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Pirate Weekly Meeting | 2.19.2020

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DEX Volumes Spike to $5 Billion Following $25 Million DeFi Hack

Decentralized exchanges Uniswap and Curve Finance saw massive volume from a recent DeFi exploit, generating millions in fees in just minutes.

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In brief

  • Decentralized exchanges Uniswap and Curve Finance saw massive spikes in trading volume above $2 billion each on Monday.
  • The huge volumes were the result of a flash loan exploit used to drain Harvest Finance of $25 million in just minutes.
  • Liquidity providers for the exchanges earned more than $5 million in fees from the exchange activity.

Decentralized exchanges Uniswap and Curve Finance are experiencing their largest daily trading volumes ever recorded—and it appears that it’s all being driven by a DeFi exploit that drained millions from yield farming protocol Harvest Finance.

Uniswap saw daily trading volume explode to more than $2 billion today, dwarfing the previous all-time high of $950 million as a yet unidentified DeFi hacker used “flash loans” offered by the exchange to drain $25 million from Harvest Finance. Meanwhile, Curve Finance, another DeFi swap protocol, recorded volume of more than $2.8 billion, smashing the previous all-time high of just $524 million in September 2020. That combined $5 billion represents a 24-hour increase in DEX volumes of 1,700%.

What caused that huge spike in volume? Apparently, a “hacker” (depending on your use of the term) executed a flash loan exploit that used millions of dollars worth of cryptocurrency across both Uniswap and Curve to drive down the perceived prices of USDT and USDC tokens on Harvest Finance. The attacker then bought those tokens at a discount, used them to pay back the initial flash loan while netting a tidy profit for himself. He (she/they) did this multiple times, hence the inflated volumes.

DeFi developer and Yearn Finance founder Andre Cronje was quoted from an Telegram conversation outlining the basics of the exploit:

Clever “economic attacks” are not uncommon in the burgeoning world of DeFi—shorthand for a group of applications built to run on blockchains, such as Ethereum, using automatically executed blocks of code known as smart contracts. Using smart contracts, DeFi protocols are able to issue loans, provide interest on deposits, and swap between different cryptocurrencies similar to centralized exchanges like Binance, all without a centralized third party like a bank facilitating transactions.

DeFi protocols like Uniswap and Curve Finance use pooled crypto deposits from users known as liquidity providers to allow traders to swap between tokens automatically. In exchange for adding their tokens to the pool, liquidity providers—the users contributing to the token reserves used to power decentralized trades—receive trading fees generated from token trades. The greater the volume of trades, the more DeFi liquidity providers earn in fees from decentralized exchanges.

Uniswap is also one of a handful of DeFi protocols offering flash loans, a feature allowing users to take out loans worth millions if they can pay it back plus a small fee within the space of one Ethereum blockchain block, which lasts about 15 seconds. Savvy DeFi users can leverage flash loans to perform arbitrage between decentralized exchanges and other financial operations by programming a smart contract script to perform the desired actions within a single sequential Ethereum transaction.

Harvest Finance, developed and run by an anonymous team, has halted deposits into several products on their protocol, and has promised to release a post-moretum on the attack within a few hours. The team has also announced a $100,000 bounty for anyone who can help appeal to the attacker, and has alluded to significant publicly available evidence that could be used to identify them.

For Uniswap and Curve liquidity providers, the exploit is a reminder of the dangers that still lurk in the very young DeFi industry, where event audited code like Harvest’s can fall victim to well executed attacks. But it’s also an unexpected opportunity for increased returns, showing the potential power of flash loans to generate enormous volume and the fees that come with it.

The unexpected silver lining? These liquidity providers today collected more than $5 million in trading fees between Uniswap and Curve in a single day.

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Remembering Room77, Bitcoin’s Favorite Bar

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Amid the seemingly nonstop flow of wild events in 2020, including the COVID-19 pandemic, the start of the next bitcoin bull run and copycat bacon cheeseburger token scams (more on that later), the legendary Room77 has now officially closed for good. The Room77 was the first brick-and-mortar business to accept bitcoin. You could pay for your drinks, burgers and for a slightly overpriced hot chocolate (more on that later, too). 

I would visit the “Room” several times a year while visiting Berlin and have probably paid for some — now quite expensive — burgers and drinks. Sometimes I would go early if a friend of mine was working the bar and watch the place slowly fill up.

Many saw this closure coming, but did not want to accept the cold, hard truth and instead dreamt of better times, when warm beer, cold women and fast food made slow could be found at Graefestraße 77 Berlin. While many others were surprised, we all will have to come to terms with the reality of a world without Room77. But a few questions remain including: Where will people be able to buy beer, rum and burgers with bitcoin? Did Room77 go anywhere? And what was Room77 anyway? 

Does Moore’s Law Apply To Gentrification?

In a time before Bitcoin, a time before blockchain devs flocked to the cheap flats and office spaces of the former East Berlin, Room77 was launched into eternity. 

In those dark ages, Berlin tourist bus drivers did not want to stop in the hood of Kreuzburg out of fear that their curious tourists might go the wrong way, or that the rims of the bus would be quickly removed and recycled at a nearby junk dealer. Just down the Graefestrasse, in Room77, musicians were joining into jam sessions, people were drinking cold drinks and a good time was being had by all. There were little to no problems with the Office of Administration keeping order (ordungsamt) and the noise down, as opposed to a pre-pandemic clamp down on a nearby Jazz Night that was happening every Sunday. 

As more people flocked to Berlin, however, interest rates became negative, rent prices mooned just like the bitcoin price and gentrification slowly but surely crept into Kreuzburg as surely as Moore’s Law guides the semiconductor industry. That didn’t stop people from going to Room though.

Are You Going To The Meetup Or The Meetup?

There was the monthly “Bitcoin Stammtisch” (Bitcoin Meetup) at Room77, which was, at times, very full, depending on the bitcoin price. These were not meetups with speakers and PowerPoint presentations, but rather people talking freely and having a good time. 

These were the nights when random noobs would show up and wonder aloud if this was the secret bitcoin cabal and how they could join. Where can they buy bitcoin, they would ask. Is it safe? Will the price go up? How do I store my bitcoin? What about litecoin, monero, bitcoin cash and dash? 

Not only would your typical, 18-year-old, college-attending, streetwise Kreuzberg hoodwink or local dominatrix show up to ask their questions to people at the bar, but reporters from a variety of media outlets would also use the meetup as a convenient source for info related to Bitcoin. 

This led to the somewhat secret development of the “unofficial” meetup being held on the second week of the month. Time for the O.G. regulars to talk to each other without the sometimes-hassle of explaining to reporters what enterprise blockchain technology is and that it is not Bitcoin, or that no Room77 does not accept bitcoin cash, shadow cash or the shitcoin of the week as payment.

The ATM

During the 2013 bitcoin hype, there was a Bitcoin ATM in Room77. It was frequented by many and, after the Mt.Gox dump, the regulations around ATMs in Germany were not very euphoric. The ATM was removed and life went on in Room without it — as if bitcoin needs ATMs anyway. 

In late 2018, there was a Berlin court decision that said that, since bitcoin is not officially money, that the law against ATMs was not valid. This created a grey area and ATMs started popping up here and there like fungi, and one such fungus appeared in Room. If you were there when Room opened on a given day, you might have found a few people that went in to use the ATM right away, who had been waiting outside and throughout the night for the chance to put their fiat money in the machine in exchange for bitcoin. 

For the most part, they didn’t have a lot to do with the regular crowd hanging out in Room and came from all walks of life: old, young, in business attire or streetwear. The physical interaction with a machine was something that gave people a connection to bitcoin that they could grasp and easily understand. Quickly, people learned hands-on about confirmation times, price spreads and, after reading a banner on the wall, about Julian Assange.

Bitcoin, Shitcoins and Bacon Cheeseburgers

If there was something that Room was known for besides drinking and being a safe space for Bitcoin freaks, it was the burgers. 

There were several variations on the menu, including the “Roadkill,” “Jimmy Carter”  and the “Firecracker.” To demonstrate the use of tokens to an audience of bankers, someone created a “bacon cheazburger” token using the counterparty token layer. 

This token could then be redeemed for a bacon cheeseburger at Room77. It became a topic of speculation, legend and bragging rights: “Bro, are you a bacon cheazburger whale?” “Do you have a bacon cheazburger token?” “Will the tokens be honored or is this a classic exit scam?”  

But that was not the only “scam” at Room77. If you ordered a hot chocolate without looking at the menu, then you might not notice that it cost 28 to 47 euro. Was this a jab at people that ask bartenders to make hot chocolate? Or was it a sophisticated scam for innocent Bitcoin tourists that paid hot chocolate token holders? 

Not only could you redeem a bacon cheazburger token at Room77, but, for the first time ever, pepecash was used to purchase a burger and drinks at the restaurant, making it a historical moment in blockchain history, forever. 

There was also a regular Monero meetup and, although the Monero community lobbied for monero to also be accepted at Room77, it was never accepted as payment outside of the Monero Meetup night.. 

Bacon cheazburger token, pepecash and monero were not the only shitcoins to become topics of discussion in Room, however. In 2018, a visitor demanded to pay in bitcoin cash. This person went so far as to threaten a lawsuit for false advertisement if Room77 did not allow him to pay for his food and drink with bitcoin cash. Room77 refused and, well, is still waiting for that lawsuit.

The Bitcoin Version Of The Show “Cheers”

If you had walked into Room over the last few years, you might have been welcomed by a small, enthusiastic dog, noticed people drinking rum and wondered where the burgers were. 

2018 was the last year for the burgers and that smoking was allowed inside (though, before, the smokers did have to wait until the kitchen was closed). One of the ritualistic drinks of this time was the pump-and-dump Pampero rum, and if you came on Bitcoin´s birthday, you might be in time for a piece of cake. 

When the burgers were removed, some of us knew the end was near. There was chatter of creating a hackerspace with the brand of Room77 but, for different reasons, it was not meant to be. A pandemic that doesn’t allow for groups of people to meet in close quarters and talk about Bitcoin over drinks and clouds of smoke proved to be the final nail in the coffin for Room77… or was it?

The physical space located on Graefestrasse 77 Europe, Earth, Solar System, Milky Way, Virgo Supercluster may cease to exist as it once did. However, the people who made that space what it was and is are still here. As Joerg Platzer, Room77’s owner, said recently, “It was not me who made that place become what it became. It was you and the whole community who made it happen. I was offering a platform but what has happened with that platform was because so many great people chose to inhabit it.” 

As Room 77 regular Anonymous Candle put it, “When one Room closes, another opens” and that is very true, as Room 77 inspired a lot of new locations that accept bitcoin in Berlin, including: 

So, as Bitcoin and its community moves forward, let’s make sure to raise your glass or pour out some Club Mate in honor of a magical place and time: To the freedom of transaction, to blockchain eternity AND BEYOND!

Source: https://bitcoinmagazine.com/articles/remembering-room77-bitcoins-favorite-bar?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=remembering-room77-bitcoins-favorite-bar

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From DeFi to DeOps: How Public Blockchains Could Replace ERP Systems

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Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) is simultaneously one of the most transformational technologies for modern business and also one of the most boring. Quite simply, ERP is the glue that holds modern enterprises together, connecting business processes across large enterprises in a standardized way. 

That said, there is also nothing magical about ERP. It simply combines two things: transactional data (purchases, sales and inventory levels) with business rules and process. The results are simple, but the technology itself has immensely powerful capabilities, for instance, automatically re-ordering supplies when an inventory runs low, without human intervention. With blockchain technology, we are entering the era of decentralized, ERP-like apps that can span multiple enterprises but also share data and logic, in turn automating and digitizing commerce.

Paul Brody is EY’s global innovation leader for blockchain. The views reflected in this article are the views of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the global EY organization or its member firms.

In an always-on digital environment, this doesn’t seem very new or unusual. That’s because when it comes to truly digital supply chains, most companies are faking it, not making it. 

The secret truth about digital commerce is that it usually comes to a screeching halt at the enterprise door. It’s not uncommon for a digital system to create a purchase order using PDF software (which is emailed to a supplier), only for it to be scanned into their systems using a process called optical character recognition (OCR). 

This digital-analog-digital scanning process is only one step above printing and faxing. Within the digital supply chain, electronic data interchange (EDI) is one step above OCR, but it only allows for static communication (and only between two parties). Furthermore, it doesn’t support any kind of shared business logic or process.  

To understand what a big deal this is – and to get a sense of how much is at stake – it is useful to step back and define how big the impact of ERP has been. When I joined McKinsey & Co, in 1995, process change was something you put on paper and into manuals. With the widespread deployment of ERP, the reality is that business processes – if they exist – really only exist in software.   

See also: Paul Brody – ‘Great Artists Steal’ – What Enterprise Blockchain Can Learn From the Past

If you want to put a product on sale at 500 stores across the country (or around the world), it can likely only be achieved with end-to-end software. Whether forecasting the sale events or planning increased inventory and making sure price reductions happen at the cash register, if it doesn’t happen with enterprise software it probably won’t happen at all.

Thanks to ERP, the efficiencies driven by a single retailer alone are thought to have cut the cost of living in the U.S. for the average person by $895 a year

ERP systems have such a huge impact because they allow companies to make good on their operating scale. Companies that are integrated from end to end can also negotiate significantly lower prices with suppliers. Their promise to buy only from a preferred supplier is much more credible because ERP systems will simply block purchases from unauthorized suppliers – something that used to happen routinely before digital systems were introduced. ERPs can also carry less inventory and have lower shipping costs as they track inventory levels and plan replenishment operations each day. 

Instead of suppliers having to integrate with customized systems in large enterprises, they can instead interact with standardized apps and tokens on the public blockchain network.

Exciting? No. High impact? Yes.

The benefits associated with these systems have traditionally been limited to the largest companies because each large enterprise has its own digital hub for collaboration. If you’re a supplier and you want to sell to a big retailer, be prepared to join the supplier’s network (which is not free). Each integration brings with it both efficiency and long-term cost commitments. For instance, smaller companies are often overwhelmed by these types of demands – but ERP can remove that hurdle.

Blockchain technology has the potential to change the dynamics of system integrations. Instead of suppliers having to integrate with customized systems in large enterprises, they can instead interact with standardized apps and tokens on the public blockchain network. 

DeOps (Decentralized Operations) applications could take hold. Want to have automated replenishment of your inventory? There’s a DeOps app for that. Insuring a shipment between two locations? There’s a DeOps app for that. Managing warehouse space that you rent from a third party? Same again.

See also: Paul Brody – Enterprises Need Third Parties for Oracles to Work

DeOps applications will take the two main components of ERP – shared facts and shared business logic – and enable them to operate between enterprises and across enterprise boundaries. This will allow for truly digital end-to-end supply chains without having to worry about centralized entities spying on and monetizing the data flowing between companies.  

How much might the shift to truly digital supply chains be worth? Trillions of dollars. Given that nearly everything we buy today passes through multiple hands before it arrives in your home, there is a good chance that increased efficiency is possible at every step of the process. 

Entire industries have been built – and companies transformed – on their implementation of ERP. The impact of decentralized operations is likely to be just as large. And while nearly every large company currently has some form of an ERP system, almost none of them use DeOps applications – so we are just at the beginning of this transformation. 

Disclosure

Source: https://www.coindesk.com/how-blockchains-replace-erp-systems

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