News: Rip Off Britain on Bitcoin, Tether in depth, Ethereum as non-security, blockchain not up to UK welfare, Apple kicks crypto apps, religion but on the blockchain

  • This morning’s Rip Off Britain on BBC One had a nice piece on Bitcoin (i.e., cryptocurrency) scams — a victim of the Bitcoin Gold scam, and a victim of Greenfields Capital, who appear, from this show, to be a bunch of crooks. If you’re in the UK, you can see it on iPlayer for the next month — it’s the last segment of the show, 27:24 to 41:08. Edit: Someone’s put the episode up on YouTube.


Trust the nice BBC ladies — don’t buy Bitcoin.


  • Ethereum is not a security! Insofar as William Hinman, director of corporate finance at the SEC, can legislate from the stage. It is possible a judge won’t agree, of course — and Hinman’s words did explicitly exclude the original Ethereum ICO from his statement. I’d have thought that, functionally, ether’s a commodity in real-world use, so this would be a decision everyone could more or less live with. But Preston Byrne is boggling in considered detail. I’m sure it will all continue to be interesting.


  • University of Texas finance professor John Griffin and his student Amin Shams’ new paper on Tether money flows “Is Bitcoin Really Un-Tethered?” is clear and readable and well worth your time — and the coverage in the Financial Times, the New York Times and Bloomberg got the news out to the wider world. Griffin doesn’t show literal smoking-gun evidence of malfeasance by any particular actor in the Tether system — but he does show, pretty unambiguously, that the chances of any of this not being manipulated to hell are just about zero. Not that this is news to anyone who’s followed crypto trading in the past year — but it’s nice to see the news getting out there.
  • Griffin actually somewhat scooped a paper Robert-Jan Den Haan was preparing on Tether, but Den Haan’s put some of that work up as an article as well — he thinks that the Bitcoin price is not being pumped with tethers on Bitfinex, but by other actors in the system. Bitfinex is Tether’s only “customer;” it takes in dollars, but only allows dollar withdrawal in tethers. “The issuance of new Tether tokens therefore occurs when Bitfinex runs out of Tether tokens they can sell to their users … Paolo Ardoino, Bitfinex’s chief technology officer, confirmed in an interview that Bitfinex is a direct customer of Tether and is currently the only gateway in and out of Tether.” So why are people still trading these things at around $1 per USDT? “The price of Tether is guaranteed by Bitfinex offering and crediting each Tether token for one U.S. dollar per token.” If you’re following the Tether story, you should read this article closely.
  • Edit: Robert-Jan adds: “So, they didn’t take ‘my scoop’ (and imo, if anything, ‘my scoop’ would be that they actually talked to me), it was just some work I had been preparing for a long while which, because of the paper, become super relevant. It meant to contribute to the whole debate on tether by just clearly explaining how it nowadays works. Now all of a sudden, it was important as it adds context to their paper. Only I tried from refraining to really talk about manipulation, but in the two locations I reference to some specific details in their paper, that’s hugely important (as opposed to referencing to their overall conclusion). Second I would add that I don’t have any real thoughts on who/what/how/if is manipulating through Tether. The only way to stay impartial is by keeping an open mind (and also, to stay sane).”
  • In chapter 11 of the book, I wrote a few paragraphs on the UK Government Office for Science’s white paper “Distributed Ledger Technology: beyond block chain,” which I still maintain would be vastly improved if you imagine it being narrated by Philomena Cunk. I noted that “The meat of the report is a complicated plan to put all UK welfare spending on a single blockchain, purchases only being possible through a DRMed smartphone, for the purpose of fine-grained monitoring of spending habits. The noteworthy thing about this plan is how there is nothing feasible about any aspect of it.” And it turns out — per MP Kit Malthouse — “In 2016, DWP ran a trial proof of concept on a small scale and the findings concluded that it was not viable due to limited take up potential and the expenses it would incur. No other companies were involved in the trial and no benefit or personal data was shared with GovCoin on claimants.” That is, blockchains are literally too rubbish for Universal Credit. So much for the ambitions of GovCoin — who have changed their name to DISC, and got bought out by Rivetz.
  • The Apple Store tells cryptocurrency and token apps for iOS to go away. Apps are allowed to store cryptocurrencies, but must be on “an approved exchange”, and developers must be “enrolled as an organization”. Anything that interacts directly with cryptocurrencies or with tokens is now forbidden.
  • Not just YouGov Direct — we have another claimed GDPR-laundering product for personally identifying information, but on the blockchainOpinion Economy Blockchain. I should have guessed this would become a genre.
  • How much do banks hate crypto traders? “But after me they changed their policy and non financial coorporations are not allowed anymore with ING to transact in cryptocurrencies and the account of bitfinex was cancelled as well.”
  • Matt Liston, former CEO of Augur, has formed a blockchain-based religion. He announced 0xΩ (Zero Ex Omega) on 19 May — “It’s a religious framework that could allow for belief sets to update much more quickly and also to democratize the relationship between membership and convergence on what everyone believes in this religion.” He appreciates that people will think he’s joking, but he maintains that 0xΩ is quite serious — “We’re incentivizing mindsharing, and eventually mind upload to use consensus to form a structure of collective consciousness. And then, we’ll elevate an individual interaction with a religious structure as a group participation in a collective consciousness where the structure itself is God.”



Become a Patron!

Your subscriptions keep this site going. Sign up today!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.