According to CCN, “There’s nothing like a bank run to bring out the bitcoin-fever dreamers.”
During the many weeks of protests in Hong Kong, protesters reportedly tried this tactic in one of their latest efforts to stop what they see as unfair practices of their government.
One of the more prominent protest leaders called for a run on the banks, calling on people to empty their accounts. The call delighted bitcoin enthusiasts, many of whom lit up Twitter with their reactions.
The Hong Kong protests are unconnected to currencies: they kicked off after Hong Kong officials announced a plan to allow those who were accused of a crime to be extradited to mainland China for trial. This sparked a fear that the city’s judicial independence could be further eroded by such a move, and that its citizens might be unfairly treated.
By pulling deposits from banks, one thought is that this would reduce the influence of the People’s Bank of China’s on the Hong Kong economy. As CCN says, “Those who support the bank runs presumably think they can trigger an economic crisis.”
On Twitter, the protester’s proposal produced cheers from bitcoin enthusiasts, who believe that a run on the banks will equate to more people buying bitcoin with the money they drain from their accounts.
While a number of members of the Twitter bitcoin community clearly couldn’t wait to see the bank run happen, others cautioned against it, or downplayed its significance. One posted, “The 3 Hong Kong banks are immune to bank runs, because they can print their own notes to the equivalent value of their deposits. The protest would affect only the Chinese banks.”
Another tweeted, “I guess they run on fractional reserve….and would surely be limited in how much money they add to money supply without HKMA? The idea of a bank run…not a good look for Hong Kong. Hide money in bitcoin if you don’t need for 1 to 2 years, avoid taxes that fund “police”.
As it happens, the Hong Kong protesters didn’t withdraw their money en masse, and they didn’t buy bitcoin either.