Video: a two-minute guide to Bitcoin in 2015 – Cryptocity
Video: a two-minute guide to Bitcoin in 2015 – Cryptocity
The super-secure 'Case' will fit bitcoins in your pocket ...
super, dann können die Diebe fast unbegrenzt… Forum ...
Bitcoin Apps: Die besten Apps für Wallets, Trading und ...
BITCOIN KURS PROGNOSE FÜR 2020, 2021-2024
When newcomers to Bitcoin begin to understand on-chain tx fees...
As I fully expect Bitcoin's popularity to rise in the near future, I've been interested in seeing reactions of newcomers to Bitcoin (BTC) when they first experience trying to use it as peer to peer e-cash , especially for small tx. There are probably many people who own Bitcoin today, and there will be many more within the next year, who were not around in 2015-2017 during the scaling debate, who will be quite surprised to find that sending a BTC tx on-chain usually costs several dollars per tx, and they might be shocked when the market rises further and those tx fees rise to new heights. BCH should be a welcome alternative to those wishing to use it as peer-to-peer e-cash and transact on-chain, especially for small amounts. https://np.reddit.com/ExodusWallet/comments/jg7o1e/super_high_fee_when_sending_4_in_btc/
I've been sharing conspiracies on reddit longer than this sub has been around. I have a story to tell.
This story is mostly crafted from my own experiences, my conversations with some of the people involved, and the rest is my own guesswork as I try to fill in the gaps...so bear with me! That's why I wanted to share with this community, which I've watched grow over the years. I remember posting about the death of Barry Jennings (who witnessed explosions in the WTC on 9/11) the day after it happened. This was before /conspiracy (or right around when it was formed), and I remember thinking "we really need a sub for conspiracies on reddit!" And here we are, 12 years later and over 1.3 million subscribers...incredible! So... My story starts with a young man. We'll call him Andrew. Andrew grew up in the 90's in a coastal US town and quickly blossomed into a tech whiz at a young age. He began building his own computers, and after a brief stint using Windows, he decided that Bill Gates was everything wrong with technology (and the world), and he made it his mission to make sure folks like Gates were NOT the future of computers. He really believed that the use of technology was a fundamental human right, and that charging people for "proprietary" OS's that hid their source code was a violation of these rights. He saw a possible Deus Ex-like future, with a technocracy literally around the corner if we didn't act now. Andrew soon joined the Free Software Foundation and began rubbing elbows with the likes of Richard Stallman. He begun exclusively using GNU/Linux and was the type to correct you if you called it just "Linux". He also began visiting tech-savvy forums like slashdot and started networking in earnest. By 2006 (his senior year of high school) Andrew was completely over his "education" and decided to just drop out completely. Shockingly, a college accepted him anyway. A small East Coast school had been actively courting Andrew, and when they learned he had failed to get his HS diploma, they accepted him anyway! Now sometime during this period Andrew went to Iceland and stayed in Reykjavik for several months. This trip may have happened during the summer, fall, or early winter of 2006. The reason for his trip had something to do with his efforts in the FSF or similar group. The possible significance of this trip will become clear as we go on. What is clear is that Andrew started college in the fall of 2006, and that the circumstances were unusual. Andrew soon met several like-minded individuals and began building a social and technological network at his school. Two individuals in particular would become key players in his life (one more prominently in this story, but the other was significant as well), and eventually the 3 would live together in town for several years. But for now let's stick with Andrew. Andrew had an idea to build a social network for his college. Except, it wasn't just a network, it was a wiki for information about the school...and beyond. Soon, it began to morph into something much bigger in Andrew's mind. He saw his project as being one of many data "hubs" for leaks of important documents and otherwise sensitive information. So yeah, he saw the opportunity for a wiki for leaks (see where this is going yet...?). As his ambitions grew, his behavior started to become increasingly erratic. He was caught with drugs and arrested. Strangely, the charges were pretty much dropped and he was given a slap on the wrist. Eventually he decided to leave the school, but still lived in town and had access to the servers on campus. By 2010 Andrew was still living in the small town with his two "hacker" buddies, who were still enrolled at the school. This house was in some ways legendary. It appears that many "interesting" people spent time at or visited the residence. Indeed, some of the early movers and shakers of /conspiracy itself passed through. There was usually a full NO2 tank for anyone who was into that kinda thing, and they were stocked with every hallucinogen and research chemical known to man. It was also likely under surveillance by multiple intelligence agencies (NSA/Mossad/etc). Over time, the mental state of Andrew was slowly starting to deteriorate, which wasn't helped by his abuse of drugs. Still, Andrew decided to move his base of operations to Europe, spending time in Belgium, the Czech Republic and elsewhere. One of his housemates was soon to join him on his adventures in Europe and elsewhere abroad. We'll call him "Aaron." Aaron had a very similar story and upbringing as Andrew. Aaron was also from a coastal US town and was born into privilege. He was also, supposedly, born into a family with some serious connections to intelligence agencies, including an uncle with ties to the NSA, and both parents connected to military brass. By 2015, Andrew and Aaron were living together in the Czech Republic. During this time they were working directly and/or indirectly for the NSA (via Cisco and other companies). You see, the "college" they met at was actually a front for the recruitment of kids into the IC. Apparently, many "schools" in the US function that way. Go figure. Their intelligence and valuable skill set (hacking etc) made them valuable assets. They were also possibly involved with the distribution of certain "research chemicals" (of the 2C* variety) to dignitaries and their entourages (in one example, they provided 2CB to a group with David Cameron). In addition, Andrew was allegedly involved with, or stumbled upon, an NSA-linked surveillance project directed at the entire country of Malaysia, while Aaron was involved with Cisco. Aaron himself had gotten into hot water for releasing damaging information about the NSA, and even claimed to be an NSA whistleblower, and was also possibly the individual who leaked the 2014 (or 2015) Bilderberg meeting list. And then things went bad. Andrew quit the Malaysia project and Aaron left Cisco. It seems Andrew and Aaron were "set up" during a fiery false flag event in the Czech Republic in 2015. It may have happened at an embassy, but it's unclear which. There is no information on the web about anything like this (afaik). Aaron was immediately targeted and spent several years on the run. Allegedly, he was added to the list of victims in the so-called "Great Game". The Great Game is the term used for an international assassination program where intelligence agencies share a list of targets to be neutralized. The German BND and Mossad are heavily involved, as other networks. Individuals targeted by the Great Game may be offed by actual assassins, or by NPC-like humans whose minds will be influenced by mind control tech (a la Matrix...say influencing someone to ram your car unwittingly ie). As Aaron went on the lam, Andrew soon returned to the US, shell-shocked by his experience. Both Andrew and Aaron continue to suffer from some sort of PTSD from these series of events, rendering Andrew largely incapacitated and Aaron scattered and discombobulated. The Meat of the Matter OK...where does that leave us? Why am I sharing all of this? I think there's much more to this story. So let's start speculating! Everything I'm about to say is stuff that was told to me personally. I can't vouch for any of this information, though obviously I thought it was compelling enough to share. Here's the gist: The so-called whistleblowers you see in the media are almost all fake. This includes: Edward Snowden, Julian Assange, Thomas Drake and William Binney (hey look, his AMA is pinned on this sub right now...no comment!). These individuals, and others, are controlled opposition. The real whistleblowers are severely punished. For example, Bradley Manning was punished with chemical castration in jail. His "transformation" was chemically induced torture. Andrew was not alone in his passion. There were lots of other young visionaries like him who dreamed of a freer and more transparent world. In this story, Julian Assange was an intelligence asset...a psyop meant to steal the thunder from real activists like Andrew. In this story, a small college-based "wiki" for government leaks was used as the model for an intelligence operation known as "wikileaks". In this story, Andrew traveled to Iceland at some point in 2006. When was Wikileaks founded? Wikileaks was founded by Julian Assange in December 2006, in Iceland. Aaron discovered (legally, like Manning who had clearance to access all the data he leaked) damning information about surveillance happening by the NSA, specifically against recruits entering the US army and elsewhere. In this story, the "Andrew" identity was co-opted and turned into "Julian Assange", and "Aaron" became "Edward Snowden". Granted, there were probably other people that these whistleblower imposters were modeled after, but Andrew and Aaron seem like very strong contenders for some of this inspiration. Now, much of the following may be gobbledygook (lol I spelled that right first try!) for all I know, but since I'm having a really hard time making sense of it all, I'll just include everything I can and let you guys run with it. Here are some phrases, ideas, terms and people of note that may be involved with this story...MODS: None of this is doxing! All of the links of people are wikipedia pages or published interviews/articles. So yeah. Not dox!
Rootkit: These are currency and the weapons of the intelligence agencies that allow access to any computer or OS on the planet.
"schizo-affective disorder" doesn't exist, it's cover for EM warfare. For those they can't attack chemically (like Manning), they punish via EM. This technology has been used for decades. Both Andrew and Aaron were likely subjected to this punishment after they stopped playing ball. It likely continues for them both as well.
IN CONCLUSION I don't know how these terms, theories and individuals fit into this story, but that they may be somehow related. Hopefully there are enough bread crumbs in here to keep some of you busy! Any help/insight would be appreciated. I confess I'm not so tech-minded so I can't offer any more explanation about some of the more techy terms. Anyway, thanks for reading, and thanks for continuing to stimulate after all these years! It's really nice to see this place continuing to thrive after all of this time!
Proof: https://imgur.com/a/7xQGIbC All prices based on spot price of gold @ $1,970/oz , silver @ $24.25/oz, platinum @ $915/oz (7/31/20). Prices good with gold spot below $1990, silver below $25. I am not a coin grader. The condition of any coin listed is how it was listed when I acquired it. I will be more than happy to provide any detailed, unedited photos for any coin. Unless specifically mentioned, assume coins are in generally good condition. Noticeable defects potentially affecting the value will attempt to be noted. I try to price my items substantially below the lowest price I can find online from a national dealer. If you see a legitimate cheaper price, let me know and I may very well adjust my price. FYI, I am in Eastern time zone if I do not respond, may be sleeping. PLATINUM LISTINGS Proof:https://imgur.com/a/FcUg9BV Physical platinum has been hard to come by and premiums have been high. Lucky to have these to list: 1 oz Argor-Heraeus Platinum Bars in assay x 10 9 8 — $990/ea (spot plus $75) GOLD LISTINGS Proof: https://imgur.com/a/bGofCRx 2009-W Ultra High Relief Proof St. Gauden 24K in OGP. Quite simply, this may be the coolest coin I have ever seen! — $2,250 1 oz slabbed American Gold Eagle 25th Anniversary Early Release, MS70 NGC (2011) — $2,150 (Note: slab has some scratches on it, the coin is fine) 1924 slabbed $20 St. Gaudens gold double eagle, MS63 PCGS — $2,050 1925 Slabbed $20 St. Gaudens gold double eagle, MS64 PCGS -- $2,275 1911-S Slabbed $20 St. Gaudens gold double eagle, MS63 Blanchard — $2,200 1910 Raw $20 St. Gauden gold double eagle — $2,025 $10 Gold Liberty Head x 2 (1894, 1899) — $1,010/ea 2018-W Slabbed First Strike PCGS MS70 American Gold Eagle — $2,175 Cleaned 1899 $5 Liberty head gold coin — $535 2002 slabbed Salt Lake City Olympics $5 gold commemorative, MS69 PCGS (0.2419 oz) — $485 Proof: https://imgur.com/a/bGofCRx 100gm (10x10) Valcambi Combicard in assay. Individually @ $73/ea x 100. I will risky ship up to 3 of these in an envelope for $1 @ buyer’s risk. It will not be tracked and I do not like doing it. Would prefer $4 bubble mailer, but buyer’s choice. 1 oz gold bars in assay [Valcambi x 2 1, Sunshine Mint, PAMP Religious Romanesque (Note: some peeling of clear cover for PAMP — pictures if desired)] — $2,030 1 oz Credit Suisse gold bar, in plastic but not assay — $2,030 Sterngold, 99.95%, used in making dental alloys, 1gm each x 30. This is a unique item not likely to be found in many collector’s stash. I will risky ship up to 3 of these in an envelope for $1 @ buyer’s risk. It will not be tracked and I do not like doing it. Would prefer $4 bubble mailer, but buyer’s choice— $71/ea Proof: https://imgur.com/a/wa1mLWZ 1oz American Gold Eagle, BU (1989, Roman numerals) — $2,060 1oz American Gold Eagle (1986, Roman numerals) — $2060 1 oz gold Pandas (1987, 2011) — 1987 sealed, BU — $2,175 ; 2011, uncirculated — $2,250 1 oz Gold Apartheid era South African Krugerrands x 42 (1975 x 2, 1977, 1978, 1979 x 27, 1980, 1981 x 8, 1982, 1984) — $2,040/ea 1 oz Gold American Buffalos (2016 x 1, 2006 x 2) [NOTE: both 2006 have a slight ding on the rim. Sealed in plastic, not ex-jewelry, but slight ding. Photos if desired)] — $2,070 for 2016, $2,065/ea for 2006’s with ding 1 oz Gold Brittania, BU (2020) — $2,065 1 oz unique Canada Golden Eagle, BU (2018). This is .99999 pure (that is five 9’s). Highest purity I am aware of — $2,070 1 oz Gold Austrian Philharmonics, BU (1994 x 1, 1999 x 1) — $2,040/ea 1 oz Gold Canadian Maple Leafs x 8 (1980 x 2, 1981, 2002 with red on “F” of fine gold on reverse, 2002 x 3 with some small scratches, 2011) — $2050/ea 1/4 oz American Gold Eagles x 6 4 (1988 Roman Numeral, 2013, 2014, 2015 x 2, 2020) — $565/ea 1/10oz American Gold Eagles in display (5 coins), BU (2006, 2012) — $1,200/ea Empty case to display your own set of 5 1/10 oz American Gold Eagles— $10 1/4oz Gold Brittanias, BU (2013 x4) — $600/ea 50 Pesos Mexican Gold x 10 (1947 Restrikes x 8, 1943, 1944) — $2,460/ea for restrikes, $2,470/ea for ’43, ’44 1/2 oz Gold Apartheid era South African Krugerrands x 3 (1980 x 2, 1981) — $1,100/ea 1/10 oz Gold Apartheid era South African Krugerrands x 2524 23 (various dates 1980-1984, 2011 (not apartheid era) x 1) — $240/ea 1/10 oz American Gold Eagles (various dates x 43, Roman numeral x 11 7) x 5450 45 — $240/ea for various dates, $260/ea Roman numeral dates Proof: https://imgur.com/a/KCjdPAy 2006 American Gold Eagle Proof Set (1 oz, 1/2 oz, 1/4 oz, 1/10 oz — 1.85 total troy oz) in OGP — $3,875 1997 Jackie Robinson $5 gold commemorative set. Comes with COA, baseball card, pin, patch, presentation box. There are some dings on the box. Pictures if desired. (0.2419 oz) — $700 (A portion of the proceeds will go toward a reputable social justice charity) 1987 & 1988 UK Gold Sovereign Proof Sets in nice case (each set has a Double Sovereign: 28.4mm, Sovereign: 22.05mm, Half Sovereign: 19.3mm) -- $1,850/each set (NOTE: the 1988 set is missing the COA.) Austrian Ducat 4 gold coin x 2 (1915 x 2 ), 0.4438 tory oz gold — $895/ea 20 Francs Gold x 2015 6 (1110 4 — Roosters, 54 2 -- Swiss Francs, 4 1-French Empire), 0.1867 troy oz of gold/ea — $380/ea Netherlands Gold 10 Guilder x 5, contain 0.1947 troy oz/ea (1926 x 2, 1927, 1932, 1933) — $470/ea Gold Libertad 1/20 oz (2016) — $200 OBO Gold Libertad 1/10 oz, BU (2016) — $340 OBO Gold Libertad 1/10 oz proof (2016) — $350 OBO Gold Sovereigns x 5 1, contain 7.315g gold/ea (1902, 1911, 1927 x 2 x 1, 1928) — $475/ea 1/4 oz Gold Canadian Maple (2005) — $565 Proof: https://imgur.com/a/VXzaDUN Late Addition: 5 3 additional 1976 1 oz Krugerrands — $2,040/ea 6 additional Pandas: Don’t ask me why the premiums on Pandas are so high. They just are. I tried to price about $20+ dollars below the cheapest I could find them online at large dealers. If you find a legitimate lower price, let me know and I may very well adjust the price. 1985 — $2,150, 1987 — $2,120, 1988 — $2,095, 1990 — $2,150, 1991 — $2,150, 2002 — $2,200, 2011 — $2,240 26 25 1/10 oz Australian Battle of the Coral Sea Battle in the Pacific, in capsules — $225/ea 14 additional Netherlands gold 10 guilders — $470/ea LOW PREMIUM LISTINGS Proof: https://imgur.com/a/jlE0Xuu All the time I see posts looking for precious metals “at or near spot.” Well here is your chance. If you don’t purchase these, then you are not really looking for gold at or near spot, you are looking for premium items without the premium. Those deals may be out there, but they are few and far between, with lines of buyers looking to snap them up, including myself. Items here will generally be available for spot + <2%. To get a physical form of a precious metal refined, assayed, and produced into an identifiable and verifiable form/weight/purity for a tad above spot is pretty darn good, regardless of the collectability of the item. I see people paying more premium for scrap gold than some of these. 1976 Canadian Montreal Olympic $100 commemorative (one in OGP (signs of wear), one loose with OGP in worn state but coin is fine, 0.25 oz each). You are not purchasing these for the packaging. — $500/ea American Arts Gold Medallion Grant Wood, 1 troy oz — $2,005 2010 US Mint First Spouse Series Gold Uncirculated Mary Todd Lincoln 1/2 troy oz in OGP, NOTE: red spot on obverse (See Photo) — $1,005 Cleaned, ex-jewelry $5 Liberty head gold coin (1900, 1906 ), Note: some rim damage, will send photos if desired — $485/ea JEWELRY LISTINGS Proof: https://imgur.com/a/QEVcW0F CRESCENT sterling silver pocket watch case, twist on bezel. Marked with CRESCENT, Sterling, serial number 4188. Amateur engraving with a marked name and 1919. Weighs over 100 grams!!! Pre-owned, with expected signs of tarnish and wear. A ding on back of case (see photo close up) — $75 1913 $5 Indian Head gold coin in 14K bezel, bezel weighs 1.30g — $575 2014 1/10 oz American Gold Eagle in 14K eagle pendant, bezel weighs 3.487g — $400 SILVER LISTINGS Proof: https://imgur.com/a/MTK1BfP Proof: https://imgur.com/a/54maJxn 25 Slabbed and Graded American Silver Eagles — Whole lot for $1,000 OBO. May make offers on individual rounds. (SOLD '92. '93, '14W) For reference, on 8/15, APMEX wholesale site is asking $100/ea for the ‘94’s. Offering to buy ‘14-S for $50 and the NGC MS70 for $120.
—ALL NGC MS69 — 1992, 1993, 1994 x 3, 2000, 2001 x 2, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2007 —ALL NGC MS69 — 2007 Early Release x 7 —NGC MS69 — 2014(W) —NGC MS69 — 2013 First Release —PCGS MS69 — 2008 First Strike —PCGS MS69 — 2014(S) First Strike —PCGS MS69 — 2003 —NGC MS70 — 2003
100 oz silver bars (Engelhard x 1, Ohio Precious Metals —don’t believe they will be making either of these anymore) — $2,775 /ea 20 oz Scottsdale kit kat bars (2) — $555/ea (1 left) 10 oz Queen's Beasts Series Falcons x 4 — $400/ea 2 oz Queen's Beasts Series -- tubes of Falcons x 4 ($800/ea), Yales x 4 ($580/ea) 1 oz Sunshine Minting Silver Bars x 237 199 — $28.50/ea 1 roll 2006 90% San Francisco Mint Proof Colorado State Washington Quarters — $210 (NOTE: it looks like there might be some small surface scratches on some of the coins. Therefore, they are being priced as just uncirculated.) Men in Space Series I First Edition, .925 commemorative medals x 2 sets. These are not just sterling silver medals but history depicting the major events in the early years of NASA. https://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/danbury-mint-men-space-series-first-411707135 One set in original presentation packaging just like the link. One set loose with a few extra medals (2 additional medals from the 1969 Men in Space series II — 2nd Moon Landing, 1st Space Rescue; one duplicate medal from series I, and one additional First Manned Landing on the Moon Apollo 11 (slightly larger, from unknown series to me)). Sold in lots only. Lot with packaging (21 medals, 0.7 oz each) — $360. Loose lot (25 medals, 0.7 oz each plus 1 slightly larger Appollo 11 as above) — $375 Proof: https://imgur.com/gallery/hRX6XlB Mexican Silver Lot -- Sold in lots of (10) @ $175/lot. YOU MAY MIX/MATCH —1952-53 Mexican 5 Pesos Hidalgo, 72% silver, 0.643 troy oz silvecoin (x10) —1977-79 Mexican 100 Pesos, 72% silver, 0.643 troy oz silvecoin (x10) —1968— Mexican Olympic 25 Pesos, 72% silver, 0.521 troy oz silvecoin (x20) 1973 Mundinero World Trade rounds x 2 tubes — $600/ea 1973 Mundinero World Trade Rounds with 14 of the 20 being High Relief — $640 Generic Rounds (mostly buffalos, I believe ) x 10 tubes — $560/tube Few loose generic rounds x 6 — $28/ea 2 Painted American Silver Eagles — $30/ea ’84-’85 Engelhard Prospector Rounds x 2 tubes — One tube of (20) — $660; One tube of (17) — $560 Canadian Maple Tubes of 25 x 3 (2012 x 2, 2008 x 1, NOTE: 2008 rounds have some milk spots) — $725/tube Proof: https://imgur.com/a/XnRiLPW Lot of 17 premium rounds: Philharmonics x4, Brittanias x 5, 2018 Republic Of Chad African Lion x 2, Krugerrands x 3, Australian Kangaroo x 1, Super Pit Australia x 2 — $488. Sold only as a lot. Lot of fractional silver rounds, 1.35 ASW — 1/4 oz indian head, 1/4 oz walking liberty, 1/4 oz buffalo nickel, 1/10 oz indian head x 3, buffalo x 1, Morgan x 1 — $44. Sold only as a lot. LOW PREMIUM LISTINGS Proof: https://imgur.com/a/R9NuZj8 All the time I see posts looking for precious metals “at or near spot.” Well here is your chance. If you don’t purchase these, then you are not really looking for silver at or near spot, you are looking for premium items without the premium. Those deals may be out there, but they are few and far between, with lines of buyers looking to snap them up, including myself. Items here will generally be available for spot + <2%. To get a physical form of a precious metal refined, assayed, and produced into an identifiable and verifiable form/weight/purity for a tad above spot is pretty darn good, regardless of the collectability of the item. I see people paying more premium for scrap than some of these. Silver war nickels @ $1.36/ea (BELOW SPOT), 8,500+ available, minimum quantity of 100 Large lot of Canadian — further info on request. Prefer to sell this in larger lots grouped together, not piecing it out or small lots. Take the whole lot for $3,000, or:
—$1.75fv, .925 — $33 —$20.25fv, ’67-’68, 50% (mostly all quarters) — $185 —$164.35fv, pre ’67, 80% (includes 65 $1) — $2,400 —1976 Montreal Olympic .925 $10 commemoratives x 9, 1.4454 troy oz/ea — $40/ea —1972 .925 $25 Cayman Island Silver Anniversary x 1, 1.5271 troy oz — $42.50
TERMS: All eligible items are verified with a sigma precious metal verifier or Kee gold tester. Prices are generally based on the underlying spot price. Large fluctuations in spot prices could affect the price of items listed. Shipping will generally be at cost. USPS first class starts @ $4, SFRB @ $8.50, signature @ $2.50. Will insure for 1.1% of purchase price. Shipping is at buyer’s risk. All items will be tracked, but I cannot be responsible for what happens on your porch. Would recommend delivery to a secure box for precious metals. Accept in order of preference: 1st — Zelle or Venmo; 2nd — PPFF (no comments), PPG&S @ +3.0%; Last resort: I have recently acquired the ability to accept Bitcoin, but am still learning. Be patient and fees will be at buyer’s expense, but I will try to work with you if other options do not suffice. Other forms of payment will be considered. Thank you!
Since 2015 XMR.to has set the standard for honesty, reliability, efficiency and ease of use to help you spend your XMR wherever it is not accepted yet. We were dedicated to support the Monero community since day 1, and it remains 100% the case nowadays. In no particular order:
day-to-day amounts are completely free
we always pay all BTC transaction fees so you don’t have to think about it
we only send “clean” BTC so you don’t have issues down the line
we regularly send donations to support Monero
we send payments (up to 0.1 BTC) instantly so you don’t have to wait stupidly at the cashier
our dev team spends 1 day a month on open source contributions relating to Monero
we run beefy public nodes that you can use freely. Etc, etc.
Today, we’re super excited to introduce our latest feature to maximize the reach and usefulness of your sweet XMR: you can now pay LN invoices directly from XMR.to! It couldn’t be easier: paste the invoice, click “create order” and proceed as with usual orders, that’s it. It typically takes less than 10 seconds between you clicking “send” in your Monero wallet and the merchant acknowledging the invoice is paid :) In fact, we believe this new addition goes beyond just a cool Monero stuff:
We now provide the easiest way to pay LN invoices, period. No locking of your funds and risking losing them, no rebalancing among channels, no fiddling, no nothing. XMR.to does it all for you under the hood.
We now provide the most private way to pay LN invoices, period. That is all thanks to Monero :)
It is still in Beta (actually even LN itself is considered "beta"), so even though we worked hard to make it highly reliable, for the time being forgive us for any issue and don't hesitate to provide feedback! If everything goes well, we will soon increase the maximum amount you can pay via LN invoices. If you want to develop with our LN feature or XMR.to in general, our API doc is here as always: https://xmrto-api.readthedocs.io Also remember a stagenet-Monero → testnet-Bitcoin version of XMR.to is available at https://test.xmr.to for all your privacy-minded joyful worthless playing around.
Summary: Everyone knows that when you give your assets to someone else, they always keep them safe. If this is true for individuals, it is certainly true for businesses. Custodians always tell the truth and manage funds properly. They won't have any interest in taking the assets as an exchange operator would. Auditors tell the truth and can't be misled. That's because organizations that are regulated are incapable of lying and don't make mistakes. First, some background. Here is a summary of how custodians make us more secure: Previously, we might give Alice our crypto assets to hold. There were risks:
Alice might take the assets and disappear.
Alice might spend the assets and pretend that she still has them (fractional model).
Alice might store the assets insecurely and they'll get stolen.
Alice might give the assets to someone else by mistake or by force.
Alice might lose access to the assets.
But "no worries", Alice has a custodian named Bob. Bob is dressed in a nice suit. He knows some politicians. And he drives a Porsche. "So you have nothing to worry about!". And look at all the benefits we get:
Alice can't take the assets and disappear (unless she asks Bob or never gives them to Bob).
Alice can't spend the assets and pretend that she still has them. (Unless she didn't give them to Bob or asks him for them.)
Alice can't store the assets insecurely so they get stolen. (After all - she doesn't have any control over the withdrawal process from any of Bob's systems, right?)
Alice can't give the assets to someone else by mistake or by force. (Bob will stop her, right Bob?)
Alice can't lose access to the funds. (She'll always be present, sane, and remember all secrets, right?)
See - all problems are solved! All we have to worry about now is:
Bob might take the assets and disappear.
Bob might spend the assets and pretend that he still has them (fractional model).
Bob might store the assets insecurely and they'll get stolen.
Bob might give the assets to someone else by mistake or by force.
Bob might lose access to the assets.
It's pretty simple. Before we had to trust Alice. Now we only have to trust Alice, Bob, and all the ways in which they communicate. Just think of how much more secure we are! "On top of that", Bob assures us, "we're using a special wallet structure". Bob shows Alice a diagram. "We've broken the balance up and store it in lots of smaller wallets. That way", he assures her, "a thief can't take it all at once". And he points to a historic case where a large sum was taken "because it was stored in a single wallet... how stupid". "Very early on, we used to have all the crypto in one wallet", he said, "and then one Christmas a hacker came and took it all. We call him the Grinch. Now we individually wrap each crypto and stick it under a binary search tree. The Grinch has never been back since." "As well", Bob continues, "even if someone were to get in, we've got insurance. It covers all thefts and even coercion, collusion, and misplaced keys - only subject to the policy terms and conditions." And with that, he pulls out a phone-book sized contract and slams it on the desk with a thud. "Yep", he continues, "we're paying top dollar for one of the best policies in the country!" "Can I read it?' Alice asks. "Sure," Bob says, "just as soon as our legal team is done with it. They're almost through the first chapter." He pauses, then continues. "And can you believe that sales guy Mike? He has the same year Porsche as me. I mean, what are the odds?" "Do you use multi-sig?", Alice asks. "Absolutely!" Bob replies. "All our engineers are fully trained in multi-sig. Whenever we want to set up a new wallet, we generate 2 separate keys in an air-gapped process and store them in this proprietary system here. Look, it even requires the biometric signature from one of our team members to initiate any withdrawal." He demonstrates by pressing his thumb into the display. "We use a third-party cloud validation API to match the thumbprint and authorize each withdrawal. The keys are also backed up daily to an off-site third-party." "Wow that's really impressive," Alice says, "but what if we need access for a withdrawal outside of office hours?" "Well that's no issue", Bob says, "just send us an email, call, or text message and we always have someone on staff to help out. Just another part of our strong commitment to all our customers!" "What about Proof of Reserve?", Alice asks. "Of course", Bob replies, "though rather than publish any blockchain addresses or signed transaction, for privacy we just do a SHA256 refactoring of the inverse hash modulus for each UTXO nonce and combine the smart contract coefficient consensus in our hyperledger lightning node. But it's really simple to use." He pushes a button and a large green checkmark appears on a screen. "See - the algorithm ran through and reserves are proven." "Wow", Alice says, "you really know your stuff! And that is easy to use! What about fiat balances?" "Yeah, we have an auditor too", Bob replies, "Been using him for a long time so we have quite a strong relationship going! We have special books we give him every year and he's very efficient! Checks the fiat, crypto, and everything all at once!" "We used to have a nice offline multi-sig setup we've been using without issue for the past 5 years, but I think we'll move all our funds over to your facility," Alice says. "Awesome", Bob replies, "Thanks so much! This is perfect timing too - my Porsche got a dent on it this morning. We have the paperwork right over here." "Great!", Alice replies. And with that, Alice gets out her pen and Bob gets the contract. "Don't worry", he says, "you can take your crypto-assets back anytime you like - just subject to our cancellation policy. Our annual management fees are also super low and we don't adjust them often". How many holes have to exist for your funds to get stolen? Just one. Why are we taking a powerful offline multi-sig setup, widely used globally in hundreds of different/lacking regulatory environments with 0 breaches to date, and circumventing it by a demonstrably weak third party layer? And paying a great expense to do so? If you go through the list of breaches in the past 2 years to highly credible organizations, you go through the list of major corporate frauds (only the ones we know about), you go through the list of all the times platforms have lost funds, you go through the list of times and ways that people have lost their crypto from identity theft, hot wallet exploits, extortion, etc... and then you go through this custodian with a fine-tooth comb and truly believe they have value to add far beyond what you could, sticking your funds in a wallet (or set of wallets) they control exclusively is the absolute worst possible way to take advantage of that security. The best way to add security for crypto-assets is to make a stronger multi-sig. With one custodian, what you are doing is giving them your cryptocurrency and hoping they're honest, competent, and flawlessly secure. It's no different than storing it on a really secure exchange. Maybe the insurance will cover you. Didn't work for Bitpay in 2015. Didn't work for Yapizon in 2017. Insurance has never paid a claim in the entire history of cryptocurrency. But maybe you'll get lucky. Maybe your exact scenario will buck the trend and be what they're willing to cover. After the large deductible and hopefully without a long and expensive court battle. And you want to advertise this increase in risk, the lapse of judgement, an accident waiting to happen, as though it's some kind of benefit to customers ("Free institutional-grade storage for your digital assets.")? And then some people are writing to the OSC that custodians should be mandatory for all funds on every exchange platform? That this somehow will make Canadians as a whole more secure or better protected compared with standard air-gapped multi-sig? On what planet? Most of the problems in Canada stemmed from one thing - a lack of transparency. If Canadians had known what a joke Quadriga was - it wouldn't have grown to lose $400m from hard-working Canadians from coast to coast to coast. And Gerald Cotten would be in jail, not wherever he is now (at best, rotting peacefully). EZ-BTC and mister Dave Smilie would have been a tiny little scam to his friends, not a multi-million dollar fraud. Einstein would have got their act together or been shut down BEFORE losing millions and millions more in people's funds generously donated to criminals. MapleChange wouldn't have even been a thing. And maybe we'd know a little more about CoinTradeNewNote - like how much was lost in there. Almost all of the major losses with cryptocurrency exchanges involve deception with unbacked funds. So it's great to see transparency reports from BitBuy and ShakePay where someone independently verified the backing. The only thing we don't have is:
ANY CERTAINTY BALANCES WEREN'T EXCLUDED. Quadriga's largest account was $70m. 80% of funds are in 20% of accounts (Pareto principle). All it takes is excluding a few really large accounts - and nobody's the wiser. A fractional platform can easily pass any audit this way.
ANY VISIBILITY WHATSOEVER INTO THE CUSTODIANS. BitBuy put out their report before moving all the funds to their custodian and ShakePay apparently can't even tell us who the custodian is. That's pretty important considering that basically all of the funds are now stored there.
ANY IDEA ABOUT THE OTHER EXCHANGES. In order for this to be effective, it has to be the norm. It needs to be "unusual" not to know. If obscurity is the norm, then it's super easy for people like Gerald Cotten and Dave Smilie to blend right in.
It's not complicated to validate cryptocurrency assets. They need to exist, they need to be spendable, and they need to cover the total balances. There are plenty of credible people and firms across the country that have the capacity to reasonably perform this validation. Having more frequent checks by different, independent, parties who publish transparent reports is far more valuable than an annual check by a single "more credible/official" party who does the exact same basic checks and may or may not publish anything. Here's an example set of requirements that could be mandated:
First report within 1 month of launching, another within 3 months, and further reports at minimum every 6 months thereafter.
No auditor can be repeated within a 12 month period.
All reports must be public, identifying the auditor and the full methodology used.
All auditors must be independent of the firm being audited with no conflict of interest.
Reports must include the percentage of each asset backed, and how it's backed.
The auditor publishes a hash list, which lists a hash of each customer's information and balances that were included. Hash is one-way encryption so privacy is fully preserved. Every customer can use this to have 100% confidence they were included.
If we want more extensive requirements on audits, these should scale upward based on the total assets at risk on the platform, and whether the platform has loaned their assets out.
There are ways to structure audits such that neither crypto assets nor customer information are ever put at risk, and both can still be properly validated and publicly verifiable. There are also ways to structure audits such that they are completely reasonable for small platforms and don't inhibit innovation in any way. By making the process as reasonable as possible, we can completely eliminate any reason/excuse that an honest platform would have for not being audited. That is arguable far more important than any incremental improvement we might get from mandating "the best of the best" accountants. Right now we have nothing mandated and tons of Canadians using offshore exchanges with no oversight whatsoever. Transparency does not prove crypto assets are safe. CoinTradeNewNote, Flexcoin ($600k), and Canadian Bitcoins ($100k) are examples where crypto-assets were breached from platforms in Canada. All of them were online wallets and used no multi-sig as far as any records show. This is consistent with what we see globally - air-gapped multi-sig wallets have an impeccable record, while other schemes tend to suffer breach after breach. We don't actually know how much CoinTrader lost because there was no visibility. Rather than publishing details of what happened, the co-founder of CoinTrader silently moved on to found another platform - the "most trusted way to buy and sell crypto" - a site that has no information whatsoever (that I could find) on the storage practices and a FAQ advising that “[t]rading cryptocurrency is completely safe” and that having your own wallet is “entirely up to you! You can certainly keep cryptocurrency, or fiat, or both, on the app.” Doesn't sound like much was learned here, which is really sad to see. It's not that complicated or unreasonable to set up a proper hardware wallet. Multi-sig can be learned in a single course. Something the equivalent complexity of a driver's license test could prevent all the cold storage exploits we've seen to date - even globally. Platform operators have a key advantage in detecting and preventing fraud - they know their customers far better than any custodian ever would. The best job that custodians can do is to find high integrity individuals and train them to form even better wallet signatories. Rather than mandating that all platforms expose themselves to arbitrary third party risks, regulations should center around ensuring that all signatories are background-checked, properly trained, and using proper procedures. We also need to make sure that signatories are empowered with rights and responsibilities to reject and report fraud. They need to know that they can safely challenge and delay a transaction - even if it turns out they made a mistake. We need to have an environment where mistakes are brought to the surface and dealt with. Not one where firms and people feel the need to hide what happened. In addition to a knowledge-based test, an auditor can privately interview each signatory to make sure they're not in coercive situations, and we should make sure they can freely and anonymously report any issues without threat of retaliation. A proper multi-sig has each signature held by a separate person and is governed by policies and mutual decisions instead of a hierarchy. It includes at least one redundant signature. For best results, 3of4, 3of5, 3of6, 4of5, 4of6, 4of7, 5of6, or 5of7. History has demonstrated over and over again the risk of hot wallets even to highly credible organizations. Nonetheless, many platforms have hot wallets for convenience. While such losses are generally compensated by platforms without issue (for example Poloniex, Bitstamp, Bitfinex, Gatecoin, Coincheck, Bithumb, Zaif, CoinBene, Binance, Bitrue, Bitpoint, Upbit, VinDAX, and now KuCoin), the public tends to focus more on cases that didn't end well. Regardless of what systems are employed, there is always some level of risk. For that reason, most members of the public would prefer to see third party insurance. Rather than trying to convince third party profit-seekers to provide comprehensive insurance and then relying on an expensive and slow legal system to enforce against whatever legal loopholes they manage to find each and every time something goes wrong, insurance could be run through multiple exchange operators and regulators, with the shared interest of having a reputable industry, keeping costs down, and taking care of Canadians. For example, a 4 of 7 multi-sig insurance fund held between 5 independent exchange operators and 2 regulatory bodies. All Canadian exchanges could pay premiums at a set rate based on their needed coverage, with a higher price paid for hot wallet coverage (anything not an air-gapped multi-sig cold wallet). Such a model would be much cheaper to manage, offer better coverage, and be much more reliable to payout when needed. The kind of coverage you could have under this model is unheard of. You could even create something like the CDIC to protect Canadians who get their trading accounts hacked if they can sufficiently prove the loss is legitimate. In cases of fraud, gross negligence, or insolvency, the fund can be used to pay affected users directly (utilizing the last transparent balance report in the worst case), something which private insurance would never touch. While it's recommended to have official policies for coverage, a model where members vote would fully cover edge cases. (Could be similar to the Supreme Court where justices vote based on case law.) Such a model could fully protect all Canadians across all platforms. You can have a fiat coverage governed by legal agreements, and crypto-asset coverage governed by both multi-sig and legal agreements. It could be practical, affordable, and inclusive. Now, we are at a crossroads. We can happily give up our freedom, our innovation, and our money. We can pay hefty expenses to auditors, lawyers, and regulators year after year (and make no mistake - this cost will grow to many millions or even billions as the industry grows - and it will be borne by all Canadians on every platform because platforms are not going to eat up these costs at a loss). We can make it nearly impossible for any new platform to enter the marketplace, forcing Canadians to use the same stagnant platforms year after year. We can centralize and consolidate the entire industry into 2 or 3 big players and have everyone else fail (possibly to heavy losses of users of those platforms). And when a flawed security model doesn't work and gets breached, we can make it even more complicated with even more people in suits making big money doing the job that blockchain was supposed to do in the first place. We can build a system which is so intertwined and dependent on big government, traditional finance, and central bankers that it's future depends entirely on that of the fiat system, of fractional banking, and of government bail-outs. If we choose this path, as history has shown us over and over again, we can not go back, save for revolution. Our children and grandchildren will still be paying the consequences of what we decided today. Or, we can find solutions that work. We can maintain an open and innovative environment while making the adjustments we need to make to fully protect Canadian investors and cryptocurrency users, giving easy and affordable access to cryptocurrency for all Canadians on the platform of their choice, and creating an environment in which entrepreneurs and problem solvers can bring those solutions forward easily. None of the above precludes innovation in any way, or adds any unreasonable cost - and these three policies would demonstrably eliminate or resolve all 109 historic cases as studied here - that's every single case researched so far going back to 2011. It includes every loss that was studied so far not just in Canada but globally as well. Unfortunately, finding answers is the least challenging part. Far more challenging is to get platform operators and regulators to agree on anything. My last post got no response whatsoever, and while the OSC has told me they're happy for industry feedback, I believe my opinion alone is fairly meaningless. This takes the whole community working together to solve. So please let me know your thoughts. Please take the time to upvote and share this with people. Please - let's get this solved and not leave it up to other people to do. Facts/background/sources (skip if you like):
The inspiration for the paragraph about splitting wallets was an actual quote from a Canadian company providing custodial services in response to the OSC consultation paper: "We believe that it will be in the in best interests of investors to prohibit pooled crypto assets or ‘floats’. Most Platforms pool assets, citing reasons of practicality and expense. The recent hack of the world’s largest Platform – Binance – demonstrates the vulnerability of participants’ assets when such concessions are made. In this instance, the Platform’s entire hot wallet of Bitcoins, worth over $40 million, was stolen, facilitated in part by the pooling of client crypto assets." "the maintenance of participants (and Platform) crypto assets across multiple wallets distributes the related risk and responsibility of security - reducing the amount of insurance coverage required and making insurance coverage more readily obtainable". For the record, their reply also said nothing whatsoever about multi-sig or offline storage.
In addition to the fact that the $40m hack represented only one "hot wallet" of Binance, and they actually had the vast majority of assets in other wallets (including mostly cold wallets), multiple real cases have clearly demonstrated that risk is still present with multiple wallets. Bitfinex, VinDAX, Bithumb, Altsbit, BitPoint, Cryptopia, and just recently KuCoin all had multiple wallets breached all at the same time, and may represent a significantly larger impact on customers than the Binance breach which was fully covered by Binance. To represent that simply having multiple separate wallets under the same security scheme is a comprehensive way to reduce risk is just not true.
Private insurance has historically never covered a single loss in the cryptocurrency space (at least, not one that I was able to find), and there are notable cases where massive losses were not covered by insurance. Bitpay in 2015 and Yapizon in 2017 both had insurance policies that didn't pay out during the breach, even after a lengthly court process. The same insurance that ShakePay is presently using (and announced to much fanfare) was describe by their CEO himself as covering “physical theft of the media where the private keys are held,” which is something that has never historically happened. As was said with regard to the same policy in 2018 - “I don’t find it surprising that Lloyd’s is in this space,” said Johnson, adding that to his mind the challenge for everybody is figuring out how to structure these policies so that they are actually protective. “You can create an insurance policy that protects no one – you know there are so many caveats to the policy that it’s not super protective.”
The most profitable policy for a private insurance company is one with the most expensive premiums that they never have to pay a claim on. They have no inherent incentive to take care of people who lost funds. It's "cheaper" to take the reputational hit and fight the claim in court. The more money at stake, the more the insurance provider is incentivized to avoid payout. They're not going to insure the assets unless they have reasonable certainty to make a profit by doing so, and they're not going to pay out a massive sum unless it's legally forced. Private insurance is always structured to be maximally profitable to the insurance provider.
The circumvention of multi-sig was a key factor in the massive Bitfinex hack of over $60m of bitcoin, which today still sits being slowly used and is worth over $3b. While Bitfinex used a qualified custodian Bitgo, which was and still is active and one of the industry leaders of custodians, and they set up 2 of 3 multi-sig wallets, the entire system was routed through Bitfinex, such that Bitfinex customers could initiate the withdrawals in a "hot" fashion. This feature was also a hit with the hacker. The multi-sig was fully circumvented.
Bitpay in 2015 was another example of a breach that stole 5,000 bitcoins. This happened not through the exploit of any system in Bitpay, but because the CEO of a company they worked with got their computer hacked and the hackers were able to request multiple bitcoin purchases, which Bitpay honoured because they came from the customer's computer legitimately. Impersonation is a very common tactic used by fraudsters, and methods get more extreme all the time.
A notable case in Canada was the Canadian Bitcoins exploit. Funds were stored on a server in a Rogers Data Center, and the attendee was successfully convinced to reboot the server "in safe mode" with a simple phone call, thus bypassing the extensive security and enabling the theft.
The very nature of custodians circumvents multi-sig. This is because custodians are not just having to secure the assets against some sort of physical breach but against any form of social engineering, modification of orders, fraudulent withdrawal attempts, etc... If the security practices of signatories in a multi-sig arrangement are such that the breach risk of one signatory is 1 in 100, the requirement of 3 independent signatures makes the risk of theft 1 in 1,000,000. Since hackers tend to exploit the weakest link, a comparable custodian has to make the entry and exit points of their platform 10,000 times more secure than one of those signatories to provide equivalent protection. And if the signatories beef up their security by only 10x, the risk is now 1 in 1,000,000,000. The custodian has to be 1,000,000 times more secure. The larger and more complex a system is, the more potential vulnerabilities exist in it, and the fewer people can understand how the system works when performing upgrades. Even if a system is completely secure today, one has to also consider how that system might evolve over time or work with different members.
By contrast, offline multi-signature solutions have an extremely solid record, and in the entire history of cryptocurrency exchange incidents which I've studied (listed here), there has only been one incident (796 exchange in 2015) involving an offline multi-signature wallet. It happened because the customer's bitcoin address was modified by hackers, and the amount that was stolen ($230k) was immediately covered by the exchange operators. Basically, the platform operators were tricked into sending a legitimate withdrawal request to the wrong address because hackers exploited their platform to change that address. Such an issue would not be prevented in any way by the use of a custodian, as that custodian has no oversight whatsoever to the exchange platform. It's practical for all exchange operators to test large withdrawal transactions as a general policy, regardless of what model is used, and general best practice is to diagnose and fix such an exploit as soon as it occurs.
False promises on the backing of funds played a huge role in the downfall of Quadriga, and it's been exposed over and over again (MyCoin, PlusToken, Bitsane, Bitmarket, EZBTC, IDAX). Even today, customers have extremely limited certainty on whether their funds in exchanges are actually being backed or how they're being backed. While this issue is not unique to cryptocurrency exchanges, the complexity of the technology and the lack of any regulation or standards makes problems more widespread, and there is no "central bank" to come to the rescue as in the 2008 financial crisis or during the great depression when "9,000 banks failed".
In addition to fraudulent operations, the industry is full of cases where operators have suffered breaches and not reported them. Most recently, Einstein was the largest case in Canada, where ongoing breaches and fraud were perpetrated against the platform for multiple years and nobody found out until the platform collapsed completely. While fraud and breaches suck to deal with, they suck even more when not dealt with. Lack of visibility played a role in the largest downfalls of Mt. Gox, Cryptsy, and Bitgrail. In some cases, platforms are alleged to have suffered a hack and keep operating without admitting it at all, such as CoinBene.
It surprises some to learn that a cryptographic solution has already existed since 2013, and gained widespread support in 2014 after Mt. Gox. Proof of Reserves is a full cryptographic proof that allows any customer using an exchange to have complete certainty that their crypto-assets are fully backed by the platform in real-time. This is accomplished by proving that assets exist on the blockchain, are spendable, and fully cover customer deposits. It does not prove safety of assets or backing of fiat assets.
If we didn't care about privacy at all, a platform could publish their wallet addresses, sign a partial transaction, and put the full list of customer information and balances out publicly. Customers can each check that they are on the list, that the balances are accurate, that the total adds up, and that it's backed and spendable on the blockchain. Platforms who exclude any customer take a risk because that customer can easily check and see they were excluded. So together with all customers checking, this forms a full proof of backing of all crypto assets.
However, obviously customers care about their private information being published. Therefore, a hash of the information can be provided instead. Hash is one-way encryption. The hash allows the customer to validate inclusion (by hashing their own known information), while anyone looking at the list of hashes cannot determine the private information of any other user. All other parts of the scheme remain fully intact. A model like this is in use on the exchange CoinFloor in the UK.
A Merkle tree can provide even greater privacy. Instead of a list of balances, the balances are arranged into a binary tree. A customer starts from their node, and works their way to the top of the tree. For example, they know they have 5 BTC, they plus 1 other customer hold 7 BTC, they plus 2-3 other customers hold 17 BTC, etc... until they reach the root where all the BTC are represented. Thus, there is no way to find the balances of other individual customers aside from one unidentified customer in this case.
Proposals such as this had the backing of leaders in the community including Nic Carter, Greg Maxwell, and Zak Wilcox. Substantial and significant effort started back in 2013, with massive popularity in 2014. But what became of that effort? Very little. Exchange operators continue to refuse to give visibility. Despite the fact this information can often be obtained through trivial blockchain analysis, no Canadian platform has ever provided any wallet addresses publicly. As described by the CEO of Newton "For us to implement some kind of realtime Proof of Reserves solution, which I'm not opposed to, it would have to ... Preserve our users' privacy, as well as our own. Some kind of zero-knowledge proof". Kraken describes here in more detail why they haven't implemented such a scheme. According to professor Eli Ben-Sasson, when he spoke with exchanges, none were interested in implementing Proof of Reserves.
And yet, Kraken's places their reasoning on a page called "Proof of Reserves". More recently, both BitBuy and ShakePay have released reports titled "Proof of Reserves and Security Audit". Both reports contain disclaimers against being audits. Both reports trust the customer list provided by the platform, leaving the open possibility that multiple large accounts could have been excluded from the process. Proof of Reserves is a blockchain validation where customers see the wallets on the blockchain. The report from Kraken is 5 years old, but they leave it described as though it was just done a few weeks ago. And look at what they expect customers to do for validation. When firms represent something being "Proof of Reserve" when it's not, this is like a farmer growing fruit with pesticides and selling it in a farmers market as organic produce - except that these are people's hard-earned life savings at risk here. Platforms are misrepresenting the level of visibility in place and deceiving the public by their misuse of this term. They haven't proven anything.
Fraud isn't a problem that is unique to cryptocurrency. Fraud happens all the time. Enron, WorldCom, Nortel, Bear Stearns, Wells Fargo, Moser Baer, Wirecard, Bre-X, and Nicola are just some of the cases where frauds became large enough to become a big deal (and there are so many countless others). These all happened on 100% reversible assets despite regulations being in place. In many of these cases, the problems happened due to the over-complexity of the financial instruments. For example, Enron had "complex financial statements [which] were confusing to shareholders and analysts", creating "off-balance-sheet vehicles, complex financing structures, and deals so bewildering that few people could understand them". In cryptocurrency, we are often combining complex financial products with complex technologies and verification processes. We are naïve if we think problems like this won't happen. It is awkward and uncomfortable for many people to admit that they don't know how something works. If we want "money of the people" to work, the solutions have to be simple enough that "the people" can understand them, not so confusing that financial professionals and technology experts struggle to use or understand them.
For those who question the extent to which an organization can fool their way into a security consultancy role, HB Gary should be a great example to look at. Prior to trying to out anonymous, HB Gary was being actively hired by multiple US government agencies and others in the private sector (with glowing testimonials). The published articles and hosted professional security conferences. One should also look at this list of data breaches from the past 2 years. Many of them are large corporations, government entities, and technology companies. These are the ones we know about. Undoubtedly, there are many more that we do not know about. If HB Gary hadn't been "outted" by anonymous, would we have known they were insecure? If the same breach had happened outside of the public spotlight, would it even have been reported? Or would HB Gary have just deleted the Twitter posts, brought their site back up, done a couple patches, and kept on operating as though nothing had happened?
In the case of Quadriga, the facts are clear. Despite past experience with platforms such as MapleChange in Canada and others around the world, no guidance or even the most basic of a framework was put in place by regulators. By not clarifying any sort of legal framework, regulators enabled a situation where a platform could be run by former criminal Mike Dhanini/Omar Patryn, and where funds could be held fully unchecked by one person. At the same time, the lack of regulation deterred legitimate entities from running competing platforms and Quadriga was granted a money services business license for multiple years of operation, which gave the firm the appearance of legitimacy. Regulators did little to protect Canadians despite Quadriga failing to file taxes from 2016 onward. The entire administrative team had resigned and this was public knowledge. Many people had suspicions of what was going on, including Ryan Mueller, who forwarded complaints to the authorities. These were ignored, giving Gerald Cotten the opportunity to escape without justice.
There are multiple issues with the SOC II model including the prohibitive cost (you have to find a third party accounting firm and the prices are not even listed publicly on any sites), the requirement of operating for a year (impossible for new platforms), and lack of any public visibility (SOC II are private reports that aren't shared outside the people in suits).
Securities frameworks are expensive. Sarbanes-Oxley is estimated to cost $5.1 million USD/yr for the average Fortune 500 company in the United States. Since "Fortune 500" represents the top 500 companies, that means well over $2.55 billion USD (~$3.4 billion CAD) is going to people in suits. Isn't the problem of trust and verification the exact problem that the blockchain is supposed to solve?
To use Quadriga as justification for why custodians or SOC II or other advanced schemes are needed for platforms is rather silly, when any framework or visibility at all, or even the most basic of storage policies, would have prevented the whole thing. It's just an embarrassment.
We are now seeing regulators take strong action. CoinSquare in Canada with multi-million dollar fines. BitMex from the US, criminal charges and arrests. OkEx, with full disregard of withdrawals and no communication. Who's next?
We have a unique window today where we can solve these problems, and not permanently destroy innovation with unreasonable expectations, but we need to act quickly. This is a unique historic time that will never come again.
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