Monday, October 25, 2021

US becomes largest bitcoin mining centre

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The United States has overtaken China to account for the largest share of the world’s bitcoin mining, data published on Wednesday by the UK’s Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance showed.

Chinese authorities banned the activity earlier this year causing miners to shut up shop or move overseas.

China’s share of the power of computers connected to the global bitcoin network, known as the “hash rate,” fell to zero by July from 44% in May, the data showed.

The United States now accounts for the largest share of mining, some 35.4% of the global hash rate as of end-August, followed by Kazakhstan and Russia, the data showed.

What is Bitcoin

Created following the 2008 global financial crisis, bitcoin initially promoted a libertarian ideal and aspired to overthrow traditional monetary and financial institutions such as central banks.

The founding white paper, published on October 31, 2008, was penned by Satoshi Nakamoto, a pseudonym whose identity remains unknown.

The eight-page document included the key goal of processing online payments between two parties without passing via a financial institution.

A first block of 50 bitcoins was created in January 2009, which has risen to 18.8 million units currently in circulation.

No more than 21 million can be created, helping bitcoin’s price to trade way above its rivals.

Thousands of other cryptocurrencies have meanwhile since been created, led by the likes of ethereum, ripple and tether.

How to obtain bitcoin?

There are two ways to get hold of bitcoin. Historically, individuals have “mined” for it by using computers to solve complex mathematical puzzles.

But as bitcoin’s price soared, so did the number of miners, reducing the chances of accessing units this way.

Mining also requires huge amounts of energy, meaning the cost of accessing a bitcoin can exceed the gain, not withstanding the environmental impact amid global efforts to tackle climate change.

The alternative way is to buy a whole or fractions of bitcoin on an exchange platform using traditional currencies.

Purchased funds are held in protected virtual wallets, but with hacks still possible, some investors have decided to hold portfolios offline.

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