Chapter 6 What Do You Call a Bitcoin Miner? A Banker

[Virtual Currencies] may hold long-term promise, particularly if the innovations promote a faster, more secure and efficient payment system.

—Ben Bernanke

The sun is peeking over the horizon and the fog is lifting off the bay. Your hot cup of coffee steams up the windshield as your car struggles to start. It is cold, it is dark, and it is 11 A.M. Welcome to the bitcoin mines of Reykjanesbaer, Iceland. After checking in with a guard protected by bulletproof glass, you enter the man trap—a chamber that is typically found at a penitentiary. The door slams shut and you think to yourself, “We're not in Kansas anymore” … or maybe you are. Emmanuel Abiodun has a similar setup in Kansas City. Mr. Abiodun is the 30-something CEO and founder of CloudHashing, a global bitcoin mining company.

Emmanuel Abiodun was working at HSBC in London when he heard about a “scam” that was called bitcoin mining. That's right, the founder of one of the largest bitcoin mining operations in the world thought it was a scam when he first heard about Bitcoin. Who could blame him? An anonymous computer programmer wrote 31,000 lines of code so that every 10 minutes any computer connected to the network could hazard a guess at a complex mathematical equation. If the computer guessed correctly, 50 bitcoins were sent to the wallet residing on the hard drive. If it took more than 10 minutes to guess the answer, the software code adjusted the equation so that ...

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