Blockchain Research and Insight - Kapronasia

China has a complicated relationship with blockchain technology. Until the fall of 2017, China was the largest market for Bitcoin. But Beijing ultimately couldn't tolerate the decentralized nature of virtual currency and its utility in allowing Chinese citizens to evade capital controls, or in some cases, launder money. The ensuing crypto crackdown may turn out to be much like President Xi Jinping's anti-corruption campaign: never-ending.It's now clear that China will not allow decentralized digital currency in its financial system.

Less than two years ago, China was the world's virtual-currency capital by trading volume. On the eve of the great crypto crackdown in September 2017, China accounted for 90% of the world's Bitcoin trading. Miners capitalized on cheap electricity rates in far-flung provinces to churn out as many digital coins as their power supplies permitted. Crypto bulls lauded Beijing's apparent embrace of distributed ledger technology and decentralization.

As it turns out, the celebration was premature. In a move to control what it perceives as systemic financial risk, Beijing has been gradually squeezing the life out of the China crypto market. The Chinese government has banned ICOs and the use of fiat currency in virtual-currency purchases as well as blocked related websites. Recently, it began working to eliminate crypto mining. At the same time, the WeChat super app banned crypto trading effective May 31.

The National Bank of Cambodia will become one of the first banks in the world to integrate blockchain technology into its national payments system in the second half of the year. The Cambodian government aims to use distributed ledger technology to strengthen banking system efficiency and boost financial inclusion in what is still one of Asean's poorest countries.

China may be the only country in the world able to stamp out cryptocurrency while repurposing its underlying blockchain technology. Decentralization becomes centralized under this scenario, as private enterprises implement blockchain solutions in line with central government directives. It's a bit like the "socialist market economy."  The key to success here is acceptance of seemingly contradictory principles, one of Beijing's specialties.

Paradoxes abound in the Chinese economy, as the long arm of the state regularly collides with resilient entrepreneurial activity. Nowhere is this more apparent than the fintech segment, where Beijing is repurposing technology designed to facilitate freewheeling financial activity as an instrument of state control. We would like to ask enigmatic Bitcoin founder Satoshi Nakamoto to comment - if only we knew how to get a hold of him.

The crypto community is aghast at Beijing's move to regulate blockchain, which will be effective February 15. "Blockchain under threat in China," proclaimed Coingape in January 14. report. The Invest in Blockchain site said that "the Chinese blockchain industry is about to come under heavy scrutiny" in a Jan. 13 article.

The last eighteen months have been a bumpy road for initial coin offerings (ICO’s). Last year we reported that China had banned them completely citing concerns over large scale fraud and regulatory bodies across the world have begun to take a tougher stance on the practice. Yet, despite these setbacks, $5 billion dollars was raised by ICOs in 2017, with that figure being surpassed in the first three months of 2018 alone. Nonetheless, in a response to the negativity around ICO’s, Security Token offering (STO) have emerged as an alternative form of blockchain based funding. We believe that the subtle differences in both offerings may be critical in beginning a new period of reconciliation and agreement between regulators and technology companies seeking finance under the blockchain.

On May 9th, a mini-app on WeChat called ‘Little Agreement’ showed up, providing an interface to create agreements on the Ethereum blockchain for Wechat Users. A few hours later, the mini-app was removed.

Cryptocurrency control in China seems to be getting stronger since the ban on September 4th, 2017. In a bid to further limit the use of crypto in China, the National Committee of Experts on Internet Financial Security Technology (IFCERT) is now monitoring 56 platforms that offer over the counter (OTC) cryptocurrency transactions.

The (Qingdao) Blockchain Research Company released a set of ratings for various blockchain projects on May 17th, 2018. The company is related to China Center for Information Industry Development (CCID), led by Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), part of the national government, but it would be wrong to read that this is any sort of acceptance of crypto by the Chinese government.

Blockchain technology has become one of the most popular topics in China today as it moves beyond conversations in the tech industry to normal individuals in their everyday lives. It is easy to catch a conversation about ideas of blockchain at a restaurant, on a bus, or in a club from people excited about the investment opportunities of blockchain projects, or even just blockchain ideas.

Blockchain technology's momentum has grown significantly in China and it’s clear that this technology is here to stay. Since Chinese New Year, frequent good news has accelerated this trend – The People’s Daily published a whole page talking about how to develop this technology, and it’s been a hot topic even in the ongoing “two sessions” National Party Congress.

The top three tech giants in China -  Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent, previously did not talk much about their blockchain development, but with a much more receptive public and regulatory environment, they have revealed a bit more about where they have been focused.

February 12 2018

The Great Crypto-Wall of China

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China is on the verge of creating another uninviting barrier for the cryptocurrency market, however nothing has been set in stone yet. Xinhua, one of the main news outlets in China, released another elusive yet pressing statement on February 5, 2018 laying out some of the government's plans to further hinder Chinese citizens from accessing international cryptocurrency exchanges and ICOs.

Bitcoin has grown rapidly in 2017 and its grabbed the attention of industry leaders and CEO’s, including Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. In January, Zuckerberg released a comment that indicated that Facebook will be looking to research and potentially adapt Blockchain technology.

XRP has become one of the most hyped cryptocurrencies, outperforming both Bitcoin and Ethereum last year. Much of the hype comes from XRP’s connection to its creator company Ripple Labs, but this link may not be as useful as many hope.

The recent hype around Bitcoin continues to bring uncertainty to the financial stability of countries. Whilst some countries are accepting Bitcoin others are rejecting it and the threats that they perceive it holds.

Evident concern on the volatility and the unforeseeable future of cryptocurrency exchanges have caused the South Korean government to take heightened steps to further inspect new crypto-trading accounts due to an “overheated market” and a number of money-laundering cases. The announcement of this act alone was followed by a downward spiral of 11% in Bitcoin's value.

China has long seemingly been opposed to all things crypto, having previously banned ICO’s and virtual currency trading. However, in the latest development of China’s war on crypto, it is now reportedly set to shut the Bitcoin mining industry.

With the craze surrounding Bitcoin, many are concerned that the crypotcurrency’s price is over valued and a result of too much hype. However, Blockchain, the technology behind Bitcoin, is captivating the attention of many and is widely regarded as the future of technology. So much so in fact, many countries have already launched or begun looking into the possibility of creating their own Blockchain based, state sponsored cryptocurrencies.

Bitcoin and blockchain technology has raised the specter of dis-intermediation for the leading global banks in the last few years.

The crypto space is evolving rapidly, from bitcoin in 2009 to over 900 different crypto-currencies in 2017. The space is emerging and developing at an exponential rate. Blockchain technology has been following a similar trend with more and more potential uses being found every day. The potential for innovation is endless, this is only the beginning.

There has been significant news published in the last week regarding regulation around initial coin offerings (ICOs) especially around the Chinese Government's position on ICOs in China. Finally, at 3.00pm, September 4th this Monday, seven important Chinese government departments including the PBOC, issued an announcement to stop any ICO transactions and defined ICOs in China as illegal fund raising. Strict ICO regulatory is the right choice but is this ‘One-size-fits-all Policy’ the right answer?

September 04 2017

China, Regulation, and ICOs

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For several weeks earlier this year, the PBOC (Peoples Bank of China) focused on bitcoin exchanges and halted crypto-currency withdrawals from the main exchanges; now ICO’s (initial coin offerings) have grabbed their attention. With ICO’s growing in popularity they are hard to ignore, In China since the beginning of the year there have been 65 ICO’s, that have raised over 2.6 billion RMB. As such, the PBOC has been considering banning ICO’s as they expose investors to a very high risk and “illegally absorb public funds.”  

July 03 2017

A brief on ICOs

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Over the past few weeks, little-known ICOs have grabbed the media's attention. ICOs, or 'Initial Coin Offerings', have become a new way for individuals and start-ups to obtain funding. A significant number of these ICOs are originating from China, so we decided to take a look at the dynamics behind these new funding vehicles. 

Blockchain technology has become one of the hottest topics in China Fintech. So when Ant Finance, the most valuable tech unicorn company in the world, announced they were working on a blockchain-based solution for the charity space, it captured lots of attention - but what is behind the move?

Bank of America Merrill Lynch recently confirmed the application of the block chain-based technology to trade finance transactions. This is a clear indication from the traditional banking sector of their support for the disruptive technology. The bitcoin’s underlying technology finally is seeing practical use.

Last week China’s central bank announced the possibility of launching its own digital currency on its official website. What is behind the government's push to launch a digital currency? Control money outflow? Better monitor cash transactions? 

So over the past week, the internet has been aflutter with talk of Bitcoin and China again. A March 10th Goldman equity research note entitled 'The Future of Finance' offered a few comments about Bitcoin in China seem to have reignited the debate about Bitcoin's place in the Middle Kingdom. There are a lot of misconceptions out there, we felt we needed to set a few of them straight.

According to the latest hardware specifications of bitcoin mining manufacturers, even with it no longer makes sense for individuals to mine on their own - even in China where electricity is somewhat cheaper. Except if they are willing to wait a long time. 

Ripple Labs announced partnerships with two U.S. banks, which will allow their customers to make same-day distributed money transfers at a very low-cost. How about partnering with Chinese banks? Could Ripple in China work with banks in a space where Bitcoin in China has struggled?

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