Cryptocurrency Difficulty Charts and Difficulty History Charts
How is difficulty calculated? - Bitcoin Stack Exchange
Where is Bitcoin Going and When?
﷽ The Federal Reserve and the United States government are pumping extreme amounts of money into the economy, already totaling over $484 billion. They are doing so because it already had a goal to inflate the United States Dollar (USD) so that the market can continue to all-time highs. It has always had this goal. They do not care how much inflation goes up by now as we are going into a depression with the potential to totally crash the US economy forever. They believe the only way to save the market from going to zero or negative values is to inflate it so much that it cannot possibly crash that low. Even if the market does not dip that low, inflation serves the interest of powerful people. The impending crash of the stock market has ramifications for Bitcoin, as, though there is no direct ongoing-correlation between the two, major movements in traditional markets will necessarily affect Bitcoin. According to the Blockchain Center’s Cryptocurrency Correlation Tool, Bitcoin is not correlated with the stock market. However, when major market movements occur, they send ripples throughout the financial ecosystem which necessary affect even ordinarily uncorrelated assets. Therefore, Bitcoin will reach X price on X date after crashing to a price of X by X date.
Stock Market Crash
The Federal Reserve has caused some serious consternation with their release of ridiculous amounts of money in an attempt to buoy the economy. At face value, it does not seem to have any rationale or logic behind it other than keeping the economy afloat long enough for individuals to profit financially and politically. However, there is an underlying basis to what is going on which is important to understand in order to profit financially. All markets are functionally price probing systems. They constantly undergo a price-discovery process. In a fiat system, money is an illusory and a fundamentally synthetic instrument with no intrinsic value – similar to Bitcoin. The primary difference between Bitcoin is the underlying technology which provides a slew of benefits that fiat does not. Fiat, however, has an advantage in being able to have the support of powerful nation-states which can use their might to insure the currency’s prosperity. Traditional stock markets are composed of indices (pl. of index). Indices are non-trading market instruments which are essentially summaries of business values which comprise them. They are continuously recalculated throughout a trading day, and sometimes reflected through tradable instruments such as Exchange Traded Funds or Futures. Indices are weighted by market capitalizations of various businesses. Price theory essentially states that when a market fails to take out a new low in a given range, it will have an objective to take out the high. When a market fails to take out a new high, it has an objective to make a new low. This is why price-time charts go up and down, as it does this on a second-by-second, minute-by-minute, day-by-day, and even century-by-century basis. Therefore, market indices will always return to some type of bull market as, once a true low is formed, the market will have a price objective to take out a new high outside of its’ given range – which is an all-time high. Instruments can only functionally fall to zero, whereas they can grow infinitely. So, why inflate the economy so much? Deflation is disastrous for central banks and markets as it raises the possibility of producing an overall price objective of zero or negative values. Therefore, under a fractional reserve system with a fiat currency managed by a central bank – the goal of the central bank is to depreciate the currency. The dollar is manipulated constantly with the intention of depreciating its’ value. Central banks have a goal of continued inflated fiat values. They tend to ordinarily contain it at less than ten percent (10%) per annum in order for the psyche of the general populace to slowly adjust price increases. As such, the markets are divorced from any other logic. Economic policy is the maintenance of human egos, not catering to fundamental analysis. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth is well-known not to be a measure of actual growth or output. It is a measure of increase in dollars processed. Banks seek to produce raising numbers which make society feel like it is growing economically, making people optimistic. To do so, the currency is inflated, though inflation itself does not actually increase growth. When society is optimistic, it spends and engages in business – resulting in actual growth. It also encourages people to take on credit and debts, creating more fictional fiat. Inflation is necessary for markets to continue to reach new heights, generating positive emotional responses from the populace, encouraging spending, encouraging debt intake, further inflating the currency, and increasing the sale of government bonds. The fiat system only survives by generating more imaginary money on a regular basis. Bitcoin investors may profit from this by realizing that stock investors as a whole always stand to profit from the market so long as it is managed by a central bank and does not collapse entirely. If those elements are filled, it has an unending price objective to raise to new heights. It also allows us to realize that this response indicates that the higher-ups believe that the economy could crash in entirety, and it may be wise for investors to have multiple well-thought-out exit strategies.
Economic Analysis of Bitcoin
The reason why the Fed is so aggressively inflating the economy is due to fears that it will collapse forever or never rebound. As such, coupled with a global depression, a huge demand will appear for a reserve currency which is fundamentally different than the previous system. Bitcoin, though a currency or asset, is also a market. It also undergoes a constant price-probing process. Unlike traditional markets, Bitcoin has the exact opposite goal. Bitcoin seeks to appreciate in value and not depreciate. This has a quite different affect in that Bitcoin could potentially become worthless and have a price objective of zero. Bitcoin was created in 2008 by a now famous mysterious figure known as Satoshi Nakamoto and its’ open source code was released in 2009. It was the first decentralized cryptocurrency to utilize a novel protocol known as the blockchain. Up to one megabyte of data may be sent with each transaction. It is decentralized, anonymous, transparent, easy to set-up, and provides myriad other benefits. Bitcoin is not backed up by anything other than its’ own technology. Bitcoin is can never be expected to collapse as a framework, even were it to become worthless. The stock market has the potential to collapse in entirety, whereas, as long as the internet exists, Bitcoin will be a functional system with a self-authenticating framework. That capacity to persist regardless of the actual price of Bitcoin and the deflationary nature of Bitcoin means that it has something which fiat does not – inherent value. Bitcoin is based on a distributed database known as the “blockchain.” Blockchains are essentially decentralized virtual ledger books, replete with pages known as “blocks.” Each page in a ledger is composed of paragraph entries, which are the actual transactions in the block. Blockchains store information in the form of numerical transactions, which are just numbers. We can consider these numbers digital assets, such as Bitcoin. The data in a blockchain is immutable and recorded only by consensus-based algorithms. Bitcoin is cryptographic and all transactions are direct, without intermediary, peer-to-peer. Bitcoin does not require trust in a central bank. It requires trust on the technology behind it, which is open-source and may be evaluated by anyone at any time. Furthermore, it is impossible to manipulate as doing so would require all of the nodes in the network to be hacked at once – unlike the stock market which is manipulated by the government and “Market Makers”. Bitcoin is also private in that, though the ledge is openly distributed, it is encrypted. Bitcoin’s blockchain has one of the greatest redundancy and information disaster recovery systems ever developed. Bitcoin has a distributed governance model in that it is controlled by its’ users. There is no need to trust a payment processor or bank, or even to pay fees to such entities. There are also no third-party fees for transaction processing. As the ledge is immutable and transparent it is never possible to change it – the data on the blockchain is permanent. The system is not easily susceptible to attacks as it is widely distributed. Furthermore, as users of Bitcoin have their private keys assigned to their transactions, they are virtually impossible to fake. No lengthy verification, reconciliation, nor clearing process exists with Bitcoin. Bitcoin is based on a proof-of-work algorithm. Every transaction on the network has an associated mathetical “puzzle”. Computers known as miners compete to solve the complex cryptographic hash algorithm that comprises that puzzle. The solution is proof that the miner engaged in sufficient work. The puzzle is known as a nonce, a number used only once. There is only one major nonce at a time and it issues 12.5 Bitcoin. Once it is solved, the fact that the nonce has been solved is made public. A block is mined on average of once every ten minutes. However, the blockchain checks every 2,016,000 minutes (approximately four years) if 201,600 blocks were mined. If it was faster, it increases difficulty by half, thereby deflating Bitcoin. If it was slower, it decreases, thereby inflating Bitcoin. It will continue to do this until zero Bitcoin are issued, projected at the year 2140. On the twelfth of May, 2020, the blockchain will halve the amount of Bitcoin issued when each nonce is guessed. When Bitcoin was first created, fifty were issued per block as a reward to miners. 6.25 BTC will be issued from that point on once each nonce is solved. Unlike fiat, Bitcoin is a deflationary currency. As BTC becomes scarcer, demand for it will increase, also raising the price. In this, BTC is similar to gold. It is predictable in its’ output, unlike the USD, as it is based on a programmed supply. We can predict BTC’s deflation and inflation almost exactly, if not exactly. Only 21 million BTC will ever be produced, unless the entire network concedes to change the protocol – which is highly unlikely. Some of the drawbacks to BTC include congestion. At peak congestion, it may take an entire day to process a Bitcoin transaction as only three to five transactions may be processed per second. Receiving priority on a payment may cost up to the equivalent of twenty dollars ($20). Bitcoin mining consumes enough energy in one day to power a single-family home for an entire week.
Trading or Investing?
The fundamental divide in trading revolves around the question of market structure. Many feel that the market operates totally randomly and its’ behavior cannot be predicted. For the purposes of this article, we will assume that the market has a structure, but that that structure is not perfect. That market structure naturally generates chart patterns as the market records prices in time. In order to determine when the stock market will crash, causing a major decline in BTC price, we will analyze an instrument, an exchange traded fund, which represents an index, as opposed to a particular stock. The price patterns of the various stocks in an index are effectively smoothed out. In doing so, a more technical picture arises. Perhaps the most popular of these is the SPDR S&P Standard and Poor 500 Exchange Traded Fund ($SPY). In trading, little to no concern is given about value of underlying asset. We are concerned primarily about liquidity and trading ranges, which are the amount of value fluctuating on a short-term basis, as measured by volatility-implied trading ranges. Fundamental analysis plays a role, however markets often do not react to real-world factors in a logical fashion. Therefore, fundamental analysis is more appropriate for long-term investing. The fundamental derivatives of a chart are time (x-axis) and price (y-axis). The primary technical indicator is price, as everything else is lagging in the past. Price represents current asking price and incorrectly implementing positions based on price is one of the biggest trading errors. Markets and currencies ordinarily have noise, their tendency to back-and-fill, which must be filtered out for true pattern recognition. That noise does have a utility, however, in allowing traders second chances to enter favorable positions at slightly less favorable entry points. When you have any market with enough liquidity for historical data to record a pattern, then a structure can be divined. The market probes prices as part of an ongoing price-discovery process. Market technicians must sometimes look outside of the technical realm and use visual inspection to ascertain the relevance of certain patterns, using a qualitative eye that recognizes the underlying quantitative nature Markets and instruments rise slower than they correct, however they rise much more than they fall. In the same vein, instruments can only fall to having no worth, whereas they could theoretically grow infinitely and have continued to grow over time. Money in a fiat system is illusory. It is a fundamentally synthetic instrument which has no intrinsic value. Hence, the recent seemingly illogical fluctuations in the market. According to trade theory, the unending purpose of a market or instrument is to create and break price ranges according to the laws of supply and demand. We must determine when to trade based on each market inflection point as defined in price and in time as opposed to abandoning the trend (as the contrarian trading in this sub often does). Time and Price symmetry must be used to be in accordance with the trend. When coupled with a favorable risk to reward ratio, the ability to stay in the market for most of the defined time period, and adherence to risk management rules; the trader has a solid methodology for achieving considerable gains. We will engage in a longer term market-oriented analysis to avoid any time-focused pressure. The Bitcoin market is open twenty-four-hours a day, so trading may be done when the individual is ready, without any pressing need to be constantly alert. Let alone, we can safely project months in advance with relatively high accuracy. Bitcoin is an asset which an individual can both trade and invest, however this article will be focused on trading due to the wide volatility in BTC prices over the short-term.
Technical Indicator Analysis of Bitcoin
Technical indicators are often considered self-fulfilling prophecies due to mass-market psychology gravitating towards certain common numbers yielded from them. They are also often discounted when it comes to BTC. That means a trader must be especially aware of these numbers as they can prognosticate market movements. Often, they are meaningless in the larger picture of things.
Volume – derived from the market itself, it is mostly irrelevant. The major problem with volume for stocks is that the US market open causes tremendous volume surges eradicating any intrinsic volume analysis. This does not occur with BTC, as it is open twenty-four-seven. At major highs and lows, the market is typically anemic. Most traders are not active at terminal discretes (peaks and troughs) because of levels of fear. Volume allows us confidence in time and price symmetry market inflection points, if we observe low volume at a foretold range of values. We can rationalize that an absolute discrete is usually only discovered and anticipated by very few traders. As the general market realizes it, a herd mentality will push the market in the direction favorable to defending it. Volume is also useful for swing trading, as chances for swing’s validity increases if an increase in volume is seen on and after the swing’s activation. Volume is steadily decreasing. Lows and highs are reached when volume is lower.
Therefore, due to the relatively high volume on the 12th of March, we can safely determine that a low for BTC was not reached.
VIX – Volatility Index, this technical indicator indicates level of fear by the amount of options-based “insurance” in portfolios. A low VIX environment, less than 20 for the S&P index, indicates a stable market with a possible uptrend. A high VIX, over 20, indicates a possible downtrend. VIX is essentially useless for BTC as BTC-based options do not exist. It allows us to predict the market low for $SPY, which will have an indirect impact on BTC in the short term, likely leading to the yearly low. However, it is equally important to see how VIX is changing over time, if it is decreasing or increasing, as that indicates increasing or decreasing fear. Low volatility allows high leverage without risk or rest. Occasionally, markets do rise with high VIX.
As VIX is unusually high, in the forties, we can be confident that a downtrend for the S&P 500 is imminent.
RSI (Relative Strength Index): The most important technical indicator, useful for determining highs and lows when time symmetry is not availing itself. Sometimes analysis of RSI can conflict in different time frames, easiest way to use it is when it is at extremes – either under 30 or over 70. Extremes can be used for filtering highs or lows based on time-and-price window calculations. Highly instructive as to major corrective clues and indicative of continued directional movement. Must determine if longer-term RSI values find support at same values as before. It is currently at 73.56.
Secondly, RSI may be used as a high or low filter, to observe the level that short-term RSI reaches in counter-trend corrections. Repetitions based on market movements based on RSI determine how long a trade should be held onto. Once a short term RSI reaches an extreme and stay there, the other RSI’s should gradually reach the same extremes. Once all RSI’s are at extreme highs, a trend confirmation should occur and RSI’s should drop to their midpoint.
Trend Definition Analysis of Bitcoin
Trend definition is highly powerful, cannot be understated. Knowledge of trend logic is enough to be a profitable trader, yet defining a trend is an arduous process. Multiple trends coexist across multiple time frames and across multiple market sectors. Like time structure, it makes the underlying price of the instrument irrelevant. Trend definitions cannot determine the validity of newly formed discretes. Trend becomes apparent when trades based in counter-trend inflection points continue to fail. Downtrends are defined as an instrument making lower lows and lower highs that are recurrent, additive, qualified swing setups. Downtrends for all instruments are similar, except forex. They are fast and complete much quicker than uptrends. An average downtrend is 18 months, something which we will return to. An uptrend inception occurs when an instrument reaches a point where it fails to make a new low, then that low will be tested. After that, the instrument will either have a deep range retracement or it may take out the low slightly, resulting in a double-bottom. A swing must eventually form. A simple way to roughly determine trend is to attempt to draw a line from three tops going upwards (uptrend) or a line from three bottoms going downwards (downtrend). It is not possible to correctly draw a downtrend line on the BTC chart, but it is possible to correctly draw an uptrend – indicating that the overall trend is downwards. The only mitigating factor is the impending stock market crash.
Time Symmetry Analysis of Bitcoin
Time is the movement from the past through the present into the future. It is a measurement in quantified intervals. In many ways, our perception of it is a human construct. It is more powerful than price as time may be utilized for a trade regardless of the market inflection point’s price. Were it possible to perfectly understand time, price would be totally irrelevant due to the predictive certainty time affords. Time structure is easier to learn than price, but much more difficult to apply with any accuracy. It is the hardest aspect of trading to learn, but also the most rewarding. Humans do not have the ability to recognize every time window, however the ability to define market inflection points in terms of time is the single most powerful trading edge. Regardless, price should not be abandoned for time alone. Time structure analysis It is inherently flawed, as such the markets have a fail-safe, which is Price Structure. Even though Time is much more powerful, Price Structure should never be completely ignored. Time is the qualifier for Price and vice versa. Time can fail by tricking traders into counter-trend trading. Time is a predestined trade quantifier, a filter to slow trades down, as it allows a trader to specifically focus on specific time windows and rest at others. It allows for quantitative measurements to reach deterministic values and is the primary qualifier for trends. Time structure should be utilized before price structure, and it is the primary trade criterion which requires support from price. We can see price structure on a chart, as areas of mathematical support or resistance, but we cannot see time structure. Time may be used to tell us an exact point in the future where the market will inflect, after Price Theory has been fulfilled. In the present, price objectives based on price theory added to possible future times for market inflection points give us the exact time of market inflection points and price. Time Structure is repetitions of time or inherent cycles of time, occurring in a methodical way to provide time windows which may be utilized for inflection points. They are not easily recognized and not easily defined by a price chart as measuring and observing time is very exact. Time structure is not a science, yet it does require precise measurements. Nothing is certain or definite. The critical question must be if a particular approach to time structure is currently lucrative or not. We will measure it in intervals of 180 bars. Our goal is to determine time windows, when the market will react and when we should pay the most attention. By using time repetitions, the fact that market inflection points occurred at some point in the past and should, therefore, reoccur at some point in the future, we should obtain confidence as to when SPY will reach a market inflection point. Time repetitions are essentially the market’s memory. However, simply measuring the time between two points then trying to extrapolate into the future does not work. Measuring time is not the same as defining time repetitions. We will evaluate past sessions for market inflection points, whether discretes, qualified swings, or intra-range. Then records the times that the market has made highs or lows in a comparable time period to the future one seeks to trade in. What follows is a time Histogram – A grouping of times which appear close together, then segregated based on that closeness. Time is aligned into combined histogram of repetitions and cycles, however cycles are irrelevant on a daily basis. If trading on an hourly basis, do not use hours.
Daily Lows Mode for those Months: 1, 1, 2, 4, 12, 17, 18, 24, 25, 28, 29, 30
Hourly Lows Mode for those Months (Military time): 0100, 0200, 0200, 0400, 0700, 0700, 0800, 1200, 1200, 1700, 2000, 2200
Minute Lows Mode for those Months: 00, 00, 00, 00, 00, 00, 09, 09, 59, 59, 59, 59
Day of the Week Lows (last twenty-six weeks):
Weighted Times are repetitions which appears multiple times within the same list, observed and accentuated once divided into relevant sections of the histogram. They are important in the presently defined trading time period and are similar to a mathematical mode with respect to a series. Phased times are essentially periodical patterns in histograms, though they do not guarantee inflection points Evaluating the yearly lows, we see that BTC tends to have its lows primarily at the beginning of every year, with a possibility of it being at the end of the year. Following the same methodology, we get the middle of the month as the likeliest day. However, evaluating the monthly lows for the past year, the beginning and end of the month are more likely for lows. Therefore, we have two primary dates from our histogram. 1/1/21, 1/15/21, and 1/29/21 2:00am, 8:00am, 12:00pm, or 10:00pm In fact, the high for this year was February the 14th, only thirty days off from our histogram calculations. The 8.6-Year Armstrong-Princeton Global Economic Confidence model states that 2.15 year intervals occur between corrections, relevant highs and lows. 2.15 years from the all-time peak discrete is February 9, 2020 – a reasonably accurate depiction of the low for this year (which was on 3/12/20). (Taking only the Armstrong model into account, the next high should be Saturday, April 23, 2022). Therefore, the Armstrong model indicates that we have actually bottomed out for the year! Bear markets cannot exist in perpetuity whereas bull markets can. Bear markets will eventually have price objectives of zero, whereas bull markets can increase to infinity. It can occur for individual market instruments, but not markets as a whole. Since bull markets are defined by low volatility, they also last longer. Once a bull market is indicated, the trader can remain in a long position until a new high is reached, then switch to shorts. The average bear market is eighteen months long, giving us a date of August 19th, 2021 for the end of this bear market – roughly speaking. They cannot be shorter than fifteen months for a central-bank controlled market, which does not apply to Bitcoin. (Otherwise, it would continue until Sunday, September 12, 2021.) However, we should expect Bitcoin to experience its’ exponential growth after the stock market re-enters a bull market. Terry Laundy’s T-Theory implemented by measuring the time of an indicator from peak to trough, then using that to define a future time window. It is similar to an head-and-shoulders pattern in that it is the process of forming the right side from a synthetic technical indicator. If the indicator is making continued lows, then time is recalculated for defining the right side of the T. The date of the market inflection point may be a price or indicator inflection date, so it is not always exactly useful. It is better to make us aware of possible market inflection points, clustered with other data. It gives us an RSI low of May, 9th 2020. The Bradley Cycle is coupled with volatility allows start dates for campaigns or put options as insurance in portfolios for stocks. However, it is also useful for predicting market moves instead of terminal dates for discretes. Using dates which correspond to discretes, we can see how those dates correspond with changes in VIX. Therefore, our timeline looks like:
2/14/20 – yearly high ($10372 USD)
3/12/20 – yearly low thus far ($3858 USD)
5/9/20 – T-Theory true yearly low (BTC between 4863 and 3569)
Elaborating on Datadash's 50k BTC Prediction: Why We Endorse the Call
As originally published via CoinLive I am the Co-Founder at CoinLive. Prior to founding Coinlive.io, my area of expertise was inter-market analysis. I came across Datadash 50k BTC prediction this week, and I must take my hats off to what I believe is an excellent interpretation of the inter-connectivity of various markets. At your own convenience, you can find a sample of Intermarket analysis I've written in the past before immersing myself into cryptos full-time. Gold inter-market: 'Out of sync' with VIX, takes lead from USD/JPY USD/JPY inter-market: Watch divergence US-Japan yield spread EUUSD intermarket: US yields collapse amid supply environment Inter-market analysis: Risk back in vogue, but for how long? USD/JPY intermarket: Bulls need higher adj in 10-y US-JP spread The purpose of this article is to dive deeper into the factors Datadash presents in his video and how they can help us draw certain conclusions about the potential flows of capital into crypto markets and the need that will exist for a BTC ETF. Before I do so, as a brief explainer, let's touch on what exactly Intermarket analysis refers to: Intermarket analysis is the global interconnectivity between equities, bonds, currencies, commodities, and any other asset class; Global markets are an ever-evolving discounting and constant valuation mechanism and by studying their interconnectivity, we are much better positioned to explain and elaborate on why certain moves occur, future directions and gain insights on potential misalignments that the market may not have picked up on yet or might be ignoring/manipulating. While such interconnectivity has proven to be quite limiting when it comes to the value one can extract from analyzing traditional financial assets and the crypto market, Datadash has eloquently been able to build a hypothesis, which as an Intermarket analyst, I consider very valid, and that matches up my own views. Nicolas Merten constructs a scenario which leads him to believe that a Bitcoin ETF is coming. Let's explore this hypothesis. I will attempt to summarize and provide further clarity on why the current events in traditional asset classes, as described by Datadash, will inevitably result in a Bitcoin ETF. Make no mistake, Datadash's call for Bitcoin at 50k by the end of 2018 will be well justified once a BTC ETF is approved. While the timing is the most challenging part t get right, the end result won't vary. If one wishes to learn more about my personal views on why a BTC ETF is such a big deal, I encourage you to read my article from late March this year. Don't Be Misled by Low Liquidity/Volume - Fundamentals Never Stronger The first point Nicholas Merten makes is that despite depressed volume levels, the fundamentals are very sound. That, I must say, is a point I couldn't agree more. In fact, I recently wrote an article titled TheParadox: Bitcoin Keeps Selling as Intrinsic Value Set to Explode where I state "the latest developments in Bitcoin's technology makes it paradoxically an ever increasingly interesting investment proposition the cheaper it gets." However, no article better defines where we stand in terms of fundamentals than the one I wrote back on May 15th titled Find Out Why Institutions Will Flood the Bitcoin Market, where I look at the ever-growing list of evidence that shows why a new type of investors, the institutional ones, looks set to enter the market in mass. Nicholas believes that based on the supply of Bitcoin, the market capitalization can reach about $800b. He makes a case that with the fundamentals in bitcoin much stronger, it wouldn't be that hard to envision the market cap more than double from its most recent all-time high of more than $300b. Interest Rates Set to Rise Further First of all, one of the most immediate implications of higher rates is the increased difficulty to bear the costs by borrowers, which leads Nicholas to believe that banks the likes of Deutsche Bank will face a tough environment going forward. The CEO of the giant German lender has actually warned that second-quarter results would reflect a “revenue environment [that] remains challenging." Nicholas refers to the historical chart of Eurodollar LIBOR rates as illustrated below to strengthen the case that interest rates are set to follow an upward trajectory in the years to come as Central Banks continue to normalize monetary policies after a decade since the global financial crisis. I'd say, that is a correct assumption, although one must take into account the Italian crisis to be aware that a delay in higher European rates is a real possibility now. !(https://coinlive.io/ckeditor_assets/pictures/947/content_2018-05-30_1100.png) Let's look at the following combinations: Fed Fund Rate Contract (green), German 2-year bond yields (black) and Italy's 10-year bond yield (blue) to help us clarify what's the outlook for interest rates both in Europe and the United States in the foreseeable future. The chart suggests that while the Federal Reserve remains on track to keep increasing interest rates at a gradual pace, there has been a sudden change in the outlook for European rates in the short-end of the curve. While the European Central Bank is no longer endorsing proactive policies as part of its long-standing QE narrative, President Mario Draghi is still not ready to communicate an exit strategy to its unconventional stimulus program due to protectionism threats in the euro-area, with Italy the latest nightmare episode. Until such major step is taken in the form of a formal QE conclusion, interest rates in the European Union will remain depressed; the latest drastic spike in Italy's benchmark bond yield to default levels is pre-emptive of lower rates for longer, an environment that on one hand may benefit the likes of Deutsche Bank on lower borrowing costs, but on the other hand, sets in motion a bigger headache as risk aversion is set to dominate financial markets, which leads to worse financial consequences such as loss of confidence and hence in equity valuations. !(https://coinlive.io/ckeditor_assets/pictures/948/content_2018-05-30_1113.png) Deutsche Bank - End of the Road? Nicholas argues that as part of the re-restructuring process in Deutsche Bank, they will be facing a much more challenging environment as lending becomes more difficult on higher interest rates. At CoinLive, we still believe this to be a logical scenario to expect, even if a delay happens as the ECB tries to deal with the Italian political crisis which once again raises the question of whether or not Italy should be part of the EU. Reference to an article by Zerohedge is given, where it states: "One day after the WSJ reported that the biggest German bank is set to "decimate" its workforce, firing 10,000 workers or one in ten, this morning Deutsche Bank confirmed plans to cut thousands of jobs as part of new CEO Christian Sewing's restructuring and cost-cutting effort. The German bank said its headcount would fall “well below” 90,000, from just over 97,000. But the biggest gut punch to employee morale is that the bank would reduce headcount in its equities sales and trading business by about 25%." There is an undeniably ongoing phenomenon of a migration in job positions from traditional financial markets into blockchain, which as we have reported in the past, it appears to be a logical and rational step to be taken, especially in light of the new revenue streams the blockchain sector has to offer. Proof of that is the fact that Binance, a crypto exchange with around 200 employees and less than 1 year of operations has overcome Deutsche Bank, in total profits. What this communicates is that the opportunities to grow an institution’s revenue stream are formidable once they decide to integrate cryptocurrencies into their business models. One can find an illustration of Deutsche Bank's free-fall in prices below: !(https://coinlive.io/ckeditor_assets/pictures/946/content_2018-05-30_1052.png) Nicholas takes notes of a chart in which one can clearly notice a worrying trend for Italian debt. "Just about every other major investor type has become a net seller (to the ECB) or a non-buyer of BTPs over the last couple of years. Said differently, for well over a year, the only marginal buyer of Italian bonds has been the ECB!", the team of Economists at Citi explained. One can find the article via ZeroHedge here. !(https://coinlive.io/ckeditor_assets/pictures/953/content_2018-05-30_1451.png) Equities & Housing to Suffer the Consequences Nicholas notes that trillions of dollars need to exit these artificially-inflated equity markets. He even mentions a legendary investor such as George Soros, who has recently warned that the world could be on the brink of another devastating financial crisis, on lingering debt concerns in Europe and a strengthening US dollar, as a destabilizing factor for both the US's emerging- and developed-market rivals. Ray Dalio, another legend in the investing world and Founder of Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest hedge fund, "has ramped up its short positions in European equities in recent weeks, bringing their total value to an estimated $22 billion", MarketWatch reports. Nicholas extracts a chart by John Del Vecchio at lmtr.com where it illustrates the ratio between stocks and commodities at the lowest in over 50 years. As the author states: "I like to look for extremes in the markets. Extremes often pinpoint areas where returns can be higher and risk lower than in other time periods. Take the relationship between commodities and stocks. The chart below shows that commoditieshavennot been cheaper than stocks in a generation. We often hear this time it is different” to justify what’s going on in the world. But, one thing that never changes is human nature. People push markets to extremes. Then they revert. " !(https://coinlive.io/ckeditor_assets/pictures/954/content_2018-05-30_1459.png) Bitcoin ETF the Holy Grail for a Cyclical Multi-Year Bull Run It is precisely from this last chart above that leads Nicholas to believe we are on the verge of a resurgence in commodity prices. Not only that but amid the need of all this capital to exit stocks and to a certain extent risky bonds (Italian), a new commodity-based digital currency ETF based on Bitcoin will emerge in 2018. The author of Datadash highlights the consideration to launching a Bitcoin ETF by the SEC. At CoinLive, our reporting of the subject can be found below: "Back in April, it was reported that the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has put back on the table two Bitcoin ETF proposals, according to public documents. The agency is under formal proceedings to approve a rule change that would allow NYSE Arca to list two exchange-traded funds (ETFs) proposed by fund provider ProShares. The introduction of an ETF would make Bitcoin available to a much wider share of market participants, with the ability to directly buy the asset at the click of a button, essentially simplifying the current complexity that involves having to deal with all the cumbersome steps currently in place." Nicholas refers to the support the Bitcoin ETF has been receiving by the Cboe president Chris Concannon, which is a major positive development. CoinLive reported on the story back in late March, noting that "a Bitcoin ETF will without a doubt open the floodgates to an enormous tsunami of fresh capital entering the space, which based on the latest hints by Concannon, the willingness to keep pushing for it remains unabated as the evolution of digital assets keeps its course." It has been for quite some time CoinLive's conviction, now supported by no other than Nicholas Merten from Datadash, that over the next 6 months, markets will start factoring in the event of the year, that is, the approval of a Bitcoin ETF that will serve as a alternative vehicle to accommodate the massive flows of capital leaving some of the traditional asset classes. As Nicholas suggests, the SEC will have little choice but to provide alternative investments. Bitcoin as a Hedge to Lower Portfolios' Volatility Last but not least, crypto assets such as Bitcoin and the likes have an almost non-existent correlation to other traditional assets such as stocks, bonds, and commodities, which makes for a very attractive and broadly-applicable diversification strategy for the professional money as it reduces one’s portfolio volatility. The moment a Bitcoin ETF is confirmed, expect the non-correlation element of Bitcoin as a major driving force to attract further capital. Anyone Can BeWrongDatadash, But You Won't be Wrong Alone Having analyzed the hypothesis by Nicholas Merten, at CoinLive we believe that the conclusion reached, that is, the creation of a Bitcoin ETF that will provide shelter to a tsunami of capital motivated by the diversification and store of value appeal of Bitcoin, is the next logical step. As per the timing of it, we also anticipate, as Nicholas notes, that it will most likely be subject to the price action in traditional assets. Should equities and credit markets hold steady, it may result in a potential delay, whereas disruption in the capital market may see the need for a BTC ETF accelerate. Either scenario, we will conclude with a quote we wrote back in March. "It appears as though an ETF on Bitcoin is moving from a state of "If" to "When." Datadash is certainly not alone on his 50k call. BitMEX CEO Arthur Hayes appears to think along the same line. On behalf of the CoinLive Team, we want to thank Nicholas Merten at Datadash for such enlightening insights.
Ritocoin - a 100% community driven project based on Ravencoin
tl:dr: Ritocoin is a code fork of the Ravencoin codebase and continues to track future Ravencoin developments. The project was launched to provide a more community-oriented blockchain with the same functionality as Ravencoin, without a corporate overseer, and with a more flexible model for community participation and development. It’s intention is to be a hacker’s playground for innovative ideas. Specifications Proof-of-Work Algorithm: X21S Block Time: 60 seconds POW Block Reward: Smooth curve down Community fund: 1% first year Difficulty Retargeting: DGW-180 Maximum Supply: 6 months: 993,521,892 RITO 1 year: 1,227,448,858 RITO 5 years: 1,762,210,058 RITO 10 years: 1,820,404,381 RITO 50 years: 2,030,907,256 RITO 100 years: 2,293,707,246 RITO Infinite: 10 RITO per block in perpetuity Pre-mine: None Masternodes: Researching for use case Asset layer: Was enabled at height 50,000 Links Website /ritocoin Explorer Github Whitepaper twitter [ANN] X21S This hashing algorithm was created specifically for Ritocoin, and was designed to resist FPGAs, ASICs, and NiceHash. It is X16S (16 algorithms shuffled and hashed),, followed by 5 additional hashing algorithms: haval256, tiger, lyra2, gost512, and sha256. The inclusion of lyra2 brings numerous advantages, making parallelization of the algorithm practically impossible, with each step relying on the previous step having already been computed. It is a “friendly” algorithm that makes GPUs produce much less heat and uses less electricity during mining. Take your time to learn more about us in the below story of Ritocoin... The spirit of Bitcoin continues to inspire, empower and enable people around the globe. Ten years later, just as it seemed Bitcoin was being defined by commercial agents and regulated governance, that same free and independent spirit imbued the Ravencoin community. In ten short months, however, 30% of the Ravencoin project’s net hash comes from NiceHash and the looming impact of the imminent FPGA mining cards and X16R bitstreams certainly promises to shake up the dream of this GPU miner’s darling. Ravencoin’s fair launch genuinely inspired our developers and supporters. We admire the way Ravencoin came out swinging — fighting for fairness, an honest distribution of coins and a place where GPU miners could thrive. The asset layer attracted many more miners and investors to the pools. Many Ritocoin enthusiasts came from the Ravencoin community, and continue their association with that project. The whole crypto ecosystem should appreciate the work begun by Ravencoin. Obviously they continue to inspire and motivate us to this day. It’s the reason we took action. We decided to start our own project which focuses upon at least two pillars of decentralized networks in the crypto space: community governance and a fair distribution of coins. It is a core belief throughout Ritocoin that in order to successfully develop and maintain this hacker’s playground — a place where a broad range of ideas could be tried and allowed to flourish — these two ideals must be allowed to drive and guide our community. This deep focus on community choices creates a project flexible enough to support most ideas, and agile enough to define new frontiers. A mining network’s distributed ledger is defined by its technology. Like many in the broader crypto-mining community, we value the GPU for its accessibility. These processors are available for purchase all around the world without any legal restrictions. GPUs are vastly more accessible for hobbyists and miners to acquire. They can be shipped nearly anywhere around the globe, a nice benefit to the popular secondary market which has sprung up much to the chagrin of PC gamers. More constraints exist for the ASIC and FPGA miner. Laws in some parts of the world restrict people from using or buying ASIC and FPGA mining hardware. This alone is directly in confrontation with Ritocoin’s core values of decentralized stewardship and sovereignty. The GPU, in essence, is like your voice. Anyone with the means of acquiring one GPU should be able to have their voice heard. ASIC and FPGA mining devalues the GPU miner’s voice and silos that coin’s network away from the small scale and personal mining operator. A truly community driven project means each stakeholder, regardless of size of contribution to the network’s net hash, has an opportunity to build, vote and direct. If you are already familiar with our website, discord or whitepaper, you are probably aware that masternodes had been proposed as a feature of the network from the beginning. This opened the door to ongoing discussions in the Ritocoin community regarding ● A masternode’s true purpose ● What benefit they provide to the project ● How the benefit is realized ● The collateral This discussion, governed entirely by stakeholders across the extended network yielded a defining moment for our vision of flexibility. We have not yet found the potential utility of masternodes, however, the conversation has not reached an extent to where we could abandon the idea. To quote one of our developers during this discussion on our Discord:
“Just want to give a reminder here that even though masternodes are on the roadmap, it is not set in stone. This coin belongs to the community and we will do what we as a community want to do. If we conclude that we want to take this coin a different direction than masternodes, then that is what we’ll do.” --traysi
We are all volunteers at Ritocoin. Our moderators and community leaders try to give immediate support to all users that require it. Contact us in Discord or Telegram, not only for support, but, proposing new ideas, revising old ones and just so you can find a place to get together and find people to hang out with. You are well within your rights to enjoy yourself at any given moment, and, should you feel so inclined to begin working with the team, we just so happen to be looking for ambitious individuals that see themselves as being part of a greater vision, are inspired by change, and inspired to be the change they want to see making things better in this world. Join us in a space where your ideas to build something great can become a reality. We are eager to know what you think is best for the future of Rito. What steps would you take to become more resilient, stronger, fair and decentralized? Because at the end of the day, like it or not, love it or leave it.. this is your coin, too. You can become a significant part of this project. We will help you further develop the role you wish to fill in the cryptocurrency space — influencer, developer, analyst, you name it. This is not a just-for-developer’s playground. We want the enthusiasts. We want the perplexed and the rabbit-hole divers. This is the coin for everyone who is trying to find their place on the path that Satoshi began unfolding in 2008 after the collapse of the housing market rippled out into the subsequent crash of global markets. That’s why we have Bitcoin, remember? Be your own bank. This is why Satoshi and Bitcoin.org kept their software open source. It’s up to us to keep the torch ablaze. Community funds For the first year, about 1% of mined coins are set aside into a developers fund that is used to provide bounties to the community developers who make substantial development contributions to the Ritocoin ecosystem. We have already paid out numerous bounties for important work that has already benefits Ritocoin in substantial ways. We also have another donation-driven community fund that has recently been put together for the purposes of doing fun contests and things like that. Cooperation and collaborations We have discovered a number of fatal flaws in the original Ravencoin codebase and worked with the Ravencoin developers to get those fixed in both Ritocoin and Ravencoin. This work has benefitted Ravencoin in numerous ways and we look forward to a long time of collaboration and cooperation between us and them. Many members of the Safecoin team are also in our discord group, and have collaborated with us in shaping the future decisions of Ritocoin. We have several thousand members in our group and they represent all walks of cryptocurrency life. We invite all coin developers, miners and enthusiasts to join our discord and be a part of this coin that truly belongs entirely to the community. Block reward A couple weeks ago we met for a scheduled meeting in our discord group and had a lengthy conversation about the block reward. Our block reward started at 5,000 RITO per block (every 60 seconds) just like Ravencoin. This extremely high number of coins coupled with the high profitability of mining led to unforeseen consequences with pools auto-exchanging the coin into bitcoin. This dumping by non-community miners had a very negative impact on the community sentiment and morale, as we watched the exchange price plunge. We looked at other coins and realized that this fate has befell many other coins with high block rewards. Following much discussion, we decided to change the reward structure. Starting around March 19th the block rewards will start to slowly go down in a curve until it reaches 1,000. Then the reduction will be even more slowed down with block rewards exponentially dropping at periodic intervals. We have posted charts on our website that shows what the long-term effects of our reward reducing algorithms will be. As a miner, the next 2 months will be a great time to mine and hold, while the block reward is still fairly high. We encourage all miners and cryptocurrency enthusiasts to take advantage of the current favourable block reward and build a nice holding for yourself. Then join the community and be a part of the fun we’re having with this project. This post was prepared by a collaboration of multiple Ritocoin members and was posted to reddit by the core developer Trevali, who posts to reddit under the ritocoin username and will be very happy to answer any questions anybody may have about our project. Traysi (well known in the Ravencoin community) is also an active Ritocoin developer and may come to this thread if needed. We welcome any questions from any of you regarding our project!
The Great Bitcoin Bull Market Of 2017 by Trace Mayer
By: Trace Mayer, host of The Bitcoin Knowledge Podcast. Originally posted here with images and Youtube videos. I just got back from a two week vacation without Internet as I was scouring some archeological ruins. I hardly thought about Bitcoin at all because there were so many other interesting things and it would be there when I got back. Jimmy Song suggested I do an article on the current state of Bitcoin. A great suggestion but he is really smart (he worked on Armory after all!) so I better be thorough and accurate! Therefore, this article will be pretty lengthy and meticulous. BACKGROUND As I completely expected, the 2X movement from the New York Agreement that was supposed to happen during the middle of my vacation flopped on its face because Jeff Garzik was driving the clown car with passengers willfully inside like Coinbase, Blockchain.info, Bitgo and Xapo and there were here massive bugS and in the code and miners like Bitmain did not want to allocate $150-350m to get it over the difficulty adjustments. I am very disappointed in their lack of integrity with putting their money where their mouths are; myself and many others wanted to sell a lot of B2X for BTC! On 7 December 2015, with Bitcoin trading at US$388.40, I wrote The Rise of the Fourth Great Bitcoin Bubble. On 4 December 2016, with Bitcoin trading at US$762.97, I did this interview:
As of 26 November 2017, Bitcoin is trading around US$9,250.00. That is an increase of about 2,400% since I wrote the article prognosticating this fourth great Bitcoin bull market. I sure like being right, like usual (19 Dec 2011, 1 Jul 2013), especially when there are financial and economic consequences. With such massive gains in such a short period of time the speculative question becomes: Buy, Hold or Sell? FUNDAMENTALS Bitcoin is the decentralized censorship-resistant Internet Protocol for transferring value over a communications channel. The Bitcoin network can use traditional Internet infrastructure. However, it is even more resilient because it has custom infrastructure including, thanks to Bitcoin Core developer Matt Corrallo, the FIBRE network and, thanks to Blockstream, satellites which reduce the cost of running a full-node anywhere in the world to essentially nothing in terms of money or privacy. Transactions can be cheaply broadcast via SMS messages. SECURITY The Bitcoin network has a difficulty of 1,347,001,430,559 which suggests about 9,642,211 TH/s of custom ASIC hardware deployed. At a retail price of approximately US$105/THs that implies about $650m of custom ASIC hardware deployed (35% discount applied). This custom hardware consumes approximately 30 TWh per year. That could power about 2.8m US households or the entire country of Morocco which has a population of 33.85m. This Bitcoin mining generates approximately 12.5 bitcoins every 10 minutes or approximately 1,800 per day worth approximately US$16,650,000. Bitcoin currently has a market capitalization greater than $150B which puts it solidly in the top-30 of M1 money stock countries and a 200 day moving average of about $65B which is increasing about $500m per day. Average daily volumes for Bitcoin is around US$5B. That means multi-million dollar positions can be moved into and out of very easily with minimal slippage. When my friend Andreas Antonopolous was unable to give his talk at a CRYPSA event I was invited to fill in and delivered this presentation, impromptu, on the Seven Network Effects of Bitcoin. These seven network effects of Bitcoin are (1) Speculation, (2) Merchants, (3) Consumers, (4) Security [miners], (5) Developers, (6) Financialization and (7) Settlement Currency are all taking root at the same time and in an incredibly intertwined way. With only the first network effect starting to take significant root; Bitcoin is no longer a little experiment of magic Internet money anymore. Bitcoin is monster growing at a tremendous rate!!
SPECULATION For the Bitcoin price to remain at $9,250 it requires approximately US$16,650,000 per day of capital inflow from new hodlers. Bitcoin is both a Giffen good and a Veblen good. A Giffen good is a product that people consume more of as the price rises and vice versa — seemingly in violation of basic laws of demand in microeconomics such as with substitute goods and the income effect. Veblen goods are types of luxury goods for which the quantity demanded increases as the price increases in an apparent contradiction of the law of demand. There are approximately 16.5m bitcoins of which ~4m are lost, ~4-6m are in deep cold storage, ~4m are in cold storage and ~2-4m are salable. (http://www.runtogold.com/images/lost-bitcoins-1.jpg) (http://www.runtogold.com/images/lost-bitcoins-2.jpg) And forks like BCash (BCH) should not be scary but instead be looked upon as an opportunity to take more territory on the Bitcoin blockchain by trading the forks for real bitcoins which dries up more salable supply by moving it, likely, into deep cold storage. According to Wikipedia, there are approximately 15.4m millionaires in the United States and about 12m HNWIs ($30m+ net worth) in the world. In other words, if every HNWI in the world wanted to own an entire bitcoin as a 'risk-free asset' that cannot be confiscated, seized or have the balance other wise altered then they could not. For wise portfolio management, these HNWIs should have at least about 2-5% in gold and 0.5-1% in bitcoin. Why? Perhaps some of the 60+ Saudis with 1,700 frozen bank accounts and about $800B of assets being targetted might be able to explain it to you. In other words, everyone loves to chase the rabbit and once they catch it then know that it will not get away. RETAIL There are approximately 150+ significant Bitcoin exchanges worldwide. Kraken, according to the CEO, was adding about 6,000 new funded accounts per day in July 2017. Supposedly, Coinbase is currently adding about 75,000 new accounts per day. Based on some trade secret analytics I have access to; I would estimate Coinbase is adding approximately 17,500 new accounts per day that purchase at least US$100 of Bitcoin. If we assume Coinbase accounts for 8% of new global Bitcoin users who purchase at least $100 of bitcoins (just pulled out of thin error and likely very conservative as the actual number is perhaps around 2%) then that is approximately $21,875,000 of new capital coming into Bitcoin every single day just from retail demand from 218,750 total new accounts. What I have found is that most new users start off buying US$100-500 and then after 3-4 months months they ramp up their capital allocation to $5,000+ if they have the funds available. After all, it takes some time and practical experience to learn how to safely secure one's private keys. To do so, I highly recommendBitcoin Core (network consensus and full validation of the blockchain), Armory (private key management), Glacier Protocol (operational procedures) and a Puri.sm laptop (secure non-specialized hardware). WALL STREET There has been no solution for large financial fiduciaries to invest in Bitcoin. This changed November 2017. LedgerX, whose CEO I interviewed 23 March 2013, began trading as a CFTC regulated Swap Execution Facility and Derivatives Clearing Organization. The CME Group announced they will begin trading in Q4 2017 Bitcoin futures. The CBOE announced they will begin trading Bitcoin futures soon. By analogy, these institutional products are like connecting a major metropolis's water system (US$90.4T and US$2 quadrillion) via a nanoscopic shunt to a tiny blueberry ($150B) that is infinitely expandable. This price discovery could be the most wild thing anyone has ever experienced in financial markets. THE GREAT CREDIT CONTRACTION The same week Bitcoin was released I published my book The Great Credit Contraction and asserted it had now begun and capital would burrow down the liquidity pyramid into safer and more liquid assets. (http://www.runtogold.com/images/Great-Credit-Contraction-Liquidity-Pyramid.jpg) Thus, the critical question becomes: Is Bitcoin a possible solution to the Great Credit Contraction by becoming the safest and most liquid asset? BITCOIN'S RISK PROFILE At all times and in all circumstances gold remains money but, of course, there is always exchange rate risk due to price ratios constantly fluctuating. If the metal is held with a third-party in allocated-allocated storage (safest possible) then there is performance risk (Morgan Stanley gold storage lawsuit). But, if properly held then, there should be no counter-party risk which requires the financial ability of a third-party to perform like with a bank account deposit. And, since gold exists at a single point in space and time therefore it is subject to confiscation or seizure risk. Bitcoin is a completely new asset type. As such, the storage container is nearly empty with only $150B. And every Bitcoin transaction effectively melts down every BTC and recasts it; thus ensuring with 100% accuracy the quantity and quality of the bitcoins. If the transaction is not on the blockchain then it did not happen. This is the strictest regulation possible; by math and cryptography! This new immutable asset, if properly secured, is subject only to exchange rate risk. There does exist the possibility that a software bug may exist that could shut down the network, like what has happened with Ethereum, but the probability is almost nil and getting lower everyday it does not happen. Thus, Bitcoin arguably has a lower risk profile than even gold and is the only blockchain to achieve security, scalability and liquidity. To remain decentralized, censorship-resistant and immutable requires scalability so as many users as possible can run full-nodes. (http://www.runtogold.com/images/ethereum-bitcoin-scability-nov-2017.png) TRANSACTIONS Some people, probably mostly those shilling alt-coins, think Bitcoin has a scalability problem that is so serious it requires a crude hard fork to solve. On the other side of the debate, the Internet protocol and blockchain geniuses assert the scalability issues can, like other Internet Protocols have done, be solved in different layers which are now possible because of Segregated Witness which was activated in August 2017. Whose code do you want to run: the JV benchwarmers or the championship Chicago Bulls? As transaction fees rise, certain use cases of the Bitcoin blockchain are priced out of the market. And as the fees fall then they are economical again. Additionally, as transaction fees rise, certain UTXOs are no longer economically usable thus destroying part of the money supply until fees decline and UTXOs become economical to move. There are approximately 275,000-350,000 transactions per day with transaction fees currently about $2m/day and the 200 DMA is around $1.08m/day. (http://www.runtogold.com/images/bitcoin-transaction-fees-nov-2017.png) What I like about transaction fees is that they somewhat reveal the financial health of the network. The security of the Bitcoin network results from the miners creating solutions to proof of work problems in the Bitcoin protocol and being rewarded from the (1) coinbase reward which is a form of inflation and (2) transaction fees which is a form of usage fee. The higher the transaction fees then the greater implied value the Bitcoin network provides because users are willing to pay more for it. I am highly skeptical of blockchains which have very low transaction fees. By Internet bubble analogy, Pets.com may have millions of page views but I am more interested in EBITDA. DEVELOPERS Bitcoin and blockchain programming is not an easy skill to acquire and master. Most developers who have the skill are also financially independent now and can work on whatever they want. The best of the best work through the Bitcoin Core process. After all, if you are a world class mountain climber then you do not hang out in the MacDonalds play pen but instead climb Mount Everest because that is where the challenge is. However, there are many talented developers who work in other areas besides the protocol. Wallet maintainers, exchange operators, payment processors, etc. all need competent developers to help build their businesses. Consequently, there is a huge shortage of competent developers. This is probably the largest single scalability constraint for the ecosystem. Nevertheless, the Bitcoin ecosystem is healthier than ever before. (http://www.runtogold.com/images/bitcoin-ecosystem.jpg)(/images/bitcoin-ecosystem-small.jpg) SETTLEMENT CURRENCY There are no significant global reserve settlement currency use cases for Bitcoin yet. Perhaps the closest is Blockstream's Strong Federations via Liquid. PRICE There is a tremendous amount of disagreement in the marketplace about the value proposition of Bitcoin. Price discovery for this asset will be intense and likely take many cycles of which this is the fourth. Since the supply is known the exchange rate of Bitcoins is composed of (1) transactional demand and (2) speculative demand. Interestingly, the price elasticity of demand for the transactional demand component is irrelevant to the price. This makes for very interesting dynamics! (http://www.runtogold.com/images/bitcoin-speculation.jpg) On 4 May 2017, Lightspeed Venture Partners partner Jeremy Liew who was among the early Facebook investors and the first Snapchat investor laid out their case for bitcoin exploding to $500,000 by 2030. On 2 November 2017, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-11-02/blankfein-says-don-t-dismiss-bitcoin-while-still-pondering-value)said, "Now we have paper that is just backed by fiat...Maybe in the new world, something gets backed by consensus." On 12 Sep 2017, JP Morgan CEO called Bitcoin a 'fraud' but conceded that "(http://fortune.com/2017/09/12/jamie-dimon-bitcoin-cryptocurrency-fraud-buy/)Bitcoin could reach $100,000". Thus, it is no surprise that the Bitcoin chart looks like a ferret on meth when there are such widely varying opinions on its value proposition. I have been around this space for a long time. In my opinion, those who scoffed at the thought of $1 BTC, $10 BTC (Professor Bitcorn!), $100 BTC, $1,000 BTC are scoffing at $10,000 BTC and will scoff at $100,000 BTC, $1,000,000 BTC and even $10,000,000 BTC. Interestingly, the people who understand it the best seem to think its financial dominance is destiny. Meanwhile, those who understand it the least make emotionally charged, intellectually incoherent bearish arguments. A tremendous example of worldwide cognitive dissonance with regards to sound money, technology and the role or power of the State. Consequently, I like looking at the 200 day moving average to filter out the daily noise and see the long-term trend. (http://www.runtogold.com/images/bitcoin-price-200dma-nov-2017.png) Well, that chart of the long-term trend is pretty obvious and hard to dispute. Bitcoin is in a massive secular bull market. The 200 day moving average is around $4,001 and rising about $30 per day. So, what do some proforma situations look like where Bitcoin may be undervalued, average valued and overvalued? No, these are not prognostications. (http://www.runtogold.com/images/bitcoin-price-pro-forma.png) Maybe Jamie Dimon is not so off his rocker after all with a $100,000 price prediction. We are in a very unique period of human history where the collective globe is rethinking what money is and Bitcoin is in the ring battling for complete domination. Is or will it be fit for purpose? As I have said many times before, if Bitcoin is fit for this purpose then this is the largest wealth transfer in the history of the world. CONCLUSION Well, this has been a brief analysis of where I think Bitcoin is at the end of November 2017. The seven network effects are taking root extremely fast and exponentially reinforcing each other. The technological dominance of Bitcoin is unrivaled. The world is rethinking what money is. Even CEOs of the largest banks and partners of the largest VC funds are honing in on Bitcoin's beacon. While no one has a crystal ball; when I look in mine I see Bitcoin's future being very bright. Currently, almost everyone who has bought Bitcoin and hodled is sitting on unrealized gains as measured in fiat currency. That is, after all, what uncharted territory with daily all-time highs do! But perhaps there is a larger lesson to be learned here. Riches are getting increasingly slippery because no one has a reliable defined tool to measure them with. Times like these require incredible amounts of humility and intelligence guided by macro instincts. Perhaps everyone should start keeping books in three numéraires: USD, gold and Bitcoin. Both gold and Bitcoin have never been worth nothing. But USD is a fiat currency and there are thousands of those in the fiat currency graveyard. How low can the world reserve currency go? After all, what is the risk-free asset? And, whatever it is, in The Great Credit Contraction you want it! What do you think? Disagree with some of my arguments or assertions? Please, eviscerate them on Twitter or in the comments!
Why Verge Needs DigiShield NOW! And Why DigiByte Is SAFE!
Hello everyone, I’m back! Someone asked a question recently on what exactly happened to XVG – Verge and if this could be a problem for DGB – DigiByte - Here: DigiByte vs Verge It was a great question and there have been people stating that this cannot be a problem for us because of DigiShield etc… with not much explanation after that. I was curious and did a bit more investigating to figure out what happened and why exactly it is that we are safe. So take a read.
Some Information on Verge
Verge was founded in 2014 with code based on DogeCoin, it was initially named DogeCoinDark, it later was renamed Verge XVG in 2016. Verge has 5 mining algorithms as does DigiByte. Those being:
However, unlike DigiByte those algorithms do not run side by side. On Verge one block can only be mined by a single algorithm at any time. This means that each algorithm takes turns mining the chain.
Prior to the latest fork there was not a single line of code that forced any algo rotation. They all run in parallel but of course in the end only one block can be accepted at given height which is obvious. After the fork algo rotation is forced so only 6 blocks with the same algo out of any 10 blocks can be accepted. - srgn_
Mining Verge and The Exploit
What happened then was not a 51% attack per say, but the attacker did end up mining 99% of all new blocks so in fact he did have power of over 51% of the chain. The way that Verge is mined allowed for a timestamp exploit. Every block that is mined is dependent on the previous blocks for determining the algorithm to be used (this is part of the exploit). Also, their mining difficulty is adjusted every block (which last 30 seconds also part of the exploit). Algorithms are not picked but in fact as stated previously compete with one another. As for difficulty:
Difficulty is calculated by a version of DGW which is based on timestamps of last 12 blocks mined by the same algo. - srgn_
This kind of bug is very serious and at the foundation of Verge’s codebase. In fact, in order to fix it a fork is needed, either hard fork or soft fork! What happened was that the hacker managed to change the time stamps on his blocks. He introduced a pair of false blocks. One which showed that the scrypt mining algorithm had been previously used, about 26 mins before, and then a second block which was mined with scrypt. The chain is set up so that it goes through the 5 different algorithms. So, the first false block shows the chain that the scrypt algorithm had been used in the recent past. This tricks it into thinking that the next algorithm to be used is scrypt. In this way, he was essentially able to mine 99% of all blocks.
Pairs of blocks are used to lower the difficulty but they need to be mined in certain order so they can pass the check of median timestamp of last 11 blocks which is performed in CBlock::AcceptBlock(). There is no tricking anything into thinking that the next algo should be x because there is no algo picking. They all just run and mine blocks constantly. There is only lowering the difficulty, passing the checks so the chain is valid and accepting this chain over chains mined by other algos. - segn_
Here is a snippet of code for what the time stamps on the blocks would look like:
SetBestChain: new best=00000000049c2d3329a3 height=2009406 trust=2009407 date=04/04/18 13:50:09 ProcessBlock: ACCEPTED (scrypt) SetBestChain: new best=000000000a307b54dfcf height=2009407 trust=2009408 date=04/04/18 12:16:51 ProcessBlock: ACCEPTED (scrypt) SetBestChain: new best=00000000196f03f5727e height=2009408 trust=2009409 date=04/04/18 13:50:10 ProcessBlock: ACCEPTED (scrypt) SetBestChain: new best=0000000010b42973b6ec height=2009409 trust=2009410 date=04/04/18 12:16:52 ProcessBlock: ACCEPTED (scrypt) SetBestChain: new best=000000000e0655294c73 height=2009410 trust=2009411 date=04/04/18 12:16:53 ProcessBlock: ACCEPTED (scrypt)
Here’s the first falsified block that was introduced into the XVG chain – Verge-Blockchain.info As you can see there is the first fake block with a time stamp of 13:50:09 for example and the next is set to 12:15:51, the following two blocks are also a fraudulent pair and note that the next block is set to 12:16:52. So essentially, he was able to mine whole blocks - 1 second per block!
This exploit was brought to public attention by ocminer on the bitcointalk forums. It seems the person was a mining pool administrator and noticed the problem after miners on the pool started to complain about a potential bug. What happened next was that Verge developers pushed out a “fix” but in fact did not really fix the issue. What they did was simply diminish the time frame in which the blocks can be mined. The attack still was exploitable and the attacker even went on to try it again! “The background is that the "fix" promoted by the devs simply won't fix the problem. It will just make the timeframe smaller in which the blocks can be mined / spoofed and the attack will still work, just be a bit slower.” - ocminer Ocminer then cited DigiShield as a real fix to the issue! Stating that the fix should also stipulate that a single algo can only be used X amount of times and not be dependent on when the algo was last used. He even said that DigiByte and Myriad had the same problems and we fixed them! He cited this github repo for DigiByte:
It seems that the reason that this exploit was so lucrative was because the difficulty adjustment parameters were not enough to reduce the rewards the attacker recieved. Had the rewards per block adjusted at reasonable rate like we do in DGB then at least the rewards would have dropped significantly per block. The attacker was able to make off with around 60 million Verge which equals about 3.6 million dollars per today’s prices. The exploit used by the attacker depended on the fact that time stamps could be falsified firstly and secondly that the difficulty retargeting parameters were inadequate. Let’s cover how DigiShield works more in detail. One of the DigiByte devs gave us this post about 4 years ago now, and the topic deserves revisiting and updates! I had a hard time finding good new resources and information on the details of DigiShield so I hope you’ll appreciate this review! This is everything I found for now that I could understand hopefully I get more information later and I’ll update this post. Let’s go over some stuff on difficulty first then I’ll try giving you a way to visualise the way these systems work. First you have to understand that mining difficulty changes over time; it has to! Look at Bitcoin’s difficulty for example – Bitcoin difficulty over the past five months. As I covered in another post (An Introduction to DigiByte Difficulty in Bitcoin is readjusted every 2016 blocks which each last about 10 mins each. This can play out over a span of 2 weeks, and that’s why you see Bitcoin’s difficulty graph as a step graph. In general, the hash power in the network increases over time as more people want to mine Bitcoin and thus the difficulty must also increase so that rewards are proportional. The problem with non-dynamic difficulty adjustment is that it allows for pools of miners and or single entities to come into smaller coins and mine them continuously, they essentially get “free” or easily mined coins as the difficulty has not had time to adjust. This is not really a problem for Bitcoin or other large coins as they always have a lot of miners running on their chains but for smaller coins and a few years ago in crypto basically any coin other than Bitcoin was vulnerable. Once the miners had gotten their “free coins” they could then dump the chain and go mine something else – because the difficulty had adjusted. Often chains were left frozen or with very high fees and slow processing times as there was not enough hash power to mine the transactions. This was a big problem in the beginning with DigiByte and almost even killed DogeCoin. This is where our brilliant developers came in and created DigiShield (first known as MultiShield). These three articles are where most of my information came from for DigiShield I had to reread a the first one a few times to understand so please correct me if I make any mistakes! They are in order from most recent to oldest and also in order of relevance.
DigiShield is a system whereby the difficulty for mining DigiByte is adjusted dynamically. Every single block each at 15 seconds has difficulty adjusted for the available hashing power. This means that difficulty in DigiByte is as close as we can get to real time! There are other methods for adjusting difficulty, the first being the Bitcoin/Litecoin method (a moving average calculated every X number of blocks) then the Kimoto Gravity Well is another. The reason that DigiShield is so great is because the parameters are just right for the difficulty to be able to rise and fall in proportion to the amount of hash power available. Note that Verge used a difficulty adjustment protocol more similar to that of DigiByte than Bitcoin. Difficulty was adjusted every block at 30 seconds. So why was Verge vulnerable to this attack? As I stated before Verge had a bug that allowed for firstly the manipulation of time stamps, and secondly did not adjust difficulty ideally. You have to try to imagine that difficulty adjustment chases hashing power. This is because the hashing power on a chain can be seen as the “input” and the difficulty adjustment as the corresponding output. The adjustment or output created is thus dependent on the amount of hashing power input. DigiShield was designed so that increases in mining difficulty are slightly harder to result than decreases in mining difficulty. This asymmetrical approach allows for mining to be more stable on DigiByte than other coins who use a symmetrical approach. It is a very delicate balancing act which requires the right approach or else the system breaks! Either the chain may freeze if hash power increases and then dumps or mining rewards are too high because the difficulty is not set high enough! If you’ve ever taken any physics courses maybe one way you can understand DigiShield is if I were to define it as a dynamic asymmetrical oscillation dampener. What does this mean? Let’s cover it in simple terms, it’s difficult to understand and for me it was easier to visualise. Imagine something like this, click on it it’s a video: Caravan Weight Distribution – made easy. This is not a perfect analogy to what DigiShield does but I’ll explain my idea. The input (hashing power) and the output (difficulty adjustment) both result in oscillations of the mining reward. These two variables are what controls mining rewards! So that caravan shaking violently back and forth imagine those are mining rewards, the weights are the parameters used for difficulty adjustment and the man’s hand pushing on the system is the hashing power. Mining rewards move back and forth (up and down) depending on the weight distribution (difficulty adjustment parameters) and the strength of the push (the amount of hashing power input to the system). Here is a quote from the dev’s article. “The secret to DigiShield is an asymmetrical approach to difficulty re-targeting. With DigiShield, the difficulty is allowed to decrease in larger movements than it is allowed to increase from block to block. This keeps a blockchain from getting "stuck" i.e., not finding the next block for several hours following a major drop in the net hash of coin. It is all a balancing act. You need to allow the difficulty to increase enough between blocks to catch up to a sudden spike in net hash, but not enough to accidentally send the difficulty sky high when two miners get lucky and find blocks back to back.” AND to top it all off the solution to Verge’s time stamp manipulation bug is RIGHT HERE in DigiShield again! This was patched and in Digishield v3 problems #7 Here’s a direct quote: “Most DigiShield v3 implementations do not get data from the most recent blocks, but begin the averaging at the MTP, which is typically 6 blocks in the past. This is ostensibly done to prevent timestamp manipulation of the difficulty.” Moreover, DigiShield does not allow for one algorithm to mine more than 5 blocks in a row. If the next block comes in on the same algorithm then it would be blocked and would be handed off to the next algorithm. DigiShield is a beautiful delicate yet robust system designed to prevent abuse and allow stability in mining! Many coins have adopted out technology!
Verge Needs DigiShield NOW!
The attacker has been identified as IDCToken on the bitcointalk forums. He posted recently that there are two more exploits still available in Verge which would allow for similar attacks! He said this: “Can confirm it is still exploitable, will not abuse it futher myself but fix this problem immediately I'll give Verge some hours to solve this otherwise I'll make this public and another unpatchable problem.” - IDCToken DigiShield could have stopped the time stamp manipulation exploit, and stopped the attacker from getting unjust rewards! Maybe a look at Verge’s difficulty chart might give a good idea of what 1 single person was able to do to a coin worth about 1 billion dollars.
Edit - Made a few mistakes in understanding how Verge is mined I've updated the post and left the mistakes visible. Nothing else is changed and my point still stands Verge could stand to gain something from adopting DigiShield! Hi, I hope you’ve enjoyed my article! I tried to learn as much as I could on DigiShield because I thought it was an interesting question and to help put together our DGB paper! hopefully I made no mistakes and if I did please let me know. -Dereck de Mézquita I'm a student typing this stuff on my free time, help me pay for school? Thank you! D64fAFQvJMhrBUNYpqUKQjqKrMLu76j24g https://digiexplorer.info/address/D64fAFQvJMhrBUNYpqUKQjqKrMLu76j24g
Dear Reddit community, Following our announcement for DTube v0.9, I have received countless questions about the new blockchain part, avalon. First I want to make it clear, that it would have been utterly impossible to build this on STEEM, even with the centralized SCOT/Tribes that weren't available when I started working on this. This will become much clearer as you read through the whole wall of text and understand the novelties. SteemPeak says this is a 25 minutes read, but if you are truly interested in the concept of a social blockchain, and you believe in its power, I think it will be worth the time!
I'm a long time member of STEEM, with tens of thousands of staked STEEM for 2 years+. I understand the instinctive fear from the other members of the community when they see a new crypto project coming out. We've had two recent examples recently with the VOICE and LIBRA annoucements, being either hated or ignored. When you are invested morally, and financially, when you see competitors popping up, it's normal to be afraid. But we should remember competition is healthy, and learn from what these projects are doing and how it will influence us. Instead, by reacting the way STEEM reacts, we are putting our heads in the sand and failing to adapt. I currently see STEEM like the "North Korea of blockchains", trying to do everything better than other blockchains, while being #80 on coinmarketcap and slowly but surely losing positions over the months. When DLive left and revealed their own blockchain, it really got me thinking about why they did it. The way they did it was really scummy and flawed, but I concluded that in the end it was a good choice for them to try to develop their activity, while others waited for SMTs. Sadly, when I tried their new product, I was disappointed, they had botched it. It's purely a donation system, no proof of brain... And the ultra-majority of the existing supply is controlled by them, alongside many other 'anti-decentralization' features. It's like they had learnt nothing from their STEEM experience at all... STEEM was still the only blockchain able to distribute crypto-currency via social interactions (and no, 'donations' are not social interactions, they are monetary transfers; bitcoin can do it too). It is the killer feature we need. Years of negligence or greed from the witnesses/developers about the economic balance of STEEM is what broke this killer feature. Even when proposing economical changes (which are actually getting through finally in HF21), the discussions have always been centered around modifying the existing model (changing the curve, changing the split, etc), instead of developing a new one.
You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.
What if I built a new model for proof of brain distribution from the ground up? I first tried playing with STEEM clones, I played with EOS contracts too. Both systems couldn't do the concepts I wanted to integrate for DTube, unless I did a major refactor of tens of thousands of lines of code I had never worked with before. Making a new blockchain felt like a lighter task, and more fun too. Before even starting, I had a good idea of the concepts I'd love to implement. Most of these bullet points stemmed from observations of what happened here on STEEM in the past, and what I considered weaknesses for d.tube's growth.
The first concept I wanted to implement deep down the core of how a DPOS chain works, is that I didn't want the token to be staked, at all (i.e. no 'powering up'). The cons of staking for a decentralized social platform are obvious: * complexity for the users with the double token system. * difficulty to onboard people as they need to freeze their money, akin to a pyramid scheme. The only good thing about staking is how it can fill your bandwidth and your voting power when you power-up, so you don't need to wait for it to grow to start transacting. In a fully-liquid system, your account ressources start at 0% and new users will need to wait for it to grow before they can start transacting. I don't think that's a big issue. That meant that witness elections had to be run out of the liquid stake. Could it be done? Was it safe for the network? Can we update the cumulative votes for witnesses without rounding issues? Even when the money flows between accounts freely? Well I now believe it is entirely possible and safe, under certain conditions. The incentive for top witnesses to keep on running the chain is still present even if the stake is liquid. With a bit of discrete mathematics, it's easy to have a perfectly deterministic algorithm to run a decentralized election based off liquid stake, it's just going to be more dynamic as the funds and the witness votes can move around much faster.
NO EARLY USER ADVANTAGE
STEEM has had multiple events that influenced the distribution in a bad way. The most obvious one is the inflation settings. One day it was hella-inflationary, then suddently hard fork 16 it wasn't anymore. Another major one, is the non-linear rewards that ran for a long time, which created a huge early-user advantage that we can still feel today. I liked linear rewards, it's what gives minnows their best chance while staying sybil-resistant. I just needed Avalon's inflation to be smart. Not hyper-inflationary like The key metric to consider for this issue, is the number of tokens distributed per user per day. If this metric goes down, then the incentive for staying on the network and playing the game, goes down everyday. You feel like you're making less and less from your efforts. If this metric goes up, the number of printed tokens goes up and the token is hyper-inflationary and holding it feels really bad if you aren't actively earning from the inflation by playing the game. Avalon ensures that the number of printed tokens is proportional to the number of users with active stake. If more users come in, avalon prints more tokens, if users cash-out and stop transacting, the inflation goes down. This ensures that earning 1 DTC will be about as hard today, tomorrow, next month or next year, no matter how many people have registered or left d.tube, and no matter what happens on the markets.
NO LIMIT TO MY VOTING POWER
Another big issue that most steemians don't really know about, but that is really detrimental to STEEM, is how the voting power mana bar works. I guess having to manage a 2M SP delegation for @dtube really convinced me of this one. When your mana bar is full at 100%, you lose out the potential power generation, and rewards coming from it. And it only takes 5 days to go from 0% to 100%. A lot of people have very valid reasons to be offline for 5 days+, they shouldn't be punished so hard. This is why all most big stake holders make sure to always spend some of their voting power on a daily basis. And this is why minnows or smaller holders miss out on tons of curation rewards, unless they delegate to a bidbot or join some curation guild... meh. I guess a lot of people would rather just cash-out and don't mind the trouble of having to optimize their stake. So why is it even a mana bar? Why can't it grow forever? Well, everything in a computer has to have a limit, but why is this limit proportional to my stake? While I totally understand the purpose of making the bandwidth limited and forcing big stake holders to waste it, I think it's totally unneeded and inadapted for the voting power. As long as the growth of the VP is proportional to the stake, the system stays sybil-resistant, and there could technically be no limit at all if it wasn't for the fact that this is ran in a computer where numbers have a limited number of bits. On Avalon, I made it so that your voting power grows virtually indefinitely, or at least I don't think anyone will ever reach the current limit of Number.MAX_SAFE_INTEGER: 9007199254740991 or about 9 Peta VP. If you go inactive for 6 months on an account with some DTCs, when you come back you will have 6 months worth of power generation to spend, turning you into a whale, at least for a few votes. Another awkward limit on STEEM is how a 100% vote spends only 2% of your power. Not only STEEM forces you to be active on a daily basis, you also need to do a minimum of 10 votes / day to optimize your earnings. On Avalon, you can use 100% of your stored voting power in a single mega-vote if you wish, it's up to you.
A NEW PROOF-OF-BRAIN
No Author rewards
People should vote with the intent of getting a reward from it. If 75% of the value forcibly goes to the author, it's hard to expect a good return from curation. Steem is currently basically a complex donation platform. No one wants to donate when they vote, no matter what they will say, and no matter how much vote-trading, self-voting or bid-botting happens. So in order to keep a system where money is printed when votes happen, if we cannot use the username of the author to distribute rewards, the only possibility left is to use the list of previous voters aka "Curation rewards". The 25% interesting part of STEEM, that has totally be shadowed by the author rewards for too long.
STEEM has always suffered from the issue that the downvote button is unused, or when it's used, it's mostly for evil. This comes from the fact that in STEEM's model, downvotes are not eligible for any rewards. Even if they were, your downvote would be lowering the final payout of the content, and your own curation rewards... I wanted Avalon's downvotes to be completely symmetric to the upvotes. That means if we revert all the votes (upvotes become downvotes and vice versa), the content should still distribute the same amount of tokens to the same people, at the same time.
No payment windows
Steem has a system of payments windows. When you publish a content, it opens a payment window where people can freely upvote or downvote to influence the payout happening 7 days later. This is convenient when you want a system where downvotes lower rewards. Waiting 7 days to collect rewards is also another friction point for new users, some of them might never come back 7 days later to convince themselves that 'it works'. On avalon, when you are part of the winners of curation after a vote, you earn it instantly in your account, 100% liquid and transferable.
Unlimited monetization in time
Indeed, the 7 days monetization limit has been our biggest issue for our video platform since day 8. This incentivized our users to create more frequent, but lesser quality content, as they know that they aren't going to earn anything from the 'long-haul'. Monetization had to be unlimited on DTube, so that even a 2 years old video could be dug up and generate rewards in the far future. Infinite monetization is possible, but as removing tokens from a balance is impossible, the downvotes cannot remove money from the payout like they do on STEEM. Instead, downvotes print money in the same way upvotes do, downvotes still lower the popularity in the hot and trending and should only rewards other people who downvoted the same content earlier.
New curation rewards algorithm
STEEM's curation algorithm isn't stupid, but I believe it lacks some elegance. The 15 minutes 'band-aid' necessary to prevent curation bots (bots who auto vote as fast as possible on contents of popular authors) that they added proves it. The way is distributes the reward also feels very flat and boring. The rewards for my votes are very predictable, especially if I'm the biggest voter / stake holder for the content. My own vote is paying for my own curation rewards, how stupid is that? If no one elses votes after my big vote despite a popularity boost, it probably means I deserve 0 rewards, no? I had to try different attempts to find an algorithm yielding interesting results, with infinite monetization, and without obvious ways to exploit it. The final distribution algorithm is more complex than STEEM's curation but it's still pretty simple. When a vote is cast, we calculate the 'popularity' at the time of the vote. The first vote is given a popularity of 0, the next votes are defined by (total_vp_upvotes - total_vp_downvotes) / time_since_1st_vote. Then we look into the list of previous votes, and we remove all votes in the opposite direction (up/down). The we remove all the votes with a higher popularity if its an upvote, or the ones with a lower popularity if its a downvote. The remaining votes in the list are the 'winners'. Finally, akin to STEEM, the amount of tokens generated by the vote will be split between winners proportionally to the voting power spent by each (linear rewards - no advantages for whales) and distributed instantly. Instead of purely using the order of the votes, Avalon distribution is based on when the votes are cast, and each second that passes reduces the popularity of a content, potentially increasing the long-term ROI of the next vote cast on it. GraphIt's possible to chart the popularity that influences the DTC monetary distribution directly in the d.tube UI This algorithm ensures there are always losers. The last upvoter never earns anything, also the person who upvoted at the highest popularity, and the one who downvoted at the lowest popularity would never receive any rewards for their vote. Just like the last upvoter and last downvoter wouldn't either. All the other ones in the middle may or may not receive anything, depending on how the voting and popularity evolved in time. The one with an obvious advantage, is the first voter who is always counted as 0 popularity. As long as the content stays at a positive popularity, every upvote will earn him rewards. Similarly, being the first downvoter on an overly-popular content could easily earn you 100% rewards on the next downvote that could be from a whale, earning you a fat bonus. While Avalon doesn't technically have author rewards, the first-voter advantage is strong, and the author has the advantage of always being the first voter, so the author can still earn from his potentially original creations, he just needs to commit some voting power on his own contents to be able to publish.
ONE CHAIN <==> ONE APP
More scalable than shared blockchains
Another issue with generalistic blockchains like ETH/STEEM/EOS/TRX, which are currently hosting dozens of semi-popular web/mobile apps, is the reduced scalability of such shared models. Again, everything in a computer has a limit. For DPOS blockchains, 99%+ of the CPU load of a producing node will be to verify the signatures of the many transactions coming in every 3 seconds. And sadly this fact will not change with time. Even if we had a huge breakthrough on CPU speeds today, we would need to update the cryptographic standards for blockchains to keep them secure. This means it would NOT become easier to scale up the number of verifiable transactions per seconds. Oh, but we are not there yet you're thinking? Or maybe you think that we'll all be rich if we reach the scalability limits so it doesn't really matter? WRONG The limit is the number of signature verifications the most expensive CPU on the planet can do. Most blockchains use the secp256k1 curve, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Steem and now Avalon. It was originally chosen for Bitcoin by Satoshi Nakamoto probably because it's decently quick at verifying signatures, and seems to be backdoor-proof (or else someone is playing a very patient game). Maybe some other curves exist with faster signature verification speed, but it won't be improved many-fold, and will likely require much research, auditing, and time to get adopted considering the security implications.
In 2015 Graphene was created, and Bitshares was completely rewritten. This was able to achieve 100,000 transaction per second on a single machine, and decentralized global stress testing achieved 18,000 transactions per second on a distributed network.
So BitShares/STEEM and other DPOS graphene chains in production can validate at most 18000 txs/sec, so about 1.5 billion transactions per day. EOS, Tendermint, Avalon, LIBRA or any other DPOS blockchain can achieve similar speeds, because there's no planet-killing proof-of-works, and thanks to the leader-based/democratic system that reduces the number of nodes taking part in the consensus. As a comparison, there are about 4 billion likes per day on instagram, so you can probably double that with the actual uploads, stories and comments, password changes, etc. The load is also likely unstable through the day, probably some hours will go twice as fast as the average. You wouldn't be able to fit Instagram in a blockchain, ever, even with the most scalable blockchain tech on the world's best hardware. You'd need like a dozen of those chains. And instagram is still a growing platform, not as big as Facebook, or YouTube. So, splitting this limit between many popular apps? Madness! Maybe it's still working right now, but when many different apps reach millions of daily active users plus bots, it won't fit anymore. Serious projects with a big user base will need to rethink the shared blockchain models like Ethereum, EOS, TRX, etc because the fees in gas or necessary stake required to transact will skyrocket, and the victims will be the hordes of minnows at the bottom of the distribution spectrum. If we can't run a full instagram on a DPOS blockchain, there is absolutely no point trying to run medium+reddit+insta+fb+yt+wechat+vk+tinder on one. Being able to run half an instagram is already pretty good and probably enough to actually onboard a fair share of the planet. But if we multiply the load by the number of different app concepts available, then it's never gonna scale. DTube chain is meant for the DTube UI only. Please do not build something unrelated to video connecting to our chain, we would actively do what we can to prevent you from growing. We want this chain to be for video contents only, and the JSON format of the contents should always follow the one used by d.tube. If you are interested in avalon tech for your project isn't about video, it's strongly suggested to fork the blockchain code and run your own avalon chain with a different origin id, instead of trying to connect your project to dtube's mainnet. If you still want to do it, chain leaders would be forced to actively combat your project as we would consider it as useless noise inside our dedicated blockchain.
Another issue of sharing a blockchain, is the issues coming up with the governance of it. Tons of features enabled by avalon would be controversial to develop on STEEM, because they'd only benefit DTube, and maybe even hurt/break some other projects. At best they'd be put at the bottom of a todo list somewhere. Having a blockchain dedicated to a single project enables it to quickly push updates that are focused on a single product, not dozens of totally different projects. Many blockchain projects are trying to make decentralized governance true, but this is absolutely not what I am interested in for DTube. Instead, in avalon the 'init' account, or 'master' account, has very strong permissions. In the DTC case, @dtube: * will earn 10% fees from all the inflation * will not have to burn DTCs to create accounts * will be able to do certain types of transactions when others can't * * account creation (during steem exclusivity period) * * transfers (during IEO period) * * transfering voting power and bandwidth ressources (used for easier onboarding) For example, for our IEO we will setup a mainnet where only @dtube is allowed to transfer funds or vote until the IEO completes and the airdrop happens. This is also what enabled us to create a 'steem-only' registration period on the public testnet for the first month. Only @dtube can create accounts, this way we can enforce a 1 month period where users can port their username for free, without imposters having a chance to steal usernames. Through the hard-forking mechanism, we can enable/disable these limitations and easily evolve the rules and permissions of the blockchain, for example opening monetary transfers at the end of our IEO, or opening account creation once the steem exclusivity ends. Luckily, avalon is decentralized, and all these parameters (like the @dtube fees, and @dtube permissions) are easily hardforkable by the leaders. @dtube will however be a very strong leader in the chain, as we plan to use our vote to at least keep the #1 producing node for as long as we can. We reserve the right to 'not follow' an hardfork. For example, it's obvious we wouldn't follow something like reducing our fees to 0% as it would financially endanger the project, and we would rather just continue our official fork on our own and plug d.tube domain and mobile app to it. On the other end of the spectrum, if other leaders think @dtube is being tyranical one way or another, leaders will always have the option of declining the new hardforks and putting the system on hold, then @dtube will have an issue and will need to compromise or betray the trust of 1/3 of the stake holders, which could reveal costly. The goal is to have a harmounious, enterprise-level decision making within the top leaders. We expect these leaders to be financially and emotionally connected with the project and act for good. @dtube is to be expected to be the main good actor for the chain, and any permission given to it should be granted with the goal of increasing the DTC marketcap, and nothing else. Leaders and @dtube should be able to keep cooperation high enough to keep the hard-forks focused on the actual issues, and flowing faster than other blockchain projects striving for a totally decentralized governance, a goal they are unlikely to ever achieve.
A lot of hard-forking
Avalon is easily hard-forkable, and will get hard-forked often, on purpose. No replays will be needed for leaders/exchanges during these hard-forks, just pull the new hardfork code, and restart the node before the hard-fork planned time to stay on the main fork. Why is this so crucial? It's something about game theory. I have no former proof for this, but I assume a social and financial game akin to the one played on steem since 2016 to be impossible to perfectly balance, even with a thourough dichotomical process. It's probably because of some psychological reason, or maybe just the fact that humans are naturally greedy. Or maybe it's just because of the sheer number of players. They can gang up together, try to counter each others, and find all sorts of creative ideas to earn more and exploit each other. In the end, the slightest change in the rules, can cause drastic gameplay changes. It's a real problem, luckily it's been faced by other people in the past. Similarly to what popular and succesful massively multiplayer games have achieved, I plan to patch or suggest hard-forks for avalon's mainnet on a bi-monthly basis. The goal of this perfect imbalance concept, is to force players to re-discover their best strategy often. By introducing regular, small, and semi-controlled changes into this chaos, we can fake balance. This will require players to be more adaptative and aware of the changes. This prevents the game from becoming stale and boring for players, while staying fair.
Death to bots
Automators on the other side, will need to re-think their bots, go through the developement and testing phase again, on every new hard-fork. It will be an unfair cat-and-mouse game. Doing small and semi-random changes in frequent hard-forks will be a easy task for the dtube leaders, compared to the work load generated to maintain the bots. In the end, I hope their return on investment to be much lower compared to the bid-bots, up to a point where there will be no automation. Imagine how different things would have been if SteemIt Inc acted strongly against bid-bots or other forms of automation when they started appearing? Imagine if hard-forks were frequent and they promised to fight bid-bots and their ilk? Who would be crazy enough to make a bid-bot apart from @berniesanders then? I don't want you to earn DTCs unless you are human. The way you are going to prove you are human, is not by sending a selfie of you with your passport to a 3rd party private company located on the other side of the world. You will just need to adapt to the new rules published every two weeks, and your human brain will do it subconsciously by just playing the voting game and seeing the rewards coming. All these concepts are aimed at directly improving d.tube, making it more resilient, and scale both technologically and economically. Having control over the full tech stack required to power our dapp will prevent issues like the one we had with the search engine, where we relied too heavily on a 3rd party tool, and that created a 6-months long bug that basically broke 1/3 of the UI. While d.tube's UI can now totally run independently from any other entity, we kept everything we could working with STEEM, and the user is now able to transparently publish/vote/comment videos on 2 different chains with one click. This way we can keep on leveraging the generalistic good features of STEEM that our new chain doesn't focuses on doing, such as the dollar-pegged token, the author rewards/donation mechanism, the tribes/communities tokens, and simply the extra exposure d.tube users can get from other website (steemit.com, busy.org, partiko, steempeak, etc), which is larger than the number of people using d.tube directly. The public testnet has been running pretty well for 3 weeks now, with 6000+ accounts registered, and already a dozen of independant nodes popping up and running for leaders. The majority of the videos are cross-posted on both chains and the daily video volume has slightly increased since the update, despite the added friction of the new 'double login' system and several UI bugs. If you've read this article, I'm hoping to get some reactions from you in the comments section! Some even more focused articles about avalon are going to pop on my blog in the following weeks, such as how to get a node running and running for leadewitness, so feel free to follow me to get more news and help me reach 10K followers ;)
Is VeChain centralised or decentralised? Does it affect their goal to be the leading global enterprise level public blockchain platform?
TL:DR VeChain is neither fully centralised or decentralised. It is more politically centralised compared to popular cryptoassets such as Bitcoin, however there may be reasons for why the ecosystem has been designed this way. Like all blockchain projects, it lies on a spectrum/matrix of centralisation/decentralisation.
Since the latest Medium article: Defining the VeChainThor Blockchain Consensus — Proof of Authority, I have seen some members of this sub declare that VeChain is centralised, without further discussion on what this means or the pros/cons. From a governance perspective VeChain certainly appears more centralised compared to Bitcoin. However it is worth noting, the decentralised political system/governance model in Bitcoin is the reason behind multiple BTC forks, the scaling debate, BTC/BCH drama and the difficulty associated with making changes to the Bitcoin protocol. It is myopic to make wide generalised statements about an ecosystem like VeChain without understanding the nuances behind decentralisation vs centralisation and the reasons for one or the other in the first place. Vitalik Buterin writes a thoughtful article about decentralisation, I highly recommend it. In his article, he argues that there are three types of decentralisation which run independent of each other. Architectural (de)centralization , Political (de)centralization and Logical (de)centralization. From VeChain's own description, the ecosystem is meant to be a balance between centralisation and decentralisation. The VeChain organisation chart shows the governance structure. "The Board of Steering Committee oversees the various functional committees within a decentralized foundation. The board members, through a governing agency, ultimately guide units towards cohesive goals and enables collaboration, efficiency, and output across channels. The Board of Steering Committee is the governing body of VeChain Foundation. It represents the balanced interests of the VeChain blockchains stakeholders." The VeChainThor network would be
architecturally decentralised: authority nodes run on multiple unrelated physical computers, no infrastructural central point of failure
politically mixed centralisation/decentralisation: authority nodes are made up of different individuals and organisations vetted by the foundation to support the ecosystem, ecosystem development and decisions will be influenced by a central steering committee controlled by 7 members of the board, at the same time this steering committee is guided by many various stakeholders with voting authority, in a sense it is similar to a company structure with shareholders in a company and board members, the relative power of each party is still unclear at this stage
This is the key area where VeChain is more centralised and differs from other projects. I believe this decision was made to ensure VeChain would be able to quickly adapt to fluctuating regulatory conditions in the real world. With large-scale mainstream enterprise adoption as the goal, VeChain will happily make necessary changes to their blockchain to foster faster adoption. VeChain are looking ahead and plan to adapt their ecosystem to become whatever the rest of the world requires them to be.
logically centralised: like most blockchain projects, has one commonly agreed state (the blockchain), the ecosystem behaves like a single entity
An explanation of the bubble-watch chart, to warn the naive and pacify the critics I got my prices from the daily weighted price on bitcoincharts.com. A quick look at the log chart for bitcoin shows two obvious patterns: http://imgur.com/JTAPJY5 Pattern 1: The price has risen exponentially over time. Pattern 2: There have been bubbles in the price at regular intervals. The bubble-watch chart is an attempt to answer the following question: "Assuming both patterns hold for the remainder of 2014, how would the price behave?" To answer that question, first let's introduce the "lower boundary" curve. This curve is defined by line segments on the log chart that have the following properties:
One line segment per bubble.
Line segments are positioned with their endpoints on the "troughs" on either side of each bubble.
http://imgur.com/zj6Weul By using these line segments we can see changes in the exponential slope over time. In particular, notice that the slope was very high at the beginning and then the June 2011 bubble came along. Then the slope was very low, until the April 2013 bubble. Here is a bar chart to show how the slope has changed over time: http://imgur.com/RcnPGar Second, let's graph the difference between the ln(price) and the y value of the lower boundary curve: http://imgur.com/yjxmbh4 At this point we have mathematically separated the two patterns. We have an exponential slope component that looks like this: http://imgur.com/H0Rw3Nl ... and we have the above graph showing the periodic bubbles. To answer our question of what would happen during the rest of 2014 we need to extrapolate each component. To extrapolate the exponential line, I am going to show two scenarios:
Middle scenario. This scenario assumes that the lower boundary line during the July 2014 bubble will have the same slope as the average slope over the whole price history.
Low scenario. This scenario assumes that the lower boundary line will have the same slope as the line had during the August 2012 bubble. This is based on the theory that says that the lower boundary curve is too high relative to the long term exponential trend. The curve can be expected to revert to the trend sometime soon, which requires having a slope that is lower than average.
To extrapolate the bubble, I am going to just shift the last three bubbles forward in time, so that they all peak on 2014-11-30. This lines them up with the pop of the most recent bubble. On the delta chart, they look like this: http://imgur.com/1XKlYEr Put both components together by adding them and you get this: http://imgur.com/q98w1aX And when you convert back from exponential to regular, you get this: http://imgur.com/05RwG4K Here it is with two different proposed extensions to the lower boundary line: http://imgur.com/Y7Nqhgl Some things to point out:
There may not be another bubble.
The next bubble may not look like the previous 3 bubbles.
Bitcoin is an experiment. Do not risk more than you can afford to lose.
The lower boundary for December is not finished being defined until the trough after the December peak is in our rear view mirror. Until that happens, the December lower boundary can continue moving down if the price continues going down. When the price stops going down, the lower boundaries will stop changing. See here for a description of my handling of the moving lower boundary.
I am long bitcoin but will be taking some profit this summer if we have a bubble. I plan to use my chart to help give me a rational expectation for the size of the next bubble to improve my chances of selling at the correct time.
This model assumes that the two patterns hold. I think that it is a reasonable assumption. There have been 7 bubbles over a four year period, over which both patterns have stayed true. The market penetration is still very small. The infrastructure is still getting built out. The bitcoin protocol is still improving. The investor money is still piling in. Does all of this guarantee that the patterns will hold for one more round? No. Do they mean that it is rational to compare the actual price to a model based on the assumption of a summer 2014 bubble? In my opinion, yes.
Bonus chart: This chart shows the duration of 3 post-bubble phases for each of the last 7 bubbles: http://imgur.com/U6wITWu The "Goin' down" phase starts at the pop and ends at the shift from downtrend to uptrend. The "Struggling" phase starts at the beginning of the uptrend and ends on the day that the bubble rejoins the "lower boundary" line. The "Goin' up" phase starts at the date the bubble rejoined the "lower boundary" line and ends at the peak. On the difficulty of forecasting the next peak price The bubble chart illustrates a very consistent pattern in the history of the price of bitcoin. We can use this pattern as a basis for expecting the next bubble to occur in the summer of 2014. How high will that bubble be? History offers relatively less confidence in making this prediction. Two sources of variability contribute. The historical bubbles have come in a variety of sizes. The slope of the lower boundary at each prior bubble has varied as well. This chart overlays the lower boundary from two prior bubbles, and the average lower boundary for all prior bubbles: http://imgur.com/FhDZ30X You can see that eventual lower boundary for the December bubble is an open question. These two sources of variation make should motivate a healthy dose of humility when estimating the peak of the next bubble. There will be much less uncertainty this summer when the bubble is getting close to peaking. (Still plenty of uncertainty though!!!) How to recognize that the December bubble is over By definition, the December bubble is over when the price touches the lower boundary. This allows us to look in the rear view mirror and say when the December bubble was over after the fact, but I think we can do better. Here are the historical ratios between the minimum price and the price when the green phase started: http://imgur.com/L5iQThy These values are all pretty similar. The average is 1.19. Standard deviation is .24. Assuming for simplicity that this represents a normal distribution around the average, we get a 95% confidence at average + 2 standard deviations, or 1.67. For the December bubble, assuming the minimum is already in our rear view mirror, the minimum price post peak was 392. Multiply by 1.67 to get $656. So we can say with some confidence that if the pattern holds, by the time the price gets to $656 we have moved into the "Goin' up" phase. Comparing the slope of the price during the bubble Here is a chart which compares the slopes of the last four bubbles and the current slope of the price: http://imgur.com/AkZk9sw The slope of the price is obtained this way:
Using the ln(price) value, for every day, subtract the ln(price) from 7 days prior. This shows how much the price goes up (or down) in 7 days, on a log chart. Using an interval smaller than 7 days made a graph that was a bit jumpy, but you could play around with different intervals.
The graph has been smoothed with a 3 day moving average to go easier on the eyes.
Can Elliott Waves Really Predict the Price of Bitcoin?
Introduction to Elliott Waves Elliott Waves are a technical analysis indicator to predict future price trends. The principles of Elliott Waves are founded on the belief that markets follow predictable sequences of optimism and pessimism. The sequence of a bull market follows the below pattern. A bear market follows an exact opposite sequence. To learn how to apply Elliott Waves, watch this tutorial by DanV, a very popular Trading View bitcoin chartist. http://i.imgur.com/NDMTrnn.gif In a market largely driven by psychology and speculation, one can expect Elliott Waves to be applicable to bitcoin. However, Elliott Wave theory was developed in the 1930s to predict stock prices — can it really be used to predict the price of an asset that would have been inconceivable to the creator of the theory? This post will analyse the suitability of Elliott Waves for bitcoin traders wishing to get ahead of the market. Statistical validity In 2001 an eighteen month study was led by a programmer and market trader called Rich Sanwell. The aim of the study was to determine which patterns worked, and whether the overall principle of Elliott Waves could be proven to be accurate predictors of market trends. The key findings were: Elliott Wave, as a theory, was statistically sound. This means that market movements can be predicted using sequences of investor psychology. However, in 65% of assets, Elliott Waves were deemed too unreliable to be used for trading predictions. Therefore, to be successful with Elliott Waves, a trader must find one of the 35% of assets that move according to patterns outline by the general principles of Elliott Waves. Those assets likely to follow Elliott Wave sequences have lots of liquidity/volume and are clearly influenced by greed/fear cycles. The Dow Jones matches this criteria and has been famously predicted by Robert Pretcher with Elliot Waves: http://i.imgur.com/VTJwYMu.png Thus, a bitcoin trader considering using Elliott Waves must question whether or not bitcoin can be classified as ‘liquid’, and whether or not the price is driven by investor psychology. Does bitcoin have enough liquidity for Elliott Wave analysis? Unfortunately, no hard number has been set to define what level of liquidity is required for an asset to be predictable with Elliott Waves. However, Steven Poser, Vice President in the Strategic Analysis and Market Data Group at NYSE Euronex, writes in his Elliott Wave book: "shares of companies that trade by appointment must be avoided… there must be a crowd for technical analysis to work properly." According to this definition: yes, bitcoin does have sufficient liquidity to apply Elliott Waves and other technical analysis tools. An evidence of this liquidity is the ease and speed of opening/closing position on exchanges using BTC.sx. http://i.imgur.com/qcvZzME.png Now one must consider the question of investor psychology. Is bitcoin driven by greed/fear cycles? The short answer to this is: mostly yes. Bitcoin appears to go through periods of relative stability and then enter a phase of parabolic growth, followed by a sharp correction. This correction ends at a level higher than the pre-hype price, after which the cycle eventually begins again. This is a textbook greed/fear cycle and a simple chart comparison shows a high degree of fit: http://i.imgur.com/CLmtJjb.png http://i.imgur.com/DjSHFsu.png However, one must appreciate that the price of bitcoin is also influenced by mining difficulty and supply. Despite this, investor psychology appears to have a much larger influence on bitcoin’s price. Now that is established that, in theory, Elliott Waves can be used to predict bitcoin’s price, let’s take a look at whether this is possible in practice. Has anyone accurately predicted bitcoin’s price with Elliott Waves? Theory and practice are very different things. And only the latter will generate profits. To assess the real-life returns traders have made from Elliott Waves, the only accessible data are Trading View charts. These allow traders to make predictions, and then chart the price movement against these predictions. Thus, greater accuracy should equate greater profits — assuming the chartist is honest about their prediction. The most respected bitcoin trader on Trading View is DanV. DanV also happens to like Elliott Waves. Hence, if anyone can make a profit trading bitcoin with Elliott Waves, it is DanV. But his past charts have mixed results: https://www.tradingview.com/v/qm7cnu9V/ http://i.imgur.com/HgeXqDx.png https://www.tradingview.com/v/7ssFMZmi/ http://i.imgur.com/DpCxTxj.png https://www.tradingview.com/v/A1mFwkEG/ http://i.imgur.com/igQ2tn2.png The price direction appears to be predicted accurately, but not speed of change or the duration of a wave. These predictions would mostly produce losses, with the occasional profit (assuming a trader traded at every wave). Conclusion In summary, it is possible to predict market trends with Elliott Waves for some assets. Although no formal study has been done, it is likely that bitcoin falls within the 35% of assets that can be analysed accurately with Elliott Waves. However, Elliott Waves are a difficult concept to apply in practice. As a result of this, it remains very challenging to make a profit trading bitcoin with Elliott Waves alone. Investopedia describes the difficulty of using Elliott Waves nicely: "There is a standard joke shared by technical analysts that if you were to put twelve Elliott Wave practitioners in a room, they would fail to reach an agreement on wave count and the direction in which a stock is headed." Written by Josh Blatchford, CMO of BTC.sx, a bitcoin trading platform that allows traders to execute trades on the order books of multiple exchanges, from a single account.
Statement on regulatory framework for virtual asset portfolios managers, fund distributors and trading platform operators
The Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) notes with concern the growing investor interest in gaining exposure to virtual assets via funds and unlicensed trading platform operators in Hong Kong. The SFC has identified significant risks associated with investing in virtual assets and these are set out below. In order to address these risks, the SFC is issuing guidance on the regulatory standards expected of virtual asset portfolio managers and fund distributors. The SFC is also exploring a conceptual framework for the potential regulation of virtual asset trading platform operators. Background Technology is transforming the landscape of the financial industry. Distributed ledger technology offers an anonymous way to digitally record ownership of virtual assets and facilitates peer-to-peer trading. A virtual asset is a digital representation of value, which is also known as "cryptocurrency", "crypto-asset" or "digital token". The polymorphous and evolving features of virtual assets mean that they may be, or claim to be, a means of payment, may confer a right to present or future earnings or enable a token holder to access a product or service, or a combination of any of these functions. Public interest in virtual assets has grown exponentially around the world since the creation of the most widely-known digital token, Bitcoin, in 2008. At its peak in early January 2018, the market capitalisation of Bitcoin and other digital tokens was estimated at more than US$800 billion1. Over 2,000 different digital tokens are currently traded around the world with an estimated total market capitalisation of over US$200 billion. Although the aggregated market capitalisation of digital tokens has fallen substantially from its peak, trading volumes remain substantial. There is also a growing demand for funds which invest in virtual assets. While virtual assets have not posed a material risk to financial stability2, there is a broad consensus among securities regulators that they pose significant investor protection risks. The regulatory response to these risks varies in different jurisdictions, depending on the regulatory remit, the scale of the activities and their impact on investor interests and whether virtual assets are deemed financial products suitable for regulation. Under existing regulatory remits in Hong Kong, markets for virtual assets may not be subject to the oversight of the SFC if the virtual assets involved fall outside the legal definition of "securities" or "futures contracts" (or equivalent financial instruments). Therefore, investors who trade in virtual assets through unregulated trading platforms or invest in virtual asset portfolios which are managed by unregulated portfolio managers do not enjoy the protections afforded under the Securities and Futures Ordinance (SFO), such as requirements which ensure safe custody of assets and fair and open markets. If platform operators and portfolio managers are not regulated, their fitness and properness, including their financial soundness and competence, have not been assessed, and their operations are not subject to any supervision. Risks associated with investing in virtual assets Virtual assets pose significant risks to investors. Some of these risks are inherent in the nature and characteristics of the virtual assets themselves and others stem from the operations of platforms or portfolio managers. Valuation, volatility and liquidity Virtual assets are generally not backed by physical assets or guaranteed by the government. They have no intrinsic value. There are currently no generally accepted valuation principles governing certain types of virtual assets. Prices on the secondary market are driven by supply and demand and are short-term and volatile by nature. The volatility faced by investors may be further magnified where liquidity pools for virtual assets are small and fragmented. Accounting and auditing Among the accounting profession, there are no agreed standards and practices for how an auditor can perform assurance procedures to obtain sufficient audit evidence for the existence and ownership of virtual assets, and ascertain the reasonableness of the valuations. Cybersecurity and safe custody of assets Trading platform operators and portfolio managers may store clients' assets in hot wallets (ie, online environments which provide an interface with the internet). These can be prone to hacking. Cyber-attacks resulting in the hacking of virtual asset trading platforms and thefts of virtual assets are common. Victims may have difficulty recovering losses from hackers or trading platforms, which can run to hundreds of millions of US dollars. Virtual asset funds face a unique challenge due to the limited availability of qualified custodian solutions. Available solutions may not be totally effective. Market integrity Unlike regulated stock exchanges, the market for virtual assets is nascent and does not operate under a set of recognised and transparent rules. Outages are not uncommon, as are market manipulative and abusive activities, and these all result in investor losses. Risk of money laundering and terrorist financing Virtual assets are generally transacted or held on an anonymous basis. In particular, platforms which allow conversions between fiat currencies and virtual assets are inherently susceptible to higher risks of money laundering and terrorist financing. Where criminal activities are involved, investors may not be able to get back their investments as a result of law enforcement action. Conflicts of interest Virtual asset trading platform operators may act as agents for clients as well as principals. Virtual asset trading platforms may facilitate the initial distribution of virtual assets (eg, initial coin offerings), facilitate secondary market trading, or both, as in a traditional exchange, alternative trading system or securities broker. If these operators are not under the purview of any regulator, it would be difficult to detect, monitor and manage conflicts of interest. Fraud Virtual assets may be used as a means to defraud investors. Virtual asset trading platform operators or portfolio managers may not have conducted sufficient product due diligence before allowing a virtual asset to be traded on their platforms or investing in a virtual asset for their portfolios. As a result, investors may become victims of fraud and lose their investments. Existing regulatory regime The SFC has issued a number of circulars clarifying its regulatory stance on virtual assets3. Where virtual assets fall under the definition of "securities" or "futures contracts", these products and related activities may fall within the SFC's ambit. The SFC also reminded intermediaries in a circular dated 1 June 20184 about the notification requirements under the Securities and Futures (Licensing and Registration)(Information) Rules if they intend to provide trading and asset management services involving crypto-assets. The SFC has undertaken a series of actions against those who may have breached its rules and regulations when carrying out activities related to virtual assets. These include providing regulatory guidance, issuing warning and compliance letters and taking regulatory action5. However, many virtual assets do not amount to "securities" or "futures contracts". Moreover, managing funds solely investing in virtual assets which do not constitute "securities" or "futures contracts" does not amount to a "regulated activity" as specified under the SFO. Similarly, the operators of platforms which only provide trading services for virtual assets not falling within the definition of "securities" do not fall within the jurisdiction of the SFC. Notwithstanding the above, if firms are engaged in the distribution of funds which invest in virtual assets, irrespective of whether these assets constitute "securities" or "futures contracts", these firms are required to be licensed by or registered with the SFC. I. Regulatory approach for virtual asset portfolio managers and fund distributors In the application of the SFC's regulatory powers, many investors in virtual assets are left unprotected by the conventional approach where financial products are classified as "securities" or "futures contracts". The SFC has decided to adopt a way forward which will bring a significant portion of virtual asset portfolio management activities into its regulatory net. The overarching principles and regulatory standards of the regulatory framework are summarised below. (a) Virtual asset portfolio managers (i) Scope of supervision The following types of virtual asset portfolio managers will be subject to the SFC's supervision: Firms managing funds which solely invest in virtual assets that do not constitute "securities" or "futures contracts" and distribute the same in Hong Kong These firms will typically require a licence for Type 1 regulated activity (dealing in securities) because they distribute these funds in Hong Kong. The management of these funds will also be subject to the SFC's oversight through the imposition of licensing conditions; and Firms which are licensed or are to be licensed for Type 9 regulated activity (asset management) for managing portfolios in "securities", "futures contracts" or both To the extent that these firms also manage portfolios which invest solely or partially (subject to a de minimis requirement6) in virtual assets that do not constitute "securities" or "futures contracts", such management will also be subject to the SFC's oversight through the imposition of licensing conditions. (ii) Regulatory standards In order to afford better protection to investors, the SFC considers that all licensed portfolio managers intending to invest in virtual assets should observe essentially the same regulatory requirements7 even if the portfolios (or portions of portfolios) under their management invest solely or partially in virtual assets, irrespective of whether these virtual assets amount to "securities" or "futures contracts"8. For this purpose, the SFC has developed a set of standard terms and conditions (Terms and Conditions) which captures the essence of the Existing Requirements, adapted as needed to better address the risks associated with virtual assets. For example, only professional investors as defined under the SFO should be allowed to invest in any virtual asset portfolios (subject to the de minimis requirement). These Terms and Conditions are principles-based and should generally be appropriate to be imposed on virtual asset portfolio managers as licensing conditions, subject to minor variations and elaborations depending on the business model of the individual virtual asset portfolio manager. Some of the key terms and conditions are set out in Appendix 1, "Regulatory standards for licensed corporations managing virtual asset portfolios". (iii) Licensing process Licence applicants and licensed corporations are required to inform the SFC if they are presently managing or planning to manage one or more portfolios that invest in virtual assets9. Upon being so informed, the SFC will first seek to understand the firm's business activities. If the firm appears to be capable of meeting the expected regulatory standards, the proposed Terms and Conditions will be provided to the firm (where applicable) and the SFC will discuss them with the firm and vary them in light of its particular business model so as to ensure that they are reasonable and appropriate. If a licence applicant does not agree to comply with the proposed Terms and Conditions, its licensing application will be rejected. Similarly, if an existing licensed corporation with a VA portfolio does not agree to comply with the proposed Terms and Conditions, it will be required to unwind that portfolio within a reasonable period of time. After the licence applicant or licensed corporation has agreed with the proposed Terms and Conditions, they will be imposed as licensing conditions. Failure to comply with any licensing condition is likely to be considered as misconduct under the SFO. This will reflect adversely on its fitness and properness and may result in the SFC taking regulatory action. (b) Virtual asset fund distributors Firms which distribute funds that invest (solely or partially) in virtual assets in Hong Kong will require a licence or registration for Type 1 regulated activity (dealing in securities). As such, these firms are required to comply with the Existing Requirements, including the suitability obligations, when distributing these funds. Given the significant risks posed to investors, further guidance on the expected standards and practices when distributing virtual asset funds is provided in the "Circular to intermediaries on the distribution of virtual asset funds" issued by the SFC on 1 November 2018. Under this arrangement, if a virtual asset fund available in Hong Kong is not already managed by those firms mentioned under section I(a)(i), these funds will still be distributed by firms mentioned under section I(b), all of which are subject to the SFC's oversight. As such, the management or distribution of these funds would be regulated in one way or another by the SFC. II. Exploring regulation of platform operators Separately, the SFC is also setting out a conceptual framework for the potential regulation of virtual asset trading platforms in this statement, with a view to exploring (and forming a view after the exploratory stage) whether virtual asset trading platforms are suitable for regulation. If the SFC is minded to license any virtual asset trading platforms, it is proposed that the standards of conduct regulation for virtual asset trading platform operators should be comparable to those applicable to existing licensed providers of automated trading services. The SFC considers that the regulatory approach under the conceptual framework (if implemented) could provide a path for compliance for those platform operators capable and willing to adhere to a high level of standards and practices, and set licensed operators apart from those which do not seek a licence. Some of the world's largest virtual asset trading platforms have been seen operating in Hong Kong but they fall outside the regulatory remit of the SFC10 and any other regulators. Owing to the serious investor protection issues identified and having regard to international developments, the SFC considers it necessary to explore in earnest whether and if so, how it could regulate virtual asset trading platforms under its existing powers. To conduct a meaningful study of the framework, the SFC will work with interested virtual asset trading platform operators that have demonstrated a commitment to adhering to the high expected standards by placing them in the SFC Regulatory Sandbox11. In the initial exploratory stage, the SFC would not grant a licence to platform operators. Instead, it would discuss its expected regulatory standards with platform operators and observe the live operations of the virtual asset trading platforms in light of these standards. It will also consider the effectiveness of the proposed regulatory requirements in addressing risks and providing adequate investor protection. The SFC will critically consider whether the virtual asset trading platforms are, in fact, appropriate to be regulated by the SFC in light of the performance of these trading platforms in the Sandbox. Factors to be considered include the adequacy and effectiveness of the proposed conceptual framework; ability to comply with the terms and conditions; investors' interests; as well as local market and international regulatory developments. It may be a possibility that due to the inherent characteristics of the underlying technology or business models of platform operators, the SFC will conclude that risks involved cannot be properly dealt with under the standards it would expect, and that investor protection still cannot be ensured. In that case, the SFC may decide that platform operators should not be regulated by the SFC. For instance, the SFC is not certain at this stage whether platform operators would satisfy the expected anti-money laundering standards, given that anonymity is the core feature of blockchain, which is the underlying technology for virtual assets. The SFC also has to take into account the rapid evolution of the whole virtual asset industry as well as development in the international regulatory community, including the work being done in International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO). The exploratory stage is crucial for the SFC to understand the actual operations of platform operators to determine whether these platforms are suitable for regulation. If the SFC makes a positive determination at the end of this stage, it would then consider granting a licence to a qualified platform operator. In order not to confuse the public about the regulatory status of platform operators, the identity of the Sandbox applicants in this stage and the discussions will be kept confidential. If the SFC grants a licence to a qualified platform operator, it will impose appropriate licensing conditions and the operator will proceed to the next stage of the Sandbox. This would typically mean more frequent reporting, monitoring and reviews so that through close supervision by the SFC, operators could put in place robust internal controls and address any of the SFC's concerns arising from the conduct of their business. The SFC may also further consider or refine its regulatory and supervisory approach through intensive dialogue with operators when they are operating in the Sandbox. After a minimum 12-month period, the virtual asset trading platform operator may apply to the SFC for removal12 or variation of some licensing conditions and exit the Sandbox. Licensing conditions (and terms and conditions) imposed in this stage would be made public in the usual way. Details of the conceptual framework are set out in Appendix 2, "Conceptual framework for the potential regulation of virtual asset trading platform operators". The SFC will keep the development of activities related to virtual assets in view and may issue further guidance where appropriate. Market participants are welcome to contact the Fintech Contact Point at [email protected] if they have any questions. Intermediaries Division Securities and Futures Commission 1 Website of CoinMarketCap: https://coinmarketcap.com/charts/. 2 Report entitled "Crypto-asset markets - potential channels for future financial stability implications" published by the Financial Stability Board on 10 October 2018: http://www.fsb.org/wp-content/uploads/P101018.pdf. 3 These include the Statement on initial coin offerings dated 5 September 2017, Circular to Licensed Corporations and Registered Institutions on Bitcoin futures contracts and cryptocurrency-related investment products dated 11 December 2017, and the press release, "SFC warns of cryptocurrency risks", dated 9 February 2018. 4 Please refer to the Circular to intermediaries on compliance with notification requirements dated 1 June 2018 for details. 5 For details, please refer to the press release, "SFC's regulatory action halts ICO to Hong Kong public", dated 19 March 2018. 6 That is, only virtual asset portfolio managers which intend to invest 10% or more of the gross asset value (GAV) of the portfolios under its management in virtual assets will be subject to the SFC's oversight in this way. 7 This refers to existing legal and regulatory requirements set out under the subsidiary legislation, the Code of Conduct for Persons Licensed by or Registered with the Securities and Futures Commission, the Fund Manager Code of Conduct and guidelines, circulars and frequently asked questions issued by the SFC from time to time (collectively referred to as "Existing Requirements"). 8 This is on the premise that virtual assets, as an asset class, have similar features and risk characteristics, whether or not they amount to "securities" or "futures contracts". 9 For the avoidance of doubt, this notification requirement applies even if (i) the licence applicant or licensed corporation manages or plans to manage virtual asset portfolios with an intention to invest less than 10% of the GAV of the portfolio in virtual assets; or (ii) the virtual assets involved have features of "securities" or "futures contracts" as defined under the SFO. 10 Platforms which offer trading of virtual assets that are not "securities" or "futures contracts" are not subject to the purview of the SFC. 11 Please refer to the press release, "Launch of the SFC Regulatory Sandbox", dated 29 September 2017 for details. 12 For example, the licensing condition on ongoing reporting obligations. 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