The mining landscape is facing scrutiny as concerns mount over the growing dominance of Antpool and Foundry USA in the network’s hashrate. Recent discussions have spotlighted the implications of their combined 56% control, raising questions about the potential centralization of Bitcoin mining and its future regulatory environment.
On Wednesday, crypto analyst Chris Blec sounded the alarm over the two mining pools’ influence, suggesting that their predominance could pave the way for Bitcoin mining to become a regulated industry, with strict adherence to Know Your Customer (KYC) guidelines. This shift could grant governments significant oversight over a majority of miners, altering the decentralized nature of Bitcoin mining.
In response to these concerns, crypto researcher Jon Black argued that the dominance of Antpool and Foundry USA stems from their compliance with existing regulations. He posited that any move away from this compliant behavior would likely result in a redistribution of hashrate to smaller, non-KYC compliant pools. Blec dismissed this view as purely theoretical, opening up further debate on the matter.
The conversation also touched on the role of Stratum mining software versions in determining how mining pools operate. Stratum v1, which is currently favored by many miners due to its user-friendly nature, allows pool operators to select transactions for block mining while individual miners contribute computational power without having direct input on transaction selection. In contrast, Stratum v2 introduces “Job Negotiation,” giving individual miners more autonomy by enabling them to choose transactions for their block templates.
A report from Galaxy.com in 2022 shed light on the division within the industry regarding Stratum software versions. The report underscored a significant divide between ASIC manufacturers and software developers, highlighting concerns about mining centralization. This division raises critical questions about whether current practices within Bitcoin mining pools are sufficient to maintain the decentralized ethos that is central to Bitcoin’s philosophy.
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