Pic: AP.

Fast, cheap and anonymous, electronic money proves a hit, write Asia Sentinel’s Yajiao Chen and Nikki Woo

Horry Chan spends more time on internet communication than talking to real people. As the owner of the Hong Kong-based online application store Easyapp.com, his team designs and customizes applications for local and international clients.

In the past year, a new feature has been added to his website: accepting bitcoins for transactions. That’s right. Bitcoins.

Rumors of bitcoins’ demise are exaggerated and Asia, increasingly attuned to electronic commerce, is waking up to their convenience and economy despite the well-publicized disappearance of MT GOX, the Tokyo-based electronic currency’s biggest and most important exchange, which was handling 70 percent of all transactions. Hackers apparently stole 850,000 of customers’ bitcoins valued more than $450 million. Although 200,000 have since been found, the other 650,000 seem to be lost forever. That caused the bitcoin value to plummet by more than half.

(MORE: Bitcoin goes live in Vietnam despite government concerns)

Nonetheless, for Chan and a growing number of merchants, bitcoins are becoming an integral part of the flow of commerce because transactions are fast and cheap. Across the planet, Dell the computer, giant, is now accepting Bitcoin for payments, as is Expedia, one of the world’s largest online travel agencies.

“The idea actually started from our foreign developers’ requests,” Chan said. “When one of our projects was finished, one of our application developers based in another country asked if he could be paid in bitcoin. Why would he rather take a crypto-currency instead of US dollars? I was curious.”

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