You’ve probably heard of all sorts of cryptocurrency exchanges: Kraken, Gemini, Bitstamp, and many others. But there’s another exchange that’s gaining in popularity and getting a lot more interest these days. Of course, from the title of the post you know I’m talking about Uphold. Uphold’s unique operation creates so much value, every crypto enthusiast should know about it. In this post we’ll explore where Uphold came from, what it does, and how its customers benefit. Let’s take a look!
The Origin of Uphold
Uphold was originally known as Bitreserve when Halsey Minor founded it in 2013 (you may recognize Halsey Minor as the one who founded CNET in 1994). Minor’s personal experience with financial services left him unsatisfied and he searched for a way to make a better experience for people. He wanted a system that was extremely versatile and resilient and yet easy to use. He also wanted a way to provide currency stability to average people while maintaining complete financial transparency. Uphold was envisioned as a way for typical consumers to digitally store their wealth in whatever form they choose, without compromising on ease of use and security.
See the original introduction video for Bitreserve/Uphold here:
Anyone can join Uphold for free and there are various ways for members to deposit their money, including credit cards, bank transfers, and of course, cryptocurrency transactions. Once a member has verified funds in their account, he or she can instantly convert any amount of their money into any of the national currencies, cryptocurrencies, and precious metals currently available on the platform for a small fee. There are 36 currencies and precious metals in all. That makes it extremely easy for someone to get into whatever form of money they desire, whether they want to try to preserve the value they currently have by converting to a stable currency or try to increase that value by converting to a rising currency.
Uphold members can also instantly send any form of money to other members, or even to anyone with an email address, at no cost. It’s basically like being able to send cryptocurrency to people, but with the option to send dollars, euros, yen, or even gold!
It’s a Reserve, Not a Bank
One of the things that Uphold prides itself on is that it is a reserve instead of a bank. While banks lend out the majority of member deposits and hold only a small fraction of the total amount in their vaults, Uphold does not make any loans at all with their customers’ money. Instead, Uphold stresses the importance of safety and stability and therefore holds in reserve everything that is deposited. That prevents any possibility of insolvency in case of a financial crisis or a “bank run”. Some people may wonder how Uphold makes money without making loans. According to Uphold’s FAQ article, to make money over the long-term, the plan is to invest its holdings in low-risk, yield-bearing instruments. No matter what they do, whether the money is in a vault or in a low-risk financial instrument, Uphold is quite adamant about being completely transparent about how much money it has and what it is doing with it.
To make good on its mission of financial stability, Uphold has an entire page dedicated to its transparency efforts. There, anyone can see how much of its member deposits are backed up by actual money (personally I’ve never seen it below 100%).
It also makes clear which types of currencies are being used to hold the money in reserve.
There’s also a lot of interesting and interactive data on display that allows you to see transactions and trends throughout the world (anonymized, of course).
The transparency doesn’t stop there. Uphold has developed the “ReserveChain” which, similar to a cryptocurrency blockchain, records every deposit, currency conversion, transaction, and withdrawal that happens within its system. The ReserveChain is made public, stripped of any identifying information, so that anyone can see that Uphold is solvent and doing what it is supposed to be doing with its members’ money.
Uphold has created something truly unique but they know that other creative minds will discover exciting possibilities that a system like Uphold can provide. That is why Uphold has an open API which allows people to build tools and applications to run on top of Uphold. This has started a community of apps doing innovative things with finance, including Ausecure, Bitwage, and Heleum. Uphold’s potential will only grow as this app community expands.
Here at Heleum, we have been able to leverage Uphold’s capabilities to great effect. The low-cost and instant currency transactions afforded by Uphold’s system have allowed us to develop strategies that profit off of cryptocurrency volatility in real time. Because of that, our users can put Uphold to work for them in ways that weren’t possible before. And Heleum is just one example of what is possible to build on top of Uphold.
The Future of Uphold
Uphold’s goal is to position itself as the premiere platform for financial services for all kinds of digital assets. In all likelihood, we are only seeing the very beginning of a world where value of any kind can be converted and transferred effortlessly and instantly across the world. The future of that world looks quite promising.