If you thought the status of Bitcoin in China was unclear, the fog just got a little bit heavier. BTC China, one of the country’s principal digital currency markets, has revealed a Bitcoin ATM in a café in Shanghai as well as an online app allowing individuals to buy and sell bitcoins on their cellphones.
The ATM, located in the Zhangjiang technology park area, can be used to buy bitcoin in exchange for yuan, although the machine itself does not dispense any cash. No banking system is involved.
The new ATM adds an additional layer of ambiguity to the Chinese government’s recent “crackdown” on Bitcoin.
In late March, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) demanded any bitcoin exchanges to close their bank accounts by April 15. While exchanges like BTC38 closed their doors following the aggressive actions by the PBOC, BTC China CEO Bobby Lee claims they have received no formal notice about closures and has continued business past the April 15 deadline.
Despite the ban on third-party processors doing business with bitcoins, individual trading remains legal in mainland China. Bitcoins are legal in all regards in Hong Kong.
China is a vital part of the Bitcoin community. In November 2013 it was reported that Chinese exchanges “were responsible for almost two-thirds of worldwide traffic.” BTC China, which emerged as the country’s most popular exchange, hopes the absence of PBOC restrictions even if it’s a matter of luck as transaction levels remained steady.
Since the ATMs inception, the café has reported a steady amount of customers completing transactions on the machine. Along with the ATM, BTC China’s new online app allows P2P direct transactions, as opposed to selling them on an open exchange, which allows users to bypass recent banking regulations.
Expert opinion from Mike Yeung “I’m sure there'll be a return to the old voucher system that was used by BTC China at the end of last year. There's simply way too much money in China for there not to be exchanges. The exchanges in nearby territories with minimal restrictions like Hong Kong or Singapore or even Macau will attract mainlanders. There's very little the Chinese government can do to stop a high roller from taking a trip to Hong Kong and setting up a bank account for all his BTC needs.”