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You've probably been hearing a lot about Bitcoin recently and are wondering what's the big deal? Most of your questions should be answered by the resources below but if you have additional questions feel free to ask them in the comments. It all started with the release of the release of Satoshi Nakamoto's whitepaper however that will probably go over the head of most readers so we recommend the following videos for a good starting point for understanding how bitcoin works and a little about its long term potential:
Limited Supply - There will only ever be 21,000,000 bitcoins created and they are issued in a predictable fashion, you can view the inflation schedule here. Once they are all issued Bitcoin will be truly deflationary. The halving countdown can be found here.
Open source - Bitcoin code is fully auditable. You can read the source code yourself here.
Accountable - The public ledger is transparent, all transactions are seen by everyone.
Decentralized - Bitcoin is globally distributed across thousands of nodes with no single point of failure and as such can't be shut down similar to how Bittorrent works. You can even run a node on a Raspberry Pi.
Censorship resistant - No one can prevent you from interacting with the bitcoin network and no one can censor, alter or block transactions that they disagree with, see Operation Chokepoint.
Push system - There are no chargebacks in bitcoin because only the person who owns the address where the bitcoins reside has the authority to move them.
Low fee scaling - On chain transaction fees depend on network demand and how much priority you wish to assign to the transaction. Most wallets calculate on chain fees automatically but you can view current fees here and mempool activity here. On chain fees may rise occasionally due to network demand, however instant micropayments that do not require confirmations are happening via the Lightning Network, a second layer scaling solution currently rolling out on the Bitcoin mainnet.
Borderless - No country can stop it from going in/out, even in areas currently unserved by traditional banking as the ledger is globally distributed.
Portable - Bitcoins are digital so they are easier to move than cash or gold. They can even be transported by simply memorizing a string of words for wallet recovery (while cool this method is generally not recommended due to potential for insecure key generation by inexperienced users. Hardware wallets are the preferred method for new users due to ease of use and additional security).
Bitcoin.org and BuyBitcoinWorldwide.com are helpful sites for beginners. You can buy or sell any amount of bitcoin (even just a few dollars worth) and there are several easy methods to purchase bitcoin with cash, credit card or bank transfer. Some of the more popular resources are below, also check out the bitcoinity exchange resources for a larger list of options for purchases.
Here is a listing of local ATMs. If you would like your paycheck automatically converted to bitcoin use Bitwage. Note: Bitcoins are valued at whatever market price people are willing to pay for them in balancing act of supply vs demand. Unlike traditional markets, bitcoin markets operate 24 hours per day, 365 days per year. Preev is a useful site that that shows how much various denominations of bitcoin are worth in different currencies. Alternatively you can just Google "1 bitcoin in (your local currency)".
Securing your bitcoins
With bitcoin you can "Be your own bank" and personally secure your bitcoins OR you can use third party companies aka "Bitcoin banks" which will hold the bitcoins for you.
If you prefer to "Be your own bank" and have direct control over your coins without having to use a trusted third party, then you will need to create your own wallet and keep it secure. If you want easy and secure storage without having to learn computer security best practices, then a hardware wallet such as the Trezor, Ledger or ColdCard is recommended. Alternatively there are many software wallet options to choose from here depending on your use case.
If you prefer to let third party "Bitcoin banks" manage your coins, try Gemini but be aware you may not be in control of your private keys in which case you would have to ask permission to access your funds and be exposed to third party risk.
Note: For increased security, use Two Factor Authentication (2FA) everywhere it is offered, including email! 2FA requires a second confirmation code to access your account making it much harder for thieves to gain access. Google Authenticator and Authy are the two most popular 2FA services, download links are below. Make sure you create backups of your 2FA codes.
As mentioned above, Bitcoin is decentralized, which by definition means there is no official website or Twitter handle or spokesperson or CEO. However, all money attracts thieves. This combination unfortunately results in scammers running official sounding names or pretending to be an authority on YouTube or social media. Many scammers throughout the years have claimed to be the inventor of Bitcoin. Websites like bitcoin(dot)com and the btc subreddit are active scams. Almost all altcoins (shitcoins) are marketed heavily with big promises but are really just designed to separate you from your bitcoin. So be careful: any resource, including all linked in this document, may in the future turn evil. Don't trust, verify. Also as they say in our community "Not your keys, not your coins".
Where can I spend bitcoins?
Check out spendabit or bitcoin directory for millions of merchant options. Also you can spend bitcoin anywhere visa is accepted with bitcoin debit cards such as the CashApp card. Some other useful site are listed below.
Mining bitcoins can be a fun learning experience, but be aware that you will most likely operate at a loss. Newcomers are often advised to stay away from mining unless they are only interested in it as a hobby similar to folding at home. If you want to learn more about mining you can read more here. Still have mining questions? The crew at /BitcoinMining would be happy to help you out. If you want to contribute to the bitcoin network by hosting the blockchain and propagating transactions you can run a full node using this setup guide. If you would prefer to keep it simple there are several good options. You can view the global node distribution here.
Just like any other form of money, you can also earn bitcoins by being paid to do a job.
You can also earn bitcoins by participating as a market maker on JoinMarket by allowing users to perform CoinJoin transactions with your bitcoins for a small fee (requires you to already have some bitcoins.
The following is a short list of ongoing projects that might be worth taking a look at if you are interested in current development in the bitcoin space.
One Bitcoin is quite large (hundreds of £/$/€) so people often deal in smaller units. The most common subunits are listed below:
one bitcoin is equal to 100 million satoshis
1,000 per bitcoin
used as default unit in recent Electrum wallet releases
1,000,000 per bitcoin
colloquial "slang" term for microbitcoin (μBTC)
100,000,000 per bitcoin
smallest unit in bitcoin, named after the inventor
For example, assuming an arbitrary exchange rate of $10000 for one Bitcoin, a $10 meal would equal:
For more information check out the Bitcoin units wiki. Still have questions? Feel free to ask in the comments below or stick around for our weekly Mentor Monday thread. If you decide to post a question in /Bitcoin, please use the search bar to see if it has been answered before, and remember to follow the community rules outlined on the sidebar to receive a better response. The mods are busy helping manage our community so please do not message them unless you notice problems with the functionality of the subreddit. Note: This is a community created FAQ. If you notice anything missing from the FAQ or that requires clarification you can edit it here and it will be included in the next revision pending approval. Welcome to the Bitcoin community and the new decentralized economy!
Investment Thesis: Why investing in POW.TO (Power Corporation of Canada) now is an investment in a future high market cap Wealthsimple IPO
I have seen some posts here wondering about the wisdom of investing in Wealthsimple's parent company, Power Corporation of Canada (POW.TO). I decided to look more into this, decided to post my investment thesis and research on why I, long-term, I have a very bullish view on Wealthsimple (and by extension POW.TO), and why I think this is equal to being an early stage investor in a Wealthsimple IPO.
Ownership: Power Corporation of Canada (POW.TO) (83.2% ownership)
AssetsUnderMangement: $5.4 billion, as of June 30, 2020 (4.9 billion in June 30, 2019)
Wealthsimple Invest (ETF Roboadvisor service), WS was one of the first-movers in this space in Canada and offered robo-advising as part of its initial product in 2015. WS claims to have largest digital investing presence in Canada (70% of the market) (reference).
Wealthsimple Cash, a savings account service
Wealthsimple Trade, a commission free trading app where users can buy and sell ~8,000 stocks and ETFs
Wealthsimple Crypto, a commission free cryptocurrency trading app, currently in beta
SimpleTax.ca, a free tax-return service used by ~1 million Canadians per year, acquired in late 2019
WS has had many successful rounds of funding and a vote of confidence from both its parent POW.TO and other multinationals investing in fintech.
Last year WS received a $100 million dollar investment led by Allianz X, the start up investor arm of German financial services giant Allianz
WS has had 7 total investing rounds, totalling $266.9 million (reference)
WS has been extremely aggressive in targeting growth areas. Wealthsimple’s CEO Mike Katchen has said he wants to position the company as a “full-stack” financial services company. Here are some of their current expansion areas:
UK and USA Expansion - in 2017, they started offering similar investing services in the UK and the US (reference and reference).
Socially Responsible ETFs - WS recently partnered with Mackenzie Investment to offer socially responsible ETFs with a social and environmental focus. Although probably not something that older investors care about, this is particularly important for younger investors who want to make sure their investments are socially responsible
Cryptocurrency - WS is currently testing a beta service of their cryptocurrency app, and offering fee-free cryptocurrency trading, similar to Wealthsimple Trade. Whatever your views of cryptocurrency (I'm of the view that I can in some cases be part of a portfolio to hedge against risk), it's here to stay. Earlier this month, WS was the first company in Canada to register with the Ontario Securities Exchange Commission (reference). My sense is that crypto will face increasing regulations and scrutiny in the coming years, which will be a good thing for WS which is a step ahead of the game (reference). Even Google is starting to look into relaxing its restraints on crypto (reference).
Other full-stack services - WS has been mum on what other services they might offer, but insurance, mortgages, and chequing accounts could be other areas of disruption. (Reference)
WS is run by young guys who have big ambitions and plans for the company. Sometimes there are CEOs with the intangibles that can really drive a company's growth, and from what I can glean, I think the company has a lot of potential here in terms of vision by its leaders. You can read more about the founders here
Michael Katchen, CEO, Background: Led product and marketing at a start up called 1000memories, a Y Combinator startup later acquired by Ancestry.com. Worked for McKinsey & Company.
Brett Huneycutt, COO, Rhodes Scholar... not much else I know about the guy
Quote sfrom CEO: Michael Katchen On being laughed out of the boardroom when he proposed his idea for Wealthsimple:
Within the last month, Wealthsimple has also opened an office in London. Katchen said a push into the European market is “possible” as its “ambitions are global,” but right now the Canadian and U.S. markets are “a lot to chew.” It is a far cry from the company’s early days: Katchen said he was “laughed out of the boardroom” for laying out a global vision for Wealthsimple at a time when they had just $1.9-million in funding and 20 users***.***“It’s a very personal mission of mine since I moved back from California, to inspire more Canadian companies to think big and to think internationally about the businesses that they’re building,” he said. (reference)
On Wealthsimple's growth in the next 10-15 years:
Wealthsimple has more than $5 billion in assets under management and 175,000 customers in Canada, the U.S. and U.K. He sees that reaching $1 trillion 15 years. “We’re just getting started,” he said. “Our plans are to get to millions of clients in the next five years.” (reference)
Brand Value and Design
Out of all the financial services company in Canada, WS probably has the most cohesive and smart design concept across its platforms and products. I see the value in Wealthsimple in not just the assets they have under management, but also the value of the brand itself. I mean, what kind of financial services company makes a blog post about their branding colour scheme and font choices? Also see: Wealthsimple’s advertisement earlier this year capturing 4 million views on Youtube. There also seems to be very strong brand awareness and brand loyalty amongst its users. I think a lot of users find WS refreshing as a financial services company because they cut through the "bullshit" and legalese, and try to simply things for the consumer. They also have their own in house team of designers and creative directors to do branding, design, and advertising, and this kind of vertical integration is generally unheard of in the financial services industry (reference).
Interestingly, the CEO’s ultimate goal is to take the company public. Therefore, I see an investment in POW.TO as being an early stage pre-IPO investor in WS (reference).
The goal is to get Wealthsimple to the size and scale to go public, something that Katchen said he’s “obsessed with.” While admitting that an IPO was still a few years down the road, Katchen already has a target of $20 billion in assets under administration (AUA) as the tipping point (the company recently announced $4.3 billion in AUA as of Q1 2019) (reference)
Ultimately, my sense is that a spun-out Wealthsimple IPO eventually be worth a lot, perhaps even more than POW.TO at some point. Obviously the company is losing money right now, and no where even close to an IPO, and there are still many chances that this company could flop. The best analogy that I can think of is when Yahoo bought an early stake in Alibaba (BABA) back in the early 2000s, and there came a point where their stake in BABA was worth more than Yahoo’s core business. I think an investment in POW.TO now is an early investment in WS before it goes public. (reference)
Expansion problems. In the UK, they reported significant losses and despite increasing users. (reference). The US is also an especially competitive space with lots of similar competitors.
The robo-advising, fintech space is highly competitive now, and the Big Five Banks and other investment/trading companies could easily start offering low-cost or commission free trading
Competitors such as Robinhood could also expand into the Canadian market and take out a huge chunk of WS's userbase
The X Factor
What I find particularly compelling about WS is they have aggressively positioned themselves to be a disruptor in the Canadian financial services industry. This is an area that has traditionally been thought to be a firewall for the Big Five Banks. There is also a generational gap in investing approaches, knowledge, and strategy, and I think WS has positioned itself nicely with first-time investors. My sense is that COVID-19 has also captured a huge amount of young adults with its trading app in the last few months, who will continue to use Wealthsimple products in the future. The average age of its user is around 34. As younger individuals are more comfortable with moving away traditional banking products, I think Wealthsimple’s product offering offers significant advantages over its competitors.
Power Corp is a Good Home
Currently POW.TO is trading at $26.30, down from its 52-week high of $35.15. I see an investment in POW.TO now as fairly low risk, and while WS grows, and there is also the added benefit of a high dividend stock. One of the most confusing things I found about Power Corp was its confusing corporate structure where there were two stocks, Power Financial Corp, and Power Corp of Canada. Fortunately, in Dec 2019, they simplified and consolidated the stocks, which also simplifies the holding structure of WS. I currently see POW.TO has a good stock to hold as well if you're a dividend holder, with a dividend of 6.86%. Also, POW.TO is patient enough to bide its time and let its investment in WS grow, unlike a VC that might want to sell it quick. For example, the reason why WS went with POW.TO instead of the traditional VC route is explained here:
Katchen has directly addressed the question of why he did not go the traditional VC route recently, saying: If you are a business that requires perhaps decades to achieve the vision you have, well, if you’re not going to be able to generate the kind of returns that venture needs is they will force you to sell yourself, they will force you to go public before you’re ready, or they will just forget about you because you’re going to be a write off. And so Katchen essentially flipped Wealthsimple to Power Financial. Power is well known as a conservative, patient, long-term investor. (https://opmwars.substack.com/p/the-wealthsimple-founders-before)
My belief is there is a huge unrecognized potential in POW.TO's massive ownership stake in WS that will be realized maybe 5-10 years down the road. I didn't really dive into the financials of POW.TO in relation to WS's performance, because the earnings reports do no actually say much about WS. I'm aware of the main criticisms that POW.TO is a mature company and dividend stock that has been trading sideways for many years, and the fact that WS is currently not a profitable company. I am not a professional investor, and this is just my amateur research, so I certainly welcome any comments/criticism of this thesis that people on this subreddit might have! (Please be gentle on me!).
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.
Chain Games has just come out not even 6 hours ago and is already trading at over 10m volume with over 1500 holding addresses. They already have a working product - Super Crypto Cart, which you can download right now and play on PC. Market cap is currently only over $10m, so incredibly low still. Circulating supply is currently 275m. There is a huge chance for this one to blow up. The gaming industry is already massive and growing each day, as well as influencers having a huge impact on the industry as well. This will propel the gaming industry to a new level. Blockchain Gaming Redefined Chain Games is an evolution in Web 3.0 blockchain gaming combining smart contract based wagering with state of the art gameplay. We are committed to transitioning the blockchain gaming industry into the modern gaming era. A Complete Gaming Ecosystem in Three Categories Proprietary Games Chain Games has launched its flagship title Super Crypto Kart, with more amazing 1st party titles to come. This allows for all users to get started on day one of launch, betting against other players in REAL LIVE matches with REAL CRYPTO PAYOUTS! Open dApp Store Any developer can integrate the Chain Games wagering system in their game. After uploading their game, developers earn a share of the 3% rake from each match. This is such a no-brainer for any 3rd party developer to submit, this dApp store will fill up FAST! Integration w/ Game Studios Chain Games aims to partner with established game studios with millions of users each. These integrations will allow these studios to earn significantly more revenue, while opening Chain Games & the CHAIN token to an immense market. Whitepaper - https://chaingames.io/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/Chain_Games-White-Paper-Aug-2020v4.pdf Website - chaingames.io Telegram - https://t.me/chaingames DON’T MISS THIS ONE!
Introducing EthVerse (Multiverse platform with Defi integration)
Ethverse is a blockchain-powered MetaVerse built on top of Minecraft (100M+ users). Ethverse is a decentralized world that allows users to be in control of their assets and participate in the crypto economy within the Ethverse ecosystem. Some of the use cases include: • DeFi Banking services (Lending and borrowing using Ethverse assets as collateral etc..) • Buying, selling and trading land as well as tokenized assets • Paying for services • Gaming • Building new cities Alpha is already out, Beta is out in 2 weeks. Glimpse of Ethverse : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aZvzIvRHXGo Tokenomics Total supply: 40M tokens Private sale raised: 500 ETH (6M tokens) Private sale price: 0.000125 ETH Uniswap Liquidity at Launch: 1M tokens Uniswap listing price: 0.000250 ETH (<100K mcap on day 1) Initial supply: 7M tokens (lock on the remaining tokens for 6 months and longer) Deflationary aspects of the Token: Users can burn tokens to acquire rare assets in game and 1% of the supply is burnt to create new cities that are connected through a portal to the main server. Launch Thursday 6th August on UNISWAP at 2pm UTC ETHV Token Address: https://etherscan.io/address/0xeeeeeeeee2af8d0e1940679860398308e0ef24d6 🔥 Partnerships Team has already partnered with Metatransact (https://twitter.com/metatransact) to allow users to send ETHV tokens on Ethereum by paying txn fees in $ETHV instead of $ETH and therefore reduce microtransaction fees! Many more partnerships and AMAs are in the pipeline post-launch Market Potential Decentraland has a 60M mcap and Enjin has a 120M mcap. The upside is HUGE. Minecraft has a user base of 100M+ who will have the opportunity to earn while playing on the Ethverse platform Links https://ethverse.com/https://ethverse.com/Ethverse_lightpaper.pdf Medium (https://medium.com/ethverse/introducing-ethverse-e661136457c6) Telegram: https://t.me/ethverse (growing very quickly) Telegram Announcements: https://t.me/ethverse_announcement
Decentr ($DEC) - foundational cross-chain and cross-platform DeFi protocol
Decentr is a protocol designed to make blockchain/DLT mainstream by allowing DeFi applications built on various blockchains to “talk to each other”. Decentr is a 100% secure and decentralised Web 3.0 protocol where users can apply PDV (personal data value) to increase APR on $DEC that users loan out as part of of our DeFi dLoan features, as well as it being applied at PoS when paying for stuff online. Decentr is also building a BAT competitor browser and Chrome/Firefox extension that acts as a gateway to 100% decentralised Web 3.0
Allows DeFi Dapps to access all Decentr’s dFintech features, including dLoan, dPay. Key innovation is that the protocols is based on a user’s ability to leverage the value of their data as exchangeable “currency”.
Decentr is building foundational chain-agnostic protocols that will support “true” 100% DeFi Dapps, a 100% secure and decentralised, user-centric alt economy. DeFi dApps inter-connected by Decentr can talk to each other and share PDV (personal data value) of their users. PDV is best described as a personalized “exchange rate” (in a sense social reputation where more effort leads to more rewards and NOT more capital to more rewards. ) between currencies that users apply at point-of-sale to make the cost of goods and services cheaper online. PDV is applied to the APR users earn on $DEC (native token) that they hold that they loan out as part of the investing pool. PDV will also allow uncollateralized loans on their dLoan platform, and also on platforms like Aave and Compound.
Decentr will implement ZKsync to get super cheap and super fast transactions across the ETH network. It is also working with HoloChain and Tomochain to allow connect their DeFi ecosystem to the Ethereum DeFi ecosystem. Decentr has DEEP TIES and a PARTNERSHIP with Holochain: https://medium.com/@DecentrNet/decentr-holochain-ama-29d662caed03
Decentr is also building a browser and Chrome/Firefox extension - a gateway that “transitions” Web 2.0 into a 100% decentralised Web 3.0 via their suite of decentralised dFintech and dCommunications features. The browser adds a 100% decentralised “user layer” to current blockchain protocols so that applications built on blockchain can actually “talk to each other”. The browser uses encryption all the time and the power of blockchain to keep private keys safe. Browser will offer a more robust and innovative type of blockchain storage and caching that is much faster than VPN or TOR. It will allow surfing .onion addresses as well as the regular ones. >>BAT browser 400m marketcap, DEC marketcap 4m<<
Decentr is researching a hardware application, powered by Decentr software, that would greatly enhance current IoT networks. It’s called a “Smart Chip Node” (SCN) and will adhere to 4G LTE standards (with in-built 5G capability), which means connectivity between devices will match or exceed current speed and connectivity, dramatically improving stability and coverage of standalone devices, such as a laptop or tablet, as well as IoT devices, such as home routers and modems.
Decentr uses Coinbase API to optimise integrated implementation of the user layer and Blockchain as a Service (BaaS) to allow users to leverage cloud-based solutions to build, host and use their own blockchain apps. Tierion’s technological infrastructure, the Chainpoint Proof protocol, will come into play whenever a user adds something in Tierion’s data store. Hyperledger Fabric and R3 Corda private blockchains are used as an immutable transaction database for data transfers, including the following tech: R3 Corda, Hyperledger Fabric, Ansible, Bitbucket Pipelines, AWS, Node.JS, GoLang, Kotlin and CouchDB.
Implements a system of layered security protocols based on a radically-new software architecture that combines Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC)4 and Sobol sequencing with a n-dimensional chain as part of AI-enhanced, platform-wide community consensus mechanism — a mechanism that assigns mutually agreed value to data and user security protocol upgrades (further encouraging enhanced data integrity) by deploying a Delegated Proof of Stake (DPoS) protocol.
Bank of England has reached out to Decenr to discuss the potential of a UK CBDC upon hearing about the potential of their tech. Decentr is consistent with their own R&D into a "dGBP" and they requested a top-level document for review >> Decentr created this proposal: https://decentr.net/files/Decentr_Consultancy_Doc_UK_CBDC.pdf
A fee is charged for every transaction using dPay whereby an exchange takes place between money (fiat and digital) and data, and vice versa, either as part of DeFi features or via a dApp built on Decentr. They are launching pilot programmes in the following industries:
Banking/PSP Industry: On Product launch, due to Decentr’s powerful PSP connections (including the worlds #2 PSP by volume), a medium-scale pilot program will be launched, which will seed the network with 150,000 PSP customers in primarily the Spanish/LAC markets, generating revenue from day one.
“Bricks and Mortar” Supermarket/Grocery Industry: Decentr aims to ensure the long-term competitiveness of “bricks and mortar” supermarkets against online-only grocery retailers, such as Amazon, by a) building secure tech that allows supermarkets to digitise every aspect of their supply chains and operational functions, while b) allowing supermarkets to leverage this incredibly valuable data as a liquid asset class. Expected revenue by Year 5: $114Mn per year.
Online Advertising Industry: Decentr’s 100% decentralised platform credits users secure data with payable value, in the form of PDV, for engaging with ads. The Brave browser was launched in 2012 and in 8 years has reached over 12 million monthly active users, accented by as many as 4.3 million daily active users.
TOKEN $DEC AND SALE
Decentr recently complete their token sale on a purchase portal powered by Dolomite where they raised $974,000 in 10 minutes for a total sale hardcap of 1.25M. The $DEC token is actively trading on multiple exchanges including Uniswap and IDEX. Listed for free on IDEX, Hotbit, Hoo, Coinw, Tidex, BKex. Listed on CoinGecko and Coinmarketcap. Listed on Delta and Blockfolio apps. ➡️ Circulating supply: 61m $DEC. ➡️ Release schedule and token distribution LINK -> NO RELEASE UNTIL 2021.
A tradeable unit of value that is both internal and external to the Decentr platform.A unit of conversion between fiat entering and exiting the Decentr ecosystem.A way to capture the value of user data and combines the activity of every participant of the platform performing payment (dPay), or lending and borrowing (dLend), i.e a way to peg PDV to tangible/actionable value.Method of payment in the Decentr ecosystem.A method to internally underwrite the “Deconomy.
The world of DeFi is exploding but is it all it’s made out to be?
DeFi (decentralised finance) is most certainly the buzz in the crypto world this minute. It’s bringing similar feelings which was the 2017/18 ICO phase, where a mammoth of new projects begun to explode onto the scene, each with their own promise of new innovation and use case. Hindsight has shown us that most of those projects have ultimately failed, or worse, were outright scams that took advantage of not so wise investors looking to make a buck. Obviously, not all projects fit that description, with many teams still around today working on and delivering their individual visions. Crypto is, after all, still a big experiment of new technology.
Enter DeFi: Serum
DeFi has exploded into the limelight over the last few months, with some tokens appreciating hundreds of percent in price. It appears to be the catalyst that has driven a huge market shift in the crypto world, and for those who’ve been around a number of years, this is a welcome change. In this piece, I’m going to examine a particular project called Serum.
Serum is the world’s first completely decentralized derivatives exchange with trustless cross-chain trading brought to you by Project Serum.
The Serum Project is aiming to create both a decentralised exchange and a cross-chain swapping mechanism. In this article, I’m going to focus solely on the cross-chain swapping aspect of Serum. Although the Serum whitepaper is quite short and lacking in detail, it is useful to derive some understanding of how the cross-chain swapping protocol should work. Throughout this review, I will use it to describe how the imagined protocol works.
Let's assume Alice wants to trade some BTC for ETH and Bob wants to trade some ETH for BTC using Serum. These two users are matched and agree on a price using an on-chain order book on the Solana blockchain (whitepaper provides no practical details on how to do this). Once these users are matched, Bob must send the ETH he wants to trade to an Ethereum smart contract, plus some amount of ETH ~200 USD worth (see section 4 below) to the smart contract as collateral. Alice will also need to send some collateral to the smart contract. Once this initial setup process is complete Alice then has to send her BTC to Bob’s BTC address and if Bob receives the BTC from Alice he can then release his ETH from the smart contract sending it to Alice’s ETH address. Upon completion of this both Alice and Bob are refunded their ETH collateral. So what happens if something goes wrong? For example, say Alice never sends BTC to Bob, after some period of time Bob can initiate a dispute. When the dispute begins both Alice and Bob present a portion of the Bitcoin blockchain information to the smart contract (see section 3). The smart contract then decides whether or not Alice did send BTC to Bob. If she hasn’t then the smart contract returns Bob's ETH and collateral to Bob and also takes Alice’s ETH collateral and gives that to Bob. The same occurs in reverse if Alice sends BTC but Bob never approves the transfer of ETH from the smart contract. This scheme seems pretty simple, there’s no oracles and no centralised parties, however, it has a number of disadvantages.
1. User-Provided Collateral Is Bad for User Experience
Each time a user conducts a swap they must reserve some percentage or fixed amount to cover the collateral for the swap. This collateral amount needs to be present to prevent griefing attacks where users initiate swaps with no intention of ever following through and sending funds to the alternate participant. However, this creates a poor user experience as both Alice and Bob need to have at least the value of the dispute fee committed to the contract in collateral before they conduct a swap. This is totally foreign from the normal exchange experience in which you only require a single coin and a single transaction to begin trading. For example, if using Serum to trade Bitcoin you would need to hold Bitcoin and ~200$ of Ethereum and also interact with the Ethereum chain before any swap occurs. This adds unnecessary complexity and confusion, especially for newcomers to the crypto space.
2. ETH Must Always Be on One Side of the Swap
Although the Serum method of cross-chain swapping could occur on any blockchain with smart contracts, the Serum whitepaper makes it clear the Serum arbitration contract is going to be deployed on the Ethereum blockchain. This means one party must always be locking the full value of the trade in ETH using an Ethereum smart contract. This makes it impossible, for example, to do a single step trade between Bitcoin and Monero since the swap would need to be from Bitcoin to ETH first and then from ETH to Monero. This is comparable to other proposed cross-chain swap systems like Thorchain and Blockswap, however since those networks use AMM’s (automated market makers)and decentralized vaults to take custody of funds, the user needs not to interact with the intermediary chain at all. Instead in Serum, the user wanting to swap Bitcoin to Monero will need to do the following steps:
Send Ethereum collateral to the Serum arbitration contract
Send Bitcoin to the user they are swapping with.
Send Ethereum back to Serum arbitration contract
Send Ethereum out of Serum arbitration contract
Receive back Ethereum collateral
It might be possible to remove or simplify step 4, depending on how the smart contract is built, however, this means a swap from BTC to Monero would require 2 Ethereum and 1 Bitcoin transaction in the best-case scenario. Compared with the experience of other cross-chain swapping mechanisms, which only require the user to send a single transaction to swap between two assets, this is very poor user experience.
3. Proving Transactions on Arbitrary Chains to a Smart Contract Is Not Trivial
Perhaps the most central part of the Serum cross-chain swapping mechanism is left completely unexplored in the Serum whitepaper with only a brief explanation given.
“[The] Smart Contract is programmed to parse whether a proposed BTC blockchain is valid; it can then check which of Alice and Bob send the longer valid blockchain, and settle in their favor”
This is not a trivial problem, and it is unclear how this actually works from the explanation given in the Serum whitepaper. What actually needs to be presented to the smart contract to prove a Bitcoin transaction? Typically when talking about SPV the smart contract would need the block headers of all previous blocks and a merkle inclusion proof. This is far too heavy to submit in a dispute. Instead, Serum could use NIPoPoW, however, these proofs only work on chains with fixed difficulty and are still probably prohibitively too large (~100KB) to be submitted as a proof to a contract. Other solutions like Flyclient are more versatile, but proof sizes are much larger and have failed to see much real-world adoption. Without explaining how they actually plan to do this validation of Bitcoin transactions, users are left in the dark about how secure their solution actually is.
4. High Dispute Fees Force Large Collateral on Small Trades
Although disputes should almost never happen because of the incentives and punishments designed into the Serum protocol, the way they are designed has negative impacts on the use of the network. Although the Serum whitepaper does not say how the dispute mechanism works, they do say that it will cost about ~100 USD in GAS to dispute a swap. Note: keep in mind that the Serum paper was published in July 2020 when the gas price was about 50 Gwei, as Ethereum use has picked up over the past month we have seen average GAS prices as high as 250 Gwei, with the average price right now about 120 Gwei. This means that at the height of GAS prices it could have cost a user ~500 USD to dispute a swap. This means for the network to ensure losing cross-chain swaps aren’t made each user must deploy at least $200 in collateral on each side. It may be possible to lower this to collateral if we assume the attacker is not financially motivated, however, there is a lower bound in which ransom attacks become possible on low-value trades. Further and perhaps more damagingly, this means in a trade of any size the user needs to have at least 300 USD in ETH laying around. 100 USD in ETH for the required collateral and 200 USD if they need to challenge the transaction. This further adds to the poor user experience when using Serum for cross-chain swapping.
5. Swaps Are Not Set and Forget
Instead of being able to send a transaction and receive funds on the blockchain you are swapping to, the process is highly interactive. In the case where I am swapping ETH for Bitcoin, the following occurs:
Send a transaction to the Serum arbitration contract with my collateral.
Send a transaction to the Serum arbitration contract with the funds to be traded.
Wait until the Bitcoin transaction sent to my address has an acceptable amount of confirmations (up to 60 mins, depending on network congestion).
If the Bitcoin transaction is never received then I need to wait for a timeout to occur before I can participate in the dispute process.
Send a transaction to the Serum arbitration contract unlocking my funds and sending them to the participant.
And on the Bitcoin side (assuming the seller is ready), the following must take place:
Send my Ethereum collateral to the smart contract.
Send the Bitcoin.
Wait until the Seller has accepted that Bitcoin.
If the Seller never accepts the Bitcoin I sent to him then I need to wait on line for the dispute process.
Wait to receive my ETH + Collateral back.
This presents a strange user experience where the seller or seller’s wallet must be left online during this whole process and be ready to sign a new transaction if they need to dispute transactions or unlock funds from a smart contract. This is different from the typical exchange or swapping scenario in which, once your funds are sent you can be assured you will receive the amount you expected in your swap back to you, without any of your wallets needing to remain online.
6. The Serum Token Seems to Lack a Use Case
The cross-chain swapping protocol Serum describes in its whitepaper could easily be forked and launched on the Ethereum blockchain without having any need for the Serum token. It seems that the Serum token will be used in some capacity when placing orders on the Solana based blockchain, however, the order book could just as easily be placed off with traditional rate-limiting schemes. There is some brief mention of future governance abilities for token holders, however, as a common theme in their whitepaper, details are scarce:
Serum is anticipated to include a limited governance model based on the SRM token. While most of the Serum ecosystem will be immutable, some parameters without large security risks (e.g. future fees) may be modified via a governance vote of SRM tokens.
Until satisfactory answers are given to these questions I would be looking at other projects who are attempting to build platforms for cross-chain swaps. As previously mentioned, Thorchain & Blockswap show some promise in design, whilst there are some others competing in this space too, such as Incognito and RenVM. However, this area is still extremely immature so plenty of testing and time is required before we can call any of these projects a success. If you’ve got any feedback or thoughts about Serum, cross-chain swapping or DeFi in general, please don’t be shy in leaving a comment.
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!
The Gods Unchained DeFi Challenge – ETH prizes for the top 5 ideas!
You! Yes, you! We want you to open that big brain and share your ideas around Gods Unchained assets, DeFi and the wider crypto space! Submit your entry before September 26th, 2020 for your chance to win a slice of $3,000 USD in ETH alongside Genesis Chests. We’re constantly looking for new ways to give more utility to our in-game assets and thus power to the users that wield them – it’s why Gods Unchained exists. We’ve got plenty in the works in this space – with a new season and our game-changing exchange on the way – but what better way to put the power in your hands than to hear the interesting ideas you have around blockchain assets and the Ethereum ecosystem (and maybe even have some funded in the future 😉)? Gods Unchained is built to change the way in-game assets are viewed forever – a huge goal, sure – but your input could help bring this closer to reality.
We’re looking for creative ways for Gods Unchained items to be used in the DeFi or wider crypto space. The Ethereum network is constantly presenting exciting new ways to use assets, and we’re interested in how you’d use Gods Unchained assets to capitalize on the growing potential of DeFi. We’re not looking for fully laid out plans, simply proposals of what you think would work, be cool, or add to the current Ethereum ecosystem. Your proposal can be deep and technical (if that’s how you work) or simply a great idea written down in 1–2 pages that unlocks the blockchain’s full potential. What we’d like to see from your proposal is a clarity around the following:
What’s your idea?
What problem is it solving?
Why is your idea valuable?
How would it work? (To put it another way: how do you think it might work? Broad terms are fine, no need to go full white paper on us).
Submissions will be judged based on their potential value for Gods Unchained and our community, as well as on their originality, and feasibility.
Challenge Champion: $1,000 USD worth of ETH + 2 x Genesis Legendary Chests (1 available). This goes to the best entry to emerge from the challenge. There can only be one champ, and that champ could be you!
Big-Brain Bonus Prizes: $500 worth of ETH + 1 x Genesis Rare Chest (4 available). This is for those ideas that are so. damn. good. But just fall short of being the champ. All big-brain entries deserve a prize, but only the top four can get them.
This competition will be judged by an internal panel of Immutable judges led by our Chief Technology Officer: Alex Connolly.
How to Enter:
Entry is a two step process:
Publish your proposal in a public forum online. We suggest creating your own thread in GodsUnchained.
HOT TIP: Given you can make amendments up until the cutoff, we'd recommend hustling feedback from other users to increase your chances of being chosen. Many brains make light work... uh, that’s a saying, right?
To enter this competition, you will need to submit a proposal on potential tools and applications which utilize Gods Unchained assets, related to DeFi or the wider crypto space.
You are welcome to submit more than one proposal.
Your proposal can be deep and technical, or just a great idea using the blockchain to its fullest potential!
You do not have to build the tool, but you can choose to if you wish.
https://preview.redd.it/n5pkxql0crh51.jpg?width=1280&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=959d7b4051bd1c20b53cfc28ee1c4cbdd355382e Swipe opened the month of August with the launch of its Swipe Network Staking and its announcement to run a Decentralized Finance Lending/Earn application on Binance Smart Chain. This was also followed by the plan to release product updates, events, listings, or partnerships every week until the end of 2020. Bringing their promise and commitment true to the public, here are the activities that Swipe has released for the past two weeks: https://preview.redd.it/5ztwd3p3crh51.jpg?width=1280&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=a5305d9e040318cfe9e3da0a3a721c88cbaf80ae Swipe Launches Staking/DeFi Swipe has recently launched its test network for Swipe Network Testnet Staking and, at the same time, announced its plans to launch a Decentralized Finance Lending/Earn application on Binance Smart Chain. With the launch of the Swipe Network testnet, users can use the Swipe Faucet to grab testnet-SXP to use on the decentralized finance application. Users will be able to bond SXP to the Swipe Network smart contract as collateral to ensure the guarantee of conversions for these exchanges. A reserve system in place to lock SXP and guarantee that the merchant and payment networks receive the exact fiat amount is in place as Swipe facilitates real-time conversions on-demand. Users will receive up 12% APY on their staked SXP within the Swipe Network off-chain and a variable rate for on-chain. Swipe plans to enable staked SXP to earn the processing fees it charges in the future as well on top of the collateral rewards from staking. Also, Swipe revealed its plans to launch a DeFi App on Binance Chain called SwipeFi, which will enable Binance Chain tokens to be used to earn interest on their supply of collateral to the protocol and borrow against their collateral directly on the Binance blockchain. Swipe (SXP) Trading Competition Last August 5 to 12, Swipe and Binance team have both committed a total of 100,000 SXP and 50,000 USDT in prizes to thank its users worldwide for their continued support and to also celebrate the Swipe acquisition and SXP/USDT listing in Futures, Margin and Spot markets. The contest was divided into three categories: a new user exclusive rewards, a trading competition, and the Lucky 99, which awarded users ranked 99th, 199th, 299th, 399th, and so forth until the 9999th place of the top 10,000 SXP traders based on their trading volume. Swipe x WBTC Swipe has partnered with WBTC Network and has officially been approved as a merchant for WBTC minting through the WBTC Network’s DAO Governance process. Swipe Wallet users will be able to benefit from instantly wrapping Bitcoin BTC to Wrapped Bitcoin (WBTC) and vice versa with just a few clicks. Swipe has also listed WBTC on the Swipe Wallet platform and Swipe Visa Card to enable users to buy, sell, exchange, and spend WBTC at over 60 million merchants worldwide. SXP on CoinDCX SXP, the native token of Swipe, is now listed and live on its second Indian Exchange CoinDCX. Trading for $SXP token is now live for CoinDCX users who wish to trade SXP/BTC and SXP/USDT. CoinDCX trading links for SXP: https://coindcx.com/trade/SXPBTC&https://coindcx.com/trade/SXPUSDT Wazirx AMA Session Swipe Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Joselito Lizarondo, held an AMA session with the Telegram community of Wazirx, a bitcoin exchange in India, last August 7. In the AMA session, Lizarondo answered questions about Swipe, Swipe Card, its new partnership with Binance, and the recent projects that the company has announced. The community also asked if Swipe is planning to bring its card services to India as it is one of the biggest crypto market countries at present. To read the whole summary of the AMA visit: https://blog.wazirx.com/ama-with-joselito-lizarondo-ceo-founder-of-swipe-summary/ New Swipe Product Manual Swipe has released a new “redefined” white paper under the title: Swipe Product Manual. The Swipe Product Manual was designed with simplicity in mind for easy and coherent descriptions of the Swipe ecosystem of products. This will describe all of Swipe’s current and future products that the team has planned. Technical descriptions and documentation will be made available, as required, per protocol, as some will have API access for developers. The Swipe Product Manual can be viewed by clicking here or by going to https://sw.pe/ProductManual or downloading https://swipe.io/ProductManual.pdf to your desktop. Swipe 0% Fees Starting Monday, August 17, Swipe Wallet and Swipe Card users will no longer have to pay any fees to buy, sell, and pay with crypto. Users can now purchase, sell, and convert cryptocurrencies to and from fiat currencies without the previous 1% fee. Swipe cardholders will also enjoy waived membership fees and free card shipping. Swipe Staking As Swipe prepares to launch the Swipe Network Staking mainnet, the Swipe Wallet application will support SXP staking. Users will enjoy staking rewards based on their SXP balances that are held on the Swipe Wallet beginning on August 23, 00:00 UTC. More details of the staking can be viewed at: https://medium.com/swipe/swipe-wallet-to-support-sxp-staking-acfab4589813 Swipe Reddit AMA In his first blog post on Medium, Swipe CEO Joselito Lizarondo answered the questions that the Reddit community asked regarding Swipe’s activities and plans for the future. He talked about the new partnership programs of Swipe, its newly released “Product Manual,” and the new roadmap, which will be kept in stealth “to focus on bringing maximum value to these announcements and products.” Read the whole transcript of Joselito Lizarondo’s AMA here: https://medium.com/swipe/swipe-reddit-ama-8-13-80690e2f6589 Swipe and Kava Partnership Swipe has formed a strategic partnership with Kava Labs to further grow the USDX DeFi Ecosystem as Swipe prepares to bring decentralized finance applications to the Binance Smart Chain. Swipe has also listed KAVA and USDX on the Swipe Wallet platform where users can buy and sell KAVA and USDX with a linked bank account or credit/debit card as well as enabled it to be converted and spent at over 60 million merchants worldwide with the Swipe Visa Card. $16M+ Ecosystem Rewards Program for BNB Holders on Binance Swipe is launching a 12-week-period $16,000,000 Ecosystem Rewards Program for BNB holders, starting August 17. This program aims to continue to promote the usage of Swipe products, including the Swipe Network Staking and Governance within a strong community. With Swipe’s partnership with Binance, a weekly distribution of 333,333.33 SXP will run to BNB holders on Binance.com. Know more about the Rewards Program here: https://medium.com/swipe/swipe-launches-16m-ecosystem-rewards-program-for-bnb-holders-on-binance-e79ffc9dc252 Swipe’s Chainlink Based Price Oracles Now Live Swipe has collaborated with Chainlink, the market-leading decentralized oracle network, to launch a live SXP-USD price oracle on the Ethereum mainnet. By switching to Chainlink, users receive stronger guarantees around trust and transparency in the payments process, as critical price feeds for the network are now completely decentralized and available to monitor on the blockchain. This decentralized infrastructure ensures that reward issuances and token burns only take place based on accurate, highly available, and tamper-proof on-chain prices that have no single point of failure or absolute truth. Users can independently verify the current price, how price updates occur, which nodes are providing data to the network, and more. This means users no longer need to rely on Swipe to produce fair conversion rates. --- Stay up-to-date with all the latest news from Swipe Website: https://swipe.io Twitter: https://twitter.com/SwipeWallet Facebook: https://facebook.com/Swipe Instagram: https://instagram.com/Swipe Medium: https://medium.com/Swipe Telegram: https://t.me/SwipeWallet & https://t.me/Swipe LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/swipewallet YouTube: https://youtube.com/SwipeWallet
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