Bitcoin, released to the world in 2009 by a person or people called Satoshi Nakamoto, is not backed by a central bank or a government and is seen as an alternative payment system. In February 2013, Bitcoin went into the mainstream as a monetary crisis threatened to bankrupt Cyprus, seen as a safer bet. Early adopters of Bitcoin have been richly rewarded as the price has soared – in one case, a young Norwegian bought a house from an $850,000 windfall on a US$22 investment.

No government likes to tolerate unauthorised currencies not issued by bona fide monetary authorities, but the creation of cryptocurrencies has created a new reality. Photo: Reuters

Digital currencies need the right regulator

The Securities and Futures Commission is looking into ways to manage trading platforms, but the Hong Kong Monetary Authority should also explore the new market.