In brief

  • Private gold owners in Hong Kong are reportedly moving their holdings out of the city.
  • The shift comes following China’s passage of a restrictive law targeting free speech.
  • The price of gold recently set an all-time high but closed slightly down on Friday.

Two prominent stores of value, Bitcoin and gold, have their respective benefits. And Bitcoin’s digital nature and ease of global transfer gives it one enormous benefit that gold can’t touch.

According to the Financial Times, gold owners in Hong Kong are reportedly moving their physical holdings outside of the city following China’s recent security crackdown.

The report suggests that some 10% of gold holdings from private investors have been moved outside of Hong Kong over the last 12 months in anticipation of tightened security measures from China, which were enacted after a year of protests from Hong Kong residents.

“Many clients now perceive Hong Kong as riskier than other jurisdictions,” said Joshua Rotbart, head of Hong Kong-based gold dealer J Rotbart & Co, a Hong Kong-based gold dealer.

Rotbart told the FT that Singapore and Switzerland have been top alternate destinations, and that following the new law’s passage, he “[saw] an immediate response from Hong Kong residents . . . asking to store [gold] somewhere else”.

Hong Kong was already considered an alternate holding location for some Chinese wealthy, as gold cannot be exported from China. The city is a special administrative region of China that had largely been left to govern itself, but the recent law clamps down on free speech and dissent in the wake of protests.

Some gold investors are reportedly fearful of the security shifts and any future implications that might follow, plus the report pointed to a 47% rise in burglaries in Hong Kong from the first half of 2019 to the same span in 2020.

“Investors are moving gold from Hong Kong to Singapore because they don’t like risk and uncertainty,” Ronan Manly, Precious Metals Analyst at Singapore’s BullionStar, told the Financial Times. “This could, in the minds of gold holders, snowball into concerns about safety of bullion and even certainty of property rights.”

The price of gold has been steadily soaring all summer, setting a new all-time high in late July and continuing upward thereafter, breaking $2,000 per troy ounce earlier this week. The momentum cooled off slightly on Friday, with MSN reporting that December gold futures fell 2% to finish at $2,028 an ounce amid a surprising rise for the US dollar.

Bitcoin isn’t anywhere near its all-time high right now, but is still up significantly in recent weeks—more than 23% in the last 30 days, according to CoinGecko—and hovering around the $12,000 mark.