Decentralized exchanges were supposed to be invincible, from a legal perspective. It’s difficult, the theory goes, for regulators to crack down on individuals who build these exchanges, as they have neither oversight of, nor official ties to such exchanges, which instead, operate purely by algorithms.
Or...not, as we saw last week with EtherDelta, whose founder, Zachary Coburn, was slapped with a $300,000 fine.
Speaking to Forbes, SEC cyber unit chief Robert Cohen explained how, and why our dreams of responsibility-free exchanges are, in fact, dead in the water. That exchanges like EtherDelta are decentralized, he said, means nothing. “Whether it’s decentralized or not, whether it’s on a smart contract or not, what matters is it’s an exchange.”
And creators of such exchanges, whether they run the day-to-day, or sit back in their Alpine chalets sipping toasty peppermint Schnapps, is by the by: they built the damn things, so if the SEC judges their exchanges' operations illegal, they get fined for having done so.
It’s worth ending on a warm, bubbly, positive note. Fined as Coburn may be, his exchange, by the looks of it, hasn’t actually shut down. So the decentralized dream is partly achievable; as long as developers are prepared to take whatever the SEC throws at them—fines, disgorgement, extradition to Mars, a bullet in the left temple, whatever—their exchanges will live on.
Bitcoin Cash Takes a Turn
Until recently, the Bitcoin Cash hard fork—which, in brief, has pointlessly pit Craig Wright and his mining pools against mining giant Bitcoin ABC over trivial disagreements about software implementations—looked to sway heavily in the favor of Bitcoin ABC.
Bitcoin ABC, for one, accounts for some two-thirds of the BCH hashing power. Trading of simulated versions of the competing tokens on exchange Poloniex saw traders judge ABC’s speculative token at five times the value of Craig Wright’s Bitcoin SV token. Moreover, Roger Ver, CEO of Bitcoin.com and a supporter of ABC, put Wright’s odds of success at 1/10.
Now those odds are thinning. SV’s value, formerly 21 percent of ABC’s price, has grown to 30 percent. As we speak, the mining pools in Wright’s camp—Coingeek, SVPool, and BMG POO—are increasing their collective strength. Together, they now control 57 percent of the Bitcoin Cash hash-rate, enough to commandeer the network and shut down the competition by brute force. Another Wright supporter, Sharkpool, has vowed to mine empty blocks and clog ABC’s network.
No wonder Craig Wright’s smirking.
EOS, the decentralized platform everybody keeps calling centralized, just reversed the transaction of a trader accused of phishing, not helping its arguments.
Apparently, EOS’s “arbitrators”—who are vested with this extraordinary power—style themselves as 16th century absolutist monarchs, and refer to their “constitution” with something approaching biblical reverence. Says Ben Gates, the arbitrator summoned for this noble task:
“Under the powers afforded to me as arbitrator under article 6 of the Rules of Dispute Resolution, I, Ben Gates, rules that the EOS account in dispute should be returned to the claimant with immediate effect and that the freeze over the assets within the said account is removed.”
EOS developers are basically those neckbeards who say “to you, good sir!” and “I tip my hat to you” as if they’re actually chivalrous Tudor noblemen. The only difference is that the EOS guys, instead of pwning on Counter-Strike while moths slowly eat them alive, are in control of a financial network worth $4.8 billion. With great power comes great delusions of living three hundred years ago.