Deep in China’s Sichuan mountains, miners are chipping away at complex mathematical puzzles in hopes of unlocking one of today’s most prized assets, bitcoin.
Currently, more than 60 percent of all bitcoin is mined in China, and these miners have picked their location wisely. The remote Sichuan mountains enjoy a cool year-round temperature and cheap electricity provided by small-scale hydro-electric facilities, averaging from $0.05 to $0.08-cents per kWh.
Recent rumors, however, suggest that this could all come crashing down.
First reported on Reuters, the People’s Bank of China outlined a plan behind closed doors aiming to curb the high energy consumption associated with bitcoin mining in the country. The source told Reuters that the PBoC is aiming to force the hand of local governments to limit the miners’ electricity in order to gradually scale back the industry’s energy consumption. It is important to note that a separate source has since denied the claim.
But this is not the first crackdown conspiracy coming from China. 2017 was wrought with rumors targeting miners, exchanges, and even users of cryptocurrencies.
In the wake of yet another market moving story coming out of China, many miners are looking for alternatives.
Here are some of the best countries on the planet to mine bitcoin.
Canada is a newcomer in the world of crypto-mining, and as Chinese crypto-confusion reaches a boiling point, some miners are choosing to look to the Great White North as an alternative.
Patrick Gray, CEO of HashChain Technology Inc. explains: “North America is one of the best places in the world for mining, thanks to low cost electricity, cool temperatures, and high-speed internet.”
HashChain is an exciting cryptocurrency mining and blockchain solutions company focusing primarily on mining DASH in Vancouver. “Dash is the cryptocurrency of the future. It’s quicker than its rivals by a factor of several dozen times and thanks to its Sybil-proof decentralized governance - one can really see why they have grown by 9200% in 2017,” Gray explained, adding “I am more than confident 2018 will be Dash’s top-5 breakthrough year”.
On the other side of the country, Quebec is also looking to lure techies with the dream of striking digital gold.
Hydro Quebec is offering a unique opportunity for miners and data center operators. With electricity costs at $0.0248 per kWh for data centers, and $0.0394 per kWh for miners, 50 percent to 75 percent lower than comparable areas in North America, the company is scrambling to keep up with demand.
“I have so much demand right now there’s no need for marketing. Pretty much every day I have a new one,” said David Vincent, business development director of Hydro Quebec.
Vincent also noted that 35 companies are already interested in connecting to Hydro Quebec’s power grid, which would account for nearly 70 percent of the company’s total wattage capacity.
Iceland is quickly becoming a mining paradise. The country offers cool temperatures and an abundance of cheap, geothermal energy to power the rigs. Iceland also provides miners the opportunity to significantly reduce the environmental impact of their endeavors, with 100 percent renewable options
Alex Karis, CEO of DigitalBTC – the world’s first cryptocurrency company to be listed on a major stock exchange – noted: "We can reduce our energy costs and maintain a low-cost advantage as we grow our mining operations. We have just launched a new product platform and mining is an area we expect to see continued growth."
DigitalBTC has since exited the mining race, but others are quickly jumping on board of the Iceland bandwagon.
Genesis Mining, a company which offers an opportunity to take part in “cloud mining,” a relatively new form of mining that allows users to mine cryptocurrencies without their own hardware, has built the world’s largest Ethereum farm in Iceland. The company also manages a large-scale bitcoin mine, and has recently dove into Dash, another cryptocurrency built on bitcoin’s feature set.
Without the need to build or operate personal mining rigs, users avoid electric bills, confusing software, and the headaches associated with broken hardware or other unforeseen issues. Essentially, Genesis’ customers rent mining power from the company, allowing greater participation in what has become a new booming industry.
The Republic of Georgia has taken cryptocurrency adoption to the next level. In addition to the wide-spread usage of cryptocurrencies in the country, Georgia partnered with mining giant BitFury to introduce a blockchain platform to create a property rights registry, and with this, the country became the first in the world to record land titles using blockchain tech.
BitFury, one of the world’s largest mining and blockchain solutions companies, has made all the right moves within the space. The company’s large-scale mining operations are some of the best in the world. It is estimated that BitFury has mined over 600,000 bitcoin to date. The company also pays no tax on its 18 hectares in Tbilisi, and because its services are exported abroad, the company enjoys 18 percent savings on VAT.
While BitFury’s electricity costs are kept top secret, the average cost of electricity in Tbilisi is around $0.08 per kWh. With little to no taxes paid, and the low cost of electricity, Georgia is one of the world’s most profitable cryptocurrency mining locations.
Russia country offers some of the cheapest electricity in the world and focuses on less environmentally challenging power generation such as natural gas, nuclear, and hydroelectric, with coal only making up 18 percent of the country’s electricity generation, and Russian President Vladimir Putin is reportedly looking to take full advantage of his country’s resources.
In July 2017, Putin met with Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin to discuss cryptocurrencies and potential uses for blockchain technology. And following the meeting, Dmitry Marinichev, a trusted ally of Putin, announced plans to build a large-scale cryptocurrency mining operation, expected to cost $100-million.
In order to minimize the costs of the operation, the mining equipment will be placed in the homes of private citizens in order to take advantage of Russia’s 20 GW power capacity surplus. Marinichev noted that, with this environment, “Russia has the potential to reach up to 30 percent share in global cryptocurrency mining in the future.”
Additionally, the Kremlin has suggested that miners are to receive subsidized - “leftover”- power.
The country’s largest energy provider, Gazprom, recently announced a partnership with EuroSibEnergo set to provide excess power to a number of miners within the Siberian, Urals, and European sections of Russia. The partnership has even created an interactive map showing the locations which could benefit from these subsidies.
Russia’s appealing mining conditions also appeal to foreign entities, with over 40 applications from the European Union and China to build cryptocurrency farms in the country. The President of the Russian Association of Blockchain and Cryptocurrency (RACIB) noted: “This is a new market for energy companies, and it is important to prepare a legislative basis, and possible preferential taxation for such foreign investors.”
As the crypto-craze reaches a full blown frenzy, industry veterans like Hashchain Technology Inc. and BitFury, and entrepreneurs fresh to the scene such as Hydro Quebec are scrambling to get the best deal possible.
In Canada, companies like Hashchain Technology Inc. have the advantage of political stability and a booming startup market. In Iceland, companies like Genesis Mining are using the freezing cold climate to gain an upper hand. In Georgia, BitFury and its competitors have an ideal tax situation and an established blockchain market. In Russia, companies can ride a market that Putin is putting his full weight behind.
While China is still dominant, the race for crypto mining has only just begun, and it will be the country with the most affordable power, supportive regulation and political stability that will reap the rewards.
Other companies in the tech space:
Advanced Micro Devices Inc (NASDAQ:AMD) is Nvidia’s biggest competitor. The company has developed a cult following among gamers, leading to many a Reddit debate. AMD’s groundbreaking technology not only rivals that of Nvidia, some even argue that it outperforms it. As the two square off, one of the key areas to keep an eye on is in the GPU race. Widely purchased across the world as Bitcoin frenzy heats up, AMD is making a particularly hard push toward conquering that emerging demand.
While Nvidia has a significantly higher market cap (and stock price), AMD provides investors a much cheaper entrance into the gaming market. Those looking to get into tech industry stocks, mine Bitcoin, or play their favorite game on the highest quality are definitely not ignoring AMD.
Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) is a leader in multiple fields of technology. The forward-thinking industry giant is the backbone of many laptops and PCs running the Windows operating system. The company has been so successful in its deal-making and advertising that it is impossible to escape its influence.
Not only is Intel running our laptops, it may soon be taking over the self-driving car industry. In August 2017, Intel announced that it will be testing self-driving technology as it tries to compete with other chipmakers in the industry.
Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) is one of the most innovative and well-known companies within the tech sector, but its Windows platform is the most widely used operating system on the planet. First launched in 1985, Windows has shaped what is expected from a personal home computer.
But Microsoft is appealing to investors for more just its Windows platform. Like Intel, Microsoft is diving head first into an entirely new market. With key partnerships utilizing and implementing blockchain technology, the company’s upside could have huge potential as the tech takes off.
Cisco Sytems (NASDAQ: CSCO) is a major player in telecommunications hardware. With a market cap of more than $185 billion, the company earned $49 billion in 2015 and $48 billion in 2016. For years Cisco was a stable stock, though one that showed very little growth. But in 2018 the company plans on pivoting away from its old staples towards new products.
Cisco is about to make the transition from hardware to software. For years, Cisco sold the hardware needed to build and maintain telecommunications networks: internet routers, switchers and cables connecting thousands of offices and households.
Nvidia (NASDAQ:NVDA): The consensus seems to be that this stock is just going to keep climbing. Nvidia is the hottest stock on the market right now, and the top performer across the entire S&P 500. This stock has gone in only one direction—up.
NVDA designs graphics processing units for the gaming and professional markets, as well as the system on chip units for the mobile computing and automotive market. One of the biggest causes of the recent spike in share prices, however, is that Nvidia’s GPUs are highly prized for cryptocurrency mining.
Shopify Inc (NYSE:SHOP) is a Canadian e-commerce company with more than 500,000 companies rely on Shopify’s real-time e-commerce, including Tesla, Budweiser and Red Bull, among many others. Shopify manages their e-commerce machines, and its stock is now up to over $106 right now, with a market cap of over $10 billion. CNET called the application “clean, simple, and easy-to-use" in a review of the Shopify platform.
The company’s online presence and sheer reach make it an ideal buy for investors, and the recent adoption of cryptocurrencies as an alternative payment will likely solidify Shopify’s market share moving forward. Shopify makes purchasing goods and services easy for anyone – and in a time where convenience is king, Shopify surely has staying power.
By Charles Kennedy
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