Why Bitcoin Should Matter to You and Hong Kong


Almost everything in our life has been impacted by technology that changes the way we do things to be better, faster, cheaper, safer, and smarter—be it in transportation, architecture, communication, etc.

But, if we truly live in a globally-connected world, why are we still paying high middle-man fees, while our banking transactions still take around 3+ business days to go through (and God forbid if your signature on that bank document is slightly off for some reason that day)? There should be a smarter and safer way to make transactions.

In some ways, Hong Kong’s MTR-issued Octopus card has made daily purchases frictionless and fast. Making payments in bitcoins can be just as convenient, and unlike the Octopus that is only useful within the borders of Hong Kong, bitcoins work pretty much like cash without borders. You can use bitcoins to pay anyone in the world in any amount you desire, instantly—even to reload your overseas bank account or pay off that college loan you took out while studying abroad, at a fraction of the cost of traditional wire transfers. “Huge” would be an understatement when talking about the potential that the Bitcoin protocol has in disrupting the world of finance.


If Bitcoin is so awesome, then why hasn’t it taken off?

One major roadblock to mass adoption in Hong Kong seems to be how Bitcoin is perceived—ranging from a Ponzi scheme (i.e. Mycoin scam), the criminal’s currency of choice (i.e. Silk Road trial), to nothing more than a speculative asset. This has led us to a chicken and egg situation where bitcoin users have no place to spend their bitcoins in Hong Kong, while local merchants don’t think there are enough bitcoin users to begin accepting bitcoins as a form of payment. Perhaps this situation will resolve itself in time: Surveys have indicated that the younger generation is more open to digital currencies than their parents or grandparents. It’s not hard to imagine that in a few years’ time, the younger generation will start using them and they will take hold.

In the meantime, Hong Kong needs to begin the upgrade to finance 2.0—remaining at status quo is not an option. With that said, startup founders and entrepreneurs are much-needed and highly capable change agents to achieve this kind of upgrade. Since the world of digital currency is relatively nascent, there are many ways in which a startup can contribute to the digital currency ecosystem. A good place to start is by attending the “Inside Bitcoins Conference” to be held in Hong Kong this May. Gatecoin’s co-founder and CEO Aurélien Menant as well as Bitcoin Association of Hong Kong’s President Leonhard Weese will be speaking at the conference along with Bitcoin notables like Tone Vays and Roger Ver.

As the late and great Steve Jobs once said, “We’re here to put a dent in the universe. Otherwise why else even be here?”

Inggrid Yonata (@iyonata) is the PR & Communications Manager of Gatecoin – see her Startbase.hk profile.

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