LONDON: The United States has overtaken China as the biggest miner of bitcoin following Beijing's crackdown on the method used to unearth the world's major cryptocurrency, a study showed yesterday. Figures released by the University of Cambridge showed that activity in the US more than doubled in the four months to the end of August, increasing the market share held by the world's biggest economy to 35.4 percent. Kazakhstan, in second place, also more than doubled its activity to 18.1 percent, followed by Russia with 11 percent, said Michel Rauchs at the university's centre for alternative finance.

China banned the mining of bitcoin in June, as authorities have said for a long time that there were strong links between the cryptocurrency and money laundering. Mining for bitcoin requires powerful computers to solve complex puzzles, resulting in the consumption of huge amounts of electricity.

According to the Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index, mining of the cryptocurrency uses an amount of electricity equivalent to 0.45 percent of global output, or the same amount produced by the Philippines. Rauchs said that with China's ban, global mining of bitcoin immediately slumped by more than one third, but has since rebounded.

"That initial 38 percent drop... in June was partially offset by a 20 percent bounceback over July and August, suggesting that some Chinese mining equipment has been successfully redeployed overseas," the expert said. "Further, as of early October, the trajectory is indicating that all, or nearly all, of that June downturn would be fully recovered soon," Rauchs added. - AFP