Being a successful graduate of Belarusian State Economic University (BSEU), Maria has acquired competencies in economic and social studies. Given Maria’s previous research working experience, and desire to explore what's really shaping the future, the main research focus is placed on FinTech and Blockchain Technology.
In this exclusive interview, Mr. Lecomte shares his insights into the crypto mining, explaining industry’s key aspects and hidden pitfalls.
Today’s growing need for more sophisticated and advanced technologies triggers steady surge in innovations and inventions. Blockchain and cryptocurrencies have proved to be ones of the most promising and competitive industries today, providing a wealth of opportunities for literally all the spheres.
Both are walking hand in hand with mining, which attracts ever growing number of cryptoethusiasts and newcomers hoping to ride the wave and make some money. Coinspeaker reached Claude Lecomte, CEO at MinerGate multicurrency mining pool, to find out more about sphere’s pitfalls and discover his expert insights into the mining activity.
Coinspeaker: “Please tell us a few words about your business. What is your core service?”
Claude Lecomte: “You will be surprised – the core service of MinerGate is cryptocurrency mining. We support 4 major mining algorithms, including Ethash, Equihash, CryptoNight & Scrypt. Currently we host 11 mining pools for every supported coin and a merged mining pool designed especially for CryptoNight ASICs.”
Coinspeaker: “How did you come up with the idea to provide this service? How quickly did you manage to deliver on that idea?”
Claude Lecomte: “Let me start from the very beginning. I was born in a penurious family in a small French town. Since my childhood, I have been interested in engineering and technologies. Not like the young Sheldon, but I’ve always had a reputation of a geek. My schoolmates were nothing like me, and it wasn’t always easy to get on with them. That’s why now I’m a bit crazy about privacy and anonymity.
I had a best friend, Nicolas. Nicolas and I spent all the time after school in his dad’s garage, where we were continually inventing and constructing something. Once we built a rocket, but we didn’t have anything to fuel it, so we stole kerosene from the neighbor. Finally, we almost burnt the garage but launched this goddamn thing.
I was 15 when I’d got my first computer. The first thing I did – I took it to pieces to understand how does it work. Since then, I steadily improved it, adding different hardware pieces and remastering circuit boards to increase the computer’s capacities.
I think I found out about crypto in the middle of 2010. I was impressed by perspectives of blockchain technology and even spent a buck or two to buy several dozens of Bitcoins. I started mining solo, just because I wanted to feel that I’m helping the blockchain movement.
An idea to run a mining pool came to me in 2013 after I bought my first ASIC. I understood that many enthusiasts are interested in mining but don’t want to bother with technical issues. Nicolas and I started a pool for these crypto neophytes. As you can see, a simple idea developed into a big business with over 3,5M miners, 24/7 customer support and a wonderful community.”
Coinspeaker: “What is your market share and how much time did it take you to achieve such results?”
Claude Lecomte: “By many criteria, MinerGate ranks among the top 10 worldwide. The answer about the share is too complicated since the percentages differ for different currencies. It is enough for us to know that we have more coverage than most of the competitors. That’s all I can say about that.”
Coinspeaker: “How strong is your investment support? Is there any fear among investors when it comes to entering the sphere?”
Claude Lecomte: “We are a private company and do not attract third-party investments. We had always relied only on ourselves, from the day when Nicolas and I were sitting in our garage and thinking over the idea of our own pool. For all investors who are afraid to invest in the crypto, I can only say: it is okay to be cautious.
I’m sure that deep inside, even Neil Armstrong was scared to death to fly to the moon. He succeeded (I’m almost certain)! Crypto business is also for the braves, guys.”
Coinspeaker: “Let’s turn to mining. Is it profitable?”
Claude Lecomte: “It depends on many factors. Let’s be honest – if you are mining solo somewhere in Western Europe, then probably mining is not the kind of business that you would do. However, take a look at Georgia, for example. Small private hydroelectric station plus a developed IT sector, and you are on your way to success. Now in Georgia, mining hotels are opening up one after another, because it is profitable. So yes, mining is profitable, you just have to know the ins and outs.”
Coinspeaker: “Are you personally engaged in mining? If so, what currencies do you prefer to mine?”
Claude Lecomte: “I started my miner’s journey with Bitcoin mining, but then turned to XMR and continue to mine it until now. I personally participate in all testing of our pools. I want to be sure of the quality of the services that MinerGate provides to its users.
I have a relatively small private rig at home, I’ve put it together by myself. It doesn’t seriously profit me, but, just as five years ago, I’m proud to contribute to the development of the industry. I will keep on mining till the end just to be sure that if St. Peter at the heaven gates asks me: “What have you done for the development of the blockchain?”, I would answer – everything I could!”
Coinspeaker: “Some people believe that PoW (Proof-of-Work) mining has certain advantages over PoS (Proof-of-Stake) one. Do you share this point of view?”
Claude Lecomte: “Well, ask me about Batman and Superman. Each of PoW and PoS has advantages over the other. PoW requires more power and your equipment can be burnt but is way more democratic. PoS can be more effective but calls for major investments first. As a person with left-wing leanings, I personally prefer PoW.”
Coinspeaker: “Let’s move to 51% attack. How the community should feel about the fact that several mining pools can co-exercise such an attack?”
Claude Lecomte: “In my opinion, there is no sense in speaking about a 51% attack per se. It really depends on coin and blockchain. However, even if there is such hypothetical possibility, I don’t think that there is a real danger at the moment. It requires just too much money and communication efforts.
The problem with a possibility of several greedy majors ganging up on everyone else is much more hypothetical than the problem of bugs in the blockchains. We all saw what recently happened with Bitcoin Core and XMR.”
Coinspeaker: “Let’s imagine: a crypto newcomer wants to start mining. How would he start? What would he read?”
Claude Lecomte: “That newbie miner can start with signing up at MinerGate. Ok, jokes aside, at least reading our blog is an excellent idea. There is much basic info about mining, new technologies, and updates, coins, perspectives of the cryptomarket. I think that reading CoinSpeaker on regular base will also help newcomers to stay tuned. I read you in Telegram. It is very handy.
Also, there are plenty of online forums and discussions about practically every segment of crypto knowledge, and you’d better learn from the mistakes of others, right?
Everything else depends only on financial capacity. I know a millionaire, who bought Bitcoin in the early days, didn’t spend it on pizza, forgot about it and then found out that it had a surged in value over these years. So I was invited to his mansion to the dinner, and we talked about commercial possibilities of mining and crypto. Next day he called me to say that he had already ordered 50 or 60 ASICs, emptied the swimming pool at the backyard and was ready to start mining as if there was no tomorrow. Newbies, eh…”
Coinspeaker: “In your opinion, what mistakes should the novice miners avoid?”
Claude Lecomte: “I think the most common mistake is taking loans for buying expensive equipment. Mining technology is developing so fast that sometimes the equipment turns out of date not even leaving the factory. A sudden fork, a slump of mined coins’ value – no one is immune against such things. So, don’t loan money. I can say that we started MinerGate having only 1000 Euro for a budget. Who dares, wins.”
Coinspeaker: “In your opinion, what devices are best used for mining today?”
Claude Lecomte: “I believe that the best equipment for mining isn’t yet invented, it is waiting for us somewhere there, in the future. From what you can find at the market now I like CryptoNight ASICs. In my opinion, they are seriously underestimated, but we put considerable efforts to make this technology in-demand. For example, we launched MinerGate Pro, that allows merged mining for these ASICs.”
Coinspeaker: “Let’s speak a little bit about cryptocurrency market. What do you think is happening to it? Do you think the market stabilizes or stagnates instead?”
Claude Lecomte: “The best way to make a complete idiot of yourself is to predict the Bitcoin’s rate. Sometimes, the things you consider pure fiction get real the next day and affect cryptomarket in the most unpredictable way. Sure enough, the market will grow and develop, but we never know what will happen to Bitcoin and main altcoins in the future.”
Coinspeaker: “What cryptos would you prefer to hold on the long-term basis?”
Claude Lecomte: “It is hard to choose, really. I think my favorite is Monero. However, to be honest, I don’t keep all my savings in one currency. A few BTC here, a few ETH there, bits of this and that.”
Coinspeaker: “What do you think about Bitmain’s filing for an IPO?”
Claude Lecomte: “Good for them, I sincerely wish them the best of luck. Bitmain is a product company with a significant number of hard assets. They have the product to show to non-crypto investors. I hope that one day, we will also grow to catch up with them, but now we congratulate the colleagues.”
Coinspeaker: “Anything else you would like to add for our readers?”
Claude Lecomte: “I’m convinced that crypto is a synonym for future. When I was a child, I used to dream about our destiny filled with skyscrapers, flying machines, expeditions to Mars. In my dreams, such future was in the people’s hands, not under anybody’s control.
In my opinion, developing blockchain technologies is what lets you build the future. And mining is the glue that makes it stick together. Satoshi is a genius who created the first decentralized financial system and look – it works, and it works because of the ones like us. If we keep doing our job, we will build something unique and valuable, essential for everyone, and I believe in it!
So – follow the dreams and never give up – you are not alone!”