Bitcoin enthusiasts in China exchanged a total of RMB 10 million (US$1.6 million) in Chinese New Year gifts using the cryptocurrency, according to Beijing-based exchange OKCoin.
This mostly happened through WeChat, the popular messaging app, as half a million people used OKCoin’s mobile wallet and WeChat account – called OKLink – to gift bitcoin to their buddies during the course of the week-long holiday. Users sent the bitcoin gifts in the form of virtual red envelopes through WeChat (pictured above is an OKLink one), a modern twist on the traditional, cash-stuffed red packets given to younger family members during Chinese New Year reunions.
While the US$1.6 million figure is a solid number for the troubled cryptocurrency, it pales in comparison to the more conventional money transfers made through WeChat during the holiday. WeChat revealed last week that one billion of its own digital money red envelopes were shared on Chinese New Year’s Eve alone, though the company didn’t disclose a transaction total.
OKCoin CEO Star Xu hailed the festive bitcoin sharing as a great way for the exchange to bring in new cryptocurrency converts. “Bitcoin acts as a social financial network and the success of bitcoin relies on more and more users adopting bitcoin and not only using it as a trading commodity. That is our core belief,” Xu said.
OKCoin is backed by major investors including Tim Draper. In March last year it secured US$10 million in funding from several new investors. The startup plans to roll out OKLink’s cash-gifting feature in English shortly, it revealed today.