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Cryptocurrency Trends: Is Bitcoin Mining Profitable in 2022
April 27, 2021
Note: This article is purely meant for informational purposes only and does not constitute financial advice.
The last few years have seen dramatic growth in the world of cryptocurrency, with new platforms and currencies appearing all the time. Despite changing trends and newcomers in the market, the originator, Bitcoin, remains the most valuable decentralized cryptocurrency by far. But as its value grows, does the same apply to the process of obtaining it? Is Bitcoin mining profitable these days?
Yes, mining Bitcoin is profitable in 2021, but there are barriers to access. It requires technical knowledge that often discourages new miners from attempting to build their own Bitcoin mining PC. Even so, mining continues to grow in scale and efficiency, which means there are new ways to earn Bitcoin such as yield farming, which leverages existing crypto assets to generate a return.
We’ve put together an update on the state of Bitcoin, cryptocurrency, and blockchain industry trends to help you get started. We’ll also provide some tips on how to make money with cryptocurrency and what it takes to build a PC mining rig.
A short history of Bitcoin
Launched in 2009 by “Satoshi Nakamoto,” whose identity remains unknown, Bitcoin was the first cryptocurrency to scale. In the years since, it has risen to prominence through high-security blockchain technology to provide an open-source alternative to institutional currencies, like U.S. dollars and British pounds, which are backed by banks or governments. Bitcoin has maintained its status as the dominant cryptocurrency in spite of other cryptocurrency entries into the market.
The years 2018 and 2019 were slower – this was the so-called “crypto winter” – but the industry saw major gains in 2020 and 2021. For instance, a bull market through the end of 2020 led to a first-ever global cryptocurrency valuation of $1,000,000,000,000 in early January 2021 – yes, that’s $1 trillion.
As of mid-March 2021, the figures show that it only took a few months to nearly double that volume. From the same data, we can also see that Bitcoin currently accounts for more than half of that amount. At the current trading price, Bitcoin’s total valuation is above one trillion U.S. dollars by itself; a single unit closed at $56,804.90 on March 16, 2021.
What are the major factors driving Bitcoin’s growth?
Bitcoin, and the overall world of cryptocurrency, is operating on a stronger foundation than ever. Longtime investors and miners who followed early cryptocurrency trends and held onto their assets have reaped huge rewards many times over. Here we’ll discuss the 3 main factors driving Bitcoin’s recent and long-term growth.
1. Public awareness and acceptance
As the first cryptocurrency to hit the market, Bitcoin wasn’t embraced or even well-known in its early stages. But as the years pass, the rise in public awareness is pushing Bitcoin’s growth. This includes acceptance from both individual bitcoin miners and investors, as well as larger financial entities.
As Forbes reports, even major financial institutions are starting to engage with Bitcoin, as demonstrated by a massive rise in CME contracts for Bitcoin futures. According to Forbes, this “kind of growth is more than three times the heady 425% increase in Bitcoin’s price over the last year and a further representation of the unprecedented level of demand for exposure to the asset class among institutional investors.”
Bitcoin and (certain other cryptocurrencies) ostensibly exist in a finite supply. So, as time passes and more people accumulate cryptocurrencies, miners are hunting for an increasingly small number of bitcoins. To facilitate growth and reduce inflation, most cryptocurrencies periodically go through what’s called a “halving” process.
In essence, this doubles the number of remaining bitcoins left to mine, but it also reduces the value of each bitcoin. For example, after a halving event – they occur about every 4 years – anyone with 2 bitcoin in their bitcoin wallet would have 4. In more technical terms, halving takes place whenever 210,000 blocks are created. Given that there is a limited number of bitcoin, however, there will only ever be 32 halvings ever. You can see a countdown to the next halving here.
3. Processing power and profitability
The biggest associated Bitcoin mining cost is the energy you consume in the process, whether it’s with a single rig or as part of a larger crypto farm. The industry’s overall energy impact has traditionally been an easy way to gauge growth, and The Guardian reported that it had become equivalent to the annual carbon footprint of Argentina. Their data is sourced from the Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index, where you can find up-to-the-minute information about the energy impact associated with mining.
When analysts and users talk about an increase in energy consumption, the most dramatic shift is typically related to recent spikes in acceptance. When there are more miners, there are more cryptocurrency mining rigs, and therefore more energy use. But some research actually suggests that the cost of mining bitcoins hasn’t changed much over the last decade.
“Despite a 10-billion-fold increase in hashing activity and a 10-million-fold increase in total energy consumption, we find the cost relative to the volume of transactions has not increased [or] decreased since 2010.” – Frontiers in Blockchain
What do I need for a Bitcoin mining rig?
The costs of mining Bitcoin may not have changed much, but the method that miners use to create bitcoins has changed with the times. Instead of using home computers and graphics cards, the more established cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin require a piece of hardware called an application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC).
ASICs come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Each has unique maintenance and cooling needs, especially if your operation grows. Fortunately, there are plenty of tools available to help Bitcoin miners estimate the costs with a particular piece of hardware. Check out NiceHash’s calculator to see what’s right for you. Antminer is a popular brand with a full range of products if you’re looking for a safe place to start.
You can still access other cryptocurrencies via traditional desktop PCs, but it’s important to do your research first. Use NiceHash or another cryptocurrency profitability calculator to see if you can earn money to offset your energy use and tech investment. For a detailed guide on setting up a compact home crypto mining rig, check out our How to Build a GPU Mining Rig article.
Solo vs pool crypto currency mining
For now, the two major forms of cryptocurrency mining are solo mining and pool mining. They have a lot in common when it comes to hardware and execution, but they are substantially different as it relates to your personal routine. Pool mining was started as a way to offset rising energy costs, and it allows you to get involved without making the same hardware commitments as traditional solo mining.
While pool mining uses the collective hardware capacity of all members, solo miners depend exclusively on their own Bitcoin rig. The income for mining pools is more stable thanks to this distributed framework, but it also subjects you to outages and problems with the network.
If you’re a techie and keep up with the industry trends, you may prefer solo mining. It’s also the preferred method for long-term miners. But the appeal of more consistent payouts from pool mining is useful for lots of people who want to see more predictable income. For now, most pools are based in China, but the trend is spreading elsewhere. A new U.S. pool, Foundry USA, began taking institutional clients in March 2021.
2021 blockchain industry trends
As public acceptance grows, new applications for blockchain technology are likely to expand as well. Looking at a Forbes summary, it’s clear that blockchain’s potential growth is exponential and extends beyond the financial industry. Events surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic led to interest from the healthcare sector, while celebrities have made headlines buying and holding intangibles like tweets and music via non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
In other words: you can expect blockchain to grow in a big way. For more about the technology, how it works, and what it holds for the future, check out our article How Does Blockchain Work?
3 popular alternatives to Bitcoin
Bitcoin is the oldest and most conspicuous cryptocurrency, but it’s far from the only option. To help you get more familiar with the most trusted digital currencies available, let’s take a look at 3 of the most popular alternatives to Bitcoin.
Ethereum is the second-largest cryptocurrency platform after Bitcoin, and it involves users mining “ether” instead of bitcoins. Ethereum has reportedly frustrated miners at certain stages of development, and at one point they even created a spin-off cryptocurrency called Ethereum Classic. It may be a more volatile market than Bitcoin, but it’s also breaking new price records.
At a glance:
Age: Active since 2015
Highlight: Largest alternative to Bitcoin
Trends: Strong recent gains, but high volatility
The Ripple platform uses “XRP” as its native cryptocurrency. It’s one of the most efficient cryptocurrency mining options, and it’s well-liked for its decreased energy costs. Part of Ripple’s focus is developing the xRapid transaction system to speed up payments and contracts globally, which should mean plenty of benefits for XRP.
At a glance:
Age: Active since 2012
Highlight: Lower energy impact from mining
Trends: Strong focus on efficient blockchain tech
Litecoin is one of Bitcoin’s oldest competitors. It doesn’t have quite the same name recognition as other coins in our article, but it is a popular option with several years of strong growth under its belt. According to CoinGecko’s charts or Litecoin, one Litecoin peaked at $4.58 on January 1, 2017 vs $132.26 on the first day of 2021.
At a glance:
Age: Active since 2011
Features: Second oldest crypto platform
Trends: Several years of strong growth
If you didn’t see a blockchain solution you like, there are plenty of others to choose from. Refer to CoinMarketCap’s new cryptocurrencies listing to see freshly-minted options with info including price, rate of growth, and volume.
Blockchain technology and cryptocurrency markets are likely here to stay, with new applications and currencies appearing all the time. Through new technology and rising acceptance, Bitcoin mining remains a profitable endeavor in 2021. This doesn’t mean that the process is fast or simple to get into, but it’s far from impossible with research and preparation.
About the Author: Dwight Pavlovic is a contributing writer for HP Tech Takes. Dwight is a music and technology writer based out of West Virginia.