Roundup of China’s Bitcoin Mining Industry in 2020
China, home to more than half of the world’s bitcoin mining capacity, plays an important role in the bitcoin mining ecosystem. With bitcoin showing wild price swings, 2020 has been a rollercoaster for the industry where the world’s largest cryptocurrency is minted in the country.
In the first half of the year, mining hardware manufacturers in the country were shut down after COVID-19 outbreak. On March 12, bitcoin crashed around 50%, falling below $4,000, which led to a great deal accounts of miners who pledge bitcoin to keep mining were liquidated. Later, the bitcoin reward was halved and pessimism prevailed in the industry. Then there came the drawn-out Bitmain drama, and troubles of the other three mining rig manufacturers.
When it came to the second half, the price of bitcoin unexpectedly spiked and hit a new record high of around $28,000 lately. Ethereum also saw its price soar above $700 as a result of the DeFi craze. For a time, mining hardware manufacturers, mining pools as well as miners made a lot.
Mining device makers
The almost one-year-long power struggle between the two co-founders of Bitmain seems to come to an end after both parties agreed to reach an agreement at the end of the year. As part of the settlement, Micree Zhan will own the Antpool mining pool and Bitmain’s mining farms in China, while Wu will take control of BTC.com mining pool and overseas mining centers of the company.
Despite all the troubles, the mining giant still performs well this year thanks to the increasing demand for powerful mining machines brought by the bitcoin bull in the second half. While the year ahead will be full of uncertainty as the company split into two.
Yang Zuoxing, the founder of MicroBT, previously arrested on suspicion of embezzlement as competition between its former employer Bitmain and his company intensifies, seems to have gotten rid of the dispute with Bitmain recently.
Despite the legal battles between the two, MicroBT has grown into a serious contender, clawing market share away from Bitmain with its Whatsminer models.
The company had a similar internal struggle like Bitmain in 2020, but it was soon settled. With the rollout of high-performance mining machine that could compete with Whatsminer’s M30S machines, its stock price soared three times. The company is slowly catching up and will have more to do in the year ahead.
Mining machine production
The core problem facing bitcoin miner makers is the lack of capacity for high-end processing chips. At present, TSMC, Samsung and SMIC are dominant in high-end chip production. With demand from the industries of audio and video, 5G and AI grows, high-end processes are being snapped up, and the instability of mining machine capacity prevents conservative fabs from offering more capacity.
It is expected that the high-end process capacity acquired by the mining industry next year will be no more than 1 million high-performance mining machines. Bitmain will take a big share as it got TSMC’s 5nm production.
In 2020, bitcoin mining pools are reshuffled by hashrate distribution, with the dominating mining pool BTC.com dropping in terms of hashrate share and F2Pool and Poolin took the lead.
While the emergence of crypto exchange pools in the second half of the year changed the game again.
According to btc.com, Binance Pool and Huobi.pool have grabbed quite much bitcoin mining hashrate to their pool since their emergence. Binance pool has recently elbowed into the top three with a 12% hashrate share. Huobi.pool is currently the seventh with more than 8% hashrate share.
Sichuan, the bitcoin mining capital, seems to turn to be more policy-friendly towards bitcoin mining this year.
As Sichuan has built a large number of compliant mines within the hydropower consumption demonstration zone at the call of local government to consume excessive hydropower during the rainy season, there may be an oversupply of machine slots in the mining farms within the region next year.