By Tom Wilson
LONDON (Reuters) - The world's biggest cryptocurrency asset manager said on Tuesday it was seeing efforts to shift bitcoin production to North America from China, which dominates digital coin mining.
Barry Silbert, founder of New York-based Grayscale Investments, made the observation in an online presentation to investors, without saying why the shift was occurring.
Many mainstream investors such as pension funds or asset managers have been reluctant to embrace bitcoin <BTC=BTSP>, concerned at its volatility, security breaches and lack of transparent markets.
Bitcoin, heavily favoured by enthusiasts and retail investors since it emerged more than a decade ago, has gained increasing interest from hedge funds and trading firms.
Many are drawn to its potential for high returns in an era of rock-bottom interest rates.
China's bitcoin miners control around two-thirds of the crypto network's processing power, research last year estimated.
That dominance has allowed Chinese miners to produce greater numbers of coins, and has also stoked demand for mining gear produced in the country.
"What I have seen recently, probably over the past three to six months, is a real growing shift towards attempts to move a lot of that activity outside of China into specifically the U.S. and Canada," said Silbert.
PUZZLES EARN COINS
Bitcoin miners - typically firms that run collections of highly-powered computers hooked up to cheap, plentiful electricity - compete against others in the bitcoin network to solve complex maths puzzles and earn new coins.
At Tuesday's bitcoin price of around $10,300, miners produce bitcoin worth around $6.7 billion every year.
The lucrative activity often takes place in cold climates or sparsely populated areas, such as Scandinavia and Quebec, because of the vast amounts of heat it produces.
Chinese firms such as Bitmain have become among the world's biggest miners and manufacturers of bitcoin mining hardware. Another maker, Canaan <CAN.O>, launched an initial public offering in November, but got a lukewarm investor response.
Grayscale, which oversees around $3.1 billion worth of cryptocurrencies, has been striving to attract larger investors to digital coins.
Last month it became the first digital currency investment vehicle to attain the status of reporting company at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, it said on Tuesday.
This subjects its crypto products to the same reporting standards as those traded on major exchanges.
(Reporting by Tom Wilson)