In the aftermath of restrictions from the People’s Bank, many outsiders are wondering what it’s like to use Bitcoin in China now.
The atmosphere in China at present is extremely hostile for many aspects of Bitcoin. Exchanges are notably feeling pressure, with some even closing in light of banking authorities recently ‘reaffirming’ their stance towards cryptocurrency, one which could be called ‘critical’ at best.
However, beneath the surface lies a somewhat different scene, set apart from the turmoil of the legislation. For consumers, it is definitely fair to say that “Bitcoin is not dead in China” – to quote BTC China CEO Bobby Lee in an interview last month.
A cursory glance at CoinMap brings up a barren landscape for Chinese Bitcoin. Currently listed are four Bitcoin-accepting outlets in Shanghai, three in Beijing and a scattering of others across the country, bringing the total to 14 (not including Hong Kong, which has 21 outlets on CoinMap).
Unsurprising perhaps, although this is not to say that the scene is dying out altogether. An interesting offering not listed on CoinMap is expat website IWannaBuy, which provides foreign residents with pollution masks and various other atmosphere-improving products.
“BitCoin payment isn’t a new thing,” its news regarding Bitcoin states, “but we damn sure like the idea of easy online payment, and supporting a great innovation.” The company also ships to Hong Kong.
Other than consumer-oriented products, the Bitcoin mining industry in China has come through recent months mostly unscathed. Sites such as Bitjishi.com offer a comprehensive array of hardware, while there is even a Bitcoin directory, BTC123.com, listing both consumer and technological providers.
A recent Russian article highlighted the phenomenon of Chinese numeric website addresses, with certain numbers sounding like the words they represent, or having other significance. The number 5, it says, “in Chinese is pronounced ‘woo’. It is similar in sound to the word ‘in’, which means ‘I’. 1 pronounced ‘yao’ with a change in tone would mean ‘want’. Therefore, 51job.com means ‘I want (to find) a job.’”
The classic ‘lucky’ status of the number 8 also benefits Bitcoin, it would seem, with online Bitcoin magazine Babbit reachable under the domain name 8btc.com.
User reports provide continued proof that Bitcoin in China is not only still alive and kicking, but still has practical uses. Reddit user u/robertsieg recently supplied a detailed overview of his experience of using Bitcoin in the country, explaining “how BTC makes my life easier in China and why I think it might really catch on with the other 21M foreigners who come here every year.”
The user highlights the continued ease of sending international payments between BTC China and Coinbase accounts, for example, while also remaining cautiously optimistic regarding consumer services.
“In any case, purchasing with RMB is a little bit of a hassle because many online merchants require Chinese IDs. I think BTC can get around that and give merchants confidence in doing business with foreigners,” he writes, adding that “I’m not sure, but I think it’s possible we will see major Chinese retailers accept BTC for payments again.”
Merchants themselves, furthermore, are no more averse to Bitcoin than previously, Marshall Hayner of QuickCoin told Cointelegraph. “I think the majority of Chinese merchant concern is keeping stability within their business,” he said, “Many businesses are open to the idea of accepting Bitcoin but not at the cost of becoming de-banked.”If the situation among merchants, and hence Bitcoin exposure to consumers, boils down to a tense ‘in limbo’ effect while the PBOC eyes its development, this could well be a blessing in disguise. In terms of reputation, all is not lost.