1. Bitcoin mining difficulty continues to hit record high
The Bitcoin mining landscape is witnessing yet another groundbreaking moment. Recently, at block height 818496, the mining difficulty of Bitcoin escalated by 5.07% to reach an unprecedented 67.96 terahashes (T).
This development underscores the continually growing computational power dedicated to Bitcoin mining, with the average network hashrate now standing at a staggering 504.80 exahashes per second (EH/s).
This new peak in mining difficulty not only highlights the robustness of the Bitcoin network but also reflects the increasing competition and technological advancements within the mining community.
The relentless upward trajectory of Bitcoin mining difficulty throughout 2023 is a testament to the digital currency’s resilience and growing global interest.
With each adjustment in mining difficulty, the network fortifies its security and efficiency, ensuring the stability and reliability essential for its sustained growth and widespread adoption.
Navigating the Mining Terrain
The concept of mining difficulty is a dynamic and critical aspect of the Bitcoin network. It adjusts approximately every two weeks to maintain a consistent average block time – the time it takes to discover and add a new block to the blockchain.
These regular adjustments are crucial for offsetting fluctuations in the network’s hashrate and ensuring a stable 10-minute average block time.
Such mechanisms are part of the ingenious design of Bitcoin, balancing the scales of network participation and difficulty levels to preserve the blockchain’s foundational integrity.
As the mining difficulty soars, so does Bitcoin’s hashrate, recently reaching an all-time high of 491 EH/s. This surge in hashrate signifies the increasing amount of computational power that miners are pouring into the network, enhancing its security and robustness.
The rise in the collective mining effort is particularly noteworthy as the crypto world eagerly anticipates the upcoming Bitcoin halving event, slated to occur in about five months.
The Ripple Effect on Bitcoin’s Value
Bitcoin halving events, which occur roughly every four years, have historically been associated with surges in Bitcoin’s value. These events reduce the rate at which new coins are generated, effectively halving the mining reward.
This decrease in new coin production, coupled with speculative anticipation, typically triggers a significant uptick in Bitcoin’s price due to the reduced supply.
Currently, Bitcoin is trading at $37,283, according to data from CoinGecko. While this represents a slight dip from the previous day, the digital currency has seen a 2% increase over the past week and a 10% rise over the month.
Impressively, Bitcoin’s value has climbed 125% compared to its level a year ago, reflecting its resilience and growing investor confidence.
Analysts are also projecting a substantial price surge for Bitcoin in the coming year. This optimism is fueled by the expected approval of spot Bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETFs) by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Such regulatory advancements would not only bolster Bitcoin’s legitimacy but also potentially unleash a wave of institutional investment into the cryptocurrency.
In essence, the continuous rise in Bitcoin mining difficulty is a clear indicator of the network’s strength and the growing competitiveness in the mining sector.
With the impending Bitcoin halving and potential regulatory milestones on the horizon, the stage is set for Bitcoin to continue its trajectory as a leading digital asset in the global financial landscape.
The evolution of Bitcoin mining and the anticipated market responses highlight the dynamic and ever-evolving nature of the cryptocurrency world, making it a fascinating realm for both participants and observers alike.
2. Remote mountain Kingdom of Bhutan is operating secret, state-owned BTC mining facilities
The Kingdom of Bhutan has secretly developed a series of bitcoin mining facilities, a Forbes investigation has revealed.
Using satellite imagery from Planet Labs, Satellite Vu, and Google Earth, as well as sources with knowledge of Bhutan’s crypto investments, the publication said it found the sites of what appear to be four crypto-mining facilities that have never been publicly disclosed.
The satellite images reveal long, rectangular mining units and data center cooling systems hidden amongst dense forests and mountainous terrain across the Himalayan country. Other images also show high-capacity power lines and transformers running from Bhutan’s hydroelectric plants to the mining sites, Forbes reported.
One site was located near Dochula Pass, a sacred area that has 108 memorial shrines, while the others were identified in Trongsa, a mountainous town in the center of the country, Dagana in the south, and an area called “Education City,” a failed $1 billion government project to revive the economy.
By tracking earth-moving and building construction, Forbes said that work at the sites likely began in 2020.
Bitcoin mining is an energy-intensive process that consumes around 91 terawatt-hours of electricity annually — more than many countries, and Bhutan’s crypto-mining operations have seen the country’s energy imports and usage soar in recent years. The kingdom, which has historically sold its surplus of hydropower to India, purchased $20.7 million worth of electricity in 2023.
Bhutan’s monarch, King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, has long held a fascination with the cryptocurrency, and he hopes that it will help prevent the remote, bio-diverse mountain nation of less than 800,000 people from falling into an economic crisis.
Bhutan – which has been dubbed the “The Last Shangri-la” – suffered from declining tourism during the COVID-19 pandemic, while it also faces rising youth unemployment and a brain drain triggered by surging rates of emigration.
3. F2Pool Identified as First Bitcoin Mining Pool to Filter Transactions
A fundamental aspect of Bitcoin’s appeal lies in its status as a form of currency resistant to censorship and immune to arbitrary regulations. The principle is that anyone with the means to cover network fees should be able to engage in transactions without requiring permission.
However, a new report suggests that a major Bitcoin mining pool filtered transactions based on sanctions imposed by the US Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).
Asian-Based Bitcoin Mining Pool First to Comply With US Sanctions
According to 0xB10C – a pseudonymous Bitcoin developer and owner of a project called “miningpool-observer” – F2Pool became the first Bitcoin mining pool to filter transactions based on the OFAC sanctions.
The miningpool-observer tool identified six Bitcoin transactions originating from addresses subject to OFAC sanctions that were not included in blocks. It’s important to note that the two transactions absent from the mining pool ViaBTC and Foundry USA pool blocks are considered false positives and were not intentionally filtered.
On the contrary, the four OFAC-sanctioned transactions that were absent from F2Pool blocks are likely to have been intentionally filtered. This raises the question of why F2Pool, originating from Asia, is the first mining pool to adopt transaction filtering based on US OFAC sanctions.
The Bitcoin network functions without disruption and the actions of a single pool filtering transactions do not jeopardize its overarching censorship resistance.
However, it is important to note that F2Pool, being the third-largest Bitcoin mining pool and accounting for 13.7% of all mined blocks in the past year, means that approximately one in seven BTC blocks could potentially be mined under a censorship scenario if F2Pool actively initiates the filtering of sanctioned transactions.
F2Pool to Disable Transaction Filtering
F2Pool co-founder Chun Wang announced that the Bitcoin mining pool would deactivate the “transaction filtering patch.”
Wang stated in the post that the filter would stay inactive “until the community reaches a more comprehensive consensus on this topic.”
This revelation confirms F2Pool’s deliberate censorship of transactions sanctioned by OFAC, prompting concerns about the possibility of a recurrence in the future.