Manufacturers Mark Down Bitcoin Miners as Price Drop, Halving Change Calculus

Last month’s bitcoin price crash has prompted manufacturers to sell their mining devices at discounts as steep as 20 percent ahead of the May halving.

AccessTimeIconApr 3, 2020 at 4:30 a.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 8:25 a.m. UTC
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Bitcoin mining machines are on sale.

Last month’s crash in cryptocurrency prices has prompted manufacturers to sell inventories at a discount, in some cases as steep as 20 percent, over the past few weeks. Both the newest models and slightly older machines have been marked down.

Complicating the matter is the imminent bitcoin (BTC) halving in May that will reduce the network's mining reward by half, causing most miners to be less profitable if bitcoin’s price doesn’t increase significantly by then.

For instance, DJ Miner, an overseas distributor for Shenzhen, China-based MicroBT, was advertising about $2,500 per unit of the manufacturer’s flagship WhatsMiner M30S early last month. After bitcoin’s March 12 crash – the worst sell-off in seven years – the price is now cut by 20 percent to $2,000 per unit. 

The WhatsMiner M20S, a less advanced but popular model that boosted MicroBT’s market share against major rival Bitmain in 2019, is also seeing a 20 percent price cut from $1,679 to now $1,340, DJ Miner’s website shows. Pangolinminers, another distributor for MicroBT shows similar pricing rollbacks on its website. 

Similarly, while Bitmain is advertising $1,567 for its AntMiner S17+ with a computing power of 67 terahashes per second, various resellers are posting quotes on WeChat seen by CoinDesk at around $1,300 per unit.

The Beijing-based mining giant has previously announced the pricing for its latest flagship AntMiner S19 Pro at about $2,900 per unit but the shipment won’t take place until May and so far is only available for investors inside China.

Efficient market

It is important to note that most specialized bitcoin computers, known as ASICs, had already been dropping in price since the fourth quarter of last year, as the manufacturers adjusted their strategies in line with bitcoin’s price swing. 

These machines are priced assuming it would take the buyer on average 15 months to make back their equipment investment. Holding the payback period relatively constant, manufacturers would adjust the prices of their equipment according to bitcoin’s market price and the level of competition on the network – the two factors that determine how much revenue a miner can generate in a day.

Miner pricing data compiled by research startup TokenInsight shows that, for example, the Whatsminer M20S and the AntMiner S17 Pro were priced at around $2,400 and $3,000, respectively, in mid-October 2019. The price for both had dropped to around $1,500 as of March 10.

“ASIC miners have experienced a relatively large market devaluation since Q4 2019. However, the miner market has found some level of price floor during Q1 2020 despite the recent crypto market downturn,” said TokenInsight analyst Johnson Xu. “Some experienced miners are currently looking to purchase some secondhand ASICs at a significant discount … based on their carefully structured model.”

Blockware Solutions, a reseller of bitcoin ASIC miners in North America that also operates mining facilities, said in a recent research report that the market crash in March, together with the coming halving, has led to a significant decrease of bitcoin’s mining computing power – which in the long run, could be an encouraging sign for the market’s efficiency.

“If bitcoin remains at lower price levels for two to four months, post-halving, many miners operating at a loss will be forced to shut off,” Blockware said. “After all the miners that are operating at a loss shut off, the miners that survive experience significant margin relief. We will witness a network in short-term chaos, but difficulty adjustments will reinstate stability once the inefficient miners shut off.”

The firm believes after the Bitcoin network experiences sustained favorable competition adjustments, the “likelihood of a bottom in bitcoin’s price is enhanced."

“This is because newly mined bitcoin is now being distributed to and accumulated by the most efficient miners with healthy balance sheets,” the firm said. “The amount of bitcoin ... that the surviving miners receive are directly proportional with the amount of bitcoin that was being distributed to the miners that have shut off. These rare, lucrative opportunities allow surviving miners to accumulate copious amounts of bitcoin.” 



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