At the start of the month, Australian startup Payonix Technologies launched the sales of the first high-performance, easy-to-use Bitcoin mining hardware. The 28nm ONIX-LC ASIC is both powerful and energy efficient; and offered as a chip to directly power the ONIX Series rigs. The company’s in-house designed ONIX Series ASIC mining rigs have been pre-sold out – a strong indicator that cryptocurrency is well on its way to becoming mainstream.
So how does it work? Payonix Co-Founder and CEO Andrew Thomas, who was previously a Data System Manager and Lead Cryptographer for Datamonitor in the US, says the original developer of Bitcoin (known under the moniker ‘Satoshi Nakamoto’) built the technology because he wanted an anonymous, secure, 24/7 banking solution. He created protocols whereby you need a certain computer power to unlock and solve equations, and solving the equations in turn helps grow the network.
“It processes the transactions that are already in the network, while also unlocking more coins which can be installed onto the network,” says Thomas.
The term ‘Bitcoin mining’ refers to solving those equations and creating more coins. Essentially, the ‘miner’ is rewarded coins by the ONIX-LC system every time they solve a block of equations.
“It’s a very unique system, it’s never been done before and I think that’s why there’s so much hype about it,” says Thomas.
If this all sounds a little too complex, Thomas assures the average stay-at-home mum or dad could use this technology to earn bitcoins.
“We really wanted to get Australians involved in the (Bitcoin) phenomenon and the easiest way for us to do that was to create a box that doesn’t require the user to have much technacy. It’s basically a plug and play box. You plug it in, follow a guide of instructions to connect it to a mining pool, and then you can mine by yourself,” he says.
“It’s very easy. It would take you about an hour to research (Bitcoin mining) and a couple of minutes to set up our unit. We’ve designed to be user-friendly; we didn’t make it for the exceptionally-minded geeks of the world. It’s for average Australians.”
Founded in May, Payonix Technologies comprises a team of experienced hardware developers, cryptographers, and Bitcoin community peers; and they recently closed a $1 million round of funding from a range of private Angel investors who recognised the potential of the company’s team and technology – but that’s after the technology had been built.
Thomas explains, after they came up with the idea they took a “supercomputer chip” to China and asked engineers across a number of different factories if they would be able to reverse-engineer the chip. Eventually, they came across a company called TK Industries who were able to reverse-engineer the chip in just six weeks, and develop a unique chip for Payonix.
Having sold all 250 units in a matter of weeks, Thomas foresees an inevitable future for Bitcoin. He says some of world’s leading corporations – like Amazon and eBay – are incorporating Bitcoin as a payment option, and countries like China have their eyes set on the technology.
“We see the future of Bitcoin going to a whole new stratosphere. There really hasn’t been anything created like this since Facebook or even the Internet itself,” says Thomas.
There’s no denying that Bitcoin has received quite a lot of negative publicity – the most recent being the hacking of one of Australia’s Bitcoin banks, where over USD$1 million (4100 bitcoins) were stolen. But many have come out in defence saying it’s still significantly safer than traditional banks, where hackings are far more common.
Despite the security concerns, Thomas says this currency will be ‘rock solid’: “There are only ever going to be 22 million bitcoins in circulation. There won’t be any more created. It can’t be manipulated unless someone desperately wants all of it.”
Another great thing about the ONIX-LC, Thomas explains, is that it’s un-hackable “unless someone can get a hold of your digital wallet.” He says the technology would take NASA 120 years to hack into.
Payonix Technologies have set aside a fair marketing budget to explain to people that “Bitcoin is not a fad, it’s here to stay and they should start adopting the technology”. Thomas acknowledges, however, that this may be one of the biggest challenges the company faces, but they’re ready to take on the critics.
The technology can be purchased online, and in particular retail stores in Queensland – where the company is based. Depending on the demand, Payonix Technologies plans on making the technology available in retail stores across Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth.
Pricing for units begins at $1,999 for the ONIX XS 250GH/s plug and play unit, the ONIX XR 500GH/s Plug and Play unit will sell for $3,799, and $7,499 for the 1TH/s ONIX XRS unit.
The company also plan on opening up a hosted mining solution for those who cannot afford $1,999.
“We’re looking at offering them the ability to lease the power for a yearly fee,” says Thomas.
Another thing they’re looking at is bulk chip distribution. Payonix Technologies is currently in the process of trademarking their Bitcoin mining hardware, and once that it complete, they will be distributing chips to corporations.
“We’ve already seen a lot of interest from corporations, saying they want to order 100,000 chips. So there are some exciting things around the corner for us in the upcoming months,” says Thomas.
For more information, visit www.payonix.com.
— UPDATE: We have a follow up piece on this company in the works.