The University of Cambridge and the school’s Centre for Alternative Finance has published the third “Global Cryptocurrency Benchmarking Study.” The 71-page in-depth study examines the current growth of the crypto industry, mining, offchain activity, crypto asset user profiling, regulation, and security.
The September 2020 third edition of the Global Cryptoasset Benchmarking Study concentrates on four market segments which include mining, payments, custody, and exchange. A great number of participants from the cryptocurrency industry took part in the University of Cambridge (UC) study including wallet providers, exchanges, miners, cloud mining providers, crypto custodians, and more. The 71-page UC report says it leveraged two surveys from March and May 2020 to get a number of report’s metrics.
Employment Figures and Growth of the Crypto Industry
The UC report first delves into the crypto asset ecosystem’s employment figures and notes that even though the industry provides opportunity, there’s been a decline since 2017. “Respondents across all market segments, reported year-on-year growth of 21% in 2019, down from 57% in 2018,” the UC authors detail.
Furthermore, the mining sector was hit the hardest as it’s aggregated employment level saw a 37 point decline. Asia-Pacific (APAC) respondents recorded the highest share of high-growth enterprises in 2019 according to the data.
High growth is primarily younger firms that are 3-4 years old, and this represents 49% of the share of respondents. A few service providers polled detailed they saw an increase in profits in 2019 compared to years prior.
“Industry-wide, the growth in FTE employment declined by 36 percentage points between 2017 and 2019, whereas the median firm reported a 75-percentage point downward change in employment growth,” the UC benchmarking study notes.
Hashers and Global Mining Operations
The UC study then discusses the cryptocurrency mining ecosystem and the report highlights that mining is steadily reaching an “industrial scale.” The findings detail the criteria miners (hashers) leverage in order to choose which coin the operation should mine is entirely based on profit scaling.
The benchmark report notes that bitcoin (BTC) is the most popular coin with 89% of respondents mining the crypto asset. BTC is followed by ethereum (ETH – 35%) and bitcoin cash (BCH – 30%) respectively. Certain regions have different miner popularity ratings depending on the region and demographic.
“For instance, ethereum mining appears to be particularly popular among Latin American hashers, whereas bitcoin cash is more popular in APAC and North America,” the authors detail. “The mining of privacy coins in Western regions also differs from the global average: 28% and 19% of European and North American hashers report mining zcash, and as many North American hashers also engaged in monero mining.”
Crypto Mining Operational Expenditures and Renewable Energy
Moreover, the UC findings show that the utility cost for the average miner is roughly 79% of the aggregate operational expenditures. But there are differences that arise at the regional level, the study’s authors note.
“For instance, since the introduction of new tariffs on Chinese imports, US hashers have to pay 28% tariffs on ASICs shipped to the USA,” the report says.
While discussing electricity costs one takeaway from the study suggests the median Asian and North American miner pays roughly the same amount for electricity.
The mining section also examines Proof-of-Work’s (PoW) energy consumption, in general, and the subsidies or tax exemptions stemming from governments. Government benefits have entered the fray, but only “28% of the surveyed hashers report receiving support from governments.”
Additionally, the renewable energy estimate is much lower than prior reports concerning renewable…