Iran crypto miners cry foul over electricity backlash – Al Jazeera English

Iran crypto miners cry foul over electricity backlash – Al Jazeera English

Tehran, Iran – An Iranian newspaper this week shamed government authorities for allowing cryptocurrency farms – especially those belonging to the Chinese – to mine bitcoin in Iran.

“Burning away public trust is even more dangerous than burning the people’s money in Chinese cryptocurrency farms,” read the Jomhouri-e Eslami editorial titled “Red farms!”

The accusations are not confined to one newspaper. For two weeks, Iranian social media, state-affiliated media, and dozens of local and national officials have weighed in on the subject of crypto farms, their electricity consumption and the alleged role mining plays in harming the nation’s air quality.

But members of the crypto community are crying foul, arguing that they are being scapegoated for Iran’s mounting woes as it battles the worst COVID-19 crisis in the Middle East and the crushing financial blow of the pandemic and United States economic sanctions.

Power outages and pollution

Crypto miners run powerful “farms” of computer gear that compete within a global, decentralised computer network to verify transactions made with cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin.

In exchange for verifying “blocks” of transactions, miners are rewarded with new coins.

The profits can be handsome. Famously volatile, bitcoin surged to an all-time high value just shy of $42,000 on January 8 but has since fallen back to around $31,000.

But crypto mining requires a lot of electricity, which is subsidised in Iran, fuelling accusations that crypto miners are profiting at the expense of the state.

The latest backlash against crypto mining comes as Iran’s sprawling capital, Tehran,