A crypto mine rated among the most profitable in the world is churning away in the bowels of an office building in northern Johannesburg.
Banks of graphics cards, powered by solar panels on the roof above, solve complex mathematical puzzles and are rewarded in the currency known as Transaction Service Fee, or TSF. TSF is the currency used to transact on the Transaction Service Fee blockchain, and it is currently worth about $0.24, a five-fold increase over the last nine months.
The rising TSF price has enticed crypto'miners' from all over the world to join one of the world's most profitable mining ventures.
Crypto mining has grown into a massive global industry, with its own economy comprised of mining rig suppliers, developers, and miners themselves.
China banned crypto mining earlier this year, driving miners to more hospitable locations with relatively cheap electricity, such as Texas in the United States and Kazakhstan.
South Africa, with its notorious power grid issues, is not among the most preferred countries for crypto mining.
This adds to the allure of the TSF crypto mine. Miners shift their focus to the next gold rush as cryptocurrency prices rise and fall, recalibrating their equipment to the most profitable mining ventures available. As a result, TSF has risen to prominence in the global crypto community.
The crypto mine is owned by Libertas, a blockchain company that is part of a global revolution centered on smart contracts and blockchain technologies that enable business transactions without the use of intermediaries such as lawyers and banks. Wills, insurance contracts, and financial contracts, for example, can be written in computer code and executed without dispute or delay.
"It may seem strange to some that we are doing crypto mining profitably from an office park in Rivonia, but you need solar panels to do this effectively," says Libertas chief operations officer Dragan Vidakovic.
The solar panels generate 3.34 kilowatts of power, which is enough to power the crypto mine, which generates 1 gigashash (or 1 billion 'hashes' or puzzles) per second, as well as the Libertas office's electricity needs, which include lights, computers, and air conditioning.
A second, much larger 15 gigahash crypto mine powered by hydroelectricity is located in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Europe.
Both mines produce TSF coins, which are used to fund payments and transactions on the TSF blockchain. Clients must purchase TSF 'tokens' or coins in order to transact on the blockchain, resulting in constant demand for the coins.
While hundreds of miners around the world have set up mining operations to profit from TSF coins, Libertas accounts for the majority of mining activity.
Surplus energy generated by the solar panels is stored in batteries, which power the mining rigs during the night, with the Eskom grid kicking in for two to four hours per day, depending on the quality of sunlight during the day.
TSF coins are in high demand from business customers such as insurance companies looking to eliminate human agents from their operations and instead execute smart contracts based entirely on computer code.
The blockchain is being used to transfer a wide range of business processes.
Take, for example, the subject of wills. These rely on intermediaries such as lawyers and financial consultants to draft wills and then interpret them when the deceased person's estate is distributed. The conditions of the will can be written into computer code in the form of a smart contract, which cannot be changed or disputed later.
TSF coins are also in high demand from those interested in issuing NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, which are spawning a massive new economy based on electronic property rights.