I'm posting this in response to some interest shown by others on this site when I briefly mentioned in another thread I was using a Raspberry Pi to earn a little bit of cryptocurrency. The relevant bits of that thread are quoted here:
It's not making me rich, but it's earning me a decent amount of money simply for keeping a device running/connected that I'm already leaving running/connected 24/7 anyway as my personal media server and whatnot.
You buried the lede. What is that, and how does it work? Maybe on a new thread. That sounds interesting...
Considering I have two RasPi 4B's on 24/7 running Docker services, (and spare 2B, 3B, & 3B+), I'm also interested in this.
Before I get into the details, I need to make some clarifications and disclaimers:
First of all, I should clarify that my definition of "a decent amount of money" is really not a lot. There's been a recent boom in cryptocurrency starting around the new year, and even at the recent all-time highs I've only gained maybe up to $250 value over the past month from what I'm doing with my RasPi. Usually it's significantly lower than that. Nothing I'll mention in this post should be taken as a way to get rich quick. It's more about slowly increasing your wealth over the long term. Like gaining interest in some kind of savings account.
I also need to admit that I very much oversimplified what I'm doing with the RasPi. It's not as simple as buying $50-100 worth of RasPi hardware/accessories, installing some software, and then running it and forgetting all about it while raking in the cash.
And finally, the big disclaimer: This is not financial advice. Do your own research. Don't "invest" more than you can afford to lose.
Okay, let's get to the fun stuff.Earn More Cryptocurrency Through Staking
Have you heard of staking (proof of stake, or PoS)? It's like mining but without all the crazy electricity demands. It has an initial financial demand instead. It feels more similar to earning interest on money you already have.
In contrast to traditional proof of work (PoW) mining blockchains, which have everybody in a fierce competition frantically hashing as quickly as possible to be the first person to mine a block and propagate it to the network, PoS blockchains assign people their turns to mine in a raffle-like manner based on how much of the coin has been staked. Everyone knows their turn well in advance of when it actually needs to be done, so you keep your "mining" hardware connected to the chain (or at least connect it early enough that it can catch up to the current state of the chain), wait your turn, and then it mines a block when it's your turn. It's all very orderly and relatively cordial. It's more of a cooperation than a competition. There's no need to constantly be maxing out your CPU/GPU/ASIC 24/7 because you know in advance exactly when it will be your turn to produce a block. This means that the hardware requirements are (or can be) much lower in PoS blockchains than what is typically required for PoW blockchains. Some chains can even have low enough requirements that blocks can be produced with a Raspberry Pi.Tezos
I've been using my RasPi with the Tezos blockchain (the coins are called tez, with XTZ as the symbol). Tezos is a lot like Ethereum in terms of functionality, but it has a built-in governance model, which basically means that upgrades (or changes) to the protocol are voted on and passed by the "community" on the blockchain itself. The purpose of that is to avoid instances of conflict and division such as the schism(s) and several resulting forks of Bitcoin (e.g. Bitcoin Cash) due to disagreements on what the purpose and future of Bitcoin ought to be.
Mining in Tezos is called baking, and as I said earlier, there is an initial up-front financial cost to become a baker. The baker has to lock up some collateral, essentially saying "I promise I won't do anything wrong, and if I do, I will forfeit this collateral." The collateral is unlocked, along with the baking rewards, about 2 weeks later. To register as a baker in Tezos, you need to have a minimum of 8,000 tez in your account or delegated to your account. A baker should earn somewhere in the 5-8% range (annually) from block rewards. If we use the lower bound of 5% of 8,000 tez then that's 400 tez in a year, or about $125 per month at the current price of about $3.80 for 1 tez.
Speaking of current prices, 8,000 tez costs about $30,000 USD right now. That obviously is (or can be) prohibitively expensive for many people wanting to become bakers or earn "interest" on their cryptocurrency. But fear not! You may have noticed that I mentioned the possibility of having funds delegated to your account. This means that if you can convince other people to delegate their funds to your account, you can start baking even if you don't personally own 8,000 tez. What this also means is that you can delegate your funds to a baker and have them bake on your behalf. Bakers typically charge a fee of somewhere in the range of 5-20% (with 10-15% seeming to be most common). Or in other words, if your delegated funds earned a total of 50 tez, a baker with a 10% fee would keep 5 and send you 45.
A few important points about Tezos: Funds you delegate to a baker are still in your possession with your private key. They can't be seized, stolen, or lost by the baker. You are essentially delegating the "rights" of your coins for use in baking and on-chain governance (voting). But you still maintain full ownership of the coins and can change your delegate at any time. Additionally, Tezos uses a Liquid Proof of Stake protocol, which means that delegated funds are never locked up. You can spend or transfer them at any time. Only the baker's personal funds are locked up (and potentially forfeited) during the baking process. But the baker is also not required by the protocol to send you any part of the rewards earned. From the point of view of the protocol, the baker takes on all the risk and therefore earns all of the reward. So it's up to you to make sure your baker is paying you according to your agreement with them, and if not, delegate to another baker who will honor their agreements. The vast majority of bakers are trustworthy but of course you'll always find a few people scamming others when there is the opportunity to do so.
I initially bought a RasPi 3B+ for baking on Tezos but at the time there was no official 64-bit OS for it (due to it only having 1 GB of RAM) and shortly thereafter some Tezos upgrades required 64-bit support so I couldn't use it anymore. But with the release of the RasPi model 4 with more RAM came official support for a 64-bit OS, and Tezos definitely uses a lot of RAM anyway, so I'd recommend a 4GB+ RasPi at a minimum (I have the 8GB model).
All of this has been very specific to Tezos because that's what I'm using my Raspberry Pi for. But there are other PoS blockchains out there, such as Cardano (ADA), which also allow you to earn more through staking your funds to another block producer, though I'm not familiar with Cardano's requirements (in terms of minimum stake or hardware) for becoming a block producer yourself. And if you weren't aware, Ethereum also has plans to transition from using PoW to using a PoS algorithm soon™.In summary:
- If you use a PoS cryptocurrency, look into staking your coins to increase your holdings!
- If you have enough coins to become a block producer, and you have the hardware and technical knowledge/experience, look into doing that so you can keep 100% of the reward rather than paying someone else a fee to do it for you.
The above is nice and all, but there's always the risk that the cryptocurrency could drastically go down in value. It's no use to have 5% more of a cryptocurrency that has dropped 95% in value! So now I'm going to talk about something I've recently discovered that has the possibility of much lower risk.Earn More Cryptocurrency by Providing Liquidity
At the beginning of the year, I looked at my savings account with my bank and noticed that my interest rate had fallen (again). When I first created the account about 10-15 years ago, my interest rate was above 3%. Now it's around 0.3%. So pathetic.
I started looking into cryptocurrency-related alternatives and discovered something really amazing. There are cryptocurrency apps/services that are offering 3-12% annual interest on various cryptos, depending on a variety of factors. But what stood out to me was that the cryptos with the highest interest rate also tend to be the "safer" stablecoins. One such stablecoin is USD Coin (USDC) which, as its name suggests, has its value tied to the dollar. In other words, there's no volatility in USDC's price. You can always buy and sell 1 USDC for $1 USD (on Coinbase).
I quickly realized that meant I could be earning over 10% APY on the money in my savings account rather than the 0.3% my bank was paying me. I may have done the math wrong, but I calculated that I could earn as much interest in a single month using one of these apps that my bank would pay me over the course of three years!
Here's how it works:
- You provide liquidity to the service by depositing some funds to your account.
- The service makes fully collateralized loans to others. (I'm no financial expert, but this seems like a virtually risk-free loan to me.)
- Eventually the loan is repaid, with interest.
- The service shares a significant portion of that interest with you.
This sounds very much like the traditional fiat banking system, with two exceptions: Banks tend to engage in risky lending because they know they will be bailed out if anything catastrophic happens to them. Also, banks are much more stingy and share very little of the profit with you, the liquidity provider.Celsius Network
I've been using the Celsius Network
to earn 10.51% APY on USDC. They make payments every Monday. I've earned over half as much in 3 weeks using Celsius as I earned from my bank in all of 2020, even though I had 2-3 times as much money in my savings account than what I've put into Celsius. It's nice! I'm not getting rich quick, but at least I'm earning something! And they have options for non-USA residents to earn even higher interest rates.
If this interests you enough to sign up, you can also create an account using my referral link and we'll both gain $30 worth of BTC after you make your first transfer of $200 or more. https://celsiusnetwork.app.link/1176188774
And after you've signed up, you can enter the promo code WEB40 in the app to get another $40 worth of BTC after making a transfer of $200 or more (in a single transaction) and keeping it in the app for 30 days. Or in other words, if you use my referral link, you can get $70 worth of BTC.Crypto.com
Crypto.com (often abbreviated as CDC from "crypto dot com") has similar liquidity/interest features, though I find I prefer the rates on Celsius. But CDC also has a nifty pre-paid Visa card you can get which has some nice bonuses, such as earning 1-8% back as crypto, or even complete reimbursement (in crypto) for some purchases such as Spotify, Netflix, or even Amazon Prime subscriptions. If you use my referral code https://crypto.com/app/jzmj85npda
then we'll both get $25 worth of cryptocurrency once you've met certain criteria, which I believe is to deposit about $400 worth of crypto into your account and stake it, which is incidentally also how you qualify for the first non-free tier of the Visa card bonuses.
I'm kind of a miser who doesn't like spending money (because money is usually tight) but I got the lowest non-free Visa card tier and have been kind of excited/happy when I spend money with it now, knowing that I'm earning a little back in a form (cryptocurrency) that may be worth much more in the future than it's worth now. But it's also such a small amount that if it goes down in value (even to nothing) then I'm not really any worse off than if I had just paid cash for things.Conclusion
After interest was shown in what I use my RasPi for, I thought it would be a good opportunity to also share my recent discoveries of other ways to earn a little more cryptocurrency. I apologize for taking so long to write this after the initial interest was shown. I know that brevity is not one of my strengths, especially when talking about something like cryptocurrency, which has a lot of minor, but in my opinion important, technical details. That said, I've still chosen to leave some things out so that I'm not wasting time explaining every little thing if no one reading this is going to be interested in doing anything I talk about. If you have questions, ask, and I'll respond to the best of my knowledge and ability.