'Heart Attacks': Ex Coindesk Director Reveals Stressful Nature of Crypto Transactions

  • Sending cryptocurrency is stressful for even the highly experienced and technically savvy users.
  • User experience must be improved in order for cryptos to become more usable, according to blockchain professionals. 

Jameson Lopp, a cypherpunk and engineer at CasaHODL, a crypto service that helps users securely store their digital assets, recently tweeted that “when creating a bitcoin transaction, … you’re actually destroying your money and recreating it with each transaction.”

While it is true at the technical level, as Bitcoin’s (BTC) distributed ledger debits the sender’s account and credits the recipient’s account by first “destroying” and then “recreating” the cryptocurrency at another address, Lopp’s comments were meant to “scare” Twitter user Ryan Selkis, the founder of Messari Crypto.

Scary, Stressful Crypto Transactions

Selkis, the former managing director at Coindesk, had said he “gives himself heart attacks sending [cryptocurrency] from mainstream best-in-class hardware wallet to mainstream best-in-class hosted wallet.”

He added, “the UX lag is too scary for most mainstream users” while Twitter user @CryptoSpark1 commented that he’d still “take that over ‘money’ from a fractional reserve system” - which probably meant traditional fiat money.

PayPal's Method Could Help Crypto

Meanwhile, another user described the experience of sending cryptocurrency as “the shit-your-pants feeling when you forget to double check the address before sending.”

In order to alleviate some of the stress and try to improve crypto-related technology, Naval Ravikant, the CEO and founder of AngelList, recommended:

[Crypto] wallets should ‘verify’ addresses by sending the recipient a tiny random fraction of a token and ... wait for confirmation that the intended recipient received them. Then add the address to a whitelist. Same as PayPal etc. [does] when linking a bank account.

Naval Ravikant

Notably, Selkis questioned whether different crypto wallet providers actually communicate with each either, presumably to improve their services through a collaborative effort. He also suggested that improving user experience when engaging in crypto transactions “might be something [Messari Crypto or other blockchain firms] try to tackle in 2019.”

"Massive Stress" When Sending Monero (XMR)

Zoe Dolan, a lawyer and decentralization enthusiast, expressed an interest in helping make crypto transactions more user-friendly while Working Lab Capital senior associate, Blair Marshall, said, “the most important hurdle to overcome [is that it] has to be impossible for the average user to mess up.”

Recollecting his experience sending privacy coin Monero (XMR), another Twitter user said he sent the cryptocurrency from a client which he forgot to upgrade. When he was unable to track his transaction on any block explorer, he “encountered massive stress.” Luckily, however, “it all worked out but we are miles away from usability. I’m an engineer and it’s stressful”, the Twitter user said.

Error in Time-Locked Bitcoin Contracts Allows for Miner 'Fee-Sniping'

Michael LaVere
  • Crypto researcher 0xb10c discovered an error in bitcoin "time-locked" transactions that could be used as an attack vector.
  • Miners can take advantage of the program to carry out "fee-sniping" and steal funds from one another. 

Users have discovered an error in bitcoin “timelocked” contracts that could potentially allow miners to steal BTC from one another. 

Anonymous crypto engineer 0xb10c reported discovering more than one million “time-locked” transactions made between September 2019 and March 2020. In a post, 0xb10c detailed how these special bitcoin transactions were not being accurately enforced by the network. 

As opposed to normal transactions, time-locked transactions prevent recipient bitcoin from being accessed after sending. Users must wait for a specific number of blocks to be added to the network in ten-minute intervals before gaining control of their bitcoin. 

0xb10c claimed the errant time-locked transactions provided an attack vector for miners to steal transaction fees  from one another via “fee-sniping.” According to the engineer, the backlog of time-locked transactions were being purposefully designed for a “potentially disruptive mining strategy” involving the theft of miner fees. 

In an interview with CoinDesk, 0xb10c said time-locked transactions represented a “low-priority” problem at present that could eventually balloon to involve the wider network. He explained that fee-sniping would become more lucrative in a few years as the majority of miner income shifts towards transaction fees. 

He continued, 

A fix for this has been released in early 2020. However, it will take a while before all instances of the currently deployed software are upgraded.

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