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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.
Hashrate: went from 54 to 76 PH/s, the low was 50 and the new all-time high is 100 PH/s. BeePool share rose to ~50% while F2Pool shrank to 30%, followed by coinmine.pl at 5% and Luxor at 3%. Staking: 30-day average ticket price is 95.6 DCR (+3.0) as of Sep 3. During the month, ticket price fluctuated between a low of 92.2 and high of 100.5 DCR. Locked DCR represented between 3.8 and 3.9 million or 46.3-46.9% of the supply. Nodes: there are 217 public listening and 281 normal nodes per dcred.eu. Version distribution: 2% at v1.4.0(pre) (dev builds), 5% on v1.3.0 (RC1), 62% on v1.2.0 (-5%), 22% on v1.1.2 (-2%), 6% on v1.1.0 (-1%). Almost 69% of nodes are v.1.2.0 and higher and support client filters. Data snapshot of Aug 31.
Obelisk posted 3 email updates in August. DCR1 units are reportedly shipping with 1 TH/s hashrate and will be upgraded with firmware to 1.5 TH/s. Batch 1 customers will receive compensation for missed shipment dates, but only after Batch 5 ships. Batch 2-5 customers will be receiving the updated slim design. Innosilicon announced the new D9+ DecredMaster: 2.8 TH/s at 1,230 W priced $1,499. Specified shipping date was Aug 10-15. FFMiner DS19 claims 3.1 TH/s for Blake256R14 at 680 W and simultaneously 1.55 TH/s for Blake2B at 410 W, the price is $1,299. Shipping Aug 20-25. Another newly noticed miner offer is this unit that does 46 TH/s at 2,150 W at the price of $4,720. It is shipping Nov 2018 and the stats look very close to Pangolin Whatsminer DCR (which has now a page on asicminervalue).
www.d1pool.com joined the list of stakepools for a total of 16. Australian CoinTreeadded DCR trading. The platform supports fiat, there are some limitations during the upgrade to a new system but also no fees in the "Early access mode". On a related note, CoinTree is working on a feature to pay household bills with cryptocurrencies it supports. Three new OTC desks were added to exchanges page at decred.org. Two mobile wallets integrated Decred:
Coinomiadded Decred to their Android and iOS wallets. In addition to the Apple App Store and Google Play you can download the APK directly. Coinomi features an integrated cryptocurrency exchange and is the first company to offer a mobile Decred wallet.
Reminder: do your best to understand the security and privacy model before using any wallet software. Points to consider: who controls the seed, does the wallet talk to the nodes directly or via middlemen, is it open source or not?
Bit Dialsannounced DCR support via GloBee at their bitdials.eu luxury boutique. Their separate supercar and classic car shop bitcars.eu also accepts DCR, either via GloBee or with manual invoicing in case of privacy concerns.
Targeted advertising report for August was posted by @timhebel. Facebook appeal is pending, some Google and Twitter campaigns were paused and some updated. Read more here. Contribution to the @decredproject Twitter account has evolved over the past few months. A #twitter_ops channel is being used on Matrix to collaboratively draft and execute project account tweets (including retweets). Anyone with an interest in contributing to the Twitter account can ask for an invitation to the channel and can start contributing content and ideas there for evaluation by the Twitter group. As a result, no minority or unilateral veto over tweets is possible. (from GitHub)
Meetup in Puebla City, Mexico, organized by @elian. (photo, slides, missed in July issue)
@joshuam discussed Decred and decentralized organizations with Craig Laundy, Federal Minister for Small Business, the Workplace, and Deregulation with the Australian Government, at @YBFVentures. (photos)
Meetup at @TheBlockCafe in Lisbon, Portugal. @mm presented "Decred 101 - Governance with Skin in the Game" and @moo31337 talked about Decred's 2018 roadmap. (photos: 123)
Meetup in Taipei, Taiwan. @morphymore made a short intro of Decred and noted: "After the talk, many have approached to tell me that they literally don’t hear of Decred until today, and are interested in finding out more about the merit of a hybrid consensus system.". Longer report here, some photos and a video are here.
@eSizeDave introduced Decred to the SILC Undergraduate Program students at @YBFVentures. (photo)
OKEx Global Meetup Tour in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. @joshuam gave a brief presentation covering the history of Decred, how the project functions, and the importance of governance. Afterwards he joined a panel discussion and spoke about Decred's incentives for long term viability. (video, video, photo)
Blockchain Futurist Conference in Toronto, Canada. @zubairzia0 noted: "Devs and the community were held in high regard for the people who knew about decred ... one positive thing I remember was someone defending us saying 'Decred does not need a booth', I believe that comment was reflective of the quality of projects being showcased at the conference.". (photo)
Meetup at @YBFVentures in Melbourne, Australia. @joshuam discussed Decred with Graham Stuart, U.K. Minister for International Trade. (news, photos)
Small meetup with Jackson Palmer in Melbourne, Australia. (photo)
Hawthorne Street Fair in Portland, USA. Raedah Group was out answering questions about crypto and Decred. (photos)
Blockchain APAC in Melbourne, Australia. @joshuam joined a panel discussion with reps from banking, university and ISO/TC 307. @eSizeDave reports: "This enterprise conference was indeed a whole lot better than I expected. The presentations were actually full of very worthwhile information from credible people, articulated aptly to a very government, academic, and corporate crowd, who genuinely took on board valuable insights. Good to know some of these key people are Decred holders and stakers as well. I got to use the entire day to speak directly with some of the most pivotal personalities in this particular populace. Ongoing relationships have been built and strengthened.". (photos: 123)
For those willing to help with the events:
BAB: Hey all, we are gearing up for conference season. I have a list of places we hope to attend but need to know who besides @joshuam and @Haon are willing to do public speaking, willing to work booths, or help out at them? You will need to be well versed on not just what is Decred, but the history of Decred etc... DM me if you are interested. (#event_planning) The Decred project is looking for ambassadors. If you are looking for a fun cryptocurrency to get involved in send me a DM or come talk to me on Decred slack. (@marco_peereboom, longer version here)
One private work channel was successfully migrated to Matrix.
Stylish room avatars were set.
@Haon has prepared a short guide to help new Matrix users get started and join the Decred rooms.
A thread was started to discuss changes to Decred jargon with the intent to make it more consistent and accessible to newcomers. The question whether changing "official" terminology requires stakeholder approval was touched in this thread and in #documentation.
Project fund transparency and constitution were extensively discussed on Reddit and in #general.
Pre-proposal to use Politeia to approve Politeia as a legitimate decision-making tool for Decred.
Reddit: substantive discussion about Decred cons; ecosystem fund; a thread about voter engagement, Politeia UX and trolling; idea of a social media system for Decred by @michae2xl; how profitable is the Obelisk DCR1. Chats: cross-chain trading via LN; plans for contractor management system, lower-level decision making and contractor privacy vs transparency for stakeholders; measuring dev activity; what if the network stalls, multiple implementations of Decred for more resilience, long term vision behind those extensive tests and accurate comments in the codebase; ideas for process for policy documents, hosting them in Pi and approving with ticket voting; about SPV wallet disk size, how compact filters work; odds of a wallet fetching a wrong block in SPV; new module system in Go; security of allowing Android app backups; why PoW algo change proposal must be specified in great detail; thoughts about NIPoPoWs and SPV; prerequisites for shipping SPV by default (continued); Decred vs Dash treasury and marketing expenses, spending other people's money; why Decred should not invade a country, DAO and nation states, entangling with nation state is poor resource allocation; how winning tickets are determined and attack vectors; Politeia proposal moderation, contractor clearance, the scale of proposals and decision delegation, initial Politeia vote to approve Politeia itself; chat systems, Matrix/Slack/Discord/RocketChat/Keybase (continued); overview of Korean exchanges; no breaking changes in vgo; why project fund burn rate must keep low; asymptotic behavior of Decred and other ccs, tail emission; count of full nodes and incentives to run them; Politeia proposal translations and multilingual environment. An unusual event was the chat about double negatives and other oddities in languages in #trading.
DCR started the month at USD 56 / BTC 0.0073 and had a two week decline. On Aug 14 the whole market took a huge drop and briefly went below USD 200 billion. Bitcoin went below USD 6,000 and top 100 cryptos lost 5-30%. The lowest point coincided with Bitcoin dominance peak at 54.5%. On that day Decred dived -17% and reached the bottom of USD 32 / BTC 0.00537. Since then it went sideways in the USD 35-45 / BTC 0.0054-0.0064 range. Around Aug 24, Huobi showed DCR trading volume above USD 5M and this coincided with a minor recovery. @ImacallyouJawdy posted some creative analysis based on ticket data.
StopAndDecrypt published an extensive article "ASIC Resistance is Nothing but a Blockchain Buzzword" that is much in line with Decred's stance on ASICs. The ongoing debates about the possible Sia fork yet again demonstrate the importance of a robust dispute resolution mechanism. Also, we are lucky to have the treasury. Mark B Lundeberg, who found a vulnerability in atomicswap earlier, published a concept of more private peer-to-peer atomic swaps. (missed in July issue) Medium took a cautious stance on cryptocurrencies and triggered at least one project to migrate to Ghost (that same project previously migrated away from Slack). Regulation: Vietnam bans mining equipment imports, China halts crypto events and tightens control of crypto chat groups. Reddit was hacked by intercepting 2FA codes sent via SMS. The announcement explains the impact. Yet another data breach suggests to think twice before sharing any data with any company and shift to more secure authentication systems. Intel and x86 dumpsterfire keeps burning brighter. Seek more secure hardware and operating systems for your coins. Finally, unrelated to Decred but good for a laugh: yetanotherico.com.
About This Issue
This is the 5th issue of Decred Journal. It is mirrored on GitHub, Medium and Reddit. Past issues are available here. Most information from third parties is relayed directly from source after a minimal sanity check. The authors of Decred Journal have no ability to verify all claims. Please beware of scams and do your own research. Feedback is appreciated: please comment on Reddit, GitHub or #writers_room on Matrix or Slack. Contributions are welcome too. Some areas are collecting content, pre-release review or translations to other languages. Check out @Richard-Red's guide how to contribute to Decred using GitHub without writing code. Credits (Slack names, alphabetical order): bee, Haon, jazzah, Richard-Red and thedecreddigest.
4 Sub-$10 Million Market Cap Coins Worth Keeping An Eye On
1. Spectrecoin ($XSPEC) – $8.6 Million
What is Spectrecoin?
Utilizing a “range of proven cryptographic techniques” to achieve anonymous, untraceable, and un-linkable transactions, Spectrecoin is a secure Proof-of-Stake cryptocurrency enabling rapid P2P transactions and network privacy. Specifically, Spectrecoin is pulling out all the stops in order to protect user identity through their integration of:
Built-in Tor: Derived from the original software project moniker—The Onion Router—Spectrecoin is fully integrated with Tor, protecting real IP addresses at all times through the directing of traffic through a worldwide (and free) overlay network of more than 7,000 relays.
Anonymous coin creation: Deploying dual key stealth technology (a dual coin system), Spectre authorizes users to generate ‘anonymous coins’ known as SPECTRE for private and anonymous transactions as an alternative to their normal, everyday coin—XSPEC—for traditional transactions (most similar to Bitcoin).
Ring signatures: Through the execution and implementation of ring signatures, Spectrecoin user transaction history is wiped altogether, allowing users to exchange and transfer public coins, XSPEC, and SPECTRE.
At its core, Spectre’s dual coin system sanctions four fundamental types of privacy and anonymity transactions, XSPEC > XSPEC, XSPEC > SPECTRE, SPECTRE > SPECTRE, and SPECTRE > XSPEC, providing a plethora of transaction options for every type of user. And finally, if you’re looking for the TLDR (too long, didn’t read), Spectrecoin notes the best way to understand SPECTRE is to think of Bitcoin + Proof-of-Stake.v3 + anonymous transactions (similar to Monero) + Tor (for IP obfuscation).
Why You Should Keep an Eye On XSPEC
Unlike several other privacy coins which merely provide a Tor proxy—availing users to potential malicious exit nodes—Spectrecoin is fully integrated with Tor, a reliable and tested network providing one of the largest pools of IP addresses for confidentiality and untraceability. Coupled with staking, set at a 5% minimum per year, Spectrecoin offers a unique proposition (the only one in blockchain) for users looking to earn rewards while remaining anonymous by staking anonymous coins while generating more, fresh anonymous ones. Furthermore, for those looking for affirmation of Spectrecoin’s commitment to anonymity, not even the developers know each other’s real names—something that would have made walking away from a lacklustre ICO (which only raised 16 BTC at $600/700 per BTC) all too easy. Spectre has emphasized organic growth without an excessive and aggressive marketing push, opting instead for a working product and timely improvements to meet the ever-changing privacy arms race. And, with their funding gap set around £19,000, users can take solace in knowing the project isn’t an outright cash grab asking for millions to further tenuous goodwill—like far too many projects in the cryptosphere. At time of writing, XSPEC is listed on CoinMarketcap at US$0.41 or 5,970 Satoshis. Finally, if you’re wondering how Spectrecoin stacks up to other privacy coins, such as Monero, PIVX, and Zcash, check out this comparison chart.
2. FundRequest ($FND) – $1 Million
What is FundRequest?
In an age where open source software is an integral component for institutional, government, and nonprofit function and growth, there unfortunately remains a hindering factor—a cohesive, transparent, and styled request and transaction flow. Cue FundRequest, a decentralized marketplace for open source collaboration and catalyst for global open source sharing and circulation, empowering organizations, government, and other entities to:
Trustlessly transact via the blockchain and smart contracts to ensure all contracts created are self-resolving, tracked, and validated in a fair manner,
Incentivize organizations and developers to act in good faith through governance protocols and crypto economics,
Lower costsfor upkeep, while reducing friction for large-scale usage and adoption of open source technology,
Boost transparency for organizations looking to better understand average development and issue costs (ultimately resulting in a more efficient market), and
Integrate with third-party platforms (and vice versa), who are looking to benefit from already completed works.
Need to brush up on what exactly ‘open source’ means? The Open Source Initiative describes the concept of ‘open source’ as a tool which “enables a development method for software that harnesses the power of distributed peer review and transparency of process.” For example, a requesting organization (referred to as the funder) will allot set funds—stored in a smart contract (i.e., escrow)—in order to tackle an open source issue, which is then picked up and solved by a developer (the solver). In order to eliminate malicious behavior, FundRequest requires solvers to “have skin in the game,” by staking proportional valued funds, all released and claimed once the issue is solved. Simply put, FundRequest is the go-to facilitating and incentivization platform (similar to Airbnb and Uber) for funding, claiming, and rewarding open source commits and contributions, leading to an enriched and more collaborative open source ecosystem.
Why You Should Keep an Eye On FND
With an estimated US$60 billion-plus in savings per year for organizations and institutions, thanks to open-source software and technology adoption, FundRequest is set to act as the glue which connects all dispersed and integral parts and actors. Traditional software, prohibitive costs, and predatory vendor practices are proving not to be conducive towards maximal technological growth and development, as most people and organizations just simply can’t afford or maintain it. Plus, with a clear push by both private and public sectors to leverage community-based software for development and distribution over the last decade, it’s expanding at rapid pace. In 2018, it’s approximated over 50% of European and North American companies utilize open source software for “crucial applications,” along with over 50% of American government organizations. This is no small industry. GitHub alone boasts over 24 million users (more than 8 times their user base five years ago), and it’s estimated that in the EU and United States combined, there’s over 160 million persons working as freelancers and independent contractors in what’s known as the “gig economy.” And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, with over 60% of online gig economy workers accounted for in Asia. As of August 1st, FND’s price sits at right around US$0.03 or 472 Satoshis. Finally, for open source projects and ERC-20 token projects looking to increase development capacity, consider checking out FundRequest for potential partnerships. Already in their short tenure, FundRequest has partnered with:
Redefining convenience, simplicity, and compatibility, and short for the “Crypto One-Stop Solution’ exchange and platform, COSS is the native token and liquidity attraction tool of the Singapore-based exchange, boasting some of the most popular altcoins on the market while enabling users to receive weekly payouts in “dust” for all traded tokens. Specifically, COSS is looking to provide more than just a simple, fast, and secure cryptocurrency trading exchange—they’re building a borderless, digital economical system to bring cryptocurrencies to the masses via:
Digital wallet with integrated cash flow: allowing users to seamlessly transfer and store crypto funds between the exchange and wallet within a single application.
ICO platform: enabling projects to fund and their ICO on the COSS exchange to increase popularity, volume, and trading value.
Ultimately, COSS is looking to shake up the cryptocurrency exchange ecosystem through improved user experience, heightened product and feature functions, and a comprehensive foundation for employers, startups, companies, and traders to build towards a more accessible and mainstream cooperative blockchain community.
Why You Should Keep an Eye on COSS
With the rapid and gargantuan successes enjoyed by both Kucoin and Binance in 2018, crypto exchanges employing user-friendly token incentivization models are becoming a go-to for users looking to generate passive income while diversifying their crypto portfolio. However, unlike other cryptocurrency exchanges which have lowered their daily fee splits to nominal amounts, COSS has stayed true towards user rewards, keeping their daily percentage at 50%—paying out the respective dividends via a decentralized autonomous organization, ultimately guaranteeing an immutable percentage. In order to stay competitive in the present-day blockchain ecosystem, COSS’s whitepaper notes a minimum of 3-5 new features implemented per quarter. In the past several months, below are just several of their most notable achievements:
Partnership with Blockchain Terminal (BCT): Easing the transition for institutional investors to trade and transact on crypto exchanges.
NEO Listing: Trading pairs for NEO/BTC, NEO/ETH, NEO/USD, and NEO/COSS.
Preparation for COSS 2.0: The hiring of a team of over thirty developers in preparation of COSS 2.0, which is set to roll out dynamic withdrawal fees, sophisticated trading tools, dust conversion, public and private APIs, new wallet, institutional accounts, and more.
And, if you’re looking to know what COSS’s endgame here is, their goal is to shift completely towards a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) in the future, where governance and decision making is outlined in code and run by a peer-to-peer network. Currently, COSS’s price is listed at US$0.06 or 935 Satoshis on Coinmarketcap. Finally, if you’re curious about COSS’s fee sharing, check out the COSS fee share calculator, which provides an accurate picture of your monthly exchange fee earnings relative to the amount of COSS owned. One Reddit user recently posted, and provided a screenshot, showing the COSS annual dividends to be at nearly 10% per year.
4. Lamden ($TAU) – $6.9 Million
What is Lamden?
Named after the Sherpa language word meaning “to guide,” Lamden is staying true to its name by easing the creation and deployment of dapps and custom blockchains. At its core, Lamden is providing a suite of developer tools mimicking “modern development processes in such tech stacks as Node.js or Python.” Simply put, Lamden is supplying the building blocks for experienced and amateur blockchain developers alike, enabling organizations and enterprise to skirt the energy and time costs of hiring and training expensive blockchain developers—ultimately speeding up efficiency and reducing overhead costs. Lamden is broken up into three fundamental sections, which all are in furtherance of project depth and the deployment of hyperfast blockchains for developers to not only experiment with, but test and deploy across other blockchain systems and platforms:
Saffron: a general tool sanctioning the deployment of private chains on an internal network, partitioning blockchains into individual use cases (e.g., an enterprise having their own web app), and bringing them together to interact when needed. Lamden CEO Stuart Farmer noted that from blockchain generation, to installment, all the way to deployment, an entire deployment cycle can be completed within a frame of just ten minutes!
Flora: a central repository for smart contract templates and packages, blockchain discovery tool, and private chain naming services, where developers are able to engage with one another, feed off one another’s innovations, and rapidly deploy and distribute smart contracts.
Clove: a payment network trustlessly facilitating communication between blockchain apps while handling payment channel swap processes, avoiding blockchain bloat and acting similarly to a telephone network.
Furthermore, Lamden supports the Ethereum network and Bitcoin-based blockchains at present, and boasts zero transaction fees and free chain-to-chain payments in exchange for chain allocation a specific amount of bandwidth for confirming payment channel transactions—meaning that its users are able to transact for free as a result of corporate entities bearing the network load and processing.
Why You Should Keep an Eye On TAU
Having released their ‘Cilantro’ testnet alpha in February 2018, Lamden has since hit the ground running, rolling out their first version of Clove soon after and tackling the necessary tune-ups and improvements in preparation of their mainnet launch in Q4 2018. Lamden’s mainnet is set to utilize a unique combination of Delegated Proof-of-Stake (DPoS) and the BFT Protocol, and will scale to process nearly 10,000 transactions per second. Moreover, in April 2018, Lamden announced the creation of LamDEX, their own decentralized cryptocurrency exchange and platform, where users will be able to stake their TAU—the native token of the Lamden platform—to act as a market maker, allowing for a cohesive back and forth across the TAU pair at prices faintly above and below market cost, ultimately generating rewards. With a rather daunting and tedious task ahead for anyone looking to utilize and incorporate existing smart contracts—which involves the manual searching for such on GitHub (a general repository website)—Lamden is truly adding value to blockchain and application development through their smart contract repository. Unlike GitHub, Lamden supports dependencies, versioning, and security, all essential elements for a quality package manager. Doing so adds not only convenience, but practicality to smart contract packages and implementation, and stands to save enterprise and organizations both exorbitant developer costs and time. If you’d like to learn more about Lamden’s developer tool suite, check out this complete overview from their blog. At the time of writing, Lamden’s price according to Coinmarketcap is US$0.04 or 699 Satoshis. To get a better picture of Lamden and their blockchain development tools ecosystem, check out this explanatory YouTube video from their channel. Final Thoughts Risk is inevitable when investing in crypto and blockchain projects. However, as long as you are cognizantly defining parameters for absorbing such risk, then diversifying your portfolio with smaller capped projects can be an effective way to realize value. Whether you’re looking for a user-friendly exchange to purchase crypto directly with fiat from (and earn dividends for loyalty) or wanting to execute anonymous and secure transactions with a P2P coin, the aforementioned projects are all bringing value to the crypto sphere through their overhaul of ineffective traditional mechanisms and institutions. Make sure to stay calm and collected during this bear market, associate yourself with quality projects that you think are bringing actual value to severely flawed industries, and remember, having a little gamble in you never hurts (as long as it’s properly accounted for). Source: https://www.investinblockchain.com/sub-10-million-coins/ B0x: Gustafio
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