Asia has long been one of bitcoin’s biggest supporters. Now, deflation and drops in the Chinese yuan have tangibly contributed to bitcoin’s growing use and popularity under the eastern sun. Has Asia caught on before the West?
Filling In the China Void
Everything changed when digital currency exchanges were banned in China earlier this year. Crypto-enthusiasts took immediate notice of how bitcoin stood firm and didn’t experience drops in its price following the move.
Because it appears China’s neighbors, particularly Japan and South Korea, are starting to buy up bitcoins in droves. Over the past few weeks, for example, South Korean exchanges have been routinely outpacing the rest of the world’s exchanges in 1) price and 2) buying volume.
Indeed, digital currency tracking firm Coinhills says that South Korea is responsible for nearly one quarter of the bitcoin trading occurring today, beating out the U.S. by a longshot.
Younger crowds are growing more familiar with digital currencies, and local businesses are seeing the benefits of storing crypto on the side.
The owner of a small South Korean auto-detail shop explains how digital currency investments have allowed him to enjoy a less-stringent work schedule:
“Before bitcoin, I’d be at my shop from morning till evening. Now, I close shop when I have an appointment or leave early.”
Regulation Driving Boom in Japan?
Bitcoin’s consistent price booms have been a spectacular show for many of us, and the current sentiment is that growing communities of Asian investors are responsible.
Japan’s government has been heavily involved in cryptocurrency regulation since the Mt. Gox debacle in 2014. Apparently, the situation has presented a two-sided situation for people to consider. On one hand, the event was a terrible embarrassment, and one the country isn’t likely to forget.
On the other hand, Japan was one of the first countries to head a cryptocurrency exchange, and the nation still possesses the technology and means to do so while learning from its previous mistakes.
Gatecoin’s head of marketing Thomas Glucksmann explained that several major banks in Japan have gotten involved, allowing customers to open accounts devoted to cryptocurrency as well as fiat. Additionally, several retailers accept bitcoin payments for goods and services.
“There was very little interest, and now it’s a complete 360,” Glucksmann said. “It’s the biggest market, and everybody’s talking about it. You have people like hairdressers and housewives. People like that investing in crypto, in addition to the bigger players, so the regulations have helped to fuel a lot of the legitimacy in the Japanese market.”
People Paying Premium Prices for BTC in Asia
Bitcoin is in such high demand that many Korean investors wind up paying premiums of 25 percent over global prices, yet the high fees aren’t deterring interest in the least.
“First, it was just tech people,” claims college student Isaac Chung. “Now, literally everyone is interested in bitcoin.”
It was announced on Twitter that the Korean government is intending to regulate cryptocurrency exchanges in another major Asian development that will surely prove decisive in the coming months. As in Japan, the move is likely to bring further legitimacy to bitcoin trading.
Granted these trends continue in Asia, the price of bitcoin is set to take a few extra leaps across the financial river.
Will the bitcoin craze in Asia last? Post your comments below.
Images via Pixabay