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Money machines: Bitcoin mines are banks of computers dedicated to guessing a 64-digit number in order to win cryptocurrency. Here, ASICs -- specialized bitcoin mining computers -- have been stacked up in the corridors of a mine in Ekibastuz. (Photo by Peter Guest)
The Big Story

Kazakhstan's love of bitcoin undimmed by 'crypto winter'

With 'fully legal' cryptocurrencies, the country hopes to compete in the big leagues of global finance

PETER GUEST, contributing writer | Kazakhstan

EKIBASTUZ, Kazakhstan -- A bank of transformers hums and crackles by the entrance to's data center on the outskirts of Ekibastuz in northeastern Kazakhstan. It is hooked up to a network of overhead cables that stretches for thousands of kilometers across the empty steppe. Billows of steam from two immense power plants stand over the landscape, which is flat and sepia all the way to the horizon.

For a few years, facilities like these put Kazakhstan at the vanguard of the cryptocurrency business, elevating a country with a tiny technology industry to a leading player in what some believe to be the future of money.

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