Let’s for a moment ignore the irony of Pirate Bay users complaining about what they considered to be an abuse of their trust and resources: Pirate Bay caused outrage not because they were using their visitor’s machines to mine cryptocurrency, but because they failed to ask permission or even mention it.
This, and a little experiment by Mario Klingemann on Facebook, prompted me to take a deeper look into the techniques Pirate Bay used.
It’s not BitCoin
Monero (XMR) is currently, at the time of writing, exchanging at an approximate rate of 1 XMR to CHF 100. Using the coinhive miner will not make you rich overnight if you run a simple blog with a few visitors. The mining technology used is also no comparison to the dedicated mining software used with specialist BitCoin and other mining hardware. The resources it requires are, however, miniscule in comparison. The benefit of the coinhive approach is that you’ll need no special mining hardware to do the number crunching for you. Your visitors’ browsers will run the code on their machines. Mining any cryptocurrency takes time but, if you use a miner like the coinhive one, you’ll need almost zero investment up front (other than the time to plan your strategy and to integrate it into your site).
REMOVED – my provider marked the example page as “Malware” and so I have deleted it: Click here to open an example I’ve created and see how little XMR is produced over the period of a few minutes – don’t worry: I’ve set the miner to use less of your browser resources than the Pirate Bay one did and included clear statistics to show the amount of XMR mined. As you’ll see from the page statistics, it’ll take some time for a single page view running this miner to generate significant income. Placing such a miner on your site will, however, provide a reasonable source of income for sites with large visitor numbers or as an option for embedding into online games or subscription-based content.
The actual cost to a site visitor is very low in terms of resources used and you can remove traditional banner ads. There are, in fact, many video banner ads and other ad formats that use more browser resources than this miner does! As an alternative to charging site visitors a fee for accessing content this is a completely frictionless approach, free from the need to integrate payment systems or maintain
It’ll be interesting to see where this technology goes. In my opinion, it’s already a viable option of you have the volume of site visitors or a sufficiently expansive library of content that you wish to monetise without inflicting banners, popups, and all manner of ad nonsense on your site visitors.
Here at turrall consulting we’ll be looking for potential project uses of the miner. Others are too. It’s still early days and there is an opportunity for early adopters of the idea – so please feel free to contact us in the comments below or one of the many contact options available on this site, should you be interested in trying it out on your site!