|Have you ever gotten into legal trouble by exploring the dark places of the internet? Like, "sorry, officer, I was only surfing drug markets and child molester forums for my next journalism piece..." Do you worry about that? Do you have to take extra steps to protect yourself?||I'm very careful not to go anywhere that it is illegal to visit. You will hear loads of stories about how easy it is to "stumble upon" child porn, but the fact is that those sites usually have names like "Preteen cuties" so you know exactly what they are, and in order to access them you have to register. So you have to make a very deliberate choice to log into them. I have no interest whatsoever in viewing any child abuse material, so I don't go into those places. When I was researching The Darkest Web, I went to the discussion forums that didn't allow any images (though they did link to sites that did), and even there I turned off images.|
|As for the drugs, weapons etc, there is nothing illegal about surfing them and looking around.|
|I do get a bit nervous every time I visit the US, especially when I was invited to a "friendly" lunch with Homeland Security once (it was reasonably friendly as it turns out, it was also terrifying)|
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|Why did homeland security want to talk to you?||They said it was about the murder-for-hire stuff, but some of the questions leaned toward something else|
|Is there anything that really concerns you about the dark web? Some of the things already discussed are beyond barbaric and that is only the stuff that has been found out about and been picked up by the media and your fantastic work. Do you think the public should expect worse and more horrific revelations from the dark web or is it just "more of the same" for lack of a better term and do you think the authorities are getting better in shutting this inhumanity down and catching the people responsible?||I am definitely not against people taking back their online privacy and I actually think that buying drugs from the darknet markets is a safer and more sensible option than buying them from the dodgy dealer down the road. However the one thing that is really disturbing is that the dark web has provided a place for child predators to find each other and form communities where they support and egg each other on. Imagine a few years ago, someone who was into hurtcore could never tell anyone else and would be unlikely to ever come across another person with the same perversions. Now it is as simple as finding the relevant site on the dark web. When there are suddenly hundreds of people who all think and act in the same way, it normlalizes what they are doing.|
|One of the guys who got caught, Matthew Falder, was a sadist who used to crowdsource "ideas" for torturing the children and teens he was blackmailing into doing heinous things for him online. But apparently he was a "normal" intelligent popular guy|
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|But how does everyone participate in those illegal sites without getting caught? You said in other comments that you tried to stay away from underaged sites because they were illegal. Can't they be tracked down, even with tor and a vpn? The thing that I don't understand is that even on the dark web people say you should stay away from illegal sites, but how are pedos not getting caught?||they are getting caught, but the way they are getting caught is through painstaking detective work, looking for clues in photos, befriending them online and getting them to reveal things about themselves (what is known as social engineering). It takes a long time and many resources.|
|I say don't go there because (a) it is illegal and (b) you really shouldn't want to go there|
|Iirc you attended the trial of the person behind the horrific hurt core website that was exposed a few years back. I was wondering if there was anything in particular that happened during the trial that particularly shocked or horrified you that isn't really public knowledge or talked about? Reactions from the judge or perpetrator during the trial etc. As I remember it the guy was a fairly young loner who lived with his parents but would probably never have been expected to be behind the horrific vile things which he was found to be. Also, how did you get into investigative journalism/writing?||I wrote in one of the other replies above about the little mute girl that has stayed with me. Also, at the insistence of the prosecution, the judge had to watch "Daisy's Destruction" which was a video of torture of a toddler. He put it off for two days and when he came back he was white. He didn't have the sound on, which is considered the worst part, but he still looked shell-shocked. I don't envy him.|
|I'll cut'n'paste re your last question: I was in London, working for one of the most conservative law firms in the world when the Global Financial Crisis hit. I liked the job but it struck me when people were losing their livelihoods that I was working for the bad guys. I'd always wanted to be a writer so when I came back to Australia I quit law and enrolled in a writing course planning to be a novelist, but I discovered I was better at journalism. I first wrote for newspapers here about Silk Road and it grew from there|
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|Thanks for the reply.. that really must've been horrific for all involved from investigation to trial and for all of the victims (apart from the scum responsible of course). I guess it would be naive to assume that the end of this site did anything other than drive this depraved community even further underground. That is the part which is really scary to me but I suppose all we can do is have faith that the authorities are always close on the tail. Thank you for your work on reporting on this and raising this stuff more into the public consciousness and making people more aware of what kind of evil still lurks.||It was the most disturbing two days of my life, made all the worse because they read out hours of interactions from the site where the children still had not been identified or the predators caught.|
|Hurt2theCore was not the last site of its kind and there are still hurtcore sites to this day on the dark web. The one hopeful thing is that there are international task forces that seem to work together really well (unlike when it comes to drugs and every law enforcement agency wants to take the lead and they all withhold info from each other). There are a lot of resources allocated to identifying predators and their victims. Sometimes this has involved some very controversial tactics, such as taking over the sites and letting them run, so that they can use social engineering techniques to identify those who are using the sites and who are actually abusing children|
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|So daisy's destruction is real? Was it referred to by that name court? I always thought it was a myth||Yes, Daisy's Destruction is real, it was referred to by name in court and the judge had to watch the 12 minutes of it that were hosted on Hurt2theCore.|
|The "myth" part is that it shows a murder. The toddler, Daisy, lived, though she suffered such horrific injuries she will never be able to bear children. Hopefully she was young enough that she will grow up without the memory.|
|However, Scully did murder at least one child, whose body was found under the floorboards of his house. it is not known whether he filmed her murder as no video evidence of it has come to light.|
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|Thanks for answering. I actually watched a really good video on Hurt2theCore on youtube once, I think it was by a guy called Nexpo. It was really detailed and informative about the whole case - I forgot those details. Thanks again for replying, this AMA is really informative!||I think I recall that one, it was from a few years ago.|
|An excellent podcast that came out recently is "Hunting Warhead", highly recommend a listen. It is a tough listen, but exceptionally well-told and respectfully handled|
|How do you detach yourself from your work? I'm an investigator for a law firm and I've had a lot of difficult working on wrongful death cases recently. Also, how did you first end up getting published? Any tips for people interested in that field? Thanks!||I don't detach. When I was researching hurtcore, it was harrowing and affected me deeply. Writing that part of the book was a very slow process because I just couldn't be in that headspace for very long at a time. Once the book was written I didn't go back there.|
|I already had a reputation as a blogger and a freelance journalist when i pitched my book on Silk Road. I got an agent and it was auctioned off, with Pan MacMillan getting the rights. At the time, Silk Road was still going strong, and the book I wrote was about this new frontier of drug dealing that was changing the world. I was writing it "from the inside" as I had been an active part of the community for two years. However, right as I submitted the final manuscript to my publisher, Silk Road was busted and Ross Ulbricht arrested, so i had to quickly change the narrative to a "Rise and Fall" thing!|
|How many times have you approached law enforcement with information and how many times has the approach resulted in action? and... are there times where you know something nefarious is happening but history and the evidence at hand tells you it's not worth the effort?||There is no point in approaching law enforcement to say "I have come across this site". If I've found it, you can guarantee law enforcement has found it as well.|
|The only time I've approached law enforcement was when I had information that they did not, which was when a friendly hacker provided me with a back door into the Besa Mafia murder-for-hire site. I got to see all the messages and orders etc. Of course LE knew about the site, but they did not have the details of the people who had hits taken out on them. We tried desperately to tell police in several countries that real people had paid real money to have other real people killed, but they just weren't interested. We sounded like crazy people talking about dark web hitmen, who were scams anyway and nobody was dead, so why should they be interested? They became much more engaged when one of the people WE HAD PREVIOUSLY TOLD THEM ABOUT later turned up dead|
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|By law enforcement, do you mean only local or else the big agencies? I feel like I wouldn't tell my local police department because they wouldn't really know what to do. It would have to the the bigger agencies.||FBI in US. NCA in UK. AFP in Australia. Nobody was very interested, although the FBI did visit at least one of the targets to let her know she was a target. She still wound up dead|
|What are some of the most prevalent uses of the dark web that AREN'T all shady and nefarious?||We might be getting into semantics here, but people use Tor, which is the most possible darknet that is used to access the dark web, just for private browsing and ensuring that commercial interests aren't following them everywhere to bombard them with ads for some thing they looked up.|
|Some of the news organizations have a dark web presence so that whistleblowers can upload information safely. Even the CIA has a site on the dark web so that people can anonymously tip off matters of national security.|
|Other than that, there are just forums, where you don't have to worry that every single stupid thing you post will be saved in posterity forever, to be trotted out years later when you run for congress or something|
|After everything you've seen, does anything surprise you anymore or are you just numb to it at this point? Do you think there should be more education/exposure about the dark web than there is now or would that just be counter-productive as people would just find another place to hide? I'm curious to hear any favourite stories about the Psychonauts.||I am not numb and I hope I never become numb. I really don't visit the horrible dark places very often, unless I'm researching something specific, and even then I don't look at pictures or videos. Most of the crime is pretty benign - I'm not fazed by people wanting a safer way to buy drugs.|
|I think there needs to be ongoing discussions about online activity and its misuse in general, but most crime still happens on the clearnet. The dark web is not nearly as large or prevalent as people fear.|
|For a long time, a dealer provided free LSD to anyone who wanted it for personal use (ie not sale) and to any organizations who were doing psychedelic therapy.|
|One psychonaut got busted and spent time in prison... only he still had bitcoin in a wallet and by the time he was released he was a millionaire. He would have just spent it on drugs otherwise :)|
|I know law enforcement has to delve into the predator side of the dark web. With what you've seen do you think it should be mandatory or an industry standard that law enforcement officials seek professional help? I couldn't imagine investigating that daily and not thinking less of humanity at some point.||I'm pretty sure they do. I worked for Legal Aid for a while, and i know there were pretty strict rules in place for the lawyers who had to defend child abusers.|
|When I was at the trial for Lux, owner of Hurt2theCore, I met a cop whose job it was to watch all the videos and befriend the predators in an attempt to get them to slip up and reveal something of themselves. She said she had a little filing cabinet in her brain where she put all that stuff, and that making an arrest made it all worthwhile. She had made several arrests personally. She was a sex offender's worst nightmare :)|
|What’s one of your personal favorite investigations and what made it unique for you?||By far the Besa Mafia murder-for-hire case. What made it unique was that, first, I was provided a back door into the Besa Mafia site by a friendly hacker, so i had information that nobody else had. But then I became "friends" for want of a better word with the owner of the site, Yura. Besa Mafia, of course, was not killing anyone, but Yura made a LOT of money scamming would-be murderers out of their money. We entered into a weird relationship over the years where i would report on his activities and he would try every trick under the sun to stop me from doing so, so that he could keep scamming people. He even offered me a job, helping him, because he had become so busy. He also provided me with names and details of people who had hits taken out on them so I could pass them on to law enforcement.|
|It all became horribly real when one of the people who had a hit put out of them wound up dead. It wasn't Yura of course, but the guy had paid him $13K before giving up on the site and doing it himself. The thing was WE HAD TOLD THE FBI about the hit and the $13K and they visited the victim, but then put it into the too-hard basket when she couldn't think who might have paid that much to kill her.|
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|Wow. That’s actually pretty cool. Reminds me of an old saying. “Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.”||It's a seriously bizarre relationship. When I was hired as a consultant by CBS for a 48 Hours expose on dark web hitmen, he actually agreed to meet me in London. But he thought that CBS was going to advertise his site as the real deal and he got excited and sent them details of two people who had hits put out on them. CBS sent them straight to the police and very shortly after two arrests were made and it was all over the news, where they called his site a scam. Yura got so pissed about it, he never turned up to our meeting. They had even hired an Academy Award-nominated master of disguise makeup artist to disguise him!|
|are "red rooms" actually a prevalent thing, or just a widespread misconception or rumor? I ask in part because it's very easy to see, for instance, Mexican cartels dismembering people alive, etc, just on the clearnet. Hell, a couple days ago I saw a video posted of a cartel member cutting out a dude's heart while the guy was alive, and he ATE it. He fucking ATE it. So it seems plausible...||The most popular myth of all is Red Rooms, where people – usually women – are tortured to death live on camera while those who have paid to watch type in torture commands in a chat box. Think the movie Hostel, with webcams. In this sense these have never been proven to exist. I get where you are coming from with the cartels, and the recent news item where they found those shipping containers set up with torture rooms freaked me out and made me wonder!|
|There is some truth to this rumour, but the execution is not like you see in the movies. Most notably, because it involves children, not adults abused on demand for paying pedophiles, but not to the point of death|
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|The news about those shipping containers really made me speculate, since for every one person who gets caught doing something evil, there must be at least several more people who are very honed in their 'profession' doing the same evil deeds and worse, yet who evade being captured for decades. Anyway, based on morbid things I've seen, karma comes around eventually...||I know, right? It really freaked me out, and then when I read that they already had intended victims for them but the police got to them first and put them in protected custody.. IMAGINE SEEING THOSE PICTURES AND KNOWING YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO BE IN THEM!! I would retire to a deserted island somewhere|
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|Your line of work could easily result in something like C-PTSD down the road a little ways. I have a morbid curiosity, and have seen worse than those shipping containers had to offer. I'm sure you have as well. So one more question from you, if you don't mind: what are some proactive approaches to mental health you take to safeguard your sanity?||A lot of wine. Cuddle my dog|
|Hi, there! This has been fascinating to read; thank you so much for sharing! I'm curious: why do you think so many people who don't want to engage with disgusting and illegal content like hurtcore find it so interesting to read about? Do you have any insight into your readership and the ethics associated with reading about these kind of topics?||I think morbid fascination with the dark is exceedingly common - just look at how many people can't get enough about serial killers! In some ways it is probably a self-defense mechanism - the vast majority of true-crime readers are women. People like to be armed with knowledge. We also like to be spooked and scared.|
|As for my books, I don't really go into much gory detail, but the horror still shines through|
|Out of all 9-5 jobs out there, why this? What’s your motive?||I got disenchanted by being a lawyer and I had wanted to be an author since childhood. The lawyering put me in a strong enough financial position that I could quit to do a uni course for a couple of years. My plan was to become a best-selling novelist, but my first chick-lit novel was nothing special. However, during the course, I found I did really well at journalism and was soon making a living as a freelance journo before I finished the course. My first major feature was on the Silk Road drugs market, which I had discovered thanks to a friend who was using it. Once I got in there I became fascinated by everything about it and started contacting the owner, users, vendors etc asking for stories (I was upfront about who I was). I began the first serious dark web blog - allthingsvice.com - and also became the go-to freelancer for Australian dark web stories. Then I pitched my first book and got a healthy advance for it.|
|I like working for myself, working from home and delving into things. Right now I have my dream job (though it wouldn't hurt to pay a bit more. I'm certainly not making anywhere near what I used to make lawyering, but I make enough to get by and I live pretty simply)|
|Did you ever do any writing on Brian Farrell and his role in Silk Road 2.0? I was Brian's cellmate for all of 2017 at Sheridan Federal Prison and heard all of his crazy stories. Was just curious as to the validity of them all.||DoctorClu! I did write briefly about him in Silk Road, but it wasn't all positive. I remember being frustrated by the shitshow that was Silk Road 2.0 in the beginning, right after SR1 shut and when DPR2 took off and Defcon got all dramatic. It settled down after a bit and lasted a year, when it was revealed THEY HAD A FUCKING UNDERCOVER HOMELAND SECURITY OFFICER ON STAFF THE WHOLE TIME. But yeah, anyhow, they are probably true. I'd love to hear them :)|
|Was there ever something on the dark web that made you surprised ( in a good way) and smile ?||So many things. Back in the day of the original Silk Road, I became obsessed with the forums, the people behind it, the intelligent discourse about the War on Drugs and philosophy. I found it amusing that drug dealers ran sales and giveaways. There were book clubs and movie clubs.|
|One of the most important people from that era was Dr Fernando Cauevilla, who became a member of Silk Road as "DoctorX". He was a real doctor who provided genuine, free, non-judgmental advice about drug use to the members of the site. It was quite an amazing time.|
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|Did Ulbricht get taken down the way we were told in the news? What happened to all the Bitcoins?||His arrest went down the way we were told in the news. How they located the server has never been disclosed (other than a fanciful explanation that NOBODY could believe). This explanation may be tested if Variety Jones runs a Fourth Amendment argument at his trial|
|The bitcoin in the wallet on Ross' computer was auctioned off by the Feds. He may have other bitcoin wallets stashed somewhere but nobody knows|
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|Book/movie clubs on the silk road?||Yeah, they would set reading and then everyone would come back and discuss the book, or they would have a time when everyone watched the same movie at the same time and chatted about it in real time|
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|Haha that's amazing! I don't suppose you remember any of the books in question?||They used to be a lot of philosophy books, especially on agorism. A Lodging of Wayfaring Men was one of the books. I remember V for Vendetta on a movie night|
|You don't seem to be pushing your most recent project and you're actually answering all the questions people ask, so I've got ask...are you some sort of government plant meant to destabilize reddit? This isn't how AMAs are supposed to work. You come in, you half ass a few questions, hawk whatever you're here to hawk, and then leave after 20 minutes. That's how it's done.||lol I'm a genuine redditor from way back, and I love talking about the stuff I do. I did find that after I answered a question in an AskReddit thread a while back that blew up, the sales followed. But that was organic and I don't think you can force it to happen - Reddit can spot that a mile awy|
|What are some of the best things about the dark web? And can anyone get on it? Things you can buy that you can’t buy normally online?||I really enjoy some of the forums, especially the psychonaut forums where people who like to trip on psychedelics get together and talk drugs and philosophy. There's a real "be kind to one another" vibe.|
|Getting on the dark web is easy, but not getting scammed when buying things takes a lot of homework. Yes, you can buy most things, but the most popular things are drugs and digital goods, i.e. things that depend on repeat custom and are easily transferable from seller to buyer|
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|[deleted]||You're doing the Good Work my man. I'd give you one of those awards if i knew how|
|What would you define the word "Safe" when it come to the internet (both www and dark web) world and are there any tips that I should follow to keep myself safe?||It really depends on what YOU mean by safe. Tor, which is the darknet that provides access to the dark web will keep you safe from prying eyes and surveillance.|
|If you mean keep your information safe, the old-fashioned advice is to never reuse your password and to enable 2-Factor authentication wherever you can. Your information is quite likely somewhere on the dark web thanks to high-profile hacks of major organizations, but provided you don't re-use usernames and passwords, you really don't have to worry too much about it.|
|If you mean keeping yourself and/or any kid safe from predators, the only thing is to ensure you are educated about the approaches and methods they use.|
|Has Covid affected the Dark Web in any real way? Also I just read through all of the post comments, what incredible story’s. I would totally buy a book about the Silk Road or Yaru!||re covid on the dark web, here's some notes I made for an interview I did recently:|
|* when Trump first hyped hydroxychloroquine as a potential miracle cure for COVID-19, drug dealers on the dark web seized on the claim.|
|* Listings quickly popped up on the most popular darknet markets|
|* A vendor on Whitehouse Market sells 100 Pills for $90, calling it a “Miracle Drug For Coronavirus” and suggesting buyers purchase in bulk to sell at a mark-up locally.|
|* Another makes the dubious claim “This drug will help people to beat Corona Virus” There are 11 listings on Empire Market currently, although more than half are from the one seller, who is a well-known and trusted vendor on the site.|
|* There were also people claiming to be selling infected blood or plasma of recovered COVID victims|
|* The infected blood stuff is just bullshit IMO Just because something is listed doesn’t mean it is genuinely for sale|
|* There's been some claims to be selling vaccines|
|* At the beginning there were also loads of listings for PPE|
|* some just used it as a marketing tactic - “fight off the virus with edible cannabis” or “relax with Xanax” and others as an excuse to raise their prices|
|* However, sales are low compared to sales of other drugs on the site, so it is difficult to say whether it’s something that will really catch on|
|* It didn’t take long for complaints to come in and market owners to clamp down on anything claiming to be a miracle cure or vaccine|
|* users were discouraging other users from profiting off the pandemic and requested markets provide health and safety information|
|* All the major markets forbid anything being sold as a cure for COVID. They flagged keywords and vendors would be told to take any listings down. They also put out PSAs telling people not to buy|
|* Monopoly: threatened to ban and.. “You are about to ingest drugs from a stranger on the internet - under no circumstances should you trust any vendor that is using COVID-19 as a marketing tool to peddle already questionable goods”|
|* It was a business decision. They don’t want anything that will attract attention or that might cause desperate people who wouldn’t normally use the DNMs to find their way there|
|* The idea behind DNMs generally is educated and responsible drug use. They really don’t want people dying - bad publicity and no repeat custom|
|* However the dark web is rife with scammers and people willing to prey on the desperate so there are still scams out there|
|* The only way I could ever see it becoming a thing is if there is a well-known potential cure/vaccine that is not being made widely available and could plausibly find its way onto the black market|
|Hi Eileen :) My question is about how you construct your Casefile episodes - I assume there is an extensive amount of outlining but do you write the final draft like a script specifically thinking about his voice? And about how long are they as far as - for example - does one hour equal 50-60 pages? Thank you.||I initially write them as if I'm writing an article or book, but then go back and edit them to be read out and yes, when I do that, I do have his voice in my head lol. One episode is usually around 12,000 words. It then goes to another editor who edits the episode to be even more "casefileaa' before it finally goes to Casey|
|Have you been exposed to things in your investigations that have made you second-guess what you do? If so, what has made you keep going back?||i've definitely had days where I question everything, but to be honest, I don't really hang around the horrible really dark places much. I did delve into the child predator forums when I was writing The Darkest Web, but I don't make it a habit to go there. The psychonauts are much more friendly|
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|To continue with that- have you clicked images, links that make you a suspect in certain scenarios?||Oh absolutely. Sometimes I go to a "Fresh Onion" site, which is a site that crawls all the .onion addresses (dark web URLs end in .onion rather than .com, org etc) and alerts you to any new ones. Sometimes they don't have any description, so you take a big risk clicking on any of those. The most dangerous button on the dark web is the "Random Onion" button, so I avoid that.|
|I'm pretty careful about what I click, but the moment something looks questionable I nope the fuck right out of there|
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|Have you ever felt that you may be a suspect whether it be ok a drug site, a pedo site, etc. Have you ever been contacted by someone regarding your surfing habits?||Well my actual surfing habits are protected by Tor, which means they are hidden from prying eyes, so no I haven't been contacted about them. I am very open on the dark web about who I am and what I'm doing there - I use the name OzFreelancer on all of the markets and forums. I don't go to the sites that host child abuse images - you can't un-see that shit and I don't need it in my head.|
|As noted in another reply, I was contacted by Homeland Security on one of my visits to the US and taken for a "friendly" lunch.|
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|Psychonauts are more friendly than most people. Something about regular mind altering experiences makes you want to be less of a cunt.||Yeah, I call The Majestic Garden a little corner of sunshine and rainbows on the dark web :)|
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|More about The Majestic Garden please? What is grown there?||It's a place where people talk about and source psychedelics - most notably LSD, the 2C family, DMT and MDMA. Talk about and sourcing harder drugs is forbidden. In fact the admins snuck in an autocorrect so that any time someone wrote the word "cocaine" it would post as "a raging hardon" :D|
|Do you fear that seeing all this stuff might turn you emotionally blunt? I'm not watching any of this stuff on purpose (even the clearnet stuff), because I fear that the more you see of it, the more normal it gets, and ultimately, the more it will fuck you up. To quote the movie 8mm... "If you dance with the devil, the devil don't change. The devil changes you."||No, I can't even watch "3 Guys 1 Hammer" in its entirety, let alone look at the really dark materials on the dark web. When I was researching The Darkest Web, going into the predator forums did the opposite of making me blunt. It was the shortest section of the book but took the longest to write because it was so emotionally draining|
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|I have to ask, what is "3 Guys 1 Hammer"?||It's a video of two teenagers murdering an innocent man with a hammer that went viral on the gore sites of the regular internet. It's truly horrible.|
|The teens killed over 20 people. I wrote about them in my book Psycho.com (excuse the plug)|
|I heard somewhere that you foster dogs. Is that something you do to counter all the terrible humans you encounter in your research - everyone knows how dogs are better than people. How many dogs have you fostered and which one was your favourite?||After my dog died I knew I didn't want to have another dog as I wanted to travel more. So I thought fostering dogs would be the answer as you give them love for a few weeks and then they go to their forever home. My first foster, Roy, was a big fat failure and now he lives here and sleeps in our bed and is the most spoiled dog alive|
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|Did you then just decide to quit travelling? I don't know anything about Roy, but I already think I love him.||Nah, he has family he can stay with when I go away, but any major travelling has been thwarted by COVID for now anyway. I'm in a hard lockdown city.|
|And I'm sure Roy would love you too, u/suckmyhugedong|
|Given how much you know about the dark web, what kind of crazy awful nightmares have you had? This could be a really good one. Thank you||Probably the worst thing was delving into the forums where child predators gathered. I never looked at any videos or photos, but just seeing their discussions sickened me. The one thing that keeps coming back to me came out of the sentencing hearing that I attended of Lux, owner of Hurt2theCore, considered the most heinous website in history. In court they read out a conversation between him and an abuser who made videos of torture of the mute disabled child in his care. They were joking "at least she won't be able to tell anyone" . the abuser wasn't caught, at least by that stage|
|As an indie author, how have you sourced freelancers? Did you seek out those that have specific expertise or did you work with editors from your time as a traditionally published author?||I learned to do everything myself before I started outsourcing.|
|I work with a professional editor who happens to be a friend of mine from back when we did a writing course together. I've been doing my own covers, but now that I have some royalties coming in, I've engaged a professional cover artist from Reedsy to develop a brand and more professional-looking covers for me. It is the hardest thing to find people you really want to work with and who are in budget.|
|I still haven't got the hang of email lists, newsletters or a website - they are all in a total mess at the moment and I'd love to find someone who can do them, but again it is that problem of finding the right person who is within budget|
|is it true that most of the internet is in the "dark web"? if so about how much percent is it?||By far the biggest myth is that it 10x larger than the Internet. I mean, this should be common sense anyway, but it gets propagated by tabloid media all the time. It stems a lot from people using the terms "deep web" and "dark web" interchangably when they are different things.|
|The statement that 90% (or thereabouts) of the internet is hidden is true, and it is called the deep web (not the dark web). The 90% that is hidden is all those pages you won’t get to using google or any other search engines. There’s nothing scary about that – in fact it works in your favour.|
|The easiest example is your bank. The bank’s major page is available to anyone who searches the web (part of the 10%, also known as the “clearweb”). But once you log in, all those pages you can access that contain your personal details? Not searchable on google. Each one of those pages is part of the 90% of the deep web. Business and government intranets also make up part of the deep web. Honestly, it’s nothing to worry about.|
|The dark web – the hidden services available through Tor and other anonymising programs – makes up a tiny fraction of the deep web. A really, really tiny fraction. It is infinitely smaller than the clearweb.|
|Do you think human trafficking happens on the dark web? Last year (I think) there was a really bizarre story here in the UK about a model who was supposedly kidnapped to order, drugged and transported overseas by a group called "Black Death". The official story is that BD doesn't exist, and the kidnapper was a fantasist. Is it likely that humans are bought and sold into slavery over the dark web?||There are no slick websites with auctions for slaves on the dark web, but I have no doubt that human traffickers use dark web encryption to communicate.|
|(here comes the second plug for the thread) - I wrote about the kidnap of Chloe Ayling and the Black Death Group in Murder on the Dark Web|
|What ever happened to the plural of mongoose storyline? it seems like after he was arrested in the united states, his case just fizzled away. did you ever find out any more information about yuri after he cancelled the interview with a news program? what happened with peter scully's case? i read that there was a fire where a lot of evidence against him was held and it all went up in smoke. are there any character and/or personality storylines that you feel haven't been told or are still a complete mystery? eg. tony76||1. He is still in the MCC in NY and awaiting trial. It has taken a long time because he had terrabytes of information to go through and things would have slowed down due to covid. I understand he is running the Fouth Amendment argument that Ulbricht probably should have run in the first place|
|2. I last heard from Yura just a few weeks ago. He is still scamming. There are some more programs in the works about him|
|3. Yes there was a very convenient fire, but he still got sentenced to life and i hope he rots in hell|
|4. I am madly curious to know what is happening with the extradition of James Ellingson, aka “MarijuanaIsMyMuse”, aka "redandwhite", MAYBE aka Tony76. I would LOVE to know that full story!|
|the below is a reply to the above|
|Wow, this shit is a blast from the past. I used to love following the darknetmarket drama. Did you write about PoM and tony76 in one of your books? Ever since reddit shut down /darknetmarket I've been out of the loop.||Yes, I wrote about them in The Darkest Web|
|I was in touch with PoM/Mongoose when he went on a posting rampage on MyPlanetGanja, then visited him in Bangkok prison several times. Wrote all about it :)|
|This may have been answered by a previous post pertaining to native language barriers to specific sites on the dark web, but in your investigations, did you come across content/pages/forums from warzones? Middle East, Burma, Afghanistan, etc? If yes, what was the most memorable bit?||There are loads of sites in foreign languages, but it is too difficult for me (a one-language numpty) to attempt to translate through AI, and it is not worth hiring a translator when they could just turn out to be Cat Facts|
submitted by AzureADA to cardano [link] [comments]
We as AzureADA SPO watch all the videos by Charles Hoskinson. These videos are not only great news on Cardano development and ecosystem, but very often a source of inspiration. The video with the name “Rough Days” streamed live on September 4, 2020 is really a historical speech, that’s why we decided to transcribe for everyone who prefers to read rather than to watch and listen.
The video you can watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qM192wAV4LA
And here is the text version.
Charles Hoskinson here live from warm sunny Colorado. Always warm, always sunny, sometimes Colorado. And I got my Massey Ferguson hat on. Take that off, see my hair's all messed up. One of these days and we'll lose all that hair.
It’s a rough day today and that markets are terrible. down 20 percent for most people. And every now and then I talk about price, I rarely do, but in general, let's talk about the macro.
Crypto is a unique phenomenon, it's a unique thing and these are crazy times. I remember just a few months back when coronavirus first came out and we saw basically everything just bottom out, everybody went crazy they went to cash all asset classes just went to hell in a handbasket. And I did a video and I said: «Guys, our best days are ahead of us as an ecosystem and as an industry. And what happened? Everything got better over time. People started getting more optimistic. You know, the reality is that we are seeing an old industry die right now, the legacy financial system.
I just read Biden's tax plan. He wants to treat capital gains as ordinary income and put another 12,5% on top of that. And at the end of the day, all these new taxes amount to a trillion or so extra dollars, I think, per year in income. Takes six years from the make back what they printed out of thin air for coronavirus and are willing to print again. Which begs the question why do we even pay taxes anymore if we can just print money out of thin air. And we have a whole movement of people, the AOC crowd, wake up every day and they say: «Modern monetary theory: the actual supply doesn't matter. All that matters is how much can we print and get away with it."
This is where we're at as an economy right now. And globally speaking, a lot of other nations agree with this. So given that the whole world, the leadership of the world is talking about negative interest rates, they’re talking about predatory financial systems hyperinflation, just print money modern monetary theory, just print as much cash as you want. And we look to the cryptocurrency industry and, God, we got a lot of problems.
I think this collapse is probably because one of the most prominent exchanges in South Korea got hit. They got shut down by the South Korean government. They, at one time, were responsible for a big part of the kimchi premium. And you know what? Korean government might shut down a few more Korean exchanges. And usually the market base these things in. We got crazy yield farming weird stuff going on in the DeFi space. All these other local events and their blips, they don't really matter that much. Just like corona in the long term won’t matter too much. In terms of the markets what matters is the trend and where are we going.
I had a meeting with some people this morning and we talked about revolutionizing the healthcare industry and getting things better in terms of supply chains. I had another meeting with a soon-to-be former Wyoming state representative about how we're going to get governments to adopt blockchain technology. I talk every day to governors, heads of states congressmen, senators, mayors, some cities, sometimes very large cities with millions of people. They all say the same thing: «We need help, we need solutions, we’re damn tired of the way that the old system is running». And you know what? If we don't solve it - a lot of people are going to get hurt or continue to be hurt. The common theme that we all have is - no one's happy.
Look at the black lives matters protests. Taking their philosophy of the organization aside
the ranking file people are there not because they love marxism they're there because they're unhappy with the way society is. And why shouldn't they be?
When my grandfather got his first job on my mom's side out of the Korean war, he was a lineman. And he made enough money from that job to have seven kids and have his wife stay at home. No college degree fresh out of high school, fresh out of marine demolitions and alignment five boys and two girls. And he could take care of that family and save money every month, have a car and a house and that was his standard of living. How many people in the middle-class today in the United States or Europe for that matter have the ability on a single person’s salary to raise seven children and have the wife or the husband stay at home?
How many people? Not many. Why? Because our monetary system has failed us. The inflationary policy has created a situation where the Jeff Bezos can have 200 billion dollars and make windfall profits every year regardless of how bad the economy is and the everyday people they don't get a pay increase, so a lot of cases they don't get keep their job and their money deteriorates in value a lot more than three 3% per year.
Our industry has principles in that we worship the math and the protocols and the stable monetary policy, these types of things. And as corrupt as some of the exchanges can be and some of the bad actors are: all movements suffer from these warts. And they're finite and temporary. You run out of them at some point. Self-regulation kicks in or standards kick in and these bad actors flush out. And what's left behind is a crucible that contains the truth of the matter, which is: we're going to win as an industry.
There's just no doubt in my mind. You have bad days in the market, you have damn good days in the market. You get addicted to the good ones and you hate the bad ones but at the end of the day, it's only going in one direction which is: crypto is going to eat the world.
Every voting system, every property registration system, every monetary system the next 25 to 50 years is going to be running on the tech we build and others build. And running with the principles of power to the edges. This is the great challenge of our time: to do it in a way that it's fair, transparent, open, and doesn't allow a government to co-opt it. It's gonna be a lot of fights here the least of our concerns and matters are a red day. And every now and then I like making these videos to remind people why I’m here and why you should be here too. As toxic as the trolls could be and these other people can be - none of them really matter. Markets don’t really matter. What matters are the principles and the purpose behind what we do. And you have to ask yourself: - Are you happy with the way that society is? Are you happy with the money in your pocket? Are you happy with the political leadership representing your nations? Are you happy with your future and do you honestly believe if we keep doing the things that we did and continue to do that the future is going to be better? Or do you think it's going to be worse or stagnant?
I think too many people have woken up and they realize that if we continue doing the things that we do, the future is going to be a bad place. And they don't want that to happen. And so we're voting with our wallets, we’re voting with our feet and we as a collective industry are waking up and figuring out how to build something better. And there's some good days and bad days along the way. Today's a bad one, but there are going to be good days tomorrow. Just like I told you back when corona made everything go into free fall. And I told you before. And I warned you about with ICO mania. We're in a DeFi bubble right now. There’s no doubt in my mind about that. I saw it in 2017 with ICO mania, I see it here. And there's probably going to be worse days ahead in that respect. But the trend is always the same and never forget that. And never forget that real people are actually adopting these systems and using them. And every day we see more and more and every day that movement grows.
What's so humbling is that I know a lot of you are here with me. It used to be pretty lonely space to be in a few years back. You know, the conferences, they didn't have many people. My first bitcoin meetup group in 2011 in Colorado is at the gypsy house cafe, I think I was 13th in Pearl over Capitol hill in Denver. And I registered for the event, I showed up. Two people registered: myself and another
guy. And the other guy didn't show up so I had coffee with myself. Compare that with the Shelley summit that we had in July of 2020: 10 000 attendees. Ten thousands from all across the world. Compare that to where we are at today just nine years later. Pretty amazing if you think about how fast things have grown and how many fertile beautiful ideas exist in this industry and what this industry is doing for the world as a whole. And that is why we're going to win. Because at the end of the day who can argue against freedom? Who can argue against liberty? Who can argue against putting people in control? The only way you can is when you believe people are stupid, people are evil, people are incapable. And I suppose that's a philosophical difference between those who currently lead and the people who want to replace them.
The people in charge right now of the world, the big banks, the Fortune 500 companies, the media, Hollywood, these things - they're very cynical people who believe in the worst in us. They look at everyday people with sustain and disgust and say: «These people if left to their own devices will be chaos. These people if left to govern themselves will burn everything to the ground and destroy everything.». And every single time I have ever seen a bad event happen, what the news doesn’t show you and what those people don't talk about is how we come together and help each other out. Someone gets injured in the streets more often than not people show up and help them. People need a helping hand someone always shows up more often than not. And this is no different.
I don't believe the political process is effective anymore in any modern democracy. They've all been co-opted, perhaps they always were. But what I do believe is that we can come together and change things economically, which is what we're doing. And it's messy. Building our own money is messy, building our own industry is messy. We make a lot of mistakes along the way, we lose a lot along the way. We collect some scars too while we're at it. But progress every year keeps being made. The technology every year keeps getting better.
Today, right here, right now provably secure proof of stake protocols are in circulation. They were a fantasy five years ago, now they're a fact of life.
Today, right here, right now snarks have evolved by an order of magnitude in every category from validation time to efficiency to proof size. In all favorable ways which opens up all kinds of new applications and scalability and privacy.
Today, right here, right now layer 2 protocols are more advanced than they have ever been in our industry's history. giving us the ability to build payment systems that scale to billions of people.
Today, right here, right now we are seeing massive innovations in governance and a fertile environment for things like approval voting, threshold voting, preference voting, quadratic voting that will enable us to build all kinds of new treasuries and governance systems that eventually will scale to nation-states.
As the politicians of today argue whether the post office can properly count paper ballots that people mail, we are building voting systems with state-of-the-art cryptography living on phones where you can vote with just a tap of a button and enjoy more security than we have ever imagined before.
That is the future. This movement is enabling humanity. Money flowing at the speed of thought and the speed of thought making new money.
How can you compete with that? You can’t, unless you bring people down with cynicism and disdain. And ultimately what competing vision do they offer? That you all should be in chains.
That we should just be wage slaves. We should just accept that every year our money deteriorates in value. That we should just accept that the rich will get richer the poor get poorer. And every now and then they throw us table scraps. And when we get real angry - they usurp the movements and then install their own leadership to basically take those movements from us. As we've seen so many times before and we will see it again.
I'm sorry that's not a road I want to walk down. And I'm willing to ride rocky waters, crazy markets crazy people in unlimited flood and trolling. But I will never apologize for believing in the best in people. And I will never apologize for believing that if only we give everyone around us the tools to save themselves and society that they can do it. They don't need great leaders and charisma. No one needs someone to tell them what to do. We all know what to do. We all know how to make the world a better place. We just have to be trusted enough to do it ourselves.
You know what? For the first time ever we did with Bitcoin. And then we did it again with Ethereum. And now we're doing it again with Cardano. And we, as a movement, will continue to do it.
So I believe our best days are ahead of us and every day I wake up and there's more people marching with me in that respect. And one day it'll be millions. And one day it'll be billions. And one day all those cynics will be gone. Replaced with optimists who once again believe that tomorrow is going to be better than today. and that we're going to leave the world just a little bit better than the way we found it.
So every now and then on a tough day I like making a little message and letting you guys all know it's going to be better and you know what it will be. Just have to have faith that it will be. So hold the line, hold strong, and have faith in each other and go do something. Build something. Start something. Got a lot of podcasts on the way. A lot of things coming down the pipe for the DC fund. A lot of opportunities to actually innovate. Multi-assets are coming soon. Plutus is coming soon. Guys are going to be able to build a lot.
Start thinking today what's the business plan. What would you like to change? Small or large. You don't complain about voting - change voting! Your own organization. Maybe you belong to a club - do a blockchain-based voting system. Maybe you have some political influence. Have a primary democrat or republican or your local primary in your country for selecting candidates done with blockchain-based voting. Maybe you want to build a new financial product. Think about it! Figure it out! There's so much there! It’s all there! It's ready to go, it's for you to take and build and innovate with.
Every day I wake up I try to make the platforms better. I try to push the technology a little further along. I try to hire great people and bring them into our industry. Cardano brought the Haskell industry into the cryptocurrency space. Cardano brought a lot of academics, who had never thought about cryptocurrencies, into the cryptocurrency space and we made our problems their problems and as a consequence, they started solving them in ways we could have never done before.
But most importantly Cardano brought a lot of YOU into the cryptocurrency space and you never thought you'd have this level of control and freedom over the fabric of society in the direction of the human race. Don't let that slip through your fingers. Figure out what you want to do with that superpower. Might be small, might be big. I dreamed big. You can dream big too. Even if you want to just dream small: every person counts every action counts. Up to the hill. Y'all matter. To me and to each other and we're all in this together. Never forget that. So, hard day, rough day. Tomorrow will be a better one. The day after will even be better.
See you guys soon
Can they overcome the product limitations of blockchain and deliver the world-class experience that consumers expect?submitted by mickhagen to genesisblockhq [link] [comments]
This is the second part of Crypto Banking Wars — a new series that examines what crypto-native company is most likely to become the bank of the future. Who is best positioned to reach mainstream adoption in consumer finance?
While crypto allows the world to get rid of banks, a bank will still very much be necessary for this very powerful technology to reach the masses. As we laid out in our previous series, Crypto-Powered, we believe companies that build with blockchain at their core will have the best shot at winning the broader consumer finance market. We hope it will be us at Genesis Block, but we aren’t the only game in town.
So this series explores the entire crypto landscape and tries to answer the question, which crypto company is most likely to become the bank of the future?
In our last episode, we offered an in-depth analysis of big crypto exchanges like Coinbase & Binance. Today we’re analyzing non-custodial crypto wallets. These are products where only the user can touch or move funds. Not even the company or developer who built the application can access, control, or stop funds from being moved. These apps allow users to truly become their own bank.
We’ve talked a little about this before. This group of companies is nowhere near the same level of threat as the biggest crypto exchanges. However, this group really understands DeFi and the magic it can bring. This class of products is heavily engineer-driven and at the bleeding-edge of DeFi innovation. These products are certainly worth discussing. Okay, let’s dive in.
Users & AudienceThese non-custodial crypto wallets are especially popular among the most hardcore blockchain nerds and crypto cypherpunks.
“Not your keys, not your coins.”This meme is endlessly repeated among longtime crypto hodlers. If you’re not in complete control of your crypto (i.e. using non-custodial wallets), then it’s not really your crypto. There has always been a close connection between libertarianism & cryptocurrency. This type of user wants to be in absolute control of their money and become their own bank.
In addition to the experienced crypto geeks, for some people, these products will mean the difference between life and death. Imagine a refugee family that wants to safely protect their years of hard work — their life savings — as they travel across borders. Carrying cash could put their safety or money at risk. A few years ago I spent time in Greece at refugee camps — I know first-hand this is a real use-case.
Or imagine a family living under an authoritarian regime — afraid that their corrupt or oppressive government will seize their assets (or devalue their savings via hyperinflation). Citizens in these countries cannot risk putting their money in centralized banks or under their mattresses. They must become their own bank.
These are the common use-cases and users for non-custodial wallets.
Products in MarketLet’s do a quick round-up of some of the more popular products already in the market.
Web/Desktop The most popular web wallet is MetaMask. Though it doesn’t have any specific integration with DeFi protocols yet, it has more than a million users (which is a lot in crypto land!). Web wallets that are more deeply integrated with DeFi include InstaDapp, Zerion, DeFi Saver, Zapper, and MyCrypto (disclosure: I’m an investor and a big fan of Taylor). For the mass market, mobile will be a much more important form-factor. I don’t view these web products as much of a threat to Genesis Block.
Mobile The more serious threats to Genesis Block are the mobile products that (A) are leveraging some of the powerful DeFi protocols and (B) abstracting away a lot of the blockchain/DeFi UX complexity. While none get close to us on (B), the products attempting this are Argent and Dharma. To the extent they can, both are trying to make interacting with blockchain technology as simple as possible.
A few of the bigger exchanges have also entered this mobile non-custodial market. Coinbase has Wallet (via Cipher Browser acquisition). Binance has Trust Wallet (also via acquisition). And speaking of acquisitions, MyCrypto acquired Ambo, which is a solid product and has brought MyCrypto into the mobile space. Others worth mentioning include Rainbow — well-designed and built by a small indy-team with strong DeFi experience (former Balance team). And ZenGo which has a cool feature around keyless security (their CEO is a friend).
There are dozens of other mobile crypto wallets that do very little beyond showing your balances. They are not serious threats.
Hardware Wallets Holding crypto on your own hardware wallet is widely considered to be “best practice” from a security standpoint. The most popular hardware wallets are Ledger, Trezor, and KeepKey (by our friends at ShapeShift). Ledger Nano X is the only product that has Bluetooth — thus, the only one that can connect to a mobile app. While exciting and innovative, these hardware wallets are not yet integrated with any DeFi protocols.
StrengthsLet’s take a look at some of the strengths with non-custodial products.
WeaknessesNow let’s examine some of the weaknesses.
Wrap UpOne of the great powers of crypto is that we no longer depend on banks. Anyone can store their wealth and have absolute control of their money. That’s made possible with these non-custodial wallets. It’s a wonderful thing.
I believe that the most knowledgeable and experienced crypto people (including myself) will always be active users of these applications. And as mentioned in this post, there will certainly be circumstances where these apps will be essential & even life-saving.
However, I do not believe this category of product is a major threat to Genesis Block to becoming the bank of the future.They won’t win in the broader consumer finance market — mostly because I don’t believe that’s their target audience. These applications simply cannot produce the type of product experience that the masses require, want, or expect. The Weaknesses I’ve outlined above are just too overwhelming. The friction for mass-market consumers is just too much.
The winning bank will be focused on solving real user problems and meeting user needs. Not slowed down by rigid idealism like censorship-resistance and absolute decentralization, as it is with most non-custodial wallets. The winning bank will be a world-class product that’s smooth, performant, and accessible. Not sluggish and slow, as it is with most non-custodial wallets. The winning bank will be one where blockchain & crypto is mostly invisible to end-users. Not front-and-center as it is with non-custodial wallets. The winning bank will be one managed and run by professionals who know exactly what they’re doing. Not DIY (Do It Yourself), as it is with non-custodial wallets.
So are these non-custodial wallets a threat to Genesis Block in winning the broader consumer finance market, and becoming the bank of the future?
No. They are designed for a very different audience.
Other Ways to Consume Today's Episode:
Download the app. We're a digital bank that's powered by crypto: https://genesisblock.com/download
The success of today’s high-flying fintech unicorns will be short-lived as long as they’re building on legacy financial infrastructure.submitted by mickhagen to genesisblockhq [link] [comments]
This is the first post of our Crypto-Powered series where we look at what it means for Genesis Block to be a digital bank that’s powered by crypto, blockchain, and decentralized protocols.
Today we start a new series called Crypto-Powered. This will be similar to our last series, Spreading Crypto, but now we’re exploring a new theme. At Genesis Block, we’re building a digital bank that’s powered by crypto, blockchain technology, and decentralized protocols. Yes, lots of buzzwords.
What does any of it mean? How does it give us an unfair advantage? What superpowers are unlocked? What are the benefits for users?
In this series, we’ll answer all of these questions. Grab some popcorn. Sit down. Put your feet up. Make yourself comfortable. Let us take you on a journey. Let us be your tour guide down the crypto rabbit hole…
But hold on! Pump those brakes. Before we dive into the crypto rabbit hole, we need to establish some context. We can’t talk about the future of money unless we first understand the problems of money today. We need to understand what’s broken with legacy finance. So let’s do a quick primer on the current state of finance. That will set the stage for the rest of the series. Alright, let’s go.
Fintech & UnbundlingOver the last decade, legacy financial institutions (banks in particular) haven’t been meeting the needs of younger, more digital generations. As a result, fintech startups have emerged and effectively unbundled the consumer banking stack. Whether it was Robinhood for investing, TransferWise for cross-border payments, SoFi for student loans, Wealthfront for wealth management, or Digit for saving… these innovative upstarts all focused on a single use-case and nailed it.
While great for a period, this led to a lot of fragmentation. Users needed to split their finances across many different services and keep track of what money was where. The cognitive load for many users became overwhelming.
Re-bundling of FinanceAs we’ve seen in other industries (eg. media/entertainment), the pendulum swings back to bundled services (Cable TV → Individual Digital Channel Subscriptions → YoutubeTV/Hulu/Disney+), but in a better, more valuable, digital experience for end-users.
In the last few years, we’ve started to see a re-bundling of consumer finance. But instead of users going back to traditional banks, the rising generation is choosing to bank directly with these innovative, digital fintech companies.
Each of the startups mentioned above is now offering a more bundled experience with checkings accounts, debit cards, and other financial services. In Europe, we’ve seen the enormous rise of neo/challenger banks like Revolut, Monzo, N26 — all-in-one solutions for modern, consumer finance. That trend is starting to grow in North America with apps like Chime (the original was Simple)
We believe this bundled approach is here to stay — especially for the younger, more mobile, digital generation. They prefer convenient, easy-to-use, all-in-one solutions that require little effort & minimum commitment.
Building on Legacy FinanceWhile many of these high-flying fintech unicorns have seen incredible success, I believe it will be short-lived as long as they’re building on legacy financial infrastructure. It’s a realization I’ve come to only recently.
In years past, whenever I met a fintech entrepreneur, they’d always suggest that they’d never do a startup in traditional finance again. Too complex. Too expensive. Too slow. I always shrugged it off. Wimps. How hard can it be?
I really didn’t believe or understand that pain until we started Genesis Block. And it wasn’t until we began integrating with some of our partners (Evolve Bank & Trust, I2C, Visa, etc) that I really started to understand.
The rumors are true. Those fintech entrepreneurs were all right. The pain is real.
Trying to innovate in legacy finance is like running on a hamster wheel blindfolded while powerful, evil rats randomly throw explosives inside.It feels like you are never making any progress and at any moment you can be destroyed. Luckily at Genesis Block, we’re only integrating with legacy finance at the edges — the onramps and offramps (money in, money out). We’ve worked with great partners and so far have been able to navigate the treacherous terrain.
Legacy Finance is BrokenYou must be wondering why and how is it so bad. It’s all the things you’d expect…
The antiquated tech stack of financial institutions. The frustrating process of working with big, bureaucratic, slow-moving organizations. The prehistoric payment systems that haven’t improved in decades (for example, ACH payments and their strange batch processing practices). The countless unnecessary middle-men on every card swipe (merchant, acquiring bank, processor, card network, issuing bank). The slow settlement times. Systems rife with fraud. An industry oozing with predatory practices and unethical behavior. The moth-eaten laws & regulations that are NOT innovator-friendly (mostly due to powerful Wall Street incumbents who control politicians).
The list goes on and on. Maybe someday we can dedicate an entire series to it. It’ll be a good bedtime story.
The more familiar I become with how legacy finance works, the more convinced I am that the future of money cannot be built on that foundation.The fintech darlings of Silicon Valley are all building on extremely shaky ground that is ripe for massive disruption.
They will spend so much time looking backward (integration, compatibility, regulation) that they will have very little time to look forward (innovation, progress, disruption). They will be tangled in the quagmire of archaic tech and the tentacles of outdated regulation.
I don’t believe the ultimate winners in consumer finance will come from the current cohort of fintech unicorns. And that’s because these companies are all building on the pipes of legacy finance.
The Future of MoneyThe future of money will be built on a foundation that is digital, open-source, permissionless, and decentralized. The future of money will have no borders or middle-men. The future of money will have no institutions or governments controlling or censoring it.
The future of money will be built on blockchain technology. The future of money will be built on “crypto rails.” The future of money is crypto. It’s the missing piece of the internet age — and quite frankly, long overdue.
This is an entirely new paradigm. New infrastructure. New pipes.
While blockchain technology provides a strong base, this tech alone won’t be sufficient. As discussed in our last series (Spreading Crypto), these powerful protocols need killer applications to reach broader adoption. The apps need to be simple, convenient, and require no blockchain education. They need to fit nicely within existing workflows and behaviors. A digital bank like Genesis Block is a perfect app to propel crypto to the masses.
At Genesis Block, that’s the foundation we’re building on — a powerful combination of the underlying technology and our unique approach in how it’s delivered.
The future of consumer finance belongs to those who build with blockchain technology & decentralized protocols at its core, and know how to best take it to the billions of people around the world.That’s our thesis at Genesis Block. Our last series went deep on how the tech reaches and touches end-users. This new series is all about what’s under the hood — crypto & blockchain — and how that gives us an unfair advantage in the world of consumer finance.
Clone WarsWhile some fintech products are giving users the ability to buy & hold crypto (Robinhood, Revolut, Cash App), they aren’t leveraging the technology beyond that. And they most certainly aren’t building their infrastructure around it.
So let’s ask the dumb VC question that some of you are thinking: what if these fintech companies or big banks just copy what we’re doing at Genesis Block? What if they add blockchain and crypto?
Sorry, you can’t just “add crypto” as if a pizza topping in a Doordash order. That’s not how it works. I mean, you can say you are doing that, but it’s not real. That’s just Innovation Theater.
The systems behind banks and fintech are deeply integrated with legacy financial rails. Trying to retroactively add blockchain in any meaningful way would be like trying to make a 2020 Lambo with a 1910 Ford Model T engine. No matter how talented their engineers are, it just ain’t gonna happen. Not unless they burn it all down and start over. Massive risks. A classic case of Innovator’s Dilemma. Will anyone have the courage? I don’t know. I think they are much more likely to acquire someone like Genesis Block than gamble their entire business on it. But we aren’t cheap.
These new, decentralized protocols are complex, fast-moving, and full of snags. Our team has been in this space for many years — we understand the security tradeoffs, the protocol nuances (we spent a lot of time actually building them), and enough self-awareness to know what we don’t know.
Our team at Genesis Block can run circles around traditional banks and fintech companies. Certainly, they have large audiences and strong balance sheets — which can’t be underestimated. But when it comes to unlocking the enormous, new value to users, as long as the incumbents are building on legacy financial infrastructure, they simply cannot compete with us.
Crypto-PoweredThe empires created in the 21st-century world of finance will be crypto-native companies that deeply understand decentralized tech and know how best to leverage it. It will be the teams who build on “crypto rails” first, with bridges back to legacy finance second.
That’s our thesis at Genesis Block. In this series, we intend to lay out a convincing argument for why that’s true.So now that the stage is set and we’ve introduced the series, I think you’re ready to start learning why blockchain technology is our superpower, our unfair advantage.
You are ready to dive into that crypto rabbit hole.
But first, a word of caution. Once you go in, you may never want to come out. It’s what happened to me and so many others.
Once you see the potential & promise of this incredible technology, you won’t be able to ignore it. You won’t stop thinking about it. It’ll capture your imagination like few other things can.
Don’t be afraid of it. Let it take you.
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Have you already downloaded the app? We're Genesis Block, a new digital bank that's powered by crypto & decentralized protocols. The app is live in the App Store (iOS & Android). Get the link to download at https://genesisblock.com/download
A whirlwind tour of Defi, paying close attention to protocols that we’re leveraging at Genesis Block.submitted by mickhagen to genesisblockhq [link] [comments]
This is the third post of Crypto-Powered — a new series that examines what it means for Genesis Block to be a digital bank that’s powered by crypto, blockchain, and decentralized protocols.
Last week we explored how building on legacy finance is a fool’s errand. The future of money belongs to those who build with crypto and blockchain at their core. We also started down the crypto rabbit hole, introducing Bitcoin, Ethereum, and DeFi (decentralized finance). That post is required reading if you hope to glean any value from the rest of this series.
97% of all activity on Ethereum in the last quarter has been DeFi-related. The total value sitting inside DeFi protocols is roughly $2B — double what it was a month ago. The explosive growth cannot be ignored. All signs suggest that Ethereum & DeFi are a Match Made in Heaven, and both on their way to finding strong product/market fit.
So in this post, we’re doing a whirlwind tour of DeFi. We look at specific examples and use-cases already in the wild and seeing strong growth. And we pay close attention to protocols that Genesis Block is integrating with. Alright, let’s dive in.
StablecoinsStablecoins are exactly what they sound like: cryptocurrencies that are stable. They are not meant to be volatile (like Bitcoin). These assets attempt to peg their price to some external reference (eg. USD or Gold). A non-volatile crypto asset can be incredibly useful for things like merchant payments, cross-border transfers, or storing wealth — becoming your own bank but without the stress of constant price volatility.
There are major governments and central banks that are experimenting with or soon launching their own stablecoins like China with their digital yuan and the US Federal Reserve with their digital dollar. There are also major corporations working in this area like JP Morgan with their JPM Coin, and of course Facebook with their Libra Project.
Stablecoin activity has grown 800% in the last year, with $290B of transaction volume (funds moving on-chain).The most popular USD-pegged stablecoins include:
tablecoins are playing an increasingly important role in the world of DeFi. In a way, they serve as common pipes & bridges between the various protocols.https://preview.redd.it/v9ki2qro12b51.png?width=700&format=png&auto=webp&s=dbf591b122fc4b3d83b381389145b88e2505b51d
Lending & BorrowingThree of the top five DeFi protocols relate to lending & borrowing. These popular lending protocols look very similar to traditional money markets. Users who want to earn interest/yield can deposit (lend) their funds into a pool of liquidity. Because it behaves similarly to traditional money markets, their funds are not locked, they can withdraw at any time. It’s highly liquid.
Borrowers can tap into this pool of liquidity and take out loans. Interest rates depend on the utilization rate of the pool — how much of the deposits in the pool have already been borrowed. Supply & demand. Thus, interest rates are variable and borrowers can pay their loans back at any time.
So, who decides how much a borrower can take? What’s the process like? Are there credit checks? How is credit-worthiness determined?These protocols are decentralized, borderless, permissionless. The people participating in these markets are from all over the world. There is no simple way to verify identity or check credit history. So none of that happens.
Credit-worthiness is determined simply by how much crypto collateral the borrower puts into the protocol. For example, if a user wants to borrow $5k of USDC, then they’ll need to deposit $10k of BTC or ETH. The exact amount of collateral depends on the rules of the protocol — usually the more liquid the collateral asset, the more borrowing power the user can receive.
The most prominent lending protocols include Compound, Aave, Maker, and Atomic Loans. Recently, Compound has seen meteoric growth with the introduction of their COMP token — a token used to incentivize and reward participants of the protocol. There’s almost $1B in outstanding debt in the Compound protocol. Mainframe is also working on an exciting protocol in this area and the latest iteration of their white paper should be coming out soon.
There is very little economic risk to these protocols because all loans are overcollateralized.I repeat, all loans are overcollateralized. If the value of the collateral depreciates significantly due to price volatility, there are sophisticated liquidation systems to ensure the loan always gets paid back.
InvestmentsBuying, selling, and trading crypto assets is certainly one form of investing (though not for the faint of heart). But there are now DeFi protocols to facilitate making and managing traditional-style investments.
Through DeFi, you can invest in Gold. You can invest in stocks like Amazon and Apple. You can short Tesla. You can access the S&P 500. This is done through crypto-based synthetics — which gives users exposure to assets without needing to hold or own the underlying asset. This is all possible with protocols like UMA, Synthetix, or Market protocol.
Maybe your style of investing is more passive. With PoolTogether , you can participate in a no-loss lottery.
Maybe you’re an advanced trader and want to trade options or futures. You can do that with DeFi protocols like Convexity, Futureswap, and dYdX. Maybe you live on the wild side and trade on margin or leverage, you can do that with protocols like Fulcrum, Nuo, and DDEX. Or maybe you’re a degenerate gambler and want to bet against Trump in the upcoming election, you can do that on Augur.
And there are plenty of DeFi protocols to help with crypto investing. You could use Set Protocol if you need automated trading strategies. You could use Melonport if you’re an asset manager. You could use Balancer to automatically rebalance your portfolio.
With as little as $1, people all over the world can have access to the same investment opportunities and tools that used to be reserved for only the wealthy, or those lucky enough to be born in the right country.
You can start to imagine how services like Etrade, TD Ameritrade, Schwab, and even Robinhood could be massively disrupted by a crypto-native company that builds with these types of protocols at their foundation.https://preview.redd.it/agco8msx12b51.png?width=700&format=png&auto=webp&s=3bbb595f9ecc84758d276dbf82bc5ddd9e329ff8
InsuranceAs mentioned in our previous post, there are near-infinite applications one can build on Ethereum. As a result, sometimes the code doesn’t work as expected. Bugs get through, it breaks. We’re still early in our industry. The tools, frameworks, and best practices are all still being established. Things can go wrong.
Sometimes the application just gets in a weird or bad state where funds can’t be recovered — like with what happened with Parity where $280M got frozen (yes, I lost some money in that). Sometimes, there are hackers who discover a vulnerability in the code and maliciously steal funds — like how dForce lost $25M a few months ago, or how The DAO lost $50M a few years ago. And sometimes the system works as designed, but the economic model behind it is flawed, so a clever user takes advantage of the system— like what recently happened with Balancer where they lost $500k.
There are a lot of risks when interacting with smart contracts and decentralized applications — especially for ones that haven’t stood the test of time. This is why insurance is such an important development in DeFi.
Insurance will be an essential component in helping this technology reach the masses.Two protocols that are leading the way on DeFi insurance are Nexus Mutual and Opyn. Though they are both still just getting started, many people are already using them. And we’re excited to start working with them at Genesis Block.
Exchanges & LiquidityDecentralized Exchanges (DEX) were one of the first and most developed categories in DeFi. A DEX allows a user to easily exchange one crypto asset for another crypto asset — but without needing to sign up for an account, verify identity, etc. It’s all via decentralized protocols.
Within the first 5 months of 2020, the top 7 DEX already achieved the 2019 trading volume. That was $2.5B. DeFi is fueling a lot of this growth.
There are many different flavors of DEX. Some of the early ones included 0x, IDEX, and EtherDelta — all of which had a traditional order book model where buyers are matched with sellers.
Another flavor is the pooled liquidity approach where the price is determined algorithmically based on how much liquidity there is and how much the user wants to buy. This is known as an AMM (Automated Market Maker) — Uniswap and Bancor were early leaders here. Though lately, Balancer has seen incredible growth due mostly to their strong incentives for participation — similar to Compound.
There are some DEXs that are more specialized — for example, Curve and mStable focus mostly only stablecoins. Because of the proliferation of these decentralized exchanges, there are now aggregators that combine and connect the liquidity of many sources. Those include Kyber, Totle, 1Inch, and Dex.ag.
These decentralized exchanges are becoming more and more connected to DeFi because they provide an opportunity for yield and earning interest.Users can earn passive income by supplying liquidity to these markets. It usually comes in the form of sharing transaction fee revenue (Uniswap) or token rewards (Balancer).
PaymentsAs it relates to making payments, much of the world is still stuck on plastic cards. We’re grateful to partner with Visa and launch the Genesis Block debit card… but we still don’t believe that's the future of payments. We see that as an important bridge between the past (legacy finance) and the future (crypto).
Our first post in this series shared more on why legacy finance is broken. We talked about the countless unnecessary middle-men on every card swipe (merchant, acquiring bank, processor, card network, issuing bank). We talked about the slow settlement times.
The future of payments will be much better. Yes, it’ll be from a mobile phone and the user experience will be similar to ApplePay (NFC) or WePay (QR Code).
But more importantly, the underlying assets being moved/exchanged will all be crypto — digital, permissionless, and open source.Someone making a payment at the grocery store check-out line will be able to open up Genesis Block, use contactless tech or scan a QR code, and instantly pay for their goods. All using crypto. Likely a stablecoin. Settlement will be instant. All the middlemen getting their pound of flesh will be disintermediated. The merchant can make more and the user can spend less. Blockchain FTW!
Now let’s talk about a few projects working in this area. The xDai Burner Wallet experience was incredible at the ETHDenver event a few years ago, but that speed came at the expense of full decentralization (can it be censored or shut down?). Of course, Facebook’s Libra wants to become the new standard for global payments, but many are afraid to give Facebook that much control (newsflash: it isn’t very decentralized).
Bitcoin is decentralized… but it’s slow and volatile. There are strong projects like Lightning Network (Zap example) that are still trying to make it happen. Projects like Connext and OmiseGo are trying to help bring payments to Ethereum. The Flexa project is leveraging the gift card rails, which is a nice hack to leverage existing pipes. And if ETH 2.0 is as fast as they say it will be, then the future of payments could just be a stablecoin like DAI (a token on Ethereum).
In a way, being able to spend crypto on daily expenses is the holy grail of use-cases. It’s still early. It hasn’t yet been solved. But once we achieve this, then we can ultimately and finally say goodbye to the legacy banking & finance world. Employees can be paid in crypto. Employees can spend in crypto. It changes everything.
Legacy finance is hanging on by a thread, and it’s this use-case that they are still clinging to. Once solved, DeFi domination will be complete.https://preview.redd.it/svft1ce422b51.png?width=700&format=png&auto=webp&s=9a6afc9e9339a3fec29ee2ae743c07c3042ea4ce
Impact on Genesis BlockAt Genesis Block, we’re excited to leverage these protocols and take this incredible technology to the world. Many of these protocols are already deeply integrated with our product. In fact, many are essential. The masses won’t know (or care about) what Tether, USDC, or DAI is. They think in dollars, euros, pounds and pesos. So while the user sees their local currency in the app, the underlying technology is all leveraging stablecoins. It’s all on “crypto rails.”
When users deposit assets into their Genesis Block account, they expect to earn interest. They expect that money to grow. We leverage many of these low-risk lending/exchange DeFi protocols. We lend into decentralized money markets like Compound — where all loans are overcollateralized. Or we supply liquidity to AMM exchanges like Balancer. This allows us to earn interest and generate yield for our depositors. We’re the experts so our users don’t need to be.
We haven’t yet integrated with any of the insurance or investment protocols — but we certainly plan on it. Our infrastructure is built with blockchain technology at the heart and our system is extensible — we’re ready to add assets and protocols when we feel they are ready, safe, secure, and stable. Many of these protocols are still in the experimental phase. It’s still early.
At Genesis Block we’re excited to continue to be at the frontlines of this incredible, innovative, technological revolution called DeFi.---
None of these powerful DeFi protocols will be replacing Robinhood, SoFi, or Venmo anytime soon. They never will. They aren’t meant to! We’ve discussed this before, these are low-level protocols that need killer applications, like Genesis Block.
So now that we’ve gone a little deeper down the rabbit hole and we’ve done this whirlwind tour of DeFi, the natural next question is: why?
Why does any of it matter?Most of these financial services that DeFi offers already exist in the real world. So why does it need to be on a blockchain? Why does it need to be decentralized? What new value is unlocked? Next post, we answer these important questions.
To look at more projects in DeFi, check out DeFi Prime, DeFi Pulse, or Consensys.
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Featuring analysis and discourse by hosts Andreas M. Antonopoulos, Dr. Stephanie Murphy, Adam B. Levine, and Jonathan Mohan, episodes feature friendly, in-depth discussions and even-handed interviews. The Original Let’s Talk Bitcoin Show is the longest-running English language talk show on the idea… About Podcast The Bitcoin Game, hosted by Rob Mitchell, is a podcast dedicated to exploring Bitcoin and cryptocurrency topics. Part of the Let's Talk Bitcoin Network since 2014. Part of the Let's Talk Bitcoin Network since 2014. On this episode of The Tatiana Show, Tatiana and Josh interview Anita Posch, the host of the podcast Bitcoin and Co. based in Vienna. Anita shares her story of starting out as an urban planner in the corporate world before striking out on her own as an entrepreneur in the digital world. Since 2001, she has co-founded multiple internet start-ups that support small businesses in the creative field. Let's Talk Bitcoin! POV Crypto; Proof of Love; SAFE Crossroads; The Tatiana Moroz Show; What Bitcoin Did; History. The LTB Network; About. Community Directory ; Terms and Conditions; Contact Us; RSS; From the Front Page. Categories: General, Interviews, Bitcoin Magazine Podcast. Bitcoin Magazine Podcast Ep 15 - Entiende Bitcoin feat. Max Webster. Published on July 23rd, 2019 by DSholla. Click ... Lets Talk Bitcoin. From Bitcoin Wiki. Jump to: navigation, search. This Bitcoin podcast is produced by Adam Levine. Providing current news, topical interviews, and studied analysis, Adam is joined by Let’s Talk Bitcoin co-hosts Stephanie Murphy and Andreas Antonopoulos. Contents. 1 Episodes; 2 Special Episodes & More; 3 Hosts. 3.1 Correspondents; 3.2 Community Manager; 3.3 Researchers; 4 ...
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