The Risks of Mining Coin
Cryptocurrency mining is a massive, decentralized network of computers around the world that verify and safeguard blockchains, the virtual ledgers that record cryptocurrency transactions. In return for their processing power, miners are rewarded with new coins. It’s a virtuous circle that keeps the Bitcoin and other blockchain networks secure.
Aside from the upfront costs of high-tech competitive computers, miners need to invest in a reliable source of cheap electricity, since that’s the largest expense on their income statement. One Bitcoin miner rig uses as much energy as half a million PlayStation 3 devices, according to the University of Cambridge’s Centre for Alternative Finance. To minimize the risk of running out of power, miners often seek out sites near hydroelectric dams, oil and gas wells, geothermal power plants and solar farms.
Mining cryptocurrencies requires computers that can rapidly guess a 64-digit hexadecimal number known as a “hash.” The computer that first solves this puzzle updates the blockchain with a block of verified cryptocurrency transactions, and then it receives the reward for its effort – in this case, a fixed amount of newly minted Bitcoin. The discovery of a new hash is a random event, but the higher the computational speed of a mining computer, the greater its chance of being first to solve the puzzle and earn the reward.
There are a few other factors that influence profitability in this industry, including the risk of hacking or other technical difficulties (though these risks are typically quite low). And, of course, the price of Bitcoin itself, which is always volatile.
For many people, the idea of getting paid for simply running a computer and connecting to the internet is an appealing one. But mining is not for everyone. The upfront and ongoing costs can be high, as is the potential for profit volatility. And, as with most other industries, the cryptocurrency market is not without its regulatory risks. In the short term, it’s possible that governments could introduce taxes or regulations to curb mining activity. In the long term, it’s impossible to say what impact these changes might have on prices. Until then, it’s wise to keep in mind the risks and consider carefully how a potential investment may play out. Then, you can make the best decision based on your specific needs and circumstances. Best of luck!