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Ethereum Crash Course

We wanted to provide a simple introduction to the Ethereum blockchain and explain its purpose, value, and potential.



Ethereum Crash Course

With BitPay’s launch of Ethereum support, we wanted to provide a simple introduction to this blockchain and explain its purpose, value, and potential. We have a list of resources at the end for anyone wanting to dive deeper into Ethereum.

What is Ethereum For?

Think about traditional money. If you’re buying a donut, you just need some cash. But if you’re buying a house or renting an apartment or setting up an annual subscription for your internet, it’s not as simple as paying with cash, a check, or a credit card. You have to sign an agreement and trust a third party to honor the terms of that agreement whether that’s a law firm handling your escrow, a landlord handling your rental agreement, or a company handling your annual subscription.

Ethereum Crash Course
For a list of places to spend your cryptocurrency, check out the BitPay directory

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies work well as digital currencies to buy goods and services online. But they have the same limitations as cash when it comes to more complicated transactions like mortgages and apartment leases.

You could build different blockchains for each of these types of purchases. You could have a blockchain just for mortgages, a blockchain just for renting apartments, a blockchain just for subscriptions to Netflix, and so on.

But that creates a problem. Every blockchain needs to be maintained and ones that are too small are vulnerable to attacks.

So what if you made a blockchain that was flexible and powerful enough to build all these kinds of things on top of? Well, Vitalik Buterein had exactly that idea back in 2013 and got to work with Gavin Wood, Joseph Lubin, and others to create the Ethereum we know and love today.

How Does Ethereum Work?

Another way to explain the Ethereum blockchain is as a world computer. Think about your computer or smartphone. You can make changes on it, but those changes only are on your machine. For Ethereum, every change is made to this global, public machine (a transaction from A to B updates the blockchain ledger and counts as a change made to the machine).

But Ethereum isn’t just any old machine. It allows for Turing complete programming. If you want, you can take a deep dive into Turing completeness and Turing machines, but, simply put, it means that something that is Turing complete can solve any computational problem on a computing machine. In plainer English, it means you can build any and all kinds of applications on top of Ethereum just like you can build all kinds of software on top of Mac and Windows and Linux.

Ethereum Crash Course
Alan Turing, depicted on the £50 note, aided the Allies in cracking Nazi codes and is one of the fathers of Computer Science.

How do you build stuff for Ethereum? The same way you build smartphone apps or video games or operating systems: with a blockchain programming language. You use a blockchain programming language like Solidity or Vyper to program smart contracts. Smart contracts are computer programs run on the Ethereum network. They will run the same way every time and they can’t be changed (if you want to stop them from running, you have to run a SELFDESTRUCT code, but even that won’t erase their history from the Ethereum blockchain, it’ll just make sure they stop running).

Potential Dangers

If Ethereum can do so much, why wouldn’t other cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin have the same flexibility and functionality? Why aren’t all blockchains Turing complete? To see why, you can read through a list of things that are Turing complete by accident. Here are some fun examples. First, you can, with the right series of movements, turn Super Mario World

Ethereum Crash Course

into Flappy Bird.

Ethereum Crash Course

As another example, someone else figured out how to beat a Pokemon game in 90 seconds by modifying the code (see the full video here)

In the first case, someone was able to change the entire game into something it wasn’t intended to do. In the second, the player was able to win the game in a way the creators didn’t intend. This stops being all fun and games when the code or software or app you’re using is managing your money. In fact, this amount of freedom offered by Ethereum’s Turing complete design has already affected the community. This is why developers have to be careful when building DApps on Ethereum.

Bright Future

Cryptocurrency is a decade old and Ethereum has hardly been around for half that time. Much like people in the early days of the Internet, PCs, and Smartphones couldn’t have predicted their impact, we can’t even imagine the full impact Ethereum and Web 3.0 will have on the world. Even right now, Stablecoins show that these smart contracts on the Ethereum blockchain have amazing potential for businesses making cross-border payments (we’ve already talked about that in a past blog post).

Resources and Additional Reading

Resources for Learning More About Ethereum

Resources about DApps and How to Build Smart Contracts and DApps

Stablecoin Resources



tBTC Launches for the Second Time to Bridge Bitcoin and Ethereum



After a failed (but not regretted) attempt, Thesis, the blockchain development company behind Keep Network, has just released the new version of tBTC.

tBTC is simply Bitcoin tokenized in the Ethereum blockchain as an ERC20 token backed by the original Bitcoin. The initiative might seem like another one of the many projects that seek to bring Bitcoin into the smart contract chain. Still, Thesis adds a new -and exciting- ingredient: decentralization.

tBTC is Just Another Bridge Between Bitcoin and Ethereum… But Different

“As far as I know, this release is the first permissionless, censorship-resistant Bitcoin bridge on Ethereum. Anyone can mint $tBTC by connecting to the Bitcoin and Ethereum chains, and no one can censor transactions or redemptions,” said Matt Luongo, founder of Thesis, in a Twitter thread.

This means users can be assured that their funds are not being controlled or guarded by a centralized entity.

In short, tBitcoin is a Bitcoin token with the same philosophy as Bitcoin, with very similar features to Bitcoin, only it runs on Ethereum. Thus, concerns about funds centralization and the possibility of an third party exercising some kind of censorship are addressed, as Vitalik Buterin pointed out:

The demand for Bitcoin tokens on Ethereum is high, especially considering the growing popularity of this blockchain after the DeFi boom. In wBTC alone, a centralized but popular tokenized version of BTC, there are more than 818 million dollars or 77860 BTCs locked up.

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A Long Way to Success

tBTC had a rough start. After its first release, a bug that led to the introduction of untested functions into the code led developers to pause the project when it was only two days old. The new version, which Luongo refers to as rc1, corrected this problem and added important improvements over its predecessor:

Luongo and his team are optimistic, but also cautious: To avoid possible damage, they decided to set up a supply cap system that will increase over time to reach the 3000 BTC enclosed. Also, Luongo assured that he would put his investment in the project to have more skin in the game.

Who said that DeFi was not for bitcoiners?

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FEW Brings Out DeFi Risks: Ethereum Proponents Caught Planning to Dump on Investors



Airdrops have apparently become the next big thing in DeFi as means of “fair” distribution of tokens of fresh projects.

The first one to really catch the attention of the masses was Uniswap with their UNI governance token. Everyone who used the platform received a minimum of 400 UNI tokens. At the time, many people sold their share to cash in some “free money.”

Another project to do so was MEME Protocol that airdropped around 350 MEME tokens, currently worth about $350,000 to the first few members to join their Telegram group. As CryptoPotato reported, that stack was worth around $700,000 at the peak price of the token.

Today, a bunch of screenshots of conversations between some of the most popular ETH influencers and proponents in what was apparently supposed to be a closed Telegram group shows their plans to create a worthless token with the sole intention of pumping its price. “An experiment,” as they called it.

FEW – Bringing Crypto Back to the Wild Wild West

Crypto Twitter is exploding today with screenshots of conversations between some of the most prominent ETH proponents, such as Anthony Sassano, DeFi Dude, and many others.

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The goal was simple – create a group of 50 “smart people,” airdrop a bunch of tokens to them and watch them shill it away. A few screenshots, allegedly from the conversation between some of the members reveal what was going on:

Leaked Conversation. Source: Twitter

“First we get the members, then we airdrop, then – we figure out what the fu*k we’re doing.” – DeFi Dude said. Not shady at all.

Anthony Sassano was caught saying that they “need people to dump on.” Another screenshot reveals DeFi Dude answering to a message saying, “… and we pump it, legally.” Sure, there’s not much context to this, but is this the expected behavior of people who’re supposedly helping this community move forward?

The group discussed how they intended to do something like MEME because they (or at least some of them) missed it. As CryptoPotato reported, Anthony Sassano was part of the MEME Protocol airdrop as well.


Many of the people involved in the initial FEW 50 explained their actions after the fact. Anthony Sassano said that all of it was a “joke” and urged people not to buy the token as “it’s worthless.”

Further in the thread, he explained that people attacking him “is just shitty… people who know me know this is just my sense of humor and was a joke. But it’s going to circulate and be taken out of context regardless.”

Other members of the first FEW 50 largely expressed the same idea – that it was nothing but a joke.

And here’s what a lot of people have a problem with. Speaking on the matter was Udi Wertheimer, who said:

The problem is that most of those people have a serious following and a lot of regular users consider their authority and reputation. Whether they wanted to be in this position of power is entirely irrelevant. Once you get to a point where your voice is heard and listened to, it’s nothing but common sense to be responsible.

Now, Sassano argues that this is the “first” joke that he made, and it will get him “cancel” without actual merits… that people are calling him out without context.

How much context do we really need, though? For me, personally, it looks like a bunch of people with serious influence over the Twitter masses attempted to create something they knew could net a lot of cash, got caught, and are now desperately trying to save their reputation.

If it truly was a joke, why not make it public from the get-go? Why wait for people to leak those screenshots before giving any explanation?

What if…?

The token didn’t really reach the market, but some people created a fake and listed it on Uniswap – that’s likely irrelevant.

But what if those FEW 50 people went through with everything they planned? What if they created a token that people could purchase? What if they started talking about it on Twitter? What if its price really did explode (as they clearly intended based on their conversation)? What if their airdropped tokens were suddenly worth six figures? What if no one leaked those screenshots?

These are questions that we can’t really get an objective answer to, and each one of us has to make their own conclusions.

Sassano has since said that he burned his tokens to prove that he’s not “going to dump” on anyone.

He’s also said that “I was planning to donate any money that I got from it to Gitcoin (believe that or not).”

The most logical question about this is how you’d get any money if you didn’t “dump” on someone?


It’s entirely possible that all of this was a joke. It’s entirely possible that no one of those involved in this actually planned to scam people out of their money. But that’s not what matters.

What matters is the fact that reputable people with serious standing in the community shouldn’t even consider being involved in some shady, behind-the-curtain plays like this one, regardless of whether they think it’s a joke or not.

Transparency is one of the main and inherent postulates of the technology that we’re all supposedly “in it” for. And this goes against it directly.

Worst of all – these kinds of “jokes” set crypto back. It shatters the beliefs of anyone who thinks that we’re out of the Wild Wild West years of the industry when people were single-handedly moving markets. We’re right there in the center of it, it’s just a new narrative.

No one can take away the contribution of most of these people to the field. It’s just that you can’t afford to make jokes of the kind. Or, at least, you shouldn’t.

This article is entirely the opinion of the author. 

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Equals Takes £3.16 Million in Losses for H1 2020, Focusing on B2B

The Group’s B2C business was heavily impacted by COVID-19 restrictions.



Equals, formerly known as FairFX, has published its interim results for the first half of 2020 ended on June 30, reporting an after-tax loss of £3.16 million. The company was profitable in the similar period of the previous year with £445,000.

However, the forex provider’s loss for H2 2019 was £5.81 million, meaning there was a 46 percent reduction in after-tax losses for the latest year half compared to the past six months.

The Most Diverse Audience to Date at FMLS 2020 – Where Finance Meets Innovation

Finance Magnates earlier reported on Equals’ revenues for the same period, but the latest numbers give a much deeper understanding of the company’s performance.

The total revenue of the e-banking and international payments group stood at £13.8 million. Though, the revenue generated from the B2B streams was £9 million and the rest from B2C businesses.

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Compared to the reported numbers from the first half of the previous year, the company’s B2B revenue increased 32 percent year-on-year while the B2C revenues went down by 29 percent. This decline in the B2C business was mainly due to the impact in this sector by the uncertainties caused by the Coronavirus.

Moving from B2C to B2B

The Group also highlighted that it is shifting its focus from the legacy B2C travel money business to the B2B revenue streams.

Additionally, the company pointed out that its international payments business remained resilient in Q3 of 2020 with £3.8 million, compared to the previous quarter’s £3.5 million.

“We believe it is testament to the quality of the business and the resilience of our B2B focused model that we are reporting both an increase in revenue and decrease in underlying expenditure against the headwinds posed by a combination of Covid-19 and the changes forced upon the business as a result of the demise of Wirecard,” Equals Group CEO, Ian Strafford-Taylor said.

“Our revenues continue to grow against this unprecedented backdrop and we have not yet completed our exercise of cost savings which will benefit the second half of the year.”

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