Crypto Margin Trading Made Simple - A Step by Step Guide
Crypto Margin Trading Made Simple - A Step by Step Guide
Crypto Exchange with Margin Trading: How Does it Work
What Is Crypto Margin Trading & How Does It Work? - Bitcoinik
What is Crypto Margin Trading & How Does it Work
Bitcoin and Crypto Margin Trading Exchanges (UPDATED 2020)
Crypto exchange with margin trading: How does it work?
Whether you are a trader or an exchange owner, you can certainly make profits from crypto margin trading. If you are planning to build a crypto exchange with margin trading, read on the blog for an in-depth understanding of margin trading to make well-informed decisions during your development journey.
You may have heard about off-shore tax havens of questionable legality where wealthy people invest their money in legal "grey zones" and don't pay any tax, as featured for example, in Netflix's drama, The Laundromat. The reality is that the Government of Canada offers 100% tax-free investing throughout your life, with unlimited withdrawals of your contributions and profits, and no limits on how much you can make tax-free. There is also nothing to report to the Canada Revenue Agency. Although Britain has a comparable program, Canada is the only country in the world that offers tax-free investing with this level of power and flexibility. Thank you fellow Redditors for the wonderful Gold Award and Today I Learned Award! (Unrelated but Important Note: I put a link at the bottom for my margin account explainer. Many people are interested in margin trading but don't understand the math behind margin accounts and cannot find an explanation. If you want to do margin, but don't know how, click on the link.) As a Gen-Xer, I wrote this post with Millennials in mind, many of whom are getting interested in investing in ETFs, individual stocks, and also my personal favourite, options. Your generation is uniquely positioned to take advantage of this extremely powerful program at a relatively young age. But whether you're in your 20's or your 90's, read on! Are TFSAs important? In 2020 Canadians have almost 1 trillion dollars saved up in their TFSAs, so if that doesn't prove that pennies add up to dollars, I don't know what does. The TFSA truly is the Great Canadian Tax Shelter. I will periodically be checking this and adding issues as they arise, to this post. I really appreciate that people are finding this useful. As this post is now fairly complete from a basic mechanics point of view, and some questions are already answered in this post, please be advised that at this stage I cannot respond to questions that are already covered here. If I do not respond to your post, check this post as I may have added the answer to the FAQs at the bottom.
How to Invest in Stocks
A lot of people get really excited - for good reason - when they discover that the TFSA allows you to invest in stocks, tax free. I get questions about which stocks to buy. I have made some comments about that throughout this post, however; I can't comprehensively answer that question. Having said that, though, if you're interested in picking your own stocks and want to learn how, I recommmend starting with the following videos: The first is by Peter Lynch, a famous American investor in the 80's who wrote some well-respected books for the general public, like "One Up on Wall Street." The advice he gives is always valid, always works, and that never changes, even with 2020's technology, companies and AI: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cRMpgaBv-U4&t=2256s The second is a recording of a university lecture given by investment legend Warren Buffett, who expounds on the same principles: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2MHIcabnjrA Please note that I have no connection to whomever posted the videos.
TFSAs were introduced in 2009 by Stephen Harper's government, to encourage Canadians to save. The effect of the TFSA is that ordinary Canadians don't pay any income or capital gains tax on their securities investments. Initial uptake was slow as the contribution rules take some getting used to, but over time the program became a smash hit with Canadians. There are about 20 million Canadians with TFSAs, so the uptake is about 70%- 80% (as you have to be the age of majority in your province/territory to open a TFSA).
Eligibility to Open a TFSA
You must be a Canadian resident with a valid Social Insurance Number to open a TFSA. You must be at the voting age in the province in which you reside in order to open a TFSA, however contribution room begins to accumulate from the year in which you turned 18. You do not have to file a tax return to open a TFSA. You do not need to be a Canadian citizen to open and contribute to a TFSA. No minimum balance is required to open a TFSA.
Where you Can Open a TFSA
There are hundreds of financial institutions in Canada that offer the TFSA. There is only one kind of TFSA; however, different institutions offer a different range of financial products. Here are some examples:
The Canadian big 5 bank branches and most other financial institutions offer a TFSA that allows you to buy mutual funds, hold cash, GICs, term deposits, and possibly ETFs. This is a good choice if you want guaranteed returns or diversified investing.
There are a number of on-line banks such as Tangerine, Simplii Financial, Oaken Financial, and many more that offer the TFSA.
The discount DIY brokerage arms of the big 5 banks give you more choices, including stocks, warrants, bonds and options. There are also standalone brokers like IBKR Canada, Questrade, Qtrade, and Virtual Brokers, among others, that offer this.
Some brokerages and financial advisors also offer TFSAs that give you these investment choices, in different formats such as:
Traditional brokerage, where a stockbroker invests your money (BMO Nesbitt Burns, RBC Dominion Securities and others)
Financial advisor who will invest your money according to a plan you put together with the advisor (TSI Network and many others)
"Robo" advisors such as Wealthsimple, RBC InvestEase, BMO SmartFolio, or Wealthbar
BMO's AdviceDirect, which is a semi-directed hybrid between standalone DIY investing and fully-advised investing, where you operate on a DIY basis but have access to a registered investment advisor (a live person) who can give you suggetions and advice.
Your TFSA may be covered by either CIFP or CDIC insuranceor both. Ask your bank or broker for details.
What You Can Trade and Invest In
You can trade the following:
GICS, mutual funds, term deposits
individual common and preferred stocks listed on an "approved exchange" which is the TSX, TSX-V, NASDAQ, NYSE, and about 20 other exchanges worldwide, but not the US OTC pink sheets. Many examples, such as Suncor, Linamar, Apple, any of the big banks, and many thousands of others, when you want to buy into an individual company
stock-like securities like REITS, ETFs and ETNs, including 2x and 3x leveraged
gold and silver certificates
cash of many countries (CAD/USD/EUGBP/AUD/NZD/JPY/CHF and many others)
government bills and bonds of most countries, subsovereigns like Canadian provincial bills and bonds, and most corporations
options that trade on the Montreal Exchange or various options exchanges in the USA and the rest of the word (see FAQ for details)
gold, silver bullion certificates
shares in certain private companies -- but consult your tax advisor on this
What You Cannot Trade
You cannot trade:
commodity futures contracts
option spread positions (see FAQ for details)
anything that requires a margin account, meaning, a special kind of account that allows you to borrow money directly from the broker against the assets you have in your account and the assets you intend to buy.
crypto (although there exist crypto ETNs that you can buy)
Again, if it requires a margin account, it's out. You cannot buy on margin in a TFSA. Nothing stopping you from borrowing money from other sources as long as you stay within your contribution limits, but you can't trade on margin in a TFSA. You can of course trade long puts and calls which give you leverage.
Rules for Contribution Room
Starting at 18 you get a certain amount of contribution room. According to the CRA: You will accumulate TFSA contribution room for each year even if you do not file an Income Tax and Benefit Return or open a TFSA. The annual TFSA dollar limit for the years 2009 to2012 was $5,000. The annual TFSA dollar limit for the years 2013 and 2014 was $5,500. The annual TFSA dollar limit for the year 2015 was $10,000. The annual TFSA dollar limit for the years 2016 to 2018 was $5,500. The annual TFSA dollar limit for the year 2019 is $6,000. The TFSA annual room limit will be indexed to inflation and rounded to the nearest $500. Investment income earned by, and changes in the value of TFSA investments will not affect your TFSA contribution room for the current or future years. https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/tax/individuals/topics/tax-free-savings-account/contributions.html If you don't use the room, it accumulates indefinitely. Trades you make in a TFSA are truly tax free. But you cannot claim the dividend tax credit and you cannot claim losses in a TFSA against capital gains whether inside or outside of the TFSA. So do make money and don't lose money in a TFSA. You are stuck with the 15% withholding tax on U.S. dividend distributions unlike the RRSP, due to U.S. tax rules, but you do not pay any capital gains on sale of U.S. shares. You can withdraw *both* contributions *and* capital gains, no matter how much, at any time, without penalty. The amount of the withdrawal (contributions+gains) converts into contribution room in the *next* calendar year. So if you put the withdrawn funds back in the same calendar year you take them out, that burns up your total accumulated contribution room to the extent of the amount that you re-contribute in the same calendar year.
E.g. Say you turned 18 in 2016 in Alberta where the age of majority is 18. It is now sometime in 2020. You have never contributed to a TFSA. You now have $5,500+$5,500+$5,500+$6,000+$6,000 = $28,500 of room in 2020. In 2020 you manage to put $20,000 in to your TFSA and you buy Canadian Megacorp common shares. You now have $8,500 of room remaining in 2020. Sometime in 2021 - it doesn't matter when in 2021 - your shares go to $100K due to the success of the Canadian Megacorp. You also have $6,000 worth of room for 2021 as set by the government. You therefore have $8,500 carried over from 2020+$6,000 = $14,500 of room in 2021. In 2021 you sell the shares and pull out the $100K. This amount is tax-free and does not even have to be reported. You can do whatever you want with it. But: if you put it back in 2021 you will over-contribute by $100,000 - $14,500 = $85,500 and incur a penalty. But if you wait until 2022 you will have $14,500 unused contribution room carried forward from 2021, another $6,000 for 2022, and $100,000 carried forward from the withdrawal 2021, so in 2022 you will have $14,500+$6,000+$100,000 = $120,500 of contribution room. This means that if you choose, you can put the $100,000 back in in 2022 tax-free and still have $20,500 left over. If you do not put the money back in 2021, then in 2022 you will have $120,500+$6,000 = $126,500 of contribution room. There is no age limit on how old you can be to contribute, no limit on how much money you can make in the TFSA, and if you do not use the room it keeps carrying forward forever. Just remember the following formula: This year's contribution room = (A) unused contribution room carried forward from last year + (B) contribution room provided by the government for this year + (C) total withdrawals from last year. EXAMPLE 1: Say in 2020 you never contributed to a TFSA but you were 18 in 2009. You have $69,500 of unused room (see above) in 2020 which accumulated from 2009-2020. In 2020 you contribute $50,000, leaving $19,500 contribution room unused for 2020. You buy $50,000 worth of stock. The next day, also in 2020, the stock doubles and it's worth $100,000. Also in 2020 you sell the stock and withdraw $100,000, tax-free. You continue to trade stocks within your TFSA, and hopefully grow your TFSA in 2020, but you make no further contributions or withdrawals in 2020. The question is, How much room will you have in 2021? Answer: In the year 2021, the following applies: (A) Unused contribution room carried forward from last year, 2020: $19,500 (B) Contribution room provided by government for this year, 2021: $6,000 (C) Total withdrawals from last year, 2020: $100,000 Total contribution room for 2021 = $19,500+6,000+100,000 = $125,500. EXAMPLE 2: Say between 2020 and 2021 you decided to buy a tax-free car (well you're still stuck with the GST/PST/HST/QST but you get the picture) so you went to the dealer and spent $25,000 of the $100,000 you withdrew in 2020. You now have a car and $75,000 still burning a hole in your pocket. Say in early 2021 you re-contribute the $75,000 you still have left over, to your TFSA. However, in mid-2021 you suddenly need $75,000 because of an emergency so you pull the $75,000 back out. But then a few weeks later, it turns out that for whatever reason you don't need it after all so you decide to put the $75,000 back into the TFSA, also in 2021. You continue to trade inside your TFSA but make no further withdrawals or contributions. How much room will you have in 2022? Answer: In the year 2022, the following applies: (A) Unused contribution room carried forward from last year, 2021: $125,500 - $75,000 - $75,000 = -$24,500. Already you have a problem. You have over-contributed in 2021. You will be assessed a penalty on the over-contribution! (penalty = 1% a month). But if you waited until 2022 to re-contribute the $75,000 you pulled out for the emergency..... In the year 2022, the following would apply: (A) Unused contribution room carried forward from last year, 2021: $125,500 -$75,000 =$50,500. (B) Contribution room provided by government for this year, 2022: $6,000 (C) Total withdrawals from last year, 2020: $75,000 Total contribution room for 2022 = $50,500 + $6,000 + $75,000 = $131,500. ...And...re-contributing that $75,000 that was left over from your 2021 emergency that didn't materialize, you still have $131,500-$75,000 = $56,500 of contribution room left in 2022. For a more comprehensive discussion, please see the CRA info link below.
FAQs That Have Arisen in the Discussion and Other Potential Questions:
Equity and ETF/ETN Options in a TFSA: can I get leverage? Yes. You can buy puts and calls in your TFSA and you only need to have the cash to pay the premium and broker commissions. Example: if XYZ is trading at $70, and you want to buy the $90 call with 6 months to expiration, and the call is trading at $2.50, you only need to have $250 in your account, per option contract, and if you are dealing with BMO IL for example you need $9.95 + $1.25/contract which is what they charge in commission. Of course, any profits on closing your position are tax-free. You only need the full value of the strike in your account if you want to exercise your option instead of selling it. Please note: this is not meant to be an options tutorial; see the Montreal Exchange's Equity Options Reference Manual if you have questions on how options work.
Equity and ETF/ETN Options in a TFSA: what is ok and not ok? Long puts and calls are allowed. Covered calls are allowed, but cash-secured puts are not allowed. All other option trades are also not allowed. Basically the rule is, if the trade is not a covered call and it either requires being short an option or short the stock, you can't do it in a TFSA.
Live in a province where the voting age is 19 so I can't open a TFSA until I'm 19, when does my contribution room begin? Your contribution room begins to accumulate at 18, so if you live in province where the age of majority is 19, you'll get the room carried forward from the year you turned 18.
If I turn 18 on December 31, do I get the contribution room just for that day or for the whole year? The whole year.
Do commissions paid on share transactions count as withdrawals? Unfortunately, no. If you contribute $2,000 cash and you buy $1,975 worth of stock and pay $25 in commission, the $25 does not count as a withdrawal. It is the same as if you lost money in the TFSA.
How much room do I have? If your broker records are complete, you can do a spreadsheet. The other thing you can do is call the CRA and they will tell you.
TFSATFSA direct transfer from one institution to another: this has no impact on your contributions or withdrawals as it counts as neither.
More than 1 TFSA: you can have as many as you want but your total contribution room does not increase or decrease depending on how many accounts you have.
Withdrawals that convert into contribution room in the next year. Do they carry forward indefinitely if not used in the next year? Answer :yes.
Do I have to declare my profits, withdrawals and contributions? No. Your bank or broker interfaces directly with the CRA on this. There are no declarations to make.
Risky investments - smart? In a TFSA you want always to make money, because you pay no tax, and you want never to lose money, because you cannot claim the loss against your income from your job. If in year X you have $5,000 of contribution room and put it into a TFSA and buy Canadian Speculative Corp. and due to the failure of the Canadian Speculative Corp. it goes to zero, two things happen. One, you burn up that contribution room and you have to wait until next year for the government to give you more room. Two, you can't claim the $5,000 loss against your employment income or investment income or capital gains like you could in a non-registered account. So remember Buffett's rule #1: Do not lose money. Rule #2 being don't forget the first rule. TFSA's are absolutely tailor-made for Graham-Buffett value investing or for diversified ETF or mutual fund investing, but you don't want to buy a lot of small specs because you don't get the tax loss.
Moving to/from Canada/residency. You must be a resident of Canada and 18 years old with a valid SIN to open a TFSA. Consult your tax advisor on whether your circumstances make you a resident for tax purposes. Since 2009, your TFSA contribution room accumulates every year, if at any time in the calendar year you are 18 years of age or older and a resident of Canada. Note: If you move to another country, you can STILL trade your TFSA online from your other country and keep making money within the account tax-free. You can withdraw money and Canada will not tax you. But you have to get tax advice in your country as to what they do. There restrictions on contributions for non-residents. See "non residents of Canada:" https://www.canada.ca/content/dam/cra-arc/formspubs/pub/rc4466/rc4466-19e.pdf
The U.S. withholding tax. Dividends paid by U.S.-domiciled companies are subject to a 15% U.S. withholding tax. Your broker does this automatically at the time of the dividend payment. So if your stock pays a $100 USD dividend, you only get $85 USD in your broker account and in your statement the broker will have a note saying 15% U.S. withholding tax. I do not know under what circumstances if any it is possible to get the withheld amount. Normally it is not, but consult a tax professional.
The U.S. withholding tax does not apply to capital gains. So if you buy $5,000 USD worth of Apple and sell it for $7,000 USD, you get the full $2,000 USD gain automatically.
Tax-Free Leverage. Leverage in the TFSA is effectively equal to your tax rate * the capital gains inclusion rate because you're not paying tax. So if you're paying 25% on average in income tax, and the capital gains contribution rate is 50%, the TFSA is like having 12.5%, no margin call leverage costing you 0% and that also doesn't magnify your losses.
Margin accounts. These accounts allow you to borrow money from your broker to buy stocks. TFSAs are not margin accounts. Nothing stopping you from borrowing from other sources (such as borrowing cash against your stocks in an actual margin account, or borrowing cash against your house in a HELOC or borrowing cash against your promise to pay it back as in a personal LOC) to fund a TFSA if that is your decision, bearing in mind the risks, but a TFSA is not a margin account. Consider options if you want leverage that you can use in a TFSA, without borrowing money.
Dividend Tax Credit on Canadian Companies. Remember, dividends paid into the TFSA are not eligible to be claimed for the credit, on the rationale that you already got a tax break.
FX risk. The CRA allows you to contribute and withdraw foreign currency from the TFSA but the contribution/withdrawal accounting is done in CAD. So if you contribute $10,000 USD into your TFSA and withdraw $15,000 USD, and the CAD is trading at 70 cents USD when you contribute and $80 cents USD when you withdraw, the CRA will treat it as if you contributed $14,285.71 CAD and withdrew $18,75.00 CAD.
OTC (over-the-counter stocks). You can only buy stocks if they are listed on an approved exchange ("approved exchange" = TSX, TSX-V, NYSE, NASDAQ and about 25 or so others). The U.S. pink sheets "over-the-counter" market is an example of a place where you can buy stocks, that is not an approved exchange, therefore you can't buy these penny stocks. I have however read that the CRA make an exception for a stock traded over the counter if it has a dual listing on an approved exchange. You should check that with a tax lawyer or accountant though.
The RRSP. This is another great tax shelter. Tax shelters in Canada are either deferrals or in a few cases - such as the TFSA - outright tax breaks, The RRSP is an example of a deferral. The RRSP allows you to deduct your contributions from your income, which the TFSA does not allow. This deduction is a huge advantage if you earn a lot of money. The RRSP has tax consequences for withdrawing money whereas the TFSA does not. Withdrawals from the RRSP are taxable whereas they are obviously not in a TFSA. You probably want to start out with a TFSA and maintain and grow that all your life. It is a good idea to start contributing to an RRSP when you start working because you get the tax deduction, and then you can use the amount of the deduction to contribute to your TFSA. There are certain rules that claw back your annual contribution room into an RRSP if you contribute to a pension. See your tax advisor.
Pensions. If I contribute to a pension does that claw back my TFSA contribution room or otherwise affect my TFSA in any way? Answer: No.
The $10K contribution limit for 2015. This was PM Harper's pledge. In 2015 the Conservative government changed the rules to make the annual government allowance $10,000 per year forever. Note: withdrawals still converted into contribution room in the following year - that did not change. When the Liberals came into power they switched the program back for 2016 to the original Harper rules and have kept the original Harper rules since then. That is why there is the $10,000 anomaly of 2015. The original Harper rules (which, again, are in effect now) called for $500 increments to the annual government allowance as and when required to keep up with inflation, based on the BofC's Consumer Price Index (CPI). Under the new Harper rules, it would have been $10,000 flat forever. Which you prefer depends on your politics but the TFSA program is massively popular with Canadians. Assuming 1.6% annual CPI inflation then the annual contribution room will hit $10,000 in 2052 under the present rules. Note: the Bank of Canada does an excellent and informative job of explaining inflation and the CPI at their website.
Losses in a TFSA - you cannot claim a loss in a TFSA against income. So in a TFSA you always want to make money and never want to lose money. A few ppl here have asked if you are losing money on your position in a TFSA can you transfer it in-kind to a cash account and claim the loss. I would expect no as I cannot see how in view of the fact that TFSA losses can't be claimed, that the adjusted cost base would somehow be the cost paid in the TFSA. But I'm not a tax lawyeaccountant. You should consult a tax professional.
Transfers in-kind to the TFSA and the the superficial loss rule. You can transfer securities (shares etc.) "in-kind," meaning, directly, from an unregistered account to the TFSA. If you do that, the CRA considers that you "disposed" of, meaning, equivalent to having sold, the shares in the unregistered account and then re-purchased them at the same price in the TFSA. The CRA considers that you did this even though the broker transfers the shares directly in the the TFSA. The superficial loss rule, which means that you cannot claim a loss for a security re-purchased within 30 days of sale, applies. So if you buy something for $20 in your unregistered account, and it's trading for $25 when you transfer it in-kind into the TFSA, then you have a deemed disposition with a capital gain of $5. But it doesn't work the other way around due to the superficial loss rule. If you buy it for $20 in the unregistered account, and it's trading at $15 when you transfer it in-kind into the TFSA, the superficial loss rule prevents you from claiming the loss because it is treated as having been sold in the unregistered account and immediately bought back in the TFSA.
Day trading/swing trading. It is possible for the CRA to try to tax your TFSA on the basis of "advantage." The one reported decision I'm aware of (emphasis on I'm aware of) is from B.C. where a woman was doing "swap transactions" in her TFSA which were not explicitly disallowed but the court rules that they were an "advantage" in certain years and liable to taxation. Swaps were subsequently banned. I'm not sure what a swap is exactly but it's not that someone who is simply making contributions according to the above rules would run afoul of. The CRA from what I understand doesn't care how much money you make in the TFSA, they care how you made it. So if you're logged on to your broker 40 hours a week and trading all day every day they might take the position that you found a way to work a job 40 hours a week and not pay any tax on the money you make, which they would argue is an "advantage," although there are arguments against that. This is not legal advice, just information.
The U.S. Roth IRA. This is a U.S. retirement savings tax shelter that is superficially similar to the TFSA but it has a number of limitations, including lack of cumulative contribution room, no ability for withdrawals to convert into contribution room in the following year, complex rules on who is eligible to contribute, limits on how much you can invest based on your income, income cutoffs on whether you can even use the Roth IRA at all, age limits that govern when and to what extent you can use it, and strict restrictions on reasons to withdraw funds prior to retirement (withdrawals prior to retirement can only be used to pay for private medical insurance, unpaid medical bills, adoption/childbirth expenses, certain educational expenses). The TFSA is totally unlike the Roth IRA in that it has none of these restrictions, therefore, the Roth IRA is not in any reasonable sense a valid comparison. The TFSA was modeled after the U.K. Investment Savings Account, which is the only comparable program to the TFSA.
The UK Investment Savings Account. This is what the TFSA was based off of. Main difference is that the UK uses a 20,000 pound annual contribution allowance, use-it-or-lose-it. There are several different flavours of ISA, and some do have a limited recontribution feature but not to the extent of the TFSA.
Is it smart to overcontribute to buy a really hot stock and just pay the 1% a month overcontribution penalty? If the CRA believes you made the overcontribution deliberately the penalty is 100% of the gains on the overcontribution, meaning, you can keep the overcontribution, or the loss, but the CRA takes the profit.
Speculative stocks-- are they ok? There is no such thing as a "speculative stock." That term is not used by the CRA. Either the stock trades on an approved exchange or it doesn't. So if a really blue chip stock, the most stable company in the world, trades on an exchange that is not approved, you can't buy it in a TFSA. If a really speculative gold mining stock in Busang, Indonesia that has gone through the roof due to reports of enormous amounts of gold, but their geologist somehow just mysteriously fell out of a helicopter into the jungle and maybe there's no gold there at all, but it trades on an approved exchange, it is fine to buy it in a TFSA. Of course the risk of whether it turns out to be a good investment or not, is on you.
Remember, you're working for your money anyway, so if you can get free money from the government -- you should take it! Follow the rules because Canadians have ended up with a tax bill for not understanding the TFSA rules. Appreciate the feedback everyone. Glad this basic post has been useful for many. The CRA does a good job of explaining TFSAs in detail at https://www.canada.ca/content/dam/cra-arc/formspubs/pub/rc4466/rc4466-19e.pdf
Unrelated but of Interest: The Margin Account
Note: if you are interested in how margin accounts work, I refer you to my post on margin accounts, where I use a straightforward explanation of the math behind margin accounts to try and give readers the confidence that they understand this powerful leveraging tool.
Hey all, I've been researching coins since 2017 and have gone through 100s of them in the last 3 years. I got introduced to blockchain via Bitcoin of course, analyzed Ethereum thereafter and from that moment I have a keen interest in smart contact platforms. I’m passionate about Ethereum but I find Zilliqa to have a better risk-reward ratio. Especially because Zilliqa has found an elegant balance between being secure, decentralized and scalable in my opinion.
Below I post my analysis of why from all the coins I went through I’m most bullish on Zilliqa (yes I went through Tezos, EOS, NEO, VeChain, Harmony, Algorand, Cardano etc.). Note that this is not investment advice and although it's a thorough analysis there is obviously some bias involved. Looking forward to what you all think!
Fun fact: the name Zilliqa is a play on ‘silica’ silicon dioxide which means “Silicon for the high-throughput consensus computer.”
This post is divided into (i) Technology, (ii) Business & Partnerships, and (iii) Marketing & Community. I’ve tried to make the technology part readable for a broad audience. If you’ve ever tried understanding the inner workings of Bitcoin and Ethereum you should be able to grasp most parts. Otherwise, just skim through and once you are zoning out head to the next part.
Technology and some more:
The technology is one of the main reasons why I’m so bullish on Zilliqa. First thing you see on their website is: “Zilliqa is a high-performance, high-security blockchain platform for enterprises and next-generation applications.” These are some bold statements.
Before we deep dive into the technology let’s take a step back in time first as they have quite the history. The initial research paper from which Zilliqa originated dates back to August 2016: Elastico: A Secure Sharding Protocol For Open Blockchains where Loi Luu (Kyber Network) is one of the co-authors. Other ideas that led to the development of what Zilliqa has become today are: Bitcoin-NG, collective signing CoSi, ByzCoin and Omniledger.
The technical white paper was made public in August 2017 and since then they have achieved everything stated in the white paper and also created their own open source intermediate level smart contract language called Scilla (functional programming language similar to OCaml) too.
Mainnet is live since the end of January 2019 with daily transaction rates growing continuously. About a week ago mainnet reached 5 million transactions, 500.000+ addresses in total along with 2400 nodes keeping the network decentralized and secure. Circulating supply is nearing 11 billion and currently only mining rewards are left. The maximum supply is 21 billion with annual inflation being 7.13% currently and will only decrease with time.
Zilliqa realized early on that the usage of public cryptocurrencies and smart contracts were increasing but decentralized, secure, and scalable alternatives were lacking in the crypto space. They proposed to apply sharding onto a public smart contract blockchain where the transaction rate increases almost linear with the increase in the amount of nodes. More nodes = higher transaction throughput and increased decentralization. Sharding comes in many forms and Zilliqa uses network-, transaction- and computational sharding. Network sharding opens up the possibility of using transaction- and computational sharding on top. Zilliqa does not use state sharding for now. We’ll come back to this later.
Before we continue dissecting how Zilliqa achieves such from a technological standpoint it’s good to keep in mind that a blockchain being decentralised and secure and scalable is still one of the main hurdles in allowing widespread usage of decentralised networks. In my opinion this needs to be solved first before blockchains can get to the point where they can create and add large scale value. So I invite you to read the next section to grasp the underlying fundamentals. Because after all these premises need to be true otherwise there isn’t a fundamental case to be bullish on Zilliqa, right?
Down the rabbit hole
How have they achieved this? Let’s define the basics first: key players on Zilliqa are the users and the miners. A user is anybody who uses the blockchain to transfer funds or run smart contracts. Miners are the (shard) nodes in the network who run the consensus protocol and get rewarded for their service in Zillings (ZIL). The mining network is divided into several smaller networks called shards, which is also referred to as ‘network sharding’. Miners subsequently are randomly assigned to a shard by another set of miners called DS (Directory Service) nodes. The regular shards process transactions and the outputs of these shards are eventually combined by the DS shard as they reach consensus on the final state. More on how these DS shards reach consensus (via pBFT) will be explained later on.
The Zilliqa network produces two types of blocks: DS blocks and Tx blocks. One DS Block consists of 100 Tx Blocks. And as previously mentioned there are two types of nodes concerned with reaching consensus: shard nodes and DS nodes. Becoming a shard node or DS node is being defined by the result of a PoW cycle (Ethash) at the beginning of the DS Block. All candidate mining nodes compete with each other and run the PoW (Proof-of-Work) cycle for 60 seconds and the submissions achieving the highest difficulty will be allowed on the network. And to put it in perspective: the average difficulty for one DS node is ~ 2 Th/s equaling 2.000.000 Mh/s or 55 thousand+ GeForce GTX 1070 / 8 GB GPUs at 35.4 Mh/s. Each DS Block 10 new DS nodes are allowed. And a shard node needs to provide around 8.53 GH/s currently (around 240 GTX 1070s). Dual mining ETH/ETC and ZIL is possible and can be done via mining software such as Phoenix and Claymore. There are pools and if you have large amounts of hashing power (Ethash) available you could mine solo.
The PoW cycle of 60 seconds is a peak performance and acts as an entry ticket to the network. The entry ticket is called a sybil resistance mechanism and makes it incredibly hard for adversaries to spawn lots of identities and manipulate the network with these identities. And after every 100 Tx Blocks which corresponds to roughly 1,5 hour this PoW process repeats. In between these 1,5 hour, no PoW needs to be done meaning Zilliqa’s energy consumption to keep the network secure is low. For more detailed information on how mining works click here. Okay, hats off to you. You have made it this far. Before we go any deeper down the rabbit hole we first must understand why Zilliqa goes through all of the above technicalities and understand a bit more what a blockchain on a more fundamental level is. Because the core of Zilliqa’s consensus protocol relies on the usage of pBFT (practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance) we need to know more about state machines and their function. Navigate to Viewblock, a Zilliqa block explorer, and just come back to this article. We will use this site to navigate through a few concepts.
We have established that Zilliqa is a public and distributed blockchain. Meaning that everyone with an internet connection can send ZILs, trigger smart contracts, etc. and there is no central authority who fully controls the network. Zilliqa and other public and distributed blockchains (like Bitcoin and Ethereum) can also be defined as state machines.
Taking the liberty of paraphrasing examples and definitions given by Samuel Brooks’ medium article, he describes the definition of a blockchain (like Zilliqa) as: “A peer-to-peer, append-only datastore that uses consensus to synchronize cryptographically-secure data”.
Next, he states that: "blockchains are fundamentally systems for managing valid state transitions”. For some more context, I recommend reading the whole medium article to get a better grasp of the definitions and understanding of state machines. Nevertheless, let’s try to simplify and compile it into a single paragraph. Take traffic lights as an example: all its states (red, amber, and green) are predefined, all possible outcomes are known and it doesn’t matter if you encounter the traffic light today or tomorrow. It will still behave the same. Managing the states of a traffic light can be done by triggering a sensor on the road or pushing a button resulting in one traffic lights’ state going from green to red (via amber) and another light from red to green.
With public blockchains like Zilliqa, this isn’t so straightforward and simple. It started with block #1 almost 1,5 years ago and every 45 seconds or so a new block linked to the previous block is being added. Resulting in a chain of blocks with transactions in it that everyone can verify from block #1 to the current #647.000+ block. The state is ever changing and the states it can find itself in are infinite. And while the traffic light might work together in tandem with various other traffic lights, it’s rather insignificant comparing it to a public blockchain. Because Zilliqa consists of 2400 nodes who need to work together to achieve consensus on what the latest valid state is while some of these nodes may have latency or broadcast issues, drop offline or are deliberately trying to attack the network, etc.
Now go back to the Viewblock page take a look at the amount of transaction, addresses, block and DS height and then hit refresh. Obviously as expected you see new incremented values on one or all parameters. And how did the Zilliqa blockchain manage to transition from a previous valid state to the latest valid state? By using pBFT to reach consensus on the latest valid state.
After having obtained the entry ticket, miners execute pBFT to reach consensus on the ever-changing state of the blockchain. pBFT requires a series of network communication between nodes, and as such there is no GPU involved (but CPU). Resulting in the total energy consumed to keep the blockchain secure, decentralized and scalable being low.
pBFT stands for practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance and is an optimization on the Byzantine Fault Tolerant algorithm. To quote Blockonomi: “In the context of distributed systems, Byzantine Fault Tolerance is the ability of a distributed computer network to function as desired and correctly reach a sufficient consensus despite malicious components (nodes) of the system failing or propagating incorrect information to other peers.” Zilliqa is such a distributed computer network and depends on the honesty of the nodes (shard and DS) to reach consensus and to continuously update the state with the latest block. If pBFT is a new term for you I can highly recommend the Blockonomi article.
The idea of pBFT was introduced in 1999 - one of the authors even won a Turing award for it - and it is well researched and applied in various blockchains and distributed systems nowadays. If you want more advanced information than the Blockonomi link provides click here. And if you’re in between Blockonomi and the University of Singapore read the Zilliqa Design Story Part 2 dating from October 2017. Quoting from the Zilliqa tech whitepaper: “pBFT relies upon a correct leader (which is randomly selected) to begin each phase and proceed when the sufficient majority exists. In case the leader is byzantine it can stall the entire consensus protocol. To address this challenge, pBFT offers a view change protocol to replace the byzantine leader with another one.”
pBFT can tolerate ⅓ of the nodes being dishonest (offline counts as Byzantine = dishonest) and the consensus protocol will function without stalling or hiccups. Once there are more than ⅓ of dishonest nodes but no more than ⅔ the network will be stalled and a view change will be triggered to elect a new DS leader. Only when more than ⅔ of the nodes are dishonest (66%) double-spend attacks become possible.
If the network stalls no transactions can be processed and one has to wait until a new honest leader has been elected. When the mainnet was just launched and in its early phases, view changes happened regularly. As of today the last stalling of the network - and view change being triggered - was at the end of October 2019.
Another benefit of using pBFT for consensus besides low energy is the immediate finality it provides. Once your transaction is included in a block and the block is added to the chain it’s done. Lastly, take a look at this article where three types of finality are being defined: probabilistic, absolute and economic finality. Zilliqa falls under the absolute finality (just like Tendermint for example). Although lengthy already we skipped through some of the inner workings from Zilliqa’s consensus: read the Zilliqa Design Story Part 3 and you will be close to having a complete picture on it. Enough about PoW, sybil resistance mechanism, pBFT, etc. Another thing we haven’t looked at yet is the amount of decentralization.
Currently, there are four shards, each one of them consisting of 600 nodes. 1 shard with 600 so-called DS nodes (Directory Service - they need to achieve a higher difficulty than shard nodes) and 1800 shard nodes of which 250 are shard guards (centralized nodes controlled by the team). The amount of shard guards has been steadily declining from 1200 in January 2019 to 250 as of May 2020. On the Viewblock statistics, you can see that many of the nodes are being located in the US but those are only the (CPU parts of the) shard nodes who perform pBFT. There is no data from where the PoW sources are coming. And when the Zilliqa blockchain starts reaching its transaction capacity limit, a network upgrade needs to be executed to lift the current cap of maximum 2400 nodes to allow more nodes and formation of more shards which will allow to network to keep on scaling according to demand. Besides shard nodes there are also seed nodes. The main role of seed nodes is to serve as direct access points (for end-users and clients) to the core Zilliqa network that validates transactions. Seed nodes consolidate transaction requests and forward these to the lookup nodes (another type of nodes) for distribution to the shards in the network. Seed nodes also maintain the entire transaction history and the global state of the blockchain which is needed to provide services such as block explorers. Seed nodes in the Zilliqa network are comparable to Infura on Ethereum.
The seed nodes were first only operated by Zilliqa themselves, exchanges and Viewblock. Operators of seed nodes like exchanges had no incentive to open them for the greater public. They were centralised at first. Decentralisation at the seed nodes level has been steadily rolled out since March 2020 ( Zilliqa Improvement Proposal 3 ). Currently the amount of seed nodes is being increased, they are public-facing and at the same time PoS is applied to incentivize seed node operators and make it possible for ZIL holders to stake and earn passive yields. Important distinction: seed nodes are not involved with consensus! That is still PoW as entry ticket and pBFT for the actual consensus.
5% of the block rewards are being assigned to seed nodes (from the beginning in 2019) and those are being used to pay out ZIL stakers. The 5% block rewards with an annual yield of 10.03% translate to roughly 610 MM ZILs in total that can be staked. Exchanges use the custodial variant of staking and wallets like Moonlet will use the non-custodial version (starting in Q3 2020). Staking is being done by sending ZILs to a smart contract created by Zilliqa and audited by Quantstamp.
With a high amount of DS; shard nodes and seed nodes becoming more decentralized too, Zilliqa qualifies for the label of decentralized in my opinion.
Generalized: programming languages can be divided into being ‘object-oriented’ or ‘functional’. Here is an ELI5 given by software development academy: * “all programs have two basic components, data – what the program knows – and behavior – what the program can do with that data. So object-oriented programming states that combining data and related behaviors in one place, is called “object”, which makes it easier to understand how a particular program works. On the other hand, functional programming argues that data and behavior are different things and should be separated to ensure their clarity.” *
Scilla is on the functional side and shares similarities with OCaml: OCaml is a general-purpose programming language with an emphasis on expressiveness and safety. It has an advanced type system that helps catch your mistakes without getting in your way. It's used in environments where a single mistake can cost millions and speed matters, is supported by an active community, and has a rich set of libraries and development tools. For all its power, OCaml is also pretty simple, which is one reason it's often used as a teaching language.
Scilla is blockchain agnostic, can be implemented onto other blockchains as well, is recognized by academics and won a so-called Distinguished Artifact Award award at the end of last year.
One of the reasons why the Zilliqa team decided to create their own programming language focused on preventing smart contract vulnerabilities is that adding logic on a blockchain, programming, means that you cannot afford to make mistakes. Otherwise, it could cost you. It’s all great and fun blockchains being immutable but updating your code because you found a bug isn’t the same as with a regular web application for example. And with smart contracts, it inherently involves cryptocurrencies in some form thus value.
Another difference with programming languages on a blockchain is gas. Every transaction you do on a smart contract platform like Zilliqa or Ethereum costs gas. With gas you basically pay for computational costs. Sending a ZIL from address A to address B costs 0.001 ZIL currently. Smart contracts are more complex, often involve various functions and require more gas (if gas is a new concept click here ).
So with Scilla, similar to Solidity, you need to make sure that “every function in your smart contract will run as expected without hitting gas limits. An improper resource analysis may lead to situations where funds may get stuck simply because a part of the smart contract code cannot be executed due to gas limits. Such constraints are not present in traditional software systems”.Scilla design story part 1
Some examples of smart contract issues you’d want to avoid are: leaking funds, ‘unexpected changes to critical state variables’ (example: someone other than you setting his or her address as the owner of the smart contract after creation) or simply killing a contract.
Scilla also allows for formal verification. Wikipedia to the rescue: In the context of hardware and software systems, formal verification is the act of proving or disproving the correctness of intended algorithms underlying a system with respect to a certain formal specification or property, using formal methods of mathematics.
Formal verification can be helpful in proving the correctness of systems such as: cryptographic protocols, combinational circuits, digital circuits with internal memory, and software expressed as source code.
“Scilla is being developed hand-in-hand with formalization of its semantics and its embedding into the Coq proof assistant — a state-of-the art tool for mechanized proofs about properties of programs.”
Simply put, with Scilla and accompanying tooling developers can be mathematically sure and proof that the smart contract they’ve written does what he or she intends it to do.
Smart contract on a sharded environment and state sharding
There is one more topic I’d like to touch on: smart contract execution in a sharded environment (and what is the effect of state sharding). This is a complex topic. I’m not able to explain it any easier than what is posted here. But I will try to compress the post into something easy to digest.
Earlier on we have established that Zilliqa can process transactions in parallel due to network sharding. This is where the linear scalability comes from. We can define simple transactions: a transaction from address A to B (Category 1), a transaction where a user interacts with one smart contract (Category 2) and the most complex ones where triggering a transaction results in multiple smart contracts being involved (Category 3). The shards are able to process transactions on their own without interference of the other shards. With Category 1 transactions that is doable, with Category 2 transactions sometimes if that address is in the same shard as the smart contract but with Category 3 you definitely need communication between the shards. Solving that requires to make a set of communication rules the protocol needs to follow in order to process all transactions in a generalised fashion.
There is no strict defined roadmap but here are topics being worked on. And via the Zilliqa website there is also more information on the projects they are working on.
Business & Partnerships
It’s not only technology in which Zilliqa seems to be excelling as their ecosystem has been expanding and starting to grow rapidly. The project is on a mission to provide OpenFinance (OpFi) to the world and Singapore is the right place to be due to its progressive regulations and futuristic thinking. Singapore has taken a proactive approach towards cryptocurrencies by introducing the Payment Services Act 2019 (PS Act). Among other things, the PS Act will regulate intermediaries dealing with certain cryptocurrencies, with a particular focus on consumer protection and anti-money laundering. It will also provide a stable regulatory licensing and operating framework for cryptocurrency entities, effectively covering all crypto businesses and exchanges based in Singapore. According to PWC 82% of the surveyed executives in Singapore reported blockchain initiatives underway and 13% of them have already brought the initiatives live to the market. There is also an increasing list of organizations that are starting to provide digital payment services. Moreover, Singaporean blockchain developers Building Cities Beyond has recently created an innovation $15 million grant to encourage development on its ecosystem. This all suggests that Singapore tries to position itself as (one of) the leading blockchain hubs in the world.
Zilliqa seems to already take advantage of this and recently helped launch Hg Exchange on their platform, together with financial institutions PhillipCapital, PrimePartners and Fundnel. Hg Exchange, which is now approved by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), uses smart contracts to represent digital assets. Through Hg Exchange financial institutions worldwide can use Zilliqa's safe-by-design smart contracts to enable the trading of private equities. For example, think of companies such as Grab, Airbnb, SpaceX that are not available for public trading right now. Hg Exchange will allow investors to buy shares of private companies & unicorns and capture their value before an IPO. Anquan, the main company behind Zilliqa, has also recently announced that they became a partner and shareholder in TEN31 Bank, which is a fully regulated bank allowing for tokenization of assets and is aiming to bridge the gap between conventional banking and the blockchain world. If STOs, the tokenization of assets, and equity trading will continue to increase, then Zilliqa’s public blockchain would be the ideal candidate due to its strategic positioning, partnerships, regulatory compliance and the technology that is being built on top of it.
What is also very encouraging is their focus on banking the un(der)banked. They are launching a stablecoin basket starting with XSGD. As many of you know, stablecoins are currently mostly used for trading. However, Zilliqa is actively trying to broaden the use case of stablecoins. I recommend everybody to read this text that Amrit Kumar wrote (one of the co-founders). These stablecoins will be integrated in the traditional markets and bridge the gap between the crypto world and the traditional world. This could potentially revolutionize and legitimise the crypto space if retailers and companies will for example start to use stablecoins for payments or remittances, instead of it solely being used for trading.
Zilliqa also released their DeFi strategic roadmap (dating November 2019) which seems to be aligning well with their OpFi strategy. A non-custodial DEX is coming to Zilliqa made by Switcheo which allows cross-chain trading (atomic swaps) between ETH, EOS and ZIL based tokens. They also signed a Memorandum of Understanding for a (soon to be announced) USD stablecoin. And as Zilliqa is all about regulations and being compliant, I’m speculating on it to be a regulated USD stablecoin. Furthermore, XSGD is already created and visible on block explorer and XIDR (Indonesian Stablecoin) is also coming soon via StraitsX. Here also an overview of the Tech Stack for Financial Applications from September 2019. Further quoting Amrit Kumar on this:
There are two basic building blocks in DeFi/OpFi though: 1) stablecoins as you need a non-volatile currency to get access to this market and 2) a dex to be able to trade all these financial assets. The rest are built on top of these blocks.
So far, together with our partners and community, we have worked on developing these building blocks with XSGD as a stablecoin. We are working on bringing a USD-backed stablecoin as well. We will soon have a decentralised exchange developed by Switcheo. And with HGX going live, we are also venturing into the tokenization space. More to come in the future.”
Additionally, they also have this ZILHive initiative that injects capital into projects. There have been already 6 waves of various teams working on infrastructure, innovation and research, and they are not from ASEAN or Singapore only but global: see Grantees breakdown by country. Over 60 project teams from over 20 countries have contributed to Zilliqa's ecosystem. This includes individuals and teams developing wallets, explorers, developer toolkits, smart contract testing frameworks, dapps, etc. As some of you may know, Unstoppable Domains (UD) blew up when they launched on Zilliqa. UD aims to replace cryptocurrency addresses with a human-readable name and allows for uncensorable websites. Zilliqa will probably be the only one able to handle all these transactions onchain due to ability to scale and its resulting low fees which is why the UD team launched this on Zilliqa in the first place. Furthermore, Zilliqa also has a strong emphasis on security, compliance, and privacy, which is why they partnered with companies like Elliptic, ChainSecurity (part of PwC Switzerland), and Incognito. Their sister company Aqilliz (Zilliqa spelled backwards) focuses on revolutionizing the digital advertising space and is doing interesting things like using Zilliqa to track outdoor digital ads with companies like Foodpanda.
Zilliqa is listed on nearly all major exchanges, having several different fiat-gateways and recently have been added to Binance’s margin trading and futures trading with really good volume. They also have a very impressive team with good credentials and experience. They don't just have “tech people”. They have a mix of tech people, business people, marketeers, scientists, and more. Naturally, it's good to have a mix of people with different skill sets if you work in the crypto space.
Marketing & Community
Zilliqa has a very strong community. If you just follow their Twitter their engagement is much higher for a coin that has approximately 80k followers. They also have been ‘coin of the day’ by LunarCrush many times. LunarCrush tracks real-time cryptocurrency value and social data. According to their data, it seems Zilliqa has a more fundamental and deeper understanding of marketing and community engagement than almost all other coins. While almost all coins have been a bit frozen in the last months, Zilliqa seems to be on its own bull run. It was somewhere in the 100s a few months ago and is currently ranked #46 on CoinGecko. Their official Telegram also has over 20k people and is very active, and their community channel which is over 7k now is more active and larger than many other official channels. Their local communities also seem to be growing.
Moreover, their community started ‘Zillacracy’ together with the Zilliqa core team ( see www.zillacracy.com ). It’s a community-run initiative where people from all over the world are now helping with marketing and development on Zilliqa. Since its launch in February 2020 they have been doing a lot and will also run their own non-custodial seed node for staking. This seed node will also allow them to start generating revenue for them to become a self sustaining entity that could potentially scale up to become a decentralized company working in parallel with the Zilliqa core team. Comparing it to all the other smart contract platforms (e.g. Cardano, EOS, Tezos etc.) they don't seem to have started a similar initiative (correct me if I’m wrong though). This suggests in my opinion that these other smart contract platforms do not fully understand how to utilize the ‘power of the community’. This is something you cannot ‘buy with money’ and gives many projects in the space a disadvantage.
Zilliqa also released two social products called SocialPay and Zeeves. SocialPay allows users to earn ZILs while tweeting with a specific hashtag. They have recently used it in partnership with the Singapore Red Cross for a marketing campaign after their initial pilot program. It seems like a very valuable social product with a good use case. I can see a lot of traditional companies entering the space through this product, which they seem to suggest will happen. Tokenizing hashtags with smart contracts to get network effect is a very smart and innovative idea.
Regarding Zeeves, this is a tipping bot for Telegram. They already have 1000s of signups and they plan to keep upgrading it for more and more people to use it (e.g. they recently have added a quiz features). They also use it during AMAs to reward people in real-time. It’s a very smart approach to grow their communities and get familiar with ZIL. I can see this becoming very big on Telegram. This tool suggests, again, that the Zilliqa team has a deeper understanding of what the crypto space and community needs and is good at finding the right innovative tools to grow and scale.
To be honest, I haven’t covered everything (i’m also reaching the character limited haha). So many updates happening lately that it's hard to keep up, such as the International Monetary Fund mentioning Zilliqa in their report, custodial and non-custodial Staking, Binance Margin, Futures, Widget, entering the Indian market, and more. The Head of Marketing Colin Miles has also released this as an overview of what is coming next. And last but not least, Vitalik Buterin has been mentioning Zilliqa lately acknowledging Zilliqa and mentioning that both projects have a lot of room to grow. There is much more info of course and a good part of it has been served to you on a silver platter. I invite you to continue researching by yourself :-) And if you have any comments or questions please post here!
How many people really understand what they’re buying, especially when it comes to highly specialized hardware companies? Most NVidia investors seem to be relying on a vague idea of how the company should thrive “in the future”, as their GPUs are ostensibly used for Artificial Intelligence, Cloud, holograms, etc. Having been shocked by how this company is represented in the media, I decided to lay out how this business works, doing my part to fight for reality. With what’s been going on in markets, I don’t like my chances but here goes: Let’s start with… How does NVDA make money? NVDA is in the business of semiconductor design. As a simplified image in your head, you can imagine this as designing very detailed and elaborate posters. Their engineers create circuit patterns for printing onto semiconductor wafers. NVDA then pays a semiconductor foundry (the printer – generally TSMC) to create chips with those patterns on them. Simply put, NVDA’s profits represent the difference between the price at which they can sell those chips, less the cost of printing, and less the cost of paying their engineers to design them. Notably, after the foundry prints the chips, NVDA also has to pay (I say pay, but really it is more like “sell at a discount to”) their “add-in board” (AIB) partners to stick the chips onto printed circuit boards (what you might imagine as green things with a bunch of capacitors on them). That leads to the final form in which buyers experience the GPU. What is a GPU? NVDA designs chips called GPUs (Graphical Processing Units). Initially, GPUs were used for the rapid processing and creation of images, but their use cases have expanded over time. You may be familiar with the CPU (Central Processing Unit). CPUs sit at the core of a computer system, doing most of the calculation, taking orders from the operating system (e.g. Windows, Linux), etc. AMD and Intel make CPUs. GPUs assist the CPU with certain tasks. You can think of the CPU as having a few giant very powerful engines. The GPU has a lot of small much less powerful engines. Sometimes you have to do a lot of really simple tasks that don’t require powerful engines to complete. Here, the act of engaging the powerful engines is a waste of time, as you end up spending most of your time revving them up and revving them down. In that scenario, it helps the CPU to hand that task over to the GPU in order to “accelerate” the completion of the task. The GPU only revs up a small engine for each task, and is able to rev up all the small engines simultaneously to knock out a large number of these simple tasks at the same time. Remember the GPU has lots of engines. The GPU also has an edge in interfacing a lot with memory but let’s not get too technical. Who uses NVDA’s GPUs? There are two main broad end markets for NVDA’s GPUs – Gaming and Professional. Let’s dig into each one: The Gaming Market: A Bit of Ancient History (Skip if impatient) GPUs were first heavily used for gaming in arcades. They then made their way to consoles, and finally PCs. NVDA started out in the PC phase of GPU gaming usage. They weren’t the first company in the space, but they made several good moves that ultimately led to a very strong market position. Firstly, they focused on selling into OEMs – guys like the equivalent of today’s DELL/HP/Lenovo – , which allowed a small company to get access to a big market without having to create a lot of relationships. Secondly, they focused on the design aspect of the GPU, and relied on their Asian supply chain to print the chip, to package the chip and to install in on a printed circuit board – the Asian supply chain ended up being the best in semis. But the insight that really let NVDA dominate was noticing that some GPU manufacturers were focusing on keeping hardware-accelerated Transform and Lighting as a Professional GPU feature. As a start-up, with no professional GPU business to disrupt, NVidia decided their best ticket into the big leagues was blowing up the market by including this professional grade feature into their gaming product. It worked – and this was a real masterstroke – the visual and performance improvements were extraordinary. 3DFX, the initial leader in PC gaming GPUs, was vanquished, and importantly it happened when funding markets shut down with the tech bubble bursting and after 3DFX made some large ill-advised acquisitions. Consequently 3DFX, went from hero to zero, and NVDA bought them for a pittance out of bankruptcy, acquiring the best IP portfolio in the industry. Some more Modern History This is what NVDA’s pure gaming card revenue looks like over time – NVDA only really broke these out in 2005 (note by pure, this means ex-Tegra revenues): 📷 https://hyperinflation2020.tumblr.com/private/618394577731223552/tumblr_Ikb8g9Cu9sxh2ERno So what is the history here? Well, back in the late 90s when GPUs were first invented, they were required to play any 3D game. As discussed in the early history above, NVDA landed a hit product to start with early and got a strong burst of growth: revenues of 160M in 1998 went to 1900M in 2002. But then NVDA ran into strong competition from ATI (later purchased and currently owned by AMD). While NVDA’s sales struggled to stay flat from 2002 to 2004, ATI’s doubled from 1Bn to 2Bn. NVDA’s next major win came in 2006, with the 8000 series. ATI was late with a competing product, and NVDA’s sales skyrocketed – as can be seen in the graph above. With ATI being acquired by AMD they were unfocused for some time, and NVDA was able to keep their lead for an extended period. Sales slowed in 2008/2009 but that was due to the GFC – people don’t buy expensive GPU hardware in recessions. And then we got to 2010 and the tide changed. Growth in desktop PCs ended. Here is a chart from Statista: 📷https://hyperinflation2020.tumblr.com/private/618394674172919808/tumblr_OgCnNwTyqhMhAE9r9 This resulted in two negative secular trends for Nvidia. Firstly, with the decline in popularity of desktop PCs, growth in gaming GPUs faded as well (below is a chart from Jon Peddie). Note that NVDA sells discrete GPUs, aka DT (Desktop) Discrete. Integrated GPUs are mainly made by Intel (these sit on the motherboard or with the CPU). 📷 https://hyperinflation2020.tumblr.com/private/618394688079200256/tumblr_rTtKwOlHPIVUj8e7h You can see from the chart above that discrete desktop GPU sales are fading faster than integrated GPU sales. This is the other secular trend hurting NVDA’s gaming business. Integrated GPUs are getting better and better, taking over a wider range of tasks that were previously the domain of the discrete GPU. Surprisingly, the most popular eSports game of recent times – Fortnite – only requires Intel HD 4000 graphics – an Integrated GPU from 2012! So at this point you might go back to NVDA’s gaming sales, and ask the question: What happened in 2015? How is NVDA overcoming these secular trends? The answer consists of a few parts.Firstly, AMD dropped the ball in 2015. As you can see in this chart, sourced from 3DCenter, AMD market share was halved in 2015, due to a particularly poor product line-up: 📷 https://hyperinflation2020.tumblr.com/private/618394753459994624/tumblr_J7vRw9y0QxMlfm6Xd Following this, NVDA came out with Pascal in 2016 – a very powerful offering in the mid to high end part of the GPU market. At the same time, AMD was focusing on rebuilding and had no compelling mid or high end offerings. AMD mainly focused on maintaining scale in the very low end. Following that came 2017 and 2018: AMD’s offering was still very poor at the time, but cryptomining drove demand for GPUs to new levels, and AMD’s GPUs were more compelling from a price-performance standpoint for crypto mining initially, perversely leading to AMD gaining share. NVDA quickly remedied that by improving their drivers to better mine crypto, regaining their relative positioning, and profiting in a big way from the crypto boom. Supply that was calibrated to meet gaming demand collided with cryptomining demand and Average Selling Prices of GPUs shot through the roof. Cryptominers bought top of the line GPUs aggressively. A good way to see changes in crypto demand for GPUs is the mining profitability of Ethereum: 📷 https://hyperinflation2020.tumblr.com/private/618394769378443264/tumblr_cmBtR9gm8T2NI9jmQ This leads us to where we are today. 2019 saw gaming revenues drop for NVDA. Where are they likely to head? The secular trends of falling desktop sales along with falling discrete GPU sales have reasserted themselves, as per the Jon Peddie research above. Cryptomining profitability has collapsed. AMD has come out with a new architecture, NAVI, and the 5700XT – the first Iteration, competes effectively with NVDA in the mid-high end space on a price/performance basis. This is the first real competition from AMD since 2014. NVDA can see all these trends, and they tried to respond. Firstly, with volumes clearly declining, and likely with a glut of second-hand GPUs that can make their way to gamers over time from the crypto space, NVDA decided to pursue a price over volume strategy. They released their most expensive set of GPUs by far in the latest Turing series. They added a new feature, Ray Tracing, by leveraging the Tensor Cores they had created for Professional uses, hoping to use that as justification for higher prices (more on this in the section on Professional GPUs). Unfortunately for NVDA, gamers have responded quite poorly to Ray Tracing – it caused performance issues, had poor support, poor adoption, and the visual improvements in most cases are not particularly noticeable or relevant. The last recession led to gaming revenues falling 30%, despite NVDA being in a very strong position at the time vis-à-vis AMD – this time around their position is quickly slipping and it appears that the recession is going to be bigger. Additionally, the shift away from discrete GPUs in gaming continues. To make matters worse for NVDA, AMD won the slots in both the New Xbox and the New PlayStation, coming out later this year. The performance of just the AMD GPU in those consoles looks to be competitive with NVidia products that currently retail for more than the entire console is likely to cost. Consider that usually you have to pair that NVidia GPU with a bunch of other expensive hardware. The pricing and margin impact of this console cycle on NVDA is likely to be very substantially negative. It would be prudent to assume a greater than 30% fall in gaming revenues from the very elevated 2019 levels, with likely secular decline to follow. The Professional Market: A Bit of Ancient History (again, skip if impatient) As it turns out, graphical accelerators were first used in the Professional market, long before they were employed for Gaming purposes. The big leader in the space was a company called Silicon Graphics, who sold workstations with custom silicon optimised for graphical processing. Their sales were only $25Mn in 1985, but by 1997 they were doing 3.6Bn in revenue – truly exponential growth. Unfortunately for them, from that point on, discrete GPUs took over, and their highly engineered, customised workstations looked exorbitantly expensive in comparison. Sales sank to 500mn by 2006 and, with no profits in sight, they ended up filing for bankruptcy in 2009. Competition is harsh in the semiconductor industry. Initially, the Professional market centred on visualisation and design, but it has changed over time. There were a lot of players and lot of nuance, but I am going to focus on more recent times, as they are more relevant to NVidia. Some More Modern History NVDA’s Professional business started after its gaming business, but we don’t have revenue disclosures that show exactly when it became relevant. This is what we do have – going back to 2005: 📷 https://hyperinflation2020.tumblr.com/private/618394785029472256/tumblr_fEcYAzdstyh6tqIsI In the beginning, Professional revenues were focused on the 3D visualisation end of the spectrum, with initial sales going into workstations that were edging out the customised builds made by Silicon Graphics. Fairly quickly, however, GPUs added more and more functionality and started to turn into general parallel data processors rather than being solely optimised towards graphical processing. As this change took place, people in scientific computing noticed, and started using GPUs to accelerate scientific workloads that involve very parallel computation, such as matrix manipulation. This started at the workstation level, but by 2007 NVDA decided to make a new line-up of Tesla series cards specifically suited to scientific computing. The professional segment now have several points of focus:
GPUs used in workstations for things such as CAD graphical processing (Quadro Line)
GPUs used in workstations for computational workloads such as running engineering simulations (Quadro Line)
GPUs used in workstations for machine learning applications (Quadro line.. but can use gaming cards as well for this)
GPUs used by enterprise customers for high performance computing (such as modelling oil wells) (Tesla Line)
GPUs used by enterprise customers for machine learning projects (Tesla Line)
GPUs used by hyperscalers (mostly for machine learning projects) (Tesla Line)
In more recent times, given the expansion of the Tesla line, NVDA has broken up reporting into Professional Visualisation (Quadro Line) and Datacenter (Tesla Line). Here are the revenue splits since that reporting started: 📷 https://hyperinflation2020.tumblr.com/private/618394798232158208/tumblr_3AdufrCWUFwLgyQw2 📷 https://hyperinflation2020.tumblr.com/private/618394810632601600/tumblr_2jmajktuc0T78Juw7 It is worth stopping here and thinking about the huge increase in sales delivered by the Tesla line. The reason for this huge boom is the sudden increase in interest in numerical techniques for machine learning. Let’s go on a brief detour here to understand what machine learning is, because a lot of people want to hype it but not many want to tell you what it actually is. I have the misfortune of being very familiar with the industry, which prevented me from buying into the hype. Oops – sometimes it really sucks being educated. What is Machine Learning? At a very high level, machine learning is all about trying to get some sort of insight out of data. Most of the core techniques used in machine learning were developed a long time ago, in the 1950s and 1960s. The most common machine learning technique, which most people have heard of and may be vaguely familiar with, is called regression analysis. Regression analysis involves fitting a line through a bunch of datapoints. The most common type of regression analysis is called “Ordinary Least Squares” OLS regression, and that type of regression has a “closed form” solution, which means that there is a very simple calculation you can do to fit an OLS regression line to data. As it happens, fitting a line through points is not only easy to do, it also tends to be the main machine learning technique that people want to use, because it is very intuitive. You can make good sense of what the data is telling you and can understand the machine learning model you are using. Obviously, regression analysis doesn’t require a GPU! However, there is another consideration in machine learning: if you want to use a regression model, you still need a human to select the data that you want to fit the line through. Also, sometimes the relationship doesn’t look like a line, but rather it might look like a curve. In this case, you need a human to “transform” the data before you fit a line through it in order to make the relationship linear. So people had another idea here: what if instead of getting a person to select the right data to analyse, and the right model to apply, you could just get a computer to do that? Of course the problem with that is that computers are really stupid. They have no preconceived notion of what data to use or what relationship would make sense, so what they do is TRY EVERYTHING! And everything involves trying a hell of a lot of stuff. And trying a hell of a lot of stuff, most of which is useless garbage, involves a huge amount of computation. People tried this for a while through to the 1980s, decided it was useless, and dropped it… until recently. What changed? Well we have more data now, and we have a lot more computing power, so we figured lets have another go at it. As it happens, the premier technique for trying a hell of a lot of stuff (99.999% of which is garbage you throw away) is called “Deep Learning”. Deep learning is SUPER computationally intensive, and that computation happens to involve a lot of matrix multiplication. And guess what just happens to have been doing a lot of matrix multiplication? GPUs! Here is a chart that, for obvious reasons, lines up extremely well with the boom in Tesla GPU sales: 📷 https://hyperinflation2020.tumblr.com/private/618394825774989312/tumblr_IZ3ayFDB0CsGdYVHW Now we need to realise a few things here. Deep Learning is not some magic silver bullet. There are specific applications where it has proven very useful – primarily areas that have a very large number of very weak relationships between bits of data that sum up into strong relationships. An example of ones of those is Google Translate. On the other hand, in most analytical tasks, it is most useful to have an intuitive understanding of the data and to fit a simple and sensible model to it that is explainable. Deep learning models are not explainable in an intuitive manner. This is not only because they are complicated, but also because their scattershot technique of trying everything leaves a huge amount of garbage inside the model that cancels itself out when calculating the answer, but it is hard to see how it cancels itself out when stepping through it. Given the quantum of hype on Deep learning and the space in general, many companies are using “Deep Learning”, “Machine Learning” and “AI” as marketing. Not many companies are actually generating significant amounts of tangible value from Deep Learning. Back to the Competitive Picture For the Tesla Segment So NVDA happened to be in the right place at the right time to benefit from the Deep Learning hype. They happened to have a product ready to go and were able to charge a pretty penny for their product. But what happens as we proceed from here? Firstly, it looks like the hype from Deep Learning has crested, which is not great from a future demand perspective. Not only that, but we really went from people having no GPUs, to people having GPUs. The next phase is people upgrading their old GPUs. It is much harder to sell an upgrade than to make the first sale. Not only that, but GPUs are not the ideal manifestation of silicon for Deep Learning. NVDA themselves effectively admitted that with their latest iteration in the Datacentre, called Ampere. High Performance Computing, which was the initial use case for Tesla GPUs, was historically all about double precision floating point calculations (FP64). High precision calculations are required for simulations in aerospace/oil & gas/automotive. NVDA basically sacrificed HPC and shifted further towards Deep Learning with Ampere, announced last Thursday. The FP64 performance of the A100 (the latest Ampere chip) increased a fairly pedestrian 24% from the V100, increasing from 7.8 to 9.7 TF. Not a surprise that NVDA lost El Capitan to AMD, given this shift away from a focus on HPC. Instead, NVDA jacked up their Tensor Cores (i.e. not the GPU cores) and focused very heavily on FP16 computation (a lot less precise than FP64). As it turns out, FP16 is precise enough for Deep Learning, and NVDA recognises that. The future industry standard is likely to be BFloat 16 – the format pioneered by Google, who lead in Deep Learning. Ampere now does 312 TF of BF16, which compares to the 420 TF of Google’s TPU V3 – Google’s Machine Learning specific processor. Not quite up to the 2018 board from Google, but getting better – if they cut out all of the Cuda cores and GPU functionality maybe they could get up to Google’s spec. And indeed this is the problem for NVDA: when you make a GPU it has a large number of different use cases, and you provide a single product that meets all of these different use cases. That is a very hard thing to do, and explains why it has been difficult for competitors to muscle into the GPU space. On the other hand, when you are making a device that does one thing, such as deep learning, it is a much simpler thing to do. Google managed to do it with no GPU experience and is still ahead of NVDA. It is likely that Intel will be able to enter this space successfully, as they have widely signalled with the Xe. There is of course the other large negative driver for Deep Learning, and that is the recession we are now in. Demand for GPU instances on Amazon has collapsed across the board, as evidenced by the fall in pricing. The below graph shows one example: this data is for renting out a single Tesla V100 GPU on AWS, which isthe typical thing to do in an early exploratory phase for a Deep Learning model: 📷 https://hyperinflation2020.tumblr.com/private/618396177958944768/tumblr_Q86inWdeCwgeakUvh With Deep Learning not delivering near-term tangible results, it is the first thing being cut. On their most recent conference call, IBM noted weakness in their cognitive division (AI), and noted weaker sales of their power servers, which is the line that houses Enterprise GPU servers at IBM. Facebook cancelled their AI residencies for this year, and Google pushed theirs out. Even if NVDA can put in a good quarter due to their new product rollout (Ampere), the future is rapidly becoming a very stormy place. For the Quadro segment The Quadro segment has been a cash cow for a long time, generating dependable sales and solid margins. AMD just decided to rock the boat a bit. Sensing NVDA’s focus on Deep Learning, AMD seems to be focusing on HPC – the Radeon VII announced recently with a price point of $1899 takes aim at NVDAs most expensive Quadro, the GV100, priced at $8999. It does 6.5 TFLOPS of FP64 Double precision, whereas the GV100 does 7.4 – talk about shaking up a quiet segment. Pulling things together Let’s go back to what NVidia fundamentally does – paying their engineers to design chips, getting TSMC to print those chips, and getting board partners in Taiwan to turn them into the final product. We have seen how a confluence of several pieces of extremely good fortune lined up to increase NVidia’s sales and profits tremendously: first on the Gaming side, weak competition from AMD until 2014, coupled with a great product in form of Pascal in 2016, followed by a huge crypto driven boom in 2017 and 2018, and on the Professional side, a sudden and unexpected increase in interest in Deep Learning driving Tesla demand from 2017-2019 sky high. It is worth noting what these transient factors have done to margins. When unexpected good things happen to a chip company, sales go up a lot, but there are no costs associated with those sales. Strong demand means that you can sell each chip for a higher price, but no additional design work is required, and you still pay the printer, TSMC, the same amount of money. Consequently NVDA’s margins have gone up substantially: well above their 11.9% long term average to hit a peak of 33.2%, and more recently 26.5%: 📷 https://hyperinflation2020.tumblr.com/private/618396192166100992/tumblr_RiWaD0RLscq4midoP The question is, what would be a sensible margin going forward? Obviously 33% operating margin would attract a wall of competition and get competed away, which is why they can only be temporary. However, NVidia has shifted to having a greater proportion of its sales coming from non-OEM, and has a greater proportion of its sales coming from Professional rather than gaming. As such, maybe one can be generous and say NVDA can earn an 18% average operating margin over the next cycle. We can sense check these margins, using Intel. Intel has a long term average EBIT margin of about 25%. Intel happens to actually print the chips as well, so they collect a bigger fraction of the final product that they sell. NVDA, since it only does the design aspect, can’t earn a higher EBIT margin than Intel on average over the long term. Tesla sales have likely gone too far and will moderate from here – perhaps down to a still more than respectable $2bn per year. Gaming resumes the long-term slide in discrete GPUs, which will likely be replaced by integrated GPUs to a greater and greater extent over time. But let’s be generous and say it maintains $3.5 Bn Per year for the add in board, and let’s assume we keep getting $750mn odd of Nintendo Switch revenues(despite that product being past peak of cycle, with Nintendo themselves forecasting a sales decline). Let’s assume AMD struggles to make progress in Quadro, despite undercutting NVDA on price by 75%, with continued revenues at $1200. Add on the other 1.2Bn of Automotive, OEM and IP (I am not even counting the fact that car sales have collapsed and Automotive is likely to be down big), and we would end up with revenues of $8.65 Bn, at an average operating margin of 20% through the cycle that would have $1.75Bn of operating earnings power, and if I say that the recent Mellanox acquisition manages to earn enough to pay for all the interest on NVDAs debt, and I assume a tax rate of 15% we would have around $1.5Bn in Net income. This company currently has a market capitalisation of $209 Bn. It blows my mind that it trades on 139x what I consider to be fairly generous earnings – earnings that NVidia never even got close to seeing before the confluence of good luck hit them. But what really stuns me is the fact that investors are actually willing to extrapolate this chain of unlikely and positive events into the future. Shockingly, Intel has a market cap of 245Bn, only 40Bn more than NVDA, but Intel’s sales and profits are 7x higher. And while Intel is facing competition from AMD, it is much more likely to hold onto those sales and profits than NVDA is. These are absolutely stunning valuation disparities. If I didn’t see NVDA’s price, and I started from first principles and tried to calculate a prudent price for the company I would have estimated a$1.5Bn normalised profit, maybe on a 20x multiple giving them the benefit of the doubt despite heading into a huge recession, and considering the fact that there is not much debt and the company is very well run. That would give you a market cap of $30Bn, and a share price of $49. And it is currently $339. Wow. Obviously I’m short here!
https://preview.redd.it/1gxrid018qg51.png?width=1024&format=png&auto=webp&s=095b4c3d53440600f847dfcdde7680859f1ae38d “Blockchain is interesting. And some blockchain ventures look promising. Anyhow, I don’t plan on investing with my half-baked knowledge about the project.” This is probably the most frequent response from investors when asked about blockchain and crypto investments. Want to venture into crypto investment but just can’t seem to keep up with the hard to crack terms and rules? Don’t worry. We have got it sorted out for you. Bithumb Global is launching a learning zone named BG Learning with an aim to foster premium projects and give back to our community for their overwhelming support throughout these years. By signing up for our BG Learning, you can learn more about the project in question and collect project tokens as rewards for your level of understanding. BG Learning will be an interactive platform where discussions on premium blockchain projects are held to create a buzz around the project. A variety of content-rich Q&A sections will be hosted on the platform from time to time giving users the opportunity to learn in detail about new blockchain ventures. This way, investors can get their doubts cleared from experts and take the plunge into blockchain investment without falling prey to traps, hoaxes, and misunderstandings. If you are new to blockchain, BG Learning will be an ideal place for you to get started. So, how does BG Learning really work? Let’s take a look. The Voting Form On BG Learning, the voting event consists of a series of questions related to the blockchain projects listed on the program. Users have to learn about the project prior to the voting event and answer the questions correctly. If so, the user’s votes will be taken into account and rewards will be given accordingly. But if the user fails to give the right answers to the questions, the votes will be discredited and the user earns no tokens as a result. How are Votes Calculated? In the voting events, the basis of the number of votes allocated will be the assets held by Bithumb Global users and the amount they have transacted on the platform. However, low commission rate market maker accounts will be excluded. The number of votes a user is eligible to cast is determined as follows: The total number of votes a user is eligible to = number of votes given for asset holdings + the number of votes given for the total transaction amount on the platform. Where, A. The number of votes users are awarded on account of their asset holdings is calculated as the average of their net asset holdings in the account 14 days before the voting. This includes spot assets and margin trading assets, excludes borrowed assets in margin trading. = [Total value of BTC, ETH & USDT holdings / 200*1 + Total value of the tokens holdings other than BTC, ETH and USDT/200*0.5] B. For every 100USD transaction made in the 14 days before the voting event, the user is eligible for one vote. Let us take a real-life example to explain this better. The average of net assets held by Mr. Jake in the 14 days before the voting event are -
BTC, ETH, and USDT amounting to USDT 410.
Tokens other than BTC, ETH, and USDT amounting to USDT 620.
And the total transactions made by Mr. Jake in the 14 days before the voting event amounts to USDT 465. Thus, the total number of votes Mr. Jake will be eligible to = (The value of BTC, ETH, and USDT / 200 * 1) + (The value of tokens other than BTC, ETH, and USDT / 200 * 0.5) + ( total transactions made in the past 14 days / 100* 1) = (410/200) + (620/200*0.5) + (465/100) = 2.05 + 1.55 + 4.65 = 2 + 2 + 5 = 9 votes. Please note that if we come across any discrepancies or receive complaints regarding the transactions and holdings and they are confirmed to be true, we reserve the right to cancel the votes. The final interpretation of the calculation of votes and tokens will be made by Bithumb Global. Rewards Learning about the blockchain ventures will help you make the right investment decision. The reward-based system followed on BG Learning will motivate investors to get to know about the projects they are going to invest in before committing any mistake due to a lack of understanding. Once the voting event is wrapped up, a definite amount of project tokens will be airdropped for the users. If your voting event had gone great and you had answered the questions correctly, you will get your share of reward tokens. The airdropped tokens will be distributed among users who had answered correctly based on the proportion of their votes to the total votes in the event. For instance, a voting event had 50 votes in total. If 5000 tokens are airdropped and you were eligible for 5 votes, your share of tokens will be, 5000 * 5/50 = 500 tokens. Come, Be a Part of BG Learning The massive interest seen in cryptocurrency trading in the wake of the economic downturn owing to the global pandemic is only set to increase with each passing day. However, like any other assets, crypto trading is also fraught with risks. However, the risk:reward ratio in case of cryptocurrency trading is much more than traditional assets. That makes it more exciting and difficult to crack. However, with BG learning, we endeavor to make blockchain investing informative and fun, so that you can invest in promising blockchain projects with a full understanding and with a high level of confidence. This will eventually enhance your chances of earning handsome profits. BG Leaning Season 1 Launches — MANTRA DAO MANTRA DAO leverages the wisdom of the crowd to create a community-governed, transparent, and decentralized ecosystem for web 3.0. Built on Parity Substrate for the Polkadot ecosystem, MANTRA DAO focuses on staking and lending to give financial control back to the people to grow wealth together. Check out more on >> https://www.bithumb.pro/en-us/learning
Yield Farming in DeFi — the Evolution outcome of the Crypto Industry
Yield Farming in DeFi — the Evolution outcome of the Crypto Industry Yield Farming (income farming) is one of the key trends actively developing in DeFi. Thanks to this earnings strategy, the Compound project has recently taken off, ranking first in terms of the number of user funds blocked in the protocol. The Yield Farming investment strategy, or income pharming, is to generate income from the placement of cryptocurrencies on various DeFi-platforms for crypto-lending. Before Yield Farming, the main trend in DeFi was conventional cryptocurrency deposits, bringing in 4–10% returns. However, Yield Farming can generate up to 100% annualized income.
Yield Farming is the main driver of the DeFi sector
The number of cryptocurrencies locked in DeFi (Total Value Locked — TVL) is now $2.29 billion. At the same time, over the past month, the capitalization of funds in DeFi has more than doubled, largely due to the popularity of income pharming. At the same time, the top five DeFi protocols attracted $2.1 billion in crypto assets, or 91.7% of the total TVL volume. • Compound — $690.8 million • MakerDAO — $644.7 million • Synthetix — $396 million • Aave — $192.4 million • Balancer — $178.2 million And the total number of users of these projects was about 230,000. The sharp rise in interest in Yield Farming is associated with one of the new protocols on the market — Compound. Users of this platform can provide loans or take out loans in nine different cryptocurrencies, for which they receive COMP project tokens. With these tokens, Compund users can make decisions about its future development. In other words, conditional “shares” of the Compound project are distributed to those who provide liquidity to the platform, as well as to those who take loans on it. This largely corresponds to the concept of SAFG (“a simple agreement on the possibility of obtaining the right to control in the future”) as a logical development of other principles of distribution of tokens — SAFE and SAFT.
COMP for BAT
Issued daily at 2880 COMP, which is equivalent to $518,688 at a token price of $180.1. Half goes to liquidity providers, half to borrowers. At the same time, distribution is carried out to each of nine markets (BAT, ETH, USDC, USDT, Dai, REP, 0x and Sai) — to everyone who borrows or takes loans from Compound, in proportion to the interest rate, as well as to their payments for interest or income. The higher the rates for a loan or loan, the more COMP tokens are paid. At the same time, Compound is constantly updating its token distribution rules. So, according to the latest update from July 2, COMP payments begin to be made based not on interest rates, but on the dollar value of the funds in the transaction. This should eventually lead to more use of stablecoins. For them, borrowing rates can be less than 1%, which is ten times less than for the most volatile asset in DeFi — the BAT token. It is worth noting that until recently, Compound users received the maximum number of COMP tokens for transactions with BAT. As a result, for the period from June 19 to July 2, the volume of transactions with this asset reached $931 million, which exceeded the total turnover of Ethereum and DAI for the same period. However, another change in the rules sharply increased the volumes of DAI and USDC.
Yield Farming: Borrowing Is Better Than Lending
The changes did not affect the main advantage of Compound — the COMP tokens received by users still cover the cost of borrowing in cryptocurrencies. In other words, Compound users find it more profitable to borrow than borrow (as noted, for example, with the Tether stablecoin). Payments of COMP tokens to borrowers look like a cryptocurrency cashback for participation in the platform — this can be viewed as if, for example, American Express bank shared a small share in the share capital with users for each transaction. This Compound policy has led to a sharp increase in loans, as well as increased income for those providing liquidity, as they also receive COMP tokens for participating in the platform. Moreover, this cashback is a plus to the interest earned on borrowed cryptocurrencies. Moreover, since borrowers receive payments on loans, liquidity providers can use their own assets to borrow more funds. As a result, their income increases and they again provide liquidity to Compound.
Not only Compound
Compound was not the only one that played an important role in popularizing Yield Farming. So, Aave makes it possible to borrow cryptocurrencies at a fixed rate, and then place them in order to generate income. Aave’s fixed rate is usually higher than Compound’s variable, which means Aave gives more income to those who provide crypto loans. There are also liquidity pools, such as Uniswap, which offer large returns (sometimes at 100% annualized rate), but with higher risks. While the price of СOMP shows a clear downward trend (research of the Delta Exchange platform claims that this token is five times overvalued), Compound is overgrown with competitors. So, on June 22, the COMP token cost $327.82 (on the day of listing on Coinbase Pro, June 23, at the moment the cost even rose to $427), and on July 12 it was already $180.1. The fall of СOMP is noticeable, but it is worth noting that at the beginning of its emission the token cost only $16. Moreover, about 80% of COMP tokens are distributed among the top 10 addresses in Compound, and the volume of tokens in free circulation is $686 million, which corresponds to a free-float indicator of 38%. It is not high, and this will contribute to the strong volatility of COMP. Against the background of a decrease in the cost of COMP, the Balancer platform, which provides crypto lending services from a pool of various ERC20 tokens, began distributing 145,000 native BAL tokens to liquidity providers every week. These tokens, like COMP, provide the right to participate in the management of the platform. Of the maximum possible issue of BAL 100 million, 65% will go towards payments.
Risks of Yield Farming
Despite the popularity of Yield Farming among DeFi players, this trend is not without its pitfalls. For example, Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin continues to criticize DeFi, stating that “interest rates that are significantly higher than you can get when working in the field of traditional finance are either an opportunity for temporary arbitrage or are obtained at the expense of not publicly disclosed risks.” Indeed, when using Yield Farming, the following risks should be borne in mind: • Cryptocurrencies can be stolen from the platform they are hosted on. • The participant may borrow too much funds in relation to the crypto deposit placed by him (trading with high leverage), as a result of which the collateral may be lost. • The collapse of cryptocurrency rates. This factor can be realized if, for example, it turns out that some stablecoins in reality do not have the declared 1:1 collateral. • The Compound platform will no longer reward borrowers and lenders with COMP tokens. According to the statements of the project team, the program will operate over the next four years — during this time 42% of the total token emission will be distributed. However, the site has the right to change the rules. • Systemic risk, within which even small changes in the core principles of Yield Farming can provoke a very strong transformation of this strategy and affect its popularity. • Scam tokens. Due to the simple asset listing system on the Uniswap site, assets such as a copy of the Balancer token, fake coins of the Curve Finance project, the DYDX token, which can be confused with dYdX, and the Uniswap Community Token, which is not related to the platform itself, appeared on it. As a result, the site issued a warning about an increase in the number of fake ERC20 tokens.
Yield Farming gives hope for the growth of cryptocurrency quotes
But how does Yield Farming affect the crypto market in general? Over the last week of June and the first ten days of July, an additional 2,430 bitcoins were added to Compound, in addition to the 170 already available at that time. The Balancer platform during the same time saw an influx of bitcoins from 126 to 1787. In total, for the implementation of Yield Farming, DeFi protocols are now more than 12,000 BTC. Potentially, an increase in the inflow of bitcoins into this sector of the cryptocurrency market can play a positive role in relation to the dynamics of the growth of quotations of the first cryptocurrency. After all, the growing popularity of Yield Farming supports interest in BTC, which is especially important given that in July, the turnover of this cryptocurrency trade fell by 31% compared to June. Since most of the DeFi projects are based on the Ethereum blockchain and use the assets of this ecosystem, ether can potentially get an incentive for strong growth. Although the example of XRP and the development of innovations from Ripple shows that such market success is not guaranteed. It is also symbolic that the total capitalization of ERC20 tokens has reached $33 billion, exceeding the total capitalization of ether ($26.6 billion). Messari analyst Ryan Watkins, commenting on this data, said that ether has shown a very modest growth over the past two months, only 20%. The continued growth in interest in stablecoins and the increase in trading volume with them is also driven by their popularity at Yield Farming. Along with this, stablecoins, which have long become a “bridge” between the world of classical finance and the cryptosphere, also contribute to the rapid emergence of various CBDCs on the market.
Yield Farming meets institutional investors
Yield Farming has become a natural stage in the evolution of the cryptocurrency ecosystem. However, its further destiny, like all DeFi areas, is directly related to ensuring reliable cybersecurity. This is also important from the point of view of investors who invest in infrastructure: it’s a shame, for example, that the dForce platform faced the theft of $24 million in assets, having received $1.5 million in funding from investors a few days earlier. In this connection, venture funds from Silicon Valley are being invested in the development of infrastructure for Yield Farming. So, ParaFi is investing $4.5 million in Aave, supporting a platform that offers instant cryptocurrency loans without collateral. These are high-risk transactions for the borrower, but it is important that Aave develops further. So, it has service integration with Uniswap. Moreover, Aave became the first DeFi protocol to work with the Tether stablecoin. Plus, the platform now offers a new product — credit delegation, when a depositor can lend their assets to a specific member of the platform in a collateral-free scheme. Both parties enter into a loan agreement, which, thanks to the integration of Aave with OpenLaw, allows such a contract to be securely stored on the blockchain. In fact, this is a real exit for DeFi with Yield Farming to the classic financial market, to work with institutional investors as well. There is also a trend towards the integration of various platforms into DeFi, which thereby help each other grow. Thus, internal tokens and “synthetic” tokens (cTokens) Compound began to be used in Uniswap. And three projects at once — Synthetix, Curve and Ren — launched a joint pool providing liquidity in the form of tokenized bitcoins. Also in a short period of time, insurance products targeted at Yield Farming members, such as Nexus Mutual, began to appear on the market. Now the Nexus Mutual team has insured assets in the amount of $8.5 million. Curve Finance is most interested in this opportunity ($1.6 million of assets are insured). Cryptocurrencies for an average of $700,000 are also insured on the Balancer, Compound, Aave and 1inch.exchange platforms. Yield Farming, along with decentralized insurance products, confirms the opinion of analyst Chris Burniske, who emphasized that DeFi recreates all the elements that are found in classic finance, but on a new, innovative basis. So it cannot be said that Yield Farming is a short-term trend. This segment of the cryptosphere will continue to evolve despite the decline in net margin in it, as seen in the example of Compound. Subscribe to our Telegram channel
Introduction to Cryptocurrencies: LBRY (LBC), the YouTube in the Blockchain
Written by the CoinEx Institution, this series of jocular and easy to understand articles will show you everything you need to know about major cryptocurrencies, making you fully prepared before jumping into crypto! https://preview.redd.it/upvww1z8arc51.jpg?width=1024&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=60cca633d01cf14c82d4aef0ab2ab777af64471a LBC, born in 2016, has remained low-key or even obscure until the first half of 2020. It is just like an actor, being unknown in his 20s, yet rose to fame overnight in his 30s or 40s. Many people does not follow or even know such a niche cryptocurrency. Some people have spoken highly of it: LBC heralds an era of “Appcoins”. What on earth makes it a hit and its value skyrocket this year? Today let’s get to know LBC, the YouTube in the blockchain. https://preview.redd.it/c0t7g01carc51.png?width=300&format=png&auto=webp&s=0c8c841f00701f11ab19557f1900c6d9f917a4d2 Before we start, let’s first take a look at LBRY, a content-sharing platform which displays works of some artists, producers, and writers. Creators can also get some income from their works displayed on this platform. (PS: Users can not only upload their videos without restrictions, but also synchronize their videos on YouTube directly to LBRY) https://preview.redd.it/qlxxhflmarc51.jpg?width=700&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=d43bc1f98db95c780d6d840fe18aaf80232acfcb You may ask: What makes LBRY different from YouTube? What does it have to do with the blockchain? Answers to these questions reveal the charm of LBRY. LBRY is a decentralized digital content center based on blockchain technology. It is also the first fully encrypted platform dedicated to publishing open source contents on the blockchain. Users can publish their works without the middleman, and directly contact consumers (with no middleman earning the margin). Moreover, its built-in credit system will also allow them to gain profits through their works. More and more content platforms are now focusing on such issues as content copyright and privacy, and there also emerges the demand for creators to get digital currency rewards on the platform. LBRY provides its solutions to these problems:
Creators can not only share their works at any time, but also receive corresponding LBC rewards depending on how popular their works are;
LBRY uses blockchain technology to provide creators with the ability to individually control their content. It does not have any “administrator” or even the ability to delete the publisher’s contents on the platform, which also largely solves problems such as copyright and plagiarism. According to LBRY, its goal is to provide users and content creators with control by means of blockchain technology.
Compared with YouTube with a tight grip on contents, LBRY is a completely open platform where all users can participate in its network construction and all codes are open source; it offers creators more freedom of speech so that they may enjoy the charm of decentralized autonomy of blockchain technology. That is also encapsulated in the slogan on LBRY’s official website: It’s time to take back control from YouTube and Amazon. https://preview.redd.it/fihawafqarc51.jpg?width=700&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=fdfca74f79e7f2633367cd80f49ff748fc3817f0 Simply put, we can consider LBRY as a decentralized version of the YouTube and Amazon integration. As the token of LBRY, LBC (LBRY Credits) came with a mission to support LBRY’s digital content market. Through LBC, creators can exchange the value of their works, traffic and the platform. Users or consumers can tip creators for their works (including videos and music) with LBC, and creators can also get LBC as rewards through their works. Jeremy Kauffman, the founder of LBRY, originally aspired to create a platform where people across the world could share their works. He is also a long-term supporter of decentralized technology and free speech. Since its launch in June 2016, LBRY has released more than 3.3 million pieces of digital contents. On this platform, millions of users access, download and upload various types of contents every month. LBRY’s foreign communities also have considerable followers: 47,000 followers on Twitter and 23,000 followers on Facebook. Yet the LBRY team did not conduct an ICO and has raised only 500,000 USD in the seed round since 2016. Despite that, the team has been efficient in development and release of new versions. Its desktop-based, web-based, and mobile products have all been launched, and various new contents are published on the platform every day. That is not easy, considering all of its achievements. No wonder there is a saying that “LBRY heralds the era of Appcoins.” By the way, here are some details about the distribution of LBC tokens - Organizations, charities and other strategic partners: 10% Airdrop: 20% Team operation: 10% Mining: 60% There is a total amount of 1 billion LBC, including 428 million LBC in circulation. With the POW composite algorithm, it takes 2.5 minutes to generate a block. LBC has been listed on CoinEx, a first-tier exchange in China, and ViaBTC, a mining pool. How will LBC develop after it returned to the public attention this year? Let’s wait and see.
As a global and professional cryptocurrency exchange service provider, CoinEx was founded in December 2017 with Bitmain-led investment and has obtained a legal license in Estonia. It is a subsidiary brand of the ViaBTC Group, which owns the fifth largest BTC mining pool, which is also the largest of BCH mining, in the world. CoinEx supports perpetual contract, spot, margin trading, and other derivatives trading, and its service reaches global users in nearly 100 countries/regions with various languages available, such as Chinese, English, Korean and Russian. Website:https://www.coinex.com/ Twitter:https://twitter.com/coinexcom Telegram:https://t.me/CoinExOfficialENG Click hereto register on CoinEx!
Financial markets move in trends. It’s important to understand the differences between these trends to be able to make better investment decisions. How come? Well, different market trends can lead to wildly different market conditions. If you don’t know what the underlying trend is, how are you going to adapt to changing conditions? A market trend is the overall direction that the market is going. In a bear market, prices are generally declining. Bear markets can be a challenging time to trade or invest in, especially for beginners. Most crypto traders and technical analysts agree that Bitcoin has been in a macro bull trend throughout its existence. Even so, there have been several relentless cryptocurrency bear markets. These generally bring more than an 80% decline in the price of Bitcoin, while altcoins can easily experience more than 90% declines. What can you do during these times? In this article, we’ll discuss what a bear market is, how you should prepare for it, and how you may be able to profit in it. If you’d like to read about bull markets first, check out What Is a Bull Market?（https://medium.com/@Citex/what-is-a-bull-market-2aac528c25f0）
What is a bear market?
A bear market can be described as a period of declining prices in a financial market. Bear markets can be extremely risky and difficult to trade for inexperienced traders. They can easily lead to great losses and scare investors from ever returning to the financial markets. How come? There’s this saying among traders: “Stairs up, elevators down.” This means that moves to the upside may be slow and steady, while moves to the downside tend to be more sharp and violent. Why is that? When the price starts crashing, many traders rush to exit the markets. They do that to either stay in cash or lock in profits from their long positions. This can quickly result in a domino effect where sellers rushing to the exit leads to even more sellers exiting their positions, and so on. The drop can be amplified even more if the market is highly leveraged. Mass liquidations will have an even more pronounced cascading effect, resulting in a violent sell-off. With that said, bull markets can also have phases of euphoria. During these times, prices are increasing at an extreme rate, correlations are higher than usual, and a majority of assets are going up in tandem. Typically, investors are “bearish” in a bear market, meaning that they expect prices to decline. This also means that market sentiment is generally quite low. However, this may not mean that all market participants are in active short positions. This just means that they expect prices to decline and may be looking to position themselves accordingly if the opportunity presents itself.
Bear market examples
As we’ve discussed, many investors think that Bitcoin has been in a macro bull trend since it started trading. Does that mean there aren’t bear markets contained in that bull run? No. After Bitcoin’s move to around $20,000 in December 2017, it’s had quite a brutal bear market. And before the 2018 bear market, Bitcoin experienced an 86% drop in 2014. As of July 2020, the range of the previous bear market low around $3,000 have been retested but never broken. If that low would have been breached, a stronger argument could be made that a multi-year Bitcoin bear market is still underway. Since that level has not been broken, the argument can be made that the crash following COVID-19 fears was merely a retest of the range. Still, there are no certainties when it comes to technical analysis, only probabilities. Other notable bear market examples come from the stock market. The Great Depression, the 2008 Financial Crisis, or the 2020 stock market crash due to the coronavirus pandemic are all noteworthy examples. These events have all caused great damage on Wall Street and impacted stock prices across the board. Market indexes such as the Nasdaq 100, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA), or the S&P 500 index can experience significant price declines during times like these.
Bear market vs. bull market — what’s the difference?
The difference is fairly straightforward. In a bull market, prices are going up, while in a bear market, prices fall. One notable difference may be that bear markets can have long periods of consolidation, i.e., sideways or ranging price action. These are times when market volatility is quite low, and there’s little trading activity happening. While the same may be true in bull markets, this kind of behavior tends to be more prevalent in bear markets. After all, prices going down for an extended period isn’t very attractive for most investors. Something else to consider is whether it’s possible to enter a short position on an asset in the first place. If there’s no ability to short an asset on margin or using derivatives, traders can only express a bearish view on the market by selling for cash or stablecoins. This can lead to a longer, drawn-out downtrend with little buying interest, resulting in a slow and uneventful sideways price action.
How to trade in a bear market
One of the simplest strategies traders can use in a bear market is to stay in cash (or stablecoins). If you’re not comfortable with prices declining, it may be better to simply wait until the market gets out of bear market territory. If there’s an expectation that a new bull market may come at some point in the future, you can take advantage of it when it does. At the same time, if you’re long-term HODLing with an investment time horizon of many years or decades, a bear market isn’t necessarily a direct signal to sell. When it comes to trading and investing, it’s generally a better idea to trade with the direction of the market trend. This is why another lucrative strategy in bear markets could be to open short positions. This way, when asset prices are going down, traders can profit off the decline. These can be day trades, swing trades, position trades — the main intention is simply to trade in the direction of the trend. With that said, many contrarian traders will look for “counter-trend” trades, meaning trades that are against the direction of the major trend. Let’s see how that works. In the case of a bear market, this would be entering a long position on a bounce. This move is sometimes called a “bear market rally” or a “dead cat bounce”. These counter-trend price moves can be notoriously volatile, as many traders may jump on the opportunity to long a short-term bounce. However, until the overall bear market is confirmed to be over, the assumption is that the downtrend will resume right after the bounce. This is why successful traders will take profits (around the recent highs) and exit before the bear trend resumes. Otherwise, they could be stuck in their long position while the bear market continues. As such, it’s important to note that this is a highly risky strategy. Even the most advanced traders can incur significant losses when trying to catch a falling knife.
We’ve discussed what a bear market is, how traders may protect themselves and profit off bear markets. In summary, the most straightforward strategy is to stay in cash in a bear market — and wait for a safer opportunity to trade. Alternatively, many traders will look for opportunities to build short positions. As we know, it’s wise to follow the direction of the market trend when it comes to trading.
The power players of consumer finance in the 21st century will be crypto-native companies who build with blockchain technology at their core.
The crypto landscape is still nascent. We’re still very much in the fragmented, unbundled phase of the industry lifecycle. Beyond what Genesis Block is doing, there are signs of other companies slowly starting to bundle financial services into what could be an all-in-one bank replacement. So the key question that this series hopes to answer:
Which crypto-native company will successfully become the bank of the future?
We obviously think Genesis Block is well-positioned to win. But we certainly aren’t the only game in town. In this series, we’ll be doing an analysis of who is most capable of thwarting our efforts. We’ll look at categories like crypto exchanges, crypto wallets, centralized lending & borrowing services, and crypto debit card companies. Each category will have its own dedicated post. Today we’re analyzing big crypto exchanges. The two companies we’ll focus on today are Coinbase (biggest American exchange) and Binance (biggest global exchange). They are the top two exchanges in terms of Bitcoin trading volume. They are in pole position to winning this market — they have a huge existing userbase and strong financial resources. Will Coinbase or Binance become the bank of the future? Can their early success propel them to winning the broader consumer finance market? Is their growth too far ahead for anyone else to catch up? Let’s dive in. https://preview.redd.it/lau4hevpm7f51.png?width=800&format=png&auto=webp&s=2c5de1ba497199f36aa194e5809bd86e5ab533d8
The most formidable exchange on the global stage is Binance (Crunchbase). All signs suggest they have significantly more users and a stronger balance sheet than Coinbase. No other exchange is executing as aggressively and relentlessly as Binance is. The cadence at which they are shipping and launching new products is nothing short of impressive. As Tushar Jain from Multicoin argues, Binance is Blitzscaling. Here are some of the products that they’ve launched in the last 18 months. Only a few are announced but still pre-launch.
Binance is well-positioned to become the crypto-powered, all-in-one, bundled solution for financial services. They already have so many of the pieces. But the key question is:
Can they create a cohesive & united product experience?
Binance is strong, but they do have a few major weaknesses that could slow them down.
Traders & Speculators Binance is currently very geared for speculators, traders, and financial professionals. Their bread-and-butter is trading (spot, margin, options, futures). Their UI is littered with depth charts, order books, candlesticks, and other financial concepts that are beyond the reach of most normal consumers. Their product today is not at all tailored for the broader consumer market. Given Binance’s popularity and strength among the pro audience, it’s unlikely that they will dumb down or simplify their product any time soon. That would jeopardize their core business. Binance will likely need an entirely new product/brand to go beyond the pro user crowd. That will take time (or an acquisition). So the question remains, is Binance even interested in the broader consumer market? Or will they continue to focus on their core product, the one-stop-shop for pro crypto traders?
Controversies & Hot Water Binance has had a number of controversies. No one seems to know where they are based — so what regulatory agencies can hold them accountable? Last year, some sensitive, private user data got leaked. When they announced their debit card program, they had to remove mentions of Visa quickly after. And though the “police raid” story proved to be untrue, there are still a lot of questions about what happened with their Shanghai office shut down (where there is smoke, there is fire). If any company has had a “move fast and break things” attitude, it is Binance. That attitude has served them well so far but as they try to do business in more regulated countries like America, this will make their road much more difficult — especially in the consumer market where trust takes a long time to earn, but can be destroyed in an instant. This is perhaps why the Binance US product is an empty shell when compared to their main global product.
Disjointed Product Experience Because Binance has so many different teams launching so many different services, their core product is increasingly feeling disjointed and disconnected. Many of the new features are sloppily integrated with each other. There’s no cohesive product experience. This is one of the downsides of executing and shipping at their relentless pace. For example, users don’t have a single wallet that shows their balances. Depending on if the user wants to do spot trading, margin, futures, or savings… the user needs to constantly be transferring their assets from one wallet to another. It’s not a unified, frictionless, simple user experience. This is one major downside of the “move fast and break things” approach.
BNB token Binance raised $15M in a 2017 ICO by selling their $BNB token. The current market cap of $BNB is worth more than $2.6B. Financially this token has served them well. However, given how BNB works (for example, their token burn), there are a lot of open questions as to how BNB will be treated with US security laws. Their Binance US product so far is treading very lightly with its use of BNB. Their token could become a liability for Binance as it enters more regulated markets. Whether the crypto community likes it or not, until regulators get caught up and understand the power of decentralized technology, tokens will still be a regulatory burden — especially for anything that touches consumers.
Binance Chain & Smart Contract Platform Binance is launching its own smart contract platform soon. Based on compatibility choices, they have their sights aimed at the Ethereum developer community. It’s unclear how easy it’ll be to convince developers to move to Binance chain. Most of the current developer energy and momentum around smart contracts is with Ethereum. Because Binance now has their own horse in the race, it’s unlikely they will ever decide to leverage Ethereum’s DeFi protocols. This could likely be a major strategic mistake — and hubris that goes a step too far. Binance will be pushing and promoting protocols on their own platform. The major risk of being all-in on their own platform is that they miss having a seat on the Ethereum rocket ship — specifically the growth of DeFi use-cases and the enormous value that can be unlocked. Integrating with Ethereum’s protocols would be either admitting defeat of their own platform or competing directly against themselves.
The crypto-native company that I believe is more likely to become the bank of the future is Coinbase (crunchbase). Their dominance in America could serve as a springboard to winning the West (Binance has a stronger foothold in Asia). Coinbase has more than 30M users. Their exchange business is a money-printing machine. They have a solid reputation as it relates to compliance and working with regulators. Their CEO is a longtime member of the crypto community. They are rumored to be going public soon.
Let’s look at what makes them strong and a likely contender for winning the broader consumer finance market.
Different Audience, Different Experience Coinbase has been smart to create a unique product experience for each audience — the pro speculator crowd and the common retail user. Their simple consumer version is at Coinbase.com. That’s the default. Their product for the more sophisticated traders and speculators is at Coinbase Pro (formerly GDAX). Unlike Binance, Coinbase can slowly build out the bank of the future for the broad consumer market while still having a home for their hardcore crypto traders. They aren’t afraid to have different experiences for different audiences.
Brand & Design Coinbase has a strong product design team. Their brand is capable of going beyond the male-dominated crypto audience. Their product is clean and simple — much more consumer-friendly than Binance. It’s clear they spend a lot of time thinking about their user experience. Interacting directly with crypto can sometimes be rough and raw (especially for n00bs). When I was at Mainframe we hosted a panel about Crypto UX challenges at the DevCon4 Dapp Awards. Connie Yang (Head of Design at Coinbase) was on the panel. She was impressive. Some of their design philosophies will bode well as they push to reach the broader consumer finance market.
Early Signs of Bundling Though Coinbase has nowhere near as many products & services as Binance, they are slowly starting to add more financial services that may appeal to the broader market. They are now letting depositors earn interest on USDC (also DAI & Tezos). In the UK they are piloting a debit card. Users can now invest in crypto with dollar-cost-averaging. It’s not much, but it’s a start. You can start to see hints of a more bundled solution around financial services.
Let’s now look at some things that could hold them back.
Slow Cadence In the fast-paced world of crypto, and especially when compared to Binance, Coinbase does not ship very many new products very often. This is perhaps their greatest weakness. Smaller, more nimble startups may run circles around them. They were smart to launch Coinbase Ventures where tey invest in early-stage startups. They can now keep an ear to the ground on innovation. Perhaps their cadence is normal for a company of their size — but the Binance pace creates quite the contrast.
Institutional Focus As a company, we are a Coinbase client. We love their institutional offering. It’s clear they’ve been investing a lot in this area. A recent Coinbase blog post made it clear that this has been a focus: “Over the past 12 months, Coinbase has been laser-focused on building out the types of features and services that our institutional customers need.” Their Tagomi acquisition only re-enforced this focus. Perhaps this is why their consumer product has felt so neglected. They’ve been heavily investing in their institutional services since May 2018. For a company that’s getting very close to an IPO, it makes sense that they’d focus on areas that present strong revenue opportunities — as they do with institutional clients. Even for big companies like Coinbase, it’s hard to have a split focus. If they are “laser-focused” on the institutional audience, it’s unlikely they’ll be launching any major consumer products anytime soon.
Coinbase Wrap Up
At Genesis Block, we‘re proud to be working with Coinbase. They are a fantastic company. However, I don’t believe that they’ll succeed in building their own product for the broader consumer finance market. While they have incredible design, there are no signs that they are focused on or capable of internally building this type of product. Similar to Binance, I think it’s far more likely that Coinbase acquires a promising young startup with strong growth.
Other US-based exchanges worth mentioning are Kraken, Gemini, and Bittrex. So far we’ve seen very few signs that any of them will aggressively attack broader consumer finance. Most are going in the way of Binance — listing more assets and adding more pro tools like margin and futures trading. And many, like Coinbase, are trying to attract more institutional customers. For example, Gemini with their custody product.
Coinbase and Binance have huge war chests and massive reach. For that alone, they should always be considered threats to Genesis Block. However, their products are very, very different than the product we’re building. And their approach is very different as well. They are trying to educate and onboard people into crypto. At Genesis Block, we believe the masses shouldn’t need to know or care about it. We did an entire series about this, Spreading Crypto. Most everyone needs banking — whether it be to borrow, spend, invest, earn interest, etc. Not everyone needs a crypto exchange. For non-crypto consumers (the mass market), the differences between a bank and a crypto exchange are immense. Companies like Binance and Coinbase make a lot of money on their crypto exchange business. It would be really difficult, gutsy, and risky for any of them to completely change their narrative, messaging, and product to focus on the broader consumer market. I don’t believe they would ever risk biting the hand that feeds them. In summary, as it relates to a digital bank aimed at the mass market, I believe both Coinbase and Binance are much more likely to acquire a startup in this space than they are to build it themselves. And I think they would want to keep the brand/product distinct and separate from their core crypto exchange business. So back to the original question, is Coinbase and Binance a threat to Genesis Block? Not really. Not today. But they could be, and for that, we want to stay close to them. ------ Other Ways to Consume Today's Episode:
Margin trading lets you amplify your gains from market swings, allowing you to execute more complex, active trading strategies. With the power of Kraken’s advanced trading engine, you can use leverage to go long or short on a variety of cryptocurrencies by up to 5x -- you’ll have five times the earning potential compared to a regular spot Crypto margin trading is a trading practice that allows traders to gain greater exposure to a specific asset by borrowing capital from other traders on an exchange or the exchange itself. In contrast with regular trading in which traders use their own capital to fund trades, margin trading allows traders to multiply the amount of capital they are able to trade. Crypto margin trading is a trading practice that allows traders to gain greater exposure to a specific asset by borrowing capital from other traders on an exchange or the exchange itself. In contrast with regular trading in which traders use their own capital to fund trades, margin trading allows traders to multiply the amount of capital they are able to trade. In contrast to regular trades, margin trading allows you to open more substantial positions by borrowing money provided by a third party (a broker or other platform users aka margin lenders). Leveraged trades are highly risky since they can Bitcoin margin trading, in simple words, allows opening a trading position with leverage, by borrowing funds from the exchange. For example, if we opened a Bitcoin margin position with a 2X leverage and Bitcoin had increased by 10%, then our position would have yielded 20% because of the 2X leverage.
A quick tutorial on how to open margin positions on Kraken Exchange. Enjoy! ... How Leverage Trading in Crypto Actually Works... - Duration: 11:54. ... Top 5 Crypto Exchanges For Americans to Use ... Brian explains the basics of margin trading to answer this question. ... Don't Margin Trade Crypto - Duration: 14:18. Boxmining 76,558 ... Trading basics: How moving averages work - Duration: ... The Crypto Gateway - Investire In Criptovalute 4,150 views. 25:19. 7 Ways To Invest $10,000 In 2020 - Duration: 19:39. Graham Stephan Recommended for you. 19:39. How does Binance MARGIN TRADING Work? What is margin trading? What is a margin? What is the difference between a cash account and a margin account? In episode #34 of Real World Finance we dive de... One trading jargon that you’ll hear very often is margin. It’s usually in terms like margin account, margin trading and even margin call. It seems a bit comp...