Why are many crypto projects doing nothing to promote themselves in China? This seems very odd to me because all these companies are aware that China is an enormous potential market.
In this post, I’m going to look at the opportunity and explain where/how Chinese people buy crypto. Then, I’ll give some simple tips on how you could succeed in boosting Chinese investment in your crypto project.
Opportunities in the Chinese Crypto Market
First off, crypto is not really banned in China. It is restricted, which makes it tougher for people to buy. Regular financial institutions cannot offer crypto-related products and services.
The red boxes in the timelines below show each time crypto was “banned” in China; yet, it’s still there. At the time of writing this article, it was reportedly banned again, so I asked a friend to double-check that it’s still possible to buy crypto online with CNY, and it is.
Even with government restrictions, China is one of the biggest crypto markets in the world. We can’t really know how big for sure because the data just isn’t available. One way we can know that China is crypto-crazy is by the Bitcoin hashrate. According to data from the University of Cambridge, China’s miners make up 65% of the total global hash.
Some might read that and think China might own 65% of the total crypto market, but that’s unlikely. I guess that mining is popular in China partially because it isn’t as easy for them to buy it directly, but also because of cheap electricity rates. Furthermore, places like Sichuan Province have energy that isn’t only cheap but renewable too. That province alone controls an estimated 54% of the Bitcoin hashrate (source), partly due to China banning coal-powered mines in some provinces.
I can tell that crypto is a big deal in China simply based on the number of people I know talking about it. I think these “investors” fall into four main categories:
- The Global Millionaire – It’s well-known that China’s rich like to get some of their money out of the country into something safe. Some have heard tales passed down from older family members about revolutions and unrest, and they know it could happen again. They could buy foreign real estate, businesses, gold, crypto, etc.
- The Gambler – There are no casinos in mainland China. Chinese people need another outlet for their love of gambling.
- The Investor/HODLer – This is the category I fall into. Investors believe crypto will be around to stay because it provides a benefit to the world. Note: when I say “investor,” I’m not assuming whether they have a lot of money or not. Nowadays, people in China and abroad can start investing digitally and with as little as $50.
- The Business – Chinese tech company Meitu bought 40 million USD of bitcoin and ether earlier in 2021.
These four general types are based on people I know in real life (employees, business contacts, friends, and family), with the exception of “The Business.” As somebody still learning about this industry, I’m sure I’ve missed some.
Changes are coming up that could make crypto even more popular in China by the end of 2022. Namely, The Chinese Digital Yuan will be rolling out by the 2022 Olympics. I predict this could send many, many more buyers into the market. It will depend on how safe they perceive the Chinese government’s central bank digital currency to be. There’s going to be a lot of debates about this around Chinese dining tables. I’d be willing to bet this is going to flip the attitudes of the different generations.
It’s usually younger people who trust the technology and its potential for the future, but they tend to trust the government a lot more.
Meanwhile, older generations don’t understand the tech but tend to have a deep suspicion about government intentions. Not such a deep suspicion that they would voice their concerns publicly, but deep enough to move some of their hard-earned money somewhere the government can’t reach.
If these different generations combine their technical and historical knowledge to come to the conclusion that they should move some of their family savings into crypto, this could be very big. But, these are just my personal predictions.
Where/how do Chinese people buy crypto?
If you’ve occasionally seen some news that China “banned cryptocurrency,” you might be in for a surprise about how easy it is to buy in China.
Chinese citizens can buy it on Binance’s peer-to-peer exchange. If you’re curious just how it works, you can check the video on this page. It’s in Chinese, but you should still be able to see how it works.
I don’t believe users can purchase crypto with fiat currency via centralized exchanges though. However, once they’re in “the cryptoverse” they can exchange via P2P or centralized platforms as well as engage with decentralized platforms, DeFi, and smart contracts just like everyone else.
How can crypto projects attract Chinese money?
This is easy to answer because many crypto projects out there simply aren’t doing anything at all in China. So let’s start by doing something! Here are the tactics I recommend, starting from the lowest-hanging fruit.
- Localize the website
Binance’s website is fantastic. The video above is translated, written, and presented in a suitable way for a Chinese audience. Even the speaker’s voice sounds like the kind of reputable person that would be in a bank commercial.
But what about THORChain.org? There’s no Chinese on the site at all. They should start by translating the homepage and all the key pages explaining the technology, its potential, and how to use it.
Then, the next level above straight-up translation is to adapt the content a bit to answer the kinds of questions Chinese users will have. For example, we might want to
- splice in some lovely Chinese memes;
- create a “how to buy it” page specifically for China, or
- create CTAs to drive Chinese users into Chinese-speaking communities on WeChat or Telegram.
- Get started on WeChat
WeChat is the king of social networks in China. While the regulations for setting up an account vary over time, I’d look into setting one up pronto.
Once set up, Thorchain can
- post regular updates,
- create a group and begin building a community, and
- create a “mini-website” within WeChat.
There’s a lot that can be done with WeChat, but with Thorchain you would only need to start with those three basics.
After spreading more Chinese content online, we should expect to see other accounts distributing the content too. Sometimes they’ll use the info to write up their own articles. Other times they might just copy and paste the official content, but it’s all cool because we’d want that publicity.
- Collaborate with influencers
If they are willing to spend some money and want to make a serious splash, I’d recommend working with influencers, often called “key opinion leaders” (KOLs) in China.
Influencers are present on all Chinese social platforms and many niche websites. Influencer marketing is popular in China for all industries, but it’s of particular importance for crypto because crypto companies aren’t allowed to do regular digital advertising.
Most influencers charge up-front, so it’s important to review them carefully first and choose the ones that are the best fit.
The great ones will probably want to create the content themselves, so they can spread the word in their own special style.
And that’s it. Start with those three steps, boost your awareness, community engagement, and market cap. It’s not so hard, right? And it’s even easier/faster/better if you hire us.
Now, if you want to learn a lot more, start with the China Digital Marketing 101 guide. It should be a course for $4,000, but it’s free.
What’s my interest in crypto?
We ran a campaign for a crypto project in 2017 and 2018, and it went very well. I was happy to see them successfully increase their Chinese organic traffic by 100x. I bought a little Ether then too, then it went down in price, and I almost forgot about it.
Fast forward to 2020. I started seeing a lot of patterns from the Chinese Internet reaching the Internet of the rest-of-the-world, for both good and bad. On the plus side, e-commerce picked up big time. However, the downside was a growing support for censorship from governments and citizens alike.
To someone who has been documenting Chinese Internet trends for over twelve years, this looked very bad indeed. When I started, it seemed to be liberalizing, but then it just got more and more restrictive over time. The Chinese Internet is great for selling stuff but terrible for developing ideas on a societal scale.
So, I started down the rabbit hole of looking at Web3 technologies. The tech that can keep the Internet more free, open, and democratic…and that rabbit hole leads me to crypto.
Plus, I can also see the business case for crypto. I think all business owners should be using DeFi to increase the speed of transactions and interest on our “chequing” accounts. Most businesses, like mine, leave a stack of cash in the bank, and it only decreases in value over time.
There are plenty more opportunities beyond that too. The crypto, blockchain, and Web3 experiment seem to be the next generation of the Internet, and I can’t imagine what else it will bring.
Crypto marketing is similar enough to the content marketing my company does for tech companies. In fact, many of the tactics are the same. Nevertheless, I also hope to attract some crypto clients that are less bureaucratic compared to some of our bigger B2B clients and down to engage in high-acceleration marketing SCRUM sprints, which really is what Nanjing Marketing Group is best at.