Bitmain is expanding to Switzerland – it has registered a new office in the cryptocurrency hotspot of Zug, according to Reuters.
Bitmain Technologies is a privately-owned semi-conductor company from Beijing. It designs and manufactures the chips used in ASIC machines. ASIC stands for application-specific integrated circuit, and it is the leading tool used in Bitcoin mining. The company is the dominant force in the Bitcoin mining world, accounting for 42.4% of the worldwide hashrate through its mining pools, according to blockchain.info.
Zug is a small town in central Switzerland with a population of under 30,000. It is the home of the Crypto Valley Association, a non-profit body created to further the development of blockchain technology. Founded in January 2017 by some big names in the financial world, it is already known as something of a place to be for cryptocurrency-related entities, much like Silicon Valley once was for hi-tech.
Bitmain Switzerland is registered to Bitmain co-founder Jihan Wu, a Chinese national called Ti Liu, and Swiss national Christian Johannes Meisser. “Bitmain Switzerland will play a central role during our global expansion,” said a company spokesman to Swizz newspaper Handelszeitung.
Internationally, Bitmain already has offices in Amsterdam and Tel Aviv. In the latter, it launched a mining pool called ConnectBTC, which currently accounts for 0.3% of the world hashrate.
It has been focusing its attention on artificial intelligence of late, developing integrated circuits that go beyond mining and enter the internet of things. This means exploring functions like image and speech recognition, autonomous vehicle technology, enhanced security camera surveillance and robotics. To this end, Bitmain secured 50 million USD in funding from venture capital firms Sequoia Capital and IDG Capital.
Bitmain’s international moves may be more than the standard global expansion of a highly successful company. As is well known, the Chinese government has already banned certain aspects of the cryptocurrency industry, and rumours of a ban on Bitcoin mining keep popping up. Thus far the rumours have not materialised beyond a commitment to check that mining pools are not receiving preferential treatment, but it is not inconceivable that the industry could be forced to move abroad.
Since writing this, it turns out that the Chinese government is in fact making moves to end cryptocurrency mining in the country.