Best TruStories of the Week - #5


#1

Please use the below format:

Claim:

Category: (see below)

Source:

Evidence/Argument:

Status: [Unconfirmed or Confirmed or Rejected]

For categories, select from one the following:

  • Crypto glossary
  • ELI5 for crypto
  • Projects (Bitcoin, Ethereum, EOS, Stellar, Brave, etc.)
  • Regulation
  • Mining
  • Scaling
  • Use cases
  • Stablecoins
  • Governance
  • Consensus protocols
  • Privacy & Security
  • Enterprise blockchains
  • Crypto funds & fundraising
  • Token Economics

If your claim doesn’t fit into any of these, you can request to add a category and we’ll consider it.


#2

Claim: A Byzantine fault-tolerant consensus protocol must guarantee two properties even in the face of Byzantine failures: Safety and Liveness. Safety is a guarantee that nodes agree on the total order of the transaction log. Liveness is a guarantee that nodes will eventually decides on some output value. Liveness is important because it’s the only way that the network can continue to be useful (i.e. process transactions).

Category: Consensus protocols

Source: https://medium.com/s/story/lets-take-a-crack-at-understanding-distributed-consensus-dad23d0dc95

Evidence/Argument: This is a well known fact about consensus protocols. The best way to prove this is to show various academic papers which state this fact as well. Below are 5 example academic papers which mention safety and liveness as core requirements for a consensus protocol:

Status: Confirmed


#3

Claim: KFC in Venezuela will begin accepting cryptocurrency payments in Dash

Category: Use cases

Source: https://disruptblock.com/cryptocurrency/kfc-accept-cryptocurrency-payments/#

Evidence/Argument: A Forbes report said the program will be launched this week, initially in Venezuela’s capital Caracas.

Checked out the Forbes article. It says the same thing with more details. Aiding to its adoption in Venezuela, Dash has its own branded Android phones with pre-installed Dash wallets, Dash Text which lets people transact with Dash without a smartphone or the internet, and a growing Dash Merchant organization.

The Forbes report also quoted someone from the Dash team, Alejandro Echeverría. I checked out his Twitter profile.

Forbes doesn’t have the reputation for being the “most credible” but it is definitely reliable. It was quoted in the other reports. Also, checked the social media profile of the person they quoted to make sure it was authentic.

Alejandro has made a lot of tweets in November about Dash adoption, so this partnership makes sense given what he’s tweeted about recently.

Status: Unconfirmed


#4

Claim: Bitcoin use and awareness is increasing in Canada

Category: Use Cases

Source: Pdf by Currency Dept. of Canada, where in the abstract and elsewhere they share the results of the Omnibus Survey (BTCOS) that shows an increase in use and awareness of Bitcoin in Canada. https://www.bankofcanada.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/san2018-23.pdf

Evidence/Argument: This is straight from the Bank of Canada’s website, and it shows the increase in percentage. They even shed some light on the use case, noting that only about 50% of holders actually buy/sell/exchange for goods/services.

Status: Confirmed


#5

Claim: The marginal costs of mining Bitcoin are about $4,500

Category: Mining

Source: A) https://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2018/12/the-bitcoin-con-may-soon-be-over/

Source cited within Source A: http://crookedtimber.org/2018/12/08/a-small-piece-of-good-news-for-the-global-climate/

Evidence/Argument: The second source claims Bitcoin mining costs are ~$4,500 - following the cited link brings you to a non-existent page. No evidence behind this calculation.

Coin Shares’ Christopher Bendiksen has published an in-depth paper that ESTIMATES the average price of Bitcoin mining. Although he admits it is nearly impossible to get a fully accurate number on the marginal cost of mining bitcoin, their methodology is clearly an improvement over claiming a $4,500 marginal cost. Their full methodology starts on Page 11 of their report, but it is essentially:

Average cost of mining hardware (looking at each individual SKU produced) + Average cost of facilities + An estimated cost of electricity (¢5/kWh)

"In our June report we estimated a market-average all-in cost of creation of approximately $6,500 per bitcoin . We arrived at this number by assuming a market-average capex based on all available pricing information, electricity cost of ¢5/kWh and an 18-month depreciation schedule (for a full treatment of the methodology and all assumptions we direct readers to the appendix of our June report)."

" Average cash cost: $3,400/btc …This is an important distinction because miners — even if they are realizing a negative ROI and unable to recover their capex — will keep mining for as long as the gear is returning any positive cash-flow in order to recover as much of their capex as possible."

Source: A) https://medium.com/coinshares/an-honest-explanation-of-price-hashrate-bitcoin-mining-network-dynamics-f820d6218bdf

B) https://coinshares.co.uk/bitcoin-mining-cost/

Status: Rejected (partially).


#6

Claim 1: Alibaba and IBM have top global blockchain patent rankings
Claim 2: China leads with maximum # blockchain patent filing (2017)

Category Regulation

Source 1: https://www.coindesk.com/alibaba-ibm-lead-global-blockchain-patent-drive-says-report
Source 2: https://blogs.thomsonreuters.com/answerson/in-rush-for-blockchain-patents-china-pulls-ahead/

Evidence/Argument - Following facts stand out when I looked through multiple sources of data available on web

  • Blockchain patent filings have increased significantly from 2016 - 2018 (stats included below in further analysis) Link - http://fortune.com/2018/06/19/blockchain-patent/

  • Stats shared by IPR daily clearly shows more number of patents filed in the space of crypto + bitcoin + blockchain, though boundaries of this space are not clear
    Link - http://www.iprdaily.cn/news_19746.html

  • However, there is a clear distinction in terms of how we define a patent to be in a particular space i.e. whether it is related to blockchain technology or digital currency etc. etc. (Original Thompson Reuters article in claim makes this distinction clear, however alternate sources where I’ve read is not that clear)

  • Alibaba, IBM, Mastercard, Bank of America and People’s Bank of China are top 5 filers as per IPR daily

  • Alibaba and IBM are top filers (I’ll look further into the # filings in their official announcements)

  • Total # of patents filed by Chinese entities > American entities

Status -
Claim 1: Confirmed based on validation from multiple resources
Claim 2: Unconfirmed (unless validated from authentic sources)

Additional Analysis -

  1. of patents filed on blockchain technology is increasing significantly (~2-3x YoY)

image

  1. Approved patent families in 2018 - ~450 vs. 180 in 2016. Total patent families in 2018 - ~1900

image

  1. While only ~30% of patent filings in crypto space were related to blockchain as technology in 2016, the %age was around 70% in 2017

  2. Top 5 terms found in crypto patent filings (found using text mining) - block, store of value, transaction, computer, network, base and distributed

  3. People’s bank of China is the most significant governmental instituition in the list where most of the patents are being filed in relation to creation of digital cryptocurrency

Additional Sources
https://clarivate.com/blog/overview-blockchain-patent-landscape/


#7

Claim: The [cryptomining] phenomenon has grown such that by the last quarter of 2017, 2.2% of the top 100,000 sites listed by websiteranking resource Alexa were using cryptomining scripts.

Category: Mining (or Use cases?)

Source: Direct quote from page 19 of Europol’s 2018 Internet Organised Crime Threat Assessment (IOCTA) report available as a PDF download here.

Evidence: The source of that claim is this post. The author writes:

On the Alexa list of the top one hundred thousand websites, we looked for the codes for CoinHive and JSEcoin, the most popular solutions for browser mining in use now. We found 220 sites that launch mining when a user opens their main page, with an aggregated audience of 500 million people.

220/100000 = 0.22%. The source author updated his post, but Europol hasn’t.

UPDATE 1: Initially, the article contained a mistake - 220 of 100k is 0.22%, not 2.2%

In a different analysis, the author used Wappalyzer to crawl 175,251,729 websites from this database. They found 23,782 websites containing the 14 common crypto-mining scripts including Coinhive, Crypto‐Loot, JSECoin, and ProjectPoi. That’s only 0.0136%.

Status: Rejected.


#8

Claim: EOS Accounts increasingly getting hacked and around 400k EOS stolen in the past few months

Category: EOS

Source: https://www.reddit.com/r/CryptoCurrency/comments/a4l2rl/eos_accounts_increasingly_hacked_400k_eos_stolen/

Evidence/Argument:
As mentioned in the article if you go to the website of the blockchain security company PeckShield you can find more details about the various hacks happened on EOS network over the past few months.

https://blog.peckshield.com/2018/11/22/eos
https://blog.peckshield.com/2018/11/02/eos
https://blog.peckshield.com/2018/10/26/eos

Status: Confirmed


#9

Claim: State Farm is testing out Blockchain Technology w/ insurance claims

Category: Enterprise blockchains

Source : https://www.coindesk.com/state-farm-trials-blockchain-tool-for-streamlining-insurance-claims

Evidence/Argument: https://bitcoinexchangeguide.com/blockchain-comes-to-state-farm-to-make-insurance-claims-process-more-efficiently/

The blockchain trial is scheduled for the first six months of 2019. During the trial, State Farm hopes to discover if blockchain’s use is a “viable product for insurance industry adoption,” Mike Fields, an innovation executive for State Farm goes on to say:

“Today, subrogation is a relatively manual, time-consuming process often requiring physical checks to be mailed on a claim-by-claim basis between insurers. You can imagine the time and resources required to complete these transactions.” Fields continues…

“It helps us automate a manual process securely and creates a permanent transaction record of each payment which can easily be verified for accuracy. It also has the potential to decrease the amount of time for consumers to receive their deductible reimbursement.”

Status: Confirmed
…this will be tested for 6 months, and if the results are positive will launch as a solution and go into full production.


#10

Claim: UNICEF to fund 6 blockchain startups to “Solve Global Challenges”

Category: Enterprise blockchain (humanitarian projects)

Source: https://www.coindesk.com/unicef-funds-6-blockchain-startups-to-solve-global-challenges

Evidence/Argument: https://cointelegraph.com/news/unicef-innovation-fund-to-invest-in-blockchain-related-projects

UNICEF is investing $100,000 in 6 startup companies focusing on blockchain projects.
The UNICEF Innovation Fund was launched specifically to finance early stage and open-source technology that can benefit children. The fund identifies solutions in tech areas like blockchain, machine learning, quantum computing, artificial intelligence, and others.

Today’s announcement reads that the Fund will invest up to $100,000 in:
Argentinian: software development firm Atix Labs which is developing platforms for tracking finances
Mexican: Onesmart which is developing platforms for tracking finances.
Prescrypto which is building a platform to track patient histories
Indian: startup Statwig which is working to ensure vaccine delivery with a supply chain platform
Tunisian: Utopixar which is working on a social collaboration tool;
Bangladesh: W3 Engineers an offline networking system that does not require internet access.

“Blockchain technology is still at an early stage — and there is a great deal of experimentation, failure, and learning ahead of us as we see how, and where, we can use this technology to create a better world,” said Chris Fabian, Principal Adviser at UNICEF Innovation.

By having access to these networks as well as making connections globally, the sky is the limit with how this technology can shape countries and our global collective future.

In February, UNICEF started a kind of charity drive for Syrian children, by asking PC gamers to use their computers to mine Ethereum and donate their earnings. UNICEF said it would use the donated Ethereum to give children access to water, education, and health and hygiene services.

Status: Confirmed


#11

Claim: Dash is the first cryptocurrency to implement automatic “InstantSend” Transactions: all transactions are instant, permanent, and secure.

Category: Scaling

Source: https://cryptosumer.com/2018/12/04/dash-claims-crypto-industry-first-with-automatic-instantsend-transactions/vidence:

Part of claim addressed: All transactions are instant, permanent, and secure.

Evidence/Argument:

“With Release 0.13.0, the system will automatically attempt to lock any transaction with 4 or fewer inputs — which are referred to as “simple” transactions — and remove the additional fee for InstantSend, so only the standard transaction fee applies. These transactions make up over 90% of all transactions on the Dash network.”

If the second part of the claim read: Simple transactions, which make up over 90% of all transactions on the Dash network, will be instant.

This claim would be 100% true.

Evidence Source: Product Brief: Dash Core Release v0.13.0 by Elizabeth Robuck, Chief Product owner at Dash (https://blog.dash.org/product-brief-dash-core-release-v0-13-0-5d7fddffb7ef)

Status: Rejected (partially)


#12

Nice post. I love when you can debunk an article just by doing math on the data that they provide themselves.

As for the Category, I think it is definitely Mining as this isn’t really a blockchain use case topic.


#13

Claim : With the AA (Assistance and access) bill now passed, the Australian government has the right to assist in reclaiming encrypted data for matters being investigated in a foreign court of law.

Category : Regulation

Source : https://www.afr.com/technology/web/security/as-bad-as-huawei-australian-encryption-bill-slammed-after-passing-parliament-20181206-h18tk3

Evidence/Argument :


https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Bills_Legislation/Bills_Search_Results/Result?bId=r6195
https://stratechery.com/2018/huawei-cfo-arrested-australias-awful-law/

Status : Confirmed


#14

Claim: 2018 was the first year in Ethereum’s history without any protocol-upgrade or bug-fix hardfork.

Category: Project (Ethereum)

Source: https://twitter.com/5chdn/status/1071721529128423424

Evidence/Argument: According to Ethereum’s roadmap, there are in total four stages of development for the Ethereum network.

  • Frontier: This was when Ethereum was first launched - July 30, 2015
  • Homestead: Was launched on March 14, 2016 (pi day)
  • Metropolis: Has two parts, Phase 1 Byzantine - October 16, 2017 and Phase 2 Constantinople - hard fork at block 7,080,000 ~ Mid Jan, 2019
  • Serenity: The final stage

So since Ethereum was launched in 2015 and each year has seen a protocol upgrade but 2018, this claim is valid. Constantinople was initially targeted to activate in November 2018 but developers opted to postpone it after several bugs were found in the code on testnet.

https://vitalik.ca/general/2017/09/14/prehistory.html


Status: Confirmed


#15

Claim : A game theoretic system with an incentive scheme which relies upon information asymmetry advantages cannot be decentralised

Category : Token Economics

Source : AMA with Mohit Mamoriam. A discussion about the VC industry being driven by information asymmetry begs the question about whether this process could be decentralised. According to Mohit, many crypto funds are now going for the hybrid of equity and crypto investments to take advantage of their network.

Evidence/Argument : Information asymmetry present in systems like VC are a necessary part of the system continuing to exist.

Conversely, in the case of decentalised prediction markets like Augur, it’s a matter of consensus and the information asymmetry only exists in the data fed into the system.

Put another way, on any blockchain everyone participating in the system must have the same information, information asymmetry is a threat to the liveness of the network.

Status : Confirmed

Open for this to be challenged with a counter-example, I could learn more about game theory to understand if this fits into an existing framework


#16

Claim: Square has surpassed Coinbase to become the most widely used iOS app to buy Bitcoin (BTC)

Category: Use cases

Source: https://www.ccn.com/how-did-twitter-ceos-square-overtake-coinbase-as-1-bitcoin-buying-app/

Evidence/Argument:

The author’s only supportive evidence is that Cash App is the #1 free app in the App Store [1]. App Store ranking is highly correlated to number of reviews, installs, trends, and average rating [source]. That is not a valid comparison between Coinbase and Cash Me bitcoin transactions. If the author had evidence to suggest Cash Me’s rise in the rankings was directly attributed to an increase in bitcoin transactions, they would have a better argument[2].

One way to compare the two is revenue.

In Square’s 2018 shareholder reports, they disclose $114 million in bitcoin revenue from Q1-Q3. If we pro-rate the year based on Q3 revenue, we reach $170 million. Square defines bitcoin revenue as the total sale amount of bitcoin to customers.

Bloomberg cites that Coinbase projects $1.8 billion in revenue from all sources in 2018. If we assume that only half this revenue comes from Bitcoin transactions (source), that’s still a much higher revenue amount than Square. Coinbase’s definition of revenue “accounts for commissions made from trades as well as from gains and losses in its own crypto holdings” (source).

[1] As of this writing, #6 on the app store

[2] Square’s revenue from bitcoin as a percentage of total revenue stayed flat around 5% in the last 3 quarters. Additionally, Square’s revenue growth from bitcoin was 26%, lower than the 39% of revenue growth from non-bitcoin assets (source).

Status: Rejected


#17

Claim: Polychain’s Number 2 Exec Ryan Zurrer Leaves the Firm

Source: https://www.axios.com/newsletters/axios-pro-rata-7333db48-5969-47a9-9c11-65d6ef2c51af.html

Category: Crypto funds

Evidence / Argument: The Axios report seems to be correct. Zurrer’s LinkedIn page states that he stopped working at Polychain in November 2018.

TheBlock has implied that Zurrer is now working more closely with Commonwealth Labs, a California-based governance-for-blockchain startup he was already advising, while at Polychain, but that cannot currently be confirmed.

Status: Confirmed


#18

Claim: Mark Yusko (of Morgan Creek) invested in Blockchain Terminal

Source: https://twitter.com/Nouriel/status/1072627353422098433

Category: Crypto funds

Evidence: Nouriel posted an old tweet from Mark Yusko which displayed how they were installing Blockchain Terminal’s product in their offices.

While it seems Morgan Creek might have used their product, Pomp’s tweet below denies that anyone from Morgan Creek or Mark Yusko himself invested in Blockchain Terminal.

Pomp responded as follows: image

Status: Rejected


#19

Claim : For Bitcoin, because 59% of network activity remains since the peak, the “proxy value” for Bitcoin is 0.59^2 or 0.35 – implying that it’s justifiable for Bitcoin price to be down by 65% ( not 81% as currently down).

Category : Token Economics / Network Valuation

Source : https://medium.com/@cburniske/bitcoin-ethereum-prices-are-down-more-than-the-fundamentals-88fd18a86d14

Evidence/Argument : The following are 2 sub-claims that make up the larger claim around Bitcoin network value relative to network activity.

Sub-claim 1 : Within the article, the starting point of Burniske’s analysis is that Bitcoin is currently processing ~250,000 transactions per day

Status : Supported. Burniske offers an approximate round number that is close enough.

Evidence : https://www.blockchain.com/en/charts

Sub-claim 2 : From its peak (12/17/17) bitcoin price is down 81% (while daily transactions are down only down 41%); implying that the remaining network activity is at 59%

Argument : Burniske suggests the peak in Bitcoin daily transaction was at (12/17/17), but the peak was actually three days earlier (12/14/17). The charts below indicate that on (12/17/17), there were 391,910 transactions, but three days earlier (12/14/17) there was 490,644 transactions; a non-trivial difference of 98,734 in daily transaction, which could influence subsequent calculations and claims.

If we take Bitcoin Daily Transaction on 12/17/17 subtract today’s transactions per day (391,910 vs. 257,623); today’s transactions/per day is 66% of the peak or down 34%, which implies that the remaining network activity is 66%. Re-running Burniske’s analysis, 0.66^2 = 44% (implying it’s justifiable that Bitcoin’s price is down 56%, not 81%)

However, if we take the actual peak in Bitcoin Daily transaction which was on 12/14/17 and subtract today’s transactions per day (490,644 vs. 257,623); today’s transactions/per day is 53% of the peak or down 47%. Implies that remaining network activity is 53%. Re-running Burniske’s analysis, 0.53^2 = 28% (implying it’s justifiable that Bitcoin’s price is down 72%, not 81%)

Evidence : https://www.blockchain.com/charts/n-transactions?timespan=2years

[Suggested Peak Transactions: 391,910]

[Actual Peak Transactions: 490,644]

Status : Confirmed. Prices are down lower than fundamentals.

However, with the adjusted numbers, the divergence between what’s “justifiable” and Bitcoin’s actual downturn is less dramatic (i.e., 9% difference instead of 25% difference).

Addendum: The crux of Burniske’s analysis has an implicit claim that network activity squared (using Metcalfe’s law) is an appropriate measure of fundamental network value. That can be addressed in a separate story. He references this source: https://medium.com/@clearblocks/valuing-bitcoin-and-ethereum-with-metcalfes-law-aaa743f469f6


Best TruStories of the Week - #6
#20

Claim: ICO Project, Blockchain Terminal, raised $30 million under a leader with fake identity

Category: Projects

Source: https://www.theblockcrypto.com/2018/12/10/two-identities-one-man-the-story-of-800-million-hedge-fund-fraudster-boaz-manor-who-led-the-alleged-31-million-blockchain-terminal-ico/

Evidence/Argument: The investigation performed by The Block cites multiple sources and employees who have confirmed that the founding investor “Shaun MacDonald” was in fact Boaz Manor, a man convicted in Canada for financial fraud. An article on Coin Insider today cites an interview with Ran Neuner (@cryptomanran) who was considered a previous promoter of BCT. Neuner denies facts in the original article about this involvement, but does not refute that MacDonald is Boaz Manor.

A 2012 Article in the Canadian publication The Globe and Mail gives a detail of Manor’s history and conviction with Portus Alternative Asset Management Inc. He served 1 year of his sentence despite having tried to move tens of millions of dollars to Europe after receiving a cease-trading order during the investigation. Photos of Manor from this article look to corroborate the claim that Manor is MacDonald.

The BCT Telegram group is full of chatter about the article, which Simon Timm (admin) repeatedly denies is credible. Simon Timm also appears to lack much of an online presence other than a website called themindfulmoose.com in which he discusses his 16 years as a Hindu Monk. His profile shot is the same as the person managing the BCT Telegram room and repeatedly states: “The article is inaccurate and a misrepresentation. We are speaking with them now to withdraw it and will address the issue with the channel shortly. Please do not post here in the meantime.”

In November there were dozens of members removed from the Telegram group and a quick scroll shows that Simon Timm only recently began acting as admin for the group. I find myself questioning the validity of his profile, though I cannot confirm that. He also stated that token participants over $1k will receive a free terminal, however the channel shows a number of people wondering where their terminals are or complaining about them not working or not being set up as promised.

Simon Timm, [07.12.18 15:27]

If you participated in the token sale at over $1K you should have received a voucher for a free terminal. PM me if you haven’t and I will arrange it

Looking at the LinkedIn profile of Bob Bonomo, the President of BCT through September, any reference to the company has been removed. Nearly all others listed as advisors or members of the company do not include BCT on their profiles, or seem to have inactive profiles.

While I cannot find enough evidence to definitively say that Shaun and Boaz are the same person (mostly for the lack of information available about this Shaun MacDonald) but none of the articles, sources or references to this story seem to deny that this aspect is true. Instead, the denials are in regards to BCT being a fraud as well. There is a great deal of debate about BCT’s legitimacy, but I have yet to see any about Boaz’s fake new identity.

Status: Unconfirmed (but Highly Likely)