It was after Arthur Hayes got laid off from Citigroup Inc. in 2013 that he stumbled across one of the simplest ways to make money he’d ever seen. He was living in Hong Kong and saw the price of bitcoin across the China border was much higher. He hopped on a bus, opened a China account and started buying low in one market and selling high in the other. “It was too easy,” he says.
The price discrepancy eventually disappeared, but it gave him an idea: He could make more money if he gave others the means to take advantage of similar trading opportunities between countries. So in early 2014, he started the Bitcoin Mercantile Exchange with two friends. The mission is to create an institution like the Chicago Mercantile Exchange that will let people use the cryptocurrency to bet on securities not easily accessible in their home markets, especially China.
China restricts the ability of companies and individuals to exchange their yuan for other currencies, part of the government’s strategy for managing its economy. That can make it complicated and expensive for citizens to invest in overseas securities, while foreign investors face restrictions in trading China stocks. Hayes’ idea is