On September 12, 2020, CZ, the CEO of Binance, the leading cryptocurrency exchange, shared with his followers an unfortunate accident that led to a client losing $20,000 in the blink of an eye.
In a tweet, CZ told the story of a user —whose identity he did not reveal— who sent 800BNB (about $20,000) to the wrong address. The transaction was made on the Binance Smart Chain, so the user, in his desperation, “begged” for Binance for help, considering that the exchange is responsible for developing this new chain.
CZ said he was considering the idea of helping this person not to lose his money, reviving once again one of the most interesting and essential debates in the crypto-verse: Is it worth intervening in favor of a users’ security, or is code the absolute law and it does not matter what happens to society?
A guy just sent 800 #BNB ($20,000) to a smart contract address by mistake on Binance Smart Chain. It is effectively burned (permanently stuck). He’s begging for our help now. We could make him whole by deducting that amount from the next burn. Should we do it?
— CZ Binance (@cz_binance) September 12, 2020
Code is Law
A good part of the community criticized the idea of even thinking it was possible to intervene. They fundamentally questioned the dangers of intervening and jeopardizing the decentralization of the project
The belief that the code should prevail ensures the network’s stability without changes or manipulations of any kind. A decentralized network precisely prevents a single entity from having this power and using it for good… or evil.
Others assure that if CZ helps this unfortunate user, he would be falling into a downward spiral as it would set a precedent so that any other user who wanted to reverse a transaction would have the right to do so.
For these purists, the idea that each person is their own bank implies that everyone should be responsible for their actions. Anyone who wants to reverse a mistake should stay with legacy financial institutions.
… But There’s Another Side
Another group of people asked for some empathy with the victim, assuring that for cryptocurrencies and blockchain technologies to achieve a global adoption status, people must have some level of protection in cases like this.
Yes you should – people make mistakes – need to accommodate for mass adoption – this is non negotiable – otherwise crypto will never be adoboted by the masses
— CryptoVerse (@amiraligorgi) September 12, 2020
The problem of the “human error” is fundamental to ensure that non-experts will have some safety mechanism in a global adoption scenario. And although the community agrees on applying corrective measures, they also emphasized that prevention is fundamental – making sure that these types of situations do not happen easily.
Some even proposed developing a function within the smart contracts’ programming language to prevent errors when sending the funds to wrong addresses.
What CZ and Satoshi Said
CZ commented that they would take action, without giving further explanations. Maybe soon, this type of error can be prevented, but that’s currently only possible for cryptocurrencies with an element of centralization.
Every day bitcoiners consciously send funds to the well-known “satoshi address,” putting those tokens out of circulation forever.
At one point, Satoshi said that “Lost coins only make everyone else’s coins worth slightly more.” Imagine CZ saying that about BNB