Silk Road forums

Discussion => Silk Road discussion => Topic started by: Dread Pirate Roberts on September 30, 2011, 03:34 am

Title: Pricing and hedging improvements
Post by: Dread Pirate Roberts on September 30, 2011, 03:34 am
Hash: SHA1

One of the biggest challenges facing Silk Road sellers is the uncertainty surrounding the value of a Bitcoin.  Up to this point we've patched together a system that takes much of that uncertainty away through automated price adjustments and escrow hedging.  However, with huge drops in Bitcoin's value happening in a matter of hours or days, some unlucky sellers who try to give us the best prices possible have still had to take substantial losses.

Through some small changes, we've now reduced the exposure to the exchange rate that sellers have to endure to the small amount of time it takes to transfer their coins off-site.  Here's what we did:

1) Orders are hedged as soon as they are placed.  We were hedging orders as soon as they were shipped because we didn't want buyers to get back a different amount in case of a cancellation.  Almost 100% of orders are shipped without being canceled, so we decided that it would be worth it to do it this way now.  To quote from the Buyer's Guide: "when getting a refund for hedged items, don't be surprised if the number of Bitcoins you get back is not the same as the amount you paid."  It could be more or less, but the dollar value should be the same, and because the prices of almost all of the items on the site are dynamically adjusted to constant dollar values, your purchasing power should be mostly unaffected if this happens.

2) You can now price your items in dollars directly.  Just make sure you are set to view prices in USD not BTC.

3) You can now enable auto-withdraw.  From the Seller's Guide:

"To minimize the time between when Bitcoins are credited to your account and when you are able to convert them to your currency of choice, and therefore minimizing your exposure to exchange rate fluctuations, we provide an auto-withdrawal feature.  Every time a payment comes into your account your entire balance will automatically be withdrawn to three Bitcoin addresses of your choice.  This feature can be enabled on your settings page.

Pro-tip: set your auto-withdrawal addresses to deposit addresses at an exchange site and keep an open sell order there that is below the market rate, so as soon as the funds are confirmed there, they will be converted into your currency of choice."

So, except for the time between when the auto-withdrawal is initiated and when the transfer is confirmed (1-2 hours or so) your payment will be fully hedged to the US Dollar.

Some things to keep in mind:  The price you set for your items in USD is not likely to be the price you get in the end.  There is about a 4% loss during the hedging and unhedging process, a fee at the exchanger you use plus or minus the change in the exchange rate while your payment is being transferred there, and whatever fees you pay to get your funds from the exchanger to you.  Hopefully this is predictable enough that you can set your price to include these losses and know with some certainty exactly how much you will take home from a sale.

Thank you for your patience in getting to this point.  Our hope is that this refinement to our system will allow sellers to price their items confidently and not have to price in extra to cover unforeseen losses from exchange rate fluctuations.

A note of caution: it is possible for an adversary to discover your auto-withdrawal address by looking for a transaction in the block-chain around the time they finalize a transaction with you for an amount similar to what they paid you (adjusted for exchange rate fluctuations if hedging).  To help obscure your withdrawals, you must enter 3 withdrawal addresses.  Your withdrawal will then be made in 3 random sized chunks to these three addresses with a small, random delay in-between them.  These addresses can all be on the same wallet or exchange account so you don't have to keep track of multiple wallets.  This will help them blend in to all of the other transactions, but you should change your withdrawal addresses regularly so that an adversary can't see any patterns over multiple transactions.

As always, if you have any questions, just let us know.

Version: GnuPG v2.0.14 (GNU/Linux)

Title: Re: Pricing and hedging improvements
Post by: nomad bloodbath on September 30, 2011, 05:33 am
Thanx for the upgrades Silk Road it sounds like some nice improvements.
Well definitely be checking out this upgrades.

nomad bloodnbath
Title: Re: Pricing and hedging improvements
Post by: vanilla on September 30, 2011, 07:13 am
I tried to use the new auto-withdraw and I am getting database errors when I try to set the addresses. It appears to have taken the first one but it does not save the 2nd or 3rd.

A Database Error Occurred

Error Number: 1054

Unknown column 'auto_withdraw_address_2' in 'field list'

UPDATE `users` SET `auto_withdraw_address_2` = ' my BTC address blah blah' WHERE `id` = 'my SR member number'

Filename: /var/www/controllers/hidden.php

Line Number: 281

PS - SR can we have the product search feature back PLEASE?   :'(
Title: Re: Pricing and hedging improvements
Post by: EnterTheMatrix on September 30, 2011, 08:24 am
Has the commission been raised? Because all our item's pricing are out of whack.

Some great new features tho :)
Title: Re: Pricing and hedging improvements
Post by: cosmicwizard on September 30, 2011, 09:56 am
Yeah i think it has. might be hurting all the vendors who wanna sell there goods cheaper and scare a few away, but SR gots to eat to. Hopefully itll be back to how it was if not all goods
Title: Re: Pricing and hedging improvements
Post by: Dread Pirate Roberts on September 30, 2011, 03:35 pm
we haven't changed the commission.  It is still a flat 6.23%, though I plan to change it to a sloping rate that decreases as the price of the item increases.  Sorry about the bug in the auto-withdraw addresses.  When I updated the production database to store these new addresses, i called them auto_withdrawal instead of auto_withdraw, oops.
Title: Re: Pricing and hedging improvements
Post by: vanilla on September 30, 2011, 11:23 pm
So how automatic is this supposed to be? After SR fixed the database error I was able to set my 3 addresses and turn auto-withdraw on but all the coins are still in my account. What to do?

PS - Can we have search turned back on please?  :'(
Title: Re: Pricing and hedging improvements
Post by: MainAudio on October 01, 2011, 12:43 am
Is anyone else not able to see what SR posted in the first post? All I can see is a rectangle  :o
Title: Re: Pricing and hedging improvements
Post by: GreenGiant on October 01, 2011, 09:35 am
either commission was not active before now, or it just went up, as all my items are higher in price.
Title: Re: Pricing and hedging improvements
Post by: dew72 on October 01, 2011, 03:20 pm
^^ i'm also kind of wondering why the prices on everything went up all at once
Title: Re: Pricing and hedging improvements
Post by: vanilla on October 01, 2011, 05:27 pm
Auto-withdraw working for anyone else? I have received several payments since I listed my 3 btc addresses and still nothing.
Title: Re: Pricing and hedging improvements
Post by: ifitlookslikeaduck on October 01, 2011, 05:40 pm
The thing I like most about the hedging taking place at the time of order rather than at the time of order confirmation is that this takes away the incentive sellers previously had to mark the order as "in transit" before it actually *was* in transit.  i.e., before, the escrow wasn't hedged until the seller marked the order as 'in transit,' and so sellers who wanted to be protected more quickly would mark orders as shipped when they weren't actually shipped yet.  Hopefully this cuts down on that.
Title: Re: Pricing and hedging improvements
Post by: Paperchasing on October 02, 2011, 06:28 pm
Yeah, I just posted a custom listing for a client that was supposed to be 100.00 and when I checked it, it was 106 something...  ??  anyways I had to adjust it down to 94 something to get it to say 100.00 correct on the listing.  It was a buncha guesswork trying to dial it into 100.00 on the listing.  Maybe you could put a chart of what you put in the price and what it will show on the listing or maybe you could just tell sellers that the 6.23% comes out of the total price you put into the sell item $ box.  Seriously though thanks for all the great work SR, best system I know of yet!!

Title: Re: Pricing and hedging improvements
Post by: sesampino on October 04, 2011, 12:59 am
Good news!

Though we would appreciate it if SR would seriously look into another more stable coin, (the upcoming SolidCoin?).