Well, February 22nd makes it one whole year. I think that's deserving of a top level post, right? Here are screenshots of the Mint Trends, which has every single expense from the past year categorized. I've added comments on each page. Expenses Overview Auto Expenses Food Expenses Home Expenses Utility Expenses Tax Expenses Healthcare Expenses Entertainment Expenses Main takeaways, my total expenses for the year was $37,700, but I'm going to dismiss about $15,000 of that as "one time" expenses from paying off my car and my furniture loan. A more reasonable number for my annual spend is $22,700. With my car payment gone, my highest expense category is Food, averaging $500 per month. This has room for improvement. Healthcare will look artificially low last year because of taking Tax Credits up front. This year I am not and will be paying $325 per month for health insurance. At ~$4000 per year, this puts healthcare at nearly 20% of my total expenses. Nothing else is particularly interesting. That $22,700 figure is a reasonable real-world number for me, but for future planning I'd still inflate that to $25,000 just to have more wiggle room. I may look into traveling this year, which would add some expense. Investments: Vanguard Investments: (All in VTSAX)
Traditional IRA: $299,000 -> $348,000
Roth IRA: $14,500 -> $18,150
Brokerage: $18,400 -> $22,900
Total Rollup: $331,800 -> $389,100. ~17% return
Other LTCG holdings: $145,000 -> $291,000 (other investment accounts and bitcoin) HSA Investment Account: $6000 -> $7400, with another $1700 in the "cash" holdings of the HSA. $9000 cash in Money Market & Checking Account. Finances Going Forward I had earned income last year so I didn't start my Roth Conversion Ladder last year. This year I decided I will be converting the $12,400 standard deduction + $9600 of the first tax bracket for a nice round $22,000 converted. Yes I'll owe a little bit of taxes, but it sets up my Roth with $22k in 5 years which should cover the majority of my expenses. And with $350k currently in tIRA and converting $22,000 per year, I won't be able to chew through it all before actual retirement age. I have about $20k from an old stock purchase plan that unlocks come April, which I will be selling and likely moving over to my money market account to shore up my "cash" holdings. My plan is to not really tap any of my "normal" investment accounts for as long as possible. I've been deferring to selling Bitcoin if I need to move some cash over. Last year I sold 3 bitcoin, one for $9300 in June, and then two at the end of December (for tax year Capital Gains reasons) for $7300 each. These were all LTCG at 0% taxed. AGI for last year is around $35,000. The Living Part: There's all the boring expenses and financial stuff. Now for the ever painful question that my beloved Grandmother loves to ask, "But gosh, what do you do with all of your time! I can't imagine being retired at your age!" Step 1, restful sleep. During my working career I lived off 6 hours of sleep every day. It made for exhausting weekends trying to "make it up." And luckily I'm not a generally stressful person or else it'd have been worse. But now I go to bed when I'm tired, and whenever I naturally wake up, I get up. This can lead to VERY weird hours since I'm often an extreme night owl. But I generally get 9-10 perfect restful uninterrupted dream-filled hours of sleep. I'm betrayed by my "Food Expense" breakdown, but I really am cooking more and eating better. I drink a lot of coffee and water at home and generally try to eat only one meal per day, but sometimes lunch and dinner. I don't normally eat breakfast, just have coffee when I wake up. And did I mention how much less painful it is to go grocery shopping when it's in the middle of the day and everyone's at work. It's so nice. I spend a lot of time on reddit browsing my front page, and I check out the YouTubers I follow that post daily, then check out any of the irregular posters. Depending on how much good stuff there is, this could go on for a few hours. I have a lot of hours playing video games. I tend toward puzzle games or building games (Factorio, Satisfactory) because they scratch that itch in my engineering brain. There are times at night where I'll spend hours on this website: https://www.puzzle-sudoku.com/ and play Sudoku or Nonograms or any of the other puzzle types on the bottom of the page. I'm doing my best to watch every single last show on Netflix. It's a daunting task, though it's surprising how often I drift back toward watching the same smattering of Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes rather than try something new. But I try and take recommendations and work my way through shows. And Podcasts! The joy of joys is when I come across a new-to-me podcast that has a huge backlog. I found a great ST:TNG rewatch podcast that had 108 episodes already done. I spent like 2 months watching the episode of TNG then immediately listening to their podcast about that episode, repeat repeat repeat. I'm currently working my way through The Adventure Zone, I'm on episode 46 of 155 with them. And they keep advertising the other podcasts The McElroys do so I'm sure I'll roll into one of those next. For many people podcasts are background noise, but I'll often just sit on the couch and concentrate on just listening the podcast. Outside of home, I can't wait for the weather to get nicer so I can go on more walks. Being a night owl I like going for walks at night. I live near our city center so I'm within blocks of city hall, the main library branch, and the fountain / park. I jump at any opportunity to hang out with friends. It's just about every weekend that we are getting together to hang out and play board games. Like I mentioned in one of the breakdowns, I've started to play D&D with my buddy and his wife. I'd never played before but he's been DMing for years (but hasn't had a group for 10+ years now). He's glad to be playing again, his wife loves it, and it's super convenient for them to stay home with the 5 month old daughter. (And baby gets to hang out with Uncle Oracle.) I get together with former co-workers every few months to keep in touch with them. One in particular I have a standing every-2-month bar date with. I remind them every so often that if they want to go out to lunch ever to just call me. Personal History Just a quick personal history in closing. I was an automotive engineer working for OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers in the Metro Detroit area. In the 2008 downturn I lost my job and was unemployed for 2 years and ended up getting my house foreclosed in 2010. By the time i got a job in March of 2010 I was basically at $0. I had a tiny amount in an 401k, had about $20,000 in credit card debt from being unemployed. But then I got a very well paying engineering job ($108k annual and eligible for time-and-half overtime). I kept living like I was unemployed, spent as little as possible and saved as much as possible. Through my parents I secured a mortgage on a nice 1 Bed / 1 Bath 900 sq ft condo. I paid off my CC debt in less than a year and kept banking cash and maxing my 401k every year. I heard about bitcoin in early 2013 (from a guildmate in World of Warcraft, believe it or not) and jumped on board. All time bitcoin price chart (log scale) for those unfamiliar with the history. I got in before the first spike to $1000 in December of 2013, and kept buying throughout the downswing in 2014 / 2015. In 2017 I sold 5.6 BTC for a total of $6000 and paid off the last of my student loans and my car, then a few months later I sold 4.25 BTC for $6700 and paid off the last of my condo mortgage. So in May of 2017 I was officially debt free and had a net worth of about $200,000. Then in the fall of 2017 was when bitcoin exploded. I knew I had to take profits here. Every time the price went up 10% I sold another bitcoin. $7500, $9000, $10700, $13000, $15500, $18600. I sold all the way up. I ended up selling about $100,000 in bitcoin that year and I pushed most of it into my Roth IRA and Brokerage accounts. Then I really started thinking about FIRE in early 2018. Started doing the math, tried to see what my expenses would be, and thought I'd give it ago. I've told myself from day 1 that I'd give this trial a solid 2 years. If I don't feel good about it, or the money doesn't seem right, then I'll still only be 40 years old and could (IMO) easily jump right back into an engineering gig. So I targeted early 2019 so I could frontload my 401k for two months, grab the annual bonus, then peace out. TL:DR: 38, FIREd, Money's looking right, Life is feeling right, everything is fine
The power players of consumer finance in the 21st century will be crypto-native companies who build with blockchain technology at their core.
The crypto landscape is still nascent. We’re still very much in the fragmented, unbundled phase of the industry lifecycle. Beyond what Genesis Block is doing, there are signs of other companies slowly starting to bundle financial services into what could be an all-in-one bank replacement. So the key question that this series hopes to answer:
Which crypto-native company will successfully become the bank of the future?
We obviously think Genesis Block is well-positioned to win. But we certainly aren’t the only game in town. In this series, we’ll be doing an analysis of who is most capable of thwarting our efforts. We’ll look at categories like crypto exchanges, crypto wallets, centralized lending & borrowing services, and crypto debit card companies. Each category will have its own dedicated post. Today we’re analyzing big crypto exchanges. The two companies we’ll focus on today are Coinbase (biggest American exchange) and Binance (biggest global exchange). They are the top two exchanges in terms of Bitcoin trading volume. They are in pole position to winning this market — they have a huge existing userbase and strong financial resources. Will Coinbase or Binance become the bank of the future? Can their early success propel them to winning the broader consumer finance market? Is their growth too far ahead for anyone else to catch up? Let’s dive in. https://preview.redd.it/lau4hevpm7f51.png?width=800&format=png&auto=webp&s=2c5de1ba497199f36aa194e5809bd86e5ab533d8
The most formidable exchange on the global stage is Binance (Crunchbase). All signs suggest they have significantly more users and a stronger balance sheet than Coinbase. No other exchange is executing as aggressively and relentlessly as Binance is. The cadence at which they are shipping and launching new products is nothing short of impressive. As Tushar Jain from Multicoin argues, Binance is Blitzscaling. Here are some of the products that they’ve launched in the last 18 months. Only a few are announced but still pre-launch.
Binance is well-positioned to become the crypto-powered, all-in-one, bundled solution for financial services. They already have so many of the pieces. But the key question is:
Can they create a cohesive & united product experience?
Binance is strong, but they do have a few major weaknesses that could slow them down.
Traders & Speculators Binance is currently very geared for speculators, traders, and financial professionals. Their bread-and-butter is trading (spot, margin, options, futures). Their UI is littered with depth charts, order books, candlesticks, and other financial concepts that are beyond the reach of most normal consumers. Their product today is not at all tailored for the broader consumer market. Given Binance’s popularity and strength among the pro audience, it’s unlikely that they will dumb down or simplify their product any time soon. That would jeopardize their core business. Binance will likely need an entirely new product/brand to go beyond the pro user crowd. That will take time (or an acquisition). So the question remains, is Binance even interested in the broader consumer market? Or will they continue to focus on their core product, the one-stop-shop for pro crypto traders?
Controversies & Hot Water Binance has had a number of controversies. No one seems to know where they are based — so what regulatory agencies can hold them accountable? Last year, some sensitive, private user data got leaked. When they announced their debit card program, they had to remove mentions of Visa quickly after. And though the “police raid” story proved to be untrue, there are still a lot of questions about what happened with their Shanghai office shut down (where there is smoke, there is fire). If any company has had a “move fast and break things” attitude, it is Binance. That attitude has served them well so far but as they try to do business in more regulated countries like America, this will make their road much more difficult — especially in the consumer market where trust takes a long time to earn, but can be destroyed in an instant. This is perhaps why the Binance US product is an empty shell when compared to their main global product.
Disjointed Product Experience Because Binance has so many different teams launching so many different services, their core product is increasingly feeling disjointed and disconnected. Many of the new features are sloppily integrated with each other. There’s no cohesive product experience. This is one of the downsides of executing and shipping at their relentless pace. For example, users don’t have a single wallet that shows their balances. Depending on if the user wants to do spot trading, margin, futures, or savings… the user needs to constantly be transferring their assets from one wallet to another. It’s not a unified, frictionless, simple user experience. This is one major downside of the “move fast and break things” approach.
BNB token Binance raised $15M in a 2017 ICO by selling their $BNB token. The current market cap of $BNB is worth more than $2.6B. Financially this token has served them well. However, given how BNB works (for example, their token burn), there are a lot of open questions as to how BNB will be treated with US security laws. Their Binance US product so far is treading very lightly with its use of BNB. Their token could become a liability for Binance as it enters more regulated markets. Whether the crypto community likes it or not, until regulators get caught up and understand the power of decentralized technology, tokens will still be a regulatory burden — especially for anything that touches consumers.
Binance Chain & Smart Contract Platform Binance is launching its own smart contract platform soon. Based on compatibility choices, they have their sights aimed at the Ethereum developer community. It’s unclear how easy it’ll be to convince developers to move to Binance chain. Most of the current developer energy and momentum around smart contracts is with Ethereum. Because Binance now has their own horse in the race, it’s unlikely they will ever decide to leverage Ethereum’s DeFi protocols. This could likely be a major strategic mistake — and hubris that goes a step too far. Binance will be pushing and promoting protocols on their own platform. The major risk of being all-in on their own platform is that they miss having a seat on the Ethereum rocket ship — specifically the growth of DeFi use-cases and the enormous value that can be unlocked. Integrating with Ethereum’s protocols would be either admitting defeat of their own platform or competing directly against themselves.
The crypto-native company that I believe is more likely to become the bank of the future is Coinbase (crunchbase). Their dominance in America could serve as a springboard to winning the West (Binance has a stronger foothold in Asia). Coinbase has more than 30M users. Their exchange business is a money-printing machine. They have a solid reputation as it relates to compliance and working with regulators. Their CEO is a longtime member of the crypto community. They are rumored to be going public soon.
Let’s look at what makes them strong and a likely contender for winning the broader consumer finance market.
Different Audience, Different Experience Coinbase has been smart to create a unique product experience for each audience — the pro speculator crowd and the common retail user. Their simple consumer version is at Coinbase.com. That’s the default. Their product for the more sophisticated traders and speculators is at Coinbase Pro (formerly GDAX). Unlike Binance, Coinbase can slowly build out the bank of the future for the broad consumer market while still having a home for their hardcore crypto traders. They aren’t afraid to have different experiences for different audiences.
Brand & Design Coinbase has a strong product design team. Their brand is capable of going beyond the male-dominated crypto audience. Their product is clean and simple — much more consumer-friendly than Binance. It’s clear they spend a lot of time thinking about their user experience. Interacting directly with crypto can sometimes be rough and raw (especially for n00bs). When I was at Mainframe we hosted a panel about Crypto UX challenges at the DevCon4 Dapp Awards. Connie Yang (Head of Design at Coinbase) was on the panel. She was impressive. Some of their design philosophies will bode well as they push to reach the broader consumer finance market.
Early Signs of Bundling Though Coinbase has nowhere near as many products & services as Binance, they are slowly starting to add more financial services that may appeal to the broader market. They are now letting depositors earn interest on USDC (also DAI & Tezos). In the UK they are piloting a debit card. Users can now invest in crypto with dollar-cost-averaging. It’s not much, but it’s a start. You can start to see hints of a more bundled solution around financial services.
Let’s now look at some things that could hold them back.
Slow Cadence In the fast-paced world of crypto, and especially when compared to Binance, Coinbase does not ship very many new products very often. This is perhaps their greatest weakness. Smaller, more nimble startups may run circles around them. They were smart to launch Coinbase Ventures where tey invest in early-stage startups. They can now keep an ear to the ground on innovation. Perhaps their cadence is normal for a company of their size — but the Binance pace creates quite the contrast.
Institutional Focus As a company, we are a Coinbase client. We love their institutional offering. It’s clear they’ve been investing a lot in this area. A recent Coinbase blog post made it clear that this has been a focus: “Over the past 12 months, Coinbase has been laser-focused on building out the types of features and services that our institutional customers need.” Their Tagomi acquisition only re-enforced this focus. Perhaps this is why their consumer product has felt so neglected. They’ve been heavily investing in their institutional services since May 2018. For a company that’s getting very close to an IPO, it makes sense that they’d focus on areas that present strong revenue opportunities — as they do with institutional clients. Even for big companies like Coinbase, it’s hard to have a split focus. If they are “laser-focused” on the institutional audience, it’s unlikely they’ll be launching any major consumer products anytime soon.
Coinbase Wrap Up
At Genesis Block, we‘re proud to be working with Coinbase. They are a fantastic company. However, I don’t believe that they’ll succeed in building their own product for the broader consumer finance market. While they have incredible design, there are no signs that they are focused on or capable of internally building this type of product. Similar to Binance, I think it’s far more likely that Coinbase acquires a promising young startup with strong growth.
Other US-based exchanges worth mentioning are Kraken, Gemini, and Bittrex. So far we’ve seen very few signs that any of them will aggressively attack broader consumer finance. Most are going in the way of Binance — listing more assets and adding more pro tools like margin and futures trading. And many, like Coinbase, are trying to attract more institutional customers. For example, Gemini with their custody product.
Coinbase and Binance have huge war chests and massive reach. For that alone, they should always be considered threats to Genesis Block. However, their products are very, very different than the product we’re building. And their approach is very different as well. They are trying to educate and onboard people into crypto. At Genesis Block, we believe the masses shouldn’t need to know or care about it. We did an entire series about this, Spreading Crypto. Most everyone needs banking — whether it be to borrow, spend, invest, earn interest, etc. Not everyone needs a crypto exchange. For non-crypto consumers (the mass market), the differences between a bank and a crypto exchange are immense. Companies like Binance and Coinbase make a lot of money on their crypto exchange business. It would be really difficult, gutsy, and risky for any of them to completely change their narrative, messaging, and product to focus on the broader consumer market. I don’t believe they would ever risk biting the hand that feeds them. In summary, as it relates to a digital bank aimed at the mass market, I believe both Coinbase and Binance are much more likely to acquire a startup in this space than they are to build it themselves. And I think they would want to keep the brand/product distinct and separate from their core crypto exchange business. So back to the original question, is Coinbase and Binance a threat to Genesis Block? Not really. Not today. But they could be, and for that, we want to stay close to them. ------ Other Ways to Consume Today's Episode:
There is a web of invisible slime that reaches out from the artificial traditions of psychological think tanks, like The Tavistock Institute of Human Relations, whose roots trace back to the Vienna Psychology Club; a web that stretches across the entire world and inserts itself into your lives in intrusive, unethical and corrupt ways. Groups are deceiving you for a dollar, for a vote, for your personal information, for your labor; for your body and soul. This deception is carried out using every screen you look at, every song offered to you, every sign on a billboard, every popular book, magazine and newspaper. If you want honest information; if you want to see past the slime, you are going to have to look hard for it. If you are just starting down your journey of being cognizant of the deception, the scope is difficult to believe but well borne out by the evidence. We all know the news is dishonest, but the common myth is that it is for the ratings and for the views. The ways in which the news is dishonest is what is really difficult for people to swallow and the “why” still very much in debate until you understand the framework by which they operate. Systemic corruption is no exception to the march of modernization; more sophisticated than ever and more capable of staying hidden to the average person. Modern day slavers control the narrative and the reason it is a spiritual conflict between good and evil is because there are a very small group of people who believe that stealing your agency/free will/consciousness lends itself to their ability to become gods, in their own right. Understanding that the elite have deep occult traditions is important, though often scoffed at. However, to advertise their power and influence, occult messages are constantly and publicly advertised back and forth between these groups. It is no theory that think tanks have studied and implemented cult behavior even going so far as to create artificial cults in which to entrap people. Faceless, emotionless, unempathetic organizations that are merely constructed of words on paper are able to impose these cult tactics on you with impunity and in secrecy. This is the heart of the problem; when it comes to an organization, company, agency, church, etc., these abstract constructs are very much not human, at all. Their existence is alien and unknown to human instincts, who assign human attributes naturally and without conscious thought. These constructs take advantage of normal, honest, empathetic individuals by mimicking empathy, not by actually being empathetic. There are more slaves, now, than ever in human history and the methods of enslaving are far more insidious than ever. Modern slavery networks and the corrupt political ecosystems that allow them to endure are the heart of mankind’s problems. If we, as a society, were able to address the corruption that keeps these networks alive, then we, as society, would solve a lot of problems surrounding organized crime, in general, not just the problem human trafficking. How do we do that? It is very simple; “Zero Trust” policies in organizations and 100% government transparency. That’s it. A great deal of time, effort and money are spent making sure these issues never hit the ballot box and are never part of the platform of a candidate you are given the option to vote for. The movies you watch are constantly reminding you of dangers that allow a select group of idiots to maintain secrecy that is undeserved and clearly wielded for uses other than helping society. Common sense solutions are not prioritized by the media and politicians. Don’t be a part of the destruction of common sense and common courtesy. Stop taking the bait. Stop taking the path of least resistance. We are all guilty, but pushing yourself to be better and do better has a ripple effect in the world around you. Being a terrible person also has a ripple effect. There are enough bad ripples. The concept of an “epiphany” is an important one; where a person’s mind changes on a physical, neurochemical level to the extent that their world view changes. The moment a person is “red pilled” is an epiphany and it is very much the concern of media and Internet shills and their manipulative overlords because they do not want people to have the realization that the system is corrupt from top to bottom and that both sides of most narratives. But, if you do have that realization, there is a plan for you; to do nothing and sit idly by as corrupt forces continue their work. When you have an epiphany, the neurochemical storm actually is a moment where you are most suggestible and most ready to be manipulated. If you manage to raise your level of awareness across multiple narratives, the system almost doesn’t need to care about you, anymore, as they have likely already moved you to inaction and made you unwilling to tell others the truth. While there is a great deal of science that goes behind manipulating people, the tradition is as old as human history, itself; it’s origins, magical from the perspective of the ancients. Whether you call mass manipulation “hypnosis,” “psychology,” “magic” or “science,” the fact of the matter is that it is there in a more constant form than ever, impossible to avoid, and invisible to those who aren’t paying attention or willing to research and think for themselves. Like the idea of dark matter, you cannot see it directly (at least, when done well), but should be able to test and compare data data in different circumstances to detect it. There are many confirmed real world examples of mass manipulation that people should be aware of, because it is very easy for people to believe that it is not happening to them. Many say that is too big of a conspiracy to keep secret; though we already see how it works with a variety of leaks, court cases and plenty of proven real world examples. If you encounter this argument, you have probably encountered someone who is hypnotized into misunderstanding the word “conspiracy”, where a group of people work together to commit crimes. One easy way to create a consensus across media organizations is to enter into “non disparagement agreements.” For example, HBO entered into a non-disparagement agreement with Michael Jackson’s attorneys. A recent court case established that the agreement remains in effect even after his death. This means, with the right law firm, someone can enter into many unknown non disparagement agreements with many companies. It sounds weird, but this is like black magic. Occult literally means hidden. Secret words have been spelled out that the public is not aware of, but creates the illusion that there is a consensus about any given personality; like say a politician, a singer or an actor. A web of mutual non-disparagement agreements works as a form of forensic interruption, preventing people being held accountable for crimes. Between non-disclosure agreements and non-disparagement agreements, there is a web of protected relationships where people, products and even governments are not allowed to be discussed in a negative light. This has created an extortion racket by the media. If you don’t buy in, then you are fair game. Not only are you fair game, they will harass you until you buy in because they literally need something to do due to their lack of ability to speak negatively about their cohorts. When you consider the nexus between government and media, the problem is compounded when you introduce the concept of keeping things secret for national security. Policy has created the circumstance that corporate and secret government interests are intertwined and they become aligned in keeping each other out of jail. While a lot of this is managed at upper echelons, the system is merely taking advantage of human nature, which is why the government and media should be operating from a “zero trust” standpoint and not the other way around, like it currently is. There is and never has been any reason to trust the media or the government, and doubly so when their interests are aligned. There are many proven real world examples. The first ingredient to modern mass hypnosis is saturation and repetition. Your first clue that the message is artificial is when many corporate, government and astroturfing battlegrounds all agree on the same thing. Not only is a contrived message oft-repeated, it is generally very polarized; where, due to cognitive bias, it is designed for consumption by both sides with the ideal result of making one side feel schadenfreude and the other side feel outrage and injustice. Just being aware of this polarization tactic and allowing yourself to have more nuanced opinions that the black or white ones offered up to you, is incredibly effective at not taking the bait. “Systems Psychodynamics” is the name of the psychological framework that is used to monitor and control people, primarily based on attacking and reforming “basic assumptions.” By controlling everyone’s basic assumptions using the repetitious push and pulling narratives, the levers of political and monetary behavior are controlled through “influencers.” This framework reads like it was written for social media, though, in reality, it is much older; social media merely enhances the effects. One easy way to detect the agenda and the widespreadness of the corruption, without even knowing the finer points of mass persuasion techniques, is to see what is censored. Generally, the astroturfing campaigns seek to drown out good information that is contrary to their cause. However, when you find some information that is very damaging to their narrative, especially before they’ve scripted a response, it gets removed. Eventually, they will write up a standard response, but this takes time. For this reason, I incubate a number of censorship experiments across multiple sites. While people easily get away with discussions about aliens and flat earth, conversations about modern slavery are shut down everywhere; particularly if you call people to action in reporting crimes. Sites that purport to be “free speech” will not allow you to openly hunt human traffickers and the “system” seems to hate vigilantes more than anything. Most recently, the censorship around Covid “truth” is heaviest. Censorship of doctors has been swift and totalitarian. However, because I see generally what gets censored, first, I knew this was all a scam from Day One. The first SARS COV 2 tests, up until March, were merely SARS COV tests. Very literally. The SARS COV 2 tests hadn’t been invented, yet. Explaining that the body produces the CR3022 protein (what the antibody tests look for) for all human affecting coronaviruses was heavily censored. Even now, explaining this basic fact that exposes why a great deal of testing is fraudulent, is struck from both Right and Left astroturfing machines. If you really want a rabbit hole to dig through, search the coronavirus pandemic bonds that matured March 23, 2020. Prior to that, the name “Eric Ciaramella” was one of the most censored things on the Internet. Censored, in that the information was deleted immediately. The motivations behind these multi-site censorship campaigns should have everyone concerned because it is consistently in support of Democrat and RINO narratives, politically, and always in favor of human traffickers. However, even the Q Anon group will censor you with a variety of tactics if you speak of certain things in the wrong way or mention the possibility that they, themselves, are part of an astroturfing outfit. Fox News still won’t give a fair shake to the Uranium One/Skolkovo/Troika Laundromat evidence and it betrays them as controlled opposition/ a limited hangout, since it would destroy the Democrats. Any “side” of politics you can be on, whether it’s fringe or mainstream or Right or Left, every group has limits to what truthful statements they will tolerate and the nexus where all the groups meet in alignment is when it comes to discussing modern day slavery and who is profiting from it. Simply removing content is very overt and complaining about it to those who do it will usually earn you a mute or a ban. Running a “brand” across multiple platforms requires conformity to social media company ideologies, or you will be subjected to any and all means of censorship. Covert means of censorship are also rampant. Upvotes.Club offers a service that not only promotes the content you want, but downvotes topics that run contrary to your marketing strategy. This is one of many astroturfing services. Shadow banning is another tactic that can be difficult to detect. “Deboosting” is common in social platforms, as well, where the number or type of viewers who see your content is limited. This breeds “echo chambers” across multiple Internet communities. Out of frustration and curiosity, I began experimenting with different ways to engage with the shill communities. Very often, their own tactics work quite well against them. Years into this push and pull with these groups, my best strategy has evolved to monitor them as they often telegraph economic opportunity and subvert them from behind a layer of complexity a shill script can’t understand and is unable to deal with. When I noticed Bitcoin was being heavily shilled, I saw a signal to buy early. This was the catalyst for rethinking everything I was doing. When I noticed that there was blatant fraud in the media about SARS COV 2, I noticed the exact same behavior I had seen before when I struck it rich with Bitcoin. I even went to my audience and said on a podcast, “the market will be back to normal levels in a month… six tops.” I bought the dip, knowing the numbers were fully overblown. My $TSLA experience has been quite enriching. Every day, in the stock trading communities, shills are looking to pump and dump stocks and groups are spending money to illegally manipulate the stock market. However, you can use different ways to monitor social media to detect potential pumps and dumps. If you start seeing the same thing show up on different platforms, among different known shill groups, you know someone has paid for a pump and dump. So long as you have a set, small percentage to gain, you can avoid the pitfalls and get out early. Right now, that is my “edge”, in trading. I don’t feel nearly as obligated to spread the truth to others, since I’ve realigned my priorities. These technological tools for being the first to news items, to new evidence, finding new ways of searching existing information; not only does it help you navigate past censorship, you can use it to make more “realistic” decisions about the world around you. Politics and the stock market are inextricably linked. To be informed on one, is to be informed on the other. When you begin to pull in more intersecting information, like “systems psychodynamics” and overall agendas of differing groups, you are expanding your knowledge and your consciousness so that your intellect has more of a real world impact. When you delve deep into ancient traditions, you will, eventually, learn of alchemy; usually the pursuit of endless wealth or the search for immortality. Day trading well is, essentially, modern day alchemy in that you are making money from thin air. Musicians transform what is in their mind into a product that can be sold. There are many forms of alchemy. Bitcoin is another great example of modern day alchemy. In my humble opinion, augmenting your own well-disciplined intellect with good computing practices can make you a modern day wizard; an alchemist. Many people were saturated with pro-Nihilism marketing and ate it up with their Cheerio's while listening to Nirvana CDs. A couple of generations of nihilists later, combined with portable dopamine trap screens from waking moment 'til slumber, and people are literally having a hard time finding a reason to get out of bed in the morning. Being a successful trader heals a lot of the damage from that consumerist propaganda and forces people to interact with the natural causes of their decision making. The Market is not racist. The only color you have to worry about is green. The market does not celebrate your success or mock your failures. The opinions of critics do not count. The Market does not care about your feelings or anyone else's. All people enter the Market equal and there are no participation awards. There is no busywork. Your test scores do not matter. All that matters are results and that type of black and white simplicity makes the Market the most sane aspect of society, right now. Though most of the obvious stocks have since reached preCovid normality, it has been easy to make money by sorting every ticker by Feb 20 high, then subtract the current price, calculate potential gain when they return to their old price and pick ones that had a high probability of doubling or tripling your money the fastest. I understand it seems tangential, the stock market angle, but when you are routinely called a “conspiracy theorist”, it helps to be as realistic as possible and there is no better way to prove your theories than by putting your money where your mouth is. The stock market is a vessel from which normal people (”retail investors”) are scammed constantly, for the benefit of institutional investors. The Epsteins, the Soros’, all the political elite; they are playing in this realm and they graduated to using AI and machine learning to augment their schemes years ago. In order to understand the elite, you have to understand their playground. In order to compete in the information age, you need to augment your intellect using technology. If nothing else, use it to be meticulously organized. If you get organized in only one aspect of your life, make it your finances. The Democratic party uses the ADA AI, named from Ada Lovelace and a competitor, in 2016, Cambridge Analytica, was used by the Republicans. These AI’s are augmented with databases and metadatabases of everything that can be served up by a social media APIs. They know everything about you and they don’t spy on your microphones, cameras and screenshots to catch you at crimes; they are spying on you in order to better teach you how to vote and spend money. Combined with an army of astroturfing accounts, these AIs are quite good at manipulating what shows up on your screen. This type of censorship is bad for stock traders, researchers and people who just want a few honest answers. In order to compete a bit better, I have taken to making by own custom feeds and scrapers, so that I can database text of many sites and subjects, which then is far easier to search, but is also able to sort information so that I can find what I am looking for in a few minutes, as opposed to trawling the same channels or search engines everyday and learning relatively little. I am really on the hunt for stuff that is voted up or noticed organically and is in that stage before it catches on by a shill group. I incorporate a lot of OSINT tools and I like to collect leaked databases to be able to compare information. It is very helpful to use machine learning to detect what I need as quickly as possible and serve it up to me, first. Applying my own knowledge of how the astroturfing system works, I have developed strategies to target influencers with new and original information and I can quickly and easily get it to them without influencers even knowing I am the source of the information. I just have to identify the correct group to get my message out, then make sure their leaders see the information, who will naturally post it on their own and their followers will naturally vote information up for free. I don’t do this with stocks (questionable legality), but I do feed good news to the right people and I exert a lot less effort to get ideas across all platforms than I used to. No astroturfing groups are into anti-consumerist ideas. “Hydro Homies” and “No Fap” are two great examples that recommend people be anti-consumerist and avoid specific products. As a result, these movements, despite being healthy and productive, have a lot of trouble gaining traction. There is no mainstream push for a truly healthy agenda. All contrived movements must pay to astroturf and shill because, otherwise, embracing their products and ideas is contrary to your well being. No shill group is working to save you money or trying to convince you to make the right decision, for yourself. There are certain messages almost no one will add social media velocity to; detailed instructions on how to report crimes or catch pedophiles, leaked information that hurts both sides of the political spectrum, anything a little too technical or complex. There are already efforts to make hijack the anti-human trafficking crowd. They will be tricked into meaningless pursuits that have no real world consequence. Money will be raised and wasted. News article after news article will be pumped out detailing how everyone is supporting victims and raising awareness. Meanwhile; nobody of consequence is arrested. The mining industry will continue to use forced labor and the networks they use will also feed the sex slavery and domestic servitude and the systemic policies and corrupt politicians will continue on unimpeded. Let’s hope that changes, but it will require a lot more people getting off their asses and getting involved. It will require a lot more people speaking up outside of their echo chambers. Ready. Set. Go.
Murmurs of the Sea | Monthly Portfolio Update - March 2020
Only the sea, murmurous behind the dingy checkerboard of houses, told of the unrest, the precariousness, of all things in this world. -Albert Camus, The Plague This is my fortieth portfolio update. I complete this update monthly to check my progress against my goal. Portfolio goal My objective is to reach a portfolio of $2 180 000 by 1 July 2021. This would produce a real annual income of about $87 000 (in 2020 dollars). This portfolio objective is based on an expected average real return of 3.99 per cent, or a nominal return of 6.49 per cent. Portfolio summary Vanguard Lifestrategy High Growth Fund – $662 776 Vanguard Lifestrategy Growth Fund – $39 044 Vanguard Lifestrategy Balanced Fund – $74 099 Vanguard Diversified Bonds Fund – $109 500 Vanguard Australian Shares ETF (VAS) – $150 095 Vanguard International Shares ETF (VGS) – $29 852 Betashares Australia 200 ETF (A200) – $197 149 Telstra shares (TLS) – $1 630 Insurance Australia Group shares (IAG) – $7 855 NIB Holdings shares (NHF) – $6 156 Gold ETF (GOLD.ASX) – $119 254 Secured physical gold – $19 211 Ratesetter (P2P lending) – $13 106 Bitcoin – $115 330 Raiz* app (Aggressive portfolio) – $15 094 Spaceship Voyager* app (Index portfolio) – $2 303 BrickX (P2P rental real estate) – $4 492 Total portfolio value: $1 566 946 (-$236 479 or -13.1%) Asset allocation Australian shares – 40.6% (4.4% under) Global shares – 22.3% Emerging markets shares – 2.3% International small companies – 3.0% Total international shares – 27.6% (2.4% under) Total shares – 68.3% (6.7% under) Total property securities – 0.2% (0.2% over) Australian bonds – 4.8% International bonds – 10.4% Total bonds – 15.2% (0.2% over) Gold – 8.8% Bitcoin – 7.4% Gold and alternatives – 16.2% (6.2% over) Presented visually, below is a high-level view of the current asset allocation of the portfolio. Comments This month saw an extremely rapid collapse in market prices for a broad range of assets across the world, driven by the acceleration of the Coronavirus pandemic. Broad and simultaneous market falls have resulted in the single largest monthly fall in portfolio value to date of around $236 000. This represents a fall of 13 per cent across the month, and an overall reduction of more the 16 per cent since the portfolio peak of January. [Chart] The monthly fall is over three times more severe than any other fall experienced to date on the journey. Sharpest losses have occurred in Australian equities, however, international shares and bonds have also fallen. A substantial fall in the Australia dollar has provided some buffer to international equity losses - limiting these to around 8 per cent. Bitcoin has also fallen by 23 per cent. In short, in the period of acute market adjustment - as often occurs - the benefits of diversification have been temporarily muted. [Chart] The last monthly update reported results of some initial simplified modelling on the impact of a hypothetical large fall in equity markets on the portfolio. Currently, the actual asset price falls look to register in between the normal 'bear market', and the more extreme 'Global Financial Crisis Mark II' scenarios modelled. Absent, at least for the immediate phase, is a significant diversification offset - outside of a small (4 per cent) increase in the value of gold. The continued sharp equity market losses have left the portfolio below its target Australian equity weighting, so contributions this month have been made to Vanguard's Australian shares ETF (VAS). This coming month will see quarterly distributions paid for the A200, VGS and VAS exchange traded funds - totalling around $2700 - meaning a further small opportunity to reinvest following sizeable market falls. Reviewing the evidence on the history of stock market falls Vladimir Lenin once remarked that there are decades where nothing happen, and then there are weeks in which decades happen. This month has been four such weeks in a row, from initial market responses to the coronavirus pandemic, to unprecedented fiscal and monetary policy responses aimed at lessening the impact. Given this, it would be foolish to rule out the potential for other extreme steps that governments have undertaken on multiple occasions before. These could include underwriting of banks and other debt liabilities, effective nationalisation or rescues of critical industries or providers, or even temporary closure of some financial or equity markets. There is a strong appeal for comforting narratives in this highly fluid investment environment, including concepts such as buying while distress selling appears to be occurring, or delaying investing until issues become 'more clear'. Nobody can guarantee that investments made now will not be made into cruel short-lived bear market rallies, and no formulas exist that will safely and certainly minimise either further losses, or opportunities forgone. Much financial independence focused advice in the early stages of recent market falls focused on investment commonplaces, with a strong flavour of enthusiasm at the potential for 'buying the dip'. Yet such commonly repeated truths turn out to be imperfect and conditional in practice. One of the most influential studies of a large sample of historical market falls turns out to provide mixed evidence that buying following a fall reliably pays off. This study (pdf) examines 101 stock market declines across four centuries of data, and finds that:
Large falls can lead to strong rebounds - After large falls of up to 50 per cent, the probability of a large rebound is higher.
Future returns after large market falls are generally positive - Returns following such a severe crash are systematically higher than otherwise.
Smaller market falls, however, may accurately signal poor future returns - Smaller declines (10-20 per cent) are more likely to be followed by further declines, although the strength of the relationship is weaker and less consistent.
Even these findings should be viewed as simply indicative. Each crisis and economic phase has its unique character, usually only discernible in retrospect. History, in these cases, should inform around the potential outlines of events that can be considered possible. As the saying goes, risk is what remains after you believe you have thought of everything. Position fixing - alternative perspectives of progress In challenging times it can help to keep a steady view of progress from a range of perspectives. Extreme market volatility and large falls can be disquieting for both recent investors and those closer to the end of the journey. One perspective on what has occurred is that the portfolio has effectively been pushed backwards in time. That is, the portfolio now sits at levels it last occupied in April 2019. Even this perspective has some benefit, highlighting that by this metric all that has been lost is the strong forward progress made in a relatively short time. Yet each perspective can hide and distort key underlying truths. As an example, while the overall portfolio is currently valued at around the same dollar value as a year ago, it is not the same portfolio. Through new purchases and reinvestments in this period, many more actual securities (mostly units in ETFs) have been purchased. The chart below sets out the growth in total units held from January 2019 to this month, across the three major exchange trade funds holdings in the portfolio. [Chart] From this it can be seen that the number of securities held - effectively, individual claims on the future earnings of the firms in these indexes - has more than doubled over the past fifteen months. Through this perspective, the accumulation of valuable assets shows a far more constant path. Though this can help illuminate progress, as a measure it also has limitations. The realities of falls in market values cannot be elided by such devices, and some proportion of those market falls represent initial reassessments of the likely course of future earnings, and therefore the fundamental value of each of those ETF units. With significant uncertainty over the course of global lock-downs, trade and growth, the basis of these reassessments may provide accurate, or not. For anyone to discount all of these reassessments as wholly the temporary result of irrational panic is to show a remarkable confidence in one's own analytical capacities. Similarly, it would be equally wrong to extrapolate from market falls to a permanent constraining of the impulse of humanity to innovate, adjust to changed conditions, seek out opportunities and serve others for profit. Lines of position - Trends in expenditure A further longer-term perspective regularly reviewed is monthly expenses compared to average distributions. Monthly expenditure continues to be below average, and is likely to fall further next month as a natural result of a virus-induced reduction of shopping trips, events and outings. [Chart] As occurred last month, as a function some previous high distributions gradually falling outside of the data 'window' for the rolling three-year comparison of distributions and expenditure, a downward slope in distributions continues. Progress Progress against the objective, and the additional measures I have reached is set out below. Measure Portfolio All Assets Portfolio objective – $2 180 000 (or $87 000 pa) 71.9% 97.7% Credit card purchases – $71 000 pa 87.7% 119.2% Total expenses – $89 000 pa 70.2% 95.5% Summary This month has been one of the most surprising and volatile of the entire journey, with significant daily movements in portfolio value and historic market developments. There has been more to watch and observe than at any time in living memory. The dominant sensation has been that of travelling backwards through time, and revisiting a stage of the journey already passed. The progress of the last few months has actually been so rapid, that this backwards travel has felt less like a set back, but rather more like a temporary revisitation of days past. It is unclear how temporary a revisitation current conditions will enforce, or exactly how this will affect the rest of the journey. In early January I estimated that if equity market fell by 33 per cent through early 2020 with no offsetting gains in other portfolio elements, this could push out the achievement of the target to January 2023. Even so, experiencing these markets and with more volatility likely, I don't feel there is much value in seeking to rapidly recalculate the path from here, or immediately alter the targeted timeframe. Moving past the portfolio target from here in around a year looks almost impossibly challenging, but time exists to allow this fact to settle. Too many other, more important, human and historical events are still playing out. In such times, taking diverse perspectives on the same facts is important. This Next Life recently produced this interesting meditation on the future of FIRE during this phase of economic hardship. In addition, the Animal Spirits podcast also provided a thoughtful perspective on current market falls compared to 2008, as does this article by Early Retirement Now. Such analysis, and each passing day, highlights that the murmurs of the sea are louder than ever before, reminding us of the precariousness of all things. The post, links and full charts can be seen here.
Crypto-Powered: 10 Points that Highlight the Magic of DeFi
Most financial services that DeFi offers already exist in the real world. So why does it need to be on a blockchain? https://reddit.com/link/hvwzrq/video/2vwr3t2tofc51/player This is the final post ofCrypto-Powered— a new series that examines what it means forGenesis Blockto be a digital bank that’s powered by crypto, blockchain, and decentralized protocols. Earlier in this series, we looked at some of the most promising DeFi use-cases already in the wild. We explored categories like lending, investment, insurance, stablecoins, payments, and more. And before that, we gave a primer on Bitcoin, Ethereum, and DeFi (decentralized finance). So now that we’ve gone a little deeper down the crypto rabbit hole and we’ve done this whirlwind tour of DeFi, the natural next question is: why does any of it matter? Most of the financial services offered by DeFi protocols already exist in the real world. So why does it need to be decentralized or on a blockchain? What’s the big deal? Today we go through 10 points that highlight the magic of DeFi, and why it matters. And hopefully, it becomes clear just how big of an unfair advantage this technology is for Genesis Block. It’s our superpower as we compete against big banks and fintech unicorns. Alright, let’s dive in!
1. Global Pipes & Bridges
In traditional finance, each country or region has its own currency, infrastructure, and regulations. With blockchain technology and more specifically DeFi, the world is instantly connected. These decentralized protocols serve as the pipes and plumbing that plug the different economies together. The internet completely broke down the walls & borders for information and news. DeFi is doing the same thing, but now for money, commerce, and financial markets. We’re now part of a global, digital marketplace that can finally transact with each other— there’s a common set of rules and protocols that transcend cultures, languages, and borders. Jack Dorsey recently shared his own bullish insights on this future.
2. Efficient Markets & Liquidity
While the crypto ecosystem is still small when compared to traditional financial markets, it is growing quickly. As participation continues to mature, it will unlock enormous liquidity in the global markets. Imagine the possibilities for mostly illiquid markets like real estate, collectibles, or private company stock. This creates new opportunities for people. Imagine a farmer in Mexico helping a young family in Florida buy their first home. Or a coal worker in China participating in micro-finance loans in Africa. With liquid markets, they can easily swap in and out of investments depending on their financial situations. They won’t have to worry about long periods of no liquidity — which traditionally only favored the wealthy. https://preview.redd.it/l1fe8lgg8fc51.png?width=700&format=png&auto=webp&s=9b404c0f2c06916af51198a7e096cd2e4b5d067c Additionally, more liquid markets lead to great efficiencies. Defi, like the internet before, reduces transaction costs to the bare minimum — just the tech/infrastructure costs. The high cost of participation is removed. This new, unlocked liquidity will lead to a much more efficient, vibrant, and healthy global economy.
3. Earning Opportunities & Value Creation
Basic crypto allows you to move and store value. With many of these DeFi protocols, you can actually create and earn value. You can share in the upside and success of these new micro-economies by earning tokens for your contributions. https://i.redd.it/t0e61g3l8fc51.gif For example, with DeFi protocols like Maker or UMA, you can be rewarded for voting and participating in high-level protocol decisions. With Synthetix, Compound, and Uniswap you can be rewarded for providing liquidity to the network. With Cosmos or Tezos (and soon Ethereum), you can be rewarded for helping keep the network stable and secure. These new decentralized protocols and the work required to grow and cultivate them can be incredible earning opportunities for people all over the world. Value isn’t just moving, it’s being created and growing. This is an entirely new paradigm for work and earning income. It’s actually really incredible to think about.
4. Equal Access & Economic Freedom
Because DeFi protocols are decentralized and on a blockchain, there are no gatekeepers. No government or bank or corporation can censor these protocols. Everyone has equal access. You can be a user who needs financial services. You can be an entrepreneur who has a great idea and decide to launch your own protocol. You can be a worker who wants to earn income by helping and contributing to these new micro-economies. All options are available. Nobody can stop you. People all over the world — whether from a favela in Rio or living under oppression by an authoritarian regime — can participate in this new, digital, permissionless global economy. This creates more economic freedom, which changes the world.
While cryptocurrency like Bitcoin is starting to become more regulated in developed countries, many of these newer decentralized technologies have not, like DeFi (financial services built on smart contracts). This technology is at the bleeding-edge of innovation. It’s a new frontier that is being explored and developed at an incredibly fast pace. As a result, most governments around the world have not yet fleshed out how or if it will be regulated. For many countries around the world with fewer resources and less-developed regulatory infrastructure, it would be dizzying to even try. https://reddit.com/link/hvwzrq/video/mkr89t9y8fc51/player This creates a unique window of opportunity for builders and entrepreneurs. They won’t get bogged down by some of the outdated laws that slow them down in legacy finance. For updates on crypto regulation in the US,CoinCenteris a great resource. So far, US regulatory focus has just been on cryptocurrency or securities more generally.
7. Decentralized Governance
The companies behind top DeFi protocols like Compound and Maker have relinquished their power and turned it over to the community. The community of token holders are now in charge of proposing, approving, and voting for decisions and updates in the protocol. This is called decentralized governance. Of course, not all protocols are truly decentralized in their management or governance. But this is a trend we’re seeing more and more of. This more democratic style of governance creates a system of checks and balances, hopefully leading to a more stable, secure, and resilient protocol. There’s a great post recently from Jesse Walden where he describes this as The Ownership Economy. https://preview.redd.it/7gwjwjfp8fc51.png?width=800&format=png&auto=webp&s=203e6ceb16ceb7461a3d2da373330964e820d97e
8. User Interface Flexibility
Because these protocols are low-level, there can be a variety of product experiences, interfaces, and designs built around them. It’s similar to interacting with web APIs, except these are smart contracts on a blockchain. If you don’t like the design of an app that interacts with a specific protocol, you can build your own.
9. Transparency & Auditability
These protocols are on the blockchain for anyone to inspect, analyze, and review. This transparency can create more trust and confidence for users. Anyone can discover a bug or whistle-blow malfeasance. In the real world, bank customers typically have no idea what’s happening under the hood. It’s a complete black hole. In DeFi, the code is open-source. You can verify it’s doing exactly what they say it is.
10. Autonomous & Open 24/7
While the developers can sometimes update the protocol or fix a bug, these decentralized applications are not managed day to day by a company or its employees. These smart contracts run independently and automatically on the blockchain — enforced by policies and rules written in the code. DeFi protocols aren’t closed on weekends or bank holidays. Can you imagine a bank that was run by robots and open 24/7. That’s DeFi. --- Hopefully, it’s becoming crystal clear that a crypto-native company — if it can substantially leverage these game-changing DeFi protocols — will win the consumer finance market. It will disrupt Wells Fargo, Goldman, and Bank of America. It will become the bank of the future. Which crypto-native company is best positioned to win? Who can abstract away the complexity, deliver a world-class product experience, and take it to the world? We obviously believe it’s us at Genesis Block. Time will tell. I hope your imagination is running wild with possibilities like mine is. The potential of this tech is incredible. When you consider both the broad spectrum of financial use-cases that DeFi offers and the enormous value that is unlocked through these protocols (as outlined in today’s post), you can see just how big of an unfair advantage this is for Genesis Block.
As long as we’re building on this foundation, we’re out here playing 3d Chess while big banks & fintech companies are playing Checkers.
Crypto-Powered - The Most Promising Use-Cases of Decentralized Finance (DeFi)
A whirlwind tour of Defi, paying close attention to protocols that we’re leveraging atGenesis Block. https://reddit.com/link/hrrt21/video/cvjh5rrh12b51/player This is the third post ofCrypto-Powered— a new series that examines what it means forGenesis Blockto be a digital bank that’s powered by crypto, blockchain, and decentralized protocols. Last week we explored how building on legacy finance is a fool’s errand. The future of money belongs to those who build with crypto and blockchain at their core. We also started down the crypto rabbit hole, introducing Bitcoin, Ethereum, and DeFi (decentralized finance). That post is required reading if you hope to glean any value from the rest of this series. 97% of all activity on Ethereum in the last quarter has been DeFi-related. The total value sitting inside DeFi protocols is roughly $2B — double what it was a month ago. The explosive growth cannot be ignored. All signs suggest that Ethereum & DeFi are a Match Made in Heaven, and both on their way to finding strong product/market fit. So in this post, we’re doing a whirlwind tour of DeFi. We look at specific examples and use-cases already in the wild and seeing strong growth. And we pay close attention to protocols that Genesis Block is integrating with. Alright, let’s dive in.
Stablecoins are exactly what they sound like: cryptocurrencies that are stable. They are not meant to be volatile (like Bitcoin). These assets attempt to peg their price to some external reference (eg. USD or Gold). A non-volatile crypto asset can be incredibly useful for things like merchant payments, cross-border transfers, or storing wealth — becoming your own bank but without the stress of constant price volatility. There are major governments and central banks that are experimenting with or soon launching their own stablecoins like China with their digital yuan and the US Federal Reserve with their digital dollar. There are also major corporations working in this area like JP Morgan with their JPM Coin, and of course Facebook with their Libra Project.
Stablecoin activity has grown 800% in the last year, with $290B of transaction volume (funds moving on-chain).
USDC($1B): This is the most reputable USD-backed stablecoin, at least in the West. It was created by Coinbase & Circle, both well-regarded crypto companies. They’ve been very open and transparent with their audits and bank records.
DAI ($189M): This is backed by other crypto assets — not USD in a bank account. This was arguably the first true DeFi protocol. The big benefit is that it’s more decentralized — it’s not controlled by any single organization. The downside is that the assets backing it can be volatile crypto assets (though it has mechanisms in place to mitigate that risk).
Three of the top five DeFi protocols relate to lending & borrowing. These popular lending protocols look very similar to traditional money markets. Users who want to earn interest/yield can deposit (lend) their funds into a pool of liquidity. Because it behaves similarly to traditional money markets, their funds are not locked, they can withdraw at any time. It’s highly liquid. Borrowers can tap into this pool of liquidity and take out loans. Interest rates depend on the utilization rate of the pool — how much of the deposits in the pool have already been borrowed. Supply & demand. Thus, interest rates are variable and borrowers can pay their loans back at any time.
So, who decides how much a borrower can take? What’s the process like? Are there credit checks? How is credit-worthiness determined?
These protocols are decentralized, borderless, permissionless. The people participating in these markets are from all over the world. There is no simple way to verify identity or check credit history. So none of that happens. Credit-worthiness is determined simply by how much crypto collateral the borrower puts into the protocol. For example, if a user wants to borrow $5k of USDC, then they’ll need to deposit $10k of BTC or ETH. The exact amount of collateral depends on the rules of the protocol — usually the more liquid the collateral asset, the more borrowing power the user can receive. The most prominent lending protocols include Compound, Aave, Maker, and Atomic Loans. Recently, Compound has seen meteoric growth with the introduction of their COMP token — a token used to incentivize and reward participants of the protocol. There’s almost $1B in outstanding debt in the Compound protocol. Mainframe is also working on an exciting protocol in this area and the latest iteration of their white paper should be coming out soon.
There is very little economic risk to these protocols because all loans are overcollateralized.
Buying, selling, and trading crypto assets is certainly one form of investing (though not for the faint of heart). But there are now DeFi protocols to facilitate making and managing traditional-style investments. Through DeFi, you can invest in Gold. You can invest in stocks like Amazon and Apple. You can short Tesla. You can access the S&P 500. This is done through crypto-based synthetics — which gives users exposure to assets without needing to hold or own the underlying asset. This is all possible with protocols like UMA, Synthetix, or Market protocol. Maybe your style of investing is more passive. With PoolTogether , you can participate in a no-loss lottery. Maybe you’re an advanced trader and want to trade options or futures. You can do that with DeFi protocols like Convexity, Futureswap, and dYdX. Maybe you live on the wild side and trade on margin or leverage, you can do that with protocols like Fulcrum, Nuo, and DDEX. Or maybe you’re a degenerate gambler and want to bet against Trump in the upcoming election, you can do that on Augur. And there are plenty of DeFi protocols to help with crypto investing. You could use Set Protocol if you need automated trading strategies. You could use Melonport if you’re an asset manager. You could use Balancer to automatically rebalance your portfolio. With as little as $1, people all over the world can have access to the same investment opportunities and tools that used to be reserved for only the wealthy, or those lucky enough to be born in the right country.
You can start to imagine how services like Etrade, TD Ameritrade, Schwab, and even Robinhood could be massively disrupted by a crypto-native company that builds with these types of protocols at their foundation.
As mentioned in our previous post, there are near-infinite applications one can build on Ethereum. As a result, sometimes the code doesn’t work as expected. Bugs get through, it breaks. We’re still early in our industry. The tools, frameworks, and best practices are all still being established. Things can go wrong. Sometimes the application just gets in a weird or bad state where funds can’t be recovered — like with what happened with Parity where $280M got frozen (yes, I lost some money in that). Sometimes, there are hackers who discover a vulnerability in the code and maliciously steal funds — like how dForce lost $25M a few months ago, or how The DAO lost $50M a few years ago. And sometimes the system works as designed, but the economic model behind it is flawed, so a clever user takes advantage of the system— like what recently happened with Balancer where they lost $500k. There are a lot of risks when interacting with smart contracts and decentralized applications — especially for ones that haven’t stood the test of time. This is why insurance is such an important development in DeFi.
Insurance will be an essential component in helping this technology reach the masses.
Decentralized Exchanges (DEX) were one of the first and most developed categories in DeFi. A DEX allows a user to easily exchange one crypto asset for another crypto asset — but without needing to sign up for an account, verify identity, etc. It’s all via decentralized protocols. Within the first 5 months of 2020, the top 7 DEX already achieved the 2019 trading volume. That was $2.5B. DeFi is fueling a lot of this growth. https://preview.redd.it/1dwvq4e022b51.png?width=700&format=png&auto=webp&s=97a3d756f60239cd147031eb95fc2a981db55943 There are many different flavors of DEX. Some of the early ones included 0x, IDEX, and EtherDelta — all of which had a traditional order book model where buyers are matched with sellers. Another flavor is the pooled liquidity approach where the price is determined algorithmically based on how much liquidity there is and how much the user wants to buy. This is known as an AMM (Automated Market Maker) — Uniswap and Bancor were early leaders here. Though lately, Balancer has seen incredible growth due mostly to their strong incentives for participation — similar to Compound. There are some DEXs that are more specialized — for example, Curve and mStable focus mostly only stablecoins. Because of the proliferation of these decentralized exchanges, there are now aggregators that combine and connect the liquidity of many sources. Those include Kyber, Totle, 1Inch, and Dex.ag.
These decentralized exchanges are becoming more and more connected to DeFi because they provide an opportunity for yield and earning interest.
As it relates to making payments, much of the world is still stuck on plastic cards. We’re grateful to partner with Visa and launch the Genesis Block debit card… but we still don’t believe that's the future of payments. We see that as an important bridge between the past (legacy finance) and the future (crypto). Our first post in this series shared more on why legacy finance is broken. We talked about the countless unnecessary middle-men on every card swipe (merchant, acquiring bank, processor, card network, issuing bank). We talked about the slow settlement times. The future of payments will be much better. Yes, it’ll be from a mobile phone and the user experience will be similar to ApplePay (NFC) or WePay (QR Code).
But more importantly, the underlying assets being moved/exchanged will all be crypto — digital, permissionless, and open source.
Someone making a payment at the grocery store check-out line will be able to open up Genesis Block, use contactless tech or scan a QR code, and instantly pay for their goods. All using crypto. Likely a stablecoin. Settlement will be instant. All the middlemen getting their pound of flesh will be disintermediated. The merchant can make more and the user can spend less. Blockchain FTW! Now let’s talk about a few projects working in this area. The xDai Burner Wallet experience was incredible at the ETHDenver event a few years ago, but that speed came at the expense of full decentralization (can it be censored or shut down?). Of course, Facebook’s Libra wants to become the new standard for global payments, but many are afraid to give Facebook that much control (newsflash: it isn’t very decentralized). Bitcoin is decentralized… but it’s slow and volatile. There are strong projects like Lightning Network (Zap example) that are still trying to make it happen. Projects like Connext and OmiseGo are trying to help bring payments to Ethereum. The Flexa project is leveraging the gift card rails, which is a nice hack to leverage existing pipes. And if ETH 2.0 is as fast as they say it will be, then the future of payments could just be a stablecoin like DAI (a token on Ethereum). In a way, being able to spend crypto on daily expenses is the holy grail of use-cases. It’s still early. It hasn’t yet been solved. But once we achieve this, then we can ultimately and finally say goodbye to the legacy banking & finance world. Employees can be paid in crypto. Employees can spend in crypto. It changes everything.
Legacy finance is hanging on by a thread, and it’s this use-case that they are still clinging to. Once solved, DeFi domination will be complete.
At Genesis Block, we’re excited to leverage these protocols and take this incredible technology to the world. Many of these protocols are already deeply integrated with our product. In fact, many are essential. The masses won’t know (or care about) what Tether, USDC, or DAI is. They think in dollars, euros, pounds and pesos. So while the user sees their local currency in the app, the underlying technology is all leveraging stablecoins. It’s all on “crypto rails.” https://preview.redd.it/jajzttr622b51.png?width=700&format=png&auto=webp&s=fcf55cea1216a1d2fcc3bf327858b009965f9bf8 When users deposit assets into their Genesis Block account, they expect to earn interest. They expect that money to grow. We leverage many of these low-risk lending/exchange DeFi protocols. We lend into decentralized money markets like Compound — where all loans are overcollateralized. Or we supply liquidity to AMM exchanges like Balancer. This allows us to earn interest and generate yield for our depositors. We’re the experts so our users don’t need to be. We haven’t yet integrated with any of the insurance or investment protocols — but we certainly plan on it. Our infrastructure is built with blockchain technology at the heart and our system is extensible — we’re ready to add assets and protocols when we feel they are ready, safe, secure, and stable. Many of these protocols are still in the experimental phase. It’s still early.
At Genesis Block we’re excited to continue to be at the frontlines of this incredible, innovative, technological revolution called DeFi.
--- None of these powerful DeFi protocols will be replacing Robinhood, SoFi, or Venmo anytime soon. They never will. They aren’t meant to! We’ve discussed this before, these are low-level protocols that need killer applications, like Genesis Block. So now that we’ve gone a little deeper down the rabbit hole and we’ve done this whirlwind tour of DeFi, the natural next question is: why?
Why does any of it matter?
Most of these financial services that DeFi offers already exist in the real world. So why does it need to be on a blockchain? Why does it need to be decentralized? What new value is unlocked? Next post, we answer these important questions. To look at more projects in DeFi, check outDeFi Prime,DeFi Pulse, orConsensys. ------ Other Ways to Consume Today's Episode:
Want to scrap RMT? Reduce cheating and hatcheting? Dissolve the meta? Open your mind and let's talk.
Disclaimer #2: I wrote this early yesterday morning and since then, the podcast happened and FIR Flea Market was announced. I have redacted some sections as a response. Disclaimer: I know this is a long read and contains many sensitive subjects such as Secure Containers, the Flea Market, and Soft Skills, but it is simply a compiled list of ideas and in no way am I demanding for ultimate order in my favor or holding anybody else's ideas in contempt. I understand that my ideals may drastically differ from others. I only wrote this because of my passion for this game and my desire to see it succeed in the scope of what the devs outlined it to be, or at least how we interpret it: a hardcore looter shooter. I implore you guys to offer your own suggestions, ideas, and pick apart mine. This thread should only serve as the foundation for a greater Tarkov. First, let's establish some terms to better differentiate between the two types of cheaters. There are consumer cheaters who use programs to gain an advantage over other players simply for the satisfaction of winning. Then, there are commercial cheaters, who are using these same programs but in order to generate an income in real life. Commercial cheating will always be prolific in any video game that offers players transferable goods, and for as long as there is real money profit to be made, the benefits will continue to outweigh the risks. Any security expert can tell you that no lock is unpickable, no chain is unbreakable, and no password is unsolvable, but that doesn't mean we should all keep our doors unlocked, bikes unchained, and our passwords as "1234". And while a chain might not prevent your expensive road bike from getting stolen, having a chain, a disk lock, lojack, and the front wheel taken with you will certainly deter the grand majority of otherwise would-be thieves, who will of course, make an attempt on the less-protected bike adjacent to yours instead. Battleye is a good start, the equivalent of a quality bike chain if you will, but of course--enough to stop most consumer cheaters, though not enough to stop most commercial cheaters. So let's ask ourselves: Where should intervention be focused on the most? We could target the cheat providers, but they'll keep writing more cheats. A game of cat and mouse. We could target the (commercial) cheaters, but they'll just buy more accounts and more cheats with the money they made cheating. Cat and mouse. Who else, then, if not the problem? They aren't the problem. Your every-day player. He is the problem. Small businesses are closing for good because the risk of COVID-19 is preventing customers from supporting their establishment. Let's increase the risk for the RMT customer to get the product that they paid for. How? Make secure containers "read-only". Anything in your container can be "used" i.e. meds, keys, loose rounds for magazine packing, but nothing can be taken out or put in. It will then act as a non-transferable stash that can safeguard your valuables. No more accidentally dropping your S I C C case full of keys and then getting killed. However.. want to drop a keycard, case of bitcoins, or other valuables to a friend or a customer? It has to start and end the raid outside of either persons' secure container. This puts tradeable goods at risk for both the buyer and seller for the entirety of the raid, and not just at the extract when the transaction is made. This simultaneously makes PVP more rewarding. Now, when you murder that pistoling who risked nearly nothing and put an annoying crack in your shiny, expensive face shield, you'll be able to take the graphics card or LEDX off of his body to remind him that his chances at those items would have been greater had he risked some gear of his own. More gear taken into raids is more gear taken out of the economy. Combined with the current weight system, this is a necessary and intuitive money sink. On the topic of money sinks, let's consider changing how insurance works. Rather than insure items, we could insure ourself. Pay Prapor or Therapist a reasonable, fixed fee in advance to recover any goods left on our body (only what was taken IN to the raid. I was exploring the idea of having the game take a snapshot of your corpse's entire inventory upon the conclusion of the raid and sending it in the mail, but it would be too easy to abuse for RMT purposes. The seller could give the customer a backpack full of bitcoins and kill him in a bush for example). Because the body is insured and not each individual item, things such as ammo and meds could be returned without the bloat of having an insurance status on each individual bullet in a magazine, the primary reason I believe ammo to not be insurable currently. The fee could scale with the "safety" of the map. For example, Prapor's boys would probably feel less comfortable scouring Reserve for your dead body than a place like Factory, and thus the fee for body recovery on Reserve could be upwards of 100K and unless you were completely stripped, you would still probably make money back on unlooted ammo/meds alone. Factory on the other hand, because of how small the map is and therefore easy to find dead PMCs, the fee could be a reasonable 10K. This does two things: First, it stops insurance fraud. Dumping your gear (to ditch a thermal or wear someone else's kit, guaranteeing you get yours back) or your dead buddy's gear into a bush is unimmersive and bad for the economy. The current insurance system unreasonably rewards squad play for the wrong reasons, effectively removing the penalty for death if at least 1 competent person in the group survives (I personally frequent 3-5 man squads and it just feels unfair how much gear I get back when I die). Second, it sets up a new dynamic in place of insurance fraud. Now, if you want your buddy to get his stuff back, you have to defend his body or extract with his gear. This rewards scavs for properly scavenging, looking for the fruitful casualties of groups that made it out. This is good for the economy, as the punishment for death almost always will result in a transfer of wealth to those who work for it and not a retention of wealth for non-solos. Next up, the Flea Market. It has been expressed many times by streamers that the Flea Market has ruined the game and should be removed but on the other hand, there were people complaining that level 15 was too high of a level to access the Flea Market and it has since become available earlier. I believe that the Flea Market is the core reason this game experiences the stagnant meta that it does. Global stock and personal limits from traders mean nothing when you can just visit the Flea Market and stockpile VALs and SR3Ms to run EVERY raid. Of course I am nobody to try and force anybody to play a certain way or use a certain loadout, but I do believe that the game would be more exciting if rare loadouts were actually rare. One solution is to make the Flea Market "find in raid" only. Not only would this be another nail in the RMT coffin (it would prevent customers from selling transacted barter items for exorbitant prices), but it would mark the first true player-driven economy by removing flipped goods from traders. Traders could offer a (per-person, not global) tailored, but random assortment of goods each restock that you can piece together a kit from rather than a static array of goods unlocked by loyalty level. The (loyalty) level of the player would determine the frequency and strength of their goods. At Prapor LL4 for example, you may see VALs pop up more often, but once you buy them, that's all, and you have to wait until next restock and he might not even have any by then either. You might see a VAL available at lower loyalties as well, but even less frequently. Traders could then scale their prices dynamically to global demand (not the old, abusable system. This one would change the price incrementally based on purchase frequency. Global purchase frequency rising on a specific item? Global price on that item raises accordingly). This is good for the economy and, combined with making the Flea Market "find in raid" only, I believe it to be a solution to stagnant meta. How cool was it when you were new and killed that guy who had an SV-98 that you had to examine because you hadn't seen it until now? You'd get that feeling more often this way. Lastly, if the "find in raid" status is spoofable by cheaters, add a server-side check for the status. Now on to weapon attachments. Because of how unusable most stock rifles feel, there is a huge appeal for sticking as many appendages as possible to rifles to achieve that sweet <70, or god forbid, <40 recoil. Many of the attachments in the game go untouched because they don't offer even close to the arbitrary stat benefits of those in the meta. It is such a shame, as one of Tarkov's greatest strengths is the weapon modding system. I believe a step in the right direction would be to improve base weapon stats around the board (excluding weapons with fewer attachments such as the DVL) and and then nerf and bring each attachment more in line with each other, especially some of the outliers. Compare the RK-2 to the VPG for example. As such though, if an unmodded weapon vs a modded weapon wasn't night and day, it would promote significantly more weapon and attachment diversity. Of course some people are still going to min-max no matter how insignificant the benefits are. I would just like to be able to use a shortened SA-58 and be remotely competitive with a BMD'd 21" CASV SA-58. Or be able to C-clamp a Zhukov AK-102 without a foregrip and not lose to an equal-skill player 3/5 times who has the same gun, but with an RK-2. Soft skill requirements for tasks and upgrades should be removed. They incline people to figure out ways of abusing the system and given people a reason to endorse it in order to progress through the task lines and upgrade their hideout. Soft skills should only be a passive reward for playing the game, not something people feel obligated to abuse. Additionally, PMCs should start at a higher level of soft skills, say... 10, to reflect the training and experience they received during employment. It doesn't make sense that untrained scavs have the same physical and mental capabilities as professional soldiers. Certain skills as well can benefit greatly from a rework. Let's look at the following: Strength The elite perk is incredibly overpowered, but only because of how extreme it is. It could be changed so that each level of Strength increments a small % of the current elite perk, such as 0.5% per level, and then an additional 5% or so for elite, so at level 51, only 70% of the weight from worn gear would be counted. Run speed and Jump height could be reduced, and the leveling speed increased. On the topic of gear weight, now that the weight system has been introduced and we get slower the heavier we get, could flat movement speed penalties from armor be removed? 6B43 already weighs 20KG. Why does it also slow for an additional 42%? Nobody uses heavy armor anymore because the extra protection is not worth the forfeiture of loot AND lowered base movement speed AND lowered sensitivity/ergonomics. Sensitivity inconsistency is another issue and most consider it a cardinal sin in FPS games. Recoil Control Heavily reduce the benefits. -0.3% recoil per level totaling -15% at level 50. As well, -0.4% recoil on the first shot per mouse click. The elite perk could be an additional 5% reduction on the first shot per mouse click. This would be a nice buff to semi-autos and make them more competitive against the current laser beam meta guns. Search The elite perk, again, is overpowered. Perhaps starting at Search level 0, we should be able to search two items at the same time, but at 40% speed each if searching two items at once. If only one item is searched at a time, speed would remain at 100%. With each level, search speed for double search increases by 1% and single search by 2% and the elite perk adds an additional 10%, bringing double search speed up to 100% at level 51 without the black and white difference between levels 50 and 51. TL;DR: No TL;DR because I know some people will draw wild conclusions before fully understanding the content of the post.
More Wall Street Breakfast Podcasts » "Despite several issues of importance - national riots, Chinese relations, an ongoing pandemic - the stock market is primarily focused on a single thing: the restart of U.S. and global economic activities," said Jim Paulsen, chief investment strategist at the Leuthold Group. The sentiment led S&P 500 futures to tack on another 0.6% gain overnight as Dr. Anthony Fauci expressed renewed "optimism" about a coronavirus vaccine. On the economic calendar, the ADP Employment Report today will give a fresh read on the extent of the COVID-19 pandemic, while oil climbed 2% on anticipated output cuts at the upcoming OPEC+ meeting. Come on and Zoom! A surge in video conferencing usage saw revenue growth at Zoom (NASDAQ:ZM) jump 169% to $328.2M as the company reported top and bottom line beats for Q1. Zoom also doubled its revenue guidance for the year, pushing up shares as much as 4.5% in AH trading on Tuesday. In keeping with its previous practices, the firm didn't disclose active user numbers, though analysts at Bernstein estimate Zoom's mobile app had 173M monthly active users as of May 27, up from 14M on March 4. Zuckerberg stands firm after walkout Facing internal unrest over the company's gentle approach to moderating posts from President Trump, Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) CEO Mark Zuckerberg told employees he stood behind his decision, one he called "tough" but "pretty thorough." Policies will be reviewed to see if they need to change for the future. Facebook employees particularly took issue with a post by Trump that threatened violence, including the words "when the looting starts, the shooting starts." Similar posts on Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) were flagged for violating policy. Apple is tracking looted iPhones Thieves who made off with iPhones from Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) retail locations in New York, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Washington and Philadelphia quickly learned that they were loaded with special security software. On-screen messages displayed: "This device has been disabled and is being tracked. Local authorities will be alerted." The social unrest sweeping across the nation comes just as Apple is in the process of opening more than 100 stores following an extended closure due to the coronavirus pandemic. Digital taxes The Trump administration is opening a "Section 301" investigation into taxes on digital commerce - proposed by a range of trading partners - that could affect revenues booked by tech giants like Facebook (FB), Google (GOOG, GOOGL) and Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN). The move could ultimately lead to punitive tariffs and heighten the chances of another global trade dispute. France already agreed to postpone its new digital tax until at least the end of 2020 after the U.S. threatened to impose tariffs of up to 100% on imports like French wine, cheese, handbags and porcelain. Will negative rates be needed? Many have doubted that the U.S. could go negative like Japan and parts of Europe, but St. Louis Fed economist Yi Wen says that's what it would take to achieve a V-shaped economic recovery. "I found that a combination of aggressive fiscal and monetary policies is necessary. Aggressive policy means that the U.S. will need to consider negative interest rates and aggressive government spending, such as spending on infrastructure." Wen cited historical examples like President Roosevelt's aggressive fiscal stimulus package during the 1930s and huge surge in government spending once World War II began. Britain news roundup The Shanghai-London Connect program, years in the making, has so far produced only one listing - Huatai Securities (OTCPK:HUATF) - which raised $1.5B last June. China's market regulator has now approved a fresh listing for China Pacific Insurance (OTCPK:CHPXY), signaling a revival of the program. While the ties could bring the nations closer, other news overnight may go in the other direction. Boris Johnson pledged to let into the country nearly 3M Hong Kong citizens - who are British overseas passport holders - due to China's new national security law, and place them on a possible path to U.K. citizenship. Drug shortages One of the most widely prescribed antidepressant medications in the U.S. has fallen into short supply, according to a new list from the FDA. Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) said some versions of its name-brand Zoloft, such as 100 milligram tablets in 100-count bottles, were scarce because of higher demand during COVID-19, while generics faced shortages of certain ingredients. Zoloft prescriptions climbed 12% Y/Y to 4.9M in March, the most ever in the U.S., according to data compiled by Bloomberg, but receded to 4.5M in April. M&A activity French luxury goods group LVMH’s (OTCPK:LVMHF) $16.2B takeover of Tiffany & Co (NYSE:TIF) is looking less certain, according to Women's Wear Daily. It's the latest big merger said to be on the rocks amid a deteriorating situation in the U.S. market brought on by a COVID-19 pandemic and severe social unrest. Further challenges include spending pattern shifts, the collapse of international tourism and trade tensions between Washington and Beijing. 'Biggest Sale in the Sky' After postponing its annual Prime Day event due to COVID-19, Amazon (AMZN) is reportedly setting up a "summer sale" for June to boost sellers hurt by the outbreak and swimming in inventory. The company told brands it would launch a fashion sale June 22, to run anywhere from 7-10 days, and that participation in the event was "invitation only." It's building landing pages with a working title "Biggest Sale in the Sky," and has asked brands to meet an end-of-Wednesday deadline to submit deals with a discount of at least 30%. What else is happening... Sports betting to the rescue in California? Twitter (TWTR) names Pichette as new independent chairman. Google (GOOG, GOOGL) faces $5B lawsuit over 'private' internet use. FAA boss to testify at Senate hearing on 737 MAX (NYSE:BA). Lyft (NASDAQ:LYFT) trims loss forecast after May rides jumped 26%. Tuesday's Key Earnings Ambarella (NASDAQ:AMBA) -3.7% AH on light revenue guidance. CrowdStrike (NASDAQ:CRWD) +6.2% AH following a beat-and-raise. DICK'S Sporting Goods (NYSE:DKS) +3.7% as e-commerce sales rose 110%. Zoom Video (ZM) +1.4% AH posting Q1 beat, aggressive outlook. Today's Markets In Asia, Japan +1.3%. Hong Kong +1.4%. China +0.1%. India +0.6%. In Europe, at midday, London +1.5%. Paris +2%. Frankfurt +2.2%. Futures at 6:20, Dow +0.8%. S&P +0.6%. Nasdaq +0.5%. Crude +1.7% to $37.43. Gold -0.6% to $1724.40. Bitcoin -5.6% to $9527. Ten-year Treasury Yield +3 bps to 0.71% Today's Economic Calendar Auto Sales 7:00 MBA Mortgage Applications 8:15 ADP Jobs Report 9:45 PMI Services Index 10:00 ISM Non-Manufacturing Index 10:00 Factory Orders
Quant Network: Token valuation dynamics and fundamentals
This post intends to illustrate the dynamics and fundamentals related to the mechanics and use of the Quant Network Utility Token (QNT), in order to provide the community with greater clarity around what holding the token actually means. This is a follow-up on two articles David W previously wrote about Quant Network’s prospects and potential, which you can find here:
For holders not intending to use Overledger for business reasons, the primary goal of holding the QNT token is to benefit from price appreciation. Some are happy to believe that speculation will take the QNT price to much higher levels if and when large-scale adoption/implementation news comes out, whilst others may actually prefer to assess the token’s utility and analyse how it would react to various scenarios to justify a price increase based on fundamentals. The latter is precisely what I aim to look into in this article. On that note, I have noticed that many wish to see institutional investors getting involved in the crypto space for their purchase power, but the one thing they would bring and that is most needed in my opinion is fundamental analysis and valuation expectations based on facts. Indeed, equity investors can probably access 20 or 30 reports that are 15 pages long and updated on a quarterly basis about any blue chip stock they are invested in, but how many of such (professional) analyst reports can you consult for your favorite crypto coins? Let me have a guess: none. This is unfortunate, and it is a further reason to look into the situation in more details. To be clear, this article is not about providing figures on the expected valuation of the token, but rather about providing the community with a deeper analysis to better understand its meaning and valuation context. This includes going through the (vast) differences between a Utility Token and a Company Share since I understand it is still blurry in some people’s mind. I will incorporate my thoughts and perspective on these matters, which should not be regarded as a single source of truth but rather as an attempt to “dig deeper”. In order to share these thoughts with you in the most pertinent manner, I have actually entirely modelled the Quant Treasury function and analysed how the QNT token would react to various scenarios based on a number of different factors. That does not mean there is any universal truth to be told, but it did help in clarifying how things work (with my understanding of the current ruleset at least, which may also evolve over time). This is an important safety net: if the intensity of speculation in crypto markets was to go lower from here, what would happen to the token price? How would Quant Treasury help support it? If the market can feel comfortable with such situation and the underlying demand for the token, then it can feel comfortable to take it higher based on future growth expectations — and that’s how it should be. Finally, to help shed light on different areas, I must confess that I will have to go through some technicalities on how this all works and what a Utility Token actually is. That is the price to pay to gain that further, necessary knowledge and be in a position to assess the situation more thoroughly — but I will make it as readable as I possibly can, so… if are you ready, let’s start!
A Utility Token vs. a Company Share: what is the difference?
It is probably fair to say that many people involved in the crypto space are unfamiliar with certain key financial terms or concepts, simply because finance is not necessarily everyone’s background (and that is absolutely fine!). In addition, Digital Assets bring some very novel concepts, which means that everyone has to adapt in any case. Therefore, I suggest we start with a comparison of the characteristics underpinning the QNT Utility Token and a Quant Network Company Share (as you may know, the Company Shares are currently privately held by the Quant Network founders). I believe it is important to look at this comparison for two reasons:
Most people are familiar with regular Company Shares because they have been traded for decades, and it is often asked how Utility Tokens compare.
Quant Network have announced a plan to raise capital to grow their business further (in the September 2019 Forbes article which you can find here). Therefore, regardless of whether the Share Offering is made public or private, I presume the community will want to better understand how things compare and the different dynamics behind each instrument.
So where does the QNT Utility Token sit in Quant Network company and how does it compare to a Quant Network Company Share? This is how it looks: https://preview.redd.it/zgidz8ed74y31.png?width=1698&format=png&auto=webp&s=54acd2def0713b67ac7c41dae6c9ab225e5639fa What is on the right hand side of a balance sheet is the money a company has, and what is on the left hand side is how it uses it. Broadly speaking, the money the company has may come from the owners (Equity) or from the creditors (Debt). If I were to apply these concepts to an individual (you!), “Equity” is your net worth, “Debt” is your mortgage and other debt, and “Assets” is your house, car, savings, investments, crypto, etc. As you can see, a Company Share and a Utility Token are found in different parts of the balance sheet — and that, in itself, is a major difference! They indeed serve two very different purposes:
Company Shares: they represent a share of a company’s ownership, meaning that you actually own [X]% of the company ([X]% = Number of shares you possess / Total number of shares) and hence [X]% of the company’s assets on the left hand side of the balance sheet.
Utility Tokens: they are keys to access a given platform (in our case, Quant Network’s Operating System: Overledger) and they can serve multiple purposes as defined by their Utility Document (in QNT’s case, the latest V0.3 version can be found here).
As a consequence, as a Company Shareholder, you are entitled to receive part or all of the profits generated by the company (as the case may arise) and you can also take part in the management decisions (indeed, with 0.00000001% of Apple shares, you have the corresponding right to vote to kick the CEO out if you want to!). On the other hand, as a Utility Token holder, you have no such rights related to the company’s profits or management, BUT any usage of the platform has to go through the token you hold — and that has novel, interesting facets.
A Utility Token vs. a Company Share: what happens in practice?
Before we dig further, let’s now remind ourselves of the economic utilities of the QNT token (i.e. in addition to signing and encrypting transactions):
Licences: a licence is mandatory for anyone who wishes to develop on the Overledger platform. Enterprises and Developers pay Quant Network in fiat money and Quant Treasury subsequently sets aside QNT tokens for the same amount (a diagram on how market purchases are performed can be found on the Overledger Treasury page here). The tokens are locked for 12 months, and the current understanding is that the amount of tokens locked is readjusted at each renewal date to the prevailing market price of QNT at the time (this information is not part of the Utility Token document as of now, but it was given in a previous Telegram AMA so I will assume it is correct pending further developments).
Usage: this relates to the amount of Overledger read and write activity performed by clients on an ongoing basis, and also to the transfer of Digital Assets from one chain to another, and it follows a similar principle: fiat money is received by Quant Network, and subsequently converted in QNT tokens (these tokens are not locked, however).
Gateways: information about Gateways has been released through the Overledger Network initiative (see dedicated website here), and we now know that the annual cost for running a Gateway will be 500 QNT whilst Gateway holders will receive a percentage of transaction fees going through their setup.
Minimum holding amounts: the team has stated that there will be a minimum QNT holding amount put in place for every participant of the Overledger ecosystem, although the details have not been released yet.
On the right hand side, you see the simplified Profit & Loss account (“P&L”) which incorporates Total Revenues, from which costs and taxes are deducted, to give a Net Income for the company. A share of this Net Income may be distributed to Shareholders in the form of a Dividend, whilst the remainder is accounted as retained profits and goes back to the balance sheet as Equity to fund further growth for instance. Importantly, the Dividend (if any) is usually a portion of the Net Income so, using an indicative 40% Dividend yield policy, shareholders receive here for a given year 80 out of total company revenues of 1,000.
On the left hand side, you see the QNT requirements arising from the Overledger-related business activity which equal 700 here. Note that this is only a portion of the Total Revenues (1,000) you can see on the right hand side, as the team generates income from other sources as well (e.g. consultancy fees) — but I assume Overledger will represent the bulk of it since it is Quant Network’s flagship product and focus. In this case, the equivalent fiat amount of QNT tokens represents 700 (i.e. 100% of Overledger-related revenues) out of the company’s Total Revenues of 1,000. It is to be noted that excess reserves of QNT may be sold and generate additional revenues for the company, which would be outside of the Overledger Revenues mentioned above (i.e. they would fall in the “Other Revenues” category).
A way to summarise the situation from a very high level is: as a Company Shareholder you take a view on the company’s total profits whereas as a Utility Token holder you take a view on the company’s revenues (albeit Overledger-related). It is however too early to reach any conclusion, so we now need to dig one level deeper again.
More considerations around Company Shares
As we discussed, with a Company Share, you possess a fraction of the company’s ownership and hence you have access to profits (and losses!). So how do typical Net Income results look in the technology industry? What sort of Dividend is usually paid? What sort of market valuations are subsequently achieved? Let’s find out: https://preview.redd.it/eua9sqlt74y31.png?width=2904&format=png&auto=webp&s=3500669942abf62a0ea1c983ab3cea40552c40d1 As you can see, the typical Net Income Ratio varies between around 10% and 20% in the technology/software industry (using the above illustrated peer group). The ratio illustrates the proportion of Net Income extracted from Revenues. In addition, money is returned to Company Shareholders in the form of a Dividend (i.e. a portion of the Net Income) and in the form of Share repurchases (whereby the company uses its excess cash position to buy back shares from Shareholders and hence diminish the number of Shares available). A company may however prefer to not redistribute any of the profits, and retain them instead to fund further business growth — Alphabet (Google) is a good example in this respect. Interestingly, as you can see on the far right of the table, the market capitalisations of these companies reflect high multiples of their Net Income as investors expect the companies to prosper in the future and generate larger profits. If you wished to explore these ideas further, I recommend also looking into the Return on Equity ratio which takes into account the amount of resources (i.e. Capital/Equity) put to work to generate the companies’ profits. It is also to be noted that the number of Company Shares outstanding may vary over time. Indeed, aside from Share repurchases that diminish the number of Shares available to the market, additional Shares may be issued to raise additional funds from the market hence diluting the ownership of existing Shareholders. Finally, (regular) Company Shares are structured in the same wayacross companies and industries, which brings a key benefit of having them easily comparable/benchmarkable against one another for investors. That is not the case for Utility Tokens, but they come with the benefit of having a lot more flexible use cases.
More considerations around the QNT token
As discussed, the Utility Token model is quite novel and each token has unique functions designed for the system it is associated with. That does not make value assessment easy, since all Utility Tokens are different, and this is a further reason to have a detailed look into the QNT case. https://preview.redd.it/b0xe0ogw74y31.png?width=1512&format=png&auto=webp&s=cece522cd7919125e199b012af41850df6d9e9fd As a start, all assets that are used in a speculative way embed two components into their price: A) one that represents what the asset is worth today, and B) one that represents what it may be worth in the future. Depending on whether the future looks bright or not, a price premium or a price discount may be attached to the asset price. This is similar to what we just saw with Company Shares valuation multiples, and it is valid across markets. For instance, Microsoft generates around USD 21bn in annual Net Income these days, but the cost of acquiring it entirely is USD 1,094bn (!). This speculative effect is particularly visible in the crypto sector since valuation levels are usually high whilst usage/adoption levels are usually low for now. So what about QNT? As mentioned, the QNT Utility model has novel, interesting facets. Since QNT is required to access and use the Overledger system, it is important to appreciate that Quant Network company has three means of action regarding the QNT token:
MANAGING their QNT reserves on an ongoing basis (i.e. buying or selling tokens is not always automatic, they can allocate tokens from their own reserves depending on their liquidity position at any given time),
BUYING/RECEIVING QNT from the market/clients on the back of business activity, and
SELLING QNT when they deem their reserves sufficient and/or wish to sell tokens to cover for operational costs.
Broadly speaking, the above actions will vary depending on business performance, the QNT token price and the Quant Network company’s liquidity position. We also have to appreciate how the QNT distribution will always look like, it can be broken down as follows: https://preview.redd.it/f20h7hvz74y31.png?width=1106&format=png&auto=webp&s=f2f5b63272f5ed6e3f977ce08d7bae043851edd1 A) QNT tokens held by the QNT Community B) QNT tokens held by Quant Network that are locked (i.e. those related to Licences) C) QNT tokens held by Quant Network that are unlocked (i.e. those related to other usage, such as consumption fees and Gateways) D) the minimum QNT amount held by all users of the platform (more information on this front soon) So now that the situation is set, how would we assess Quant Network’s business activity effect on the QNT token? STEP 1: We would need to define the range of minimum/maximum amounts of QNT which Quant Network would want to keep as liquid reserves (i.e. unlocked) on an ongoing basis. This affects key variables such as the proportion of market purchases vs. the use of their own reserves, and the amount of QNT sold back to the market. Also, interestingly, if Quant Network never wanted to keep less than, for instance, 1 million QNT tokens as liquid reserves, these 1 million tokens would have a similar effect on the market as the locked tokens because they would never be sold. STEP 2: We would need to define the amount of revenues that are related to QNT. As we know, Overledger Licences, Usage and Gateways generate revenues converted into QNT (or in QNT directly). So the correlation is strong between revenues and QNT needs. Interestingly, the cost of a licence is probably relatively low today in order to facilitate adoption and testing, but it will surely increase over time. The same goes for usage fees, especially as we move from testing/pilot phases to mass implementation. The number of clients will also increase. The Community version of Overledger is also set to officially launch next year. More information on revenue potential can be found later in this article. STEP 3: We would need to define an evolution of the QNT token price over time and see how things develop with regards to Quant Network’s net purchase/sale of tokens every month (i.e. tokens required - tokens sold = net purchased/sold tokens). Once assumptions are made, what do we observe? In an undistorted environment, there is a positive correlation between Quant Network’s QNT-related revenues and the market capitalisation they occupy (i.e. the Quant Network share of the token distribution multiplied by the QNT price). However, this correlation can get heavily twisted as the speculative market prices a premium to the QNT price (i.e. anticipating higher revenues). As we will see, a persistent discount is not really possible as Quant Treasury would mechanically have to step in with large market purchases, which would provide strong support to the QNT price. In addition, volatility is to be added to the equation since QNT volatility is likely to be (much) higher than that of revenues which can create important year-on-year disparities. For instance, Quant Treasury may lock a lot of tokens at a low price one year, and be well in excess of required tokens the next year if the QNT token price has significantly increased (and vice versa). This is not an issue per se, but this would impact the amount of tokens bought/sold on an ongoing basis by Quant Treasury as reserves inflate/deflate. If we put aside the distortions created by speculation on the QNT price, and the subsequent impact on the excess/deficiency of Quant Network token reserves (whose level is also pro-actively managed by the company, as previously discussed), the economic system works as follows: High QNT price vs. Revenue levels: The value of reserves is inflated, fewer tokens need to be bought for the level of revenues generated, Quant Treasury provides low support to the QNT price, its share of the token distribution diminishes. Low QNT price vs. Revenue levels: Reserves run out, a higher number of tokens needs to be bought for the level of revenues generated, Quant Treasury provides higher support to the QNT price, its share of the token distribution increases. Summary table: https://preview.redd.it/q7wgzpv384y31.png?width=2312&format=png&auto=webp&s=d8c0480cb34caf2e59615ec21ea220d81d79b153 The key here is that, whatever speculation on future revenue levels does to the token in the first place, if the QNT price was falling and reaching a level that does not reflect the prevailing revenue levels of Overledger at a given time, then Quant Treasury would require a larger amount of tokens to cover the business needs which would mean the depletion of their reserves, larger purchases from the market and strong support for the QNT price from here. This is the safety net we want to see, coming from usage! Indeed, in other words, if the QNT price went very high very quickly, Quant Treasury may not be seen buying much tokens since their reserves would be inflated BUT that fall back mechanics purely based on usage would be there to safeguard QNT holders from the QNT price falling below a certain level. I would assume this makes sense for most, and you might now wonder why have I highlighted the bottom part about the token distribution in red? That is because there is an ongoing battle between the QNT community and Quant Treasury — and this is very interesting. The ecosystem will show how big a share is the community willing to let Quant Network represent. The community actually sets the price for the purchases, and the token distribution fluctuates depending on the metrics we discussed. An equilibrium will be formed based on the confidence the market has in Quant Network’s future revenue generation. Moreover, the QNT community could perceive the token as a Store of Value and be happy to hold 80/90% of all tokens for instance, or it could perceive QNT as more dynamic or risky and be happy to only represent 60/70% of the distribution. Needless to say that, considering my previous articles on the potential of Overledger, I think we will tend more towards the former scenario. Indeed, if you wished to store wealth with a technology-agnostic, future proof, globally adopted, revenue-providing (through Gateways) Network of Networks on which most of the digitalised value is flowing through — wouldn’t you see QNT as an appealing value proposition? In a nutshell, it all comes down to the Overledger revenue levels and the QNT holders’ resistence to buy pressure from Quant Treasury. Therefore, if you are confident in the Overledger revenue generation and wish to see the QNT token price go up, more than ever, do not sell your tokens! What about the locked tokens? There will always be a certain amount of tokens that are entirely taken out of circulation, but Quant Network company will always keep additional unlocked tokens on top of that (those they receive and manage as buffer) and that means that locked tokens will always be a subset of what Quant Network possesses. I do not know whether fees will primarily be concentrated on the licencing side vs. the usage side, but if that were to be the case then it would be even better as a higher amount of tokens would be taken out of circulation for good. Finally, as long as the company operates, the revenues will always represent a certain amount of money whereas this is not the case for profits which may not appear before years (e.g. during the first years, during an economic/business downturn, etc.). As an illustration, a company like Uber has seen vast increases in revenues since it launched but never made any profit! Therefore, the demand for the QNT token benefits from good resilience from that perspective. Quant Network vs. QNT community — What proportion of the QNT distribution will each represent?
How much revenues can Overledger generate?
I suggest we start with the basis of what the Quant Network business is about: connecting networks together, building new-generation hyper-decentralised apps on top (called “mApps”), and creating network effects. Network effects are best defined by Metcalfe’s law which states: “the effect of a telecommunications network is proportional to the square of the number of connected users of the system” (Source: Wikipedia). This is illustrated by the picture below, which demonstrates the increasing number of possible connections for each new user added to the network. This was also recently discussed in a YouTube podcast by QNT community members “Luke” and “Ghost of St. Miklos” which you can watch here. Source: applicoinc.com This means that, as Overledger continues to connect more and more DLTs of all types between themselves and also with legacy systems, the number of users (humans or machines) connected to this Network of Networks will grow substantially — and the number of possible connections between participants will in turn grow exponentially. This will increase the value of the network, and hence the level of fees associated with getting access to it. This forms the basis of expected, future revenue generation and especially in a context where Overledger remains unique as of today and embraced by many of the largest institutions in the world (see the detailed summary on the matter from community member “Seq” here). On top of this network, multi-chain hyper-decentralised applications (‘mApps’) can be built — which are an upgrade to existing dApps that use only one chain at a time and hence only benefit from the user base and functionalities of the given chain. Overledger mApps can leverage on theusers and abilities of all connected chains at the same time, horizontal scaling, the ability to write/move code in any language across chains as required, write smart contracts on blockchains that do not support them (e.g. Bitcoin), and provide easier connection to other systems. dApps have barely had any success so far, as discussed in my first article, but mApps could provide the market with the necessary tools to build applications that can complement or rival what can be found on the Apple or Google Play store. Also, the flexibility of Overledger enables Quant Network to target a large number of industries and to connect them all together. A sample of use cases can be found in the following illustration: https://preview.redd.it/th8edz5b84y31.png?width=2664&format=png&auto=webp&s=105dd4546f8f9ab2c66d1a5a8e9f669cef0e0614 It is to be noted that one of the use cases, namely the tokenisation of the entire world’s assets, represents a market worth hundreds of trillions of USD and that is not even including the huge amount of illiquid assets not currently traded on traditional Capital Markets which could benefit from the tokenisation process. More information on the topic can be found in my previous article fully focused on the potential of Overledger to capture value from the structural shift in the world’s assets and machine-related data/value transfers. Finally, we can look at what well established companies with a similar technology profile have been able to achieve. Overledger is an Operating System for DLTs and legacy systems on top of which applications can be built. The comparison to Microsoft Windows and the suite of Microsoft Software running on top (e.g. Microsoft Office) is an obvious one from that perspective to gauge the longer term potential. As you can see below, Microsoft’s flagship softwares such as Windows and Office each generate tens of billions of USD of revenues every year: Source: Geekwire We can also look at Oracle, the second largest Enterprise software company in the world: Source: Statista We can finally look at what the Apple store and the Google Play store generate, since the Quant Network “mApp store” for the community side of Overledger will look to replicate a similar business model with hyper-decentralised applications: Source: Worldwide total revenue by app store, 2018 ($bn) The above means total revenues of around USD 70bn in 2018 for the Apple store and Google Play store combined, and the market is getting bigger year-on-year! Also, again, these (indicative!) reference points for Overledger come in the context of the Community version of the system only, since the Enterprise version represents a separate set of verticals more comparable to the likes of Microsoft and Oracle which we just looked at.
I hope this article helped shed further light on the QNT token and how the various market and business parameters will influence its behavior over time, as the Quant Network business is expected to grow exponentially in the coming years. In the recent Forbes interview, Quant Network’s CEO (Gilbert Verdian) stated : “Our potential to grow is uncapped as we change and transform industries by creating a secure layer between them at speed. Our vision is to build a mass version of what I call an internet of trust, where value can be securely transferred between global partners not relying on defunct internet security but rather that of blockchain.”. This is highly encouraging with regards to business prospects and also in comparison to what other companies have been able to achieve since the Web as we know it today emerged (e.g. Microsoft, Google, Apple, etc.). The Internet is now entering a new phase, with DLT technology at its core, and Overledger is set to be at the forefront of this new paradigm which will surely offer a vast array of new opportunities across sectors. I believe it is an exciting time for all of us to be part of the journey, as long as any financial commitment is made with a good sense of responsibility and understanding of what success comes down to. “Crypto” is still immature in many respects, and the emergence of a dedicated regulatory framework combined with the expected gradual, selective entrance of institutional money managers will hopefully help shed further light and protect retail token holders from the misunderstandings, misinformation and misconduct which too many have suffered from in the last years. Thanks for your time and interest. Appendix: First article:“The reasons why Quant Network (QNT) will rise to the Top of the crypto sphere in the coming months” Second article:“The potential of Quant Network’s technology to capture value from the structural shift in the World’s assets and machine-related data/value transfers” October 2019 City AM interview of Gilbert Verdian (CEO):Click here October 2019 Blockchain Brad interview of Gilbert Verdian (CEO):Click here July 2019 Blockchain Brad interview of Gilbert Verdian (CEO):Click here February 2019 Blockchain Brad interview of Gilbert Verdian (CEO):Click here ---- About theoriginal authorof the article: My name is David and I spent years in the Investment Banking industry in London. I hold QNT tokens and the above views are based on my own thoughts and research only. I am not affiliated with the Quant Network team in any way. This is not investment advice, please do your own research andunderstandwhat you are buying before doing so. It is also my belief that more than 90% of all other crypto projects will fail because what matters is what is gettingadopted; please do not put more money at risk than you can afford to lose.
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