You could say it’s been a rough week for Bitcoin users in China. Not one, not two, but three major banks, along with another Paypal-like payment service, have banned bitcoin accounts in the country. As the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) seems to be carrying out their crackdown they proposed in December 2013 with a heavy hand, it always helps to take note of some of the positive things that are occurring within in this dreary climate.
Take for instance Bihang. This Bitcoin startup was launched on December 17 2013 by founders Changhao Jiang and Hao Wang. Why is this date so significant? The previous day, the PBOC had banned third party payment firms from carrying out bitcoin transactions in China. Quite the entrance, I’d say.
Bihang’s founders are not even Bitcoin evangelists and own very little bitcoins themselves. Their interest rather lies in the bitcoin wallet business along with the apps that accordingly come with them. Jiang, a former research scientist for Facebook, gave his thoughts on why intellectual property rights transfer and the property market would benefit from lack of regulations:
"If one can carry out peer-to-peer transactions without relying on the support of centralized organizations and third-party payment firms, it would be very cool. This will be a whole new set of rules for the game, which will turn a lot of traditional trading practices on their head."
Jiang’s counterpart, Mr. Wang, formerly worked at Goldman Sachs on transactional technologies and was trying his hand at a startup in mobile health app, while at the same time Jiang was working on an online-to-offline service. The two came together thanks to Feng Li of IDG Capital Partners, who invests in startups such as Coinbase and Wacai. IDG promptly invested in Bihang itself.
In April 2014 Bihang launched the Bibao mobile app for Android. The app includes the following features:
- Follow Bitcoin and Litecoin exchange rates on major Chinese virtual currency exchanges and historical charts.
- Configure and receive price alerts
- Trade with any of the exchanges within the app — no transaction-based fee is charged by Bibao as of yet.
- Check your BTC or CNY balance and trading record.
- Keep up to date on news about Bitcoin and Litecoin across the Chinese Web.
As a precaution, Bihang has maintained a small work force of ten employees to remain secure, half of which work the tech side of the company and the other the administrative and customer service operations.
As for the future of bitcoin wallets, Jiang sees future bitcoin starts will become more diverse and offer a plethora of services like transfers, trusts, and wealth management. While the forecast for bitcoiners in China looks to be uncertain, Bihang doesn’t seem to be afraid to keep calm and move forward.