Thursday, December 01, 2016

The Secret, Dangerous World of Venezuelan Bitcoin Mining

The Secret, Dangerous World of Venezuelan Bitcoin Mining -
Four years ago, Alberto's career prospects were bleak.
The 23-year-old Venezuelan had just graduated from college with a degree in computer science, but his nation's economy was already shredded by 13 years of socialism.
"There were job opportunities, but they paid like $20 a month, and we were used to traveling and buying things from abroad so we couldn't settle for that," his friend Luis recalls.
Alberto and Luis—whose names have been changed for their own safety—teamed up to start a clothing business, but the venture floundered.
Then Alberto discovered bitcoin mining.
...Four years later, his country is embroiled in a humanitarian crisis.
The supermarket shelves are bare.
Children are fainting from hunger in their classrooms.
A mob recently broke into the Caracas zoo to eat a horse. 
Many Venezuelans subsist on a monthly government stipend equivalent to about $9.
Alberto, meanwhile, based on his own account, is earning more than $1,200 a day mining bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies.
He's part of Venezuela's rapidly growing digital currency mining community.
Faced with growing threats of violent crime and government extortion, its members interface through secret online groups and take extreme precautions to hide their activities.
In a country where cash has lost much of its value, and food and other necessities are dangerously scarce, bitcoins are providing many Venezuelans with a lifeline. 
The same socialist economics that caused the country's meltdown has made the energy-intensive process of bitcoin mining wildly profitable—but also dangerous..."

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