The dangerous respiratory virus that has claimed more than 600 victims in the central Chinese province of Hubei may also have an effect on the cryptocurrency markets. According to an update posted on the Weibo social network, the BTC.top mining operation has been forced to shut down in light of the current quarantine orders imposed by public health officials.
BTC.top is managed by Jiang Zhuoer, a man who has been mining for Bitcoin since before the hard fork that ended up splitting up the blockchain into Bitcoin Cash and Bitcoin Gold, and he has stated that all his mining rigs have been turned off because staff members are not allowed to return to work. It is not clear where the mining rig is located, but it is probably not near Wuhan, the populous city that has been under strict quarantine measures since the first coronavirus deaths were reported in early January.
Although it is possible to fully automate cryptocurrency mining operations when a single rig is involved, BTC.top is a very large data center and server farm that requires constant monitoring and maintenance tasks. This is the first time in the history of BTC.top that a shutdown period was required. This is not the only operation that has been put on hold by the coronavirus outbreak. Chinese companies that supply and service mining rigs have also suspended their work for the time being. China is the jurisdiction with the greatest concentration of cryptocurrency mining enterprises; this is because of affordable hardware, electricity, and broadband services.
The current situation in China could have a greater impact on the cryptocurrency markets because the Bitcoin halving date happens to be about three months away; this is when mining rewards will be cut in a half, a situation that has prompted a sense of energy among miners to get as much proof of work and transaction settlements done now. Analysts who follow the digital currency markets believe that quite a few miners will stop their operations once Bitcoin rewards are halved, and this could bring about repercussions in terms of completing blockchain transactions.