Chinese financial institutions have begun to make financial transfers in yuan and are accepting bitcoin payments for transactions, a move that is expected to add to the popularity of the digital currency among the country’s middle class.
The first financial bank of China, the First Global Financial Company, which has branches in Hong Kong, Macau, Macao, Singapore, Taiwan, and Vietnam, announced Monday that it is accepting bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as a payment method, and that customers can make purchases using bitcoin and pay with their Chinese Yuan, Renminbi, or other currencies.
The First Global financial company has approximately 7,000 customers in China, according to the company’s website.
Bitcoin is the most widely used cryptocurrency, with its value surpassing $1.6 billion in late 2015.
The first financial company will begin accepting bitcoin in the first quarter of 2018, according the company.
The move follows similar efforts by major Chinese financial services providers, including Baidu, to accept bitcoin as a form of payment for some transactions.
In December, the Beijing-based financial company Tencent began accepting bitcoin as payment for its online video game store, Tencent Game.
China’s financial services sector has been heavily criticized for its reliance on virtual currencies like bitcoin and ethereum, which are designed to bypass traditional banking and are widely used as a way to circumvent the countrys capital controls.
Bitcoin has seen explosive growth since its 2009 launch.