In mainland China, all banks and third-party payments do not support direct top-ups to cryptocurrency exchanges to buy Bitcoin, Ether, etc. For those who wish to buy cryptocurrencies, the transaction is done through Peer to Peer (Peer to Peer).The specific model is similar to that of a Taobao store, in that the platform acts as an intermediary guaranteeing free exchange transactions between individuals and individuals. Currently, the three major cryptocurrency trading platforms used by Chinese people are Binance, Huobi and OKEx, all of which are created by Chinese people and therefore very much in line with Chinese habits in terms of functionality and UI. There is also a global P-to-P trading platform, Localbitcoin, which is also used by many people.
On June 9, 2021, I occasionally saw a Twitter user post a screenshot of a “Baidu search for firecoin” that showed “Sorry, no pages related to “firecoin” were found. “. It is certain that Baidu blocked this keyword, and then tested Sogou and 360(So), which also showed the same result. These three search engines account for 90.58% of the search market in mainland China (2020 statistics).
Below is a screenshot of the three search engines, Baidu, Sogou Search and 360 Search, for the branded keywords of cryptocurrency exchanges: Firecoin, Huobi, Coinan, Binance and OKEx.
From the search results, the three search engines are not simply blocking these keywords with the corresponding website, but directly determine these keywords as the object of non-inclusion content. In the following figure shows the search in Baidu, 360 search, Sogou search “VPN” keywords, so VPN in the major search engines is prohibited, but the search keywords are still able to come out of the results, but these search engines through the means of manual intervention will search results to some The search engines are only manually interfering to direct the results to “useless” web pages. This shows how strong China’s blocking of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin is this time.
Next, in order to get a more in-depth understanding of China’s attitude towards these three major trading platforms for Chinese users, a keyword search and find was conducted in the Apple App Store (App Store). In the App Store of mainland China ID’s search for firecoin, coinan, okex, it can be found that they can not find their exchange APP, the search results are some industry information class website. The reason why some news APPs such as “Coin World”, “Non-Trumpet Quotes – Blockchain Community” and “Hou.Coin – Hot News Quotes” were not taken down is unknown. It is unknown, maybe the regulation is not yet strict to this extent, maybe the influence of these APP websites has not yet formed a climate, or the gold owners behind these APP websites are people with background. Let’s keep watching…
Then we tested the official websites of Firecoin (huobi.com), Coinan (binance.com), OKEx (okex.com) and Localbitcoin (ocalbitcoin.com) in the computer and mobile web versions respectively, all of which have been blocked by China’s firewall (GFW) and cannot be opened through the domestic network.
Based on the above, we can understand that currently, if you want to open each cryptocurrency trading platform website on the computer side, you must use VPN. while on the IOS mobile side, although you cannot download these trading platform apps through the Chinese version of App Store, you can quickly download the required apps by simply registering an overseas version of App Store (e.g. US, Hong Kong, etc.). For Android system, you cannot download cryptocurrency trading platforms from domestic Android app stores such as Xiaomi App Store, Huawei App Store, Tencent App Store, 360 Mobile Assistant, etc. However, due to the openness of Android, you can download and install them directly through third-party mirror installation packages.
If China further tightens its control over these cryptocurrency exchanges, I am very worried that another scenario will emerge. That would be to intercept traffic data from these exchange app accesses directly through ISPs. What exactly does that look like? According to a simple example: you can download and install Gmail, Google Drive, BBC News and other applications in your cell phone by various methods, and when you finish the download and installation and open the app, you will find that the content cannot be loaded. At this point, you must connect through a VPN after the phone to use it. As of June 11, 2021, a VPN is not yet required to access these cryptocurrency exchange apps in the cell phones of mainland Chinese users, but I think this is the next step in the direction of regulating cryptocurrencies. By then all cryptocurrency traders in mainland China will have to use a VPN connection on their computers and cell phones in order to conduct normal buying and selling transactions.
The mobile app is currently the largest client of cryptocurrency exchange users, and a new user can “download – register – authenticate – top up – trade” through the mobile app, without the need to use the computer side in the process. If the app access must be realized by connecting to a VPN, it will definitely form a barrier for many GFW unfamiliar users, raising the threshold for new users to join and increasing the difficulty for old users to access and trade. This is definitely a negative for the trading volume of the cryptocurrency market.
Blocking traffic from cryptocurrency exchange apps brings another insecurity factor, which is “coin theft”. Since China’s network firewall (GFW) is a constantly upgraded system, it changes in real time. This has led to many secure VPN providers being reluctant to invest in the Chinese market, resulting in a long-term evolution of many service providers that specialize in breaking the GFW for mainland Chinese users. There is no denying that some of them must be products developed by very good teams, but the vast majority of similar services are set up by individuals or small teams, both free and paid, and are so mixed that it is difficult to determine the investors and purpose behind them. You can learn more by following the list below: (they are in Chinese, but you can view them through Google Translate)
- 以熊猫 VPN为例 分析翻墙工具背后团队的安全性；
- 从Facebook VPN诉讼案 反思免费翻墙软件的隐患；
When you use an insecure breach GFW tool, it will take over all the network traffic of your device, including of course the traffic of accessing accounts, passwords, etc. of cryptocurrency exchanges. And what is even more unsettling is that usually these free or unsecured tools have access to browser logs, phone albums, copy and paste temporary storage in the App permission settings. In this case, the risk of “coin theft” will be greatly increased. At the same time, due to the anonymity of cryptocurrency, once stolen, it is basically impossible to retrieve. In addition, according to the latest Chinese law, cryptocurrency theft will not be included in acceptable criminal investigation cases by public security authorities. This will further fuel the culture of cryptocurrency theft, which is unregulated under Chinese laws and regulations, in other words, it is not too much to say that it is not illegal.
I am not commenting here on the value of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ether, Dogcoin, etc. Time will tell. Some people think their value is unlimited and will become an integral part of global finance in the future. Others see it as an outright scam. But as of June 9, 2021, El Salvador has passed legislation in its Congress to officially make Bitcoin legal tender in the country, and within 90 days, all merchants in the country will be required to accept Bitcoin as currency for merchandise purchases, as well as for the country’s tax payments. The screenshot below is from Wikipedia-El Salvador, which shows that El Salvador made the U.S. dollar legal tender in 2001 and added bitcoin to its legal tender in 2021, with both currencies co-existing.
To conclude, a blockage in the form of ISP traffic blocking for cryptocurrency exchange apps is bound to happen soon. I hope all mainland Chinese cryptocurrency traders will have a mental preparation. And find a VPN (I recommend ExpressVPN) with high security, good stability and good speed as a backup to install on your phone. Once the App is blocked, then you can still effectively access major exchanges for buying and selling transactions to prevent unnecessary losses caused by the inability to trade after the App is blocked.