On the shutdown price of blockchain mining machines

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Abstract

The security of PoW-based blockchains relies on the total amount of mining power and the ratio of mining power possessed by the honest miners. Loosely speaking, a system with higher mining power makes an attack more difficult. To incentivise miners joining the network and contributing their mining power, reward mechanisms are designed to provide economic profit to miners in exchange for their mining power. We identify shutdown price of mining machines as an overlooked factor that has an impact on the total mining power in the network, so the level of system security of PoW-based blockchains. We formalise the concept of shutdown price, which represents the break-even point of operating a mining machine. Once the shutdown price of a type of machines is reached, mining coins with them can be more expensive than buying coins directly in the cryptocurrency market. Therefore a rational operator would switch off these machines. This reduces the mining power in the network. However, due to the high market volatility and the coin price may recover from the break-even point quickly, the miners may delay shut down or may choose a partial shutdown strategy to hedge risk. We define and analyse such shutdown tolerance by applying real option theory. We also provide a discussion on the key factors determining shutdown price and their impact on the blockchain security.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings - 2021 IEEE International Conference on Blockchain, Blockchain 2021
EditorsYang Xiang, Ziyuan Wang, Honggang Wang, Valtteri Niemi
Place of PublicationPiscataway NJ USA
PublisherIEEE, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
Pages180-187
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)9781665417600
ISBN (Print)9781665417617
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021
EventIEEE International Conference on Blockchain 2021 - Online, Melbourne, Australia
Duration: 6 Dec 20218 Dec 2021
Conference number: 4th
http://nsclab.org/blockchain2021/
https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/xpl/conhome/9680465/proceeding (Proceedings)

Conference

ConferenceIEEE International Conference on Blockchain 2021
Abbreviated title Blockchain 2021
Country/TerritoryAustralia
CityMelbourne
Period6/12/218/12/21
Internet address

Keywords

  • 51% Attack
  • Proof-of-Work
  • Real Option
  • Shutdown Price

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