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Crypto-Powered: Understanding Bitcoin, Ethereum, and DeFi

Crypto-Powered: Understanding Bitcoin, Ethereum, and DeFi
Until one understands the basics of this tech, they won’t be able to grasp or appreciate the impact it has on our digital bank, Genesis Block.
https://reddit.com/link/ho4bif/video/n0euarkifu951/player
This is the second post of Crypto-Powered — a new series that examines what it means for Genesis Block to be a digital bank that’s powered by crypto, blockchain, and decentralized protocols.
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Our previous post set the stage for this series. We discussed the state of consumer finance and how the success of today’s high-flying fintech unicorns will be short-lived as long as they’re building on legacy finance — a weak foundation that is ripe for massive disruption.
Instead, the future of consumer finance belongs to those who are deeply familiar with blockchain tech & decentralized protocols, build on it as the foundation, and know how to take it to the world. Like Genesis Block.
Today we begin our journey down the crypto rabbit hole. This post will be an important introduction for those still learning about Bitcoin, Ethereum, or DeFi (Decentralized Finance). This post (and the next few) will go into greater detail about how this technology gives Genesis Block an edge, a superpower, and an unfair advantage. Let’s dive in…
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Bitcoin: The First Cryptocurrency

There are plenty of online resources to learn about Bitcoin (Coinbase, Binance, Gemini, Naval, Alex Gladstein, Marc Andreessen, Chris Dixon). I don’t wanna spend a lot of time on that here, but let’s do a quick overview for those still getting ramped up.
Cryptocurrency is the most popular use-case of blockchain technology today. And Bitcoin was the first cryptocurrency to be invented.
Bitcoin is the most decentralized of all crypto assets today — no government, company, or third party can control or censor it.
Bitcoin has two primary features (as do most other cryptocurrencies):
  1. Send Value You can send value to anyone, anywhere in the world. Nobody can intercept, delay or stop it — not even governments or financial institutions. Unlike with traditional money transfers or bank wires, there are no layers of middlemen. This results in a process that is much more cost-efficient. Some popular use-cases include remittances and cross-border payments.
  2. Store Value With nothing but a smartphone, you can become your own bank and store your own funds. Nobody can seize your assets. The funds are digital and stored on a blockchain. Your money no longer needs to be stored at a bank, in a vault, or under your mattress. I covered a few inspiring use-cases in a previous post. They include banking the unbanked, protecting assets from government seizure, mitigating the risk of a bank run, and protection against hyperinflation (like what recently happened in Venezuela).
The fact that there are so few things one can do with Bitcoin is one of its greatest strengths.
Its design is simple, elegant, and focused. It has been 10+ years since Satoshi’s white paper and no one has been able to crack or hack the Bitcoin network. With a market cap of $170B, there is plenty of incentive to try.
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Public Awareness

A few negative moments in Bitcoin’s history include the collapse of Mt. Gox — which resulted in hundreds of millions of customer funds being stolen — as well as Bitcoin’s role in dark markets like Silk Road — where Bitcoin arguably found its initial userbase.
However, like most breakthrough technology, Bitcoin is neither good nor bad. It’s neutral. People can use it for good or they can use it for evil. Thankfully, it’s being used less and less for illicit activity. Criminals are starting to understand that transactions on a blockchain are public and traceable — it’s exactly the type of system they usually try to avoid. And it’s true, at this point “a lot more” crimes are actually committed with fiat than crypto.
As a result, the perception of bitcoin and cryptocurrency has been changing over the years to a more positive light.
Bitcoin has even started to enter the world of media & entertainment. It’s been mentioned in Hollywood films like Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse and in songs from major artists like Eminem. It’s been mentioned in countless TV shows like Billions, The Simpsons, Big Bang Theory, Gray’s Anatomy, Family Guy, and more.
As covid19 has ravaged economies and central banks have been printing money, Bitcoin has caught the attention of many legendary Wall Street investors like Paul Tudor Jones, saying that Bitcoin is a great bet against inflation (reminding him of Gold in the 1970s).
Cash App already lets their 25M users buy Bitcoin. It’s rumored that PayPal and Venmo will soon let their 325M users start buying Bitcoin. Bitcoin is by far the most dominant cryptocurrency and is showing no signs of slowing down. For more than a decade it has delivered on its core use-cases — being able to send or store value.
At this point, Bitcoin has very much entered the zeitgeist of modern pop culture — at least in the West.
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Ethereum: Programmable Money

When Ethereum launched in 2015, it opened up a world of new possibilities and use-cases for crypto. With Ethereum Smart Contracts (i.e. applications), this exciting new digital money (cryptocurrency) became a lot less dumb. Developers could now build applications that go beyond the simple use-cases of “send value” & “store value.” They could program cryptocurrency to have rules, behavior, and logic to respond to different inputs. And always enforced by code. Additional reading on Ethereum from Linda Xie or Vitalik Buterin.
Because these applications are built on blockchain technology (Ethereum), they preserve many of the same characteristics as Bitcoin: no one can stop, censor or shut down these apps because they are decentralized.
One of the first major use-cases on Ethereum was the ability to mint and create your own token, your own cryptocurrency. Many companies used this as a way to fundraise from the public. This led to the 2017 ICO bubble (Initial Coin Offerings). Some tokens — and the apps/networks they powered — were fascinating and innovative. Most tokens were pointless. And many tokens were outright scams. Additional token reading from Fred Ehrsam, Balaji, and Naval.
https://reddit.com/link/ho4bif/video/b5b1jh9ofu951/player

Digital Gold Rush

Just as tokens grew in popularity in 2017–2018, so did online marketplaces where these tokens could be bought, sold, and traded. This was a fledgling asset class — the merchants selling picks, axes, and shovels were finally starting to emerge.
I had a front-row seat — both as an investor and token creator. This was the Wild West with all the frontier drama & scandal that you’d expect.
Binance — now the world’s largest crypto exchange —was launched during this time. They along with many others (especially from Asia) made it really easy for speculators, traders, and degenerate gamblers to participate in these markets. Similar to other financial markets, the goal was straightforward: buy low and sell high.
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That period left an embarrassing stain on our industry that we’ve still been trying to recover from. It was a period rampant with market manipulation, pump-and-dumps, and scams. To some extent, the crypto industry still suffers from that today, but it’s nothing compared to what it was then.
While the potential of getting filthy rich brought a lot of fly-by-nighters and charlatans into the industry, it also brought a lot of innovators, entrepreneurs, and builders.
The launch and growth of Ethereum has been an incredible technological breakthrough. As with past tech breakthroughs, it has led to a wave of innovation, experimentation, and development. The creativity around tokens, smart contracts, and decentralized applications has been fascinating to witness. Now a few years later, the fruits of those labors are starting to be realized.

DeFi: Decentralized Finance

So as a reminder, tokens are cryptocurrencies. Cryptocurrencies can carry value. And value is a lot like money. Because tokens are natively integrated with Ethereum, it’s been natural for developers to build applications related to financial services — things like lending, borrowing, saving, investing, payments, and insurance. In the last few years, there has been a groundswell of developer momentum building in this area of financial protocols. This segment of the industry is known as DeFi (Decentralized Finance).
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In Q2 of 2020, 97% of all Ethereum activity was DeFi-related. Total DeFi transaction volume has reached $11.5B. The current value locked inside DeFi protocols is approaching $2 Billion (double from a month ago). DeFi’s meteoric growth cannot be ignored.
Most of that growth can be attributed to exciting protocols like Compound, Maker, Synthetix, Balancer, Aave, dYdX, and Uniswap. These DeFi protocols and the financial services they offer are quickly becoming some of the most popular use-cases for blockchain technology today.
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This impressive growth in DeFi certainly hasn’t come without growing pains. Unlike with Bitcoin, there are near-infinite applications one can develop on Ethereum. Sometimes bugs (or typos) can slip through code reviews, testing, and audits — resulting in loss of funds.
Our next post will go much deeper on DeFi.

Wrap Up

I know that for the hardcore crypto people, what we covered today is nothing new. But for those who are still getting up to speed, welcome! I hope this was helpful and that it fuels your interest to learn more.
Until you understand the basics of this technology, you won’t be able to fully appreciate the impact that it has on our new digital bank, Genesis Block. You won’t be able to understand the implications, how it relates, or how it helps.
After today’s post, some of you probably have a lot more questions. What are specific examples or use-cases of DeFi? Why does it need to be on a blockchain? What benefits does it bring to Genesis Block and our users?
In upcoming posts, we answer these questions. Today’s post was just Level 1. It set the foundation for where we’re headed next: even deeper down the crypto rabbit hole.
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Have you already downloaded the app? We're Genesis Block, a new digital bank that's powered by crypto & decentralized protocols. The app is live in the App Store (iOS & Android). Get the link to download at https://genesisblock.com/download
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Top 10 of The Biggest Cryptocurrency Hacks and Scams Ever

If you have been around the cryptocurrency industry long enough, you will know that one of the biggest risks faced by users is the loss of funds through hacks on cryptocurrency wallets and exchanges.
Online exchanges are prime targets for hackers and thieves on the internet. This is mainly because of the amount of funds that are kept on these platforms. For hackers that have succeeded in stealing funds from such platforms, the amounts are usually huge.
As much as individual users try to play their roles in securing their accounts by using personal passwords, PINs and codes, there is a higher layer of security that lies in the hands of the platform providers. Once this is breached, the individual security efforts become irrelevant.
Over the years, exchanges and wallets appear to have improved in terms of security as the frequency of hacks and platform breaches have reduced. What used to be a common occurrence in the industry has become a rare development, with hacks now few and far between.
Let’s take a look at the top 10 of the biggest cryptocurrency hacks and scams ever.

10. Bitcoin Gold ($18 Million)

In May 2018, the theoretical 51% attack possibility was proven in a heist that saw a breach in Bitcoin Gold which cost the protocol $18 million.
In this heist, hackers used 51% raw computing power to seize control of the network and carry out their ulterior plans effectively. Ciphertrace and other security outfits in the ecosystem believe that the algorithm weaknesses in Bitcoin Gold’s Proof of Work (PoW) transaction verification may have enabled the success of the theft.

9. Geth ($20 Million)

In June 2018, the Ethereum client Geth was hacked and ETH worth $20 million was stolen. This incidence was reported by blockchain security firm, Cyphertrace. During the hack, JSON-RPC port 8545 was exploited. This is the port that initiates ETH send transactions.
All the ETH wallets that were affected by this breach was drained by the thieves, accumulating to the quoted $20 million equivalence based on the price of ETH at that time.

8. Bancor ($23.5 Million)

In July 2018, about one month after the Geth incident, decentralized cryptocurrency exchange, Bancor was hacked and $23.5 million worth of crypto stolen. This particular event raised some eyebrows in the cryptocurrency industry, redefining the general opinion of decentralized exchanges being prone to hacking.
The process involved the exploitation of a security flaw in a wallet that was used to update some of the smart contracts on the exchange. Bancor, which was one of the most successful ICOs of 2017, raising $153 million during its token sale, was forced to shut down after the hack.

7. Coinrail ($40 Million)

Coinrail was hacked in June 2018, and $40 million was stolen from the exchange. The South Korean exchange which ranked among the top 100 exchanges by volume, suspended its services shortly after the hack.
According to sources from the exchange, the tokens that were stolen included NPXS tokens from the Pundi X project, ATC from Aston and the NPER project’s NPER token.
  1. Binance ($40.7 Million)
Binance exchange was hacked in May 2019 and 7,000 Bitcoins were stolen from the platform. The value of the Bitcoins stolen at the time was about $40.7 million.
To achieve their aim, hackers were able to steal API keys, two-factor codes and some other key information to access the wallets. According to the exchange, the incident impacted only about 2% of its total Bitcoin holdings as all other wallets are secure.
Affected wallets were promised a refund through the exchange’s Secure Asset Fund for Users (SAFU) arrangement. This is a policy that the exchange uses to prepare for rainy days. A portion of fees charged on the exchange is set aside in order to ensure that platform users do not bear the brunt during occurrences such as this.

5. Zaif ($60 Million)

Japan-based cryptocurrency exchange Zaif was hacked in September 2018 and $60 million was stolen in the process. The theft was possible after hackers gained authorised access into the exchanges hot wallets, making away with huge amounts of Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, and MonaCoin.
The exchange’s asset reserve could not cover the loss, therefore it reached an agreement with a Japan-listed firm called Fisco to receive a $44.5 million investment in exchange for a major share of ownership.

4. Bitfinex ($77 Million)

The Bitfinex hack of August 2016 was a popular event that rocked the entire cryptocurrency industry. The hack occurred at a time when cryptocurrencies appeared to be shifting gears in terms of awareness and development. As a matter of fact, the aftermath of the event saw the Bitcoin price drop by 20%.
After the hack, Bitfinex issued cryptographic tokens to its users that were affected by the hack, all of which the exchange announced to have bought back by April 2017.

3. BitGrail ($187 Million)

$187 million worth of Nano tokens were stolen from BitGrail in February 2018. The reported theft was announced weeks after the unauthorized transfer was initiated. This information was from evidence retrieved from the Nano blockchain explorer by skeptics.
While BitGrail recognized the concerns of it users, it however stated that it is impossible for it to refund the stolen amount.

2. Mt. Gox ($460 Million)

The Mt. Gox scandal remains one of the biggest stains on the cryptocurrency industry. In February 2014, Mt. Gox was hacked and as much as $460 million was stolen from the exchange. In the wake of this, the exchange’s CEO, Mark Karpeles issued a statement that accepted responsibility on behalf of his company.
“We had weaknesses in our system, and our bitcoins vanished. We’ve caused trouble and inconvenience to many people, and I feel deeply sorry for what has happened, “ he said.
At the time, Mt. Gox was the world’s largest Bitcoin exchange that looked impressive from the outside, but many who claimed to know about the internal workings accused the company of a messy combination of poor management, neglect, and raw inexperience.
The size of this event left a huge dent on the reputation of Bitcoin and the crypto industry at large. It took a long time before the market picked up again, and for users to regain confidence in the industry. The exchange has since gone down and ceased to exist.

1. Coincheck ($500 Million)

The biggest theft in the history of the cryptocurrency industry happened in January 2018, when Japan-based cryptocurrency exchange, Coincheck was hacked. A total of NEM tokens worth $500 million were stolen in the process.
A statement from the exchange accepted the blame and took responsibility for the breach. According to reports, rather than storing its customers’ assets in offline wallets, the assets were stored in hot wallets that were connected to the internet. Coincheck also reportedly failed to protect the wallets with standard multi-signature security protocols.
Having traced the destination of the stolen funds, NEM developers created a tracking tool that would allow exchanges to automatically reject stolen funds.

Conclusion

Hacks and massive theft of cryptocurrencies have contributed to the setback experienced by the technology. Each of the events takes a hit on the confidence of investors and willing participants who may not be sure of how the affected exchanges will handle the situation.
The industry is however learning from past experiences, as the frequency of such hacks have reduced, while in some cases, modalities are being put in place to ensure that end users do not bear the brunt of such events, just like the case of Binance.
The NEM developers’ response to the Coincheck hack has a way of rendering stolen funds unspendable, as long as other members of the community comply. However, no one knows how long this will last, and if the hackers will be able to nullify the traceability of the stolen coins yet.
The action by the developers will discourage hackers and thieves, but is yet to restore value to the end users whose funds have been stolen.
For the industry to grow as it should and become stable, security of funds need to be established. Exchanges and developers are continuously making efforts to ensure that funds and transactions within the industry remain safe at all times.
http://bitcoinadvisor.info/top-10-of-the-biggest-cryptocurrency-hacks-and-scams-eve?fbclid=IwAR1aKdbjF1HQpFQq3jH6PQptxt7mhXHJWsABPnlN5ZEjmq07ByMEYWvVezM
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