Category Archives: Mining

Give the Gift of Bitcoin Mining This Season

If you want to give a gift that is both a useful, educational, and benefits society, why not give someone Bitcoin mining as a gift? Here’s the idea.

CEX.IO, and I’ve written a couple of articles about them earlier (and links in this article are affiliate links; check the end for direct links), have the ability to generate vouchers that you, or someone else, can redeem for cloud mining power at CEX.IO. You buy the hashes for your own account and then create the voucher to give away some or all of that mining power to someone. Those that receive it can simply register and redeem the hash power and start watching their Bitcoin income grow.

I think this would be an awesome gift to someone who is interested in learning about mining and Bitcoin and are some reasons why.

Bitcoins are often difficult to get

One major obstacle to wide-spread Bitcoin adoption is that right now, getting traditional currencies into the system is a major hassle. By giving mining as a gift to someone, they get Bitcoins without the hassle and risk of sending money through wire transfers or buying in person.

Learning about mining is fun and exciting

For a lot of people, Bitcoin mining seems almost magical. However, it can be fun and exciting to follow and learning how it works is a great first step towards gaining a better understanding of Bitcoin.

Bitcoin mining at CEX.IO is redeemable instantly

Mining can be an exciting and educational, but some may not want to keep doing it for any number of reasons. That’s fine, at CEX.IO they can sell their cloud mining power any time they want and withdraw the Bitcoin to a normal account.

Investing in Bitcoin mining can be risky

Buying a Bitcoin miner means a lot of maintenance, electricity cost, and the risk of hardware failure. Of course, there’s also the risk that the miner won’t work at all or that the vendor doesn’t deliver or simply runs away with your money.

With CEX.IO, there’s little risk of hardware failure because CEX.IO is responsible for keeping the miners operational and replaces faulty hardware for free. They also take care of electricity and setup for you.

Getting a miner takes time

Buying a Bitcoin miner yourself will at best take a long time because miners are usually sold out way in advance of general availability. By the time you get your hardware, difficulty may have shot through the roof. Additionally, almost every vendor has been delayed with deliveries.

CEX.IO allows you to get Bitcoin mining power immediately; you can buy now and have your mining power start generating Bitcoin in a matter of minutes.

Physical Bitcoin miners are expensive

Getting a Bitcoin miner can often mean investing thousands of dollars. That’s a huge amount of money to give as a gift. Of course, you can’t just give parts of one either.

However, CEX.IO allows you to buy Bitcoin mining power for exactly the amount you want, whether it is $100, $1000, $1, or even $0.10 worth of hashing.

Note: You do pay in Bitcoin, though, so perhaps it is better to say 0.1, 1, 0.01, or 0.001 BTC.

Now that prices of Bitcoin has fallen, at least at the time of this writing, buying a few GHs of Bitcoin mining power isn’t half bad anymore, and it would make a great gift to introduce someone to the wonderful world of cryptocurrencies.

Please note: The links in this article are affiliate links, which means I get a small reward if you use those to sign up and make purchases. If you prefer to not use an affiliate link, just go directly to http://cex.io/.

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Use Namecoin (NMC) to Purchase Bitcoin Mining Power

Disclaimer: Don’t take any financial advice from one source only. Always research multiple opinions. The CEX.IO links in this article are affiliate links. If you prefer a non-affiliate link, look towards the bottom of the article. Finally, do not under any circumstance invest more money than you’re comfortable throwing out the window. You can lose everything overnight. don’t say I didn’t warn you!

I’ve previously written about CEX.IO, which is a new way of investing in mining power where you purchase Bitcoin mining hashrate as a commodity on an open market. In short, if you can’t be bothered to read the original article, this is a great way of getting started with Bitcoin mining without having to risk more than exactly the amount you need and with the added security that you can sell your hashrate back to the market whenever you want. Oh, and you start mining the moment you purchase the mining power.

A nice feature of Bitcoin mining is its ability to do merged mining with other coins. Without getting too technical, this means that Bitcoin miners can mine several other cryptocurrencies at the same time using the same mining hash rate. Effectively, you get multiple coins from the same mining effort.

One of the most widely known merged mining coin is Namecoin, or NMC. Namecoin is a cryptocurrency that is built to support anonymous domain (DNS) names. Right now, however, the use of Namecoin is limited and due to the fact that there is a huge amount of Namecoin in circulation, a lot of miners have spare NMC in their wallets.

Note: If you want to read my opinion on why we need multiple cryptocurrencies, here’s my take.

CEX.IO supports merged mining, so you get several merged mined coins as part of your output, currently Namecoin, Devcoin, and IXCoin. That is fine and all, but unless you can actually use those coins for something, they’re pretty much useless for anything but trading to other speculators for Bitcoin.

Now, however, CEX.IO has started selling Bitcoin mining power for NMC, so suddenly all those Namecoins can be turned into something useful. The GHS price is pretty much the same as it is for hashrate bought with Bitcoin, but because there’s huge amounts of Namecoins out there that is pretty much only used for trading with other cryptocurrencies, the ability to turn them into Bitcoin mining power at CEX.IO is pretty cool.

You can also trade your NMC in your CEX.IO account for BTC directly so you don’t need to transfer it to a different exchange, sell them for Bitcoin, and then transfer them back. The exchange rate hovers at around the same exchange rate as for other exchanges, but because the transaction is instant, you save significant time even if you can’t speculate in the difference between exchange rates.

I’m still hoping that CEX.IO will also support buying hashrate for the other two merged mined coins you get, though, because it would greatly increase the value of these coins to the cryptocurrency miners.

Want to get started with Bitcoin mining using your Namecoins? Here’s my affiliate link to CEX.IO. If you prefer to have the plain link, though, here it is: http://cex.io/.

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CEX.IO – A New Way of Investing in Bitcoin Mining

Disclaimer: As always, do not take any financial advice from anyone without proper due diligence. Also not that link to CEX.IO in this article are affiliate links. If you prefer not to use the affiliate link, check the bottom of the article for a direct link. Oh, and please read the caveats and possible dangers before making any investment decisions.

With the rapid increase in Bitcoin mining power during the previous few months, most Bitcoin mining investments are not profitable. Investors seem to be gambling that somehow, mining will be less popular and thus more profitable for those that stick around.

Of course, this is an impossible dream; mining investments are driven by profitability, and once profitability is high enough, mining investments will increase, thus reducing profitability. In fact, the whole system is beautifully designed to create a balance where mining is barely profitable.

A big problem with investing in traditional mining equipment is that once you’ve placed your final order, you’re stuck with the equipment until you either sell it or take it offline. There are no partial refunds and it is complicated to sell parts of your equipment.

This is one of the reasons why group buys are popular. A group buy is essentially a person or entity that buys the mining equipment and then sells parts of that equipment to others. Shares of a group buys are easier to move around by selling or buying more to or from others.

Group buys are cheap and easy ways to get into mining, but has some serious drawbacks. First, the equipment must be bought, and when time is money, waiting for the group buy to fill up so the equipment can be bought can cost a lot of money. Then there is the question of trust; do you really trust the operator to pay diligently? Finally, you’ll always run the risk of hardware failure or operator death, especially when the group buy is run by a single person.

Similar to group buys are mining bonds. With a mining bond or contract, you get the output of a certain hashrate paid at regular intervals. Although most asset exchanges are now closed down, reselling outside of an exchange is certainly an option if you can find buyers. The operator does not necessarily have a certain piece of equipment but may fund the bonds or contracts through any means available, including other assets or multiple pieces of equipment.

Sadly, due to the rapid increase in network hash rate, most mining bonds and contracts have also turned out to be unprofitable, including my own BFMines (at least when bought at the IPO price).

However, a new option is now available for investing in Bitcoin mining without these drawbacks. CEX.IO allows investors to buy Bitcoin mining power by the GH/s.

CEX.IO appeals to me for several reasons.

Rather than wait for hardware to arrive, CEX.IO offers immediate mining start because the equipment is already in place. The operators have built, installed, and operate a huge mining farm so there’s no wait. I’ve bought capacity on CEX.IO and seen returns within hours of purchase.

There are no long-term commitments either, you can sell your hashrate back to the market whenever you want. This is quite unique as it allows you to enter and leave the market at a moment’s notice. You can even trade at fractions of a GH/s if you just like to get involved in a smaller scale.

In fact, this market is a very appealing feature. The hashrate available at CEX.IO is driven by traders just like yourself. That means that when the market thinks the hashrate price is going down, prices will go down, and when the market thinks rates will remain high, prices go up. I’m a proponent of market driven trading like this because it allows a larger group of people to decide what is a fair price.

Beyond just hashrate, however, CEX.IO also allows trading in Bitfury chip prices. This is like a traditional commodities market like oil or gold where you speculate in what prices the market is willing to pay for that commodity.

A great addition to the pro side for CEX.IO is that you also get merged mining alt-coins as part of your mining reward. Right now, you get Namecoin, IXCoin, and Devcoins as part of your profit, so effectively you are mining several coins at a time.

Finally, if you wish to operate your own equipment, you can actually redeem your owned hashrate into a physical miner sent to your home. When you own a certain minimum, you contact CEX.IO support and discuss shipping and handling costs, but you can thus turn your virtual asset into a physical Bitcoin miner.

Are there any drawbacks? Well, there are several risk factors.

First and foremost is determining whether your mining investment will make money at all. It is difficult to predict this and I’ve certainly failed in the past when I thought BFMines would turn a profit at IPO prices. Using a calculator like the mining.thegenesisblock.com may provide you with better insights. Keep in mind, though, that calculators such as these are available to everyone so their usefulness as a secret weapon are limited.

Second is the risk that the operators of CEX.IO may not be legitimate. The Bitcoin world continues to see large amounts of fraud and scams, even from the most seemingly trustworthy entities. We don’t know whether CEX.IO is a giant scam or legitimate, and it is very difficulty to prove either.

Finally, prices are driven by the market, and the market tends to be very well informed and wishing to make money. If you’re looking to beat the market, you need to beat the entire knowledge of the market, and that can be very difficult.

All in all, however, assuming CEX.IO is a legitimate operation, I think this platform is an excellent way to get involved in mining.

If you’d like to sign up and try, you can use my affiliate link, which will give me a small benefit from your investment too. If you’d like to do so, click this link.

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Comparing Bitcoin Mining Contracts and Mining Bonds

Disclaimer: This article talks about investments, and in particular an investment of which I am the issuer. You should assume that I have a vested interest in you making a particular investment decision and always double-, triple-, and quadruple-check everything yourself. Don’t invest anything you cannot afford to lose.

When I designed and launched BFMines, my mining contracts over on BTCT, it became apparent that people didn’t quite understand what that asset was. I thought that the community would be able to relate to it easier if I described it as a mining bond, but apparently, that was just enough to get people to misunderstand when they wanted.

As such, I’m writing this article to clarify what the differences are between a mining contract like BFMines and a Perpetual Mining Bond (PMB).

Before you read on, you should make sure you have read my article on what PMBs are and how they work. If you think mining bonds are scams, you should also read my explanation of why that is not so. I’ll assume you know that and skip the basics. I’ll also name a few competing mining assets in this article; I do so because they are representations of classic PMBs, not because I would vouch for or berate them specifically.

Similarities

When you first look at PMBs and mining contracts, they may look very similar. Both are denominated in some hash rate, both promise regular pay based on Bitcoin mining with that hash rate, and both are simple ways of getting involved in Bitcoin mining without the hassle of owning and operating your own mining equipment.

Further, at least when it comes to publicly traded mining contracts, you can easily buy and sell them through some form of exchange. Have some spare cash you want to set aside? Buy a few extra bonds or contracts. Need some additional funds for the weekend? Sell off some assets and cash out.

You’ll also realize that the price of both PMBs and mining contracts drop as the difficulty of Bitcoin mining increases. Because both asset types represent a certain hash power, the less that hash power can produce, the less return on investment (ROI) the assets yield, so the less people are willing to pay for them. Of course, this also means that if difficulty were to drop, prices should also rise.

Finally, both PMBs and mining contracts pay frequent dividends. PMBs are easier to predict so they most often pay daily dividends, but with either asset type, you should expect to have daily or weekly dividends.

These similarities make it tempting to compare the issues side-by-side. In fact, I’ve done so already when I compared BFMines to other mining assets. However, there are differences between the asset types too, which are important to understand to pick the right asset.

Differences

However, despite being similar at first glance, mining contracts and PMBs are different enough that it can influence your investment decision. I’d like to focus on three aspects that are important; transaction fees, stability, and performance.

Transaction Fees

PMBs are not necessarily backed by actual mining like I explained in the article on whether PMBs are scams. In fact, most of them are not, and that’s quite OK.

This also means that they never actually do any mining, and your coupons/dividends are based on a formula that has a fixed output based on a fixed block reward.

This is a great benefit in predictability because you know weeks in advance what return you will get. It is easier for the PMB operator too because when there is a difficulty change, they can just schedule all the dividends up to the next change. No fuzz, no checking of actual output, no suspicion of manipulation.

However, the downside is that you also lose out on transaction fees. In short, what a miner earns is based on two parts; the block reward and any transaction fees accrued since the previous block.

Right now, the transaction fees are around 1.1%, which is income you lose if you have a PMB. If Bitcoin grows in popularity, however, the transaction fees will go up, and you’ll lose out even more. As such, you can say that investing in a PMB is better if Bitcoin does not grow too much.

BFMines specifically pays out everything that the miner produces, both transaction fees and block rewards. If Bitcoin succeeds and grows large, that’s a benefit to you as a contract holder.

Stability

Every miner knows that mining is a fluctuating business. There are good times and bad times, and operating and monitoring hardware is a lot of work, often resulting in downtime and lost income. The stability of the operation depends on continuous work, but even in the best of times, hardware, power, or internet connectivity may fail.

Because a PMB does not have hardware backing its operation, or at least is completely independent of any hardware, there’s no stability issues to talk about. You get a certain dividend based on the hash rate, and that’s it. Whether there even exists hardware is irrelevant, and if there exists hardware and it breaks down, that’s not your concern.

Mining contracts like BFMines, on the other hand, are backed by hardware. That means that if the hardware fails or power or connectivity is lost, the miner does not produce any output. Similar to mining companies, this risk is carried by the investors.

For BFMines, there are some plans in motion to mitigate this risk. What everyone knows, or can find out, is that BFMines is backed by more hardware than is required to pay out the promised dividends. The surplus mining power will be used to cover expenses but also be set aside to fund contingency plans if something goes wrong.

Note: During the first six months, while the hardware is still under warranty, the surplus mining power  in BFMines is paid out as a bonus to contract holders, meaning that for half a year, contract holders get more dividends than guaranteed.

Performance

Mining assets based on physical hardware have a fluctuating output to some extent. Mining is essentially based on luck, so with physical hardware, there’s always an element of chance. If you’re lucky, you can have higher output than what a PMB will yield because the PMB is based on a fixed difficulty and reward.

However, this also means that the miner may suffer streaks of bad luck. All mining operations are essentially based on a certain randomness, so at times, the luck will cause dividends to be lower and sometimes it will be higher. In theory, this means that you can end up with zero output, but can also mean you get incredible output, at least in the short term.

On average, however, this luck should balance out and have a negligible effect on the total output. You should be aware that for PMBs, you always get the same output whereas for assets backed by hardware, there will be slight fluctuations in return over shorter periods.

If the predictability of output is vital to you, PMBs offer that, but if you like a slight gamble, mining contracts offer a bit of entertainment and excitement waiting for the results.

Note: For BFMines, I’ll be announcing a mitigation against the risk of zero output as we get closer to the release date.

Which to Pick?

What type of asset you should chose depends on the investment profile you like. Both assets give you a piece of Bitcoin mining without the need to buy, operate, and manage physical hardware, worry about hosting options, stability of power or internet connections, noise, heat generation, or theft. Both assets should appreciate or depreciate based on the same factors. Both assets on average provide a similar output.

Here are some scenarios that may help you decide.

If you are depending on predictable output, PMBs are more stable at the cost of the possibility of higher output.

Do you feel lucky? Mining contracts offer the chance of higher output at the cost of the possibility of lower output.

Are you laying awake at night wondering whether the hardware will keep working? PMBs avoid that by not being dependent on underlying hardware (if it even exists) at the cost of transaction fees.

Do you feel safe that the hardware will work or that its operator has backup plans available? Mining contracts offer transaction fees at the cost of the risk of catastrophic failure.

Do you think that Bitcoin will rise in popularity and gain widespread adoption? Mining contracts give you transaction fees that increases as Bitcoin gains traction, at the cost of the risk of hardware failure.

Are you more concerned that Bitcoin will fail and want at least a certain stability and no risk out hardware, power, or internet failure? PMBs will yield a steady income at the cost of any benefit from rise in Bitcoin popularity.

Feel free to let me know if you have comments or questions.

.b

BFMines Bitcoin Mining Contracts – Here’s How You Should Evaluate Investing

Disclaimer: I am the asset issuer of BFMines and have a direct interest in selling as many shares as possible. Keep that in mind while reading this. Do you own research. Listen to other voices, especially those that disagree with me. There is a large risk that you may lose money, with this investment as with any investment.

After a few weeks of delay, BFMines is finally ready for trading. If you don’t know, BFMines is my first publicly listed mining contract. You’ll be able to buy these mining contracts from July 3, 2013 at 6PM UTC.

I’ve worked very hard to design an asset that would be fair to all parties based on the risk we’re all taking. As much as I think I have succeeded, however, I would like to let you know about how you should evaluate this asset so you know what risks you are assuming.

What is a Mining Contract?

Lots of people want to get involved with Bitcoin mining but don’t know where to start. Mining contracts are a way to take all the hassle out of doing Bitcoin mining yourself, by essentially purchasing a stake in the future profits from a mining operation.

A mining contract gives you one ‘share’ of the stated profit, usually denominated in a certain amount of hash rate. You can buy multiple such contracts so you can invest in as much or as little hash power as you like.

This is different from buying shares in a mining company, however. A mining contract gives you a predefined number of hashes where a mining company’s hash power can change depending on several factors (buying more hardware usually increases hash rates while hardware or connectivity issues can decrease hash rates).

Further, a mining contract gives no votes or control of the operation whereas shares in a company may. Further, most mining contracts either run perpetually (to the extent it is practical) or for a fixed time, whereas shares in a company exist for as long as the company exists.

The TL;DR version, though, is this: You pay me to mine Bitcoins for you. Every day (or other periods for other assets) you get whatever amount of Bitcoins the mining operation has yielded that day.

Sounds too good to be true? Well, read on and I’ll explain why you should think carefully before you jump in.

There are three major factors you need to consider to understand the risk of this asset; difficulty, scams/fraud, and non- or late delivery.

How Difficult Can it Be?

As with any mining investment, however, the key deciding factor in whether you make money is how much difficulty increases in Bitcoin mining. It does not matter whether you buy shares in a company that in turn yields 1mh/s or you buy a mining contract that yields the same. The decline in profitability for the same hash power is the same no matter which investment option you choose.

However, that difficulty can render the investment completely unprofitable and you may never get your investment back. Nobody knows how much the difficulty will increase because it depends on far too many uncertain factors. It is safe to say, however, that it will increase over the next years.

So how do you determine how much difficulty will rise? Well, you need to know how much hash power comes online in the future. We do know that at some point, there will be a lot more hash power, but we also know that there are always issues with delivery, older equipment going offline, and people just getting fed up with working for diminishing returns.

I encourage you to explore the Bitcointalk forums and read up on the various projections, but let me give you a few key factors to consider:

  1. What is the total scheduled hash power coming online and when?
    We know that around 1-1.5 PH/s is scheduled to come online this year.
  2. Will perpetual proportional growth be possible and if so, how much is reasonable to expect?
    Perpetual proportional growth means that hash rate increases by a certain percentage each month forever.
  3. What is the life cycle of mining investments and at what point will older equipment be retired?
    We know that CPU and GPU mining is already unprofitable due to maintenance and electricity cost. Early FPGA and ASIC miners may also approach unprofitability over the next months.
  4. Will the announced hash power actually be delivered and would you bet that it does or does not?
    We know that traditionally ASIC equipment has been delayed, often for months.

So What Will the Difficulty Be?

Like everyone else, I have no idea. There are predictions all over the board, so in the future, you can be sure there will be a lot of “I told you so!” no matter what happens.

I’ll tell you what I don’t think will happen, though. I don’t think all the scheduled hash power will come online. For that, the history of ASIC mining power is far to volatile. We may reach 1,000TH/s by the end of the year, or it may take 12 months.

I don’t think the perpetual proportional growth theory has any merit either. For this to happen, deployment needs to accelerate perpetually, and there is just not enough money to fund such an expansion. For example, to support perpetual proportional growth of 20% per month until February 2014 (just 8 months from now), the community would have to invest $200 million worth of the most powerful mining rig available today (the KnC Jupiter), more if KnC can’t deliver that many.

Finally, BFMines and other mining contracts are now cheaper to buy than most current generation hardware (for example ASICMiner blades). Because BFMines comes out just a couple of months later than the first sale of AM’s blades, if this asset isn’t going to be profitable then the blades bought then or even now certainly won’t (because they are more expensive and has the over head of owning hardware, see below).

That also means that mining investments will become unprofitable for new hardware buyers. At that point, investing more would be throwing money out the window and thus the increase will stop.

On the other hand, it is virtually impossible for difficulty to stagnate in the short term. For that to happen, every single ASIC vendor must fail completely, which is not even considered as an option, even if one or more of them do get delayed.

So, the most likely scenario for difficulty evaluation in my opinion is somewhere well below the perpetual proportional growth theory but also well above current levels. Difficulty will likely rise for a bit and then likely flatten out and remain flat for a long time. Perhaps the difficulty will rise to 500THs by the end of the year, perhaps more, but remember that at that point, for a perpetual growth of 10% per month to continue, you have to deploy a third of what the entire Bitcoin network is today.

Then There is Trust…

Nothing prevents me from taking your money and running. You give it to me in return for something in the future. I hold it, own it, and I can disappear overnight leaving no trace but a group of angry investors. You have no recourse; this is an unregulated market after all.

This applies to any security in an unregulated market, though. Imagine a company such as ASICMiner, which is run by someone known only as friedcat, in a country that is not exactly famous for its rational handling of legal issues, holding a value of close to $200 million.

There hasn’t been a lack of scams and outright thefts in the history of Bitcoin investing either. Millions of dollars have been stolen, and all investors had to show for it were bruised wallets and possibly a bit of wisdom.

Still, people trust friedcat with their money. Truckloads of it every day. Perhaps the possibility of infinite riches clouds people’s eyes so that they are willing to risk someone running away with their money.

My response to this is very simple. You know who I am. You can probably very fast figure out where I live. I’m a well-known person in several communities, Bitcoin not withstanding. I am open about who I am, what I do, why I make the claims I make, and have done so for more than a decade online.

I would have a lot to lose if I ran away with your money; far more than the funds I would possibly get from an IPO of BFMines. In fact, the business in which I work when I need to pay bills, hourly rates of $200 is about as common as grains of sand on a beach. I would utterly kill my opportunities in that business if I was to run away (or even grab your money and hold it).

Finally, the funds you invest are not mine until the mining begins. They are held in escrow, and I can’t access them. BTCT makes sure of that. If the mining equipment fails to start, you get your money back, and that’s completely out of my control. I can beg and plead as much as I want, but BTCT will ensure you get the listing price back.

I can’t promise, though, that you’ll be rich from BFMines or that you’ll even make money. I’ve designed the asset to be fair to investors and give a reasonable return for a reasonable risk. It can go very bad and you may lose everything and it may turn into a gold mine of epic proportions. More likely, however, it will be somewhere in the middle.

What If the Hardware Doesn’t Work or Arrives Late?

The BFMines security is designed around hardware that doesn’t exist yet. Because of this, dividend generation does not start until that hardware arrives and has been tested as working. The contractual arrival of the hardware is by October 2013.

The obvious risk here is that the hardware does not work at all or even worse, that the hardware I’ve bought is part of an elaborate scam. If so, there will be no mining, no dividends, and no rolling in virtual cash. Slightly better, but still bad is that the hardware arrives too late.

To mitigate the risk of non-delivery, all funds that are paid into the IPO are held in escrow like I explained earlier. If, for any reason, the hardware fails or the manufacturer runs off with my money, you get your IPO investment back.

Note that you get back what the listing price of the contract is, regardless of what you paid for it. In other words, if you pay more for your contracts than the IPO price, you risk not getting your entire purchase price back. If you pay less, well, there’s also a chance you get back more than you paid if the hardware fails.

The second risk, however, that of late delivery, is more difficult to mitigate. The scheduled arrival of the hardware is somewhere in September. Because mining does not commence until the hardware arrives, any delays will cost you money.

To mitigate this and the fact that mining does not commence immediately, I have added a bonus dividend period of 6 months. The bonus works like this:

The BFMines asset will be backed by at least 120% of the hardware required to pay the dividends you get. In other words, if all 100,000 initial contracts are sold, I have 120,000mh/s of hardware to back that up.

The surplus hash rate (20,000mh/s if all contracts sold) are used to cover the running costs of the hardware. I’m anticipating the running costs to be in the area of 5-10% ongoing, so I have to keep the extra hardware to pay for those expenses. Any surplus of the 20,000mh/s minus expenses goes straight into my greedy pockets to cover the risk I’m assuming for hardware failure and things like that.

However, for the first six months, those greedy pockets will be emptied out and given to you as a bonus dividend. How much you get depends on two things; the final hash rate of the hardware and the final running costs. Most ASIC hardware is rated at one level but perform better in real life, but there’s no guarantee of that. I also want to add some insurance against power failure and internet connectivity problems, so I’m spending a bit of the surplus on that.

The rest is yours for six months, as a consolidation for not getting dividends from day one.

Why Not Just Buy Hardware?

For some people, investing in their own hardware is a reasonable alternative. However, it is a far stretch to compare it directly to owning mining contracts.

It is very true that owning hardware costs much less than buying mining contracts. This isn’t any different from other industries; it is more profitable to own a pineapple farm than to buy pineapples in the store. It is cheaper to dig your own gold than to buy a gold ring at a jeweler.

This comparison isn’t directly applicable, however, because there’s a limit to how many pineapples you can consume. You wouldn’t buy a pineapple farm just because you wanted a single pineapple, even though the price per pineapple would be a fraction of the store price. You simply couldn’t consume all the pineapples yourself.

In Bitcoin, you’re mining money, and money you can always consume. A better comparison would be the gold mine because you can consume as much gold as you want.

When you buy hardware, there are several things to consider.

First of all is risk. Your hardware may break at any time, and even if you have a warranty, you will at the very least lose income while the hardware is repaired. You can mitigate this by having insurance, but I have yet to find anyone willing to insure Bitcoin mining equipment for its real income.

Then there is electricity cost. Mining equipment consume electricity and you have to pay for that, something you avoid in a mining contract. In effect, you are getting free electricity for your Bitcoin mining for as long as the mining contract lasts.

There is also the plain overhead of having mining equipment running. You need a place to host it and you need to protect that location. Already people have had break-ins in their houses after someone realized they had ASIC mining hardware. Hardware also makes noise and generates heat, and that may not be worth it for small apartments or if your spouse does not approve.

You also need to be online 24/7 with your mining equipment, or you lose money. Is your power always stable? Mine certainly isn’t, and if your power or internet connection goes down, you’re not making money.

And of course time is also valuable, depending on your situation. Monitoring and supporting hardware, even your own, takes time. Are you ready to take a few hours off work to fix an issue with your electrician, your mining pool, or your ISP?

But you’re right, buying hardware is a lot cheaper than buying mining contracts. If you prefer to run a mining operation yourself, then you can save a lot of money (in my case the ratio of cost to price is about 1:4, meaning my cost is around 100BTC to get the 400BTC in value from a fully sold IPO, not counting the work involved).

To Sum Up

Consider most of all the following:

How will difficulty evolve? Do you believe in the perpetual proportional growth theory? Are you willing to bet that at least one, preferably more ASIC vendors are not able to fulfill their promises? Are you willing to bet that Bitfury and Metabank deliver on their promises? Do you trust me not to run away with your money?

Buying mining contracts is effectively a bet that the following are true:

  1. Hash rate does not increase more than what will allow you a good return on investment, likely because one or more of the ASIC vendors fail to deliver quickly.
  2. Bitfury and Metabank do deliver on their promises. Even better if they deliver quicker than projected.
  3. I do not steal your money.

If, after reviewing this article and having done your research regarding the factors affecting the BFMines asset, you are still willing to purchase these contracts, then don’t wait and head over to the official exchange and pick up your BFMines mining contracts today.

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What is the Halving Effect in Bitcoin Mining Investments?

Disclaimer: Please do not take this as investment advice. I am not a lawyer or financial analyst. Do your own research, consider every source as potentially having vested interests, and do not invest more money, especially in cryptocurrencies, than you can afford to lose.

When analyzing a Bitcoin mining investment, it is vital to understand one key factor; the halving effect. In short, the halving effect is the effect that the periodic block reward halving has on the potential long-term revenue of a mining operation.

I have mentioned the halving effect in my analysis of the 100TH mine, but it seems that there is still some confusion about how or even if this effect will influence pricing. I’m here to tell you how this effect works and what, how mining operations are affected, and in a fair market, the effects should be.

Block Reward and Transaction Fees

The income from mining operations is defined by the current block reward plus any transaction fees levied on transactions since the previous block. The block reward is currently 25BTC and the transaction fees are currently around 45BTC per day, which means a transaction reward per block of around 0,32BTC for a total mining reward of 25,32BTC.

This mining reward will be distributed for every block that is solved by the miners and thus represent an upper boundary for how much a mining operation can earn.

However, this mining reward isn’t fixed. First, the transaction reward varies depending on how many transactions are performed, which in turn depends largely on Bitcoin adoption but also on miners’ willingness to process transactions.

Note: Miners are free to set policies on how much they want for each transaction and reject transactions for any reason they see fit.

The bigger impact, however, comes from a built-in halving of the block reward. The current block reward is 25BTC per block, but this hasn’t always been the case, nor will it be. In fact, initially, the block reward was 50BTC and it dropped to half in November 2012.

This halving is due to Bitcoin’s built-in anti-inflation policy. To control the production of new money and make Bitcoins more and more scarce, the block reward halves roughly every four years. The next time this happens is in late 2016, at which point the block reward will be 12.5BTC per block.

You may be excused for thinking this is far into the future. After all, Bitcoin mining moves at an incredible rate and we’ve only just seen the first doubling ever a few months ago. Who cares about what happens in 2016?

Well, the problem is, it affects the price you pay today, and it lowers your value very day.

A Bit about Mining Asset Valuation

As with any security traded anywhere in the world, investors expect to get a return on their investments (ROI). This isn’t even limited to securities, it applies to anything we do. We want to do something because it gives us more in return, whether that is more money, a loving spouse, better health, or a good conscience.

With mining investments, the return is quite simple. Assuming you don’t buy shares, contracts, or hardware for the sentimental value, your ability to receive a return is based on how many Bitcoins, Litecoins, or other cryptocurrencies your investment produces. You invest because you evaluate that the ability of the company allows for a return higher than your goal.

However, what happens if that ability is suddenly reduced by 50%? Obviously, your ability to get an ROI is also cut in half.

If a company produces 100 dollars in dividends per a year, you may wish to invest 1000 dollars, knowing that each year, you get a return on investment of 10%, a fair number if a reasonably safe investment.

However, if the company suddenly loses half the ability to produce dividends, your investment of 1000 will now yield only 5%. Of course, other investors looking to get 10% too will only pay $500 for your stake, so effectively you’ve lost $500 on your shares’ value unless you decide to hold the shares and be satisfied with the lower return.

If you knew in advance, however, when the yield would drop, you could calculate the drop in share price along the lines of (Y/X)2 per year, where Y is the price of your shares and X is the number of years until the drop happens. For example, if you know that the rate of return drops by 50% in 5 years and you paid 1000 for your shares, the formula would be (1000/5)/2, or $100 per year.

The problem, of course, is that now those $100 per year doesn’t really give you any ROI yield at all. You get $100 per year in return but your shares fall $100 in value too. Effectively, you are lending money to the company with no interest or chance of return. Obviously, you need a much higher return rate than 10% if these were the numbers.

In Bitcoin and cryptocurrency mining investments, you face this exact situation every four years. At that interval, the block reward halves and thus the bulk of the income for miners goes down.

See how the halving effect effectively reduces the value of your asset over time? this is the halving effect that affects all mining assets, whether it is mining contracts, ASICMiner shares, or hardware you purchase.

Your Questions, Please

I’m guessing you have questions. That’s fine, I’ll be proactive and answer some of them right now.

But Four Years is a Long Time!

Well, not really, but the time doesn’t matter. The effect happens every year. In fact, with Bitcoin investments, you can even calculate this per week or day if you want and you’ll see the expected drop in value every day.

You may, of course, gamble that the market doesn’t know about this effect (or doesn’t find this article) or that they don’t take it into account. However, if the market doesn’t take this into account now, it will definitely do so closer to the next halving when calculating ROI over even one year  means including the profit drop.

If the market ignores this effect until then, the drop will just be that much higher at once. Rather than drop $100 per year, it will drop $500 in one year, but the drop will still be the same.

But it Didn’t Happen Last Time!

When the first halving in Bitcoin history happened in November 2012, several mining assets were operating already. However, there wasn’t a massive drop in prices just when the halving reduced potential profits by 50%.

There may be several reasons for this. Most mining assets at the time was either issued and purchased within a year of the halving so people may have been aware of the effect and priced that into their calculations. Another reason may be that a lot of mining operations were growing at the time, so the halving effect would be cancelled out by increasing market share.

The simple fact, though, is that as long as market share remains steady, the halving effect will reduce a mining operation’s ability to generate revenue.

But the Transaction Fee Will Counter That!

Well, if it does, it actually only makes the situation worse.

You see, the transaction fee doesn’t follow the block halving, it follows Bitcoin adoption. The transaction fee is simply a mechanism to control supply and demand; miners are already free to charge whatever fee they like so they could easily charge 25BTC per block if they so desires. They won’t because there are simply nobody willing to pay that amount to transmit Bitcoins, so adoption isn’t nearly high enough to make demand for transaction processing expensive.

If it comes to that, however, the situation doesn’t improve. Transaction fee increases happen gradually unless all miners come together and decide at the same time to increase transaction fees, and it takes only one of them to disagree to cause cheaper transactions to just slow down and not stop completely.

Of course, if Bitcoin transactions became very expensive or slow, people would look to other coins for transactions, such as Litecoin. In effect, Bitcoin demand would again drop to a level where demand was lower and transaction fees could no longer be levied at the same level.

Back to the transaction fee increase; it will most likely happen over time and thus will either begin before the halving (making return on mining increase artificially just before the halving, or it will start after the halving, in which case revenue will drop due to halving before recovering later.

Either case will cause a substantial loss in mining revenue at the halving time in late 2016. No matter how you look at it; unless demand skyrockets to a point where the bloc reward is insignificant, transaction fees will not counter the effect of the block reward dropping.

But You’re Selling a Mining Asset!

Yes I am. BFMines is indeed a mining contract. And I am acutely aware of the halving effect, which is the main reason I sold out of ASICMiner a couple of months ago.

However, when I do my calculations for BFMines, I’m using a time frame shorter than the next halving. This is for two reasons

  1. In all likelihood, the future earnings of BFMines will have dropped to a level where calculating profitability isn’t really important. In fact, I may have shut down and bought out the contracts by then.
  2. Even if profitability remains at a reasonable level, speculating about the difficulty changes (which is the key factor in mining contract value) so far into the future is futile.

As such, I’m am very aware of the halving effect and that it does indeed affect my asset too. However, by focusing on achieving a good return on investment before the next halving, the effect will be less important.

All long-term assets, however, for example ASICMiner, and mining contracts or equipment bought closer to the date of the block reward halving will need to take this effect into account or be very surprised about their profitability a few years down the line.

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Announcing BFMines – A Competitively Priced Mining Bond with Bonus Dividends

Disclaimer: If you’ve ignore all my disclaimers before, read this one. Really. This article contains information about a mining asset that I have a strong interest in seeing people buy. In fact, it is my own asset and I have a direct benefit from you wanting this asset like it’s free sex and beer. DO NOT simply assume that everything in this article is written for your benefit. ASSUME that I want to influence your buying decision. RESEARCH on your own to find out whether what you read here is true or false.

I’ve been fascinated by the perpetual mining bonds (PMB) for quite some time and have written two previous articles about this phenomena, which is somewhat unique to Bitcoin mining. If you haven’t read those articles before, I strongly encourage you to do so.

What are mining bonds?

Are PMBs scams? Not really

After seeing the first results of Bitfury’s chip tests, however, I’m happy to announce that I’ve decided to offer my own ASIC mining hardware up as backing for a new PMB called BFMines.

What Is It?

BFMines is a simple way for investors to get a piece of the Bitcoin mining pie without having to buy and operate dedicated hardware. In short, you buy a share of my mining operation and receives in return the output of 1 mh/s of Bitcoin mining per share.

This type of contract is sometimes called a perpetual mining bond, although the term ‘bond’ is somewhat misleading. What you need to know, however, is that you buy a share and I’ll mine for you. You get a return or dividend based on the hash rate. What that output is in terms of Bitcoins depends on the mining difficulty and it’s a fixed formula which means that as long as you have the current mining difficulty, you know exactly how much dividends you’ll get.

You also get these dividend payments every day, and you get them ‘perpetually’ which is another one of those somewhat misleading terms. The term ‘perpetual’ in this sense means that the mine will continue to give you daily dividends until the operation closes down, but you will not get your original investment paid back once the operation closes.

Instead, upon closure, you get 110% of the price for which the shares have been traded over the previous 7 days. If difficulty rises, this will likely be less than what you paid, so keep that in mind as you are considering this investment.

Note: You really should read the articles listed earlier to understand the full picture.

In short and simple terms, however, think of this more as a payment for me mining on your behalf and taking away all the hassle and risk of running your own mining operation.

Why Another PMB?

It is no secret that there are many competing mining bonds on the market. In fact, just a few weeks ago, ThickAsThieves released his TAT.VirtualMine asset, which is a perpetual mining bond priced at 0.007 per mh/s, a very competitive price from a reputable operator.

So why would we need another one? Well, I believe there are several reasons.

For PMBs, price is really the most important factor. Lack of competition means that prices can be kept artificially high by lack of options for those that wish to take part in mining without having to manage, host, and bear the risk of physical mining hardware. Simply having more options will ensure that prices stay competitive.

PMBs also need to be a real alternative to owning mining hardware. They don’t need to be cheaper (and cannot, due to the operator still needing to buy the hardware to mine) but they do need to be reasonably competitive. BFMines is priced just below ASICMiner’s Blade Erupter ASIC blades which are the only currently available ASIC miners widely available (priced at 0.005BTC per mh/s), but not lower than the cheapest alternatives out there.

Further, I intend to run this asset as I would like to see other cryptostocks run, with proper information management and investor relations. Even the big dog in the pen, ASICMiner, doesn’t have a web page and other assets lack in their information management by quite a lot, to put it mildly.

The first step in this is the new web pages at http://bfmines.com/ where I’ll be posting updates on status, contracts, descriptions, and so on so that new or potential investors can learn about their investments.

I hope this operation can serve as an inspiration for other asset operators to take their investors more seriously. To me, it’s a matter of pride and a sign of appreciation for those investors that choose to trust me with their money.

What Are the Catches?

There are a few things of which you should be aware, though.

BFMines is not scheduled to start operating immediately. In fact, the mining operation is backed by hardware that doesn’t exist yet!

Does that scare you away? Don’t worry, I’ve put failsafes in place to protect your investment and compensate you for the delay.

First, any funds received during the IPO phase will go into an escrow account held by the exchange operator of BTCT (where the asset is listed). This means that the funds are locked until the time when the mining hardware arrives and has been proven to operate as expected.

If that does not happen, you get all your funds back.

Second, the mining hardware runs well above the amount of hashing power that the asset consumes. The assets sold are limited to 100GH/s but the miner is rated for 120GH/s. The surplus capacity will be used to cover operational expenses but anything abode that will be paid out as a bonus dividend for the first six months of the operation.

Note: The exact amount depends on the final operational parameters of the equipment, which hasn’t been set in stone yet.

Finally, and this doesn’t apply specifically to my asset but to all PMBs and mining hardware, difficulty may rise quickly rendering the investment less profitable than it appears initially. There’s nothing I or any individual can do to affect this, so you should make absolute sure you  make the best estimated you can about future difficulty before you invest in this asset, other PMBs, or buy hardware.

Where Can I Buy BFMines?

Right now, BFMines is still awaiting peer review before it is approved at BTCT. Until then, there really isn’t much you can do to buy shares.

However, once the asset is approved, I’ll announce it here on my blog and also on the official pages and in the Bitcointalk thread for BFMines. I’ll leave a few days for investors to place initial bids (listing will be at 0.004 BTC per share) and then I’ll release the shares for trade.

When that happens, you can buy shares on the official BTCT BFMines asset page.

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Are Perpetual Mining Bonds Scams? Not Really

Disclaimer: I’m getting a bit tired of saying this, but please do not take this as financial advice. Do your own research, make sure you understand what you are buying, the risks and rewards involved, and the factors that affect market pricing.

In a previous article, I explained what mining bonds are, but if you didn’t read that, think of mining bonds as a loan where you, as the investor, lends money to the issuer, and the interest you get in return is defined by some number of hashes of Bitcoin or Litecoin mining.

I posted that article based on a discussion around a certain mining bond PAJKA in which I currently hold a position (that means I own bonds for all you inexperienced investors).

Note: That was my disclaimer about having an explicit interest in PAJKA.

The result of that article was that one investor in particular got a bit of panic, sold of a substantial amount of his bond at whatever price he could get, and went on to claim that all perpetual mining bonds (PMB) are scams.

Well, PMBs are not scams and I’ll tell you why and try to answer the most common questions around why PMB may be a great investment or may be your worst nightmare.

Perpetual Difficult Climb

Perpetual mining bonds yield a fixed and pre-determined return based on a number of hashes per bond. However, if mining difficulty increases, that means the return will diminish. The faster the difficulty increases, the less return the bond will yield.

This may seem like an obvious scam because we all know that difficulty will keep rocketing into the sky forever, right? After all, technology becomes better and more and more people will mine, so the difficulty must go up forever just like the total number of computers on the planet, right?

Well, that’s the first mistake and false assumption.

The difficulty of mining Bitcoins has gone up significantly in the previous few months. This is largely due to the introduction of ASIC mining, a huge leap in technology that renders all other mining equipment significantly less valuable.

Note: To learn more about ASIC mining and why it is so important to Bitcoin, you can read my article “What are ASIC Miners and Why are they So Important?”

ASICs are certain to change Bitcoin mining forever, but it won’t drive difficulty into perpetual rise. The reason, in fact, is that ASICs are just computer chips that are bound by the same limitations that other computer chips are. You can only make them so small and so efficient before you start running into problems of sizes of atoms.

Currently, the most powerful scheduled ASIC miner is developed by Swedish KnCMiner. Their ASICs are built on a 28nm technology. Currently, the best normal CPUs use 20nm technology, and those chips are extremely difficult to make.

ASICs may be simpler devices, but it is still difficult to get much smaller than the 28nm without investing significant money into development. As such, the rapid increase in ASIC efficiency is bound to slow down significantly very shortly.

However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t build more chips. Distribution can easily counter any lack of technological progress, especially in Bitcoin and Litecoin mining where every computer is part of the same network and runs towards the same goals.

Of course, as more and more miners come online, difficulty will keep rising, and pretty quickly, the profitability of mining equipment drops to zero or below. After all, you wouldn’t want to buy an ASIC miner for $10,000 if during its lifetime it would only give you $1,000 back, would you?

So, as more miners come online, the incentive to add more miners will drop, thus reducing the rate of network difficulty increase. At some point, adding more miners will not make sense and network mining difficulty will stop increasing.

The whole Bitcoin network was designed to be marginally profitable to miners. There’s a gold rush right now because ASICs represent so much of an advantage, but sooner or later, they will become unprofitable too.

And guess what; no matter when that happens, you still have your mining bond that will continue generating money. You don’t pay for electricity, you have no risk of hardware failure, you just sit there and watch as your Bitcoin or Litecoin wealth grows.

Note: Some mining bonds have buyback policies that allow the issuer to buy back bonds under certain conditions. carefully read the contract before you buy in and understand the terms under which an issuer can buy back bonds.

Yes, the value and thus return of your bonds will drop as difficulty grows. No, you won’t reap 50% yield per year, but c’mon, any semi-experienced trader knows this is an insane return on any investment. In PMBs, you have virtually no risk. Find a risk-less investment in a traditional market and you’re lucky to get 3-4%.

The reduction in profitability applies to any mining operation, regardless of whether you buy bonds or buy hardware to mine yourself.

Speaking of which…

Buying Hardware is Cheaper!

A second argument against PMBs is that buying the hardware yourself is cheaper than buying a bond. For example, a 1 mh/s bond from TAT.VirtualMine at this time costs around 0.0079. If you buy a 7950 GPU costing around 2BTC, you get 500 mh/s. To get 500mh/s from TAT.VM, you need to buy bonds for almost 4BTC. Clearly it is cheaper to buy a GPU yourself, especially if you have cheap electricity, right?

Well, yes, in cost it is cheaper to buy hardware, but this again is a mistake and false assumption. Let me use a somewhat contrived example to show you why.

It is also cheaper to dig for oil yourself rather than buying shares in Exxon to drill that oil for you. If you buy into Exxon, with some fancy math magic, you get approximately $0.007 dollar per day in dividends. Compare that to the return you would get from drilling your own oil where you get 100% of the profit, or almost $100 per barrel of oil!

Sure, Exxon drills oil on a much larger scale, but c’mon, per barrel you’re getting those $0.007 divided by the roughly 4 billion barrels of oil Exxon mines every day. You’re getting scammed by buying shares in Exxon!

Nobody in their right mind would make such a claim because after decades of experience, society knows that to drill oil, you need a lot of skill, investment in expensive equipment, the knowledge to maintain that equipment, the market in which to trade your product, and so on.

Buying hardware, running, and operating a mine, taking on the risks of equipment failure, ensuring the power and internet connection stays on 24/7, having a heck of a time if you need to leave three weeks on vacation… Operating a mine is hard work! It comes with a lot of risk and burdens, and for some, it is simply not an option.

Add to that the cost of time you need to invest in learning how to operate that mine safely, the time you need for maintenance and optimization, and the risk you have solely on your shoulders if something breaks, and the cost isn’t as cheap as some would like to imagine.

Perpetual Mining Bonds are Never Meant to be Profitable for the Investor!

For obvious reasons, I can’t speak about the intentions of any asset issuer. However, the profitability of perpetual mining bonds are exceedingly easy to calculate. What is difficult is predicting the difficulty of the Bitcoin mining network, and the guesses from various parts of the community ranges from “nah, it’ll never go beyond 200 million” to “it will rise to 1 billion by next week and continue to rise at 100% every day for the rest of eternity”.

Neither of these predictions will likely be correct, but you, as an investor, is tasked with finding the middle ground. This is the research part you need to do. If you believe in perpetual difficulty growth then clearly buying mining bonds is a bad idea. However, if you believe that mining difficulty will stop and decline immediately, then mining bonds will yield incredible results.

For an issuer, however, the reverse is true. If they believe that mining difficulty will continue to rise at incredible speeds, then issuing a mining bond makes sense because it will be very cheap financing. If they believe the difficulty will drop then issuing a bond denominated effectively in that difficulty is a bad idea.

The main difference, however, is that in lieu of a buyback option, a PMB is always going to be a loss to the issuer given enough time. Granted, if difficulty rises enough, the sun may burn out before that becomes a serious issue, but in the end, a mining bond will always return a profit to its owners, albeit a small one.

Let me briefly mention PAJKA again as an example. PAJKA was initially issued in June of 2012, so roughly one year ago. During that time, the bond has paid out its principal (meaning the amount the bonds cost) plus a healthy profit for its owners. Even today, PAJKA returns over 50% at current trading prices, with absolutely no operational risk to its owners.

How would it be possible for the issuer of PAJKA to predict that in a year, difficulty would suddenly get a surge? The simple answer is that it is impossible to know.

If PMBs like PAJKA were scams, it would be the worst scam in the history of mankind, where the scammer ends up giving more money to his victims than they risked. It would be like a bank robber heading into a bank and screaming “THIS IS A ROBBERY! HERE, TAKE THESE $100,000 OR I SHOOT!”

So no, PMBs aren’t scams. If you want to be cynical, they are really bets, where you, as the investor, bets that the difficulty will not rise enough over a long time that your profitability goes away, and the issuer, well, the best interest of the issuer is that difficulty shoots through the roof forever, securing cheap financing of the bond.

But it’s not a scam.

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Understanding Mining Bonds

Disclaimer: Do not take this as financial advice. I have no idea what I’m doing and if I’m right, assume it is luck. Also assume that I have a vested interest in seeing you take some kind of action, for example because I hold shares in companies that directly or indirectly benefit from you taking said action. In fact, to be safe, assume that I’m out to get you, and you specifically.

You have been warned.

In the Bitcoin and Litecoin stock markets, nothing is as hot as mining operations. These typically come in two forms, either as mining companies or as mining bonds.

Note: If you have no idea by this time what a mining operation is, then you’ve like found the wrong article and should head over to something more basic.

Most people don’t really get the whole mining bond thing, though, so I thought I should write an article and explain how these work.

What are Bonds?

Most people understand what a share in a company is, but if you don’t, think of it simply as a partial ownership of the company. Whatever the company owns, you own, and whatever the company earns, you earn, of course relative to the number of shares you own and how many shares are issued. When the company decides it has sufficient free capital, they may pay out a portion of they money to share holders, and this payment is called a dividend.

When the company does well, either the price of each share goes up because the company has more money (and assuming a market that more or less prices a share based on company value) or the company has more money that can be paid out as dividends. Conversely, if the company does badly, the profit and thus value, price, and dividends go down.

A bond, however, is simply a loan that is issued as a stock market asset or security. Rather than going to a single bank or financial institution to get the complete loan, the issuer, who wants to raise money for something, issues bonds that are then purchased by multiple parties on a stock exchange or market. This reduces the risk to a single lender and is thus often an easier way to raise capital.

Note: They key difference here is that a share is ownership of the company while a bond is ownership in a loan.

For example, if someone wants to raise $1 million, rather than going to a bank to ask for one million in one application, they can issue 1 million bonds each valued at $1. Investors can then lend exactly as much as they want, anywhere from one dollar to a million dollars. Each share of the debt represents a an equal portion of the total debt.

A bond, as a loan, is also associated with payment of interest, often called the coupon. The issuer pays this interest to lenders to get the money. The interest can be variable, fixed, a combination the two, or any other form that is legally allowed.

Finally, bonds are most often redeemable, meaning the issuer can buy them back, which is essentially the same as repaying the loan. As for the coupon or interest, the terms of this repayment is subject to what is legal and desired by the issuer and the market.

And Mining Bonds?

Mining investments are one of the most popular asset types in the cryptocurrency world, but a lot of people do not seem to realize how they work.

Mining bonds are exactly like regular bonds in principle, but they often have a few differences from what the norm is in the financial markets. I’ll get back to those differences in a moment, but let me first explain briefly how mining bonds work.

In a mining bond, the interest paid for each bond is most often based on a certain output that mining produces. For example, a 1KH/s Litecoin bond will pay out whatever having a 1KH/s mining rig would earn you. The coupon or interest on a mining bond is variable and changes based on the difficulty of the mining of that coin. The higher the difficulty, the lower the coupon or interest.

However, one thing that many people seem to misunderstand is that bonds are not shares in the company. Once you buy a bond, you have a predetermined agreement that the issuer promises to pay. When you own a share in a company, the issuer promises to give you whatever is your share of the profits, but you don’t know in advance what this may be.

Because the rate of return is highly variable and also declining, assuming a rise in adoption and popularity of mining, mining bonds behave a bit different than regular bonds.

First, most mining bonds are perpetual whereas regular bonds are redeemable. This means that the issuer has no plan to repay you what you lend. Your only return from your lending is the coupon or interest. After all, as profitability of mining declines permanently and the equipment bought with the loan will fall in value, the issuer has no way of repaying the loan.

Note: The term perpetual is actually a protection for the issuer, even thought it sounds great to the lender because it sounds like you get money forever. To the issuer, however, it is a protection because it means they never have to repay the loan you give them.

Because of this lack of repayment, mining bonds often have incredible returns and may seem to be great investments compared to regular bonds. They may be, but for all mining bonds, the simple truth is that what you get in return will dwindle rapidly as the rate of mining increases globally.

Second, the return of your bond will never increase. This is important to understand and confuses people when they see that companies invest in ever growing mining farms while their bonds remain static at a certain level.

However, when you think about it, this is perfectly logical. Remember that the mining output is the interest on a loan. There is absolutely no reason why the issuer would want to increase how much they have to pay you no more than it would make sense for you to start paying more on your mortgage, even though the housing market may go down or up.

With a bond, you do not own what the issuer uses your money to buy. You own simply the coupon or interest  or that loan plus, technically, the loan value itself (although in perpetual bonds, this is never repaid and should be considered sunk cost).

As long as the issuer keeps paying what the terms of the contract states, you have no claim to any additional payment for any reason.

A couple of mining bonds play a little benign trick on you. The explicitly increase the payment over time, either through a reinvestment plan or by stating that on a certain date or under certain conditions, the coupon or interest will increase.

This isn’t anything different from regular bonds, however, that have coupons or interests that change based on some condition.

For example, let’s say you lend me $10 and I will repay you 10% interest per year, which is fine, and you know exactly what you’ll get. However, I’ll also include a clause that if I win in the lottery, I will increase that payment to 20%, and that if I lose my job, I will reduce that to 5%. This is still fine as long as those terms are known to you in advance.

For bonds that do reinvestment, the situation is still very simple when you think about it. The reinvestment will keep your return at a more steady pace, but that reinvestment comes from money you would otherwise have received in interest, so you are not really getting anything more than you would if you simply got a higher interest and purchased more bonds.

Are Mining Bonds Really Mining?

Now that you understand how mining bonds are just like regular bonds, and that all bonds are simply loans on which the issuer pays a predetermined return, here’s a thought for you:

Mining bonds don’t have to mine at all, and that is perfectly all right. It’s not a scam, nobody is trying to trick you, and it doesn’t affect the profitability at all.

Note: Speaking of profitability, calculating that for a mining bond is no different than calculating the profitability of investing in mining equipment. Find a good calculator, add the return from the hash rate you get in the bond, add the cost of the bond as the cost of the equipment, and you’ll have your profitability.

You see, you do not own the equipment that the issuer buys with your money. To you, the issuer can use that money to go on vacation for a year or buy a new car. In fact, some mining bonds today don’t have a single piece of mining equipment.

What you own is a predetermined rate of return, which is defined as whatever that certain hash rate would have given you, had you operated a mine. As long as you get that return, it doesn’t matter to you whether the issuer gets that money from actually mining or from growing pot in their backyard (financially speaking, of course).

It is actually easier for the issuer of a mining bond to not mine at all. Instead, they can get your money, put that into something that has a better return, and just give you the return to which you are entitled.

Some people see this as a scam, but really, it is nothing of the sort. A bond, no matter what you put in front of it, is simply a loan and you forfeit any decision over what the issuer buys with that loan the minute you sign the contract by placing a buy order.

I hope this helps clear up some of the confusion around mining bonds, but as always, feel free to leave comments if you have questions, comments, or other feedback :-)

.b

Why Investing in Mining is Always a Bet That Prices Will Drop

The one thing that really puzzles people when it comes to evaluating Bitcoin mining profitability is the fact that investing in mining equipment is always a bet that the prices of your chosen currency goes down.

I’ve tried numerous approaches to explaining why this is true, and I’m almost always met with either complete bewilderment (but, it’s free money, how can that not be profitable?) to rage (you simply don’t understanding mining, it’s all about difficulty/price/speed/etc) to weird math-related arguments (well, your calculations cannot be true because you didn’t prove it with my numbers).

As such, I’m going to explain this concept, hopefully in a way that makes it easy to understand.

However, to do so, I’m going to have to trick you.

Currency Trading

I want to start with a completely unrelated topic, just to make sure we have something relatively easy to understand. The topic is going to be currency trading with three currencies.

These three currencies are not to be understood as the traditional currencies you usually handle, like US dollars, Euros, or Pounds. To accomplish this, I’m going to call them A, B, and C.

Because we’re going to do some trading with these currencies, we need to establish an initial exchange rate between the currencies. I’m going to start with the following exchange rates:

Currency Pair Exchange Rate
A:B 1:2
B:C 1:50
A:C 1:100

This table should be fairly easy to understand. If you have 1 A, you can trade that for either 2 B or 100 C. If you have one B, you can trade that for either 0.1 A or 50 C. If you have 100 C you can trade that for either 2 B or 1 A.

In fact, let’s start with 2 B and see what we can do. To make this simple, we trade only once per day, using the final exchange rates for that day.

Initial Status: Our holdings initially is 2 B, the equivalent of 1 A or 100 C

First Day of Trading

On the first day of trading, we decide to buy 1 A for our 2 B.

Day 1 Status: Our holding before day 1 is thus 1 A, the equivalent of 2 B or 100 C.

After the first day of trading, the exchange rates have shifted, making C 2.5 times more valuable. Our exchange rates now look like this:

Currency Pair Exchange Rate
A:B 1:2
B:C 1:20
A:C 1:40

Dang! Our value measured in C is now down to 40 C. Even if we still hold 1 A, the exact amount we started with, the increase in C value means our starting sum now translates to a much lower amount of C.

In other words, our value of 1 A means we can get 2.5 times less C today than initially.

Second Day of Trading

Thinking that the C price surge on day one may be a flop, we decide to hold on to our A during day two.

Day 2 Status: Our holding before day 2 thus remains at 1 A, the equivalent of 2 B or 40 C.

After the second day of trading, it turns out we were right! The exchange rate of C drops down to only 10% to its original level, and our exchange rates thus look like this:

Currency Pair Exchange Rate
A:B 1:2
B:C 1:500
A:C 1:1000

Luckily, we didn’t buy into the C hype. If we did, we would still hold 40 C, but measured in A, we would suddenly hold only 0.04 A. Measured in B, we would have had only 0.08 B.

In other words, our value of 1 A means we can now get 25 times more C than yesterday.

Final Status: Our holdings after day 2 is thus 1 A, the equivalent of 2 B or 1000 C.

Do we understand each other so far? Everything looks swell? Happy with what’s going on? Good! Because it’s time for me to spring my trap.

The Trick

I mentioned earlier that I needed to trick you to explain how this all relates to investing in mining and how investing in mining is always a bet that the prices of Bitcoin or your favorite cryptocurrency will drop.

The trick here is that in the scenario above, there aren’t really three currencies. There are just two. One of the currencies, A, is actually a piece of mining equipment, for example a graphics card (GPU).

Hold on!” you say “That’s not fair! Mining equipment isn’t currency and you can’t trade it like that!

You’re right! However, you may notice that we didn’t trade A at all, we just bought it at the beginning. In the two days of trading, we used it only to measure how much of the other currencies we held.

Let’s see if my trickery goes further. What if we replaced currency B with US dollars, and currency C with Bitcoin or some other cryptocurrency? Let’s review our positions initially, after day 1 and after day 2.

Note: Remember that during day 1, the price of C, or our cryptocurrency, increased drastically while on day 2, the price of our cryptocurrency dropped like a rock.

Let’s just exchange our statuses with A being GPU, B being USD, and C being Bitcoin.

Initial Status: Our holdings initially is 2 USD, the equivalent of 1 GPU or 100 Bitcoin

Day 1 Status: Our holding before day 1 is thus 1 GPU, the equivalent of 2 USD or 100 Bitcoin.

Day 2 Status: Our holding before day 2 thus remains at 1 GPU the equivalent of 2 USD or 40 Bitcoin.

Final Status: Our holdings after day 2 is thus 1 GPU, the equivalent of 2 USD or 1000 Bitcoin.

See what happens here?

When the price of Bitcoin rises, our value denominated in Bitcoin drops drastically. When the price of Bitcoin crashes, the amount of Bitcoin our holdings represent goes through the roof!

In short, buying mining equipment yields far more reward in Bitcoins when the value of Bitcoins drop than if Bitcoins rise in value.

Your Questions Answered

As always, I’m anticipating, partially because I’ve been trying to explain this to people many times, that you have some questions. Let me get ahead of you and answer some of them right now. If you have other questions, feel free to leave them as comments below.

Q: You Forgot Mining, You Idiot!

Nope, I didn’t forget, I left it out because it would only add to your nightmare.

Go ahead, add mining into the equation. Let’s pick any number, say 10 Bitcoin per day. After day 1, you would have had 50 Bitcoins instead, an increase in Bitcoins of 25%! Amazing, increase, so mining must be profitable, right?

Well, after day two, you’d have 1020 Bitcoins, which represents an increase of Bitcoins of 1020% (yes, that’s one thousand and twenty percent) from our initial value. In other words, a price drop means you get 995% more Bitcoins than if you mine while the price goes up and manage to sell at the top. Clearly, a decreasing price yields far more Bitcoins than mining because a drop in price would add 900 Bitcoins, whereas mining would add 20 Bitcoins.

Q: It’s All About Mining Difficulty, You Idiot!

Not really. If the mining difficulty goes up, you get fewer coins, but even a doubling of the difficulty would only reduce your mining revenue by half. The theory seems to be that increased difficulty leads to a higher price because the cost of mining one coin goes up.

Note: This theory is far from certain, and looking at how major difficulty shifts in other cryptocurrencies have affected prices recently, there doesn’t even seem to be a correlation, much less a dependency between difficulty and price.

In any case, difficulty increase or decrease does not affect profitability anywhere near enough to compensate for the changes in price of a coin.

An increase in difficulty means you get fewer coins, which if the price/difficulty theory holds true means the price will rise. Of course, with fewer coins, that also means less effect of that price increase. Conversely, if the difficulty drops and the price goes down, you have more coins affected by the price decrease.

In the end, it does balance out, but if you think difficulty affects the profitability like that, just run the numbers yourself and see.

Q: You Forgot Equipment Depreciation, You Idiot!

OK, enough with the insults already!

Depreciation means that something loses value over time. For a GPU, you may expect a lifetime of 12 months, so you can on average expect the value of your GPU to depreciate 1/12 per month. The number of months may be different, but the idea is the same.

Let’s go back a couple of steps and look at the investment before my little text replacement trick. In our first example, depreciation would mean that the exchange value of our A would drop by, for example, 1/12 every month.

However, we would still have one A. Our value denominated in other currencies would drop over time, but our ability to mine with our A does not go down.

Our production from having a GPU increases over time when compared to the value of our GPU. For example, after one month, our A or GPU would be worth only 11/12 of the B/USD and C/Bitcoin value, and would give 10 C/Bitcoins. After 11 months, our GPU would be worth only 1/12 of its original value, but would still produce 10 Bitcoins, or whatever value you choose to use.

Q: You’re Using Made-Up Numbers! Use My Numbers, You Idiot!

This is the counter-argument that ultimately demonstrates whether you understand math or are just being argumentative.

Look, replace the numbers with whatever makes you happy. It’s not about whether there is a 1:2 exchange rate or a 1:45, 2:31, or 86:15 exchange rate. It doesn’t matter whether a dollar currently is higher or lower than a Bitcoin.

Try it and see! It’s very easy. Just replace the A:B exchange rate with the price of your favorite mining equipment in USD (don’t forget to convert the value to USD, regardless of whether you buy it using USD or Bitcoins), the B:C ratio with the exchange rate of US dollars to Bitcoins, and A:C with the price of your favorite mining equipment in Bitcoins. Then, do the same experiment, using higher or lower decreases and increases if you like.

Don’t trust me, trust the math.

Oh, and if Bitcoins isn’t your chosen cryptocurrency, just swap Bitcoin in the previous paragraph with Whatevercoin.

Q: Of Course I Want the Price of My Coins to be as High as Possible. Nobody Wants to Sell at a Low Price, You Idiot!

That is true, but tell me, would you rather have 1,000 coins or 100 coins to sell if the price was the same? You’re thinking right but ignore the acquisition of the coins completely.

Remember that when you sell your hardware, you are no longer a miner. You are a coin holder. The argument here is that a mining operation benefits from a falling price, but since your mining operation ceases the moment you sell your mining operation, the falling price no longer benefits you.

In fact, it’s the exact opposite when you just hold coins. You want the price to skyrocket! Until that happens, however, you want to gain as many coins as possible at the lowest price possible, and thus you gain more from a falling price than you do from a rising price.

In our simplified trading example, we stopped the analysis after the price dropped. Add one more day where you trade in your A for 1000 coins after day 2, and see what happens when the price of C or your chosen coin shoots up again on day 3 to the level it was after day 1:

Final Status: Our holdings after day 3 is thus 1020 Bitcoin, the equivalent of 25.5 GPUs or 510 US dollars.

If you were just mining at the rate of the 10 Bitcoins per day from the example in the first question, the results would be:

Final Status: Our holdings after day 3 is thus 1 GPU and 30 Bitcoin, the equivalent of 1.8 GPUs or 36 US dollars.

Mining yields a profit of 34 dollars while mining plus selling your hardware yields 508 dollars.

The End?

I doubt it, because this is a topic that seems to bring rage to miners all over cryptocurrency land. However, the short version of this article is this:

Mining is always most profitable when the price of Bitcoin goes down. If you invest in mining equipment your highest profit comes when the price of Bitcoin crashes.

That doesn’t mean that mining isn’t profitable when the price rises, only that you’re missing out on a lot of coins when that happens.

Still disagree? Leave your comment below and I’ll try to answer any question you have. Perhaps you know better? Heck, I might even update this article to include your question, and you’ll be famous for setting me straight!

.b