Business 17 September 2018Erik Gibbs
Gemini custodian can reverse, alter transactions
Gemini’s Gemini dollar (GUSD) is able to be completely changed every 48 hours by a custodian. A study published by Alexey Akhunov, a cryptocurrency consultant, and Alex Lebed, a blockchain researcher, made the revelation last week, which supports previous assertions by Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, the brothers behind the Gemini exchange and the Gemini stablecoin.
The study’s authors reviewed the stablecoin’s smart contract code in an effort to demonstrate that a GUSD implementation can become frozen or non-transferable without notice. This was mentioned in the token’s white paper, which says that the ability to pause, block or reverse any transfer is a basic principle of the token. The Winklevoss brothers said that it was necessary to allow for this to happen in order to counter any unforeseen circumstances. The white paper says, “[Gemini can] pause, block, or reverse token transfers in response to a security incident (i.e., catastrophic event).”
GUSD was implemented on the Ethereum blockchain as an ERC20 token. The authors of the study were interested in showing how the feature can independently be detected by users. They used an address that was found on Bitcoin Talk and in a Reddit thread and pointed out that there are “no trustless ways to know” that the address is Gemini’s only address.
A Gemini custodian is capable of generating an unlimited number of GUSD tokens. It can also manipulate the coin’s implementation every 48 hours, resulting in the coins becoming non-transferable. Akhunov and Lebed emphasize that such an ability does not offer “truly decentralized and censorship-resistant monetary systems.”
The two authors further state in their report, “This project has another single point of failure: the company. They can just say one day: ‘you know what, sorry, we don’t want to change your tokens for dollars anymore.’”
The new stablecoin, a direct threat to Tether, was introduced about a week ago after receiving approval by the New York Department of Financial Services. It is reportedly backed by U.S. dollars that are “held at a bank located in the United States and eligible for FDIC ‘pass-through’ deposit insurance, subject to applicable limitations.”
Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (SegWit) chain are referenced as BTC coins; tokens on the Bitcoin Cash ABC chain are referenced as BCH, BCH-ABC or BAB coins.
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