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27.6% Tariff on Chinese Crypto Mining Rig Manufacturers Could Be a Blessing or a Curse for Miners in the USA

A trade war is underway between the United States and China, and now the biggest crypto mining rig manufacturers in the world are caught in the crossfire. Bitmain, Canaan Creative, and Ebang International are among the largest crypto mining rig manufacturers in the world and are all located in China. Crypto mining rigs have been re-classified as ‘electrical machinery apparatus’ in June 2018 after being originally classified as ‘data processing machines’, bringing them under a 27.6% United States tariff, whereas before the tariff was 0%.

These tariffs have arisen out of a growing trade war between the United States and China. On 15 June 2018, the same month mining rigs were re-classified, the United States imposed 25% tariffs on USD 50 billion of Chinese imports. China retaliated with tariffs against the United States, prompting 25% tariffs against USD 200 billion of Chinese imports, which goes into full effect on 1 January 2019 but are already at 10% as of 24 September 2018. If China retaliates again, the United States promises tariffs on an additional USD 267 billion of Chinese goods, bringing the total of Chinese imports under the new tariffs to USD 517 billion, which is essentially 100% of all Chinese imports to the United States.

It is a general rule that tariffs benefit domestic producers and the government at the expense of consumers. Indeed, crypto mining rig manufacturers in the United States will have an opportunity to capture the U.S. market, after years of being dominated by Chinese crypto rig manufacturers like Bitmain. This is where the tariffs could be a blessing since it will open up the opportunity for U.S. manufacturers to become global competitors in the crypto mining business. In general, since Bitmain has a monopoly on the global crypto mining business, it might be a good thing for U.S. crypto mining manufacturers to break that monopoly since it would increase worldwide competition and lower mining rig prices.

It will take some time for U.S. crypto mining rig manufacturers to get to the point where they can compete with Bitmain on a global scale. In the short-term, the tariffs are a curse for both the Chinese crypto mining rig manufacturers, who will lose sales, and for U.S. customers who will either choose not to buy rigs or lose most of their profits if they decide to buy rigs and pay the tariff. The crypto hash rate in the United States could decline relative to the rest of the world. Simultaneously, the loss of U.S. demand could substantially weaken Chinese crypto mining manufacturers and cause mining rig prices to increase worldwide.

This tariff curse would be lifted if U.S. mining rig manufacturers can evolve to produce rigs as cheap and efficient as Bitmain’s rigs, at which point U.S. miners will no longer be at a disadvantage, and the whole world could benefit from the global competition between Chinese and U.S. crypto mining rig manufacturers.

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Canada Legalizes Cannabis to Create a $23 Billion Industry, DLT at the Forefront

As Canada becomes the second nation after Uruguay to legalize cannabis, one company is already underway with a blockchain-based solution for supply chain management.

Despite the announcement yesterday, inviting Newfoundlanders to be the first in the country to be able to make an officially sanctioned purchase, the legislation is hardly a free for all. Users will need to be 18 or 19 to purchase, and anyone caught selling to minors will incur a strong penalty with a possible jail sentence.

Plants grown at home will be limited and only 30 grams will be allowed for personal possession in public. Also, strict driving legislation will allow police to track and penalize drug-impaired drivers through roadside saliva testing for over the limit THC content.

Supply chain management is sure to become a major factor under Canada’s new legislation. DMG Blockchain Solutions is currently negotiating with cannabis licensed producers, quality assurance labs, retail distributors, and government regulators, to develop a cannabis supply chain solution. DMG describes itself as a diversified blockchain and cryptocurrency company that works on end-to-end solutions to monetize blockchain’s ecosystem.

The company currently has new 85-megawatt capacity transfer and electrical substation under construction, making their crypto mining installation one of the largest in North America. The company’s CEO Dan Reitzik talking about DMG’s latest venture, sees blockchain and the cannabis supply chain as a perfect match in providing a backdrop for safe usage of the legal drug, suggesting:

“Canada is being positioned to be the global supplier of cannabis, and our blockchain platform can help enable this by way of product traceability for rapid recalls, ensuring a legal source of the product, enhancing product safety, as well as facilitating and automating legal and tax compliance.”

Cannabis’s impact on the Canadian economy stands at potentially $23 billion, including an estimated $6 billion in revenue from 13 million recreational users. Ensuring the safety of the product with such widespread usage is vital. Systems such as DMG’s will at least be able to ensure that advertised products originate from listed official producers, although there are sure to be other problems associated with illegal circulation of the drug. The company’s official announcement listed some of the features of the proposed solution, such as:

“Supply chain automation on blockchain, applying artificial intelligence, IoT, machine learning and tight integration across the entire supply chain and the development of interfaces between the blockchain platform and legacy systems.”

Other aspects of the new technology as it applies to the project also includes the “Integration of existing ERP systems with the blockchain platform, licensed producers, licensed distributors, retailers, shippers, as well as a reporting and auditing system.”

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Powering Bitcoin Mining With Nuclear Reactors Could Be the Future

Energy consumed by Bitcoin mining operations is approaching 0.5% of global energy consumption figures,  which has raised concerns that cryptocurrency mining activities are damaging the environment and raising electricity rates for everyone else. Digiconomist estimates that Bitcoin mining requires about 200 GigaWatts of electricity, although some experts think this is an overestimate. It would be optimal if Bitcoin mining used excess power generated by nuclear power plants, which often goes to waste, and this could be the future since nuclear power is cheap and emits low amounts of greenhouse gases.

Nuclear energy is produced by a controlled nuclear chain reaction, where a heavy isotope such as Uranium-235 is split, releasing neutrons which cause another Uranium-235 atom to split, and so on and so forth. The energy produced by the nuclear chain reaction can be utilized for power generation as long as the reaction is stable. On the other hand, if the nuclear chain reaction causes exponentially more atoms to split, it becomes a nuclear bomb.

Nuclear power plants produce so much energy that there are times throughout the day and year that the power grid has no more room to store the electricity, and nuclear power plant operators are forced to reduce the energy output of the nuclear reactor. Control rods are inserted into the core of the reactor, and these consist of metals like boron and silver which absorb neutrons and slow down or stop the nuclear chain reaction.

It does not save any money to slow down a nuclear reactor with control rods, it costs about the same amount of money to operate a nuclear power plant whether it is at low capacity or max capacity. Therefore, it is economically sensible for nuclear power plants to operate near full capacity 24/7. Operating near full capacity also increases the longevity of a nuclear reactor.

This is where Bitcoin mining comes in. If a large enough Bitcoin farm is set up on the grid of a nuclear power plant, then the nuclear power plant can run at full capacity 24/7. This would make the plant more profitable, leading to lower electricity rates for the entire grid, and the Bitcoin mining network would get the energy it needs.

The low electricity rates near a full capacity nuclear power plant would additionally make Bitcoin mining more profitable. A similar concept is observed with the concentration of Bitcoin mining farms around cheap geothermal energy sources in Iceland, and around hydroelectric dams in China, where large amounts of excess electricity are produced.

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“Mad Money” Looks at Crypto Art From a Whole New Perspective

A “Mad Money” exhibition taking place in Moscow on the 18th October is dedicated to the art of crypto mining and trading.

Moscow’s Electromuseum is hosting the event, where installations and artwork will examine the nature of the industry in a whole new way, with artists attempting to demonstrate how modern financial instruments can transform society, according to curator Aristarkh Chernyshev.

In the process of putting on the exhibition, Chernyshev was intrigued that many of the artists came up with original ideas for using the heat created by mining. Such ideas, creating by-products from the mining process are gaining popularity. A French-based startup recently came up with a unique idea enabling users to heat their homes whilst using the same energy to mine cryptocurrency.

Mad Money’s artists have used transaction data, stock reports, and microchips as materials for their work, at the exhibition which includes participants such as “One red paperclip’” Canadian blogger Kyle MacDonald, who once bartered his way from a single red paperclip to a house in a series of fourteen online trades over the course of a year.

The event was launched on the back of a Bitcoin’s 10th Anniversary exhibition in Paris earlier this month where artists from all over the world arrived with their own very individual commentaries on the world of cryptocurrency. Featured artwork included Marguerite deCourcelle, also known as Coin Artist who in 2014 painted a picture which contained an encrypted access to five bitcoins and Josephine Bellini, a painter of “Filter”, and Andy Bauch who created his works on the basis of Lego.

The crypto art movement is growing rapidly with some exceptional concepts being created, such as by New York conceptual artist and photographer Kevin Abosch, who earlier this year created 10 million IAMA Coin tokens using the Ethereum ERC-20 protocol. The artist drew six vials of his own blood stamping 100 blockchain addresses where the IAMA Coins reside onto 100 separate pieces of paper using the bodily fluid. Lorenzo Sconci, the owner of Dubai-based Sconci Art Gallery, and CEO of crypto startup ArtWallet which records art provenance on a blockchain commented about this new wave of art:

“Without a doubt, bitcoin and blockchain has been the biggest revolution over the past 10 years. As revolutions have shaped artistic expression throughout time, there is no doubt that crypto will accomplish the same.”

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New US Trade Tariffs Will Hit China’s Mining Hardware Makers

New US trade tariffs aimed at China will have a significant impact on the profits of crypto mining equipment manufacturers.

Chinese cryptocurrency mining hardware maker Bitmain stands to be the hardest hit by these new tariffs as its Antminer S9 gets reclassified by the office of the United States Trade Representative as “electrical machinery apparatus” which will now incur a 2.6 percent trade tariff.

The reclassification of mining gear from their original status as “data processing machines” also brings crypto mining hardware into another goods category which will add a further tariff of 25 percent, bringing the new tariff total from zero to 27.6 percent overnight.

The new tariffs couldn’t be worse timed for China with mining gear giant Bitmain, along with two of the world largest manufactures of crypto mining equipment, Canaan and Ebang International, all filing to list on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Bitmain filed in September and is waiting to hear the outcome which could result in raising $3 billion. An executive at consultancy firm Quinlan & Associates explained:

“The marked decline in the price of bitcoin since the start of the year is likely to weigh on investors’ interest in these companies… [Yet] the fall in the price of bitcoin from its peaks has not been matched by an equivalent fall in the numbers of people mining it.”

Ben Gagnon co-founder of LuTech, a bitcoin mining hardware developer suggested that there had been increased activity in the mining sector over the past 18 months, but feels that the impact of the new tariffs will start to kick in:

“All manufacturers of mining rigs based in China will likely be affected by the tariff code change and, in turn, be captured by the US trade tariff.”

Bitmain’s IPO prospectus claimed that overseas sales made up for 51 percent and 51.8 percent of its revenue in 2016 and 2017 respectively,  but neglected to stipulate exactly where the majority of these sales were concentrated. Canaan’s and Ebang International’s overseas sales represented 8.5 percent and 3.8 percent of their total revenue in 2017 respectively.

Bitmain has had little to say on the possible effect of President Trump’s trade tariffs, but Mark Li, the senior analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein, thinks that the company’s concerns that its technology is falling behind its competitors are likely to be their major focus.

A statement, prepared for Bitmain’s IPO, simply warned that changes in tax rates “due to economic and political conditions” may impact on the company’s financial status.

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Siberian Church Turns to the Power of Crypto In Mining Gaff

A church in Irkutsk, Siberia’s largest state, has been taken to court for draining too much power from the local grid through crypto mining.

Crypto mining in itself is not illegal and Russian law permits reduced power rates for non-government organizations. But, it seems that the church decided to go beyond covering essential heating and lighting and raised extra funds in their own way through crypto mining.

Most churches fundraise for essential repairs, but it seems as though someone in this parish had their own particular use for the extra generation of cash raised by their mining activities. It is not clear if members of the clergy or someone in the parish had locked into the church’s power supply, but the court found for the power company that no case of power theft was suggested, which does indicate that the irregular use of power may have been authorised by the church.

The result means that the church has a tab of $16,000 to pick up and faces their tariffs being raised by the electricity company. More importantly, the case may set a precedent in the courts for future such incidents when excess power is drawn without consultation with local electricity providers. Although not currently legislated for, extreme overuse of power through crypto mining may invite closer government scrutiny if it became a common occurrence.

The cold climate, particularly in locations such as Siberia with its sub-zero temperatures, has made the likes of Russia and Iceland the go-to destinations for industrial level crypto mining. The Russian Association of Crypto Industry and Blockchain (RACIB) claims that there are now over 400,000 people employed in the sector. 70,000 enterprises operate hundreds of thousands of mining rigs, with an increase in one-man operators working from their homes.

Because much of Russia’s mining proceeds go towards foreign investment, locally run mining pools are becoming popular as a way of cutting back on the amount of Russian money going towards overseas enterprises through crypto mining.

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What Is a Timewarp Attack?

When most people think of possible attacks on Bitcoin or crypto, they think of a 51% attack where a miner amasses a majority of the network hash power and forks the blockchain, in order to double spend crypto or to implement code changes. However, another lesser known hack is the timewarp attack, which is what this article explores.

In a nutshell, a timewarp attack occurs when a miner reports incorrect timestamps on the blocks they mine, in order to bring about a lower difficulty. Many cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin periodically adjust difficulty according to the rate of block generation, so that block generation stays at the set amount in the code, which is 10 minutes per block for Bitcoin. By reporting incorrect timestamps a miner can trick the difficulty algorithm and cause difficulty to be lowered, allowing them to mine blocks faster and make more money. This has negative effects for a crypto’s economy, since a timewarp attack increases the inflation rate of a crypto, causing a surge in supply that can lead to a lower market price.

In Bitcoin’s code, a block can be timestamped up to 2 hours in the future, past which point it is rejected. This leeway was designed to account for errors in computer clocks, so miners would not have blocks rejected if their computer clock is slightly off. There have been numerous instances in Bitcoin’s history where a previous block has a timestamp that is after the timestamp of the next block, and this seems to have been a problem especially when new technology is introduced, like when Bitcoin mining pools first launched in 2012.

The 2-hour leeway for block timestamps is what opens the door for timewarp attacks. For Bitcoin, it would be very difficult to conduct a significant timewarp attack, since it would be publicly obvious on the blockchain, and a successful attack would need a majority of mining power. However, it is still possible, and if a large majority of miners work together they could theoretically drop the difficulty with continued timewarp attacks until it only takes 1 second to mine a block, which is the minimum possible block time. At this worst-case scenario of a timewarp attack, instead of taking 2 weeks to mine 2,016 blocks, it would take just over half an hour. This would lead to rapid inflation of the Bitcoin supply, which could be quite damaging for the market.

It is very unlikely Bitcoin miners would collude and perform such a timewarp attack, since miners have invested billions of USD into mining infrastructure, and the damage to the Bitcoin ecosystem from such an extreme timewarp attack would wipe out their investment. Not to mention it would be glaringly obvious to the community, and there would be a tremendous public outcry.

However, with some cryptocurrencies, it is much easier to perform a timewarp attack. For example, the Verge cryptocurrency continuously re-adjusts difficulty, unlike Bitcoin which adjusts difficulty once every 2 weeks. Therefore, if someone gains a majority of hash power on the Verge they can rapidly implement an extreme timewarp attack. Further, Verge uses multiple mining algorithms, allowing for multiple points of attack. This is exactly what happened, someone timewarp attacked Verge and brought Scrypt difficulty to minimum levels, and they netted millions of USD of Verge in the process.

There are discussions in the Bitcoin community to change the code to prevent timewarp attacks, and obviously other cryptocurrencies need to follow that ideology to prevent catastrophic timewarp attacks like what happened with Verge. However, there is a new idea called Forward Blocks that would apparently be inhibited if Bitcoin’s timewarp attack exploit is fixed, so there is a stalemate on implementing the fix for timewarp attacks in Bitcoin’s code. That being said, the fix is ready for deployment if a timewarp attack ever becomes an issue for Bitcoin.

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Heat Your House Whilst Earning Using French Crypto-Heater

A French-based startup has come up with a unique idea which enables users to heat their homes whilst using the same energy to mine cryptocurrency.

Startup Qarnot has manufactured the QC 1 crypto-heater, one of two products using both heating and computer energy, which uses the heat generated by home computers to heat the surrounding area via a system of graphic plates.

The crypto-heater is advertised as the only one in the market to be perfectly noiseless with no embedded mobile parts (no fans, no hard drives) and IP-protected. Taking only 10 mins to set up, the heat of the QC-1 is generated by 2 graphics cards embedded in the device enabling the mining of cryptocurrencies or blockchain transactions, while it heats.

At 2,900 euros plus shipping, this heater doesn’t come cheap though. The unit is advertised as configured to mine Ethereum and has extra controls which allow the user to follow the crypto market, either through an LED readout on the heater or via a downloadable app. Heater owners are able to mine other cryptocurrencies through a GitHub link which will give them the necessary codes.

As for dual-usage household products, this time not designed on a commercial level, but more as a bi-product, Alabama IT worker Lee, gave up his graphics card that he was using for Bitcoin mining for his bathtub. This turned out to be a much better tool for the job. By using ambient air pulled into a system to cool his ASICs and heated air pushed through a water-to-air intercooler pumped through from his bathtub, he generated enough computer heated water to keep his mining habits up to par.

The only problem was, he generated bathwater of 122F/50C, so fearing for the life of his pets he decided to halt his bathtub mining activities.

“Imagine a crypto heated swimming pool or anything else you could heat with the output from a small, medium, or large-scale mining operation,” gta3uzi wrote on Reddit.

Some suggestions arising from his post included using the hot water to create a sauna, heating his home, drying one’s hair, and even cooking a steak sous vide.

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Great Firewall of China Slows Down Bitcoin Network

Ben Kaiser from Princeton University and Mireya Jurado and Alex Ledger from Florida International University have written a paper titled The Looming Threat of China: An Analysis of Chinese Influence on Bitcoin. The paper describes all the different ways China could manipulate and attack Bitcoin. One very interesting aspect of this is the Great Firewall of China, which observes and filters all Chinese internet traffic. Even without any sort of attack from China, the latency caused by the Great Firewall impacts the entire Bitcoin network, since 74% of all Bitcoin mining hash power is located in China.

Despite China banning fiat to Bitcoin trading, which caused the market share of Chinese yuan (CNY) trading to decline from well over 90% in 2016 to nearly 0% in 2018, Bitcoin mining hash rate in China has been steadily increasing from about 50% in 2015 to 74% currently. Over 80% of Bitcoin’s hash rate is within six major mining pools and five of these are controlled by organizations based in China.

According to the paper referenced, the Great Firewall of China doesn’t prevent outbound packets from reaching the global internet but it definitely slows them down via inducing packet loss. On the global internet, there is a rate of 0.2% packet loss, while that rate is 6.9% behind the Great Firewall of China. The lost packets must be re-requested and re-sent, increasing latency from 81 milliseconds for the global internet to 218 milliseconds behind the Great Firewall of China.

This significantly impacts Bitcoin block propagation. It takes on average 3.9 seconds for blocks on the same side of the Great Firewall of China to propagate between nodes but 17.4 seconds for blocks to propagate between nodes on different sides, a 450% slowdown.

This puts Chinese miners at a disadvantage since miners outside of the Great Firewall can broadcast a block much faster to the network and get the block reward, even if a miner inside of the Great Firewall technically found a block earlier.

This incentivized Chinese miners to mine empty blocks with SPV mining, increasing empty blocks from the global average of 1-2% to as high as 7% for Chinese miners. This is because empty blocks use less bandwidth and propagate quicker, taking away some of the disadvantage from being behind the Great Firewall. Unfortunately, empty blocks reduce the capacity of the network and can raise Bitcoin transaction fees. Fortunately, in BIP 152 in 2016, Bitcoin was updated so that all blocks, including empty blocks, propagate at nearly the same speed and empty blocks from China returned to the global average near 1%.

Chinese miners are still at a mining disadvantage to this day, and since 74% of hash rate is in China, this means the Great Firewall of China slows down confirmations on the entire Bitcoin network. There are additional threats posed by the Great Firewall that are speculated about in the paper, such as Bitcoin transaction censoring, but there is no evidence that China has been actively censoring the Bitcoin network.

 

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New Google Ad Takes Dig at Power-Hungry Crypto

Google hardly improved its relationship with the crypto community after its earlier ban on advertising this year, despite a recent partial climbdown but now, the media giant seems to have shown its true colors in advertising of its own.

The initial June ban was introduced according to Google to “protect” customers, including advertising for ICO, crypto wallets, exchanges, and cryptocurrency trading advice. At the time of the ban, a Google spokesman commented that:

“We don’t have a crystal ball to know where the future is going to go with cryptocurrencies, but we’ve seen enough consumer harm or potential for consumer harm that it’s an area that we want to approach with extreme caution.”

Google has clearly got a problem with crypto, as its latest piece of advertising clearly telegraphs. An ad for its new Call Screen phone service, designed to allow people to interact with callers before picking up, has one character asking another if he’s “going to live that (crypto) lie?”.

The ad refers to one character’s overblown electricity bill with the provider suggesting “cryptocurrency mining [takes] a lot of energy,” a clear reference to an ongoing argument that claims that the crypto industry is draining energy due to its high power requirement; an argument which is equally disputed by some experts.

This week Google also put another spanner in the works with Berkshire Hathaway chief executive Warren Buffett, JP Morgan Chase boss Jamie Dimon and Mastercard CEO Ajay Banga all being listed on the site as “CEOs of bitcoin”. It’s a well-known fact in the crypto community, that far from being connected with crypto, the three have all spoken out against Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in the past and rarely express positive views about the industry as a whole. Google’s response to the error came quickly:

“Entities in the Knowledge Graph and associations between them are automatically generated based on available information on the web… It’s not always perfect, and when we’re made aware of incorrect associations, we work to fix the error.”

 

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