This is the year cryptocurrency finally starts to break into the mainstream. From Elon Musk and Tesla investing in and accepting Bitcoin (BTC) to the recent nonfungible token craze, the days of blockchain tech being the domain of cypherpunks and coders are behind us.
Still, the technology has not quite advanced to the stage where the average person will feel comfortable using it. And the longer the usability of cryptocurrency takes to reach the level where it connects with nontechnical users, the higher the risk that centralized companies will take over the task of improving accessibility instead, harming the censorship resistance of this relatively new technology as it finally surges into the mainstream consciousness.
Let’s look at the state of the crypto usability landscape as it stands today.
Bitcoin’s “Lightning-or-bust” approach faces hurdles
When Bitcoin chose to reject on-chain scaling via big blocks, it essentially placed all its hopes and dreams of being usable as an everyday currency on second-layer scaling solutions, foremost among them being the Lightning Network. While functional today, the Lightning Network nonetheless introduces a whole new host of complexities, including liquidity balancing, opening and closing channels, routing payment paths, maintaining connectivity at all times in order to receive funds and so on. And perhaps most challenging to new users, moving funds off-chain onto the Lightning Network requires an on-chain transaction (as do various other Lightning Network functions), triggering those awful, long confirmation times and high transaction fees. All in all, this is a frustrating experience even for a savvy cryptocurrency user and an absolute non-starter for complete newbies.
Thankfully, tireless developers have deployed a new generation of Lightning Network wallets that significantly improve the user experience to a level where a nontechnical user may be comfortable using them. The second-generation Lightning Network wallets, such as Phoenix, achieve this by outsourcing some of the functionality of a regular Lightning Network node — including opening channels, managing liquidity, automatic backups and more — to the wallet provider.
Essentially, they resemble custodial wallets in almost every way except that they’re noncustodial. That is, the user maintains control over their own funds and the service provider can’t run off with (or deny access to) their money. Basically, two main objectives were prioritized: ease of use and user control over funds, and any and all necessary trade-offs were made in order to achieve this. And the results are pretty good: If you use a second-generation Lightning Network wallet, you can send and receive pretty easily without being exposed to the complicated inner workings of the network, and you still keep full control over your money at all times. You just have to trust the Lightning Service Provider, or LSP, for a lot more than if you were just using Bitcoin on-chain.
The challenge comes in the precedent and direction this sets for the ecosystem. This approach makes an increasing number of users reliant on a shrinking number of large LSPs to move their Bitcoin around with ease, resembling the legacy financial system where transaction processing coalesces around a small number of major payments companies.
Sure, many users would still be able to control their own funds and become protected from inflation and currency manipulation, but save for a hardy few technophiles running their own nodes, most people will be relying on centralized entities in order to transact.
Even “fast” competitors don’t seem like it from the user’s perspective
To be fair, not every cryptocurrency suffers from the complications of a congested main chain and a still-nascent second-layer solution. Plenty of chains, most notably the major Bitcoin forks and projects like Litecoin (LTC), have low on-chain fees and regular confirmation times. However, even this experience is insufficient for an end-user.
No matter what Bitcoin Cash (BCH) fans say, transactions are not, in fact, instant, and paying through many popular payment processors or depositing to exchanges will still necessitate waiting for several confirmations, which can take many from minutes to, sometimes, hours. The average user won’t understand why they have to wait, or why the waiting time is variable, or that the service should have been able to trust zero-confirmation transactions but chose not to. They will only understand that they had to wait, and will be frustrated as a result.
Of course, some coins, such as those based on proof-of-stake, can be considered secure after a single conformation, significantly cutting down on waiting times. Depending on the chain, this may or may not be sufficient to ensure a seamless user experience. Dash (DASH) transactions become permanent after a single confirmation (roughly 2.5 minutes) and can be considered highly secure in under two seconds, creating an experience rivaling or surpassing that of proof-of-stake coins despite being a proof-of-work network.
However, not all exchanges and services fully understand the underlying technology, and so this experience can be hit-or-miss. Still, other networks, like Nano (NANO), reach transaction finality in a matter of seconds. However, this may come with significant network reliability trade-offs. No one cares that they can get a payment instantly finalized if the entire network can become unreliable for days, even weeks, due to spam attacks.
Usernames are centralized, rudimentary, a mess or on a testnet
Even once the problem of fast, reliable transactions is solved, there still remains a major key to usability necessary for mass adoption: usernames. While QR code scanning can be simple enough, for web, remote and other situations, copying and pasting long cryptographic hashes is a non-starter. We need a simple, social way for people to pay, leveraging human-readable usernames and contact lists.
There are quite a few systems out today that accomplish this to a certain degree. However, most have significant trade-offs in either usability or trust, or both. Solutions like Ethereum Name Service simply resolve to a static address, which still often reveals said long, ugly address in the user interface, and creates some troubling privacy issues by exposing your entire transaction history to anyone who can simply paste your address into a block explorer. The Foundation for Interwallet Operability is similar, except with even more complexity due to wallet-specific domains and implementations.
Another solution is provided by HandCash, a popular wallet for Bitcoin SV (BSV), which does not resolve to a static address and supports contact lists. The problem is that the solution is centralized: Users must rely on the company and its infrastructure entirely. A similar setup across the BSV ecosystem, Paymail, lets users easily resolve to a new address every time without relying on a single centralized system. However, just like with email, Paymail relies on whichever server hosts your domain, with the only option for censorship-resistance being hosting your own server. Also, there is no universal contact list system. Both of these more user-friendly solutions underscore the unfortunate direction toward centralization, as easy-to-use solutions are hard to make decentralized.
Once again, DASH is focused on providing the most elegant solution to the usability problem — building a decentralized application layer that, among other things, offers both usernames and contact lists on the protocol level in an intuitive, user-friendly, completely decentralized form. However, this years-in-the-making solution is still on testnet, and it remains to be seen if a wide public release will happen in time to impact the trend of mass adoption toward centralized services.
The danger that end-users will simply trust bank-like companies
Of course, the real risk isn’t that cryptocurrency ease-of-use solutions will struggle or fail to take hold. The greater risk is that fully custodial solutions will simply win out, returning us to the same old financial system we sought to escape from, only (allegedly) backed by crypto.
We’re already seeing examples of this, from incentivized blogging platform Publish0x encouraging withdrawals directly to centralized exchanges in order to avoid high Ethereum fees to United States fast food giant Chipotle giving away Bitcoin exclusively to exchange accounts. Then there are the forays into crypto that payment giants like PayPal and Visa have made. If we’re not careful, in the future we could be spending our cryptocurrency through the exact same companies and services we used for our fiat currency, still at the mercy of the same players we sought freedom from in the first place.
We’re at a crossroads: Create ease of use in a decentralized way or let mainstream adoption power the death of decentralization. The challenge is formidable, but the stakes are too high to simply concede. Is cryptocurrency up to the task?
This article does not contain investment advice or recommendations. Every investment and trading move involves risk, and readers should conduct their own research when making a decision.
The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.
Joël Valenzuela is a veteran independent journalist and podcaster, living unbanked off of cryptocurrency since 2016. He previously worked for the Dash decentralized autonomous organization and now primarily writes and podcasts for the Digital Cash Network on the LBRY decentralized content platform.
TrustSwap Launchpad hosts token offering for RegTech platform Sekuritance
Sekuritance, a CeFi/DeFi ecosystem delivering compliance, regulatory, transaction monitoring, and identity management solutions, is collaborating with TrustSwap, a full-service blockchain asset platform, to support the execution of its SKRT token offering starting on May 8th, 2021 at 9:00 AM PST.
The cryptocurrency economy has taken the world by storm and it is here to stay. Just like traditional finance, the risk of fraud, misuse, abuse also exists in the crypto space. Due to the decentralized and semi-anonymous nature of blockchain, these factors can be compounded resulting in hesitation of adoption by financial regulators and banking institutions. While there may not yet be a bulletproof solution, there are ways to mitigate risk and potential losses, and blacklisting.
Most people who are active in the DeFi space are also using some form of traditional banking service (credit cards, bank accounts, mortgage/insurance payments, retail commerce, etc.). When crypto proceeds start moving between these realms, the banks and regulators want to know where the money came from, whether it has been declared or taxed effectively, whether it has passed through unauthorized darknet services, and so many more questions needing specific answers. In the event that any of the above questions result negatively, the traditional finance ecosystem is most likely to reject the onboarding or the use of those proceeds to pass through their networks.
The Sekuritance RegTech Suite addresses this by making available specific services and modules to address the various regulatory and compliance requirements.
Sekuritance recognizes that there are many jurisdictional challenges in the RegTech niche so, rather than competing with other software-as-a-service providers in the RegTech industry, they are invited to make their API offerings available also through the Sekuritance Partner Marketplace so that merchants and individuals around the world can enjoy an All-In-One RegTech Gateway.
The Sekuritance ecosystem is comprised of 8 main products:
1. Sekur.Vault (Data Tokenisation Vault)
Sekur.Vault is a unique omni-vault, audited to the highest level of industry security standards and tweaked to not only store what is commonly referred to as “Rubbish In, Rubbish Out” but to add value to the output upon retrieval by cross-consumption of the other Sekuritance modules such as BIN checks, KYC checks, AML checks and more.
The platform’s robust and simple to use API set and dedicated user interface allows the secure storage of Card Data (Debit, Credit, Alternate); Crypto Wallet Private & Public Keys; Sensitive Personal Data; Confidential Corporate Data; KYC, KYB Related Data; Transaction Data for BI and AI and more.
2. Sekur.MFA (Multi-Factor Authentication)
This omni-auth module caters primarily to 3D Secure services for the traditional card payment industry. Development has also started for an on-chain decentralized identity management and claiming process. Our own unique acquirer-agnostic 3D Solution allows merchants to validate and process 3D checks (both versions 1 and 2) before taking payment.
3. Sekur.Connect (RegTech Marketplace)
The Sekuritance RegTech SekurSuite platform is a powerful toolkit on its own but trying to stay ahead of all the global jurisdictions, updates to regulations and policies, AML guidelines, etc. is a mammoth task. So, rather than try to outsmart all the other valuable and recognized players in the industry, Sekuritance is creating a RegTech marketplace where software-as-a-service providers and developers can showcase their solutions and participate in the SKRT token economy.
Sekur.Alert functionality connects to specialized datasets to help keep our customers safe and help them ensure that they are doing business with wallets and identities of good standing. To help grow this dataset, the crypto community is invited to report any fraudulent activity to Sekuritance so that the whole community can be better protected. Every new unique and verified report gets to participate in the SKRT Loyalty and Reward program.
KYC, KYB, KYT, AML, Sanction Screening, and other rule engine applications are all available on the Sekuritance platform. Businesses and institutions can use these tools to identify who customers are and their eligibility for specific product offerings. They can use the Sekuritance RegTech platform to get transaction and IP “Risk Scores” and sub-scores as well as other data in order to prevent fraud and abuse.
The anonymity of cryptocurrencies is a myth. Very few mixing services can outwit modern de-anonymization technologies for Bitcoin tracking and other cryptocurrency alternatives. No one has a clear understanding of how fast the RegTech niche will be evolving but one thing beyond question — regulation of the cryptocurrency space will tighten and all will have to accept the new rules and play by them.
Sekuritance strives to become one of the leading vendors of RegTech solutions for the crypto and fiat industry and believes that the openness of financial data on blockchains will be a driver for regulatory institutions to reinforce control. With a powerful blockchain analytics toolset like Sekuritance, regulatory bodies could end money laundering and make financial reporting easy and transparent.
The Sekuritance Sekur.Certify Blockchain Wallet Verification service allows for a user to claim controlling power certification on a particular wallet once a number of actions would have been performed, KYC & AML checks confirmed and crypto investigation on the wallet completed.
Details of Sekuritance Token Offering
The Sekuritance token offering will be executed by leveraging the TrustSwap Launchpad. Upon the successful conclusion of the offering, a Uniswap pool will be created on May 13th, 2021, and trading can commence for use of SKRT in the Sekuritance network. Alongside the offering, Sekuritance will be showcasing a preview of its RegTech Suite and Partner Platform.
TrustSwap technology utilizes secure peer-to-peer transactions via TrustSwap SmartLaunch; which ensures that Sekuritance and its community can transact securely and without fear of participants or team members negatively impacting the markets following the public offering. TrustSwap’s time-based SmartLock ensures a methodical distribution to mitigate the risk of unauthorized token transfers.
Sekuritance will use TrustSwap SmartLocks for:
- Team token vesting
- Token holder vesting
- Liquidity locks
For more information about Sekuritance visit https://www.sekuritance.com.
Shanghai Man: VeChain on TV, DOGE flips BTC volume, Hotbit hack and more …
This weekly roundup of news from Mainland China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong attempts to curate the industry’s most important news, including influential projects, changes in the regulatory landscape, and enterprise blockchain integrations.
Will DOGEmania ever stop?
Dogecoin has officially flipped Bitcoin in a few categories here in China, with DOGE trading volume on leading Chinese exchange Huobi surpassing that of leading assets ETH and BTC. On May 6th, according to CoinGecko, DOGE volume made up more than 15% of total exchange volume, whereas BTC and ETH were around 8% each. Searches for ‘Dogecoin’ on WeChat surpassed searches for Bitcoin, with 2.3 million versus 1.7 million on May 5th. Dogecoin has become increasingly appealing to the Chinese retail community since earlier this year as many are attracted to the virality and get-rich-quick potential of the colorful DOGE community.
Hacking attempt fails, but causes a major ruckus
Centralized exchange Hotbit was the victim of a hacking attempt on April 30th. The good news was that assets appear to be safe on the platform. The bad news was that user data was compromised, leading to a corrupted database. Trading, deposits and withdrawals have all been paused while the exchange attempts to restore normality. The Chinese exchange has been communicating actively via Twitter, with the interrupted service lasting potentially another week. Hotbit is well known for listing a diverse range of assets, making it a popular spot among more risk averse investors.
Shenzhen-based HOO launches Smart Chain contender
Hoo.com became yet another exchange to launch an Ethereum Virtual Machine, or EVM-based, smart chain, attempting to bridge their CeFi users into the DeFi space. The chain, currently in testnet, boasts low fees of just 0.001 USD per transaction and over 500+ transactions per second, as well as compatibility with Ethereum, BSC, and HECO. Since the start of the year, Hoo’s token has increased by over 350%. Other Chinese exchanges, including OKEx and Gate, have also launched smart chains. Smart chains are proving an attractive way to let users maximize yield while still letting the exchange capture value from the process.
VeChain on national TV
English-language and state-run business channel CGTN created a short expository video on blockchain’s growth post-COVID19. The video and article featured a close look at VeChain’s progress in developing business solutions, explaining how the technology could be applied to the food safety and infection control industry. The media company shot a short video inside the office and interviewed a few of the developers, indicating that the company has done well to comply with regulatory requirements in the tightly run country. It’s no secret that VeChain has a top position and close relationship with many government backed organizations, which is an enviable position for any enterprise Blockchain-as-a-Service provider.
Rising salaries for blockchain devs
The Beijing Human Resources and Social Security Bureau recently released the 2021 Beijing Human Resources Market Salary Survey Report (First Quarterly)”. According to the report, new and hot jobs, which included the tech space, had a median average monthly salary mainly in the $3,000 to $4,600 range. Blockchain engineers comfortably eclipsed that with a wage of $6,700 per month, showing the growing demand for the skills. By contrast, the average annual salary of a blockchain developer in the U.S. often exceeds $12,500 per month, according to recruitment firm Hired.com, nearly double the going rate in Beijing.
Miners back up and running… away?
Mining appears to have resumed as normal following the outages after a deadly coal mine accident last month. The incident required rigorous inspections of mining facilities, forcing many ASIC miners to turn off their machines. Hashrates have currently recovered to near the rates they were prior to the incident in the middle of April. One interesting shift, however, is that the industry appears to be gradually shifting from China to North America. F2Pool founder Chun Wang noted that for the first time in 8 years, more than half the BTC hashing power was coming from outside of China. This may have been partially tied to the incident, but is a trend that many experts are following as mining regulations in China appear to be growing stricter.
XRP, Dogecoin, Cardano Price Analysis: 06 May
With Bitcoin’s market dominance falling once again and the altseason gaining steam, the likes of XRP, Dogecoin, and Cardano have all appreciated significantly on the price charts over the past week or so.
XRP’s recovery since falling to close to $0.20 on the back of the SEC filing a lawsuit against Ripple Labs has been impressive, with the alt recording YTD returns of 510% at press time. Its price action over the past week, however, has been very inconsistent, with bouts of appreciation followed by sharp price falls on the charts. Even so, the cryptocurrency was close to recuperating all its losses following the depreciation on the 25th of April.
While Parabolic SAR’s dotted markers were under the price candles and underlined the bullishness in the XRP market, Awesome Oscillator gave the opposite signal, with its histogram picturing a fall in market momentum.
Dogecoin has been one of 2021’s best crypto-performers, with the alt hiking astronomically to register YTD returns of 10,800% this year. DOGE’s hike has been particularly exponential since the month of April, with the same more or less being the trend in May too. In the last week alone, DOGE has climbed by over 115% on the charts, with many expecting the popular meme-coin to continue surging at least until Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s appearance as “Dogefather” on Saturday Night Live.
The scale of its bullishness was evident when Dogecoin’s technical indicators were checked out. While Chaikin Money Flow was holding steady close to the 0.20-mark, Relative Strength Index noted a slight dip after a visit to the overbought zone.
Mark Cuban was one of the many crypto-proponents to come forward and comment on the meme-coin’s utility and purpose recently.
After a brief phase in February which saw ADA surge up the charts to lead the altseason for a time, the past few months have mostly seen Cardano trade within a tight price channel. At the time of writing, ADA was close to breaking out of the said range, while also inching closer to its previous ATH of $1.55 on the price charts.
In the last three days, ADA hiked by almost 20% on the charts.
While Bollinger Bands remained far apart to highlight volatility, MACD line was moving away from the Signal line to indicate the crypto’s latest bullish credentials.
The altcoin was in the news recently after IOHK’s Charles Hoskinson hit back at critics to comment that it’s bizarre to suggest that Cardano is a blatant scam.
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