Kleros T2CR Weekly Rundown: The Case of the Baer Chain Ethfinex Badge Submission


Badge submission challenges have attracted the most attention since the launch of the Kleros T2CR for several reasons, one of them being the large amount of funds and skin in the game of all parties involved, but also the complexity of the cases and the energy needed to analyze all the submitted data in accordance with the Ethfinex guideline.

What the T2CR has proven in the past two months is that economic incentives drive decentralized juries to compile significant amounts of evidence in each badge case, thus creating very transparent and clear points for future reference about all incoming badge submissions.

In this week’s iteration of the T2CR rundown, we take a look at one of the most contested cases on the platform, the case of the Baer Chain Ethfinex Badge Submission.

The Challenge

Upon the original submission of the token for badge listing, the Baer Chain token quickly got challenged on the basis of two points of the Ethfinex Guideline, namely point 2.1 and 3.1.

Point 2.1 of the Ethfinex Guideline states that “The token issuer’s directors are fit and proper persons (for example they have no previous record of fraud or similar dishonesty offences) Reject if: The CEO of the project has previously ran an exit-scam, has fake social media profiles or a lack of public presence.”

Point 3.1 of the Ethfinex Guideline states that “There must be evidence of novel technology in development. This may be evaluated for example by demonstrating: (Only one stipulation is required)
3.1.1. A working beta product. Accept if: There is a proof of concept of the product on a testnet.
3.1.2. Open-source code in development. Accept if: There is a significant amount of original code on a public Github repository.

3.1.3. Architecture diagrams or novel applications of cryptography and mathematics. Accept if: The whitepaper includes 5 pages describing a novel cryptographic protocol.

The challenger initially noted (challenger evidence here) that the biography of the Baer Chain CTO, Scott Bingley (biography to be found here) consisted of problematic elements, the leading one being that Scott Bingley was a senior researcher at Blockchain Research Laboratories in Oxford. The challenger discovered that there was no such institution based in Oxford, but still got in touch with the Blockchain Research Center in Oxford and discovered that no one named Scott Bingley ever participated in any of their programs.

Furthermore, after conducting some Google research, the challenger claimed that there was no scientific publication written by Scott Bingley on the topics of blockchain and cryptocurrency.

Furthermore, the challenger pointed out that one of the CEOs, named Ziv, did not have any public profile on any social media networks, making this, according to the challenger, another red flag.

On the point 3.1 regarding the novel technologies being implemented on the project, the challenger expanded on the BaerChain whitepaper, pointing out that, according to him, the whitepaper consisted of broad statements about cryptography which were already public knowledge and unbacked claims, such as the one that the SH-DPoS is more secure than the traditional one without providing proof.

Additionally, the challenger stated that the team tried to obfuscate certain well known things by renaming them, such as calling a distributed hash table a RDSN for “Redundancy Distributed Storage Network” (explanation of this can be found at their Medium page here).

On another technical note, the challenger indicated that the GitHub repository of the project had no public members to the project and “almost no original code” and that there was no activity on it since November 2018.

The Rebuttal

The Baer Chain team responded (rebuttal evidence here) with evidence of their own, albeit quite concise.

Concerning the claim of Scott Bingley not participating in an entity called the Blockchain Research Laboratories, they noted that it was not the case of an entity, but rather a coding community. They underlined that Scott Bingley’s profile was authentic.

Concerning the second claim regarding point 3.1 of the Ethfinex Guideline, the team responded by pointing out that the testing of the main network will take place in April 2019 and that open-source code will be released on GitHub gradually.

Concerning the claim that Baer Chain did not create a novel cryptographic protocol, the team responded by saying that they “carefully compared the implementation of various ECC algorithms in the selection of technology, such as: secp256k1. This algorithm has been actually proved in Bitcoin, Ethereum, EOS and other projects, which already met our the requirements, we are unnecessarily to create a new encryption algorithm.

The team’s response continued with further expounding on the challenger’s technical claims concerning the SH-DPoS, ending their statement saying quote:”At present, the emergence of any new products is based on the optimization and combination of existing technologies, created through micro-innovation. we are the same, we are mostly using the existing technology, learning from the current mainstream public chain, we achieve our needs through the optimization of the combination.

The Comment

The initial challenger responded by simply adding comments to the team’s original statement (evidence to be found here) in a very brief way.

  1. A community called The Blockchain Research Laboratories community at Oxford did not exist, thus Baer Chain were “caught lying”.
  2. If the team would release parts of their code on GitHub in April, that would mean that “they confirm that they have no code on GitHub”.
  3. Concerning the Baer Chain statement concerning the ECC algorithms already in use by other projects, the challenger concluded that “there is no novel cryptographic protocol”.

The BaerChain Technical Claim

As a last effort before the trial, Baer Chain added a Benchmark Report (to be found here) to substantiate their claim.

The case went to trial and ended in favour of the challenger.

The Second Coming

In the second iteration of the submission, the badge request got challenged yet again (challenger evidence here).

The challenger pointed out that according to the Ethfinex Guideline, Baer Chain fails on point 2.1, regarding the validity of the leading team.

In addition to the reiterated arguments from the initial trial, the challenger further expanded his claim, noting that Baer Chain removed the contested claim that the CTO, Scott Bingley was “the senior researcher of Blockchain Research Laboratories in Oxford and IBM, and has deeply studied cryptography and distributed storage” from their whitepaper, but that was the only thing changed. The website, as well as the Chinese whitepaper still maintained the same claim.

Moreover, the challenger dug a bit deeper and found that apart from a LinkedIn profile of the CTO and “2 or 3 profile pictures” on Google Images, there was an apparent lack of public presence of Scott Bingley online.

The challenger claimed to have found that Scott Bingley’s LinkedIn profile is in fact a copy of a software developer CV example of someone called Charles Bingley found here (this link is not available anymore).

The Rebuttal

The Baer Chain team responded by posting a video of Scott Bingley apparently addressing an audience of an event where he could not participate, claiming that “The CTO is on contract basis and has no founding role is no partner.

The case again went to trial and the jury decided in favour of the challenger.

What is most intriguing about in particular badge submission cases is that the decentralized way of crowdsourcing information at times unravels quite interesting facts about not just badge submissions, but also about the projects that stand behind them.

This goes to show that the T2CR does not just list valid tokens and creates the first filter for exchanges, but also contributes to the wellbeing for the ecosystem by creating a much higher level of transparency of projects and their teams.

The case is currently in appeals, but neither side in the dispute has crowdfunded its’ side of the appeal.