“We must communicate that the miners are helping the development of renewable energies. Any medium is good to report this, ”said Jason Les, CEO of Riot Blockchain.
In the framework of the second day of the Bitcoin Conference 2021 that takes place in Miami, Frank Holmes, Jason Les, and Fred Thiel, executives of Hive Blockchain, Riot Blockchain, and Marathon Holdings, respectively, participated in a discussion panel on mining called « Mining as a Public Company ”.
With the moderation of businessman Kevin O’Leary, the talk focused on the supposed environmental impact of the activity and other issues related to the regulation of this sector. The event was broadcast live to the whole world by the social network LinkedIn (on O’Leary’s profile) due to the “great institutional interest” in the responses of the participants. The recording of the event is still available on the platform.
In general terms, the three exhibitors agreed that the industry should give more details about the development of renewable energies that it proclaims. “We must communicate that the miners are helping the development of renewable energies. Any medium is good to report this, ”said Jason Les, CEO of Riot Blockchain.
In this sense, he added: “The miners buy energy from the last resort, which does not reach domestic users. Mining is indifferent to the location and the time of day in which it operates. New York lawmakers don’t see it, but luckily Texas lawmakers have. In this case, he was referring to the recent controversies surrounding the activity in New York, which were reported by CriptoNoticias at the beginning of May.
For his part, Frank Holmes, CEO and CIO of US Funds and interim CEO of Hive Blockchain, said: “I see a big change in the industry when accounting for transparency.” Likewise, he stated that he considers that it is necessary to convince investors that the environmental impacts of mining are not really such.
“As a mutual fund manager, we have an ESG strategy (Environment, Social and Governance Strategy) and we used green energy from the beginning,” added Holmes.
Fred Thiel, CEO of Marathon Digital Holdings, aligned himself with these ideas: “We want to increase the transparency and information that we provide to educate legislators and the public.”
Ecological coins and non-ecological coins
When O’Leary raised a possible differentiation between green (ecologically sustainable) coins and non-green coins, Holmes was the first to speak: “We mine UNTAINTED coins and we HODL them, we pay the electricity bills and then we continue to HODL. If there was a system of two types of currencies, ours would be more valuable, because it is UNTAINTED currencies, “he said.
This last comment sparked a “half-joking, half-serious” boo from the public, to which Holmes responded with a smile and a clarification: “Our bitcoins are mined with green energy and have not been anywhere else, they are clean, and that’s why they’re special, that’s what I mean.
Les, meanwhile, responded to this argument by saying “I have heard many people say ‘my coins are special’, but then that is not reflected in the market. Would anyone pay 20% more for them? “
“I think one of the main properties of bitcoin is that it is functional. A bitcoin will always be a bitcoin, no matter where it comes from, ”added Les, who also received an ovation from the spectators present for including nuclear energy as green energy, in addition to the traditional ones (solar, hydro, wind).
At that time, Thiel took the floor to give his opinion: “I think financial institutions could create a fund made up only of bitcoins that are sustainably mined for institutions to invest in that fund.”
However, he made it clear that there would be no volume for large investments: “there would be no way to get them from new mined currencies.” In other words, Thiel believes that if these investors entered these types of assets, they would have to do so in the broadest sense, including all types of currencies, although he also agreed with what Les said: “I don’t think institutions pay more for a kind of green coin, even if they consider it more valuable.
ETF and the potential growth of the bitcoin market
In addition to the environmental issue, there was also talk about the possibility of regulating bitcoin ETFs (exchange-traded funds). In this regard, Jason Les replied: “We have waited for an ETF for four years. I think it’s good for the industry for regulators to look at it, but there is also a silver lining to the delay, and that is that people who want to invest in bitcoin need to learn about it and they don’t have an ETF to facilitate it. That works in our favor.
Meanwhile, Frank Holmes said that the main arguments of regulators, such as the Securities and Exchange Commission of the United States, have to do with anti-money laundering policies.
Kevin O’Leary, very active in cross-examining his interlocutors throughout the talk, also provided his opinion on the matter, saying that “there is a problem and an opportunity”. Regarding the first, he argued that “sustainability and the idea that bitcoin is bad for the environment is a topic that is talked about around the world and leads governments to make uninformed decisions to regulate.”
However, the Canadian businessman believes that if the institutions that raise these doubts about the environmental footprint of cryptocurrencies were to invest in the market, this would represent “exponential growth from where it is today.”
“Bitcoin is good for the environment, as it is forcing these miners (pointing to the speakers) to create the most efficient way to generate energy to mine. No other industry does that. But we fail as an industry. We don’t get that message out the right way, ”O’Leary concluded.