The video, a sales pitch received via text by a cryptocurrency entrepreneur based in Switzerland, is just one of many similar messages that have been flowing out of China over the past two weeks. Some miners reacted by scrambling to get rid of their rigs. Even if the crackdown announcement was not immediately translated into regulation, Van Kirk says, it appears that some miners have been put off by the hostility. This is higher than figures from a Reuters report this week , featuring an interview with Chinese mining machine manufacturer Canaan, which says that prices have fallen by 20 to 30 per cent from early May.
Some of those selling their rigs, Van Kirk says, are likely entrepreneurs whose hosting contracts — which allow them to rent space for their machines in a large Chinese mining facility to take advantage of cheap energy and optimised infrastructure — were nearing their expiration dates. Because of the current uncertainty, these people might have resolved to sell their rigs rather than renewing their hosting deals. Other miners are planning to take their business elsewhere, although it is hard to gauge how many are in the process of fleeing China.
And even that decrease could be explained by unrelated reasons. Those who could not afford a quick move, the source says, are planning to wind down their large mining farms and continue their mining in a more decentralised, inconspicuous fashion. Didar Bekbauov is the founder of Kazakhstan-based Xive, a company that helps miners find space and convenient energy contracts in China.
Bekbauov says that, in the past fortnight, he has been receiving daily enquiries from representatives of Chinese miners looking to relocate to Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan might certainly increase its global share of mining — Bekbauov estimates that it could maybe double its capacity — but it is possible that it will simply be used as a stopover destination for miners looking to rehome their precious rigs elsewhere.
And that elsewhere, some say, is likely to be North America. Alex Brammer, vice president of business development at US cryptocurrency company Luxor Tech, recounts being bombarded by calls coming from Chinese miners within hours of the May 21 speech. The tone in the industry was just very frantic.
It is not only North America to be sought after as a prospective destination. That is not to say that a move will be simple. Logistically, Brammer says, it is quite a nightmare to move tens of thousands of machines from China to the US, especially amid a global pandemic that has triggered a shortage in shipping containers , and a latent trade war that will require any company seeking to move goods from China to the US to pay a 25 per cent tariff.
Even once the mining machines are unloaded from the private cargo planes or container ships, setting up a new mining operation in North America is going to take some time. He estimates the timeframe for building a large mining farm from scratch at around 12 to 24 months. As mining difficulty increases, the least efficient miners are forced to shut down first.
Electricity in China is extremely cheap compared to most other countries. Chinese electricity in industrial regions is either supplied by hydro-electric facilities or subsidized by the state. In many cases, the energy produced by these wind farms and dams is higher than the local grid can take.
This means that they are producing energy that would otherwise not be used by anyone since the local grid, which takes energy and distributes it across distances, cannot hold it. Total hydropower reached more than 75 GW in , greater than the total in most Asian countries.
Coal is the cheapest power source but also the dirtiest. Major cities like Beijing are notorious for their high levels of smog, produced mostly by burning coal. Energy producers can freely burn coal and use the energy for Bitcoin mining. Bitcoin enables Chinese entrepreneurs to export coal by burning it and using the energy to mine. Mining pools, as the name implies, are collaborations between individual miners and, frequently, major mining companies.
Their hashrate is combined so that the pool has a better chance of finding a block. The block reward is then shared among all contributing members, according to their proportional hashrate. The result is that many miners outside of China are attracted to Chinese mining pools due to their size. Many miners are lured by the prospect of small, steady earnings as part of a major pool, as opposed to the high- reward-but-low-odds lottery which is solo or small-pool mining.
China is home to four of the five largest Bitcoin mining pools over the past year. As of the 25th th of August, , the distribution of hashrate was as follows:. F2Pool , also known as DiscusFish, is based in China. Antpool currently has a hashrate of There is some speculation that AntPool disguises its true hashrate by running subsidiary pools.
You may be wondering why BTCC pool is not on this list. Today, we regret to announce that due to business adjustments, the BTCC pool will shut down all mining servers on November 15 and will cease operations indefinitely from November Having so much mining power centralized in any single country exposes the Bitcoin network to a worrying degree of political risk. Should the Chinese government decide to crack down on Bitcoin, perhaps seeing it as a threat to their economy or a competitor to their own planned digital currency , they could wreak untold havoc in the Bitcoin ecosystem.
Thankfully, mining in China has begun to wane in recent years. They can own the equipment and direct the hashing power to whatever pool they want. All while they benefit from the cheaper bulk electricity costs and advanced facilities purpose built for mining Bitcoin at scale. But beyond the active efforts of non-Chinese Bitcoin based ventures to reduce the reliance on Chinese mining, Chinese miners themselves are showing interest in leaving the region, and that is what we are going to focus on in our last chapter.
Having cracked down on cryptocurrency exchanges and ICOs, China is now planning to go after bitcoin miners. To do so, it is hitting where it hurts the most — limiting power supply. Without access to electricity, new bitcoins cannot be generated. The government is investigating power consumption of cryptocurrency miners to determine whether their use of cheap or free electricity has affected power prices in those areas.
Recently, law enforcement in China confiscated computers used to mine bitcoins. This was after a local power grid operator reported abnormal electricity usage.
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