- Antpool and Foundry dominate Bitcoin mining, and analysts expect intensified competition between China and the U.S. as next year's reward halving approaches.
- The halving could spur demand for advanced mining rigs and affect market prices, with miners likely holding on to bitcoin in anticipation of ETF approvals.
Bitcoin miners Antpool and Foundry dominate Bitcoin mining hashrate. Between them, the two own a total of 53.4% of the world's hashing power.
In the past few weeks, Antpool has been pulling ahead of its biggest competitor, adding significant power to its hashing capabilities.
"China is aggressively mining ahead of the approval of a Bitcoin ETF", Bradley Park, a Web3 analyst at CryptoQuant, wrote to CoinDesk in a note.
"As the Bitcoin halving nears, I anticipate a competitive surge between China and the US in mining machine productivity," he continued. "This is because the unit cost of mining Bitcoin is likely to escalate due to increasing power expenses and rising mining difficulty."
The Bitcoin halving, a significant event in the cryptocurrency's timeline that occurs roughly every four years, reduces the block rewards for miners by 50%, affecting the currency's supply and, potentially, its price (BTC).
While many argue that the halving is bullish for bitcoin's price, some also say a significant bull run is more likely to depend on major central banks increasing their M2 money supply growth rates, as past trends have shown a correlation between these rates and the price.
Lucy Hu, a senior analyst at Metalpha, told CoinDesk that the new peak in mining difficulty, driven by the recent price surge and the halving's proximity, will lead to the dominance of advanced rigs like the Antminer S21, benefiting firms with the latest equipment.
On-chain data from CryptoQuant shows that miner reserves of bitcoin are nearly back to where they were at the start of the year, around 1.84 million BTC. Antpool is the exception: Its reserve has been climbing significantly for most of November.
"We expect miners would only sell just enough bitcoins to keep the business operating before any bitcoin ETFs are approved or just keep the coins and borrow to pay," Hu said. "The halving event will double the production costs, so it is in the miner’s best interest to get the latest model of machine to lower the cost and earn more market share."
According to a recent report from Bernstein, bitcoin's fundamentals are at their strongest, the investment firm argued, with it plotting a timeline for the world's largest digital asset to become a major TradFi asset by 2025.
Bitcoin is currently trading above $37,800, according to CoinDesk Indicies data, up 1.7% on-day.
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