A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System” was published, detailing the concepts of a payment system. Bitcoin was born. Bitcoin gained the attention of the world for its use of blockchain technology so when an alternative to fiat currencies and commodities. Dubbed the next best technology after the internet, blockchain offered answers to issues we have failed to address, or ignored in the last few decades. I will not delve into the technical aspect of it but here are some articles and videos that I would recommend:
How Bitcoin Works Under the Hood
A gentle introduction to blockchain technology
Ever wonder how Bitcoin (along with other cryptocurrencies) actually work?
Fast forward to today, 5th February to be exact, authorities in China have just unveiled a fresh group of regulations to ban cryptocurrency. The Chinese government have previously done so this past year, but many have circumvented through foreign exchanges. It has now enlisted the almighty ‘Great Firewall of China’ to block access to foreign exchanges in a bid to stop its citizens from undertaking any cryptocurrency transactions.
To know more about the Chinese government stance, let’s backtrack a couple of years back to 2013 when Bitcoin was gathering popularity on the list of Chinese citizens and prices were soaring. Worried about the price volatility and speculations, the People’s Bank of China and five other government ministries published an official notice on December 2013 titled “Notice on Preventing Financial Risk of Bitcoin” (Link is in Mandarin). Several points were highlighted:
1. Due to various factors such as for example limited supply, anonymity and insufficient a centralized issuer, Bitcoin isn’t a official currency but a virtual commodity that can’t be used in the open market.
2. All banks and financial organizations aren’t allowed to offer Bitcoin-related financial services or take part in trading activity linked to Bitcoin.
3. All companies and websites offering Bitcoin-related services are to join up with the necessary government ministries.
4. As a result of anonymity and cross-border top features of Bitcoin, organizations providing Bitcoin-related services must implement preventive measures such as for example KYC to prevent money laundering. Any suspicious activity including fraud, gambling and money laundering should to be reported to the authorities.
5. Organizations providing Bitcoin-related services ought to educate the public about Bitcoin and the technology behind it and not mislead the general public with misinformation.
In layman’s term, Bitcoin is categorized as a virtual commodity (e.g in-game credits,) that are being sold or sold in its original form rather than to be exchanged with fiat currency. It cannot be defined as money- something that serves as a medium of exchange, a unit of accounting, and a store of value.
Regardless of the notice being dated in 2013, it is still relevant based on the Chinese government stance on Bitcoin so when mentioned, there is no indication of the banning Bitcoin and cryptocurrency. Rather, regulation and education about Bitcoin and blockchain will are likely involved in the Chinese crypto-market.
An identical notice was issued on Jan 2017, again emphasizing that Bitcoin is a virtual commodity and not a currency. In September 2017, the boom of initial coin offerings (ICOs) resulted in the publishing of a separate notice titled “Notice on Preventing Financial Threat of Issued Tokens”. Immediately after, ICOs were banned and Chinese exchanges were investigated and finally closed. (Hindsight is 20/20, they will have made the right decision to ban ICOs and stop senseless gambling). Another blow was dealt to China’s crypto currency community in January 2018 when mining operations faced serious crackdowns, citing excessive electricity consumption.
While there is no official explanation on the crackdown of cryptocurrencies, capital controls, illegal activities and protection of its citizens from financial risk are a number of the significant reasons cited by experts. Indeed, Chinese regulators have implemented stricter controls such as overseas withdrawal cap and regulating foreign direct investment to limit capital outflow and ensure domestic investments. The anonymity and simple cross-border transactions also have made cryptocurrency a favorite means for money laundering and fraudulent activities.
Since 2011, China has played a crucial role in the meteoric rise and fall of Bitcoin. At its peak, China accounted for over 95% of the global Bitcoin trading volume and three quarters of the mining operations. With regulators stepping directly into control trading and mining operations, China’s dominance has shrunk significantly in trade for stability.
With countries like Korea and India following suit in the crackdown, a shadow is now casted over the future of cryptocurrency. (I will reiterate my point here: countries are regulating cryptocurrency, not banning it). Without a doubt, we will see more nations interact in the coming months to rein in the tumultuous crypto-market. Indeed, some kind of order was long overdue. In the last year, cryptocurrencies are experiencing price volatility unusual and ICOs are happening literally every other day. In 2017, the full total market capitalization rose from 18 billion USD in January to an all-time most of 828 billion USD.
Nonetheless, the Chinese community are in surprisingly good spirits despite crackdowns. Online and offline communities are flourishing (I personally have attended several events and visited a few of the firms) and blockchain startups are sprouting around China.
Major blockchain firms such as NEO, QTUM and VeChain are getting huge attention in the united kingdom. Startups like Nebulas, High Performance Blockchain (HPB) and Bibox are also gaining a fair level of traction. Even giants such as Alibaba and Tencent may also be exploring the capabilities of blockchain to improve their platform. The list goes on and on nevertheless, you get me; it’s going to be HUGGEE!
The Chinese government have also been embracing blockchain technology and also have stepped up efforts recently to aid the creation of a blockchain ecosystem.