The University College London’s blockchain research center has found that bitcoin’s current proof-of-work (PoW) mining costs are necessary to maintain the network’s trustless and decentralized nature.
In a recent research note, Tomaso Aste, a professor of complexity sciences and director of the UCL’s Centre for Blockchain Technologies, offers a rough measure for calculating the “equilibrium fair cost” of bitcoin’s PoW system, suggesting that this fair cost per block is roughly $10,000 – less than the current amount earned by discovering a block today.
The findings are notable given the longstanding debate over bitcoin’s use of mining for transaction verification, one that has often found institutions and academics deeming the process either excessively wasteful or an unnecessary component of the system’s architecture.
Still, in the note, Aste calls the amount of money spent per block justified when observed through the lens of maintaining a distributed transaction network.
“I conclude that the current cost, although large, is of a justified order of magnitude for an anonymous systems[sic] operating between untrustful parties.”
At current bitcoin prices, a block reward of 25 BTC nets miners or the distributed members of mining pools roughly $15,600. An upcoming block reward halving, scheduled for this