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China becomes largest Bitcoin market

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BEIJING, Dec. 4 (Xinhua) -- Bitcoin has seen another round of price surges worldwide this week, and researchers have said its popularity among Chinese investors may be contributing to the bull market.

The price of one Bitcoin, a type of digital e-money, stood at about 1,117 U.S. dollars on Wednesday on Mt. Gox, the world's best-known Bitcoin trading platform. At the same time, the price of gold per ounce on the New York Mercantile Exchange was about 1,214 U.S. dollars.

An estimated 1.8 million Bitcoins were traded on BTC China in November, the platform with the highest trading volume in the world, according to statistics gathered by bitcoincharts.com, which provides financial and technical data related to the Bitcoin network.

BTC China is China's largest Bitcoin trading platform aimed at investors trading with the Chinese currency Renminbi, or yuan.

Mt. Gox ranked second in trading volume in November, with nearly 700,000 Bitcoins traded, according to bitcoincharts.com.

Ling Kang, vice president of BTC China, said 92 percent of its users are male, 93 percent are younger than 40 years old, and 90 percent have a Bachelor's degree or higher.

Most users work in the IT industry, said Ling.

Some economists said Bitcoin has heated up at a time when Chinese people are searching for new investment channels.

"Inflation has made people worry. Investors have bought Bitcoin to battle RMB devaluation," said Ding Zhaoyong, professor at the Economics School of Jilin University.

Bitcoin first came into the Chinese public eye in April of this year, when movie star Jet Li's One Foundation received a donation of several hundred Bitcoins to help quake-stricken Sichuan Province.

The "currency" has been heating up ever since, especially after the Chinese media reported in October that Canada has set up the first Bitcoin ATM machine.

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