Bitcoin Mining (In A Mine) Without Breaking The Bank Or The Planet?

Bitcoin mining, using sophisticated computers to create new bitcoins through the peer-to-peer blockchain network, is a costly endeavor that takes its toll on the environment and resources. That’s the widely accepted perception but is it possible to mine bitcoin more cheaply and in a less environmentally damaging way?

Northern Bitcoin, a German listed company, has begun mining bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies deep within a Norwegian former metal mine and claims it has slashed the price and energy costs of bitcoin mining.

Bitcoin miners around the world have unearthed more than $4.7 billion in revenue so far this year, according to Diar, a bitcoin and blockchain research firm, but due to sky-high electricity prices and this year’s fall in the value of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, profits are increasingly hard to come by.

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The Lefdal mine near Norway’s Sandane now acts as a data center for some of the world’s biggest tech companies.Northern Bitcoin / Lefdal mine

The largest mining pool operator in the world, Bitmain, will soon be forced to average out electricity costs across all of its facilities in order to remain profitable, according to Diar.

Northern Bitcoin claims it can mine one bitcoin for as little as $2,700 in Norway’s Lefdal Mine, against a current market price of around $6,500 and giving it a profit per bitcoin in the region of $4,000.

The Lefdal Mine, which last year opened as a data center hosting the likes of computing giant IBM, uses the cold water of the fjord to cheaply cool computers and the hydroelectric and wind power generated in the region to provide cheap, renewable, electricity.

The mine, which was previously used to harvest the mineral olivine, had been closed for almost 10 years before being transformed to a sprawling underground data center, that includes a self-sustaining water cycle.

Northern Bitcoin has found the Norway average cost for bitcoin mining is $7,700 per coin. It claims China has the lowest average of $3,100, along with Saudi Arabia. In Canada, the average cost of bitcoin mining is almost $4,000. At the other end of the scale, bitcoin mining can cost almost $10,000 per bitcoin in Australia.

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Racks of computers are brought into the mine on trucks.Northern Bitcoin / Lefdal Mine

Northern Bitcoin, which in October ditched bitcoin mining for bitcoin cash in order to have a say in the up-coming bitcoin cash fork (but plans to revert to bitcoin mining after that), hopes to eventually be mining 100 bitcoins per day—up from what the company described as “several bitcoins per day” before the bitcoin cash switch.

Meanwhile, bitcoin mining continues to attract attention for its huge energy consumption. The amount of energy required to mine one dollar worth of bitcoin is more than twice that required to mine the same value of copper, gold or platinum, according to a paper published in the science journal Nature this week.

One dollar’s worth of bitcoin takes about 17 megajoules of energy to mine, according to researchers from the Oak Ridge Institute in Cincinnati, Ohio, compared with four, five and seven megajoules for copper, gold, and platinum.

Last year it was estimated the power consumption of the bitcoin network was equivalent to that of the whole of Ireland, while another suggested it was producing the same annual carbon emissions as one million transatlantic flights.


What to Expect From Europe’s New Bank Cop

Lenders shouldn’t expect much help with their bad debts from Europe’s new senior financial watchdog.

The European Central Bank on Wednesday nominated Andrea Enria as chair of its supervisory board, which oversees the continent’s 118 biggest lenders. Mr. Enria, from Italy, is currently the respected head of the European Banking Authority, and is unlikely to take a softer line on tackling lenders’ bad debts. The industry’s chronic low profitability and poor money-laundering controls present bigger challenges.

Some might hope that his promotion would lead to softer treatment of Italian lenders, many of which are still grappling with bad debts. They are likely to be disappointed. Colleagues joke that Mr. Enria, a former Bank of Italy economist, is sufficiently northern that he may as well be Austrian. His orthodox credentials, and his experience of dealing with large, international financial institutions as chair of the European Banking Authority since 2011, helped him secure the nomination over Sharon Donnery, the deputy governor of Ireland’s central bank.

It’s true that Mr. Enria has shown dovish impulses. In 2017 he called for the creation of a regional “bad bank” to help clean up dud loans. That would have implied a degree of risk sharing by European governments — anathema to Germany — and his plea fell on deaf ears. Since then, the E.C.B. has pushed banks to tackle their own problems.

If confirmed, Mr. Enria will have bigger issues to tackle. First up are the European Union’s lax money-laundering controls, which have led to the sudden closure of banks in Malta and Latvia this year. The scandal in which up to 200 billion euros of potentially suspicious funds flowed through Danske Bank’s Estonian unit has cast a cloud over the Danish lender, and could yet infect others. But the E.C.B. has no formal anti-money laundering powers, instead relying on national authorities — or U.S. authorities — to take action.

Then there is the thorny issue of low profitability. Inside the E.C.B., there is widespread dismay that, despite a benign economy and record-low bad debt charges, banks still can’t make good profits. The European banking industry’s average return on equity is 7.2 percent, according to European Banking Authority figures, well below a probable 10 percent cost of capital.

Tackling these issues, rather than doing favors for banks in his home country, will be Mr. Enria’s top priorities.


Andhra Bank to divest stakes in joint ventures

State-owned Andhra Bank said it will divest its stake either fully or partially in various joint venture firms.

The board of directors of the bank, at its meeting held on November 11, 2018, accorded its approval for divestment of bank’s stake in full or in part in joint venture investments of the bank — ASREC India, India International Bank (Malaysia) Bhd and IndiaFirst Life Insurance Co Ltd, Andhra Bank said in a regulatory filing.

IndiaFirst is a joint-venture between Bank of Baroda (44 percent), Andhra Bank (30 percent) and UK’s wealth and investment management firm Legal & General (26 percent).

India International Bank (Malaysia) Berhad (IIBM) is a joint-venture of state-owned Bank of Baroda (40 percent); Indian Overseas Bank (35 percent) and Andhra Bank (25 percent) that began its operations in July 2012.

ASREC is engaged in securitisation and reconstruction of financial assets business.

It is owned by Allahabad Bank (27.04 percent), Bank of India (26.02 percent), Andhra Bank (26.02 percent), Indian Bank (11.22 percent), LIC (9.18 percent), Deutsche Bank (0.51 percent).

The Managing Director and CEO Dhananjay Kumar Jain owns 100 shares in the company.

Andhra Bank earlier last week reported a net loss of Rs 434 crore in second quarter of this fiscal, which widened against Rs 385.11 crore loss in year ago same period.

In the first quarter ended June, 2018-19 the bank had posted a net loss of Rs 539.83 crore. In fiscal ended March 2018, the bank had registered a net loss of Rs 3,412.53 crore due to huge amount of bad loans.


Buy HDFC Bank, target Rs 2,420: Anand Rathi

HDFC Bank is an Indian banking and financial services company headquartered in Mumbai, Maharashtra and has a presence in Bahrain,

Hong Kong and Dubai. HDFC Bank is India’s largest private sector lender by assets.

HDFC Bank provides a number of products and services including wholesale banking, retail banking, treasury, auto loans, two wheeler loans,

personal loans, loans against property, consumer durable loan, lifestyle loan and credit cards.

HDFC Bank reported steady Q2FY19 operational performance. NIM expanded ~10 bps QoQ and was flat YoY at 4.3%. Core fee income growth

at 26% YoY continued to remain strong deriving strength from retail fees including cards, third-party insurance, other retail and cash management.

Bank has continued to gain market share in key businesses led by digital sourcing and deeper penetration improving product delivery and

cost control which has led the bank to reach historic low C/I of 39.9% in Q2FY19.

HDFC Bank has raised Rs240bn of fresh equity in H1FY19, which will support its loan growth in the coming years.
Further, we expect HDFC Bank to be a major gainer of the current crisis in the NBFC space as it has best-in-class liability franchises along with

superior customer outreach across business segments.
Backed by the robust underwriting skills & prudence and the consistent track record of growth and profitability, HDFC Bank is our top pick

amongst the private sector banks.
At CMP the stock is trading at 3.8x FY19E book value and 3.1x FY20E book value. We recommend buy with a target price of Rs 2,420 per share.


Banks can’t use coercive methods to recover agricultural loans: HD Kumaraswamy

HD ​​Kumaraswamy
HD Kumaraswamy warned banks that his government won’t ignore the collection of post-dated cheques (PDCs) from farmers for agricultural loans.

BENGALURU: Karnataka chief minister HD Kumaraswamy issued a warning to banks about using coercive methods to recover agricultural loans amid statewide protests against Axis Bank, which has filed cheque-bounce cases against farmers.

“What Axis Bank has tried to do is to convert civil liability on the part of farmers into criminal liability and intimidate farmers–that is not acceptable,” the chief minister told ET. “The bank has issued many tractor loans, which come under the agriculture lending portfolio and collected post-dated cheques.”

The chief minister said he wasn’t against lawful recovery proceedings but said the lender had sought to bully farmers. A court in Kolkata, where the cases were filed, has issued arrest warrants in 135 such instances.

The lender is working with the state government to sort things out amicably, said Sadashiva Mallya, regional branch banking head, south, at Axis Bank. The bank won’t withdraw the cases but will take steps to transfer them to Karnataka from Kolkata, he said.

The Belgaum farmers had taken loans five years ago against blank cheques. These were presented when the farmers defaulted, leading to the cheques bouncing for want of funds.

The bank subsequently filed the cheque bounce cases in a Kolkata court, which issued arrest warrants against the farmers. “When the farmers are in Belgaum, where is the need to file cases in a Kolkata court?” said the chief minister. “This is because the Axis Bank’s legal team sits in Kolkata, so they have filed the case there.”

Kumaraswamy warned banks that his government won’t ignore the collection of post-dated cheques (PDCs) from farmers for agricultural loans. The government, he told ET, will deal with such actions and write to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) as these are unlawful and amount to violation of guidelines.

He called for a national debate on the methods adopted by private banks to recover dues from farmers in the light of the latest developments. “I appeal to farmers not to panic and leave their villages,” the chief minister said. “I have told the Belgaum deputy commissioner and the SP (superintendent of police) not to arrest any farmer. The deputy commissioner is holding a meeting on November 7 with bank officials and farmers.”

Farmers’ groups led by the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS) held demonstrations outside Axis Bank branches in the state, forcing closures in Haveri district.


8 Bank Officials, Harshad Mehta’s Brother, Acquitted In SBI Fraud Case

8 Bank Officials, Harshad Mehta's Brother, Acquitted In SBI Fraud Case

A Mumbai court has acquitted nine people, including Ashwin Mehta, brother of 1992 securities scam kingpin Harshad Mehta, in a case of duping the State Bank of India (SBI) to the tune of Rs. 105 crore.

Justice Shalini Phansalkar Joshi, who presides over the special court set up for cases related to the 1992 securities scam, said in her judgement last week that there was no hesitation in holding that that the prosecution had failed to prove the case beyond reasonable doubt.

Ashwin Mehta was a constituted attorney of Harshad Mehta and also one of the stock brokers in his brother’s firms.

Apart from Ashwin Mehta, those acquitted are Rama Sitharaman, officer in-charge of securities division of the SBI, and seven other officials — Bhushan Raut, C Ravi Kumar, S Suresh Babu, P Muralidharan, Ashok Agarwal, Janardhan Bandhopadhyay and Shyam Sundar Gupta.

According to the prosecution, the bank’s officials in collusion with the Mehta brothers entered into a conspiracy to cheat SBI Caps, the investment banking branch of the country’s largest lender, to the tune of Rs. 105 crore in the sale and purchase transactions of securities from 1991 to 1992.

SBI Caps routed all 24 transactions via Harshad Mehta and allegedly suffered a loss, according to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the prosecuting agency in the case.

The case against prime accused Harshad Mehta was ‘abated’ after he died in 2001.

The CBI claimed the fund diversion could not have taken place without the knowledge of the accused bank officers.

The court, however, accepted the defence arguments that the funds were diverted from the main branch of the bank and hence, the case against the accused officers, who were in the securities division, could not be accepted.

“In light of the various gaps and missing links left open by the prosecution, may be on account of death of Harshad Mehta and the discharge of many accused in the case from time to time, the fact remains that the charge of conspiracy could not be proved,” the court said.


The court also noted that there was a major lacuna in the sanction given to prosecute the officials under the Prevention of Corruption Act.