What is the estimated price of Bitcoin which will push miners to stop mining if its price dropped to uneconomical level?

closed as too broad by Pieter Wuille, Andrew Chow Dec 2 '18 at 19:27

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  • 1
    That question is very difficulty to answer because there are far too many variables to consider. The network is very broad and the price of electricity, the availability of equipment and the price of equipment vary greatly. You also have to consider that if someone has free electricity and bitcoin is worth anything at all as a medium of exchange, they really have no reason not to mine (assuming they have hardware already and don't mind the noise). – KappaDev Nov 30 '18 at 0:00

When a bitcoin was worth less than $10, miners were mining.

When a bitcoin was worth more than $15,000, miners were mining.

The key point is that there is no exact price that would make mining unprofitable. Bitcoin mining is a self-balancing system made up of individuals with different costs, and thus mining is sustainable at any price level.

If the price drops, then the miners who pay the most to mine a coin will become unprofitable, and they may stop mining. But this would only make it easier to mine coins for all the remaining miners, and so the network would find a new balance. A huge drop in price may cause many miners to shut off their rigs, but the disruption to block interval would only be temporary, as the network difficulty would adjust and soon blocks would continue to be found every ~10 mins on average.

In a very extreme case where an extremely significant portion of hashpower dropped off, then the block interval may become extremely long. But a situation like that is unprecedented, and in fact many miners may persevere and mine at a short-term loss, in order to maintain their long-term investment strategy, for ideological reasons, etc.

So TL;DR: the average cost of mining $1 worth of bitcoin will trend towards $1, so a lower BTC price just means that miners as a whole will spend less resources mining bitcoins.

EDIT: To be clear, a price of $0/BTC would in fact be unprofitable to mine, for hopefully obvious reasons. But anything above that will be sustainable.

  • If no tx fees and subsidy schedule -> 0, mining will stop regardless of price. That is also why store of value is not a “use-case”, since no transaction fees to incentivize miners. – James C. Nov 30 '18 at 13:23
  • @JamesC I agree about the mining reward needing to be greater than zero, but with billions of potential users, I don’t see how ‘store of value’ can thus be disregarded. Even if only some small percentage made transactions, most could just hold and miners would still get their dues. – chytrik Nov 30 '18 at 13:33
  • I am just arguing that store of value is an act if speculation rather than a use case. Store-of-value as a term often used as if an intrinsic property of the asset used, which is not the case. It speculates that the future price is equal or higher. Since it cannot stand alone, I argue that it shouldn’t be considered a use-case, as transacting with Bitcoin clearly is (censorship, tax free) via its decentralized network of validating nodes. Open to arguments against this position, but currently don’t see any. – James C. Nov 30 '18 at 13:39
  • @JamesC. generally, the comments of a SE post aren’t the appropriate spot to debate topics unrelated to the OP, but it could make for some good discussion in this site’s ‘mempool’ chatroom. – chytrik Nov 30 '18 at 13:48
  • @chytrik I highly appreciate your excellent answer, But I think there are many other important factors that must be taken into account. the first is the psychological factor. Bitcoin mining when its price was $10 at the beginning is different (psychologically) from its mining at the same price now. Add to that what we all knowing about the mining reward that is reduced by half every year..we can also add another factor that is the Bitcoin network traffic which i can Suppose that it will be very weak in the big drop situation which means less tx fees ..can we neglect these important factors? – H Akhali Nov 30 '18 at 22:42

As long as the price is >0, and subsidy and tx fees>0, mining activity will persist.

Change in price will affect total hashrate as it is a zerosumgame and the total pie just shrunk in value. The global hashrate will simply contract until global reward = mining input (break even).

If subsidy(inflation) reaches zero and TX demand is also 0, then mining will stop irrespective of Bitcoin price, since the reward is null.

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