The Taihuttu household in November, days after shifting again to Phuket.

Didi Taihuttu

Confidence is shortly eroding within the crypto sector, because it faces a wave of bankruptcies and investigations into Sam Bankman-Fried and his failed alternate, FTX, for shedding and misspending billions of {dollars} in consumer deposits.

However Didi Taihuttu; his spouse, Romaine; three daughters, and Teddy, a Pomeranian pet they adopted in Portugal final 12 months, are as assured as ever of their wager on bitcoin — they’re simply altering how they retailer it.

Ever since liquidating all of their property and shopping for bitcoin in 2017 again when it was buying and selling at round $900, the Taihuttus have safeguarded their crypto riches in three foremost locations: centralized exchanges, or CEXs, resembling Bybit and Kraken; decentralized exchanges, or DEXs, resembling Uniswap; and {hardware} wallets hidden in secret vaults on 4 completely different continents.

However as digital asset brokers, lenders, and exchanges proceed to fall into chapter 11 — locking up buyer funds within the course of — the Dutch household of 5 is proactively shifting $1 million in crypto into DEXs, which permit customers to hold on to custody of their tokens.

“For me, bitcoin remains to be about freedom, and decentralized foreign money ought to be capable to be utilized by everybody on this planet with no need to do KYC or some other regulatory stuff,” Didi Taihuttu informed CNBC, referring to the know-your-customer, or KYC compliance, required by many centralized platforms resembling Coinbase. DEXs do not require customers to attach an ID or checking account to the platform, therefore making it a really perfect custody resolution for the Taihuttus.

The Taihuttu household in Lagos, Portugal on the day they adopted Teddy, their Pomeranian pet.

Didi Taihuttu

CNBC caught up with the 44-year-old patriarch just a few days after the household made the transfer from Lagos, Portugal, to Phuket, an island simply off the western coast of mainland Thailand within the Andaman Sea. The household is at the moment dwelling on 0.3 bitcoin a month — about $5,000 — and they’re shopping for again the bitcoin that they offered when the cryptocurrency was buying and selling at round $55,000 a 12 months in the past. For the Taihuttus, the cascade of crypto bankruptcies and failed tokens simply exhibits that “bitcoin is the king” and “fully completely different than all the opposite tasks,” Didi Taihuttu stated.

Whereas the Taihuttus didn’t have any tokens tied up with FTX, Celsius, Voyager Digital, or any of the opposite platforms that just lately went below, the wave of failures did remind them of the significance of possession.

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In crypto, one of many mantras is “not your keys, not your cash,” that means that rightful possession of tokens comes via the custody of the corresponding non-public keys. DEXs resembling Uniswap and SushiSwap are peer-to-peer platforms the place transactions occur instantly between merchants, completely chopping out intermediaries resembling banks and brokers. That signifies that customers retain custody of their tokens by by no means handing over their non-public keys.

DEXs remove centralized intermediaries from monetary transactions resembling buying and selling, holding and transferring property via programmable items of code generally known as good contracts. These contracts are written on a public blockchain resembling ethereum, and execute when sure situations are met, negating the necessity for a central middleman. 

In essence, with DEXs, you belief code, and with CEXs, you belief folks.

“You by no means ship your bitcoin to an alternate. Your bitcoin stays in your personal pockets, that means you’ve got full custody of your cash,” defined Taihuttu. “You connect with a DEX, and by making that connection, you commerce out of your personal pockets.”

That nuance of possession is important.

“If the DEX collapses, it does not matter, as a result of the bitcoin are all the time in your personal pockets,” he added.

It just got harder and less profitable to mine for bitcoin as algorithm adjusts

Altering their storage technique

From the start, Taihuttu stated he might inform one thing was “actually off” with FTX, despite the fact that it was one of many largest CEXs on the planet earlier than it imploded in November.

“Too many influencers have been paid an excessive amount of cash to advertise that one,” stated Taihuttu, who added that dependable crypto merchandise and corporations usually do not rely so closely on superstar endorsements.

Taihuttu had discovered his lesson in 2017, when he misplaced 4 bitcoin to a hack of a centralized alternate generally known as Cryptopia.

“From that second, I used to be all the time looking for alternate options,” he stated.

The Taihuttu household within the Netherlands.

Didi Taihuttu

Individuals who select to carry their very own cryptocurrency can retailer it “sizzling,” “chilly,” or some mixture of the 2. A sizzling pockets is related to the web and permits house owners comparatively quick access to their cash to allow them to spend their crypto. The trade-off for comfort is potential publicity to unhealthy actors.

“Chilly storage usually refers to crypto that has been moved to wallets whose non-public keys — the passwords that allow the crypto to be moved out of the pockets — should not saved on internet-connected computer systems, in order that hackers cannot hack into the pc and steal the non-public keys,” stated Philip Gradwell, chief economist of Chainalysis, a blockchain information agency.

Thumb drive-size gadgets resembling a Trezor or Ledger supply a solution to safe crypto tokens “chilly.” Square is also building a {hardware} pockets and repair “to make bitcoin custody extra mainstream.” The Taihuttu household has largely relied on chilly storage to safeguard their tokens for the final six years.

Presently, the Taihuttus hold 27% of their crypto holdings “sizzling” on centralized exchanges resembling Bybit, a platform Taihuttu stated is clear and backed by actual property. He additionally retains some tokens on Kraken, because it is likely one of the oldest exchanges. He refers to this crypto stash as his “danger capital,” and he makes use of these crypto cash for day buying and selling and doubtlessly precarious bets.

The opposite 73% of the Taihuttus’ whole crypto portfolio is in chilly storage. These chilly {hardware} wallets, that are unfold across the globe, maintain bitcoin, ether and a few litecoin

Didi Taihuttu in a desert in Dubai.

Didi Taihuttu

The household declined to say how a lot it holds in crypto, however they did disclose that they’re shifting $1 million price of bitcoin, ether, litecoin, polkadot, and different tokens from these {hardware} wallets and centralized exchanges to decentralized exchanges.

Taihuttu stated he in the end needs to maneuver 100% of the household’s crypto financial savings into DEXs and make investments 15% of their web price into upstart DEXs since he sees these decentralized platforms because the centerpiece of the following bull run. When requested why he’s going all in on DEXs as an alternative of holding his crypto chilly, Taihuttu pointed to ease of entry.

DEXs enable him to attach the crypto he safeguards on thumb drives in hiding spots everywhere in the world on to the platform, that means that he could make trades much more simply whereas nonetheless defending his tokens.

“Our capital now could be actually troublesome to make use of in buying and selling, as a result of then I must ship my bitcoin from my ledger into an alternate,” Taihuttu stated.

The monetary privateness supplied by DEXs can be an enormous incentive.

“You are buying and selling from an nameless ledger on an alternate as an nameless entity,” he stated. “You get full entry to non-KYC buying and selling in a decentralized manner on a DEX.”

Taihuttu is not alone in shifting his focus to DEXs. Following the FTX chapter, Trezor’s gross sales income reportedly jumped 300% and billions of {dollars} in bitcoin fled exchanges. In the meantime, Multicoin Capital, a crypto funding agency, informed restricted companions that 7% of its property are equally saved chilly, in self-custodied wallets.

Didi Taihuttu and two of his daughters on a ship journey in Portugal.

Didi Taihuttu

The professionals and cons of DEXs

Centralized exchanges are an enormous a part of what helped spur crypto adoption by providing new buyers a straightforward on-ramp.

“Centralized exchanges have performed an important function within the adoption of cryptocurrency,” stated Auston Bunsen, co-founder of QuikNode, which gives blockchain infrastructure to builders and corporations. “With their development got here the trade’s development.”

However in the previous couple of years, and particularly within the final six months, decentralized exchanges have grown in recognition as buyers look to commerce in a fashion that protects their funds.

Boaz Sobrado, a London-based fintech information analyst, sees three foremost benefits to DEXs: They’re noncustodial, that means you do not have to belief somebody, like Sam Bankman-Fried, to retailer your funds for you; they’re open, that means anybody on this planet can take part; and transaction information is extra extensively out there, decreasing the chance of insiders getting an edge from information solely they’ve.

Didi Taihuttu in Lagos, Portugal.

Didi Taihuttu

Uniswap has facilitated greater than $1 trillion in buying and selling quantity from round 100 million trades because it launched in 2018, in response to a analysis notice from Financial institution of America on June 13. Rival DEXs resembling SushiSwap and PancakeSwap have additionally gained traction amongst merchants, although Uniswap nonetheless accounts for round 51% of all buying and selling volumes on DEXs 12 months thus far.

Whereas DEXs play an necessary function within the digital asset ecosystem, there are a variety of causes these decentralized platforms will not eclipse their centralized friends any time quickly, in response to Alkesh Shah, Financial institution of America’s head of web3, crypto and digital property technique.

“Centralized exchanges present a one-stop store for investing or buying and selling digital property with somebody to talk to if one thing goes flawed — this will probably be important for mainstream adoption past the early adopters of immediately,” Shah informed CNBC.

Shah stated that buyers are prone to choose exchanges which can be extra clear about their working practices, including that regulated and clear CEXs are prone to be necessary for mainstream adoption long-term.

Financial institution of America stated in its June notice that it anticipated Uniswap, specifically, to face regulatory scrutiny. The financial institution stated it additionally noticed the potential for the Securities and Trade Fee to require its registration as a Nationwide Securities Trade or broker-dealer.

Didi Taihuttu and his eldest daughter, Joli.

Didi Taihuttu

“Uniswap could also be unable to adjust to regulatory necessities, given its incapacity to confirm consumer identities, implement AML/KYC [anti-money laundering/know your customer] necessities or present the mandatory disclosures for the 1000’s of tokens listed on its platform,” the analysis notice stated.

Some centralized platforms are splitting the distinction by providing DEX-type companies, however it’s unclear what kind of regulatory blowback they may in the end face.

In the meantime, Sobrado informed CNBC that at this stage, most DEXs lose cash, that means they may not be sustainable.

DEXs are additionally automated market makers, that means that the alternate swimming pools liquidity from its customers after which makes use of an algorithm to cost the property inside that pool. Sobrado stated that this mannequin has confirmed remarkably resilient — however is unproven versus orderbook exchanges resembling Coinbase.

Below all of it, the Bitcoin Household nonetheless believes that the unique cryptocurrency is a stable wager. They are saying they have not been swayed by the turmoil of the final six months.

“We appear to get that lesson each bitcoin cycle,” stated Taihuttu. “It was Mt. Gox, it was banning bitcoin in China, it was banning mining. There’s drama each time.”

“However wanting on the present scenario: We’ve got an enormous struggle happening, now we have an enormous monetary disaster, now we have FTX, now we have Celsius, now we have a variety of bear market indicators,” he stated. “I believe that bitcoin is de facto holding robust at $16,800. For me, bitcoin remains to be doing good and nonetheless doing what it all the time does: Being a decentralized foreign money that’s usable by all folks everywhere in the world.”

Didi Taihuttu giving a speech on bitcoin adoption in Tulum, Mexico.

Didi Taihuttu

Correction: This story has been up to date to mirror that the household at the moment retains 73% of its crypto tokens in chilly storage. A earlier key level gave an incorrect share.