In what some have called a “watershed” moment for bitcoin, Bloomberg reports that a company co-owned by an aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin is seeking to expand Russia’s bitcoin-mining industry, leveraging Russia's cheap energy to rival China as the world’s largest mining market.
The company, known as Russian Miner Coin, or RMC, is seeking to raise $100 million in an initial coin offering, promising buyers a right to 18% of the company’s mining revenue, according to a presentation cited by Bloomberg.
“Russian Miner Coin is holding a so-called initial coin offering, where investors will use units of Ethereum or bitcoin to buy new RMC tokens. These new tokens will have rights to 18 percent of the revenue earned with the company’s mining equipment, according to a presentation posted on its website.”
According to Brian Kelly, a frequent CNBC contributor, the announcement is a “watershed” development in the history of bitcoin because it suggests that Putin recognizes the value of the pioneering digital currency as a reserve asset. The Russian president has already expressed an interest in blockchain technology – particularly Ethereum. In June, he met with Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg Economic Forum and offered his support for Buterin’s plans to help local partners adopt the technology in Russia.
Russia offers several advantages for bitcoin miners: For example, its excess power capacity is substantial.
“Russia has 20 gigawatts of excess power capacity, with consumer electricity prices as low as 80 kopeks (1.3 cents) per kilowatt hour, which is less than in China, RMC said in the presentation."
The company plans to build its own mining hardware using computer chips designed in Russia.
“RMC plans to use semiconductor chips designed in Russia for use in satellites to minimize power consumption in computers for crypto-mining, Putin’s internet ombudsman, Dmitry Marinichev, said at a news conference in Moscow. Russia has the potential to reach up to 30 percent share in global cryptocurrency mining in the future, Marinichev said, adding that $10 million from the proceeds of the ICO may be spent developing the processors.”
Though, in the beginning, the firm will rely on Bitfury chips. Bitfury, a company that manufactures mining equipment and also operates its own mining operations, was founded by Valery Vavilov, a Russian-speaking native of Latvia.
“The company initially plans to locate mining computers based on Bitfury chips in individual Russian households to challenge Bitmain by using Russia’s lower power prices.”
Already, at least one Russian government entity is experimenting with blockchain tech. The Central Bank of Russia has already deployed an Ethereum-based blockchain as a pilot project to process online payments and verify customer data with lenders including Sberbank PJSC.
The vote of confidence from a close Putin associate has helped lift the bitcoin price to all-time highs, according to data from CryptoCompare.
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