LONDON: China's bitcoin miners now control two-thirds of the crypto network's processing power, research showed on Wednesday (Dec 11), a growing share that is likely to benefit the country's miners.
Miners in China control 66 per cent 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 per cent 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 Bendkisen, 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, launched a US$90 million initial public offering in November, indicating investor hunger for exposure to miners.
At bitcoin's current price of around US$7,200, miners produce bitcoin worth around US$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 per cent since June, in part because of strong profitability of miners and more powerful machines, said London-based CoinShares, which manages around US$600 million in digital assets.
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 and Sichuan provinces, CoinShares said, with the latter accounting for over half the global hashrate. Other centres 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.