Over the past few months, Hong Kong has erupted into chaos.
The Chinese region, which is semi-autonomous having been formerly occupied by the British, has been subject to mass protests as a result of what the activists describe as “encroachment on the liberties of Hong Kong”.
In this movement, the need for decentralized crypto assets — like Bitcoin and Ethereum — has been purportedly been accentuated. Protesters and the wider public fear the implementation of more surveillance by the local and mainland government, including surveillance over finance.
Indeed, what some call “facial recognition polls” have been chopped down by activists.
While it isn’t clear if this is protest-triggered or not, a small, local Hong Kong retail chain recently started to accept three leading cryptocurrencies. This will give protesters a way to purchase certain goods in a way that is more untraceable than using a credit or debit card.
Local Appliance Store Accepts Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin
According to a recent tweet from Michael “BoxMining” Gu, a cryptocurrency Youtuber based in Hong Kong, Pricerite — a local home appliance chain with a number of locations across the city — has started to accept cryptocurrencies.
Per Gu’s picture, Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin are accepted by the chain. Gu claims that this integration involves Lightning Network support, potentially making it one of the first bonafide stores to utilize the second-layer scaling solution.
— Boxmining (@boxmining) August 26, 2019
An announcement from Pricerite about this unexpected case of adoption cited its chief executive James Leung, who explained the integration:
“Following the immense success brought by the opening of Pricerite’s first-of-its-kind New Retail concept store last year, we are making another big leap forward. Continuing with our commitment to the integration of advanced technologies with human talent, we adopted a wide range of state-of-the-art retail technologies, providing customers with an all-rounded shopping experience.”
Crypto Becomes Big in Hong Kong Protests
Pricerite’s acceptance of three cryptocurrencies, as mentioned earlier, is quite timely.
For those who missed the memo, Hong Kong has seen dozens of protests over months all across the island. While the protesters’ first key demand was met — the shelving of an extradition bill — the literally millions of protesters are still angry.
They want the island’s leader, chief executive Carrie Lam, to step down; the government to declassify their demonstrations as “riots”; the police to release those caught under the suspicion of being “rioters” or “participating in an unlawful assembly”; for more democratic elections — again; and many more issues they have with the current rule.
Of course, Hong Kong, which is backed by the hardline Chinese government, hasn’t budged. After a peaceful 1.7 million person protest last week and a more violent protest this weekend — during which a policeman fired a live gun for the first time in the around 12-week movement — the government condemned the violent activist demographic. Some fear that the use of a gun as a “warning” may result in more violence.
Throughout all this chaos, cryptocurrencies have become a local trend.
Local exchange and ATM provider, Genesis Block, has begun to back protesters by distributing supplies. According to one Forbes report, the firm is distributing water bottles and umbrellas emblazoned with Bitcoin Cash mentions and a QR code to fund further supplies.
While Genesis Block has told Forbes that the amount of BCH they have received is minimal, they argue that it is increasing the awareness of digital currencies.
Also, local exchanges, such as TideBit and the peer-to-peer exchanges set up by those on LocalBitcoins.com, have started to see increased volumes and Bitcoin price premiums on certain days — signs that imply increased demand for the asset.
It is unlikely, of course, that major firms in Hong Kong will adopt cryptocurrencies. But, should the protests continue, the need for a decentralized money may only grow.