Cryptocurrencies: investors warned on initial coin offerings – China’s latest business and technology news

Business & Technology

A summary of the top news in Chinese business and technology for August 31, 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.

Initial coin offerings (ICOs) are the method by which many new bitcoin-like cryptocurrencies inject liquidity into their systems when they launch. As with an initial public offering (IPO) of shares on a stock exchange, early investors can profit if the value of the asset they buy goes up. But they can also lose their shirts if its value declines, and the opportunities for fraud in an ICO are many.

Bloomberg reports that “the National Internet Finance Association of China, an organization endorsed by the State Council and top finance and banking watchdogs,” has issued a warning to investors in ICOs:

ICO projects have unclear assets, no investor suitability standards and gravely lack information disclosure and therefore have relatively high risks… Investors should keep a clear mind, stay on high alert for frauds and report any wrongdoings to the police department.

As a result of the warning, “ICOINFO, China’s second-largest ICO exchange by value of funds raised, said in a statement Wednesday that it has suspended all ICO-related activities,” according to Caixin. The company said it would resume hosting ICOs after they have clarity from the relevant regulators.

The Chinese government has tacitly encouraged the development of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, but is is very clear that like all fields of business, information, finance, and culture, the government will have the last word on how everything is run.