In the aftermath of a string of high-profile bank collapses in the United States, regulatory agencies are acknowledging the errors they have made. Internal evaluations of how each organization dealt with Signature Bank and Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) have been made public by the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) and the Federal Reserve Board of the United States, respectively. Both banks were shut down in March of this year, with the New York Department of Financial Services taking action against Signature Bank on March 12 and authorities in California closing SVB only two days earlier on March 10. The collapses occurred shortly after the news of the voluntary liquidation of crypto-friendly Silvergate Bank on March 8th, which spurred runs on the impacted institutions and ultimately led to the failures.
The collapse of these banks has sent shockwaves across the business, and as a result, Vice President Joe Biden of the United States sent out a statement to the situation through Twitter. The Federal Reserve study concluded that SVB’s management had failed to adequately manage its risks, and that the bank’s supervisors had “not fully appreciated the extent of the vulnerabilities” of the bank as it increased in size and complexity. Both of these findings were uncovered as a result of the Fed’s investigation. Regulators had not taken enough action to resolve SVB’s fundamental issues despite the fact that these issues were pervasive and well-known.
Similar problems were discovered during the investigation conducted by the NYDFS on Signature Bank. These problems include inadequacies in the bank’s risk management policies and inadequate oversight of third-party suppliers. In addition, the study included criticism directed at the board of directors of the bank for their lack of action to address these concerns.
These failures have caused regulators to reexamine their monitoring processes, and several have called for a more proactive approach to risk management as a result of their findings. Concerns have also been raised about the possibility that the failures are an indication of more widespread systemic problems within the banking sector.
Moving ahead, it is probable that regulatory agencies will continue to monitor the banking sector with an even closer eye in an attempt to reduce the likelihood of failures that are analogous to those that have occurred in the past. This may include more stringent requirements for risk management practices, increased oversight of third-party vendors, and more stringent regulatory enforcement actions taken against banks that fail to meet their obligations. At the end of the day, the expectation is that these precautions will assist in protecting the financial system and preventing new crises from arising.
Etherscan is the most trusted tool for navigating through all the public data on the Ethereum blockchain and is sometimes called “Ethplorer.” This data includes transaction data, wallet addresses, smart contracts and much more. The application is self-contained and is neither sponsored nor administered by the Ethereum Foundation, which is a non-profit organization.
The team behind Etherscan includes seasoned developers and industry professionals, who developed the Etherscan app to make the Ethereum blockchain more accessible to everyday users.
Although Etherscan is a centralized platform, the app does make it easier for people to search through the Ethereum blockchain.
Is Etherscan a wallet?
Etherscan is not an Ethereum wallet, nor is it a wallet service provider. Users don’t receive an Etherscan wallet when they search the Ethereum blockchain on Etherscan.
Etherscan.io is an independent Ethereum-based block explorer. The Etherscan app keeps track of blockchain transactions on the Ethereum network. The app then displays the results like a search engine.
This allows users to find the details of transactions on the Ethereum blockchain, which may give someone peace of mind if their transferred funds have not yet appeared in their wallet.
While Etherscan can track the activity on an Ethereum wallet address, users will need to link the app to an existing crypto wallet to do so.
You may wonder — Is Etherscan free to use? Yes, Etherscan is completely free.
What is Etherscan used for?
Etherscan allows users to view the assets held on any public Ethereum wallet address. Using Etherscan, enter any Ethereum address into the search box to see the current balance and transaction history of the wallet under consideration. Etherscan will also display any gas fees and smart contracts involving that address.
Users can use Etherscan to:
Calculate Ethereum gas fees with the Etherscan gas tracker
Lookup and verify smart contracts
View the crypto assets held in or associated with a public wallet address
Observe live transactions taking place on the Ethereum blockchain
Lookup a single transaction made from any Ethereum wallet
Discover which smart contracts have a verified source code and security audit
Keep track of how many smart contracts a user has authorized with their wallet
Review and revoke access to a wallet for any decentralized applications (DApps)
Users can view any transaction of the Ethereum blockchain on Etherscan. These transactions include failed and pending transactions.
Etherscan can also keep track of the progress of an incoming transfer. One way to track a transaction using Etherscan is to look it up on Etherscan.io using its hash key. The hash provides users with an estimate of how long the transaction will take to confirm. The page refreshes once the transaction is complete.
Etherscan also works as an analytics platform. Anyone can use Etherscan to analyze on-chain metrics like changes to Ether (ETH) gas costs, as well as keep track of their portfolio and monitor their transaction history for suspicious activity.
Only information that is public on the Ethereum blockchain is displayed on Etherscan, so information like a user’s private keys can’t be viewed on the app. Etherscan doesn’t store any private keys and is not involved in any of the transactions shown. The app also cannot be used to solve a transaction failure.
Do users need an account to use Etherscan?
Users are not required to sign up for an account before using the Etherscan app. However, signing up for an Etherscan account does give users access to additional features. These features include the ability to track addresses and receive notifications whenever a transaction occurs. Developers may also sign up to gain free access to Etherscan’s blockchain explorer data and application programming interfaces (APIs).
Thus, users with accounts can add their addresses to the “watch list” on the block explorer to monitor or track their investments. Users can also set alerts so that they’re notified of every incoming transaction via email. Etherscan also provides API services for developers so that they can create decentralized applications.
Etherscan provides the following information for all incoming and outgoing transactions:
Number of blocks within which the transaction was recorded and the time at which the transaction was confirmed
Sender and receiver addresses
Total transaction fee
How does Etherscan work?
To use Etherscan, simply enter any public Ethereum wallet address into the search field at the top of the Etherscan.io homepage. Doing so will allow users to view all the transactions associated with that address.
Viewing a transaction and wallet on Etherscan
Exploring a wallet address on Etherscan under the “Transactions” tab will show a list of all ETH transactions (Txns), or transactions that have used gas (Gwei) associated with that specific wallet.
Type the wallet address on Etherscan’s homepage and click “Search” to be redirected to a page that displays all of that wallet’s information. The data will include its ETH balance and its value denominated in United States dollar, as well as an overview of the wallet’s transaction history.
Click on the wallet’s Transactions tab, which will open up a new page displaying details on all the transactions involving that address. Details include the transaction ID, block height and when the transaction was confirmed.
The block height refers to the block in which the transaction was included. The sender and recipient addresses and the total transaction fee are shown as well.
To explore and track a single transaction, users will need the transaction hash or transaction ID, or TxHash. A TxHash is a unique string of numbers that identifies a transaction on the blockchain.
When users input the TxHash into the Etherscan search bar, a list of information on that transaction will be populated on the page. From here, users can go to the Transactions tab to review additional information about the said transaction. Such data includes whether the transaction status was successful, pending or failed, as well as the total amount that was transferred.
The value of the transaction in ETH, as well as the USD value of ETH at the time of the transaction, can also be viewed. Etherscan also displays the timestamp for each transaction in addition to the transaction cost, denominated in USD.
How to use the Etherscan gas tracker?
“Gas” refers to the transaction fee associated with a transaction to be executed successfully on the Ethereum blockchain. Transaction costs on Ethereum are referred to as gas fees.
Ethereum’s network can get highly congested. When a considerable amount of traffic is running on Ethereum’s blockchain due to Ethereum’s auction-based model, the average gas price goes up as users compete against one another and bid to have their transactions included in the next block. Consequently, transactions are delayed and some transactions fail.
Gas prices vary depending on the block that the user transaction has been included in, as well as the degree of network congestion. Moreover, users may not be able to discern an accurate estimate of the gas fees they’ll be required to pay before initiating a transaction.
To determine a transaction’s gas fees with accuracy, it’s best to use Etherscan’s gas tracker. Etherscan’s gas tracker does more than simply show users the difference in gas prices at various time intervals. It’s also useful for estimating how congested the network is and what the transaction cost will be per transaction.
The Etherscan gas tracker functions as an ETH gas calculator. It examines pending transactions on the Ethereum blockchain to determine how much gas a transaction will require.
Users receive a gas fee estimate so they can adjust the timing of their transactions to avoid high network traffic. Doing so saves transaction costs and allows for cheaper and smoother transactions, without suffering the anxiety that comes with not knowing whether a transaction will fail or succeed.
How to use Etherscan to check the wallet balance and history?
To see how the balance in a user’s wallet has changed over time, look up the address of the wallet on Etherscan and select “Analytics.” From here, users can see the data analytics of a user’s wallet, such as the user’s ETH balance, the entire transfer history, transactions and fees paid.
Using Etherscan to review smart contracts and wallet access
Smart contracts can be read and edited without the need for special permissions by using the Etherscan app’s “Read Contract” and “Write Contract” features. These tabs provide real-time information on various tokens and smart contracts. Users may also use these features to initiate a token transfer and approve smart contract transactions.
Removing a token’s access to the user’s wallet can be achieved using Etherscan’s Token Approval Checker. When users interact with DApps to buy or swap tokens, they tap directly into a user’s wallet with their permission. Therefore, DApps are an appealing target for scammers looking to gain access to users’ Ethereum wallet addresses.
If users see suspicious activity or believe that a DApp has been compromised, they can use Etherscan to revoke its access to a specific wallet address. The user’s assets inside the wallet will not be lost, but users will need to reauthorize the tokens when they access the DApp the next time around.
To use Etherscan to review a user’s approved token list, look up the user’s wallet address on Etherscan’s Token Approval Checker. Doing so will provide users with a list of all approved smart contract interactions with that wallet. From there, users can connect their wallet to Etherscan and click “revoke” to ensure that the specific DApp no longer has access to the user’s wallet.
The road ahead
Etherscan is one of the leading tools for accessing reliable Ethereum blockchain data. Etherscan can review smart contract code, track gas prices and monitor the Ethereum blockchain in real time.
Finally, Etherscan is free and doesn’t require a user to register to access all of its features. Overall, it’s a great place to start for users who would like to learn the full range of functionalities of a blockchain, as well as their Ethereum wallet and what information they can garner from a blockchain explorer.
Cryptocurrency books aimed at novice users or non-users tend to follow a very similar pattern. Almost all start with an obligatory “history of money” and explain why fiat is, let’s say, “flawed,” — to be polite. Then Bitcoin (BTC) in introduced, wielding a fistful of shiny new tech that can address some of these issues.
The books go into mining, wallets, exchanges, Ethereum and smart contracts, altcoins and decentralized finance — also known as DeFi. Once the authors are sure that the reader is sold on the idea of buying into crypto, they wrap it nicely up with a (foregone) conclusion and settle smugly back down.
However, even equipped with the desire (and know-how) to buy their first cryptocurrency, the reader may still feel there is a barrier to taking the next step. In fact, once the purchasing decision has been made, a whole new raft of questions crop up tha a savvy crypto convert will want answered.
How much should I spend? What strategies are open to me? Should I invest or consider trading? How can I maximize gains while minimizing risk? Few books delve deep enough into such territory to give a reader the confidence to enter the market with at least half an idea of what they are doing.
Breaking the mold?
Digital Assets: Your Guide to Investing and Trading in the New Crypto Market aims to fill that gap. Written by Jonathan Hobbs, an investment industry veteran turned independent advisor, the book is divided into two parts.
Admittedly, the first part kicks off as expected with cash-bashing; but in fairness, it would be hard to leave this out of a crypto book aimed at beginners. And let’s be honest, it never gets old to hear how bad the traditional financial system really is.
Hobbs then gives the lowdown on Bitcoin, but only so much as to show that it can be trusted, that it is a hedge against inflation and that there is a reason for it to continue to appreciate in value over the long term.
Ethereum and DeFi are similarly explained from an investor’s perspective, such as how money can be made through staking tokens on lending platforms, trading derivatives or providing exchange liquidity.
Part One is rounded out with a couple of chapters on how the range and accessibility of crypto products have much improved, for both institutional and retail investors. The development of institutional-grade custody solutions and crypto-exposed funds and trusts has finally opened the floodgates to an increasing amount of institutional and corporate money.
Improvements in the security and functionality of retail exchanges and wallet solutions, along with the rise of DeFi, cater to the needs of individual investors like never before, and this gets us to the point at which we are left off by most of the other books.
Saving for a rainy day
Luckily, this is where Digital Assets is just getting started. The longer Part Two deals with all the nitty-gritty on trading and investing, starting with the question of how much of one’s assets should be held in crypto.
Hobbs explains the importance of a diverse investment portfolio and compares the historical returns on various proportions of stocks, and having up to 10% in Bitcoin. Certain readers may be dismayed to hear that due to crypto’s volatility, he does not recommend putting too much of one’s nest egg into it.
Digital Assets also provides examples showing the effect that rebalancing a portfolio can have on reducing risk and exposure to volatility.
The book continues on to crypto investment strategies, covering the ever-popular HODLing, dollar-cost averaging and the more aggressive value averaging. The potential results of each are illustrated with examples using real historical data over various time frames.
And then, it gets started with the big kid stuff…
Make the trade
If you are an average enthusiast, technical analysis will be a baffling source of confusion. Of course, some may understand what a “falling wedge” is, what “flipping resistance into support” means and the importance of the “20-week moving average.”
But you will have no idea why these things affect Bitcoin’s price the way they do, and hence, you will have no real faith that you can use them to predict future action. Correction: By this point, you should have some idea.
Hobbs’ primer on reading charts, identifying trends, moving averages, trading volume and Fibonacci retracements makes it seem like technical analysis is something that can actually be done, or at least learned over time.
Digital Assets goes on to explain how one can profit from Bitcoin’s volatility by trading short or long on futures contracts. It shows how to read candlestick charts and describes a number of trading styles, along with their associated trading time frames.
Of course, mitigating risk is just as important as taking profits, and there are techniques given to do so using stop losses, position sizing strategies and the various types of orders that can be placed on exchanges. Hobbs also explains when to use leverage, when to enter and exit a trade, and when to take profits.
A good investment?
The last few sections of Digital Assets examine the potential to incorporate altcoins into a crypto portfolio, explain the basics of options trading, and give guidance on how to tie all of this together into a personal investment strategy.
The book has an easily accessible style, with plenty of diagrams and real-world examples to illustrate the pros, cons, and potential risks and returns of each of the various methods of investing and trading. Some of the concepts around stops losses and hedging Bitcoin options took a few reads to fully understand, but as well they might.
If really digging for things to criticize, it would be the examples that use Trader A through Trader D to compare the different strategies, which was occasionally confusing. However, this was not half as confusing as it was when Hobbs chose to get creative with his character names — by the end of the options chapter, it was hard to remember who was who among Lagertha, Ragnar and Uthred.
In conclusion, while it may not offer as much to those who are already pro traders, Digital Assets is pretty much essential reading for those who have been tempted to dabble in trading but never quite had the confidence. You may find that you are shorting perpetual futures while hedging with a protective call option in no time… and I might just see you there.
The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cointelegraph.
It almost seems too big a task to recount all that has happened in this world, in this industry and in our own personal lives but our colleague Brad Keoun, editor of CoinDesk’s daily cryptocurrency markets newsletter, First Mover, offers an excellent start to summarizing 2020. He writes:
“This year saw the biggest drop-off in economic activity since the Great Depression, the biggest money-printing episode in the Federal Reserve’s 107-year history, an epochal shift toward remote working, negative prices for crude-oil futures and the first real signs the global financial system might be migrating toward fast-growing markets for cryptocurrencies and digital assets.”
2020 also saw an explosive growth in the total value locked and user activity for decentralized finance (DeFi) applications on Ethereum. We witnessed the genesis of Ethereum’s primary scaling solution with the launch of Ethereum 2.0 and the emergence of an entirely new use case for ether through staking.
Where do we go from here? For today’s special, year-end edition of Valid Points, we’ve gathered commentary from the industry’s most well-known Eth 2.0 staking experts. They’ll be illustrating through charts what caught their attention most this past year and what they’ll be watching closely for in the next.
Ethereum: A year in review
Tim Ogilvie, Staked, on gas usage
Our first contribution is from Tim Ogilvie, the founder and CEO of Staked. Staked helps investors earn yield from staking and DeFi without taking custody of their crypto assets.
“My favorite Ethereum chart shows the daily gas usage. I love it because it’s one part of the great story that I expect will propel ETH over the next few years. There are three legs to the stool:
1. Our chart. People are using ETH with increasing frequency, driving increased gas demand.
2. EIP-1559, introducing Fee Burns. This is an upcoming Ethereum improvement that will take all of the gas demand and use it to burn ETH. The more ETH gets used, the more ETH supply gets burned.
3. ETH2: Ethereum’s transition to proof-of-stake, allowing for low issuance of new supply while providing strong security guarantees.
‘Bitcoin has an amazing story as an asset with a fixed supply of 21 million BTC. Ethereum’s story has the potential to be even stronger. If gas usage exceeds supply issuance, you’ve now got a digital asset with a steadily declining supply.
‘My 2021 prediction: This becomes the dominant story around ETH’s valuation and it drives significant price appreciation.”
Jun Soo Kim, stake.fish, on Ethereum’s staking ecosystem
Next, we have the head of strategy and operations for stake.fish, Jun Soo Kim. With support for over 10 different blockchain networks, Jun Soo and his team are working to secure and contribute to an exciting new staking ecosystem and enable users to stake with confidence.
“By far my favorite chart of Ethereum 2.0 is how consistently the participation rate has been averaging at above 98% after the first few days of the Beacon Chain launch. The participation rate shows how well the active validators are doing to stay online and conduct their attestation duties. If the participation rate was any closer to 66%, we would need to be seriously concerned about the network health. But at the current levels, we have a nice big buffer that alleviates any concerns for network finality halts.
“There is also another takeaway from this data. While there are many professional staking service providers running validators on Ethereum 2.0, there is a bigger number of individuals who are operating validators themselves. These independent validators have been contributing to the high participation rate. From this, we can infer that Ethereum 2.0 has achieved its goal of making sure anyone can run validators on their own without having to rely on specialized technical knowledge or hardware. This provides hope that while staking services and exchanges will grow, the number of independent validators will grow as well. Independent validators are key in ensuring Ethereum 2.0 remains decentralized and I hope we keep seeing improvements to the experience of running validators.
“We haven’t even seen the beginning of Ethereum 2.0 integration with DeFi. Tokenized staked ETH and how they become a part of the existing DeFi stack will be a key theme in the first half of 2021.”
Chandler Song, Ankr, on staking growth
Our penultimate contribution comes from Chandler Song, CEO of Ankr. Ankr Network is a San Francisco-based Web 3.0 infrastructure provider working at removing entry barriers and opening Ethereum 2.0 staking to everyone with Stkr decentralized protocol.
“This chart represents the number of ETH sent by validators to the Ethereum 2.0 deposit contract since it went live on Nov. 4. To launch on the planned Genesis date of Dec. 1, 524,288 ETH had to be transferred until Nov. 24. This threshold was met only hours before the activation deadline.
“We see that early on the community was hesitant to stake their ETH. The fact that the staked funds are locked and essentially illiquid for an indefinite period made the progress slow in the first weeks. We think that one of the important factors that helped break the momentum was staking-as-a-service solutions going live with synthetic assets that solve early Ethereum 2.0 liquidity issues.
“We are going to see the growing popularity of liquid bond tokens representing ETH 2.0 stake. These assets have two functions: turn illiquid ETH into a tradable and liquid asset and allow investors to participate in building trust to grow the Ethereum network.”
Mike Garland, Alchemy, on Eth 2.0 adoption
Last but not least, our final chart comes from Mike Garland, product manager for Alchemy. Alchemy is a blockchain developer platform powering 4 million users and $7.5 billion dollars of transactions in 99% of countries worldwide.
“Our favorite ETH 2 graph of 2020 is one which shows the 35,300% increase in global adoption we’ve seen of the Beacon Chain since just before the Dec. 1 launch.
“We’ve seen great developers and teams pouring in to pick up and start using ETH 2.0 and all signs point to even greater adoption going into the new year.
“The ETH and ETH 2.0 ecosystems are only as good as the developers and users that drive them, so seeing this kind of growth so early for ETH 2.0 has us super excited for the year ahead.”
We’ll soon be incorporating data directly from CoinDesk’s own Eth 2.0 validator node in our weekly analysis. All profits made from this staking venture will be donated to a charity of our choosing once transfers are enabled on the network. For a full overview of the project, check out our announcement post.