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| October 16, 2018

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Scooter startups Lime and Bird are said to seek more funding — at higher valuations

October 15, 2018 |

Scooter companies Lime and Bird Rides Inc. are less than 2 years old. They’ve both raised hundreds of millions of dollars. But that isn’t stopping them from looking for new financing with even loftier valuations.

Lime, officially Neutron Holdings Inc., has been meeting with investors about a new…


L.A. Times – Business

Church Mining Cryptocurrency Told to Pay Higher Electricity Rates

October 14, 2018 |

Church Mining Cryptocurrency Told to Pay Higher Electricity Rates

The outcome of a court case in Russia may affect the popular practice of cryptocurrency mining in basements and garages. According to a recent ruling, a church in Irkutsk must pay higher electricity rates for installing and running mining hardware on its premises. ‘Grace’, the religious organization of the local evangelical community, has been taking advantage of lower prices offered to private consumers to mint digital coins. However, the region’s utility company says it should pay more because of the excessive energy consumption.   

Also read: Despite Setbacks Crypto Wages Still an Option for Russians, Poll Finds

Church Mines Cryptos, Wants Cheaper Electricity

Home crypto mining, still popular in parts of Eastern Europe where private consumers and some organizations enjoy preferential, subsidized electricity rates, may take a hit following a court ruling in Russia, a country with vast energy resources which often remain unutilized. A protestant church in Irkutsk Oblast, a region in the Siberian Federal District, has been accused of mining cryptocurrency and asked to pay its electricity bills at higher rates, those applicable to corporate entities and industrial enterprises, because of what has been deemed an excessive power consumption.

Church Mining Cryptocurrency Told to Pay Higher Electricity RatesThe ‘Grace’ evangelical community claims it was not using the servers found on its premises for crypto mining. The religious organization has already paid the higher bills for the period between May and August 2017 but has since turned to court to request a refund for the surcharge of 1.1 million rubles ($ 16,600). The Irkutsk Regional Arbitration Court has recently turned down its claim against the local utility company, Irkutskenergo, and ruled that ‘Grace’ owed the money after all.

The church has most probably used the discovered hardware to mine cryptocurrency. Irkutskenergo says its electricity consumption suddenly spiked in May, last year and reached 2 million kWh in the months through August, RT reported. The church trustees said they needed the energy for heating and to power printing equipment used to copy religious materials. However, the judges noted that the period in question was in the summer and quoted data reflecting the consumption of much larger temples and printing houses in the region for comparison.

Church Mining Cryptocurrency Told to Pay Higher Electricity RatesWhen Irkutskenergo inspectors visited ‘Grace’ they found a server room on the second floor of the building occupied by the evangelical community and determined that it was designed for cryptocurrency mining. They claimed the excessive consumption was endangering the power supply for the whole neighborhood. The Irkutsk Arbitration Court agreed with their conclusion and ruled that the charged amount for the electricity was reasonable. It stated that “the claimant carried out activities related to ‘bitcoin mining’, which obviously did not pertain to religious activities.”

Illegal Mining Farm Found in Avtovaz Plant

The mining church, just like many digital asset enthusiasts, has been benefiting from subsidized electricity rates. In Russia and other countries in the region, energy is cheaper for private individuals and other categories of consumers like NGOs, including religious organizations. According to Irkutskenergo’s website, these customers pay 1.22 rubles per kWh during daytime and 0.70 rubles at nights ($ 0.018 and $ 0.010).

The court ruling does seem a bit arbitrary as even if the church consumed more than usual, it should still be entitled to a preferential rate. The case could potentially have negative repercussions for home crypto mining in Russia, in general. Many ordinary Russians are taking advantage of the lower electricity prices for their households to make a digital buck or two with GPU rigs installed in their houses, basements, and garages. Raising the rates would actually stimulate illegal mining.

Church Mining Cryptocurrency Told to Pay Higher Electricity RatesThere have been a number of cases of much larger mining facilities powered by stolen electricity. An illegal bitcoin mining farm was discovered this spring in an abandoned factory in Orenburg. More recently, mining equipment was found in the control room of one of the assembly workshops of Avtovaz, the largest Russian car manufacturer. An employee had plugged the specialized hardware into the plant’s grid. The hardware was in operation since last November burning at least 600,000 rubles ($ 9,085) worth of electrical power to mint coins at an estimated value of 1.2 million rubles ($ 18,170). More cases like these are to be expected if Russian authorities clamp down on home mining.

Do you think amateur crypto miners should pay higher electricity rates? Share your thoughts on the subject in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.


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Stocks open sharply higher, rebounding after two-day rout

October 12, 2018 |

Stocks were up Friday after two days of sharp losses. Major U.S. stock indexes were up more than 1% in early trading, but they’re still on track for their biggest one-week loss since late March.

Technology and internet companies were some of the hardest hit over the last two days and they led the…


L.A. Times – Business

Banks Brace for Downside of Higher Rates

October 8, 2018 |

Banks have enjoyed a profit boost from rising interest rates over the past couple of years. But now those higher rates could turn into a drag.
WSJ.com: What’s News Asia

Solid Economic Reports Send US Stocks Higher

October 3, 2018 |

Stocks are closing slightly higher following some solid reports on hiring and the services sector, the AP reports. Bond prices plunged Wednesday, sending the yield on the 10-year Treasury note to its highest level in more than seven years. Banks, small company-stocks and big technology names posted outsized gains. Bank…
Newser

Nike’s Sales Rise 10% on Higher Spending on Sneakers and Apparel

September 25, 2018 |

Nike posted a 10% increase in sales during the summer quarter, riding strong consumer spending in the U.S. and healthy demand outside its home market for the brand’s sneakers and athletic apparel.
WSJ.com: US Business

Energy companies drive stock market higher in early trading

September 25, 2018 |

Stocks are opening slightly higher as energy companies rise with oil prices. Facebook was down on the news that the founders of the social media company’s Instagram app are leaving.

Benchmark U.S. crude rose 0.7% to $ 732.59 a barrel, its highest in about three months. Chevron gained 1%.

Facebook…


L.A. Times – Business

American and Delta match the higher bag fees charged by United and JetBlue

September 24, 2018 |

With travel demand growing and the price of jet fuel rising, Delta and American Airlines have raised checked bag fees, matching the higher prices adopted in the last few weeks by JetBlue and United.

American Airlines, the world’s biggest airline, became the latest carrier Thursday to announce that…


L.A. Times – Business

Cord-Cutters Beware: Streaming TV Prices Are Marching Higher

September 15, 2018 |

Streaming services like DirecTV Now and Sling TV have added millions of customers by promising big savings over traditional cable and satellite-TV subscriptions. But prices are going up.
WSJ.com: US Business

Turkey Raises Rates to Tackle Crisis, Sending Lira Higher

September 13, 2018 |

Turkey’s central bank sharply raised rates—defying President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s demand to cut them—in an attempt to counter the country’s economic problems and reverse growing investor aversion to emerging-market economies.
WSJ.com: What’s News Europe