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A Beginners Guide to Bitcoin, Blockchain & Cryptocurrency

As cryptocurrency, and blockchain technology become more abundant throughout our society, it’s important to understand the inner workings of this technology, especially if you plan to use cryptocurrency as an investment vehicle. If you’re new to the crypto-sphere, learning about Bitcoin makes it much easier to understand other cryptocurrencies as many other altcoins' technologies are borrowed directly from Bitcoin.
Bitcoin is one of those things that you look into only to discover you have more questions than answers, and right as you’re starting to wrap your head around the technology; you discover the fact that Bitcoin has six other variants (forks), the amount of politics at hand, or that there are over a thousand different cryptocurrencies just as complex if not even more complex than Bitcoin.
We are currently in the infancy of blockchain technology and the effects of this technology will be as profound as the internet. This isn’t something that’s just going to fade away into history as you may have been led to believe. I believe this is something that will become an integral part of our society, eventually embedded within our technology. If you’re a crypto-newbie, be glad that you're relatively early to the industry. I hope this post will put you on the fast-track to understanding Bitcoin, blockchain, and how a large percentage of cryptocurrencies work.

Community Terminology

Altcoin: Short for alternative coin. There are over 1,000 different cryptocurrencies. You’re probably most familiar with Bitcoin. Anything that isn’t Bitcoin is generally referred to as an altcoin.
HODL: Misspelling of hold. Dank meme accidentally started by this dude. Hodlers are much more interested in long term gains rather than playing the risky game of trying to time the market.
TO THE MOON: When a cryptocurrency’s price rapidly increases. A major price spike of over 1,000% can look like it’s blasting off to the moon. Just be sure you’re wearing your seatbelt when it comes crashing down.
FUD: Fear. Uncertainty. Doubt.
FOMO: Fear of missing out.
Bull Run: Financial term used to describe a rising market.
Bear Run: Financial term used to describe a falling market.

What Is Bitcoin?

Bitcoin (BTC) is a decentralized digital currency that uses cryptography to secure and ensure validity of transactions within the network. Hence the term crypto-currency. Decentralization is a key aspect of Bitcoin. There is no CEO of Bitcoin or central authoritative government in control of the currency. The currency is ran and operated by the people, for the people. One of the main development teams behind Bitcoin is blockstream.
Bitcoin is a product of blockchain technology. Blockchain is what allows for the security and decentralization of Bitcoin. To understand Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, you must understand to some degree, blockchain. This can get extremely technical the further down the rabbit hole you go, and because this is technically a beginners guide, I’m going to try and simplify to the best of my ability and provide resources for further technical reading.

A Brief History

Bitcoin was created by Satoshi Nakamoto. The identity of Nakamoto is unknown. The idea of Bitcoin was first introduced in 2008 when Nakamoto released the Bitcoin white paper - Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System. Later, in January 2009, Nakamoto announced the Bitcoin software and the Bitcoin network officially began.
I should also mention that the smallest unit of a Bitcoin is called a Satoshi. 1 BTC = 100,000,000 Satoshis. When purchasing Bitcoin, you don’t actually need to purchase an entire coin. Bitcoin is divisible, so you can purchase any amount greater than 1 Satoshi (0.00000001 BTC).

What Is Blockchain?

Blockchain is a distributed ledger, a distributed collection of accounts. What is being accounted for depends on the use-case of the blockchain itself. In the case of Bitcoin, what is being accounted for is financial transactions.
The first block in a blockchain is referred to as the genesis block. A block is an aggregate of data. Blocks are also discovered through a process known as mining (more on this later). Each block is cryptographically signed by the previous block in the chain and visualizing this would look something akin to a chain of blocks, hence the term, blockchain.
For more information regarding blockchain I’ve provided more resouces below:

What is Bitcoin Mining

Bitcoin mining is one solution to the double spend problem. Bitcoin mining is how transactions are placed into blocks and added onto the blockchain. This is done to ensure proof of work, where computational power is staked in order to solve what is essentially a puzzle. If you solve the puzzle correctly, you are rewarded Bitcoin in the form of transaction fees, and the predetermined block reward. The Bitcoin given during a block reward is also the only way new Bitcoin can be introduced into the economy. With a halving event occurring roughly every 4 years, it is estimated that the last Bitcoin block will be mined in the year 2,140. (See What is Block Reward below for more info).
Mining is one of those aspects of Bitcoin that can get extremely technical and more complicated the further down the rabbit hole you go. An entire website could be created (and many have) dedicated solely to information regarding Bitcoin mining. The small paragraph above is meant to briefly expose you to the function of mining and the role it plays within the ecosystem. It doesn’t even scratch the surface regarding the topic.

How do you Purchase Bitcoin?

The most popular way to purchase Bitcoin through is through an online exchange where you trade fiat (your national currency) for Bitcoin.
Popular exchanges include:
  • Coinbase
  • Kraken
  • Cex
  • Gemini
There’s tons of different exchanges. Just make sure you find one that supports your national currency.

Volatility

Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies are EXTREMELY volatile. Swings of 30% or more within a few days is not unheard of. Understand that there is always inherent risks with any investment. Cryptocurrencies especially. Only invest what you’re willing to lose.

Transaction & Network Fees

Transacting on the Bitcoin network is not free. Every purchase or transfer of Bitcoin will cost X amount of BTC depending on how congested the network is. These fees are given to miners as apart of the block reward.
Late 2017 when Bitcoin got up to $20,000USD, the average network fee was ~$50. Currently, at the time of writing this, the average network fee is $1.46. This data is available in real-time on BitInfoCharts.

Security

In this new era of money, there is no central bank or government you can go to in need of assistance. This means the responsibility of your money falls 100% into your hands. That being said, the security regarding your cryptocurrency should be impeccable. The anonymity provided by cryptocurrencies alone makes you a valuable target to hackers and scammers. Below I’ve detailed out best practices regarding securing your cryptocurrency.

Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)

Two-factor authentication is a second way of authenticating your identity upon signing in to an account. Most cryptocurrency related software/websites will offer or require some form of 2FA. Upon creation of any crypto-related account find the Security section and enable 2FA.

SMS Authentication

The most basic form of 2FA which you are probably most familiar with. This form of authentication sends a text message to your smartphone with a special code that will allow access to your account upon entry. Note that this is not the safest form of 2FA as you may still be vulnerable to what is known as a SIM swap attack. SIM swapping is a social engineering method in which an attacker will call up your phone carrier, impersonating you, in attempt to re-activate your SIM card on his/her device. Once the attacker has access to your SIM card he/she now has access to your text messages which can then be used to access your online accounts. You can prevent this by using an authenticator such as Google Authenticator.

Authenticator

The use of an authenticator is the safest form of 2FA. An authenticator is installed on a seperate device and enabling it requires you input an ever changing six digit code in order to access your account. I recommend using Google Authenticator.
If a website has the option to enable an authenticator, it will give you a QR code and secret key. Use Google Authenticator to scan the QR code. The secret key consists of a random string of numbers and letters. Write this down on a seperate sheet of paper and do not store it on a digital device.
Once Google Authenticator has been enabled, every time you sign into your account, you will have to input a six-digit code that looks similar to this. If you happen to lose or damage the device you have Google Authenticator installed on, you will be locked out of your account UNLESS you have access to the secret key (which you should have written down).

Hardware Wallets

A wallet is what you store Bitcoin and cryptocurrency on. I’ll provide resources on the different type of wallets later but I want to emphasize the use of a hardware wallet (aka cold storage).
Hardware wallets are the safest way of storing cryptocurrency because it allows for your crypto to be kept offline in a physical device. After purchasing crypto via an exchange, I recommend transferring it to cold storage. The most popular hardware wallets include the Ledger Nano S, and Trezor.
Hardware wallets come with a special key so that if it gets lost or damaged, you can recover your crypto. I recommend keeping your recovery key as well as any other sensitive information in a safety deposit box.
I know this all may seem a bit manic, but it is important you take the necessary security precautions in order to ensure the safety & longevity of your cryptocurrency.

Technical Aspects of Bitcoin

TL;DR
  • Address: What you send Bitcoin to.
  • Wallet: Where you store your Bitcoin
  • Max Supply: 21 million
  • Block Time: ~10 minutes
  • Block Size: 1-2 MB
  • Block Reward: BTC reward received from mining.

What is a Bitcoin Address?

A Bitcoin address is what you send Bitcoin to. If you want to receive Bitcoin you’d give someone your Bitcoin address. Think of a Bitcoin address as an email address for money.

What is a Bitcoin Wallet?

As the title implies, a Bitcoin wallet is anything that can store Bitcoin. There are many different types of wallets including paper wallets, software wallets and hardware wallets. It is generally advised NOT to keep cryptocurrency on an exchange, as exchanges are prone to hacks (see Mt. Gox hack).
My preferred method of storing cryptocurrency is using a hardware wallet such as the Ledger Nano S or Trezor. These allow you to keep your crypto offline in physical form and as a result, much more safe from hacks. Paper wallets also allow for this but have less functionality in my opinion.
After I make crypto purchases, I transfer it to my Ledger Nano S and keep that in a safe at home. Hardware wallets also come with a special key so that if it gets lost or damaged, you can recover your crypto. I recommend keeping your recovery key in a safety deposit box.

What is Bitcoins Max Supply?

The max supply of Bitcoin is 21 million. The only way new Bitcoins can be introduced into the economy are through block rewards which are given after successfully mining a block (more on this later).

What is Bitcoins Block Time?

The average time in which blocks are created is called block time. For Bitcoin, the block time is ~10 minutes, meaning, 10 minutes is the minimum amount of time it will take for a Bitcoin transaction to be processed. Note that transactions on the Bitcoin network can take much longer depending on how congested the network is. Having to wait a few hours or even a few days in some instances for a transaction to clear is not unheard of.
Other cryptocurrencies will have different block times. For example, Ethereum has a block time of ~15 seconds.
For more information on how block time works, Prabath Siriwardena has a good block post on this subject which can be found here.

What is Bitcoins Block Size?

There is a limit to how large blocks can be. In the early days of Bitcoin, the block size was 36MB, but in 2010 this was reduced to 1 MB in order to prevent distributed denial of service attacks (DDoS), spam, and other malicious use on the blockchain. Nowadays, blocks are routinely in excess of 1MB, with the largest to date being somewhere around 2.1 MB.
There is much debate amongst the community on whether or not to increase Bitcoin’s block size limit to account for ever-increasing network demand. A larger block size would allow for more transactions to be processed. The con argument to this is that decentralization would be at risk as mining would become more centralized. As a result of this debate, on August 1, 2017, Bitcoin underwent a hard-fork and Bitcoin Cash was created which has a block size limit of 8 MB. Note that these are two completely different blockchains and sending Bitcoin to a Bitcoin Cash wallet (or vice versa) will result in a failed transaction.
Update: As of May 15th, 2018 Bitcoin Cash underwent another hard fork and the block size has increased to 32 MB.
On the topic of Bitcoin vs Bitcoin Cash and which cryptocurrency is better, I’ll let you do your own research and make that decision for yourself. It is good to know that this is a debated topic within the community and example of the politics that manifest within the space. Now if you see community members arguing about this topic, you’ll at least have a bit of background to the issue.

What is Block Reward?

Block reward is the BTC you receive after discovering a block. Blocks are discovered through a process called mining. The only way new BTC can be added to the economy is through block rewards and the block reward is halved every 210,000 blocks (approximately every 4 years). Halving events are done to limit the supply of Bitcoin. At the inception of Bitcoin, the block reward was 50BTC. At the time of writing this, the block reward is 12.5BTC. Halving events will continue to occur until the amount of new Bitcoin introduced into the economy becomes less than 1 Satoshi. This is expected to happen around the year 2,140. All 21 million Bitcoins will have been mined. Once all Bitcoins have been mined, the block reward will only consist of transaction fees.

Technical Aspects Continued

Understanding Nodes

Straight from the Bitcoin.it wiki
Any computer that connects to the Bitcoin network is called a node. Nodes that fully verify all of the rules of Bitcoin are called full nodes.
In other words, full nodes are what verify the Bitcoin blockchain and they play a crucial role in maintaining the decentralized network. Full nodes store the entirety of the blockchain and validate transactions. Anyone can participate in the Bitcoin network and run a full node. Bitcoin.org has information on how to set up a full node. Running a full node also gives you wallet capabilities and the ability to query the blockchain.
For more information on Bitcoin nodes, see Andreas Antonopoulos’s Q&A on the role of nodes.

What is a Fork?

A fork is a divergence in a blockchain. Since Bitcoin is a peer-to-peer network, there’s an overall set of rules (protocol) in which participants within the network must abide by. These rules are put in place to form network consensus. Forks occur when implementations must be made to the blockchain or if there is disagreement amongst the network on how consensus should be achieved.

Soft Fork vs Hard Fork

The difference between soft and hard forks lies in compatibility. Soft forks are backwards compatible, hard forks are not. Think of soft forks as software upgrades to the blockchain, whereas hard forks are a software upgrade that warrant a completely new blockchain.
During a soft fork, miners and nodes upgrade their software to support new consensus rules. Nodes that do not upgrade will still accept the new blockchain.
Examples of Bitcoin soft forks include:
A hard fork can be thought of as the creation of a new blockchain that X percentage of the community decides to migrate too. During a hard fork, miners and nodes upgrade their software to support new consensus rules, Nodes that do not upgrade are invalid and cannot accept the new blockchain.
Examples of Bitcoin hard forks include:
  • Bitcoin Cash
  • Bitcoin Gold
Note that these are completely different blockchains and independent from the Bitcoin blockchain. If you try to send Bitcoin to one of these blockchains, the transaction will fail.

A Case For Bitcoin in a World of Centralization

Our current financial system is centralized, which means the ledger(s) that operate within this centralized system are subjugated to control, manipulation, fraud, and many other negative aspects that come with this system. There are also pros that come with a centralized system, such as the ability to swiftly make decisions. However, at some point, the cons outweigh the pros, and change is needed. What makes Bitcoin so special as opposed to our current financial system is that Bitcoin allows for the decentralized transfer of money. Not one person owns the Bitcoin network, everybody does. Not one person controls Bitcoin, everybody does. A decentralized system in theory removes much of the baggage that comes with a centralized system. Not to say the Bitcoin network doesn’t have its problems (wink wink it does), and there’s much debate amongst the community as to how to go about solving these issues. But even tiny steps are significant steps in the world of blockchain, and I believe Bitcoin will ultimately help to democratize our financial system, whether or not you believe it is here to stay for good.

Final Conclusions

Well that was a lot of words… Anyways I hope this guide was beneficial, especially to you crypto newbies out there. You may have come into this realm not expecting there to be an abundance of information to learn about. I know I didn’t. Bitcoin is only the tip of the iceberg, but now that you have a fundamental understanding of Bitcoin, learning about other cryptocurrencies such as Litecoin, and Ethereum will come more naturally.
Feel free to ask questions below! I’m sure either the community or myself would be happy to answer your questions.
Thanks for reading!

Related Links

Guides

Exchanges

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Crypto Wallet

Crypto Wallet Guide
Humans have come a long way from the barter trading (trading goods without using the money) to gold, then later to paper currency and now we have arrived in the age of digital currency.
There are more than 2000 cryptocurrencies in the world with a market capitalization of around $175 billion, it is necessary to know about them. Where these currencies are stored? How does the crypto wallet work? If You are still reading this, it says you are a beginner and want to explore the crypto world.
To understand the crypto concept, first, know about the crypto wallets.
What Is Cryptocurrency Wallet?
A cryptocurrency wallet is a software program used to store, send, receive private and public keys and can be used to track ownership. It enables you to send and receive digital coins through blockchain. Wallets are a necessary factor for investing and owning cryptocurrencies of any sort.
However, Some wallets are built for a single cryptocurrency( bitcoin and coins forked from bitcoin like bitcoin cash), some can be used for more than one coin(multi cryptocurrency wallet), some wallets you’ll manage yourself, and some will be custodial.
What Are Public & Private Keys?
A public key is a unique identifier for a person and a private key is like a password similar to an ATM pin. A sender will require the public key of the receiver to send him the cryptocurrency and the receiver will be able to access and use these cryptocurrencies by using the private key. A private key must be protected in order to avoid fraudulent activities such as hacking, stealing of cryptocurrencies, etc.
A public key can be extracted from a private key, but a private key can never be extracted from a public key.
A private key should always be kept safe. Exposing it would be vulnerable for various hacks and stealing of the coins by with whom you have shared. sending them to another wallet which they control.
Example of a private key: N2nGYRCBbs6ZRs8w5LHam4r85ikxBzhRNgpNJjqk7D5vrpuaVJB
Example of a public key: 958ikZuaAbGkzXuFL9sfGHYj9ethop8qMh
How Does a Cryptocurrency Wallet Work?
Cryptocurrency wallets work like the safety deposit boxes. Unlike traditional pocket wallets, where they don’t store digital currency. The crypto wallets store your private and public keys and interface with multiple blockchains. Thus, users can track their balance, send money and conduct other operations.
Moreover, currencies don’t get stored in any single place. Also, it is advised not to store the cryptocurrencies on the wallet offered by the particular exchange, because the exchange will own your private key. So better you transfer it to your own crypto wallet to have control over the cryptocurrencies owned by you.
A wallet address is the same as a bank account number. Providing your bank account number to other people, as they need it to transfer your funds. For example: This is like your friend transferring you money, so he needs your bank account number.
In the world of cryptocurrency, if anyone wants to transfer you crypto coins, you should provide him with your wallet address. Similar, like in the real world, however, no two wallets can have the same address, which means that there is no risk of your fund being to transfer to others address. Moreover, there is no limit to the 5number of wallet addresses you create.
Different Types of Crypto Wallets
There are multiple types of wallets that provide different ways to store and access your digital currency.
Hot Wallets vs Cold Wallets
you might come across frequently with the terms “hot wallets” and “cold wallets”. All crypto wallets fall under these two types.
In general, whatever is connected to the internet is less secure than something that is not. This is the difference, where “hot” wallets are connected to the internet and “cold” wallets” are not.
Online, desktop and mobile wallets are hot wallets, while hardware and paper wallets are cold wallets.
1). Software Wallet:
There are three forms of software wallets:
Desktop wallets: These are installed on a laptop or a PC, and can be accessed from a single computer. Although they provide high security, if the computer is attacked by the virus, there is a chance of losing your wallet.
Online wallets: These wallets run on the cloud and can be accessed from any device. Here, your keys are stored online.
Mobile wallets: These wallets that run on an application in a smartphone; they are simpler than the desktop wallets and can be used anywhere.
2). Full Node Wallet:
Here you can control your private keys and provide a full copy of the blockchain. Essentially every coin has an official wallet of this type and that can be found on the official GitHub of the site. “Official” means endorsed by the developers who created the coin.” Many cryptos are decentralized, so there is no real official anything.
3). Coin-Specific:
A wallet which works only with a specific coin.
4). Network-Specific:
A wallet which can hold multiple tokens on a single network.
5). Hardware Wallet:
These type of hardware are specifically built to hold cryptocurrency and keep it safe. This includes USB devices. Moreover, these devices can go online to make transactions and get data and then can be taken offline for transportation and security.
6). Paper Wallet:
This type of wallet lets you to both send and receive digital currency using a paper wallet. You can take a print of your QR code for both a private and public key. With this feature, you can completely avoid storing digital information about your currency by using a paper wallet.
7). Custodial Wallet:
In Custodial wallet, you can’t control your keys directly. Most exchange wallets are custodial wallets.
8). Multisignature Wallet:
It requires multiple parties to sign a transaction for any digital money to be spent. Multisignature wallets are designed to have more layer of security.
How To Choose a Wallet?
Here are some ideas on how to choose the best wallet for you.Hardware and paper wallets are the best to secure funds. Also, We always suggest official or officially endorsed wallet for any given coin.
Ledger Nano S: Multi-currency support, Built-in Display, Easy to operate, Security, Backup and restoration.
Ledger Blue: Malware proof, Multiple currencies, Secure elements.
Jaxx: Exclusive design, Easy to use, Personalized key, available on multiple OS.
Edge wallets: Security, Multi-Currency Support, Easy to use.
Exodus : Multi-currencies, Complete security, Great design, Multi-currencies.
Coinpayment: Bit-go integrated, Online store acceptable, vault, multi-coin wallet.
Most top performing wallets are (Binance, Coinbase, etc.) and they have exchanges too that offers for easy and quick trading between Bitcoin and other crypto or bitcoin and fiat currencies.
Online wallets are prone to security hack and therefore should be used as little as possible. It will be safe to divide your funds among the different types of wallets.
How to Register in a Wallet?
If you are a newbie to the crypto world, then read these points before proceeding:
Download the official wallet from the website.
Register for a custodial wallet service ‘Coinbase’ or non-custodial wallet service like ‘Blockchain’ Wallet (which handles both wallet and exchange with one account).
Purchase a hardware wallet like TREZOR for storage.
Use a universal software wallet or any other wallet that meet your needs like the ones mentioned above.
Coinbase and TREZOR are one of the good major choices, since, they have guides and can be kept safe with the best execution, and also, don’t need to download the full blockchain for a coin.
If you want to know more about particular wallets, Visit our crypto wallet section, you can enjoy reviews on many crypto wallets.
The post Crypto Wallet Guide appeared first on Cryptocurrency information | Cryptocurrency News | Bitcoin News and Crypto Guide.
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Hydro AMA Q&A Roundup with BitcoinMarkets (Slack), 15 June 2018

I've taken the liberty of rounding up all the questions and answers provided from Hydro's most recent AMA hosted with BitcoinMarkets incase you missed it. Enjoy!
Hydro Q&A’s
Q (knonsu): How does Snowflake relate to other identity protocols out there like Civic and uPort ?
A.1 (Anurag): We see snowflake as existing a layer below these types of projects. Even without blockchain, identity is a broad term. Different people around the world have different forms of identity (state ID, country ID, social media IDs, etc). Civic, uPort, and other blockchain projects help to build specific types of an on-chain identity for a user; however those IDs are meaningful in different ways to different observers. For instance, imagine that a government or business builds a system that accepts Civic as a form of identity while another government/business only recognizes uPort identities. On top of this, certain systems only care about information tied to a user’s social media profile. A user can maintain one standard Snowflake as a base layer and set each of these different forms of identity as a resolver. Snowflake eliminates the need for global unanimous adoption of a singular identity standard and rather allows systems to build business logic off of identity standards they themselves recognize.
Follow up Q (knonsu): thats cool. so its totally depends on the person/ institute utilizing it . One problem I found is how easy its to create fake identities (in their basic system).
A.2 (Anurag): Yup! So people can conduct off-chain verifications to prove that you own a snowflake, and then tie an on-chain verification to your Snowflake. This links real-world KYC to your on-chain ID, so sure you could mint another snowflake, but that same party won't validate it again for you. Anyone who trusts that party would be able to accept their validations, and people who don't trust that party can rely on a different validator they do trust.

Q (kat): How big is the team working specifically on Hydro products? Can we get a numbers breakdown of engineers, biz dev, etc? Do you have plans to scale this team as the Hydro project develops?
A.1 (Andy): Our Hydro team is 8 people.
Devlopers (Myself and Noah)
Product (Anurag and Shane)
Community (Nahom)
Founders (Mike and Matt)
Partnerships/BizDev (Gunjan)
The nice thing about Hydrogen though is we have a team of 30 people who we can leverage for different things. For example, Noah and I do not build mobile apps, but we have a front end team that is well versed in mobile app development. So while they are not directly on the Hydro team they do have a direct impact on Hydro.
Hydrogen as a company is working to grow pretty rapidly. As we grow we will be filling out more positions in both blockchain and non-blockchain rolls.
A.2 (Anurag): To add to Andy's answer - pretty much everyone working for Hydrogen helps out with Hydro in some way, whether via design, front-end development, API support, business discussion, etc.
Here's our full team: https://www.hydrogenplatform.com/about

Q (rocket man): So in the age of ICOs, what motivated your team to not pursue that funding model and instead have a token distribution for developers?
A (Andy): This was something that we spent a very long time considering and discussing. We spent a lot of resources (time, money & energy) trying to find the best solution for us going forward. When it was all said and done, we decided on an airdrop because of two main things, getting the token into the hands of people who will actually use it and regulatory concerns.
We feel as though our distribution was the fairest approach that allowed for people with actual interest in the Hydro community to get involved. Overall, we have been very pleased with the level of community engagement from people who are interested in the utility of the Hydro token and we feel that a lot of this can be credited to our distribution strategy.

Q (matheussiq8): How hydro tokens will be used is still vague in the Snowflake whitepaper draft. Would the amount required to hold depend on the volume of API calls or some other parameter? For example, if I decide to implement raindrop and later snowflake in my small webshop would I need to hold the same amount of tokens as Binance (if they ever implement it of course…)?
A (Noah): as always, the permissionlessness of public blockchains is a double-edged sword. smart contracts partially solve the problem by letting us enforce certain things on-chain (minimum token balances, signature validity, etc.), but there are limits. so, re. your specific question: in raindrop we do not vary the staking requirement across users, because that would necessarily involve value judgements we are not comfortable making as a centralized entity. however, there are two types of staking required for raindrop:
  1. “institutional staking” requires entities who wish to sign up raindrop users *on their behalf* (i.e. passing new users’ addresses to the smart contract as parameters rather than new users transacting directly from their accounts) to stake a significant amount of hydro. these are the players we want to ensure are acting in the best interests of the community. in this model, hydro is simply one of many institutional stakers (where we sign up users on our kickass mobile app, which will be out soon).
  2. “user staking” requires individuals who wish to sign up for raindrop on their own, i.e. transact directly with the smart contract, are able to do so by staking a much smaller amount of hydro.
What this all means for you, as a potential customer of our API, is that you don’t actually have to worry about the staking requirement or signing up users at all, and can simply use our API in conjunction with the Hydro app.
Looking ahead to Snowflake, we have big plans to integrate increasing sophisticated uses of the token into the product. to some extent these are still up in the air, but rest assured that we are very focused on building a strong tokenomics structure. At a high level, the core token mechanism for snowflake will involve depositing tokens into the snowflake smart contract. These deposits will allow native staking/payment/incentive functionality denominated in hydro, without the hassle and worry of using ether with every call.

Q (Hodlall): When is raindrop Android app is releasing
A (Andy): It is currently under development. We have a bunch of android phones with different OS on the way. It is hard to give a set date as we don't know what unforeseen issues could come up during the process though. All I can say is it is literally all that our mobile development team is working on

Q (Jeff_We_Cannafi): To piggyback on matheussiq8’s question, how do these identity tokens compare to existing forms of identity authentication, and do you anticipate the tokens themselves will be traded on exchanges?
A (Andy): In my opinion, the main difference between what we are working towards and others like civic and uport is the scope of what we are aiming to do. We understand the value of having KYC on the blockchain and "One click signup", but really I think blockchain identity can be so much more than that. We are aiming to create a completely extendable and modular protocol which will allow for people to link anything they desire to their blockchain identity. Other protocols can tend to lean towards centralization (more a fault of current KYC procedures than the projects themselves) and we feel like this doesn't have to be the case. At least for now, something like KYC needs to have central authorities to verify user information, but why can't I also link my crypto kitties to my blockchain id or my linkedin profile to my blockchain id?
Overall, what we are trying to build will easily allow for other blockchain developers to create robust identity solutions for whatever application they feel fit with Snowflake being at the core of that. We feel that this is crucial to eventually creating a completely open and decentralized identity system. Anyone can join and anyone can add what THEY consider to be an identity, but I only have to accept what I consider to be an identity.
As far as trading, Snowflake Identity tokens will never be tradable. We feel that you identity should always be linked to you. This would be a dangerous road to a very easy black market for people's identities

Q (Jrock): What do you find the hardest part of pitching icos to regular companies?
Also what do you think needs to happen for widespread crypto adoption?
A (Shane): If you mean pitching Hydro to regular companies (we're not an ICO :stuck_out_tongue:), I would say the hardest part is getting the larger companies to move faster than a snail's pace. There are too many chefs in the kitchen and sometimes there is a lack of top-down strategy on blockchain, and it leaves large enterprises paralyzed sometimes. We try to resolve this by pitching how easy Hydro is to use, and how it connects to our broader Hydrogen ecosystem which can add value in a lot of places.
In my opinion, widespread crypto adoption is going to be dependent on how parallelization plays out. If crypto's only option is to create a new parallel economy, widespread adoption is going to be slow and arduous and will take decades. However, if blockchain is able to be infused or layered on some of the current systems we have in place, the adoption will be much faster and broader. Ultimately this comes down to the usage of private vs public chains - the more private and centralized chains that get implemented, the farther the mainstream adoption will get pushed out.

Q (Luke): One aspect of Hydro that is beginning to really intrigue me are the potential use cases and dapps that can be built by external developers ontop of the Hydro protocol layers for each phase.
  1. Having held various dev meetups and networking at various conferences, how are you finding the process of attracting developers to start building dapps and products in your ecosystem?
  2. I understand the HCDP is getting updated with various new rules and bounties for dapps to be built, have you approached any developers yet with this new offer, and if so, how has the reception been?
  3. How else do you intend to attract developers towards building on the Hydro protocols?
A (Anurag):
  1. Through our events, we're mainly focused on helping expand the blockchain-focused developer community. We help give exposure to projects we find to be doing neat, innovative work in the space and keep ongoing dialogue with these communities.
  2. In particular, to provide impetus to developers in the Hydro ecosystem, we've established the HCDP. The new process will involve putting out specific task requests. In the next week or so we'll have published specifications for dApps that can be built on top of Snowflake. We ourselves will not be building these dApps (they have nothing to do with Hydrogen's space as a company). This helps the ecosystem expand outside of Hydrogen-specific use-cases.
  3. ^^Through the above process to get them started. Eventually, we want the Hydro development process to be community-driven, so people are building on Hydro because it benefits their own programs and applications.

Q (elmer_FUD): Hey Hydro Team! Here's a few question I've got for you after checking out the Raindrop and Snowflake whitepapers:
How has your experience working in the Ethereum ecosystem been so far?
While you are currently focused on the financial sector, would you consider actively marketing to other sectors such as healthcare and education in the future?
It seems like both Raindrop and Snowflake would be useful in any environment that processes or stores sensitive data.
Do you have plans to release official Raindrop SDK packages in other languages in the future?
A bit more of a specific question: Raindrop is looks like a great product to use in a PCI-DSS environment - do you have thoughts on whether or not it the product is ready for primetime and do you think the industry standards and government regulation is prepared to handle these kinds of systems?
A (Andy): Thanks for the questions! I'm gonna answer each in a separate response in this thread
Overall it has been pretty solid. There is still a ton of room for growth in terms of documentation and stuff like that, but it is miles ahead of basically every other blockchain platform I have worked with. By far the biggest pain has been handling gas costs when considering the user experience. When trying to build actual products that people will want to use we feel that making it user friendly is something that many blockchain projects have not focused on nearly enough.
Yeah certainly. We focus on fintech as that is where the rest of our companies APIs focus and that is where we have the most connections, but much of what we are building is much further reaching than that. Just as far as authentication goes, it really can apply to any major field and we intend to market it as such.
We currently have Python and JS SDKs and have had a few java ones submitted through our community dev program. We have been revamping that program, but I anticipate we will be putting up more bounties for most major languages. I have considered making a few more myself, but we feel that they could be better suited as community projects.
I completely agree. Raindrop and blockchain authentication when handling anything around payments is a great application. I think the biggest thing is actually convincing regulatory bodies that the protocols we have build are secure (since many can still be scared of blockchain). I definitely see this as a direct use case though

Q.1 (khonsu): What kind of banking relations do you have as a company, do they (banks) understand what you are trying to do ? Any VCs approached you for funding ? explain your business model.
A.1 (Shane): Hydrogen has existed since 2009 in the form of Hedgeable. Hedgeable is a consumer-facing online investing app, and the tech behind it eventually spawned the Hydrogen tech platform. The story of how the transition happened goes essentially like this: (1) Hedgeable was disrupting banks & investing firms, (2) banks & investing firms started contacting us and seeing if we would help them digitize & automate their own businesses, (3) we started packaging up our tech and selling it to the banks. There was so much demand for this from financial institutions that we spun out a new company (Hydrogen).
So to get back to your original question: we have some long-standing relationships in the banking & finance world, and to this day we have inbound leads from that space coming in every week. The key thing to keep in mind is that these institutions move extremely slowly, but they do understand the core value prop of our platform. Many of these firms are still in the midst of basic digitization efforts (i.e. moving from really slow offline processes to simple digital infrastructure), and that is the primary thing we are helping them with in early stages. But they are also keen on blockchain tech and they will naturally turn to us for that once they reach that point. We do have a few relationships with big financial companies in which Hydro/blockchain are already part of the discussion.
We have revenue and don't need to rely on VCs. It is our general philosophy that building a business sustainably with actual clients and revenue is a good approach, but we would consider working with the right VC if that came to be and we wanted to scale more quickly. Right now, that is not an immediate concern for us.
Our business model is in charging developers and enterprises to access the Hydrogen technology platform, which currently consists of products like Atom, Ion, and Hydro. Developers pay a per-user fee to hit our core APIs, while large enterprises negotiate custom (usually multi-year) contracts with us that typically include recurring revenue. Hydro, specifically, is being offered for free right now, as we attempt to gain adoption. But it is important to note that Hydro is just one piece of our ecosystem.
Q.2 (Joleen): When you say fee - is this fee HYDRO? And when do you envisage HYDRO to no longer be offered FOC?
A**.2 (Shane):** Sorry if it wasn't clear, I meant free to use our Hydro tech/APIs. The usage of HYDRO tokens within that is a separate issue - they still need to have HYDRO and we do not give it away for free to clients

Q (guacam0le): Adoption of an identity management solution (etc) would potentially involve a lot of identities. Further, scalability is a hot topic w/ blockchain. Is this a potential bottleneck? What is or might be done to address such?
Tackling a competitor like Google or Authy's 2FA is no small feat. Also, not everyone is yet to embrace blockchain-based solutions. Have you found it difficult to interface with enterprises & get them excited about the idea of an overhaul?
A (Anurag): nowflake is designed to be relatively low-load on the blockchain. A user needs to conduct a single transaction to “mint” their Snowflake. Once this is complete, they would need to complete one-time transactions to set each of their different forms of identities as resolvers as needed. A Snowflake is designed to be built out via resolvers over the duration of a user’s lifetime, so there’s never a need for heavy, frequent transactional capability. Similarly, smart contracts simply need to be set as resolvers by users; they do not themselves transact. Network scalability improvements will increase the range of use-cases for smart contracts that can be tied to Snowflake, but they aren’t a necessary prerequisite to some important early use-cases such as KYC platforms, and a few basic user-interaction platforms.
As far as competition, we feel that current adoption of 2FA is, in general far short of where it should be, and any 2FA is generally better than none. Many businesses use text-message based 2FA, etc. In the short-run we are aiming toward pilot implementations with small businesses. To further this, we have put out many integration resources, guides, and documentation and accordingly believe implementation of Raindrop is a more straightforward workflow. As far as large enterprises go, Hydrogen has clients, so it is helpful for our project to have those connections. Large institutions are generally relatively slow-moving, but have expressed interest in using Raindrop, in particular for securing employee accounts. As the product grows, we may eventually move in this direction with Client Raindrop, but resources will always be available for any site that wants to adopt it. Additionally, we are looking into making a wordpress plug-in to make implementation much more accessible for many developers.
--
Q (Smithymethods): I know Hydro is a fintech company, hydro plan to curb phishing and hacking to the bearest minimum we know that hacking is very rampant these days on MEW and with other wallet. Is Hydro planning to create a wallet that support hydro and other tokens using their raindrop Technology?
As this will put an end to the problem of phishing and also promote hydro
A (Noah): like everyone in the crypto space, we’re very worried about phishing, both personally and on behalf of all hydro token holders. we first want to reemphasize that preventing scams and fraud has to be a community-driven effort: teams and users need to be vigilant and promote best practices (never trusting links in public chats, shunning fake accounts, etc.). we are excited about raindrop’s potential to help combat phishing, though. we actually talked with someone about mycrypto about integrating raindrop into their desktop app. we’ve forked their code and are researching how feasible an implementation would be, stay tuned for updates!

Q (Hodlall): What security measures in place for hydro , I see lot of tokens being hacked nowadays , and money is stolen.. how does hydro make sure their team tokens are completely secured or as much as possible
A (Andy): We all have been in crypto for a while and are pretty well versed in securing our stuff. Our tokens that are currently locked are in cold storage. Others are held in hardware wallets

Q (Joleen): We know that the Hydrogen platform is going to be used by CI Investments, a large insurance firm and a world top 20 bank, have these companies already begun purchasing Hydro OTC?
A (Andy): This is something that we feel is best to be hands off with. It is really up to the discretion of our partners

Q (khonsu’s mumaffi): Ill be honest i have not yet fully read the whitepaper but id like to know other than investor growth do you truly believe there is interest in a model where users have to pay each time for access? How big do u expect this fee to be...for large companies dont you believe this is an unscalable practice? This may be a question more about most technologies built on token based economics too.
A (Andy): So we have 2 different authentication protocols. One happens less often and is in the same vein as OAuth. This is called Server-Side Raindrop. This requires tokens to be sent. This protocol would only happen once per day for a business when accessing something like an API. I don't feel that these values are extremely high for increased security.
Our second protocol, Client-Side Raindrop, functions much more like google auth. This logic actually does not require any tokens or even a transaction by the end user. It is 100% free for them to use and they will never have to pay for a transaction. Here the responsibility is on the implementing party to stake tokens. This allows them to onboard users and authenticate them.
We felt it was crucial to have an authentication that did not have a cost per user login as it is not scalable

Q (khonsu’s mumaffi): Also do u plan to tokenise atom and ion too and if not covered earlier how big of an impact do the market conditions have on your business
A (Anurag): Tough to say we're going to "tokenize" them since that word can carry a lot of different meanings in different contexts, but we do plan on integrating the entire Hydrogen platform with Hydro. This will most likely take the form of enhancements to systems leveraging Hydro. You can find a more detailed breakdown on our Hydro roadmap: https://medium.com/hydrogen-api/project-hydro-features-in-depth-look-39faa29f0d61
Market conditions don't really have an impact - we're still building the same tech on a day-to-day basis

Q (ghost): As a company in the space, do you see the fact that tokens have to be acquired on exchanges as an issue? How would a company that wants to develop with you acquire tokens?
A (Anurag): Depends on what they're developing. dApps developing using Hydro smart contracts to create native functionality to their applications would need to acquire those tokens on their own; however, companies using the Hydrogen API will not. Here's a detailed article outlining when a developer would need the token for the Client Raindrop smart contract: https://medium.com/hydrogen-api/how-to-use-client-raindrop-without-using-the-hydrogen-api-bb04934ae293

Q (jarederaj): Can you describe your stakeholders and give me a better sense of the exigency of your products? Who are you focused on serving with your platform and why are they motivated to use your platform?
A (Shane): The Hydrogen platform serves developers and enterprises who want to build applications. We are specifically targeting the financial services sector, including banks, investing firms, insurance providers, and financial advisors. This includes large enterprises, individual developers, and startups.
Our products are Atom (core digital infrastructure & engine for finserv), Ion (AutoML & business intelligence capabilities), and Hydro (blockchain & decentralization layer). Each has a different use case but these products combine to form an ecosystem of tools for developers to build sophisticated applications with.
The main pain point we are addressing is the resources required to build, launch, and run a digital financial application. These resources include both time and money.
Large enterprises have resources, but they waste years and millions of dollars trying to launch digital platforms (we've seen this first-hand), often unsuccessfully. The motivation here is obvious. Startups and smaller developers, on the other hand, do not have access to huge resource pools, so they are forced to look for solutions that make the process more efficient.
In the same way that Wordpress makes launching a blog easy and also allows for extended functionality, Hydrogen makes launching fintech application easy.

Q (shujjishah): When the app will be released???
A (Anurag): We're going through our mobile development very iteratively. Since we work very closely with the product, there are things we can't recognize until we've got people beta testing the app. As we started Beta testing and conducting user-research, we realized that one aspect of the UI for the app was not intuitive to about half of our testers. We decided to make a few API changes to enable the mobile app to display a "linked" vs "unlinked" status in order to improve the user experience. Our front-end team is finalizing these changes, so our Beta testers will receive a new build in their testflight apps within the next few days. This new build will require another round of Beta testing to ensure that none of the code changes causes any problems on devices; if this change goes smoothly, and our mainnet testing goes smoothly, we will be able to release the app this month.
Since there isn't much precedent on releasing a product into the app store that connects users with the ethereum mainnet, our primary concern is making sure the product works fully as intended and provides an intuitive user experience.
Misc Q&A’s
Q (elmer_FUD): What's your favorite thing to drink?
A.1 (Andy): Overall, I really love Baja Blast Mountain Dew. If I am drinking, I'm a big fan of fruity beers like Blue Moon and Shocktop. Also had a really good raspberry sour recently
A.2 (Nahom): Primary=water but i do enjoy Jamaican ginger ale/beer. We keep honest tea in the office too, i love it because it brings me back from the dead:skull_and_crossbones:, @Hydro Andy drinks most of it behind my back though :triumph:
A.3 (Noah): hard: tequila or picklebacks
soft: any sour beer
other: mango juice
i also crush like 2 nalgene’s worth of water every day at work
A.4 (Shane): For hard alcohol: whiskey/bourbon
A.5 (Anurag): ooh, went to the finback brewery last weekend; was wonderful

Q (Joleen): Do you HODL any other tokens personally?
A.1 (Andy): I do. I think it is probably best to not say which, but if you follow me enough in #altcoins I am sure you will see me talk about a few
A.2 (Noah): im a bit of an eth maximalist actually :grimacing: i do dabble though

Q (Joleen): Who got who in the World Cup sweepstakes?
A.1 (Andy): I'm going for Germany, but I know next to nothing about soccer
A.2 (Shane): I'm rooting for Portugal, but I don't think they're going to win the cup

Q (Joleen): Who's got the best banter in the office? And who has the worst?
A.1 (Andy): One of our backend devs, Paavan, typically has some great banter
and even better hot takes
A.2 (Noah): dont @ me for worst banter
A.3 (Shane): Sabih (BA @ Hydrogen) banter is by far the best
submitted by ljb1187 to ProjectHydro [link] [comments]

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