Crypto lender Celsius increases Bitcoin mining investment to $500 million

Celsius Network has doubled down on its Bitcoin mining investment, adding a further $300 million.

In an interview with The Block on Monday, Celsius CEO Alex Mashinsky said that the investment was made to expand its proprietary Bitcoin mining hash rate and power capacity in North America.

"These are commitments for this year and next year — so we will be adding [mining] capacity all the time until the end of next year," he said. He noted that the firm will break down the expected hash rate growth over the coming months.

This $300 million investment follows the $200 million that Celsius invested earlier this year in Bitcoin mining equipment and equity of Bitcoin mining firms Core Scientific, Rhodium Enterprises and mining pool Luxor Technologies. Core Scientific is going through a merger deal with the goal of going public, while Rhodium has filed for a U.S. initial public offering for a placeholder amount of $100 million.

The investment puts the centralized lending and yield-earning platform on track to becoming one of the major Bitcoin mining firms in North America. 

Mashinsky said Celsius now has an operational mining fleet of about 22,000 Bitcoin ASIC miners, most of which are Bitmain's newest generation of AntMiner S19 series. The firm announced earlier this month during Bitmain's conference in Dubai that it also has pending orders for Bitmain's newest AntMiner S19XP model that boasts a computing power of 140 terahashes per second (TH/s).

Celsius' increased investment is part of a Bitcoin mining infrastructure and fundraise boom in North America that seeks to capitalize on the opportunity created by China's crackdown on the mining sector.

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"A lot of people that are buying machines, they think the competition is just not gonna be there, but obviously now there are a lot more participants, more players, so you really have to be good at this business," Mashinsky said. 

What's unique about Celsius is that it will use the bitcoin it mines as part of its existing lending business. The company lends bitcoin to institutions to earn interest and pays out bitcoin-denominated interest to deposit customers. Celsius touts $28.6 billion in assets as of November.

Celsius started to get into the mining sector in 2020 and issued loans and equipment leases to mining firms like Core Scientific and Argo Blockchain for their facility expansion plans.

"We are catering to miners who don't want to sell their bitcoin and we lend them against their bitcoin or their hash power so they can basically send us bitcoin [as collateral] when they mine it," Mashinsky said. But he added that the company will only do so for machines that are based in Europe or North America, rather than more unstable regions.