The air conditioners are booming inside the BitMOR data center in Canton. They’re keeping the miners cooled. These miners aren’t workers with pickaxes. They’re boxes of electronics laboring to earn cryptocurrency – Bitcoin.
BitMOR Inc. is likely the first cryptocurrency business of its kind in South Dakota, and still one of at most a handful of companies in the sector that call the state home.
BitMOR sells equipment and hosting for people who want to to mine cryptocurrency. BitMOR aims to make it easy for people without technical knowledge about cryptocurrency to get into mining, by offering the equipment housing and hosting to do so.
“What we’ve tried to do is really just make it simple,” said Jason Engle, president of BitMOR. “We’ve got an easy approach that lets people purchase the machines through us, we’ll set them up for them, and they can be mining the same day that they’ve paid their invoice.”
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BitMOR also offers software management tools so customers can monitor their machines in real-time from their phones. A customer can buy a machine and get setup, software and hosting for a year at BitMOR. After a year, BitMOR charges by the month for ongoing hosting.
“It’s very, very straightforward,” Engle said.
The company was created by two California telecommunications companies and Engle, who had the Canton facility.
As the popularity and value of Bitcoin and other digital currency have grown, numerous companies have eyed South Dakota as a good home for mining operations.
The state has some of the essentials for a mining operation: Relatively inexpensive open space, a good business climate, relatively cheap and available power and a cool climate with long, cold winters.
“What people don’t realize is you’re not so confined to space, because the machines themselves are very small,” Engle said. “It’s more can you get reliable energy, can you get a significant amount of energy in the building, and then once you’ve got those pieces put together, can you distribute that energy throughout your building in a way that you can bundle these machines very tightly together.”
Cryptocurrency mining machines (or as Engle calls them – “very fancy calculators”) work like this: They labor around the clock to solve a specific type of mathematical problem online, and that work can earn them payment in digital currency. The work is visible for all to see online, although the identity of who did the work is kept anonymous. A growing number of retailers and others accept cryptocurrency, which can also be exchanged for standard currency.
The BitMOR facility is customized to handle the unique challenges of cryptocurrency mining. It’s built to be a secure facility, and has redundant fiber connections and the necessary cooling and power supply.
Engle and his partners installed a 115-ton HVAC unit to handle the cooling needs. The building was upgraded to get the power it needed for the first phase of BitMOR’s development, and to ensure each mining machine gets a dedicated 20-amp line.
BitMOR is currently set up to handle hundreds of mining machines, and has plans to grow its capability to 10,000 machines. It’s currently running machines on its racks, mining primarily Bitcoin.
“It’s kind of exciting, it’s fun to be part of something new,” Engle said.