Crytocurrenices trading platforms and security what to watch out for.

Exchanges

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Hey all! ok so now for some dirt...

most of my reticence in posting and blogging about crypto has been around the following information because there is indeed much to be excited about in this space but getting any real help or truly independent info has been... challenging. I started this particular edition of our blog in November 2017 and since then the market, as you will all know exploded! really too high.

Most of the bloggers were getting paid at that time to write their data to support the platforms. And in the beginning, they needed it. Then they became so inundated with users and unable to scale to the massive explosions that there were a number of issues. Primarily it is in service they failed, but now many are finally getting up to speed with responses now sometimes in days instead of weeks. One of our team comes from a restaurant background so to use her analogy; it's like opening your doors to the customer and they all expect to rush in and get that empty seat that they can just see... over there! But then, if the staff foolishly succumb to the pressure and let them all in, all they could do, being understaffed, is scramble to take the orders, because now, as they are seated "paying customers" they demand service! And you can be sure they wont pay if you don't serve them well. Ok so now the floor staff have totally overwhelmed the kitchen with dockets they cannot possibly manage to cook. so they start freaking out, burning food after they proudly and successfully served the first few orders... maybe they actually had enough staff for the first few dockets ...but now its like "fantasia" with  never-ending orders so they start letting the food go out half cooked (or, in the case of an exchange - customers and coins not fully vetted or secure) so you end up with a room full of angry/hungry dissatisfied customers and no way to fix anything before they leave - and in the case of some of the crypto exchanges it was security breeches with the loss of some wild amounts of money.

If these platforms simply "held people at the door" and let customers in as they were truly able to service them... ie so they had time to train and put on more staff to match the inflow, things would not have been such a mess! Inexperienced business operations.

Clearly the issue was over having quality developers and highly skilled security to match the amount of opportunists out there trying to break in.  

But this is getting ahead of everything.  Lets look at a few:

Take Poloniex for example, they WERE one of the largest, original trading platforms based in the USA that don't accept any normal money - or what is referred to as 'fiat currency'. 

To get your coin into that platform you had to go in from your bank, then into a local platform that your bank approves and has a relationship with and then you have both the bank and platform verify you are a real person ( called KYC or Know Your Customer) and not some crook trying to clean their crime funds "launder it".

 

Most of the platforms required a number of different things to meet their own regulations and in researching the differences, we found them all very strict. You pay a service or transaction fee for all this verification and cannot move more than a little bit of money in or, especially, out until they figure you out and clear you. Even then, they have a tiering system of verification on some exchanges like Kraken to permit larger and larger amounts of funds in and out. Some even hold live skype call to see you are real. Once you are in a platform you will find that each one is like a mini market with the price to buy a coin varying a lot from the global average so it is very much a 'shop around' kind of thing. If you want a simple way in you can use one of the credit card paying systems that your bank has that does the verification and vouches for your money but these days even that is becomeing abused and not accepted with credit card fraud. For instance, if you are in Australia and Hong Kong, Coinspot operates a way in where you can only deposit up to $1000 in a 24 hr period and they must call you on the phone and verify your info over the phone. Then they let you put more in after a week but they are so expensive because their market to buy and sell is so small. We had no problems so no reason to contact them but their response time seemed about 1-2 days. There are more local platforms like  btcmarkets for Australia with a clear system to use with good, clear accounting  unlike many that are simply impossible to track anything like some of the european and asian exchanges. There are really so many to choose from it really depends what country you live in. China banned crypto and the big exchange Binance moved to Honk Kong and then eventually to Malta.  Once into a market and you buy a coin, you can send it to other platforms that have more types of coins to buy and sell which is where the penny stocks or ICO's can be very exciting that are changing our world. That is the main reason there are so many exchanges as they all take different mixes of coins.  Many of course are fake and disappeared as fast as they were created as people were not actually investigating them and just betting like many do on jockey colours and horse names at the races. Truly lotto! Why the regulators wanted to stop this when people will always take a punt I don't know as it was clearly marked as high risk!

You still have to complete the verification process on almost every site (except totally decentralised exchanges that no one runs like etherdelta to deposit your new coin but that is not the actual issue. The big thing is getting it out again!  Poloniex took over 2.5 months to verify a researcher from our team and a total of 4.5 months to respond to lost coin queries! Until verified you could not take more than USD$2000 out at a time. Then there was the issue of them losing a coin something like 70,000 coins of an alternative coin worth only pennies but during the 4 months, it was still 'lost', they did not respond and when they did it was to ask for silly things, then another month would go by before a another response. Either way, you could sit there and watch a coin go crazy in 24 hours and cant touch it losing literally thousands of dollars worth of coin as the platform crashed in overload - so don't get too excited (or frustrated) and breath!! We decided to look at it as enforced savings and character building and hope that the platform got itself together. Don't think for a moment anyone will honour any money lost... this is crypto, not a bank. It IS is the wild west!! If you are scared don't go there! In many countries there is still tax to pay if you make money!

Now there are other exchanges, much bigger and safer. Binance is possibly the largest and at this point, in April 2018, it has just been announced to be relocated to Malta as it had problems with governments in China, HongKong etc. It is listed as embedding  a staff of 200 on the ground in Malta (for a remote based exchange that is a lot of service staff!) and is regarded as one of the safest for security. It is also huge and selling something is very quick.

Other markets you cannot sign up to unless you are of that nationality because they are regulated and connected to a country which non-residents may not enter like Korea

There are ones not connected to any bank and therefore do not carry euro, dollars yen etc and are very easy ones to get into.  There are lots of sites to read about. The other big platform in the states is Coinbase that also had a predecessor that simply folded and took all the coin with it still under investigation called Mt Gox. America is becoming more and more regulated under Trump so unless you are American we recommend you steer clear of most of the sites. The one that our peers give the best wrap to is Bittrex even though it too had $70million stolen it seems to be going strong, Bitfinex is complex someone broke in and stole 119,756 bitcoin... (that is a lot of money!) the following site link gives you a good idea of some of the exchanges but it is an overwhelming amount of information.

there are lots of reviews in the exchanges and it is exciting but we recommend only putting small amounts on any one exchange and mainly taking it offline into a thing called Cold storage via a Trezor or Nano Ledger S which will store your coin keys not on the internet so its called a cold wallet. Cold storage means no one can hack it but you must keep the object safe and your recovery actions or YOU could lose it! Ps it is important to buy from official stores as there are eBay fakes compete with certificates that are set to steal your computer info so pay the extra and get the genuine thing.

 

 

 

Block Chain 102 ... how is it relevant? - an agricultural application and the climate

 This pic is in a land in Australia that receives less than a cup of water a year. The left field is without regeneration practises. The right is with these. It is the soil that has been improved to hold the water. can you see the difference?

This pic is in a land in Australia that receives less than a cup of water a year. The left field is without regeneration practises. The right is with these. It is the soil that has been improved to hold the water. can you see the difference?

Blockchain and the climate...

The application for agriculture is identity validation for premium markets wanting to ensure the product they are paying a premium for that originates in a far off or remote location, and must move through potentially corrupt ports, is actually the thing that arrives.  That, at the many checkpoints, there has been no possible human error as data entry because it is all done over the internet via the code with the validation encrypted in the code through the global network.

A premium will always be paid for food, fibre and proteins derived from the best soils with the most dense nutrients. Ironically, these soils also resolve our atmospheric CO2 issue by returning our wasted carbon back into the soil so our aim is to increase this activity!

Farms that use regenerative practise use up to 4 times less water because the soils becomes like a sponge of microbes and community all retaining the water.

The farms that do this will also most oft be the ones who treat the animals with best practise and humanity. This is not only in the organic community and it is a misread of the many great farmers out there who practise without certification but with a dedication to quality that get missed in this discussion.

Farmers are business people and to do this, they either own the most fertile, expensive land usually through inheritance or they must develop it with labour intensive practises that simply don’t add up in a conventional market that the hungry billions of people globally are willing or able to pay. So premium markets and their integrity security become the focus for soil improvement; something blockchain can potentially resolve.

You might question this saying but surely someone can still swap the item out for an inferior product? That’s where the creation of DNA and Phenotype scanners are being developed. So that within the code there can be the original DNA fingerprinting of the land and its unique markers that can be scanned, encrypted for transport and authenticated at the receipt end. 

Seeing the product is moving through the checkpoints and the farmer is being paid instantly using crypto currencies is currently already being used by groups like agunity.com which operate in several poor, rural countries changing the economic basis of marginal farmers by simply giving them a mobile phone (and a solar battery to charge it) so the farmer can now get and verify that their produce gets to their buyer and receive instant payment. The lives of these farmers is altering from as little as $300 a month to $1000 with just this one simple implementation.

As for internet connectivity issue (many farms are a long way from a mobile tower or any ability to upload via satellite) it is more a problem in a vast country like Australia with a small population but as Ag starts to see the use of technology to gather data that can take the guesswork out of farming, we feel sure the funds to alter telecommunications and transport infrastructure will bring this up into a competitive market. At present the big farmers use radio frequency on farm and upload from the farmhouse. Even these two big areas are the areas of industry that blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies are revolutionising!

Ok enough on farming and blockchain. Back to crypto! next blog.. its all on crypto stuff.

blockchain 101 - what is blockchain?

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We have recently been asked to write a simple blog to explain blockchain for the farming community by a lead industry body in Australian agriculture, so if you are an experienced user this may be a bit basic for you but if you are new please read on to see if it is relevant for you too and we thought you might like to see a bit of how blockchain applies to solutions. 

Ok, so let's take a think about this, first what is blockchain? Essentially it is a software just like bitcoin is, which is the name for a coin that is actually a mathematical code and its name is like the basics of computer technology which is made up of bits. 1’s and 0’s to be more precise, like on and off.

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A ‘block’ is a collection of data. Imagine it like a stack of accounts we will call ledgers, with all the money you budgeted and then spent all written on lists. Then imagine you had a stack of these lists collated into a file that is sent in multiple copies across the internet not showing what is in the file but rather that it IS this file, with a unique code attached to it to identify it referred to as a 'hash tag - #'.  (Therefore 'hash power' is how quickly the information can be moved in the internet - but more on that in later blogs on what these computer hardware things that drive this called ‘mines’ actually are and what they do.)

Everyone in this global community is verifying this ‘file’ is what it is, across the network so no one can cheat or replace it.  These grouped files form a 'block' and join other blocks of data moving across the net forming a chain of blocks. This system is open and transparent for all the public to track and see. Hence the term blockchain.  Ok so what if a person has one of these 'coins' ( they are not actually anything like a coin but you get the drift) and wants to send one to you. You have to open an account like you would at a bank, only this is not run by a bank so only you control it. If you do it on the internet it is not as secure as what is called a 'cold wallet' which is a piece of equipment like a usb stick that stores the codes off the internet... but then you have to protect it and not lose it, so really all that is up to you and your level of risk.  Ok so maybe you just open an account on the internet with an exchange, kind of like the global stock exchanged and yes they have to usually have a financial license to operate one. Then, you have to jump through all these hoops to prove you are not a criminal - called KYC (Know Your Customer) and AML (Anti Money Laundering). A few of them will take your hard earned cash from your bank account  (called 'fiat' money). Once you have done all that and they clear you, you simply spend the cash on a coin or a tiny percentage of a coin like bitcoin or ethereum and you are in!   

Just note that in countries that tax crypto which many still do not, the tax is paid every time you exchange one coin or part there of for another one and you pay what is called Capital Gains Tax CGT (or loss - maybe you can claim it back!) and the exchanges are fast becoming legally bound to reveal your details over a certain amount of money in your account if you have it listed on a public exchange - lets face it the governments of the world are always going to want a cut of any money you make no matter how you do it! 

No one person is ever able to monopolise or corrupt the information which is why it is truly decentralised. This makes it, theoretically, the most secure and transparent system ever – or it will be when we catch up with how many people are now using it! So if something gets attacked or 'hacked' as it is referred to, it is open on the Blockchain for all to see, if you care to look. Many hackers (term for guys who know this stuff but more widely known globally for the creeps who like to see if they can break in and steal stuff - not the majority by the way! Mostly hackers are bright, young, possibly socially quiet and awkward, often idealistic young computer people who like to compete to break each other's code but in fact many are just into it for the competitive game and would rather be gallant and protect you from people not pure to the nature of coding and the world of crypto-everything! So there are many who already watch the code (UEH – united ethical hackers also called white hackers) to keep it ethical because they believe passionately in a decentralised, open and non-government run systems so the whole world is part of this ...connection. for those of you interested i where the coders all hang out take a look at github.com and in India I understand it a similar space is bitbucket.com

Some types of blocks of data can hold different types of data in them so more and more businesses are finding user cases and application for the safe transfer of massive amounts of data that need its identity preserved and secure. This is causing the system to go slow which is why it is so variable but many people are working to fix this issue. But the security is why blockchain is becoming so desired. Of course, there are those saying its just added stuff to make money but with, but like all things new, infrastructure often seems unnecessary on a small scale. It’s when you are moving huge amounts of valuable data you need to ensure is protected that these things become more obvious.

As these blocks and files have no name to them they remain anonymous to anyone but the owner of the codes. 

If you prefer a video We found this one pretty cool and easy by Institute for the Future (IFTF)

Let us know in the feedback if we made that clearer?  The next blog is about some applications for blockchain.