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China to ban commercial trade in Bitcoin – China’s latest business and technology news

summary of the top news in Chinese business and technology for September 11, 2017. Part of the daily SupChina newsletter, a convenient package of China’s business, political, and cultural news delivered to your inbox for free. Subscribe here.
1 week ago
Lucas Niewenhuis

Cryptocurrencies are hot these days. Flaming hot. Unfortunately, Chinese regulatory officials don’t much like fire.

On September 8, Caixin broke the news (in Chinese) that in addition to clamping down on initial coin offerings (ICOs) for cryptocurrencies — whether for Bitcoin, Ethereum, or dozens of smaller or experimental digital tokens — officials would freeze all commercial trading services for virtual currencies. While the news wasn’t confirmed by Caixin and other outlets until a few days later, it sent the price of Bitcoin tumbling down about 9 percent over the weekend, Quartz reports.

The Wall Street Journal quotes (paywall) an unnamed banking official in China who says that “too much disorder was naturally a basic reason” for the ban. The regulations are in draft form, but officials also told the Journal that the “decision to shutter [virtual currency exchanges] has been made.”

The new regulation will not completely outlaw trading in cryptocurrencies in China, nor will it necessarily put Chinese exchanges out of business. In fact, Quartz points out, two of the largest virtual currency exchanges, Huobi and OKCoin, both said they would essentially replace their public exchange businesses with smaller peer-to-peer trades once the regulations went through.

By Lucas Niewenhuis
Lucas Niewenhuis is an associate editor at SupChina who helps curate daily news and produce the company's newsletter, app, and website content. Previously, Lucas researched China-Africa relations at the Social Science Research Council and interned at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. He has studied Chinese language and culture in Shanghai and Beijing, and is a graduate of the University of Michigan.
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