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Bitcoin and Hong Kong

February 15, 2017

I found this article in the SCMP curious because I’ve never been more optimistic about Hong Kong as a bitcoin center as I am now.

There are two things that I’ve learned from Hong Kong.

  1. The HK government is completely clueless and devoid of creativity, innovation, and the ability to lead.  And that’s a good thing.  You will get absolutely nowhere in Hong Kong if you wait for the government to tell you what you can and cannot do.  If you do something in Hong Kong, you have to go up to the government and tell them what you want them to do.  And in 95% of the cases, it turns out that what you want is the government to do nothing, and just not throw you in jail.  Instead of waiting for regulatory clarity, you need to be assertive.  I’m doing X unless you tell me that you are going to toss me in jail for doing X.
  2. You do finance *through* Hong Kong and not *in* Hong Kong.  Hong Kong is a small market, and it turns out that if the regulators really don’t want you to do something, then you can say fine, I’m not going it in Hong Kong, but I’m just using Hong Kong as a base so that I can do something in Indonesia.  It turns out that Hong Kong is a perfect connector because you have people from all over the world in one place, so if you want to figure out how to move money from Taiwan to Ukarine, you can find people that know both markets in HK and do the deal.  Also the fact that the government is neutral helps things a lot.

Just as a practical example of how this works.  Let’s take a look at the blog post that I did on how to move money out of Mainland China with bitcoin.  I really could not do the post if I was not in HK.  Basically, I’m doing something that would be illegal in both Mainland China and in the United States (i.e. I’d be violating capital control laws in Mainland China, and I’d be violating money transmission laws in the United States).  But because Hong Kong has a “hands off” approach to this sort of thing (as long as you aren’t moving money into or out of Hong Kong), I can write the post that explains step-by-step how you move money through bitcoin.

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