How The Tiny Nation Of Georgia Became A Bitcoin Behemoth.
April 23, 20188:15 AM ET ANDREW NORTH https://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2018/04/23/597780405/how-the-tiny-nation-of-georgia-became-a-bitcoin-behemoth
Georgia is now ranked second in the world for cryptocurrency mining — behind only China.
A single U.S.-based technology company called Bitfury has been accounting for much of this mining activity, from a vast data center filled with computer servers which it opened on the outskirts of the capital Tbilisi. It has generated plenty of controversy too over claims that it received overly generous terms for its electricity bills. But scores of smaller data centers have now sprouted up, with many more people mining from home with processors bought online from China.
making an average of $800 a month mining a currency called Zcash, with the extra electricity load costing about $80.
Bitfury has also been talking to the authorities in nearby Ukraine about using blockchain technology to run future elections there.
When supporters log on to its website, they are given the choice of allowing their computer processors to be used to mine Monero, a newer virtual coin being marketed for its extreme anonymity.
Facebook groups now regularly advertise conferences and gatherings to share ideas, addressed by people who call themselves “blockchain evangelists.”
Like the original Klondike, Georgia’s digital gold rush has attracted some colorful characters hoping to make their fortune.
Take Andrew Thornhill, an energetic financial entrepreneur from Chicago and founder of a cryptocurrency startup called Spotcoin. He first came to Georgia a decade ago to provide Internet-banking advice. In 2011, he was briefly imprisoned for fraud, but he says his conviction does not restrict him from running a financial business either there or in Georgia.
Concerns that cryptocurrencies are being used as a money-laundering vehicle have been overdone, Thornhill says when we meet at Spotcoin’s Tbilisi headquarters. “Criminals are using dollars and euros every day, but we don’t blame the currencies,” he says. And blockchain technology has the potential to make financial transactions far more secure, he maintains.
more on bitcoin in this IMS blog
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