As investor enthusiasm for bitcoin has faltered and the cryptocurrency's price has dropped significantly since the start of the year, there has been less interest in mining BTC. This is coupled with rising costs associated with mining based on power and hardware required, among other issues. The result is that bitcoin mining has become less profitable than it was earlier in the cryptocurrency boom. Now, a report from cryptocurrency tools provider Anything Crypto suggests that mining for BTC may be only a fraction as profitable as mining for zcash, a popular altcoin.

Zcash Mining 400% More Profitable Than BTC

The data, reported on by Crypto Briefing, suggests that ZEC is the most profitable digital currency to mine at this point, with expected returns far outpacing other proof-of-work coins like BTC and ethereum. ZEC miners using the Antminer Z9 mini could expect to return $8,000 on their investment in just two years, according to the report. This rate of return is significantly higher than those for competitor coins at this stage. Indeed, zcash expected profits over a two-year mining stint are nearly 3 times the next highest expected return, associated with ether mining rigs operating with Antminer E3 setups. These miners could expect to bring in just $2,800 over a similar timeframe.For bitcion miners, the outlook was even dimmer; the most lucrative rig was the GMO B2, and miners using this setup could expect to bring in just $1,500 in returns over two years.

All told, mining zcash with the most profitable equipment is more than 400% more profitable than mining bitcoin.

Rate of Return May Diminish

As time goes on, Anything Crypto expects that an increase in zcash mining difficulty and changes to the price of the token will bring the rate of return down. Assuming a 15% increase in mining difficulty and a 10% price increase over a monthly basis, the rate of return will fall to just under $5,400 for the two year period. However, if bitcoin miners assume similar changes going forward, the most optimistic profit for bitcoin mining efforts with the GMO B2 was just $283.

It's unclear whether profitable zcash mining will last for the foreseeable future, as there are a multitude of factors that determine profitability.

Investing in cryptocurrencies and Initial Coin Offerings ("ICOs") is highly risky and speculative, and this article is not a recommendation by Investopedia or the writer to invest in cryptocurrencies or ICOs. Since each individual's situation is unique, a qualified professional should always be consulted before making any financial decisions. Investopedia makes no representations or warranties as to the accuracy or timeliness of the information contained herein. As of the date this article was written, the author owns bitcoin and ripple.