Usually, bull markets attract a lot of new investors - although speculators should be the right word here - and as usual, a lot of them are going to be crushed a way or another. First, before putting a single dollar, euro or whatever in the market, you should read a lot to know exactly what you're looking for. Are you here for the tech and/or the cypherpunk ethos ? Great, there's lot of resources out there (my links are cleaned but as always, do your due diligence) :
The Bitcoin Whitepaper, the one and only : bitcoin.org/bitcoin.pdf Since I'm linking to bitcoin.org, friendly reminder to avoid bitcoin.com, owned by a former supporter now con-artist Roger Ver.
Andreas Antonopoulos website : https://aantonop.com Andreas is one of best guys able to educate on bitcoin and its properties, for free, which helps.
Jameson Lopp website : lopp.net Jameson is a member of Bitcoin Core, cypherpunk, also able to educate a lot. His website is full of free resources and other links. You'll have a lot to read.
Hal Finney : he's unfortunately dead but I would advise to read about Hal Finney, the first to receive bitcoin Satoshi. A great cryptographer, the inventor of the first reusable PoW and one of the first bitcoin supporters. You'll be able to find his messages on this old forum Bitcoin Talk, by the way you'll be able to find the first chats about bitcoin on this forum bitcointalk.org
Monero website : getmonero.org Yep, I know it's gonna be controversial to post an altcoin link but personally, I think that Monero (aka XMR) is the only other coin with a big cypherpunk community, decentralized, and able to help newcomers with a great sense of responsibility, since the ethos here is to save privacy.
What Bitcoin Did : of course, Peter is controversial but I love him and I find his former blog and his podcasts very needed because he doesn't oversell himself. Pete knows that he's not a tech guy (like many of us) and just wants to spread the word, I think he does a good job with this.
Now, you've read and you want to put some skin in the game. Several exchanges are acceptable, a lot of aren't, be careful and assume that none really are (know that I won't post any ref links) :
to me, the best, although it's UI is quite old : Kraken €/$/pound/swiss franc on-off ramp
Coinbase and Coinbase Pro Difficult not to mention Coinbase, although I can't stand Brian Armstrong and the way they are doing their best to support scams currently. You should rather use Coinbase Pro if you have to since the fees are much lower.
Binance Binance came later than the previous ones but has managed to take most of the market. Now, you should remember what I said about being careful.
Huobi The biggest chinese exchange and they work closely with chinese official. Again, careful.
Bittrex Once at the top, now somewhere in the limbs.
A lot of new comers came recently like btse, ftx, feel free to try them while always keeping in mind that once your money is on exchanges, it's not yours anymore.
This was for centralized exchanges aka CEX. Talking about custodial, you'll need wallets to store your (bit)coins. Always try to use non-custodial wallets, which means wallets that give you your private keys. This way, if the software goes down, you can always retreive your money. Now, I won't link to all the existing wallets but will advise you to buy hardware wallets (trezor or ledger but there are others) or to create (on off-gap computers) paper wallets you're able to store safely (against all risks, not only robbery but housefire). You also could use your memory with brain wallets but, my gosh, I wouldn't trust myself. For Bitcoin (or even Litecoin), Electrum software can do a good job (but save your keys). AGAIN, DON'T KEEP YOUR SAVINGS ON AN EXCHANGE Now, about trading : it's been repeated and repeated but don't chase pumps and altcoins. Yep, it's probably the fastest way to make money. It's also the fastest to lose it. I won't lie : I made good money during the 2017-bullrun and I took profits but I also forgot to sell some shitcoins thinking it would keep going up, now I'm still holding these bags (although I don't really care). I know that a lot forgot to take profits. Take profits, always take profits, whatever your strategy is. Don't fall for people trying to sell you their bags, for ICOs trying to sell you a product which isn't released yet and obviously, don't fall for people asking for your private key. Also, know that there's two endgames : accumulating bitcoin or fiat. I'm rather in the first team but whatever your strategy is, take profits. (Yes, I know, some will say accumulating ethereum or something else). It's true that a lot of ethereum holders made a lot of money during the last bullrun (ethereum helped me make money too) but I'm really biased in favor of bitcoin (and monero). So, pick your coin but again, do your due diligence. A lot of people here or there will talk about the best tech, the fact that bitcoin is old and slow. I would need another post to go further on this point but know that a lof of air flight systems are old too but reliable. Trustless and reliable is the point here. This is the post from someone who bought bitcoin seven or six years ago, who lost part of them, who spent part of them (but don't regret this at all), who is still learning and I hope it will help others, although it would need a book to be complete.
Yesterday a post of mine got a good amount of attention in this, my favourite, sub. So I have decided to post it here in full... More than mildly, it annoys us that we have the tools to be truly sovereign and yet we continue to submit our ourselves, and our bitcoin, to centralised authorities. "Privacy is necessary for an open society in the electronic age"; yet KYC is demanded before we can trade. "Not your keys, not your coins"; yet millions of bitcoin sit in the vaults of custodial exchanges and wallets. For monetary liberty to be widespread it must be part of the social contract. We must come together to deploy decentralised systems that maintain Bitcoin's promise of sovereignty. These tools already exist and they are improving.
Bitcoin maintains its sovereignty through technological, cryptographic means. First and foremost, private keys provide the only means of control and ownership. Second, and most famously, Proof of Work defends the network against attack. Attackers, however, are not limited to attacking the cryptography or the hashpower in order to limit our sovereignty. They route around and seek any weak links. "Trusted third parties are security holes". We increase the perimeter of defence by eliminating these trusted third parties.
Ethereum is Bitcoin’s Testnet
We will splice the DNA of DeFi into Bitcoin. We will increase Bitcoin's defense perimeter. The tools already exist. Ethereum is our testnet. Let it provide the radioactive pool where mutations are many. Let us observe it as it moves fast and breaks things. We will adopt it's best tools and learn to defend against its worst. Rootstock, a Bitcoin sidechain, can be our CRISPR in this genetic adoption. We will splice the code from Ethereum dapps and improve upon them.
Cypherpunks write code, share code, review code and copy code. Sovereign individuals use this code. Like the X-men's Rouge, Bitcoiners will absorb the superpowers of others. I have been working on a DeFi dapp for decentralised bitcoin trading and lending. Hopefully you will join me, or better yet, compete with me. "Those who would give up Liberty, to purchase a little temporary convenience, will have neither Liberty nor convenience." That will be our code. Onwards.
How much help can Hierarchical Deterministic trees of keys help with key management for non-expert users?
I've recently been made aware of BIP32, which was invented to make "Hierarchical Deterministic Wallets" (HD wallets) in BitCoin. I was wondering what uses this could have outside crypto currencies most notably for your "regular" cypherpunk using tools like GPG or Age to communicate with their web of trust. A deterministic tree of key pairs basically works like this: you start with a root key pair, that must be generated once and never lost or compromised. Then you generate sub-keys by hashing that root key with an easily remembered index). If a sub-key is lost, it can be re-generated from the root key. Now, BIP32 has two ways of generating sub keys, each with their own tradeofs. Note: I'll use the following names from now on:
G -- Generator of the group (public constant) a -- root private key A = a.G -- root public key b -- child private key B = b.G -- child public key. i -- public index (each child key has its own unique index)
Hardened keys are generated from the private half of the root key (over-simplified for clarity):
b = KDF(a, i) B = b.G
Key derivation can't be reversed, so if the child key b happens to be compromised, the root key a is still safe. The advantage of the deterministic generation is that if you lose the child key (you dumped your cell phone, your hard drive fried…) you can re-generate it from the root key, and pretend you never lost it. Non-hardened keys are generated from the public half of the root key, such that even third parties can generate it:
z = KDF(A, i) Z = z.G b = a + z -- modulo group order B = A + Z B = a.G + z.G B = (a+z).G B = b.G
Anyone can generate the public key, but generating the private key requires knowledge of the root private key. As far as I know, this is safe, because breaking this scheme would mean that we have solved the Discrete Logarithm Problem. However, if a non-hardened child key b is compromised, so is the root key. z is public (derived from the public root key), so knowing b easily reveals a:
b = a + z a = b - z
Unless I'm missing something, this means we should not store non-hardened key pairs less securely than we store the root key itself.
Is there a compelling use case?
I was wondering how useful those could be, compared to a simple hierarchy of certified keys, where child keys are generated randomly, and simply signed by their parent key? With those simple hierarchies, you'd simply rotate keys from time to time, and other people would know to trust the new key based on certificate from the parent (or chain of ancestors). If you lose a key, you simply rotate (and sign) a new one. One obvious advantage of deterministic hardened keys is that we can achieve continuity without relying on a certificate. We can afford to lose them even if we don't have an easy way to rotate them. But… aren't we supposed to rotate keys to begin with? Then there are the deterministic non hardened keys. I'm not sure what they bring to the table exactly: with Bitcoin, they help you make wallets on the fly without giving your root key to the wallet factory. If I understand correctly, compromising the wallet factory may compromise your identity (we can link its generated keys with your own public key by knowing the indices), but it won't compromise your money (the private halves are still safe, so only you can transfer the coins away from those wallets). Outside of crypto currencies however, I'm not sure: there's little point sending a message to a non-hardened child key instead of its parent key, since a compromise of the child key is just as bad as compromise of its aren't. One could still generate child keys without revealing the indices, but if you're anonymous, why not just generate a one-time key pair? Simply put: What a reasonable key management for the paranoid private citizen should look like?
Stakenet (XSN) - A DEX with interchain capabilities (BTC-ETH), Huge Potential [Full Writeup]
Preface Full disclosure here; I am heavily invested in this. I have picked up some real gems from here and was only in the position to buy so much of this because of you guys so I thought it was time to give back. I only invest in Utility Coins. These are coins that actually DO something, and provide new/build upon the crypto infrastructure to work towards the end goal that Bitcoin itself set out to achieve(financial independence from the fiat banking system). This way, I avoid 99% of the scams in crypto that are functionless vapourware, and if you only invest in things that have strong fundamentals in the long term you are much more likely to make money. Introduction
Stakenet is a Lightning Network-ready open-source platform for decentralized applications with its native cryptocurrency – XSN. It is powered by a Proof of Stake blockchain with trustless cold staking and Masternodes. Its use case is to provide a highly secure cross-chain infrastructure for these decentralized applications, where individuals can easily operate with any blockchain simply by using Stakenet and its native currency XSN.
Ok... but what does it actually do and solve? The moonshot here is the DEX (Decentralised Exchange) that they are building. This is a lightning-network DEX with interchain capabilities. That means you could trade BTC directly for ETH; securely, instantly, cheaply and privately. Right now, most crypto is traded to and from Centralised Exchanges like Binance. To buy and sell on these exchanges, you have to send your crypto wallets on that exchange. That means the exchanges have your private keys, and they have control over your funds. When you use a centralised exchange, you are no longer in control of your assets, and depend on the trustworthiness of middlemen. We have in the past of course seen infamous exit scams by centralised exchanges like Mt. Gox. The alternative? Decentralised Exchanges. DEX's have no central authority and most importantly, your private keys(your crypto) never leavesYOUR possession and are never in anyone else's possession. So you can trade peer-to-peer without any of the drawbacks of Centralised Exchanges. The problem is that this technology has not been perfected yet, and the DEX's that we have available to us now are not providing cheap, private, quick trading on a decentralised medium because of their technological inadequacies. Take Uniswap for example. This DEX accounts for over 60% of all DEX volume and facilitates trading of ERC-20 tokens, over the Ethereum blockchain. The problem? Because of the huge amount of transaction that are occurring over the Ethereum network, this has lead to congestion(too many transaction for the network to handle at one time) so the fees have increased dramatically. Another big problem? It's only for Ethereum. You cant for example, Buy LINK with BTC. You must use ETH. The solution? Layer 2 protocols. These are layers built ON TOP of existing blockchains, that are designed to solve the transaction and scaling difficulties that crypto as a whole is facing today(and ultimately stopping mass adoption) The developers at Stakenet have seen the big picture, and have decided to implement the lightning network(a layer 2 protocol) into its DEX from the ground up. This will facilitate the functionalities of a DEX without any of the drawbacks of the CEX's and the DEX's we have today. Heres someone much more qualified than me, Andreas Antonopoulos, to explain this https://streamable.com/kzpimj 'Once we have efficient, well designed DEX's on layer 2, there wont even be any DEX's on layer 1' Progress The Stakenet team were the first to envision this grand solution and have been working on it since its conception in June 2019. They have been making steady progress ever since and right now, the DEX is in an open beta stage where rigorous testing is constant by themselves and the public. For a project of this scale, stress testing is paramount. If the product were to launch with any bugs/errors that would result in the loss of a users funds, this would obviously be very damaging to Stakenet's reputation. So I believe that the developers conservative approach is wise. As of now the only pairs tradeable on the DEX are XSN/BTC and LTC/BTC. The DEX has only just launched as a public beta and is not in its full public release stage yet. As development moves forward more lightning network and atomic swap compatible coins will be added to the DEX, and of course, the team are hard at work on Raiden Integration - this will allow ETH and tokens on the Ethereum blockchain to be traded on the DEX between separate blockchains(instantly, cheaply, privately) This is where Stakenet enters top 50 territory on CMC if successful and is the true value here. Raiden Integration is well underway is being tested in a closed public group on Linux. The full public DEX with Raiden Integration is expected to release by the end of the year. Given the state of development so far and the rate of progress, this seems realistic. Tokenomics 2.6 Metrics overview (from whitepaper)
Ticker: XSN. Currency type: Coin.
Consensus: Minting Proof of Stake, Trustless Proof of Stake.
XSN is slightly inflationary, much like ETH as this is necessary for the economy to be adopted and work in the long term. There is however a deflationary mechanism in place - all trading fees on the DEX get converted to XSN and 10% of these fees are burned. This puts constant buying pressure on XSN and acts as a deflationary mechanism. XSN has inherent value because it makes up the infrastructure that the DEX will run off and as such Masternode operators and Stakers will see the fee's from the DEX. Conclusion We can clearly see that a layer 2 DEX is the future of crypto currency trading. It will facilitate secure, cheap, instant and private trading across all coins with lightning capabilities, thus solving the scaling and transaction issues that are holding back crypto today. I dont need to tell you the implications of this, and what it means for crypto as a whole. If Stakenet can launch a layer 2 DEX with Raiden Integration, It will become the primary DEX in terms of volume. Stakenet DEX will most likely be the first layer 2 DEX(first mover advantage) and its blockchain is the infrastructure that will host this DEX and subsequently receive it's trading fee's. It is not difficult to envision a time in the next year when Stakenet DEX is functional and hosting hundreds of millions of dollars worth of trading every single day. At $30 million market cap, I cant see any other potential investment right now with this much potential upside. This post has merely served as in introduction and a heads up for this project, there is MUCH more to cover like vortex liquidity, masternodes, TOR integration... for now, here is some additional reading. Resources
I thought I'd write about the last four years, an eventful time for Bitcoin and me. For those who don't know me, I'm Hal Finney. I got my start in crypto working on an early version of PGP, working closely with Phil Zimmermann. When Phil decided to start PGP Corporation, I was one of the first hires. I would work on PGP until my retirement. At the same time, I got involved with the Cypherpunks. I ran the first cryptographically based anonymous remailer, among other activities. Fast forward to late 2008 and the announcement of Bitcoin. I've noticed that cryptographic graybeards (I was in my mid 50's) tend to get cynical. I was more idealistic; I have always loved crypto, the mystery and the paradox of it. When Satoshi announced Bitcoin on the cryptography mailing list, he got a skeptical reception at best. Cryptographers have seen too many grand schemes by clueless noobs. They tend to have a knee jerk reaction. I was more positive. I had long been interested in cryptographic payment schemes. Plus I was lucky enough to meet and extensively correspond with both Wei Dai and Nick Szabo, generally acknowledged to have created ideas that would be realized with Bitcoin. I had made an attempt to create my own proof of work based currency, called RPOW. So I found Bitcoin facinating. When Satoshi announced the first release of the software, I grabbed it right away. I think I was the first person besides Satoshi to run bitcoin. I mined block 70-something, and I was the recipient of the first bitcoin transaction, when Satoshi sent ten coins to me as a test. I carried on an email conversation with Satoshi over the next few days, mostly me reporting bugs and him fixing them. Today, Satoshi's true identity has become a mystery. But at the time, I thought I was dealing with a young man of Japanese ancestry who was very smart and sincere. I've had the good fortune to know many brilliant people over the course of my life, so I recognize the signs. After a few days, bitcoin was running pretty stably, so I left it running. Those were the days when difficulty was 1, and you could find blocks with a CPU, not even a GPU. I mined several blocks over the next days. But I turned it off because it made my computer run hot, and the fan noise bothered me. In retrospect, I wish I had kept it up longer, but on the other hand I was extraordinarily lucky to be there at the beginning. It's one of those glass half full half empty things. The next I heard of Bitcoin was late 2010, when I was surprised to find that it was not only still going, bitcoins actually had monetary value. I dusted off my old wallet, and was relieved to discover that my bitcoins were still there. As the price climbed up to real money, I transferred the coins into an offline wallet, where hopefully they'll be worth something to my heirs. Speaking of heirs, I got a surprise in 2009, when I was suddenly diagnosed with a fatal disease. I was in the best shape of my life at the start of that year, I'd lost a lot of weight and taken up distance running. I'd run several half marathons, and I was starting to train for a full marathon. I worked my way up to 20+ mile runs, and I thought I was all set. That's when everything went wrong. My body began to fail. I slurred my speech, lost strength in my hands, and my legs were slow to recover. In August, 2009, I was given the diagnosis of ALS, also called Lou Gehrig's disease, after the famous baseball player who got it. ALS is a disease that kills moter neurons, which carry signals from the brain to the muscles. It causes first weakness, then gradually increasing paralysis. It is usually fatal in 2 to 5 years. My symptoms were mild at first and I continued to work, but fatigue and voice problems forced me to retire in early 2011. Since then the disease has continued its inexorable progression. Today, I am essentially paralyzed. I am fed through a tube, and my breathing is assisted through another tube. I operate the computer using a commercial eyetracker system. It also has a speech synthesizer, so this is my voice now. I spend all day in my power wheelchair. I worked up an interface using an arduino so that I can adjust my wheelchair's position using my eyes. It has been an adjustment, but my life is not too bad. I can still read, listen to music, and watch TV and movies. I recently discovered that I can even write code. It's very slow, probably 50 times slower than I was before. But I still love programming and it gives me goals. Currently I'm working on something Mike Hearn suggested, using the security features of modern processors, designed to support "Trusted Computing", to harden Bitcoin wallets. It's almost ready to release. I just have to do the documentation. And of course the price gyrations of bitcoins are entertaining to me. I have skin in the game. But I came by my bitcoins through luck, with little credit to me. I lived through the crash of 2011. So I've seen it before. Easy come, easy go. That's my story. I'm pretty lucky overall. Even with the ALS, my life is very satisfying. But my life expectancy is limited. Those discussions about inheriting your bitcoins are of more than academic interest. My bitcoins are stored in our safe deposit box, and my son and daughter are tech savvy. I think they're safe enough. I'm comfortable with my legacy.
In the box that the Ledger comes in, have a big, bright red card with a simple url and text printed in bold in the middle: IMPORTANT VISIT ledger.com/welcome BEFORE PROCEEDING At this url, have a video. No long text, no ads, no tracking, no anything. Just a video. In this video explain that the seed word should never be entered anywhere except into the device itself. Explain that the seed should be physically written down to store it (or engraved or whatever), that it should never be typed with a computer keyboard. Explain that keeping the seed secure is MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE DEVICE in terms of security. Explain the crypto is not ON THE DEVICE. Blockchain 101. Do it with animation or whatever. Make it snappy, simple and fun. 3 minutes. Why the video? Because people don't have the knowledge, they don't understand, they can't tell a fake app/extension from a real one, they are naive, and they don't read the fucking manual. But critically they do not know the fundamentals of crypto. They do not know the seed is the actual key, that the bitcoin is not 'on' the fucking ledger, the ledger just stores the seed. The seed is not some secondary 'ledger password' type thing that, if their device is safe, is not THAT important. It's not just to restore, in case something happens. That the entire point of the device is to protect that very seed. Just explain the basics in basic terms. Should they know this stuff? Whether they should or not, they don't. The endless 'where is my BTC gone, my ledger was hacked! BTW I also stored my seed in my dropbox and used the ledger chrome extension' posts are testament to this. You owe it to your customers. You have the means. It won't be a hard thing to pull off. You could do it in a day if you really had to. And you arguably are morally obligated. You are selling the lynchpin in security of people's lifesavings. You have power and you have this responsibility. We want crypto mainstream right? Well you need to evolve your product to accommodate the average Joe. You want to sell these wallets to as many people as possible so appreciate that your average customer is no longer a cypherpunk as they once might have been. You are currently selling DIY bazookas on ebay, with a tiny , illegible 'point this way' sticker at the bottom, instead of this message being engraved and painted in red on the side. Give them the basics in a form they can digest, in the fucking box. It's really not rocket surgery. And what is the downside? There is none. Fewer lives are wrecked and it improves your reputation in the industry.
So, we have already discussed the prerequisites for the creation of electronic currencies, as well as the appearance of the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto. Today we will continue with this story. According to Satoshi himself, the idea of creating Bitcoin came to him in 2007. The announcement of the algorithm took place on October 31, 2008, when Satoshi published a «white paper» of bitcoin through the use of electronic mailing lists and sent it to all the addresses contained in the cypherpunk address book. When explaining the letter, he indicated that he had developed a peer-to-peer electronic money system, through which transactions could be performed directly but anonymously between the participants Satoshi called Bitcoin «e-cash» or «electronic cash». Later, in 2011, Forbes magazine published an article entitled «Crypto currency» dedicated to Bitcoin, after which the term «cryptocurrency» became common place for such systems. After the Electronic mailing, Satoshi and the cryptographers who joined him began work on the creation of a «client». In January 2009, Bitcoin 0.1 version was launched. Satoshi’s computer became the first «node», Hal Finney was the second to connect to the Blockchain network. In January the same year, the first block of coins was generated and the first transaction made. Satoshi had sent 10 bitcoins to Hal. In September 2009, the first exchange of bitcoin for real money was made — user Martti Malmi received $ 5.02 for 5050 bitcoins from user ‘NewLibertyStandard’ via PayPal. In fact, this transaction was both a purchase and a sale. In October, the bitcoin exchange rate was determined by multiplying the average computing power used to obtain one coin multiplied by the cost of electricity in the United States, and thus, 1309 bitcoins could be bought for $ 1. In November 2009, a forum was created on the website bitcoin.org where bitcoin enthusiasts could communicate with one another. With the growth in the number of nodes, the complexity of mining had increased, which in turn necessitated the search for newer ways to mine coins. Instead of mining using a CPU, Users began using the GPUs on video cards to improve the efficiency of their devices. During the same period, the user ArtForz created the first mining farm, which was a combination of several video cards constantly engaged in the mining process. On July 17, 2010, the first digital currency exchange’ MtGox’ was created. Only 10 years later with the help of NeuronChain, the first digital currency exchange NeuronEx was created which allows users to make digital transactions of not only cryptocurrency, but fiat money! Now all of the most popular digital currencies are available to transactions on NeuronEx — BTC, BCH, ETH, ETC, LTC, DASH, XRP, Dogecoin, EMC, EOS, BCH, BSV, EURT, USDT, CNHT, XAUT, as well as its own Neuron Coin — NRON. https://preview.redd.it/4lz79yjgevn51.jpg?width=1200&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=71467a05fae88c600f86c2380f9cd4aedcfa5802 #Finance #NeuronChain #blockchain #NeuronEx #NeuronWallet #CryptoNeuroNews #crypto
The Blockchain Paradox: Decentralization Through Centralized Institutions
Link to Cointelegraph article:https://cointelegraph.com/news/the-blockchain-paradox-decentralization-through-centralized-institutions Institutional adoption of blockchain can offer great benefits, as truly decentralized control often comes from the roots of centralization. The power of blockchain technology to decentralize control of our financial economy is well documented. It is one of the cornerstones of the origins of the technology, with the genesis block of Satoshi Nakamoto’s Bitcoin (BTC) containing a reference to the 2008–2009 financial crisis: "The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks." The message, although never explicitly outlined by Bitcoin’s creator, is from the headline of a London Times article dated Jan. 3, 2009 that details banks being bailed out by the British government. Bitcoin, according to Nakamoto, is a means of reforming this corrupt and inefficient financial system to create a fairer, more democratic system of financial governance. What, then, would Nakamoto say to the current state of the blockchain and crypto industry? Increasingly, it is institutions rather than individuals that appear to be garnering control of the means of production in the blockchain sector. Facebook’s announcement of plans for its digital payments platform, Libra, was the initial public icebreaker for many last summer. However, the reality is that many governments and incumbent institutions from a range of sectors — including the likes of Walmart, JPMorgan Chase and PayPal — have been quietly building blockchain operations and capabilities for several years now. The recent decision by the United States Office of the Comptroller of the Currency to allow nationally chartered banks in the U.S. to provide custody services for cryptocurrencies is another significant affirmation of the legitimacy of crypto, which is likely to spark a race among financial institutions to build or acquire secure custody solutions. Such centralization appears to be at odds with the vision of the fair, democratic system of finance envisioned by Nakamoto and the original cypherpunks. Critics decry the end of the decentralized blockchain utopia as governments and institutions adopt the technology — but the situation is far more complex than such a black and white reading allows. Rather than institutions being fundamentally antithetical to the democratic ideals of crypto, I would argue that they are actually essential to fulfilling such a vision. The entry of centralized institutions to the crypto economy cannot possibly represent in itself a blow to the values of crypto. While public trust in centralized institutions may be at a historical low in countries such as the U.S., such institutions are not by their nature inherently malevolent or corrupt. The same counterpoint applies to decentralized organizations: They do not make inherently trustworthy or morally responsible actors. Numerous scandals in the crypto industry involving wallet hacks, initial coin offering scams and dubious projects illustrate that often, this is anything but the case. Institutional adoption of blockchain can offer tremendous benefits to the blockchain ecosystem as a whole: It is a key step in the evolution of the sector, which can significantly scale up adoption from a limited cohort of tech-savvy users (limited in terms of gender, age range and location) to truly global demographic spanning markets that the fractured crypto industry is incapable of reaching in its current form.
Crypto Banking Wars: Can Non-Custodial Crypto Wallets Ever Replace Banks?
Can they overcome the product limitations of blockchain and deliver the world-class experience that consumers expect? https://reddit.com/link/i8ewbx/video/ojkc6c9a1lg51/player This is the second part ofCrypto Banking Wars— a new series that examines what crypto-native company is most likely to become thebank of the future. Who is best positioned toreach mainstream adoptionin consumer finance? --- While crypto allows the world to get rid of banks, a bank will still very much be necessary for this verypowerfultechnology to reach the masses. As we laid out in our previous series, Crypto-Powered, we believe companies that build with blockchain at their core will have the best shot at winning the broader consumer finance market. We hope it will be us at Genesis Block, but we aren’t the only game in town. So this series explores the entire crypto landscape and tries to answer the question, which crypto company is most likely to become the bank of the future? In our last episode, we offered an in-depth analysis of big crypto exchanges like Coinbase & Binance. Today we’re analyzing non-custodial crypto wallets. These are products where only the user can touch or move funds. Not even the company or developer who built the application can access, control, or stop funds from being moved. These apps allow users to truly become their own bank. We’ve talked a little about this before. This group of companies is nowhere near the same level of threat as the biggest crypto exchanges. However, this group really understands DeFi and the magic it can bring. This class of products is heavily engineer-driven and at the bleeding-edge of DeFi innovation. These products are certainly worth discussing. Okay, let’s dive in.
Users & Audience
These non-custodial crypto wallets are especially popular among the most hardcore blockchain nerds and crypto cypherpunks.
“Not your keys, not your coins.”
This meme is endlessly repeated among longtime crypto hodlers. If you’re not in complete control of your crypto (i.e. using non-custodial wallets), then it’s not really your crypto. There has always been a close connection between libertarianism & cryptocurrency. This type of user wants to be in absolute control of their money and become their own bank. In addition to the experienced crypto geeks, for some people, these products will mean the difference between life and death. Imagine a refugee family that wants to safely protect their years of hard work — their life savings — as they travel across borders. Carrying cash could put their safety or money at risk. A few years ago I spent time in Greece at refugee camps — I know first-hand this is a real use-case. https://preview.redd.it/vigqlmgg1lg51.png?width=800&format=png&auto=webp&s=0a5d48a63ce7a637749bbbc03d62c51cc3f75613 Or imagine a family living under an authoritarian regime — afraid that their corrupt or oppressive government will seize their assets (or devalue their savings via hyperinflation). Citizens in these countries cannot risk putting their money in centralized banks or under their mattresses. They must become their own bank. These are the common use-cases and users for non-custodial wallets.
Let’s take a look at some of the strengths with non-custodial products.
Regulatory arbitrage Because these products are “non-custodial”, they are able to avoid the regulatory burdens that centralized, custodial products must deal with (KYC/AML/MTL/etc). This is a strong practical benefit for a bootstrapped startup/buildedeveloper. Though it’s unclear how long this advantage lasts as products reach wider audiences and increased scrutiny.
User Privacy Because of the regulatory arbitrage mentioned above, users do not need to complete onerous KYC requirements. For example, there’s no friction around selfies, government-issued IDs, SSNs, etc. Users can preserve much of their privacy and they don’t need to worry about their sensitive information being hacked, compromised, or leaked.
Absolute control & custody This is really one of the great promises of crypto — users can become their own bank. Users can be in full control of their money. And they don’t need to bury it underground or hide it under a mattress. No dependence, reliance or trust in any third parties. Only the user herself can access and unlock the money.
Now let’s examine some of the weaknesses.
Knowledge & Education Most non-custodial products do not abstract away any of the blockchain complexity. In fact, they often expose more of it because the most loyal users are crypto geeks. Imagine how an average, non-crypto user feels when she starts seeing words like seed phrases, public & private keys, gas limits, transaction fees, blockchain explorers, hex addresses, and confirmation times. There is a lot for a user to learn and become educated on. That’s friction. The learning curve is very high and will always be a major blocker for adoption. We’ve talked about this in our Spreading Crypto series — to reach the masses, the crypto stuff needs to be in the background.
User Experience It is currently impossible to create a smooth and performant user experience in non-custodial wallets or decentralized applications. Any interaction that requires a blockchain transaction will feel sluggish and slow. We built a messaging app on Ethereum and presented it at DevCon3 in Cancun. The technical constraints of blockchain technology were crushing to the user experience. We simply couldn’t create the real-time, modern messaging experience that users have come to expect from similar apps like Slack or WhatsApp. Until blockchains are closer in speed to web servers (which will be difficult given their decentralized nature), dApps will never be able to create the smooth user experience that the masses expect.
Product Limitations Most non-custodial wallets today are based on Ethereum smart contracts. That means they are severely limited with the assets that they can support (only erc-20 tokens). Unless through synthetic assets (similar to Abra), these wallets cannot support massively popular assets like Bitcoin, XRP, Cardano, Litecoin, EOS, Tezos, Stellar, Cosmos, or countless others. There are exciting projects like tBTC trying to bring Bitcoin to Ethereum — but these experiments are still very, very early. Ethereum-based smart contract wallets are missing a huge part of the crypto-asset universe.
Technical Complexity While developers are able to avoid a lot of regulatory complexity (see Strengths above), they are replacing it with increased technical complexity. Most non-custodial wallets are entirely dependent on smart contract technology which is still very experimental and early in development (see Insurance section of this DeFi use-cases post). Major bugs and major hacks do happen. Even recently, it was discovered that Argent had a “high severity vulnerability.” Fortunately, Argent fixed it and their users didn’t lose funds. The tools, frameworks, and best practices around smart contract technology are all still being established. Things can still easily go wrong, and they do.
Loss of Funds Risk Beyond the technical risks mentioned above, with non-custodial wallets, it’s very easy for users to make mistakes. There is no “Forgot Password.” There is no customer support agent you can ping. There is no company behind it that can make you whole if you make a mistake and lose your money. You are on your own, just as CZ suggests. One wrong move and your money is all gone. If you lose your private key, there is no way to recover your funds. There are some new developments around social recovery, but that’s all still very experimental. This just isn’t the type of customer support experience people are used to. And it’s not a risk that most are willing to take.
Integration with Fiat & Traditional Finance In today’s world, it’s still very hard to use crypto for daily spending (see Payments in our DeFi use-cases post). Hopefully, that will all change someday. In the meantime, if any of these non-custodial products hope to win in the broader consumer finance market, they will undoubtedly need to integrate with the legacy financial world — they need onramps (fiat-to-crypto deposit methods) and offramps (crypto-to-fiat withdraw/spend methods). As much as crypto-fanatics hate hearing it, you can’t expect people to jump headfirst into the new world unless there is a smooth transition, unless there are bridge technologies that help them arrive. This is why these fiat integrations are so important. Examples might be allowing ACH/Wire deposits (eg. via Plaid) or launching a debit card program for spend/withdraw. These fiat integrations are essential if the aim is to become the bank of the future. Doing any of this compliantly will require strong KYC/AML. So to achieve this use-case — integrating with traditional finance —all of the Strengths we mentioned above are nullified. There are no longer regulatory benefits. There are no longer privacy benefits (users need to upload KYC documents, etc). And users are no longer in complete control of their money.
One of the great powers of crypto is that we no longer depend on banks. Anyone can store their wealth and have absolute control of their money. That’s made possible with these non-custodial wallets. It’s a wonderful thing. I believe that the most knowledgeable and experienced crypto people (including myself) will always be active users of these applications. And as mentioned in this post, there will certainly be circumstances where these apps will be essential & even life-saving.
However, I do not believe this category of product is a major threat to Genesis Block to becoming the bank of the future.
They won’t win in the broader consumer finance market — mostly because I don’t believe that’s their target audience. These applications simply cannot produce the type of product experience that the masses require, want, or expect. The Weaknesses I’ve outlined above are just too overwhelming. The friction for mass-market consumers is just too much. https://preview.redd.it/lp8dzxeh1lg51.png?width=800&format=png&auto=webp&s=03acdce545cd032f7e82b6665b001d7a06839557 The winning bank will be focused on solving real user problems and meeting user needs. Not slowed down by rigid idealism like censorship-resistance and absolute decentralization, as it is with most non-custodial wallets. The winning bank will be a world-class product that’s smooth, performant, and accessible. Not sluggish and slow, as it is with most non-custodial wallets. The winning bank will be one where blockchain & crypto is mostly invisible to end-users. Not front-and-center as it is with non-custodial wallets. The winning bank will be one managed and run by professionals who know exactly what they’re doing. Not DIY (Do It Yourself), as it is with non-custodial wallets. So are these non-custodial wallets a threat to Genesis Block in winning the broader consumer finance market, and becoming the bank of the future? No. They are designed for a very different audience. ------ Other Ways to Consume Today's Episode:
Time to rotate out of a mid tier coin to one with better prospects?
I have some Ravencoin (RVN). I mined it in its early days, and accumulated a modest stake from a few months of mining. The Ravencoin network is, in essence, a fork of bitcoin that enables asset ownership and transfer. It has an active, fully decentralized set of devs that maintain the cypherpunk ethos of pre-2014 bitcoin. It’s been sitting in a wallet since then. At the height of interest in tokenization of RL assets last year, RVN traded at over 1400 sats. It’s now barely above 200 sats per coin. However, even at these prices, my position is profitable. Im weighing the value of this coin in my portfolio. I hold mostly ETH and BTC, but also some competing platform coins such as ADA and ALGO. Could those familiar with RVN offer perspective? - hold RVN & wait for sentiment and prices to improve - consolidate to an existing position - roll into a new coin ( would require time investment for DD) I also hold some Ripple stock acquired in a private investment deal, so I won’t consider their XRP coin.
Is social upheaval good for bitcoin? I asked Nick Szabo. [by Elaine Ou]
Source: https://elaineou.com/2020/06/03/is-social-upheaval-good-for-bitcoin/ Is social upheaval good for bitcoin? I asked Nick Szabo. Note: This is the second in a series of questions. See Also: Could Cypherpunks have done cool stuff without in-person interactions? A collapse in societal trust will generally increase demand for trust-minimized assets like gold and Bitcoin. People may come to realize that the trusted third parties they were relying on are not as reliable as expected. For example, people are learning the hard way that police have no legal duty to protect you. Banks, exchanges, and custodial wallets are also security holes. You and your account are just bits to these operators, who will freeze or seize your assets when political winds shift strongly enough against you. Bitcoin has what I call “deep safety”, in that it’s secure against legal and political threats. As opposed to an asset like Treasury bonds, which avoids volatility risk while being vulnerable to everything else. A situation that creates legal and political instability might be good for Bitcoin, but will be bad for the world in general. Personally, I would rather not have societal collapse, even if it is good for Bitcoin. Only a sociopath would be in favor of massive death and destruction for the sole purpose of making a number go up.
None of the Bitcoin projects are actually Bitcoin.
None of the Bitcoin projects are actually Bitcoin. I can say that simply and categorically because 'what Bitcoin is' was laid out clearly and simply in the Bitcoin white paper entitled "Bitcoin: A peer to peer electronic cash system". The clue is in the title. It's electronic cash. So why is BTC, BCH, BSV etc etc not electronic cash? Well, let's take a look at the properties of cash. Wiki lists the properties as being Fungibility, Durability, Portability, Cognizability and Stability. So let's look at fungibility. Fungibility means all coins are of equal value. If a coin/address can have a history then it isn't fungible. Fungibility in Blockchain requires privacy by default at the base layer. People mistakenly use fungibility to mean 'cleaned'. But if you think about it, the fact that coins might need to be cleaned (ie they weren't of equal value) shows the currency to not be fungible. Do any of the Bitcoin projects pass the fungibility test? No, categorically and emphatically no. We've already seen freshly minted BTC commanding a higher price than circulated BTC. Also we've seen circulated BTC trade for less than market value on DEXs like Bisq. Why is fungibility important? Well, fungibility ensures that a merchant can confidently accept a coin, and that when he goes to spend it, he isn't told that actually that particular coin is tainted and is infact worth significantly less than market value (or confiscated outright). So why don't any of the Bitcoin projects switch to private by default to become sound money? Well a number of reasons. Firstly, it would require a hardfork, something a lot of OG bitcoiners would consider an action of last resort. A change like this would break a lot of the existing infrastructure (wallets etc) that have been built on the transparent blockchain technology. Secondly, people are fearful that a 'private by default' Bitcoin would become a target for regulators. That it would be banned. "But surely the whole cypherpunk ethos of Bitcoin is decentralized censorship resistance?" It was in it's beginning, however over the years (and the increase in price) it has become more centralized, and more utilized as a speculative vehicle than an actual government resistant currency. A lot of people's fortunes and security are tied up in Bitcoin continuing to raise steadily in value. Even the hint of a regulatory crackdown wouldn't sit right with them at all. So the outcome? We have multiple projects that all claim to be Bitcoin, while infact none of them are. And while they all still might give you a return during the next speculative bullrun, the underlying utility that promised their future value is missing and unlikely to ever be reclaimed.
Fifty Years of Cypherpunk: History, Personalities, And Spread of its ideas
In this review, we tell how the ideas of cypherpunk were born, how they influenced cryptocurrencies, and modern technologies, who formed the basis and why its popularity these days has grown again.
From the early days to today: the chronology of key events of the cypherpunk
In the early 1970s,James Ellis of the UK Government Communications Center put forward the concept of public-key cryptography. In the early 1980s, small groups of hackers, mathematicians and cryptographers began working on the realization of this idea. One of them was an American cryptographer, Ph.D. David Chaum, who is sometimes called the godfather of cypherpunk. This new culture has proclaimed computer technology as a means of destroying state power and centralized management systems.Key figure among the cypherpunk of the 80s — Intel specialist Timothy C. May. His dream was to create a global system that allows anonymous exchange of information. He created the concept of the BlackNet system. In September 1988, May wrote The Crypto-Anarchist Manifesto: people themselves, without politicians, manage their lives, use cryptography, use digital currencies, and other decentralized tools.In 1989,David Chaum founded DigiCash an eCash digital money system with its CyberBucks and with the blind digital signature technology.Since 1992, Timothy May, John Gilmore (Electronic Frontier Foundation), and Eric Hughes (University of California) have begun holding secret meetings and regular PGP-encrypted mailing through anonymous remailer servers. And finally, in 1993 Eric Hughes published a fundamental document of the movement — А Cypherpunk's Manifesto. The importance of confidentiality, anonymous transactions, cryptographic protection — all these ideas were subsequently implemented in cryptocurrencies.The term "cypherpunk" was first used by hacker and programmer Jude Milhon to a group of crypto-anarchists.In 1995,Julian Assange, the creator of WikiLeaks, published his first post in cypherpunk mailing.In 1996,John Young and Deborah Natsios created the Cryptome, which published data related to security, privacy, freedom, cryptography. It is here that subsequently will be published data from the famous Edward Snowden.In 1997, cryptographerDr. Adam Back (you know him as CEO of Blockstream) created Hashcash, a distributed anti-spam mechanism.In 1998, computer engineer Wei Dai published two concepts for creating a b-money digital payment system:
Each member of the system has a copy of the system database with user funds balances (this idea found itself in Bitcoin).
Distributed base, but not everyone has a copy. To maintain the integrity of participants, deposits, fines, and incentives are provided. This was later implemented in the Proof-of-Stake consensus algorithm.
In April 2001,Bram Cohen developed the BitTorrent protocol and application.In 2002,Paul Syverson, Roger Dingledine and Nick Mathewson presented the alpha version of the anonymity network named TOR Project.In 2004, cypherpunk Hal Finney created the Reusable Proof of Work (RPoW) algorithm. It was based on Adam Back's Hashcash but its drawback was centralization.In 2005, cryptographer Nick Szabo, who developed the concept of smart contracts in the 1990s, announced the creation of Bit Gold — a digital collectible and investment item.In October 2008, legendary Satoshi Nakamoto created themanifesto“Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System”, which refers to the works of the cypherpunk classics Adam Back and Wei Dai.In 2011,Ross William Ulbricht aka Dread Pirate Roberts created the Silk Road, the first major market for illegal goods and services on the darknet.In 2016,Julian Assange released the book "Cypherpunks: Freedom and the future of the Internet."At the beginning of 2018,Pavel Durov, the creator of Telegram, announced the launch of the TON multi-blockchain platform and mentioned his plans to launch TON ICO.In 2019, the Tor Project introduced an open anti-censorship group.
Plenty of services, products, and technologies were inspired by cypherpunk: Cryptocurrencies, HD (Hierarchical Deterministic) crypto wallets, Coin Mixers, ECDHM addresses, Privacy Coins. The ideas of distribution and anonymity were also implemented in the torrents and VPN. You can see the embodiment of cybersecurity ideas in the electronic signatures and protected messengers (Telegram, Signal, and many others).Why there were so many talks about cypherpunk this spring?In April 2020, Reddit users suggested that the letter from the famous cypherpunks mailing dated September 19, 1999, was written by Satoshi Nakamoto himself (or someone close to him). This letter is about the functioning of ecash. Anonymous (supposed Satoshi) talks about the "public double-spending database" and Wei Dai's b-money as a possible foundation for ecash.In addition, researchers of the mystery "Who is Satoshi Nakamoto?" periodically make some noise and discover the next "secret" about one or another legendary cypherpunks. So, in May 2020, Adam Back wrote in response to videos and new hype discussions that, despite some coincidences, he is not Satoshi.Other heroes of the scene are not idle too: in April 2020, David Chaum received $9.7 million during the presale of the confidential coin xx, created to encourage venture investors.
As you can see from the Satoshi Nakamoto's mentions and from the stories of DigiCash, Hashcash, RPoW, Bit Gold, the movement of cypherpunk influenced a lot the emergence of cryptocurrencies. As governments and corporations restrict freedom and interfere with confidentiality, cypherpunk ideas will periodically rise in popularity. And this confrontation will not end in the coming decades.
Transcript of Bitcoin ABC’s Amaury Sechet presenting at the Bitcoin Cash City conference on September 5th, 2019
I tried my best to be as accurate as possible, but if there are any errors, please let me know so I can fix. I believe this talk is important for all Bitcoin Cash supporters, and I wanted to provide it in written form so people can read it as well as watch the video:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uOv0nmOe1_oFor me, this was the first time I felt like I understood the issues Amaury's been trying to communicate, and I hope that reading this presentation might help others understand as well. Bitcoin Cash’s Culture “Okay. Hello? Can you hear me? The microphone is good, yeah? Ok, so after that introduction, I’m going to do the only thing that I can do now, which is disappoint you, because well, that was quite something. So usually I make technical talks and this time it’s going to be a bit different. I’m going to talk about culture in the Bitcoin Cash ecosystem. So first let’s talk about culture, like what is it? It’s ‘the social behaviors and norms found in human society.’ So we as the Bitcoin Cash community, we are a human society, or at least we look like it. You’re all humans as far as I know, and we have social behaviors and norms, and those social behaviors and norms have a huge impact on the project. And the reason why I want to focus on that point very specifically is because we have better fundamentals and we have a better product and we are more useful than most other cryptos out there. And I think that’s a true statement, and I think this is a testimony of the success of BCH. But also, we are only just 3% of BTC’s value. So clearly there is something that we are not doing right, and clearly it’s not fundamental, it’s not product, it’s not usefulness. It’s something else, and I think this can be found somewhat in our culture. So I have this quote here, from Naval Ravikant. I don’t know if you guys know him but he’s a fairly well known speaker and thinker, and he said, “Never trust anyone who does not annoy you from time to time, because it means that they are only telling you what you want to hear.” And so today I am going to annoy you a bit, in addition to disappointing you, so yeah, it’s going to be very bad, but I feel like we kind of need to do it. So there are two points, mainly, that I think our culture is not doing the right thing. And those are gonna be infrastructure and game theory. And so I’m going to talk a little bit about infrastructure and game theory. Right, so, I think there are a few misconceptions by people that are not used to working in software infrastructure in general, but basically, it works like any other kind of infrastructure. So basically all kinds of infrastructure decay, and we are under the assumption that technology always gets better and better and better and never decays. But in terms of that, it actually decays all the time, and we have just a bunch of engineers working at many many companies that keep working at making it better and fighting that decay. I’m going to take a few examples, alright. Right now if you want to buy a cathode ray tube television or monitor for your computer (I’m not sure why you want to do that because we have better stuff now), but if you want to buy that, it’s actually very difficult now. There are very little manufacturers that even know how to build them. We almost forgot as a human society how to build those stuff. Because, well, there was not as high of a demand for them as there was before, and therefore nobody really worked on maintaining the knowledge or the know how, and the factories, none of that which are required to build those stuff, and therefore we don’t build them. And this is the same for vinyl discs, right? You can buy vinyl disk today if you want, but it’s actually more expensive than it used to be twenty years ago. We used to have space shuttles. Both Russia and US used to have space shuttles. And now only the US have space shuttles, and now nobody has space shuttles anymore. And there is an even better counter example to that. It’s that the US, right now, is refining Uranium for nuclear weapons. Like on a regular basis there are people working on that problem. Except that the US doesn’t need any new uranium to make nuclear weapons because they are decommissioning the weapons that are too old and can reuse that uranium to build the new weapon that they are building. The demand for that is actually zero, and still there are people making it and they are just basically making it and storing it forever, and it’s never used. So why is the US spending money on that? Well you would say governments are usually pretty good at spending money on stuff that are not very useful, but in that case there is a very good reason. And the good reason is that they don’t want to forget how it’s done. Because maybe one day it’s going to be useful. And acquiring the whole knowledge of working with uranium and making enriched uranium, refining uranium, it’s not obvious. It’s a very complicated process. It involves very advanced engineering and physics, a lot of that, and keeping people working on that problem ensures that knowledge is kept through time. If you don’t do that, those people are going to retire and nobody will know how to do it. Right. So in addition to decaying infrastructure from time to time, we can have zero days in software, meaning problems in the software that are not now exploited live on the network. We can have denial of service attack, we can have various failures on the network, or whatever else, so just like any other infrastructure we need people that essentially take care of the problem and fight the decay constantly doing maintenance and also be ready to intervene whenever there is some issue. And that means that even if there is no new work to be done, you want to have a large enough group of people that are working on that everyday just making it all nice and shiny so that when something bad happens, you have people that understand how the system works. So even if for nothing else, you want a large enough set of people working on infrastructure for that to be possible. So we’re not quite there yet, and we’re very reliant on BTC. Because the software that we’re relying on to run the network is actually a fork to the BTC codebase. And this is not specific to Bitcoin Cash. This is also true for Litecoin, and Dash, and Zcash and whatever. There are many many crypotos that are just a fork of the Bitcoin codebase. And all those crypos they actually are reliant on BTC to do some maintenance work because they have smaller teams working on the infrastructure. And as a result any rational market cannot price those other currencies higher than BTC. It would just not make sense anymore. If BTC were to disappear, or were to fail on the market, and this problem is not addressed, then all those other currencies are going to fail with it. Right? And you know that may not be what we want, but that’s kind of like where we are right now. So if we want to go to the next level, maybe become number one in that market, we need to fix that problem because it’s not going to happen without it. So I was mentioning the 3% number before, and it’s always very difficult to know what all the parameters are that goes into that number, but one of them is that. Just that alone, I’m sure that we are going to have a lower value than BTC always as long as we don’t fix that problem. Okay, how do we fix that problem? What are the elements we have that prevent us from fixing that problem? Well, first we need people with very specific skill sets. And the people that have experience in those skill sets, there are not that many of them because there are not that many places where you can work on systems involving hundreds of millions, if not billions of users, that do like millions of transactions per second, that have systems that have hundreds of gigabytes per second of throughput, this kind of stuff. There are just not that many companies in the world that operate on that scale. And as a result, the number of people that have the experience of working on that scale is also pretty much limited to the people coming out of those companies. So we need to make sure that we are able to attract those people. And we have another problem that I talked about with Justin Bons a bit yesterday, that we don’t want to leave all that to be fixed by a third party. It may seem nice, you know, so okay, I have a big company making good money, I’m gonna pay people working on the infrastructure for everybody. I’m gonna hire some old-time cypherpunk that became famous because he made a t-shirt about ERISA and i’m going to use that to promote my company and hire a bunch of developers and take care of the infrastructure for everybody. It’s all good people, we are very competent. And indeed they are very competent, but they don’t have your best interest in mind, they have their best interest in mind. And so they should, right? It’s not evil to have your own interest in mind, but you’ve got to remember that if you delegate that to others, they have their best interest in mind, they don’t have yours. So it’s very important that you have different actors that have different interests that get involved into that game of maintaining the infrastructure. So they can keep each other in check. And if you don’t quite understand the value proposition for you as a business who builds on top of BCH, the best way to explain that to whoever is doing the financials of your company is as an insurance policy. The point of the insurance on the building where your company is, or on the servers, is so that if everything burns down, you can get money to get your business started and don’t go under. Well this is the same thing. Your business relies on some infrastructure, and if this infrastructure ends up going down, disappearing, or being taken in a direction that doesn’t fit your business, your business is toast. And so you want to have an insurance policy there that insures that the pieces that you’re relying on are going to be there for you when you need them. Alright let’s take an example. In this example, I purposefully did not put any name because I don’t want to blame people. I want to use this as an example of a mistake that were made. I want you to understand that many other people have done many similar mistakes in that space, and so if all you take from what I’m saying here is like those people are bad and you should blame them, this is like completely the wrong stuff. But I also think it’s useful to have a real life example. So on September 1st, at the beginning of the week, we had a wave of spam that was broadcasted on the network. Someone made like a bunch of transactions, and those were very visibly transactions that were not there to actually do transactions, they were there just to create a bunch of load on the network and try to disturb its good behavior. And it turned out that most miners were producing blocks from 2 to 8 megabytes, while typical market demand is below half a megabyte, typically, and everything else above that was just spam, essentially. And if you ask any people that have experience in capacity planning, they are going to tell you that those limits are appropriate. The reason why, and the alternative to raising those limits that you can use to mitigate those side effects are a bit complicated and they would require a talk in and of itself to go into, so I’m going to just use an argument from authority here, but trust me, I know what I’m talking about here, and this is just like raising those limits is just not the solution. But some pool decided to increase that soft cap to 32 megs. And this has two main consequences that I want to dig in to explain what is not the right solution. And the first one is that we have businesses that are building on BCH today. And those businesses are the ones that are providing value, they are the ones making our network valuable. Right? So we need to treat those people as first class citizens. We need to attract and value them as much as we can. And those people, they find themselves in the position where they can either dedicate their resources and their attention and their time to make their service better and more valuable for users, or maybe expand their service to more countries, to more markets, to whatever, they can do a lot of stuff, or they can spend their time and resources to make sure the system works not when you have like 10x the usual load, but also 100x the usual load. And this is something that is not providing value to them, this is something that is not providing value to us, and I would even argue that this is something that is providing negative value. Because if those people don’t improve their service, or build new services, or expand their service to new markets, what’s going to happen is that we’re not going to do 100x. 100x happens because people provide useful services and people start using it. And if we distract those people so that they need to do random stuff that has nothing to do with their business, then we’re never going to do 100x. And so having a soft cap that is way way way above what is the usual market demand (32 megs is almost a hundred times what is the market demand for it), it’s actually a denial of service attack that you open for anyone that is building on the chain. We were talking before, like yesterday we were asking about how do we attract developers, and one of the important stuff is that we need to value that over valuing something else. And when we take this kind of move, the signal that we send to the community, to the people working on that, is that people yelling very loudly on social media, their opinion is more valued than your work to make a useful service building on BCH. This is an extremely bad signal to send. So we don’t want to send those kind of signals anymore. That’s the first order effect, but there’s a second order effect, and the second order effect is to scale we need people with experience in capacity planning. And as it turns out big companies like Google, and Facebook, and Amazon pay good money, they pay several 100k a year to people to do that work of capacity planning. And they wouldn’t be doing that if they just had to listen to people yelling on social media to find the answer. Right? It’s much cheaper to do the simple option, except the simple option is not very good because this is a very complex engineering problem. And not everybody is like a very competent engineer in that domain specifically. So put yourself in the shoes of some engineers who have skills in that particular area. They see that happening, and what do they see? The first thing that they see is that if they join that space, they’re going to have some level of competence, some level of skill, and it’s going to be ignored by the leaders in that space, and ignoring their skills is not the best way to value it as it turns out. And so because of that, they are less likely to join it. But there is a certain thing that they’re going to see. And that is that because they are ignored, some shit is going to happen, some stuff are going to break, some attacks are going to be made, and who is going to be called to deal with that? Well, it’s them. Right? So not only are they going to be not valued for their stuff, the fact that they are not valued for their stuff is going to put them in a situation where they have to put out a bunch of fires that they would have known to avoid in the first place. So that’s an extremely bad value proposition for them to go work for us. And if we’re going to be a world scale currency, then we need to attract those kinds of people. And so we need to have a better value proposition and a better signaling that we send to them. Alright, so that’s the end of the first infrastructure stuff. Now I want to talk about game theory a bit, and specifically, Schelling points. So what is a Schelling point? A Schelling point is something that we can agree on without especially talking together. And there are a bunch of Schelling points that exist already in the Bitcoin space. For instance we all follow the longest chain that have certain rules, right? And we don’t need to talk to each other. If I’m getting my wallet and I have some amount of money and I go to any one of you here and you check your wallet and you have that amount of money and those two amounts agree. We never talk to each other to come to any kind of agreement about how much each of us have in terms of money. We just know. Why? Because we have a Schelling point. We have a way to decide that without really communicating. So that’s the longest chain, but also all the consensus rules we have are Schelling points. So for instance, we accept blocks up to a certain size, and we reject blocks that are bigger than that. We don’t constantly talk to each other like, ‘Oh by the way do you accept 2 mb blocks?’ ‘Yeah I do.’ ‘Do you accept like 3 mb blocks? And tomorrow will you do that?’ We’re not doing this as different actors in the space, constantly worrying each other. We just know there is a block size that is a consensus rule that is agreed upon by almost everybody, and that’s a consensus rule. And all the other consensus rules are effectively changing Schelling points. And our role as a community is to create valuable Schelling points. Right? You want to have a set of rules that provide as much value as possible for different actors in the ecosystem. Because this is how we win. And there are two parts to that. Even though sometimes we look and it’s just one thing, but there are actually two things. The first one is that we need to decide what is a valuable Schelling point. And I think we are pretty good at this. And this is why we have a lot of utility and we have a very strong fundamental development. We are very good at choosing what is a good Schelling point. We are very bad at actually creating it and making it strong. So I’m going to talk about that. How do you create a new Schelling point. For instance, there was a block size, and we wanted a new block size. So we need to create a new Schelling point. How do you create a new Schelling point that is very strong? You need a commitment strategy. That’s what it boils down to. And the typical example that is used when discussing Schelling points is nuclear warfare. So think about that a bit. You have two countries that both have nuclear weapons. And one country sends a nuke on the other country. Destroys some city, whatever, it’s bad. When you look at it from a purely rational perspective, you will assume that people are very angry, and that they want to retaliate, right? But if you put that aside, there is actually no benefit to retaliating. It’s not going to rebuild the city, it’s not going to make them money, it’s not going to give them resources to rebuild it, it’s not going to make new friends. Usually not. It’s just going to destroy some stuff in the other guy that would otherwise not change anything because the other guys already did the damage to us. So if you want nuclear warfare to actually prevent war like we’ve seen mostly happening in the past few decades with the mutually assured destruction theory, you need each of those countries to have a very credible commitment strategy, which is if you nuke me, I will nuke you, and I’m committing to that decision no matter what. I don’t care if it’s good or bad for me, if you nuke me, I will nuke you. And if you can commit to that strongly enough so that it’s credible for other people, it’s most likely that they are not going to nuke you in the first place because they don’t want to be nuked. And it’s capital to understand that this commitment strategy, it’s actually the most important part of it. It’s not the nuke, it’s not any of it, it’s the commitment strategy. You have the right commitment strategy, you can have all the nuke that you want, it’s completely useless, because you are not deterring anyone from attacking you. There are many other examples, like private property. It’s something usually you’re going to be willing to put a little bit of effort to defend, and the effort is usually way higher than the value of the property itself. Because this is your house, this is your car, this is your whatever, and you’re pretty committed to it, and therefore you create a Schelling point over the fact that this is your house, this is your car, this is your whatever. People are willing to use violence and whatever to defend their property. This is effectively, even if you don’t do it yourself, this is what happens when you call the cops, right? The cops are like you stop violating that property or we’re going to use violence against you. So people are willing to use a very disproportionate response even in comparison to the value of the property. And this is what is creating the Schelling point that allows private property to exist. This is the commitment strategy. And so the longest chain is a very simple example. You have miners and what miners do when they create a new block, essentially they move from one Schelling point when a bunch of people have some amount of money, to a new Schelling point where some money has moved, and we need to agree to the new Schelling point. And what they do is that they commit a certain amount of resources to it via proof of work. And this is how they get us to pay attention to the new Schelling point. And so UASF is also a very good example of that where people were like we activate segwit no matter what, like, if it doesn’t pan out, we just like busted our whole chain and we are dead. Right? This is like the ultimate commitment strategy, as far as computer stuff is involved. It’s not like they actually died or anything, but as far as you can go in the computer space, this is very strong commitment strategy. So let me take an example that is fairly inconsequential in its consequences, but I think explains very well. The initial BCH ticker was BCC. I don’t know if people remember that. Personally I remember reading about it. It was probably when we created it with Jonald and a few other people. And so I personally was for XBC, but I went with BCC, and most people wanted BCC right? It doesn’t matter. But it turned out that Bitfinex had some Ponzi scheme already listed as BCC. It was Bitconnect, if you remember. Carlos Matos, you know, great guy, but Bitconnect was not exactly the best stuff ever, it was a Ponzi scheme. And so as a result Bitifnex decided to list Bitcoin Cash as BCH instead of BCC, and then the ball started rolling and now everybody uses BCH instead of BCC. So it’s not all that bad. The consequences are not that very bad. And I know that many of you are thinking that right now. Why is this guy bugging us about this? We don’t care if it’s BCC or BCH. And if you’re doing that, you are exactly proving my point. Because … there are people working for Bitcoin.com here right? Yeah, so Bitcoin.com is launching an exchange, or just has launched, it’s either out right now or it’s going to be out very soon. Well think about that. Make this thought experiment for yourself. Imagine that Bitcoin.com lists some Ponzi scheme as BTC, and then they decide to list Bitcoin as BTN. What do you think would be the reaction of the Bitcoin Core supporter? Would they be like, you know what? we don’t want to be confused with some Ponzi scheme so we’re going to change everything for BTN. No, they would torch down Roger Ver even more than they do now, they would torch down Bitcoin.com. They would insult anyone that would suggest that this was a good idea to go there. They would say that everyone that uses the stuff that is BTC that it’s a ponzi scheme, and that it’s garbage, and that if you even talk about it you are the scum of the earth. Right? They would be extremely committed to whatever they have. And I think this is a lesson that we need to learn from them. Because even though it’s a ticker, it’s not that important, it’s that attitude that you need to be committed to that stuff if you want to create a strong Schelling point, that allows them to have a strong Schelling point, and that does not allow us to have that strong of a Schelling point. Okay, so yesterday we had the talk by Justin Bons from Cyber Capital, and one of the first things he said in his talk, is that his company has a very strong position in BCH. And so that changed the whole tone of the talk. You gotta take him seriously because his money is where his mouth is. You know that he is not coming on the stage and telling you random stuff that comes from his mind or tries to get you to do something that he doesn’t try himself. That doesn’t mean he’s right. Maybe he’s wrong, but if he’s wrong, he’s going bankrupt. And you know just for that reason, maybe it’s worth it to listen to it a bit more than some random person saying random stuff when they have no skin in the game. And it makes him more of a leader in the space. Okay we have some perception in this space that we have a bunch of leaders, but many of them don’t have skin in the game. And it is very important that they do. So when there is some perceived weakness from BCH, if you act as an investor, you are going to diversify. If you act as a leader, you are going to fix that weakness. Right? And so, leaders, it’s not like you can come here and decide well, I’m a leader now. Leaders are leaders because people follow them. It seems fairly obvious, but … and you are the people following the leaders, and I am as well. We decide to follow the opinion of some people more than the opinion of others. And those are the defacto leaders of our community. And we need to make sure that those leaders that we have like Justin Bons, and make sure that they have a strong commitment to whatever they are leading you to, because otherwise you end up in this situation: https://preview.redd.it/r23dptfobcl31.jpg?width=500&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=750fbd0f1dc0122d2791accc59f45a235a522444 Where you got a leader, he’s getting you to go somewhere, he has some goal, he has some whatever. In this case he is not that happy with the British people. But he’s like give me freedom or give me death, and he’s going to fight the British, but at the same time he’s like you know what? Maybe this shit isn’t gonna pan out, you gotta make sure you have your backup plan together, you have your stash of British pound here. You know, many of us are going to die, but that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make. That’s not the leader that you want. I’m going to go to two more examples and then we’re going to be done with it. So one of them is Segwit 2x. Segwit 2x came with a time where some people wanted to do UASF. And UASF was essentially people that set up a modified version of their Bitcoin node that would activate segwit on August 1, no matter what. Right? No matter what miners do, no matter what other people do, it’s going to activate segwit. And either I’m going to be on the other fork, or I’m going to be alone and bust. Well, the alternative proposal was segwit 2x. Where people would activate segwit and then increase the size of the block. And what happened was that one of the sides had a very strong commitment strategy, and the other side, instead of choosing a proportional commitment strategy, what they did was that they modified the activation of segwit 2x to be compatible with UASF. And in doing so they both validate the commitment strategy done by the opposite side, and they weaken their own commitment strategy. So if you look at that, and you understand game theory a bit, you know what’s going to happen. Like the fight hasn’t even started and UASF has already won. And when I saw that happening, it was a very important development to me, because I have some experience in game theory, a lot of that, so I understood what was happening, and this is what led me to commit to BCH, which was BCC at the time, 100%. Because I knew segwit 2x was toast, even though it had not even started, because even though they had very strong cards, they are not playing their cards right, and if you don’t play your cards right, it doesn’t matter how strong your cards are. Okay, the second one is emergent consensus. And the reason I wanted to put those two examples here is because I think those are the two main examples that lead to the fact that BTC have small blocks and we have big blocks and we’re a minority chain. Those are like the two biggest opportunities we had to have big blocks on BTC and we blew both of them for the exact same reason. So emergent consensus is like an interesting technology that allows you to trade your bigger block without splitting the network. Essentially, if someone starts producing blocks that are bigger than … (video skips) ,,, The network seems to be following the chain that has larger blocks, eventually they’re going to fall back on that chain, and that’s a very clevery mechanism that allows you to make the consensus rules softer in a way, right? When everybody has the same consensus rules, it still remains enforced, but if a majority of people want to move to a new point, they can do so by bringing others with them without creating a fork. That is a very good activation mechanism for changing the block size, for instance, or it can be used to activate other stuff. There is a problem, though. This mechanism isn’t able to set a new point. It’s a way to activate a new Schelling point when you have one, but it provides no way to decide when and where or to what value or to anything to where we are going. So this whole strategy lacks the commitment aspect of it. And because it lacks the commitment aspect of it, it was unable to activate properly. It was good, but it was not sufficient in itself. It needs to be combined with a commitment strategy. And especially on that one there are some researchers that wrote a whole paper (https://eprint.iacr.org/2017/686.pdf) unpacking the whole game theory that essentially come to that conclusion that it’s not going to set a new size limit because it lacked the commitment aspect of it. But they go on like they model all the mathematics of it, they give you all the numbers, the probability, and the different scenarios that are possible. It’s a very interesting paper. If you want to see, like, because I’m kind of explaining the game theory from a hundred mile perspective, but actually you can deep dive into it and if you want to know the details, they are in there. People are doing that. This is an actual branch of mathematics. Alright, okay so conclusion. We must avoid to weaken our commitment strategy. And that means that we need to work in a way where first there is decentralization happening. Everybody has ideas, and we fight over them, we decide where we want to go, we put them on the roadmap, and once it’s on the roadmap, we need to commit to it. Because when people want to go like, ‘Oh this is decentralized’ and we do random stuff after that, we actually end up with decentralization, not decentralization in a cooperative manner, but like in an atomization manner. You get like all the atoms everywhere, we explode, we destroy ourself. And we must require a leader to have skin in the game, so that we make sure we have good leaders. I have a little schema to explain that. We need to have negotiations between different parties, and because there are no bugs, the negotiation can last for a long time and be tumultuous and everything, and that’s fine, that’s what decentralization is looking like at that stage, and that’s great and that makes the system strong. But then once we made a decision, we got to commit to it to create a new Schelling point. Because if we don’t, the new Schelling point is very weak, and we get decentralization in the form of disintegration. And I think we have not been very good to balance the two. Essentially what I would like for us to do going forward is encouraging as much as possible decentralization in the first form. But consider people who participate in the second form, as hostile to BCH, because their behavior is damaging to whatever we are doing. And they are often gonna tell you why we can’t do that because it’s permissionless and decentralized, and they are right, this is permissionless and decentralized, and they can do that. We don’t have to take it seriously. We can show them the door. And not a single person can do that by themself, but as a group, we can develop a culture where it’s the norm to do that. And we have to do that.”
Hi everybody, I'm holding a meetup in the DFW area for people interested in Urbit next month. If you're interested in the project or want to learn more about it, come hang out! Details are at the end of the post. I've got the blessing of u/ZorbaTHut to post this here contingent on explaining why Urbit is interesting, both in general and for this audience, so I'll give you a brief outline of the project if you're not familiar, and answer questions you may have once I'm home from work on Monday (though I encourage anybody else who'd like to to chime in until then -- I have to go to bed soon.)
What is Urbit?
Urbit is an interenet decentralization project, and a full networked computing stack from the ground up. Urbit's ultimate goal is to build a new internet on top of the old one, that is architecturally designed to avoid the need for centralized services by allowing individuals to run and program robust personal servers that are simple to manage. When Urbit conquers the world, your digital identity will be something you personally permanently own as a cryptographic key, not an line in a corporation's database; Facebook and Twitter will be protocols -- encrypted traffic and data shared directly between you and your friends & family, with no middlemen spying on you; your apps, social software and anything you program will have secure cryptocurrency payment mechanisms as a system call, payed out of a wallet on a device you fully control; and you will tangibly own and control your computer and the networked software you use on it. As I said, Urbit is a stack; at its core is Nock, a minimal, turing-complete function. Nock is built out into a deterministic operating system, Arvo, with its own functional programming language. For now, Arvo runs as a process, with a custom VM/interpreter on *nix machines. Your Arvo instance talks to other instances over a native, encrypted peer-to-peer network, though it can interface with the normal internet as well. Urbit's identity management system is called Azimuth, a public key infrastructure built on Ethereum. You own proof of your Urbit instance's identity as a token in the same way you own your Bitcoin wallet. Because the peer-to-peer network is built into Arvo, you get it 'for free' with any software you write or run on it. You run your own personal server, and run all the software you use to communicate with the world yourself. Because all of your services are running on computer you control using a single secure identity system, you can think of what it aspires to like a decentralized, cypherpunk version of WeChat -- a programmable, secure platform for everything you want to do with your computer in one place, without the downsides of other people running your software.
Why is it interesting?
Urbit is extremely ambitious and pretty strange. Why throw out the entire stack we've spent half a century building? Because it's a giant ball of mud -- millions of lines of code in the Linux kernel alone, with all the attendant security issues and complexity. You can run a personal server today if you're technically sophisticated; spin up a VPS, install all the software you need, configure everything and keep it secure. It's doable, but it sucks, and your mom can't do it. Urbit is designed from the beginning to avoid the pitfalls that led to cascading system complexity. Nock has 12 opcodes, and Arvo is somewhere in the neighborhood of 30,000 lines of code. The core pieces of Urbit are also ticking towards being 'frozen' -- reaching a state where they can no longer be changed, in order to ensure that they remain absolutely minimal. The point of all of this is to make a diamond-hard, unchanging core that a single person can actually understand in its entirety, ensure the security of the architecture, prevent insane dependency hell and leaky abstractions from overgrowing it, and allow for software you write today to run in a century. It also aims to be simple enough that a normal person can pay a commodity provider $5/mo (or something), log into their Urbit on their devices, and control it as easily as their phone. Urbit's network also has a routing hierarchy that is important to understand; while the total address space is 128-bit, the addresses are partitioned into different classes. 8-bit and 16-bit addresses act as network infrastructure, while human instances use 32-bit addresses. To use the network, you must be sponsored by the 16-bit node 'above' you -- which is to say 'be on good terms'. If you aren't on good terms, that sponsorship can be terminated, but that goes both ways -- if you don't like your sponsor, you can exit and choose another. Because 32-bit addresses are finite, they're scarce and have value, which disincentivizes spam and abuse. To be clear, the sponsor nodes only sign/deliver software updates, and perform peer discovery and NAT traversal; your connections with other people are direct and encrypted. Because there are many sponsor nodes, you can return to the network if you're kicked off unfairly. In the long term, this also allows for graceful political fragmentation of the network if necessary. The world created by Urbit is a world where individuals control their own data and digital communities live according to their mores. It's an internet that isn't funded by mass automated surveillance and ad companies that know your health problems. It's also the internet as a frontier like it once was, at least until this one is settled. Apologies if this comes off a little true-believer-y, but this project is something I'm genuinely excited about.
The world that Urbit aims to build is one not dissimilar from Scott's archipelago communism -- one of voluntaristic relations and communities, and exit in the face of conflict & coercion. It's technical infrastructure to move the internet away from the chokepoints of the major social media platforms and the concentration of political power that comes with centralized services. The seismic shifts affecting our institutions and society caused by the internet in the last decade have been commented on at length here and elsewhere, but as BTO said, you ain't seen nothin' yet. I suspect many people with a libertarian or anti-authoritarian bent would appreciate the principle of individual sovereignty over their computing and data. The project is also something I've discussed a few times with others on here, so I know there's some curiosity about it. The original developer of Urbit is also rather well known online, especially around here. Yarvin is a pretty controversial figure, but he departed the project in early 2019.
There's a lot more that I haven't mentioned, but I hope this has piqued your interest. If you're in DFW, you can find details of the first meetup here. There will be free pizza and a presentation about Urbit, help installing & using it (Mac & Linux only for now), as well as the opportunity to socialize. All are welcome! Feel free to bring a friend. If you're not in North Texas but are interested, there are also other regional meetups all over the world coming up soon.
Stegos: Ground-Up Privacy Blockchain from the Palm of Your Hand [Great Staking Coin]
Stegos is a built-from-scratch custom privacy blockchain that emphasizes usability and versatility. In doing so, the blockchain functionalities are all accessible via a lightweight mobile application. Through the mobile app, you can manage wallets, record contacts, send currency, private chat, and interact with staking pools. Beyond that, the team looks to work with the community to build out a "privacy app store" (like WeChat but private) that will include additional interface for the likes of microblogging, marketplaces, etc. The mobile application has been released on mainnet internally, and a public release is expected by the end of April. You can read about the current progress of the app and link back to demo video releases here. Circulating supply is roughly 1.1 billion STG with no additional locked tokens Stegos currently trades at about US$0.0005, for a market cap of just $550,000. Stegos is trading at Bithumb Global. Privacy coins across the board have been under fire for being wholly inaccessible to the vast majority of the population. Cypherpunks can maintain anonymity perfectly find using the likes of Bitcoin and Ethereum intelligently. They don't need Grin, Monero, etc., and nobody beyond these crypto-savvy is equipped to bother with these privacy coins. By emphasizing a one-stop, easy to use mobile interface, Stegos is looking to position itself as the accessible privacy solution. How it Works Most privacy coins further restrict the nature of network transactions to support sufficient privacy. This very much limits the utility of these coins, in terms of smart contracts, data transmission, and nuanced network activity in general. Stegos took the complete opposite approach. Transactions were expanded and reinvisioned as a "fast message bus". This means that, in exactly the same capacity and with the exact same level of privacy, users can communicate messages, media, and data as on-chain transactions the same as they would a standard currency transaction. With no extra resource burden, smart phones can interact with network apps the same as a desktop alternative. This also makes development of network applications like the aforementioned (messaging, microblogging, marketplace) far more straightforward and accessible to users and developers alike. For a more in-depth explanation of this approach, as well as the technical details behind the custom Snowball privacy protocol in place, check out this recent write up by Daily Chain. Staking Opportunity: Gamified Proof-of-Stake Stegos employs a unique gPoS consensus model which makes staking particularly enticing for small stakers. The total block reward is 36 STG per block, and with a block every 8 seconds, that's about 14% ROI for stakers at face value. But the interesting component is that 1/3 of this block reward is stored and pooled into the "Validator Service Award", which operates like a winner-take-all jackpot. When a certain string is observed in a block hash (happens once every 5-6 days, on average), the accumulated VSA is delivered in full to a random staking node. Every node has an equal chance to claim the prize, regardless of their stake size. The average award is over 700k STG. Currently, there are anywhere between 150-200 eligible nodes per VSA cycle. The minimum stake required is 50k STG (about $25). Hit it once and you've got a huge ROI. There is no limits or constraints on running multiple min-staking nodes, so you could set up 15 at once and double your STG the first time you hit the jackpot. With 15 nodes, you're on pace to hit it once every 2 or 3 months. Wrap Up Actually unique and worthwhile project, live on mainnet, in a demanded niche + real growth potential. 550k market cap. No reason not to pick up a bag just in case.
How is Satoshi Nakamoto's identity and the complete origin story of Bitcoin still a mystery? 5-20 BILLION dollars still stay frozen in addresses verifiably associated to Nakamoto.
What are the facts about the origins of bitcoin? Honestly, I don't want to know who Nakamoto is nor do I think they should reveal themselves. What I really want is more information about the origins and very early development of the Bitcoin protocol. What do key, early contributing devs know? What do we know about the development process in the years leading up to bitcoin? The fact that Nakamoto remains anonymous also means we don't get a lot of information about the earliest development of Bitcoin. We don't have much of a record beyond the whitepaper, some emails/comments, and some short publications to understand how Nakamoto understood their own creation and the possible trajectories it might have. I know we have open source code and lots of great resources but what I really want are the thoughts and impressions from BEFORE bitcoin was at all popular or even heard of by more than just the most crypto-nerd of the cypherpunks and crypto-anarchists (basically up to the end of the first year of the main chain's existence). Lastly I want to congratulate Nakamoto on being cool as a cucumber and keeping the first bitcoins rooted to their spot. In trying to learn more about the origins of bitcoin we naturally look to the early blocks in the bitcoin ledger. A lot of sophisticated work has been done in this vein and we can speculate with meaningful accuracy what addresses definitively correlate to Nakamoto. These coins never move, but does anyone think they ever will? Is there any evidence of some kind of plan for Nakamoto to cash in parts of the earliest mined coins that stay completely still? To give my own completely nonsense, lacking-in-evidence theory: my impression has always been that the central, early bitcoin core developers are jointly Nakamoto and that they purposefully maintain the image of a unified, anonymous figurehead since it puts less pressure on them and fuels the "P2P, bigger than any central authority" narrative that is bitcoin's lifeblood. I then like to imagine that they have some sort of secret threshold crypto based scheme for transacting the bitcoin from the Nakamoto wallet(s) (the addresses associated with the earliest mining) as some red button they can collectively chose to press to cash in their billions to fiat (or whatever else we'll be transacting when that day comes). Thanks for any and all information!
Bylls — the Canadian Bitcoin bill payment service by Bull Bitcoin — celebrates its 6th birthday
I sometimes find it hard to believe that it has already been 6 years since the public launch of Bylls on January 13 2014. What started out as a simple and humble “garage startup”, the world’s first Bitcoin bill payment service, evolved into so much more. Bylls eventually became the company that people know today as Bull Bitcoin, and it is from Bylls’ UASF advocacy that sprouted the Cyphernode open-source project. I also like to think of Bylls as a “bitcoin culture” institution that served as the vanguard of the Bitcoin Maximalist and Cypherpunk movements within the Bitcoin exchange and payments industry. Happy Birthday Bylls! 🎂
What is Bylls?
For those of you who don’t know about Bylls, here’s a short summary:
Bylls lets Bitcoin users pay any bill in Canada with Bitcoin. We offer a comprehensive list of nearly 9000 billers (credit cards, utilities, telcos, taxes, brokerage accounts, law firms, “joe the plumber”, etc.)
Bylls lets Bitcoin users pay anyone or any business in Canada with Bitcoin by adding them as a personal payee (rent, employees, suppliers, friends).
The recipient of the payment doesn’t need to do anything and doesn’t even need to know you are using Bitcoin, as long as they are on our biller list or the user has his banking details.
Bylls is available exclusively to residents of Canada and all the recipients must also be, exclusively, individuals or companies residing in Canada.
Mission: Building the software and financial infrastructure for the Bitcoin Standard.
Short history of world’s first Bitcoin bill payment service
Bylls was founded in 2013 by Eric Spano, a Montreal entrepreneur part of the original Bitcoin Embassy team. Eric, one of my earliest and most influential mentors, is a true Bitcoin OG. Check out his 2014 Bitcoin Ted Talk or his 2019 Podcast on Tales From the Crypt which describes in great detail the inception of Bylls. When Bylls was launched, I was Public Affairs Director at the Bitcoin Embassy, the world’s first physical Bitcoin hub (a 14,000 square feet building downtown Montreal). Bylls was effectively a one-man operation, with Eric doing pretty much everything himself. I wasn’t directly involved with the company, but Bylls was one of the startups in the Embassy’s incubator program, so I was helping out in various ways. My first “public appearance” in the Bitcoin industry was actually to man the Bylls booth at the Toronto Bitcoin Expo in 2014! In 2015, Eric was offered a huge career opportunity that he couldn’t accept without stepping down from running Bylls. It was to me an inconceivable tragedy for Bitcoin to let Bylls quitely close down. For the past 2 years, whenever somebody asked me “what can you do with Bitcoin?”, I would always reply “well, for starters, you can pay all your bills in Canada, even your taxes and your credit card”. What was I going to say now? I had just founded my company Satoshi Portal Inc. with the aim of developing a non-custodial Bitcoin exchange (which eventually became Bull Bitcoin). And so, I acquired Bylls from Eric and it immediately became the focus of all my energy. For the first year, our team consisted of only 2 people including our lead developer Arthur which is still working on Bylls features to this day. From the beginning until today, we are still 100% self-funded. We grew organically and slowly. My philosophy on entrepreneurship and startup scaling is articulated in this medium post.It has been an incredibly intense journey. I cannot think of a more challenging professional experience than being a startup founder and entrepreneur in the Bitcoin industry. The number of Bitcoin startups that have perished since is a stark reminder. Some of them sank quietly, but many went down in flames taking down their users with them. The fact that Bylls is still standing — without VC funding and with its reputation intact — is my proudest achievement. Over the past 4 years. we completely redesigned the software, continuously adding new features, but the core of the service remained the same. Most importantly, we added the ability for users to pay any individual or business in Canada by creating a personal biller from their bank details. Previously, they were limited to Bylls’ biller list of around 9000 billers. One of the defining moments in the history of Bylls was UASF. Bylls was one of the first Bitcoin companies to support BIP-148 for the activation of Segwit (second after Bitconic). Not only that, but we were the first to run a public BIP-148 block explorer and public UASF electrum server. We had done a “seppuku pledge” regarding BIP-148, meaning that we would only accept coins from the UASF segwit chain and would pay the Bitcoin market price for them. If UASF had failed, we would not have survived. This cemented our ideology of “skin-in-the-game”. We would never compromise on our values, no matter the cost. Our policy on forks (2017) was described here. But the jist of it is:
Satoshi Portal is a Bitcoin-only company and does not conduct any transaction in any altcoin, including altcoins that are the result of a fork of the Bitcoin blockchain and which can be spent with Bitcoin private keys. This includes, but is not limited to, the coins commonly referred to as BCash, Segwit2X, BGold, Clams and Lumens.We strongly oppose the “New York Agreement” and will under no circumstance ever recognize the Segwit2X blockchain (and BTC1 client) as Bitcoin, regardless of market response or hashing power. In the unlikely event that an overwhelming majority of the Bitcoin ecosystem migrates to the Segwit2X blockchain, Satoshi Portal will continue nevertheless to support the Bitcoin blockchain.
Following the UASF/NO2X “war” in 2017, we devoted a large prortion of ressources to building Cyphernode, an open-source project that makes it very easy for startups to build and deploy Bitcoin applies without any third-parties, using exclusively their own full nodes. We are still developing this project today and plan on actively maintaining it in the future. It is also worth noting that Bylls has never accepted any altcoins and was one of the first company to pledge never to accept altcoins in the future, leading to what became the “Bitcoin-Only” movement. We were also the first Bitcoin exchange and payment processing company, to our knowledge, that has integrated coinjoin as part of its processes.
Unbanking yourself with Bylls
The coolest feature of Bylls is that you can pay pretty much all your expenses with Bitcoin without needing to go through a bank account. In Canada, you can obtain a credit card without having it linked to a bank account. In 2016, the last of my personal bank accounts was closed due to my activities in the Bitcoin industry. I decided not apply at another bank and try the experiment of living completely unbanked. I’m happy to report it was a success, and serves as a powerful testament for the use-cases provided by Bylls. I really like the idea of not owning any fiat. You can pay pretty much all daily expenses with a credit card, and pay back the debt with Bitcoin. Of course you have fiat-denominated debts which conveniently tends to diminish in price over time. You can withdraw cash from a credit card and pay it off instantly with Bylls, so you can get access to cash at any time, in any country across the world, without having a bank account. The only inconvenience is the cash advance fee. When you have to pay larger amounts such as rent or whatever services don’t accept cash or credit card, you can find the biller in the Bylls list or ask the recipient for his banking details, the same as you would for a wire transfer.
The future of Bylls
Many people ask us if we intend to expand outside of Canada. The answer is, unequivocally, no. We will always be a Canada-only, Bitcoin-only company. That doesn’t mean that we stop working hard to improve our services. We will continue to be the first to integrate the cutting-edge Bitcoin technologies that Here is are some of the features you can expect in 2020:
Pay billers via Interac E-Transfer instead of Direct Deposit only
More advanced Coinjoin and privacy features
Bylls merchant services: Bitcoin-payable invoices to clients
Multicurrency Wallet DEXs will be the standard of the 2020s. The present status quo is an absolute joke.
Before I begin, I'd like to ask you a question. Why are so many of the most established people in crypto among the most closed-minded when it comes to talking about new ideas? Why is the crypto space more concerned with what a clown from Australia is lying about or petty figurehead drama than the hard work and effort of the good and lesser-known among them? Let's talk about altcoins for a minute. It'd be a very tough job to count every single alt that's come in on a hypetrain and died in obscurity. If I were to guess that 95% of them failed, I wouldn't be surprised to hear that it was a conservative estimate and that the number is even higher. Indeed, it would be much easier to count the exceptions to the rule. To name a few - ETH, LTC, XMR, and (quite amusingly) DOGE. Should the stubbornly high failure rate of alts justify writing them all off as garbage? Businesses have an incredibly high failure rate too. It would be foolish - outright silly, even - to say that the grocery store is a fraud and a scam because the aqua-saxophone jazzercise laundromat failed to live up to it's expectations. Maybe not, because this is exactly the way the crypto space is right now. That line of thinking is the de facto standard in the cryptocurrency space right now - "guilty (of being a shitcoin) until proven innocent (by some central authority figure or big exchange who can validate it for us so we don't have to do it ourselves)". To be fair, there was an aggressive torrent of these "goofy laundromats" in 2017 and people are either hungover or shell-shocked from all the broken pipedreams and costly fiction. You'd think that the titans of this industry, particularly those who care more about the cypherpunk essence of Bitcoin than how rich they can get off of it, would be more receptive to the legitimate projects that are working in obscurity to harden the crypto space and it's infrastructure. Unfortunately, that does not seem to be the case. All too many seem to think that everything that needed to be built has already been built. Considering that all the Bitcoin titans are somewhat newly-minted, the irony is remarkable. No one used to take Bitcoin seriously. The further back in time you go, the more it took lonely effort and independent research to truly grasp its ideas. This is still the case today. Most have heard of it but have no idea what it is or why it's important. Many who are fervently in PMs or traditional investments like stocks and bonds continue to deride it, even though it will go down as the best performing asset of the 2010s by far. Others are a little more aggressive and, despite a lack of knowledge, call it anything from a scam to "rat poison squared". Like anything else, it's foolish to make bold claims atop little to no education. You'd think that treatment would make Bitcoin maximalists do some reflecting. Instead, a sizable number of them decided to emulate the ones who beat up on Bitcoin when it was small and irrelevant. "All you need is Bitcoin. Everything else is trash. I know what I'm talking about because I bought the top of the 2013 bubble and I'm probably immune to future dumps for life". Now let's talk about where cryptocurrency infrastructure falls short. Bitcoin still retains the same cypherpunk essence that it's always had. The same can be said for Bitcoin wallets. They're secure. They allow for anonymous transactions. They run on an immutable blockchain. There is no central authority between a key-holder and their funds. Enter the exchanges. In a way, they were a necessary evil. Without them, adoption would be severely throttled. With them, Bitcoin is compromised. For many, the privacy and anonymity that BTC is supposed to offers has been tossed out. It was the only way it could be retrofitted into a tightly-controlled system that demands KYC. While this has helped to spread adoption, Bitcoin has become more and more traceable. Quite ironically, many of these same exchanges that adopted KYC policies to "ensure accountability from their customers" had no trouble exit scamming. They come and go. The old one gets hacked, or it exit scams, or proves itself to be corrupt and suspicious. A new one comes. This time it will be different. Then the cycle repeats itself. Mt. Gox. Bitfinex. Polo. Bittrex. Binance. They all had their time in the Sun. These exchanges are in many ways the antithesis of the cypherpunk manifesto - vulnerable honeypots directly controlled by a centralized figurehead. Unsurprisingly, they cause a lot of unneeded trouble and give Bitcoin a ton of bad publicity. Example:
Me: "What do you think of Bitcoin?" Co-worker: "Didn't that thing get hacked last week?" Me: "Bitcoin didn't, but a place where it was exchanged was." Co-worker: "I don't trust it. It's only a matter of time til they find out how to type in some numbers to make more show up on a screen blah blah blah."
You've all likely met someone like this and brushed them off as closed-mined, but they're exactly the type of person this industry needs to convince to further adoption. It will be next to impossible to do so with the way things are right now. In order for Bitcoin to survive, it needs exchanges that are built to the same code that it was. The solution, therefore, is to "port" the cypherpunk essence of Bitcoin to the exchanges. Immutability. Anonymity. Privacy. No central authority of figurehead. With all that said, let's talk about DEXs. I started a thread on here a few months back when Binance announced that they were giving Americans the boot. I got a ton of answers. It shows that, among the hardcore at least, there is a desire to go in a new direction. Loopring, IDEX, and Bisq were among the more popular choices. It's a step in the right direction. However, these DEXs are still rather inaccessible - especially to outsiders. Performance wise, they're on the slower side of things. Due to these setbacks, they suffer from low volume. This is where some recent developments in multicurrency wallets with embedded DEXs from lesser-known projects will come out of obscurity and catch everyone by surprise. Among them - I'd like to mention Stakenet Wallet and KMD's Atomic DEX. Both of them, now seemingly weeks away from launch, will allow for atomic swaps between a wide variety of coins directly from a private wallet. Stakenet goes a step further by offering atomic swaps running atop Lightning Network. Why does this matter? These two platforms will be to exchanges what the inception of Bitcoin was to currency. Finally, after almost 9 years, Bitcoin not only has an exchange that truly honors its essence, but it's starting to see healthy competition between them. To elaborate further on why this is very important.. No KYC. No accounts. No sending Bitcoin to an exchange and waiting around for it to show up. No downloading multiple wallets. No exchange figureheads. No withdrawal freezes. In Stakenet's case, the decentralized MN network that runs it's DEX will also act as a massive LN payment processor (routing, watchtowers) that provides a ton of liquidity for it while allowing Bitcoin to scale. "Lightning swaps" will provide every LN-based coin the ability to be instantly swapped to purchase anything in BTC. Stakenet will also feature a DEX aggregator that will pool together the orderbooks of numerous DEXs into one easily-accessible spot, boosting traffic to the many DEXs that are harder to reach and furthering their adoption along. Simply download a wallet like you would any other app and you're ready to get started. It's so much easier and more convenient. I don't see how or why CEXs and all their ilk (figurehead drama, geoblocking, exchange hacks, wash trading, currency manipulation, exit scams, etc) could remain relevant in the environment to come. Regulation will not save us. Decentralization will. As long as one person learned something from this, it was all worth it. I welcome the opinions of everyone in this space.
At the time of the rollout, the only wallets that supported BCH BIP70 transactions were the Bitpay Wallet & Copay Wallet. But there's a problem: Bitpay Wallet & Copay Wallet only support BCH CashAddr & Copay address formats, and do not support the BCH legacy address format. Meanwhile, LedgeTrezoJaxx wallets ONLY support the BCH legacy address format. To send BCH back & forth between these wallets, people have to use an online tool to convert the address formats. Very awkward.
I've briefly tried out both the Bitcoin.com Wallet and Bitpay Wallet, and it appears that Bitcoin.com Wallet is currently the best choice for doing BCH transactions with Bitpay merchants. Here's why:
Bitcoin.com Wallet supports both CashAddr & legacy address formats for BCH. Therefore, it shouldn't have the problems Bitpay Wallet & Copay Wallet have when interacting with LedgeTrezoJaxx wallets.
With Bitcoin.com Wallet, you have the option of creating a BCH wallet without creating a BTC wallet (Bitpay Wallet & Copay Wallet automatically have you create a BTC wallet when you first start the program).
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