Bitcoin Mining Difficulty Spikes 13.55%, Reaches New ATH of 35.6 Trillion Hashes

According to the latest data collected from BTC.com, Bitcoin mining difficulty has increased by 13.55% since the last adjustment around two weeks ago. 

The current difficulty adjustment now takes 35.6 trillion hashes to generate one Bitcoin (BTC), a massive increase of 13.55% from the previous estimates. As per the data, the hike is the highest increase in Bitcoin mining difficulty since May 2021.

Source: BTC.com

The network rate now stands at 257 million TH/s (terra hashes per second), a massive increase over the 140 million TH/s it had at this time last year, BTC.com data indicated.

Despite pressure from declining prices being witnessed this year, the difficulty adjustment continues its steady rise while the competition among its miners has been growing. High difficulty means it takes more computing power to mine the same number of blocks and makes the network secure. An increase in mining difficulty also means that miners must put in more computing power in order to mine a block. And miners compete against each other for limited block rewards. With more participants and more computing power, the so-called “hashpower” of the entire network increases significantly, which is good for Bitcoin’s price in the long run.

Mining difficulty in the Bitcoin network is adjusted automatically every two weeks after 2,016 blocks have been mined in the network. The next difficulty adjustment will take place on October 24.

Increasing difficulty suggests more challenges ahead for Bitcoin miners who are already feeling the heat from the weak Bitcoin prices and higher energy costs. The bear market has been rough for the miners, who have seen profit margins shrink as Bitcoin prices crashed more than 50% this year while capital dried up and power prices surged.

Last month, one of the largest Bitcoin mining data centres, Compute North, filed for bankruptcy, citing the severe bear market, trouble with its largest lender, and supply issues. On Friday last week, Bitcoin miner Argo Blockchain raised $27 million after agreeing to issue 87 million shares to a sole investor in bids to ease liquidity pressures.

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Bitcoin Miner Core Scientific Secures $100m Financing amid Bear Market

Core Scientific, a publicly traded Bitcoin mining firm based in the US, announced Thursday that it has entered into a common stock purchase agreement for up to $100 million with B. Riley investment bank.

Core Scientific plans to use the net proceeds to boost its balance sheet and help the firm expand its crypto mining operations.

Under the terms of the agreement, Core Scientific has the right in its sole discretion, but not the obligation, to issue and sell to B. Riley up to $100 million worth of shares of its common stock from time to time over the approximately 24-month term of the purchase agreement.

Core Scientific dominates the timing and amount of any sales of its shares of common stock, and B. Riley is obligated to make purchases, subject to certain limitations and satisfaction of certain conditions set in the agreement.

The mining firm has issued 573,381 shares of its common stock to B. Riley as consideration for the bank’s commitment to purchase Core Scientific common stock.

Mike Levitt, Core Scientific Chief Executive Officer, talked about the development: “Securing access to additional capital during adverse market conditions enhances our liquidity and expands our strategic optionality. We continue to strengthen our balance sheet and streamline our operations as we remain focused on expanding our capacity for self-mining and colocation services. This Committed Equity Facility with B. Riley is an important additional funding source that will help us grow and create shareholder value.”

Strengthening Balance Sheet in Challenging Environment

The move by Core Scientific comes as the ongoing bear market has impacted mining profitability as well as operations of public Bitcoin miners. Most of these miners have been forced to sell off their BTC reserves as crypto winter continues to ravage.

Last month, Toronto-based Bitfarms sold 1,500 Bitcoins—almost half its supply—to reduce debt. Early this month, Core Scientific sold 7,202 Bitcoins at an average price of $23,000 to raise about $167 million. The company planned to use the proceeds for debt repayments, capital investments in additional data-centre capacity, and payments toward ASIC servers.

Such strategic changes enable these firms to focus on their key priorities of maintaining their operations and continuing to grow their business in anticipation that mining economics will improve.

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Blockchain.com Slashes 25% Workforce amid Crypto Meltdown

Massive layoffs continue engulfing the crypto market. Blockchain.com took the latest actions by reducing its workforce by 25%.

Citing harsh bearish conditions, the crypto exchange laid off approximately 150 people and shut down its offices based in Argentina. 

Blockchain.com has been on a rapid expansion drive in the last 16 months as a pioneer firm in the cryptocurrency industry, with its staff jumping from 150 to 600. Per the announcement:

“Some 44% of the impacted employees are in Argentina, 26% in the U.S., 16% in the U.K., and the remaining from the rest of the world.”

The recent collapse of crypto hedge fund Three Arrows Capital (3AC) dented the exchange’s financial position after losing $270 million. 

Blockchain.com CEO Peter Smith mentioned in a letter to shareholders, “Three Arrows is rapidly becoming insolvent, and the default impact is approximately $270 million worth of cryptocurrency and U.S. dollar loans from Blockchain.com.”

The exchange has also stopped all mergers and acquisitions (M&A), reduced institutional lending, and slowed its establishment in the non-fungible token (NFT) marketplace. 

The crypto meltdown being experienced has seen Bitcoin (BTC) shed more than 65% of its value from the all-time high (ATH) price of $69,000 recorded in November last year.

As a result, the market downturn has triggered significant layoffs in the crypto space. For instance, crypto exchange Crypto.com and lending platform BlockFi recently announced plans to cut over 400 jobs globally.

Furthermore, crypto exchange Gemini made the second round of layoffs, citing “turbulent market conditions.” Therefore, it seems the layoffs have mostly affected cryptocurrency exchanges. 

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Greenidge Generation’s Bitcoin Mining Production Rose 18% in June

Greenidge Generation Holdings Inc., a US-based Bitcoin mining company, announced its mining production increased by about 18% in June.

According to its monthly operating update released on Monday, Greenidge said it produced approximately 230 Bitcoins in June, an increase of about 18%, compared to 195 Bitcoins it mined in May.

The miner disclosed that it increased its hashrate capacity to 2.5 exahash per second (“EH/s”) from 27,500 mining machines in June, an increase from 1.7 EH/s of mining capacity from 20,400 mining machines in the previous month.

Greenidge stated that it ordered an additional 200 mining machines, which are in transit, as they will be installed upon their arrival.

The miner said last month it located 24% of the hash rate capacity at its facility in Spartanburg, South Carolina, which was acquired and its operations started in December last year. Greenidge further said it has mined a total of 1,183 Bitcoins for the six months ended June 30.

Meanwhile, at the end of last month, the New York regulator denied the renewal of Greenidge Generation’s air permit.

On June 30, New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) denied a key permit for a gas-powered cryptocurrency mining facility owned by Greenidge on the shores of Seneca Lake. The regulator said the mining facility produces too much planet-warming pollution that cannot be allowed under the state’s climate law.

However, Greenidge vowed to appeal the decision through the legal process and said it will keep operating as usual. The 106 MW Greenidge gas plant hosts a large-scale Bitcoin mining facility, with about 17,000 mining machines.

Adapting the Bear Market

The current sharp decline in Bitcoin price has made it difficult for several mining operations to generate a profit. While this bear market has caused many facilities to close their shop, experienced miners are becoming creative and capturing greater market share.

Successful mining firms have deployed innovative new strategies to gain competitive advantages through energy efficiencies; minimizing capital expenditures and operating expenditures.

Last month, Argo Blockchain plc, a major global cryptocurrency mining firm, mined 179 Bitcoins in June compared to 124 BTC in May 2022. The firm sold 637 BTC in June to offset operating expenses and outstanding loans.

Early last month, Hut 8, a Canada-based Bitcoin mining company, bought 5,800 mining machines to add higher petahashes per second (PH/s) of hashrate to its Bitcoin mining capacity at its Ontario facility.

To address electricity concerns, Aspen Creek Digital Corporation (“ACDC”), a U.S.-based crypto mining firm, launched a six-megawatts solar-powered facility for its new mining operations in the western part of Colorado.

The above examples show some of the successful, experienced Bitcoin mining firms that so far have been able to thrive regardless of Bitcoin Price by using flexible, long-term strategies that minimize monthly operating expenses.

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CleanSpark Orders Purchases of New Bitcoin Mining Rigs to Survive Bear Market

Nevada-based bitcoin mining firm CleanSpark, Inc, announced on Thursday that it has placed a purchase order for 1800 Antminer S19 XP units as it continues expanding its infrastructure.

Once fully deployed, CleanSpark expects the mining machines to add over 252 petahashes per second (PH/s) to the company’s bitcoin mining capacity.

As per the acquired contract, the company said that the Antminer S19 XP machines will begin arriving at CleanSpark’s facilities in August, and shipping will continue taking place through the next six months.

Besides that, CleanSpark disclosed that it has partnered with TMGcore Inc – a major developer of data centre hardware specializing in next-generation liquid immersion cooled technologies – to expand its immersion-cooled infrastructure for sustainable mining.

The new partnership with TMGcore includes 257 units of TMGcore’s proprietary immersion-cooled tanks that are designed to improve the performance of CleanSpark’s mining machines while significantly reducing their failure rates over long-term use.

CleanSpark plans to deploy the units in batches at its College Park, Georgia, and its facilities in other locations as determined. The partnership also provides CleanSpark with 2 megawatts (MW) of colocation capacity at TMGcore’s state-of-the-art immersion-cooled mining facility in Plano, Texas.

A Decline of Mining Profitability

The latest move seems that CleanSpark is taking advantage of the bear market and falling prices for Bitcoin mining rigs by purchasing new efficient miners.

It appears that the bearish market is hitting all sectors of the crypto space, including mining firms which are responsible for validating transactions and maintaining the network integrity of the Bitcoin network.

Currently, many Bitcoin miners are selling off their mined tokens as the reduced price of Bitcoin has slashed their profit margins. This happens coincidentally with wider capital markets that have become less friendly with major indexes officially entering a bear market, having lost 20% or more this year.

While the hard situation has forced some miners to close their businesses one by one, the survivors like Core Scientific, Marathon, Riot, Hut 8 and Bitfarms are not without casualties as news about their struggles has also emerged. Some of these firms started selling some of their mined Bitcoins that they normally hold on their balance sheets in order to pay for operational expenses.

However, the current difficult market condition is an opportunity for survivors to accumulate both Bitcoin and Bitcoin mining rigs. Firms that are prepared and acquire the latest generation equipment with locked-in power rates will benefit from current market conditions.

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Crypto Market To Drop 80% Like Early Internet Company Stocks?, Why This Analyst Thinks So

The crypto market cap has recently begun to recover regaining $2 trillion. However, an analyst thinks a bear call could be in place given several similarities between the dot-com bubble in 2000 and the current crypto market.

Related Reading | Crypto Market Cap Regained $2 Trillion With Bitcoin Reaching At $45K

Crypto Mirrors The Internet. Good Or Bad News?

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Recent studies show that the adoption curve of cryptocurrencies is looking similar to the early adoption of the internet around 1993, which could point in at a hyper-inflection point to happen soon where crypto and its related technologies become a regular tool used in everyone’s day-to-day lives. This could call for demand to increase and value to rise with it.

However, an analyst predicts that similarities with the internet could turn into a repetition in history where the crypto market would drop around 80% as the Nasdaq did back in 2000 amidst the dotcom bubble, a result of speculative investments and an overabundance of capital markets funding dotcom startups that later failed to make a return.

Investopedia explains that the dotcom bubble “was a rapid rise in U.S. technology stock equity valuations fueled by investments in Internet-based companies in the late 1990s.” The Nasdaq rose five-fold between 1995 and 2000, but then dropped reaching almost 77% in losses by Oct. 4, 2002.

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“Even the share prices of blue-chip technology stocks like Cisco, Intel, and Oracle lost more than 80% of their value. It would take 15 years for the Nasdaq to regain its peak, which it did on April 24, 2015.”

Analyst Tasha Che shared via Twitter a take that traces the possibility for the crypto market to enter an extended bear market with a similar drop to the Nasdaq’s in the 2000s. Che sees these main similarities:

  • By 2000, the internet had a user base of 413 million people, around 6% of the world’s population. Nowadays, around 60% of the global population is using the internet, says Internet World Stats. In parallel, recent data collected by the GWI indicates that 10% of working-age internet users own some form of cryptocurrency, roughly 6% of the current world’s population as well.Ownership of Cryptocurrency by Age and Gender January 2022 DataReportal
  •  Both markets had a multi-year bull run due to the hype over “breakthrough tech” while being “thinly supported by actual use cases”.
  • “Monetary policy headwind”. In a similar macroeconomic scenario, in 2000 The Federal Reserve lifted 6 rate hikes by quarter-point in 1 year in an effort to slow down the rising prices of goods and services.
  • “In 2000 Bloomberg Internet Index reached a peak market cap of $2.9 trillion (about $3.5 trillion to today’s dollars)”, which then fell to $1,2 trillion by the end of the same year. Chen believes that “Given internet stocks back then cover wider subsectors than crypto today, a $2.5-3 trillion market cap would put crypto at par w/ dot-com valuation then.”
Crypto
Crypto total market cap at $1,9 trillion in the daily chart | Source: TradingView.com

The expert further noted that the two years that Nasdaq dropped 80%, “It was blessing in disguise for internet industry–weeded out opportunists, gave real builders breathing room to build & allowed organic growth. But absolutely brutal for investors.”

Chen states that this opinion is not “a straight bear call” given that “history doesn’t repeat blow by blow”, but with such a similar setup she thinks it may be “in the cards”. The missing factor is a blow-off top, which is defined as “a sudden rise in price and volume, followed by a sharp decline in price also with high volume.”

If that blow-off top happens in the next few months by going back to the $3 trillion cryptos total market cap range, Chen thinks we would “almost surely see history rhymes.”

Related Reading | Crypto Winter Is Thawing With Bitcoin And Ethereum Rebound Signal

The Opposite View

However, other users pointed out that Chen’s data does not properly take into account the nearly 5x M2 money supply increase over the last 20 years, which has risen from $4.6 trillion in 2000 to $18.45 trillion in 2020.

Another user noted that the two markets may not be systemically correlated outside of sentiment given that the Internet speculation in 2000 gave foot to the overly inflated market, but the now speculation in crypto could be seen as “a parallel liquid market.”

It was also pointed out that crypto represents a different case due to the assets being more reflexive. Growth in usage can reflect in price and increases in price can lead to usage. However, the dotcom bubble did not slow down internet usage as “nobody needed to buy AMZN to use Amazon.”

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Willy Woo: ‘Peak fear’ but on-chain metrics say it’s not a bear market

Bitcoin analyst and co-founder of software firm Hypersheet Willy Woo believes that on-chain metrics show that BTC is not in a bear market despite observing “peak fear” levels.

Speaking on the What Bitcoin Did podcast hosted by Peter McCormack on Jan. 30, Woo cited key metrics such as a strong number of long term holders (wallets holding for five months or longer) and growing rates of accumulation suggest that the market has not flipped the switch to bear territory:

“Structurally on-chain, it’s not a bear market setup. Even though I would say we’re at peak fear. No doubt about it, people are really scared, which is typically […] an opportunity to buy.”

In the short term, Woo noted that “you don’t often get this kind of pullback without it relief bouncing” and that a potential capitulation down to the $20,000 doesn’t appear feasible as it would replicate the 2018 crash into a bear market in the space of just three months as opposed to a year.

The price of BTC has declined around 44% since its all-time high levels of $69,000 in November, and the analyst cited institutional futures trading as a key reason behind this steady decline and flat performance over the past three months.

Woo suggested that the increasing influx of mainstream traders and roll out of BTC futures markets over the past few years has significantly changed the market structure of BTC in which the price directly correlates to “risk-on risk-off from macro traders looking at traditional stocks.”

“You know back in 2019 to 2020, if you looked on-chain at what the investors were doing, they were accumulating but you just couldn’t see any impact of price because the price was really dictated by traders on the futures exchanges,” he said.

The analyst cited a large number of long-term hodlers who haven’t sold for more than five months, traders who stopped selling around the $40,000 region along with a steady rate of accumulation as key reasons to remain bullish.

Related: Bitcoin price closes in on $40K, but pro traders are still skeptical

“Most of the coins have been sitting there for longer than five months and people who do that, they’ve held on for five months, they’re not selling at a loss, they will sell when there’s profit to be had and you’ll see that whenever it breaks out of like all-time highs and does a really strong rally.”

He also argued that a key indicator for bear markets is usually when “newbs” or new coin hodlers are in the majority:

“The 2018 bear was at peak new guys holding the coins, and the cycle repeats. Those guys either sell, or the ones that don’t become hardened hodlers and they sell on the next rally when it goes even higher.”