Sneak Peek: Is Mastering Ethereum By Andreas Antonopoulos Worth Pre-Ordering?

  • Mastering Ethereum by Andreas Antonopoulos covers the basics of Ethereum.
  • The book is written mainly for developers, however Antonopoulos recommends that everyone should read at least the first few chapters.

Andreas Antonopoulos, a well-known and respected Bitcoin (BTC) maximalist, has authored a new book titled: “Mastering Ethereum.” Although the book will not be released until January 10th, 2019, Antonopoulos does explain in detail what readers can expect to learn from reading Mastering Ethereum.

What Is Ethereum?

Looking at the book’s Table of Contents (which is currently accessible) tells us that the first chapter will be dedicated to answering a simple question: “What is Ethereum?” While this may seem like a simple question, those who are familiar with the crypto space would know that Ethereum aims to be the world’s first decentralized supercomputer.

Because it is not trivial to develop a scalable decentralized computing system, especially with additional functionality such as smart contracts, it is also not easy to answer what exactly the Ethereum project represents. One of the main reasons for this is that Ethereum’s ongoing development is reasonably decentralized and open-source, which means there’s no central authority that is dictating what Ethereum will ultimately do and what it will become.

Ethereum’s community of developers have varied approaches and recommendations on how to make the Ethereum blockchain network more secure and scalable. Due to the collaborative nature of the Ethereum project, it may be worth reading about how Ethereum has evolved over the years from a renowned distributed systems expert like Antonopoulos.

Living & Working Through The Development Of The Internet

After earning his bachelor’s degree in computer science from the University College London in the early 1990s, Antonopoulos enrolled in a graduate study program focused on distributed systems and networks. Notably, this was the period when the TCP / IP protocol (which was initially developed in the late 1970s) really began to show its potential in terms of being used effectively to contribute to the widespread growth and development of the internet of today.

Having experienced how the internet matured, while also helping large financial organizations such as SWIFT by architecting a globally accessible and secure financial transaction network for the giant bank-to-bank messaging service, Antonopoulos’ explanation of what Ethereum is and how it works may be insightful.

Renowned Public Speaker, Author

In addition to having a strong technical background, Antonopoulos is considered by many in the crypto community to be good at explaining how things work in simple words through meaningful analogies. According to his Twitter and LinkedIn profile, he has delivered lectures on Bitcoin and blockchain technology in over 56 countries.

Before writing Mastering Ethereum, Antonopoulos wrote other popular books such as the "Internet of Money" and "Mastering Bitcoin." 

Fundamental Cryptography Concepts

Although Antonopoulos has mentioned that his book, Mastering Ethereum, has been written mainly to help developers build applications on Ethereum, he does recommend that everyone should read the first few chapters. According to Antonopoulos, the book’s introductory chapters aim to provide a comprehensive explanation of the basics of how, and why, Ethereum was developed (its four stages of development).

For those looking to learn the fundamental concepts behind cryptography, how cryptocurrency wallets are designed, and the technical aspects of transactions involving digital assets, it may be worth reading picking up a copy of Mastering Ethereum. There’s a 20-page chapter in the book which covers topics such as “public key cryptography and cryptocurrency.” An explanation of crypto wallets and the structure of digital currency transactions are also covered in Mastering Ethereum.

Antonopoulos’ book seems to have organized all the pertinent information into easy-to-follow and easy-to-understand chapters. This might prove a useful one-stop shop for crypto enthusiasts, and Antonopoulos’ Mastering Ethereum may also be more reliable as a reference (compared to blogs which may not have properly cited their sources).

Everything You Need to Know to Start Using the $10 Million Dhama Crypto Lending Platform

Dharma, a leading Ethereum-based decentralized finance (DeFi) protocol which currently has more than $10 million locked in its contracts, allows users to borrow and lend cryptocurrencies without “a bank account or credit card.”

Last week, the Dharma protocol and platform went live as its mainnet became publicly accessible. According to Dharma’s development team, they’ve already “seen tremendous growth on both sides of the market.”  Dharma’s developers claim that their platform’s “growth has far exceeded [their] expectations,” however there are still many unanswered questions from users as the peer-to-peer (P2P) crypto lending network has only recently been introduced.

In order to address some of these queries, the Dharma team has prepared a detailed set of responses to the most frequently asked questions (FAQs).

What Is Dharma?

Dharma is “a P2P lending marketplace” which allows users to seamlessly “borrow and lend” digital assets from “anywhere in the world, instantly and affordably.” Because the Dharma platform is a non-custodial marketplace, users “retain full control over their funds” at all times during and after transactions, Max Bronstein, the Business Development Manager at Dharma Labs, wrote in a blog post.

Loan Types Supported On Dharma

Currently, Dharma supports “fixed-duration, fixed-interest loans” and “all loans in Dharma have 90-day durations,” Bronstein noted. He added that in the future, Dharma’s management team intends to add “more flexibility over loan durations,” but for now, all crypto loans issued on through the decentralized marketplace have “a fixed rate of interest.”

This set interest rate will reportedly “not fluctuate over the course of the loan, [as] it’s locked in.”

Moreover, the borrower is entitled to the same interest rate, “regardless of whether [they] repay their loan on Day 1 or Day 90.”

Wallet Support

Currently, the Dharma protocol is supported by any crypto wallet that’s accessible to users. Although Dharma is based on Ethereum, users don't need to use MetaMask if they want to transact using the protocol. As explained in Bronstein’s blog, users can use “any Ethereum wallet that supports ETH and ERC20 tokens.”

However, the Dharma team “recommends using addresses that [users] have full ownership of, whether that is through browser extensions (e.g., MetaMask), specialized browsers (e.g., Coinbase Wallet), or Hardware Wallets (e.g., Ledger and Trezor).”

Assets Currently Supported

Bronstein wrote that Dharma presently supports “borrowing and lending” for Ether and stablecoin DAI. The protocol’s developers are also “planning to add support” for Circle’s (USDC) and Bitcoin (BTC).

Dharma’s management is “actively looking to add more [cryptoassets] and [they’re] leaning on the community to let [them] know what they want [the P2P marketplace] to support.”

No Private Key Management

Bronstein explains that Dharma Key is a new method for allowing users to “cryptographically sign their transactions.” Instead of having users “manage their own private keys, they can authenticate their transactions with a 4 digit pin.” According to Dharma’s developers, this is like “being your own bank.”

To start using Dharma, borrowers have to put up at least “collateral 1.5x the value” of their outstanding loan. For instance, a user would have to put up $150 in collateral (in ETH), in order to take out $100 in Dai.

When Can Users Start Paying Off Their Loan?

Borrowers can start “repaying their loan at any point” throughout the duration of their contract. However, users must keep in mind that “the interest owed is the same regardless of how early the debt is paid back, so the only reason to repay early is that [borrowers can expect to] get [their] collateral back early.”

Currently, borrowers using the Dharma protocol can “partially repay their loans, but [the team is] working on adding that feature,” Bronstein revealed. In the event that “a borrower fails to repay their loan within the agreed duration, their loan enters a state of default and their collateral will be liquidated to pay back the lender’s full principal + interest,” Bronstein clarified.

How Does Liquidation On Dharma Work?

On the Dharma P2P crypto lending marketplace, a “borrower’s collateral is liquidated when a loan enters a state of default, which can happen ... if a borrower doesn’t pay back their debt by the due-date,” Bronstein wrote.

Or, Bronstein noted that a borrower’s collateral will be liquidated “if the value of their collateral falls below 125% of the principal that they’ve borrowed.”

When loans issued on Dharma “enter a state of default, [they’re] usually liquidated within 15 minutes.” In order to “protect their collateral, borrowers can also top up collateral at any point in their loan’s duration,” Bronstein suggested.

As stated in the detailed guide on using Dharma, the protocol’s developers are currently “liquidating underwater collateral.” However, they reportedly intend to “move to a third-party liquidator system” in the foreseeable future. According to Dharma’s management, the new liquidator system will be somewhat similar to the one currently used by the MakerDAO ecosystem.

“Borrowers Don’t Always Lose All Collateral, When Liquidated”

Notably, borrowers “don’t always lose all of their collateral in the case of a liquidation.” The liquidations are supposed to ensure that “the lender receives their principal plus interest.” Moreover, any “remaining collateral after repaying the lender will be returned to the borrower,” Bronstein explained.

Borrowers are required to “repay their interest in-kind, meaning in the same asset that they borrowed.” For instance, if user borrows funds in ETH, then they have to “repay the interest on [their] loan in ETH,” not DAI or any other digital asset.

Because of its decentralized nature, Dharma marketplace users can expect to begin earning interest “as soon as they match with a borrower,” Bronstein noted. He added that this may “happen instantly or in the case of some larger orders, could take a few hours.” He also mentioned that “matching is dependent on market activity, but to date, most Dai loan offers match within 24 hours.” At present, ETH-based loan orders have been “matching more slowly, typically taking between 1–2 weeks,” Bronstein revealed.

According to Dharma’s developers, lenders have the option of “withdrawing their funds at any time prior to matching with a borrower.” Also once their order has been matched with a qualified borrower by Dharma’s system, the “lender must wait for the borrower to repay or be liquidated.”

Loan “Recycling” Not Yet Supported

As explained, loans issued through the Dharma platform “currently have 90 day durations, so that would be the maximum lock-up period.” Bronstein clarified that “any funds not matched with a borrower can be withdrawn at any time.”

Currently, Bronstein noted that “lenders can’t recycle their loan offers into a new loan, [as] they have to withdraw their funds and then create a new offer.” However, Dharma’s team is reportedly planning to implement that feature, in order to allow users to “earn interest with as little friction as possible.”

Where Does The Borrowed Crypto Go?

Dharma’s team has developed a “system of smart contracts” which enable users to “safely control [their] funds and match them with either a borrower or lender.” Bronstein explained that when users send their crypto to Dharma, they are actually “sending it to a smart contract that handles the loan agreement creation on [their] behalf.” Also, “at no point in the process does Dharma ever take custody of user funds,” Bronstein wrote

Finally, Bronstein pointed out that “all loans in Dharma are overcollateralized, meaning lenders are protected if the borrower defaults on their loan.” However, he also clarified that “lenders do face technical risks by sending their money to [Dharma’s] smart contracts.”

Dharma’s contracts have reportedly been “audited by Zeppelin, Trail of Bits, and ZK Labs.”