Forward Thinking

Forward Thinking

Issue: February 2022
Source: Bolt Mining. www.boltmining.io.
Disclosures: Bhatia reports being long cryptocurrency and currently involved in bitcoin mining with Compass Mining and Bolt Mining.
February 17, 2022
3 min read
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Bitcoin mining as an ancillary income stream: A primer for orthopedists of all ages

Issue: February 2022
Source: Bolt Mining. www.boltmining.io.
Disclosures: Bhatia reports being long cryptocurrency and currently involved in bitcoin mining with Compass Mining and Bolt Mining.
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Many millennial orthopedists have known about bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies for years.

In our February 2021 column, David B. Mandell, JD, MBA, and I commented on the tremendous price rise for bitcoin “HODlers” and how no asset class in history has demonstrated such a remarkable level of price appreciation. Last year, bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies became more mainstream due to improved IRS oversight, the formation of the first bitcoin futures exchange-traded fund and generalized acceptance as an investment class and inflationary hedge by institutional investors.

Five variables to make bitcoin mining profitable
Source: Sanjeev Bhatia, MD

For those who believe in “HODling” bitcoin (BTC), mining BTC, when set up right, can be a powerful passive income stream that is scalable similar to real estate, imaging and other investments orthopedic practices typically pursue. In this month’s column, we discuss the basics of bitcoin mining and how it can be utilized as an ancillary income stream for orthopedists.

What is bitcoin mining?

Sanjeev Bhatia, MD
Sanjeev Bhatia
David B. Mandell, JD, MBA
David B. Mandell

Bitcoin mining is not only the process by which new bitcoins are entered into circulation, but the method by which new transactions are verified or “audited” by the bitcoin network of computers. These “blocks” of verified transactions are then added to the blockchain ledger, a critical step for maintaining and growing bitcoin’s network. At a more granular level, mining is performed by applying sophisticated computer processing toward arriving at a 64-digit hexadecimal number that is less than or equal to a target hash. A hash is a mathematical function that converts an input of arbitrary length to an encrypted output of fixed length. The first computer to arrive at the solution is awarded BTC.

What is needed to mine bitcoin

Because processing speed, or hash rate, is of the essence in bitcoin mining, you will either need a graphic processing unit or application-specific integrated circuit to set up a mining operation. Hash rate is measured in giga hashes per second or tera hashes per second. Many companies like Compass Mining (compassmining.io) or Bolt Mining (boltmining.io) allow you to purchase the latest cryptocurrency mining machines while also being able to “host” at verified facilities with cheap electricity offerings. In addition, you will need to join a mining pool, which is a group of cooperating miners who agree to share block rewards and set up a bitcoin wallet that digital rewards can be sent to from your mining rig.

Making bitcoin mining profitable

Like any business, the ability for a bitcoin mining operation to be profitable depends on a variety of individual and market factors. Among these, the most important variables to consider include the hash rate of mining machines, electricity rate (or hosting rate per kilowatt hour), the cost of the mining rig(s), BTC exchange rate to U.S. dollars and the mining pool fee, which is typically 1% to 3% of BTC income. Websites, like those of Coin Warz and WhatToMine, are options to help you calculate the potential profitability of your machine, based on the inputs selected. More advanced inputs to consider include the difficulty factor of mining bitcoin, which decreases every 4 years due to halving events. Although halving events reduce the amount of BTC rewarded to miners, these also can act as significant drivers of BTC price appreciation.

Mining as an ancillary income stream

For orthopedic surgeons inclined toward cryptocurrency, bitcoin mining may be a scalable ancillary income stream similar to other investment ventures in which they or their practices are involved.

“Bitcoin mining offers many of the same advantages of a rental property — a continuous passive stream of income, ability to depreciate the capital expense and potential appreciation of the underlying asset,” said Mark A. Yaffe, MD, an upper extremity surgeon at Barrington Orthopedic Specialists, who is involved in bitcoin mining. “One advantage, however, is bitcoin mining offers improved liquidity and scalability to suit risk tolerance and capital.”

Some, like Eric Wilson, CEO of Bolt Mining, said bitcoin mining will play an even bigger role for health care providers in the future. “Medical practices, particularly hospitals and surgery centers, often benefit from robust power infrastructure and fixed low-cost power. This creates an opportunity for practices to leverage excess low-cost power for mining or to sell excess power and infrastructure to external mining operations. This not only represents ancillary revenue, but also contributes to the security of power grids by preventing wasted power,” he said.

Conclusion

Bitcoin, the flagship cryptocurrency, has revolutionized the way money is conceptualized and has demonstrated itself to be one of the most powerful investment vehicles. Mining profitability depends on a variety of factors. It can be estimated based on the mining rig’s hash rate, electricity consumption, hosting fees and BTC to U.S. dollar exchange rates. Orthopedic surgeons who are long BTC and have appropriate risk tolerance could pursue bitcoin mining as a means to further their cryptocurrency positions and gain firsthand involvement with a growing and scalable income strategy.