Forklog spoke to WhalePanda, a well-known cryptocurrency trader and Bitcoin maximalist. WhalePanda’s voice is specifically strong on Twitter where he has over 205,00 followers, as well as on other social media channels.
A heavy critic of so called shitsoins, WhalePanda recently made waves of headlines when he said that since 90 percent of crypto traders would lose their money it’s better not to trade at all.
In an exclusive interview with ForkLog, WhalePanda clarified what he actually meant by this, and touched a number of other important questions the crypto industry is facing today.
ForkLog: Tell our readers more about yourself, your background and how you actually came into the crypto industry. You are not obliged to reveal neither your true identity nor where you live, those who really want to know this will find the ways anyway.
WhalePanda: During my time at university I got a degree in IT which I never really used, but comes in handy from time to time when I need to read code. I started my own online marketing company and I heard first about Bitcoin on blackhatworld an online marketing community back in 2011. I thought it was a scam and I ignored it. During the bubble in 2013 I did some more research and I started to get really interested in it, but at first mainly as a way to make extra money.
ForkLog: If the first part of your Twitter handle speaks for itself, is there any special meaning in ‘Panda’?
WhalePanda: Back in early 2014 there were 3 different pandacoins, back then I was not a Bitcoin maximalist yet and I had a lot of pandacoin at that point. I thought it was funny and now I’m stuck with it… The good thing is that everyone loves a panda.
ForkLog: Over all these years, many things have happened in the crypto industry. Some of them were quite positive, other seemed outright controversial. Which one was the most memorable one for you?
WhalePanda: I’ve seen so many things. I think the things that stood out for me personally were the Mintpal disaster/exit scam, mainly because I actually managed to get all my money out the day before they disappeared. It was a very close call. And Paycoin, the newer generation knows Bitconnect, but Paycoin was arguably a way bigger scam, although the marketcap was a lot smaller since there wasn’t that much money in crypto yet. They were selling cloud miners, which are always a scam, then launched their own altcoin which they sold to investors at $2.5-5 and they promised that Paycoin would have a fixed floor at $20. The launch was quite funny, they put up a small buy wall that got eaten almost immediately and the price dumped really hard.
ForkLog: You describe yourself as a ‘monetary bitcoin maximalist’ which already tells about certain beliefs and convictions. Part of that niche community calls for absolute financial privacy on the protocol layer while rejecting even the very idea of a compromise with regulators. What do you think about full anonymization of the Bitcoin network? As trader you have most likely gone through various KYC procedures.
WhalePanda: That will be interesting. I honestly don’t know what to expect and I ask a lot of smarter people than myself their opinions on it. My worry would be that all regulated exchanges would have to stop using Bitcoin or the KYC will have to get a lot more strict since they will require you to prove where the funds is coming from. It’s not a secret that exchanges like Coinbase do checks 3-4 transactions back as to check where your Bitcoin is coming from.
Of course I completely support the full anonymization but at same time it can cause a lot more issues with AML/KYC. Some people I talked with are convinced that this will be a non-issue if this happens when Bitcoin is big enough. But if you compare it to cash, where I live if you bring in more than €1000 in cash into the bank you need to be able to motivate where it’s coming from as well… I guess there’s only one way to find out.
ForkLog: After ShapeShift introduced their so called ‘membership program’, what options are now left for those traders who wish to protect their privacy?
WhalePanda: Well, not a lot of traders actually use shapeshift since it’s not that handy, it’s quite slow and their fees are quite high. Most traders don’t really have a big issue with KYC. The ones that do use decentralized exchanges like Bisq or what I like to call “exotic” exchanges which are based outside of US and Europe and don’t require KYC yet. Shapeshift was more used by people who were new or almost never do a trade so didn’t bother signing up on an exchange.
ForkLog: The recently announced The B initiative has already received its portion of critics with some people claiming there could be a danger of centralization because of so many well-known persons and companies joining forces. Some go as far as saying it could also lead to appearance of a sort of an ‘official’ Bitcoin representative establishment. Is there a possibility those fears can be justified? As a person who supported the initiative, what will be your answer to those saying it is vulnerable to corruption?
WhalePanda: Everything is vulnerable to corruption. I get the criticism and the skepticism, I’m also skeptical. It’s easy to sit back on the couch and criticize people, these are not new people in Bitcoin who will sell out and launch their own altcoins/tokens any time soon.
There are 2 big issues:
- People compare it with the Bitcoin Foundation: of course they do, we all expected this. These are different people who have been around a very long time and if they would’ve sold out, they would’ve done so already. The Bitcoin foundation was a disaster for multiple reasons but they also squandered a lot of money. We will be very open about the finances and since we’ve seen a foundation fail before we should be able to self-regulate this.
- People see it as if we’re speaking for Bitcoin: one of the first things we discussed is that we would never do this. If someone is being interviewed he’s being interviewed as an individual and not as spokesperson of Bitcoin.
Big Announcement by @giacomozucco & @AlenaSatoshi at #bh2018 by @hodlhodl of the formation of @TheB_Foundation to support #Bitcoin development & education efforts. Afiliated members are @sysmannet @francispouliot_ @Trezor @WhalePanda @starkness @adam3us @lopp & more. pic.twitter.com/pzJAMGe5c3
— Tone Vays [@Bitcoin] (@ToneVays) 23 September 2018
A group of people organizing themselves is not a bad thing. I often criticize Ethereum but they did do some things right. They reached out to universities, set up workshops, scholarships… to get students involved and interested in their project. This is something that’s really lacking in Bitcoin. As Francis Pouliot said during the presentation as well is that multiple people are working on solving the same problems without even knowing it. If you then have some entity trying to streamline this process and have people working together that would also greatly benefit Bitcoin.
And I agree with Giacomo Zucco, I don’t think Bitcoin needs this, but it could benefit from it. Lots of people say that every time Bitcoin overcomes a hurdle that the network is stronger and more battle-hardened so if this group of people would not act in the best benefit of Bitcoin, then Bitcoin will just have resisted another attack and will come out stronger.
Let’s give this ambitious group of people some time to realize some things and then judge them by the results.
ForkLog: There have been plenty of claims about potential risks Tether USDT can pose to the market. Do you think those assertions are justified?
WhalePanda: Yes, but the same goes for example for when a big exchange gets hacked. As to the claims that Tether are just being printed out of thin air: I don’t believe that. But if regulators go after Tether or Tether’s bank accounts that could cause some disruption.
ForkLog: If we speak about stable coins in general, what role do they play on the market? Are they needed at all?
WhalePanda: There’s a need for it, but now every company is launching their own stablecoin and it’s just a crazy bubble. There are now 15 or more? That’s crazy. A stablecoin that’s on multiple exchanges, like Tether for example, is useful since you can send coins between exchanges without any volatility risk which you still have with Bitcoin. Another advantage is that you could store your stablecoin on a hardware wallet which is quite nice.
Stablecoins are a bubble. https://t.co/0sKINFUDj0
— WhalePanda (@WhalePanda) 26 September 2018
ForkLog: Lightning Network is one of the most anticipated technologies in Bitcoin. Despite still being in its infancy, it also considered by many as a possible driving force for the market. Do you think LN mass adoption will actually have a positive impact on the price?
WhalePanda: For sure, but not immediately. LN by itself is great but what makes it really a killer app is with people building cool things on top of LN. Once we reach the point where users don’t even realize that they’re using LN/Bitcoin then we’ve reached the tipping point.
ForkLog: Right, is there the end for the bear market in sight?
WhalePanda: I don’t like to do these kind of predictions. I hope so but I’m ready to buy more if we dip to $4000.
ForkLog: Another widely discussed question is Bitcoin ETFs. Does Bitcoin really need them?
WhalePanda: Bitcoin doesn’t need anything really. It would of course greatly affect Bitcoin if we do get one and I think we will but I don’t see it happening yet this year. Maybe 2019. Bakkt is for me the most important news for 2018.
ForkLog: Many traders would definitely like to hear your opinion on what platforms they should choose. Should they go for a DEX which offers more security, or a high liquidity centralized exchange?
WhalePanda: I still mostly use centralized exchanges because they’re way more user friendly and reliable. The key however is to only keep the amount of coins on exchanges that you’re actively trading. You want to minimize your exposure to hacks. And when using centralized exchanges turn on all security features that you can possibly find. This will not help if the exchange itself gets hacked but at least it will prevent your account from being hacked.
ForkLog: At the recent Baltic Honeybadger Conference you made a statement that sounded rather controversially to many people. Your advice to the traders was not to trade at all since 90 percent of them are losing money. If you allow for them still trading, what part of the holdings you would recommend to actually put into trading while hodling the rest?
WhalePanda: Less than 10%, it takes a special kind of person with a special kind of discipline to be a trader. You need to be able to turn off your emotions and stick to the plan you made beforehand. The reason why I told people not to trade is because the people that are planning to trade are going to do it anyway. It’s the people that are unsure about it and might consider it that I hope to reach. If they’re already unsure about trading then the last thing they should do is trade. They don’t have the right mindset.
ForkLog: You once mentioned that you didn’t believe the price of Ethereum will crash to zero as there’s too much money behind the project. However, nothing lasts forever, and provided the developers are not able to overcome current problems and challenges while the competing projects deliver more viable products, what will happen to Ethereum then? Will it survive both as a platform and as a currency?
WhalePanda: But it’s not a currency, it’s just gas for their smart contracts platform. They made that very clear. Yes it will survive, if they can’t overcome their challenges a lot of projects might move to a different platform but then Ethereum’s gas price will be low again to allow some projects to work on it. As long as there’s a development community it will survive. But look at Doge, no one has done any development on Doge the last 3-4 years and it’s still alive and kicking, it even pumped recently. As long as the network is alive and the coin is listed on exchanges traders will trade it.
ForkLog: You once said that you bought Apple shares even before they released their first iPhone. Do you still trade on traditional markets?
WhalePanda: That was my first trade and it was a very successful one so that’s how I got hooked. I don’t trade traditional markets anymore since once you’ve been into crypto they get boring with 0.5%-1% moves per day.
ForkLog: Do you think it’s a good idea for crypto companies to go public using traditional tools of raising capitals? If yes, what company’s shares you would buy?
WhalePanda: Yes of course, this is positive for the ecosystem since it gives it more exposure and it gives more resources for more development. As to what company? Difficult to say, none of the big ones. I would buy shares for companies that focus mainly on Bitcoin or are run by real Bitcoiners like Trezor.
ForkLog: After Bitmain goes public, would you buy their shares? What about the two other big Chinese companies, Canaan and Ebang?
WhalePanda: I will definitely not buy any Bitmain shares. I didn’t see the Canaan or Ebang prospectus so it’s difficult to judge it like that without any real data.
ForkLog: Some people from the crypto industry appear on CNBC or Bloomberg making statements and predictions about some coin falling below certain level or talking about shorting shares of certain companies. It looks like a pure market manipulation, be that a cryptocurrency or traditional markets. Have you ever experienced a situation when you had to close your positions because of such informational attacks?
WhalePanda: No, I haven’t. Turns out that CNBC is actually a very good contra-indicator which is correct 95% of the time. I’ve been asked multiple times to come on certain shows as well but I always decline. I have no product or coin to shill and I don’t want to give them more credibility. In my opinion it is market manipulation but I don’t think there’s much we can do about it.
ForkLog: There are also claims that public ICOs are dead and that they are being overtaken by the so called private placements, which are often held behind the curtains. Do you agree with such statements and have you ever participated in those private sales?
WhalePanda: Yes and yes. Public ICOs, since they’re public, are a lot more in the spotlight for regulators and will always be at risk. The private sales can also get quite shady. With Telegram for example they took away certain people’s allocation since they told other people they had an allocation. Everything had to stay a secret. I did not participate in the Telegram one. But like my friend Riccardo Spagni always says: nothing wrong with buying $100 from every scam and see how it turns out.
ForkLog: Do you see any future for the regulated security tokens traded on stock exchanges? Basically, the talk is not about a new ICO format, but rather a process of tokenization of the existing assets for the expansion of liquidity. Is there any real investment potential in this?
WhalePanda: Yes, there’s definitely a future for regulated security tokens and I think we’ll see some pop up really soon. There’s real investment potential in it, but I don’t believe in the “we need to tokenize everything”-narrative. That makes no sense to me.
ForkLog: What’s your take on the so called native tokens implemented by some exchanges. Basically, they can be burnt, sold or bought by the issuer anytime. Isn’t it another example of market manipulation?
WhalePanda: I don’t think it’s market manipulation and it’s an interesting strategy. The main issue with it however that it’s clearly a security. So if the exchange does everything by the book there really is no issue. Why also not pay out a dividend to token holders? It has a lot of potential.
A problem with many of these native tokens on the newer exchanges is that their supply doesn’t seem to be capped and they can just keep creating them out of thin air.
ForkLog: Recently, people like Bryan Bishop and several other industry professionals warned the SEC against certain types of enterprise adoption. Specifically they mentioned Bakkt, the new crypto payment platform due to be launched in November, saying that improper regulation of the corporate implementation of Bitcoin could be harmful for the technology itself. Do you agree with them? Will Bakkt be able to make a successful business?
WhalePanda: You can never satisfy everyone. I would assume that the SEC would be aware of the potential risks. I personally don’t see any issues with it and I think that Bakkt will actually be great for Bitcoin overall but I guess we’ll just have to wait and see how it turns out.
ForkLog: Where do you see Bitcoin in the long term and what will be your advice to those who just enter this space?
WhalePanda: Bitcoin will be a global reserve currency. So much will be built on top of Bitcoin and LN that many people won’t even know that they’re using it and that will greatly speed up the global adoption.
To those who just enter this space: short term you might be able to make more with altcoins but long term that’s definitely not the case unless you’re actively trading. And don’t trade. Invest in your education on Bitcoin, go to a conference like Baltic Honeybadger to see what Bitcoin is really like and what awesome people are building and avoid conferences where it’s just ICOs pitching their stupid ideas.
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