In a new paper entitled “Blockchain Analysis of the Bitcoin Market,” Igor Makarov and Antoinette Schoar of the National Bureau of Economic Research detail the state of Bitcoin. Within the paper, a section on custody piqued the interest of a fintech CEO, as it highlighted concerns upon which he has long expounded.
“It’s hidden, but it’s there,” said Richard Gardner, CEO of Modulus, a US-based developer of ultra-high-performance trading and surveillance technology that powers global equities, derivatives, and digital asset exchanges. “About halfway through the paper, it talks about the current state of custody. Even beforehand, it discusses how, practically speaking, exchanges and wallets don’t often differ in significant ways. Both have a custodial aspect to them, but, if we’re talking about the future of digital assets, I don’t think you can make the argument that custody providers are all that they must be. In fact, it is just the opposite. We must expect much more from custodial services.”
On page ten, the paper notes:
“Cryptocurrency exchanges such as Coinbase, Binance, or Kraken, and on-line wallets such as Blockchain.info and BixIn are one of the major types of entities where Bitcoin can be stored and traded. Exchanges in theory provide platforms to trade Bitcoin against fiat currencies and other coins, while on-line wallets specialize in custodian services. However, in practice, the difference between exchanges and on-line wallets is often slim. Both types of entities in many cases offer both functions.
The paper continues to discuss custody as it relates to Bitcoin ownership, saying:
Determining the concentration of ownership is more complicated than just tracking the holdings of the richest addresses since not all large addresses represent individuals. Many public entities, e.g., exchanges and on-line wallets, hold Bitcoin on behalf of other investors. Therefore, the first step in our analysis is to differentiate between addresses belonging to individual investors and those belonging to intermediaries. When market participants deposit their bitcoins with exchanges or on-line and custodial wallets they forfeit their bitcoins to the exchange. Exchanges usually mix all deposits together and store them in the so-called cold wallets — Bitcoin addresses stored on special devices not connected to the Internet because of security concerns. A given intermediary typically has only a few Bitcoin addresses that constitute its cold wallet but these addresses hold very large balances. For example, the cold wallet of Binance, which is one of the largest cold wallets, holds 300,000 bitcoins as of the end of June, 2021.23 However, not all exchanges have a cold wallet that is as distinct as Binance’s cold wallet. Because cold wallets typically consist of few addresses and send and receive funds only infrequently, the default clustering algorithm in many cases does not link them to the corresponding hot wallets of exchanges. Therefore, identifying cold wallets presents a significant challenge.
“While the paper’s concern is to identify the state of Bitcoin ownership, there’s a more significant custody question. Since the industry’s beginnings, exchanges have been hacked. Many of the losses were due to the exchange’s failure to properly utilize cold storage best practices. When an exchange is in charge of custody, those decisions are made on a macro-level. Custodianship, right now, is an afterthought. There are only a handful of custody providers out there, and most of them have major security concerns,” noted Gardner.
Modulus is known throughout the financial technology segment as a leader in the development of ultra-high frequency trading systems and blockchain technologies. Modulus has provided its exchange solution to some of the industry’s most profitable digital asset exchanges, including a well-known multi-billion-dollar cryptocurrency exchange. Over the past twenty years, the company has built technology for the world’s most notable institutions, with a client list which includes NASA, NASDAQ, Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Barclays, Siemens, Shell, Yahoo!, Microsoft, Cornell University, and the University of Chicago.
“All you have to do is read the news. One of the leading vendors for custody services has been mired in a lawsuit which alleges they are responsible for the loss of $70 million in digital assets. $70 million in losses. Is that the company you want keeping your assets safe? It is time that the industry acknowledges that it must adapt. Custody must be prioritized if digital assets are ever to reach their full potential. Custody providers must put security at the forefront. If you can’t keep your assets safe from malfeasance or incompetence, what are they really worth?” queried Gardner.
$430 Million Worth of Bitcoin Traded Amidst CBN’s Restrictions
Paxful has said it has 1.5 million cryptocurrency traders/investors in Nigeria despite the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) restrictions.
Paxful, one of the major peer-to-peer (P2P) cryptocurrency exchange platforms in the world with a strong presence in Nigeria and Africa as a whole, has said it has 1.5 million cryptocurrency traders/investors in Nigeria despite the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) restrictions.
According to the exchange platform, Nigerians have traded over $1.5 billion in cryptocurrency volume on the platform up until 2021. This, the company said Bitcoin accounted for $420 million, adding that the number jumped by 23% between February 2021 and March 2021. Just after the CBN restricted banks from facilitating cryptocurrency payments for traders and investors in Nigeria.
Last year February, the central bank of Nigeria made a statement saying “Further to earlier regulatory directives on the subject, the bank hereby wishes to remind regulated institutions that dealing in cryptocurrencies or facilitating payments for cryptocurrency exchange is prohibited.”
However, Paxful revealed that;
“Nigeria is leading in cryptocurrency, and we expect this growth to only continue. To share some stats:
- Nigeria is our largest market, with 1.5 million users and over $1.5 billion volume to date (since 2015)
- Compared to last year – we are on pace to have 23% more bank transfer trades in Nigeria on the platform than last year
- Compared to last year – we are on pace to have 36% more bank transfer volume in Nigeria on the platform than last year
- Looking at YoY data from end of June 2020/2021, we see increases in Bitcoin trading volumes of 57% in Nigeria
- Looking at YoY data from end of June 2020/2021, we see increases in user numbers of 83% in Nigeria
- To date, in 2021, we’ve seen over $430M in USD traded in BTC alone in Nigeria
- From Feb 2021 to March 2021 (after CBN restrictions were placed), trade volume increased over 23% on Paxful in Nigeria
- As of April 2021, Bitcoin P2P trading in Nigeria has surged by 27% since restrictions were introduced by CBN”
Asides from Paxful, there are other P2P platforms that focus on buying and selling bitcoins and other digital currencies in Nigeria.
Binance, Bybit, Kucoin, etc are some of the known cryptocurrency exchange platforms in Nigeria, one of the largest participating nations. However, there are no available figures to authenticate their transaction volume or value like Paxful.
Since the CBN restricted banks from dealing in cryptocurrencies, Nigerians now rely on P2P platforms like Paxful, Binance and others for their cryptocurrency transactions.
Cryptocurrency Crash: It’s Not All Doom and Gloom
Research into cryptocurrency capital inflows has shown that about $140 billion is sitting in four of the leading stablecoins.
Despite the cryptocurrency crash and rising global uncertainty, research into cryptocurrency capital inflows has shown that about $140 billion is sitting in four of the leading stablecoins as institutional investors that have been backing the cryptocurrency space in recent months assess happenings.
Capital inflow into dollar-pegged Tether’s USDT, Circle’s USDC, Binance’s BUSD, and MarkerDAO’s DAI has risen from $7 billion in the last 2 years to $147 billion in 2022, suggesting that cryptocurrency investors are not withdrawing their funds or converting to U.S. Dollar but sitting on the sideline for possible re-entry.
“The amount of money sitting on the digital sideline has never been greater and points to an abundance of patient investors ready to pounce on discounted digital assets,” Stated Digital Asset Investment Management (DAIM) analysts. “That means the ecosystem has an additional $140 billion ready to be deployed into bitcoin and altcoins.”
According to Louis Schoeman, managing director at broker comparison site Forex Suggest, we are currently experiencing the biggest crypto crash in history, with the crypto Fear and Greed index having slipped into “extreme fear” category.
However, it’s not all doom and gloom. Coins such as Bitcoin, Ethereum and Solana gained in their prices in the last 24 hours. Equity markets, too, recorded some gains including Nasdaq, the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average.
“It’s worth noting that various coins including Bitcoin were heavily inflated in a bubble over the last 2 years, so a crash of this enormity was bound to happen. With investors dumping assets in response to high inflation and the semi-collapse of the Celsius network driving the downward spiral, I think only the best fundamentally strong crypto projects will survive this bear market, as is proving to be.
This is a cleansing process of note as we believe between 80% – 90% of the crypto projects will not survive this period especially if Bitcoin falls below $20,000 again.
But, it also serves as a massive opportunity for many no-coiners to enter the crypto market for the 1st time ever.
Fortune favours the brave in crypto right now.”
Binance, the World’s Largest Cryptocurrency Exchange, is 5 Years Old Today
Binance, the world’s leading blockchain ecosystem and cryptocurrency infrastructure provider, is celebrating its 5th anniversary by eliminating trading fees on a wide range of bitcoin spot trading pairs.
Binance, the world’s leading blockchain ecosystem and cryptocurrency infrastructure provider, is celebrating its 5th anniversary by eliminating trading fees on a wide range of bitcoin spot trading pairs. While Binance has long maintained one of the lowest spot trading fees in the industry, it is establishing itself as the global leader in pricing with this latest move.
From July 8, users will be able to enjoy fee-free trading on thirteen stablecoin and fiat combinations including BTC/USDT, BTC/BUSD, BTC/USDC, BTC/EUR, BTC/TRY, and more. The new trading fees will be in effect until further notice, allowing Binance users globally to enjoy the fee-free feeling beyond the two weeks of anniversary celebrations.
Binance Founder and CEO “CZ” (Changpeng Zhao) said: “In line with our user-first philosophy, Binance has always strived to provide the most competitive fees in the industry. At its core, Binance is an inclusive platform with accessibility in mind. Eliminating the trading fees on selected BTC spot trading pairs is another move towards that direction.”
“Within the span of five years, Binance has amassed an amazing community that believes in us and supports our vision. Our growth and achievements would not have been possible without them. We hope to give back to the community by providing them with the world’s best products and services,” added CZ.
Binance launched in July 2017 as a crypto-to-crypto exchange and within six months, became the world’s largest crypto exchange. Today, Binance is a global blockchain ecosystem spanning across trading services, infrastructure solutions, educational resources, research, social good and charitable programs, investment and incubation initiatives, and more. By providing access to broad financial tools while maintaining one of the lowest fees in the business, Binance is making crypto accessible to everyone in Africa and beyond.
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