China is quietly positioning itself to dominate the brave new world of Bitcoin.
By Stan Stalnaker
November 18, 2013: 10:15 AM ET
Until recently the digital cyrptocurrency was considered a joke by the financial mainstream, but the view is starting to shift now that prices have surged above their April peak and are now hovering around $600.
Bitcoins are still being viewed cautiously by lawmakers and regulators in the United States. In fact, there are two Senate hearings this week about the risks Bitcoin poses. But that is decidedly not the case in China. There has been a steady drumbeat of positive news in the Chinese press this year, including a landmark report on CCTV, China's national television network.
China's fascination with the currency upstart resulted in an estimated 40,000 client downloads a day and a burgeoning acceptance rate from online retailers down to physical traders standing in Tiananmen Square.
The largest Bitcoin exchange in the world is located securely inside China, and one of the world's largest Internet companies, Baidu (BIDU), is integrating and using Bitcoin. It seems highly unlikely that Baidu would be able to integrate Bitcoin payments across its vast network of users without some sort of complicit nod from higher authorities.
Chinese interest could play a huge role in turning Bitcoin into the first trillion dollar non-fiat currency.