Binance.com VS Kraken.com Comparison - Best Bitcoin Exchange
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Ultimate glossary of crypto currency terms, acronyms and abbreviations
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.
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.
How To End The Cryptocurrency Exchange "Wild West" Without Crippling Innovation
In case you haven't noticed the consultation paper, staff notice, and report on Quadriga, regulators are now clamping down on Canadian cryptocurrency exchanges. The OSC and other regulatory bodies are still interested in industry feedback. They have not put forward any official regulation yet. Below are some ideas/insights and a proposed framework.
Typical securities frameworks will cost Canadians millions of dollars (ie Sarbanes-Oxley estimated at $5m USD/yr per firm). Implementation costs of this proposal are significantly cheaper.
Canadians can maintain a diverse set of exchanges, multiple viable business models are still fully supported, and innovation is encouraged while keeping Canadians safe.
Many of you have limited time to read the full proposal, so here are the highlights:
Effective standards to prevent both internal and external theft. Exchange operators are trained and certified, and have a legal responsibility to users.
Regular Transparent Audits
Provides visibility to Canadians that their funds are fully backed on the exchange, while protecting privacy and sensitive platform information.
Establishment of basic insurance standards/strategy, to expand over time. Removing risk to exchange users of any hot wallet theft.
Background and Justifications
Cold Storage Custody/Management After reviewing close to 100 cases, all thefts tend to break down into more or less the same set of problems: • Funds stored online or in a smart contract, • Access controlled by one person or one system, • 51% attacks (rare), • Funds sent to the wrong address (also rare), or • Some combination of the above. For the first two cases, practical solutions exist and are widely implemented on exchanges already. Offline multi-signature solutions are already industry standard. No cases studied found an external theft or exit scam involving an offline multi-signature wallet implementation. Security can be further improved through minimum numbers of signatories, background checks, providing autonomy and legal protections to each signatory, establishing best practices, and a training/certification program. The last two transaction risks occur more rarely, and have never resulted in a loss affecting the actual users of the exchange. In all cases to date where operators made the mistake, they've been fully covered by the exchange platforms. • 51% attacks generally only occur on blockchains with less security. The most prominent cases have been Bitcoin Gold and Ethereum Classic. The simple solution is to enforce deposit limits and block delays such that a 51% attack is not cost-effective. • The risk of transactions to incorrect addresses can be eliminated by a simple test transaction policy on large transactions. By sending a small amount of funds prior to any large withdrawals/transfers as a standard practice, the accuracy of the wallet address can be validated. The proposal covers all loss cases and goes beyond, while avoiding significant additional costs, risks, and limitations which may be associated with other frameworks like SOC II. On The Subject of Third Party Custodians Many Canadian platforms are currently experimenting with third party custody. From the standpoint of the exchange operator, they can liberate themselves from some responsibility of custody, passing that off to someone else. For regulators, it puts crypto in similar categorization to oil, gold, and other commodities, with some common standards. Platform users would likely feel greater confidence if the custodian was a brand they recognized. If the custodian was knowledgeable and had a decent team that employed multi-sig, they could keep assets safe from internal theft. With the right protections in place, this could be a great solution for many exchanges, particularly those that lack the relevant experience or human resources for their own custody systems. However, this system is vulnerable to anyone able to impersonate the exchange operators. You may have a situation where different employees who don't know each other that well are interacting between different companies (both the custodian and all their customers which presumably isn't just one exchange). A case study of what can go wrong in this type of environment might be Bitpay, where the CEO was tricked out of 5000 bitcoins over 3 separate payments by a series of emails sent legitimately from a breached computer of another company CEO. It's also still vulnerable to the platform being compromised, as in the really large $70M Bitfinex hack, where the third party Bitgo held one key in a multi-sig wallet. The hacker simply authorized the withdrawal using the same credentials as Bitfinex (requesting Bitgo to sign multiple withdrawal transactions). This succeeded even with the use of multi-sig and two heavily security-focused companies, due to the lack of human oversight (basically, hot wallet). Of course, you can learn from these cases and improve the security, but so can hackers improve their deception and at the end of the day, both of these would have been stopped by the much simpler solution of a qualified team who knew each other and employed multi-sig with properly protected keys. It's pretty hard to beat a human being who knows the business and the typical customer behaviour (or even knows their customers personally) at spotting fraud, and the proposed multi-sig means any hacker has to get through the scrutiny of 3 (or more) separate people, all of whom would have proper training including historical case studies. There are strong arguments both for and against using use of third party custodians. The proposal sets mandatory minimum custody standards would apply regardless if the cold wallet signatories are exchange operators, independent custodians, or a mix of both. On The Subject Of Insurance ShakePay has taken the first steps into this new realm (congratulations). There is no question that crypto users could be better protected by the right insurance policies, and it certainly feels better to transact with insured platforms. The steps required to obtain insurance generally place attention in valuable security areas, and in this case included a review from CipherTrace. One of the key solutions in traditional finance comes from insurance from entities such as the CDIC. However, historically, there wasn't found any actual insurance payout to any cryptocurrency exchange, and there are notable cases where insurance has not paid. With Bitpay, for example, the insurance agent refused because the issue happened to the third party CEO's computer instead of anything to do with Bitpay itself. With the Youbit exchange in South Korea, their insurance claim was denied, and the exchange ultimately ended up instead going bankrupt with all user's funds lost. To quote Matt Johnson in the original Lloyd's article: “You can create an insurance policy that protects no one – you know there are so many caveats to the policy that it’s not super protective.” ShakePay's insurance was only reported to cover their cold storage, and “physical theft of the media where the private keys are held”. Physical theft has never, in the history of cryptocurrency exchange cases reviewed, been reported as the cause of loss. From the limited information of the article, ShakePay made it clear their funds are in the hands of a single US custodian, and at least part of their security strategy is to "decline to confirm the custodian’s name on the record". While this prevents scrutiny of the custodian, it's pretty silly to speculate that a reasonably competent hacking group couldn't determine who the custodian is. A far more common infiltration strategy historically would be social engineering, which has succeeded repeatedly. A hacker could trick their way into ShakePay's systems and request a fraudulent withdrawal, impersonate ShakePay and request the custodian to move funds, or socially engineer their way into the custodian to initiate the withdrawal of multiple accounts (a payout much larger than ShakePay) exploiting the standard procedures (for example, fraudulently initiating or override the wallet addresses of a real transfer). In each case, nothing was physically stolen and the loss is therefore not covered by insurance. In order for any insurance to be effective, clear policies have to be established about what needs to be covered. Anything short of that gives Canadians false confidence that they are protected when they aren't in any meaningful way. At this time, the third party insurance market does not appear to provide adequate options or coverage, and effort is necessary to standardize custody standards, which is a likely first step in ultimately setting up an insurance framework. A better solution compared to third party insurance providers might be for Canadian exchange operators to create their own collective insurance fund, or a specific federal organization similar to the CDIC. Such an organization would have a greater interest or obligation in paying out actual cases, and that would be it's purpose rather than maximizing it's own profit. This would be similar to the SAFU which Binance has launched, except it would cover multiple exchanges. There is little question whether the SAFU would pay out given a breach of Binance, and a similar argument could be made for a insurance fund managed by a collective of exchange operators or a government organization. While a third party insurance provider has the strong market incentive to provide the absolute minimum coverage and no market incentive to payout, an entity managed by exchange operators would have incentive to protect the reputation of exchange operators/the industry, and the government should have the interest of protecting Canadians. On The Subject of Fractional Reserve There is a long history of fractional reserve failures, from the first banks in ancient times, through the great depression (where hundreds of fractional reserve banks failed), right through to the 2008 banking collapse referenced in the first bitcoin block. The fractional reserve system allows banks to multiply the money supply far beyond the actual cash (or other assets) in existence, backed only by a system of debt obligations of others. Safely supporting a fractional reserve system is a topic of far greater complexity than can be addressed by a simple policy, and when it comes to cryptocurrency, there is presently no entity reasonably able to bail anyone out in the event of failure. Therefore, this framework is addressed around entities that aim to maintain 100% backing of funds. There may be some firms that desire but have failed to maintain 100% backing. In this case, there are multiple solutions, including outside investment, merging with other exchanges, or enforcing a gradual restoration plan. All of these solutions are typically far better than shutting down the exchange, and there are multiple cases where they've been used successfully in the past. Proof of Reserves/Transparency/Accountability Canadians need to have visibility into the backing on an ongoing basis. The best solution for crypto-assets is a Proof of Reserve. Such ideas go back all the way to 2013, before even Mt. Gox. However, no Canadian exchange has yet implemented such a system, and only a few international exchanges (CoinFloor in the UK being an example) have. Many firms like Kraken, BitBuy, and now ShakePay use the Proof of Reserve term to refer to lesser proofs which do not actually cryptographically prove the full backing of all user assets on the blockchain. In order for a Proof of Reserve to be effective, it must actually be a complete proof, and it needs to be understood by the public that is expected to use it. Many firms have expressed reservations about the level of transparency required in a complete Proof of Reserve (for example Kraken here). While a complete Proof of Reserves should be encouraged, and there are some solutions in the works (ie TxQuick), this is unlikely to be suitable universally for all exchange operators and users. Given the limitations, and that firms also manage fiat assets, a more traditional audit process makes more sense. Some Canadian exchanges (CoinSquare, CoinBerry) have already subjected themselves to annual audits. However, these results are not presently shared publicly, and there is no guarantee over the process including all user assets or the integrity and independence of the auditor. The auditor has been typically not known, and in some cases, the identity of the auditor is protected by a NDA. Only in one case (BitBuy) was an actual report generated and publicly shared. There has been no attempt made to validate that user accounts provided during these audits have been complete or accurate. A fraudulent fractional exchange, or one which had suffered a breach they were unwilling to publicly accept (see CoinBene), could easily maintain a second set of books for auditors or simply exclude key accounts to pass an individual audit. The proposed solution would see a reporting standard which includes at a minimum - percentage of backing for each asset relative to account balances and the nature of how those assets are stored, with ownership proven by the auditor. The auditor would also publicly provide a "hash list", which they independently generate from the accounts provided by the exchange. Every exchange user can then check their information against this public "hash list". A hash is a one-way form of encryption, which fully protects the private information, yet allows anyone who knows that information already to validate that it was included. Less experienced users can take advantage of public tools to calculate the hash from their information (provided by the exchange), and thus have certainty that the auditor received their full balance information. Easy instructions can be provided. Auditors should be impartial, their identities and process public, and they should be rotated so that the same auditor is never used twice in a row. Balancing the cost of auditing against the needs for regular updates, a 6 month cycle likely makes the most sense. Hot Wallet Management The best solution for hot wallets is not to use them. CoinBerry reportedly uses multi-sig on all withdrawals, and Bitmex is an international example known for their structure devoid of hot wallets. However, many platforms and customers desire fast withdrawal processes, and human validation has a cost of time and delay in this process. A model of self-insurance or separate funds for hot wallets may be used in these cases. Under this model, a platform still has 100% of their client balance in cold storage and holds additional funds in hot wallets for quick withdrawal. Thus, the risk of those hot wallets is 100% on exchange operators and not affecting the exchange users. Since most platforms typically only have 1%-5% in hot wallets at any given time, it shouldn't be unreasonable to build/maintain these additional reserves over time using exchange fees or additional investment. Larger withdrawals would still be handled at regular intervals from the cold storage. Hot wallet risks have historically posed a large risk and there is no established standard to guarantee secure hot wallets. When the government of South Korea dispatched security inspections to multiple exchanges, the results were still that 3 of them got hacked after the inspections. If standards develop such that an organization in the market is willing to insure the hot wallets, this could provide an acceptable alternative. Another option may be for multiple exchange operators to pool funds aside for a hot wallet insurance fund. Comprehensive coverage standards must be established and maintained for all hot wallet balances to make sure Canadians are adequately protected.
Current Draft Proposal
(1) Proper multi-signature cold wallet storage. (a) Each private key is the personal and legal responsibility of one person - the “signatory”. Signatories have special rights and responsibilities to protect user assets. Signatories are trained and certified through a course covering (1) past hacking and fraud cases, (2) proper and secure key generation, and (3) proper safekeeping of private keys. All private keys must be generated and stored 100% offline by the signatory. If even one private keys is ever breached or suspected to be breached, the wallet must be regenerated and all funds relocated to a new wallet. (b) All signatories must be separate background-checked individuals free of past criminal conviction. Canadians should have a right to know who holds their funds. All signing of transactions must take place with all signatories on Canadian soil or on the soil of a country with a solid legal system which agrees to uphold and support these rules (from an established white-list of countries which expands over time). (c) 3-5 independent signatures are required for any withdrawal. There must be 1-3 spare signatories, and a maximum of 7 total signatories. The following are all valid combinations: 3of4, 3of5, 3of6, 4of5, 4of6, 4of7, 5of6, or 5of7. (d) A security audit should be conducted to validate the cold wallet is set up correctly and provide any additional pertinent information. The primary purpose is to ensure that all signatories are acting independently and using best practices for private key storage. A report summarizing all steps taken and who did the audit will be made public. Canadians must be able to validate the right measures are in place to protect their funds. (e) There is a simple approval process if signatories wish to visit any country outside Canada, with a potential whitelist of exempt countries. At most 2 signatories can be outside of aligned jurisdiction at any given time. All exchanges would be required to keep a compliant cold wallet for Canadian funds and have a Canadian office if they wish to serve Canadian customers. (2) Regular and transparent solvency audits. (a) An audit must be conducted at founding, after 3 months of operation, and at least once every 6 months to compare customer balances against all stored cryptocurrency and fiat balances. The auditor must be known, independent, and never the same twice in a row. (b) An audit report will be published featuring the steps conducted in a readable format. This should be made available to all Canadians on the exchange website and on a government website. The report must include what percentage of each customer asset is backed on the exchange, and how those funds are stored. (c) The auditor will independently produce a hash of each customer's identifying information and balance as they perform the audit. This will be made publicly available on the exchange and government website, along with simplified instructions that each customer can use to verify that their balance was included in the audit process. (d) The audit needs to include a proof of ownership for any cryptocurrency wallets included. A satoshi test (spending a small amount) or partially signed transaction both qualify. (e) Any platform without 100% reserves should be assessed on a regular basis by a government or industry watchdog. This entity should work to prevent any further drop, support any private investor to come in, or facilitate a merger so that 100% backing can be obtained as soon as possible. (3) Protections for hot wallets and transactions. (a) A standardized list of approved coins and procedures will be established to constitute valid cold storage wallets. Where a multi-sig process is not natively available, efforts will be undertaken to establish a suitable and stable smart contract standard. This list will be expanded and improved over time. Coins and procedures not on the list are considered hot wallets. (b) Hot wallets can be backed by additional funds in cold storage or an acceptable third-party insurance provider with a comprehensive coverage policy. (c) Exchanges are required to cover the full balance of all user funds as denominated in the same currency, or double the balance as denominated in bitcoin or CAD using an established trading rate. If the balance is ever insufficient due to market movements, the firm must rectify this within 24 hours by moving assets to cold storage or increasing insurance coverage. (d) Any large transactions (above a set threshold) from cold storage to any new wallet addresses (not previously transacted with) must be tested with a smaller transaction first. Deposits of cryptocurrency must be limited to prevent economic 51% attacks. Any issues are to be covered by the exchange. (e) Exchange platforms must provide suitable authentication for users, including making available approved forms of two-factor authentication. SMS-based authentication is not to be supported. Withdrawals must be blocked for 48 hours in the event of any account password change. Disputes on the negligence of exchanges should be governed by case law.
Continued review of existing OSC feedback is still underway. More feedback and opinions on the framework and ideas as presented here are extremely valuable. The above is a draft and not finalized. The process of further developing and bringing a suitable framework to protect Canadians will require the support of exchange operators, legal experts, and many others in the community. The costs of not doing such are tremendous. A large and convoluted framework, one based on flawed ideas or implementation, or one which fails to properly safeguard Canadians is not just extremely expensive and risky for all Canadians, severely limiting to the credibility and reputation of the industry, but an existential risk to many exchanges. The responsibility falls to all of us to provide our insight and make our opinions heard on this critical matter. Please take the time to give your thoughts.
Bitcoin Futures Trading Platforms - Comparsion of Trading Fees
As i'm the perfect example of a scalper, low risk and small positions, i wanted to find out if and how much the fees would eat up my profit. What kind of fees are applied on Trading Platforms? Maker fees are paid when you add liquidity to our order book by placing a limit order below the ticker price for buy, and above the ticker price for sell. Taker fees are paid when you remove liquidity from our order book by placing any order that is executed against an order on the order book. Of course there are deposit/withdrawal fees on some platforms, but these are easy to calculate and foreseeable. List of Trading Platforms and it's fees (A to Z) All the fees are applied to BTC/USD Futures (Perpetual Contracts). Binance – MF 0.02% / TF 0.04% Bitmex – MF -0.025% / TF 0.075% Bybit – MF -0.025% / TF 0.075% Deribit – MF -0.025% / TF 0.075% Digitex Futures – MF 0.00% / TF 0.00% Huobi Global – MF 0.02% / TF 0.04% Kraken – MF -0.02% / TF 0.075% OKEx – MF 0.02% / TF 0.05% Phemex – MF -0.025% / TF 0.075% MF = Maker Fees / TF = Taker Fees You see on some exchange you have a negative maker fee, this is because you get rewarded for adding liquidity. Let's calculate our profitability So let's say we enter a trade and buy 2 Bitcoins at $10500, the price rises to $10505 after a few minutes and we hop out of the trade. How much did we effectively made? Let's compare the worst case and best case scenarios. Worst case (OKEx) MF (2×10500 = 21000) => (21000 / 100) × 0.02 = $4.20 fees for placing your order TF (2×10505 = 21010) => (21010 / 100) × 0.05 = $10.50 fees for selling your position Net profit = $10 - $14.70 = -$4.70 Best case (Digitex Futures) MF (2x10500 = 21000) => (21000 / 100) × 0.00 = $0.00 fees for placing your order TF (2×10505 = 21010) => (21010 / 100) × 0.00 = $0.00 fees for selling your position Net profit = $10 -$0.00 = +$10.00 Conclusion As you can see, scalping on almost all platforms is impossible unless you go for higher risk or longer term trades. The fees just make it impossible to make quick profits unless you are on the right platform.
Ok people, I've spent all day reading the Shrimpy literature online and checking out all of Shrimpy's major resources and backtest studies. Here's the big picture of what it all looks like... (...fascinating stuff by the way). The best Shrimpy portfolio & trading strategy is: (#1) a 15% threshold rebalancing (#2) evenly distributed allocation of (#3) at least fourteen diversified (#4) midcap altcoins (roughly the top 50-350 altcoins by market cap). That's the portfolio and trading strategy that all Shrimpy's combined data and backtesting studies point to as the best. Your welcome :D I asked Shrimpy Michael (founder) on Telegram, and he confirmed: "It sounds like you have read all of our studies! [yay, me] Our results have suggested that the portfolio you describe has historically produced the highest median performance." Most (?) of the data/studies, as far as I can see, are based on a $5,000 starting investment and historical data from an overall uptrending bull / bear market in May 2017 - May 2018 (I like your style Shrimpy - include both bull / bear with an overall uptrend). Wondering what that bull / bear market looked like? Here it is, in Bitcoin (in between the grey lines): Bitcoin Bull / Bear Market (May 2017 - May 2018) Hodlers of crypto's largest asset during this period saw a roughly 500% increase in value, if they just stored Bitcoin and did nothing else. Shrimpy backtests blow it out of the water (each one of the four things linked to in bold at the top *individually* blows it out of the water). Interesting... not saying I'm an evangelist yet, just plotting it all out. There is one more caveat. It does matter what exchange(s) you use. Apparently the studies show that portfolio performance is also affected by the exchange (its trading fees and liquidity/spreads). For traders outside of the US, I think Binance is the obvious "Shrimpy-approved" exchange of choice (with $100 billion in monthly volume and 0.1% trading fees - wow). For US traders, you have 8 legal options. The following exchanges are ranked in order according to their liquidity/volume, with trading fees in (parentheses): Coinbase Pro (.5%), Kraken (.26%), Bitstamp (.5%), KuCoin (.1%), Bittrex (.2%), Binance US (.1%), CEX (.25%), and Binance DEX (.1%). The liquidity on these are a far cry from Binance's international exchange, and the trading fee percentages are for lowest-money tier takers (wow that sounds like such an insult, that's what I am?) at the time of this writing [source]. Now, the only catch perhaps to all this is of course having to store your *decentralized* digital assets in a majority of *centralized* exchanges, and hope it doesn't get Mt. Gox'd one day. That's a big drawback right now in my book. One thing you can do is diversify your assets between all the centralized exchanges (that's kind of like using a decentralized exchange, right?) and just eat the large variety of trading fees and spreads each one offers, whatever they are. Do that if you're worried about security. Actually even better, implement Shrimpy's cold wallet storage solution and keep the lion's share of your assets in a hardware wallet. That's it, I'm done. Shrimpy Source: https://blog.shrimpy.io/blog/the-best-threshold-for-cryptocurrency-rebalancing-strategies Give me some karma! Anybody?
If you are planning to place assets into cryptographic types of cash like Bitcoin or Ether, in any case, you do not understand where to start, this Gemini exchange review will help you with choosing. Gemini Bitcoin Exchange Review 2020 You need yourself to be a productive advanced cash intermediary. By what technique will you become? To help you here's an exchange review, which will give every one of you the low down information required for a powerful enthusiasm for one of the most trusted in stages the Gemini Exchange. We should find all the more right currently review Gemini Review : About Gemini Exchange Twin kin developed Gemini Winklevoss in the year 2014. The Gemini exchange is arranged in New York. The Gemini crypto exchange is open in essentially all US states, similarly as UK, Canada, Puerto Rico, Singapore, South Korea, and Hong Kong. In 2016, Gemini transformed into the world's recently approved Ether exchange. 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How to use Gemini? https://preview.redd.it/qnowl19fwaj41.jpg?width=720&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=1819eeac9d4c44681c0afe616d387b60a78f7c8e 1) Go to the official site and snap the "Register" tab on the upper right corner. Enter your name, email address, and mystery word for your own record. While affirming your email address, it is critical to : Affirm your email address and enter both your region and phone number, by then you can set up 2-Factor Authentication (2FA) which will be an additional layer of security to your record. Incorporate your monetary equalization. Starting at now, Gemini recognizes simply bank moves and wires, as a methodology for putting away holds. To check your record, move your organization ID proof. This will help you with executing and trade US Dollars. Moreover, it will help Gemini with as per the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) and Anti Money Laundering (AML) rules. The affirmation time may run from a couple to a couple of days. Subsequent to completing of all the above strategies, you can use your record for financing. gemini crypto exchange 2) Deposit Currency In the Menu, click Transfer Funds, by then find a good pace Bank Transfer and Exchange. Enter the whole you have to store here. Moreover, note $500 consistently is the most extraordinary most extreme for Bank moves. 3) Trading Bitcoin and Ethereum As you store by methods for bank move, they are quickly available for trading. you can purchase by encountering the menu and picking your supported trading pair. For example, for Bitcoin BTC/USD similarly as Ethereum ETH/USD. In the wake of embeddings the expense and sum it will process your buy demand. There is another choice to trade by methods for the business community which has exhibit orders gave by various customers. After the fulfillment of your purchase, your record will be acknowledged with your Ethereum just as Bitcoin purchases. You can sell your computerized cash on the Gemini crypto exchange. Regardless of the way that you can't make a withdrawal until your bank move has been completely arranged. gemini sponsor organization 4)Trading Limits By and by, For most trade strategies, there are no limitations on trades. In any case, Automated Clearing House (ACH) moves have the greatest store most remote purpose of $500 day and $15,000 consistently for singular record holders. Associations have a state of restriction for making ACH stores of $10,000 consistently or $300,000 consistently. Gemini Marketplace There is a Gemini business focus that runs 24*7. Here, you can have indistinguishable number of solicitations from you wish to have, with a variety of trading choices. These include: Market Orders – With the present best open worth, the solicitations here starting dealing with quickly against resting orders. Purpose of repression Orders – The sum is filled at or better than a given expense. The sum which isn't dispatched lays on the solicitation book diligently until it is filled or dropped. Brief or Cancel (IOC) Limit Orders – The sum is filled at or better than a given expense. The sum which isn't filled rapidly is dropped and doesn't lay on the perpetual solicitation book. Maker or Cancel (MOC) Limit Orders – The sum lays on the solicitation book continually at a foreordained expense. Furthermore, the entire solicitation is dropped if there is any sum that can be filled immediately. All solicitations made on this stage are totally sponsored and fill in as a full hold exchange. In any case, there is no edge trading Gemini. Despite that, reliably the customer's record equality should have more balance than the exceptional excitement on demand books. Also, all open solicitations decline your available leveling until they are fulfilled or dropped Gemini Fees In the event that there ought to be an event of moves, Gemini crypto exchange has a low cost technique and stage customers can store Bitcoin, Ether, at freed from charges for both bank and wire moves. In any case, banks will charge a cost for the customers to wire money to their Gemini account. Withdrawals on the stage are free and all customers will have 30 free withdrawals for each calendar month. Any withdrawals more than this total will pull in costs comparable to the mining charges payable on either sort out. The costs are around 0.001 BTC or 100,000 Satoshi per trade on the Bitcoin Network and 0 GWei or 0 ETH per trade on the Ethereum Network. MakeTaker charges 0.25% is the trading costs for both sellers(makers) and buyers(takers). If it shows up at certain trade volumes, charges will be reduced. The maker charge is 0% for 30-day trading volumes that outperform 5,000 Bitcoin or 100,000 Ether. For a comparable trading entirety, the taker run after will bubble to 0.10%. Gemini uses dynamic maker and taker charge or reimbursement timetable, and sellers can get reimbursement on liquidity-creation trades. The particular entireties depend upon net trading volumes and the buy and sell extent over a multi day time allotment. The data are adjusted as expected and more information on charges can be found here. https://preview.redd.it/exgucn9gwaj41.png?width=225&format=png&auto=webp&s=34fc66d46df40444abcc9ac61308106b2e3f57c0 charges Concerning purchases, the base purchase whole for Bitcoin is 0.00001 BTC, or 1000 satoshis, for Ether, the base sum is 0 .001 ETH Security-at-Gemini Bitcoin Gemini Reviews, is a strong exchange that has a better than average reputation in everyone. The exchange goes about as a way into the universe of cryptographic cash trading. This may be in light of the fact that various customers first quit concerning purchasing Bitcoin and Ethereum. In comprehension to Coinbase, Gemini has a near space. Wherein it allows its customers to make trade clearly to and from their records. Gemini is a not too bad choice, for people looking to securely trade either Bitcoin or Ethereum. The exchange is a potential decision for new competitors to the market similarly as logically settled sellers who like to make trades by methods for their monetary adjusts. Latest News Dec 17, 2019: Well realized cash related pro association State Street picked Gemini exchange for the new propelled asset pilot adventure. Nov 19, 2019: Gemini exchange wanders into NFT's and acquired Nifty Gateway Solution, a phase to buy Non-Fungible Tokens. Nov 14, 2019: The exchange added Stop-Limit to the solicitations being executed on the stage. Sep 11, 2019: Gemini dispatches Gemini Custody with 18 cryptographic types of cash Sep 5, 2019: Gemini Clearing™, a totally electronic clearing and settlement answer for off-exchange exhibited by the stage Aud 27, 2019: Gemini Joins the Silvergate Exchange Network Aug 22, 2019: Gemini loosens up and reaches to Australia April 15, 2019: Gemini wallet support Segwit Gemini Bitcoin Exchange Review Rundown: How to Buy Bitcoins by means of Gemini Register a record at Gemini and check email code sent to you. Set up two-factor validation (2FA). Give checked ID as a major aspect of the confirmation procedure. Include ledger. Store cash by clicking "Move Funds", "Store into Exchange" and afterward picking the sort of bank move. Snap "Purchase" catch and round out the buy structure to get BTC. Is Gemini Safe? Gemini is extremely worried about its clients' wellbeing, in this manner it utilize three arrangements of security... MORE Gemini Comparison with Other Exchanget To exchange bitcoins you have to initially peruse and think about various BTC trades... MORE In Which Countries Is Gemini Available? You can arrange bitcoins through Gemini nearly in any nation, yet discover where you can't... MORE Guide: Buying BTCs at Gemini It is anything but difficult to purchase bitcoins on Gemini trade, knowing the essential standards and prerequisites... MORE FAQ Discover to what extent the exchange takes, how to pull back BTCs and what strategies for... MORE Practically equivalent to Bitcoin Exchanges We have arranged a rundown of trades, notwithstanding Gemini, that can assist you with requesting bitcoins... MORE With developing worth and system, bitcoin is ready to turn into the main online resource in the realm of ventures. Gemini bitcoin trade survey This article is worried about one of the most well known trades with regards to BTC exchange, Gemini. What Is Gemini? Gemini is one of the realized digital money trades that offer an assortment of exchange apparatuses for speculators that have some involvement with the business. The organization that claims the stage is enrolled as LLC in New York State, USA, offering USD to BTC and USD to ETH exchange trade. Purchase BTC at Gemini Propelled in 2015, Gemini offers two unmistakable commercial centers, them being: customary trade administrations; bitcoin barters. Upon its appearance, the stage offered its administrations in the US just, bit by bit including different nations all the while. The organization is possessed by the Winklevoss twins, who guarantee that they are have about 1% of the complete BTC volume. Winklevoss siblings are Gemini's proprietors Gemini Security With regards to the wellbeing of your assets, Gemini applies three arrangements of safety efforts that should be referenced. To start with, the stage applies advanced money safety efforts by offering hot and cold stockpiling wallets, where cold wallets have multisig capacities to forestall hacking endeavors at your equalizations. Gemini security The subsequent measure is identified with the exchange where the entirety of the exchanges at Gemini are led through pre-financed accounts, implying that merchants and purchasers can't post orders on the off chance that they don't have adequate BTC or fiat monetary forms in their parities. Finally, the site security comprises of two-factor verification (2FA) and HTTP encryption of all data in regards to merchants and stage's exchanges from outsiders. Accessible Payment Methods As of now, Gemini acknowledges stores communicated distinctly in ACH (for US dealers) and wire moves (for every other person) communicated in USD. Credit or check cards, money stores, PayPal and numerous different alternatives are wanted to be remembered for the future however are not accessible at the present time. Buy bitcoin by means of wire move You ought to buy in to the Gemini news source since the organization will promote the new store strategy through that channel of correspondence. Shouldn't something be said about Fees? While saving or pulling back your assets communicated in fiat or computerized monetary forms, dealers would find that the administrations are done totally free. Then again, Gemini charges exchange expenses are charged dependent on a month to month net exchange volume. Taker charges can extend from 0.15% to 0.25% while creator expenses from 0% to 0.25%. Expenses at the trade Does Gemini Have Limits? Cryptographic money and wire stores and withdrawals don't have any constraints forced on dealers, implying that in the event that you utilize the said administrations, you can buy, sell and pull back bitcoins with no deterrents. Singular American financial specialists utilizing ACH move, then again, have $500 every day and $15.000 month to month while institutional individuals have $10.000 day by day and $300.000 month to month store limits. No restrictions for purchasing bitcoin Gemini Comparison When thinking about exchanging at any trade, you should hope to analyze the administrations, expenses and impediments with other comparative stages. In this manner, we have assembled an examination investigation where we benchmarked Gemini against two other well known decisions with regards to BTC buy: Kraken and Coinbase. Gemini versus Kraken Kraken, much the same as Gemini, acknowledges bank moves just, with the significant contrast being that Kraken permits 5 fiat cash stores. Notwithstanding bitcoin, there are 14 more altcoins that you can exchange with at Kraken while the two trades force check on their customers as they are both controlled organizations. Gemini versus Kraken Kraken is fundamentally the same as Gemini as far as expenses, as creatotaker charges go somewhere in the range of 0% and 0.26%. Bank moves do accompany little expenses at Kraken while Gemini acknowledges stores for nothing. In conclusion, while Gemini exchanges two or three nations in particular, Kraken is all around accessible. Coinbase versus Gemini Coinbase is viewed as one of the biggest bitcoin suppliers on the planet, offering its administrations in 32 nations, USA notwithstanding. The installment strategies at Coinbase are PayPal, bank moves and credit/check cards, two more than Gemini. Request bitcoins by means of Coinbase trade Confirmation is an absolute necessity have at Coinbase, much like in Gemini while expenses are a ton lower at Gemini, as you pay between 1.49% to 3.49% from exchange's an incentive at Coinbase. The two trades offer BTC vaults and wallet administrations while Coinbase additionally exchanges with Litecoin which are inaccessible at Gemini. Gemini BTC Exchange in Different Countries Gemini's administrations are accessible in a bunch of nations around the globe, them being the US (5 states not upheld), Canada, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore and the United Kingdom. The five US expresses that are not bolstered are Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, Oregon and Wisconsin. Gemini trade in various nations Is It Legal? Gemini is an American LLC that adheres to New York Banking Law guidelines, actualizing BSA (Bank Secrecy Act) and AML (Anti-Money Laundry Compliance Program) arrangements, implying that customary reviews of the BSA/AML programs are being executed. Moreover, the firm requires all merchants to have reserves pre-saved before the exchange. Bitcoin Gemini Price, is legitimate Another significant factor of the stage's lawfulness is the way that since its beginning, Gemini has promptly accessible money related report dating 7 years back. Does Gemini Support Its Customers? Concerning the client service, Gemini has a thorough FAQ page where a large portion of the exchanging questions have been replied. Notwithstanding the FAQ, you can likewise top off a shape and present a solicitation to the Gemini group with respect to any issue that you may look on the stage. Gemini client service Because of the regular upkeep of the site's administrations, Gemini has a "Status" page where financial specialists can see which administrations and API instruments are working right now and which are definitely not. Manual for Buy Bitcoins from Gemini When you have gotten the cash at your Gemini account, click "Purchase" button on the dashboard page. Buy page for bitcoins at Gemini Presently, round out the structure on the right, giving request type, volume or estimation of BTC you wish to get and click "Purchase" to get bitcoins in your record immediately. Try to check the BTC cost at the upper left piece of the "Purchase" page to ensure it has not changed at the time you have begun the buy procedure. Enrollment It is totally allowed to enroll a record at Gemini bitcoin trade and the procedure begins once you click "Register" button at the upper right corner of the site. Give your complete name, email address and secret key in subsequent stage and snap "Make My Account". Make account at Gemini You will get an email code which you should duplicate glue into the Gemini's check page. Contribution of enactment code on Bitcoin Gemini Registration The accompanying advances will open up for you to finish, in this way you have to arrangement your 2FA security apparatus, include a financial balance and give checked ID to finish the enrollment methodology. To what extent Should I Wait for Verification? Check stage can take between an hour and a day, contingent upon various enlistment applications Gemini has right now you have begun the procedure. You ought to set up every single essential report before you start and arm yourself with persistence as a stage would set aside effort to process your data. Confirmation process at Gemini Would you be able to Get Bitcoins Without Verification? At the enlistment page, you are required to check your personality and frog your financial balance. When you have presented the records, you can't enter the stage's exchange page until the help affirms your subtleties. In this way, it is unimaginable to expect to buy supply of bitcoins without confirmation. Obligatory confirmation before purchasing BTCs at Gemini How to Add Money to Account? When you have finished the enrollment and confirmation of your record, click button "Move Funds", situated in the top segment of your dashboard page. In following stage, click "Store Into Exchange" and pick either USD or Wire alternative, contingent upon what financial balance you have included at enrollment stage. Add assets to Gemini account You can likewise store bitcoins in your Gemini wallet too. Store BTCs in the Gemini wallet At the last phase of wire move subsidizing process, you have to give bank's wiring data, for example, your record number and other significant data that can be found by clicking "Bank Settings". Give bank's wiring data When data has been given, basically click "Store" button which will show up at the base of the page. Secure Your Account Keep the entirety of your record and wallet passwords out of the programmer's compass by continually evolving them. Monitor the new secret key by keeping in touch with them down on a bit of paper as to not overlook them meanwhile. Record with 2FA on trade You as of now have 2FA from the enlistment stage and don't give your private data to some other dealer on the stage. FAQ To what extent Does It Take to Make Transaction? It takes 4 to 5 days to store assets in your Gemini account while exchanges themselves are done following you the exchange started. Diverse request types have distinctive length, contingent upon what dealer wishes to accomplish. Sitting tight for exchanges on the trade Would i be able to Buy Bitcoin with PayPal at Gemini? Now, brokers can't utilize PayPal as store technique at Gemini. You ought to buy in to the trade's news channel as to get warnings if the strategy opens up to store alternative later on. Does Gemini Have a BTC Wallet? The stage offers two kinds of wallet administrations, one being "hot" wallet and another being vault stockpiling. Both are based just, with the principle contrast being that vault stockpiling gives extra security keys that are utilized while moving bitcoins all through the wallet. Along these lines, vault administrations are esteemed as more secure than the standard BTC wallet. Gemini wallet Pulling back Your Bitcoins from Gemini At the dashboard page, click "Move Funds" and afterward "Pull back From Exchange" to begin the procedure. Pick bitcoins to continue towards the withdrawal structure. Determine the measure of BTC you with to escape the trade and give your wallet address. Snap "Survey Withdrawal" and check the data. When you are fulfilled, click "Affirm" to end the procedure. Your coins will show up inside 24 hours to your ideal area. Pull back BTC from Gemini Instructions to Order BTC with Credit/Debit Card at Gemini As with PayPal, it is preposterous to expect to buy bitcoins with the assistance of credit or charge cards at Gemini, since the choice isn't accessible right now. Stay aware of trade's news and declarations as the CC/DC choice may open up later on. Gemini Mobile App Portable stages are yet to be created by Gemini, implying that exchange is accessible on perusing stage as it were. Watch out for the declaration, as the organization may make the push towards telephone exchange not so distant future. Purchase BTC just on Gemini perusing stage Gemini Analogs Aside from Gemini, we at BitcoinBestBuy have checked on numerous different stages that can assist you with getting bitcoins effectively and securely. They all change regarding local accessibility, expenses, buy strategies and confirmation necessities, so make a point to check different articles also. Get BTC at digital money stages Coinbase Exchange Review Being one of the biggest BTC exchanging stages the world, we made a survey of their charges, store choices and other important data with respect to the trade. We have likewise given bit by bit controls on the best way to buy and pull back assets and coins from Coinbase. Coinbase survey Full Review Coinbase Bitcoin Gemini Exchange Find out About Kraken Kraken is another trade that offers bitcoins through bank moves and its administrations are all inclusive accessible. We made a survey of Kraken's advantages and disadvantages, giving our customers a diagram of the trade as far as expenses the organization charges, check prerequisites and buy procedures of the stage. https://www.cryptoerapro.com/bitcoin-gemini/ http://www.cryptoerapro.com/ https://twitter.com/cryptoerapro https://www.instagram.com/cryptoerapro/ https://www.pinterest.co.uk/cryptoerapro/ https://www.facebook.com/cryptoerapro https://www.facebook.com/pg/bitcoingeminibot https://www.facebook.com/events/282310836080639/
Crypto and the Latency Arms Race: Crypto Exchanges and the HFT Crowd
News by Coindesk: Max Boonen Carrying on from an earlier post about the evolution of high frequency trading (HFT), how it can harm markets and how crypto exchanges are responding, here we focus on the potential longer-term impact on the crypto ecosystem. First, though, we need to focus on the state of HFT in a broader context.
Conventional markets are adopting anti-latency arbitrage mechanisms
In conventional markets, latency arbitrage has increased toxicity on lit venues and pushed trading volumes over-the-counter or into dark pools. In Europe, dark liquidity has increased in spite of efforts by regulators to clamp down on it. In some markets, regulation has actually contributed to this. Per the SEC:
“Using the Nasdaq market as a proxy, [Regulation] NMS did not seem to succeed in its mission to increase the display of limit orders in the marketplace. We have seen an increase in dark liquidity, smaller trade sizes, similar trading volumes, and a larger number of “small” venues.”
Why is non-lit execution remaining or becoming more successful in spite of its lower transparency? In its 2014 paper, BlackRock came out in favour of dark pools in the context of best execution requirements. It also lamented message congestion and cautioned against increasing tick sizes, features that advantage latency arbitrageurs. (This echoes the comment to CoinDesk of David Weisberger, CEO of Coinroutes, who explained that the tick sizes typical of the crypto market are small and therefore do not put slower traders at much of a disadvantage.) Major venues now recognize that the speed race threatens their business model in some markets, as it pushes those “slow” market makers with risk-absorbing capacity to provide liquidity to the likes of BlackRock off-exchange. Eurex has responded by implementing anti-latency arbitrage (ALA) mechanisms in options: “Right now, a lot of liquidity providers need to invest more into technology in order to protect themselves against other, very fast liquidity providers, than they can invest in their pricing for the end client. The end result of this is a certain imbalance, where we have a few very sophisticated liquidity providers that are very active in the order book and then a lot of liquidity providers that have the ability to provide prices to end clients, but are tending to do so more away from the order book”, commented Jonas Ullmann, Eurex’s head of market functionality. Such views are increasingly supported by academic research. XTX identifies two categories of ALA mechanisms: policy-based and technology-based. Policy-based ALA refers to a venue simply deciding that latency arbitrageurs are not allowed to trade on it. Alternative venues to exchanges (going under various acronyms such as ECN, ATS or MTF) can allow traders to either take or make, but not engage in both activities. Others can purposefully select — and advertise — their mix of market participants, or allow users to trade in separate “rooms” where undesired firms are excluded. The rise of “alternative microstructures” is mostly evidenced in crypto by the surge in electronic OTC trading, where traders can receive better prices than on exchange. Technology-based ALA encompasses delays, random or deterministic, added to an exchange’s matching engine to reduce the viability of latency arbitrage strategies. The classic example is a speed bump where new orders are delayed by a few milliseconds, but the cancellation of existing orders is not. This lets market makers place fresh quotes at the new prevailing market price without being run over by latency arbitrageurs. As a practical example, the London Metal Exchange recently announced an eight-millisecond speed bump on some contracts that are prime candidates for latency arbitrageurs due to their similarity to products trading on the much bigger CME in Chicago. Why 8 milliseconds? First, microwave transmission between Chicago and the US East Coast is 3 milliseconds faster than fibre optic lines. From there, the $250,000 a month Hibernia Express transatlantic cable helps you get to London another 4 milliseconds faster than cheaper alternatives. Add a millisecond for internal latencies such as not using FPGAs and 8 milliseconds is the difference for a liquidity provider between investing tens of millions in speed technology or being priced out of the market by latency arbitrage. With this in mind, let’s consider what the future holds for crypto.
Crypto exchanges must not forget their retail roots
We learn from conventional markets that liquidity benefits from a diverse base of market makers with risk-absorption capacity. Some have claimed that the spread compression witnessed in the bitcoin market since 2017 is due to electronification. Instead, I posit that it is greater risk-absorbing capacity and capital allocation that has improved the liquidity of the bitcoin market, not an increase in speed, as in fact being a fast exchange with colocation such as Gemini has not supported higher volumes. Old-timers will remember Coinsetter, a company that, per the Bitcoin Wiki , “was created in 2012, and operates a bitcoin exchange and ECN. Coinsetter’s CSX trading technology enables millisecond trade execution times and offers one of the fastest API data streams in the industry.” The Wiki page should use the past tense as Coinsetter failed to gain traction, was acquired in 2016 and subsequently closed. Exchanges that invest in scalability and user experience will thrive (BitMEX comes to mind). Crypto exchanges that favour the fastest traders (by reducing jitter, etc.) will find that winner-takes-all latency strategies do not improve liquidity. Furthermore, they risk antagonising the majority of their users, who are naturally suspicious of platforms that sell preferential treatment. It is baffling that the head of Russia for Huobi vaunted to CoinDesk that: “The option [of co-location] allows [selected clients] to make trades 70 to 100 times faster than other users”. The article notes that Huobi doesn’t charge — but of course, not everyone can sign up. Contrast this with one of the most successful exchanges today: Binance. It actively discourages some HFT strategies by tracking metrics such as order-to-trade ratios and temporarily blocking users that breach certain limits. Market experts know that Binance remains extremely relevant to price discovery, irrespective of its focus on a less professional user base. Other exchanges, take heed. Coinbase closed its entire Chicago office where 30 engineers had worked on a faster matching engine, an exercise that is rumoured to have cost $50mm. After much internal debate, I bet that the company finally realised that it wouldn’t recoup its investment and that its value derived from having onboarded 20 million users, not from upgrading systems that are already fast and reliable by the standards of crypto. It is also unsurprising that Kraken’s Steve Hunt, a veteran of low-latency torchbearer Jump Trading, commented to CoinDesk that: “We want all customers regardless of size or scale to have equal access to our marketplace”. Experience speaks. In a recent article on CoinDesk , Matt Trudeau of ErisX points to the lower reliability of cloud-based services compared to dedicated, co-located and cross-connected gateways. That much is true. Web-based technology puts the emphasis on serving the greatest number of users concurrently, not on serving a subset of users deterministically and at the lowest latency possible. That is the point. Crypto might be the only asset class that is accessible directly to end users with a low number of intermediaries, precisely because of the crypto ethos and how the industry evolved. It is cheaper to buy $500 of bitcoin than it is to buy $500 of Microsoft shares. Trudeau further remarks that official, paid-for co-location is better than what he pejoratively calls “unsanctioned colocation,” the fact that crypto traders can place their servers in the same cloud providers as the exchanges. The fairness argument is dubious: anyone with $50 can set up an Amazon AWS account and run next to the major crypto exchanges, whereas cheap co-location starts at $1,000 a month in the real world. No wonder “speed technology revenues” are estimated at $1 billion for the major U.S. equity exchanges. For a crypto exchange, to reside in a financial, non-cloud data centre with state-of-the-art network latencies might ironically impair the likelihood of success. The risk is that such an exchange becomes dominated on the taker side by the handful of players that already own or pay for the fastest communication routes between major financial data centres such as Equinix and the CME in Chicago, where bitcoin futures are traded. This might reduce liquidity on the exchange because a significant proportion of the crypto market’s risk-absorption capacity is coming from crypto-centric funds that do not have the scale to operate low-latency strategies, but might make up the bulk of the liquidity on, say, Binance. Such mom-and-pop liquidity providers might therefore shun an exchange that caters to larger players as a priority.
Exchanges risk losing market share to OTC liquidity providers
While voice trading in crypto has run its course, a major contribution to the market’s increase in liquidity circa 2017–2018 was the risk appetite of the original OTC voice desks such as Cumberland Mining and Circle. Automation really shines in bringing together risk-absorbing capacity tailored to each client (which is impossible on anonymous exchanges) with seamless electronic execution. In contrast, latency-sensitive venues can see liquidity evaporate in periods of stress, as happened to a well-known and otherwise successful exchange on 26 June which saw its bitcoin order book become $1,000 wide for an extended period of time as liquidity providers turned their systems off. The problem is compounded by the general unavailability of credit on cash exchanges, an issue that the OTC market’s settlement model avoids. As the crypto market matures, the business model of today’s major cash exchanges will come under pressure. In the past decade, the FX market has shown that retail traders benefit from better liquidity when they trade through different channels than institutional speculators. Systematic internalizers demonstrate the same in equities. This fact of life will apply to crypto. Exchanges have to pick a side: either cater to retail (or retail-driven intermediaries) or court HFTs. Now that an aggregator like Tagomi runs transaction cost analysis for their clients, it will become plainly obvious to investors with medium-term and long-term horizons (i.e. anyone not looking at the next 2 seconds) that their price impact on exchange is worse than against electronic OTC liquidity providers. Today, exchange fee structures are awkward because they must charge small users a lot to make up for crypto’s exceptionally high compliance and onboarding costs. Onboarding a single, small value user simply does not make sense unless fees are quite elevated. Exchanges end up over-charging large volume traders such as B2C2’s clients, another incentive to switch to OTC execution. In the alternative, what if crypto exchanges focus on HFT traders? In my opinion, the CME is a much better venue for institutional takers as fees are much lower and conventional trading firms will already be connected to it. My hypothesis is that most exchanges will not be able to compete with the CME for fast traders (after all, the CBOE itself gave up), and must cater to their retail user base instead. In a future post, we will explore other microstructures beyond all-to-all exchanges and bilateral OTC trading. Fiber threads image via Shutterstock
‘Youngest Bitcoin Millionaire’ Willing to Stake it All on Metal Pay
https://preview.redd.it/f2hdpngkljh31.png?width=2000&format=png&auto=webp&s=5cc57b932f5e950203aec3cabcd9e686a6f9c585 Metallicus, the startup behind the peer-to-peer payments platform Metal Pay, received an undisclosed angel investment from the youngest bitcoin millionaire, Erik Finman. In partnership with Metal Pay CEO Marshall Hayner, the two look to develop the first “all-in-one” cryptocurrency banking platform, which includes a 17 digital asset exchange, a digital bank and a payments application with social features similar to Venmo. Founded in September, Metal Pay has processed approximately $11 million in total payments from nearly 130,000 registered users across 38 states. On a monthly basis, the company processes $1 million in crypto or fiat for around 30,000 active users, according to Hayner. Finman staked a modest amount of bitcoin to finance the development of the banking and exchange ecosystem, he said, which currently holds approximately $2 million in crypto and fiat on the platform. Though Finman is willing to put in his entire “400 something” bitcoin fortune to fund Metal Pay’s growth, the 20 year old told CoinDesk. “We’re looking to beat bitcoin,” Finman said. “I’ve been a bit back and forth in the past (‘crypto is dead’/ ‘resurrect Bitcoin’) but have found in recent months, especially, that the bitcoin community is super fragmented. And the actual usability for bitcoin is minimal,” Finman said. This project is an attempt to move beyond the siloed developments within the crypto industry and become a usable financial tool, he said. Hayner agrees, and said crypto has grown to mirror “the existing financial industry,” rather than the open-source community where he found his footing in “the days when you could still mine BTC on a MacBook.” Before Metal’s founding in 2016, Hayner helped build Stellar, Dogecoin and Block.io. The company previously received $3 million in funding from G2 Ventures, Gateway and Shapeshift CEO Erik Voorhees.
Crypto meets conventional
The two took a “crypto-agnostic” approach when building the system and have worked actively with regulators. Metal Pay is partnered with Arkansas-based Evolve Bank and Trust to provide FDIC insured deposit accounts. As the platform develops, Evolve will help Metal Pay introduce a number of financial products associated with conventional banking services. In 2018, Hayner also developed a proof of processed payment as a means of distributing MTL tokens native to the platform. The proof reaches consensus and validates transactions conducted on Metal Pay. Instead of a mining reward, however, the counterparties receive up to 5 percent of the transaction volume in MTL, which, “for consumers, is construed as cash back,” said Hayner. These rewards, called Pop can be converted into fiat, sent to another Metal Pay user, or held as an investment. MTL holders are rewarded in additional ways. For instance, those that “hold over 10,000 MTL on an average spot price between Binance, Kraken and Bittrex,” will not be charged fees. Further, Hayner said the company intends to offer free trading on MTL specific pairs and fee-less options for merchants following the introduction of Metal Merchant. Metal Pay looks to gain market validation in a crowded field of payment apps like Venmo and Cash App. Hayner recognizes the difficulty in attracting non-crypto users, and is working to build an application that passes industry muster first. He said:
“Bitcoin is flawed, but only in the way the Ford Model T was flawed, the concept of a car will live on and constantly be improved upon, hopefully it builds upon the existing model and there is always room for Ford, Toyota, Mazda, BMW, Tesla even!”
https://cryptomurmur.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/The-way-money-used-to-be-1.png I wrote this story about the paradigm shift that cryptocurrencies may cause in the future, from the perspective of an old man reflecting on the past. If you enjoy this story, please have a look at other material I have written at https://cryptomurmur.com/ The Way Money Used to Be “I remember it like it was yesterday, James,” the old man wistfully pondered. “Money was so different back then. Everything was different.” “How so, Will?” the younger one asked - not so young as to be a child, but young enough to not remember the way money used to be. “Back then,” Will replied, “money was not something shared and traded freely like it is now… it was mostly owned by a few, and they were the few who controlled it. They issued it, and they manipulated its value to their advantage.” “They could print it, as much as they would convince the people they needed, and over time, the money became worth less and less, but the people would owe more and more.” “But if they mined it and mined it,” James asked, “and mined it all, wouldn’t they run out of money eventually? Then the money would be scarce and become worth more, right?” “No, no, no!” Will was amused at James’ naivete. “They didn’t mine it like we do now. Now, our computers solve mathematical problems to mine a currency, and it becomes more and more scarce, and more and more valuable, but back then, the people in power just printed more and more money as they saw fit, creating more and more debt and less and less value.” “Out of thin air?” James was incredulous. “How could they do that? Didn’t people see how they were taking advantage of them?” “It took time for people to realise. They began to realise when the new money came to be. But it was a slow, gradual change. Cryptocurrency did not have a good reputation, at first.” James was confused. “What do you mean? How can a currency be bad? Can’t it be used for good or bad?” “Of course!” Will replied, “but the few who controlled money wanted to keep things that way, so they created fear and paranoia about the new money. They said cryptocurrency was only used by criminals, paying for committing horrible acts with impunity, behind a shield of anonymity. The old money, on the other hand, was tracked and followed everywhere it went on the Internet, thus creating the illusion of safety. In reality, though, it was controlled and manipulated.” “And people didn’t mind? They just willingly gave up their privacy like that? Bizarre!” James was struggling to relate to such a different way of seeing the world. “They didn’t know there were better alternatives” Will explained. “Money was not only controlled by the few, the powerful, and the elite, but also by tanks, guns and bombs. There wasn’t much the average person could do about it at the time.” “Money was centralised - controlled by a few powerful entities. Not like now. Cryptocurrency as we know it today has no central authority. It can not be attacked and destroyed at any one single point,” Will continued, “It wasn’t secure like it is now, either. Money could be stolen and hidden in vast quantities by those in power who could control what was seen, so nobody could possibly know if a government or other person in power was stealing money from the rest of the people.” James was astonished. “No public ledger? So, you just had to trust the people who controlled the money to be honest about the money, when it was in their best interests to be selfish? That makes no sense!” Will laughed. “I know, it’s funny when you think back how it just seemed perfectly normal and acceptable at the time! Now it seems… ridiculous!” They chuckled as they reminisced. “I remember…” Will continued, “You would have to go to a place called a bank - a place that might give you permission to store your own money there if you had enough money to begin with, and then charged you for storing it, charged you for withdrawing it, charged you for sending it, and profited from gambling it, all while charging you more to borrow it!” “That’s crazy.” James almost sounded disgusted. “You didn’t just store your own money in your own wallet? And just send it to whomever you please?” “Nope!” Will replied. “Instead, you asked the bank to send it for you, for a fee, of course! And if you wanted to send money to family or friends across the world, well…” “Well, what?” James prodded. “Well… it could take days, and it cost a great deal.” James answered, “Well I suppose that’s fair since that was before the internet, right? I mean, it wouldn’t be so easy to move money like that back then, right?” “Oh, no, no.” Will clarified. “The internet had already been around for quite some time, in fact. But because currencies were not cryptocurrencies, because they were centrally controlled with middlemen like banks, there was not much choice but to pay for the banks to move the money as they saw fit. And if they could make more money charging fees to send money around the world, why wouldn’t they?” Will chuckled. “Wow” James found the whole scenario amusing. “It’s funny how when you look back at something in the past, it can seem so ridiculous, but at the time, it seems perfectly reasonable” Will contemplated. “I know I’ll never understand it!” they laughed together, one at memories of the strange ways things were in the past, the other not quite understanding how different things had become. So what exactly is cryptocurrency then? Cryptocurrency attempts to solve many of the problems of the modern money system, called fiat. In the current money system, money is printed or minted by selling debt. The money is then lent out to borrowers and spent around the world. More and more money gets printed and more and more debt gets created. Since the money is created out of debt, it is impossible to ever pay back the debt entirely as more debt is constantly created with the money that is used to continuously pay the debt. Cryptocurrency, on the other hand, is not printed or minted out of debt. It is created, most commonly, through a process that uses computer work, solving math problems that can not be cheated. It is created by anyone who chooses to participate in its creation, called a miner, much like miners of gold and other precious metals. When a miner successfully “mines” a cryptocurrency by solving a math problem with a computer, they are rewarded with a “block”, and can choose to keep the reward or to trade it with others. So, it is not controlled or stored somewhere by any one person or government. This is the greatest unique attribute of cryptocurrency - that it is decentralised - not controlled or stored by any one “central” person or group of people. Cryptocurrencies use computer code that makes it secure and prevents it from being copied, so it can not be created out of debt and can not become so plentiful as to be worthless. Whenever someone trades cryptocurrency with someone else, the transactions also use this computer code, called cryptography, to make sure the transaction is true and that it is secure. Miners are a part of this process, making sure that every transaction is correct and is not a duplicate or an incorrect amount. Most cryptocurrencies record these trades in a chain of blocks, called the blockchain, with each block storing information about the trade. The blocks create a chain of information that is checked by miners to make sure it is true. So cryptocurrency, through the use of cryptography, is far more secure than old fashioned fiat money. Another great advantage of cryptocurrency is that it is much cheaper to send to people anywhere. Since there is no need for any kind of bank or money transfer agent, the fees can be tiny, rewarding miners around the world for checking that each trade is correct on a public ledger; the permanent and unchangeable list of trades seen on the blockchain. The public ledger is like an open account book where everyone can see all of the trades. Anyone who wants can look and see the amounts of currency that have been traded. Cryptocurrencies can use features that makes these transactions anonymous to varying degrees, to protect the privacy of traders. Money can be sent anywhere in the world without any border issues or bank accounts, directly from one person to another using this cryptographic system. The fee to send cryptocurrency to the other side of the world would be the same as it would be to send it to your neighbour because of this system. Often, because of a cryptocurrency’s ability to send money anonymously anywhere in the world, it is portrayed as being used mostly by criminals for various crimes and terrorism. In reality, fiat money is used for almost all criminal activity in the form of cash, mostly USD. Ultimately, any currency can be used for good or evil, but it is in the interests of central fiat powers, who make a great deal of profit from debt, fees, and fiat money fabrication, to maintain a negative image for cryptocurrency. Of all cryptocurrencies, the best known by far is Bitcoin. It is the oldest blockchain with the most miners and is seen as the most trusted and secure for this reason. But there are many other cryptocurrencies with different purposes. Ethereum, for example, is a cryptocurrency that was created with the idea of using the currency itself as a sort of platform for programming. Many cryptocurrencies are traded for goods and services on a constant basis, like Litecoin, Monero, and Ripple. There are literally thousands of cryptocurrencies for different purposes! If you’re interested in cryptocurrencies, you can learn to mine them on your own computer or you can simply buy them from exchanges like Coinbase, Kraken, and Binance. There are new exchanges constantly springing up around the world, so check out exchanges in your region.
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Coinbase vs Kraken vs Binance cryptocurrency exchanges
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