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.

Beijing has been clamping down on cryptocurrencies but has been more receptive towards blockchain. Photo: Reuters

Cryptocurrency ban could erode China competitiveness, forum hears

China’s regulators should maintain a more welcoming position towards cryptocurrencies, as an outright ban on their use and trade could undermine the country’s economic competitiveness, senior executives said during a panel discussion at the Asian Financial Forum in Hong Kong on Tuesday.