How crypto mining tried, but failed, to gain a Swiss toehold
This crypto mine in Gondo could not keep up with competitors with cheaper electricity.
There was a time when any Tom, Dick or Harry could create (or “mine”) bitcoin with a modified PC. Now only warehouses packed full of specialised computing gear stand any real chance. The bones of defunct crypto mines litter the Swiss Alps.
This week saw a special event in the bitcoin life cycle, called “Halving”. Like a super-rapid solar eclipse, blink and you missed it. So what happened?
Bitcoin is produced as a reward for “miners” (those warehouses of souped-up PCs) who create blocks of bitcoin transactions. The total supply of bitcoin is limited to 21 million, programmed to emerge at a regular pace until the year 2140.
Part of the bitcoin supply equation involves slowing down production over time. Every few years, the bitcoin reward that miners receive is slashed in half. Last week they got 12.5 bitcoin for producing a block of data, halfway through this week it became 6.25.
Bitcoin mining is a competitive vocation. It uses a lot of electricity. That produces heat. A location with low electricity bills and a cool climate gives a competitive edge.
Some people thought that might be Switzerland. They were wrong.
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Around four years ago a crypto mine called AlpEreum popped up near a hydro-electric dam in central Switzerland. It found it could not compete with mines in China, Iceland and the US.
A couple of years later, another mine set up in a small village called Gondo, right on the Italian border. Gondo was big into gold mining in previous centuries and was a popular border crossing for smugglers. Then it suffered a devastating landslide and the young folk started to move out.
Alpine Mining said it would restore Gondo’s fortunes with the latest high-tech mining operation – this time for cryptocurrencies. It proved an irresistible story, so I went along to check it out. But that project was also unprofitable. Alpine Mining is still in Gondo, but more in the field of crypto and artificial intelligence research.
Around the same time, an outfit called Unity Investment (it also operates under the name Unicrypt) tried to set up a mining warehouse near to Zurich. In March, the company announced it was moving the facility to New York to take advantage of cheaper electricity bills.
One German outfit, Envion, moved to Switzerland and ran into an acrimonious legal dispute between the founders and CEO. Another eco-friendly mobile mining operation, Swiss Alps Mining, had the idea of occupying deserted alpine hiking huts. The operation appears to be still running, so if any alpine walker runs into one of these pods then please let me know.
But the story doesn’t end there for crypto mining in Switzerland, thanks to the emergence of financial derivatives around the likes of bitcoin. This is where Switzerland’s financial know-how could give it an edge. Numerous Swiss firms are springing up with the intention of occupying this space.
Chinese mining giant, Bitmain, once set up ancillary operations in Zurich, but had to close down. In its place came the firm Matrixport, with links to Bitmain, offering financial services.
Now one of the world’s largest mining pools (cooperatives of several mining outfits), called Poolin, is eyeing up Switzerland from across the border at its European HQ in Berlin. Poolin creates around 18% of all bitcoin mined every day (plus a range of other cryptocurrencies), according to Vice-President Alejandro De La Torre. It wants to put this stockpile to good use. Switzerland’s crypto financial service industry looks an attractive option.
“Switzerland has a strong banking tradition and we are exploring the idea of expanding our operation into financial services,” he said. “We also have a lot of contacts in the Swiss Crypto Valley.” Right now, there are no concrete plans to report, but watch this space.
How the Swiss are moving back to the mountains
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Author: Matthew Allen, swissinfo.ch
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- Cryptocurrency Market Update: Bitcoin consolidates the bounce to $9600
- The Crypto Daily – Movers and Shakers -16/05/20
- JK Rowling Asks About Bitcoin. Accursed Crypto Twitter Scares Her Off
NBA star now wants $ 24.6 million instead of its own cryptocurrency
The NBA star Spencer Dinwiddie now wants to collect donations of 2,625.8 Bitcoin instead of founding their own cryptocurrency.
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The saga of Spencer Dinwiddie, an NBA basketball professional who wants to wrap his player contract in a crypto token, goes into the next round. Now Dinwiddie wants to raise $ 24.6 million through a Gofundme fundraiser.
With the fundraising campaign called "Dinwiddie X BTC X NBA", the basketball player intends to "keep the promises from previous tweets". In the past, he had promised his fans that if they paid him 2,625.8 Bitcoin (BTC), they would have a say in his next club move.
In his donation campaign, Dinwiddie is now asking his fans to pay him the amount directly in US dollars, which is equivalent to $ 24.63 million.
If the donation goal is not reached, the NBA star wants to donate the collected money in full to a charity that he has not yet named.
The fundraiser was launched almost 11 hours ago and has raised $ 690 from 65 donors so far.
In September 2019, Dinwiddie announced for the first time that it would wrap its $ 34 million player contract back then in a crypto token in which interested investors could invest. The investment could have generated this interest income.
Many sports clubs are now also trying out crypto tokens, but in a different way. They want to offer their fans digitized “trading cards” of their players based on blockchain technology. However, most of the planned projects have not yet been implemented.
Mark Cuban, the owner of Nowitzki Club Dallas Mavericks, was critical of Bitcoin last month. In this context, he stated that his club had previously only raised $ 130 via the cryptocurrency, although it has been available as a payment method in the Mavs online shop since August 2019.
Blockchain Bites: Last Day of Consensus, Will Crypto Save the Internet?
May 15, 2020 at 22:12 UTC
Screenshot of Protocol Lab’s Juan Benet’s closing keynote address for Consensus: Distributed
Consensus: Distributed ended on a high note with a keynote address from Juan Benet, founder of Protocol Labs, who granted a rare interview as he closed out the week-long virtual conference.
Speaking widely on the topics of decentralization and Web 3.0, Benet said, “the internet has become dramatically more important to us.” Over a 50-year time span, computing has gone from an idea to a “species altering technology.”
But the internet’s present configuration is a huge problem. The underlying principles of an open and permissionless web, as originally intended, have become distorted by monolithic, centralized service providers, and given way to surveillance capitalism, data encroachment, hacking and content siloing.
Many of these problems were examined in an earlier session dedicated to current and coming models for media distribution – from newsmaking to music. “We are all creating and consuming content at a frantic pace, and using tech all the time to do so,” Lance Koonce, the workshop’s moderator said, by way of framing the conversation.
Different media have different revenue streams, said Chris Tse, founding director of Cardstack.
And all of them are broken. The issue at hand is technology has claimed not only the media type, but also the audience and distribution.
Crypto and blockchain could contribute to a solution, though most of the featured guests were skeptical.
Speaking on the topic of misinformation, Kathryn Harrison, founder of the DeepTrust Alliance, cited a recent survey that found three-quarters of adults aren’t sure they can accurately recognize fake news. And a plurality said misinformation impacts their trust in governments.
There’s no cryptographic solution, or new law, that could fix what is essentially a human problem, said Nadine Strossen, professor at New York Law School. But media literacy, fact checking and common sense are critical parts of any solution.
Tech works best if it can solve a small issue first, and then scale, said GiantSteps Media’s Bill Rosenblatt. Quoting Jeffrey Moore, a tech market strategist, he said “you need to solve a niche pain point problem for someone before you can go on and boil the ocean.”
“This ownership thing is a solution in search of a problem,” Rosenblatt said, speaking about wide-ranging identity solutions intended to revamp the web. Like Juan Benet’s.
“Web 3 is about creating a platform that is decentralized, that puts human rights foremost, and can build a much freer and open internet and lock it in place,” Benet said.
The core principles of Web 3.0 are about ensuring freedom of speech and assembly, data ownership and self-sovereignty. If you sacrifice on these at the outset, give way just a bit on the vision, it cascades down into what will be built.
Blockchain and cryptocurrency have already “changed the underlying guts and rails of major industries,” Benet said. For instance, fleek is allowing people to spin up decentralized websites, while Audius is reshaping music streaming while maintaining a “Web 2.0 quality user experience.”
The idea that started with Bitcoin, of establishing financial freedoms, has extended to all kinds of other industries, reshaping the possibilities of a shared computing platform.
But there’s a lot of work left to do.
And with that, we bid you adieu. Thanks for attending and reading.
“Despite [the current] surveillance system, the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime estimates that between $800 billion and $2 trillion, or 2%-5% of global gross domestic product, is laundered annually worldwide. The Panama Papers case shows how the rich and powerful easily use lawyers, shell companies, tax havens and transaction obfuscation to get around surveillance. The poor are just excluded from the system,” he writes.
Central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) are likely to only exacerbate surveillance into our financial lives. Unless they’re built using protocols and cryptographic tools that enable both privacy and security.
“Self-sovereign identity models and zero-knowledge proofs, for example, grant control over data to the individuals who generate it, allowing them to provide sufficient proof of a clean record without revealing sensitive personal information. But such innovations aren’t getting nearly enough attention,” Casey said.
You can read his full take here, or get it in your inbox by subscribing here.
Best Brella Background
Excerpted from The Men Who Stare at Charts, Ben Munster’s exploration of technical analysis and the people who promote it:
Charts tracking the price of bitcoin dominate six buzzing monitors in the third-floor office of a rotting, centuries-old tower block in the heart of Kiev. A pattern emerges among the shifting forms and shapes, and Brian – a 33-year-old trader who asks we use only his first name – reacts swiftly, punching his extemporaneous analysis into a chatbox on the messenger app Telegram. He has identified the distinctive downward twist of a “falling wedge formation.” To those in the know, that means: The price is going down at a diminishing rate, and should presently head moooooonwards. Get the full story
Jess Klein dives into Generation Crypto, an ageless, country-less and class-less augment cohort aligned by a belief in decentralization and skepticism of received wisdom. This excerpt from her eight part series follows Jesse Grushack – The Burner – co-founder of Ujo Music, the Ethereal festival and one of the main organizers of Node Republik, a Burning Man camp for ConsenSys workers and Ethereum enthusiasts. Read the series.
Jesse Grushack started mining bitcoin in 2010, using all of his computer power over the course of three days to come up with 1/200th of a penny. Despite the discouraging start, Grushack’s interest in cryptocurrency didn’t wane; when he learned about a company called ConsenSys in 2015 via the New York City Tech Slack channel, he got in touch and got a job. “It was just a black website with the one-line description, ‘A decentralized venture studio building applications primarily on Ethereum,’” he recalls, “and I was like, wow, that means nothing.” Read on.
Jeff Wilser profiles David Birch, in The Man Who Forecast a Currency Cold War, excerpted below.
Fintech guru David Birch, a consultant and prolific speaker on the blockchain conference circuit, wrote “The Currency Cold War: Cash and Cryptography, Hash Rates and Hegemony,” just in time for our global pandemic. He nailed the timing. For years Birch had his own pet theories about a clash of digital currencies. But “that was just me, just some guy talking about it,” he tells me in his British accent, which seems always on the verge of a sly joke. “And who cares, you know?”
Then came Jackson Hole.
In the fall of 2019, at a Jackson Hole, Wy., event Birch describes as a “Burning Man for people who run central banks,” the Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, said that perhaps it was time for some form of “synthetic hegemonic currency” to deal with what he called the “destabilizing dominance” of the U.S. dollar.
This comment seemed to galvanize Birch. “The Governor of the Bank of England is emphatically not just some guy,” Birch says. He realized the Currency Cold War was not just his own pet theory – it was imminent. It might already be happening. And it has consequences. Which currency would society choose? Would it be one or many? Read the full tale.
Central Banks Mull Creating a CBDC, but Not on a Blockchain: Survey
Central banks in 46 countries are considering creating a central bank digital currency (CBDC) using a constrained form of distributed ledger technology (DLT), according to a new survey. But they’re leery of blockchain. Though only one unidentified “small African central bank” would consider using a blockchain to support this digital currency “if found to be the best available platform.”
Visa Patent Filing Would Allow Central Banks to Mint Digital Fiat Currencies Using Blockchain
A new patent filing outlines a system that would be able to mint digital fiat currency and keep a tally of all issuances on the blockchain. Managed by a “central entity computer,” the system would also remove physical cash from circulation.
Bequant Launches Crypto Prime Brokerage to Compete for Institutional Money
Digital asset services firm Bequant launched a prime brokerage service for institutional clients to have easier access to liquidity, custody, lending and other products. Prime brokerage refers to a bundle of specialized services offered by investment banks and securities dealers to their hedge fund clients. Tagomi is the largest of the few prime brokers in crypto.
CZ’s Twitter Feed Swayed New CoinMarketCap Ranking That Put Binance on Top
CoinMarketCap’s new metric focuses on web traffic, and eliminates a metric tracking wash trading, and giving its parent firm a perfect score.
J.K. Rowling Breaks #CryptoTwitter
A short story.
Author: Daniel Cawrey
Cryptocurrency Market Update: Bitcoin consolidates the bounce to $9600
The Crypto Daily – Movers and Shakers -16/05/20
Bitcoin slid by 4.90% on Friday. Reversing a 5.14% rally from Thursday, Bitcoin ended the day at $9,311.2.
A mixed start to the day saw Bitcoin slide from an intraday high $9,848.9 to an early morning low $9,260.0.
Bitcoin fell through the first major support level at $9,391.9 before recovering to $9,800 levels.
The recovery was brief, however. Through the 2nd half of the day, Bitcoin slid to a late intraday low $9,130.2.
Bitcoin fell back through the first major support level to wrap up the day in the deep red.
The near-term bearish trend, formed at late June 2019’s swing hi $13,764.0, remained firmly intact, reaffirmed by the March swing lo $4,000.
For the bulls, Bitcoin would need to break out from $10,000 levels to form a near-term bullish trend.
Across the rest of the majors, it was a bearish day on Friday.
Binance Coin (-4.33%), Bitcoin Cash SV (-4.39%), Ethereum (-4.28%) and Monero’s XMR (-4.15%) led the way down.
Bitcoin Cash ABC (-2.91%), Litecoin (-2.98%), Ripple’s XRP (-3.13%), Stellar’s Lumen (-3.00%), Tezos (-2.51%), and Tron’s TRX (-3.39%) weren’t far behind.
Cardano’s ADA and EOS saw more modest losses of 1.49% and 1.73% respectively.
Through the current week, the crypto total market cap rose from a Monday low $229.41bn to a Thursday high $265.28bn. At the time of writing, the total market cap stood at $256.87bn.
Bitcoin’s dominance visited sub-67% levels before recovering. At the time of writing, Bitcoin’s dominance stood at 67.2%.
24-hour trading volumes rose to an early Monday high $206.86bn before easing back to sub-$140bn levels. Interest picked up on mid-week, however, with volumes revisiting $190bn levels. At the time of writing, 24-hr volumes stood at $148.96bn.
At the time of writing, Bitcoin was up by 0.56% to $9,363.6. A mixed start to the day saw Bitcoin fall to an early morning low $9,222.0 before striking a high $9,417.0.
Bitcoin left the major support and resistance levels untested early on.
Elsewhere, it was a bullish start to the day for the majors.
Bitcoin Cash ABC and Monero’s XRM led the way with gains of 1.35% and 1.31% respectively.
Bitcoin would need to move through to $9,430 levels to bring the first major resistance level at $9,730.0 into play.
Support from the broader market would be needed, however, for Bitcoin to break out from the morning high $9,417.0.
Barring an extended crypto rebound, the first major resistance level and Friday’s high $9,848.9 would likely limit any upside.
In the event of rebound, the 62% FIB of $10,034 could come into play before any pullback.
Failure to break back through to $9,430 levels could see Bitcoin hit reverse.
A fall back through the morning low $9,222.0 would bring the first major support level at $9,011.3 into play.
Barring a crypto sell-off, however, Bitcoin should steer clear of the second major support level at $8,711.4.
This article was originally posted on FX Empire
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JK Rowling Asks About Bitcoin. Accursed Crypto Twitter Scares Her Off
JK Rowling probably wasn’t expecting to unleash the bitcoin community’s pent up passion and imagination when she tweeted two sentences asking about bitcoin.
It took less than three hours for her to follow up with, “I don’t think I trust this.”
Lurking below the Twitter surface is a massive community of people who tweet about almost nothing except bitcoin and cryptocurrency day in and day out, dying to use their niche know-how for the good of the world. Rowling accidentally tapped into it.
In attempts to speak Rowling’s language, many started comparing bitcoin to the wizarding world from her books.
“Remember how He Who Must Not Be Named placed 7 [horcruxes] in different objects around the world in an attempt to immortalize himself, so that no one, not even the Ministry of Magic could stop him?” blockchain lawyer Jenny Leung tweeted.
He Who Must Not Be Named (AKA Lord Voldemort) thought it would be unlikely that anyone could find all seven horcruxes, making him impervious to destruction.
Similarly, under the hood, bitcoin is composed of thousands of nodes around the globe running the bitcoin software (although the number might be decreasing). It is hard to shut down because all of these nodes need to be shut down at once to derail the online currency.
Steven Zheng, a researcher at crypto publication The Block, focused his Harry Potter metaphor on the goal of bitcoin: giving users freedom to do as they please.
“Remember when Dobby was freed by a sock? Bitcoin is that sock,” he tweeted.
Dobby was a house elf in Harry Potter who desired nothing more than his freedom, but under the rules of Rowling’s world, house elves must be slaves to their owners until they are presented with clothes.
A couple other tweeters tried to describe bitcoin’s monetary policy by comparing it to the few financial elements scattered in Harry Potter.
“Imagine if Gringotts ran on the Floo network,” said Zcash Foundation executive director Josh Cincinnati, referencing Gringotts, the sole bank in the wizarding world, and the Floo network, fireplaces that witches and wizards can use to transport instantly to other places.
“Imagine digital gold Galleons, of which no Philosopher’s Stone could make more. In fact, there is a limited supply, and the only way to earn new Galleons is to compete in the facilitation of transactions using Galleons already in circulation. All without goblin central banks,” Lolli CTO and co-founder Matt Senter tweeted.
In short, bitcoin’s supply is fixed, and probably can’t be changed by any entity, like central banks are able to do around the world in attempts to spur the economy in times of crisis.
Elon Musk, who is frequently impersonated on Twitter for crypto giveaway scams, even weighed in.
But despite these attempts to sway Rowling, perhaps some of the analogies were a bit too convoluted. “Now I don’t understand bitcoin,” one bitcoiner responded.
And Rowling herself seemed unimpressed by the explanations sent to her.
“People are now explaining Bitcoin to me, and honestly, it’s blah blah blah collectibles (My Little Pony?) blah blah blah computers (got one of those) blah blah blah crypto (sounds creepy) blah blah blah understand the risk (I don’t, though),” Rowling tweeted.
Almost four hours after her initial tweet, Rowling was still responding to various members of Crypto Twitter, explaining why bitcoin wasn’t for her.
Author: Daniel Cawrey