Everyone and his grandma know what cryptocurrency mining is. Well, they may not indeed know what it actually is, in technical terms, but they have definitely heard the phrase as it is hard to miss the news about mining sucking in energy like a black hole gobbles up matter. On the other hand, staking, its little bro, has mostly been hiding in the shadows until recently.submitted by Stealthex_io to StealthEX [link] [comments]
Today, with DeFi making breaking news across the cryptoverse, staking has become a new buzzword in the blockchain space and beyond, along with the fresh entries to the crypto asset investor’s vocabulary such as “yield farming”, “rug pull”, “total value locked”, and similar arcane stuff. If you are not scared off yet, then read on. Though we can’t promise you won’t be.
Cryptocurrency staking, little brother of crypto miningThere are two conceptually different approaches to achieving consensus in a distributed network, which comes down to transaction validation in the case of a cryptocurrency blockchain. You are most certainly aware of cryptocurrency mining, which is used with cryptocurrencies based on the Proof-of-Work (PoW) consensus algorithm such as Bitcoin and Ether (so far). Here miners compete against each other with their computational resources for finding the next block on the blockchain and getting a reward.
Another approach, known as the Proof-of-Stake (PoS) consensus mechanism, is based not on the race among computational resources as is the case with PoW, but on the competition of balances, or stakes. In simple words, every holder of at least one stake, a minimally sufficient amount of crypto, can actively participate in creating blocks and thus also earn rewards under such network consensus model. This process came to be known as staking, and it can be loosely thought of as mining in the PoS environment.
With that established, let’s now see why, after so many years of what comes pretty close to oblivion, it has turned into such a big thing.
Why has staking become so popular, all of a sudden?The renewed popularity of staking came with the explosive expansion of decentralized finance, or DeFi for short. Essentially, staking is one of the ways to tap into the booming DeFi market, allowing users to earn staking rewards on a class of digital assets that DeFi provides easy access to. Technically, it is more correct to speak of DeFi staking as a new development of an old concept that enjoys its second coming today, or new birth if you please. So what’s the point?
With old-school cryptocurrency staking, you would have to manually set up and run a validating node on a cryptocurrency network that uses a PoS consensus algo, having to keep in mind all the gory details of a specific protocol so as not to shoot yourself in the foot. This is where you should have already started to enjoy jitters if you were to take this avenu entirely on your own. Just think of it as having to run a Bitcoin mining rig for some pocket money. Put simply, DeFi staking frees you from all that hassle.
At this point, let’s recall what decentralized finance is and what it strives to achieve. In broad terms, DeFi aims at offering the same products and services available today in the traditional financial world, but in a trutless and decentralized way. From this perspective, DeFi staking reseblems conventional banking where people put their money in savings accounts to earn interest. Indeed, you could try to lend out your shekels all by yourself, with varying degrees of success, but banks make it far more convenient and secure.
The maturation of the DeFi space advanced the emergence of staking pools and Staking-as-a-Service (SaaS) providers that run nodes for PoS cryptocurrencies on your behalf, allowing you to stake your coins and receive staking rewards. In today’s world, interest rates on traditional savings accounts are ridiculous, while government spending, a handy euphemism for relentless money printing aka fiscal stimulus, is already translating into runaway inflation. Against this backdrop, it is easy to see why staking has been on the rise.
Okay, what are my investment options?Now that we have gone through the basics of the state-of-the-art cryptocurrency staking, you may ask what are the options actually available for a common crypto enthusiast to earn from it? Many high-caliber exchanges like Binance or Bitfinex as well as online wallets such as Coinbase offer staking of PoS coins. In most cases, you don’t even need to do anything aside from simply holding your coins there to start receiving rewards as long as you are eligible and meet the requirements. This is called exchange staking.
Further, there are platforms that specialize in staking digital assets. These are known as Staking-as-a-Service providers, while this form of staking is often referred to as soft staking. They enable even non-tech savvy customers to stake their PoS assets through a third party service, with all the technical stuff handled by the service provider. Most of these services are custodial, with the implication being that you no longer control your coins after you stake them. Figment Networks, MyContainer, Stake Capital are easily the most recognized among SaaS providers.
However, while exchange staking and soft staking have everything to do with finance, they have little to nothing to do with the decentralized part of it, which is, for the record, the primary value proposition of the entire DeFi ecosystem. The point is, you have to deposit the stakable coins into your wallet with these services. And how can it then be considered decentralized? Nah, because DeFi is all about going trustless, no third parties, and, in a narrow sense, no staking that entails the transfer of private keys. This form of staking is called non-custodial, and it is of particular interest from the DeFi point of view.
If you read our article about DeFi, you already know how it is possible, so we won’t dwell on this (if, on the off chance, you didn’t, it’s time to catch up). As DeFi continues to evolve, platforms that allow trustless staking with which you maintain full custody of your coins are set to emerge as well. The space is relatively new, with Staked being probably the first in the field. This type of staking allows you to remain in complete control of your funds, and it perfectly matches DeFi’s ethos, goals and ideals.
Still, our story wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t mention utility tokens where staking may serve a whole range of purposes other than supporting the token network or obtaining passive income. For example, with platforms that deploy blockchain oracles such as Nexus Mutual, a decentralized insurance platform, staking tokens is necessary for encouraging correct reporting on certain events or reaching a consensus on a specific claim. In the case of Nexus Mutual, its membership token NXM is used by the token holders, the so-called assessors, for validating insurance claims. If they fail to assess claims correctly, their stakes are burned.
Another example is Particl Marketplace, a decentralized eCommerce platform, which designed a standalone cryptocurrency dubbed PART. It can be used both as a cryptocurrency in its own right outside the marketplace and as a stakable utility token giving stakers voting rights facilitating the decentralized governance of the entire platform. Yet another example is the instant non-custodial cryptocurrency exchange service, ChangeNOW, that also recently came up with its stakable token, NOW Token, to be used as an internal currency and a means of earning passive income.
What’s next?Nowadays, with most economies on pause or going downhill, staking has become a new avenue for generating passive income outside the traditional financial system. As DeFi continues to eat away at services previously being exclusively provided by conventional financial and banking sectors, we should expect more people to get involved in this activity along with more businesses dipping their toes into these uncharted waters.
Achieving network consensus, establishing decentralized governance, and earning passive income are only three use cases for cryptocurrency staking. No matter how important they are, and they certainly are, there are many other uses along different dimensions that staking can be quite helpful and instrumental for. Again, we are mostly in uncharted waters here, and we can’t reliably say what the future holds for us. On the other hand, we can go and invent it. This should count as next.
And remember if you need to exchange your coins StealthEX is here for you. We provide a selection of more than 250 coins and constantly updating the list so that our customers will find a suitable option. Our service does not require registration and allows you to remain anonymous. Why don’t you check it out? Just go to StealthEX and follow these easy steps:
✔ Choose the pair and the amount for your exchange. For example ETH to BTC.
✔ Press the “Start exchange” button.
✔ Provide the recipient address to which the coins will be transferred.
✔ Move your cryptocurrency for the exchange.
✔ Receive your coins!
The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author. Every investment and trading move involves risk. You should conduct your own research when making a decision.
Original article was posted on https://stealthex.io/blog/2020/09/08/cryptocurrency-staking-as-it-stands-today/
What is Grayscale?Grayscale is the company that created the ETHE product. Their website is https://grayscale.co/
What is ETHE?ETHE is essentially a stock that intends to loosely track the price of ETH. It does so by having each ETHE be backed by a specific amount of ETH that is held on chain. Initially, the newly minted ETHE can only be purchased by institutions and accredited investors directly from Grayscale. Once a year has passed (6 months for GBTC) it can then be listed on the OTCQX Best Market exchange for secondary trading. Once listed on OTCQX, anyone investor can purchase at this point. Additional information on ETHE can be found here.
So ETHE is an ETF?No. For technical reasons beyond my personal understandings it is not labeled an ETF. I know it all flows back to the “Securities Act Rule 144”, but due to my limited knowledge on SEC regulations I don’t want to misspeak past that. If anyone is more knowledgeable on the subject I am happy to input their answer here.
How long has ETHE existed?ETHE was formed 12/14/2017. GBTC was formed 9/25/2013.
How is ETHE created?The trust will issue shares to “Authorized Participants” in groups of 100 shares (called baskets). Authorized Participants are the only persons that may place orders to create these baskets and they do it on behalf of the investor.
How does Grayscale acquire the ETH to collateralize the ETHE product?An Investor may acquire ETHE by paying in cash or exchanging ETH already owned.
Where does Grayscale store their ETH? Does it have a specific wallet address we can follow?ETH is stored with Coinbase Custody Trust Company, LLC. I am unaware of any specific address or set of addresses that can be used to verify the ETH is actually there.
Can ETHE be redeemed for ETH?No, currently there is no way to give your shares of ETHE back to Grayscale to receive ETH back. The only method of getting back into ETH would be to sell your ETHE to someone else and then use those proceeds to buy ETH yourself.
Why are they not redeeming shares?I think the report summarizes it best:
Redemptions of Shares are currently not permitted and the Trust is unable to redeem Shares. Subject to receipt of regulatory approval from the SEC and approval by the Sponsor in its sole discretion, the Trust may in the future operate a redemption program. Because the Trust does not believe that the SEC would, at this time, entertain an application for the waiver of rules needed in order to operate an ongoing redemption program, the Trust currently has no intention of seeking regulatory approval from the SEC to operate an ongoing redemption program.Source: Redemption Procedures on page 41 of the “Grayscale Ethereum Trust Annual Report (2019)” – Located Here
What is the fee structure?ETHE has an annual fee of 2.5%. GBTC has an annual fee of 2.0%. Fees are paid by selling the underlying ETH / BTC collateralizing the asset.
What is the ratio of ETH to ETHE?At the time of posting (6/19/2020) each ETHE share is backed by .09391605 ETH. Each share of GBTC is backed by .00096038 BTC.
Why is the ratio not 1:1? Why is it always decreasing?While I cannot say for certain why the initial distribution was not a 1:1 backing, it is more than likely to keep the price down and allow more investors a chance to purchase ETHE / GBTC.
I keep hearing about how this is locked supply… explain?As noted above, there is currently no redemption program for converting your ETHE back into ETH. This means that once an ETHE is issued, it will remain in circulation until a redemption program is formed --- something that doesn’t seem to be too urgent for the SEC or Grayscale at the moment. Tiny amounts will naturally be removed due to fees, but the bulk of the asset is in there for good.
The Trust’s ETH will be transferred out of the ETH Account only in the following circumstances: (i) transferred to pay the Sponsor’s Fee or any Additional Trust Expenses, (ii) distributed in connection with the redemption of Baskets (subject to the Trust’s obtaining regulatory approval from the SEC to operate an ongoing redemption program and the consent of the Sponsor), (iii) sold on an as-needed basis to pay Additional Trust Expenses or (iv) sold on behalf of the Trust in the event the Trust terminates and liquidates its assets or as otherwise required by law or regulation.Source: Description of Trust on page 31 of the “Grayscale Ethereum Trust Annual Report (2019)” – Located Here
Grayscale now owns a huge chunk of both ETH and BTC’s supply… should we be worried about manipulation, a sell off to crash the market crash, a staking cartel?First, it’s important to remember Grayscale is a lot more akin to an exchange then say an investment firm. Grayscale is working on behalf of its investors to create this product for investor control. Grayscale doesn’t ‘control’ the ETH it holds any more then Coinbase ‘controls’ the ETH in its hot wallet. (Note: There are likely some varying levels of control, but specific to this topic Grayscale cannot simply sell [legally, at least] the ETH by their own decision in the same manner Coinbase wouldn't be able to either.)
Yes, but what about [insert criminal act here]…Alright, yes. Technically nothing is stopping Grayscale from selling all the ETH / BTC and running off to the Bahamas (Hawaii?). BUT there is no real reason for them to do so. Barry is an extremely public figure and it won’t be easy for him to get away with that. Grayscale’s Bitcoin Trust creates SEC reports weekly / bi-weekly and I’m sure given the sentiment towards crypto is being watched carefully. Plus, Grayscale is making tons of consistent revenue and thus has little to no incentive to give that up for a quick buck.
That’s a lot of ‘happy little feels’ Bob, is there even an independent audit or is this Tether 2.0?Actually yes, an independent auditor report can be found in their annual reports. It is clearly aimed more towards the financial side and I doubt the auditors are crypto savants, but it is at least one extra set of eyes. Auditors are Friedman LLP – Auditor since 2015.
The company’s auditors Friedman LLP were also coincidentally TetheBitfinex’s auditors until They controversially parted ways in 2018 when the Tether controversy was at its height. I am not suggesting for one moment that there is anything shady about DCG - I just find it interesting it’s the same auditor.
“Grayscale sounds kind of lame” / “Not your keys not your crypto!” / “Why is anyone buying this, it sounds like a scam?”Welp, for starters this honestly is not really a product aimed at the people likely to be reading this post. To each their own, but do remember just because something provides no value to you doesn’t mean it can’t provide value to someone else. That said some of the advertised benefits are as follows:
Why is there a premium? Why is ETHE’s premium so insanely high compared to GBTC’s premium?There are a handful of theories of why a premium exists at all, some even mentioned in the annual report. The short list is as follows:
Are there any other differences between ETHE and GBTC?I touched on a few of the smaller differences, but one of the more interesting changes is GBTC is now a “SEC reporting company” as of January 2020. Which again goes beyond my scope of knowledge so I won’t comment on it too much… but the net result is GBTC is now putting out weekly / bi-weekly 8-K’s and annual 10-K’s. This means you can track GBTC that much easier at the moment as well as there is an extra layer of validity to the product IMO.
I’m looking for some statistics on ETHE… such as who is buying, how much is bought, etc?There is a great Q1 2020 report I recommend you give a read that has a lot of cool graphs and data on the product. It’s a little GBTC centric, but there is some ETHE data as well. It can be found here hidden within the 8-K filings.Q1 2020 is the 4/16/2020 8-K filing.
Is Grayscale only just for BTC and ETH?No, there are other products as well. In terms of a secondary market product, ETCG is the Ethereum Classic version of ETHE. Fun Fact – ETCG was actually put out to the secondary market first. It also has a 3% fee tied to it where 1% of it goes to some type of ETC development fund.
Are there alternatives to Grayscale?I know they exist, but I don’t follow them. I’ll leave this as a “to be edited” section and will add as others comment on what they know.
Coinshares (Formerly XBT provider) are the only similar product I know of. BTC, ETH, XRP and LTC as Exchange Traded Notes (ETN).
It looks like they are fully backed with the underlying crypto (no premium).
Denominated in SEK and EUR. Certainly available in some UK pensions (SIPP).
As asked by pegcity - Okay so I was under the impression you can just give them your own ETH and get ETHE, but do you get 11 ETHE per ETH or do you get the market value of ETH in USD worth of ETHE?I have always understood that the ETHE issued directly through Grayscale is issued without the premium. As in, if I were to trade 1 ETH for ETHE I would get 11, not say only 2 or 3 because the secondary market premium is so high. And if I were paying cash only I would be paying the price to buy 1 ETH to get my 11 ETHE. Per page 39 of their annual statement, it reads as follows:
The Trust will issue Shares to Authorized Participants from time to time, but only in one or more Baskets (with a Basket being a block of 100 Shares). The Trust will not issue fractions of a Basket. The creation (and, should the Trust commence a redemption program, redemption) of Baskets will be made only in exchange for the delivery to the Trust, or the distribution by the Trust, of the number of whole and fractional ETH represented by each Basket being created (or, should the Trust commence a redemption program, redeemed), which is determined by dividing (x) the number of ETH owned by the Trust at 4:00 p.m., New York time, on the trade date of a creation or redemption order, after deducting the number of ETH representing the U.S. dollar value of accrued but unpaid fees and expenses of the Trust (converted using the ETH Index Price at such time, and carried to the eighth decimal place), by (y) the number of Shares outstanding at such time (with the quotient so obtained calculated to one one-hundred-millionth of one ETH (i.e., carried to the eighth decimal place)), and multiplying such quotient by 100 (the “Basket ETH Amount”). All questions as to the calculation of the Basket ETH Amount will be conclusively determined by the Sponsor and will be final and binding on all persons interested in the Trust. The Basket ETH Amount multiplied by the number of Baskets being created or redeemed is the “Total Basket ETH Amount.” The number of ETH represented by a Share will gradually decrease over time as the Trust’s ETH are used to pay the Trust’s expenses. Each Share represented approximately 0.0950 ETH and 0.0974 ETH as of December 31, 2019 and 2018, respectively.
Author: Gamals Ahmed, CoinEx Business Ambassadorsubmitted by CoinEx_Institution to kybernetwork [link] [comments]
ABSTRACTIn this research report, we present a study on Kyber Network. Kyber Network is a decentralized, on-chain liquidity protocol designed to make trading tokens simple, efficient, robust and secure.
Kyber design allows any party to contribute to an aggregated pool of liquidity within each blockchain while providing a single endpoint for takers to execute trades using the best rates available. We envision a connected liquidity network that facilitates seamless, decentralized cross-chain token swaps across Kyber based networks on different chains.
Kyber is a fully on-chain liquidity protocol that enables decentralized exchange of cryptocurrencies in any application. Liquidity providers (Reserves) are integrated into one single endpoint for takers and users. When a user requests a trade, the protocol will scan the entire network to find the reserve with the best price and take liquidity from that particular reserve.
1.INTRODUCTIONDeFi applications all need access to good liquidity sources, which is a critical component to provide good services. Currently, decentralized liquidity is comprised of various sources including DEXes (Uniswap, OasisDEX, Bancor), decentralized funds and other financial apps. The more scattered the sources, the harder it becomes for anyone to either find the best rate for their trade or to even find enough liquidity for their need.
Kyber is a blockchain-based liquidity protocol that aggregates liquidity from a wide range of reserves, powering instant and secure token exchange in any decentralized application.
The protocol allows for a wide range of implementation possibilities for liquidity providers, allowing a wide range of entities to contribute liquidity, including end users, decentralized exchanges and other decentralized protocols. On the taker side, end users, cryptocurrency wallets, and smart contracts are able to perform instant and trustless token trades at the best rates available amongst the sources.
The Kyber Network is project based on the Ethereum protocol that seeks to completely decentralize the exchange of crypto currencies and make exchange trustless by keeping everything on the blockchain.
Through the Kyber Network, users should be able to instantly convert or exchange any crypto currency.
1.1 OVERVIEW ABOUT KYBER NETWORK PROTOCOLThe Kyber Network is a decentralized way to exchange ETH and different ERC20 tokens instantly — no waiting and no registration needed.
Using this protocol, developers can build innovative payment flows and applications, including instant token swap services, ERC20 payments, and financial DApps — helping to build a world where any token is usable anywhere.
Kyber’s fully on-chain design allows for full transparency and verifiability in the matching engine, as well as seamless composability with DApps, not all of which are possible with off-chain or hybrid approaches. The integration of a large variety of liquidity providers also makes Kyber uniquely capable of supporting sophisticated schemes and catering to the needs of DeFi DApps and financial institutions. Hence, many developers leverage Kyber’s liquidity pool to build innovative financial applications, and not surprisingly, Kyber is the most used DeFi protocol in the world.
The Kyber Network is quite an established project that is trying to change the way we think of decentralised crypto currency exchange.
The Kyber Network has seen very rapid development. After being announced in May 2017 the testnet for the Kyber Network went live in August 2017. An ICO followed in September 2017, with the company raising 200,000 ETH valued at $60 million in just one day.
The live main net was released in February 2018 to whitelisted participants, and on March 19, 2018, the Kyber Network opened the main net as a public beta. Since then the network has seen increasing growth, with network volumes growing more than 500% in the first half of 2019.
Although there was a modest decrease in August 2019 that can be attributed to the price of ETH dropping by 50%, impacting the overall total volumes being traded and processed globally.
They are developing a decentralised exchange protocol that will allow developers to build payment flows and financial apps. This is indeed quite a competitive market as a number of other such protocols have been launched.
In Brief - Kyber Network is a tool that allows anyone to swap tokens instantly without having to use exchanges. - It allows vendors to accept different types of cryptocurrency while still being paid in their preferred crypto of choice. - It’s built primarily for Ethereum, but any smart-contract based blockchain can incorporate it.
At its core, Kyber is a decentralized way to exchange ETH and different ERC20 tokens instantly–no waiting and no registration needed. To do this Kyber uses a diverse set of liquidity pools, or pools of different crypto assets called “reserves” that any project can tap into or integrate with.
A typical use case would be if a vendor allowed customers to pay in whatever currency they wish, but receive the payment in their preferred token. Another example would be for Dapp users. At present, if you are not a token holder of a certain Dapp you can’t use it. With Kyber, you could use your existing tokens, instantly swap them for the Dapp specific token and away you go.
All this swapping happens directly on the Ethereum blockchain, meaning every transaction is completely transparent.
1.1.1 WHY BUILD THE KYBER NETWORK?While crypto currencies were built to be decentralized, many of the exchanges for trading crypto currencies have become centralized affairs. This has led to security vulnerabilities, with many exchanges becoming the victims of hacking and theft.
It has also led to increased fees and costs, and the centralized exchanges often come with slow transfer times as well. In some cases, wallets have been locked and users are unable to withdraw their coins.
Decentralized exchanges have popped up recently to address the flaws in the centralized exchanges, but they have their own flaws, most notably a lack of liquidity, and often times high costs to modify trades in their on-chain order books.
Some of the Integrations with Kyber Protocol
The Kyber Network was formed to provide users with a decentralized exchange that keeps everything right on the blockchain, and uses a reserve system rather than an order book to provide high liquidity at all times. This will allow for the exchange and transfer of any cryptocurrency, even cross exchanges, and costs will be kept at a minimum as well.
The Kyber Network has three guiding design philosophies since the start:
1.1.2 WHO INVENTED KYBER?Kyber’s founders are Loi Luu, Victor Tran, Yaron Velner — CEO, CTO, and advisor to the Kyber Network.
1.1.3 WHAT DISTINGUISHES KYBER?Kyber’s mission has always been to integrate with other protocols so they’ve focused on being developer-friendly by providing architecture to allow anyone to incorporate the technology onto any smart-contract powered blockchain. As a result, a variety of different dapps, vendors, and wallets use Kyber’s infrastructure including Set Protocol, bZx, InstaDApp, and Coinbase wallet.
Besides, dapps, vendors, and wallets, Kyber also integrates with other exchanges such as Uniswap — sharing liquidity pools between the two protocols.
A typical use case would be if a vendor allowed customers to pay in whatever currency they wish, but receive the payment in their preferred token. Another example would be for Dapp users. At present, if you are not a token holder of a certain Dapp you can’t use it. With Kyber, you could use your existing tokens, instantly swap them for the Dapp specific token and away you go.
Limit orders on Kyber allow users to set a specific price in which they would like to exchange a token instead of accepting whatever price currently exists at the time of trading. However, unlike with other exchanges, users never lose custody of their crypto assets during limit orders on Kyber.
The Kyber protocol works by using pools of crypto funds called “reserves”, which currently support over 70 different ERC20 tokens. Reserves are essentially smart contracts with a pool of funds. Different parties with different prices and levels of funding control all reserves. Instead of using order books to match buyers and sellers to return the best price, the Kyber protocol looks at all the reserves and returns the best price among the different reserves. Reserves make money on the “spread” or differences between the buying and selling prices. The Kyber wants any token holder to easily convert one token to another with a minimum of fuss.
1.2 KYBER PROTOCOLThe protocol smart contracts offer a single interface for the best available token exchange rates to be taken from an aggregated liquidity pool across diverse sources. ● Aggregated liquidity pool. The protocol aggregates various liquidity sources into one liquidity pool, making it easy for takers to find the best rates offered with one function call. ● Diverse sources of liquidity. The protocol allows different types of liquidity sources to be plugged into. Liquidity providers may employ different strategies and different implementations to contribute liquidity to the protocol. ● Permissionless. The protocol is designed to be permissionless where any developer can set up various types of reserves, and any end user can contribute liquidity. Implementations need to take into consideration various security vectors, such as reserve spamming, but can be mitigated through a staking mechanism. We can expect implementations to be permissioned initially until the maintainers are confident about these considerations.
The core feature that the Kyber protocol facilitates is the token swap between taker and liquidity sources. The protocol aims to provide the following properties for token trades: ● Instant Settlement. Takers do not have to wait for their orders to be fulfilled, since trade matching and settlement occurs in a single blockchain transaction. This enables trades to be part of a series of actions happening in a single smart contract function. ● Atomicity. When takers make a trade request, their trade either gets fully executed, or is reverted. This “all or nothing” aspect means that takers are not exposed to the risk of partial trade execution. ● Public rate verification. Anyone can verify the rates that are being offered by reserves and have their trades instantly settled just by querying from the smart contracts. ● Ease of integration. Trustless and atomic token trades can be directly and easily integrated into other smart contracts, thereby enabling multiple trades to be performed in a smart contract function.
How each actor works is specified in Section Network Actors. 1. Takers refer to anyone who can directly call the smart contract functions to trade tokens, such as end-users, DApps, and wallets. 2. Reserves refer to anyone who wishes to provide liquidity. They have to implement the smart contract functions defined in the reserve interface in order to be registered and have their token pairs listed. 3. Registered reserves refer to those that will be cycled through for matching taker requests. 4. Maintainers refer to anyone who has permission to access the functions for the adding/removing of reserves and token pairs, such as a DAO or the team behind the protocol implementation. 5. In all, they comprise of the network, which refers to all the actors involved in any given implementation of the protocol.
The protocol implementation needs to have the following: 1. Functions for takers to check rates and execute the trades 2. Functions for the maintainers to registeremove reserves and token pairs 3. Reserve interface that defines the functions reserves needs to implement
1.3 KYBER CORE SMART CONTRACTSKyber Core smart contracts is an implementation of the protocol that has major protocol functions to allow actors to join and interact with the network. For example, the Kyber Core smart contracts provide functions for the listing and delisting of reserves and trading pairs by having clear interfaces for the reserves to comply to be able to register to the network and adding support for new trading pairs. In addition, the Kyber Core smart contracts also provide a function for takers to query the best rate among all the registered reserves, and perform the trades with the corresponding rate and reserve. A trading pair consists of a quote token and any other token that the reserve wishes to support. The quote token is the token that is either traded from or to for all trades. For example, the Ethereum implementation of the Kyber protocol uses Ether as the quote token.
In order to search for the best rate, all reserves supporting the requested token pair will be iterated through. Hence, the Kyber Core smart contracts need to have this search algorithm implemented.
The key functions implemented in the Kyber Core Smart Contracts are listed in Figure 2 below. We will visit and explain the implementation details and security considerations of each function in the Specification Section.
1.4 HOW KYBER’S ON-CHAIN PROTOCOL WORKS?Kyber is the liquidity infrastructure for decentralized finance. Kyber aggregates liquidity from diverse sources into a pool, which provides the best rates for takers such as DApps, Wallets, DEXs, and End users.
1.4.1 PROVIDING LIQUIDITY AS A RESERVEAnyone can operate a Kyber Reserve to market make for profit and make their tokens available for DApps in the ecosystem. Through an open reserve architecture, individuals, token teams and professional market makers can contribute token assets to Kyber’s liquidity pool and earn from the spread in every trade. These tokens become available at the best rates across DApps that tap into the network, making them instantly more liquid and useful.
MAIN RESERVE TYPES Kyber currently has over 45 reserves in its network providing liquidity. There are 3 main types of reserves that allow different liquidity contribution options to suit the unique needs of different providers. 1. Automated Price Reserves (APR) — Allows token teams and users with large token holdings to have an automated yet customized pricing system with low maintenance costs. Synthetix and Melon are examples of teams that run APRs. 2. Fed Price Reserves (FPR) — Operated by professional market makers that require custom and advanced pricing strategies tailored to their specific needs. Kyber alongside reserves such as OneBit, runs FPRs. 3. Bridge Reserves (BR) — These are specialized reserves meant to bring liquidity from other on-chain liquidity providers like Uniswap, Oasis, DutchX, and Bancor into the network.
1.5 KYBER NETWORK ROLESThere Kyber Network functions through coordination between several different roles and functions as explained below: - Users — This entity uses the Kyber Network to send and receive tokens. A user can be an individual, a merchant, and even a smart contract account. - Reserve Entities — This role is used to add liquidity to the platform through the dynamic reserve pool. Some reserve entities are internal to the Kyber Network, but others may be registered third parties. Reserve entities may be public if the public contributes to the reserves they hold, otherwise they are considered private. By allowing third parties as reserve entities the network adds diversity, which prevents monopolization and keeps exchange rates competitive. Allowing third party reserve entities also allows for the listing of less popular coins with lower volumes. - Reserve Contributors — Where reserve entities are classified as public, the reserve contributor is the entity providing reserve funds. Their incentive for doing so is a profit share from the reserve. - The Reserve Manager — Maintains the reserve, calculates exchange rates and enters them into the network. The reserve manager profits from exchange spreads set by them on their reserves. They can also benefit from increasing volume by accessing the entire Kyber Network. - The Kyber Network Operator — Currently the Kyber Network team is filling the role of the network operator, which has a function to adds/remove Reserve Entities as well as controlling the listing of tokens. Eventually, this role will revert to a proper decentralized governance.
1.6 BASIC TOKEN TRADEA basic token trade is one that has the quote token as either the source or destination token of the trade request. The execution flow of a basic token trade is depicted in the diagram below, where a taker would like to exchange BAT tokens for ETH as an example. The trade happens in a single blockchain transaction. 1. Taker sends 1 ETH to the protocol contract, and would like to receive BAT in return. 2. Protocol contract queries the first reserve for its ETH to BAT exchange rate. 3. Reserve 1 offers an exchange rate of 1 ETH for 800 BAT. 4. Protocol contract queries the second reserve for its ETH to BAT exchange rate. 5. Reserve 2 offers an exchange rate of 1 ETH for 820 BAT. 6. This process goes on for the other reserves. After the iteration, reserve 2 is discovered to have offered the best ETH to BAT exchange rate. 7. Protocol contract sends 1 ETH to reserve 2. 8. The reserve sends 820 BAT to the taker.
1.7 TOKEN-TO-TOKEN TRADEA token-to-token trade is one where the quote token is neither the source nor the destination token of the trade request. The exchange flow of a token to token trade is depicted in the diagram below, where a taker would like to exchange BAT tokens for DAI as an example. The trade happens in a single blockchain transaction. 1. Taker sends 50 BAT to the protocol contract, and would like to receive DAI in return. 2. Protocol contract sends 50 BAT to the reserve offering the best BAT to ETH rate. 3. Protocol contract receives 1 ETH in return. 4. Protocol contract sends 1 ETH to the reserve offering the best ETH to DAI rate. 5. Protocol contract receives 30 DAI in return. 6. Protocol contract sends 30 DAI to the user.
2.KYBER NETWORK CRYSTAL (KNC) TOKENKyber Network Crystal (KNC) is an ERC-20 utility token and an integral part of Kyber Network.
KNC is the first deflationary staking token where staking rewards and token burns are generated from actual network usage and growth in DeFi.
The Kyber Network Crystal (KNC) is the backbone of the Kyber Network. It works to connect liquidity providers and those who need liquidity and serves three distinct purposes. The first of these is to collect transaction fees, and a portion of every fee collected is burned, which keeps KNC deflationary. Kyber Network Crystals (KNC), are named after the crystals in Star Wars used to power light sabers.
The KNC also ensures the smooth operation of the reserve system in the Kyber liquidity since entities must use third-party tokens to buy the KNC that pays for their operations in the network.
KNC allows token holders to play a critical role in determining the incentive system, building a wide base of stakeholders, and facilitating economic flow in the network. A small fee is charged each time a token exchange happens on the network, and KNC holders get to vote on this fee model and distribution, as well as other important decisions. Over time, as more trades are executed, additional fees will be generated for staking rewards and reserve rebates, while more KNC will be burned. - Participation rewards — KNC holders can stake KNC in the KyberDAO and vote on key parameters. Voters will earn staking rewards (in ETH) - Burning — Some of the network fees will be burned to reduce KNC supply permanently, providing long-term value accrual from decreasing supply. - Reserve incentives — KNC holders determine the portion of network fees that are used as rebates for selected liquidity providers (reserves) based on their volume performance.
Finally, the KNC token is the connection between the Kyber Network and the exchanges, wallets, and dApps that leverage the liquidity network. This is a virtuous system since entities are rewarded with referral fees for directing more users to the Kyber Network, which helps increase adoption for Kyber and for the entities using the Network.
And of course there will soon be a fourth and fifth uses for the KNC, which will be as a staking token used to generate passive income, as well as a governance token used to vote on key parameters of the network.
The Kyber Network Crystal (KNC) was released in a September 2017 ICO at a price around $1. There were 226,000,000 KNC minted for the ICO, with 61% sold to the public. The remaining 39% are controlled 50/50 by the company and the founders/advisors, with a 1 year lockup period and 2 year vesting period.
Currently, just over 180 million coins are in circulation, and the total supply has been reduced to 210.94 million after the company burned 1 millionth KNC token in May 2019 and then its second millionth KNC token just three months later.
That means that while it took 15 months to burn the first million KNC, it took just 10 weeks to burn the second million KNC. That shows how rapidly adoption has been growing recently for Kyber, with July 2019 USD trading volumes on the Kyber Network nearly reaching $60 million. This volume has continued growing, and on march 13, 2020 the network experienced its highest daily trading activity of $33.7 million in a 24-hour period.
Currently KNC is required by Reserve Managers to operate on the network, which ensures a minimum amount of demand for the token. Combined with future plans for burning coins, price is expected to maintain an upward bias, although it has suffered along with the broader market in 2018 and more recently during the summer of 2019.
It was unfortunate in 2020 that a beginning rally was cut short by the coronavirus pandemic, although the token has stabilized as of April 2020, and there are hopes the rally could resume in the summer of 2020.
2.1 HOW ARE KNC TOKENS PRODUCED?The native token of Kyber is called Kyber Network Crystals (KNC). All reserves are required to pay fees in KNC for the right to manage reserves. The KNC collected as fees are either burned and taken out of the total supply or awarded to integrated dapps as an incentive to help them grow.
2.2 HOW DO YOU GET HOLD OF KNC TOKENS?Kyber Swap can be used to buy ETH directly using a credit card, which can then be used to swap for KNC. Besides Kyber itself, exchanges such as Binance, Huobi, and OKex trade KNC.
2.3 WHAT CAN YOU DO WITH KYBER?The most direct and basic function of Kyber is for instantly swapping tokens without registering an account, which anyone can do using an Etheruem wallet such as MetaMask. Users can also create their own reserves and contribute funds to a reserve, but that process is still fairly technical one–something Kyber is working on making easier for users in the future.
2.4 THE GOAL OF KYBER THE FUTUREThe goal of Kyber in the coming years is to solidify its position as a one-stop solution for powering liquidity and token swapping on Ethereum. Kyber plans on a major protocol upgrade called Katalyst, which will create new incentives and growth opportunities for all stakeholders in their ecosystem, especially KNC holders. The upgrade will mean more use cases for KNC including to use KNC to vote on governance decisions through a decentralized organization (DAO) called the KyberDAO.
With our upcoming Katalyst protocol upgrade and new KNC model, Kyber will provide even more benefits for stakeholders. For instance, reserves will no longer need to hold a KNC balance for fees, removing a major friction point, and there will be rebates for top performing reserves. KNC holders can also stake their KNC to participate in governance and receive rewards.
2.5 BUYING & STORING KNCThose interested in buying KNC tokens can do so at a number of exchanges. Perhaps your best bet between the complete list is the likes of Coinbase Pro and Binance. The former is based in the USA whereas the latter is an offshore exchange.
The trading volume is well spread out at these exchanges, which means that the liquidity is not concentrated and dependent on any one exchange. You also have decent liquidity on each of the exchange books. For example, the Binance BTC / KNC books are wide and there is decent turnover. This means easier order execution.
KNC is an ERC20 token and can be stored in any wallet with ERC20 support, such as MyEtherWallet or MetaMask. One interesting alternative is the KyberSwap Android mobile app that was released in August 2019.
It allows for instant swapping of tokens and has support for over 70 different altcoins. It also allows users to set price alerts and limit orders and works as a full-featured Ethereum wallet.
2.6 KYBER KATALYST UPGRADEKyber has announced their intention to become the de facto liquidity layer for the Decentralized Finance space, aiming to have Kyber as the single on-chain endpoint used by the majority of liquidity providers and dApp developers. In order to achieve this goal the Kyber Network team is looking to create an open ecosystem that garners trust from the decentralized finance space. They believe this is the path that will lead the majority of projects, developers, and users to choose Kyber for liquidity needs. With that in mind they have recently announced the launch of a protocol upgrade to Kyber which is being called Katalyst.
The Katalyst upgrade will create a stronger ecosystem by creating strong alignments towards a common goal, while also strengthening the incentives for stakeholders to participate in the ecosystem.
The primary beneficiaries of the Katalyst upgrade will be the three major Kyber stakeholders: 1. Reserve managers who provide network liquidity; 2. dApps that connect takers to Kyber; 3. KNC holders.
These stakeholders can expect to see benefits as highlighted below: Reserve Managers will see two new benefits to providing liquidity for the network. The first of these benefits will be incentives for providing reserves. Once Katalyst is implemented part of the fees collected will go to the reserve managers as an incentive for providing liquidity.
This mechanism is similar to rebates in traditional finance, and is expected to drive the creation of additional reserves and market making, which in turn will lead to greater liquidity and platform reach.
Katalyst will also do away with the need for reserve managers to maintain a KNC balance for use as network fees. Instead fees will be automatically collected and used as incentives or burned as appropriate. This should remove a great deal of friction for reserves to connect with Kyber without affecting the competitive exchange rates that takers in the system enjoy. dApp Integrators will now be able to set their own spread, which will give them full control over their own business model. This means the current fee sharing program that shares 30% of the 0.25% fee with dApp developers will go away and developers will determine their own spread. It’s believed this will increase dApp development within Kyber as developers will now be in control of fees.
KNC Holders, often thought of as the core of the Kyber Network, will be able to take advantage of a new staking mechanism that will allow them to receive a portion of network fees by staking their KNC and participating in the KyberDAO.
2.7 COMING KYBERDAOWith the implementation of the Katalyst protocol the KNC holders will be put right at the heart of Kyber. Holders of KNC tokens will now have a critical role to play in determining the future economic flow of the network, including its incentive systems.
The primary way this will be achieved is through KyberDAO, a way in which on-chain and off-chain governance will align to streamline cooperation between the Kyber team, KNC holders, and market participants.
The Kyber Network team has identified 3 key areas of consideration for the KyberDAO: 1. Broad representation, transparent governance and network stability 2. Strong incentives for KNC holders to maintain their stake and be highly involved in governance 3. Maximizing participation with a wide range of options for voting delegation
Interaction between KNC Holders & Kyber
This means KNC holders have been empowered to determine the network fee and how to allocate the fees to ensure maximum network growth. KNC holders will now have three fee allocation options to vote on: - Voting Rewards: Immediate value creation. Holders who stake and participate in the KyberDAO get their share of the fees designated for rewards. - Burning: Long term value accrual. The decreasing supply of KNC will improve the token appreciation over time and benefit those who did not participate. - Reserve Incentives:Value creation via network growth. By rewarding Kyber reserve managers based on their performance, it helps to drive greater volume, value, and network fees.
2.8 TRANSPARENCY AND STABILITYThe design of the KyberDAO is meant to allow for the greatest network stability, as well as maximum transparency and the ability to quickly recover in emergency situations. Initally the Kyber team will remain as maintainers of the KyberDAO. The system is being developed to be as verifiable as possible, while still maintaining maximum transparency regarding the role of the maintainer in the DAO.
Part of this transparency means that all data and processes are stored on-chain if feasible. Voting regarding network fees and allocations will be done on-chain and will be immutable. In situations where on-chain storage or execution is not feasible there will be a set of off-chain governance processes developed to ensure all decisions are followed through on.
2.9 KNC STAKING AND DELEGATIONStaking will be a new addition and both staking and voting will be done in fixed periods of times called “epochs”. These epochs will be measured in Ethereum block times, and each KyberDAO epoch will last roughly 2 weeks.
This is a relatively rapid epoch and it is beneficial in that it gives more rapid DAO conclusion and decision-making, while also conferring faster reward distribution. On the downside it means there needs to be a new voting campaign every two weeks, which requires more frequent participation from KNC stakeholders, as well as more work from the Kyber team.
Delegation will be part of the protocol, allowing stakers to delegate their voting rights to third-party pools or other entities. The pools receiving the delegation rights will be free to determine their own fee structure and voting decisions. Because the pools will share in rewards, and because their voting decisions will be clearly visible on-chain, it is expected that they will continue to work to the benefit of the network.
3. TRADINGAfter the September 2017 ICO, KNC settled into a trading price that hovered around $1.00 (decreasing in BTC value) until December. The token has followed the trend of most other altcoins — rising in price through December and sharply declining toward the beginning of January 2018.
The KNC price fell throughout all of 2018 with one exception during April. From April 6th to April 28th, the price rose over 200 percent. This run-up coincided with a blog post outlining plans to bring Bitcoin to the Ethereum blockchain. Since then, however, the price has steadily fallen, currently resting on what looks like a $0.15 (~0.000045 BTC) floor.
With the number of partners using the Kyber Network, the price may rise as they begin to fully use the network. The development team has consistently hit the milestones they’ve set out to achieve, so make note of any release announcements on the horizon.
4. COMPETITIONThe 0x project is the biggest competitor to Kyber Network. Both teams are attempting to enter the decentralized exchange market. The primary difference between the two is that Kyber performs the entire exchange process on-chain while 0x keeps the order book and matching off-chain.
As a crypto swap exchange, the platform also competes with ShapeShift and Changelly.
5.KYBER MILESTONES• June 2020: Digifox, an all-in-one finance application by popular crypto trader and Youtuber Nicholas Merten a.k.a DataDash (340K subs), integrated Kyber to enable users to easily swap between cryptocurrencies without having to leave the application. • June 2020: Stake Capital partnered with Kyber to provide convenient KNC staking and delegation services, and also took a KNC position to participate in governance. • June 2020: Outlined the benefits of the Fed Price Reserve (FPR) for professional market makers and advanced developers. • May 2020: Kyber crossed US$1 Billion in total trading volume and 1 Million transactions, performed entirely on-chain on Ethereum. • May 2020: StakeWith.Us partnered Kyber Network as a KyberDAO Pool Master. • May 2020: 2Key, a popular blockchain referral solution using smart links, integrated Kyber’s on-chain liquidity protocol for seamless token swaps • May 2020: Blockchain game League of Kingdoms integrated Kyber to accept Token Payments for Land NFTs. • May 2020: Joined the Zcash Developer Alliance , an invite-only working group to advance Zcash development and interoperability. • May 2020: Joined the Chicago DeFi Alliance to help accelerate on-chain market making for professionals and developers. • March 2020: Set a new record of USD $33.7M in 24H fully on-chain trading volume, and $190M in 30 day on-chain trading volume. • March 2020: Integrated by Rarible, Bullionix, and Unstoppable Domains, with the KyberWidget deployed on IPFS, which allows anyone to swap tokens through Kyber without being blocked. • February 2020: Popular Ethereum blockchain game Axie Infinity integrated Kyber to accept ERC20 payments for NFT game items. • February 2020: Kyber’s protocol was integrated by Gelato Finance, Idle Finance, rTrees, Sablier, and 0x API for their liquidity needs. • January 2020: Kyber Network was found to be the most used protocol in the whole decentralized finance (DeFi) space in 2019, according to a DeFi research report by Binance. • December 2019: Switcheo integrated Kyber’s protocol for enhanced liquidity on their own DEX. • December 2019: DeFi Wallet Eidoo integrated Kyber for seamless in-wallet token swaps. • December 2019: Announced the development of the Katalyst Protocol Upgrade and new KNC token model. • July 2019: Developed the Waterloo Bridge , a Decentralized Practical Cross-chain Bridge between EOS and Ethereum, successfully demonstrating a token swap between Ethereum to EOS. • July 2019: Trust Wallet, the official Binance wallet, integrated Kyber as part of its decentralized token exchange service, allowing even more seamless in-wallet token swaps for thousands of users around the world. • May 2019: HTC, the large consumer electronics company with more than 20 years of innovation, integrated Kyber into its Zion Vault Wallet on EXODUS 1 , the first native web 3.0 blockchain phone, allowing users to easily swap between cryptocurrencies in a decentralized manner without leaving the wallet. • January 2019: Introduced the Automated Price Reserve (APR) , a capital efficient way for token teams and individuals to market make with low slippage. • January 2019: The popular Enjin Wallet, a default blockchain DApp on the Samsung S10 and S20 mobile phones, integrated Kyber to enable in-wallet token swaps. • October 2018: Kyber was a founding member of the WBTC (Wrapped Bitcoin) Initiative and DAO. • October 2018: Developed the KyberWidget for ERC20 token swaps on any website, with CoinGecko being the first major project to use it on their popular site.
These crypto lending & borrowing services found early traction. Are they capable of bundling more financial services and winning the broader consumer finance market?submitted by mickhagen to genesisblockhq [link] [comments]
This is the third part of Crypto Banking Wars — a new series that examines what crypto-native company is most likely to become the bank of the future. Who is best positioned to reach mainstream adoption in consumer finance?
While crypto allows the world to get rid of banks, a bank will still very much be necessary for this very powerful technology to reach the masses. As we laid out in our previous series, Crypto-Powered, we believe a crypto-native company will ultimately become the bank of the future. We’re confident Genesis Block will have a seat at that table, but we aren’t the only game in town.
In the first post of this series, we did an analysis of big crypto exchanges like Coinbase & Binance. In our second episode, we looked at the world of non-custodial wallets.
Today we’re analyzing crypto lending & borrowing services. The Earn and Borrow use-case covers a lot of what traditional banks deliver today. This category of companies is a threat worth analyzing. As we look at this market, we’ll mostly be focused on custodial, centralized products like BlockFi, Nexo, and Celsius.
Many of these companies found early traction among crypto users. Are they capable of bundling more financial services and winning the broader consumer finance market? Let’s find out.
Institutional BorrowersBecause speculation and trading remains one of the most popular use-cases of crypto, a new crypto sub-industry around credit has emerged. Much of the borrowing demand has been driven by institutional needs.
For example, a Bitcoin mining company might need to borrow fiat to pay for operational costs (salaries, electricity). Or a crypto company might need to borrow USD to pay for engineering salaries. Or a crypto hedge fund needs to borrow for leverage or to take a specific market position. While all of these companies have sufficient crypto to cover the costs, they might not want to sell it — either for tax or speculative reasons (they may believe these crypto assets will appreciate, as with most in the industry).
Instead of selling their crypto, these companies can use their crypto as collateral for loans. For example, they can provide $1.5M in Bitcoin as collateral, and borrow $1M. Given the collateralization happening, the underwriting process becomes straightforward. Companies all around the world can participate — language and cultural barriers are removed.
The leader (and one of our partners) in this space is Genesis Capital. While they are always the counterparty for both lenders and borrowers, they are effectively a broker. They are at the center of the institutional crypto lending & borrowing markets. Their total active loans as of March 2020 was $649M. That number shot up to $1.42B in active loans as of June 2020. The growth of this entire market segment is impressive and it’s what is driving this opportunity for consumers downstream.
Consumer ProductsWhile most of the borrowing demand comes from institutional players, there is a growing desire from consumers to participate on the lend/supply side of the market. Crypto consumers would love to be able to deposit their assets with a service and watch it grow. Why let crypto assets sit on an exchange or in cold storage when it can be earning interest?
A number of consumer-facing products have emerged in the last few years to make this happen. While they also allow users to borrow (always with collateral), most of the consumer attraction is around growing their crypto, even while they sleep. Earning interest. These products usually partner with institutional players like Genesis Capital to match the deposits with borrowing demand. And it’s exactly part of our strategy as well, beyond leveraging DeFi (decentralized finance protocols).
A few of the most popular consumer services in this category include BlockFi, Nexo, and Celsius.
BlockFiBlockFi (Crunchbase) is the leader in this category (at least in the West). They are well-capitalized. In August 2019, they raised $18.3M in their Series A. In Feb 2020, they raised $30M in their Series B. In that same time period, they went from $250M in assets under management to $650M. In a recent blog post, they announced that they saw a 100% revenue increase in Q2 and that they were on track to do $50M in revenue this year. Their growth is impressive.
BlockFi did not do an ICO, unlike Celsius, Nexo, Salt, and Cred. BlockFi has a lot of institutional backing so it is perceived as the most reputable in the space. BlockFi started with borrowing — allowing users to leverage their crypto as collateral and taking out a loan against it. They later got into Earning — allowing users to deposit assets and earn interest on it. They recently expanded their service to “exchange” functionality and say they are coming out with a credit card later this year.
It’s incredible that BlockFi has been able to see such strong growth despite their numerous product and security woes. A few months ago, their systems were compromised. A hacker was able to access confidential data, such as names, dates of birth, postal addresses, and activity histories. While no funds were lost, this was a massive embarrassment and caused reputational damage.
Unrelated to that massive security breach and earlier in the year, a user discovered a major bug that allowed him to send the same funds to himself over and over again, ultimately accumulating more than a million dollars in his BlockFi account. BlockFi fortunately caught him just before withdrawal.
Poor Product Execution
Beyond their poor security — which they are now trying to get serious about — their products are notoriously buggy and hard-to-use. I borrowed from them a year ago and used their interest account product until very recently. I have first-hand experience of how painful it is. But don’t take my word for it… here are just a few tweets from customers just recently.
For a while, their interest-earning product had a completely different authentication system than their loan product (users had two sets of usernames/passwords). Many people have had issues with withdrawals. The app is constantly logging people out, blank screens, ugly error messages. Emails with verification codes are sometimes delayed by hours (or days). I do wonder if their entire app has been outsourced. The sloppiness shines through.
Not only is their product buggy and UX confusing, but their branding & design is quite weak. To the left is a t-shirt they once sent me. It looks like they just found a bunch of quirky fonts, added their name, and slapped it on a t-shirt.
To the innocent bystander, many of these issues seem totally fixable. They could hire an amazing design agency to completely revamp their product or brand. They could hire a mercenary group of engineers to fix their bugs, etc. While it could stop the bleeding for a time, it may not solve the underlying issues. Years of sloppy product execution represents something much more destructive. It represents a top-down mentality that shipping anything other than excellence is okay: product experience doesn’t matter; design doesn’t matter; craftsmanship doesn’t matter; strong execution doesn’t matter; precision doesn’t matter. That’s very different from our culture at Genesis Block.
This cancerous mentality rarely stays contained within product & engineering — this leaks to all parts of the organization. No design agency or consulting firm will fix some of the pernicious values of a company’s soul. These are deeper issues that only leadership can course-correct.
If BlockFi’s sloppiness were due to constant experimentation, iteration, shipping, or some “move fast and break things” hacker culture… like Binance… I would probably cut them more slack. But there is zero evidence of that. “Move fast and break things” is always scary when dealing with financial products. But in BlockFi’s case, when it’s more like “move slow and break things,” they are really playing with fire. Next time a massive security breach occurs, like what happened earlier this year, they may not be so lucky.
Based on who is on their team, their poor product execution shouldn’t be a surprise. Their team comes mostly from Wall Street, not the blockchain community (where our roots are). Most of BlockFi’s blockchain/crypto integration is very superficial. They take crypto assets as deposits, but they aren’t leveraging any of the exciting, low-level DeFi protocols like we are.
While their Wall Street heritage isn’t doing them any favors on the product/tech side, it’s served them very well on winning institutional clients. This is perhaps their greatest strength. BlockFi has a strong institutional business. They recently brought on Three Arrows Capital as a strategic investor — a crypto hedge fund who does a lot of borrowing. In that announcement, BlockFi’s founder said that bringing them on “aligns well with our focus on international expansion of our institutional services offering.” They also recently brought someone on who will lead business development in Asia among institutional clients.
BlockFi Wrap Up
There are certainly BlockFi features that overlap with Genesis Block’s offering. It’s possible that they are angling to become the bank of the future. However, they simply have not proven they are capable of designing, building, and launching world-class consumer products. They’ve constantly had issues around security and poor product execution. Their company account and their founder’s account seem to only tweet about Bitcoin. I don’t think they understand, appreciate, or value the power of DeFi. It’s unlikely they’ll be leveraging it any time soon. All of these reasons are why I don’t see them as a serious threat to Genesis Block.
However, because of their strong institutional offering, I hope that Genesis Block will ultimately have a very collaborative and productive partnership with them. Assuming they figure out their security woes, we could park some of our funds with BlockFi (just as we will with Genesis Capital and others). I think what’s likely to happen is that we’ll corner the consumer market and we’ll work closely with BlockFi on the institutional side.
I’ve been hard on BlockFi because I care. I think they have a great opportunity at helping elevate the entire industry in a positive way. But they have a lot of issues they need to work through. I really don’t want to see users lose millions of dollars in a security breach. It could set back the entire industry. But if they do things well… a rising tide lifts all boats.
Honorable MentionsCelsius (ICO Drops) raised $50M in an ICO, and is led by serial entrepreneur Alex Mashinsky. I’ve met him, he’s a nice guy. Similar to Binance, their biggest Achilles heel could be their own token. There are also a lot of unanswered questions about where their deposits go. They don’t have a record of great transparency. They recently did a public crowdraise which is a little odd given their large ICO as well as their supposed $1B in deposits. Are they running out of money, as some suggest? Unclear. One of their biggest blindspots right now is that Mashinsky does not understand the power of DeFi. He is frequently openly criticizing it.
Nexo (ICO Drops) is another similar service. They are European-based, trying to launch their own card (though they’ve been saying this forever and they still haven’t shipped it), and have a history in the payments/fintech space. Because they haven’t penetrated the US — which is a much harder regulatory nut to crack — they are unlikely to be as competitive as BlockFi. There were also allegations that Nexo was spreading FUD about Chainlink while simultaneously partnering with them. Did Nexo take out a short position and start spreading rumors? Never a dull moment in crypto.
Other players in the lending & borrowing space include Unchained Capital, Cred (ICO Drops), and Salt (ICO Drops).
Wrap UpWhile many companies in this category seem to be slowly adding more financial services, I don’t believe any of them are focused on the broader consumer market like we are. To use services like BlockFi, Nexo, or Celsius, users need to be onboarded and educated on how crypto works. At Genesis Block, we don’t believe that’s the winning approach. We think blockchain complexity should be abstracted away from the end-user. We did an entire series about this, Spreading Crypto.
For many of these services, there is additional friction due to ICO tokens that are forcefully integrated into the product (see NEXO token or CEL Token). None of these services have true banking functionality or integration with traditional finance —for example, easy offramp or spending methods like debit cards. None of them are taking DeFi seriously — they are leveraging crypto for only the asset class, not the underlying technology around financial protocols.
So are these companies potential competitors to Genesis Block? For the crypto crowd, yes. For the mass market, no. None of these companies are capable of reaching the billions of people around the world that we hope to reach at Genesis Block.
Other Ways to Consume Today's Episode:
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Can they overcome the product limitations of blockchain and deliver the world-class experience that consumers expect?submitted by mickhagen to genesisblockhq [link] [comments]
This is the second part of Crypto Banking Wars — a new series that examines what crypto-native company is most likely to become the bank of the future. Who is best positioned to reach mainstream adoption in consumer finance?
While crypto allows the world to get rid of banks, a bank will still very much be necessary for this very powerful technology to reach the masses. As we laid out in our previous series, Crypto-Powered, we believe companies that build with blockchain at their core will have the best shot at winning the broader consumer finance market. We hope it will be us at Genesis Block, but we aren’t the only game in town.
So this series explores the entire crypto landscape and tries to answer the question, which crypto company is most likely to become the bank of the future?
In our last episode, we offered an in-depth analysis of big crypto exchanges like Coinbase & Binance. Today we’re analyzing non-custodial crypto wallets. These are products where only the user can touch or move funds. Not even the company or developer who built the application can access, control, or stop funds from being moved. These apps allow users to truly become their own bank.
We’ve talked a little about this before. This group of companies is nowhere near the same level of threat as the biggest crypto exchanges. However, this group really understands DeFi and the magic it can bring. This class of products is heavily engineer-driven and at the bleeding-edge of DeFi innovation. These products are certainly worth discussing. Okay, let’s dive in.
Users & AudienceThese non-custodial crypto wallets are especially popular among the most hardcore blockchain nerds and crypto cypherpunks.
“Not your keys, not your coins.”This meme is endlessly repeated among longtime crypto hodlers. If you’re not in complete control of your crypto (i.e. using non-custodial wallets), then it’s not really your crypto. There has always been a close connection between libertarianism & cryptocurrency. This type of user wants to be in absolute control of their money and become their own bank.
In addition to the experienced crypto geeks, for some people, these products will mean the difference between life and death. Imagine a refugee family that wants to safely protect their years of hard work — their life savings — as they travel across borders. Carrying cash could put their safety or money at risk. A few years ago I spent time in Greece at refugee camps — I know first-hand this is a real use-case.
Or imagine a family living under an authoritarian regime — afraid that their corrupt or oppressive government will seize their assets (or devalue their savings via hyperinflation). Citizens in these countries cannot risk putting their money in centralized banks or under their mattresses. They must become their own bank.
These are the common use-cases and users for non-custodial wallets.
Products in MarketLet’s do a quick round-up of some of the more popular products already in the market.
Web/Desktop The most popular web wallet is MetaMask. Though it doesn’t have any specific integration with DeFi protocols yet, it has more than a million users (which is a lot in crypto land!). Web wallets that are more deeply integrated with DeFi include InstaDapp, Zerion, DeFi Saver, Zapper, and MyCrypto (disclosure: I’m an investor and a big fan of Taylor). For the mass market, mobile will be a much more important form-factor. I don’t view these web products as much of a threat to Genesis Block.
Mobile The more serious threats to Genesis Block are the mobile products that (A) are leveraging some of the powerful DeFi protocols and (B) abstracting away a lot of the blockchain/DeFi UX complexity. While none get close to us on (B), the products attempting this are Argent and Dharma. To the extent they can, both are trying to make interacting with blockchain technology as simple as possible.
A few of the bigger exchanges have also entered this mobile non-custodial market. Coinbase has Wallet (via Cipher Browser acquisition). Binance has Trust Wallet (also via acquisition). And speaking of acquisitions, MyCrypto acquired Ambo, which is a solid product and has brought MyCrypto into the mobile space. Others worth mentioning include Rainbow — well-designed and built by a small indy-team with strong DeFi experience (former Balance team). And ZenGo which has a cool feature around keyless security (their CEO is a friend).
There are dozens of other mobile crypto wallets that do very little beyond showing your balances. They are not serious threats.
Hardware Wallets Holding crypto on your own hardware wallet is widely considered to be “best practice” from a security standpoint. The most popular hardware wallets are Ledger, Trezor, and KeepKey (by our friends at ShapeShift). Ledger Nano X is the only product that has Bluetooth — thus, the only one that can connect to a mobile app. While exciting and innovative, these hardware wallets are not yet integrated with any DeFi protocols.
StrengthsLet’s take a look at some of the strengths with non-custodial products.
WeaknessesNow let’s examine some of the weaknesses.
Wrap UpOne of the great powers of crypto is that we no longer depend on banks. Anyone can store their wealth and have absolute control of their money. That’s made possible with these non-custodial wallets. It’s a wonderful thing.
I believe that the most knowledgeable and experienced crypto people (including myself) will always be active users of these applications. And as mentioned in this post, there will certainly be circumstances where these apps will be essential & even life-saving.
However, I do not believe this category of product is a major threat to Genesis Block to becoming the bank of the future.They won’t win in the broader consumer finance market — mostly because I don’t believe that’s their target audience. These applications simply cannot produce the type of product experience that the masses require, want, or expect. The Weaknesses I’ve outlined above are just too overwhelming. The friction for mass-market consumers is just too much.
The winning bank will be focused on solving real user problems and meeting user needs. Not slowed down by rigid idealism like censorship-resistance and absolute decentralization, as it is with most non-custodial wallets. The winning bank will be a world-class product that’s smooth, performant, and accessible. Not sluggish and slow, as it is with most non-custodial wallets. The winning bank will be one where blockchain & crypto is mostly invisible to end-users. Not front-and-center as it is with non-custodial wallets. The winning bank will be one managed and run by professionals who know exactly what they’re doing. Not DIY (Do It Yourself), as it is with non-custodial wallets.
So are these non-custodial wallets a threat to Genesis Block in winning the broader consumer finance market, and becoming the bank of the future?
No. They are designed for a very different audience.
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To enter or exit the crypto economy, we rely on centralized exchanges such as Coinbase, which track their users, impose limits, and are tightly coupled to their jurisdiction and its banking system. And for all we know, any day now regulations could start tightening these controls further (*we've actually seen some of this play out in the two months since our first launch post). In light of this, can we say in any meaningful sense that crypto is anonymous, limtiless, borderless, immune to regulation, and (most importantly) unstoppable?To really address this concern, we need a completely decentralized gateway between fiat and crypto: something that extends the benefits of crypto to the very act of moving between the old and new economies. But the design of such a platform is far from obvious.
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