As BTC China installs its first bitcoin ATM and launches an online application allowing Chinese citizens to buy and sell the digital currency, the defiant words of the company’s founder, Bobby Lee, ring true.
Lee said bitcoin wasn’t dead
On March 21, ValueWalk reported on how Lee had strongly objected to the characterization that bitcoin was being banned in China. Speaking with Betty Lu on Bloomberg TV in March, Lee, a smile pasted on his face, countered the common wisdom. “China has not banned bitcoin. I think there has been some mis-reporting in the media,” he said, pointing out that Chinese authorities had determined bitcoin was not a currency and thus banks and financial institutions could not trade in bitcoin. In the interview Lee said that bitcoin was beyond the control of any one sovereign government.
Countering talk that his exchange would be shut down, the bitcoin entrepreneur was defiant. “News reports said it would be shut down by April 15. It’s April 16 and nothing has happened,” Lee was quoted as saying in a Reuters report.
This past December the People’s Bank of China restricted financial institutions from trading in bitcoin, which sent the price of the free-wheeling currency falling from over $1,000 to near $500. At the time this action was interpreted in the west as the centrally-planned Chinese economic machine shunning the digital currency, which isn’t backed by any sovereign government or material asset. China has been known to advance plans to dislodge the US as the world reserve currency of choice. It recently completed a deal with Russia to provide natural gas to the world’s fastest growing economy that specified payment to take place using a currency other that the US dollar.
BTC China has engineered ATM-like services that avoid the banking system, the Reuters report noted. The firsts ATM is located in a café catering to Shanghi’s tech community and allows users to exchange Yuan for bitcoin in the machine, but users cannot withdraw cash. Trading on the bitcoin exchange has significantly fallen, down over 80%, since China restricted the digital currency, falling back to transaction levels similar to levels before the price spike in September, 2011 the report noted.