China’s ban on cryptocurrencies has spurred an increase in crypto mining in Thailand, as citizens look to capitalize on the trend during the pandemic and buy up Chinese stock of computer processors integral to Bitcoin mining operations, Al Jazeera reports.
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“Bitcoin is the gold of the digital world. But a mining rig is like gold mining stocks: You’re paid dividends according to the gold price,” Thai crypto entrepreneur Pongsakorn Tongtaveenan told Al Jazeera.
In September, Beijing cracked down on crypto mining, dramatically throwing half the globe’s total Bitcoin miners offline and sending an exodus overseas to cheaper energy pastures.
The mining migration was largely driven to places like Texas, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, and Russia, and now, Thailand. Today, the U.S. is the top destination for Bitcoin mining, with a third of Bitcoin’s hash rate located in the country, according to the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance.
While this has undoubtedly been an economic boon for many countries, this has also led to a range of issues. In Kazakhstan, crypto miners may be stressing the country’s power grid by gobbling up 8% of the country’s total power generation capacity.
In Thailand, however, the market has increasingly opened up to Bitcoin miners eager to buy up and make use of Chinese crypto rigs. According to Pongsakorn, when Chinese miners began selling off processors due to new regulations this past September, the price of hardware plummeted by 30%. Today, prices are running around $13,000 for new technological hardware to support crypto mining operations, and an estimated 100,000 Thai citizens are now employed in crypto mining.
Thai citizens have increasingly adopted crypto. In March, Thailand’s SEC indicated it might limit domestic crypto trading to individuals with at least 1 million baht, or $32,000, in annual income and meeting an undisclosed minimum age, but this was swiftly met with public opposition. The commission has also considered putting forward a test and training course for crypto investors to cut down on the number of inexperienced retail investors entering the space.