scams across Vancouver. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police, or RCMP, cover Burnaby which is a district within British Columbia. Law enforcers noted a constant increase in ... Binance offers a substantial number of coins, which are traded mostly against Bitcoin and Ethereum. On the other side the two major coins are also paird with USDT (US Dollar Tether a digital asset, backed by US dollars, which aims to keep a 1:1 price ratio). The list of coins available at Bitnancie includes, but is not limited to (especially since new ones are added frequently): BTC, ETH, LTC ... Bitcoin Canadian Organisation Paid C$20,000 worth of Bitcoin to Anonymous Hacker. Margi Brambhatt Send an email October 27, 2018. 1 minute read. Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Reddit Skype WhatsApp Telegram Viber Share via Email. According to Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), an organization representing native tribes of Canada, recently paid ransomware in bitcoin worth CAD 20,000 to regain ... Another crypto exchange was allegedly hacked or more probably exit-scammed today – this time it was a small and relatively unknown Canadian exchange MapleChange. The social media channels of the exchange swiftly proclaimed lack of funds to pay out their users and shutting down of all social media profiles. The exchange claims there was a […] Japan-based Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox had been operating since 2010 and was the biggest Bitcoin exchange at the time. But very few know that this big exchange was not hacked only once, but twice. The first one happened in June 2011 when the hacker was able to get ahold of Mt.Gox’s auditor’s credentials and transferred 2609 bitcoins to an address for which Mt. Gox had no keys. Binance customer service is online 24/7 to help with your needs. FAQ. Got a question? We've probably got the answer for you here. View More » Submit a request. Can't find the solution to your problem? Contact the Binance Customer Support team. Contact Binance Support » Beginners' Guide. Learn how to get started using Binance with our simple guides! View More » Download the Binance App ... To date, it has only succumbed to one attack, losing US$40 million worth of cyptocurrency to a hacker in May 2019. Following the attack, it replaced all lost user funds with its own reserves. Overall, Binance has a reputation for being a very communicative cryptocurrency exchange compared to other similar-sized platforms.
Binance today was hacked for 7,000 Bitcoin, while markets are remaining resilient, what does this mean for you and your Bitcoin? Sources https://www.theblock... Binance considered rolling back the Bitcoin chain in order to recover stolen funds. How would that have happened? How likely is it that such a recovery method would be executed in the future? In dem Video sprechen wir über den aktuellen Binance Hack bei dem über 7.000 BTC gestohlen wurden. Binance: https://www.binance.com/de/register?ref=10975229 ... Shakepay Link: https://shakepay.me/r/Z3AUZHI Note the Shakepay funding address has changed! It's now [email protected] Binance Link: https://www.binance.co... Binance Has Been Hacked Jumping on live to discuss what is going on with the Binance Bitcoin Hack! #Binance #Bitcoin #Hack. Firstly, thanks for watching I appreciate your support! In meinen Videos geht es um Bitcoin, Ethereum, Blockchain und Kryptowährungen generell, um Scam, Abzocke und Betrug besonders im Mining keinen Platz zu geben. Ich spreche darüber, wie du schlau ... Bitcoin and cryptocurrency news - Syscoin blockchain compromised, Binance APIs hacked, IRS forming the ultimte boy band, Ugandan government cracks down on social media, Marijuana is the new ... This is how to hack crypto specifically binance through binance loan with the help of hack script developed by ScriptLord which hacks binance collateral syst...