LONDON (Reuters) - China’s bitcoin miners now control two-thirds of the crypto network’s processing power, research showed on Wednesday, a growing share that is likely to benefit the country’s miners.
Miners in China control 66% of global “hashrate”, a measure of the power of computers hooked up to the bitcoin network that dictates their ability to produce new coins, according to a report by digital asset manager CoinShares.
The Chinese share of hashrate, up from 60% in June, is the highest recorded by CoinShares since it began tracking hashrate nearly two years ago. The gains may be due to their greater deployment of more advanced mining gear, said Chris Bendiksen, the firm’s head of research.
Chinese companies such as Bitmain and MicroBT are among the world’s biggest manufacturers of bitcoin mining gear. Another, Canaan (CAN.O), launched a $90 million initial public offering in November, indicating investor hunger for exposure to miners.
At bitcoin's BTC=BTSP current price of around $7,200, miners produce bitcoin worth around $4.7 billion every year.
“This is beneficial to the Chinese mining industry,” said Bendiksen. “If you are the first to increase your proportion of the hashrate, and you can do that before your competitors, that’s generally good.”
Crypto mining is a highly opaque sector, with little reliable data on the bitcoin network or bitcoin miners.
Bitcoin miners draw on huge amounts of computing power as they battle against others to solve complex mathematical equations to earn new coins. The higher the hashrate, the more power is needed to produce bitcoin.
And mining has become more difficult. The network’s hashrate has risen 80% since June, in part because of strong profitability of miners and more powerful machines, said London-based CoinShares, which manages around $600 million in digital assets.
Click here tmsnrt.rs/2sBLQwV for an interactive graphic.
China has cracked down on crypto exchanges and fundraising in recent years, even as it develops its own digital currency.
After looking at banning crypto mining, Beijing last month indicated it would not do so. Some analysts interpreted the move as indicating tolerance of the sector.
The most significant crypto mining hubs are in China’s Yunnan, Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia and Sichuan provinces, CoinShares said, with the latter accounting for over half the global hashrate. Other centers are spread from the United States to Russia and Kazakhstan.
China’s share of hashrate may fall as more Chinese-made next generation gear makes it way into other markets, CoinShares said.
(This story corrects name in third paragraph to Bendiksen, not Bendkisen)
Reporting by Tom Wilson; Editing by Catherine Evans