Fort Worth city officials made no mention of this week’s cryptocurrency market crash when the city council voted Tuesday to swap three bitcoin mining machines for a machine that is reportedly more energy efficient.
Fort Worth made history and made national news in April by becoming the first city in the United States to mine its own bitcoin. The city set up the care operation using three S9 bitcoin miners donated by the Texas Blockchain Council (TBC).
Officials say the new machine, called the Bitmain Antminer S19, will not only use less power, but will also mine more bitcoins. A report to the council indicated that the new machine can produce about three times the amount of bitcoin on 900 watts less than the other three machines and requires less servicing.
Carlo Capua, deputy chief of staff for the mayor’s office and the council, said that is equivalent to 18% less energy consumption. He said the new machine will mine 147% more bitcoins than the three oldest machines combined.
“From what I understand, technologically it is a better machine. It processes faster,” said District 7 City Councilman Leonard Firestone, who is chairman of the Committee on Entrepreneurship and Innovation.
The new machine is valued at about $9,000, more than quadruple the $2,100 reported value of the three returned machines. The city pays nothing for the machines, and if Fort Worth decides to stop mining bitcoins, they will be returned to the Texas Blockchain Council.
Capua said the swap does not change the original agreement between the city and TBC. The pilot program will be evaluated after six months.
And how is the mining operation going so far?
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“The city continues to learn about the practical implications and opportunities of digital assets and is pleased to have found a more energy efficient way to run this pilot program,” said Capua.
Firestone called the national attention the city has gained from the mining program a “home run.”
“It communicates to people that we are a very progressive city with a young mayor, a young council,” he said. “We’re embracing technology and recruiting technology.”
Not everyone agrees. A speaker at Tuesday’s city council meeting referred to bitcoin in particular and cryptocurrencies in general as a “Ponzi scheme.”
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The speaker may have been reacting to Monday’s news of the price collapse of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies after a major cryptocurrency lender failed and halted all withdrawals from its platform, citing “extreme market conditions.”
It was the latest high-profile collapse of a mainstay of the cryptocurrency industry. The crashes have wiped tens of billions of dollars from investors’ assets and spurred urgent calls to regulate free industry, according to an Associated Press report.
Cryptocurrency prices continued to slide on Wednesday with bitcoin falling as low as $20,087.90, down almost 71% from its record high of $68,990.90 set late last year. It was down 5.6% at $21,367 in afternoon trading, according to CoinDesk.