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Malaysia’s Bitcoin miners steal $550 million in electricity as utility business intervenes

In response to an increase in energy theft cases for Bitcoin mining in Malaysia, the country’s electrical utility is proposing new ways to address the issue.

Tenaga Nasional Bhd. is considering implementing a special tariff for Bitcoin mining firms, Bloomberg reports. Participants will be able to apply for “controlled supply.”

According to Baharin Din, the company’s President and CEO, the illicit usage of electricity to mine digital currencies is likely to expand in the coming days. Tenaga claims that unlawful Bitcoin mining via unauthorized electrical connections increased from 610 in 2018 to 7,209 in 2021.

Bahrain also predicts that electricity theft totaled $550 million between 2018 and 2021, with 18 persons detained.

Notably, miners have used behaviors such as interfering with meter installation or totally powering their business without utilizing metres or illegal connections to circumvent regulators.

“The irresponsible perpetrators are doing it at the expense of the security and reliability of supply for the public at large. Unauthorized electricity connections can also be fire hazards,” Baharin said. 

As previously reported, the Malaysian Bukit Aman Criminal Investigation Department (CID) confiscated illegal Bitcoin mining equipment valued at a record RM54 million ($12.9 million).

In comparison to 2020, the value of confiscated equipment increased by 4,185 percent to RM1.26 million ($331,000).

Tenaga has been collaborating with many governmental institutions, including the anti-graft agency, the police, the Energy Commission, and municipal councils, to catch unlawful Bitcoin miners.

Additionally, experts propose utilizing technologies such as smart meters, meter data management systems, and analytic tools to improve the availability of essential power demand and supply data.

The issue of cryptocurrency regulation

Given Malaysia’s prohibition of bitcoin mining, it is unclear how the idea, if granted, will be implemented.

In general, Malaysian regulation of digital currencies continues to be a contentious issue. According to Finbold, Malaysia’s Deputy Finance Minister Yamani Hafez Musa recently underlined that the country does not classify cryptocurrencies as financial instruments. According to the government source, digital currencies have not demonstrated the characteristics of a worldwide currency.

His stance contrasts with that of countries such as El Salvador, who have taken the step of declaring Bitcoin legal tender.

Disclaimer: These are the writer’s opinions and should not be considered investment advice. Readers should do their own research.

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