Mining Bitcoin

What is mining?

Mining is the process by which Bitcoin comes into creation, essentially people all around the world are contributing their computing power to the Bitcoin network in exchange for payouts in Bitcoin. The reason that the network demands computer power is that it uses this collective computer power to verify Bitcoin transactions in a decentralised way, meaning no person, bank or government verifies transactions but instead, the network can do it on its own accord. The way the network ensured it has the necessary computer power is by offering ‘miners’ (those who give computer power to the network) an opportunity to earn Bitcoin through transaction verification. The smaller the amount of aggregate computer power on the network the greater the reward to miners and visa versa. The logic behind this is based on the simple but timeless economic principle of supply and demand – when the supply of computer power is low the rewards are higher as to incentivise more people to add computer power to the network, as every unit of computer power is added the expected rate of return diminishes. This process continues until it becomes unprofitable to mine Bitcoin, at which point the equilibrium of supply and demand has been reached. From a high level then the Bitcoin network is simply a very advanced incentive system designed to allow self-regulation and the harnessing of free-market economic principles.

Hardware

When it comes to mining Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency you have two options – you either mine these coins yourself or you hire someone else to mine them for you (cloud mining). Due to the controversy that has recently consumed the cloud mining industry and the allegations of scams that have been associated we are not going to cover this form of mining here. Instead, we will talk about the practical steps you can take to mine your own coins if you wish to do so.

To mine Bitcoin you first off need computer hardware. Back in 2009 when Bitcoin was first released it would be possible to verify transactions simply on your everyday laptop or desktop. This was the case because there were not many transactions on the network and so it would not have been a strain on the computer’s resources. However, since then, the volume of transactions on the network has increased exponentially, consequently, it is ill-advised to try to use anything other than specialised mining computer hardware to verify transactions. The specific hardware that I am referring to is hardware comprised of ASIC (Application Specific Integrated Circuit) computer chips. In 2019 the two types of Bitcoin mining equipment most people believe to be most profitable and therefore best are the Dragonmint T16 and the Antminer S9. To see a full break down of the benefits and deficiencies of each system we will refer you to this article.

Source: CCN

Software

Before you can successfully mine cryptocurrencies there are 2 types of software you must have:

  1. A wallet where you store the mined coins  
  2. The mining software itself e.g. GUIMiner

There are many wallets out there that you could potentially use but unfortunately, many of them are faulty and are vulnerable to hacks, as has been demonstrated by the numerous hacks that have happened only this year. So we suggest you do your due diligence before choosing your wallet and transferring funds into it. There are many types of Bitcoin wallets: online wallets, mobile wallets, desktop wallets, hardware wallets and paper wallets. Out of all of the wallets types the most secure wallet you can have is a hardware wallet whereby your coins get stored offline in a safe place of your choosing – we recommend either a Trezor or a Nano Ledger S. However if you want to do further research into the various wallet types available we suggest you read this article.

Return on investment

The profitability of cryptocurrency mining, and in particular Bitcoin mining, is something which has changed drastically over time. As can be seen in the chart below in Bitcoin’s early years (2009-2011) it was highly profitable to mine Bitcoin. But as more people joined the network in the hope of mining their own Bitcoin, combined with the smaller amounts of Bitcoin to be won for every block mined (the halvening) the profitability rapidly declined over time.

Chart Source: BitInfoCharts

In order to calculate the profitability of your investment, adjusted to your specific circumstance, you can simply use a mining profitability calculator.

Getting free Bitcoin

Faucets

A bitcoin faucet is simply a reward system in the form of a website or app, that dispenses rewards in the form of a Satoshis, which is a hundredth of a millionth BTC, for visitors to claim in exchange for completing a captcha or task as described by the website. There are also faucets that dispense alternative cryptocurrencies e.g. Ether, Dash, Monero, ZCash & EOS.

In 2010 the first faucet was set up by Gavin Andreason which gave out 5 Bitcoin per person. Since then, however, the rewards for visiting these faucets have drastically decreased, due to the high demand for these faucets as well as the increasing difficulty of mining Bitcoin. You can find faucets that are still functional here.

Earning Bitcoin

Bounties

Bounties programmes have been around in many forms for decades at this point, they are simply a way of hiring masses of people to spread the word about a given project or perform small tasks for a project… then rewarding them financially for their efforts. In recent years however these traditional schemes have moved into the crypto world! For example, bounty programmes were a very prevalent strategy in 2017 and 2018 with regards to ICOs. The ICOs provide compensation to participants for a number of tasks spread across marketing, bug reporting or even improving aspects of the cryptocurrency framework. The payout for these tasks varies, sometimes the payment is offered in Bitcoin, other times it can be paid in the native cryptocurrency to the project. Consequently, if you participate in a bounty programme where the payout is in an obscure cryptocurrency make sure you do your research to make sure it may one day have an increased value. To participate in one of these bounty reward programmes you can use bounty0x.io or a website similar to it.

Lending

One of the lowest risk ways to earn interest on your cryptocurrencies (especially in a bear market) is to loan out your cryptocurrencies to exchanges which facilitate margin trading. This basically means you are lending your cryptocurrencies out to traders who are making a bet on the rise or fall of the price of a cryptocurrency and whether they are right or wrong you will get your crypto back with an interest paid on it. Furthermore, on most exchanges, you are not lending to individuals on the platform but instead to a lending pool which distributes and claims funds automatically.

As previously mentioned, cryptocurrency exchanges are notorious for being hacked or doing ‘exit scams’ and so make sure to chose your exchange wisely and to only leave as much on there as you are willing to lose. The exchanges we recommend you check out if lending your crypto out is something that interests you are BitMex, Huobi Pro, Kraken, Whaleclub and Poloniex. But again, make sure to thoroughly research these exchanges for yourself.

Employment

One of the most obvious ways to earn Bitcoin is to accept it as payment for your day to day job. If the idea of this scares you for whatever reason, you don’t necessarily have to be paid entirely in Bitcoin but can instead choose a certain percentage of your income paid to you in Bitcoin and the rest in your local currency. There are specific platforms which have been created with this in mind, for example, BitWage. BitWage allows you to convert all or part of your monthly wages into Bitcoin and then have the platform pay into Bitcoin wallet. Whatever has not been converted into Bitcoin will be kept as your local currency and sent to a conventional bank account of your choosing.

Photo source: Bitwage.com

Trading Bitcoin

Another way to earn Bitcoin is through trading. There are two main ways of doing this: the first is to buy Bitcoin and then sell it for a higher price at a later date. Alternatively, you can trade your Bitcoin for another crypto (altcoin) wait for that to appreciate in value and then sell it back for Bitcoin.

If you would prefer to take on the former strategy you need to access an exchange/platform which allows for fiat to Bitcoin conversion. The exchange most commonly used for this purpose in the UK is CoinBase – it has been tried and tested over many years and are yet to be hacked or do an exit scam. That being said, all exchanges come with some degree of risk so make sure to do your research. Another option for fiat to crypto conversion is Local Bitcoins, this platform can allow you to trade Bitcoin for fiat either in person with someone in your area who is selling Bitcoin or facilitates online trades as well. If this is something that interests you make sure to thoroughly check the seller’s account for reviews and ratings to help determine if they are legitimate or not.

If however, you prefer the latter strategy discussed above then what you must do is follow all the steps just set out for the acquisition of Bitcoin and then follow these simple steps next.

  1. Select an exchange
  2. Select altcoin investments, investment strategy, time horizon etc
  3. Invest based on the above criteria
  4. Sell investment when the time is right
  5. Repeat process as many times as you please
  6. Transfer earned Bitcoin from the exchange into a more secure wallet e.g. Nano Leger S or Trezor

When it comes to selecting exchanges there are many to choose from and so it is best to only use ones which have been around for years and have proven to be hack/scam resistant. It is estimated that there are over 500 exchanges to choose from. We recommend you start your investigations into exchanges with CoinBase Pro, Kraken and Binance. But as we said before… there is risk involved in all of these exchanges, be careful!

When it comes to selecting altcoin investments, investment strategies, time horizon etc. there are a lot of variables to take into consideration and there will be a long process of before you will become a good/profitable trader. There are two types of analysis for all investments: fundamental analysis and technical analysis. Fundamental analysis is “a method of evaluating a security in an attempt to assess its intrinsic value, by examining related economic, financial, and other qualitative and quantitative factors. Fundamental analysts study anything that can affect the security’s value, including macroeconomic factors (e.g. economy and industry conditions) and microeconomic factors (e.g. financial conditions and company management).” Whereas technical analysis is “a trading discipline employed to evaluate investments and identify trading opportunities by analyzing statistical trends gathered from trading activity, such as price movement and volume. Unlike fundamental analysts, who attempt to evaluate a security’s intrinsic value, technical analysts focus on patterns of price movements, trading signals and various other analytical charting tools to evaluate a security’s strength or weakness.” It is standard practice to have an investment strategy which incorporates these two forms of analysis. That being said some professionals question the legitimacy and reliability of technical analysis. Instead of tacking that argument here I will refer you instead to this article.

Finally, there comes the question of which wallet to store your earned Bitcoin on. As we tackled that question at the beginning of the article regarding Bitcoin mining I will refer you back to that section for further reading.

Conclusion

Despite the fact were are at the end of Bitcoin’s biggest hype cycle (end of 2017/start of 2018) and the markets seem fairly dire, Bitcoin’s journey to global recognition as a viable alternative financial system has just begun. The simple fact that the restricted supply of Bitcoin combined with increasing adoption in society means that Bitcoin’s price will rise… this is the simple truth of free market economics. The question then becomes how can you join this revolution and in the process prosper from that engagement. Hopefully, this article has helped start your journey to earning Bitcoin and educating yourself about the immense possibilities of a decentralised global financial system.

DISCLAIMER: Opinions expressed by Coinschedule Blog contributors are their own.

Anthony Broderick

Crypto Analyst & Media Editor

Anthony joined CoinSchedule in July 2018 as an intern and was quickly offered the full-time position of Cryptocurrency Analyst & Media Editor. His role includes writing reports, articles and blog posts as well as attending relevant conferences and producing weekly podcasts designed to delve deep into a particular part of the crypto sphere with an industry-leading expert.

Having graduated from the University of Edinburgh with a 2:1 in the Summer of 2018, Anthony’s dissertation – ‘Is Bitcoin Money?’ – was published as a book in December 2018 by Lambert Academic Publishers and is now available to buy online.

Anthony’s passion for cryptocurrencies began back in 2013 when he discovered the technology when revising for his Economics A Level and was cemented in place once he invested in Bitcoin in the Spring of 2014.

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