Attention Bomb: Libra Garners a Massive Audience in China & Competes with AliPay / WeChat

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Libra is trending in China. Yes, you read that right, China. Despite the fact that most western media outlets and Facebook itself are banned in the nation, Chinese netizens have purportedly found themselves closely following the drama around Facebook’s cryptocurrency. Weird, right?

A Single Sentence Made Libra Trend in China

Noted by Chinese cryptocurrency commentator CnLedger on Thursday, data from Google Trends suggests that “Facebook Libra” is on a popular search term in China. In fact, they write that the United States’ netizens are about only 10% as interested in the aforementioned search term as Chinese internet users. What’s weird is that Google is technically banned in the Asian nation, making this statistic all the more potent.

Libra isn’t only popular on Chinese Google, but Weibo too. Cryptocurrency venture capitalist and Bitcoin philanthropist Dovey Wan, pointed out that Libra has become the second-largest trending topic on the Twitter-like platform. She added that per data from Weibo, the topic has seen over 220 million views and tens of thousands of comments.

#LIBRA made the second top trending topic on Weibo, Chinese twitter 🔥🔥

Unlike the first hearing didn’t make much splash outside crypto groups, in second one Marcus admitted “Libra will compete with Alipay/Wechat” which trigger the attention bomb widely @nlw narrative watch pic.twitter.com/9UeLn4dvop

— Dovey Wan 🗝 🦖 (@DoveyWan) July 18, 2019

According to Wan, this trend is easily explainable. She writes that this “attention bomb” in China was set off due to David Marcus’ mention of Alipay and WeChat Pay, the nation’s two foremost digital payment ecosystems.

During Wednesday’s hearing, the head of Blockchain at Facebook noted that should Libra come to market, it will likely compete with the two Chinese payment services. So presumably due to the culture of patriotism in China, tens of thousands on Weibo were quick to react to the trending topic. Case in point, five out of six Weibo comments that Wan curated from the trending topic made it clear that locals do not expect for Libra to succeed, let alone steal some of, say, WeChat’s market share.

People’s Bank of China Preps For Libra Launch

Interestingly, the People’s Bank of China is much less pessimistic about Libra’s chances. In fact, the Chinese central bank has even revealed plans to launch a central bank digital currency (CBDC) to respond to Libra, should it succeed that is.

This could show that the financial authority sees the cryptocurrency, which is backed by some of the biggest names in American technology and finance — firms Beijing obviously wants to avoid — as a threat.

Per previous reports from Blockonomi, the head of the research division at the People’s Bank of China, Wang Xin, told an audience at the Peking University that Libra could affect international fiscal stability, and thus the Yuan.

What Wang is fearful of is that the cryptocurrency will be mostly backed by the United States Dollar but will be available the world over, giving the U.S. even more influence over politics and finance than it already has.

The digitization of the Yuan, which is arguably already well on its way through WeChat Pay (literally 90% of stores and services accept this payment medium in urban areas), would theoretically give China a chance to combat the growth of Libra. But whether or not a Yuan “cryptocurrency” succeeds in the real world isn’t clear.

Back in Style

China’s sudden interest in Libra only cements the revival of the cryptocurrency industry in the nation.

Earlier this month, Sina Finance, a major financial news and data provider, added Bitcoin and cryptocurrency price feed data to its application. The feed includes data for Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, Ethereum, and Ripple’s XRP.

According to local reports, this data is only available via Sina’s application, not through the website. It has also been reported that this new section on the Sina Finance application includes cryptocurrency- and blockchain-related news, but it isn’t too clear from what sources Sina is grabbing news events from.

Also, WeChat keyword analytics have registered a massive uptick in the volume of “Bitcoin”. In fact, the past ninety days have seen keyword volume for the Chinese term for “Bitcoin” skyrocket by five times.

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