Thursday, December 9

Square signals Toronto-based executive will lead push into bitcoin mining


Bitcoin mining has become increasingly sophisticated over the years, making it more difficult for individuals to take part

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Square Inc. chief executive Jack Dorsey says the financial services company is considering an entry into the bitcoin mining space — and it appears that one of Square’s Toronto-based executives will be leading the project.

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Bitcoin mining is a process in which high-powered computer rigs solve complex mathematical problems, leading to the creation of new bitcoin and supporting the existing network.

Dorsey hopes to decentralize the process with a new custom-silicon, open-source model that individuals and businesses could use, according to a thread he posted on the social media site Twitter last week. (Dorsey is also the chief executive of Twitter Inc. ).

Another Square executive, hardware lead Jesse Dorogusker, then announced that the creator of Square’s Toronto silicon team, Afshin Rezayee, will lead the project, which is heavily reliant on creating the silicon chips needed to run the rigs.

Rezayee held a number of senior executive and research roles in technology companies before arriving at Square in 2015 when the company acquired his own tech firm, Kili Technology Corporation. Kili specialized in silicon, electronics and software for payment processing.

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The new team will also have the help of Apple Inc. veteran Thomas Templeton who had been tasked with building a bitcoin wallet for Square and will be accepting applications for new positions.

Dorogusker’s team will run a technical investigation to determine what is needed to take on the project.

“We will incubate the bitcoin mining system project inside Square’s hardware team, starting with architecture, design, and prototyping of more efficient silicon, hashing algorithms, and power architectures,” Dorogusker said in a tweet.

Canada and the US have been seeing a larger share of global bitcoin mining operations following China’s crackdown on cryptocurrencies, which triggered an exodus beginning in June. The US has as a result become the largest contributor to the global bitcoin hash rate (the network’s overall processing power), with Canada taking fourth place, according to the Cambridge Center for Alternative Finance.

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Bitcoin mining has become increasingly sophisticated over the years, making it more difficult for individuals to take part.

“Mining isn’t accessible to everyone,” Dorsey wrote on Twitter. “Bitcoin mining should be as easy as plugging a rig into a power source. There isn’t enough incentive today for individuals to overcome the complexity of running a miner for themselves .”

Dorsey also said the process should be more distributed and efficient.

“Mining needs to be more distributed,” Dorsey said. “The more decentralized this is, the more resilient the Bitcoin network becomes.”

The Square team will post project updates as they unfold.

Bitcoin crossed the US$62,000 threshold over the weekend after the US Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) said it would not block the approval of exchange-traded funds (ETFs) based on crypto futures.

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financialpost.com