Crypto — Coming Into Its Own

By Jenny Shaver 

A look at indicators of industry maturity and assessing the right kind of investment risk.

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(This article is adapted from a keynote speech delivered at the April, 2019 Crypto Invest Summit.)

I often get asked, whether it’s by former colleagues, or people I meet at social events, or even my dad, “Why would people invest in crypto? It seems risky.”

Depending on your investment strategy, sure, it’s risky. But…it’s a different kind of risky than it was even two years ago.

So, what’s changed?

Crypto asset performance isn’t correlated to any other asset class. It doesn’t move with fiat inflation or commodities prices. It’s not tied to the performance of a company like a security. That inherently creates risk but also opportunity for significant gain. This is a risk that we as an industry weather and accept.

The perceived risk my dad is referencing has less to do with crypto asset volatility and more to do with the perception that the crypto industry reflects the lawless, undisciplined behavior and unbridled speculation akin to the caricature of the wild west.

This perception is inaccurate.

I was having a conversation with a colleague about this very topic and he said,

“Our industry isn’t in a state of chaos like The Wild West. Our industry is more analogous to The Space Race.”

John F. Kennedy said of The Space Race, “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”

Blockchain technology attempts to solve previously unsolvable problems. The complexity of the technology and the nascent nature of the regulatory framework, requires new and emerging expertise. It requires risk takers to set new precedents.

This pursuit has resulted in a pouring in of talent and capital which have given rise to increasing competition and meaningful industry advances. We are seeing this manifest via several indicators of industry maturity.

Broader Adoption

Despite the crypto winter, or bear market, or whatever we want to call 2018, we saw a nearly doubling of the amount of individuals who hold crypto assets. A survey published by Forbes suggests that crypto holders are skewing older and more affluent than previously thought.

UTXO analysis conducted by Delphi Digital suggests that most crypto holders who held a position longer than five years largely sold off their holdings, partly contributing to the downturn, but clearing the way for new investors seeking engagement with new types of products.

From an institutional perspective, traditional financial services and crypto financial services are converging. We are seeing validation of crypto assets in traditional companies incorporating crypto services or blockchain infrastructure.

Institutional adoption also extends to partnerships and service providers for crypto companies. Just in the past 12 months, I have seen an increased willingness of vendors and service providers to work with crypto companies. Companies who were saying “no” to providing services for us 12 months ago, are now actively trying to work with us.

Compliance

US-based crypto companies have made significant strides to create risk and compliance programs that are comparable to traditional financial institutions.

This includes a robust KYC/AML program, customer data protection standards, SOC compliance, compliance monitoring of blockchain addresses, and dedicated resources to oversee compliance programs.

As our industry attempts to navigate its purpose of removing barriers for transferring value, even regulatory barriers, compliance programs at this stage of our industry maturity, are a necessary step for broader adoption and mitigation of regulatory risk.

Insurance

Insurance has been a hot topic as of late because it’s a relatively new advancement in our industry. But it’s meaningful.

The fact that insurance providers are willing to underwrite affordable insurance policies for crypto-specific operations is a strong indicator that we as an industry are demonstrating the safety of holding crypto assets.

I urge investors to ask critical questions about the specifics of insurance programs — the coverage amount, incidents covered, and the claims and payout process and timeline.

The good news is that as our industry continues to prove itself, the competition amongst insurance underwriters will increase, which, in turn, will drive down costs.

Market Data Integrity

Our industry is dealing with our own data integrity issues just like any other high volume, high velocity industry.

Recognizing these gaps and the dependence on reliable market data to drive participation, there has been a surge of data research companies dedicated to improving the quality of market data.

The recent incident of BitWise calling out CoinMarketCap for overstating trading volumes, is a great example of our industry’s maturity in this area.

This is significant not just because companies like BitWise are expending resources to conduct due diligence on our industry’s leading data providers, but also because of CoinMarketCap’s acceptance of accountability to address the issue and improve their product.

It demonstrates that we are holding ourselves to a higher standard, and that investors will have increasingly accurate sources of information to make informed decisions.

Response to Scalability Challenges

JPMorgan announced earlier this year that it is investing in its Quorum blockchain infrastructure to facilitate payments in a more efficient manner using its dollar-backed JPM Coin.

It’s currently being piloted with a few institutional clients but is promising to revolutionize their payment processing.

To realize this potential will require blockchains to dependably support concurrent transactions at a scale that is not yet possible, or at least not yet largely practiced and tested.

Our industry is investing significant resources to solve this problem, and promising solutions are surfacing.

A second layer protocol solution, Lightning Network, is perhaps the most exciting advancement in the race for scalability.

For crypto to deliver on its potential of revolutionizing the transfer of value on a global scale, it must rise to meet the challenges of scale.

We’re working on it.

More Sophisticated Investment Products

What I see as the most exciting indicator of market maturity is the increasing diversification of product offerings.

Interest-bearing accounts are seeing promising early performance, futures and options are now available on select exchanges, as is trading on margin, and ETFs are on the near-term horizon.

What I have seen is an industry response to the unique nature of crypto assets and the needs of crypto holders. In crypto lending, for example, simply offering a crypto-backed, USD loan, does not address all market uses cases.

If 2018 has taught us anything it’s that we need products that drive market engagement in both bear and bull markets.

Our industry now offers several ways for investors to participate — directly through investing in crypto assets, less directly by offering fiat capital pipelines for interest-based products, or indirectly through investing in the growth of crypto companies and projects.

These options are allowing for a wider breadth of investor participation with varying risk appetites.

I return to the question, “Is crypto investing risky?”

When we empower a company like Charles Schwab to manage our wealth portfolio, we know there is some risk in the investment strategy but we don’t worry about them losing or mismanaging our money.

There are enough responsible companies in the crypto industry that can provide the same amount of assurance about the handling of your crypto assets. I encourage investors to seek out reputable companies and ask tough questions about their operations due diligence. Watch how companies respond to industry incidents like a hack or key compromise event. Our industry is still young and we’re still learning our vulnerabilities. The good companies will have a disaster recovery procedure that cure customer losses.

We have seen what happens when more resources are deployed to our industry. The result is more talent, innovation, and increasing sophistication that results in better products and better opportunities for investors.

Everyone wins.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SALT Lending.

Considerations for Filing Taxes as a Crypto Holder in 2020

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Disclaimer: This article is for informational and educational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal and accounting advisors when filing your taxes.

While the tax deadline has been extended from April 15, 2020 to July 15, 2020 due to the COVID-19 crisis, it’s still a good idea to file as soon as possible, especially for those taxpayers who are expecting a refund. For crypto holders, it’s important to note that for the first time ever, this year every tax-paying American will be getting quizzed explicitly on their crypto activity. Indeed, the 2020 season will mark the first time the following question appears right at the top of the 1040 tax form:

“At any time during 2019, did you receive, sell, send, exchange, or otherwise acquire any financial interest in any virtual currency?”

This year however, federal tax forms ask about your bitcoin and other cryptocurrency activities, the latest move to more directly specify details for cryptocurrencies. The IRS is focusing on those who may be underreporting their crypto transactions or not reporting them at all.

What does this new sentence in your tax form this year really mean, and how should it impact how you report crypto in your 2019 taxes? To help understand, we asked SALT experts, along with our partners and friends at Node40TaxBitBlox and Friedman LLP.

Know Your Cost Basis

The first thing to know is that one is taxed on profit — the key figure to find out is the gain number. The most recent set of guidance from the IRS was released in October 2019 and it included a few methods of “cost basis assignment” mentioned therein. For those who aren’t accountants, this means one of a few ways to track profits and losses. Know your cost basis and what the IRS deems taxable. Most importantly, know your “gain number.”

Cost basis means the price at which you initially acquired an asset. For example, if you hold one BTC today, which you previously purchased at $9,000, and the price today is $11,000, the cost basis is that acquisition price of $9,000. So, the unrealized gain number (without selling) and the realized gain number (if you were to sell) is the net between today’s price and the cost basis, meaning in this case $2,000.

Cost basis can also mean the fair market value of the asset on the date of acquisition. For example, you received one BTC from work as compensation for services on 1/1. The value of BTC on 1/1 is $9,000. Later when you sell one BTC at $11,000, the then fair market value of $9,000 would be the cost basis, and you would realize $2,000 gain. The fair market value can be determined using a reasonable method, such us prices on any third-party independent trading platforms, as long as the same method is applied consistently for all your crypto transactions.

Loan collateral does not count as a transaction

For SALT customers, it’s important to know that your crypto held as collateral for a cash or stablecoin loan does not count as a taxable transaction unless your collateral is liquidated; a liquidation is a taxable event. If your collateral increases in value during the course of your loan term, this does not count as a gain or taxable action unless the collateral is sold. According to Friedman LLP, should you have a business loan with SALT, take note that business interest is deductible and subject to limitations (generally 30% of adjusted taxable income if the business had more than $25 million gross receipts). While interest on personal loans is generally not deductible, it may be deductible if you are self-employed and you use the loan for your own business or if you are employed but you use the loan to make other investments that generate income (the loan then becomes a business loan or investment loan).

First-In-First-Out (FIFO)

First-In-First-Out (FIFO) is the default accounting method. Your cost (the price at which you purchase a crypto asset) is calculated at the initial purchase date. So, if you buy a Bitcoin in January, another in March, and sell one in June, the “cost” isn’t from March, but January. The first “in” is the first purchasing transaction. First “out” is the first one sold. With digital currency the date of purchase and sale are clear in the coins and tokens themselves, making reporting much easier.

The aforementioned guidance from the IRS clarifies how to calculate your gain number.

By way of example: assume you purchase one BTC on 1/1 for $10,000, one BTC on 2/1 for $15,000, and then sell one BTC on 3/1 for $12,500 — your taxable gain or loss using first-in-first-out is computed by taking $12,500 of proceeds less your cost basis of $10,000 (which comes from the earliest purchase of BTC). This results in a $2,500 taxable gain.

While FIFO is the default method, the IRS makes it clear that the Specific Identification method can also be used if a taxpayer can document unique digital identifiers such as a private or public key. The acceptance of specific identification is favorable for taxpayers, as it allows taxpayers to assign their highest cost basis lots first, which in return minimizes their tax liability.

More details on this specific topic can be found over at Taxbit’s blog here.

Be Careful Using 1099s from Exchanges

If you have been buying crypto through exchanges, the exchange may have sent you a 1099-K or 1099-B form. Even if you did not receive these documents, all the 1099 methods of calculating income are still valid for you. The exchange calculates and reports gross proceeds, meaning that it is on the taxpayer to provide information on the cost they paid to acquire said assets and reported in the capital gains section, otherwise known as IRS 8949.

Specifically, form 1099-K reports gross proceeds, which the IRS interprets as income. The number reported on form 1099-K is not counted as income however, as cryptocurrency trading carries cost basis and is to be reported in the capital gains and losses section of a taxpayer’s tax return. Form 1099-B reports cost basis when available and makes it easier for you as a taxpayer to complete your required IRS 8949. Some cryptocurrency exchanges may not send you anything at all. Regardless of which form you receive or don’t receive, your responsibility as a taxpayer is to use the information to complete your IRS 8949, which reports your capital gains and losses.

Verify the Data You Receive

The crypto industry is still relatively new and while the exchanges and trading technology may have some advanced reporting features built in, the institutions built around that technology are still new. With traditional securities, there is a clearinghouse, a broker, and well-established financial statements that make it easy to determine your taxes. With cryptocurrency, many of the exchanges are still in the process of refining external reporting standards. This means that, as a user, the level of completeness in reporting expected from NYSE cannot possibly be replicated by virtually any new institutions.

According to data by NODE40, the reports generated by cryptocurrency exchanges will be incorrect for about 80% of cryptocurrency traders. We can’t fault the exchanges because there is simply no way for them to determine the cost basis of the assets you’ve been moving around. For this reason, it’s important to consider using a third-party platform that can calculate the gains and losses on your cryptocurrency as you move it from exchange to exchange or wallet to wallet.

Conclusion: Educating Ourselves is Essential

Crypto accounting and tax reporting can be daunting and complex, which is why staying engaged with news and trends is essential to understanding the evolving landscape of crypto taxation. Especially in the U.S, the IRS is taking more steps to introduce greater guidance and clarity. But without proper education and trained professionals, navigating crypto tax can be tough.

Tax preparers and investors rely on 1099 forms in traditional markets — crypto is no different. Without it, the burden of responsibility shifts to the investor, requiring them to keep track of all of their crypto activity for the year. This includes tracking every crypto-related transaction, like fair market value based on the date of purchase or sale of assets.

All of this information is vital for preparers to determine cost basis and properly calculate gains and losses. Therein lies the primary challenge. Some crypto accounting and management platforms have emerged to solve this growing industry need for smarter solutions. Industry giants need reliable, accurate and smart tools.

Because crypto remains a new field and exchanges are widespread around the world, not all exchanges report in the same method. This is why the savvy users will double check the work of the exchange, a task for which there are now new tools available. These errors can have a massive tax impact, particularly when it comes to tracking the cost of acquisition of the asset over time. Luckily there are tools that exist that can provide traders and crypto entrepreneurs with intelligent support.

Taxes are a part of life. This year hundreds of millions of Americans will be reminded explicitly of the existence of digital assets — a good thing for the industry that will drive greater awareness and adoption of cryptoassets. If you’re already a crypto hodler or trader, diligence is key to successfully filing your 2019 taxes this year. Whether you use a third-party tool or rely solely on exchanges to track the movement of your assets, it’s crucial that you know your gain number and verify its accuracy, that you review the IRS guidelines, and that you use trusted sources to educate yourself on what to report and how to go about it.

SALT Adds DASH as Collateral and Offers a Way to Maintain Your Masternode

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We’re proud to announce that we now accept DASH as collateral.

Better yet, if you own DASH that’s being used for a masternode, we’ve also developed a way for you to maintain your masternode status, voting rights and payouts and still use it as loan collateral. To do so, follow these instructions before you deposit your DASH into your SALT collateral wallet.

Like other cryptocurrencies, Dash enables anyone, anywhere in the world to make quick, easy and cheap payments at any time without going through a central authority.

Given its long-term viability, its numerous use cases, and its level of adoption, Dash is an appealing collateral form for our platform. Aside from that, we chose Dash as our next collateral type for two primary reasons:

  1. We support the Dash community and its mission
  2. We respect Dash’s two-tier network and use of masternodes to maintain the health of their blockchain

The Dash Mission

In his interview with Cointelegraph, CEO of Dash Core Group Ryan Taylor notes that Dash offers “tremendous value to society,” particularly for people that live in areas with minimal financial freedom and poor quality financial systems: “I would love to see Dash first adopted in some of the poorest and most financially oppressed markets in the world, so that as Dash grows, we bring those people up with us.”

By providing increased financial freedom, secure technology, and irreversible, speedy transactions, Dash is increasing access for people to participate in the global economy regardless of where they’re based. We support this mission and recognize it as one of the most significant ways blockchain technology can change people’s lives — and the world — for the better.

The Dash Network and Masternode System

In a separate, more recent interview with Anthony Pompliano, Taylor explains the concept of masternodes and how unlike the Bitcoin protocol, which allocates 100% of the network’s revenue toward mining, the Dash protocol is designed such that the block reward is split into three parts: 45% of the revenue goes to miners and 45% goes to masternode operators who service the network. The remaining 10% goes to a proposal system where the proposals are voted on by the masternode operators and the highest ranking proposals pay out as part of a monthly budget. This two-tier infrastructure ensures that network participants are incentivized to “keep the network happy.” Masternode operators in particular have a vested interest in doing what’s best for the network to maintain its health.

In explaining the masternode system further, Taylor notes that you have to prove ownership of 1,000 DASH in order to obtain masternode status, though he makes it clear that “as soon as that money is moved, your node downgrades immediately.” While that’s true in most cases, we’ve developed a way for you to maintain your masternode status even after you move your Dash to the SALT platform.* With these step-by-step instructions, you can custody your Dash with us and still run your masternode.

For questions about taking out a Dash-backed loan or to custody your Dash with us, visit us at https://saltlending.com/ or call us at +1 720–897–3710.

  • Dash used as collateral for a loan with SALT may be liquidated, in whole or in part, according to the terms of your Loan Agreement. SALT is not responsible for maintenance of a masternode or any disruption to or downgrade of any masternode for any reason, which may result from a liquidation of loan collateral or any other applicable term or terms of your loan agreement.

SALT Now Offers Loan-to-Value (LTV) Options Up to 70%

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We have increased our range of Loan-to-Value (LTV) options, allowing you to tailor the loan product that is right for you. In addition to our existing 30%, 40% and 50% LTV options, you can now select up to a 60% or 70% LTV, allowing you to unlock even more value from your crypto holdings.

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While starting your loan at 70% LTV means you need less loan collateral to get started, it may lead to higher risk for you as the borrower. This is why SALT has been focused on creating tools that allow you to manage the risks associated with your loan based on your own tolerance.

● Customizable notification system — When you sign up for a SALT account, you automatically receive email alerts about your account activity. From our website or mobile app, you can customize your notifications even further by opting in to calls, texts and/or push notifications.

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● Loan-to-Value (LTV) monitoring system — This near real-time system reports your loan health (in LTV) and portfolio value through the life of your loan. Even when you aren’t watching your portal for updates, our automated notification system helps keep you up-to-date via calls, texts and emails so you’re alerted during volatile market conditions.

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● Mobile app — Our mobile app allows you to register for an account, monitor your collateral and loan status, and deposit or withdraw assets.

Download the app for iOS and Android.

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● TrueUSD and USDC — With the recent addition of these stablecoins to our accepted collateral types, you can stabilize your LTV at anytime by transferring TrueUSD, USDC, or a combination of the two directly to your account — even on nights, weekends and holidays.

SALT Expands Lending Opportunities to Businesses in Australia

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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.

Client Spotlight: Justin Podhola, Founder and CEO, Elite Mining Inc.

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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.

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

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.

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.

SALT at ETHDenver 2019

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As SALT has developed the technology necessary to support our lending business, we have opted to build a lot of our supporting services in house. As you scoff at why we wouldn’t just buy something off the shelf, remember how new the blockchain ecosystem is relative to other industries. We like to think we’re rational and always properly weigh our buy vs build options. After exploring the options, and in some cases buying them (much to our dismay), we’ve had to rely primarily on our talented dev team to build the systems, services and applications necessary to run our business.

Through many conversations with other blockchain companies, we have come to understand that some of these services would be valuable to helping build their business. Our first effort at separating a service and making it available to the public was a blockchain address and transaction monitoring service called Meerkat. You know, because Meerkats are always on alert.

The service allows anyone to subscribe (and unsubscribe) to specific Bitcoin, Litecoin, Dogecoin, and Ethereum (plus all ERC-20) blockchain addresses and transactions. Once you subscribe to a given address (or multiple addresses), you’re notified via your provided callback URL of transactions in or out of the address you’re watching. Subsequently, you can subscribe to a transaction so that you can be notified of its status updates (detected, mined, confirmed, etc).

To put this effort to the test, we chose to offer a $5000 prize at the 2019 ETHDenver Buidlathon (hackathon) for the best use of the Meerkat service.

There were some really creative submissions and we’re grateful that teams thought something we’d built could be useful to their project.

Ultimately, we picked Charity Watchdog as the winner because it supports the open and transparent ideals inherent to cryptocurrency. Their idea gives users the power and insight to choose whether or not to support a particular charitable organization. This is cryptocurrency at its finest. We hope Charity Watchdog continues their endeavor to bring transparency to charity spending. Below are some additional details about their project and a few other teams we want to give a shoutout to for creatively using Meerkat to BUIDL their project.

Thank you to each team for all of the creativity, hours and effort you put into leveraging Meerkat for your projects. We’ll see you all next year! In the meantime, keep watching via www.meerkat.watch.

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Director of Product Experience Rob Odell answers buidler/hacker questions at the SALT table at ETHDenver.

SALT’S CHOSEN WINNER:

Project: Charity Watchdog

Team: Artem Kuznetsov, Peter Gao

Description: Charities are traditionally opaque with their spendings, with donors not knowing exactly where their money is being spent.

With Charity Watchdog, we bring accountability and transparency to charity spends by watching the transactions of charity wallets, and prompting the charities to provide receipt or some form of documentation as to where the money was spent within a grace period.

Any charity that is on the platform and does not provide proof of fund usage will be flagged for donor review. This gives users insight into charity spending and they can choose whether or not to support the charity based on its spending, proof of usage, or lack thereof. This helps put donors more in control.

How they used the Meerkat API: Charity Watchdog used Meerkat to watch and update their app as transactions were sent to various charities. It was the key component in being able to notify users in the app that a charity has spent funds. It’s then the charities’ responsibility to add the supporting evidence for transparency.

OTHER NOTABLE PROJECTS:

Project: Shares

Team: Mark Evans Josh Robinson

Description: Shares seeks to demystify the stock issuance process for startups by facilitating the creation and issuance of uncertificated shares in the form of ERC-20 tokens. You don’t need paper certificates, a spreadsheet, or a lawyer. Just five minutes and a wallet address!

The project used IPFS for hosting the dApp portion of Shares, which is responsible for creating an ERC-721 token (one per company) that represents ownership of their domain on DwNS (Decentralized Web Naming System) and provides an easy-to-remember URL (ex. acme.shares.dwns.io). Uncertificated shares are subsequently minted through an ERC-20 contract and are sent to a user-designated Ethereum address. The view layer for the dApp was made using VueJS. For the web app portion, they used NodeJS and Express and connected to the Twilio and Meerkat APIs.

How they used the Meerkat API: Shares combined Twilio and Meerkat to notify users via text message when shares were moved from a contract. The team passed the phone number into the callback URL so that any transaction alerts on the security contract would get sent via text message — an instant way to alert users of activity.

Project: ETH Dev Tools

Team: Aidan Musnitzky, Billy Rennekamp, Theo Ephraim

Description: ETH Dev tools is a chrome developer tools extension that acts like a swiss-army knife for dApp developers and curious users. The extension appears in a chrome inspector tab and comes with various modules that introspect the current dApp you’re using. The plugin is easily extensible for additional tools but already comes with four fully functional modules:

Logs — A network inspector that shows logs and details of all network interactions between your dApp and your RPC endpoint via the web3.js provider including request timing, parameter inputs and return values.

ABI Explorer — This section keeps a list of all contracts the dApp has loaded and scaffolds boilerplate forms based on the ABIs of those contracts. The auto-generated UI gives you access to all contract methods ready to be queried with calls and sends — this is similar to what’s possible with Remix or a verified contract on Etherscan, but without the context switching or compilation.

GraphQL Explorers — A GraphQL explorer that comes pre-populated with Infura’s EthQL endpoints as well as all of the most popular The Graph subgraphs including Uniswap, ENS, Dharma and others. These endpoints come with sample queries ready to ping all the most relevant and highly available content. There’s also the option to add a custom endpoint for easy access to any other available datasets.

Watcher — A tool for monitoring activity on any wallet address or contract. This service is provided by a websocket proxy listening for webhooks from SALT’s Meerkat. It’s easy to subscribe or unsubscribe to this data with a simple UI and websocket support from an Heroku instance.

How they used the Meerkat API: The ETH Dev Tools team creatively added Meerkat to their ETH dev tools chrome extension to more easily help dApp developers subscribe (or unsubscribe) to an address or a transaction right from their browser. For dApp developers, this helps speed up the troubleshooting process when trying to monitor and notify users of address activity.

Project: Balanced Crypto Portfolios with built-in investment capabilities automation

Team: Anibal Catalan, Leonardo Lower, Manuel Garcia

Description: Automated balanced portfolios hedged against DAI with investment capabilities to get returns from loans repayments from AAVE.

Hedge your crypto portfolio and lower overall risk due to volatility and correlation behavior by moving out part of it into a stable asset: MakerDAO DAI.

Build a balanced portfolio, they will rebalance it for you.

Don’t stop there, invest some DAI into a fund which will invest by funding loans in EthLend based on clear rules (eg.: amount, duration, MPR, LTV, etc).

Get returns from the loans repayments.

We provide you with bots and brokers that will take care of rebalancing and investing on the right loans.

How they used the Meerkat API: This team used Meerkat to subscribe and monitor wallet activity. This is fundamentally important for projects in the #DeFi, or decentralized finance, space as the main pillars of this movement are accessibility, financial inclusion and transparency. Meerkat makes it possible for users to be notified of all payout and rebalancing activity.

Project: Battle Bombers

Team: Franky Aguilar, Mark Pereira, Drew Harding

Description: Taking the mobile crypto experience to where it should be.

The makers behind Battle Bombers are taking the concept of mobile-first crypto applications to users and developers. Battle Bombers uses an architecture that accesses the full native extensions in mobile ecosystems, which really stretches the capabilities of cryptocurrency on mobile. This application shows that app developers and designers will be able to fully express their creative abilities on mobile platforms without restriction.

How they used the Meerkat API: This team was able to use Meerkat to provide their users of push notifications with an alert regarding activity on specific addresses associated with the games they were playing on their phones. Once alerted of activity on an address, Battle Bombers sends that alert to the user in the form of a push notification.

Project: ETHBackpack Team: Josh Forman, Peter Hendrick, Ron Stoner, Sean Martin

Description: Live, on main-net chain, IT certifications and degrees. Show you have certificates such as CCNA, AWS Certificate, Certified Bitcoin Professional with an ETH Wallet address.

ETHBackpack can allow companies that distribute professional certificates on the Ethereum blockchain. Contract deployed on main net.

Individuals seeking employment or contract work can show their credentials in a public, verifiable way. Employers seeking to hire professionals could potentially search for applicants that have the certifications they’re looking for and verify such certifications.

How they used the Meerkat API: This team used Meerkat to notify users and watchers of a specific address that it had been updated with a new certification or degree.

SALT CEO Bill Sinclair responds to Binance delisting

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Binance announced yesterday that it delisted SALT Memberships from its asset exchange. Binance’s announcement and action came as a surprise to SALT as we did not receive any information requests or opportunity to refute the inferences in Binance’s announcement. SALT adamantly objects to Binance’s announcement which provides the basis for which it delists a token but does not make any specific allegation against the list of companies, thus creating false negative implications.

Binance has not requested any information from SALT to enable Binance to make a decision relating to its now publicly listed criteria and acted irresponsibly in insinuating that any of the criteria is true of SALT.

SALT would like to take the opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to you, our products, and the blockchain industry. We sell SALT Membership units and offer refunds when they are purchased directly from us and not removed from our platform. This has been the preferred method of buying our Membership units since inception. A number of exchanges, including Binance, have made hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees by reselling our Membership units. SALT has never profited directly from any third party exchange activities. SALT Membership units have always been the primary vehicle for utility on our platform and we are committed to the expansion of this utility as our business grows. Today there are millions of SALT Membership units held on our platform by thousands of members.

SALT is a team of over 70 passionate, dedicated employees and professionals around the globe. We are proud to have the best customer support team in the business responding to phone, email and social media requests around the clock. Among our many employees is our talented and dedicated team of developers who have committed over 18,277,688 lines of code across dozens of software services in the year 2018 alone.

Additionally, SALT is continually enhancing its communication and today operates through a number of public channels including the following:

SALT has not and does not engage in fraudulent or unethical activity nor have we suggested publicly, without evidence or context, that any other company has done so. Binance never responsibly contacted SALT regarding any due diligence inquiries.

SALT is committed to responsible business practices. We pride ourselves on engaging with our customers, partners, regulators, and the media when it comes to requests for information.

We are dedicated to advancing blockchain technology and to building a healthy and sustainable crypto ecosystem. Two of our co-founders serve as members and advisors to groups that share a similar goal. These include the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the Colorado Council for the Advancement of Blockchain Technology, created by Governor Hickenlooper. Additionally, we are an active member of The Digital Chamber of Commerce and frequently sponsor events that drive awareness and adoption of blockchain technology globally such as the Asia Blockchain Week, North American Bitcoin Conference and ETHDenver.

At SALT, we define success not by the number of exchanges on which we are listed, but by our efforts to help shape this new economy. We remain focused on product development and driving awareness and adoption of blockchain technology. Our goal is to provide our customers with the products and services they need to participate in the blockchain space. One of our core values, integrity, is matched only by another of our core values, grit. We will continue to work tirelessly to deliver outstanding products and services, and will not be moved off that mark by anyone, for any reason.

Thank you for your continued support, as together we remain focused on building a successful software services and lending enterprise.

Bill Sinclair

Interim President & CEO and Chief Technology Officer

SALT

SALT is Looking Forward to Meeting You at EthDenver 2019!

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SALT is proud to sponsor and participate in EthDenver 2019. Not only is the conference right here in our own backyard, but it’s one of the largest crypto gatherings in the world. It’s inspiring to see creators, developers, and crypto enthusiasts come together to hack and build something great — EthDenver creates an opportunity for that.

We know that some of the brightest people from across the globe — including Andreas Antonopoulos — will attend this year’s event and we’re excited to meet you all, especially those of you who we think could be excellent additions to the SALT team.

Speaking of the team, we’re excited to have multiple representatives from SALT partake in everything from speaking to judging to hacking. SALT’s co-founder and Chief Knowledge Officer Caleb Slade will be sharing his perspective and experience in the crypto lending industry on a panel titled, “Banking without Banks: Loans on the Blockchain.” He’ll also be serving as one of the judges for EthDenver’s Open track. Additionally, members of SALT’s developer team will have a strong presence at this year’s event. While some of them will be participating in the #BUIDLATHON, others will be judging SALT’s bounty project (stay tuned for details!).

Have we convinced you to join us? Maybe we have, maybe we haven’t — we’ll be there Ether way!

To learn more about SALT, visit saltlending.com, or to check out our newest product launch, visit www.meerkat.watch. If you have questions or would like to connect before, during, or after the event, shoot us an email at [email protected]

Highlights from Davos 2019

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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