Yahoo! Finance reported on Aug. 28 that the political upheaval in the city – which has now entered its 12th week – is prompting several local businesses and individuals to switch to using non-sovereign and decentralized digital currencies.
The pro-democracy, anti-government protest movement in Hong Kong is spurring wider adoption of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin.
Apolitical, borderless money for the pro-democracy movement
On Aug. 26, Hong Kong department store Pricerite announced it would begin accepting Bitcoin, Litecoin (LTC) and Ether (ETH) at its fourteen locations in Hong Kong.
Yahoo Finance! notes that the store has indicated it will be able to swiftly convert the crypto into Hong Kong dollars using the Bitcoin network’s scalability layer, Lightning Network.
Alongside traditional retailers, cryptocurrency firm Genesis Block has been operating 14 crypto ATMs across the city.
In July, Genesis Block – which trades under the name “CoinHere” – distributed water to protestors that had been paid for using international donations in Bitcoin Cash (BCH), as well as umbrellas – a symbolic reference to the city’s 2014 Umbrella Revolution.
The surge in interest in cryptocurrencies comes against a backdrop of other forms of economic activism. Earlier this month, protestors initiated an action to withdraw as much money as possible from their bank accounts, or convert their local currency into US dollars.
This had a twofold purpose, serving both as preemptive protection of their personal assets and sending a sharp warning to Chinese authorities.
As early as June, moreover, it was reported that a numver of Hong Kong’s tycoons – a city which counts 853 individuals worth more than $100 million – had begun to move their wealth offshore.
Bitcoin trades at a premium in Hong Kong
Should the protest movement fail to prevent China’s controversial extradition bill from becoming law, mainland Chinese authorities will have the right to demand that Hong Kong courts freeze and confiscate assets related to crimes perpetrated on the mainland.
Bitcoin trading volumes in Hong Kong soared in June amidst the turmoil, and the coin continues to trade locally at a several hundred dollar premium on peer-to-peer exchange LocalBitcoins.
Messaging Giant LINE Wins Japan License for Crypto Exchange Business
LINE, provider of Japan’s most popular messaging app, has just been approved for a cryptocurrency business license in the country.
The news, reported by CoinDesk Japan on Friday, means it will be able to offer its crypto exchange services in Japan where it has 80 million monthly active users. The new platform is to be called BitBox, according to the company.
The license was awarded by Japan’s Financial Services Agency, which indicated on its website that the registration was completed on Sept. 6 in the name of LVC Corp., which oversees LINE’s digital asset and blockchain business units.
LINE President Takeshi Dezawa also disclosed completed FSA registration to the Tokyo Stock Exchange today, as per the report.
The messaging firm said last month it’s aiming to build a “token economy” around its own blockchain LINK Chain. It will offer two tokens – LINE Point in Japan and LINK for other nations – aimed to connect users and service providers. Five decentralized dapps (decentralized applications) will soon be launched across categories including “prediction, Q&A, product review, food review and location review using social media.”
LINE said at the time that it “aims to flatten the relationship structure between users and service providers to promote co-creation and mutual growth.”
CoinDesk Japan also reports that impending legislative changes will soon have an impact on Japan’s crypto exchanges.
Revisions to laws related to cryptocurrencies scheduled for spring 2020 will mean cryptocurrency transactions and trading will be subject to the regulation of the Financial Instruments and Exchange Act.
Further, in addition to the virtual currency exchange business license, crypto firms will have to register as first-class financial instruments businesses under the new regime.