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3 months later. How the profitability of mining changed after halving
On May 11, the size of the Bitcoin mining reward fell by half. The next time it will be in 2024. What devices will be profitable by that time, and what to hope for owners of obsolete equipment.
In May 2020, a halving took place on the bitcoin network. The cryptocurrency mining reward has decreased from 12.5 to 6.25 BTC. This is a long-awaited event, which, according to the hopes of the crypto community, should lead to a strong increase in the value of the coin. For example, Anthony Pompliano, co-founder of investment company Morgan Creek Digital, predicted that the rate would rise to $100,000 by the end of 2021, primarily due to lower mining rewards.
So far, the bitcoin price hasn’t responded to the halving as much as expected. In mid-May, at the time of the reduction in the mining reward, the BTC rate was around $9,000. To date, the cryptocurrency has risen in price by 27%. This year’s high was set yesterday, August 18, at $12,400.
The hashrate of the cryptocurrency network showed a different dynamics. Its value fell immediately after the halving from 137.5 to 87 EH/s, according to bitinfocharts.com. Since mining bitcoins has become less profitable, some of the miners probably turned off their equipment. They could switch to mining other coins or completely abandon this activity due to its unprofitability.
Later, when the BTC rate began to rise, the amount of computing power in the coin’s network also began to increase. So, from late May to mid-August, the cryptocurrency hash rate increased from 87 to 130 EH/s. But over the past three days, the figure has dropped sharply by 20%, caused by floods in China. Torrential rains in Sichuan province caused power outages that interfered with the operation of mining farms.
Changes in hashrate and mining rewards have affected its difficulty. On May 11, at the time of the halving, this figure was at around 16.1 T. By the current moment, this value has increased to 16.9 T, in July rising to a maximum of 17.3 T.
The decline in the reward for mining cryptocurrency was partially offset by the increase in fees. Until May, a single BTC transfer cost the user an average of 50 cents. By the current moment, commissions have grown more than 10 times, to $5.5.
Mining profitability is now at around 0.114 THash/s. It fell sharply immediately after the halving from 0.16 to 0.08 THash/s. To date, the indicator has grown by 40%. This was due to the rise in BTC prices and higher fees.
Development Director at BitCluster Dmitry Shuvaev said that the profitability of the device for mining BTC s17–73Th/s is now about 8 thousand rubles per month (at an electricity price of 3.5 rubles per kWh). The payback period is about 15 months. Old devices, such as the Antminer S9, are now unprofitable to use, they do not bring profit. But this situation may change if the bitcoin rate rises to $15,000.
“We recommend our customers to buy the new generation S17 or S19 devices. It is these devices that will provide profitability until the next halving. Their break-even point is at $6,000 per bitcoin”, Shuvaev said.
In June, specialists from the research division of the BitMEX exchange announced that in the long term, 2–3 ASIC miner manufacturers will remain in the industry. Canaan’s Avalon devices were the first to hit the market in 2014. Three years later, in 2017, Bitmain took 75% of the market.
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Somewhere in the vastness of the Internet, it is happening even now. It was once a well-kept garden of intelligent discussion, where knowledgeable and interested folk came, attracted by the high quality of speech they saw ongoing. But into this garden comes a fool, and the level of discussion drops a little—or more than a little, if the fool is very prolific in their posting. (It is worse if the fool is just articulate enough that the former inhabitants of the garden feel obliged to respond, and correct misapprehensions—for then the fool dominates conversations.)Peace, and out.
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Staking in Ethereum 2.0: when will it appear and how much can you earn on it?
Why coin staking will be added in Ethereum 2.0A brief educational program for those who do not follow the update of the project of Vitalik Buterin. Ethereum has long been in need of updating, and the main problem of the network is scalability: the blockchain is overloaded, transactions are slowing down, and the cost of “gas” (transaction fees) is growing. If you do not update the consensus algorithm, then the network will someday cease to be operational. To avoid this, developers have been working for several years on moving the network from the PoW algorithm to state 2.0, running on PoS. This should make the network more scalable, faster and cheaper. In December last year, the first upgrade phase, Istanbul, was implemented in the network, and in April of this year, the Topaz test network with the possibility of staking was launched - the first users already earned 1%. In the PoS algorithm that Ethereum switches to, there is no mining, and validation occurs due to the delegation of user network coins to the masternodes. For the duration of the delegation, these coins are frozen, and for providing their funds for block validation, users receive a portion of the reward. This is staking - such a crypto-analogue of a bank deposit. There are several types of staking: with income from dividends or masternodes, but not the device’s power, as in PoW algorithms, but the number of miner coins is important in all of them. The more coins, the higher the income. For crypto investors, staking is an opportunity to receive passive income from blocked coins. It is assumed that the launch of staking:
The first payments to stakeholders will be one to two years after the launch of the updateThe minimum validator steak will be 32 ETN (≈$6092 for today). This is the minimum number of coins that an ETH holder must freeze in order to qualify for payments. Another prerequisite is not to disconnect your wallet from the network. If the user disconnects and goes into automatic mode, he loses his daily income. If at some point the steak drops below 16 ETH, the user will be deprived of the right to be a validator. The Ethereum network has to go through many more important stages before coin holders can make money on its storage. Collin Myers, the leader of the product strategy at the startup of the Ethereum developer ConsenSys, said that the genesis block of the new network will not be mined until the total amount of frozen funds reaches 524,000 ETN ($99.76 million at the time of publication). So many coins should be kept by 16,375 validators with a minimum deposit of 32 ETN. Until this moment, none of them will receive a percentage profit. Myers noted that this event is not tied to a clear time and depends on the activity of the community. All validators will have to freeze a rather significant amount for an indefinite period in the new network without confidence in the growth of the coin rate. It’s hard to say how many people there are. The developers believe that it will take 12−18 or even 24 months. According to the latest ConsenSys Codefi report, more than 65% of the 300 ETH owners surveyed plan to use the staking opportunity. This sample, of course, is not representative, but it can be assumed that most major coin holders will still be willing to take a chance.
How much can you earn on Ethereum stakingDevelopers have been arguing for a long time about what profitability should be among the validators of the Ethereum 2.0 network. The economic model of the network maintains an inflation rate below 1% and dynamically adjusts the reward scale for validators. The difficulty is not to overpay, but not to pay too little. Profitability will be variable, as it depends on the number and size of steaks, as well as other parameters. The fewer frozen coins and validators, the higher the yield, and vice versa. This is an easy way to motivate users to freeze ETN. According to the October calculations of Collin Myers, after the launch of Ethereum 2.0, validators will be able to receive from 4.6% to 10.3% per annum as a reward for their steak. At the summit, he clarified that the first time after the launch of the Genesis block, it can even reach 20.3%. But as the number of steaks grows, profitability will decline. So, with five million steaks, it drops to about 6.6%. The above numbers are not net returns. They do not include equipment and electricity costs. According to Myers, after the Genesis block, the costs of maintaining the validator node will be about 4.75% of the remuneration. They will continue to increase as the number of blocked coins increases, and with a five millionth steak, they will grow to about 14.7%. Myers emphasized that profitability will be higher for those who will work on their own equipment, rather than relying on cloud services. The latter, according to his calculations, at current prices can bring a loss of up to minus 15% per year. This, he believes, promotes true decentralization. At the end of April, Vitalik Buterin said that validators will be able to earn 5% per annum with a minimum stake of 32 ETH - 1.6 ETH per year, or $ 304 at the time of publication. However, given the cost of freezing funds, the real return will be at 0.8%.
How to calculate profitability from ETN stakingThe easiest way to calculate the estimated return for Ethereum staking is to use a special calculator. For example, from the online services EthereumPrice or Stakingrewards. The service takes into account the latest indicators of network profitability, as well as additional characteristics: the time of operation of a node in the network, the price of a coin, the share of blocked ETNs and so on. Depending on these values, the profit of the validator can vary greatly. For example, you block 32 ETNs at today's coin price - $190, 1% of the coins are blocked, and the node works 99% of the time. According to the EthereumPrice calculator, in this case your yield will be 14.25% per annum, or 4.56 ETH.
Validator earnings from the example above for 10 years according to EthereumPrice.
If to change the data, you have the same steak, but the proportion of blocked coins is 10%. Now your annual yield is only 4.51%, or 1.44 ETH.
Validator earnings from the second example over 10 years according to EthereumPrice.
It is important that this is profitability excluding expenses. Real returns will be significantly lower and in the second case may be negative. In addition, you must consider the fluctuation of the course. Even with a yield of 14% per annum in ETN, dollar-denominated returns may be negative in a bear market.
When will the transition to Ethereum 2.0 startBen Edgington from Teku, the operator of Ethereum 2.0, at the last summit said that the transition to PoS could be launched in July this year. These deadlines, if there are no new delays, were also mentioned by experts of the BitMEX crypto exchange in their recent report on the transition of the Ethereum ecosystem to stage 2.0. However, on May 12, Vitalik Buterin denied the possibility of launching Ethereum 2.0 in July. The network is not yet ready and is unlikely to be launched before the end of the year. July 30 marks the 5th anniversary of the launch of Ethereum. Unfortunately, it seems that it will not be possible to start the update for the anniversary again. Full deployment of updates will consist of several stages. Phase 0. Beacon chain. The "zero" phase, which can be launched in July this year. In fact, it will only be a network test and PoS testing without economic activity, but it will use new ETN coins and the possibility of staking will appear. The "zero" phase will test the first layer of Ethereum 2.0 architecture - Lighthouse. This is the Ethereum 2.0 client in Rust, developed back in 2018. Phase 1. Sharding - rejection of full nodes in favor of load balancing between all network nodes (shards). This should increase network bandwidth and solve the scalability problem. This is the first full phase of Ethereum 2.0. It will initially be deployed with 64 shards. It is because of sharding that the transition of a network to a new state is so complicated - existing smart contracts cannot be transferred to a new network. Therefore, at first, perhaps several years, both networks will exist simultaneously. Phase 2. State execution. In this phase, various applications will work, and it will be possible to conclude smart contracts. This is a full-fledged working Ethereum 2.0 network. After the second phase, two networks will work in parallel - Ethereum and Ethereum 2.0. Coin holders will be able to transfer ETN from the first to the second without the ability to transfer them back. To stimulate network support, coin emissions in both networks will increase until they merge. Read more about the phases of transition to state 2.0 in the aforementioned BitMEX report.
How the upgrade to Ethereum 2.0 will affect the staking market and coin priceThe transition of the second largest coin to PoS will dramatically increase the stake in the market. The deposit in 32 ETH is too large for most users. Therefore, we should expect an increase in offers for staking from the exchanges. So, the launch of such a service in November was announced by the largest Swiss crypto exchange Bitcoin Suisse. She will not have a minimum deposit, and the commission will be 15%. According to October estimates by Binance Research analysts, the transition of Ethereum to stage 2.0 can double the price of a coin and the stake of staking in the market, and it will also make ETH the most popular currency on the PoS algorithm. Adam Cochran, partner at MetaCartel Ventures DAO and developer of DuckDuckGo, argued in his blog that Ethereum's transition to state 2.0 would be the “biggest event” of the cryptocurrency market. He believes that a 3–5% return will attract the capital of large investors, and fear of lost profit (FOMO) among retail investors will push them to actively buy coins. The planned coin burning mechanism for each transaction will reduce the potential oversupply. However, BitMEX experts in the report mentioned above believe that updating the network will not be as important an event as it seems to many, and will not have a significant impact on the coin rate and the staking market. Initially, this will be more likely to test the PoS system, rather than a full-fledged network. There will be no economic activity and smart contracts, and interest for a steak will not be paid immediately. Therefore, most of the economic activity will continue to be concluded in the original Ethereum network, which will work in parallel with the new one. Analysts of the exchange emphasized that due to the addition of staking, the first time (short, in their opinion) a large number of ETNs will be blocked on the network. Most likely, this will limit the supply of coins and lead to higher prices. However, this can also release some of the ETNs blocked in smart contracts, and then the price will not rise. Moreover, the authors of the document are not sure that the demand for coins will be long-term and stable. For this to happen, PoS and sharding must prove that they work stably and provide the benefits for which the update was started. But, if this happens, the network is waiting for a wave of coins from the developers of smart contracts and DeFi protocols. In any case, quick changes should not be expected. A full transition to Ethereum 2.0 will take years and won’t be smooth - network failures are inevitable. We also believe that we should not rely on Ethereum staking as another panacea for all the problems of the coin and the market. Most likely, the transition of the network to PoS will not have a significant impact on the staking market, but may positively affect the price of the coin. However, relying on the ETN rally in anticipation of this is too optimistic.
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It’s effectively July 2017 in the world of decentralized finance (DeFi), and as in the heady days of the initial coin offering (ICO) boom, the numbers are only trending up.
According to DeFi Pulse, there is $1.9 billion in crypto assets locked in DeFi right now. According to the CoinDesk ICO Tracker, the ICO market started chugging past $1 billion in July 2017, just a few months before token sales started getting talked about on TV.
Debate juxtaposing these numbers if you like, but what no one can question is this: Crypto users are putting more and more value to work in DeFi applications, driven largely by the introduction of a whole new yield-generating pasture, Compound’s COMP governance token.
Governance tokens enable users to vote on the future of decentralized protocols, sure, but they also present fresh ways for DeFi founders to entice assets onto their platforms.
That said, it’s the crypto liquidity providers who are the stars of the present moment. They even have a meme-worthy name: yield farmers.
Where it startedEthereum-based credit market Compound started distributing its governance token, COMP, to the protocol’s users this past June 15. Demand for the token (heightened by the way its automatic distribution was structured) kicked off the present craze and moved Compound into the leading position in DeFi.
The hot new term in crypto is “yield farming,” a shorthand for clever strategies where putting crypto temporarily at the disposal of some startup’s application earns its owner more cryptocurrency.
Another term floating about is “liquidity mining.”
The buzz around these concepts has evolved into a low rumble as more and more people get interested.
The casual crypto observer who only pops into the market when activity heats up might be starting to get faint vibes that something is happening right now. Take our word for it: Yield farming is the source of those vibes.
But if all these terms (“DeFi,” “liquidity mining,” “yield farming”) are so much Greek to you, fear not. We’re here to catch you up. We’ll get into all of them.
We’re going to go from very basic to more advanced, so feel free to skip ahead.
What are tokens?Most CoinDesk readers probably know this, but just in case: Tokens are like the money video-game players earn while fighting monsters, money they can use to buy gear or weapons in the universe of their favorite game.
But with blockchains, tokens aren’t limited to only one massively multiplayer online money game. They can be earned in one and used in lots of others. They usually represent either ownership in something (like a piece of a Uniswap liquidity pool, which we will get into later) or access to some service. For example, in the Brave browser, ads can only be bought using basic attention token (BAT).
If tokens are worth money, then you can bank with them or at least do things that look very much like banking. Thus: decentralized finance.
Tokens proved to be the big use case for Ethereum, the second-biggest blockchain in the world. The term of art here is “ERC-20 tokens,” which refers to a software standard that allows token creators to write rules for them. Tokens can be used a few ways. Often, they are used as a form of money within a set of applications. So the idea for Kin was to create a token that web users could spend with each other at such tiny amounts that it would almost feel like they weren’t spending anything; that is, money for the internet.
Governance tokens are different. They are not like a token at a video-game arcade, as so many tokens were described in the past. They work more like certificates to serve in an ever-changing legislature in that they give holders the right to vote on changes to a protocol.
So on the platform that proved DeFi could fly, MakerDAO, holders of its governance token, MKR, vote almost every week on small changes to parameters that govern how much it costs to borrow and how much savers earn, and so on.
Read more: Why DeFi’s Billion-Dollar Milestone Matters
One thing all crypto tokens have in common, though, is they are tradable and they have a price. So, if tokens are worth money, then you can bank with them or at least do things that look very much like banking. Thus: decentralized finance.
What is DeFi?Fair question. For folks who tuned out for a bit in 2018, we used to call this “open finance.” That construction seems to have faded, though, and “DeFi” is the new lingo.
In case that doesn’t jog your memory, DeFi is all the things that let you play with money, and the only identification you need is a crypto wallet.
On the normal web, you can’t buy a blender without giving the site owner enough data to learn your whole life history. In DeFi, you can borrow money without anyone even asking for your name.
I can explain this but nothing really brings it home like trying one of these applications. If you have an Ethereum wallet that has even $20 worth of crypto in it, go do something on one of these products. Pop over to Uniswap and buy yourself some FUN (a token for gambling apps) or WBTC (wrapped bitcoin). Go to MakerDAO and create $5 worth of DAI (a stablecoin that tends to be worth $1) out of the digital ether. Go to Compound and borrow $10 in USDC.
(Notice the very small amounts I’m suggesting. The old crypto saying “don’t put in more than you can afford to lose” goes double for DeFi. This stuff is uber-complex and a lot can go wrong. These may be “savings” products but they’re not for your retirement savings.)
Immature and experimental though it may be, the technology’s implications are staggering. On the normal web, you can’t buy a blender without giving the site owner enough data to learn your whole life history. In DeFi, you can borrow money without anyone even asking for your name.
DeFi applications don’t worry about trusting you because they have the collateral you put up to back your debt (on Compound, for instance, a $10 debt will require around $20 in collateral).
Read more: There Are More DAI on Compound Now Than There Are DAI in the World
If you do take this advice and try something, note that you can swap all these things back as soon as you’ve taken them out. Open the loan and close it 10 minutes later. It’s fine. Fair warning: It might cost you a tiny bit in fees, and the cost of using Ethereum itself right now is much higher than usual, in part due to this fresh new activity. But it’s nothing that should ruin a crypto user.
So what’s the point of borrowing for people who already have the money? Most people do it for some kind of trade. The most obvious example, to short a token (the act of profiting if its price falls). It’s also good for someone who wants to hold onto a token but still play the market.
Doesn’t running a bank take a lot of money up front?It does, and in DeFi that money is largely provided by strangers on the internet. That’s why the startups behind these decentralized banking applications come up with clever ways to attract HODLers with idle assets.
Liquidity is the chief concern of all these different products. That is: How much money do they have locked in their smart contracts?
“In some types of products, the product experience gets much better if you have liquidity. Instead of borrowing from VCs or debt investors, you borrow from your users,” said Electric Capital managing partner Avichal Garg.
Let’s take Uniswap as an example. Uniswap is an “automated market maker,” or AMM (another DeFi term of art). This means Uniswap is a robot on the internet that is always willing to buy and it’s also always willing to sell any cryptocurrency for which it has a market.
On Uniswap, there is at least one market pair for almost any token on Ethereum. Behind the scenes, this means Uniswap can make it look like it is making a direct trade for any two tokens, which makes it easy for users, but it’s all built around pools of two tokens. And all these market pairs work better with bigger pools.
Why do I keep hearing about ‘pools’?To illustrate why more money helps, let’s break down how Uniswap works.
Let’s say there was a market for USDC and DAI. These are two tokens (both stablecoins but with different mechanisms for retaining their value) that are meant to be worth $1 each all the time, and that generally tends to be true for both.
The price Uniswap shows for each token in any pooled market pair is based on the balance of each in the pool. So, simplifying this a lot for illustration’s sake, if someone were to set up a USDC/DAI pool, they should deposit equal amounts of both. In a pool with only 2 USDC and 2 DAI it would offer a price of 1 USDC for 1 DAI. But then imagine that someone put in 1 DAI and took out 1 USDC. Then the pool would have 1 USDC and 3 DAI. The pool would be very out of whack. A savvy investor could make an easy $0.50 profit by putting in 1 USDC and receiving 1.5 DAI. That’s a 50% arbitrage profit, and that’s the problem with limited liquidity.
(Incidentally, this is why Uniswap’s prices tend to be accurate, because traders watch it for small discrepancies from the wider market and trade them away for arbitrage profits very quickly.)
Read more: Uniswap V2 Launches With More Token-Swap Pairs, Oracle Service, Flash Loans
However, if there were 500,000 USDC and 500,000 DAI in the pool, a trade of 1 DAI for 1 USDC would have a negligible impact on the relative price. That’s why liquidity is helpful.
You can stick your assets on Compound and earn a little yield. But that’s not very creative. Users who look for angles to maximize that yield: those are the yield farmers.
Similar effects hold across DeFi, so markets want more liquidity. Uniswap solves this by charging a tiny fee on every trade. It does this by shaving off a little bit from each trade and leaving that in the pool (so one DAI would actually trade for 0.997 USDC, after the fee, growing the overall pool by 0.003 USDC). This benefits liquidity providers because when someone puts liquidity in the pool they own a share of the pool. If there has been lots of trading in that pool, it has earned a lot of fees, and the value of each share will grow.
And this brings us back to tokens.
Liquidity added to Uniswap is represented by a token, not an account. So there’s no ledger saying, “Bob owns 0.000000678% of the DAI/USDC pool.” Bob just has a token in his wallet. And Bob doesn’t have to keep that token. He could sell it. Or use it in another product. We’ll circle back to this, but it helps to explain why people like to talk about DeFi products as “money Legos.”
So how much money do people make by putting money into these products?It can be a lot more lucrative than putting money in a traditional bank, and that’s before startups started handing out governance tokens.
Compound is the current darling of this space, so let’s use it as an illustration. As of this writing, a person can put USDC into Compound and earn 2.72% on it. They can put tether (USDT) into it and earn 2.11%. Most U.S. bank accounts earn less than 0.1% these days, which is close enough to nothing.
However, there are some caveats. First, there’s a reason the interest rates are so much juicier: DeFi is a far riskier place to park your money. There’s no Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) protecting these funds. If there were a run on Compound, users could find themselves unable to withdraw their funds when they wanted.
Plus, the interest is quite variable. You don’t know what you’ll earn over the course of a year. USDC’s rate is high right now. It was low last week. Usually, it hovers somewhere in the 1% range.
Similarly, a user might get tempted by assets with more lucrative yields like USDT, which typically has a much higher interest rate than USDC. (Monday morning, the reverse was true, for unclear reasons; this is crypto, remember.) The trade-off here is USDT’s transparency about the real-world dollars it’s supposed to hold in a real-world bank is not nearly up to par with USDC’s. A difference in interest rates is often the market’s way of telling you the one instrument is viewed as dicier than another.
Users making big bets on these products turn to companies Opyn and Nexus Mutual to insure their positions because there’s no government protections in this nascent space – more on the ample risks later on.
So users can stick their assets in Compound or Uniswap and earn a little yield. But that’s not very creative. Users who look for angles to maximize that yield: those are the yield farmers.
OK, I already knew all of that. What is yield farming?Broadly, yield farming is any effort to put crypto assets to work and generate the most returns possible on those assets.
At the simplest level, a yield farmer might move assets around within Compound, constantly chasing whichever pool is offering the best APY from week to week. This might mean moving into riskier pools from time to time, but a yield farmer can handle risk.
“Farming opens up new price arbs [arbitrage] that can spill over to other protocols whose tokens are in the pool,” said Maya Zehavi, a blockchain consultant.
Because these positions are tokenized, though, they can go further.
This was a brand-new kind of yield on a deposit. In fact, it was a way to earn a yield on a loan. Who has ever heard of a borrower earning a return on a debt from their lender?
In a simple example, a yield farmer might put 100,000 USDT into Compound. They will get a token back for that stake, called cUSDT. Let’s say they get 100,000 cUSDT back (the formula on Compound is crazy so it’s not 1:1 like that but it doesn’t matter for our purposes here).
They can then take that cUSDT and put it into a liquidity pool that takes cUSDT on Balancer, an AMM that allows users to set up self-rebalancing crypto index funds. In normal times, this could earn a small amount more in transaction fees. This is the basic idea of yield farming. The user looks for edge cases in the system to eke out as much yield as they can across as many products as it will work on.
Right now, however, things are not normal, and they probably won’t be for a while.
Why is yield farming so hot right now?Because of liquidity mining. Liquidity mining supercharges yield farming.
Liquidity mining is when a yield farmer gets a new token as well as the usual return (that’s the “mining” part) in exchange for the farmer’s liquidity.
“The idea is that stimulating usage of the platform increases the value of the token, thereby creating a positive usage loop to attract users,” said Richard Ma of smart-contract auditor Quantstamp.
The yield farming examples above are only farming yield off the normal operations of different platforms. Supply liquidity to Compound or Uniswap and get a little cut of the business that runs over the protocols – very vanilla.
But Compound announced earlier this year it wanted to truly decentralize the product and it wanted to give a good amount of ownership to the people who made it popular by using it. That ownership would take the form of the COMP token.
Lest this sound too altruistic, keep in mind that the people who created it (the team and the investors) owned more than half of the equity. By giving away a healthy proportion to users, that was very likely to make it a much more popular place for lending. In turn, that would make everyone’s stake worth much more.
So, Compound announced this four-year period where the protocol would give out COMP tokens to users, a fixed amount every day until it was gone. These COMP tokens control the protocol, just as shareholders ultimately control publicly traded companies.
Every day, the Compound protocol looks at everyone who had lent money to the application and who had borrowed from it and gives them COMP proportional to their share of the day’s total business.
The results were very surprising, even to Compound’s biggest promoters.
COMP’s value will likely go down, and that’s why some investors are rushing to earn as much of it as they can right now.
This was a brand-new kind of yield on a deposit into Compound. In fact, it was a way to earn a yield on a loan, as well, which is very weird: Who has ever heard of a borrower earning a return on a debt from their lender?
COMP’s value has consistently been well over $200 since it started distributing on June 15. We did the math elsewhere but long story short: investors with fairly deep pockets can make a strong gain maximizing their daily returns in COMP. It is, in a way, free money.
It’s possible to lend to Compound, borrow from it, deposit what you borrowed and so on. This can be done multiple times and DeFi startup Instadapp even built a tool to make it as capital-efficient as possible.
“Yield farmers are extremely creative. They find ways to ‘stack’ yields and even earn multiple governance tokens at once,” said Spencer Noon of DTC Capital.
COMP’s value spike is a temporary situation. The COMP distribution will only last four years and then there won’t be any more. Further, most people agree that the high price now is driven by the low float (that is, how much COMP is actually free to trade on the market – it will never be this low again). So the value will probably gradually go down, and that’s why savvy investors are trying to earn as much as they can now.
Appealing to the speculative instincts of diehard crypto traders has proven to be a great way to increase liquidity on Compound. This fattens some pockets but also improves the user experience for all kinds of Compound users, including those who would use it whether they were going to earn COMP or not.
As usual in crypto, when entrepreneurs see something successful, they imitate it. Balancer was the next protocol to start distributing a governance token, BAL, to liquidity providers. Flash loan provider bZx has announced a plan. Ren, Curve and Synthetix also teamed up to promote a liquidity pool on Curve.
It is a fair bet many of the more well-known DeFi projects will announce some kind of coin that can be mined by providing liquidity.
The case to watch here is Uniswap versus Balancer. Balancer can do the same thing Uniswap does, but most users who want to do a quick token trade through their wallet use Uniswap. It will be interesting to see if Balancer’s BAL token convinces Uniswap’s liquidity providers to defect.
So far, though, more liquidity has gone into Uniswap since the BAL announcement, according to its data site. That said, even more has gone into Balancer.
Did liquidity mining start with COMP?No, but it was the most-used protocol with the most carefully designed liquidity mining scheme.
This point is debated but the origins of liquidity mining probably date back to Fcoin, a Chinese exchange that created a token in 2018 that rewarded people for making trades. You won’t believe what happened next! Just kidding, you will: People just started running bots to do pointless trades with themselves to earn the token.
Similarly, EOS is a blockchain where transactions are basically free, but since nothing is really free the absence of friction was an invitation for spam. Some malicious hacker who didn’t like EOS created a token called EIDOS on the network in late 2019. It rewarded people for tons of pointless transactions and somehow got an exchange listing.
These initiatives illustrated how quickly crypto users respond to incentives.
Read more: Compound Changes COMP Distribution Rules Following ‘Yield Farming’ Frenzy
Fcoin aside, liquidity mining as we now know it first showed up on Ethereum when the marketplace for synthetic tokens, Synthetix, announced in July 2019 an award in its SNX token for users who helped add liquidity to the sETH/ETH pool on Uniswap. By October, that was one of Uniswap’s biggest pools.
When Compound Labs, the company that launched the Compound protocol, decided to create COMP, the governance token, the firm took months designing just what kind of behavior it wanted and how to incentivize it. Even still, Compound Labs was surprised by the response. It led to unintended consequences such as crowding into a previously unpopular market (lending and borrowing BAT) in order to mine as much COMP as possible.
Just last week, 115 different COMP wallet addresses – senators in Compound’s ever-changing legislature – voted to change the distribution mechanism in hopes of spreading liquidity out across the markets again.
Is there DeFi for bitcoin?Yes, on Ethereum.
Nothing has beaten bitcoin over time for returns, but there’s one thing bitcoin can’t do on its own: create more bitcoin.
A smart trader can get in and out of bitcoin and dollars in a way that will earn them more bitcoin, but this is tedious and risky. It takes a certain kind of person.
DeFi, however, offers ways to grow one’s bitcoin holdings – though somewhat indirectly.
A long HODLer is happy to gain fresh BTC off their counterparty’s short-term win. That’s the game.
For example, a user can create a simulated bitcoin on Ethereum using BitGo’s WBTC system. They put BTC in and get the same amount back out in freshly minted WBTC. WBTC can be traded back for BTC at any time, so it tends to be worth the same as BTC.
Then the user can take that WBTC, stake it on Compound and earn a few percent each year in yield on their BTC. Odds are, the people who borrow that WBTC are probably doing it to short BTC (that is, they will sell it immediately, buy it back when the price goes down, close the loan and keep the difference).
A long HODLer is happy to gain fresh BTC off their counterparty’s short-term win. That’s the game.
How risky is it?Enough.
“DeFi, with the combination of an assortment of digital funds, automation of key processes, and more complex incentive structures that work across protocols – each with their own rapidly changing tech and governance practices – make for new types of security risks,” said Liz Steininger of Least Authority, a crypto security auditor. “Yet, despite these risks, the high yields are undeniably attractive to draw more users.”
We’ve seen big failures in DeFi products. MakerDAO had one so bad this year it’s called “Black Thursday.” There was also the exploit against flash loan provider bZx. These things do break and when they do money gets taken.
As this sector gets more robust, we could see token holders greenlighting more ways for investors to profit from DeFi niches.
Right now, the deal is too good for certain funds to resist, so they are moving a lot of money into these protocols to liquidity mine all the new governance tokens they can. But the funds – entities that pool the resources of typically well-to-do crypto investors – are also hedging. Nexus Mutual, a DeFi insurance provider of sorts, told CoinDesk it has maxed out its available coverage on these liquidity applications. Opyn, the trustless derivatives maker, created a way to short COMP, just in case this game comes to naught.
And weird things have arisen. For example, there’s currently more DAI on Compound than have been minted in the world. This makes sense once unpacked but it still feels dicey to everyone.
That said, distributing governance tokens might make things a lot less risky for startups, at least with regard to the money cops.
“Protocols distributing their tokens to the public, meaning that there’s a new secondary listing for SAFT tokens, [gives] plausible deniability from any security accusation,” Zehavi wrote. (The Simple Agreement for Future Tokens was a legal structure favored by many token issuers during the ICO craze.)
Whether a cryptocurrency is adequately decentralized has been a key feature of ICO settlements with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
What’s next for yield farming? (A prediction)COMP turned out to be a bit of a surprise to the DeFi world, in technical ways and others. It has inspired a wave of new thinking.
“Other projects are working on similar things,” said Nexus Mutual founder Hugh Karp. In fact, informed sources tell CoinDesk brand-new projects will launch with these models.
We might soon see more prosaic yield farming applications. For example, forms of profit-sharing that reward certain kinds of behavior.
Imagine if COMP holders decided, for example, that the protocol needed more people to put money in and leave it there longer. The community could create a proposal that shaved off a little of each token’s yield and paid that portion out only to the tokens that were older than six months. It probably wouldn’t be much, but an investor with the right time horizon and risk profile might take it into consideration before making a withdrawal.
(There are precedents for this in traditional finance: A 10-year Treasury bond normally yields more than a one-month T-bill even though they’re both backed by the full faith and credit of Uncle Sam, a 12-month certificate of deposit pays higher interest than a checking account at the same bank, and so on.)
As this sector gets more robust, its architects will come up with ever more robust ways to optimize liquidity incentives in increasingly refined ways. We could see token holders greenlighting more ways for investors to profit from DeFi niches.
Questions abound for this nascent industry: What will MakerDAO do to restore its spot as the king of DeFi? Will Uniswap join the liquidity mining trend? Will anyone stick all these governance tokens into a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO)? Or would that be a yield farmers co-op?
Whatever happens, crypto’s yield farmers will keep moving fast. Some fresh fields may open and some may soon bear much less luscious fruit.
But that’s the nice thing about farming in DeFi: It is very easy to switch fields.
|Miner||Cost per coin|
|Cointerra TerraMiner IV||$1985|
|Bitmain Aintminer s3||$866|
|Bitmain Aintminer s2||$1305|
|Cointerra TerraMiner IV||cost per coin|
|0% difficulty increase||$759|
|20% difficulty increase||$2640|
|15% difficulty, but starting at 30bn difficulty||$3265|
|Elec||$0.15 (varies quite a bit from country-to country, like 0.7 canada to 0.2 UK?)|
|time frame||6 months|
|price per BTC||600|
|Coins||2252/600 = 3.75 BTC|
|$/BTC||7446/3.75 = $1985|
|fortnight number||"profitability decline"||BTC earned||BTC earned accumulated||calculator says BTC|
Thank you for inviting Horizen to the GPU mining AMA!submitted by Blockops to gpumining [link] [comments]
ZEN had a great run of GPU mining that lasted well over a year, and brought lots of value to the early Zclassic miners. It is mined using Equihash protocol, and there have been ASIC miners available for the algorithm since about June of 2018. GPU mining is not really profitable for Horizen at this point in time.
We’ve got a lot of miners in the Horizen community, and many GPU miners also buy ASIC miners. Happy to talk about algorithm changes, security, and any other aspect of mining in the questions below. There are also links to the Horizen website, blog post, etc. below.
So, if I’m not here to ask you to mine, hold, and love ZEN, what can I offer? Notes on some of the lessons I’ve learned about maximizing mining profitability. An update on Horizen - there is life after moving on from GPU mining. As well as answering your questions during the next 7 days.
Mining for Profitability - Horizen (formerly ZenCash) Thanks Early GPU Miners
Author: Rolf Versluis - co-founder of HorizenIn GPU mining, just like in many of the activities involved with Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, there is both a cycle and a progression. The Bitcoin price cycle is fairly steady, and by creating a personal handbook of actions to take during the cycle, GPU miners can maximize their profitability.
Maximizing profitability isn't the only aspect of GPU mining that is important, of course, but it is helpful to be able to invest in new hardware, and be able to have enough time to spend on building and maintaining the GPU miners. If it was a constant process that also involved losing money, then it wouldn't be as much fun.
Technology ProgressionFor a given mining algorithm, there is definitely a technology progression. We can look back on the technology that was used to mine Bitcoin and see how it first started off as Central Processing Unit (CPU) mining, then it moved to Graphical Processing Unit (GPU) mining, then Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA), and then Application Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC).
Throughout this evolution we have witnessed a variety of unsavory business practices that unfortunately still happen on occasion, like ASIC Miner manufacturers taking pre-orders 6 months in advance, GPU manufacturers creating commercial cards for large farms that are difficult for retail customers to secure and ASIC Miner manufacturers mining on gear for months before making it available for sale.
When a new crypto-currency is created, in many cases a new mining algorithm is created also. This is important, because if an existing algorithm was used, the coin would be open to a 51% attack from day one, and may not even be able to build a valid blockchain.
Because there's such a focus on profitable software, developers for GPU mining applications are usually able to write a mining application fairly rapidly, then iterate it to the limit of current GPU technology. If it looks like a promising new cryptocurrency, FPGA stream developers and ASIC Hardware Developers start working on their designs at the same time.
The people who create the hashing algorithms run by the miners are usually not very familiar with the design capabilities of Hardware manufacturers. Building application-specific semiconductors is an industry that's almost 60 years old now, and FPGA’s have been around for almost 35 years. This is an industry that has very experienced engineers using advanced design and modeling tools.
Promising cryptocurrencies are usually ones that are deploying new technology, or going after a big market, and who have at least a team of talented software developers. In the best case, the project has a full-stack business team involving development, project management, systems administration, marketing, sales, and leadership. This is the type of project that attracts early investment from the market, which will drive the price of the coin up significantly in the first year.
For any cryptocurrency that's a worthwhile investment of time, money, and electricity for the hashing, there will be a ASIC miners developed for it. Instead of fighting this technology progression, GPU miners may be better off recognizing it as inevitable, and taking advantage of the cryptocurrency cycle to maximize GPU mining profitability instead.
Cryptocurrency Price CycleFor quality crypto projects, in addition to the one-way technology progression of CPU -> GPU -> FPGA -> ASIC, there is an upward price progression. More importantly, there is a cryptocurrency price cycle that oscillates around an overall upgrade price progression. Plotted against time, a cycle with an upward progressions looks like a sine wave with an ever increasing average value, which is what we see so far with the Bitcoin price.
Cryptocurrency price cycle and progression for miners
This means mining promising new cryptocurrencies with GPU miners, holding them as the price rises, and being ready to sell a significant portion in the first year. Just about every cryptocurrency is going to have a sharp price rise at some point, whether through institutional investor interest or by being the target of a pump-and-dump operation. It’s especially likely in the first year, while the supply is low and there is not much trading volume or liquidity on exchanges.
Miners need to operate in the world of government money, as well as cryptocurrency. The people who run mining businesses at some point have to start selling their mining proceeds to pay the bills, and to buy new equipment as the existing equipment becomes obsolete. Working to maximize profitability means more than just mining new cryptocurrencies, it also means learning when to sell and how to manage money.
Managing Cash for MinersThe worst thing that can happen to a business is to run out of cash. When that happens, the business usually shuts down and goes into bankruptcy. Sometimes an investor comes in and picks up the pieces, but at the point the former owners become employees.
There are two sides to managing cash - one is earning it, the other is spending it, and the cryptocurrency price cycle can tell the GPU miner when it is the best time to do certain things. A market top and bottom is easy to recognize in hindsight, and harder to see when in the middle of it. Even if a miner is able to recognize the tops and bottoms, it is difficult to act when there is so much hype and positivity at the top of the cycle, and so much gloom and doom at the bottom.
A decent rule of thumb for the last few cycles appears to be that at the top and bottom of the cycle BTC is 10x as expensive compared to USD as the last cycle. Newer crypto projects tend to have bigger price swings than Bitcoin, and during the rising of the pricing cycle there is the possibility that an altcoin will have a rise to 100x its starting price.
Taking profits from selling altcoins during the rise is important, but so is maintaining a reserve. In order to catch a 100x move, it may be worth the risk to put some of the altcoin on an exchange and set a very high limit order. For the larger cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin it is important to set trailing sell stops on the way up, and to not buy back in for at least a month if a sell stop gets triggered. Being able to read price charts, see support and resistance areas for price, and knowing how to set sell orders are an important part of mining profitability.
Actions to Take During the CycleAs the cycle starts to rise from the bottom, this is a good time to buy mining hardware - it will be inexpensive. Also to mine and buy altcoins, which are usually the first to see a price rise, and will have larger price increases than Bitcoin.
On the rise of the cycle, this is a good time to see which altcoins are doing well from a project fundamentals standpoint, and which ones look like they are undergoing accumulation from investors.
Halfway through the rise of the cycle is the time to start selling altcoins for the larger project cryptos like Bitcoin. Miners will miss some of the profit at the top of the cycle, but will not run out of cash by doing this. This is also the time to stop buying mining hardware. Don’t worry, you’ll be able to pick up that same hardware used for a fraction of the price at the next bottom.
As the price nears the top of the cycle, sell enough Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to meet the following projected costs:
As the cycle has peaked and starts to decline, this is a good time to start investing in mining facilities and other infrastructure, brush up on trading skills, count your winnings, and take some vacation.
At the bottom of the cycle, it is time to start buying both used and new mining equipment. The bottom can be hard to recognize.
If you can continue to mine all the way through bottom part of the cryptocurrency pricing cycle, paying with the funds sold near the top, you will have a profitable and enjoyable cryptocurrency mining business. Any cryptocurrency you are able to hold onto will benefit from the price progression in the next higher cycle phase.
An Update on Horizen - formerly ZenCashThe team at Horizen recognizes the important part that GPU miners played in the early success of Zclassic and ZenCash, and there is always a welcoming attitude to any of ZEN miners, past and present. About 1 year after ZenCash launched, ASIC miners became available for the Equihash algorithm. Looking at a chart of mining difficulty over time shows when it was time for GPU miners to move to mining other cryptocurrencies.
Horizen Historical Block Difficulty Graph
Looking at the hashrate chart, it is straightforward to see that ASIC miners were deployed starting June 2018. It appears that there was a jump in mining hashrate in October of 2017. This may have been larger GPU farms switching over to mine Horizen, FPGA’s on the network, or early version of Equihash ASIC miners that were kept private.
The team understands the importance of the cryptocurrency price cycle as it affects the funds from the Horizen treasury and the investments that can be made. 20% of each block mined is sent to the Horizen non-profit foundation for use to improve the project. Just like miners have to manage money, the team has to decide whether to spend funds when the price is high or convert it to another form in preparation for the bottom part of the cycle.
During the rise and upper part of the last price cycle Horizen was working hard to maximize the value of the project through many different ways, including spending on research and development, project management, marketing, business development with exchanges and merchants, and working to create adoption in all the countries of the world.
During the lower half of the cycle Horizen has reduced the team to the essentials, and worked to build a base of users, relationships with investors, exchanges, and merchants, and continue to develop the higher priority software projects. Lower priority software development, going to trade shows, and paying for business partnerships like exchanges and applications have all been completely stopped.
Miners are still a very important part of the Horizen ecosystem, earning 60% of the block reward. 20% goes to node operators, with 20% to the foundation. In the summer of 2018 the consensus algorithm was modified slightly to make it much more difficult for any group of miners to perform a 51% attack on Horizen. This has so far proven effective.
The team is strong, we provide monthly updates on a YouTube live stream on the first Wednesday of each month where all questions asked during the stream are addressed, and our marketing team works to develop awareness of Horizen worldwide. New wallet software was released recently, and it is the foundation application for people to use and manage their ZEN going forward.
Horizen is a Proof of Work cryptocurrency, and there is no plan to change that by the current development team. If there is a security or centralization concern, there may be change to the algorithm, but that appears unlikely at this time, as the hidden chain mining penalty looks like it is effective in stopping 51% attacks.
During 2019 and 2020 the Horizen team plans to release many new software updates:
When the governance is transitioned, the project should be as decentralized as possible. The goal of decentralization is to enable resilience and preventing the capture of the project by regulators, government, criminal organizations, large corporations, or a small group of individuals.
Everyone involved with Horizen can be proud of what we have accomplished together so far. Miners who were there for the early mining and growth of the project played a large part in securing the network, evangelizing to new community members, and helping to create liquidity on new exchanges. Miners are still a very important part of the project and community. Together we can look forward to achieving many new goals in the future.
Here are some links to find out more about Horizen.
Horizen Website – https://horizen.global
Horizen Blog – https://blog.horizen.global
Horizen Reddit - https://www.reddit.com/Horizen/
Horizen Discord – https://discord.gg/SuaMBTb
Horizen Github – https://github.com/ZencashOfficial
Horizen Forum – https://forum.horizen.global/
Horizen Twitter – https://twitter.com/horizenglobal
Horizen Telegram – https://t.me/horizencommunity
Horizen on Bitcointalk – https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=2047435.0
Horizen YouTube Channel – https://www.youtube.com/c/Horizen/
Buy or Sell Horizen
Horizen on CoinMarketCap – https://coinmarketcap.com/currencies/zencash/
About the Author:Rolf Versluis is Co-Founder and Executive Advisor of the privacy oriented cryptocurrency Horizen. He also operates multiple private cryptocurrency mining facilities with hundreds of operational systems, and has a blog and YouTube channel on crypto mining called Block Operations.
Rolf applies his engineering background as well as management and leadership experience from running a 60 person IT company in Atlanta and as a US Navy nuclear submarine officer operating out of Hawaii to help grow and improve the businesses in which he is involved.
Thank you again for the Ask Me Anything - please do. I'll be checking the post and answering questions actively from 28 Feb to 6 Mar 2019 - Rolf
The problem of profitability decline. The biggest variable that can not be predicted is how much will the difficulty increase throughout time. This will in turn cause a profitability decline. In order to take this variable into account, several mining profitability calculators have incorporated a "profitability decline" factor. Bitcoin is down more than 60 percent, with contracting volatility and low liquidity level. Thus, it is perhaps unsurprising to see mining profitability starting to shows signs of decline mirroring the ongoing trend in the wider cryptocurrency market. Skyrocketing Network Hashrate Bitcoin mining difficulty is falling thanks to the digital coin’s underlying blockchain technology. If trends persist, small miners should be able to take advantage of this latest development. Right now, the bitcoin market is going through trying times after the unprecedented price decline that occurred in November. Bitcoin Mining Profitability Plummets. On March 17, 2020, just two months ahead of the Bitcoin Halving, Bitcoin mining profitability has sunk to its lowest point ever.. Hash rate, which had also been continuously registering all-time highs, has also taken a dive today. Given the sudden and sharp decline in the price of bitcoin, we estimate bitcoin miner profitability during this volatile period. Bitcoin sees near record sell-off. Last week bitcoin saw one of its largest sell-offs in history. On Thursday, March 12th, bitcoin trading volume surged to near record highs amidst an abrupt sell-off (see Figure 1 below).
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