Shanghai-based bitcoin and litecoin exchange BTC China has announced the launch of USD and HKD deposits and withdrawals, becoming the latest China-based exchange to publicly extend its services to the international community.
The news follows Beijing-based OKCoin's announcement at The North American Bitcoin Conference (TNABC) that it would be adding USD deposits this week as part of a broad push to court an international market that, for now, remains absent of large, professional US exchanges.
Addressing the announcement, BTC China CEO and Bitcoin Foundation board member Bobby Lee framed the product as a way for the company to give back to its users and the community, saying:
"As a global company, BTC China is pleased to accommodate the demands of our users, both domestic and international."
The launch was preceded by an invite-only testing period, during which BTC China says it "collected several million USD worth of deposits".
The first bitcoin exchange in China, BTC China recently also expanded its product offerings for international users, launching a mobile bitcoin wallet in June.
Updated account offerings
BTC China indicated that the move was its first step in what could be broader support for additional currencies, as exchange users had been previously limited to deposits and withdrawals in Chinese yuan. As such, the company expects the new offerings to resonate in its home market.
Current users who want to take advantage of the newly supported currencies will need to open an international account in addition to a domestic account, the company said.
Hong Kong emphasis increases
The announcement also finds BTC China leveraging its position in Asia to work around the restrictions imposed in China. The company says all orders on the service will be processed via its registered Hong Kong affiliate, as Hong Kong has to date been more accommodating to digital currency businesses due to its status as a special administrative region.
The Chinese bitcoin market has faced continued uncertainty in recent months, following statements from the country's central bank, the People's Bank of China, that aimed to separate the companies from the traditional financial services sector.
Owing to the country's unique regulatory structure, formal guidance such as the kind proposed in New York may not ever be drafted to ease uncertainty. However, representatives from the central bank have stated publicly that they do not seek to ban digital currency altogether.
China courts US market
The announcement is notable given the recent emphasis bitcoin's China-based businesses are placing on the international market.
Speaking to CoinDesk at The North American Bitcoin Conference (TNABC), representatives from both OKCoin and Huobi suggested that given that restrictions of China's market, the country has emphasized bitcoin's use as a financial instrument rather than a payment method, and that because of this demand, they are uniquely suited to extend services internationally.
Further, OKCoin CTO Changpeng Zhao stated at TNABC that the company aims to provide 24-hour phone support to international customers, though it stopped short of openly encouraging US consumer use of its platform, saying that it is not registering for a money transmission licence in the US at this time.
BTC China has not commented on whether it will offer this guidance.
Image via BTC China