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Re-Launching The Borderless, Unkillable Crypto-Fiat Gateway, DAIHard. Enter or Exit Crypto via Any Fiat and Any Payment Method, Anywhere in the World, Without KYC. All you need is a little Dai.

Some of you might recall recall our initial facepalm failed launch about 3 months ago (post-mortem here). Well, we're back--this time with an audit and some new features. This version of DAIHard should should die a little harder this time ;)

The Audit

After shopping around a bit in the auditor space, we decided to go with Adam Dossa--the very same Adam Dossa that actually found our launch vulnerability and responsibly disclosed it to us! You can see his report here. By the way, Adam has been a gem: friendly, professional, timely, and flexible. Definitely keep him in mind if you need an audit!

(Re)Introducing DAIHard

Following is an updated version of our original launch post. If you've already read that, you might want to skip to the heading What's New in v0.9.2. Or you can go straight to the app or go to our info site for more info!
Here is a legitimate concern most of us are familiar with:
To enter or exit the crypto economy, we rely on centralized exchanges such as Coinbase, which track their users, impose limits, and are tightly coupled to their jurisdiction and its banking system. And for all we know, any day now regulations could start tightening these controls further (*we've actually seen some of this play out in the two months since our first launch post). In light of this, can we say in any meaningful sense that crypto is anonymous, limtiless, borderless, immune to regulation, and (most importantly) unstoppable?
To really address this concern, we need a completely decentralized gateway between fiat and crypto: something that extends the benefits of crypto to the very act of moving between the old and new economies. But the design of such a platform is far from obvious.
(Localethereum comes close, but as discussed under Unkillable, it doesn't quite cut it. And Bisq is decentralized, but has significant UX hurdles.)
We believe we've found a solution. We are proud to present:

DAIHard v0.9.2 - Almost Definitely Not Broken This Time

If you want to jump right in, we recommend first watching our latest usage demo (7 min), then diving in and giving it a shot with a small amount of Dai. (Try it on Kovan first if mainnet is too scary!)
DAIHard extends many of the promises of crypto (borderless, anonymous, limitless, unstoppable) into the exchange mechanism itself, allowing anyone, anywhere to bypass centralized exchanges and the control they impose.
More concretely, DAIHard is a platform, run on smart contracts, for forming one-off crypto/fiat exchanges with other users, in which:
Again, our latest usage demo (7 min) shows this process in action.

Two drawbacks

You Need either xDai, or both Dai and Ether, to Use The Tool (At Least For Now)

If you want to buy Dai on DAIHard, you must already have Dai--1/3 of the amount you want to purchase--to put up as a burnable deposit. For example, if you only have 10 Dai now, you can only commit to buying 30 Dai, and must complete that trade before using the newly bought Dai to open up a bigger offer (for up to 120 Dai that time).
Most tragically of course, this means that if you don't already have some crypto, you can't use this tool to get crypto--this is why we avoid calling DAIHard an onramp specifically. This comes from the fact that both parties must have "skin in the game" for the game theory to work, and a smart contract can only threaten to burn crypto.
We have some ideas on how to address this drawback in the not-too-distant future, which we'll write about soon. For now it's time to launch this thing and get some users!

Dangerous and Scary To Use

In rare cases, a user may have to burn Dai and face a loss on the entire trade amount. The necessity of this ever-present risk is explained in detail in DAIHard Game Theory.
However, a cautious, rational user can gather information (possibly via our [subreddit](daihard)!) about how people have used the tool, successfully and unsuccessfully. They can then create a buy or sell offer with wisely chosen settings based on what has worked for others. Other cautious, rational users can find this offer and commit to the trade if they dare. We expect the vast majority of committed trades should involve rational, cautious users, and should therefore resolve happily.
Still, inevitably there will be sloppy trades that result in burns. As the tool is used, we'll be keeping a close eye on the frequency of burns and keeping you guys updated (perhaps via a "System Status" utility similar to the one found on MakerDao's explorer). In the end, though, we expect the risk in using DAIHard to be comparable to the risk of using any exchange or DNM: ever-present but low enough for the platform to be useful as whole.
So, while DAIHard will never shut down and can't perform an exit scam, the bad news is it's not risk-free. Users will have to approach DAIhard with the same level of caution they would with any new exchange (albeit for different reasons and with a different approach).
So what's the good news?

The Good News

While these drawbacks are significant, they enable some remarkable features that no other crypto/fiat exchange mechanism can boast.

Unkillable

(Correction: Bisq seems to have a decentralized arbitration system)
We are aware of no other crypto/fiat exchange platform that is truly unkillable. Bisq and localethereum comes close, but both localethereum relies on centralized processes of arbitration. This means their fraud-and-scam-prevention system can be sued, jailed, or otherwise harrassed--and if that part stops working, it doesn't matter how decentralized the rest of the system was.
DAIHard, in contrast, gives the users the power to police and punish each other, via the aforementioned credible threat of burn. This is simple game theory, and the rules of this game are etched permanently into the DAIHard Factory and Trade contract code: impervious to litigation, regulation, and political pressure.
This Factory contract has no owner and no suicide or pause code. It cannot be stopped by us or anyone else.
Like Toastycoin, this thing was immortal the moment it was deployed (even more immortal than RadarRelay, for example, which does rely on an ownership role). Both DAIHard and Toastycoin (and probably whatever we build next) will last for as long as a single Ethereum node continues mining, and it will remain easy to use as long as someone can find the HTML/JS front-end and a web3 wallet.
(The HTML/JS front-end (built in Elm, by the way, with the lovely elm-ethereum!) is currently hosted on Github pages, which is centralized--but even if Github takes down the page and deletes the code, it's a minor step to get the page hosted on IPFS, something that is on our near-term roadmap in any case)

No KYC, No Limits

It's smart contracts all the way down, so DAIHard never asks any nosy questions--if you have Metamask or some other web3 wallet installed and set up, with some ETH and Dai (or just xDai), you can immediately open or commit to a trade. You don't even need a username!
(In fact, we're so inclusive, even machines are allowed--no CAPTCHA here!)
You're limited only by the collateral you put up, so if you have 10,000 Dai you could open up a buy offer for 30,000 Dai (or a sell offer for 10,000 Dai) right now.
We do reccommend trying the tool out first with a small amount of Dai... But we're not your mom! Do what you want!

Borderless

It simply doesn't matter where you are, because DAIHard doesn't need to interface with any particular jurisdiction or payment system to work. DIAHard works by incentivizing people (or robots?) to navigate the particular real-world hurdles of bank transfers, cash drops, or other fiat transfer methods. These incentives work whether you're in America, Zimbabwe, or the Atlantic; they work whether the fiat is USD, EUR, ZAR, seashells, or Rai Stones; and they work whether your counterparty is a human, an organization, a script, or a particularly intelligent dog with Internet access.

Any Fiat Type, and Highly Customizeable

Here are some examples of the types of trades you might create or find on DAIHard.
As the DAIHard community grows, users will doubtless find much more creative ways to use the system, and we will discover together which types of trades are reliable and which are more risky. Because users can set their own prices and phase timeout settings, we expect the risky trades to charge a premium or have longer time windows, while the reliable ones rapidly multiply at close to a 1:1 price ratio, with quick turnaround times.

Extensible (with profit) by Third Parties

Not satisfied with our interface? Do you have some nifty idea for how to display and organize user reputation? Or maybe some idea for how trades could be chained togeher? Maybe you'd like to design a notification system for DAIHard? Maybe you just want a different color scheme!
Well, you won't need our permission to do any of this. Any tool that watches the same Factory contract will share the pool of trades, regardless of which tool actually creates the trade. This means we don't even have to fight over network effects!
And if you look closely at our fee structure, you might notice that only half of the 1% DAIHard fee is "hardcoded" into the Factory contract. The other half is set and charged by our interface. What does this mean for you? If you go out and make a better interface, you can essentially replace half of our 1% fee with your own fee--it's up to you whether it's smaller or larger than the replaced 0.5%.
The reason for this is to explicitly welcome other developers to extend what we've built. For as long as our team is the only one improving the platform, a threat to us is a threat to future upgrades. But if others begin extending the DAIHard platform too, then DAIHard will not only be unstoppable as it is today, but also grow unstoppably.

(For Real This Time) This Is a Big Fucking Deal

DAIHard is a turning point in crypto and a breakthrough in decentralized markets, and is an irreversible augmentation of the Ethereum platform.
What we've built is a gateway to crypto completely devoid of centralized components--rendering entry and exit to crypto unkillable, flexible, borderless, and private. Centralized exchanges, and the control they impose, can now be bypassed by anyone with Dai and a web3 wallet.

What's New in v0.9.2

There have been many changes made since our first failed launch, but there are two rather important ones: xDai support and reputation tools.

xDai support

DAIHard is now operational on xDai, a sidechain whose native token (xDai) is pegged to the Dai (and therefore $1). Add the xDai network to your Metamask (or just install Nifty Wallet), then switch to the xDai network in your wallet, to try it out. xDai has some pretty incredible benefits, compared to vanilla Ethereum:

Reputation tools

We now have a few reputation tools. First, on any open trade, there is a widget showing the number of releases, aborts, and burns the given address has been involved in as that role (buyer or seller). Clicking on this expands the widget to show more detailed information, and also provides a link to a page that lists each trade this user has been or is involved in.

What's next?

We have tons of ideas on how to improve the product--too many, in fact, to commit to any before we get a good chunk of user feedback. Here are some of our favorite ideas:

Near-Term, Smaller Features

  1. Lots of usability improvements.
  2. A "System Status" utility similar to the one found on MakerDao's explorer).
  3. Marketplace / My Trades rework.
  4. A "QuickTrade" page, offering Trade Templates as an alternative to the current Create Offer page.

Big Exciting Features

  1. Bootstrapping people with no DAI via other mechanisms and community outreach.
  2. Partial commits to trades. eg. Place a 10,000 DAI trade and allow it to be picked up in blocks larger than 500 DAI at a time.
  3. More chains, get this thing working on Bitcoin via Rootstock, on Ethereum Classic and Binance Chain.

Stay Informed!

A lot of the above features will be prioritized more clearly as we get user feedback, and we will be posting fairly frequent updates and articles on our info site. If you don't want to miss anything, note the subscribe widget and sign up!
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Consensus Network EP36: Buy, Borrow and Die: Bitcoin Style

Catch the full episode: https://www.consensusnetwork.io/podcastepisodes/2019/10/5/ep36-buy-borrow-and-die-bitcoin-style-1
Buck: Welcome back to the show everyone. Today my guest on Wealth Formula Podcast is Zack Prince. He's Founder and CEO of BlockFi. BlockFi bridges the gap between blockchain and the basic financial products that you're used to including interest-bearing accounts and loans. Zack, welcome to Wealth Formula Podcast. I think you we might have had you on before as a Consensus Network replay but first time on Wealth Formula Podcast specifically, so welcome.
Zac: Yeah, excited to be here, Buck. Thanks for having me. And it's good to chat with you again
Buck: Yeah so remind me how you got into this you know Bitcoin stuff in the first place, I mean you were as I understand you were a traditional finance guy right so where did the blockchain part come in?
Zac: Sure so I was I was working at a company in the FinTech world that provided data and technology solutions to institutional investors that wanted to participate in some of the new online lending platforms, whether they were real estate platforms or consumer lending platforms, and I kind of became the FinTech guy amongst my friend group and people would ask me you know should I invest in these real estate deals on fund rise or buy loans from Lending Club and I started writing a blog to share the information more efficiently with my friends basically and I started expanding a little bit writing about Robo advisory and some other things that were going on in the FinTech space and that's what led me to Bitcoin, and this is back in early 2015. I didn't start BlockFi until 2017 because I started following the market in the background, still working in traditional financial services in FinTech and then in early 2017 it started to feel like mainstream adoption was starting to happen in the crypto ecosystem. I'm started going to some meetups in New York City because at a certain point my wife said Zac, you're talking about crypto all the time and you're talking to me about it and I don't want to talk about it so you should find some other people to talk about this with. And the meetup composition started to change and in 2016 when I started going to these meetups it was the early crypto adopters you know libertarians, computer scientists and then in early 2017 I started to see some venture capitalists, some guys who had just left their job at Wall Street still wearing a suit, some more entrepreneurs and it was a really exciting time in the ecosystem, things like the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance were getting announced which had participation microsoft and a lot of other you know fortune 500 companies and I had started to believe in it. I was drinking the kool-aid a little bit so I decided to find a way to get involved in the space full-time and that's what led me to start BlockFi.
Buck: So I have to imagine that the response you got from the traditional finance people around that time when you started talking about the blockchain space and when you started being more and more involved with that was probably not a very positive response initially or did you did you experience some of that sort of you know rejection initially to what you were doing?
Zac: Yeah absolutely. But you know throughout my career this is now kind of the third emerging technology industry that I've worked in. I was originally an advertising technology starting like you know 15 years ago and I was in FinTech specifically the online lending side of FinTech which in its early days was called peer-to-peer lending and now in crypto. So having to do a lot of education explain it you know why something isn't crazy and it might work and here's why and here's the value proposition and here's what it is, I've gotten very used to that and comfortable with it. But yeah there were a lot of people who are like you know I've heard Bitcoin is only used by drug dealers and money launderers. I've heard that I'm supposed to care about blockchain and not Bitcoin. And you know at BlockFi we’re providing financial products into the market so it's a heavily regulated business so we also had to communicate with regulators. We had to explain to state regulators, federal regulators why what we were doing with Bitcoin and other cryptos than when you're doing these same types of things with assets that they're more familiar with.
Buck: So when you were talking to people back in, I don't know I guess 2016/17 and it's not a long time ago, it's only two years ago, but I have to imagine that the response or the you know the approach that people take to you when you speak to investors is very different. Has it become more mainstream in that regard for you know for big money investors?
Zac: It's absolutely become more mainstream you know the end of 2017 Q3/Q4. Point was going on that parabolic run it started to get covered everywhere, I mean it was on CNBC every day it was in Bloomberg New York Times Wall Street Journal. If you were paying attention to the financial industry and markets you heard about Bitcoin at that time if you hadn't heard about it before. So from a baseline of awareness perspective it got a lot better and then in 2018 you had a number of positive developments for the sector including one that I think is probably the most noteworthy which is that Bitcoin futures were listed on the CME the institutional investor perspective that's massive. You now have a well regulated well known super trustworthy venue where you can get exposure to this asset class, you also had companies like Grayscale bringing products to the market which are accessible to certain types of investors and their low bridge accounts and you started to see some adoption from companies like FinTech companies like Robin Hood and Square making Bitcoin available on their platforms. So the conversation has absolutely changed a lot and it's become less about whether or not this is something that's going to continue to exist whether or not it's something that was just a bubble and is going to die and now it's more about ok how is it going to get used how big could it get what are the interesting applications of it and what could have potentially disrupt in the traditional financial ecosystem.
Buck: So you know we had obviously following this you know pop in 2017, you know I actually like you kind of really got into this early 2017 so timing was pretty good I guess now regards. Good or bad depending how you look at it but I was there before before the parabolic move. And then we have you know then we followed this up with a crypto winter and and you know who knows if we're done with it, I guess we certainly are much better off than we were. You know a unit buddy it's funny Zac I don’t know if you remember this but I was about to, we'll talk about BlockFi specifically in a minute but, I was about to use BlockFi for borrowing because I like this idea of borrowing you know collateralized debt and collateralized debt on assets and buying something else. So I was about to do it and then Bitcoin lost a clip and I was like literally and I remember I was just emailing with somebody somebody over there and I was like sorry dude I guess I just sold it, I just sold all that Bitcoin I had and you sent one email back to me and it said “capitulation” but it you know and so now we're looking back at these we go down from 3,000 back up you know been sort of flirting around this 10,000 and it seems like we're kind of maybe that we're stuck there, maybe we're kind of out of winter, maybe we're in a holding pattern but it seems like to me that since that two years not only is the awareness increase but the development of the ecosystem itself is so much further advanced than it was in 2017. Is this an unusual case where the technology and maybe even the infrastructure is actually outpacing the price?
Zac: You know it's really hard to say. I would argue that in some ways it's typical. In other industries that showed a lot of promise where investors could you know participate maybe a little bit ahead of the adoption curve you saw crazy price run ups with the tech bubble and you know ‘99-2000 being the one that's kind of top of mind in recent memory and then on the other side of things, are we behind where the price should be now? It's really hard to say because this is kind of like a commodity type asset built on a payment network and valuing that is challenging and there's not a perfect model for for doing it today. It's not as easy as something that's cashflow producing but I'm incredibly bullish. I'm on record as saying at the beginning of this year that Bitcoin has only had one year in its 10-year existence where it had a lower low than the year before and parted this year around the low price for 2018 and I predicted that we would in the year had a higher price than where we started the year pretty soon and now we're up and you know around 300 percent from where we started the year. As that happens in investing is people frequently look at things on a year-to-year performance basis and when people are looking at Bitcoin even if all we do is stay around 10 K from here when they're looking at how Bitcoin performed rather than other relative to other assets at the end of 2019 it's probably going to look fantastic. And you also have an event coming up and in the summer of next year called The Halvening where basically the supply that's produced by miners is going to get cut in half and so if you believe in the stock the flow type models of valuation for Bitcoin that is usually a very big driver of price appreciation.
Buck: I believe May of 2020, right?
Zac: That's right.
Buck: In May of 2020. Can you just talked a little bit about that just so people know because people hear about it, I've been talking about it but I don't think that it really explained it.
Zac: Yeah and you know I'm not I'm not a computer scientist so I can explain it in a you know in a very simple…
Buck: No one else here is either.
Zac: So basically the way that new Bitcoin is created is through this process called mining. And it's analogous to mining gold except instead of finding a place in the earth where gold exists and then getting your trucks and mining equipment and digging it out of the ground, the way bitcoin is mined is using this computer program and there is now specialized computer hardware that's built specifically and optimized for mining Bitcoin. And you have this network of machines around the world where the input is energy into the mining hardware and the output is new Bitcoin and those miners are what provides the power for the payment network a Bitcoin to run and when we say that there is this event called The Halvening, what that basically means is that the output that's built into the Bitcoin program that the miners are receiving as their payment for contributing energy to the network, is going to get cut in half. So the miners are going to have the same you know relative input but the amount that they're receiving is going to get cut in half for that input. This should, if the demand side for Bitcoin remains equal, it should drive up the price and historically Bitcoin has had three of these Halvening events in its lifetime so far I believe and around each Halvening you have seen you know six months before or six months after a pretty material run up in price.
Buck: Yeah so it also goes along with that sort of that the entire idea that Bitcoin unlike you know other assets including gold is it's a deflationary asset ultimately and and that's one of the things that makes that happening really significant. Apart from and I have one more question before we get to block five which is apart from the Halvening, you know thing that's happening, what is maybe the biggest development or upcoming thing that's coming up that makes you the most bullish on the future of Bitcoin or blockchain in general?
Zac: Sure so I think I wouldn't actually point to any one specific thing, I would point to two broad trends. So one is institutional adoption and participation in the asset class and the other is better ramps for retail participation into the asset class and just focusing here you know on the US market because it really is an international story but just in the US market. In September we should have Bakkt launching their futures platform. Bakkt is owned by ICE, the Intercontinental Exchange, and there's a big core difference between their futures and the current futures that are available on the CME in that futures on Bakkt platform are going to be physically settled so that means that actual Bitcoin is going to be needed to facilitate the trading on Bakkt’s platform which does not happen on CMEs exchange so that's that should be a very positive catalyst in terms of demand for physical Bitcoin that could have an impact on the price. Also on the institutional side this year I believe earlier this year, the first pension fund made an investment into an asset management vehicle that was focused on investing in Bitcoin and private equity opportunities in the Bitcoin and blockchain sector. So that will be a trend.
Buck: Which pension fund was it?
Zac: It was in North Carolina so I think it was like the North Carolina Firefighters and the group that raised the money from them was Morgan Creek Digital it’s actually invested in BlockFi by Anthony Pompliano Twitter and Mark Yusko so that's on the institutional side. And then on the retail side you've seen FinTech companies like Square and Robin Hood offer Bitcoin trading to their users. But soon you will also have companies like TD Ameritrade E-Trade and others offer Bitcoin to their users sometimes be a partnership sometimes because they've built it directly. You also at some point might see progress made in terms of an ETF getting approved that would give retail investors in the US market exposure to Bitcoin in a really easy and familiar way. All of those things are tremendously positive catalysts and the caliber of people working on them only continues to increase. Talent was attracted into the sector very, very rapidly these days.
Buck: You know one question that leads me to is that all of this is happening with Bitcoin for the most part. Are alt coins in your opinion is that market coming back or is that something that we're gonna see probably select you know group of tokens projects emerge and then the rest will kind of just get left in the dust, what do you think?
Zac: I mean I'll tell you exactly what I'm doing with my portfolio and then I'll provide a bit more color. So my asset allocation in the crypto side of my investing is I'm like 90% Bitcoin 5% Ethereum and 5% B&B; which is the Binance right. So I'm super bullish on Bitcoin. I think that you know there's a chance that Ether makes a comeback specifically I think that a lot of the stable coins that have been launched have been built on Ethereum if you're not familiar with stable coins it's basically the concept of a dollar but on a blockchain which could be really really powerful because it creates the opportunity for the delivery of US dollar denominated financial services at a global scale not using the traditional banking rails. And then B&B; I mean Binance is the biggest and most successful exchange they have a history of innovating, creating new products, going fast and so I'm taking a bit of a flyer with them but I'm 90% Bitcoin. I don't think that I'm not bullish on any of the other all coins frankly I struggle to see you know the big upside I have heard whispers in the community that there's kind of like a new wave of altcoins 3.0 might emerge, you know could see some some good returns similar to what some of the ICOs did in 2017 but it's not an area of focus for me. So that's my view.
Buck: Yeah let's talk about BlockFi. Remind us exactly what BlockFi is.
Zac: Sure so we're a wealth management platform for crypto investors. Today we have two products that we offer. One product is analogous to a savings account from a traditional bank where you're able to earn interest on your holdings except on BlockFi, the assets instead of being dollars are bitcoin and Ether and we don't have FDIC insurance so it's not exactly the same risk profile as a savings account at a bank, but conceptually you're able to hold Bitcoin and an account with BlockFi and earn interest on it paid in Bitcoin every month. That's one product that we have. The second product that we have which you are alluding to earlier offers our clients the ability to borrow dollars secured by the value of their cryptocurrency and it's analogous to a securities backed loan or a liquidity access line in the traditional world except instead of securities we're taking Bitcoin or other digital assets as collateral and lending it rates as low as four point five lending USD that rates as low as four point five percent a year.
Buck: I wanna pick these apart a little bit if you don't mind. In terms of this savings account first of all is it just bitcoin or is it bitcoin, Ethereum?
Zac: We actually support three assets in the interest account currently Bitcoin, Ether and GUSD which is the stable coin from Gemini.
Buck: Got it. And talk about the interest because it's not one flat interest rate right it's different depending on how much cryptocurrency actually is held?
Zac: Correct so there's a tiered interest rate structure. Currently on Bitcoin for balances up to ten Bitcoin, we offer a six point two percent annual yield and for balances above ten Bitcoin it's a 2.2 percent annual yield. On Ether, for balances up to two hundred Ether it's a 3.3 percent annual yield and balances above two hundred Ether is 0.5% annual yield and for GUSD the stable coin it's an eight point six percent interest rate with no tier so yeah those are the different rates.
Buck: Why did, I mean was it just a matter of like an issue with people dumping like a thousand Bitcoin and trying to get six you know 6% of that, was it just too hard to you know make that a long-term part of the business model or why did the higher levels end up changing to a lower rate?
Zac: Sure so I wanted to function of market conditions and to it's a function of supply and demand. So we launched the interest account in March of this year. We were just starting to come out of the bear market and one of the things that happened as we switched from being in a bear market to being in a bull market is the futures switched from being in backwardation to contango which basically means that our institutional borrowers the groups that we lend to that enable us to pay the rate to depositors had less of a need they had less demand to borrow and they were willing to pay lower rates to borrow crypto than they were when we were building and planning to launch this product. The second thing that happened is we were surprised to the upside in terms of the level of interest that we received from depositors and especially depositors with very large sums of cryptocurrency. So to give you an example you know within a day or two of making the product available publicly, we had a number of groups that were depositing 5, 10, 15, 20 million dollars worth of Bitcoin and so the supply-demand that we have to manage is, the amount that we have on deposit relative to the size of this market that will borrow Bitcoin size of the market that will borrow Bitcoin is partially a function of market sentiments partially a function of number of trading venues and the liquidity profile and it's partially a function of you know BlockFi’s efforts in terms of sales and client development relationship management. So the supply side got a little bit ahead of the demand side on deposit and how much there was available to borrow so we made a few tweaks. We want to keep the 6%, 6.2% rate on Bitcoin available to as many people as possible for as long as possible so that's why we went with the tiered structure where we made it available on balances up to 10 and reduced it for balances above that.
Buck: Got it and the interest on that, when you say 6.2 percent that six point like it's all denominated in Bitcoin, you're not paying cash out right?
Zac: Correct so to use round numbers to provide an easy example you start on January first with a hundred Bitcoin in an account, by the subsequent January first you will have 106 point 2 Bitcoin in your account.
Buck: Yeah and that that's kind of neat too because then you're you know you're also getting potentially the upside of that you know I mean they made 6% but if you if you're really bullish on the market you could be potentially looking at a lot more than 6% on your money. How about in terms of the, is there like a you know do you do it sort of a month-to-month or six month or month you know year-long contracts for these things?
Zac: It's month-to-month. So the rates are subject to change on a monthly basis. We provide notifications at least a week in advance before the end of one month on what the rates will be for the subsequent month and people are able to you know withdraw any time without penalty. We reserve up to 7 days to process withdrawals but we've never taken more than one business day to process a withdrawal so they're pretty quick but not instant for security reasons and yeah it's pretty flexible.
Buck: How about the lump in the lending side how does how does that work? So now I've got like 10 Bitcoin and so I would deposit that I guess and you guys I understand that maybe that that goes into like a Gemini account or something, is that still how it works?
Zac: Correct so we have a partnership with Gemini for custody. So when you log into a BlockFi account you'll have a deposit address. When you send Bitcoin to that deposit address it actually goes directly into storage with Gemini. Gemini was the first custodian in the crypto sector to receive insurance against cyber hacks on their platform. They were also the first custodian to get to complete a SOC 2 compliance audit and they have a really long track record of custody billions of dollars worth of crypto without ever having any issues. So it goes directly to Gemini and then you're able to interact with block-wise platform to take any actions that you might deem necessary. So you can view your interest payments you can withdraw you can deposit more you can also take out a loan. So in terms of taking out a loan, if you have ten Bitcoin that's worth roughly a hundred thousand US dollars at this point in time, you can borrow up to fifty percent of that value in a US dollar loan which can be funded be a wire or stable coin and then the structure of those loans is that you make interest-only payments on the amount that you borrowed throughout the duration and you can prepay at any time without penalty.
Buck: And what's the typical you said it was four point six.
Zac: We have interest rates as low as four point five. The interest rates on borrowing USD vary according to your initial loan to value ratio. So if you have a hundred thousand dollars worth of Bitcoin we actually have three loan-to-value ratio options. You can borrow at a 50 percent initial loan-to-value ratio which would mean you're borrowing 50k, the interest rate on that will be eleven point two five, if you borrow thirty five percent of the value so 35k the interest rate is seven point nine, and if you borrow twenty five percent of the value of the interest rate is four point five percent per year.
Buck: Got it. In terms of you know the technical, so you basically pay that on a month-to-month basis and then in terms of contracts, are those also month-to-month loans or how does that work?
Zac: Those are one-year term loans well now it's the ability to renew without repaying the principal at the end of the term at current rates and our rates for those loans have always come down so far. So it's a one-year term loan BlockFi committed for a year at that rate your payments stay the same but you can prepay at any time without penalty.
Buck: Right. When do you do when would you do an actual sort of I guess a cap will call like what loan-to-value because you can go up to say you're borrowing at you know you're borrowing at the lowest rate you know you're at 4.5% you're borrowing see you know just for round numbers 100 Bitcoin you borrowed or you said 10 Bitcoin hundred thousand dollars but you only borrowed twenty-five thousand dollars at four point five percent, what if Bitcoin you know loses 50 percent of its value then what happens?
Zac: Well you wouldn't have a margin call based on on that example. If your loan to value ratio hits 70 percent that's when we have a margin call and the way the margin call works is our clients have the option to either post more collateral, pay down the loan using USD or some of the collateral that's posted for the loan or take no action. If they take no action there's a 72-hour window where we'll wait to see if the price recovers, if it does then no action is required, if the price keeps going down further then we will initiate a partial collateral sale to rebalance that LTV to a healthy level at the end of that window.
Buck: So in terms of the clients that you see doing this kind of stuff, I mean who are you seeing borrowing because you don't have a cap I mean you can on the borrow side, I mean and the rates don't really change like if you're depositing a hundred Bitcoin you're getting the same rate differences as somebody who's depositing ten for borrowing right?
Zac: That's right.
Buck: So who are the people who are putting I mean what are these businesses that are putting are using these loans who are the typical clients?
Zac: Sure so it's a mix of retail and corporate. On the retail side we actually did a survey recently on use cases and the number one use case about a third of our borrowers expressed is that they were using the funds that they borrowed to start a business, which we were really excited about. So the other popular use cases were investing in real estate, investing in other types of traditional assets like stocks and bonds, home improvement, larger purchases, vacations were all used cases, paying down higher cost debt was another use case, and then on the corporate side the loans are used for operating capital. So we have some mining companies that borrow from BlockFi. Other types of companies who you know maybe have crypto denominated inventory like exchanges or crypto ATM businesses our frequent borrowers from BlockFi and our loan sizes rearranged from you know as low as five thousand dollars all the way up to seven figures. So it's a pretty diverse group of borrowers.
Buck: So recently it sounds like you guys partnered with another company called Casa. What is Casa and I guess how does that benefit both companies?
Zac: Sure. So Casa is a leader in fighting self sovereign storage solutions for cryptocurrency owners so if you're alone that owns Bitcoin and to use a gold analogy. If you want to own gold but you keep it in your vault or in your backyard you want to have physical possession of it yourself if you want to do that same type of custody with Bitcoin. Casa has a solution that makes that really easy. Our partnership with Casa provides mutual benefits to clients on either side. So Casa clients are able to receive some discounts in terms of accessing BlockFi products and vice-versa BlockFi clients are able to receive discounts in terms of accessing kasam products and over time we'll build some things in to the user experience specifically on Casa’s platform that will make it you know a bit more seamless to interact with BlockFi products while you're on their platform. In general that partnership strategy is something that you'll see more of we think there are in the ecosystem that are specializing in areas that BlockFi's not focused on and doing things where we can provide benefits to clients on both sides is a win-win for us then and our clients.
Buck: Last thing I want to ask you about, last time I spoke to you, you had talked about the idea of potentially Bitcoin backed credit cards meaning like you know getting Bitcoin back instead of miles or dollars back. You guys any closer to that, because I definitely want one of those cards.
Zac: I'm so glad you brought it up. We're definitely closer, but we're not you're not going to have the card until like Q3 of next year probably. It's getting worked on, these things you know for better or worse they take a long time launching a credit program is no small feat you know we're working on it. We've identified some of the key partners that we'll be working with to bring that product to market it is going to happen and I share your sentiment like I wish I had it now.
Buck: Yeah seriously that'd be great. Well listen it was great talking you. So it's BlockFi.com and it's spelled like block and then fi and tell us you know tell us the process of doing is pretty simple okay how long does it take to apply for these things…
Zac: Yeah I mean nothing takes any time really. So you could come in and start earning interest and get a loan from us all in under five minutes. And we also have a client service team that's super responsive in in terms of communication however you want to communicate with them, over email, over the phone, over text message so you know don't don't hesitate to reach out to us. We're also on twitter. My twitter handle is BlockFiZac and our company twitter handle is @therealBlockFi so we're very active on those platforms and happy to chat with you there as well.
Buck: Zac Prince, thank you very much for being on Wealth Formula Podcast today.
Zac: Thanks for having me, Buck, I appreciate it.
Buck: We’ll be right back.
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Wealth Formula Episode 179: Buy, Borrow and Die: Bitcoin Style

Catch the full episode: https://www.wealthformula.com/podcast/179-buy-borrow-and-die-bitcoin-style/
Buck: Welcome back to the show everyone. Today my guest on Wealth Formula Podcast is Zack Prince. He's Founder and CEO of BlockFi. BlockFi bridges the gap between blockchain and the basic financial products that you're used to including interest-bearing accounts and loans. Zack, welcome to Wealth Formula Podcast. I think you we might have had you on before as a Consensus Network replay but first time on Wealth Formula Podcast specifically, so welcome.
Zac: Yeah, excited to be here, Buck. Thanks for having me. And it's good to chat with you again
Buck: Yeah so remind me how you got into this you know Bitcoin stuff in the first place, I mean you were as I understand you were a traditional finance guy right so where did the blockchain part come in?
Zac: Sure so I was I was working at a company in the FinTech world that provided data and technology solutions to institutional investors that wanted to participate in some of the new online lending platforms, whether they were real estate platforms or consumer lending platforms, and I kind of became the FinTech guy amongst my friend group and people would ask me you know should I invest in these real estate deals on fund rise or buy loans from Lending Club and I started writing a blog to share the information more efficiently with my friends basically and I started expanding a little bit writing about Robo advisory and some other things that were going on in the FinTech space and that's what led me to Bitcoin, and this is back in early 2015. I didn't start BlockFi until 2017 because I started following the market in the background, still working in traditional financial services in FinTech and then in early 2017 it started to feel like mainstream adoption was starting to happen in the crypto ecosystem. I'm started going to some meetups in New York City because at a certain point my wife said Zac, you're talking about crypto all the time and you're talking to me about it and I don't want to talk about it so you should find some other people to talk about this with. And the meetup composition started to change and in 2016 when I started going to these meetups it was the early crypto adopters you know libertarians, computer scientists and then in early 2017 I started to see some venture capitalists, some guys who had just left their job at Wall Street still wearing a suit, some more entrepreneurs and it was a really exciting time in the ecosystem, things like the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance were getting announced which had participation microsoft and a lot of other you know fortune 500 companies and I had started to believe in it. I was drinking the kool-aid a little bit so I decided to find a way to get involved in the space full-time and that's what led me to start BlockFi.
Buck: So I have to imagine that the response you got from the traditional finance people around that time when you started talking about the blockchain space and when you started being more and more involved with that was probably not a very positive response initially or did you did you experience some of that sort of you know rejection initially to what you were doing?
Zac: Yeah absolutely. But you know throughout my career this is now kind of the third emerging technology industry that I've worked in. I was originally an advertising technology starting like you know 15 years ago and I was in FinTech specifically the online lending side of FinTech which in its early days was called peer-to-peer lending and now in crypto. So having to do a lot of education explain it you know why something isn't crazy and it might work and here's why and here's the value proposition and here's what it is, I've gotten very used to that and comfortable with it. But yeah there were a lot of people who are like you know I've heard Bitcoin is only used by drug dealers and money launderers. I've heard that I'm supposed to care about blockchain and not Bitcoin. And you know at BlockFi we’re providing financial products into the market so it's a heavily regulated business so we also had to communicate with regulators. We had to explain to state regulators, federal regulators why what we were doing with Bitcoin and other cryptos than when you're doing these same types of things with assets that they're more familiar with.
Buck: So when you were talking to people back in, I don't know I guess 2016/17 and it's not a long time ago, it's only two years ago, but I have to imagine that the response or the you know the approach that people take to you when you speak to investors is very different. Has it become more mainstream in that regard for you know for big money investors?
Zac: It's absolutely become more mainstream you know the end of 2017 Q3/Q4. Point was going on that parabolic run it started to get covered everywhere, I mean it was on CNBC every day it was in Bloomberg New York Times Wall Street Journal. If you were paying attention to the financial industry and markets you heard about Bitcoin at that time if you hadn't heard about it before. So from a baseline of awareness perspective it got a lot better and then in 2018 you had a number of positive developments for the sector including one that I think is probably the most noteworthy which is that Bitcoin futures were listed on the CME the institutional investor perspective that's massive. You now have a well regulated well known super trustworthy venue where you can get exposure to this asset class, you also had companies like Grayscale bringing products to the market which are accessible to certain types of investors and their low bridge accounts and you started to see some adoption from companies like FinTech companies like Robin Hood and Square making Bitcoin available on their platforms. So the conversation has absolutely changed a lot and it's become less about whether or not this is something that's going to continue to exist whether or not it's something that was just a bubble and is going to die and now it's more about ok how is it going to get used how big could it get what are the interesting applications of it and what could have potentially disrupt in the traditional financial ecosystem.
Buck: So you know we had obviously following this you know pop in 2017, you know I actually like you kind of really got into this early 2017 so timing was pretty good I guess now regards. Good or bad depending how you look at it but I was there before before the parabolic move. And then we have you know then we followed this up with a crypto winter and and you know who knows if we're done with it, I guess we certainly are much better off than we were. You know a unit buddy it's funny Zac I don’t know if you remember this but I was about to, we'll talk about BlockFi specifically in a minute but, I was about to use BlockFi for borrowing because I like this idea of borrowing you know collateralized debt and collateralized debt on assets and buying something else. So I was about to do it and then Bitcoin lost a clip and I was like literally and I remember I was just emailing with somebody somebody over there and I was like sorry dude I guess I just sold it, I just sold all that Bitcoin I had and you sent one email back to me and it said “capitulation” but it you know and so now we're looking back at these we go down from 3,000 back up you know been sort of flirting around this 10,000 and it seems like we're kind of maybe that we're stuck there, maybe we're kind of out of winter, maybe we're in a holding pattern but it seems like to me that since that two years not only is the awareness increase but the development of the ecosystem itself is so much further advanced than it was in 2017. Is this an unusual case where the technology and maybe even the infrastructure is actually outpacing the price?
Zac: You know it's really hard to say. I would argue that in some ways it's typical. In other industries that showed a lot of promise where investors could you know participate maybe a little bit ahead of the adoption curve you saw crazy price run ups with the tech bubble and you know ‘99-2000 being the one that's kind of top of mind in recent memory and then on the other side of things, are we behind where the price should be now? It's really hard to say because this is kind of like a commodity type asset built on a payment network and valuing that is challenging and there's not a perfect model for for doing it today. It's not as easy as something that's cashflow producing but I'm incredibly bullish. I'm on record as saying at the beginning of this year that Bitcoin has only had one year in its 10-year existence where it had a lower low than the year before and parted this year around the low price for 2018 and I predicted that we would in the year had a higher price than where we started the year pretty soon and now we're up and you know around 300 percent from where we started the year. As that happens in investing is people frequently look at things on a year-to-year performance basis and when people are looking at Bitcoin even if all we do is stay around 10 K from here when they're looking at how Bitcoin performed rather than other relative to other assets at the end of 2019 it's probably going to look fantastic. And you also have an event coming up and in the summer of next year called The Halvening where basically the supply that's produced by miners is going to get cut in half and so if you believe in the stock the flow type models of valuation for Bitcoin that is usually a very big driver of price appreciation.
Buck: I believe May of 2020, right?
Zac: That's right.
Buck: In May of 2020. Can you just talked a little bit about that just so people know because people hear about it, I've been talking about it but I don't think that it really explained it.
Zac: Yeah and you know I'm not I'm not a computer scientist so I can explain it in a you know in a very simple…
Buck: No one else here is either.
Zac: So basically the way that new Bitcoin is created is through this process called mining. And it's analogous to mining gold except instead of finding a place in the earth where gold exists and then getting your trucks and mining equipment and digging it out of the ground, the way bitcoin is mined is using this computer program and there is now specialized computer hardware that's built specifically and optimized for mining Bitcoin. And you have this network of machines around the world where the input is energy into the mining hardware and the output is new Bitcoin and those miners are what provides the power for the payment network a Bitcoin to run and when we say that there is this event called The Halvening, what that basically means is that the output that's built into the Bitcoin program that the miners are receiving as their payment for contributing energy to the network, is going to get cut in half. So the miners are going to have the same you know relative input but the amount that they're receiving is going to get cut in half for that input. This should, if the demand side for Bitcoin remains equal, it should drive up the price and historically Bitcoin has had three of these Halvening events in its lifetime so far I believe and around each Halvening you have seen you know six months before or six months after a pretty material run up in price.
Buck: Yeah so it also goes along with that sort of that the entire idea that Bitcoin unlike you know other assets including gold is it's a deflationary asset ultimately and and that's one of the things that makes that happening really significant. Apart from and I have one more question before we get to block five which is apart from the Halvening, you know thing that's happening, what is maybe the biggest development or upcoming thing that's coming up that makes you the most bullish on the future of Bitcoin or blockchain in general?
Zac: Sure so I think I wouldn't actually point to any one specific thing, I would point to two broad trends. So one is institutional adoption and participation in the asset class and the other is better ramps for retail participation into the asset class and just focusing here you know on the US market because it really is an international story but just in the US market. In September we should have Bakkt launching their futures platform. Bakkt is owned by ICE, the Intercontinental Exchange, and there's a big core difference between their futures and the current futures that are available on the CME in that futures on Bakkt platform are going to be physically settled so that means that actual Bitcoin is going to be needed to facilitate the trading on Bakkt’s platform which does not happen on CMEs exchange so that's that should be a very positive catalyst in terms of demand for physical Bitcoin that could have an impact on the price. Also on the institutional side this year I believe earlier this year, the first pension fund made an investment into an asset management vehicle that was focused on investing in Bitcoin and private equity opportunities in the Bitcoin and blockchain sector. So that will be a trend.
Buck: Which pension fund was it?
Zac: It was in North Carolina so I think it was like the North Carolina Firefighters and the group that raised the money from them was Morgan Creek Digital it’s actually invested in BlockFi by Anthony Pompliano Twitter and Mark Yusko so that's on the institutional side. And then on the retail side you've seen FinTech companies like Square and Robin Hood offer Bitcoin trading to their users. But soon you will also have companies like TD Ameritrade E-Trade and others offer Bitcoin to their users sometimes be a partnership sometimes because they've built it directly. You also at some point might see progress made in terms of an ETF getting approved that would give retail investors in the US market exposure to Bitcoin in a really easy and familiar way. All of those things are tremendously positive catalysts and the caliber of people working on them only continues to increase. Talent was attracted into the sector very, very rapidly these days.
Buck: You know one question that leads me to is that all of this is happening with Bitcoin for the most part. Are alt coins in your opinion is that market coming back or is that something that we're gonna see probably select you know group of tokens projects emerge and then the rest will kind of just get left in the dust, what do you think?
Zac: I mean I'll tell you exactly what I'm doing with my portfolio and then I'll provide a bit more color. So my asset allocation in the crypto side of my investing is I'm like 90% Bitcoin 5% Ethereum and 5% B&B; which is the Binance right. So I'm super bullish on Bitcoin. I think that you know there's a chance that Ether makes a comeback specifically I think that a lot of the stable coins that have been launched have been built on Ethereum if you're not familiar with stable coins it's basically the concept of a dollar but on a blockchain which could be really really powerful because it creates the opportunity for the delivery of US dollar denominated financial services at a global scale not using the traditional banking rails. And then B&B; I mean Binance is the biggest and most successful exchange they have a history of innovating, creating new products, going fast and so I'm taking a bit of a flyer with them but I'm 90% Bitcoin. I don't think that I'm not bullish on any of the other all coins frankly I struggle to see you know the big upside I have heard whispers in the community that there's kind of like a new wave of altcoins 3.0 might emerge, you know could see some some good returns similar to what some of the ICOs did in 2017 but it's not an area of focus for me. So that's my view.
Buck: Yeah let's talk about BlockFi. Remind us exactly what BlockFi is.
Zac: Sure so we're a wealth management platform for crypto investors. Today we have two products that we offer. One product is analogous to a savings account from a traditional bank where you're able to earn interest on your holdings except on BlockFi, the assets instead of being dollars are bitcoin and Ether and we don't have FDIC insurance so it's not exactly the same risk profile as a savings account at a bank, but conceptually you're able to hold Bitcoin and an account with BlockFi and earn interest on it paid in Bitcoin every month. That's one product that we have. The second product that we have which you are alluding to earlier offers our clients the ability to borrow dollars secured by the value of their cryptocurrency and it's analogous to a securities backed loan or a liquidity access line in the traditional world except instead of securities we're taking Bitcoin or other digital assets as collateral and lending it rates as low as four point five lending USD that rates as low as four point five percent a year.
Buck: I wanna pick these apart a little bit if you don't mind. In terms of this savings account first of all is it just bitcoin or is it bitcoin, Ethereum?
Zac: We actually support three assets in the interest account currently Bitcoin, Ether and GUSD which is the stable coin from Gemini.
Buck: Got it. And talk about the interest because it's not one flat interest rate right it's different depending on how much cryptocurrency actually is held?
Zac: Correct so there's a tiered interest rate structure. Currently on Bitcoin for balances up to ten Bitcoin, we offer a six point two percent annual yield and for balances above ten Bitcoin it's a 2.2 percent annual yield. On Ether, for balances up to two hundred Ether it's a 3.3 percent annual yield and balances above two hundred Ether is 0.5% annual yield and for GUSD the stable coin it's an eight point six percent interest rate with no tier so yeah those are the different rates.
Buck: Why did, I mean was it just a matter of like an issue with people dumping like a thousand Bitcoin and trying to get six you know 6% of that, was it just too hard to you know make that a long-term part of the business model or why did the higher levels end up changing to a lower rate?
Zac: Sure so I wanted to function of market conditions and to it's a function of supply and demand. So we launched the interest account in March of this year. We were just starting to come out of the bear market and one of the things that happened as we switched from being in a bear market to being in a bull market is the futures switched from being in backwardation to contango which basically means that our institutional borrowers the groups that we lend to that enable us to pay the rate to depositors had less of a need they had less demand to borrow and they were willing to pay lower rates to borrow crypto than they were when we were building and planning to launch this product. The second thing that happened is we were surprised to the upside in terms of the level of interest that we received from depositors and especially depositors with very large sums of cryptocurrency. So to give you an example you know within a day or two of making the product available publicly, we had a number of groups that were depositing 5, 10, 15, 20 million dollars worth of Bitcoin and so the supply-demand that we have to manage is, the amount that we have on deposit relative to the size of this market that will borrow Bitcoin size of the market that will borrow Bitcoin is partially a function of market sentiments partially a function of number of trading venues and the liquidity profile and it's partially a function of you know BlockFi’s efforts in terms of sales and client development relationship management. So the supply side got a little bit ahead of the demand side on deposit and how much there was available to borrow so we made a few tweaks. We want to keep the 6%, 6.2% rate on Bitcoin available to as many people as possible for as long as possible so that's why we went with the tiered structure where we made it available on balances up to 10 and reduced it for balances above that.
Buck: Got it and the interest on that, when you say 6.2 percent that six point like it's all denominated in Bitcoin, you're not paying cash out right?
Zac: Correct so to use round numbers to provide an easy example you start on January first with a hundred Bitcoin in an account, by the subsequent January first you will have 106 point 2 Bitcoin in your account.
Buck: Yeah and that that's kind of neat too because then you're you know you're also getting potentially the upside of that you know I mean they made 6% but if you if you're really bullish on the market you could be potentially looking at a lot more than 6% on your money. How about in terms of the, is there like a you know do you do it sort of a month-to-month or six month or month you know year-long contracts for these things?
Zac: It's month-to-month. So the rates are subject to change on a monthly basis. We provide notifications at least a week in advance before the end of one month on what the rates will be for the subsequent month and people are able to you know withdraw any time without penalty. We reserve up to 7 days to process withdrawals but we've never taken more than one business day to process a withdrawal so they're pretty quick but not instant for security reasons and yeah it's pretty flexible.
Buck: How about the lump in the lending side how does how does that work? So now I've got like 10 Bitcoin and so I would deposit that I guess and you guys I understand that maybe that that goes into like a Gemini account or something, is that still how it works?
Zac: Correct so we have a partnership with Gemini for custody. So when you log into a BlockFi account you'll have a deposit address. When you send Bitcoin to that deposit address it actually goes directly into storage with Gemini. Gemini was the first custodian in the crypto sector to receive insurance against cyber hacks on their platform. They were also the first custodian to get to complete a SOC 2 compliance audit and they have a really long track record of custody billions of dollars worth of crypto without ever having any issues. So it goes directly to Gemini and then you're able to interact with block-wise platform to take any actions that you might deem necessary. So you can view your interest payments you can withdraw you can deposit more you can also take out a loan. So in terms of taking out a loan, if you have ten Bitcoin that's worth roughly a hundred thousand US dollars at this point in time, you can borrow up to fifty percent of that value in a US dollar loan which can be funded be a wire or stable coin and then the structure of those loans is that you make interest-only payments on the amount that you borrowed throughout the duration and you can prepay at any time without penalty.
Buck: And what's the typical you said it was four point six.
Zac: We have interest rates as low as four point five. The interest rates on borrowing USD vary according to your initial loan to value ratio. So if you have a hundred thousand dollars worth of Bitcoin we actually have three loan-to-value ratio options. You can borrow at a 50 percent initial loan-to-value ratio which would mean you're borrowing 50k, the interest rate on that will be eleven point two five, if you borrow thirty five percent of the value so 35k the interest rate is seven point nine, and if you borrow twenty five percent of the value of the interest rate is four point five percent per year.
Buck: Got it. In terms of you know the technical, so you basically pay that on a month-to-month basis and then in terms of contracts, are those also month-to-month loans or how does that work?
Zac: Those are one-year term loans well now it's the ability to renew without repaying the principal at the end of the term at current rates and our rates for those loans have always come down so far. So it's a one-year term loan BlockFi committed for a year at that rate your payments stay the same but you can prepay at any time without penalty.
Buck: Right. When do you do when would you do an actual sort of I guess a cap will call like what loan-to-value because you can go up to say you're borrowing at you know you're borrowing at the lowest rate you know you're at 4.5% you're borrowing see you know just for round numbers 100 Bitcoin you borrowed or you said 10 Bitcoin hundred thousand dollars but you only borrowed twenty-five thousand dollars at four point five percent, what if Bitcoin you know loses 50 percent of its value then what happens?
Zac: Well you wouldn't have a margin call based on on that example. If your loan to value ratio hits 70 percent that's when we have a margin call and the way the margin call works is our clients have the option to either post more collateral, pay down the loan using USD or some of the collateral that's posted for the loan or take no action. If they take no action there's a 72-hour window where we'll wait to see if the price recovers, if it does then no action is required, if the price keeps going down further then we will initiate a partial collateral sale to rebalance that LTV to a healthy level at the end of that window.
Buck: So in terms of the clients that you see doing this kind of stuff, I mean who are you seeing borrowing because you don't have a cap I mean you can on the borrow side, I mean and the rates don't really change like if you're depositing a hundred Bitcoin you're getting the same rate differences as somebody who's depositing ten for borrowing right?
Zac: That's right.
Buck: So who are the people who are putting I mean what are these businesses that are putting are using these loans who are the typical clients?
Zac: Sure so it's a mix of retail and corporate. On the retail side we actually did a survey recently on use cases and the number one use case about a third of our borrowers expressed is that they were using the funds that they borrowed to start a business, which we were really excited about. So the other popular use cases were investing in real estate, investing in other types of traditional assets like stocks and bonds, home improvement, larger purchases, vacations were all used cases, paying down higher cost debt was another use case, and then on the corporate side the loans are used for operating capital. So we have some mining companies that borrow from BlockFi. Other types of companies who you know maybe have crypto denominated inventory like exchanges or crypto ATM businesses our frequent borrowers from BlockFi and our loan sizes rearranged from you know as low as five thousand dollars all the way up to seven figures. So it's a pretty diverse group of borrowers.
Buck: So recently it sounds like you guys partnered with another company called Casa. What is Casa and I guess how does that benefit both companies?
Zac: Sure. So Casa is a leader in fighting self sovereign storage solutions for cryptocurrency owners so if you're alone that owns Bitcoin and to use a gold analogy. If you want to own gold but you keep it in your vault or in your backyard you want to have physical possession of it yourself if you want to do that same type of custody with Bitcoin. Casa has a solution that makes that really easy. Our partnership with Casa provides mutual benefits to clients on either side. So Casa clients are able to receive some discounts in terms of accessing BlockFi products and vice-versa BlockFi clients are able to receive discounts in terms of accessing kasam products and over time we'll build some things in to the user experience specifically on Casa’s platform that will make it you know a bit more seamless to interact with BlockFi products while you're on their platform. In general that partnership strategy is something that you'll see more of we think there are in the ecosystem that are specializing in areas that BlockFi's not focused on and doing things where we can provide benefits to clients on both sides is a win-win for us then and our clients.
Buck: Last thing I want to ask you about, last time I spoke to you, you had talked about the idea of potentially Bitcoin backed credit cards meaning like you know getting Bitcoin back instead of miles or dollars back. You guys any closer to that, because I definitely want one of those cards.
Zac: I'm so glad you brought it up. We're definitely closer, but we're not you're not going to have the card until like Q3 of next year probably. It's getting worked on, these things you know for better or worse they take a long time launching a credit program is no small feat you know we're working on it. We've identified some of the key partners that we'll be working with to bring that product to market it is going to happen and I share your sentiment like I wish I had it now.
Buck: Yeah seriously that'd be great. Well listen it was great talking you. So it's BlockFi.com and it's spelled like block and then fi and tell us you know tell us the process of doing is pretty simple okay how long does it take to apply for these things…
Zac: Yeah I mean nothing takes any time really. So you could come in and start earning interest and get a loan from us all in under five minutes. And we also have a client service team that's super responsive in in terms of communication however you want to communicate with them, over email, over the phone, over text message so you know don't don't hesitate to reach out to us. We're also on twitter. My twitter handle is BlockFiZac and our company twitter handle is @therealBlockFi so we're very active on those platforms and happy to chat with you there as well.
Buck: Zac Prince, thank you very much for being on Wealth Formula Podcast today.
Zac: Thanks for having me, Buck, I appreciate it.
Buck: We’ll be right back.
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Substratum leads Round 2 of Monthly Community Voting Round - AMA Transcript Inside!

Hey guys, If you haven’t noticed on Binance’s monthly community voting round – it has been a tight battle but Substratum has been taking the lead.
I wanted to explain why Substratum has seemingly come out of no-where but has garnered some attention. Substratum is creating a solution to a very big obstacle in the world web. The below has been taken from Justin Tabb aka the Founder of Substratum and summarises what the purpose of the network is.
I hope you guys can support their vision by voting for Substratum (SUB) on the https://www.binance.com/vote.html.
The Substratum Network will bring the decentralized web worldwide without the need of special software for the average internet user. We will be able to serve Substratum Requests directly to the default browser (Safari, Firefox, Chrome, Internet Explorer) without any special software installed on the average consuming users computer.
How Substratum Works
Ease of Use: currently nearly everything that has to do with crypto or the blockchain is very difficult to use and requires technical knowledge. Through our 10+ years of experience working with companies like Apple we understand the importance of a good user experience.
• The average internet user requires NO special software to use the Substratum Network. The default browser will service all requests for average users so they do not need to do ANYTHING different. Users who wish to service requests and receive SUB coins in return will have a point and click user interface that any user can setup. No technical knowledge required. SubstratumPay will be seamlessly integrated and geared towards high conversions of low technical expertise users. • Serving Up of Decentralized Content: Substratum provides a method for serving Decentralized Content (including Web Sites, Data, and Applications) through a Mac, Windows, and Linux application/service that is easy to install and run (requires no technical expertise) and serves up decentralized content using the toolkit that we have developed. This is a point and click process and requires zero technical knowledge. All the user has to do is install the application, click through a few settings and they are up and running and making Substratum Coin. Incentivizing Users to Serve the Content: in order to incentivize users to run the Substratum Network client on their machine we will be providing Substratum Coin to them for doing so. The coin is issued to the serving machine through a micro-transaction from the hosting site to the serving computer. By breaking fees down to a micro-transaction level this will greatly reduce the overall cost to companies and entities that want to host sites and applications on the internet solving yet another problem with the web as it stands today.
Privacy / Security / Encryption: by allowing millions of Substratum Network users to serve content the biggest concern becomes privacy and security. Substratum solves these issues through advanced cryptography algorithms rooted in Artificial Intelligence that ensures all data remains secure. Following the lead of BitCoin this is the strength of cryptocurrency and the crypto movement. Storage and Serving of Content: in order to serve millions of sites, databases, and applications the Substratum Network employs custom developed advanced compression algorithms and machine learning to geolocate the right Substratum Network machine to serve up the content to the appropriate user based on geolocation, this will ensure the fastest load time with the lowest amount of latency and strain on the Substratum Network and both the serving and receiving machine. DNS (Domain Name System): DNS or the Domain Name System is the system that currently tells your browser where to go when you type in a domain name. For instance when you go to Chrome and type in apple.com a DNS lookup is performed to check where to send that request, the DNS system comes back with an IP address and your request is routed there. In the first version of SubstratumDNS will be a complex, AI enabled DNS server that will receive DNS requests along with the geolocation of the requestor and find based off of that information the closest available SubstratumNode that is able to fulfill the request. Development Tools for the Decentralized Web: the Substratum Network will provide an API and SDK for developing tools on the Substratum Platform. This will bring in strong developer support and will accelerate the growth of the decentralized web on the Substratum Network. Net Neutrality: with the Substratum Network ALL web-sites and applications will have EQUAL ability to be broadcast in an equal and fair manner.
International Digital Barriers: currently countries like China have strict regulations on what their 1.379 billion citizens are able to interact with on the internet. Substratum will break down these barriers through a network of decentralized computers running the Substratum Network Software. Where other solutions that are currently used by residents in these countries require special software to be installed, like TOR, Substratum will take a reverse approach and require no special software for the average user.
High Hosting Costs: currently businesses must pay high hosting fees to get their web-sites on the internet. Amazon Web Services launched a 3.5BIL USD per year business by attempting to solve this problem. They allow you to pay for how many minutes you run a web / database server. Substratum completely solves this problem through the power of cryptocurrency by only charging for each request that is processed. You can check out the website here: • Substratum.net o And the whitepaper is available in multiple languages inclusive of Mandarin.
Furthermore, Substratum and the founders are very active in the slack – which they have recently hosted an AMA (ask me anything); I took the liberty of getting this information and if you are interested about the project to read more into it. Obviously they can’t reveal the inner workings of their product due to product sensitivity and being ahead of their competition but they are always up to date with the community through several videos on Youtube (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxUJoTH0XLERKl55zGnFI6g) and announcements through their social media. I recommend you follow them.
Q: Any major talks with exchanges yet? A: We just announced that we are launching on our FIRST official exchange of COSS.IO on 9/30 trading against BTC and ETH. More to follow.
Q: Will I be able to run a supernode? A: From the beginning NO. Supernodes will only be for Substratum; however, they will run the SAME software that are used to run a NODE. In time we will develop a requirement list to run a supernode. If you qualify you can then run a SuperNode and receive a premium payout
Q: Is it possible to show a few examples of SUB payouts you get from running a node, and the tell us the ratios that affect the amount/way to calculate it somehow? (SUB owned, for how long you've been running a node etc..) Or is that still in testing? What's the difference in node rewards from someone who has 0 SUB's as opposed to someone who has X amount of SUB's? A: So the calculations for this are in process; however, you can watch our video "How Substrate Per Request Is Calculated" on our YouTube channel for an idea of what variables go into each calculation
Q: How do we prevent DDoS? A: The first step is not talking about how we prevent DDoS or any other hack. We call that security through obscurity. :slightly_smiling_face: Secondly, one of the primary ways to prevent a DDoS attack is decentralization. Well that's perfect. Lastly, there are other techniques, like black-holing and basically shutting a node down. The great news is that we will be decentralized so we are only talking about a node or specific IP Address that will not disrupt the network. :thumbsup:
Q: Say i got a website i want to publish on Substratum, how does this process go? A: Just a shout out if you ask for a lot of detail regarding technology stack and how exactly something will work we are most likely going to give you general answers. This is not to skirt the question. We want to be 10 steps ahead of anyone with nefarious plans before we get launched. You will be seeing more on this very soon. You should be seeing a video drop on this in the next week or two. The goal is to make this easy to use and powerful, plus empower others to use the tools. We're looking at things to different ways one is towards the average user who just want something sitting on their system and doesn't need any more details and the other is a super user who wants a lot of configuration options.
Q: When more people will use Substratum and more will run nodes, the value of SUB will increase. How will it be calculated how much SUB you get as a reward for running a node as value increases? Will it be calculated by Substratum itself or will it be changed manually every so often? A: We will be calculating against the live value of Substratum
Q: Is substratum detectable, for example if it’s used in a country like china and they are caught on these sites that are blocked by government… Can it be detected? A: The goal is to make it constantly moving. We do not want it to be. fast, easy, powerful, anonymous.
Q: Will there be Master Nodes? A: We will have some services that are available that will help provision nodes into the network. We are still story mapping this flow and architecture.
Q: Could we get more information about what you require to do to be a beta tester? A: To be a beta tester you only need to add yourself to the #beta-tester channel here in Slack. You will be notified when we are ready for you to download and install and the process and requirements to continue to run the software
Q: Will you keep us informed on a at least weekly base to tell/ show us the progress made? A: Yes! We will continue to drop at least 2 professionally made update videos each week (with Jason Burns the guy who does them) and we will be doing more and more candid videos
Q: Who is the winner of 10k subs and what idea did he give? And what about 2nd place and 3rd place. A: To be announced shortly. The Substrate is reserved for the payout
Q: Can we mine Sub without the software? A: I will personally be selling pick-axes on my personal website "pixaxesforsale.biz" for a low cost of $19.99
Q: Unless they disclose intelligent life in space, people are still going to be mad at the end of this. A lot more will be happy though A: Haven't found intelligent life in space. Some would question finding it on earth.
Q: From a legal stand point How are we protected if someone is running illegal content on our Node? A: Take a look at our video of "How Substratum Secures Your Site Content". You will never hold the entire piece of data except perhaps in memory if you are the one serving the request so you could never be culpable. Amazon isn't held responsible if I host illegal content now
Q: What about content control? child porno .. and so on ... ? Is there anything to control the content or? A: Excellent question. This was a big concern for us. We do not want Substratum to become the dark web. The goal is to allow the community to self-govern, vote up and down, call out illegal activity. The utilities will allow those with bad intentions to be called out. The more we grow the better we will be about wiping out things like child porn, and just as bad human trafficking.
Q: When will the raised money going to be donated? A: We have already donated $10K out and we have a pending wire for $40K going out Monday. We are working to find the BEST places with the IMMEDIATE needs.
Q: When will the livestream of the burn be? A: Burn #1 will be a livestream of my computer screen later tonight. I will announce on twitter at least an hour ahead of time and we will record it so people can see it later
Q: What will the final circulating supply be after all three token burns? A: We are still getting a FINAL number on this, we are still doing some FINAL Bonus sends but we will have the number VERY VERY soon and we will be posting it. We will be burning 60MIL tokens tonight so that should give you some kind of an idea.
Q: can you stop slack from freezing my firefox? A: Use the downloadable app, or get better internet, or get a new computer. Sounds like a dumpster fire.
Q: Everyone brings up the obvious choice of child porno that needs to be dealt with via content control. What about grayzones such as weed-selling sites? Its illegal in some countries, some not. How will Substratum deal with these grey-zones? A: Give me liberty or give me death.
Q: Could i have an invite to beta test channel on slack? A: Yes, just let a moderator know.
Q: could i get more information on what beta testers are required to do? I will happily be one if it helps the process and I actually manage to do it. A: Join the #beta-testers channel here
Q: when will we see a new homepage? A: This is being worked on now!
Q: is there a minimum amount of SUB needed to run a node? A: NO! 0 Substrate, don't worry, you will have some soon once you turn it on
Q: What about running an "micronode" on any phone (there is a big % using phones all the time), I mean an app installed on phone to run a node and to host only small content like a photos... Did you think about of this? A: https://youtu.be/h6tZ_ZFuFmY
Q: What if my website ethically and morally right and people downvote it out of jealousy will my website be removed if there are more number of downvotes and my content is clean? A: The process is NOT that simple, we will release more details later but this is being taken into consideration. I answered in a bit more detail above as well
Q: Does the Sub team ever sleep ? A: Only when driving
Q: Can I run a node on a VPS? A: I certainly won't be telling people how or where to run the node software. Do the best you can. I actually answered the VPS question above too. We will have a command line version if that is the question. That you can run on something like Ubuntu Server if you want
Q: Can the voting system for all illegal stuff on the internet also be used in a 'bad' way on the regular websites to for example gain commercial/business advantages? A: It should not, no one will have 'master control' All control, so the market decides always.
Q: Who will profit from cryptopay? How will this bring value to SUB tokens? A: Everyone will as we gain dominance. But also, Substratum the company will take a small percentage. This will enable us to continue building awesome apps. CryptoPay will be the cornerstone of many good things to come. Think retail, goods and services.
Q: I work at a games company with 200+ high powered pcs. If I install sub nodes on every single one of them at night, will IT be able to catch and fire me A: See your HR manual, or HR supervisor for those questions.
Q: How do websites and hosters remain protected from hacking, if sites are created with innate vulnerabilities does that expose other sites hosted by the same node? A: This is a great question. Hosting Nodes will have to vet out their security. Again, being decentralized goes a long way in providing security. So does encryption. We will help hosts be the best hosts possible.
Q: Please explain the earning in SUB by running a node? A: So the SUB comes FROM the HOST (who purchases the SUB) to the NODE for the cost of the transaction. https://youtu.be/LWZ1DIGGOoQ
Q: When will the tokens be sent for the 100 Sub giveaway A: Shortly
Q: How will Substratum market themselves towards countries that needs SUB the most but are hard to reach, such as North Korea, Africa, China? A: Think spider web. The more that join, and use, the less it can be controlled.
Q: How long will this bear market last for? A: Let me put the fortune teller hat on. Crypto is a young demographic currently. It will be bear'ish until we make the technology easier and they get older.
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