Is Decentralization Sustainable in the Bitcoin System?
45 Pages Posted: 11 Nov 2019 Last revised: 23 Dec 2020
Date Written: October 30, 2019
The Bitcoin system is a decentralized monetary system in that any participant can potentially verify and record transactions onto a public ledger. Using a simple model, we show that the number of miners could be negatively (positively) related to the expected rewards, if miners with low-operating costs face less (more) severe financing constraints. We characterize the possibility of miners with low-operating (high-operating) costs facing less (more) severe financing constraints as large-size (small-size) miners. The empirical evidence supports the model’s prediction of large-size and small-size miner characterization. The negative association between the number of miners and expected rewards is attributable to the bitcoin’s exchange rate. Collectively, our evidence suggests that even though the Bitcoin system is designed as an egalitarian system, it is likely to evolve into a near-centralized system because of economic forces.
Keywords: Bitcoin, Blockchain, Cryptocurrency, Mining, Proof-of-work, Miners
JEL Classification: D43, G2, L13, G10
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation