Best TruStories of the Week - #7


#21

Claim: Pension funds in US are buying cryptos

Source: https://news.bitcoin.com/will-pension-funds-soon-be-investing-in-crypto/

Evidence: The article has two pieces of “evidence”:

  • A tweet from “zerohedge”, a market-focused blog. Zerohedge didn’t follow-up to a number of reply tweets asking for a source or concrete example.
  • A blog post by Pomp where he recommends that “every pension fund should buy bitcoin.” That’s an opinion, not evidence.

The rest of the piece is shilling Bitcoin or quoting a portfolio manager who expresses skepticism about pension funds investing in crypto, "they’re mired in red tape which results in most of them being ‘late to the game’ in the realm of investment opportunity.”

Status: Rejected

It’s easy to find contradictory evidence here - just find a single representative for any pension fund that is buying Bitcoin. I’d be happy to update afterwards. Unfortunately, all the obvious google queries yield compelling headlines that all lead back to that tweet or Pomp’s opinion. Preformatted text


#22

Claim: Crypto-to-fiat lending experienced significant growth during the 2018 bear market

Category: Markets

Source:

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-01-02/thriving-on-bitcoin-s-bust-lenders-aid-both-fanatics-and-shorts

https://genesiscap.co/q3-insights/

Argument/Evidence:

  • Creditors focusing on the crypto arena say they’re finding strong demand from borrowers who don’t want to sell their virtual coins at depressed prices, as well as from big investors eager to borrow coins for short selling.

  • BlockFi says its revenues and customer base have grown 10-fold since June, when Michael Novogratz’s Galaxy Digital Ventures invested $52.5 million.

  • Genesis, which launched in March to let institutional investors borrow virtual coins by depositing U.S. dollars, has already issued $700 million of loans, Moro said. It now has about $140 million in loans outstanding with an average duration of six weeks, he said. Genesis plans to more than double its staff in the coming year to as many as 12 people, and it’s looking at growing in regions such as Asia.

From Genesis’ Q3 report:

Status: Confirmed


#23

Claim: Crypto indicators on the rise in Africa

Category: Markets

Source: https://coingape.com/cryptocurrency-rise-africa/

Argument/Evidence: The argument is largely driven by the performance of Paxful. Paxful chose to reveal that it’s growth this past year has largely been driven by outsized growth in Africa - with transaction size almost doubling year on year.

The news article then takes this information to claim that crypto indicators are on the rise in Africa. I will attempt to falsify through the following ways:

A1) Since we are basing this only on Paxful’s results - it’s hard to distinguish whether this was a result of Paxful itself becoming more appealing to the African market (i.e easier, wider access, better marketing) or underlying market forces driving demand.

A2) Building on this - we haven’t seen what the African market has been like for other exchanges. Is paxful an outlier, or are other exchanges seeing similar results (seeing similar results = market demand picking up)

After looking for another source on the topic - I found another article that goes into a little more detail on the topic:

The article mentioned that the google trends for Bitcoin had african nations consistently at the top (rebutting A1)

Here, other exchanges (Binance, LocalBitcoins, etc.) also experienced similar results (rebutting A2)

Just one point bothering me - there is no mention on what the “indicators” are. It would have been much better to be less ambiguous (i.e focusing on demand, which is what is really on the rise here, rather than indicators)

Status: Confirmed


#24

Claim : The National Electronics and Computer Technology Center (NECTEC) of Thailand has developed blockchain technology for e-voting that can be applied to national, provincial or community elections.

Category : Use Cases (E-voting)

Source : https://cointelegraph.com/news/thai-national-tech-development-center-to-introduce-blockchain-in-voting

Source #2: https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/news/1604574/ (cited in above source)

Argument/Evidence : The sources cites Chalee Vorakulpipat, head of cybersecurity for NECTEC (National Electronics and Computer Technology Center) Thailand who claims that “Nectec developed blockchain technology for e-voting that can be applied to national, provincial or community elections, as well as business votes such as the the board of directors. The goal is to reduce fraud and maintain data integrity.”

The way the news is presented suggests technology that is ready for deployment.

However, digging into additional local sources, I came across a news article (written in Thai) that provides a little more context.


The above paragraph claims that the R&D team at NECTEC has been working on the “e-Voting System” for 6 months and has the conceptual foundations in place, but is currently ready for small scale trials. NECTEC will collaborate with the education sector to test the blockchain voting system.


Tests of the [blockchain voting] system will begin with votes for “club officer” positions or student club positions, but in the second quarter (Q2) of 2019, we will use Private Blockchain to pilot the system internally at the National Science and Technology Development Agency (parent organization of NECTEC). In the future, with larger scales, we will use a variety of technologies including facial recognition, location-based technologies, password authentication…


This paragraph states a caveat for this entire news item: “Regarding the use of blockchain voting at a large-scale (national elections), it will take time because the main factor includes people’s digital/data literacy. Currently there is a lot of inequality in terms of education and digital literacy. Moreover we’ll need more to have internet access be more distributed to all parts of the country”.

The full article (written in Thai) can be downloaded here: https://www.nectec.or.th/news/

I also check NECTEC’s github for any potential evidence of this project. The blockchain project is not available for exploration on github. https://github.com/nectec-opensource

I would revise the claim to be: “The National Electronics and Computer Technology Center (NECTEC) of Thailand will begin testing blockchain technology for e-voting with university partners in Q2 of 2019.”

Status : Unconfirmed


#25

Claim: Multi-asset conversions in Lightning Network could be exploited to earn money by creating and exercising call options when exchanging assets across different channels.

Category: Scaling

Source: https://www.ccn.com/bitcoin-dev-explains-why-a-multi-asset-lightning-network-might-not-work/

https://zmnscpxj.github.io/about.html

Evidence/Argument:

A contributor to the Lightning Network codebase who goes by the name ZmnSCPxj has made this claim. The identity is provided in the source listed website. ZmnSCPxj has asserted that the use of Lightning Network to make seamless mulit-asset conversions is limited by its technical design at present. He discusses the ability of Lightning Channels to be used for American Call Options, and points out that this essentially will be problematic in situations where the value of traded assets changes significantly during trade windows. The root cause of this significant technical barrier is the use of hashlocked timelocked contracts to route payments. HTLCs can be used across cryptocurrency systems to transfer value between them. HTLCs can also be used to construct American Call Options.

Further, due to UX concerns, on the Lightning Network, there is no cost incurred in merely setting up HTLCs for routing. By using the low-level HTLCs provided as primitives by Lightning Network, one can set up American Call Options. These on-Lightning American Call Options, however, can be “purchased” for free, without the usually required option premium for the user, thus potentially earning money in a completely risk-free manner.

Abusing this risk free call options ability means that any Lightning Network node advertising cross-asset on-Lightning exchange will find large amounts of its liquidity tied up in stalled forwarding payments (in reality, American Call Options) with a risk of monetary loss in case of large fluctuations in exchange rate between two crypto assets. But this problem does not occur if the Lightning network payment channel is handling only a single asset like Bitcoin.

Conclusion:
HTLCs allow creation of American Call Options.
The same HTLCs are used in Lightning Network to route across channels.
If using a single asset, there is no issue related to time.
Regardless of the value of bitcoin relative to any other asset, in the future, 1 BTC is 1 BTC. However, across assets, the ability of HTLCs to create American Call Options becomes troublesome. These can then be exploited to earn money from exercise of the option. Further, because Lightning UX would be degraded otherwise, payment failures are free (gratis), leading to the American Call Options also being free of premium. This means that creating such options would be riskless, allowing potential earnings upon any strong volatility of exchange rates. This implies that a multi-asset Lightning Network may not be economically viable. Instead, Lightning Network would strongly prefer having a single asset across the network.

More on here:
https://lists.linuxfoundation.org/pipermail/lightning-dev/2018-December/001752.html

Notes:
American call options :
This explains well what exactly is American call options.
American Call Options Explained

HTLC:
A Hashed TimeLock Contract or HTLC is a class of payments that uses hashlocks and timelocks to require that the receiver of a payment either acknowledge receiving the payment prior to a deadline by generating cryptographic proof of payment or forfeit the ability to claim the payment, returning it to the payer
This is a simple read here on HTLC:

Status: Confirmed


#26

Hey Sijoy,

You’ve chosen a fascinating topic here and done some good analysis, but I don’t think this is a valid TruStory claim. Claiming something “might not work” while perhaps true, is not really provably true, as time will have to tell whether or not something is going to work.

I’m curious what others think.


#27

@DanielKoff Thanks for the feedback! I agree the wording I have used in the claim is not perhaps best describes the claim. What if I change that to something like -

Multi-asset Bitcoin Lightning network has a serious design limitation

I felt after reading and analyzing the technical claim mentioned in this topic for multi-asset lightning payment channels holds good. As Lightning network is still in development this might get addressed in future but the current design has this limitation. I will look for a response from other lightning dev on this.


#28

Claim : Bitcoin Cash: Single Mining Pool Controls 50% of Hashrate (headline)

Category : Mining

Source : https://www.ccn.com/bitcoin-cash-single-mining-pool-controls-half-of-hashrate/

Argument/Evidence : Coin Dance reported that BTC.TOP (a China-based private mining pool) had, earlier in the day, took over 50.2% of the network.

I checked BCH mining statistics and found that BTC.TOP’s share of the hashrate had dropped to 38%. Source: https://bch.btc.com/stats/pool?pool_mode=day

I crossed-checked with Coin Dance itself and can confirm that BTC.TOP’s hash share had dropped to 38.19%, corroborating the above source. Source: https://cash.coin.dance/blocks/today

Status : Rejected

NOTE: Although rejected at the time of this writing, this could change and likely warrants further monitoring. It is possible that BTC.TOP unintentionally crossed 50% and could have voluntarily reduced their mining power to redistributed it to other pools.


#29

Hi @sijo0703. I think this updated claim is a valid claim. Can you update it? :slightly_smiling_face:

I would also add “HTLC” and “American Call Options” to the Crypto glossary! I learned something new today, and I’m sure others did too :slight_smile: thanks for this.


#30

@preethi Yes I will add those to our glossary!


#31

Claim: Bitcoin has now been operating for ten years without confirming a single fraudulent transaction, and without deviating from its original monetary issuance schedule.

Category: Bitcoin

Source: https://twitter.com/saifedean/status/1080706497989042176

Argument/Evidence: As @cyber_hokie pointed out on Twitter, there was a confirmed double spend of $10000 following the 2013 incidental hard fork. Here is the evidence cited for the double spends:

Status: Rejected


#32

Claim : The past year has seen the largest losses of investor funds due to phishing and hacking than any other year

Category : Scams

Source : https://www.blockchaintransparency.org/

Argument/Evidence :


Image from CipherTrace Cryptocurrency Anti-Money Laundering Report 2018 Q3

CipherTrace Cryptocurrency Anti-Money Laundering Report 2018 Q3 states that “Year-to-date cryptocurrency thefts continue to set records with $927 million in cryptocurrency reported as stolen in the first three quarters of 2018. This represents 3.5 times as much cryptocurrency as was stolen in all of 2017”. The report enumerates 7 hacks that were included in the $166 million stolen in Q3.

Even thought the Q4 report is not out yet, it is already evident that 2018 has seen the largest losses of investor funds according to CipherTrace reports.

Status : Confirmed


#33

Is a double spend considered fraud? And in that case, would this claim be rejected?


#34

yes, it is. How is it not a fraud? Someone literally was able to spend the same money twice.


#35

Right, i didn’t know if double spends could be accidental or something. I agree with you but that would make this particular claim rejected, not confirmed. Unless I’m missing something in the chain of reasoning. For Status: it should be rejected.


#36

Claim: DX.Exchange to allow trading of Nasdaq stocks on Ethereum blockchain with tokens.

Category: Markets

Source:

Argument/Evidence: Instead of purchasing actual stocks, participants will purchase tokens representing shares of the stocks, which are segregated from the tokens, but still provide exposure and entitle the holder to dividends. DX has partnered with Nasdaq and is using their Financial Information exchange (FIX) protocol, and will be using the Ethereum blockchain complete with smart contracts.

Status: Confirmed


#37

this is awesome, paul! i love how you dug up more information on this, and it was presented in Thai (not English). It kind of makes sense though, because of Thailand was that ahead of the game, i’d assume other countries would be right behind them. very cool, that they started doing this and are making the initiative to do so. many wonderful things can happen, with this kind of technology (especially in the rural areas/villages), and it would be great if an internet connection was provided throughout the country.


#38

Claim: Jordan B. Peterson uploads entire video library to BitTube after his daughter gets striked on Youtube

Category : Use cases

Source: https://www.reddit.com/r/CryptoCurrency/comments/abwwd8/jordan_b_peterson_uploads_entire_video_library_to/

Argument/Evidence:

What the claim is accurate about:
Yes, Jordan Peterson’s daughter got a “strike” on her YouTube account because it was flagged by who I’m assuming are Jordan Peterson haters. Yes, Jordan Peterson did upload a bunch of videos to BitTube.

What the claim is not accurate about:
He did not upload his entire video library… yet. He’s uploaded a portion as of right now.

Also, the claim is slightly sensationalist. “Strike” is an accurate word but I would reword it to something else so anybody reading the claim could immediately pickup, like “flagged.” “Striked on Youtube” doesn’t convey what happened as clearly. I’m assuming this, but I think her account got flagged by a bunch of times by users for “spam and deceptive practices” and not by YouTube itself. This triggered an automated email. This is how most software companies handle user-generated content because they can’t manually read everything.

Non-sensationalist version of the claim:
“Jordan B. Peterson begins uploading his video library to BitTube, a decentralized YouTube, after his daughter gets flagged by some Youtube users.”

Status: Rejected


#41

Claim: SegWit adoption went from 10% to 50% in 2018

Category: Projects

Source: image

Argument/evidence: From Misir’s tweet, it is hard to determine if he/she meant that SegWit Adoption went from 10% to 50% at some point this year, or that SegWit adoption now is 50%. If the latter, the statement is clearly false (http://charts.woobull.com/bitcoin-segwit-adoption/) and (https://transactionfee.info/charts/payments/segwit). The charts show that SegWit adoption is around 36% and 41% respectively, depending on the source.

If he/she meant the former, than one chart on Willy Woo’s site displays that SegWit adoption reached the 50% mark for one day this year. The other source does not display SegWit adoption breaking 50% this year.

Status: Unconfirmed


#43

Adding on supporting argument to claim posted by @Edwin .

Argument/Evidence:
According to the Bloomberg article (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-01-03/tesla-stock-on-a-blockchain-offers-hint-of-where-crypto-s-headed),

  • DX.Exchange is regulated by the FIU (Estonia Financial Intelligence Unit. DX.Exchange will offer digital tokens based on share of 10 Nasdaq-listed companies with plans to expand to the New York Stock Exchange as well as in Tokyo and Hong Kong. Each digital security is backed by one regular share and holders will be entitled to the same cash dividends, even though the companies themselves aren’t involved.

On its own website, DX.Exchange shares how it works (https://dx.exchange/how-it-works/)

  • MPS MarketPlace Securities, Ltd, under the supervision of the Cyprus Regulator, CySEC, purchases real world stocks, in accordance to token demand in the DX.EXCHANGE platform. They generate smart contracts, ERC20 tokens created on Ethereum’s network to represent those stocks. The tokens offered for sale are be based on leading public company shares listed on the biggest exchanges like NASDAQ etc…Each token is backed 1:1 by one share of real stock. These shares are held in a segregated account.
  • People can invest in crypto currencies and real digital stocks FOR FREE, 24/7!

According to FinExtra.com (https://www.finextra.com/newsarticle/33153/dxexchange-prepares-for-live-launch-of-tokenised-stock-trading/wholesale), Amedeo Moscato, COO of DX.Exchange, says: “We are creating the first real bridge between crypto and the real stock exchange, and this is the beginning of the traditional market’s merge with blockchain technology. The old market has finally been connected to a new, tokenized financial world."