Bitcoin miners: Exploring a covert community in the Bitcoin ecosystem

By October 31, 2020Bitcoin Business
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Abstract

In the Bitcoin ecosystem, bitcoin miners play an indispensable role in maintaining the Bitcoin’s blockchain. As a consequence, they are also rewarded with newly-created bitcoins and transaction fees. However, there are very limited studies to fully understand the characteristics and behaviors of bitcoin miners. In this paper, we conduct a comprehensive measurement study to shed insights into the community of bitcoin miners. By analyzing over ten-year bitcoin transaction logs, we observe that the scale of bitcoin miners shrinks significantly in recent years, and a small fraction of miners received most of newly generated bitcoins. In the early stage of the Bitcoin ecosystem, the mining reward was evenly distributed among miners, but later became more concentrated to a few highly active miners. For most of miners, their active duration is less than one year, and the interval between consecutive mining actions is more than 100 days. By further examining the transaction flows, we find that a significant portion of bitcoins have been hoarded for over 5 years, and the hoarding phenomenon becomes intense in recent years. We also discuss the implications of our findings, and believe our measurements enable us to have a better understanding of the whole Bitcoin ecosystem.

Notes

  1. As the definition of 1-active miner is the same as that of active miner, we use these two terms interchangeably in this paper.

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Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the National Key R&D Program of China (2018YFC0830502), the National Natural Science Foundation of China under Grant U1911201, 61802452, 62072486, Guangdong Special Support Program under Grant 2017TX04X148, the project “PCL Future Greater-Bay Area Network Facilities for Large-scale Experiments and Applications” (LZC0019), Natural Science Foundation of Guangdong Province of China (2018A0303130133).

Author information

Affiliations

  1. School of Data and Computer Science, Sun Yat-sen University, Mega Education Center, Guangzhou, 510006, People’s Republic of China

    Jieyu Xu, Wen Bai, Miao Hu, Haibo Tian & Di Wu

  2. Jieyu Xu, Wen Bai, Miao Hu, Haibo Tian & Di Wu

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Di Wu.

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Cite this article

Xu, J., Bai, W., Hu, M. et al. Bitcoin miners: Exploring a covert community in the Bitcoin ecosystem. Peer-to-Peer Netw. Appl. (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12083-020-01021-1

Keywords

In the Bitcoin ecosystem, bitcoin miners play an indispensable role in maintaining the Bitcoin’s blockchain. As a consequence, they are also rewarded with newly-created bitcoins and transaction fees. […]

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