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Chinese walls

By davebirch posted Mar 21 2007 at 7:49 AM

[Dave Birch] I wonder if the focus on virtual currencies isn't getting just a tad hysterical?  The news that the Chinese government has decided to restrict the convertability of virtual currencies into Yuan because it is worried that virtual currencies from online games could undermine the country‚Äôs financial system makes you think.  The government there says that the redemption of virtual currencies in value exceeding their original purchasing prices will be banned (which I think is the same as the European Directive on Electronic Money Issuing, isn't it?) to prevent attempts to make a profit.  What's even more interesting it that the government also says that virtual currencies cannot be used to buy real goods but only virtual products and services provided by the operators who issue the currencies.  As I've said before, this whole real/virtual thing is very fuzzy.

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The Chinese virtual currency market is believed to be growing at a yearly rate of between 15% and 20%, and is estimated to be worth several billions of dollars!  It isn't the size of the market that makes this story interesting but the fact that the Asian perspective on virtual currencies seems to be so different from ours and I'm very curious to find out why.  We've discussed before the different regulatory approaches -- laissez-faire in the UK and US compared with legislation in South Korea and China -- and I'm sure we'll come back to it again, but I wonder if anyone out there has any opinions as to whether it is simply the size of the Asia-Pacific virtual currency markets that is attracting regulators or whether it is something cultural?

These opinions are my own (I think) and presented solely in my capacity as an interested member of the general public [posted with ecto]


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