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If it is true that "miners follow the money", then Monero is right on the money. Beyond the already traditional voluntary, or involuntary usage of all kinds of hardware for CryptoNote mining, a recent attempt was made to sell a high-priced ASIC for the CryptoNote algorithm.

The XMR digital asset, which now hovers just above $204 after the latest sell-off, has remained attractive both as a means of digital payment, and as a mined coin offering rewards. Yet the recent bid of Bitmain to sell an ASIC angered the crypto community.

The Monero project performs series of updates to thwart the usage of ASICs. Yet some believe machines were built and exploited for months before being noticed, blaming the increased hash rate on illegal mining or botnets. The difficulty chart shows a sudden spike in difficulty in the past three months, which coincides with a rising trend of hidden mining, but some believe the hash rate may have come from a hidden mining facility.

It was precisely the "secret ASIC" effect which bloated the difficulty of mining in the past few months. Now, the Monero community is pushing for another update to make Monero incompatible with the machines. That update may arrive soon, and even Bitmain warned of the possibility:

"One major cryptocurrency which is using CryptoNight hash function is about to change their PoW algothrim, and according to their public statement, it is purposely to brick ASIC mining rigs including X3. When you buying it, you are betting that they are wrong," wrote Bitmain on the sales page for the ASIC.

Some believe the machines are released now, and at a peak price of $12,000 for immediate delivery, before Monero updates at the end of March, making them unusable for this coin. Monero has been attractive to mine in the past three months, reaching peaks above $500.

What will X3 Machines Mine?

At the moment, there are not too many quality Crypto Note coins. The two possibilities include Bytecoin and Electroneum, two low-priced assets with an unknown future.

Bytecoin (BCN) is a low-priced asset trading at $0.0024. Electroneum (ETN) has slid to $0.03 recently, from peaks of $0.20. The new ETN assets planned to rely on simulated mobile phone mining and even CPU or GPU mining, so the unleashing of the X3 machines may affect the network hash rate and difficulty.

Monero Criticism

The Monero community has a few points of criticism that may be preventing the coin from rising further. The first one is the lack of an intuitive, easy to use wallet, and the need to download more than 44 Gigabytes of blockchain history.

The other criticism is the lack of marketing compared to other privacy coins. While Monero has been around for years, other projects are much louder in touting their privacy features. Those include ZCash (ZEC), and most recently, Bitcoin Private (BTCP).