Political unrest usually leads to economic uncertainty, which can drive investors into alternative assets or safer havens overseas. Protests in Hong Kong have garnered global attention as mainland oppression has resulted in millions taking to the streets. Some retail outlets have begun accepting crypto in preparation of further financial uncertainty.
Crypto Payments Gaining Popularity
According to the Bitcoin Association of Hong Kong, department store Pricerite has started to accept payments in cryptocurrencies, claiming to be the first retail store in the region to do so.
Department store Pricerite has begun accepting Bitcoin (Lightning), Litecoin and Ethereum at its store at Megabox, a Facebook announcement reads. pic.twitter.com/yIRpxcGcTq
— Bitcoin Association 香港比特幣協會 (@bitcoinorghk) August 26, 2019
The firm has also just opened its third new New Retail concept store, at MegaBox in Kowloon Bay. Crypto payments will be converted into HKD in real time at the store’s cash registers. Customers with cryptocurrency wallets supporting the Lightning Network will be able to complete Bitcoin transactions in seconds. CEO James Leung stated;
“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.”
It remains to be seen whether this move has been tied to the recent protests but the underlying trend is one of increased crypto adoption in Hong Kong. A Forbes article last week correlated the Bitcoin premium with increased political tensions in the country.
Price premiums are common during times of economic oppression as has been recently seen in Argentina. As Bitcoin demand increases, its price may be over inflated on local exchanges, in South Korea this is known as the Kimchi premium.
The report added that Genesis Block, a crypto ATM provider, noted a decline in machine usage due to the protests but this was primarily a result of their geographic locations. It also handed out free drinking water to protesters with Bitcoin Cash donations via QR code representing the use of crypto assets in times of turmoil.
Overall the situation in Hong Kong has had minimal impact on Bitcoin prices. It has remained in its range bound channel, consolidating in the mid-$10k range this morning after a brief spike above $10,600. The increased adoption of crypto currencies when political and economic tensions escalate, however, is worthy of note.
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