Shanghai Man: Bitcoin interest in China sinks as social media and miners crack down
This weekly roundup of news from mainland China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong attempts to curate top industry news, including influential projects, changes in the regulatory landscape, and blockchain integrations in businesses.
This week, after several turbulent weeks of regulation, the focus of the Bitcoin world shifted to Miami and Latin America. The search for bitcoin on China’s most popular social media app, WeChat, stabilized at between 1-3 million per day, a marked difference from the peaks of over 10 million recorded at the end of May.
Weibo and Baidu half pull the plug
Baidu, China’s dominant search engine, restricted searches on the Binance, Huobi and OKEx exchanges earlier this week. Usually, large internet companies operate under the watchful eye of government and party officials, which is what awaits this move. Filtering out keywords is not always the most effective solution, as a search for “Binance App Download” would still lead users to the desired link. It’s worth noting that the government has limited powers in these cases as most of these major exchanges, Binance in particular, are registered in other countries and have limited physical presence in China.
The closure of cryptocurrency influencer accounts on the Weibo microblogging platform was more effective. According to reports from Cointelegraph, at least a dozen accounts have been suspended with reports that they violated applicable laws and regulations. This can have a much more sobering effect on the Chinese cryptocurrency community as influencers are often a primary source of information, especially for users who do not access traditional Western social media platforms.
Western Province slams the door to miners
On June 9, a county government in western Xinjiang issued a “Notice of Immediate Suspension of Virtual Currency Miners”. The report announced that companies involved in digital currency mining would have to stop production on June 9 at 2 p.m. and report the suspension to a local reform commission. This resulted in a significant drop in global hashing power, with the China-backed ant pool dropping more than 30%. Over the past month there has been a plethora of regulations against mining companies as China prepared to meet its carbon emissions targets. Miners are still struggling to adapt to the new regulations, with many headed for more lenient countries like neighboring Kazakhstan.
In it for the technology
The Monetary Authority of Singapore announced that it has received over 300 applications for crypto payments and exchange licenses. Singapore is a popular location for Chinese companies as it is home to a thriving FinTech sector but remains close to the mainland both geographically and culturally. One of the companies was Internet giant Alibaba. Alibaba has been under scrutiny in China for its lending practices, so it’s no surprise that Alibaba and other Chinese companies are looking to diversify their financial offerings in other regulatory regions.
On June 7th, China’s senior ministry for industry and information technology issued guidelines to accelerate the use of blockchain technology in the industrial sector. It targeted 2025 as the year blockchain should penetrate areas like supply chain management and traceability for internationally competitive companies. This will be of interest to a number of public and private chains that can develop within the confines of the Chinese regulatory framework. Although the cryptocurrency is facing strong backlash, the Chinese government has not given up its hopes that blockchain will be an engine of economic growth in the country.
For those interested in understanding China’s ambitions in this area better, the government-sponsored BSN hosted a webinar on China’s pursuit of new technologies. Chinese tech experts Winston Ma and Paul Schulte covered a range of topics including blockchain, central bank digital currencies, and even some more controversial geopolitical issues. Cointelegraph’s Man in Shanghai was ready to moderate and kept an open mind.
Bet on it
On June 8, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority published a “Fintech 2025” strategy to improve research on a central bank digital currency. The Hong Kong Monetary Authority is partnering with the National Bank for Settling and Clearing’s Innovation Hub to bring a central bank digital currency to the retail level. This area is an interesting place to find out how the e-HKD will be similar to the e-CNY and what that means for the region’s financial future.