On August 16, protestors withdrew cash en masse from ATMs and converted it into U.S. dollars (USD), hoping to cause a bank run.
Cryptocurrencies have generally been championed as a method through which individuals can resist wider institutional economic threats. This most recent form of economic resistance, however, is spearheaded by Hong Kong businesses not by protestors on the street.
The Hong Kong department store stated that it is able to convert crypto payments into Hong Kong Dollars (HKD) in real time by using Bitcoin’s Lightning Network.
One of Hong Kong’s leading blockchain over-the-counter exchanges, Genesis Block, is currently operating 14 Crypto ATMs in the territory. This fusion of traditional and innovative technology distributes water bottles and umbrellas to protestors.
The umbrellas reference the "Umbrella Revolution" protests of 2014 and the bottles have a QR code enabling recipients to donate Bitcoin Cash (BCH) to further fund the protests.
The attitude of the Chinese Communist Party towards cryptocurrencies is seemingly ambivalent. In 2017 China banned Bitcoin and other cryptos, likely fearing the privacy they afford to their users. However China’s central bank is set to launch a state-backed cryptocurrency in the coming months.
Periods of economic oppression have previously led to inflation in the price of cryptos on local exchanges. This has occurred in South Korea and most recently in Argentina with the uncertainty surrounding Mauricio Macri’s premiership.