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Bitcoin on Coal? Cryptocurrency Mining Requires More and More Electricity

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Bitcoin on Coal

With digital currencies gaining popularity, discussions about Bitcoin’s future attract more and more attention with concerns being raised over the ways it’s being mined and the energy costs of the mining process. This article deals with different mechanisms of cryptocurrencies’ emission and outlines the main advantages and disadvantages on the example of Bitcoin and MILE, a fully decentralised, transparent and environmentally-conscious ecosystem that uses a completely different approach to money-minting.

Bitcoin is rather expensive for the economy. Even if miners use the most inexpensive electricity in the world that costs three US cents per kWh, Bitcoin’s annual electricity bills exceeded two billion USD in summer 2018. According to the most realistic estimates, it was amounted to 3.5 billion USD, if 1 kWh cost miners five US cents. Rapid growth of energy consumption was caused by exponential growth of hashing operations that are used for adding new blocks into the blockchain. Such operations were performed 26 quintillion times per second in March 2018, and now the figures are already equal to 52 quintillion.   

bitcoinIn the last year and a half, starting from 2017, Bitcoin’s energy consumption grew approximately from 7-8 to 73 TWh. Bitcoin consumes more energy now then countries like Austria and Chile (72 TWh). According to the estimates of Arvind Narayanan, a computer scientist, who delivered his speech at the US Congress, approximately 1 percent of global power capacity is being used by Bitcoin’s miners – 5 GW.

Digital money is extremely convenient. It does not take space in your wallet, and large transactions can be completed almost instantly. But how environmentally-conscious is cryptocurrency? According to the estimates of Alex de Vries, PwC cryptanalyst, Bitcoin’s production capacity last year was equivalent to 2.55 GW. It consumed approximately 22 TWh/h what is almost equal to the levels of energy consumption in Ireland. To compare, Google consumed 5.7 TWh/h with its giant servers what is four times less.

Blockchain’s energy consumption is rapidly increasing. It was increased by five times in 2017. Why does Bitcoin that exists only in the digital space require so much energy? The problem is in the mechanism called Proof-of-Work. Distributed systems that store information about money and its movement are secured from malpractices with blockchain receiving information after the completion of complicated algorithmic problems. Miners are competing in solving these problems (blocks), and once the block is being solved successfully, they are being rewarded with 12.5 Bitcoins and 1000 USD. This reward is being decreased by half every four years. 

The Proof-of-Work mechanism allows the network node to verify that another node responsible for adding a new block into blockchain has completed necessary calculations. In the process of verification, the string of the new block’s header is being discovered. It contains the link on the former block. In March 2018, such hashing operations, according to de Vries, were performed 26 quintillions times per second in the world.

This mechanism created the mining industry and made it a giant consumer of electricity. In 2012, Bitcoin’s total capacity exceeded the most powerful supercomputer in the world. Computers require a lot of energy to solve algorithmic problems, but they become more and more powerful. Consequently, Bitcoin’s protocol gets more complicated upon the completion of the next 2016 blocks once every two weeks as otherwise miners would have been generating too many Bitcoins. It is a perpetual cycle: the faster the computers get, the more complicated problems miners are solving become. People engaged in mining have to upgrade their devices that consume more and more energy.

It is impossible to win this race. The cheaper and the more effective the mining equipment gets, the more complicated the problems become, and the more energy is required to solve them. Fortunately, the original number of Bitcoins is not infinite. Therefore, the energy consumption of Bitcoin’s blockchain will gradually decrease, but the final outcome will depend on its price. According to Bitcoin Energy Consumption Index, energy consumed by miners will soon reach the level of Austria or 20 percent of the UK’s energy intensity.

De Vries is concerned with the fact that Bitcoin’s overall electricity consumption will grow from current 0.5 percent of the global figures to 5 percent. This year’s profit of the mining industry will exceed 5 billion USD, and its costs (electricity and equipment) will amount to 3.7 billion USD. However, de Vries’ estimates are just one of the models assessing Bitcoin’s energy consumption. His opponents argue that in reality, Bitcoin’s energy consumption is approximately three times lower.

If miners’ profit no longer exceeds the electricity and equipment costs, mining firms will be dismantled. There are cases, however, when miners do not pay their electricity bills or buy mining equipment. According to the report prepared by the University of Illinois, National Science Foundation’s supercomputer was used to mine Bitcoins worth of 8.000-10.000 USD what caused the university 150.000 USD in charges. In Orenburg, Russia, the authorities ceased the operations of the biggest mining firm in Russia and Europe stationed in the building of an abandoned factory that did not pay the bills for 8 million kWt/h it used. Miners’ profit exceeded almost half of the costs in August 2018. It means that we will not be able to witness the growth in Bitcoin’s energy consumption if its price remains the same. One can only imagine what the mining costs will be if it reaches 50.000 USD.

Entrepreneurs are finding different locations for mining where they would either have cheaper electricity bills or they would not have to pay for it at all. This is the reason why the main mining equipment producer is the Chinese company Bitmain and the center of mining industry in Inner Mongolia in China, where 1 kWt per hour costs 4 US cents, what is five times lower than in the UK.

bitcoin mining21 thousand computers work at the biggest mining firm located in Ordos, Inner Mongolia, what is amounted to four percent of the global energy consumption to mine Bitcoin. Each of these computers generates 14 trillion hashes per second and consumes the same amount of electricity as a microwave. Approximately 30-40 percent of energy consumption in a lot of data-centers is being used for cooling: Bitmain computers cannot function when the temperature reaches 38 degrees Celsius. Electricity supplied to the firm in Ordos is being produced from coal (the fifth in China, coal production-wise), that’s why it is argued that mining is not an environmentally conscious activity. Bitmain consumes 40 MWt/h, the number equivalent to the energy consumption of 12 thousand apartment buildings. Bitmain pays its bills with industrial tariffs, approximately four cents for kWt/h: if the electricity costs the same as for households, this type of business would not be considered attractive. The amount of electricity used in order to serve Bitcoin’s entire industry is equal to the amount consumed by 7 million households in the US.

Bitcoin is extremely unecological.  A single Bitcoin’s transaction in summer 2018 consumed 934 kWt. In comparison, 100.000 transactions in the Visa system require 5.5 times lower energy. Bitcoin’s “carbon footprint” is equal to 17.7 million tons of CO2. Mining capacities will reach its economic limits with Bitcoin’s current price as profit will no longer cover the electricity costs. However, if its price hits the 20.000 USD target, a steady increase in its energy consumption will be observed. It is not surprising as Bitcoin’s protocol offers a 200.000 USD reward every ten minutes to those who will be able to find inexpensive electricity and fire their laptops.

It can cause problems for Ireland with cold climate where it is not necessary to spend money on cooling of computers and where almost 80 percent of electricity is being generated on hydro stations. It makes it so attractive that this year local crypto firms would need more electricity than households.

It is possible that crypto industry will find the way to decrease its energy consumption. One of them is the substitution of the Proof-of-Work mechanism with Proof-of-Stake (PoS). In this case, those blocks will have higher chances to generate the next block that already have a large number of tokens and keep them longer. It is not necessary to build mining firms that are competing in solving algorithmic problems. If the entire crypto industry has transferred to the Proof-of-Stake simultaneously, its energy consumption would have decreased significantly. Keeping one coin in the wallet in the system of delegated Proof-of-Stake is equivalent to having the right to add the next block into the blockchain. MILE’s emission is built in a similar manner. Each participant of MILE’s ecosystem can become both the owner and the emitter of the money and get a small percentage from issuing it.

The difference lies in the fact that MILE uses a mining protocol (environmentally conscious mining) sdBFT that only slightly resembles PoS. Any PoS protocol has limitations in the form of several dozens of active masternodes what increases the probability of decentralisation. It can be observed in case of Ethereum or stablecoins like Bitshares. As opposed to conventional strategies, in MILE’s ecosystem, the first ecosystem that was able to implement sdBFT on practice, decentralisation is programmed in the way that only hundred nodes are selected from thousands in order for the block to be solved. Selection happens according to the algorithm that guarantees high-level entropy combined with energy consumption.

Bitcoins’ emission requires a lot of energy, and with the Proof-of-Stake mechanism, it is necessary to have cryptocurrencies in order to emit it. If in the process of Bitcoin’s emission miners compete with one another, money is being emitted by the community itself in Proof-of-Stake. The drawback of such a mechanism is in the fact that cryptocurrency is being concentrated in the hands of a limited group of people. There are hybrid versions as well, and one of them is described above, that combine both mechanisms and help to save the energy. Insignificant time constraints and financial costs of finding the consensus make it possible to assume that the future is ahead of energy efficient minting, and not mining.

This guest post was contributed by the Mile Unity Foundation, an international, non-governmental organisation, announces the launch of a broad network of its Embassies with the aim to popularise the knowledge about the digital assets industry and to inform the population about ultra-effective mechanisms for the development of the global economy.

*Readers should do their own due diligence before taking any actions related to the company, product or service. BitcoinAfrica.io is not responsible, directly or indirectly, for any loss or damage caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on any content, product or service mentioned in this guest post.*

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What Happened to “Bitconnect Guy” Carlos Matos?

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Carlos Matos

You might recognise Carlos Matos from the famous meme in which he screams “Bitconneeeeecct” with plenty of gusto. Matos was an “investor” in the now-defunct Bitconnect Coin.

Bitconnect was a cryptocurrency scam that went from obscure in 2016 at about US$ 0.17 to a high of $436 in 2017. It screamed of potential, becoming a top 20 cryptocurrency token. This couldn’t last, as the price came crashing to $0.40. Regulators came cracking down on the project, forcing its cessation in 2018.

Investor Frenzy in Bitconnect

If you logged in to the website, you’d find no whitepaper or clear team identification, but a promise of unusual profit. Through four phases of the project’s rollout, investors got a guarantee unlike any other in traditional investments such as stocks.

Phase one was the giveaway of 4.8 million Bitconnect coins to investors and the community. The second phase (first quarter of 2017) entailed the launch of BCC wallet and the desktop client to enable staking and mining BCC (Bitconnect coins). Phase three (second quarter of 2017) would be the launch of staking and mining. This meant 120% returns for investors per year! The fourth phase targeted introduction of the “Smart Card” and wider merchant adoption.

A Massive Cryptocurrency Scam

Bitconnect

Bitconnect is an excellent use case for newcomers to learn how crypto scams can operate.

  • Firstly, BitConnect had no traction until the lending platform was announced. For a profitable business, it’s mandatory to have a working product, a product-market fit and a clear revenue model, among other fundamental aspects of valuation. BitConnect had a new product with a supposed market (since adoption had to be pushed) and a complicated revenue model. It simply didn’t make business sense.
  • Secondly, BitConnect guaranteed profits of over 91% and promised returns of over 480% per year. No basis for the guarantee came out clearly from the promises of this once-in-a-lifetime deal with no financial risk. All investors needed to trust was an “undefeatable” trading bot – it couldn’t lose! Assumptions cemented in the flow of money from all over the world – US$2.6 billion – at the peak! For many, the profits were irresistible.
  • The third red flag was an extended capital holding period. This was explained away as a preference/ incentivisation toward staking. After all, it made more sense to profit more as you held your money longer in the system – but even traditional finance allows for clear/rapid cash out should you need your money. It’s yours, right?

The low daily return rate hooked on the old and young. Unsecured lending among traditional financial sector players had after all paved the way for the daily return concept not to seem too foreign. These numbers made far more sense if you put in more than US$ 10,000. You can see why Matos’ profit of $140,000 from an initial principal of $25,000 had many addicted to “the future of investing”. 2017’s cryptocurrency boom of bitcoin and other tokens further served to cement this thought with all manner of possibilities.

If the returns weren’t sufficient or attractive for you, Bitconnect provided a lucrative referral program with seven levels of earning commissions. It was an extra assurance of the profit structure. The bot would have to work overtime and compound profits to ensure everybody won. Put these together, and you have a catastrophe – a true castle in the clouds!

The Tragic Ending

The charade collapsed when the law came calling. 2018 saw victims of the scam lose 30%, then 90% of their value to the insider cashouts with the closure of the Bitconnect exchange.

The Ponzi scheme came full circle with its promoters and their aggressive propaganda disappearing from any reasonable trace. Other exchanges delisted BCC, but the damage had been done. Bitconnect cited excuses on bad press, the Texas State Securities Board Cease and Desist order and DDos (distributed denial of service) attacks, yet the truth was out in the open: scammers won.

Matos disappeared, only to resurface recently taking a lot about weight loss through intermittent fasting. He’s trying to build repute in a different field, which is definitely better than the scam that made him famous.

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What is Crypto Advocate John McAfee’s Net Worth?

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John McAfee

John McAfee has emerged as one of the most influential individuals in the cryptoverse. Learn about this one-of-a-kind crypto advocate, including how much his net worth is estimated to be.  

Who is John McAfee?

You’ve likely used or at least heard about the McAfee antivirus software. It ranks among the top cybersecurity tools to use in ensuring protection from attacks. 

John McAfee is the British-American entrepreneur and computer programmer who founded McAfee Associates in 1987. Prior, he worked at NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) and Lockheed. McAfee Associates produces enterprise security software, even though John resigned in 1994. He has founded other companies such as QuorumEx, Tribal Voice, Luxcore, and Everykey, among others.

A known political activist, his interests also stretch into cryptocurrency, smartphone apps, and yoga. 

Timely Cryptocurrency Boom

In 2017, the ICO (Initial Coin Offering) boom saw hundreds of companies release projects for funding from investors globally without limits on international securities regulations. Riding on the price boom of bitcoin and Ethereum, it was as though a separate economy was spurring overnight. Token prices went from zero to one in hours, with profits surging exponentially in hours or days.

One would call it a craze, but McAfee positioned his profile to benefit from the boom. 

Initially, those who opened up their projects for funding this way simply followed the promise of Bitcoin (financial system independence) and built on Ethereum. Legitimate companies and scammers alike put their proposals for the world to decide, therefore, the battle for legitimacy created high stakes. It wasn’t enough to have a good project; the team /company needed to show who endorsed them or their project.

This is the space in which McAfee could thrive as an industry titan trusted globally.

The Crypto Advocate

John McAfee Net Worth

Gage Skidmore from Surprise, AZ, United States of America, CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Imagine taking in about 8 BTC per tweet in a boom; that’s exactly what he did.

The highest prediction he made about the price of bitcoin was between $ 500,000 and 1 million per bitcoin. The admission he made later was that these predictions were to excite and draw new users on board.

An estimated 50 ICOs were promoted on his public Twitter profile. Each promotion cost $100,000. This would bring the number of bitcoin he owns to about 400 if we take an average number of 8 bitcoin according to the price fluctuations in 2017, but the total amount, along with the ownership of other cryptocurrencies remains undisclosed. Assuming a holding of 400 bitcoin at today’s price of US$ 32,478, McAfee’s 400 bitcoins would be worth 12.9 million dollars. 

John McAfee Net Worth: So, How Much Is It Now?

John McAfee lost a significant portion of his net worth due to the 2008 financial crisis that crippled economies around the world. From a valuation of $100 million, his assets hit a low of $4 million in 2009, according to the New York Times.

He certainly worked his way back into profitability through his subsequent ventures in QuorumEx, Future Tense Central, and his tenure at MGT Capital Investments.

MGT is supposedly his gateway into crypto because in 2016 its focus was shifted first from social gaming to cybersecurity. MGT also moved into mining bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to make money and increase its blockchain expertise. McAfee deemed this strategy vital for cybersecurity, holding it even into his subsequent resignation in 2018.

According to publicly available data, John McAfee’s net worth could range from US$ 7.2 to 20 million.

His run-ins with the law have had him living as a fugitive; for in 2019 he lived on his boat, running from U.S. authorities. He was arrested in October 2020 in Spain at the request of the U.S. Department of Justice for tax evasion charges. 

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Weekly Roundup: Swahili Blockchain Book Now Available, Binance P2P Volumes Hit $280 Million in Africa

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blockchain book

After experiencing raging swings this year, Bitcoin hit a new all-time high this week. On Monday, bitcoin recorded a price of $19,850, breaking the 2017 record. In other news, the Swahili blockchain book is now available for purchase, and Binance P2P trading in Africa is flourishing.

Read these and other stories in our news roundup this week.

Swahili Blockchain Book Now Available

Swahili Blockchain BookThe Swahili blockchain book is now available for purchase. The goal of this book, Jielimishe Kuhusu Blockchain, is to educate Swahili readers about blockchain technology. As a result, readers can contribute to regulatory conversations in their countries to help policymakers make the best decisions.

The Governor of the Central Bank of Tanzania (BoT), Professor Florens Luoga, is one of the first people to read the book. Sandra Chogo, the author, handed him the blockchain book during a conference held in the country.

According to Chogo, the Governor’s interest in the book could indicate that the regulator is warming up to the blockchain and cryptocurrencies. The book has already received a positive reception from the Tanzanian government.

Binance P2P Volumes Hit $280 Million in Africa

Binance P2P trading in Africa has grown significantly because the exchange is supporting six local currencies. So far, the exchange has processed a total volume of $280 million P2P trades in Africa.

In March 2020, Binance started supporting the Nigerian naira. Currently, African users can use Binance P2P to buy and sell BTC, USDT, DAI, BNB, ETH, and BUSD using the Kenyan shilling, the South African rand, the Nigerian naira, the Moroccan dirham, the Ghanaian cedi, and the Egyptian pound.

According to Binance, P2P traders on the platform are making an income between $30 and $350 each day.

“I solely rely on P2P trading as the main source of my income. With P2P trading, I can sufficiently meet my needs and bills. The best thing is that I can trade at my own time and any place,” said Robacoin, a P2P merchant.

P2P trading on the continent could continue the upward trend as more and more Africans turn to crypto to make an income and to remit money.

Nigeria Could Develop a Crypto and Blockchain Framework

Nigerian SEC to Regulate CryptoThe Securities and Exchange Commission in Nigeria classified digital assets as securities a few months ago. Now, the regulator and the Ministry of Finance are discussing the creation of a crypto and blockchain framework.

According to recent news, the two bodies want to create a regulatory environment for blockchain. Also, the Nigeria SEC is keen to facilitate the adoption of the technology.

“The general objective of regulation is not to hinder technology or stifle innovation, but to create standards that encourage ethical practices that ultimately make for a fair and efficient market,” the SEC Nigeria stated.

Furthermore, the country is hoping to obtain $10 billion in revenue from blockchain technology by 2030.

Sarafu Network Beneficiaries Soar 40,000

One of Africa’s community currencies project, Sarafu Network, now has 40,000 beneficiaries. The Grassroots Economics initiative is helping communities in rural Kenya to access basic needs like food. To date, users have traded more than 100 million community tokens. In October 2020, for instance, the beneficiaries traded more than 8 million Sarafu tokens for food. During a global pandemic and a declining economy, the Sarafu Network is helping the needy to stay afloat.

Grassroots Economics uses the power of the blockchain to create community inclusion currencies (CICs).

“In a typical community dependent on injections of the national currency – trade will often slow to a crawl and stop due to lack of a national currency as commodity prices increase. As we have seen in Kenya where Sarafu has been distributed to over 40,000 people, in communities with a Community Inclusion Currency trade can continue,” Grassroots Economics Founder Will Ruddick says.

To learn more about Bitcoin, download the Bitcoin Beginner’s Handbook for free.

Bitcoin Beginner's Handbook

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