dimanche 17 novembre 2019

Canadian Company Commissions 3 Bitcoin Mining Units to Restart Oil Well

Canadian Company Commissions 3 Bitcoin Mining Units to Restart Oil Well in Alberta

A nascent industry utilizing flared gas to power bitcoin mining units has been developing over the past year or so, in symbiosis with the oil and gas industry in North America. Companies providing services in this promising niche continue to install mobile datacenters at oil wells in the U.S. and Canada, helping producers to save on costs and optimize operations while minting digital coins.

Also read: China Removes Bitcoin Mining From Unwanted Industries List

Crypto Mining Provides Alternative to Gas Flaring

Natural gas obtained during oil extraction is a byproduct well operators working at remote sites have to get rid of at their own expense. It is often burned into the atmosphere as its transportation to remote consumers isn’t cost-effective, if possible at all. Direct venting is not always possible or is limited as the raw gas consists of many harmful compounds and producers have to comply with strict environmental regulations.

Canadian Company Commissions 3 Bitcoin Mining Units to Restart Oil Well

Several companies are now offering solutions to oil and gas producers in the United States and its northern neighbor that solve the problem with associated gas in an elegant way, thanks to Bitcoin. They install mobile units equipped with gas-electric generators at oil wells. The excess fuel is used to produce electricity to power the cryptocurrency mining hardware typically installed in modified shipping containers that are easily transported.

Upstream Data, a Canadian company we told you about this summer, is one of the pioneers in the market. It allows oil companies to buy or rent modular datacenters that can be installed at production facilities venting or flaring natural gas. Its Ohmm units are assembled with varying capacities in terms of mining power but they all utilize gas in a very efficient way. Using the free energy to mint digital coins ensures drilling companies receive much higher income from the gas than any market price would return.

Last time, we spoke with Upstream Data founder and CEO Stephen Barbour right after he announced the commissioning of a new Ohmm datacenter in the U.S. state of Texas. He was pretty excited with the expansion of his company’s services. This past Friday Upstream Data tweeted that three of its new Ohmm Mini, 50 kW bitcoin mining datacenters had been recently commissioned in the Canadian province of Alberta:

These beauties conserve the natural gas that would have otherwise been vented, which allowed the producer to turn on the well and increase oil production.

Helping the Oil Industry Meet Gas Venting Regulations

Upstream Data has been developing its creative solutions since 2017, providing an answer to persistent economic and environmental problems that have been dogging the oil industry for decades. Its datacenters need very little infrastructure to utilize the stranded gas; basically only a fuel source and internet connection. They are designed to scale to the available quantity of natural gas and can be operated remotely. Upstream’s projects prove that energy, which would otherwise be wasted, can be harnessed to mine bitcoin.

Canadian Company Commissions 3 Bitcoin Mining Units to Restart Oil Well
Ohmm datacenter in Alberta. The flare stack in the background was decommissioned after the waste gas was conserved.

Stephen Barbour told news.Bitcoin.com that the Alberta producer who installed the Ohmm Mini units had a multi-well production facility closed in due to high venting. Regulations in the province do not allow oil companies to continue production if the vented natural gas volume exceeds a certain limit of 500 m3/day. As a result, the well pad was shut in for approximately a year as the operator had no other way to conserve the vent gas. Building a pipeline network would be too expensive, while flaring is not an option in this case because of the facility’s proximity to local residents, the CEO explained.

The company supplied the three Ohmm Minis powered by gas gensets as part of its “Conservation as a Service” offer to oil and gas businesses. The bitcoin mining datacenters reduced the total vent rate to less than 500 m3/day, allowing the producer to start up the well and begin extraction again. Each Mini is rated for 50 kW, which is enough load to conserve 450 to 500 cubic meters or 18,000 cubic feet of stranded gas daily and is equipped with Antminer S9 mining rigs. The modular units can be easily redeployed to other sites where gas rates are depleting.

Besides the savings and profits from their main activity, oil producers can also earn some additional income in the form of digital cash. Due to this year’s crypto market recovery, bitcoin mining has returned to profitability. What’s more, anyone can start mining, even without having the necessary equipment at their disposal, thanks to services offered by platforms like the Bitcoin.com Pool.

Do you expect bitcoin mining at oil wells to continue to grow as an industry providing a solution to the gas venting problem? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Upstream Data.


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samedi 16 novembre 2019

Data shows retail interest in Bitcoin plateauing as BTC price stagnates

Bitcoin has been facing steep selling pressure over the past 24-hours that has marked an extension of that which was first incurred when it broke below $9,000 earlier this month — a previous support level that BTC bulls had been ardently defending.

This recent downtrend has led retail interest in Bitcoin to plateau, as data surrounding exchange deposits and inflows points to the fact that investors presently have little interest in the cryptocurrency.

Bitcoin’s price faces turbulence amidst market-wide sell-off 

At the time of writing, Bitcoin is currently trading up marginally at its current price of $8,530, which marks a steep drop from its weekly highs of just over $9,000 that was set last Sunday.

In spite of this recent drop, it is important to note that BTC is still trading well above its 30-day lows of $7,300 that was set in late-October, just prior to the meteoric rally that sent its price surging to highs of $10,600.

In the near-term, it does appear that the lower-$8,000 region is a strong level of support that will bolster BTC’s price action in the coming hours and days.

Are retail investors losing interest in BTC?

The inability for Bitcoin’s bulls to garner any significant upward momentum may point to the possibility that further losses are in store for the cryptocurrency in the near-term, which is further supported by the fact that inflows of capital to crypto exchanges have been declining, elucidating dwindling interest in the markets from retail investors.

Glassnode, a group focused on blockchain analytics, spoke about this data in a recent tweet, concluding that it signals a “low trading appetite” amongst investors.

“$BTC exchange deposits and inflows have continued to decline over the last week, indicating low trading appetite from investors,” they noted while referencing the chart seen below.

Bitcoin net unrealized profit/loss
Source: Glassnode

Additionally, according to Glassnode, exchange deposits have dropped off significantly over the past month.

Bitcoin exchange deposits
Source: Glassnode

Assuming that this trend extends into the future, the ongoing decline in interest amongst investors may translate into lower trading volume, making BTC increasingly prone to facing further downside.

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Bitcoin Traders Are Finding Creative Ways to Avoid KYC

Bitcoin Traders Are Finding Creative Ways to Avoid KYC

Cryptocurrency traders on Bisq are using Revolut to buy and sell bitcoin without the need for KYC/AML. The decentralized, peer-to-peer marketplace allows anyone to buy or sell cryptocurrency via a range of payment processors and traditional banking services. With Localbitcoins now a twisted nightmare of KYC, privacy-conscious traders have few platforms to which they can turn. But in Bisq, they appear to have found a solution of sorts.

Also read: The Bank of Google Wants Your Spending Data

Trading Bitcoin Without the Awkward Questions

Unlike services such as Localbitcoins or buy.Bitcoin.com which work in-browser, Bisq requires users to first download the application before buying and selling crypto, with Windows, Mac and Linux systems all supported. A popular method of purchasing BTC on Bisq (formerly Bitsquare) is with Revolut, with many users opting for the virtual banking service on account of its speed and convenience. Although quick and easy at the initial point of use, there are potential pitfalls to relying on Revolut.

Bitcoin Traders Are Finding Creative Ways to Avoid KYC

As early as last year, Bisq issued a warning regarding the service and its suitability for avoiding unwanted attention. As the Bisq twitter account stated: “Payment methods based on traditional finance systems are going to require KYC at some level, sooner or later. Revolut is not special in this regard.”

It’s not just KYC/AML which poses problems either: a number of users have complained that after repeated transactions on Bisq, Revolut has suspended their accounts, leading to weeks of uncertainty and added complications. Revolut itself, it should be noted, requires KYC in order to obtain an account, and is not an anonymous or pseudonymous service.

A Little Privacy Please

Since the onboarding process at centralized exchanges and the obligatory intrusion of KYC remains a bone of contention for many, bitcoiners continue to seek out dependable decentralized alternatives. The development team behind Bisq describe it as “pure P2P infrastructure” built on the Tor network and using local wallets with no custodial accounts. Bisq does not require the user to provide a name, email ID, or verification, so it ticks all the boxes for anyone who takes their privacy seriously. The decentralized exchange also offers a large number of fiat currencies with which users can onboard including the US dollar, Canadian dollar, Australian dollar, Euro, British pound and Russian rouble. That said, for all its benefits, there are still limitations to using the decentralized exchange, including higher spot prices, which means the platform won’t suit everyone.

Bitcoin Traders Are Finding Creative Ways to Avoid KYC

Perhaps one of the bigger issues at this time is liquidity, although Bisq is hardly the only decentralized exchange that has struggled in this regard. Trade volumes remain relatively low and the amount of bitcoin a new user can purchase is initially limited to just 0.01 BTC. This increases over time, with accounts maturing after 60 days, but some payment methods retain restrictions in any case. Bank-based payments are limited to 0.25 BTC for instance, while Perfectmoney and Alipay allow purchases of 1 BTC. It’s clear that Bisq are extremely safety conscious and mistrust many of the most popular fiat payment processors, especially those that offer chargeback facilities. Part of their efforts to mitigate ongoing risks include a deposit and arbitration system which adds another layer of security for traders.

Bitcoin Traders Are Finding Creative Ways to Avoid KYC

Options for traders who have tired of Localbitcoins.com and its kowtowing to onerous compliance regulations are thin on the ground, but there is an outlet for bitcoin cash proponents. Local.Bitcoin.com enables anonymous P2P transactions, providing a private way to buy and sell bitcoin cash. Between it and Bisq, there is at least a mechanism for exercising one’s right to purchase cryptocurrency without enduring the data-breach-waiting-to-happen that is KYC.

What other pro-privacy exchanges do you recommend? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.


Did you know you can verify any unconfirmed Bitcoin transaction with our Bitcoin Block Explorer tool? Simply complete a Bitcoin address search to view it on the blockchain. Plus, visit our Bitcoin Charts to see what’s happening in the industry.

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Bitcoin Cash Community Funds Eatbch Trip to Ghana

Bitcoin Cash Community Funds Eatbch Representative's Trip to Ghana

This week members of the Bitcoin Cash (BCH) community donated funds to Eatbch South Sudan volunteer Thiong Deng so he could spread the word about the benefits of BCH at the Young African Leaders Summit. According to Deng, his journey to Uganda and Ghana has been fully funded which includes flight, hotel, visa costs, and a ticket to the event.

Also Read: The Bank of Google Wants Your Spending Data

Eatbch South Sudan Volunteer Heads to the Young African Leaders Summit

Eatbch is easily recognized as the Bitcoin Cash community’s most favorite charity because the nonprofit organization has been using BCH to help people throughout Venezuela and South Sudan. People can follow Eatbch on Twitter and see how the “peer-to-peer electronic cash-to-food system” feeds families and children in need regularly. Just recently, the nonprofit published a new website called eatbch.org that shows the tremendous work being done in South Sudan and Venezuela. Moreover, the website’s visitors can donate bitcoin cash directly to the effort so people can help others experiencing economic hardships and difficult times.

Last September, news.Bitcoin.com reported on Eatbch South Sudan leader Emmanuel Lobijo, who was invited to attend the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit. Lobijo joined Greta Thunberg and many other activists at the UN’s event in New York. The Eatbch South Sudan leader explained how BCH can “bridge access to the world” and how the charitable organization is using bitcoin cash to fight water wars, drought, and famine in the African country.

Bitcoin Cash Community Funds Eatbch Trip to Ghana

This week members of the BCH community funded Eatbch South Sudan volunteer Thiong Micheal Deng’s trip so he could attend the Young African Leaders Summit in Ghana. On November 13 and 14, BCH proponents on Twitter and Reddit asked the community to help fund Deng’s trip. “Can we get Thiong, an Eatbch South Sudan representative to the Young African Leaders Summit? He still needs $800 dollars of funding,” one Reddit post asked. Deng disclosed all the anticipated expenses for the trip to the Young African Leaders Summit and thanked the community for the “generous donations” but he still had $835 left to raise.

Bitcoin Cash Community Funds Eatbch Trip to Ghana

BCH Community Funds Travel Expenses to Ghana

On Twitter, software engineer Josh Ellithorpe (who designed the eatbch.org website) also asked BCH supporters to help fund Deng’s travels. “This is the last day to get Thiong (an Eatbch South Sudan representative) to the Young African Leaders Summit,” Ellithorpe tweeted. “Let’s support him in spreading the word about Bitcoin Cash and the excellent work of Eatbch.”

Bitcoin Cash Community Funds Eatbch Trip to Ghana

After a few BCH proponents made requests to the community, Deng managed to get the funds needed to embark on the trip. “Thanks, Bitcoin cash community,” Deng said. “[You] have set up my journey to Uganda — 18-hour bus drive — then flight to Ghana for the conference. BCH you made it happen — thanks for the love.” The BCH community members who helped fund the trip and the work being done by Eatbch at large demonstrates how passionate BCH proponents are about peer-to-peer cash. The work Eatbch does each and every day showcases how decentralized, borderless cryptocurrencies can truly revolutionize the global economy.

What do you think about the BCH community funding Thiong Deng’s trip? What do you think about the nonprofit Eatbch’s efforts and activism in Venezuela and South Sudan? Let us know what you think about this subject in the comments section below.


Image credits: Shutterstock, eatbch.org, and Twitter.


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Founders of privacy-focused Brave browser say they’re in an arms race they can win 

In a Reddit AMA, the co-founders of Brave said that the battle for privacy was an arms race they can win thanks to the company’s ability to innovate quickly. The launch of Brave 1.0 invited many questions from the Reddit community, most of which focused on Brave’s mechanisms for securing data and preventing tracking.

Building on the legacy of Mozilla

Privacy-focused Brave browser has had quite a successful year—from introducing multiple new features and signing up various new publishers such as Wikipedia, to hitting 9 million active monthly users earlier this week.

While some might attribute its success solely to the ever-growing need for privacy online, there are numerous other factors that make it one of the fastest-growing browsers in the world. Created by two industry veterans Brendan Eich and Brian Bondy, Brave took the legacy of traditional browsers and drastically stepped up the game.

Eich, who created the JavaScript programming language and co-founded Mozilla, took to Reddit to answer community questions regarding the release of Brave 1.0. While the goal of the AMA was to promote the latest version of the browser, which both Bondy and Eich say is better, faster, and more secure than the previous one, the questioned seemed to focus on comparing Brave to its competitors.

According to Eich, one of the biggest differences between working on Brave and working on Mozilla is the ability to innovate quickly. In an organization as big as Mozilla, he explained, introducing risky projects was almost impossible.

However, if Brave is to continue to grow at its current pace, it’s only a matter of time before it transforms from a small, niche browser to a serious corporation, not unlike Mozilla. Eich’s solution to this seems to be to work faster and harder, as he hopes he would be “done” with all the risky and innovative project before Brave got “too big.”

“Mozilla is not innovating as we are, perhaps because their dependence on Google search revenue ties their hands,” he said when asked why he would make a browser that competes with Mozilla.

Brave building an empire on making privacy a valuable commodity

All of the innovations Bondy and Eich mentioned in the AMA referred to the company’s work on preventing tracking and user data collection. According to Eich, Brave doesn’t collect user browsing data at all, as all data is encrypted with a key only the user has. The browser’s opt-in Brave Rewards system uses blind-signature cryptography that disables the company from linking the users’ ad contributions.

“Brave as a company never gets your data, so we can never share your data. We’re also open source and can be audited at any time,” Bondy explained.

On the topic of auditing, several users raised concerns about government interference in Brave. The company’s privacy-centric business model could easily make it a target for organizations such as the NSA or the FBI. Eich said that Brave hasn’t been interfered with. If it did, Eich said he’d rather “shut Brave down” than allow for a backdoor in the browser’s code.

The company’s effort to revolutionize online advertising is set to hit some roadblocks, but Eich believes its constant innovation will keep it in the game. When asked what if major websites such as Facebook and Google decided not to be compatible with Brave, Eich said that was an arms race they could win.

“Browsers already spoof one another’s User-Agent: header values and there is no end to the ability to camouflage,” he explained, adding that for now, Brave looks just like Chrome to most websites.

However, that doesn’t mean Brave is set to stay in the same place for much longer. According to Bondy, who is the company’s chief technical officer, there are detailed development plans in place for the next 12 months that will include doing more work on integration, Brave’s native crypto wallet, and platforms supporting Brave Rewards.

He hinted that there might be a possibility of introducing a Brave VPN in the near future, a suggestion that was incredibly well received by the Brave community on Reddit.

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The Bank of Google Wants Your Spending Data

The multinational technology giant Google has plans to get into the banking industry according to multiple reports that reveal the firm intends to work with Stanford Federal Credit Union and Citigroup. However, analysts assert that Google is not jumping into banking for revenue purposes and the move is simply an acquisition of more customer data.

Also Read: Banks Stopped Walmart Bank – Now the Retail Giant Hits Back With Crypto

Google Bank

One of the ‘Big Four’ technology companies, Google LLC, plans to launch checking accounts through a partnership with Citigroup, Stanford Federal Credit Union, and a number of other financial partners. The secret project has a code name called ‘Cache,’ according to sources stemming from the Wall Street Journal. However, people using the Google-backed checking accounts might not know the internet-related services company is behind the financial products. The checking accounts will still feature branding from the likes of financial incumbents such as Citibank and Google will only work behind the scenes. Google executive Caesar Sengupta explained:

Our approach is going to be to partner deeply with banks and the financial system — It may be the slightly longer path, but it’s more sustainable.

The move by Google follows the recent partnership between Apple and Goldman Sachs that produced the Apple Card product. Many speculators believe Google is planning to enter the fray of banking in order to stay competitive with the other three heavyweights Facebook, Amazon, and Apple. In a note to clients this week, Wells Fargo’s analyst Brian Fitzgerald said that Google is more interested in obtaining data. “Google is likely entering into these partnerships to increase its insights into consumer purchase behavior and consumer finances more broadly,” Fitzgerald said. At the moment, a lot of the giant tech firms are laser-focused on financial technology and Facebook’s Calibra project is a testament to the trend. “Google is primarily focused on data to feed its core ad business, and less so on acting as a full-fledged bank,” CB Insights senior intelligence analyst Arieh Levi remarked.

Another Extension of Surveillance Capitalism

Since the news went viral the ‘Bank of Google’ discussion has a lot of people wondering if Google will be privy to everyone’s finance behavior. Combing personal data like spending habits is just another extension of surveillance capitalism in the opinion of many skeptics. But Google believes the strategy is good for the internet in general. “If we can help more people do more stuff in a digital way online, it’s good for the internet and good for us,” Sengupta stressed to the Wall Street Journal. “Of course they plan to leave the nitty-gritty details to the traditional finance folks. All Google is really interested in is your financial data and for that I’m sure they’ll be willing to slap a kickass GUI and possibly a bit of value add as far as fees and rates are concerned,” Mati Greenspan, senior market analyst at Etoro explained in a note to investors about Google announcing “intentions to get deeper into financial services.”

”Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple, they all just want to be like Tencent who’s been dominating Chinese payments for nearly a decade. In fact, the earnings report from Tencent today seemed to contain just as much valuable insight into the Chinese consumer than it did the actual company,” Greenspan added.

Many people believe massive tech firms like Apple and Google becoming financial behemoths is not out of the question, despite the kickback these companies receive from governments. However, the retail giant Walmart had its banking intentions stopped by financial institutions lobbying politicians. A few years later, Walmart is now exploring cryptocurrency concepts. To digital currency advocates, the Google checking account news is just one more sign of the surveillance state growing larger, which in turn could push people toward decentralized cryptocurrencies.

What do you think about Google’s ambitions toward being a bank? Do you think with big tech companies like Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and Google getting into financial services will drive more people toward decentralized cryptocurrencies? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.


Image credits: Shutterstock, The Intercept, Pixabay, Wiki Commons, Google Logo, Fair Use.


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Nash CTO talks the benefits of trading on a self-custody DEX and challenges of building a user experience for crypto

CryptoSlate recently had the opportunity to chat with Ethan Fast, the CTO and co-founder of Nash Exchange, a self-custody DEX that has been gaining solid traction and attention over the past few months. In our interview, Ethan shares how he got started in crypto, what led him to start Nash, the challenges of building a quality user experience for crypto users and where he sees the blockchain industry going in the next few years.

What is your professional background and how/when did you get into crypto?

Ethan Fast (EF): I’m a serial startup founder who has also spent a lot of time in academia. I started a web analytics platform in 2011 after I finished my undergrad, which was funded by Y Combinator, and that experience taught me a lot about myself and the sort of mindset you need to be successful with startups. I then went on to do a Ph.D. in Computer Science and Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) at Stanford, where I worked on a number of things, but most notably some applied research in Programming Languages (PL) and (NLP) Natural Language Processing.

I bought my first Bitcoin in 2011 but didn’t dive deeply into the technology until 2017. At that time I was most excited by the applications of smart contracts on Ethereum and wanted to understand better what sort of design space the technology made possible. Working in HCI, much like with startups, when you see a new technology, you tend to think immediately about how you might use it to change the way people interact with the world.

Tell us about why you decided to start Nash?

EF: During the final years of my PhD I began working with a group of amazingly talented people who more or less bootstrapped the NEO blockchain open-source community. We all worked really well together and shared an excitement about the future of digital assets, so the idea of starting a company felt like a logical next step.

In terms of “why Nash?” specifically, the most compact form of our mission is “distributing finance for everyone” and that still does a good job of summing up why we are working on this company. Cryptocurrencies are unique among other assets in the level of control and empowerment they give the people who own them. We want to make these assets and their properties accessible to everyone. Another motto we have is “trust yourselves”, which perhaps gets even more quickly to the point: we want to give people the power to do that! We all love working with the tech, but these are the bigger things we also care about.

Where is your team located and why did you choose that jurisdiction?

EF: We are located all over the world. Our parent company is located in Vaduz, Lichtenstein, and this has been useful from a regulatory standpoint, but we have team members in more than fourteen different countries. The US and Europe are most strongly represented.

Among the co-founders, Tom and I live in the US, Fabio in Austria, Fabian in Switzerland and Luciano in Brazil. So we had a global team literally from day one.

What are some of Nash’s notable achievements or milestones?

It’s always possible to break things down in different ways, but I’d say our first milestone was the public sale of our Nash Exchange security token (NEX) in 2018. This was an extremely big deal for us and, really, the whole ecosystem, as no one had ever publicly sold and issued a token that also had legal standing as a European security. Getting this done took more than a year of communication and back-and-forth with regulators at the FMA in Lichtenstein. The reason we went through so much pain was to provide investors with legal protections and explicitly pay dividends from the services we are building, which is only possible with a proper security. In the end, more than 15,000 people invested and we raised around twenty million in the public sale.

Our second major milestone was the release of our exchange in early September of this year. We are the first exchange to demonstrate non-custodial, cross-chain trading of assets and tokens that live on different blockchains (for example, Ethereum and NEO) with performance on par with centralized exchanges. I can’t emphasize enough how difficult this was to accomplish and how proud we are of the team for pulling it off. All three of these ideas—lack of custody, cross-chain trading and high performance—are critical for our users. I also want to note that our work on this product is far from done. We’re still optimizing and increasing user retention before opening the product fully to the public and are working to add many more assets, including Bitcoin. Having Bitcoin on a non-custodial exchange will have a huge impact on the industry.

What is self-custody so important but such a hard concept for new users to understand?

EF: I’m not sure it is hard for people to understand if explained properly. In its simplest form, custody is control. So self-custody means you control the asset. In almost every exchange that people use today, if you want to trade a cryptocurrency, you must give custody (and control) of that asset to an exchange. But this is terrifying because you have very little recourse if an exchange is incompetent or untrustworthy. If an exchange is hacked or steals your money, there is little the legal system (or anyone else) can do for you. Self-custody makes it impossible for an attacker or exchange operator to seize all your funds and vanish.

What are the benefits of using Nash as opposed to other exchanges?

EF: Self-custody, combined with similar performance and liquidity to centralized exchanges, is the biggest reason you should use Nash right now. So you should use Nash if you want to control your assets and trade on an exchange that has a good user experience.

What can you tell us about the Nash product roadmap? What upcoming features are you most excited about rolling out?

EF: Support for non-custodial Bitcoin trading is very exciting. Personally, I’ve also been spending a lot of time working with something called threshold signatures, which we are going to leverage to make user accounts even more secure. The basic idea with threshold signatures is that you can give us the power to enforce arbitrary security policies on your account without giving us control of the assets. For example, you could have us impose a daily withdrawal limit of your choosing, or lock withdrawals outside a certain time window. There are too many details to explain the system here fully, but this is a very exciting technology.

What are the biggest challenges of building a product and functional user experience for crypto users?

EF: This is a really big question, but I’m happy to go into two of the bigger ones. The first and probably most problematic issue is the general lack of guardrails that comes with self-custody. Self-custody is powerful because you are in complete control. But complete control also makes it very easy for you to shoot yourself in the foot or walk off a cliff. And even worse, it is very difficult for a third party to come on the scene and save you. We saw a lot of this with Neon Wallet, where users would lose tens of thousands of dollars (or in a few horrifying cases, even more) because they did not back up their private keys properly. Creating self-custodial applications where it is much harder for users to get into these terrible situations, no matter what they do, is a fundamental design goal for Nash across everything we build.

A second big problem, which I think gets talked about a lot, are the basic affordances of blockchains. Across most of the ways you interact with them, blockchains are really slow. If you look at Nielsen’s famous book Usability Engineering, he talks about the scales of time at which a user will remain engaged with an interaction. You need to be faster than 0.1 seconds for a user to feel that something is instantaneous, after 1 second a user’s thoughts begin to be interrupted and after 10 seconds it is quite difficult for a user to remain focused on a task. Typical interactions with blockchains blow past this scale. Even in a relatively fast interaction, it is rare for that to complete in under ten seconds. This speed issue, and the related issue of bandwidth make “second-layer” scaling solutions really important. These are protocols that work on top of a blockchain and provide useful security guarantees, but minimize interaction with the blockchain itself. We use a variant of this sort of technology to make the speed of Nash’s APIs possible.

What other projects and/or blockchain developments are you most excited about?

EF: I’d be excited to see regulators clarify some of their positions on digital assets, and governments enter the space with something like a USD token or CNY token. Even if these assets are not as decentralized, the right sort of platform would allow users to engage with other third parties without trust, and I suspect such national efforts would drive broader adoption. I’m also excited to see the Elrond blockchain grow in adoption. Elrond is solving some really hard scalability problems, though I need the caveat here that I am an advisor to the company.

Do you have any blockchain and/or crypto predictions for 2020 and beyond?

EF: I’m optimistic that the space will go through another boom cycle, hopefully this time driven by new companies and technologies solving real problems.

What are the biggest obstacles for mainstream adoption of crypto?

EF: The most important thing is that some cryptocurrency or token needs to solve a real problem that many people have besides store or value or speculation. When that happens, adoption will be fast and inevitable. The second issue is that self-custody of these assets needs to be accessible to everyone: easy to use and low risk to manage. Nash is working on both of these problems, and they each are really hard, but the second is definitely easier than the first!

What is your most controversial opinion relating to blockchain and/or cryptocurrency?

EF: Many and perhaps most tokens traded on US exchanges violate the Howey test.

For more information:

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