Chinese authorities have arrested Yang Zuoxing, an electronics engineer who reputedly designed several of Bitmain’s most popular “Antmine” cryptomining rigs in 2016 before he left and started a rival firm called MicroBT.
Since then, Coindesk reports, MicroBT, based in Shenzhen, has reportedly captured about 40% market share in the manufacture of cryptomining rigs.
The company released its most current WhatsMiner M30 last week, and the rig reportedly generates 88 tera hashes per second.
In 2018, MicroBT defeated a copyright infringement civil case brought against it by Bitmain after it convinced relevant intellectual property authorities in China to void Bitmain’s patent.
Bitmain is China’s largest and most successful maker of cryptominers, but its share of the market has been falling over the last year.
The company’s performance may have suffered in part due to a year-long internal dispute that recently led to the ouster of co-founder Micree Zhan.
As well, Bitmain’s bid to go public in Hong Kong late last year failed when regulators determined that the crypto miner market’s glory days may be over. Regulators were also unconvinced that Bitmain had the chops to move into AI as espoused.
CoinShares reported last week that 65% of Bitcoin’s processing is now done in China. This news is likely to perturb serious Bitcoiners, who know that the network’s success and security as an “uncensorable” value transfer systems depends on no single party or entity controlling a majority of it.
Bitmain and Huobi, two of China’s largest crypto firms, recently survived comprehensive “rectification” raids in China involving the surprise inspection of crypto entities in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and possibly elsewhere.
The rectification reportedly led to the closure of 173 of the country’s smaller crypto companies and half of its online lending platforms.
That these two companies are still standing in a country that officially bans crypto trading could mean China is trying to consolidate the country’s crypto sector so it is easier to influence.
MicroBT’s Yang has reportedly been charged with the embezzlement of about $15,000. At this time, it is not known where the funds are alleged to have come from.