Going down the rabbit hole
Cryptocurrency mining is painstaking, costly and only sporadically rewarding. Nonetheless, mining has a magnetic appeal for many investors interested in cryptocurrency because of the fact that miners are rewarded for their work with crypto tokens.
And if you are technologically inclined, why not do it? However, before you invest the time and equipment, read this explainer to see whether mining is really for you. We will focus primarily on Bitcoin throughout, we'll use "Bitcoin" when referring to the network or the cryptocurrency as a concept, and "bitcoin" when we're referring to a quantity of individual tokens.
The primary draw for many Bitcoin miners is the prospect of being rewarded with valuable bitcoin tokens. That said, you certainly don't have to be a miner to own cryptocurrency tokens.
An example of the latter is Steemit , which is kind of like Medium except that users can reward bloggers by paying them in a proprietary cryptocurrency called STEEM. STEEM can then be traded elsewhere for bitcoin. The bitcoin reward that miners receive is an incentive which motivates people to assist in the primary purpose of mining: to support, legitimize and monitor the Bitcoin network and its blockchain. Because these responsibilities are spread among many users all over the world, bitcoin is said to be a "decentralized" cryptocurrency, or one that does not rely on a central bank or government to oversee its regulation.
Miners are getting paid for their work as auditors. They are doing the work of verifying previous bitcoin transactions. By verifying transactions, miners are helping to prevent the " double-spending problem. Double spending is a scenario in which a bitcoin owner illicitly spends the same bitcoin twice.
If you were to try to spend both the real bill and the fake one, someone that took the trouble of looking at both of the bills' serial numbers would see that they were the same number, and thus one of them had to be false.
What a bitcoin miner does is analogous to that—they check transactions to make sure that users have not illegitimately tried to spend the same bitcoin twice. This isn't a perfect analogy—we'll explain in more detail below. Once a miner has verified 1 MB megabyte worth of bitcoin transactions , known as a "block," that miner is eligible to be rewarded with a quantity of bitcoin more about the bitcoin reward below as well.
The 1 MB limit was set by Satoshi Nakamoto, and is a matter of controversy, as some miners believe the block size should be increased to accommodate more data, which would effectively mean that the bitcoin network could process and verify transactions more quickly. It depends on how much data the transactions take up.
To earn bitcoins, you need to meet two conditions. One is a matter of effort; one is a matter of luck. This process is also known as proof of work. The good news: No advanced math or computation is involved.
You may have heard that miners are solving difficult mathematical problems—that's not exactly true. It's basically guesswork. The bad news: It's guesswork, but with the total number of possible guesses for each of these problems being on the order of trillions, it's incredibly arduous work.
In order to solve a problem first, miners need a lot of computing power. If you want to estimate how much bitcoin you could mine with your mining rig's hash rate, the site Cryptocompare offers a helpful calculator.
In addition to lining the pockets of miners and supporting the bitcoin ecosystem, mining serves another vital purpose: It is the only way to release new cryptocurrency into circulation. In other words, miners are basically "minting" currency. For example, as of Nov. In the absence of miners, Bitcoin as a network would still exist and be usable, but there would never be any additional bitcoin.
There will eventually come a time when bitcoin mining ends; per the Bitcoin Protocol, the total number of bitcoins will be capped at 21 million. Aside from the short-term bitcoin payoff, being a coin miner can give you "voting" power when changes are proposed in the Bitcoin network protocol. The rewards for bitcoin mining are halved every four years or so.
When bitcoin was first mined in , mining one block would earn you 50 BTC. In , this was halved to 25 BTC. By , this was halved again to the current level of In about , the reward size will be halved again to 6. As of the time of writing, the reward for completing a block is If you want to keep track of precisely when these halvings will occur, you can consult the Bitcoin Clock , which updates this information in real time.
Interestingly, the market price of bitcoin has, throughout its history, tended to correspond closely to the marginal cost of mining a bitcoin. Although early on in bitcoin's history individuals may have been able to compete for blocks with a regular at-home computer, this is no longer the case. The reason for this is that the difficulty of mining bitcoin changes over time. In order to ensure smooth functioning of the blockchain and its ability to process and verify transaction, the Bitcoin network aims to have one block produced every 10 minutes or so.
However, if there are one million mining rigs competing to solve the hash problem, they'll likely reach a solution faster than a scenario in which 10 mining rigs are working on the same problem. For that reason, Bitcoin is designed to evaluate and adjust the difficulty of mining every 2, blocks, or roughly every two weeks.
When there is more computing power collectively working to mine for bitcoin, the difficulty level of mining increases in order to keep block production at a stable rate. Less computing power means the difficulty level decreases. To get a sense of just how much computing power is involved, when Bitcoin launched in the initial difficulty level was one.
As of Nov. All of this is to say that, in order to mine competitively, miners must now invest in powerful computer equipment like a GPU graphics processing unit or, more realistically, an application-specific integrated circuit ASIC. The photo below is a makeshift, home-made mining machine. The graphics cards are those rectangular blocks with whirring circles. Note the sandwich twist-ties holding the graphics cards to the metal pole. This is probably not the most efficient way to mine, and as you can guess, many miners are in it as much for the fun and challenge as for the money.
The ins and outs of bitcoin mining can be difficult to understand as is. And there is no limit to how many guesses they get. Let's say I'm thinking of the number There is no "extra credit" for Friend B, even though B's answer was closer to the target answer of Now imagine that I pose the "guess what number I'm thinking of" question, but I'm not asking just three friends, and I'm not thinking of a number between 1 and Rather, I'm asking millions of would-be miners and I'm thinking of a digit hexadecimal number.
Now you see that it's going to be extremely hard to guess the right answer. In Bitcoin terms, simultaneous answers occur frequently, but at the end of the day, there can only be one winning answer. Typically, it is the miner who has done the most work, that s, the one that verifies the most transactions. The losing block then becomes an " orphan block.
Miners who successfully solve the hash problem but who haven't verified the most transactions are not rewarded with bitcoin. The number above has 64 digits. Easy enough to understand so far. As you probably noticed, that number consists not just of numbers, but also letters of the alphabet. Why is that? To understand what these letters are doing in the middle of numbers, let's unpack the word "hexadecimal. As you know, we use the "decimal" system, which means it is base This, in turn, means that every digit of a multi-digit number has 10 possibilities, zero through nine.
In a hexadecimal system, each digit has 16 possibilities. But our numeric system only offers 10 ways of representing numbers zero through nine. That's why you have to stick letters in, specifically letters a, b, c, d, e and f. If you are mining bitcoin, you do not need to calculate the total value of that digit number the hash. I repeat: You do not need to calculate the total value of a hash. Remember that ELI5 analogy, where I wrote the number 19 on a piece of paper and put it in a sealed envelope?
In bitcoin mining terms, that metaphorical undisclosed number in the envelope is called the target hash. What miners are doing with those huge computers and dozens of cooling fans is guessing at the target hash.
A nonce is short for "number only used once," and the nonce is the key to generating these bit hexadecimal numbers I keep talking about. In Bitcoin mining, a nonce is 32 bits in size—much smaller than the hash, which is bits.
In theory, you could achieve the same goal by rolling a sided die 64 times to arrive at random numbers, but why on earth would you want to do that? The screenshot below, taken from the site Blockchain. You are looking at a summary of everything that happened when block was mined. The nonce that generated the "winning" hash was The target hash is shown on top. The term "Relayed by Antpool" refers to the fact that this particular block was completed by AntPool, one of the more successful mining pools more about mining pools below.
As you see here, their contribution to the Bitcoin community is that they confirmed transactions for this block. If you really want to see all of those transactions for this block, go to this page and scroll down to the heading "Transactions. There is no minimum target, but there is a maximum target set by the Bitcoin Protocol. No target can be greater than this number:. Here are some examples of randomized hashes and the criteria for whether they will lead to success for the miner:.
You'd have to get a fast mining rig, or, more realistically, join a mining pool—a group of coin miners who combine their computing power and split the mined bitcoin. Mining pools are comparable to those Powerball clubs whose members buy lottery tickets en masse and agree to share any winnings.
What is Bitcoin: Who created it?
Bitcoin is a digital currency created in by a mysterious figure using the alias Satoshi Nakamoto. It can be used to buy or sell items from people and companies that accept bitcoin as payment, but it differs in several key ways from traditional currencies. There are no actual coins or notes. It exists only online. The miner then receives a fraction of a bitcoin as a reward. A record of each transaction, using anonymised strings of numbers to identify bbitcoin, is stored on a ig public ledger known as a blockchain.
Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency created in 2009. Marketplaces called “bitcoin exchanges” allow people to buy or sell bitcoins using different currencies.
The cryptocurrency one of many is at the center of a complex intersection of privacy, banking regulations, and technological innovation. Today, some retailers accept bitcoin, while in other jurisdictions, bitcoin is illegal. Cryptocurrencies are lines of computer code that hold monetary value. These lines of code are created by electricity and high-performance computers. Cryptocurrency is also known as digital currency. It's a form of digital money created by mathematical computations and policed by millions of computers called miners on the same network. Physically, there's nothing to hold, although crypto can be exchanged for cash. Crypto comes from the word cryptography , which is the process used to protect the transactions that send the lines of code for purchases. Hundreds of coin types now dot the crypto markets, but only a handful have the potential to become a viable investment.
Bitcoin is a digital currency created in by a mysterious figure iz the alias Satoshi Nakamoto. It can be used to buy or sell items from people and companies that accept bitcoin as payment, but it differs in several key ways from traditional currencies. There are no actual coins or notes.
It exists only online. The miner then receives a fraction of a bitcoin as a reward. A record of each transaction, using anonymised strings of numbers to identify it, is stored on a huge public ledger known as a blockchain.
This acts to ensure the integrity of the currency. He points to more than hedge funds specialising in cryptocurrencies that have started recently, triggering the current price surge. CME Group, which owns the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, where trillions of dollars of derivatives contracts for global commodities are traded each year, now offers bitcoin futures.
The number of people using the cryptocurrency has also risen from around three to six million in April, to between 10 and 20 million people at the end ofalthough exact figures are very si to establish, Rauchs says.
However, if the cryptocurrency was to move into the mainstream and become a recognised medium of exchange around the world, its value would likely increase dramatically. But that scenario is far from being a certainty. Regulators are not particularly concerned by bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies like bifcoin at present.
Bank of England Deputy Os John Cunliffe has said bitcoin is not big enough to pose a threat to the global economy. But if they saw bitcoin as unsafe and began to crack down on it, this could hurt its value.
The number of companies accepting bitcoin payments has lt over the last few years. Microsoft and travel website Wgat both ia bitcoin, and Icelandic singer Bjork is also accepting bitcoin payments for her latest album.
Retailers in Japan can now accept bitcoin payments thanks to a new law passed last year, and small businesses can accept bitcoin payments through simple plugins that add to WordPress bitocin. The currency has also found favour in countries experiencing political turmoil like Zimbabwe and Venezuela. Bitcoin has a reputation for being used by criminals, particularly people selling drugs on the dark web. On marketplaces such bitcoim the now-defunct Silk Road and its more modern bitvoin, cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin have been the only method of payment, largely because they are theoretically untraceable.
Bitcoin iz still used to buy drugs online, but its use has spread far beyond. Hundreds of articles speculating on how high bitcoin could go now seem to be published each week. This wyat partly down to the economic environment, Rauchs says. Despite this, Rauchs still believes the outlook for bitcoin and blockchain technology is strong. Click here to get the latest Bitcoin ot and start trading. Cryptocurrencies are a highly volatile unregulated investment product.
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Bitcoin Mining Explained
What is Bitcoin: How is it different from normal currencies?
Today, bitcoin mining companies dedicate facilities to housing and operating large amounts of high-performance mining hardware. Named in homage to bitcoin's creator, a satoshi is the smallest amount within bitcoin representing 0. Physical wallets store the credentials necessary to spend bitcoins offline and can be as simple as a paper printout of the private key:  : ch. If your activity follows the pattern mase conventional transactions, you won't have to pay unusually high fees. Not great odds if you're working on your own, even with a tremendously powerful mining rig. Category Commons List. Archived from the original on 1 March No one owns Bitcoin, but instead it is controlled by its vast array of voluntary users around the world.