Visionary investor who made a fortune from Bitcoin eyes opportunities in blockchain 3.0

Source:Global Times-Agencies Published: 2018/9/6 19:43:41

Liu Zhipeng Photo: IC



In 2011, a young person asked how to invest his 6,000 yuan ($909 at 2011's rate) on Zhihu, China's Quora-like question-and-answer website.

A mysterious poster using the alias Changjia or Long Sword suggested, "Buy Bitcoins, take care of the record, don't pay attention to the 6,000 yuan, and wait to see what happens after five years."

A Bitcoin's price in 2011 was around $3, and the price hit $20,000 at the end of 2017, topping all the investment bets globally.

Liu Zhipeng is the person who made the Bitcoin prediction five years ago on Zhihu. The comment made him a Bitcoin guru in cryptocurrency trading circles.

Born in Central China's Hunan Province, Liu became a geological engineer in the government after obtaining his master's degree. But he says he did not enjoy one day of his work. Writing science fiction became his whole world. Liu grew fascinated with Bitcoin in his attempt to find inspiration for his fiction.

With the pen name of Changjia, Liu has won the Yinhe Award (Galaxy Award), the top Chinese science fiction award, for three consecutive years.

Looking back, it is not hard to see 2013 was the initial year of China's new technology era. The number of users of China's now-ubiquitous social media service WeChat doubled, and the introduction of high-speed 4G data marked the arrival of the mobile internet era. The time was right for cryptocurrencies.

In 2013, Liu and a friend wrote the first book in China about Bitcoin.

In November 2013, Bitcoin's price broke $1,000. Those first Chinese investors never anticipated their Bitcoin would increase in value by 100 times in several months. Bitcoin was worth only $10 in the beginning of the year.

A month later, the price of Bitcoin plunged to $2 following China's central bank's denial of Bitcoin's attribute as a currency.

Most investors sold out their holdings to avoid further loss. But Liu decided to go against the trend. He insisted on not selling a single Bitcoin. On the contrary, he even spent a year's  salary worth of savings to buy more. The decision caused him big losses financially and hurt his passion for Bitcoin.

The market warmed up again in 2014, and some Bitcoin-related companies started by his friends secured funding. This gave Liu the momentum to resign from his government job and set up his own website, 8btc.com, in 2014. After obtaining financing for his company, Liu translated and published articles related to Bitcoin and blockchain. Soon, Wu Jihan, founder of Bitmain, also a big name in the Bitcoin community, joined with Liu in preaching their know-how about Bitcoin and blockchain.

"At that time, few people knew about blockchain, and he's like a bosom friend to me," Liu said, cyzone.cn, a website for start-ups, reported. Wu is the first person who translated Satoshi Nakamoto's Bitcoin white paper into Chinese at the end of 2011, enlightening more Chinese people about the opportunities presented by Bitcoin.

Tokyo-based MT.Gox, the world's biggest Bitcoin exchange, stopped its trading in 2014 and declared bankruptcy. Its servers had been hacked, and 850,000 Bitcoins stolen. The price of Bitcoin dropped sharply from $266 to $45. Liu hung in, even as many other blockchain websites and media firms changed their focus or declared bankruptcy.

Liu calls Bitcoin blockchain 1.0 because it is a non-circulated asset. Blockchain 2.0 is represented by Ethereum, which has more advanced features and is easier to trade. Liu wants to develop blockchain 3.0. In the first half of 2017, his company launched the development of Bytom, a blockchain protocol, and its smart contract will be released soon.

The surge in Bitcoin prices in 2007 was widely seen as a sign of an embrace of blockchain technology in China. But Liu never acted rashly and followed others blindly.

He said he wants to make his company an "anti-fragile" company, resistant to the ups and downs of the volatile cryptocurrency market that he believes represents the future.


Newspaper headline: Cryptocurrency guru


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