The Hong Kong Monetary
Authority views bitcoin as a virtual commodity as opposed to a virtual
currency, which therefore enables Asia Nexgen to accept payments to acquire
bitcoin the commodity, not bitcoin the currency.
Customers must first provide
an ID card and proof of address to comply with customs and excuse rules on
money laundering before they can make a transaction at the store through their
The first customer to the
store following the ribbon-cutting ceremony spent $HK100 (US$12.90) to purchase
roughly 0.022 bitcoins, according to market rates listed on the US-based
CoinBase exchange at the time.
Ken Lo, co-founder and CEO
of Asia Nexgen, said the store could help raise the popularity of bitcoin.
"The biggest issue people have right now is buying the bitcoin. People
have to put money in, trade it through an exchange online," he said.
"Now, you walk into
the store, hand over your cash and send the bitcoin to your digital
wallet," he added.
The store opened on the
same day that Japanese bitcoin exchange MtGox was forced to file for bankruptcy
protection after claiming to have lost nearly half a billion dollars' worth of
bitcoins in an alleged theft last Tuesday.
Lo said the MtGox debacle
was only "a drop in the bucket" and that there is no "shortage
of demand" for bitcoins at the moment.
Bitcoins were trading at
around US$572 on Coinbase on Sunday.
Late last year, China's
central bank stated that bitcoin was a digital currency and prohibited
third-party payment processors from providing bitcoin transaction services.