By Annabelle Pollack
This new model will allow SALT to distribute risk, enhance security, reduce interest rates, fund loans more swiftly, and focus on expanding its suite of wealth preservation products
We’re excited to announce Fireblocks, a platform that secures digital assets in transit, as our first partner for securely storing and transferring customers’ collateral assets. The partnership with Fireblocks marks a shift in SALT’s business model from self-custody to a more distributed custody approach that will allow us to onboard additional partners in the future and add greater flexibility for capital providers. This new approach also enables us to distribute risk, fund loans and conduct transactions more quickly, and provide customers with enhanced security for their cryptoassets, as well as lower interest rates on crypto-backed loans.
“When SALT was founded in 2016, custody wasn’t where it is now, so we built a proprietary custody solution to keep our customers’ collateral assets safe,” said Justin English, CEO of SALT. “Now that the industry has matured and companies like Fireblocks have come to the forefront, we’re excited to work with them to streamline our operations and expose their networks to our suite of wealth preservation products. They have a proven ability to safely and securely store and transfer collateral assets and to do so swiftly, which will inevitably allow us to provide faster service to our customers and focus more on product development.”
The move toward third-party custody solutions will also enable SALT to provide greater security and flexibility to capital providers that may prefer to work with a specific custodian, provided the custodian meets our rigorous security standards.
“MPC has quickly become the industry standard among the largest and most trusted institutions in the digital asset space,” said Michael Shaulov, CEO and co-founder of Fireblocks. “We’re proud to partner with the SALT team to help them strengthen security, reduce costs and expand operations as they move into the next stage of their growth.”
Fireblocks meets these security standards by combining multi-party computation (MPC) with Intel SGX technology to create a proprietary, defense in-depth approach to digital asset security — this allows organizations to accelerate operations without relying on physical hardware or slow, manual processes.
“Security is our top priority as we make this shift to be commensurate with our growth and distribute risk among trusted custodians,” said Dirk Anderson, chief technology officer at SALT. “The primary reason we’ve chosen Fireblocks as our first partner is because of their approach to MPC technology. Not only does it meet our security standards, but it will grant us more flexibility and increase the speed at which we can conduct transactions. This means we can fund stablecoin loans much faster and reduce the turnaround time for returning customers’ collateral assets once their loan has matured.”
From a customer standpoint, the biggest and most exciting changes to note are increased security, faster services, and the offering of lower interest rates. Aside from these changes, the customer experience will largely remain the same. Just as they do now, borrowers will still be able to make deposits and withdrawals, and will be able to continue tracking the health of their loan via our Loan-to-Value monitoring and real-time notification systems.
“We believe working with Fireblocks and other custody partners in the future is in the best interest of both the business and our customers,” said English. “Not only will we be able to offer more competitive interest rates, but we will have the time and resources to focus on expanding our offerings to include products that are designed to help our customers build and preserve their wealth.”
SALT, the pioneer of crypto-backed lending, offers a way for individuals and businesses to use their cryptoassets as collateral to secure a fiat or stablecoin loan without having to worry about credit checks. SALT offers flexible loan terms and accepts multiple cryptoassets as collateral including cryptocurrencies, stablecoins, and tokenized gold. SALT also offers competitive interest rates and does not charge origination or prepayment fees. As cryptocurrency becomes more widely adopted and additional real-world assets become tokenized, SALT’s mission is to offer solutions that make it possible for people to securely hold, manage, and borrow against their cryptoassets. Founded in 2016, SALT is headquartered in Denver, Colorado. For more information, visit www.saltlending.com or follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Medium.
All SALT loans are subject to KYC, AML, and other Terms, Conditions, and Restrictions. Please see saltlending.com/terms and FAQ for additional information. Loan options and terms may not be available in your jurisdiction, for your loan amount, and/or collateral type. SALT Loans are subject to jurisdictional limitations and other restrictions. SALT may not be able to offer a loan to all borrowers. SALT loans are originated by Salt Lending LLC. NMLS #1711910. NMLS Consumer Access (https://www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org/).
Fireblocks is an enterprise-grade platform delivering a secure infrastructure for moving, storing, and issuing digital assets. Fireblocks enables exchanges, custodians, banks, trading desks, and hedge funds to securely scale digital asset operations through the Fireblocks Network and MPC-based Wallet Infrastructure. They have secured the transfer of over $70 billion in digital assets and have a unique insurance policy that covers assets in storage & transit. For more information, please visit www.fireblocks.com.
Kendra Staggs, [email protected]
Yelena Osin, [email protected]
Cryptocurrency is a disruptor. Not only has it changed the way we conduct business, but it has changed the way we think. The most obvious manifestation of how cryptocurrency has disrupted our thought patterns is in the way we think about money — about who issues it, how to transact with it, how to put it to work and how to keep it safe. It also has changed the way we think about our government, our right to privacy and our financial freedom. What’s less obvious is how cryptocurrencies are disrupting the way we think about and participate in asset-based lending. The advent of Bitcoin catalyzed the creation of a myriad of cryptocurrencies, many of which became viewed as assets, yet at the time, there was no way for crypto investors to unlock the value of these assets without selling them. This is the problem SALT’s founders set out to solve in 2016 and in doing so successfully, made asset-based lending as we once knew it a thing of the past.
Creating a New Asset Class
As Bitcoin began to experience wider adoption following its release in 2009, it became clear that some investors were purchasing crypto to trade on a daily basis while others were choosing to invest long-term, viewing Bitcoin more as an asset than as a spendable currency. As more investors adopted this long position and began to think of cryptocurrencies as an asset class in their own right, the term “HODL” emerged in 2013 on a bitcoin-talk forum and has since become one of the most commonly used words in the crypto vernacular. This HODL culture has grown significantly over the years and has evolved to where investors are buying, selling and trading these assets not only for themselves but on behalf of others. This activity has taken the form of crypto portfolios and crypto funds, which offer access to this new asset class for individuals and allow them to diversify their portfolios while eliminating some of the overhead of learning how to purchase and safely hold cryptoassets. By providing a way to collateralize cryptoassets to secure a cash or stablecoin loan, SALT provides opportunities for individuals, businesses and capital providers to build and preserve wealth.
How to Lend Cryptoassets
As the first-ever crypto-backed lender, SALT has developed the technology and processes required to successfully lend against cryptoassets, giving borrowers a way to unlock the value of these assets without selling them. Take Bitcoin for example. It’s one of many cryptoassets we accept as collateral on our platform, yet it makes up more than 80% of the collateral securing our loan book.
What makes Bitcoin a strong form of collateral? The answer lies in Bitcoin’s combined characteristics. Like gold, Bitcoin is scarce, fungible, divisible, transferable and durable. It is also extremely liquid given it is traded on global exchanges every day. Additionally, as a decentralized asset, Bitcoin is highly secure. All of these properties make Bitcoin both a viable asset and a highly efficient form of collateral that has piqued the interest of some of the largest financial institutions in the world.
One thing to note is Bitcoin’s volatile nature, which can pose challenges specifically for the ABL market. However, SALT’s risk management technology effectively manages this volatility. Our technology includes real-time loan-to-value (LTV) monitoring, margin call and liquidation triggers, real-time notifications and the safekeeping of assets through institutional grade custody solutions. For example, our loan-to-value (LTV) monitoring system tracks the prices of assets 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, providing borrowers with the ability to monitor the health of their loan in real-time. If, during periods of heightened volatility, a borrower’s collateral declines in value and their LTV breaches our margin call threshold, we protect the borrower by issuing a margin call that prompts them to take action to restore the health of their loan. Actions borrowers may take include paying down principal or depositing additional collateral to recalibrate their LTV to an appropriate level (70%). If no action is taken and asset prices continue to decline, SALT has the ability and the right to liquidate collateral assets to preserve lender capital. The overcollateralized nature of our loans combined with our risk management technology and ability to liquidate assets enables us to protect the lender, and as a result, we’ve experienced zero losses of principal to date.
Choosing a Crypto-Backed Lender
SALT’s business model is attractive to crypto investors (e.g. traders and asset managers) and businesses (e.g. mining operations and exchanges) for a few reasons. First, we provide access to liquidity, offering loans ranging from $5,000 to the millions. Typical use cases include businesses seeking working capital to fund operational costs and large capital expenditures, or investors seeking leverage, diversification or risk management. Second, since our model is asset-based and requires overcollateralization, we do not rely on a borrower’s credit profile and can fund loans within 24 to 48 hours, assuming the borrower meets our strict AML/KYC requirements. Third, customers know their assets are safely and securely held with institutional-grade custody providers for the duration of their loan. Fourth, our loan process is straightforward and customizable. We allow borrowers to lend against a single cryptoasset or a portfolio of cryptoassets and offer flexible loan terms, including durations ranging from three to 12 months, LTVs up to 60% for individual loans or up to 70% for business loans, and competitive interest rates ranging from 5% to 12% depending on the borrower’s jurisdiction, loan amount and LTV. While we are no longer the only crypto-backed lender in the world, we are one of the few that incorporate a human element into our business model. Unlike completely automated lenders, SALT offers both phone and online support, and assigns each customer a loan support specialist at the time of loan origination. These human touches positively impact a borrower’s experience with the platform; they know that by choosing SALT, they will always have the option to speak with someone about their financial needs.
The Evolution of the Crypto Market and Tokenization
Since SALT’s founding in 2016, the crypto lending market has grown exponentially. According to a report from Credmark, the crypto lending market reached $8 billion in total lifetime loan originations as of Q4/19 and has since surpassed $10 billion following Q1/20. These numbers not only indicate the growing demand for liquidity among crypto holders but also the growing interest among capital providers to get involved in the crypto market. For example, we’ve witnessed an influx of both crypto native (BitGo Prime and Genesis Capital) and traditional financial institutions (Silvergate) that provide leverage and liquidity vehicles at the institutional level.
Another thing to consider regarding the evolution of the crypto market is that as the world becomes tokenized, the very definition of the term “crypto market” is changing. With the emergence of companies like Paxos and Harbor, we’re beginning to see increased tokenization of real-world assets like gold and real estate. At SALT we already accept Pax Gold (a gold-backed cryptoasset) as collateral on our platform and our vision for the future goes well beyond our current collateral scope.
The Role of Alternative Investments
As crypto becomes more widely accepted, a growing number of people are assessing their own risk profiles and determining the best way for them to participate in the crypto market. For those with lower risk profiles, the market has evolved in recent years to offer individuals or businesses indirect exposure to this new asset class. As previously mentioned, crypto portfolios and crypto funds are part of this evolution along with alternative investment companies like Cadence (portfolio company of Coinbase Ventures). Cadence is a securitization platform for private credit that grants access to exclusive high yield, short term investments traditionally reserved for institutions. In February 2020, we partnered with Cadence to offer prospective investors the opportunity to gain exposure to cash flows associated with a portfolio of underlying loans collateralized by cryptoassets. The first note of $500,000 was oversubscribed in five days and we have since worked with Cadence to issue $2.9 million in notes to investors to date. As more companies like Cadence provide structure, liquidity and indirect exposure to alternative asset classes like crypto, we expect to see even greater demand from investors seeking attractive risk adjusted returns.
Opportunities for Institutional Investors
There’s no doubt cryptocurrency has changed the way we think about asset-based lending. It has formed a new asset class and also has catalyzed the trend of broader tokenization — a trend that will inevitably expand the universe of collateral options and have a meaningful impact on the ABL industry. If you’re a decision maker at an institution and are interested in learning more, email [email protected] to discuss opportunities to build and preserve wealth in this rapidly evolving industry.
From business closures to event cancellations and stay-at-home orders, the coronavirus pandemic has had its way with the United States. Millions are unemployed, and millions of small businesses struggle to stay afloat in the punishing economic downturn.
The Federal Reserve, or “the Fed,” has been making headlines as it tries to limit the pandemic’s economic damage, including by lending $2.3 trillion that the government called for in its relief package, dubbed the CARES Act. This action has left many Americans wondering where the Fed got so much money, what the Federal Reserve can and can’t do, and what power the Fed has over our nation’s economy.
What Is the Federal Reserve, anyway?
It’s essential to define what the Fed is to understand its role in our economy. The Federal Reserve is America’s central banking system. Before the Federal Reserve, people panicked their bank would fail when a neighboring one closed its doors. Hordes of customers would run to withdraw their money, ultimately causing those banks to go belly up, too.
After a particularly terrible panic in 1907, Congress stepped in to create the Federal Reserve in 1913 through the Federal Reserve Act. The initial goal was to avoid these bank runs and provide banks with emergency funding. But today, the Federal Reserve System takes other measures to ensure the health and stability of the economy and a secure banking system.
How does the federal reserve work?
The Federal Reserve Act created a decentralized bank that functions without government financing or approval but still protects both public and private interests as a mixed organization.
It has three key entities:
1. Board of Governors
At the heart of the Fed is the Board of Governors, made up of seven officials appointed by the government and confirmed by the Senate. It acts as an independent federal agency, and its job is to direct the monetary policy — the money supply and interest rates. Its goal is to make sure we maintain a stable economy.
2. Reserve Banks
There are 12 Federal Reserve Banks spread throughout the U.S., each one having nine directors. Six directors are elected by commercial banks and three by the Board of Governors, protecting interests from both parties.
Reserve Banks are structured similarly to private corporations. They oversee member banks and carry out the monetary policy in their region. Reserve Banks act independently, but the Board of Governors supervises their actions.
These banks also have other vital roles like distributing currency to other banks, placing money into circulation, acting as a bank and fiscal agent for the U.S. government, and providing critical information about their local, national, and international economies to the Federal Open Market Committee.
3. Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC):
The FOMC is a committee comprising the Board of Governors, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York President, and four members from the other 11 Reserve Banks, who serve for one-year terms.
The FOMC’s primary role is to determine whether the Federal Reserve should buy or sell government bonds, known as Open Market Operations (OMO), to maintain the economy’s stability. It also establishes a target federal funds rate, which is the interest rate banks charge one another for overnight loans.
Where does the Federal Reserve fit into the government?
The role of the Federal Reserve within the government can seem confusing since it has public and private aspects. The Fed is accountable both to Congress and the public and maintains transparency in all its operations.
Ultimately, the Fed is a product of the government because it was created by an act of Congress, which still oversees the whole system and can amend the Federal Reserve Act at any time.
But Congress created the Fed to work autonomously and to be shielded from political pressures by using a privatized structure for the Reserve Banks. It also keeps a hands-off approach by letting the three entities carry out their core responsibilities independently of the federal government.
Can anyone override Federal Reserve decisions?
There isn’t a formal legal power that can supersede the Fed’s monetary policy decisions. Still, the Federal Reserve Act allows the Treasury to “supervise and control” the Fed where jurisdictions overlap.
But the Treasury hasn’t needed to do this because a system of checks and balances keeps the Fed’s operations transparent and answerable to the public and Congress. Just because the Fed can influence the economy, doesn’t mean it doesn’t have to follow the rules.
Independent public accounting firms audit Reserve Banks annually. The Board of Governors also gets audited by its Office of Inspector General and an outside auditor. The Board of Governors annually publishes the results on its website.
The House of Representatives and the Senate hold the Fed accountable by requiring it to report twice a year on its monetary policy and economic decisions. Fed officials also deliver speeches throughout the year to the public so that everyone understands the reasoning for its decisions and actions.
Does the Federal Reserve print money?
If you’re a Bitcoiner, or you spend a decent amount of time on Twitter, you’ve most likely seen the “money printer go brrrr” meme that went viral in March of this year. It cropped up in response to the Fed’s announcement on March 12, 2020, that it would offer $1.5 trillion in short-term loans to banks to help combat “unusual disruptions” in financial markets as a result of the coronavirus. The meme, while more of a social commentary than an accurate depiction of the Fed’s responsibilities, expresses frustration regarding the government’s role in inflation and the devaluation of the US Dollar — as evidenced by the meme’s numerous likes and shares, many Americans share this same sense of frustration. While the meme is accurate in many ways, it unintentionally brings to light the common misconception that the Fed prints money. In reality, printing money is the responsibility of the U.S. Treasury. The Bureau of Engraving and Printing prints paper currency, while the U.S. Mint makes coins. The Treasury oversees both offices.
While it doesn’t print money in the literal sense, the Fed does buy cash as needed from the Bureau at cost to put into circulation, but the monetary base in circulation and at central banks typically stays the same.
The Fed manages the money supply by creating and destroying money. It swaps old, ragged bills for fresh ones or adds and deducts from digital balances. But it also manipulates the amount of money in circulation. The FOMC decides on whether to add or remove cash from the economy by buying or selling government bonds and other securities. This influences the amount banks will lend out and keep on deposit, which then affects interest rates.
That being said, where the misconception holds some truth is in the way the Fed puts more money into circulation; the Fed can’t print money, but it does have the power to essentially create money out of thin air. As a banker’s bank, it does so by making “large asset purchases on the open market and adding newly created electronic dollars to the reserves of banks.” In exchange, the Fed receives large amounts of bonds including US Treasury securities, mortgage‐backed securities, corporate debt and other assets. Rather than paying for these bonds in cash or gold bars, the Fed instead credits the account of the bank selling the bonds so that digital money moves from one place into the other.
The process is like taking out a personal loan of $10,000 at the bank. The bank doesn’t give you a suitcase full of cash. What you get is a credit that shows up as some numbers on a screen, reflecting your new account balance.
Because the Fed operates digitally, it can create money with a few keystrokes and use it to purchase assets or lend money. On a televised interview with “60 Minutes,” Former Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said, “To lend to a bank, we simply use the computer to mark up the size of the account they have with the Fed. So it’s much more akin, although not exactly the same . . . to printing money, than it is to borrowing.”
The Fed did this when it promised to lend Americans $2.3 trillion, as called for in the CARES Act for economic relief and stability across the nation for those who were struggling because of the pandemic.
What can the Federal Reserve do or not do?
If the Fed can make money but not print it, what other actions is it able to take or is prohibited from taking?
What can the Federal Reserve do?
The Fed is an emergency lender for banks in financial distress, so it can lend money to failing banks to keep them afloat. But the Fed’s core responsibility is to manage the money supply, which has far-reaching effects on regulating the financial market.
It’s permitted to use four main tricks to change the amount of money in the economy:
1. Changing the reserve requirement
The Fed dictates what percent of deposits banks have to keep on hold. It usually ranges from zero to 10 percent and is currently set at zero because of COVID-19. The more banks have to keep on reserve, the less there is to go out into the market.
2. Changing interest rates on reserves
The Fed pays commercial banks interest rates on their required and excess reserves, a rule that went into effect in 2008. When the Federal Reserve wants to speed up the economy, it lowers the interest rate so that banks have less of an incentive to hold on to money.
3. Changing the discount rate
The Fed encourages and discourages banks from borrowing money from it by raising or lowering its lending interest rates. When the discount rate is low, banks borrow more to lend to each other and the public.
4. Conducting open market operations
The FOMC decides how many bonds to buy or sell. When it wants more money in the market, it buys these bonds from banks to put more money into their account. When it wants to slow down the economy, it sells the bonds to take away bank money.
This is the Fed’s most common tactic to influence the economy. For example, from 2008 to 2009, it bought over a trillion dollars of government bonds to inject money into the stumbling financial market. This lowered interest rates on short-term loans to almost zero percent.
But the recession went too deep. So, the Fed did something it hadn’t done before. It started buying long-term assets from banks in a process that’s known as quantitative easing (QE), boosting the money supply further and stimulating lending and investment.
What can’t the Federal Reserve do?
The Fed can only indirectly influence the nation’s economy. This means it does not have the power to take any of the following actions:
Set the federal funds rate
The federal funds rate is the amount of interest banks charge to lend their excess cash reserves overnight to each other. Banks frequently do this to meet the Fed’s reserve requirement.
While the Fed can’t set this number directly, the FOMC sets a target federal funds rate depending on what direction it wants the economy to go. Then, it works within what it’s permitted to do to influence banks and reach the benchmark rate.
Set the prime rate
Banks use the prime interest rate for commercial and consumer borrowing for things like credit cards and personal, car, and home equity loans. Banks often set the prime rate based on the Fed’s target federal funds rate.
Hike up mortgage and student loan rates
Mortgages and student loans are long-term assets whose rates are determined more by market-driven factors than FOMC decisions.
That said, the Fed purchased mortgage-backed securities to lower long-term rates on mortgages in 2008 so that banks wouldn’t need to borrow from each other to meet the reserve requirement. But these actions still affect federal funds rates significantly more than mortgage and student loan interest rates.
Use taxpayer money to fund its operations
The Fed doesn’t get any funding from taxpayers because its money comes from interest accruals on government securities and treasuries purchased through its OMO. There are other sources, too, such as foreign currency investments. After paying its expenses, the Fed turns any extra money over to the U.S. Treasury because it’s not operated for profit.
What’s the potential impact of the Federal Reserve’s powers on the economy?
Although the Fed can only work behind the scenes to stabilize the economy, it exerts a massive influence on its operations.
For example, the Fed can speed up or ease the economy by manipulating the money supply to increase or decrease consumer spending. It starts by influencing bank lending rates through selling and buying government bonds.
When banks have more excess reserves, there’s more to lend to the public, so interest rates are lower. Lower interest rates encourage people to borrow money, which is then spent on goods and services. More consumer spending generally means a better economy, while “even a small downturn in consumer spending damages the economy” and can even lead to a recession. Below is how the Fed’s actions impact specific aspects of the economy.
The Fed uses a trickle-down effect to influence interest rates. Remember, they can’t set federal funds or prime interest rates, but they can bend them to their will through OMO.
The Fed buying back government bonds from banks leaves more money for banks to play with while selling them means banks have to be more cautious about lending out their reserves. The economics of supply and demand shows excess cash in the market will drive down the interest rates banks charge to each other and the public, while a lack of money has the opposite effect.
The Fed also raises or lowers the discount rate and reserve requirements to change the interest rates commercial banks ultimately offer customers.
Inflation and deflation
When federal funds rates drop because of the Fed’s actions, prime rates usually drop with them. Consumers then borrow money for business and personal purposes to take advantage of lower interest rates. With greater amounts of money in their pockets, people spend more on goods and services, creating a spike in demand.
The larger demand pushes wages and costs higher to meet the production necessary to keep up with supply, causing a ripple effect. Prices increase across sectors, leading to reduced purchasing power. This is inflation and explains why a dollar today is worth less than a dollar last year.
Some annual inflation is good. It’s a sign the economy is doing well because consumers are spending. The Fed has a target core inflation rate of two percent. When inflation goes above or below the benchmark amount, the Fed steps in and works within its limits to move the needle toward inflation or deflation.
Although directing the U.S. monetary policy for the nation’s economic benefit is a crucial part of the Fed’s job, it also has foreign concerns.
Financial crises within our borders often have a global impact. The 2008 recession strained international markets because many countries have at least some assets and liabilities dominated by the dollar, causing them to sometimes borrow and lend in dollars.
To address the dollar scarcity, the Fed started swapping currencies with foreign economies in dire need of U.S. currency — over 583 billion dollars’ worth — at a predictable and fixed rate to keep struggling foreign banks afloat and prevent their economies from plummeting.
As the pandemic continues to threaten the nation’s physical and financial health, the Fed is getting creative with its strategies, as it did in 2008 when it began buying long-term assets from banks.
Historically, the Fed has only purchased government securities. This time it’s buying 250 billion dollars’ worth of corporate bonds through exchange-traded funds (ETFs) to keep business up and running and workers employed. While this is good news in the short term, the long-term effects of this unprecedented move on the economy are uncertain.
The Federal Reserve: A system of the People, by the People, and for the People?
The Federal Reserve’s power and influence over our economy leaves many asking if it’s an unconstitutional entity. Though Congress takes a laissez-faire approach to the Federal Reserve, the system teeters between public and private domains.
The effect of its present monetary policy decisions on the future economy could determine which direction future reform sways. It could also decide if the century-old institution modernizes into a structure more accurately reflecting the concerns and voice of the people, and one maintaining greater transparency while ensuring the long-term economic stability of the nation.
How Financial Firms Navigate the Markets to Grow in Any Climate
SALT was featured on Adroll’s blog alongside Catch Benefits and Hippo Insurance. Learn how we’re navigating the markets and changing the way people interact with money in the full blog post here.
Read Adroll’s full blog post here
ICYMI: SALT Announces Justin English as Chief Executive Officer
In case you missed it, we recently announced that Justin English has been named chief executive officer at Salt Blockchain Inc., parent company to SALT Lending. Co-presidents Rob Odell and Dustin Hull, who have been working together for the past six months to fill the CEO role and onboard English, will remain co-presidents and will continue to support SALT in their respective roles as chief product officer and chief financial officer.
Read the full announcement here.
Creative Wealth Preservation with Blockchain Center
Our CPO Rob Odell joined Blockchain Center’s VR Crypto Mondays to talk with their CEO about crypto lending and creative ways to preserve your wealth.
Watch their full discussion here.
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Black Lives Matter
As operations at SALT carry on, it is not lost on us, as a company nor as individuals, that Black Americans continue to fight for racial justice. We are committed to hearing, learning from, and supporting our Black customers & communities in this fight for a more inclusive world.
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Questions about our products and offerings? Contact [email protected]
We’re excited to announce our partnership with Uphold — the leading digital money platform democratizing access to investments and payments using blockchain technology — to provide Uphold users with seamless cash or stablecoin loans using cryptocurrencies as collateral. Uphold users can now secure loans through SALT in as little as 24-hours against their holdings in Bitcoin, Ether, Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash, Dash, and as of today, XRP. The integration of the two platforms provides enhanced access to liquidity, enabling users to unlock additional value in their holdings.
In addition to bringing leading credit solutions to Uphold users, we’ve integrated Uphold wallets into our platform, allowing the company’s large and rapidly growing user base to access Uphold’s products through their dashboard. The integration streamlines the lending experience for shared users through seamless collateral transfers and loan proceed payouts.
“SALT has given its users the flexibility to access loans using their cryptocurrency holdings. Our integration with the SALT platform allows us to grow our service offering and provides another real-world use case for Uphold members,” said Robin O’Connell, Chief Revenue Officer, Uphold.
With a crypto-backed loan from SALT, Uphold users can unlock liquidity from their crypto assets without having to sell them. Unlike traditional financial institutions, we allow customers to use their crypto assets as collateral to secure a cash (USD) or stablecoin loan in as little as 24 hours, providing them with the opportunity to reach their personal financial goals including but not limited to funding a large purchase, consolidating debt, or accessing working capital to scale their business.
When applying for a loan through SALT, Uphold users can customize their loan by choosing their preferred loan type, loan amount, duration, and Loan-to-Value (LTV) ratio with options ranging from 30%-70%. There are no credit or income checks required and no origination or prepayment fees. With a crypto-backed loan from SALT, Uphold users can keep their crypto and get cash.
“Uphold has built an impressive platform that provides a seamless on-ramp into the digital economy and a simple method to transact across diverse asset classes. We’re excited to bring our leading crypto-credit products to Uphold’s global customer base and enhance our borrower experience through a direct integration with Uphold wallets on our platform,” added Jarrett Abraham, Director of Corporate Development, SALT. “Together, we’ll provide ultimate flexibility for crypto holders who need access to liquidity across a range of crypto assets and fiat currencies. This is an exciting strategic partnership for us that helps further our mission to accelerate the world’s ability to embrace crypto assets and participate in the token economy.”
About Uphold Uphold is a digital money platform democratizing access to investments and payments using blockchain technology. With more than 1.5 million users globally, Uphold has powered ~$5.3bn in transactions (9/30/19). Uphold provides both retail customers and businesses worldwide with easy access to fiat and digital currencies, as well as precious metals. The San Francisco based firm is opening up global access to financial services that are either ‘hard to reach’ or simply not available in certain regions. Available through the web, iOS, and Android, Uphold is the only financial platform to publish its reserve holdings in real time. The company also has offices in New York, Portugal and London. More information can be found at www.uphold.com, or follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Uphold is registered with Fincen in the United States and is an EMD agent of an FCA licensed e-money institution in Europe. Uphold is not a lender, loan broker, or loan arranger and is not offering anyone advice or assistance in obtaining a loan.
After identifying and evaluating new ways to add value for SALT Membership Unit (“SALT”) supporters, we’re excited to announce that we’re 1. now accepting SALT as collateral for a cash or stablecoin loan and 2. switching from a staking model to a redemption model.
How will this work when the price of SALT varies across exchanges?
Since Binance and Bittrex delisted SALT in February and May respectively, we’ve been searching for a valid third-party pricing source by which to value SALT. We define valid exchange pricing as the trading price on an unmanipulated market where the trading volume is high enough that a sufficient number of buyers and sellers can establish a price at which to transact. We determined that Binance and Bittrex were the only two exchanges to offer a sufficient market for SALT to provide validity in the previous year. To mitigate this change in pricing validity, we have taken the 60-day moving average from Coinmarketcap.com, using the 60 days prior to the delisting announcement by Bittrex. Using this pricing mechanism, we are recognizing a price of $0.15 per SALT on our platform. If, in the future, SALT is listed on an exchange with adequate trading volume, accessibility, and market depth to provide us with price validity, we will immediately recognize such third-party pricing.
What does this mean if I’ve already staked SALT to secure a loan?
If you currently have a loan with us and you staked SALT to get a reduced interest rate, your SALT will automatically be recognized as collateral in your collateral wallet and your interest rate will remain the same.
What else can I do with my SALT?
We are moving from a staking model to a redemption model. This means that while you can still use your SALT to secure a lower APR on your crypto-backed loan, the new redemption program will allow you to redeem your SALT rather than stake it. The reason we’ve switched to this new model is to offer you value for your SALT upfront. From now on, you can redeem your SALT to reduce your interest rate for lower monthly payments (go to saltlending.com for loan terms and options). The amount of SALT required to do so depends upon the size of your loan.
What if I don’t own SALT?
If you don’t own SALT, these changes will not impact you. Our goal with switching to a redemption model and adding SALT as a collateral type is to reward early supporters of SALT by offering them additional ways to use their SALT tokens the way they were intended to be used — to engage with our lending platform.
Having participated this week in the ADC Global Blockchain Summit held in conjunction with the South Australian Government and the Australian Digital Commerce Association (ADCA) in Adelaide, SALT is actively incorporating its technology services into the burgeoning Australian market. With a particular focus on strategies and practical applications for business growth via blockchain technologies and systems, SALT spoke to the Summit’s key topics from experience intersecting business, public policy, and the regulatory environment.
Australia has demonstrated a keen interest in developing its blockchain industry. The Ministry for Industry, Science and Technology today announced a blockchain roadmap with AU$100,000 in federal funding for “regulation, skills and capacity building, innovation, investment, and international competitiveness and collaboration.” Working directly with blockchain businesses at the ADC Summit, SALT is deploying its Software as a Service packages, which allow traditional companies to easily add cryptocurrency and blockchain offerings into their product portfolio including lending technology, wallets, monitoring, and blockchain analysis. With Australia’s continued commitment to developing blockchain services responsibly, SALT looks forward to working with interested parties and stakeholders across the Australian market to bring their vision into reality.
Crypto companies looking for extra liquidity to expand their businesses, such as exchanges or mining companies, can join SALT and apply for a crypto-backed loan.
As SALT continues to grow, we remain focused on further expanding our technology products, allowing both crypto and traditional companies to integrate blockchain services into their software stacks.
We learn a lot from the people who use our platform every day and enjoy collecting their feedback so we can use it to continue improving your experience with SALT. We spoke with our business client Justin Podhola, founder and CEO of Elite Mining Inc. — a company that generates mining capabilities through clean energy.
Tell us a bit about your background. How and when did you become involved in the blockchain/cryptocurrency space?
I’ve had quite a few years of trading experience overall. I started out trading on the US Stock Exchange over 10 years ago. Following that, I worked in real estate, building homes and flipping houses. I’ve always been a tech junkie, but I never really had a good place to put my knowledge and skills to work. Eventually one of my buddies asked me if I’d ever heard of Bitcoin, and while I was really interested in the technology, it didn’t make any sense to me at the time because I didn’t take the time to understand it. I started doing some research on it in 2016 and in early 2017 I decided to go ahead and take a chance on cryptocurrencies, and spent my life savings to start mining. I’m so glad I did because I’ve been so much better off because of it, and I’m able to contribute to an ecosystem that really resonates with me as a person.
Throughout the past couple of years, we’ve found there’s a strong need for proof of work and proof of stake, especially right now in the current markets for a lot of the smaller coins. They need more infrastructure built around them. Based on this research, I founded Elite Mining Inc. in late 2017. The business is profitable, but at the end of the day, the most important thing is that we’re able to provide security for blockchains. This market is ever-evolving and we’re looking forward to seeing where it goes.
Given your company focuses on clean mining, can you tell us about what that entails and why you decided to go that direction?
The current narrative around mining is that it’s going to harm the planet in the future — I’m really focused on not only squashing this notion, but on becoming the leader in clean and profitable mining. Bitcoin is sound money, and for our new cryptosphere to really lead the next generation of miners, we have to be focused on both reducing emissions and securing Dnet blockchains.
The sentiment is that being green with clean / renewable energy ends up losing you profits, but prior to founding the company, we conducted about six months’ worth of due diligence before we chose the state in which we wanted all of our facilities to be located. We wanted to be located in a geographic area that would allow us to scale into the hundreds of megawatts range and simultaneously be nearly 100% clean in our energy consumption for POW and POS (Proof of Work and Proof of Stake). Specifically and what ultimately made our decision is the fact that Washington State is the leading hydroelectricity-producing state in the nation, without a close second, but yet inherently has some of the lowest electricity rates in the entire world.
Washington State is inherently 91 to 92 percent all clean energy, which is the reason we chose it for our business. We looked at other states including New York, Montana, and Texas, but ultimately I was already living in the best state for what we wanted to do. The biggest pain point for renewable energy and mining is figuring out how to scale with it — we knew that operating out of Washington would allow us to do that. Having made this decision, we’re able to take advantage of some of the best electricity rates in the world and constantly deploy renewables on a distinct time scale within our operations to maintain the backbone of our operations, and at the same time lower our electricity costs in perpetuity.
Why did you take out a SALT loan and what made you choose SALT as your loan provider?
There are a few things that drew me to SALT. The first thing was the branding — I thought it was absolutely clean and genius. The SALT brand reminds me of Nike because it has a simple logo with strong meaning behind it. It’s a straightforward concept and given the colors and themes are good, I thought the company had a strong possibility of selling itself well. The next thing that caught my attention was SALT’s platform — it was extremely unique in the way the company built its tokenomics and membership benefits out of the SALT token. That really intrigued me, and as I conducted additional research, I learned early on that while I needed to cover the costs of electricity and of buying more rigs, there’d come a point where I’d want to try and keep as much Bitcoin and Ethereum as I could. I anticipated future appreciation, so I didn’t want to sell my assets. I figured that using SALT would put my business at an advantage because we could HODL all of our Bitcoin and Ethereum, use it as collateral, and generate additional income as a result of long-term appreciation. We don’t know where Bitcoin will be in two to three years, but by that point, if I hadn’t decided to do something like this now and use SALT to HODL my crypto, I would lose essentially 30–40 percent of my holding coin assets by having to sell them off to continue running my business. For me, using SALT was a no-brainer.
How is your SALT loan helping you accomplish your goals?
First of all, the SALT loan is enabling us to hold our assets, which is the most important attribute. Our most valuable assets are our Bitcoin and Ethereum, and while we also mine other coins, we’re able to sell into Bitcoin and Ethereum. Now that we’ve implemented SALT into our business model; we’re going to consistently contribute more to our BTC and ETH wallets on the SALT platform by adding more collateral over time. I can continue to add collateral as I go along, instead of paying bills directly by selling my Bitcoin and losing that future appreciation value. Then into the future, months down the road if I need cash, want to expand the company, ramp up operations for more rigs, or move to a new facility, I have the liquidity to be able to do so, yet I can still hold at least good chunk of my assets. To me that’s a powerful tool that’s going to add a lot to our company.
Would you consider a second loan with SALT?
Yes, and actually my second loan would likely be a personal loan. I’m bullish in the market right now and believe the market has leveled off for the most part, which triggers the trader signal in me for a green light to reduce margin calls and to be optimistic on long range trends for the value of my cryptocurrency.
What would you say to people who have cryptocurrency but may be skeptical about collateralizing it?
First of all, it’s important to do your due diligence, but I’d recommend going to SALT because they have a professional team and are an excellent company overall. They don’t waver in their terminology, and they’re good at communicating. Most importantly, they have excellent customer service — you can get ahold of them at any time.
There are a lot of scams out there, and there are a few lenders I would be careful of because they don’t have insurances in place if something were to happen to their lending solution. Knowing SALT has insurance is what gives me the confidence to take out a loan because at the end of the day I know they’re making sure to be extra cautious for their customers and that they have my best interests in mind. Additionally, security is number one, and I feel confident that SALT has an extremely secure platform, they have built their products on chain. SALT has developed their own tech stack, obtained their own licenses in the US and abroad, and they have an absolutely awesome SALT app on their phone that allows me in a blink of an eye to view and manage my assets via Smartphone 24/7/365. Through this ownership of these assets they have built, it allows them to really offer solutions to future clients that can grow in the foreseeable future. These aspects combined with their fast response time is why I would recommend them to someone looking for a crypto-backed loan. I’ve had experiences with other lenders and relatively speaking, they’ve been a little slow to get back to me. Given this is the 21st Century, I like things to be fast.
Are there any specific characteristics that you like about the SALT platform in particular?
- I love the automated margin call system. It enables me to be hands-off, so I don’t have to worry about checking my loan every single day. I’m a very busy person, as I’m currently running two businesses and have a wife and kids. I don’t want to be checking my computer every day for my LTV, so to me the automated margin system alone is worth choosing SALT — time is money.
- It’s extremely easy to apply for a loan. It took me just a few minutes to slide the scale over and figure out how much collateral I wanted to use and then two minutes to complete the application process. SALT responded quickly to me after I submitted the application.
- The platform is simple. It’s clean, and there’s not a lot of jargon to comb through, which makes it significantly easier to go through the loan process.
In your experience, what’s something about our process that you think may prevent people from taking out a SALT loan?
One thing I think might be hard for people to understand and may prevent them from taking out a loan is that at this point, it takes a lot of collateral to back your loan — potentially more than the average person would expect. However, what’s important to understand is that it’s an emerging market and SALT has a certain level of responsibility to its investors and lenders, so overcollateralization of your loan is a necessary precaution for the time being. They’ve compensated for this recently by coming out with new, ridiculously good interest rates.
If you were going to choose the next collateral for SALT, what would you choose and why?
I would choose Dash — I think it’s a no-brainer. Dash has great market penetration right now — it has a strong following and is a no-nonsense coin. I also think Zcash would be another decent choice, as it is garnering quite a bit of adoption currently as well.
The annual World Economic Forum (WEF) concluded this past Friday in Davos, Switzerland. Attendees included top business leaders, political figureheads, and a variety of well-known celebrities with topics ranging from international trade, shifts in regulation, and emerging technologies. Throughout the week, participants discussed technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, and blockchain– SALT was there to focus on the latter. Here are some of the key blockchain-related takeaways from our week in Davos:
The blockchain fluff is largely gone — 2018 saw cryptocurrencies drop from a total market cap of $618.1 billion to $125.6 billion.* There were many projects built on the hype of 2017 and the crypto attendance at WEF last year was quite high. The “correction” has narrowed the list of blockchain companies involved, with only the more reputable projects in attendance.
Governments focused on blockchain technology — Various governments have been exploring ways to jump into blockchain technology and we are starting to hear some exciting announcements. One such announcement came from Bermuda, where Premier David Burt stated, “I’m proud to say that next week we’ll be making an announcement revealing that a bank will be set up in the country that will start accepting crypto and blockchain companies.”
Focus on the broad application of blockchain — It wasn’t all about crypto. In fact, a majority of the conversations focused on other applications such as healthcare, supply chain, and digital identities. Blockchain has the ability to provide an immutable, single source of truth — certainly an important attribute for industries dealing with sensitive data.
Blockchain companies are seeking regulation — We (blockchain companies) are not looking for loopholes in regulation or jurisdictions with thin legislation — it’s quite the opposite. We know that in order to grow as an industry and play a key role in society at large, responsible regulation is paramount. Throughout the week, SALT met with many government officials and economic organizations to help drive that conversation forward.
There has been a lot of behind-the-scenes work over the last couple years in our space and we expect some meaningful announcements to be made in 2019. We believe blockchain technology is here to stay and look forward to discussing its progress at Davos 2020.
*Data pulled from coinmarketcap.com