Market Structure in Bitcoin Mining

22 Pages Posted: 23 Jan 2018 Last revised: 4 Sep 2018

See all articles by June Ma

June Ma

Australian National University (ANU)

Joshua S. Gans

University of Toronto - Rotman School of Management; NBER

Rabee Tourky

University of Queensland - School of Economics

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: September 3, 2018

Abstract

We analyze the Bitcoin protocol for electronic peer-to-peer payments and the operations that support the "blockchain" that underpins it. It is shown that the protocol maps formally into a dynamic game that is an extension of standard models of R&D racing. The model provides a technical foundation for any economic analysis of 'proof-of-work' protocols. Using the model, we demonstrate that free entry is solely responsible for determining resource usage by the system for a given reward to mining. The endogenous level of computational difficulty built into the Bitcoin protocol does not mitigate this usage and serves only to determine the time taken to process transactions. Regulating market structure will mitigate resource use highlighting the importance of identifying the benefits of competition for the operation of the blockchain.

Keywords: bitcoin, blockchain, racing, mining, competition, free entry

JEL Classification: L11, E42

Suggested Citation

Ma, June and Gans, Joshua S. and Tourky, Rabee, Market Structure in Bitcoin Mining (September 3, 2018). Rotman School of Management Working Paper No. 3103104. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3103104 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3103104

June Ma

Australian National University (ANU) ( email )

Research School of Economics
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 0200
Australia

Joshua S. Gans (Contact Author)

University of Toronto - Rotman School of Management ( email )

Canada

HOME PAGE: http://www.joshuagans.com

NBER ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Rabee Tourky

University of Queensland - School of Economics ( email )

Brisbane, QLD 4072
Australia

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