Businesses are turbocharging Bitcoin adoption as pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong against Chinese interference enter their twelfth week, Yahoo Finance reported Aug. 28.
Hong Kong protests have become the symbol of modern-day dissent as more than 1.7 million people voice their concern against a digitally watchful government. The majority of the protestors fear that the region’s wide-scale surveillance can allow the government to track the protesters and crackdown on them.
The demonstrators, who claim to be defending the “liberties of Hong Kong,” have already brought down facial recognition poles. They now have a chance to circumvent financial surveillance without breaking a finger.
Retailers Spurring Bitcoin Adoption
The Hong Kong demonstrations are on the verge of becoming a catalyst for Bitcoin adoption as businesses turn to cryptocurrencies as a medium of exchange.
Pricerite, a department store based in the autonomous region, announced via Facebook on Monday that it has begun accepting cryptocurrencies – Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin – as a form of payment.
A new concept store at the popular MegaBox shopping center, will with immediate effect, start converting crypto payments into Hong Kong Dollars at its cash registers in real-time.
Pricerite says it is possible thanks to the Lightning Network, a second layer network that speeds up crypto payments via off-chain transactions.
Bitcoin Cash, a popular digital asset forked from the original Bitcoin network, is also gaining traction among protestors who are taking measures to promote the cryptocurrency and supporting dissidents at the same time.
Genesis Block, a company that operates 14 Bitcoin ATMs in Hong Kong and trades under the name CoinHere, distributed water bottles paid for using global donations made using Bitcoin Cash. The water bottles were fitted with QR codes that made it possible for recipients to donate Bitcoin Cash for additional water supplies for the pro-democracy protests that have stunned the world over the last three months.
The exchange previously provided protestors with umbrellas. The umbrellas had Bitcoin symbols on them and are seen as a complement to the 2014 Hong Kong “Umbrella Revolution” in which hundreds of thousands of protestors took to the streets.
The Chinese police stationed at the border have made things worse, and the protests have taken a new economic turn. The protestors are withdrawing money and converting it to USD. Some of the residents were seen hoisting US flags in the past few weeks.
Are Hong Kong Protests Driving Bitcoin Higher?
Local cryptocurrency exchange Tidebit reported a sharp rise in the price of Bitcoin at the start of the protests in June. Popular peer-to-peer marketplaces Paxful and LocalBitcoins.com also said that there was an increased demand for Bitcoin in Hong Kong during the protests.
Cryptocurrency businesses are raising awareness that Bitcoin, which has long been considered as digital gold by its enthusiastic supporters, could be used as a safe have-haven asset should there ever be a mainland military crackdown.
The price of Bitcoin traditionally increases in several countries during times of economic unrest and this has already been observed in Argentina. South Korea has already coined a term for this phenomenon: “Kimchi premium.”
While the Hong Kong protests are bringing cryptocurrencies to the forefront, they have failed to have a significant impact on the global price of Bitcoin.
There is no telling what will happen next but the city’s tycoons – of which 853 individuals have a net worth exceeding $100 million – are already moving their wealth offshore.
Hong Kong is a major financial hub and several cryptocurrency startups flocked to the region after China began cracking down on cryptocurrencies, exchanges, and mining activities two years ago.
There is no sign that the protests will come to an end soon after fresh rounds of violence erupted over the past weekend. The Guardian reported on Aug. 27 that the police arrested as much as 86 people including a 12-year old for various crimes ranging from unlawful assembly to assaulting police officers.
The region’s embattled leader, Carrie Lam, insists she hasn’t lost control and is adamant that her administration will not give in to the demands of the protesters.