Uphold and SALT Announce Platform Integration to Seamlessly Connect 1.65M Uphold Users to SALT’s Crypto-Backed Loans
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.”
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.
Client Spotlight: Justin Podhola, Founder and CEO, Elite Mining Inc.
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.
SALT at ETHDenver 2019
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.
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:
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.
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 is Looking Forward to Meeting You at EthDenver 2019!
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]
How Blockchain Can Improve Democratic Elections
If you can “vote” for Bitcoin on the blockchain, why not vote for leaders, worldwide?
Blockchain technology is reshaping the world before our eyes at an exhilarating pace. Many people are familiar with blockchain through Bitcoin, the world’s first cryptocurrency. However, the power of Bitcoin comes from the underlying technologies of advanced cryptography and decentralized data storage. The combination of decentralization and cryptography enables data to be securely stored, transparent, and permanent. The combination of these features is seemingly perfect for many industries to the extent that governments and corporations around the world are investing billions of dollars with projections of $2.1 Billion in 2018 alone.
One of the earliest brass rings to be identified was to establish a system of fair voting. Given the virtues of the right to vote, it is essential that every measure is taken to ensure that votes are cast without coercion, are recorded accurately, and counted fairly. Many people remember the disaster of the “hanging chad” that marred the 2000 US presidential election and resulted in litigation before the Florida Supreme Court. Paper voting systems are being phased out to be replaced with electronic voting systems. Many of which present a variety of new hurdles.
With new technology comes new problems. Independent studies have revealed serious vulnerabilities that can be exploited by hackers to manipulate voting data. In fact at DefCon, a hacking conference, a revelation demonstrated that with hackers can invade practically every machine with alarming ease.
Enter Agora, a Swiss foundation focused on digital solutions for voting. In March, Agora was permitted to be an independent observer by Sierra Leone’s National Electoral Commission (NEC) to test their blockchain technology. While Agora didn’t provide the capability for each vote to be recorded initially on a blockchain, voting results were handed off from the NEC to Agora to be displayed publicly. A statement by Agora mentioned that the goal was to demonstrate their capabilities and serve as a foundation for future cooperation with the NEC.
Today the blockchains of Bitcoin and Ethereum record votes relating to each transaction in real-time. This fact enables a future voting system where the electoral process is transparent and void of disputes. This goal of making a better world through increased empowerment and lessened corruption is in alignment with many leaders in the blockchain world. It’s just this one guy’s opinion that since the world is moving to smart phones where you can easily purchase Bitcoin, being able to vote on your phone is a natural progression. With increased access and ease of voting, more voices will be heard which is how things “should be”.
It’s been fascinating to learn about this. To read more from some of the (unaffiliated to SALT) sources I’ve been reading lately, please visit: https://goo.gl/Nmnasy, https://goo.gl/jkQw6B, and https://goo.gl/zsoaUh
Written by Sten Wie, PhD — SALT Customer Experience