Despite a sweeping ban on crypto trading and mining imposed by the Chinese government in 2021, Chinese investors are finding innovative ways to engage in cryptocurrency activities. Facing economic uncertainty and dwindling returns from traditional investments like stocks and property, they are turning to the global crypto market, navigating a regulatory grey area.
Creative Strategies Amidst the Ban, Chinese investors are leveraging several strategies to access cryptocurrencies such as the use of rural bank cards, Chinese investors have been utilizing bank cards from small rural commercial banks to purchase cryptocurrencies through grey-market dealers. Transactions are capped at 50,000 yuan to evade scrutiny. Some investors are opening overseas bank accounts to facilitate crypto asset purchases. Hong Kong, with its open support for digital assets, has become a prominent destination for such transactions.
Despite the ban, investors are trading tokens like Bitcoin on centralized exchanges such as OKX and Binance, or through over-the-counter channels. Decentralized exchanges are also gaining traction, as investors connect their wallets for seamless transactions.
Hong Kong has become a hub for Chinese investors seeking exposure to cryptocurrencies. The region’s endorsement of digital assets has prompted investors to utilize their $50,000 annual forex purchase quotas for crypto investments. While Chinese regulations limit the use of these funds to purposes like overseas travel or education, investors are redirecting them to cryptocurrency accounts in Hong Kong.
Facing limited growth opportunities domestically, Chinese brokers and financial institutions are venturing into crypto-related businesses in Hong Kong. Subsidiaries of major entities like Bank of China, China Asset Management, and Harvest Fund Management Co are exploring digital asset operations in the territory.
Chainalysis, a crypto data platform, reveals a rebound in crypto-related activities in China. The country has climbed to the 13th global rank in terms of peer-to-peer trade volume, up from 144 in 2022. Despite the ban, China recorded an estimated $86.4 billion in raw transaction volume between July 2022 and June 2023, surpassing Hong Kong’s $64 billion in crypto trading.
The crackdown on crypto in China has led to the rise of decentralized exchanges globally, with platforms like Uniswap, Sushiswap, and HootDex gaining popularity. While Chinese investors may need to use grey markets in Hong Kong for offboarding, decentralized exchanges are becoming an attractive option for peer-to-peer transactions on a global scale.
China’s economic downturn, marked by a crackdown on the property sector and a struggling stock market, has driven investors to seek offshore asset allocation. Cryptocurrencies, perceived as a safer alternative, are witnessing increased interest from Chinese retail investors.
As Chinese investors continue to navigate the complexities of cryptocurrency investment amidst regulatory restrictions, the global crypto market remains a dynamic and resilient space. The rise of decentralized exchanges and the strategic use of overseas channels underscore the adaptability of investors seeking exposure to digital assets.