In this short post I want to set out my case for the moral justifiability of 51% attacks against proof of work cryptocurrencies. In the past, a 51% attack was a theoretical construct that most people didn´t seem to think would be practically achievable or lucrative. This has now changed, as hashpower can be rented on sites like Nicehash and Mining Rig Rentals for a few hours at a time. The attack delivers the attacker two prominent opportunities:
-You can orphan blocks of ¨legitimate¨ miners. This essentially means that whatever work was produced by legitimate miners during your attack became worthless. Mine a secret chain of two hours worth of blocks, release it and you orphaned 2 hours worth of blocks by your competitors. By the time most of the miners have noticed their blocks were orphaned in an attack, their nodes will have been automatically mining on your own chain for a while and it will be too late for them to do anything about it. The amount of money they lost would be equivalent to the amount you had to spend to produce your chain. Because mining is an industry with tight margins, the economic impact on these miners can be very big. The cost may be sufficient in case of a very long attack, to persuade them to quit their endeavor and get a real job.
-The more important opportunity is that you´re able to double spend your coins. This is potentially, incredibly lucrative. How lucrative it is tends to depend primarily on the inflation rate of a cryptocurrency. A low inflation rate means relatively little ¨work¨ is done to maintain the security of the system. A high inflation rate on the other hand, turns the cryptocurrency into a very poor long-term investment. As a consequence, most cryptocurrencies face declining inflation rates, that delay the problem of their ultimately unsustainability into the future. The bank of international settlements explains this issue here
When it comes to the moral justification of a 51% attack, we first have to ask ourselves why proof of work is morally unjustifiable. There are two main reasons for this:
-Proof of work has an enormous environmental impact, that ensures future generations will have to deal with the dramatic consequences of climate change. There is no proper justification for this environmental impact, as it delivers no clear benefits over existing payment systems other than the ability to carry out morally unjustifiable actions like blackmail.
-Proof of work is fundamentally unsustainable, because of the economic burden it places on participants in cryptocurrency schemes. Cryptocurrencies can´t produce wealth out of thin air. The people who get rich from a cryptocurrency becomes rich, due to the fact that other people step in later. In this sense we´re dealing with a pyramid scheme, but the difference from regular pyramid schemes lies in the fact that huge sums of wealth are not merely redistributed, but destroyed
, to sustain the scheme. The cost of the work to sustain the scheme is bigger than you might expect, because the reality is that relatively little money has entered bitcoin. JP Morgan claims that for the crypto assets at large, a fiat amplifier of 117.5 is present, as a purported $2 billion in net inflow pushed Bitcoin’s market capitalization from $15 billion to $250 billion. You have to consider that the Digiconomist estimates that $2.6 billion dollar leaves the Bitcoin scheme on an annual basis, in the form of mining costs to sustain Bitcoin. The vast majority of retail customers who entered this scheme ended up losing money from it. In some cases this lead to suicides.
The fact that proof of work is morally unjustifiable doesn´t directly lead to a moral justification for a 51% attack. After all a sane society would use government intervention to eliminate the decentralized ponzi schemes that are cryptocurrencies. There are a few things that need to be considered however:
-Governments have so far failed in their responsibility to address the cryptocurrency schemes. Instead you tend to see officials insist that proof of work might suck and most cryptocurrency is a scam, but ¨blockchain technology¨ will somehow change the world for the better. Most libertarians who saw these schemes emerge insisted that it´s stupid to participate in them because the government would eventually ban them and round up the people who participated in them. This didn´t happen because of the logistical difficulty of suppressing these schemes (anyone with an internet connection can set one up) as well as the fact that suppressing them would lend credence to the anti-government anarcho-capitalist ideology on which these schemes are based. Goverments might say ¨these schemes facilitate crime, ruin the environment and redistribute wealth from naive individuals to scammers¨, but anarcho-capitalists would insist that governments have grown so tyrannical that they want to ban you from exchanging numbers on computers.
-Because cryptocurrency is fundamentally an online social arrangement, governments have very limited influence over the phenomenon. Binance seeks to become a stateless organization, not subject to the jurisdiction of any particular government. Just as with regular money laundering and tax evasion that hides in small nations that can earn huge sums of money by facilitating these practises, governments are dependent on the actions of individuals to address these practices. Whistleblowers released the panama papers and the tax evasion by German individuals through Swiss bank accounts. Through such individuals, the phenomenon could be properly addressed. In a similar manner, cryptocurrency schemes will need to be addressed through the actions of individuals who recognize the damage these schemes cause to the fabric of society.
-The very nature of a 51% attack means that it primarily punishes those who set up and facilitate the cryptocurrency scheme in the first place. The miners who pollute our environment to satiate their own greed are bankrupted by the fact that their blocks are orphaned. The exchange operators are bankrupted due to double-spend attacks against the scams that they facilitate. When this happens, the cryptocurrency in question should lose value, which then destroys the incentive to devote huge sums of electricity to it.
Finally, there´s the question of whether 51% attacks are viable as a response to cryptocurrency. There´s the obvious problem you run into, that the biggest and oldest scams are the most difficult to shut down. In addition, cryptocurrencies that fell victim to an attack tend to move towards a checkpoint system. However, there are a few things that need to be considered here:
-51% attacks against small cryptocurrencies might not have a huge impact, but their benefit is nonetheless apparent. Most of the new scams don´t require participants to mine, instead the new schemes generally depend on ¨staking¨. If people had not engage in 51% attacks, the environmental impact would have been even bigger now.
-51% attacks against currencies that implement checkpointing are not impossible
, if the checkpoints are decentrally produced. What happens in that case is a chain split, as long as the hostile chain is released at the right time. This would mean that different exchanges may get stuck on different forks, which would still allow people to double spend their cryptocurrency.
-There are other attacks that can be used against proof of work cryptocurrencies. The most important one is the block withholding attack. It´s possible for people who dislike a cryptocurrency to join a pool and to start mining. However, whenever the miner finds a valid solution that would produce a block, he fails to share the solution with the pool. This costs money for the pool operator, but it can be lucrative for the actor if he also operates a competing pool himself. In the best case it leads to miners moving to his pool, which then potentially allows him to execute a 51% attack against the cryptocurrency.
-It´s possible to put up a 51% attack bounty, allowing others to do the work for you. This works as following. You make transaction A : 100 bitcoin to exchange X, for a fee of 0.001 BTC. Once this transaction has been included in a block, you immediately broadcast a conflicting transaction with another node: You´ŕe sending those 100 bitcoin to your own wallet, but you´re also including a 50 bitcoin fee for the miners. The miners now have a strong incentive to disregard the valid chain and to start mining a new chain on an older block that can still include your conflicting transaction. Provided that pool operators are rational economic agents, they should grab the opportunity.
-Selfish mining in combination with a Sybil attack allows someone to eclipse the rest of the network, while controlling less than 51% of the hashrate. Your malicious nodes will simply refuse to propagante blocks of your competitors, thereby giving you more time to release your own block. Selfish mining will always be possible with 33% of the hashrate and as far as I can tell there are no pathways known currently to make the scheme impossible for people with 25% of the hashrate. This potentially makes a 51% attacks lucrative without having to carry out double-spend attacks against exchanges. Although double spending is a form of theft, it´s not clear to me whether a selfish mining attack would get you into legal trouble or not.
The dreaded 51% attack is a morally justifiable and potentially lucrative solution to the Nakamoto scheme
Korean Market Weekend Update
News: Korean Official In Charge of Cryptocurrency Policy Passes Away Days After Making Announcement that Brought Encouragement to Markets http://news.kbs.co.knews/view.do?ncd=3607294&ref=A
This weeks news starts off on an incredibly sad note. Although I am not a fan of governments, and what I see to have been their irresponsible intervention into the markets, this is something I never want to see. Jeong Ki Joon (정기준), the Korean Economic Chief Advisor in charge of dealing with cryptocurrencies passed away in his sleep on the 18th. He was assigned to the position of economic advisor last September, and has since then has been in charge of coordinating policy regarding cryptocurrencies. Just 3 days ago on the 15th he announced the formal government position on cryptocurrencies. Currently his passing seems related to the amount of stress he was dealing with related to his duties. He was 53.
He actually seemed to have been one of the government officials who stepped up and really tried to understand what cryptocurrency was, and see the positive benefits it could bring. Him and others made announcements from the government last week that detailed plans in order to “block illegal activity and maintain transparency in order to foster a healthy environment for blockchain technology.” It is sad to see his passing, and we hope this isn't a common occurrence in the cryptocurrency space.
Korean Exchanges Made 700 Billion Korean Won, (Appx, 656 Million USD) in 2017. A 87 Times Increase http://www.yonhapnews.co.kbulletin/2018/02/14/0200000000AKR20180214194000002.HTML?input=1195m
According to documents released with a government announcement from the majority party in Korea, Korean exchanges saw an increase of 83 times in revenue over the previous year. Upbit alone made nearly 200 billion won (187 million USD)after launching at the end of October. Upbits launch was accompanied by a double in the amount of volume coming out of Korea. Bithumb made 317 billion won (290 million USD), Coinone 78 billion (73 million USD) and Korbit 67 billion. (63 million USD)
These top four exchanges, plus the nearly 30 other exchanges has caused the total revenue of exchanges to exceed over 700 billion won. Comparatively, crypto exchanges in Korea did 3 billion and 8 billion won, (2.8 million and 7.5 million USD)in 2015 and 16 respectively. This sort of news really shows the strength and fervor of Korean markets. It is significant to note that previous to Upbit being launched, Koreans only had access to KRW based pairs, but were still one of the larger markets. With the launching of Upbit, which is actually just a connection to Bittrex that doesn't actually operate an exchange, Koreans were able to access all sorts of new cryptocurrencies, which obviously furthered their enthusiasm.
The Lunar New Year Effect Trend Continues http://www.insightkorea.co.k/news/articleView.html?idxno=22860
Since 2015, the Lunar New Year, one of the biggest holidays in Korea and other eastern countries has always bode well for cryptocurrency. The chart above shows how every year, crypto has fared better after the holiday than before. This began in 2015 prices moved from 235 million won 2,300 USD to 245 million, 2,400 USD, a 23.5% increase. This trend has continued over the past years, and this year seems to have been no exception.
This year has been no exception. With the holiday beginning on the 15th, and technically starting after work ends the 14th, the price has experienced a 25% increase, going from 8500 to 10725 at the time of writing. (Binance) This is in spite of a dip that occured in the last few hours, which have seen a healthy rebound with significant volume. If this trend continues, prices could travel beyond 12,000 by the end of the coming week. But we will have to see.
My opinion on the reason for this is simple. It's the same as the Thanksgiving effect that we saw send us soaring back in November. People and families meet, and one of the topics that is often discussed is finance, and obviously Bitcoin and cryptocurrency is one of the hottest topics to talk about. Add to that the fact that many of the youth, as in those unmarried receive between 10,000 to 200,000 won (10 to 200 USD) as gifts, this brings a lot of spare cash with which to move the market as well as new interest and speculation.
Sentiment: Sentiment in Korea continues to improve, with significant increases in volume across all exchanges in Korea and the world. Global volume increased 25 percent, from around 400 million USD to 500 million USD over the period. Over half all the transactions that are taking place in non-cryptocurrency pairs ex. BTC/USD, BTC/KRW are being conducted in Korean won. The “Kimchi Premium” is continuing to come back, sitting around 5 percent at the time of writing.
Among forums and news articles, positive sentiment also seems to be increasing. More news articles and government announcements are focused on how to help Korea become a center of blockchain development, and foster a healthy space for all the components of blockchain to grow, including cryptocurrencies. Overall, the market seems very healthy, with some overextending following this latest run, but no trouble in Korea that I can see. Good luck!
Korean Listings: Upbit:
2/14 - Sirin Labs Token SRN 2/14 - Worldwide Asset Exchange Token WAX 2/16 - 0x ZRX 2/17 - BlockV Vee Bithumb Coinone Korbit
All still under the self-imposed no listing regulation. No news regarding when this will change. Coinrail:
2/14 - Enjin Token ENG Coinnest:
2/11 - Oceanchain OC 2/11 - Beechat Gopax:
2/14 - Steem, SteemDollar STEEM, SBD https://steemit.com/cryptocurrency/@jnem/korean-market-weekend-update-korean-government-official-dealing-with-crypto-passes-away-new-years-sentiment-leads-to-spike
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In finance, an exchange is a forum or platform for trading commodities, derivatives, securities or other financial instruments. The principle concern of an exchange is to allow trading between parties to take place in a fair and legally compliant manner, as well as to ensure that pricing information for any instrument traded on the exchange is reliable and coherently delivered to exchange participants. In the cryptocurrency space exchanges are online platforms that allow users to trade cryptocurrencies or digital currencies for fiat money or other cryptocurrencies. They can be centralized exchanges such a Binance, or decentralized exchanges such as IDEX. Most cryptocurrency exchanges allow users to trade different crypto assets with BTC or ETH after having already exchanged fiat currency for one of those cryptocurrencies. Coinbase and Kraken are the main avenue for fiat money to enter into the cryptocurrency ecosystem.
Function and History
Crypto exchanges can be market-makers that take bid/ask spreads as a commission on the transaction for facilitating the trade, or more often charge a small percentage fee for operating the forum in which the trade was made. Most crypto exchanges operate outside of Western countries, enabling them to avoid stringent financial regulations and the potential for costly and lengthy legal proceedings. These entities will often maintain bank accounts in multiple jurisdictions, allowing the exchange to accept fiat currency and process transactions from customers all over the globe.
The concept of a digital asset exchange has been around since the late 2000s and the following initial attempts at running digital asset exchanges foreshadows the trouble involved in attempting to disrupt the operation of the fiat currency baking system. The trading of digital or electronic assets predate Bitcoin’s creation by several years, with the first electronic trading entities running afoul of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) in late 2004. Companies such as Goldex, SydneyGoldSales, and Ozzigold, shut down voluntarily after ASIC found that they were operating without an Australian Financial Services License. E-Gold, which exchanged fiat USD for grams of precious metals in digital form, was possibly the first digital currency exchange as we know it, allowing users to make instant transfers to the accounts of other E-Gold members. At its peak in 2006 E-Gold processed $2 billion worth of transactions and boasted a user base of over 5 million people.
Here we will give a brief overview of the features and operational history of the more popular and higher volume exchanges because these are the platforms to which newer traders will be exposed. These exchanges are recommended to use because they are the industry standard and they inspire the most confidence.
Owned and operated by iFinex Inc, the cryptocurrency trading platform Bitfinex was the largest Bitcoin exchange on the planet until late 2017. Headquartered in Hong Kong and based in the US Virgin Island, Bitfinex was one of the first exchanges to offer leveraged trading (“Margin trading allows a trader to open a position with leverage. For example — we opened a margin position with 2X leverage. Our base assets had increased by 10%. Our position yielded 20% because of the 2X leverage. Standard trades are traded with leverage of 1:1”) and also pioneered the use of the somewhat controversial, so-called “stable coin” Tether (USDT).
Binance is an international multi-language cryptocurrency exchange that rose from the mid-rank of cryptocurrency exchanges to become the market dominating behemoth we see today. At the height of the late 2017/early 2018 bull run, Binance was adding around 2 million new users per week! The exchange had to temporarily disallow new registrations because its servers simply could not keep up with that volume of business. After the temporary ban on new users was lifted the exchange added 240,000 new accounts within two hours.
Have you ever thought whats the role of the cypto exchanges? The answer is simple! There are several different types of exchanges that cater to different needs within the ecosystem, but their functions can be described by one or more of the following: To allow users to convert fiat currency into cryptocurrency. To trade BTC or ETH for alt coins. To facilitate the setting of prices for all crypto assets through an auction market mechanism. Simply put, you can either mine cryptocurrencies or purchase them, and seeing as the mining process requires the purchase of expensive mining equipment, Cryptocurrency exchanges can be loosely grouped into one of the 3 following exchange types, each with a slightly different role or combination of roles.
Have you ever thought about what are the types of Crypto exchanges?
- Traditional Cryptocurrency Exchange: These are the type that most closely mimic traditional stock exchanges where buyers and sellers trade at the current market price of whichever asset they want, with the exchange acting as the intermediary and charging a small fee for facilitating the trade. Kraken and GDAX are examples of this kind of cryptocurrency exchange. Fully peer-to-peer exchanges that operate without a middleman include EtherDelta, and IDEX, which are also examples of decentralized exchanges.
- Cryptocurrency Brokers: These are website or app based exchanges that act like a Travelex or other bureau-de-change. They allow customers to buy or sell crypto assets at a price set by the broker (usually market price plus a small premium). Coinbase is an example of this kind of exchange.
- Direct Trading Platform: These platforms offer direct peer-to-peer trading between buyers and sellers, but don’t use an exchange platform in doing so. These types of exchanges do not use a set market rate; rather, sellers set their own rates. This is a highly risky form of trading, from which new users should shy away.
To understand how an exchange functions we need only look as far as a traditional stock exchange. Most all the features of a cryptocurrency exchange are analogous to features of trading on a traditional stock exchange. In the simplest terms, the exchanges fulfil their role as the main marketplace for crypto assets of all kinds by catering to buyers or sellers. These are some definitions for the basic functions and features to know: Market Orders: Orders that are executed instantly at the current market price. Limit Order: This is an order that will only be executed if and when the price has risen to or dropped to that price specified by the trader and is also within the specified period of time. Transaction fees: Exchanges will charge transactions fees, usually levied on both the buyer and the seller, but sometimes only the seller is charged a fee. Fees vary on different exchanges though the norm is usually below 0.75%. Transfer charges: The exchange is in effect acting as a sort of escrow agent, to ensure there is no foul play, so it might also charge a small fee when you want to withdraw cryptocurrency to your own wallet.
Regulatory Environment and Evolution
Cryptocurrency has come a long way since the closing down of the Silk Road darknet market. The idea of crypto currency being primarily for criminals, has largely been seen as totally inaccurate and outdated. In this section we focus on the developing regulations surrounding the cryptocurrency asset class by region, and we also look at what the future may hold.
The United States of America
A coherent uniform approach at Federal or State level has yet to be implemented in the United States. The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network published guidelines as early as 2013 suggesting that BTC and other cryptos may fall under the label of “money transmitters” and thus would be required to take part in the same Anti-money Laundering (AML) and Know your Client (KYC) procedures as other money service businesses. At the state level, Texas applies its existing finance laws. And New York has instituted an entirely new licensing system.
The European Union
The EU’s approach to cryptocurrency has generally been far more accommodating overall than the United States, partly due to the adaptable nature of pre-existing laws governing electronic money that predated the creation of Bitcoin. As with the USA, the EU’s main fear is money laundering and criminality. The European Central Bank (ECB) categorized BTC as a “convertible decentralized currency” and advised all central banks in the EU to refrain from trading any cryptocurrencies until the proper regulatory framework was put in place. A task force was then set up by the European Parliament in order to prevent and investigate any potential money laundering that was making use of the new technology.
Likely future regulations for cryptocurrency traders within the European Union and North America will probably consist of the following proposals: The initiation of full KYC procedures so that users cannot remain fully anonymous, in order to prevent tax evasion and curtail money laundering. Caps on payments that can be made in cryptocurrency, similar to caps on traditional cash transactions. A set of rules governing tax obligations regarding cryptocurrencies Regulation by the ECB of any companies that offer exchanges between cryptocurrencies and fiat currencies It is less likely for other countries to follow the Chinese approach and completely ban certain aspects of cryptocurrency trading. It is widely considered more progressive and wiser to allow the technology to grow within a balanced accommodative regulatory framework that takes all interests and factors into consideration. It is probable that the most severe form of regulation will be the formation of new governmental bodies specifically to form laws and exercise regulatory control over the cryptocurrency space. But perhaps that is easier said than done. It may, in certain cases, be incredibly difficult to implement particular regulations due to the anonymous and decentralized nature of crypto.
Behavior of Cryptocurrency Investors by Demographic
Due to the fact that cryptocurrency has its roots firmly planted in the cryptography community, the vast majority of early adopters are representative of that group. In this section we cover the basic structure of the cryptocurrency market cycle and the makeup of the community at large, as well as the reasons behind different trading decisions.
The Cryptocurrency Market Cycle
Bitcoin leads the bull rally. FOMO (Fear of missing out) occurs, the price surge is a constant topic of mainstream news, business programs cover the story, and social media is abuzz with cryptocurrency chatter. Bitcoin reaches new All Timehigh (ATH) Market euphoria is fueled with even more hype and the cycle is in full force. There is a constant stream of news articles and commentary on the meteoric, seemingly unstoppable rise of Bitcoin. Bitcoin’s price “stabilizes”, In the 2017 bull run this was at or around $14,000. A number of solid, large market cap altcoins rise along with Bitcoin; ETH & LTC leading the altcoins at this time. FOMO comes into play, as the new ATH in market cap is reached by pumping of a huge number of alt coins.
Top altcoins “somewhat” stabilize, after reaching new all-time highs. The frenzy continues with crypto success stories, notable figures and famous people in the news. A majority of lesser known cryptocurrencies follow along on the upward momentum. Newcomers are drawn deeper into crypto and sign up for exchanges other than the main entry points like Coinbase and Kraken. In 2017 this saw Binance inundated with new registrations. Some of the cheapest coins are subject to massive pumping, such as Tron TRX which saw a rise in market cap from $150 million at the start of December 2017 to a peak of $16 billion! At this stage, even dead coins or known scams will get pumped. The price of the majority of cryptocurrencies stabilize, and some begin to retract. When the hype is subsiding after a huge crypto bull run, it is a massive sell signal. Traditional investors will begin to give interviews about how people need to be careful putting money into such a highly volatile asset class. Massive violent correction begins and the market starts to collapse. BTC begins to fall consistently on a daily basis, wiping out the insane gains of many medium to small cap cryptos with it. Panic selling sweeps through the market. Depression sets in, both in the markets, and in the minds of individual investors who failed to take profits, or heed the signs of imminent collapse. The price stagnation can last for months, or even years.
The Influence of Age upon Trading
Did you know? Cryptocurrencies have been called “stocks for millennials” According to a survey conducted by the Global Blockchain Business Council, only 5% of the American public own any bitcoin, but of those that do, an overwhelming majority of 71% are men, 58% of them are between the ages of 18 and 35, and over half of them are minorities. The same survey gauged public attitude toward the high risk/high return nature of cryptocurrency, in comparison to more secure guaranteed small percentage gains offered by government bonds or stocks, and found that 30% would rather invest $1,000 in crypto. Over 42% of millennials were aware of cryptocurrencies as opposed to only 15% of those ages 65 and over. In George M. Korniotis and Alok Kumar’s study into the effects of aging on portfolio management and the quality of decisions made by older investors, they found “that older and experienced investors are more likely to follow “rules of thumb” that reflect greater investment knowledge. However, older investors are less effective in applying their investment knowledge and exhibit worse investment skill, especially if they are less educated and earn lower income.”
Geographic Influence upon Trading
One of the main drivers of the apparent seasonal ebb and flow of cryptocurrency prices is the tax situation in the various territories that have the highest concentrations of cryptocurrency holders. Every year we see an overall market pull back beginning in mid to late January, with a recovery beginning usually after April. This is because “Tax Season” is roughly the same across Europe and the United States, with the deadline for Income tax returns being April 15th in the United States, and the tax year officially ending the UK on the 6th of April. All capital gains must be declared before the window closes or an American trader will face the powerful and long arm of the IRS with the consequent legal proceedings and possible jail time. Capital gains taxes around the world vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction but there are often incentives for cryptocurrency holders to refrain from trading for over a year to qualify their profits as long term gain when they finally sell. In the US and Australia, for example, capital gains are reduced if you bought cryptocurrency for investment purposes and held it for over a year. In Germany if crypto assets are held for over a year then the gains derived from their sale are not taxed. Advantages like this apply to individual tax returns, on a case by case basis, and it is up to the investor to keep up to date with the tax codes of the territory in which they reside.
2013 Bull run vs 2017 Bull run price Analysis
In late 2016 cryptocurrency traders were faced with the task of distinguishing between the beginnings of a genuine bull run and what might colorfully be called a “dead cat bounce” (in traditional market terminology). Stagnation had gripped the market since the pull-back of early 2014. The meteoric rise of Bitcoin’s price in 2013 peaked with a price of $1,100 in November 2013, after a year of fantastic news on the adoption front with both Microsoft and PayPal offering BTC payment options. It is easy to look at a line going up on a chart and speak after the fact, but at the time, it is exceeding difficult to say whether the cat is actually climbing up the wall, or just bouncing off the ground. Here, we will discuss the factors that gave savvy investors clues as to why the 2017 bull run was going to outstrip the 2013 rally. Hopefully this will help give insight into how to differentiate between the signs of a small price increase and the start of a full scale bull run. Most importantly, Volume was far higher in 2017. As we can see in the graphic below, the 2017 volume far exceeds the volume of BTC trading during the 2013 price increase. The stranglehold MtGox held on trading made a huge bull run very difficult and unlikely.
Fraud & Immoral Activity in the Private Market
Ponzi Schemes Cryptocurrency Ponzi schemes will be covered in greater detail in Lesson 7, but we need to get a quick overview of the main features of Ponzi schemes and how to spot them at this point in our discussion. Here are some key indicators of a Ponzi scheme, both in cryptocurrencies and traditional investments: A guaranteed promise of high returns with little risk. Consistentflow of returns regardless of market conditions. Investments that have not been registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Investment strategies that are a secret, or described as too complex. Clients not allowed to view official paperwork for their investment. Clients have difficulties trying to get their money back. The initial members of the scheme, most likely unbeknownst to the later investors, are paid their “dividends” or “profits” with new investor cash. The most famous modern-day example of a Ponzi scheme in the traditional world, is Bernie Madoff’s $100 billion fraudulent enterprise, officially titled Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC. And in the crypto world, BitConnect is the most infamous case of an entirely fraudulent project which boasted a market cap of $2 billion at its peak.
What are the Exchange Hacks?
The history of cryptocurrency is littered with examples of hacked exchanges, some of them so severe that the operation had to be wound up forever. As we have already discussed, incredibly tech savvy and intelligent computer hackers led by Alexander Vinnik stole 850000 BTC from the MtGox exchange over a period from 2012–2014 resulting in the collapse of the exchange and a near-crippling hammer blow to the emerging asset class that is still being felt to this day. The BitGrail exchange suffered a similar style of attack in late 2017 and early 2018, in which Nano (XRB) was stolen that was at one point was worth almost $195 million. Even Bitfinex, one of the most famous and prestigious exchanges, has suffered a hack in 2016 where $72 million worth of BTC was stolen directly from customer accounts.
Hardware Wallet Scam Case Study
In late 2017, an unfortunate character on Reddit, going by the name of “moody rocket” relayed his story of an intricate scam in which his newly acquired hardware wallet was compromised, and his $34,000 life savings were stolen. He bought a second hand Nano ledger into which the scammers own recover seed had already been inserted. He began using the ledger without knowing that the default seed being used was not a randomly assigned seed. After a few weeks the scammer struck, and withdrew all the poor HODLer’s XRP, Dash and Litecoin into their own wallet (likely through a few intermediary wallets to lessen the very slim chances of being identified).
Hardware Wallet Scam Case Study Social Media Fraud
Many gullible and hapless twitter users have fallen victim to the recent phenomenon of scammers using a combination of convincing fake celebrity twitter profiles and numerous amounts of bots to swindle them of ETH or BTC. The scammers would set up a profile with a near identical handle to a famous figure in the tech sphere, such as Vitalik Buterin or Elon Musk. And then in the tweet, immediately following a genuine message, follow up with a variation of “Bonus give away for the next 100 lucky people, send me 0.1 ETH and I will send you 1 ETH back”, followed by the scammers ether wallet address. The next 20 or so responses will be so-called sockpuppet bots, thanking the fake account for their generosity. Thus, the pot is baited and the scammers can expect to receive potentially hundreds of donations of 0.1 Ether into their wallet. Many twitter users with a large follower base such as Vitalik Buterin have taken to adding “Not giving away ETH” to their username to save careless users from being scammed.
It also must be recognized that market manipulation is taking place in cryptocurrency. For those with the financial means i.e. whales, there are many ways in which to control the market in a totally immoral and underhanded way for your own profit. It is especially easy to manipulate cryptos that have a very low trading volume. The manipulator places large buy orders or sell walls to discourage price action in one way or the other. Insider trading is also a significant problem in cryptocurrency, as we saw with the example of blatant insider trading when Bitcoin Cash was listed on Coinbase.
Examples of ICO Fraudulent Company Behavior
In the past 2 years an astronomical amount of money has been lost in fraudulent Initial Coin Offerings. The utmost care and attention must be employed before you invest. We will cover this area in greater detail with a whole lesson devoted to the topic. However, at this point, it is useful to look at the main instances of ICO fraud. Among recent instances of fraudulent ICOs resulting in exit scams, 2 of the most infamous are the Benebit and PlexCoin ICOs which raised $4 million for the former and $15 million for the latter. Perhaps the most brazen and damaging ICO scam of all time was the Vietnamese Pincoin ICO operation, where $660million was raised from 32,000 investors before the scammer disappeared with the funds. In case of smaller ICO “exit scamming” there is usually zero chance of the scammers being found. Investors must just take the hit. We will cover these as well as others in Lesson 7 “Scam Projects”.
Signposts of Fraudulent Actors
The following factors are considered red flags when investigating a certain project or ICO, and all of them should be considered when deciding whether or not you want to invest. Whitepaper is a buzzword Salad: If the whitepaper is nothing more than a collection of buzzwords with little clarity of purpose and not much discussion of the tech involved, it is overwhelmingly likely you are reading a scam whitepaper.
Signposts of Fraudulent Actors §2
No Code Repository: With the vast majority of cryptocurrency projects employing open source code, your due diligence investigation should start at GitHub or Sourceforge. If the project has no entries, or nothing but cloned code, you should avoid it at all costs. Anonymous Team: If the team members are hard to find, or if you see they are exaggerating or lying about their experience, you should steer clear. And do not forget, in addition to taking proper precautions when investing in ICOs, you must always make sure that you are visiting authentic web pages, especially for web wallets. If, for example, you are on a spoof MyEtherWallet web page you could divulge your private key without realizing it and have your entire portfolio of Ether and ERC-20 tokens cleaned out.
Methods to Avoid falling Victim
Avoiding scammers and the traps they set for you is all about asking yourself the right questions, starting with: Is there a need for a Blockchain solution for the particular problem that a particular ICO is attempting to solve? The existing solution may be less costly, less time consuming, and more effective than the proposals of a team attempting to fill up their soft cap in an ICO. The following quote from Mihai Ivascu, the CEO of Modex, should be kept in mind every time you are grading an ICO’s chances of success: “I’m pretty sure that 95% of ICOswill not last, and many will go bankrupt. ….. not everything needs to be decentralized and put on an open source ledger.”
Methods to Avoid falling Victim §2 Do I Trust These People with My Money, or Not?
If you continue to feel uneasy about investing in the project, more due diligence is needed. The developers must be qualified and competent enough to complete the objectives that they have set out in the whitepaper.
Is this too good to be true?
All victims of the well-known social media scams using fake profiles of Vitalik Buterin, or Bitconnect investors for that matter, should have asked themselves this simple question, and their investment would have been saved. In the case of Bitconnect, huge guaranteed gains proportional to the amount of people you can get to sign up was a blatant pyramid scheme, obviously too good to be true. The same goes for Fake Vitalik’s offer of 1 ether in exchange for 0.1 ETH.
Selling Cryptocurrencies, Several reasons for selling with the appropriate actions to take:
If you are selling to buy into an ICO, or maybe believe Ether is a safer currency to hold for a certain period of time, it is likely you will want to make use of the Ether pair and receive Ether in return. Obviously if the ICO is on the NEO or WANchain blockchain for example, you will use the appropriate pair. -Trading to buy into another promising project that is listing on the exchange on which you are selling (or you think the exchange will experience a large amount of volume and become a larger exchange), you may want to trade your cryptocurrency for that exchange token. -If you believe that BTC stands a good chance of experiencing a bull run then using the BTC trading pair is the suitable choice. -If you believe that the market is about to experience a correction but you do not want to take your gains out of the market yet, selling for Tether or “tethering up” is the best play. This allows you to keep your locked-in profits on the exchange, unaffected by the price movements in the cryptocurrency markets,so that you can buy back in at the most profitable moment. -If you wish to “cash out” i.e. sell your cryptocurrency for fiat currency and have those funds in your bank account, the best pair to use is ETH or BTC because you will likely have to transfer to an exchange like Kraken or Coinbase to convert them into fiat. If the exchange offers Litecoin or Bitcoin Cash pairs it could be a good idea to use these for their fast transaction time and low fees.
Knowing when and how to sell, as well as strategies to inflate the value of your trade before sale, are important skills as a trader of any product or financial instrument. If you are satisfied that the sale itself of the particular amount of a token or coin you are trading away is the right one, then you must decide at what price you are going to sell. Exchanges exercise their own discretion as to which trading “pairs” they will offer, but the most common ones are BTC, ETH, BNB for Binance, BIX for Bibox etc., and sometimes Tether (USDT) or NEO. As a trader, you decide which particular cryptocurrency to exchange depending on your reason for making that specific trade at that time.
Methods of Sale
Market sell/Limit sell on exchange: A limit sell is an order placed on an exchange to sell as soon as (also specifically only if and when) the price you specified has been hit within the time limit you select. A market order executes the sale immediately at the best possible price offered by the market at that exact time. OTC (or Over the Counter) selling refers to sale of securities or cryptocurrencies in any method without using an exchange to intermediate the trade and set the price. The most common way of conducting sales in this manner is through LocalBitcoins.com. This method of cryptocurrency selling is far riskier than using an exchange, for obvious reasons.
The influence and value of your Trade
There are a number of strategies you can use to appreciate the value of your trade and thus increase the Bitcoin or Ether value of your portfolio. It is important to disassociate yourself from the dollar value of your portfolio early on in your cryptocurrency trading career simply because the crypto market is so volatile you will end up pulling your hair out in frustration following the real dollar money value of your holdings. Once your funds have been converted into BTC and ETH they are completely in the crypto sphere. (Some crypto investors find it more appropriate to monitor the value of their portfolio in satoshi or gwei.) Certainly not limited to, but especially good for beginners, the most reliable way to increase your trading profits, and thus the overall value and health of your portfolio, is to buy into promising projects, hold them for 6 months to a year, and then reevaluate. This is called Long term holding and is the tactic that served Bitcoin HODLers quite well, from 2013 to the present day. Obviously, if something comes to light about the project that indicates a lengthy set back is likely, it is often better to cut your losses and sell. You are better off starting over and researching other projects. Also, you should set initial Price Points at which you first take out your original investment, and then later, at which you take out all your profits and exit the project. That should be after you believe the potential for growth has been exhausted for that particular project.
Another method of increasing the value of your trades is ICO flipping. This is the exact opposite of long term holding. This is a technique in which you aim for fast profits taking advantage of initial enthusiasm in the market that may double or triple the value of ICO projects when they first come to market. This method requires some experience using smaller exchanges like IDEX, on which project tokens can be bought and sold before listing on mainstream exchanges. “Tethering up” means to exchange tokens or coins for the USDT stable coin, the value of which is tethered to the US Dollar. If you learn, or know how to use, technical analysis, it is possible to predict when a market retreatment is likely by looking at the price movements of BTC. If you decide a market pull back is likely, you can tether up and maintain the dollar value of your portfolio in tether while other tokens and coins decrease in value. The you wait for an opportune moment to reenter the market.
Market Behavior in Different Time Periods
The main descriptors used for overall market sentiment are “Bull Market” and “Bear Market”. The former describes a market where people are buying on optimism. The latter describes a market where people are selling on pessimism. Fun (or maybe not) fact: The California grizzly bear was brought to extinction by the love of bear baiting as a sport in the mid 1800s. Bears were highly sought after for their intrinsic fighting qualities, and were forced into fighting bulls as Sunday morning entertainment for Californians. What has this got to do with trading and financial markets? The downward swipe of the bear’s paws gives a “Bear market” its name and the upward thrust of a Bull’s horns give the “Bull Market” its name. Most unfortunately for traders, the bear won over 80% of the bouts. During a Bull market, optimism can sometimes grow to be seemingly boundless, volume is rising, and prices are ascending. It can be a good idea to sell or rebalance your portfolio at such a time, especially if you have a particularly large position in one holding or another. This is especially applicable if you need to sell a large amount of a relatively low-volume holding, because you can then do so without dragging the price down by the large size of your own sell order.
Learn more on common behavioral patterns observed so far in the cryptocurrency space for different coins and ICO tokens.
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So I'm not sure I'd you guys will enjoy this story or if it will just be removed but I currently need to vent because well this happened. And I've lost alot of faith in people. If you don't feel like reading the whole thing I tried to put a TL;DR in each paragraph. submitted by
Trading- So to kindof preface the story, I am a young guy that is very interested in all things finance such as investing/trading. Because of this I got involved into the Foreign Exchange market(Forex) at the beginning of 2016 and I got very lucky going from $200 to ~$15,000 in 6 months and then unluckily went from ~$15,000 to $0 in less than a minute. So while I was trading this I still worked my normal job(military) and at this job people knew I was trading and doing quite well, they'd frequently ask where I'm at with my trading. So when I lost everything I still thought I will trade again but I'll wait until the new year of 2017. -TL;DR- 2016- Young, like finance, made alot of money, lost all of it and plan to try again.
First half of 2017- So during my trading in 2016 I had offered to alot of people at work that I would teach them or show them how to trade. At the time I really just wanted to have someone at work to talk about trading because all I really had was Reddit for Forex talk. So in 2017 I start up again and one of the Civilians I work with decides he wants to join me in trading (most military jobs have civilian slots where they do basically the same thing but get paid 2-3x more, in this case retired mil now civilian). So I help him get setup very excitedly because I finally have someone to talk about trading with he also says he will put in ~$200 to start with as well. So I think oh awesome I can teach you better since our accounts will be the same, so I trade by myself talking to let's call him Civ about trading consistently for about 3-4 weeks. One day suddenly Civ says "hey I put money into my account what are we trading today?" So obviously I'm like "awesome today I'm gonna trade this pair and I think it's a good setup" Civ says OK I put a trade in. So I go about my day and I don't see him until around the end of the day and our trade did go well, I had made about $45 on my at the time $130 account so I'm pretty happy at this point. So I see Civ and he's like super happy and this was our conversation Civ- "wow that was a good trade man" Me-"Yeah pretty good return for a day" Civ- "So how much did you make today?" Me- "I made $45 so like 40ish% pretty sweet" Civ- "man I made a little over $70,000" yes that is $70,000 Me- "....What the fuck? But how?" Civ- "well I kindof put in close to $75,000!" Me- "but even if you scaled up how did you make almost 100%?" Civ- "well I kindof just put in a trade as if I had $200,000 in the account, and then I did another one" So at this point I'm just completely blown away that he just made double what I make in a year in under 8 hours, but after the complete shock and awe wears off I'm legitimately happy for him because I helped in the trade but it definitely made my $45 feel like nothing.
So to speed this story up what I just said above actually happens about 3 more times to the point where he makes over $140,000 thanks to the trades that I let him know about. But eventually I start to seriously resent him cause his true character starts to show in a series of events. First he starts to claim the trades were all his idea never even giving me credit, second he never even thanks me for helping him make 4 times as much as I get a year. Third he Basicly tries to rub it in my face a few times throughout this mess saying things like "you should put more money in so you can make more" or "just put half you paycheck in" which is pretty much impossible considering I'm a young E3 at the time and I don't have just money to blow. And fourth he tries to throw me under the bus multiple times for things I didn't do at work. Now here comes in Dirtbags 1 and 2 these two are the worst enlisted personnel I've ever seen but are basically protected by Civ he always stands up for them to higher ups and keeps them from getting in trouble by blaming others for there mistakes and they know this(They will be important later on). There is alot of icing on the cake as far as these 3 but I'm not gonna make this story any longer than it has to be. TL;DR- Help Civ make shitloads of money, Civ shits on me and starts a Sortof witch hunt after me, no longer trade with Civ.
Civ in a nutshell- now this Summary of who Civ is isn't really important to the story(skip if ud like) but I felt a need to explain this guy so that people have an understanding of who I'm dealing with. Civ is Basicly a true narcissist he encompasses every meaning of the word. At work he chooses favourites and actively tries to ruin the careers of everyone that isn't his favourite and he's one of those people that laughs about everything he says, he does this so that he can decide based on your reaction if he wants it to be a joke or be serious since every "joke" is in a somewhat demeaning tone. He knows nothing about saving or investing in fact he actually gambles everyday via online poker or fantasy football, during football season hes openly said he gambles over $500 a day since he "wins quite frequently". He's a 45 year old man with a family and kids but he expects invites too all the house parties that people at work have and if he doesn't he has a legitimate hissy fit where I've seen him actually curse people out about how he will no longer invite anyone else to do anything with him(he doesn't do anything tho). He tries to be the guy at work thats "just so cool you gotta be friends with him" but there's a few of us who see straight through his lies and BS. TL;DR- Civ=Narcissistic man child with a gambling problem.
Second half of 2017- So I no longer really talk to Civ we talk work related stuff here and there at this point I know he's very two faced and selfish so I avoid him because I can see straight through it. In around July we have a conversation about the up and coming Crypto currencies I tell him I don't really have any idea how to judge if they will keep going up or not. Supposedly Civ buys 0.30-0.40 a Bitcoin(BTC) not sure the price he got it at. Around this time he was pestering me for trades everyday which at this point I'd lost what I put in so I was no longer trading. But when I'd tell him that he took it personally kindof as if I owe him more trades(wtf right?) So I just basically ignore his asshole tones and go about my day. Around this time Civ gets out of Forex he tells me he withdrew over $240,000. Also tells me he never told his wife he made anything and that she thinks he only has like $2,000 in the account(more signs of a gambling addiction).
FAST FORWARD to about 2-3 weeks ago- At this point I really don't care about Civ being ungrateful of all the money I've made him and in my life im getting hardcore into crypto currencies. I see BTC hit an insane high of over $18,000 and I see Civ the next day and ask about the BTC he bought he says he's still got it not paying attention to BTC at all tho so I tell him about it and how it could be a time to get out and get into something else so he says OK and that he will look into it. Next day Civ says hey I got out what should I do with it I want to keep it in Crypto, so I tell him about Litecoin and how it's cheaper and promising so he buys 55 Litecoin. (Why am I still helping this guy right? I have no idea)
FAST FORWARD to this week- Litecoin explodes to $335 a coin when Civ got in at $90 a coin so he makes about $18,000. I'm pretty happy for him because I called another good investment even tho my little $350 crypto account hardly moved, at this point I don't expect anything from Civ because I expect he's still two faced. This time I actually show him the Litecoin price at work and he's super happy and actually thanks me so I'm like wow that's surprising. But then proceeds to tell co-worker's that he did this on his own (of course). Civ then asks me what he should do now. So at this point I just think well whatever I'm used to this and I'm never getting anything out of this so what's one last investment that I give him gonna hurt right? So I tell Civ about other altcoins on Binance.com and how he needs to get a Binance account to get to them instead of his Currently Coinbase account so he is like okay cool.
NOW IT GETS FUCKING INTERESTING- so I tell Civ to get a Binance account and what Coins could be big here soon and he says he will make an account. Remember that Binance has a referral system going on and so I look into it and see that Binance would give me 50% OF WHAT HE DEPOSITS AS A REFERRAL REWARD AND IM FINALLY GONNA GET SOME SORT OF REWARD FOR ALL THE MONEY I'VE HELPED HIM MAKE AND IT WON'T COST HIM ANYTHING. It hits me like a freight train that if he uses my referral code I can get potentially $8,000 into my little coin account. I start to get excited BUT then remember who I'm dealing with so first I sent him my referral code and he says "cool no problem" then I start to think shit what if he forgets to put the code in so I text him again but this time IFU by saying
"Hey if you have any questions let me know just don't forget to put in my Referral code cause I get free BTC lol" .....TIFU by showing a narcissist how to fuck someone over....AGAIN.
So on the Binance referral page it shows you the first few letters of the person's email that used the referral and how much commission you have made from said person. Civ says he's going to make an account on Binance that night I say OK cool. That night my referral page gets one attached email that doesn't have letters I'm expecting so I'm kindof confused then I remember Civ is a 45 year old Neckbeard gamer so he likely had a wierd email address. No big deal, I see Civ next day at work and ask him how his account setup went (usually takes a few days) he says great and that DIRTBAG #2 also wants to get into crypto so he gave DB2 my referral code.
.... Wait a minute the email attached to my account was actually DB2s because the first letters are his Initials of his name no doubt about it. But I don't think this is wierd at the time I carry on through out my week.
UNTIL TODAY(Yes an actual TIFU) I see Civ at work (this is three days after he was supposed to setup his account and it still hasn't popped up on my referral list) and he says "I'm actually gonna not put money in to anything without doing research" this to me is wierd because for the last year he's made over $155,000 by literally doing no research and just listening to me. So I say cool whatever good idea. Meanwhile I'm also weirded out by how DB2 has not talked to me about crypto at all since using my referral code and he's been in this extremely happy mood lately so I'm like wtf is going on? Since I had taught DB2 Forex less than a year ago and he had the IQ of a house fly this strikes me as extremely odd compared to when I taught him last he wouldn't stop asking questions.
BUT THEN IT HIT ME today when I got home I checked my referrals again because I was still pretty excited for $8,000 and how much it will help me and my wife with Christmas this year and then seeing that he hasn't popped up on the referral list it dawned on me.
When I exposed that I would get free BTC to Civ he took it upon himself to have DB2 create an account on Binance and use my referral code so that I would think this was Civ meanwhile Civ put in DB2s referral code giving DB2 $8,000 and then he proceeds to lie to me. Going into investigative mode after calming down from an absolute rage I text DB2 knowing he literally knows Zero about crypto and my hypothesis being very very plausible I go to the weakest link directly and that's the low IQ DB2 and I start to talk to him about crypto first he says he has a Binance account with a bit of coins so I ask him what's next and he tells me he needs to get a coinbase account...... Which is Basicly the only way to put money into crypto so I ask him how he put money in before if he wasn't using coinbase and he says "I think it was Coinable.com" So I continue the conversation about crypto trying to get more of a clue of what Coins he owns he of course lists the exact list I gave Civ earlier that week . At this point I'm about 98% sure my hypothesis is correct and that I work with two of the most narcissistic people I've ever met. BUT THEN I get confirmation in the form of DB2 Being so clueless about crypto because he explains that he has "about 0.23 of BTC" which is roughly $4,000 which I know DB2 Does not have due to the fact that he recently totaled his 4th car this year.
So Civ had DB2 create an account on Binance in order to give DB2 $8,000 in free money and to avoid giving me a single dime even tho I'm the one that's helped him make over $155,000 this year and then continues to lie to me thinking that I'm to stupid to figure this out. This is the single most fucked up thing I've ever personally seen happen to someone, and of course that someone is myself.
Also to clarify the $8,000 does not come out of Civs pocket it comes out of Binances pocket as a thank you to getting people on their site so literally wouldn't cost Civ a dime.
TL;DR(FULL) I help a narcissistic piece of shit make over $155,000 in a year and he avoids giving me anything in return at all at all costs.
Now myself personally I made the mistake of putting myself in Civs shoes, you have a 21 year old guy at work that helps you make over a years salary and so I thought oh I'd totally being super appreciative and buy him lunch or maybe dgive him less than 1% of what he just earned you but this is where I really fucked up. In starting to put myself in his shoes I started to just completely resent Civ and everything about him because I started to feel like I deserve something. In the Forex community there are people who will trade your money for you or give you signals and those people can make lots of money either % returns of each trade or $ amounts for each signal. Looking back I shouldof come up with a Sortof contract after that first trade with Civ but at the time I didn't know what kindof person he really was.
I'm posting it here because it's kindof a lesson I've now learned on not to trust people to be decent to you in return when it comes to investing/trading I've learned that as you guys have probably seen or know about how certain people get extremely inflated ego when it comes to trading/investing. And if your ever in a situation where you could make someone alot of money just do yourself a favour and draft a small document of how that person should give you about 10% of what they make. That alone should tell you what you need to know about the person is how they react to signing a contract like that. Take it from a practically broke Enlisted member who just made a well off guy way more cushioned.
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