Taiwanese digital entertainment company Wayi is aiming to become Taiwan's first bitcoin exchange, and announced it will soon begin accepting bitcoin as a payment option on its shopping site.
Wayi will be the first large Taiwan-based company to offer this option. Wayi also plans to start Taiwan's first bitcoin exchange service, allowing people to buy bitcoins with local currency.
The latter move is more ambitious, as Wayi says it currently does not hold any bitcoins. The plan is to accumulate a supply from shoppers using bitcoin at Wmall, and then connect with US-based BitPay "to verify the legality of bitcoin owned by consumers".
Once it has accumulated a bitcoin supply, the company will start its exchange service, charging customers a 3% fee to trade in their cash. Customers will also be able to exchange their bitcoins back into local currency through digital exchange centers.
In response to the statement, the company’s stock price rallied, reaching the 7% daily upper limit allowed by the Taiwan Stock Exchange.
Wayi’s financial report indicates that the company’s revenue in November dropped 4% from the previous month's level to TWD$41.7m ($1.41m), 22% lower than the same period of the previous year.
Despite mainland China having the world's largest bitcoin exchange and Asia producing most of the world's computer hardware, overall adoption in Eastern Asia has been slower than in other parts of the world.
Taiwan's only exchange option at the moment is LocalBitcoins, and coinmap.org shows only a few local merchants across the region. There has been a high level of interest, however, from each country's tech community and all have small but active enthusiast groups.
This is attributed to a general lack of information available in local languages, fewer connections to the international bitcoin community and its merchant databases, or societies that remain largely cash-based and thus less burdened by credit card hassles.
In Japan's case, there are already a number of yen-based RFID card e-cash options that are widely accepted by stores and function smoothly.
As in other places, Taiwan's regulators have remained mostly quiet on the issue but are watching with interest.
In comments that echoed other central bankers' cautious view of bitcoin, Taiwan's central bank, the Central Bank of the Republic of China's (CBC) Governor Perng Fai-nan said recently the bank "has been keeping close tabs" on the development of bitcoin. The bank also said it views bitcoin trading as similar to that of precious metals.
Story co-authored with Eric Mu
Taiwan map image via Shutterstock