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.
Cryptopia CEO Alan Booth on the Cryptocurrency Exchange Realm (Full Article No Link)
Alan Booth is the CEO of one of Cryptopia, an exchange regarded as having one of the widest selection of tokens. Founded in 2014, Cryptopia is one of a handful of blockchain-focused companies in New Zealand. The Cryptopia team is often tasked with researching hundreds of projects to determine their efficacy before any other major exchange has touched them. The exchange lists many projects in their early stages and post-ICO. As an entrepreneur and business consultant for over 50 years, Alan Booth’s story is fairly atypical of that of many entrepreneurs in the cryptocurrency world. His perspective on the cryptocurrency is grounded in decades of business development experience, and he views the cryptocurrency exchange realm as one of the most exciting opportunities yet. In the following interview, we dive into everything from cryptocurrency psychology, the coin listing process, and blockchain entrepreneurship. How did you get introduced into the crypto world? That’s interesting. I was consulting for Cryptopia or consulting to assist them in their development path for several months when it became obvious that they needed some senior leadership to move them from where they are, which was basically a reactive technical focus to a more business global focus on how we develop their business model. We are very conscious of the fact that you need a higher level of thinking. You need a global perspective, particularly from New Zealand because there’s not a lot of us down here. That probably predicates why we’re a global business grown out of such a small population. We’d known each other for a while, certainly six months or so, and when the opportunity came up, why wouldn’t I move from a very safe, comfortable, fun job that I had previously, which was the chief executive of an international flying school. Nothing really scary goes on there. I am at the latter end of my working life, somewhat semi-retired and all my colleagues went, “You’re going to do what? Are you kidding?” Of course, the blood pressure went up and I said, “yeah, I’m going to have a go at this.” So, it’s really about the opportunity when you’ve learned so much over 40 or 50 years of developing business models and floating companies and taking them to the world, which is primarily what I’ve done. To find something that’s new and a full of excitement and fear and trepidation and where is all this going? Then it’s an opportunity you can’t afford to pass up. So, it’s just the daredevil saying let’s go. The risk and the general fervor for the industry have gotten a lot of people very excited. What are the top concerns for exchanges moving forward from your perspective? They are many fold and they are variable based on feedback from the community and somewhat driven by legislation, driven by corporate requirements. The FinTech world, we’ve got to look at that as well as the coin world. If we want to grow and deliver a product that the average consumer can consume, then we have to deliver all the things that they would typically expect. So, if you went into a retail store to buy a heater, you expect to have a warranty. You expect to be safe, you expect to be treated well with clarity. And typically, the coin industry to date has not been very good at that because it’s been evolving and mostly evolving from a technical perspective with probably less weight put on the public consumption of the coin. It’s being technically driven as a technical product when you look at it. When you go to the exchange, some of them take a fair bit of thinking about before you can operate. So, for us, the first thing is trust. If people can’t trust your brand, and that means every part of it, you’re not going to succeed. So, we are very proactive here in New Zealand, talking to legislators, government agencies in and out of New Zealand. KYC, AML, CML, all of that stuff. We are drafting our own internal rules and then most cases they exceed the requirements of our banking partners. So, they look at us and they go, wow, you’re way ahead of where we thought it would be. So, developing a trust relationship with our consumers and business partners is vital. The next thing is developing a stable and functional platform. I don’t just mean the coin exchange itself, but all of the underlying technology. Will we be up? Do we have latency? Are we speedy? Have we purchased the right partnership relationships for our equipment and how do we continue to be able to scale at will and not risk failing to deliver a result? That means helping people get an exchange done, their coins on and off. I suspect it’s the same as every other exchange. Only thing is, down here, we have really focused on three things to move us very quickly forward. One is the public-facing components. That’s the help desk if you get stuck. We want to be able to respond very quickly. And like the other exchanges, we headed enormous influx in the early part of the year and that was debilitating. Nobody was ready for it. We employed teams of people to come in and train as support operators. We’ve since then spent a huge amount of money on a new ticketing system, which actually went live yesterday. So, this morning when I come in, there’s smiley faces trying to get their head around it going, wow, this is amazing. So, we triage all the tickets on the inbound route now and puts it in a good space for our response team to reply as quickly as possible, I want. At the moment, we’re not there. Instead of being 40 or 50 hours and all these horrible delays, I want people to have a response from us immediately and I mean within seconds saying we’ve got your ticket. I can’t answer it right now, but we’re on you. Then, within hours, get back to those customers and fix their problem. They don’t deserve to wait 24 hours or 48 hours. People are anxious. Ticketing, we’ve done something about it. Highly trained staff, we’re employing all the time. We’ve developed foreign offices to beat the time zone thing. We now have a support office in the UK that we have had for some time, actually. The next thing is just the stabilizing of our software and hardware. When you start these things, the enthusiasm and the inexperience of the development team may not know what’s here to them and now we’ve bought in bigger, stronger, international teams. So, that’s great what you’ve got, but let’s do this. So, that’s the phase we’re on now. We’re spending all of our money. In fact, every penny that we generate in this business goes straight back into furthering and developing the products. Nobody’s racing home in Lamborghinis or flying their jets around. They’re just piling into it. So, that’s how I am in terms of producing a high-quality product. It’s not a decision we just made. It’s always been there, but we are now articulating it internally, that we want to be in the top five of crypto exchanges and digital asset exchanges of some form within the next two years. In the top five, bar none, in every respect. Would you say the number one component of being thought of as one of the top five would be trading volume? Is that the primary metric? I absolutely agree with you, but you can’t have trading volume unless you provide the other things first, like security, safety, a good trading platform. If you want trading volume, I have to have a reason for you to trust me, which has to be if I have a failure, will my ticket, be answered? If you do those things, you will get trading volume. I don’t believe you look at it the other way and say, hey, let’s create trading volume because if that comes at you hard and sharp, how are you going to cope with it when something breaks? It’s technology, things will break. It’s how you address things that go wrong that made you successful, not what you put in place to drive that business in. That will happen if you’re good. The word gets out saying this is a great exchange. They fixed my tickets, they’re fast, they’re responsive, it’s safe. That will create trading volume. Trading volume for us is income and of course, we want it. We have actually slowed down on coin listings. We’ve slowed down on taking new customers and we’ve slowed down on developing relationships with partners simply to get our platform in better shape so that we can become the most reliable, trusted partner you can have. That will create trading volume, no doubt about it. Although trading volume does bring in a sizable amount of revenue, there comes a point where it just becomes a vanity metric where people are using an exchange simply because there just aren’t any better alternatives out there.. So, if there is an exchange that can offer all the features that you’re talking about and a premium level of service, then the trading volume will trickle down. There’s no real loyalty for exchanges other than preferences. Absolutely. We wouldn’t ask for that. Why would you say to somebody, hey, you got to be loyal to us? That’s just silly. You will be loyal to us if I offer you a great experience. That means volume of coins, a huge range to trade through. Ease of trading. One click, two clicks. How about some trading tools just like you see in a modern foreign exchange opportunity? Some arbitrage tools, some tools for measurement, some nice desktop tools. We want to introduce other things. It just means that you’ve got control over your own reporting and your own desktop environment. It can become a very powerful tool to use as long as we listen to the customers and say, hey guys, we can develop that. Give us a couple of months, let’s put it in front of you. What is the coin listing process for you guys? What’s the process for someone who wants to get their coin listed on Cryptopia? We’re just reviewing that and we’re being very focused on changing the way we list coins and who we list. We’re very conscious to gain trust. We are actually your first port of call for particularly those people who don’t know much about coin, so they have to trust their exchange partner. Therefore, we have to make sure that if we list a coin, it’s a viable trusted, honest coin that’s going to give value. Not just to us as an exchange but it’s not a scam coin. It’s not something just to raise money, pump and dump thing. We have coin listing teams who are very tough. I have introduced people as the CEO to my coin listing team and I can’t get it through them. I’ve said, but these are great guys and I have a great story and I met them in Vancouver and boy, they’ve convinced me. My coin listing technical team does all the due diligence. Everything from GitHub, Facebook pages, normal stuff like that. If it doesn’t look like a viable product to us on many levels, then it doesn’t get listed. That’s the end of it. If [the coin] gets past that, we do further due diligence. We’ll actually interview the company. We’ll ask why do you want to list? Why do you want to list with Cryptopia? What’s your plan for the coin? What do you want us to tell customers because they’re going to be relying on us? So, we’d like to do more than just have a coin called 21 Million sitting on the exchange. How about if we had a link to that with some of the criteria we use to judge whether that was a good opportunity. Whether it was a good coin. We might have a 10-point plan and we might say, hey, this coin passed at 9.7. This coin is in, but it only got in at 2.4. Whereas the negative coins, the coins that have gotten negative plans, negative equity in our mindset, they just don’t get on the exchange. We have a very large number of coins at the moment. We want to remain in that space, be the leader. That means that clearly, we’re not going to get it right all the time because we make mistakes and actually, so do the some of the honest and reliable coin generators. Their plans might not just happen, so they get the benefit of the doubt for a while. As long as we see that they’re not doing something deliberately to disrupt the market or just to take money, then we’ll support them until they get their business model right. But we’re very focused on a coin listing to us is actually a business partnership. We’re not just going to throw coins up there. I think 2018 is the year of reckoning, wherein 2017, pretty much anything got listed anywhere. It didn’t really matter how functional the coin was or whether it was legitimate or not. So, it’s really cool to see the trend in exchanges making a stance against that because if the ax falls, it doesn’t fall on the anonymous coin team that could be in Switzerland and Ethiopia. It’s falling on the CEOs and the exchange teams that are allowing access. People come to us and they say, hey, I haven’t got my money. You’re the exchange. I go, well actually, the coin that we listed, I’m afraid the wallet’s faulty or they didn’t do this, or they ran away. People don’t care. They’re relying on us. That’s why Cryptopia has to be a business partner with each and every user, not just a provider of some coin listings. That would be unethical. Absolutely, and it’s good to hear. Speaking of regulations, how do you think that’s going to evolve for exchanges, especially being out of New Zealand? I welcome a regulatory intervention for many reasons. The primary one is that as soon as the regulators start imposing their will and taking notice, it means that it’s a genuine opportunity. They don’t waste their time on something that’s not going to affect global economies or our economy. For example, the New Zealand regulators, we’re working and we’re working with them because they recognize that somebody has got to work with them to tell them what’s going on. The other side of the fence, that’s us. We have to work with them to say, you can’t do that because it won’t work in this environment. So, working with regulators is critical, in my opinion, and we’re doing that very well. Regulation has to come. It was just announced in New Zealand a few days ago that we’re going to start, this is unrelated to coins, collecting GST, which is our equivalent of your local taxes, on online purchases. So, typically anything up to $400 that you buy online from Amazon, for example, in New Zealand, you wouldn’t pay tax on and they’re changing that. They’re taking the same view with coins. So, the government is saying, how do we tax revenue? When do we tax revenue? What should it look like? How do we make it fair for you, the exchange and how do we make it fair and manageable by the consumers who may have to declare a capital gain if they’re going, for instance, as an equity or a property as pure speculative fun like betting? And if that’s the case, when should we do this? Should we backdate all that stuff? Every country is going through this and some have jumped in and made decisions that they’ve had to backpedal on. They were a little bit hasty. In New Zealand, in particular, we have a great relationship with the regulators and all the powers that be, right down to the banks, and are all looking at the space saying, you know what? We don’t quite know what to do, but let’s start doing something and I welcome it. And the more understanding and control we have on these things at this early stage these next few years, the neater and cleaner will be over the next few years. Just as banking has become very stabilized through regulations, so will this crypto business, whatever it ends up looking like. New Zealand has its advantages because a smaller population could make building direct relationships with regulating authorities easier. Tim Draper, for example, is investing in Papua New Guinea to try and make this whole digital citizenship country. The Binance guys just moved over to Malta. The global landscape just opened up, and governments will have to start offering distinct advantages to attract companies that could hypothetically set up virtually anywhere. That’s great because that’s exactly what online trading is about. It’s online and it’s global. We have to join the global party, but we better start from a position of understanding and strength in our own environment. Make sure we have our own stuff together before we start yelling about what someone else should do. Yeah, absolutely. Shifting gears a little bit, what do you think about decentralized exchanges and how they’re going to affect the whole exchange thing? The quick and easy answer to that is it will definitely affect the global exchange market. It will definitely affect FinTech because if people who are regular investors and that’s people with mom and pops with a few dollars, right up to institutional investors, if they can see a way of generating revenue and it’s safe, they’re going to move there. They’re not going to discard their other investment opportunities and they’re not going to discard regular exchange-traded equities or working on the stock exchange. But there’s a space here that we haven’t quite worked out who that’s going to work for or how, but the more we regulate, the more we make the tools visible. The stronger we look to the market and the more professional we look. That doesn’t necessarily mean just wearing a suit into a meeting, but the more gravitas we have behind those discussions demonstrating that we’ve done on the work and that we’ve got smart people here and the technology’s good. We’re ready to come and meet and talk equitably to investors and traditional investment houses. Then there will be a way that they join up. There’s no doubt about it. I mean, it can’t be helped. How about the lightning network and atomic swaps where you could pretty much exchange peer to peer. You could trade Litecoin for Ethereum directly in one single transaction without an exchange. Centralized exchanges have their benefits, like for example, there’s someone you can knock on their door and say where’d my money go? I need customer support. So, there are advantages there, but then the advantages of a decentralized exchange are just the efficiency. I’m wondering how is that viewed for the centralized exchange world? I don’t want people to take away my income opportunity. We’re building a business. We would argue, and I think it could be demonstrated to date until the blockchain comes up with some technical solutions. We’re building a trust environment and we are taking on, at considerable cost, the responsibility for providing the trust. First, it’s a coin that we like and here are the reasons. We’ve done the due diligence on your behalf. We allow the transactions to take place and here’s how we regulate, manage and deliver that transaction and manage the wallet relationships. Cryptopia’s Coin Information display That’s a role we take on. So, if you trade with a centralized exchange, you’ve got a whole lot of advantages that you don’t have by trading peer to peer. It’s fairly obvious what a peer to peer relationship looks like. If that’s on a personal level, that risk is much greater. If it’s on a more corporate structured level, I don’t know what that looks like yet, but I think we’ve got a long way to go before we could move from centralized exchanges to peer to peer simply because there’s going to have to be some regulation around it. How would the regulators engage in that space? Who are they engaging with? Every single person who wants to trade? At the moment, they can deal with an exchange that has potentially 2,000,000 to 10,000,000 customers. That’s not easy for a regulator or a tax authority. So, there’s the regular regulatory component. That’s got to be there. Then there’s the trust management and then there are just a few more technical issues that I think have yet to evolve. It all comes down to running a business. It takes money and capital to get all these users you want to get. If the technology works, that’s great, but onboarding users take resources. How do these projects plan on doing that? It’s just a missing component of every single white paper that tries to go after that who isn’t trying to build a centralized business to oversee it. I think philanthropy is wonderful and when people are talking about decentralization. It’s a great idea and it’s philanthropic and it would be wonderful if the world could work like that. But there’s never been a business model that has worked without generating revenue. There isn’t one. Everyone’s tried, but you can’t name one that doesn’t have to generate revenue at some point or another. Even if that revenue is simply generated to make the action happen, the hardware, the software, the bandwidth, someone’s got to pay. So, if you’re decentralizing, how do you get paid? How do you police it? How do you manage it? Why not stick to a model that works? And it’s not just about centralized coin exchanges. It’s not just about front-end institutions. This is a model that’s worked since the first inhabitants of Earth swapped a bean for a stick or can I give you my dinosaur to cook while I bring you a giraffe? I don’t know, but you can’t have a society without an exchange happening of some value in exchange. Even if I go to a coffee bar with you, here’s the simplest thing. I would say, hey, I’ll meet you for coffee, on me I might pay for the coffee, but guess what? We’ve sat down and exchanged information. I’ve gotten something out of it. How do you do stuff without exchanging value? It’s push and pull between advancing technology and proving the model works but then what’s the incentive to run it and popularize it because you’ve got that whole chicken and egg problem. We need a bunch of users for this to work efficiently, but we’re not going to make any money doing it. Hopefully, we’ll see how things play out in the next couple of months or years or decades. I’m down for decades and a lot of failures. We’ll be there watching them saying we’ll help you if we can and hey, go and play guys, but come back here when it doesn’t work because we are going to be here. What are your thoughts on Bitcoin dominance in general compared to all the other coins out in 2018? So, what does a cryptocurrency landscape look like if Bitcoin happens to fall down to, let’s say, 15\% or 10\% of the market? Does Bitcoin really dominate or is it just big? If you look at the exchanges and watch the traffic, can you see as much traffic taking place and as much interest in the CoinCash or 21 Million or Kenya or any of these things? They’re all there and people are trading them for various reasons. Mom and pops are going to be doing this to buy a new car. Someone else purely looking as a store of wealth and other people are looking to dominate a market. So, I’m not sure that you could say Bitcoin dominates. It might be the largest store of wealth at the moment. Does it dominate people’s thinking? I’m not sure about that. If you’re a coin developer, it’s your coin that’s dominant in your mind and you’ll go after a particular vertical, even a geographic market. So, you have the potential to develop your store or your story within that business scope. Why does Bitcoin dominate? Simply because it was seen as an opportunity? Is it dominated because the people who trade in Bitcoin put so much faith in it being a store of wealth or an opportunity for capital gain? But a lot of those people have run away. That’s why it’s not $20,000 at the moment. It’s just trading between 8,000 and 10,000 in there. So, it stabilized. So, what if it fell over? Some people will lose money. It’s not going to change the blockchain, it’s not going to change our thinking about cryptocurrencies. It’s not going to change Cryptopia’s approach to the market. It might dominate in volume. I’m not sure it’s the dominant force supporting cryptocurrencies. I see what you’re saying. It might just be a dominance of user acquisition because there’s a larger chance they heard of Bitcoin instead of Ethereum if they have heard of cryptocurrency at all. So, it’s like the gateway crypto. Take care that people aren’t saying Bitcoin just like a Hoover, the vacuum cleaner. Every vacuum cleaner for 20 years was called a Hoover. That was the dominant brand. Hey, I’m going to Hoover the floor. What they meant was I’m going to get my vacuum cleaner of which there are 80,000 different makes out there now and they’re going to vacuum the floor, but they just called it a Hoover. So, I trade in Bitcoin. I’ll bet you someone who says, yeah, I trade Bitcoin, he’s only saying bitcoin because he knows or she knows that people understand that you’re referring to a cryptocurrency. If you say to someone I trade in Clearpoll or CoinMedic3, they have no clue what you’re talking about. They go what is that? Oh, it’s Bitcoin. Oh, I get it. If you went home to your mom and dad and they asked what are you doing? You’d say, oh yeah, I’m trading cryptocurrency. They’d go, oh? What’s what? You’d go, Bitcoin. They go, oh, that thing. Bitcoin Cash is competing to be known as the Bitcoin for a reason. In the next four or five years, there are millions of people that haven’t even heard of crypto that would probably receive a lot of benefits from being onboarded into the cryptocurrency world. I’m not really sure how what they get onboarded to first matters immediately, but I know it plays a substantial role for a lot of people. It’s an initiator. It’s a keyword that attracts them to the space that we’re in. It’s simply because it’s got brand dominance in the public persona. If you say a Bitcoin, most people know you’re talking about that strange online thing that no one understands and there are a few other coins, but we don’t know what their name is. As soon as they hit an exchange, if they really want to try it, they’re going to look at the next one down and say oh, I didn’t know that existed. They’ll make their way right to the bottom of the 2,000 list. So, I really don’t think we should worry too much about dominance or anything that’s measured in that way in the space because the variables that change our value perception on any of these products is a mystery to everyone. A rumor can cause change overnight and things like that have happened. Guess what? They also happen in traditional exchanges. Go to the London stock exchange and you’ll see a piece in the paper tomorrow that prices rocketed or have fallen over the next day because the public is there. The public is there late, remember. If you see it in the news, it has already happened. That’s the same thing for this. So, what are your favorite projects out right now? It has to be blockchain focused. I mean, coins seem to be a tool that are being used to raise capital, raise awareness, create hysteria over or some fun. Some of them, and I believe it’s very few of them, I wouldn’t like to statistically put a number on that, but I think it’s very, very few have actually got a basis of a typical good investment. Is company strong behind it? Do they have good ethics? Why are they doing this? What’s it for? Or is it just to raise money? When they’ve got money they can go, oh, look how much money we’ve got. Let’s do something. That’s not the way to grow a business. Somebody has to have a good story that’s technically supported. It has to have social value these days. And that means is it good for mankind? Is it going to save the planet? Will it do something? Create manufacturing? Whatever it is. Hey, I’m not a philanthropist. I’m not saying you’ve got to do something to save the planet. But the youth of today are much more conscious about anything we/they do is about social conscience and social values and responsibility. So, for me, any of those projects, whether they be blockchain based or coin based that do something more than just making money for a bunch of guys, so they can go buy a Lamborghini, gets more of a look and support from us than the others. There are ways of going and creating wealth for yourself than preying on opportunities that exist simply because exchanges listed them. So, we’re very careful about that. So, I wouldn’t like to say at this stage, we have anyone in particular. We do have some businesses we’re looking at, but they all are very well rounded in terms of their sales pitch. It’s ethical, it’s got a good background. They have strong management, a history. They’re well-funded already. They’re not just grabbing money to then decide what they’ll do with it. Well said. The one point you made about how these projects need to be ethical and how that impacts those business models because again, you tap into to the same vein of projects that are looking to substantially change industries that had been stifled by inefficiencies or corruption. It stretches a long way. If you find a solution that bugs business and usually if it bugs a business, it bugs and effects people, consumers, in some way. That might just be, where it’s blockchain related, securities and tracking things to make this whole trust environment that we live in. The point is we say we can trust but we can’t trust. Everything we do is about trust. We get lawyers to look after our trust issues and we shake hands and we still wonder whether it’s a deal. So, solving trust issues globally is probably one of the biggest benefits to mankind because once we solve the trust issue, you can then be positive or confident that something that you want to happen and agreed to happen is actually going to happen. If it doesn’t happen, it’s not just about the broken trust. It’s then about the finances involved before you got there. That’s all gone. The future has all gone around that business model. So, trust management in blockchain and around coins and around exchanges, decentralized exchanges, is probably the biggest thing we have to deal with. Which takes me back to my core development program right now, which is developing a trustworthy exchange. Make it clear, unambiguous. Make it reliable, deliver what we said we were going to do. What does a day in the life of Alan Booth look like? What do you do for fun when you’re not doing exchange type things? If there’s even time for fun. If you’re running an exchange, it’s 26 hours a day to run an exchange. If you can squeeze another hour in, you might find some fun. This is probably my last employment opportunity. I’m in my 60’s. I’ve spent 50 years being an entrepreneur and an arm waver. Wave your arms and see who’s taking notice and make something happen. So, fun for me is actually the exploitation of a business opportunity. I go to bed hoping that I wake up in the night with an idea to scribble on the pad. I come to work a very early. I’m up at 5 am. I get here at 7 am if I can with the work already done. I don’t want to arrive at work and look at emails. If you’re looking at email and other stuff, it’s other people’s requests on your time. I’m going to arrive here being creative. I want to arrive every day going, I’ve got nothing to do except be creative and compel all of my employees and partners to support that creativity and bring their own creativity to it. So, you couldn’t have more fun than that, could you? What else is there? Just to make stuff and see people get excited and give them the opportunity. But when I’m outside of this, hey, I liked to fly light aircrafts. I ride fast motorbikes. I do guy stuff, and when I’m not doing guy stuff, I’m at home helping my wife in the garden. Just an ordinary guy. Most of my daylight waking hours is about being that global entrepreneur with regard to this huge global opportunity which is let’s change the world. It’s like moving from coal to steam, steam to mechanization, mechanization to electronics, and now we move into the digital age and we’re in it. What a fantastic place to be. So, how exactly do you do that? Do you just wake up earlier and just get everything done at 5:00 AM? There’s never enough time in the day. What it is, it’s being super critical about what’s actually important. If you open your email when you get to work, I will guarantee that you will sit there procrastinating and jump between emails. Most people don’t work from the top to the bottom or the bottom to the top. You’re a little bit selective, so already you failed to do what people expect you to. Email and inbound inquiry are other people’s expectations of how to use your time. They’re imposing their requirements on you. So, you’ve already allowed yourself to be managed by outside rules. You’ve got to arrive at your office with nothing that interferes with the creative process of why am I at this office? Why did I come here? I came here to understand what we’ve got. So, that’s a constant job. To work with the clever people that you have employed. I have a major role in employment and myself. Only employ smarter people than yourself, only. Because if you’re employing people that aren’t smarter than you, you’re going to have to tell them what to do and you don’t have time for that. Now, employing people smarter than yourself, for me, that sets the bar quite low, that’s easy, so I get really good pickings. But, generally speaking, you need to employ the best people and get them going and then you’ll be so busy running around trying to keep up with him, not them keeping up with you, that you actually have no time for all that outside noise. You’ve got to impose on the world what you want, not the world imposing on you what they want. Turn it around. Every time I have a conversation with somebody, it’s about what I want, in the nicest possible way. We will listen to inbounds but we already have a path to follow. If you start following other people’s paths, you’re not going to get where you want to go. Here’s the thing. I’ve been a business mentor for probably 20 years. Mentoring basically new CEOs. New CEOs, it’s the loneliest job in the world because it might be your first CEO job, so you can’t talk down because those people below you expect you to be the boss, so you can’t ask them. You can’t talk up because you’re the CEO. It’s no good asking the board, they’re looking down at you. You can’t talk sideways because they’re your competitors. So, the first year or two as a new CEO is the loneliest place on the planet. So, what you have to do is be entirely focused on what you need to get done and that is by changing what you used to do before you became a CEO or a boss. What you used to do is respond to every bit of noise that came at you and it filled your day up until you went nutty. Thank you! Cryptopia CEO Alan Booth on the Cryptocurrency Exchange Realm
CoinCentral's owners, writers, and/or guest post authors may or may not have a vested interest in any of the above projects and businesses. None of the content on CoinCentral is investment advice nor is it a replacement for advice from a certified financial planner.
Alex is the Editor-in-Chief of CoinCentral. Alex also advises blockchain startups, enterprise organizations, and ICOs on content strategy, marketing, and business development. He also regrets not buying more Bitcoin back in 2012, just like you.
In case you missed it: Major Crypto and Blockchain News from the week ending 12/14/2018
Developments in Financial Services
A cryptocurrency exchange-traded product (ETP) that trades on Switzerland’s Six Exchange saw record trading volumes on Thursday and Friday last week, suggesting that institutional investors may be buying the dip in cryptocurrencies. Four major cryptocurrencies underlie the HODL ETP, including Bitcoin (BTC), Ripple (XRP), Ethereum (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), and Bitcoin Cash (BCH). While HODL ETP’s one-month average daily trading is 20,000 shares, on Thursday, December 6th, and Friday, December 7th, 53,233 shares and 62.986 shares were traded, respectively.
A report published last week by global anti-money laundering policymaker, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), indicates that cryptocurrency exchanges in the United Kingdom pose a, “low risk,” for money laundering and terrorist financing activities. The report, however, does highlight that such activities on UK cryptocurrency exchanges are an, “emerging risk,” although there is not yet enough evidence to suggest that these activities are occurring through cryptocurrency exchanges. In its report, the FATF urged UK regulators to, “Continue to develop an understanding of emerging risks (such as virtual currencies) and intelligence gaps, and take appropriate action.”
Andreas Utermann, CEO and CIO of Allianz Global Investors, called on global financial regulators to ban cryptocurrencies while speaking at a panel discussion in London. According to a report by Reuters, Utermann said, “You should outlaw it,” while participating in a panel alongside Andrew Bailey, the head of Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority. Bailey responded by saying that Utermann’s comments were, “quite strong,” before adding that cryptocurrencies have, “no intrinsic value.”
Basis, a major US-based stablecoin project, is shutting down its operations and returning most of its funds to investors, according to a report by crypto news outlet The Block. The report by The Block cited, “multiple people with direct knowledge of the situation,” in claiming that the algorithmic stablecoin project, which generated UDS$133mm of funding through private investments in April, will return funds to investors. According to the Co-Founder and CEO of competing stablecoin project Nevin Freeman, Basis’ shutdown is due to regulatory concerns around one of its token types. Freeman explained, highlighting that algorithmic stablecoins implement a “secondary token”, known as a “bond token”, to help maintain the primary token’s peg. In many cases, regulators like the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) consider these secondary tokens to be securities.
Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange by daily trading volume, announced that it has added Circle’s US dollar-pegged stablecoin, USD Coin (USDC), to its combined Stablecoin Market. Circle, a company backed by Goldman Sachs, first released its stablecoin in September of this year. Binance’s combined Stablecoin Market features other notable stablecoins, like Tether (USDT), that trade against cryptocurrencies as interchangeable base pairs.
Coinone, a South Korea-based cryptocurrency exchange, has officially launched Cross, a cross-border payments application that leverages Ripple’s xCurrent product to increase efficiencies. The application, released by Coinone’s payments subsidiary, Coinone Transfer, targets unbanked or underbanked South Koreans by enabling the transfer of funds to Thailand or the Philippines at a low cost.
Gemini, a cryptocurrency exchange heralded by the Winklevoss twins, released an official company blog post this weekend announcing that the firm will support Bitcoin Cash (BCH) custody and trading. The exchange will support only the Bitcoin Cash ABC network at this time, adding that they, “are continuing to evaluate Bitcoin SV over the coming weeks or months, and we may or may not choose to support withdrawals and/or trading of Bitcoin SV in the future.” Additionally, the company detailed that its listing of BCH is pending regulatory approval by the New York State Department of Financial Services.
Gemini, the cryptocurrency trading platform founded by the Winklevoss twins, announced the launch of a mobile crypto trading application in an official blog post today. Accompanying the launch of the crypto trading app is a new investment vehicle, dubbed, “The Cryptoverse,” that is comprised of a basket of cryptocurrencies weighted by market capitalization. While speaking to Bloomberg today, Cameron Winklevoss said that, “A lot of our decisions have perhaps given off a perception that we’re more institutional-based. The reality of the situation is that we have a diverse customer base. And the retail story is just beginning.” The Winklevoss twins went on to detail of a goal to expand reach to Asian markets by 2019’s end.
Good Money, a US neo-banking platform, has closed its Series A investment round that generated USD$30mm led by cryptocurrency-focused merchant bank Galaxy Digital and the founder of EOS (EOS) Block.one. Good Money aims to provide a variety of banking service and certain financial instruments to US account holders while exploring innovative changes to traditional banking practices. “Modern banking is a primary driver of so many issues we as a society face – from economic inequality, institutional racism, environmental destruction to political corruption,” said Good Money founder Gunnar Lovelace. Specifically, Good Money eliminates ATM fees while offering each bank user equity in the company.
Kraken, a notable cryptocurrency exchange, is seeking to raise funding with a USD$4bn valuation for the company and a USD$100,000 investment minimum, according to CoinDesk. In an email to investors, Kraken CEO Jesse Powell wrote, “There is presently a limited time opportunity available to a very small select number of clients to purchase shares.” The email goes on to detail that the exchange will close its offer on December 16th.
OKEx, the second-largest cryptocurrency exchange by daily trading volume, will begin listing Bitcoin Cash ABC under the original Bitcoin Cash ticker (BCH), as per an official announcement Tuesday. Additionally, OKEx will change the Bitcoin Cash SV ticker from BCHSV to BSV. The announcement by OKEx comes after other notable cryptocurrency exchanges have made the same switch, including Coinbase and Gemini.
PayPal, an online payments portal, has launched its own internal private blockchain platform that will allow staff to trade and exchange tokens while generating ideas and participating in programs to foster innovation, as per a report by news outlet Cheddar. The private blockchain network, which was built by 25 PayPal employees in just 6 months, will allow employees to earn more for enrolling in learning and development programs. The PayPal tokens are not tradeable, or worth anything for that matter, outside PayPal’s blockchain.
PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), a big four consulting firm, is partnering with Bitfury Group, a large blockchain software and mining firm, to develop a blockchain accelerator specific to Russian businesses. As per an official press release by PwC, the partnership will leverage Exonum, Bitfury’s open source framework to build blockchain applications, for educational courses and seminars. The partnership aims to meet the, “current needs,” of PwC’s enterprise clients in Russia.
Revolut, a digital banking alternative with an in-application cryptocurrency exchange, announced that it has been awarded a European banking license. Seeking to become the, “Amazon of banking,” the license will allow Revolut to offer traditional banking services alongside its current cryptocurrency offerings to European customers. Nikolay Storonsky, Founder and CEO of Revolut, said in regards to the newly acquired license that, “With the banking license now secured, commission-free stock trading progressing well, and five new international markets at final stages of launch, we are living up to our reputation as the ‘Amazon of Banking’. Our vision is simple: one ap with tens of millions of users, where you can manage every aspect of your financial life with the best value and technology.”
Shinhan Bank, the second-largest commercial bank in South Korea, is launching a new project to implement blockchain technology in its internal processes with a goal of eliminating human error. According to a report by news outlet The Korea Times, Shinhan also recently completed a training program for its staff to increase their knowledge of blockchain technology across various applications. After Shinhan implemented blockchain technology for interest rate swap transactions on November 30th, South Korea’s second-largest bank is now aiming to apply the technology in its record-keeping process to enhance overall efficiencies.
SolarisBank, Germany’s second-largest and Europe’s ninth-largest stock exchange, is partnering with Stuttgart Exchange Group, a German fintech company, to jointly develop a cryptocurrency exchange. As per a report by Cointelegraph Germany, the joint cryptocurrency exchange venture, “is scheduled to launch in the first half of 2019.” This news comes after SolarisBank announced plans to launch a zero-fee cryptocurrency trading application this past May.
The Canadian city of Calgary is becoming the first city in Canada to launch a digital version of its local currency, according to a report by the Global News. Dubbed as the Calgary Digital Dollar, the digital currency will be exclusive to Calgary and operate alongside the country’s Canadian Dollar. Calgary-based businesses will now be required by law to accept at least 10% of a payment in digital currency, although they are allowed to accept up to 100%.
The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) is launching a pilot of its Global Payment Initiative (GPI) to combat growing blockchain and fintech solutions, according to an official announcement last week. Currently, the SWIFT Network is used by global financial institutions to conduct global financial payments and cross-border transfers of fiat currency. Although the project is still in its early stages, the GPI pilot hopes to, “build the foundation of a new integrated and interactive service that will significantly improve efficiencies in the payments process and which will ultimately be made available to all 10,000 banks across the SWIFT network.”
The United Arab Emirates’(UAE) central bank is partnering with the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) to develop a cryptocurrency to facilitate cross border transactions between the two countries, according to a report by news outlet GulfNews. In a meeting pertaining to global banking standards and regulation in the Arab region, Mubarak Rashed Al Mansouri, the governor of the UAE’s central bank, said, “This is probably the first time ever that witnesses the cooperation of monetary authorities from different countries on this topic and we hope that this achievement will foster similar collaboration in our region.” The prospective digital currency will be used by both central banks and financial institutions in the countries.
TokenSoft, a security token offering (STO) startup, has acquired a 20% stake in regulated broker-dealer Marpine Securities LLC in order to launch its own regulated broker-dealer. After acquiring the 20% stake, TokenSoft will launch its new regulated broker-dealer entity, called TokenSoft Global Markets, that will be registered through the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). The new regulated broker-dealer entity will allow TokenSoft to advise token issuers through every step of the Initial Coin Offering (ICO) process. Additionally, TokenSoft will now be able to legally operate in services related to insurance and management.
Tom Lee, co-founder of Fundstrat Global Advisors and a notable cryptocurrency pundit, believes that the current fair value of Bitcoin (BTC) is between USD$13,800 and USD$14,800, according to a note published on Thursday. Lee arrived at this valuation by taking into account the number of active wallet addresses, usage per account, and other supply and demand metrics. Additionally, Lee forecasted that the fair value of BTC will reach USD$150,000/coin once BTC wallets account for 7% of Visa’s 4.5bn account holders.
UAE Exchange, an exchange based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), is partnering with Ripple to launch a blockchain-based cross-border remittances platform by 1Q2019, as per a Reuters report on Thursday. The report details further that Finablr, a payments and foreign exchange company that owns UAE Exchange, observes a high level of remittance inflows from expatriate workers in the Middle East region. “We expect to go live with Rippel by Q1, 2019 with two other Asian banks,” said Finablr CEO Promoth Manghat, adding, “This is for remittances to start with, from across the globe into Asia.”
De Nederlandsche Bank, the Netherlands’ central bank, will soon require domestic cryptocurrency providers to obtain a license from the regulator to operate, as per a report by Dutch news outlet DeTelegraaf. The Netherlands' central bank is taking these measures in the hope that it will, “prevent such cryptocurrencies from being used to launder money obtained through crime or to fund terrorism.” In order to receive a license, cryptocurrency firms must maintain Know-Your-Customer procedures and report any suspicious activity to the Dutch central bank.
Eddie Hughes, a conservative member of the United Kingdom’s Parliament, suggested that Bitcoin (BTC) should be accepted as legal tender for tax and utility payments, according to news outlet Express.co.uk. The article discusses that Hughes, who is a self-described, “crypto enthusiast with amateur knowledge,” recently met with the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, which accepts cryptocurrency donations. This news comes after the US state of Ohio announced that it would begin accepting BTC as legal tender for tax payments.
Following a case in Canadian courts that resulted in a ruling ordering mistakenly sent crypto funds to be returned to their owner, a blog post from the University of Oxford Faculty of Law is noting that there could be repercussions with the case potentially setting a precedent for lost or stolen cryptocurrency claims. The Canadian court case’s ruling will require defendant Brian Wall to return USD$370,482 worth of Ethereum (ETH) tokens to the plaintiff, Copytrack. The blog post from the University of Oxford Faculty of Law reads, ‘This precedent may have major repercussions for the enforcement of claims regarding lost or stolen cryptocurrencies,” adding that the ruling allows the plaintiff to recover tokens, “in whatsoever hands those Ether Tokens may currently be held.”
Japan’s government is considering plans to ease cryptocurrency taxes in an effort to revitalize the domestic cryptocurrency and blockchain industry. This week, Japanese Congressman Takeshi Fujimaki proposed four significant changes to taxation requirements pertaining to digital assets, which include: a reduction on the cryptocurrency gains tax from 55% to 20%; elimination of taxes on crypto-to-crypto payments; elimination of taxes on miniscule cryptocurrency payments; and an adjustment that would allow cryptocurrency investors to carry forward losses across quarters and years, effectively until cryptocurrencies are ‘cashed’ out.
Jay Clayton, Chairman for the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (US SEC), said during a speech that Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs), “can be effective,” for fundraising, but that, “securities laws must be followed.” Clayton went on in his speech to comment on the US SEC’s work regarding distributed ledger technology (DLT), digital assets, and ICOs, saying that it is an, “area where the Commission and staff have spent a significant amount of time,” and, “that this trend will continue in 2019.”
Jay Clayton, the Chairman of the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), expressed his optimism for distributed ledger technology’s potential impact on traditional financial markets in a testimony before the US Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs yesterday. According to a transcript published on the SEC’s website, Clayton said, “I am optimistic that developments in distributed ledger technology can help facilitate capital formation, providing promising investment opportunities for both institutional and Main Street Investors.” Additionally, Clayton highlighted that the SEC is, “Focusing a significant amount of attention and resources on digital assets and initial coin offerings (ICOs).”
Maxim Akimov, the Deputy Prime Minister of Russia, announced that no significant changes will be made to the draft of a bill concerning cryptocurrency regulation in the country, as per news outlet Finmarket. The bill was already approved by Russia’s parliament, the State Duma, in May 2018, although the bill has generated substantial discussion since. Since approval of the bill, all cryptocurrency and token-related terminology have been removed and replaced with the term “digital rights”. At the beginning of December, Pavel Krasheninnikov, Chairman of Russia’s State Duma, said that the bill needed to be, “significantly,” changed.
Pan Gongsheng, a deputy governor of the People’s Bank of China, highlighted that Security Token Offerings (STOs) in China are illegal while speaking at a summit in Beijing. As per a report by news outlet the South China Morning Post, Gongsheng told the summit that, “illegal financing activities through STOs and ICOs were still rampant in the mainland despite a nationwide clean-up of the cryptocurrency market last year.” In citing reasoning for the continued ban on STOs, Gongsheng explained that, “Virtual money has become an accomplice to all kinds of illegal and criminal activities.”
Pantera Capital, a blockchain and cryptocurrency-focused investment firm and hedge fund, is warning investors that as much as a quarter of their ICO project could potentially be violating US securities laws, according to a Bloomberg report. In a newsletter to clients, Pantera Capital warned, “While we believe the vast majority of the projects in our portfolio should not be affected, approximately 25% of our fund’s capital is invested in other projects with liquid tokens that sold to US investors without using Regulation D or Regulation S”
Russia has no intention of implementing Venezuela’s state-backed digital currency, the Petro, into commercial operations, according to a report by news outlet RIA Novosti. While speaking to reporters this week, Russian Deputy Finance Minister Sergey Storchak said, “Representatives from our tax service and central bank... got acquainted with the cryptocurrency Venezuela is introducing,” adding, “But no more than that. As for payments, they’re not happening yet.”
South Korea’s representative body, the National Assembly, held its first official meeting with seven of the country’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges on Monday. The purpose of the meeting was to debate cryptocurrency regulation between stakeholders of South Korea’s cryptocurrency industry. Cryptocurrency exchanges Bithumb, CobitCoin, Coinone, Upbit, Gopax, Coinplug, and Hanbitco were among the attendees of the debate, which reportedly focused on Anti-Money Laundering (AML) customer protections and Know Your Customer (KYC) procedures.
The United Kingdom’s Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an intergovernmental financial security body, is calling on the country’s government to increase monitoring of cryptocurrency markets. According to an official report last week, the UK must overhaul its Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and combat terrorist financing (CFT) efforts in order to prevent illicit activities with cryptocurrencies. “Virtual currency exchange providers are not yet covered by AML/CFT requirements,” the report details, adding, “this is an emerging risk and there is not yet evidence to suggest that broad scale ML/TF is occurring in the UK through this relatively small sector.”
The United States Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) is interested in learning more about the Ethereum (ETH) network, its technology, and the markets build around it. On Tuesday, the CFTC published a Request for Input (RFI) that requests the public’s feedback on different questions concerning Ethereum. The RFI explains that its goal is to inform the CFTC about Ethereum and similar emerging technology, saying, “The input from this request will advance the CFTC’s mission of ensuring the integrity of the derivatives market as well as monitoring and reducing the systematic risk by enhancing legal certainty in the markets. The RFI seeks to understand the similarities and distinctions between certain virtual currencies, including here ether and bitcoin, as well as ether-specific opportunities, challenges, and risks.”
The United States Securities and Exchange Commission (US SEC) is ordering that cryptocurrency asset manager CoinAlpha Advisors LLC pay a USD$50,000 fine, alleging that the firm conducted an unregistered securities sale. After forming in October 2017, CoinAlpha raised more than USD$600,000 from investors to invest in digital assets. In an official release, the US SEC said that CoinAlpha did not file a Notice of Exempt Offering of Securities, meaning that the firm breached securities laws by soliciting securities investors. Additionally, the firm allegedly did not adhere to proper know-your-customer procedures to verify that investors were accredited.
Venezuela is reportedly beginning to convert its citizens’ monthly pension payments into Petros, Venezuela’s controversial state and oil-backed cryptocurrency, according to a report by local economics blog the Caracas Chronicles. The conversion of Venezuelan pensioners’ payments into Petros came after the country already sent pensioners their monthly payment in the form of a check for Venezuelan Bolivars -- normally, upon receiving their check, pensioners would deposit their funds into a bank account where they could then withdraw fiat from local branches. The Venezuelan government, however, converted pensioners’ fiat payments into the Petro upon their deposit into a bank. In the first few weeks of the Petro’s existence, its value has risen from 9,000 to more than 15,000.
Warren Davidson, an Ohio Congressman and notable advocate of blockchain and digital assets, is floating blockchain technology as a solution to fund US President Donald Trump’s prospective US-Mexico border wall. While interviewing with NPR, Congressman Davidson suggested, “the American people, or whomever should choose to donate,” could pay for the border wall, adding, “you could do it with sort of like a crowdfunding site or you could do a blockchain and you could have WallCoins.”
“The long-term value of Bitcoin (BTC) is more likely to be USD$100 than USD$100,000,” says Kenneth Rogoff, a former Chief Economist for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the current Harvard University Professor of Economics and Public Policy. While writing an article for major UK news outlet The Guardian, Rogoff highlighted that, because BTC’s use is limited to transactions, it makes the digital asset more vulnerable to a bubble-like collapse. Rogoff also cited that BTC’s energy-intensive verification processes is, “vastly less efficient,” than systems that leverage, “a trusted central authority like a central bank.”
A new report by PeckShield, a blockchain security company that monitors various cryptocurrency ecosystems, details that decentralized applications (DApps) on the EOS (EOS) blockchain have lost as much as USD$1mm in hacks since July 2018. The report details further that DApps on the EOS network have sustained 27 breaches since July, which are responsible for the up to 400,000 EOS that have been compromised from hacks. Guo Yonggang, a blockchain security expert cited in a report on the matter by crypto media firm Blockchain Truth, believes that the hacks can be attributed to security problems with the DApps themselves, rather than with the EOS network.
A new study published by the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance on Wednesday finds that the number of unique ID-verified cryptocurrency users nearly doubled in in the first 3 quarters of 2018. The study details that total ID-verified users increased to 35mm in the first three quarters of 2018 from 18mm at the end of 2017, representing an increase of 94%. As per an analysis of the study by Bloomberg, the growth of crypto’s userbase despite the market decline, “could signal that an eventual recovery could be coming.”
Amid the continued cryptocurrency sell-off, only two cryptocurrency mining machines remain profitable, according to real-time data from ASICMinerValue.com. ASICMInerValue.com, which calculates the profitability of Application-Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) miners, indicates that only indicates that only the Ebank Ebit E11++ and ASICminer 8 Nano 44Th mining models are profitable for mining cryptocurrencies based on the SHA-256 hash function -- notable cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC) and Bitcoin Cash (BCH) use this has function.
Bitmain, a large Chinese cryptocurrency mining firm, announced that it is closing its development center in Israel, citing current cryptocurrency market conditions. In closing Bitmaintech Israel, the crypto mining giant was forced to fire all 23 employees. Among the employees let go is Gadi Glikberg, head of Bitmain’s Israeli branch and Vice President of International Sales, who said on the recent market turmoil, “The crypto market has undergone a shake-up in the past few months, which has forced Bitmain to examine its various activities around the globe and to refocus its business in accordance with the current situation.”
Busan, a major South Korean city, will be the beneficiary of the South Korean government’s plan to spend 4bn Korean won (USD$3.5mm) to establish a blockchain-enabled virtual power plant (VPP). As per a report by South Korean news outlet Yonhap News Agency, the project will be angled as a national competition in 2019, hosted by South Korea’s largest electric utility, Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO). The VPP will integrate the idle capacities of multiple energy resources through a cloud-based distributed ledger in order to optimize power generation and decrease costs.
Church’s Chicken, a large international fast food franchise, is partnering with Dash Venezuela to accept cryptocurrencies in its Venezuelan locations. According to an official press release, 13 Church’s Chicken establishments will begin accepting Dash (DASH) as payment following, “extensive and rigorous days of training,” staff to understand cryptocurrencies. With the addition of Church’s Chicken, more than 2,200 establishments in Venezuela accept DASH as payment.
Crypto.com, a Hong Kong-based cryptocurrency payments platform, announced the appointment of former PayPal executive Tyson Hackwood to serve as the firm’s Vice President and Head of Global Merchant Acquisition in an official press release today. Crypto.com aims to increase cryptocurrency adoption by both merchants and consumers through their point-of-sale (PoS) transaction terminals. Crypto.com CEO Kris Marszalek believes that Hackwood will be integral in furthering this goal, saying, “As we develop the Crypto.com Chain to fulfill the current industry need to pay and be paid in crypto, Tyson will play an important role in expanding the number and quality of merchants that are part of our network.”
Hyperledger, a notable blockchain consortium, is continuing its robust expansion after announcing the addition of 16 new members at the Hyperledger Global Forum in Basel, Switzerland. Among the notables to join the consortium are, Alibaba Cloud, Citigroup’s Citi Ventures arm, and Deutsche Telekom. The latest addition of 16 members brings the total membership of Hyperledger to more than 260 different companies. In a public statement, Hyperledger Executive Director Brian Behlendorf said that, “The growing Hyperledger community reflects the increasing importance of open source efforts to build enterprise blockchain technologies across industries and markets. The latest members showcase the widening interest in and impact of DLT and Hyperledger."
Jeremy Henrickson, the former Chief Product Officer at Coinbase, has departed the US-based cryptocurrency exchange after serving since July 2016. “Jeremy’s contributions to Coinbase over the past two years were invaluable,” said a Coinbase spokesperson, adding that, “he helped to build our scrappy startup team into a high-functioning product and engineering organization -- overseeing a 5x+ growth of the team.” Henrickson’s departure comes after long-term Coinbase executives Adam White and Hunter Merghart left the US-based cryptocurrency exchange in recent months.
LinkedIn’s, “2018 U.S. Emerging Jobs,” report released on Thursday ranks the role of blockchain developer as the fastest growing job in the United States. The report by LinkedIn indicates that blockchain developer jobs have increased 33-fold in the past 12 months alone. San Francisco, New York City, and Atlanta are among the cities with the highest demand for blockchain developer jobs.
Orbs, a unique hybrid blockchain platform, raised more than USD$15mm in cryptocurrencies to fund its development of a public blockchain, according to a company blog post. South Korean application provider Kakao lead the fundraising efforts with a representative telling CoinDesk that the company, “always seeks to invest and support innovative startups, and Orbs is a good example.” In total, Orbs raised 139,000 Ether (ETH) and 892 Bitcoin (BTC), amounting to roughly USD$15.4mm. Orbs aims to build a public blockchain with this funding that is, “universal,” and, “scalable,” for decentralized applications (DApps) with the, “liquidity of a base layer.”
Samsung has reportedly filed patent applications for three different blockchain-related trademark requests that all pertain directly to smartphones, according to news outlet Galaxy Club. Specifically, the patents named “Blockchain KeyStore”, “Blockchain Key Box”, and “Blockchain Core” all pertain to cryptocurrency custody capabilities on smartphones. This news comes amid the release of HTC’s Exodus 1 and Sirin Labs’ FINNEY, both of which are being marketed as blockchain smartphones with cryptocurrency custody capabilities.
Sign-up for Binance Jersey Fiat Exchange At this time, the digital currency exchange market is filled with a wide variety of choices, therefore choosing the right exchange or trading platform can be quite a headache for both novice and veteran cryptocurrency users. Binance is a popular cryptocurrency exchange which was started in China but recently moved their headquarters to the crypto-friendly Island of Malta in the EU. Binance is popular for its crypto to crypto exchange services. While the company is still fairly new on the market ( it launched last year ), it has managed to gain a lot of popularity thanks to its impressive number of Initial Coin Offering listings, professional attitude and friendly CEO and also due to its low trading fees. Binance Website In our review, we will attempt to outline everything that you must know about Binance, including how it works, the crypto pairs that you can exchange, trading fees/limits, security aspects, and customer support. Visit Binance » How the Exchange Works Contents [Show] Those who visit Binance for the first time will quickly notice that the platform offers two options for digital currency trading- basic and advanced. Neither the basic, nor the advanced versions are bound to be easy to use for complete beginners. However, anyone with a background in digital currencies and with a bit of knowledge into how exchanges work should be able to use the platform and its different services. The main difference between the basic and the advanced version is that the advanced one offers more-in-depth technical analysis of digital currency value over time. At this time, the dashboard for the basic version offers several graphs and charts for the pairs that you’re trading, order books, and trade history. 3Commas This is what the basic view looks like : Binance Trading View The Basic view is nicely designed and well laid out, all the information you need is clearly presented with prices on the left, graphs in the center along with the buy and sell boxes and the trade history is presented on the right so you can quickly see what the latest trade prices were. And this is what the advanced view looks like: Advanced View The advanced view uses a dark theme and makes the trading charts larger and the latest trade prices are displayed on the right with the buy sell boxes underneath. Which you choose is a matter of preference really, I like the lighter colored basic view and find the layout a little easier to use. Binance Signup & Login To use the exchange, users will first have to create an account. The process behind this is fairly simple and straight-forward and you don’t have to verify your account for level 1 which is a 2BTC daily withdrawal limit. For level 2 which allows up to 100BTC per day, you need to upload a photo ID and wait till you are approved. There are higher limits still, but you will need to contact them directly to arrange that. Time for verification can vary depending on how busy the site support staff are, so make sure to plan ahead if you wish to withdraw larger amounts and make sure this step is complete before depositing and trading large sums on the exchange. ID Verification Now, that this is out of the way, users can go ahead and fund their Binance account. While you can choose from a multitude of digital currencies, it is recommended that you stick with either BTC or ETH. To fund your account visit the “Funds” > “Deposits / Withdrawals” link at the top of the site and find the currency you wish to send, then click the “Deposit” button next to it which will then you give you the wallet address. You can then send your funds to this address to begin trading on the platform, depending on which currency you deposit it will take different times to show up as this is reliant on that currencies blockchain. Some currencies like Ethereum are faster than Bitcoin which can take a while. Binance Wallets Now that your account is funded, you can simply start trading, exchanging and investing in various digital currency pairs. Binance offers plenty of choices, as they support all major digital currencies, but also numerous ICO listings and their respective tokens. At this time, the platform can only be used to generate limit and market orders. This has been considered a disadvantage by some, as many expected trading options that would be more advanced. Following the placement of your order, simply wait for it to be fulfilled according to the terms that have been set. How to Trade on Binance Trading on Binance is fairly straight-forward if you have used any other cryptocurrency exchange before. To get started, make sure you have deposited some funds – there are options for trading pairs in BTC, ETH, BNB and USDT. Once you have your funds, at the top right menu, select “Exchange” > “Basic” or “Advanced” to load the trading screen. We will be using the Basic view. Binance Trading View On the right hand side, of the screen select a tab from BTC, ETH, BNB or USDT this is what you will be trading in. Then choose your desired currency from the list. You can also search here and you can create a favorites list by clicking the star next to any currencies. Choose currency to buy Once your desired currency has loaded, take note of the left-hand column which shows prices that people are willing to sell at in the top half in red and prices people are willing to buy at in green in the bottom half. The number in the middle shows the last sale price. Buy and Sell Prices Now to place a buy order, use the center box underneath the graphs and you will see the buy box is in green on the right. You can manually enter a price you wish to purchase at, but a better way is to click a number on the left-hand column. You can then enter the amount of the currency you wish to buy or click the 25%, 50%, 75% or 100% buttons which will fill it with an amount based on how much of the buying currency you have ( in this case BTC ). Buy Order Once your order is placed it will be show underneath in the “Open Orders” section until it is filled. At that point your new currency will be available under the “Deposits / Withdrawals” menu where you can withdraw it to the wallet of your choice. Supported Crypto Currencies Binance has often been praised for its wide variety of support coins. Traders can use the platform for multiple digital currencies, including, but not limited to Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Bitcoin Gold, Ethereum, Ethereum Classic, EOS, Dash, LiteCoin, NEO, GAS, Zcash, Dash, Ripple and more. As mentioned before, Binance also supports numerous tokens, as part of ICO listings. With this in mind, traders can use the platform to trade these tokens for a profit as well. Binance is currently very quick to add new coins and tokens after their ICO which usually means you can purchase them cheaply which allows for greater profit down the road. They currently offer trading pairs in BTC, BNB, ETH and USDT. Binance Markets Binance ICO & BNB Coin Another thing to note is the Binance Coin, which was issued during their own ICO. The Binance coin can be used to pay fees and it will also feature in their future plans to create a Decentralized Exchange where it will form one of the key base currencies. Purchasing the Binance coin itself looks like a good investment for the future as the exchange plans to use their profits to buy back a portion of the coins every quarter and destroy them: hence decreasing the supply and making them more valuable for holders. Every quarter, we will use 20% of our profits to buy back BNB and destroy them, until we buy 50% of all the BNB (100MM) back. All buy-back transactions will be announced on the blockchain. We eventually will destroy 100MM BNB, leaving 100MM BNB remaining. Binance BNB Coin If you’d like to read more about the BNB Coin, check out our indepth guide. Binance Fees & Limits At the time of writing, Binance charges an average fee of 0.1% on each trade that a user makes. Those who choose to pay via the Binance token can get a 50% discount on the trading fee, which is absolutely great news. These are surely some of the lowest fees available at this time. Withdrawal fees tend to vary for each digital currency. For instance, 0.0005 is charged for Bitcoin withdrawals, and 0.005 is charged for ETH withdrawals. Here are some examples to give you an idea of the fees you will be paying for withdrawals: COIN CODE Fee Unit Binance Coin BNB 1 BNB Bitcoin BTC 0.001 BTC Ethereum ETH 0.01 ETH Litcoin LTC 0.01 LTC Neo NEO Free NEO Qtum QTUM 0.01 QTUM Status SNT 10 SNT Bancor BNT 1.2 BNT Eos EOS 0.7 EOS Bitcoin Cash BCC 0.0005 BCC Gas GAS Free GAS USDT USDT 50 USDT When it comes down to transfer limits, there is no limit on the number of coins that you can deposit. However, without getting verified, users are limited in terms of how much they can withdraw. Verification will establish you as a level two users, thus lifting these limits and providing a lot more freedom when using the platform. The verification process requires users to provide Binance with their full name, country, gender, a photo of passport/government-issued ID, and even a selfie with the passport. Binance Competitions A unique feature of Binance you will notice is that they regularly hold competitions with some amazing prizes. Some examples of competitions in the past include Waves and Tron. The waves competition gave away 20,000 Waves to Traders based on how many trades they have made of this currency. The other competition for Tron (TRX) gave participants the chance to win a Maserati car, Mercedes Benz car, a Macbook Pro or a iPhone X. Again, the winners were the people with the highest trading volume of this currency. The current rankings show that the person in first place had over 358 BTC volume in trades so you will need to be a whale to be in with a chance of winning first prize. There are other regular competitions though, so keep an eye on the site for your chance to enter. Is Binance Safe? While Binance is one of the newest cryptocurrency exchanges available on the market, it has quickly managed to attain a high level of trust from its users and the digital currency community. However, the exchange fails to provide users with enough information on how the funds are being secured, yet we like to believe that security is taken seriously. Two-factor authentication is available and is always a nice sight. It is however known that the platform offers a multi-tier and multi-tier system architecture. Update: In March 2018 Binance suffered a hacking attempt. The hackers tried to pull off an audacious move which was luckily caught by the automated systems in place at the exchange. For months the hackers had been accumulating people’s logins via a phishing website and secretly installing API access on the affected accounts. They then struck, converting all the victims altcoins to BTC and purchasing Viacoin, pumping the coin to a huge price and then selling their own supply of Viacoin at the high point, before trying to withdraw the BTC to their own wallets. Luckily no one lost funds as the hack was caught and the only people to lose out were the hackers, whose funds will be donated to charity. As this hack was made possible by people entering their site logins and 2FA details into a fake website, you should always make sure you are on the correct Binance url before logging in. We recommend you bookmark the site and only use that to access it, never click links from emails, Twitter, Telegram etc. This event has done a lot to instill confidence around Binance, not only did their automated processes catch the attempted hack before anyone lost any funds, they have since offered a $250,000 bounty to anyone who can help catch the hackers. Throughout this event, Binance acted exemplary and have been praised for their swift action in resolving this. Binance Customer Support For an exchange to be successful, it requires a great customer support team, capable of answering all user questions and requests in a timely manner. While the support area on Binance could use a little work, the team is responsive and capable of offering professional aid to traders in need. Support tickets are submitted via an online form featured on the website, and responses are made via email. There is currently no live chat support, nor a phone number where customers can get in touch with the support team. Binance Customer Support Other than the CS team, Binance offers a couple of FAQs and articles meant to help users get accustomed to the exchange and the way it works. Binance FAQs It should be noted that customer support on Binance has been known to be slow to respond to customer requests. This is a familiar phenomenon with most of large exchanges and is due simply to the volume of users and amount of support staff. The exchanges have grown at an explosive rate this past year and the companies simply haven’t been able to keep up with demand. Binance grew fast especially, going from launch to the largest exchange on the planet in a few short months. Support staff for exchanges have to be carefully vetted and trained due to the technicalities and security requirements involved – unlike other traditional companies where staff can be trained quicker. Some things to bare in mind are double-checking wallet addresses, make sure you are sending the correct cryptocurrency to it’s corresponding address on the site. Mixups with wallets are one of the biggest mistakes people make when using exchanges. Other things to note are, try a smaller test payment first if you plan to transfer large sums – it may cost you a little more in fees but will be worth it for peace of mind. If you do need to contact support, make sure you provide them with enough information to be able to help you first time. Include wallet addresses, times of transactions and any other information you think they might need to help speed up the process. The Move to Malta In March 2018, Japanese Newspaper Nikkei reported that Binance was trading in Japan and not following their official regulations. This caused some turbulence in the markets until Binance made an official announcement that they were going to be moving operations to the crypto-friendly island of Malta in Europe, stating : After reviewing several different locations, the company decided to invest in the European nation due to its existing pro-blockchain legislation and the stability that it offers financial technology companies through its regulatory framework. This is good news for the company and they even received a warm welcome from the Prime Minister of Malta on Twitter. Binance also announced that they were in talks with Maltese banks with the goal of providing Fiat transactions, meaning they can offer an on-ramp for fiat to crypto transactions in future along with fiat trading pairs on the exchange. More good news for Binance, it seems as their profile and reputation within the industry continues to grow. Launching a Decentralized Exchange More recent news for Binance and what seems like good news BNB holders is the fact that they are planning to launch their own Decentralized Exchange ( DEX ): “After extensively researching decentralized exchange frameworks and analyzing existing implementations, we believe significant improvements can be made in providing Binance users with a level of trading experience to which they are already accustomed. Centralized and Decentralized exchanges will co-exist in the near future, complementing each other, while also having interdependence.” The BNB digital asset, now an ERC-20 token, will migrate as the native token of that network and be used for paying the trading fees on the new exchange. Launching a Decentralized Stock Exchange More good news recently for Binance is that they are partnering with Neufund to build the world’s first Decentralized Stock Exchange. Alongside the Malta Stock Exchange, they are aiming to create a regulated and decentralized, global stock exchange for listing and trading tokenized securities alongside crypto-assets. According to CapLinked, the market cap of equity tokens alone is projected to reach $1 trillion by 2020 and thanks to the partnership with MSX, a subsidiary of the Malta Stock Exchange and Binance, Neufund will become the first end-to-end primary issuance platform for security tokens, in particular, equity tokens. It will secure ways for secondary trading of equity tokens and enable companies around the world to fundraise on Blockchain in a legal way while offering much-needed liquidity. This is more positive news for Binance as they aim to consolidate their position as the world’s number one Crypto Exchange. Binance Jersey Launch – Now Supports Fiat to Crypto As of 16th January 2019, Binance has announced the launch of a new Fiat to Crypto exchange named “Binance Jersey“. The trading platform is live and active and allows you to trade in fiat currencies such as euros and pound sterling, with Europe being their target market. We have now carried out a full review of Binance Jersey, so take a look for more indepth details about the new platform. Binance Jersey Visit Binance Jersey » At the time of writing they are only offering four trading pairs with more to follow soon: BTC / EUR BTC / GBP ETH / EUR ETH / GBP Supported Jurisdictions: Argentina Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) Latvia Romania Armenia Finland Liechtenstein Singapore Australia France Lithuania Slovakia Austria Germany Luxembourg Slovenia Azerbaijan Gibraltar Macau South Africa Belgium Greece Malta South Korea Brazil Hong Kong Mauritius Spain Bulgaria Hungary Mexico Sweden Canada Iceland Monaco Switzerland Chile Ireland Netherlands Turkey Croatia Israel New Zealand United Arab Emirates (UAE) Cyprus Italy Norway United Kingdom (UK) Czech Republic Jamaica Peru Uruguay Denmark Japan Poland Estonia Jersey Portugal Customers who wish to trade in the support fiat currencies will need to carry our KYC procedures by uploading their ID documents such as passport and driving license. Wei Zhou, Binance’s CFO released this statement about the launch : “Expanding the cryptocurrency exchange markets with fiat currencies in the European region is opening new economic opportunities for Europeans as well as freedom from looming Brexit uncertainty where the pound and euro are also in concern. Through Binance Jersey, we want to help bridge the crypto-fiat channel for Europe and the U.K. as part of our global expansion to support broader cryptocurrency adoption”. If you are familiar with trading on Binance, then you will feel at home on their new exchange – it uses the same engine and the trading screen is laid out in the same fashion with the option to choose between Basic and Advanced views: Binance Jersey Trading Screen To fund your account in fiat, you will first need to complete the KYC process, once that is done you can then deposit funds directly from your bank account by linking it from the Deposits screen. You can also fund your account with BTC or Ethereum. Once you have your account setup and bank account linked, you can also withdraw funds in fiat currency – this is great news as Binance is now able to offer a way for investors to cash out their cryptocurrencies. We have upgraded our review scores below and we feel this is a huge improvement to Binance’s Exchange offering, if they manage to roll this out to even more countries ( USA is currently excluded) it could be a game changer as people now have an extra, regulated fiat on and off ramp for their holdings. Buying Bitcoin with Australian Dollars On March 20, 2019, Binance announced the launch of Binance Lite Australia, the continent’s first fiat gateway to the world of cryptocurrencies which provides a secure, reliable, and easy to use way to buy Bitcoin with cash in Australia. The cash-to-Bitcoin brokerage service operates via a network of over 1,000 newsagents across Australia, and currently allows anyone to buy Bitcoin using Australian Dollars (AUD), and there are plans to include additional digital currencies and fiat purchasing options in the future. Users must first undergo account verification on Binance Lite, and after being successfully verified, users can place online orders and deposit cash at their nearest newsagent, in order to receive their pre-ordered Bitcoin. The Binance Lite brokerage service is operated by InvestbyBit, an independently operated subsidiary of the Binance.com cryptocurrency exchange. The service aims to simplify the process of purchasing cryptocurrencies and make digital assets such as Bitcoin readily accessible across Australia. Fees A 2.5% transaction fee (50% discount applied) plus GST on the transaction fee for each purchase is currently being charged as an introductory rate. Therefore, for a $50 order, the transaction fee will be $1.22 and the GST will be 10% of the transaction fee, which is $0.12. Limits The system is currently in its Beta phase, and the minimum purchase amount has been lowered to $30 with the maximum purchase amount capped at $1000. These limits may change over time and only multiples of $10 are being accepted, such as orders for $50, $60, $70 etc. Verification First time customers are required to go through a one-time Know Your Customer (KYC) document verification. When using the service, it’s necessary to follow the instruction prompts after the order page and go through the verification. In order to complete the verification process, it’s necessary to submit 1 or 2 forms of government issued ID documents as a Passport, Driver’s Licence, or Medicare card, in addition to your residential address. Any returning customers, who have already completed KYC verification, will be sent to the order summary page directly after opening a new order. Each account is linked to a mobile number, and users should ensure to use the mobile number provided when first completing the verification process. Anyone choosing to use a new mobile number will be required to complete the ID verification process once again. Paying by Debit and Credit Card Binance allows users to make debit and credit card payments for cryptocurrencies via a partnership with Simplex. It’s possible to purchase Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), and XRP tokens by Visa and MasterCard and the benefits of using a debit or credit card on Binance include: Swift Transfers: Average 10-30 mins for cryptocurrency to reach your wallet Low Fees: only 3.5% per transaction or 10 USD, whichever is higher Convenient: Visa and MasterCard accepted In order to purchase the supported cryptocurrencies with a debit or credit card, users can first go through the official instructions page and then visit: https://www.binance.com/en/creditcard. Binance Launchpad and Initial Coin Offerings (IEOs) Binance Launchpad is the exchange’s token launch platform that aims to connect blockchain projects with the greater cryptocurrency community and enable projects to raise funds while interacting with Binance’s significant user base. In December 2017, the BREAD and GIFTO projects were able to hold successful token sales on Binance Launchpad and projects such as BitTorrent and Fetch.AI have also held successful launches in 2019. The platform makes use of the exchange’s native BNB token and rewards users for holding the token as well as allowing it to be used to participate in token sales. Read: What is an IEO? How Token Offerings Work on Binance Launchpad The ability to part in token offerings continues to attract a significant amount of users to Binance and it’s necessary to go through a number of steps in order to get used to the Launchpad platform. Anyone interested in a project should first go to the Binance Launchpad website and click on the project page and thoroughly research any of the projects on offer. If not already done, it’s also necessary to complete your Binance account verification, as token sales are carried out in compliance with the regulatory requirements in supported user jurisdictions. The Lottery System Binance Launchpad operates a lottery system which sees that the number of lottery tickets you can claim being dependant on the amount of BNB tokens you hold in your Binance account over a 20-day period leading up to the day of the lottery, with a maximum of up to 5 tickets per eligible account. The 20 days leading up to the lottery draw date is represented by X below, and by example, 100 ≤ X < 200 means that your BNB balance over the entire 20-day period is kept at 100 BNB or more, but does not exceed or reach 200 BNB. A snapshot at 0:00 AM (UTC) each day records each user’s BNB balance, and should your BNB balance drop below the minimum balance required on any given day during the 20-day period, they will be put into the lower threshold. For example, if User A holds 301 BNB for 19 of the 20 days but their balance drops to 299 BNB on one day. They will move to the lower threshold and only be eligible to claim 2 lottery tickets. Before the actual lottery date, users are given a 24 hour period to select how many lottery tickets they wish to enter, with the maximum number based upon their BNB holdings over the previous 20 days. Here, if a user submits an entry of 5 tickets and 2 tickets end up winning, they are committed to pay for 2 ticket allocations (in BNB) for the tokens. Each lottery ticket has a unique number with multiple lottery ticket holders, obtaining tickets with consecutive numbers. For example, when claiming 5 tickets, the tickets may be numbered 100010, 100011, 100012, 100013 and 100014. Once the 24 hour period ends and all tickets have been fully issued, Binance begins to randomly select multi-digit numbers. These are matched against the tail digits of all issued tickets in order to determine the list of winners. The selection process continues until the maximum number of winners are matched, and the respective BNB is deducted from each winning user’s balance, as soon as they are deemed a winner. Binance announces the maximum number of potential lottery ticket winners, and the allocation amount corresponding to each winning ticket in advance. Conclusion Currently, the matching engine of the exchange is capable of processing approximately 1.4 million orders each second, hence making it one of the fastest exchanges available on the market. Additionally, the exchange works on all forms of devices, including web, Android, WeChat, and HTML5. Non-English speakers will be happy to know that Binance offers multiple-language support in Chinese, English, Korean and Japanese. Based on everything that has been outlined so far, Binance is undoubtedly the leading Cryptocurrency Exchange and offers great fees and awesome digital currency support. As it reportedly has access to abundant resources and partners, chances are that Binance will continue to evolve and offer great digital currency exchange services to its clients. We are happy to recommend Binance and have added it to our list of the Best Cryptocurrency Exchanges. Update, April 2019: We have continued to update this review since Binance was first launched ( we were one of the first to offer a review of the platform at the time ). And as time has progressed, time and time again Binance have proven to be one of the very best, if not the best, exchanges available. Their CEO Changpeng Zhao (CZ for short) has been part of the cryptocurrency community and shown high standards of integrity. Binance the exchange has continued to innovate, bringing new products to market and new options for purchasing and trading cryptocurrencies to all corners of the globe.
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