Gold & Silver 2.0: Tales from the Crypto

Bitcoin Mining: Chinese Man Gets 3.5 Year Sentence for Stealing Power to Mine Bitcoin

A man has been handed a three and a half year sentence for illegally tapping and stealing power from a train station in China for crypto mining purposes. According to a report published by The Paper, the sentence, which was served on September 13 by the Datong Railway Transport Court, names Xu Xinghua as the accused.

He was reportedly fined 100,000 Yuan (about $14,500) for stealing electricity from a factory at the Kouquan Railway station to power his 50 bitcoin mining machines. The offense was carried out between November and December 2017.

He was apparently able to mine 3.2 bitcoin worth about $20,000 at current market rates during this period. In addition to the fine and a prison sentence, the court ordered him to cover the electricity bill arising from his bitcoin mining activities. His bitcoin mining machines were also confiscated by the authorities.

Earlier this year, another Chinese citizen was arrested for stealing electricity to power his 200 miners. His bitcoin and Ethereum mining operation was apparently drawing about 6,000 Yuan ($866 worth of electricity) a day, something that soon caught the attention of the electric company.

An investigation launched by the Hanshan County police revealed a meter bypass implemented by the accused in an attempt to avoid billing.

Stealing Power to Mine Bitcoin in China

Bitcoin Mining and Power Theft in China

An absurdly huge number of cases involving stealing of power for crypto mining purposes were reported last year, especially during the months of November and December in China. They coincided with the price boom that occurred towards the end of the year.

The rapid price hike of bitcoin prices caught the attention of investors and newbies alike and led to major FOMO. A scramble for mining-hardware ranging from advanced setups to gaming GPUs soon caused a mining-equipment shortage. Subsequently, many mining companies experienced serious supply issues.

The sheer amount of energy needed for bitcoin mining purposes is immense, and so power theft is a major incentive for amateur cryptocurrency miners looking to avoid eye-watering electricity bills.

On to the number of cases involving power theft in China, authorities reported a sharp increase in crimes related to this last year, especially in Daqing City. In one case, police cracked down on a group of miners who were siphoning off power from the region’s oil production plants.

Twelve operations by the authorities in the city netted over 1,000 bitcoin mining devices over the course of 8 months, preceding December 2017. In one case, inspectors at an oil production plant were trying to find the source of an unfamiliar buzzing sound when they stumbled upon a row of iron shelves decked with mining machines.


This article by Elizabeth Gail was previously published on Coincentral.com

About the Author:

Elizabeth Gail is crypto-enthusiast and a blogger. Her specialties include cryptocurrency news and analysis. When not writing about crypto, she’s out taking part in humanitarian endeavors across the world. You can reach out and engage with her on Twitter and Google Plus.

 

Well into the second half of 2018 and it’s been a white-knuckle roller coaster ride for most. With Ether shedding 44 percent of its value in just two weeks and the media speaking of a Bitcoin bubble, is it possible to lose faith in crypto but remain bullish on blockchain? Apparently; if continued corporate statements like the UBS blockchain endorsement are anything to go by. But can you really separate cryptocurrency and blockchain?

UBS Bullish on Blockchain, Bearish on Bitcoin

CEO of Swiss investment banking giant UBS, Sergio Ermotti, came out with a bold claim recently. He said that blockchain was “almost a must” for business. UBS blockchain support is nothing new, however. Neither is their stance that cryptocurrencies are risky and will probably never become mainstream currencies.

UBS CEO Sergio ErmottiYet, when it comes to blockchain, UBS changes their point of view. The bank believes that blockchain technology can help companies become more efficient and reduce their operating costs across the board, from healthcare to finance. This implies a separation between cryptocurrencies and the technology that they run on.

But is it possible to separate the two? Furthermore, since the original vision of Satoshi was to send peer-to-peer electronic payments without the need for a middleman, UBS blockchain support could be misplaced.

Disrupt or Be Disrupted

“While we are doubtful cryptocurrencies will ever become a mainstream means of exchange, the underlying technology, blockchain, is likely to have a significant impact in industries ranging from finance to manufacturing, health care, and utilities,” UBS wrote in October of 2017.

Adding that, “Just as [the] internet has transformed our lives with email, e-commerce, or smartphone apps, we believe blockchain as an infrastructure technology can power future disruptive technologies through distributive ledgers, smart contracts, tokens or identity management.”

So, what about cutting out the middleman? The centralized authority taking its fees? UBS blockchain research does acknowledge a certain level of risk, although they limit this to technological shortcomings and an uncertainty as to which application will benefit the industry most. They fail to mention whether digital currencies will threaten fiat ones, or if central authorities will be cut out of the loop.

In fact, within the financial sector, UBS predicts that blockchain technology will have irreversible and positive effects. And UBS blockchain support doesn’t stop at words. The bank is also investing in research into distributed ledgers and smart contracts in its business model.

UBS currently holds a number of blockchain patents. Yet, despite Ermotti’s bullish stance, their blockchain activities are dwarfed by other large banks and credit card companies. The list includes American Express, BBVA, Mizuho Financial Group, Goldman Sachs, BNP, and Bank of America (who’s buying up blockchain patents like they’re expecting a war). Is this a bid to disrupt or be disrupted? Or a defensive maneuver to protect themselves against blockchain innovation?

Blockchain and Bitcoin Are One and the Same

Plenty of people criticize Ermotti’s point of view, seeing it as a convenient way of taking a politically acceptable view and a safe position. Leaving the door open without scaring away existing clients. Others believe that more than just convenient, it misses the point completely. After all, blockchain and cryptocurrency are one and the same.

Consider the Bitcoin network for a moment. The way it was created requires miners to believe that the value of the Bitcoin they are rewarded will increase over time (or at least, not decrease in value). Otherwise, there is no incentive or rational reason to invest in expensive mining equipment, electricity, and time.

Bitcoin mining company, Bitmain would benefit from an IPO

So, for those like UBS that are skeptical on Bitcoin, but busy singing the praises of blockchain, they may not fully understand. In an interview with Malta’s Steve Tendon, a member of the country’s Blockchain Taskforce and author of Malta’s National Blockchain Strategy, he expressed his concern with viewpoints such as the UBS blockchain one.

He argued that many regulators and institutions tried to draw a distinction between blockchain and cryptocurrencies, viewing crypto as a bad thing because of its criminal associations and scams, but blockchain as a positive technology with infinite possibilities.

“There is no way you can have a smart contract platform that is as sophisticated as the one that Ethereum has implemented today (but there will be others in the future) unless you also have a cryptocurrency that is being used to “pay” for the computation. So the distinction between cryptocurrency and blockchains are really artificial: they are just two aspects of the same coin,” he said.

Final Thoughts

Ermotti and the UBS team may be making headlines with their views on the transformative technology. Calling blockchain “crucial and disruptive” is all well and good. But frowning on Bitcoin at the same time may just be missing a trick.


This article by Christina Comben was previously published on Coincentral.com

About the Author:

Christina is a B2B writer and MBA, specializing in fintech, cybersecurity, blockchain, and other geeky areas. When she’s not at her computer, you’ll find her surfing, traveling, or relaxing with a glass of wine.

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