It should also be noted that these two parts of a members holdings won’t be available for sale through the members market. To sell the mandatory share the member will need to sell the share back to the co-op itself.
Here is a picture of how the new system is thought to work (click for a bigger version, and download if you want to zoom in at will).
From the perspective of a new member, the two first steps are the same as before (with the difference of more payment options and a smoother user experience, we expect ).
The new stuff begins in step 3. When buying voluntary shares, euros or bitcoins or other currencies are first exchanged into a cryptocurrency used by the system. However, the member does not neet to worry about this exchange, as it happens automatically. Then this cryptocurrency is used in buying shares in the coop. The member can use any amount to buy shares, at a price updated daily (“amount X gives you amount Y in shares”). The shares are then registered on the blockchain.
Then shares – or parts of shares – can be sold at the after market; a member can ask for a price, and another can decline or accept it. Once transmission of payment is confirmed, the shares change ownership.
Also, if we want, the allocation of funds to projects can be arranged in a new way. A member can directly allocate the profit accumulated for projects from her/his wallet to the project of his/her choosing. The allocation is realised and the project gets the support when the coops books are closed (at the moment, in the end of the fiscal year, but could also happen more frequently). This system might facilitate a more interactive relationship with the projects, a more organic growth of the commons.
This is extremely exciting, I would invest just to be a part of this historic development (crypto assets pegged to traditional stocks). I would love to read more about the technical details of making this work, since it will undoubtedly inform future pioneers wanting to create similar services on the blockchain!
Tested Ethereum some days ago. As with Bitcoin, its blockchain has grown HUGE (currently for Bitcoin, it is 65 Gb), as has with Ethereum (8 GB as of feb 16, 2016).
This is a technological roadblock for distributed network and leads to centralization. On the other hand, Microsoft has announced its interest in Ethereum.
There are other platforms where coops shares could be stored - NXT and BitShares. Of all the three, Bithares currently is the quickest - confirmations take under one minute. Also, Bitshares have built-in framework for regulatory conformance (at least according to the writings of its authors), and is designed for millions of transactions per second.
The block size and other cost factors, and especially centralisation are certainly issues we – not only RHC but the wider community – have to keep an eye on. It is interesting to see how many actors are, presumably for reasons like this, thinking and building solutions that are “blockchain agnostic” in one way or another.
Thanks for the input - you’ve gotten straight to one of the contradictions that lies at the heart of the centralisation at the center of many decentralised ledger technologies.
With regard to which blockchain to use for the representation of shares it should be noted that a traditional SQL representation will also be maintained so that we can make sure that we do not have one central point of failure.
It should also be noted that the infrastructure that is being developed currently abides by principles of microservices available through API interfaces. The ideal for future developments will be that the system is blockchain agnostic.
Speaking of which, we are actively looking at implementing aspects of the Freecoin toolset which has been developed as part of the D-CENT EU project - which at the moment interfaces with NXT. We’re also in discussion with Enric from Faircoin to see how our developments can drive in a direction that allows for future cross compatibility.
In short - we’re trying as best we can to consider multiple routes to make sure we can be responsive to such a fast changing field.
Is not the key advantage of Ethereum over all other blockchains the “smart contract”? Sure it is slow right now… but individual buy and sell contracts of something like Robinhood Co-op don’t need to be super fast… I mean how long does it take to move funds in and out and buy and sell in and out of a standard managed fund? Days? it’s the autonomy and transparency of the smart contract part of this that makes Ethereum so potentially powerful. We follow with interest and look forward to participating in the co-op when it’s moved onto Ethereum.
Totally agree. Game changing.
We’ll be there very soon.
And yes, you’re right. In part it is the capacity and possibility of ‘smart-contracts’ to make otherwise quite complex tasks, automating and inter-active.
Interesting times ahead.
Hello All, I am a little one here but sounds exciting and huge to me, nevertheless my understanding is very limited, please, is there someone who could explain in simple language. ? As well, how should I prepare myself technically for the next level ?
I think the simplest is that as a coop member this affects you in two ways:
first, at some point, when the system is ready and tested, you will be asked to on onboard the new system, where you will find your shares and the tools to buy more shares, info on their development; the stuff that you are used to
second, the new system will have some new featuress; to begin with, a members’ market where you can also sell your shares
As time goes on, more new features will be introduced. The plan is to prepare proper how-tos on these before they are introduced.
All this stuff will be usable via a regular browser, no new tech or tech skillls needed.
In regards to the blockchain size and Ethereum, there is a lot of active development for ‘sharding’ and ‘Proof of Stake(PoS)’ techniques that will address the scalability/size issue of the blockchain as the platform matures. Sharding will allow the chain to be split into smaller chunks while maintaining its integrity with the same cryptographic assurances as before.
The feature set of the network and the explosive growth happening right now in the Ethereum ecosystem make it an ideal fit for the Robin Hood project!
This is a big step for the coop and there is a lot to digest, so we thought that we could organise a couple of live Q&A-sessions, where members of the board & development team can discuss with members and answer any questions. How does that sound? We will soon announce the times for these sessions.
Moving the assets to the new system.
The new system means more streamlined system of keeping track and accounting.
As you know, the old system allocated voluntary shares in chunks of 30
Euros. Furthermore, the shares were assigned into series. A new series
was created in the beginning of each month out of the new shares booked
during the previous month. These two aspects were designed to make the
operations possible in the face of some arbitrary limitations. (1) The
30 Euro chunks were necessitated by the Finnish coop law that forced us
to name the nominal price of a share. (2) The series, in turn, were
necessary in order to take into account the fact that money had to be
moved first from the member to a Finnish bank account, then manually
from there to our broker account in New York, and from there to the
portfolio. It would have been unfeasible to take each share payment
manually through the whole route individually. Now, both of these
hurdles are obsolete! The voluntary shares do not have to be in chunks
of 30 euros any more, because of the changes in the Finnish law. Also,
the new payment system and database is automated so that we can quote a
daily price for the shares.
The 30-Euro-shares-in-monthly-series model was basically a way to
organize the different entrance points of member shares to the Robin
Hood portfolio, even if the nominal price remained always 30 Euros. This
was made possible by an accounting mechanism (not visible to the
members) where the shares in each series were assigned a value in so
called “u-units”, corresponding to the actual per-series share price.
The calculation for the u-unit price in each series has been the
following: (net asset value - monthly series deposit)/(the sum of all
previous u-units). Then the amount of u-units in each series is
calculated by dividing the monthly deposit by the u-unit price. And
voilà! We know what kind of a piece of the portfolio one gets with 30
Euros at the specific point in time. In other words: the amount of
u-units (and not the number of shares) defines really the value of
member’s assets in the portfolio.
Now, when moving to the new system, as there is no reason for the
artificial complication of the monthly series, the series will be
retired. This will not affect the value of the shares of old members.
The artificial extra accounting transformations are just removed,
because they are no longer necessary.
What will be moved over from the old database is the amount of u-units
each member holds in each series (determined by how many shares she/he
has in each series) and not the number of voluntary shares - as the
number of shares neither has an effect on decision making in the coop
(one member, one vote is the rule) nor affects the value of the member’s
assets, which is really defined by the amount of u-units.
This way the performance of each member’s assets will continue as before
(the month when the shares were booked will still have an effect on the
development of the value), but we get rid of the cumbersome and
labour-intensive series system. In the new system the shares will be
booked in a manner similar to ”ordinary” funds: with a daily price
depending on the performance of the portfolio and the day of purchase.
Consequently, what you will see in the new member pages is different,
because the series will be gone. However, the value of your assets will
not change in any way in the transition. Neither will your rights as a
member. We simply move to a more streamlined system of keeping track and
In sum, in the new system:
- Members will see the value of their investment as before, and it
will behave as before, but the series and number of voluntary shares are
- The one-time membership is still 30 euros and the obligatory
membership share 30 euros. These two give the member full membership
- Voluntary shares are given a daily price and you can purchase them
with any sum you like (and depending on the sum, you will get a
corresponding amount of shares).
- The shares are now, in essence, crypto-tokens, as explained in the April Newsletter.
- As the first new feature, members can also access a “members’ market, where shares can be sold and bought among the members.
Read something recently about vulnerabilities with Ethereum. Something about time stamps and validation being manipulated to allow transactions to be made before it shows up. Given the complexity of the code seemed as if not as issue that can simply be patched. I’m not very well versed in this stuff - as you can no doubt tell. Is someone able to explain how this does or doesn’t matter re robin hood.
Important stuff – the vulnerability of “smart contracts” has also been highlighted by the DAO case recently. Of course, we won’t be, at least initially, using anything so complex, but rather relatively straightforward transactions (registering shares, buys and sells, etc.)
Do you have a link, @surgeb, to the stuff you read so we could check if it is relevant for our use case?
Hey mate, thanks for your response. I was binge reading at the time so I think what I referenced was an amalgamation of a lot of stuff I had read on the fly. Had a dig round in my browser history.
A couple of things here: