For much of the year, the bitcoin mining industry appeared to be impervious to the crypto market downturn, as the flagship cryptocurrency’s hash rate continued to climb even as the BTC price halved — and then halved again. In recent weeks, however, cracks have begun to form in this sector as well.
Earlier this month, Bitcoin network difficulty, which adjusts dynamically every 2,016 blocks (a roughly two-week interval) in response to hash rate fluctuations, fell by 15.1 percent — its second-largest drop in history and the greatest since Oct. 2011. Just one period earlier, BTC difficulty declined by 7.4 percent, which was the most significant drop in nearly six years.
While this does not, as some bears have suggested, mean that bitcoin has begun a death march, it does demonstrate the extent to which the downturn has begun to put the squeeze on miners with higher costs and thinner profit margins, many of whom had anticipated a crypto market that would look very different heading into 2019.