crypto for dummies

Mark Baum: Have you ever refused to rate any of these bonds upper-tranches AAA? Can we see the paperwork on those?

Georgia: Oooh, I’m under no obligation to share that information with you, whoever you might be.

Mark Baum: Just answer the question Georgia, can you name one time in the past year? Where you checked the tape and you didn’t give the banks the AAA- percentage they wanted?

Georgia: If we don’t give them the ratings, they’ll go to Moody’s right down the block. If we don’t work with them they will go to our competitors

Not our fault, simply the way the world works.

Vinnie Daniel: You’re selling ratings for fee’s= a ratings shop

Mark Baum: You could afford to make less, make less.

Georgia: Nobody said that! And it is not my decision, I have a boss.

Mark Baum: Is that the angle you’re taking? So now anybody who has a boss, can’t be held responsible for doing shitty and illegal things! -What are you? Four?

Georgia: No, eh, eh, I am not four! Mister Baum, I am not, no!

And I wonder, I wonder, what your incentives might be. Is it maybe in your best interest to have the ratings changed? Is it, perhaps?

How many credit default swaps do you own?

Mark Baum: Doesn’t make me wrong

Georgia: Just makes you a hypocrite! [1]

How this scene from the movie “The Big Short” ended with silence is precisely the needed pause for the viewers to think – Who in the industry is the real culprit? Who is acting selflessly with other’s benefit in mind? Who’s in the position to be called credible?

Now, this leads us to the parallel universe of cryptocurrency news and media. In its infancy, when the Bitcoin community was built on pure intent of creating something new, something mildly if not totally anarchist, something fun and revolutionary by people who find comfort in socializing on the net or cracking codes, the only media the words ‘Bitcoin’, ‘Cryptocurrency’ appears on, are forums and dark web. Subsequently, it became mainstream – cryptocurrency news sites, rating services, ico advertising, and consultancy firms existed. The word ‘community’ became complex or rather tainted.

As cryptocurrency emerged as another industry or asset class, there are some principles and rules added to its community.

An article by Corin Faife will give you a glimpse of what ‘delivering cryptocurrency news’ has come up to. He mentioned getting offers almost every day for  coverage but living by his principles of credible journalism, he had bluntly turned it down. This instance got him curious whether or not other writers would do the same. Unfortunately, more than half of crypto news outlets will take money to cover a project without an appropriate tag. [2]

Moreover, an Initial Coin Offering (ICO) listing and rating website called ICOBench was caught red-handed on adjusting ICO ratings based on an agreed upon sum. [3]

Makes you think, does not it?

Before you distrust anyone in crypto space, think about the roles each has to take. It’s the set of rules a player is bound at that determines him either a good or a bad player. Problem is, there’s no standard rule in crypto. There are even undefined roles in the cryptocurrency community, hence no standard roles either.

In the The Big Short movie, Mark Baum is protecting the fund he’s managing and though his position is correct, his losses will be huge if the ratings on mortgages bond are not adjusted accordingly. But Standard and Poor’s stands by its rating as it satisfies their set of rules. In viewers’ eyes, Mark Baum stands in truth, but in another view, does he stands in truth for the sake of truth?

It was in 2017 that crypto startups greatly increased in number through Initial Coin Offerings ( ICO) and it was in this year that credible media coverage became scarce. Thousands of projects competing for a spot. Decent projects are either competing with legendary crypto coins or with deep-pocketed startups for space in news banners and advertisements. Other means of marketing have sprung up to get people’s attention. Advertising actions nearing borderline unethical were implemented to get their visions supported. But which is which really when everyone is convinced that each is acting in good faith?

You probably wouldn’t believe that this project existed and was listed on an ICO website with a tagline “ICOs That Can Be Trusted”

Might be that this ICO is playing the undefined role in the community -the comics? A classic irony of a should-be trustworthy project which can’t be at least serious. What made it to the cut? That ICO listing website doesn’t have a free listing.”Hype” was the most accurate term for the ICO boom. [4] Whichever project is hyped gets its hard cap reached fast usually in minutes if not hours. [5] How the ICO managed to spread the word and build hype is a mixture of all the players involved.

A study is one and using it for advertisement to attack competition is another. It is with everyone’s knowledge that crypto is threatening the current payment system. Prominent banks and institutions are delving into blockchain technology to innovate and go with the wave while others chose to oppose: [6]

When a player in the community has its interest at stake, it tends to become biased. Media has become biased.  Yet we cannot condemn nor boycott any of it because the crypto space is young and generally unregulated. Anything is permissible at this point but not everything is beneficial or ethical.

We in the Crypto Research Institute (CRI) not only intend to educate people about emerging blockchain and cryptocurrency technologies but to bring awareness of its current state- the good, the bad and the uncertain. We aim to show all sides of this industry through objective research and analysis and siding only with the truth for the sake of truth.

References:

  1. The Big Short (2015) Movie Script
  2. Corin Faife ( 25 October 2018 )  We Asked Crypto News Outlet if They’d Take Money to Cover a Project.More Than Half Said Yes. Breakermag
  3. Markus Hartmann  ( 14 June 2018 ) This Is How Easy It Is to Buy ICO Ratings — An Investigation
  4. Brian Kean (19 Feb 2018) Don’t Believe the Hype. Five Largest ICO “Exit Scams”: Expert Take. Cointelegraph; Ari Levy, Evelyn Cheng (30 November 2017) ICO Bubble is Bursting even as Bitcoin Price Rises. CNBC
  5. Monetha Reach Hard Cap Of 95,000 ETH In Less Than 18 Minutes, (3 September 2017); Richard Bowman ( 24 May 2018) Blue Whale ICO Sells out in Ten Minutes; Stan Higgins (10 August 2017) $200 Million In 60 Minutes: Filecoin ICO Rockets to Record Amid Tech Issues. Coindesk
  6. Wilma Woo (17 Oct 2018) Did American Express Get Caught Spreading ‘Anti-Crypto’Propaganda?. Bitcoinist