Fort Worth gets new bitcoin machine, stays mum on crypto market woes

S9 bitcoin mining machine

Fort Worth city officials made no mention of this week’s cryptocurrency market collapse as the city council voted Tuesday to swap three bitcoin mining machines for a machine that’s reportedly more energy efficient.

Fort Worth made history and national news in April by becoming the  first city in America to mine its own bitcoin. The city set up the minding operation using three S9 bitcoin mining machines donated by the Texas Blockchain Council (TBC).

Officials say the new machine, named the Bitmain Antminer S19, will not only use less energy, but also mine more bitcoin. A report to the council stated the new machine can produce approximately three times the amount of bitcoin with 900 watts less than the three other machines, and requires less service.

Carlo Capua, deputy chief of staff for the mayor and council, said that amounts to 18% less energy consumption. He said the new machine will mine 147% more bitcoin than the three older machines combined.

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“As I understand, it’s just technologically a better machine. It processes faster,” said District 7 City Councilman Leonard Firestone, who is chairman of the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Committee.

The new machine is valued at around $9,000, more than quadruple the value of the $2,100 reported value of the three machines being returned. The city is paying nothing for the machines and if Fort Worth decides to stop mining bitcoin they will be returned to the Texas Blockchain Council.

Capua said the swap doesn’t change the original agreement between the city and the TBC. The pilot program will be evaluated after six months.

And how is the mining operation going so far?

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“The city continues to learn about the implications and opportunities of digital assets hands-on, and is pleased to have found a more energy-efficient way of conducting this pilot program,” Capua said.

Firestone called the national attention the city has garnered with the mining program a “home run.”

“It communicates to people that we’re a very progressive city with a young mayor, a young council,” he said. “We’re embracing technology and recruiting technology.”

Not everyone agrees. One speaker at Tuesday’s city council meeting referred to bitcoin in particular and cryptocurrency in general as a “Ponzi scheme.”

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The speaker might have been reacting to Mondays news about bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies collapsing in price after a major cryptocurrency lender effectively failed and halted all withdrawals from its platform, citing “extreme market conditions.”

It was the latest high profile collapse of a pillar of the cryptocurrency industry. The meltdowns have erased tens of billions of dollars of investors’ assets and spurred urgent calls to regulate the freewheeling industry, according to a report by the Associated Press.

Cryptocurrency prices continued to sink Wednesday with bitcoin dropping as low as $20,087.90, nearly 71% below its record of $68,990.90 set late last year. It was down 5.6% at $21,367 in afternoon trading, according to CoinDesk.