- A panel of UK legal experts led by a senior High Court judge concluded that cryptocurrency is the legal equivalent of property.
- Bitcoin’s impact on climate change may be smaller than initially predicted, according to a new carbon emissions report.
- Two competing Bitcoin mining firms from Germany and the US will merge to construct a 100-acre mining farm in Texas.
- Crypto advocate Andreas Antonopoulos claims that Bitcoin “terrifies” Wall Street investors who don’t like to compete against decentralized financial ideologies.
A panel of United Kingdom legal experts have concluded that cryptocurrency is legal property and that smart contracts satisfy all requirements of UK law. Led by senior High Court Judge Sir Geoffrey Vos, this panel aimed to address uncertainty around digital assets and blockchain technology. While the concluding report itself does not count as legislation, it does recommend that commercial lawyers immediately consider the impact of digital assets while there is still time to prepare.
The report states that crypto-assets “have all of the indicia [signs] of property.” It explains that in the view of the senior legal figures, the “novel or distinctive features possessed by some crypto-assets — intangibility, cryptographic authentication, use of a distributed transaction ledger, decentralization, rule by consensus — do not disqualify them from being property.”
Further, the panel said that smart contracts and crypto-asset systems have the potential to revolutionize they way agreements such as mortgages, medical research, and property ownership, are carried out:
“[These systems] could revolutionise agreements, from mortgages and medical research to property ownership, as smart contracts automatically execute transactions and remove the need for a middleman.”
With the recent discovery that blockchain mining accounts for 1% of global energy, many have worried about the impact Bitcoin might have on climate change. Follow-up research, however, suggests that the direct impact on carbon emissions is lower than expected. A new report from Aalborg University in Denmark determined that previous blockchain climate studies made blanket assumptions about mining energy usage — for example, that all Bitcoin mined in China contributes to carbon emissions. In reality, China’s increasingly diverse power grid — most notably hydropower in Sichuan — implies that Bitcoin’s global footprint is far more complicated.
[Breaking] down the emissions within China to a more regional level produced a much lower global footprint for the cryptocurrency, of 17.29 megatonnes of CO2 in 2018. While coal-heavy Inner Mongolia accounted for just 12.3 per cent of bitcoin mining, it resulted in more than a quarter of the total emissions. The reverse effect was seen in the hydropower-rich Chinese province of Sichuan.
The researchers also found that it is overwhelmingly the electricity use of bitcoin mining that contributes to the cryptocurrency’s carbon emissions, not the production and disposal of the computers doing the mining, which accounted for just 1 per cent of the emissions.
Köhler says the findings don’t mean we can stop worrying about bitcoin – especially given electricity use per new bitcoin is growing – but we should put it in perspective. “On the one hand we have these alarmist voices saying we won’t hit the Paris agreement because of bitcoin only. But on the other hand there are a lot of voices from the bitcoin community saying that most of the mining is done with green energy and that it’s not high impact,” she says.
While Bitcoin’s maximum supply likely won’t be reached within our lifetime, mining new tokens will take longer and generate smaller returns over time. Two Bitcoin companies could be getting ahead of this trend by merging and creating the world’s largest mining farm. German mining firm Northern Bitcoin has entered a merger agreement with United States rival Whinstone to build a one-gigawatt capacity mining facility that covers 100 acres in Texas.
The first phase of the construction — which is expected to conclude in Q1 2020 — will already have a capacity of 300 megawatts. Construction is expected to be completed in Q4 2020.
The first two clients that will take advantage of the upcoming facility will reportedly be two publicly traded corporations that will use a significant portion of its capacity for Bitcoin mining. Still, after its completion, the data center will also allow for the acceleration of video rendering and artificial intelligence applications.
Northern Bitcoin is a stock-traded company founded last year that specializes in sustainable Bitcoin mining. The firm operates a mining farm on renewable energy in Norway.
Institutional investment for blockchain technology is slowly on the rise, but at least one report implies that Wall Street is less than enthused with Bitcoin. In a recent interview with Nugget’s News, crypto advocate Andreas Antonopoulos claimed that Wall Street is only interested in Bitcoin to the extent that it can “tame the beast”. This is because Bitcoin’s decentralized principles are fundamentally opposed to Wall Street’s centralized philosophy and risks undercutting its market.
“They have got accustomed to working in this strictly controlled regulatory environment where they don’t get any competition. Unless that competition is approved by regulators, forced to compete at their scale, and follow the same rules. And is therefore defanged and not disruptive. And anyone who doesn’t comply is sued, bought or extinguished until they comply…
“What will happen is, they will try to buy [Bitcoin]. I’m not selling, are you selling Alex? So what happens then? The price goes up, and now I’m not selling even more. So now they’re throwing more and more worthless fiat at less and less very, very, very worthy crypto that has limited supply. And all they’re achieving is driving up the price, and not buying up all of the crypto.”
That’s the roundup for November 23. Check back next week for the latest in cryptocurrency innovation and regulation around the world!
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