… which is in essence renting hash power in a dedicated facility. Bitcoin.com is one such provider, with a cloud mining service focused on bitcoin cash …
Bitcoin mining is a great way to earn cryptocurrency while providing a valuable service to the global network of users. Miners can set up a hardware operation by themselves or join forces with a large venture via cloud mining. If you are looking to enter this field in 2020, here is what you need to know about the business.
Bitcoin mining is a transaction security and validation service done via distributed computer systems each racing to solve complex mathematical problems before the competition. Miners keep the global ledger consistent and immutable by repeatedly adding newly requested transactions into a block, which is then broadcast to the network and verified. For providing their valuable hashing power to the cryptocurrency network, miners are rewarded each time a new block is created by them in this fashion.
Anyone thinking about entering this line of work needs to know that long gone are the days where one could just mine bitcoin with a desktop PC or even an old laptop. These days, any profitable bitcoin mining is done via computer systems tailored exclusively for the task, professionally called application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) miners.
The most popular bitcoin mining machines are the Antminer series from Bitmain, but there are additional hardware offerings from companies such as Microbt, Canaan, Ebang, and a few others. Take note that while some machines are available to be purchased off shelf already, or even immediately as second hand goods in online markets, when the newer models come out there is often a waiting period until they are shipped, and you need to take that into consideration.
Other than the upfront cost of the hardware, your main expanse as a miner is electricity. The power is primarily for operation of the computer systems themselves, but also for ventilation and air conditioning systems that might be needed depending on the situation. This is why professional miners routinely migrate around the world to locations that can offer them an optimal combination of lower electricity prices and hospitable weather.
Once the hardware is all set up, you then need to direct your mining machines to a mining pool such as F2pool, Poolin, Btc.com, and Antpool. These are groupings of miners that compete to get a block together and share the rewards according to the contributed hashing power, thus spreading the work and streamlining the revenue for each one.
How to Start Cloud Mining With Bitcoin.com
An easier alternative to setting up your own mining operation is to go for cloud mining. This is a way to generate cryptocurrency that doesn’t require buying any expensive equipment, or installing the infrastructure needed for it. All you have to do is find a provider that you trust and buy a contract from them, which is in essence renting hash power in a dedicated facility. Bitcoin.com is one such provider, with a cloud mining service focused on bitcoin cash (BCH) and BTC.
The company offers a selection of contract lengths, currently starting from just six months and running up to two years, and if you already have your own mining hardware you can connect it to the pool as well. The service also includes an app for Android and iOS mobile devices, so you can keep track of earnings, hashrate, and other statistics related to your contracts right on your phone.
What do you think about the attractiveness of mining bitcoin in 2020? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock.
Verify and track bitcoin cash transactions on our BCH Block Explorer, the best of its kind anywhere in the world. Also, keep up with your holdings, BCH and other coins, on our market charts at Bitcoin.com Markets, another original and free service from Bitcoin.com.
As tensions escalated between the U.S. and Iran in recent months, reports have detailed that Chinese bitcoin miners are looking… read more.
Avi Mizrahi is an economist and entrepreneur who has been covering Bitcoin as a journalist since 2013. He has spoken about the promise of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology at numerous financial conferences around the world, from London to Hong-Kong.
… of actually spending cryptocurrency, the nine cryptocurrencies available on the card, also including litecoin, bitcoin cash, Brave’s BAT, Augur’s REP, …
Credit card giant Visa has granted its principal membership to a cryptocurrency company for the first time. Officially awarded to cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase in December, but not revealed to the public until today, the membership cuts out a crucial, and expensive middleman from the process of issuing a debit card that lets users spend their own bitcoin, ether and XRP anywhere Visa is accepted.
Perhaps even more importantly though, the principal membership makes Coinbase the first cryptocurrency company with the power to issue debit cards for others, including other cryptocurrency companies and more traditional firms alike. Visa confirmed it granted Coinbase the principal membership, clarifying that the company itself won’t actually accept cryptocurrency when the project goes live later this year.
While Coinbase says it’s not planning on issuing cards to others anytime soon, the principal membership status marks a potentially important new revenue stream for the company, which Forbes estimates saw a 40% decline in earnings last year. By simplifying the process of spending cryptocurrency anywhere Visa is accepted, the membership also lays the foundation for a potential explosion of bitcoin, ether, XRP and more as a way to buy everyday items, regardless of whether the merchant itself accepts cryptocurrency.
“Your Bitcoin holdings have never been liquid because you have to sell them, you have to go through a process, withdraw the money, and then spend it. It’s never been an instant, “Oh, I’ll buy this cup of coffee with bitcoin,” says Zeeshan Feroz, CEO of Coinbase UK, which received the membership. “What the card is trying to change is the mindset that crypto is tucked away, takes two days to access, and can actually now be spent in real time.”
Managed by Coinbase’s fully-owned U.K subsidiary, based in Dublin, the card that automates the conversion of cryptocurrency into whatever currency the merchant accepts will be available in 29 countries when it is first issued later this year, including Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the U.K. The Coinbase Visa debit card will not be available to U.S. residents. Further simplifying the process of actually spending cryptocurrency, the nine cryptocurrencies available on the card, also including litecoin, bitcoin cash, Brave’s BAT, Augur’s REP, 0x’s ZRX, and Stellar’s lumen, won’t likely be subject to unwieldy capital gains taxes at the point of sale. Unlike the U.S., the E.U doesn’t require spenders pay additional tax on the difference in price based on when a cryptocurrency was purchased, and when it was spent.
Feroz says direct access to the Visa network gives the cryptocurrency exchange more flexibility in the business models it pursues. A previous Coinbase Visa card was issued in April 2019 by financial services firm Paysafe Group Holdings Limited, which vets its customers, including corporate spending firm Soldo and mobile banking app Lunar, and charges a fee for the service. “You have a dependency on their risk appetite and the models they’d like to work with,” says Feroz. “Direct membership allows us to take control of our issuing program.”
While fees merchants traditionally pay to their banks to accept credit and debit cards will remain the same as with any other cards, Coinbase’s own fees could eventually be reduced as a result of the membership. Though Feroz declined to share the exact amount Coinbase paid to Paysafe to issue its cards, citing a non-disclosure agreement, the removal of that cost, is expected to eventually result in reduced fees for the end user.
Currently, Coinbase charges $0.99 for transactions less than a dollar, making using the card a costly endeavor, more likely to be undertaken by philosophical supporters of the cryptocurrency, and increases fees relative to the size of the purchase. If those fees are reduced as a result of the membership, existing card owners would need re-apply for a new card issued directly by Coinbase in order to benefit. “A direct membership gives us more cost efficiency,” says Feroz. “And ultimately, as we scale the program, the goal is to pass those cost efficiencies to our customers.”
Feroz says the U.K. is Coinbase’s largest and most active debit card market, based on usage patterns of the earlier card, followed by Italy, Spain and France, with almost half the current card owners being active users, making purchases ranging from “many” thousands of Euros for large-ticket items to a few pounds for a coffee, he says, adding: “We’re seeing quite an even spread.”
Historically, revenue for cryptocurrency exchanges like Coinbase has been directly tied to the price of cryptocurrency, with fees charged in fiat currency increasing when the price is high and decreasing when it drops. For example, Coinbase itself saw revenue decline an estimated 40% last year, from a reported $1.3 billion in 2018, when revenue included bitcoin’s monumental price increase the previous year to what Forbes believes will be $800 million this year. Feroz acknowledged that the fees charged to companies outside the cryptocurrency space could eventually become a new source of revenue, less dependent on cryptocurrency price fluctuations, adding however that isn’t currently part of the plan. “Our primary focus is to build our own services,” he says.
To give an idea of how much is on the table here, the credit card issuing industry last year generated $107 billion revenue and $24 billion profit charging these fees and others to companies like Coinbase, according to a report by research firm IBIS World. In addition to Paysafe’s past work with Coinbase, the Metropolitan Commercial Bank currently issues a Visa card for bitcoin firms BityPay and Crypto.com while European emoney firm DiPocket Limited , issues cryptocurrency lender Nexo’s Mastercard.
“Our work with fintechs, such as Coinbase, includes helping them scale, partnering with them on issuance and giving them access to APIs so they can build new products on our network,” said Terry Angelos, Visa’s global head of fintech in a statement to Forbes. For example, in addition to being able to issue credit cards, Coinbase’s status as a principal member of Visa gives it access to Visa Direct, a payouts mechanism that already gives users of Square, Venmo and Zelle the option to receive payment instantly for a fee, similar to a traditional wire transfer, instead of waiting three business days using the traditional ACH payment rails. “Being a principal member of Visa, actually extends beyond just the issuing cards,” says Feroz.
The other is to create new digital currencies built with transaction speed in mind. Among the ones Coinbase supports are litecoin and bitcoin cash.
Near the foot of San Francisco’s California Street stand the august stone pillars of a bank dating to the 19th century. A few paces away sit the offices of Coinbase, the largest American exchange for cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. It’s a beehive of software engineers and young marketing executives. There, the worlds of by-the-books banking and crypto-anarchism collide.
In style and philosophy, Brian Armstrong, the 37-year-old billionaire cofounder and CEO of Coinbase, is in the camp of the financial anarchists. He sits, jammed alongside lieutenants, in a row of tiny desks resembling library carrels. He wears a black T-shirt, black pants and shiny white sneakers. He talks about a brave new world in which we are liberated from the shackles of giant banks and government-controlled money supplies. During an expansive interview, this usually reserved and press-shy entrepreneur declares why he got into this business: “I wanted the world to have a global, open financial system that drove innovation and freedom.”
In following a business model, though, Armstrong fits in with the pinstriped financiers working down the block. Eight years after its start, his firm has opened 35 million accounts, presides over $21 billion of assets and is on target, we estimate, to top $800 million in revenue this year.
That success comes from acting like a bank. Coinbase draws in customer funds via bank wires. It stores its assets—numerical keys that unlock coins—in vaults. It boasts of insurance coverage from Lloyd’s of London. It has a security staff of 41, including an Iraq War veteran assessing perimeter risks and a Ph.D. cryptographer doing the same for mathematical assaults.
The selling proposition here is security—security conspicuously lacking at some of the exchanges with which Coinbase has competed. The Mt. Gox exchange in Japan went bust in 2014 after hackers spirited away coins worth $480 million. Customers of QuadrigaCX, which was one of Canada’s largest exchanges, have been unable to retrieve $150 million in crypto since the founder supposedly died suddenly in December 2018, holding the only set of keys to unlock their money. They now want the body exhumed.
In order to capture a gilt edge, though, Armstrong has had to veer away from the antiestablishment ethos that got bitcoin going. He plays ball with government inspectors, for example.
The Coinbase compliance staff, already numbering 55, is expected to grow to 70 by quarter’s end. They comb through transactions looking for money laundering. They will conform to a controversial new rule that mandates a paper trail when customers move coins from one exchange to another. Coinbase dutifully sends 1099-K reports to the IRS on traders who in one year do 200 or more trades involving a combined $20,000 or more in proceeds.
Given all this snitching, how does Coinbase appeal to diehard crypto fans? One way is by having a menu that includes 26 newer currencies, some of which are explicitly designed to offer more privacy than bitcoin does. The other is a service, introduced in August 2018, that enables a customer to move bitcoin into a personal wallet exempt from know-your-customer and anti-money-laundering regulations.
“If you are an individual and you want to store your own cryptocurrency, you’re not a financial service business,” says Armstrong, mindful of any U.S. Financial Crimes Enforcement Network cops who might be listening. “And there are companies, including us, who provide tools for people to store their own cryptocurrency and use it.”
Born near San Jose to engineer parents, Armstrong displayed an entrepreneurial streak as early as grade school. He recalls being hauled into the principal’s office on charges of operating a candy-reselling venture on the playground. The business flings continued with a scheme to resell used computers and, after he earned a master’s degree in 2006 from Rice University, a startup that matched tutors to students. He worked on the education venture while living in Buenos Aires. “I had just decided, I’ve never been to South America. I want to travel for a year and try to work on this remotely as an adventure. Figure out what I want to do with my life,” he says. “[It] was an interesting experience to see the financial system in another country like that, that had gone through hyperinflation.”
Later, as a coder at Airbnb, Armstrong had his crypto epiphany. His employer was sending money to landlords in Latin America. He describes the process this way: “High fees . . . long delays . . . opaque. We’d try sending money to somebody in Uruguay and didn’t know how much would show up on the other side.”
“I wanted the world to have a global, open financial system that drove innovation and freedom.”
In 2010 he read the manifesto, published by a person (or persons) under the alias Satoshi Nakamoto, that proposed bitcoin as an underground currency. Its transactions are recorded on a ledger called the blockchain, maintained in duplicated computer files by a band of self-appointed guardians called nodes. Disputes about transactions and ground rules are resolved by majority vote. The nodes are kept honest, and trouble-makers at bay, by requiring a participant in the network to engage in some arithmetic busywork before certifying a batch of transactions. A node who completes the arithmetic task is awarded a few new coins.
The busywork, called mining, did not interest Armstrong. But he did see an opportunity in the business of safeguarding the keys to the coins and setting up transactions. Anybody can do that with some readily available software, but if you mishandle the protocol your coins will be stolen or lost.
Armstrong took a flyer on bitcoins, buying $1,000 worth at $9 a coin. The price sank to $2. He kept the faith.
It was fun. Was it worth quitting his day job? A $150,000 capital infusion from Y Combinator, source of seed funding to Airbnb and many other illustrious startups, answered that question in 2012. Fred Ehrsam, a Goldman Sachs alum, joined the venture and gave Coinbase credibility with the banks that would be wiring money to it.
Venture capitalists, led by Andreessen Horowitz, have showered half a billion dollars on Coinbase. “It’s like if Google made Gmail for bitcoin,” says Chris Dixon, an Andreessen partner who serves on the Coinbase board. “And that’s literally the way they described it.”
Its last round of funding valued Coinbase at $8.1 billion. Ehrsam, 31, has since left Coinbase but retains a stake; he keeps busy arranging venture capital for startups that aim to use cryptocurrencies and blockchains to build transaction networks for corporations.
The essence of what Armstrong has in mind can be captured in the word defi, which stands for decentralized finance or, if you prefer, defiance of authority. Defi is supposed to reach into all aspects of wealth; someday, supposedly, blockchains will support trading, peer-to-peer lending and loan collateralization without the usual financial institutions as intermediaries. Intriguingly, Coinbase has a broker/dealer license. Could it someday end-run stock exchanges? Maybe.
If the grand vision for Coinbase is to be a gateway to decentralized finance of all sorts, the revenue for now is coming from more mundane things like trading commissions. Coinbase allows amateurs to go in and out of crypto, or swap one crypto for another, for fees and spreads that come to 2% or so. At archrival Binance, these small-fry speculators would pay 90% less, but they’d be dealing with a firm that mostly inhabits the shadowy world of offshore finance. Malta-based Binance has only a small presence in the U.S.
Serious traders get a better deal. They use Coinbase Pro, a different platform that replicates the bid-and-ask order book of a stock exchange; here the combined buyer and seller commission ranges from 1% for small trades down to 0.07% at the $100 million level.
Somewhat more than half of Coinbase Pro’s trading volume comes from algorithmic trading. Furious trading doesn’t look socially productive, but it lubricates the capital markets. Bid/ask spreads on bitcoins, now worth $9,300 apiece, are measured in dimes. In percentage terms, the crypto spread competes with the spread on the very liquid SPDR S&P 500 ETF.
The trouble with commission income is that it’s extremely sensitive to crypto prices. When bitcoin collapses, as it did in 2018, trading volume shrinks and the dollar revenue from each coin goes down.
So Coinbase is trying to create stable revenue streams to balance out the commissions. A big one, says Alesia Haas, the company’s chief financial officer, is coming from a custody operation for institutional clients. This digital warehouse, greatly expanded by Coinbase’s acquisition last August of Xapo’s institutional business, holds $8 billion of bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies.
“We’d try sending money to somebody in Uruguay and didn’t know how much would show up on the other side.”
A new revenue source is “staking.” Here, the holder of certain coins, such as tezos and EOS, collects fees for confirming transactions on the network. There is no electricity-gobbling busywork calculation as with bitcoin, but some finesse is needed, because messing up the recipe causes the player’s stake to be confiscated. Coinbase handles the details and splits stake revenue with its customers. It’s rather like a stockbroker lending out your margined securities to short-sellers, except that there you’re unlikely to get cut in on the revenue. Click here to read more about the tax implication of crypto investing.
Another Coinbase product, called USD Coin, developed in partnership with cryptocurrency exchange Circle, lets customers put up U.S. dollars in exchange for a cryptocurrency that has the same value but can be traded more quickly. The dollars in question earn interest that Coinbase shares with its customers.
Coinbase says it handled $80 billion of transactions last year. (Binance boasts of a daily volume that annualizes to $1 trillion.) Is that enough for a profit? CFO Haas allows that the bottom line flits in and out of the plus column from month to month. But, she adds, if you exclude non-cash items like charges for goodwill amortization and the hypothetical value of employee options, Coinbase has been solidly in the black for several years.
In a firm fixated on growth, the money goes out the door almost as quickly as it comes in. Coinbase has quadrupled its staff to 1,000 since hiring chief operating officer Emilie Choi two years ago. At headquarters, construction workers can barely keep up with the new hires streaming out of the onboarding room. There are offices in New York, Dublin and Tokyo. And then there are bets on the future.
Choi, who came to Coinbase after doing business development at LinkedIn, has taken the venture capital portfolio from nothing to 60 firms. It includes Bison Trails in New York City and Alchemy in San Francisco, both aiming to help corporations use blockchains, and Amber Group in Shenzhen, China, which is applying artificial intelligence to cryptocurrency trading. Says Choi: “A lot of the stuff that we’re doing in the venture side of the house is things we probably wouldn’t do as a principal but that we think are really interesting.”
Armstrong adds, “These venture bets could be huge, but we don’t know if they’re gonna work. And they actually should have a pretty high rate of failure. Otherwise, we’re not thinking big enough.”
rypto has been condemned as rat poison by Warren Buffett, as a fraud by Jamie Dimon and the mother of all scams by doomsday economist Nouriel Roubini. Where’s the payoff to the economy?
It’s coming, Armstrong says. He posits a future in which thousands of startups use crypto to raise capital in a global marketplace no longer controlled by Wall Street firms. Within a decade, he predicts, the number of people participating in the blockchain economy will explode from 50 million to 1 billion. We are destined to enjoy a financial system that is “more global, more fair, more free and more efficient.”
There is an emotional component to the quest for financial liberation. Coinbase’s newly hired chief product officer, Surojit Chatterjee, talks about what happened when India all but destroyed currency holdings in a surprise attack on the money supply. His 80-year-old father spent five hours in line to retrieve the equivalent of $30.
Many countries, including Mexico, Argentina, Russia and Cyprus, have perpetrated wealth confiscations of this sort, in which some store of value is frozen or forcibly converted into something less valuable. The U.S. is an offender, too. FDR seized gold in 1933, replacing it with pieces of paper that have since lost 95% of their value.
Like gold, bitcoin is too cumbersome to be used as a means of exchange. The convoluted mechanism for adding transactions to the ledger means it takes 10 minutes to confirm a payment and that only four transfers can take place per second. You can’t run a global economy on that.
Solutions are on the way, Armstrong says. One is to consider bitcoin a store of value and add a layer atop it for transactions, much the way a quiescent base of vault currency and Federal Reserve deposits supports a torrent of checks and electronic payments in the banking system. The other is to create new digital currencies built with transaction speed in mind. Among the ones Coinbase supports are litecoin and bitcoin cash.
Coinbase has a broker/dealer license. Could it someday end-run stock exchanges?
In December, Coinbase got a first-of-its-kind authorization from Visa to issue debit cards that allow holders to make purchases at the 46 million locations (including ATMs) that accept Visa, and have the money drawn from a Coinbase account holding cryptocurrencies. Initially, these debit cards will be available to residents of 29 countries, but not the U.S. Still, Coinbase could eventually develop its Visa authorization into yet another business line: issuing credit cards on behalf of other crypto exchanges.
Banks, meanwhile, aren’t missing the opportunity to redesign payment networks using old-fashioned dollars. Zelle, an instant-payment system run by a consortium of big banks, ran $187 billion of traffic last year, putting it well ahead of PayPal’s Venmo. Zelle is mostly aimed at retail clients doing things like splitting dinner tabs, but has handled transactions as large as $3.2 million.
No question, disruptive technology is coming to the banking system, and Coinbase will be a part of it. It is the only outfit to appear on both the Forbes Fintech 50 and Blockchain 50 lists. But Armstrong is going to have plenty of competition, starting with central banks, which are plotting their own digital currencies. Facebook hasn’t given up on Libra, which is intended to be a globally accessible digital currency backed by assets like dollars and euros.
Let a thousand flowers bloom, says Armstrong. “When I started Coinbase, most people thought [blockchain] was crazy. Governments and the old guard, the blue chips, are now investing in this technology. So let’s just say that’s a very good thing.”
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Similarly, there were strong gains in most major altcoins, including ethereum, XRP, litecoin, bitcoin cash, BNB, EOS, TRX, ADA, and XLM. ETH/USD …
After forming a support base above USD 9,650, bitcoin started a strong increase. BTC/USD surged above the USD 9,850 and USD 10,000 resistance levels to enter a positive zone. The price is now (09:00 UTC) consolidating gains and it could continue to rise towards USD 10,400 and USD 10,550.
Similarly, there were strong gains in most major altcoins, including ethereum, XRP, litecoin, bitcoin cash, BNB, EOS, TRX, ADA, and XLM. ETH/USD tested the USD 285 resistance and it is currently consolidating gains. On the other hand, XRP/USD is struggling to gain bullish momentum above the USD 0.295 and USD 0.300 resistance levels.
Total market capitalization
In the past three sessions, bitcoin price followed a strong bullish path above the USD 9,850 and USD 10,000 resistance levels. BTC/USD even spiked above USD 10,200 before it faced sellers near the USD 10,250 level. It is currently consolidating gains and it could continue to rise towards USD 10,400. The main resistance is still near the USD 10,550 level.
On the downside, an initial support is still near USD 10,020, followed by the USD 10,000 handle. The key support is still near the USD 9,850 level, below which there is a risk of more losses.
Ethereum price is showing positive signs above the USD 270 and USD 275 levels. ETH/USD tested the USD 285 resistance and it seems like there are chances of a solid upward move above the USD 288 and USD 292 levels in the near term.
If there is a downside correction below the USD 275 level, the price could revisit the USD 270 support area. The main uptrend support is now near USD 265.
Bitcoin cash, litecoin and XRP price
Bitcoin cash price settled above the USD 400 handle and extended gains above USD 405. BCH/USD climbed above the USD 415 level and it is approaching the USD 420 resistance. A clear break above the USD 420 level could set the stage for a larger upward move towards the USD 450 level in the near term.
Litecoin remained well bid above the USD 72.50 support and it recently climbed back above USD 75.50. To start another strong increase, LTC/USD must surpass the USD 78.50 and USD 80.00 resistance levels. On the downside, the USD 75.50 level is a decent support, followed by the USD 72.50 pivot level.
XRP price remained well bid above the USD 0.288 and USD 0.290 levels. However, the bulls also failed to gain momentum above the USD 0.295 and USD 0.300 resistance levels. An upside continuation above the USD 0.300 level is likely to boost the market sentiment for a run towards the USD 0.320 level.
Other altcoins market today
In the past three sessions, many small-capitalization altcoins climbed more than 5%, including ABBC, DX, ICX, CENNZ, ENJ, MKR, QNT, BTM, XTZ, SC, OKB, ALGO, MANA, HT, and MATIC. Out of these, ABBC rallied close to 30% and DX is up around 16%.
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Overall, bitcoin is showing positive signs above the USD 10,000 and USD 10,020 levels. Therefore, there are high chances of more upsides above USD 10,250 and USD 10,300. On the downside, the main supports are near USD 9,850.