China's craze for bitcoins has been well-documented over the past year, but a new report highlights just how dominant of a player the country is.
About 80 percent of bitcoin volume is now driven by the Chinese yuan (Exchange:CNY=), according to data from Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS - News). The U.S. dollar is the second most used currency for transactions, followed by the euro, the bank said in a new report.
The bank's findings correlate with data from Bitcoinity, a popular website used to track market data. A look at trading volume over the past six months reveals China's yuan accounted for 77 percent of total market share, compared with 19 percent for the greenback (New York Board of Trade (Futures): =USD) and just 1 percent for the euro (Unknown:EURBA=).
China's high trading activity comes despite recent moves by the People's Bank of China (PBoC) to clamp down on the crypto-currency. The central bank banned financial institutions from bitcoin trading in December after warning that the currency was essentially a vehicle for speculation. Earlier in 2014, the PBoC also took measures to prevent bitcoin companies from gaining access to payment processors.
However, Goldman Sachs believes the mood is gradually improving: "However, in light of a somewhat stabilizing Bitcoin economy in China, a few payment processors have reemerged, such as BTC China's JustPay."
Bitcoin's future in China is expected to keep expanding as the country becomes a major mining hub, according to a U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission report last year.
The mainland boasts an enormous online gaming community, where games like World of Warcraft allow players to trade virtual credits earned in the game for cash or real goods and services. The practice is called "gold farming" and can be seen as a precursor to bitcoin mining, the report said.
"One prominent figure in Beijing's Bitcoin circles estimated that China's miners, composed mainly of hardware engineers and IT aficionados, number in the tens of thousands."
Goldman Sachs expects global bitcoin acceptance to continue growing thanks to the currency's potential for transforming the remittance market.
"Bitcoin and other crypto currencies enable the potential for faster transactions with lower transaction fees. The Bitcoin network can charge as little as zero for processing transactions if there is no time constraint for confirmation."
Moreover, concerns over fluctuations in bitcoin prices won't apply to money transfers due to the speed of the transactions and the fact that customers are given rates in advance, Goldman added.
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