Many are questioning the benefits of hosting the power-hungry industry on the island.
More than 600 cryptocurrency mining devices have been stolen in Iceland in what local police are calling a “highly organized crime”, according to The Associated Press.
The robberies took place in data centres in Reykjanesbær and Borgarbyggð, according to Iceland Monitor, and eleven people have been arrested so far. The devices, as yet unrecovered, are worth almost 2 million USD.
“This is a grand theft on a scale unseen before,” said Reykjanes police chief Olafur Helgi Kjartansson.
Bitcoin mining is booming in Iceland due to cheap electricity and a cold climate (the cold increases the efficiency of mining computers that tend to overheat). The country hosts offices for several Chinese mining companies, and the country recently welcomed its first Bitcoin ATM, launched at a hotel run by a German. Klaus Ortlieb said: “I thought it was an interesting idea because it can be hard to change Icelandic kronur [sic] into a different currency abroad. Instead of going to the bank, the hotel guests can change Icelandic kronas into bitcoin before leaving Iceland.”
However Iceland, population 336,888, may find the new industry unsustainable. All of its energy is generated by renewable sources – hydro, geothermal, wind – and the needs of large-scale cryptocurrency mining could outstrip the supply.