last updated: 2020-12-01 version history
Buying Bitcoin in Hong Kong
The options on how to buy Bitcoin can be overwhelming at first. Unlike with centralized systems like Alipay or Paypal there is no ‘official’ way to fund your accounts, and fees vary across services and locations. As a rule of thumb, the more convenient and fast a HKD -> Bitcoin exchange is, the higher the fees are.
Compared with selling Bitcoin, there is little fraud risk associated with buying. Unfortunately Bitcoin still does not have the legal status in Hong Kong that it deserves, and banks are reluctant to deal with companies and individuals associated with Bitcoin. In this environment it is easy for scammers to attempt to defraud you of your Dollars or Bitcoin in certain kinds of transactions.
No matter how you buy your Bitcoin, always insist on having your Bitcoin delivered to your personal wallet. We do not recommend to keep Bitcoin on exchanges, with your broker, on trading platforms or as ‘IOUs.’ Always insist on having your Bitcoin sent to your personal Bitcoin wallet, which should not be an app provided by your exchange or broker.
Your Bitcoin wallet
You can download a Bitcoin wallet on your phone and computer or buy a hardware wallet. Only download apps from trusted sources, such as the App Store and Play Store. Buy your hardware wallet only from authorized resellers or directly from the manufacturer.
You should set up your wallet yourself. It will generate a backup ‘seed’ containing 12-24 words for you. Store this phrase carefully, as anybody with access to it will be able to steal your funds. DO not upload this phrase to the internet and do not share it with others. If you lose your phone, computer or hardware wallet you will be able to restore your funds using this seed.
As banks are more aggressively acting against Bitcoin companies, trading bitcoin in person has become more popular again in Hong Kong recently. The website localbitcoins.com as well as the platform Paxful provide plenty of offers to buy and sell. If you just need a few dollars worth to ‘try it out’ or ‘play with’, you will likely find somebody to trade at the regular Bitcoin meetups.
Some OTC exchanges (see below) also deal with cash deposits and withdrawals. Clarify with your exchange or traders beforehand what currencies, notes and payment forms they accept.
The most convenient way to buy Bitcoin is an ATM. Usually you only need to show the ATM the QR code of your Bitcoin address, insert bank notes and confirm the exchange rate. The process takes less than 30 seconds, is anonymous but can cost up to 8% in fees. Prepare your wallet ahead of time, and bring exact change. ATMs generally accept only HKD bank notes, some insist on the first note being of HKD 500 denomination or above.
There are currently over 100 Bitcoin ATMs in Hong Kong, and their location is frequently changing.
You can find an up-to-date map of Hong Kong Bitcoin ATMs and their operators through Coin ATM Radar
Some of the larger operators of Hong Kong Bitcoin ATMs include:
CoinHere: (Ap Lei Chau, Causeway Bay, Cheung Chau, Cheung Sha Wan, Happy Valley, Hung Hom, Jordan, Kowloon Bay, Kowloon City, Kwai Fong, Kwun Tong, Lai Chi Kok, Ma On Shan, Mong Kok, Ngau Tau Kok, North Point, Prince Edward, Sai Kung, Sai Wan, Sai Ying Pun, Sham Shui Po, Sheung Shui, Sheung Wan, Tai Kok Tsui, Tai Wai, Tseung Kwan O, Tsim Sha Tsui, Tsuen Wan, Tuen Mun, Wan Chai, Yau Ma Tei, Yuen Long)
CoinUnited: (Causeway Bay, Chai Wan, Jordan, Hung Hom, Kennedy Town, Kwung Tong, Mid-levels, Mong Kok, North Point, Sai Wan Ho, Sai Ying Pun, Sheung Wan, Tai Kok Tsui, Tin Hau, To Kwan Wan, Tsing Yi, Tsim Sha Tsui, Wan Chai)
HK Bitcoin ATM: (Central, Fanling, Mong Kok, Sham Shui Po, Tsuen Wan)
Kernel ATM: (Tsim Sha Tsui)
Nitroswap: (Causeway Bay, Kwun Tong, Mong Kok, Po Lam, Sham Shui Po, Tsim Sha Tsui, Tuen Mun, Yuen Long)
Buying Bitcoin on exchanges is usually the cheapest option in terms of fees and is relatively fast and convenient too. But it often requires a few days to set up an account and get verified, and you can expect exchanges based in Hong Kong to ask for your personal information like HKID or address proof before you can start using their accounts. Please note that Bitcoin exchanges are not to be treated as banks. We recommend you to withdraw your coins quickly after your purchase to a wallet you control, and never keep any funds on an exchange for a longer time.
Hong Kong Exchanges
There is currently one exchange with local Hong Kong bank accounts.
Tidebit Tidebit is the newest of Hong Kong Bitcoin exchanges. You can deposit cash for free or via wire transfer for a 2% fee.
For larger amounts, you can go to an OTC Exchange, or broker. A broker will give you a quick quote for a single trade, usually upwards of 10 BTC. You will be able to sell or buy Bitcoin against a wire transfer.
OSL Institutional clients only.
Genesis Block Opened in September 2017 in Wan Chai, the Genesis Block functions as an OTC trading hub as well as an event space.
Circle Trading Circle is a Boston-based financial services firm most popular for their money transfer app. They opened a Bitcoin OTC trading desk in Hong Kong in November 2017.
BitInsightHK Located in Central and was opened in February 2018.
AAX The OTC desk of AAX exchanges HKD, USD and CNY to Bitcoin and offers a variety of payment methods, including FPS, WeChat or Alipay.
Q9 Capital Q9 Capital is the digital assets arm of Henyep Group. It provides 24/7 live OTC executable streaming prices.
CoinUnited The OTC desk of CoinUnited operates a easily accessible location for OTC trades in Causeway Bay in addition to their ATMs all over town.
Smaller OTC houses located in Hong Kong include:
MyEthShop, Mong Kok
BTC Shop HK, Tsim Sha Tsui
Coingaroo, Lai Chi Kok
One Satoshi, Mong Kok, Causeway Bay
Some exchanges overseas serve the Hong Kong market. Wire transfers to these exchanges are more expensive, but often more reliable and there is significantly more market depth. Disputes however cannot easily be resolved through the Hong Kong legal system and can quickly become complicated and expensive to resolve.
Quoine Quoine is a Japanese exchange that offers HKD deposits into their Japanese bank accounts and HKD trading.
Gemini Gemini is a New York exchange that specializes on large volumes. It only accepts USD deposits and trading.
Bitstamp Bitstamp is a cryptocurrency exchange based in Slovenia. They accept USD and EUR deposits and withdrawals and welcome Hong Kong customers.
Pee-to-peer Exchanges don’t have their own bank accounts. Instead, buyers and sellers interact directly with each other when transfering money. It is up to the user to follow the appropriate Anti-Money-Laundering and Know-Your-Customer rules. The Bitcoin are held in escrow by the exchange. It’s very important to make use of these escrow options and be careful who you interact with.
Binance Binance is mostly known for its popular online exchange, where it offers a range of products, including a popular P2P listing. Be sure to select HKD and only deal with traders with the highest satisfaction rates.
Paxful Paxful is a peer-to-peer exchange based in Estonia. Hong Kong-based users can trade with each others and use a variety of payment methods including bank wires and deposits, gift cards, Alipay and PayMe.
XanPool XanPool allows you to easily buy and sell Bitcoin in Hong Kong and Singapore using PayMe. Funds are not held in custody by the exchange.
Localbitcoins Localbitcoins is a peer-to-peer exchange managed from Finland.
Bisq Bisq (formerly Bitsquare) is not a company, and is not run by anybody. Instead it acts as a network of users, which you can join by downloading the Bitsquare software. This software might be experimental at times, but shows promise in leading the way to a truly decentralized future.
The by far cheapest way to get Bitcoin is to accept them as payment. No matter if you run a business, are employed, do freelance work or your friends owe you money, it may be a good idea to ask for these payments to be made in Bitcoin. Especially online and in international transfers the instantaneous and near-free Bitcoin transactions are far superior to other means.
If you have a business, you can consider accepting Bitcoin as a form of payment. Learn all about it here.
Feel free to comment about your experiences, thoughts and additions.