A number of China’s top bitcoin exchanges are preparing to suspend their services following instructions from the government. BTC China, one of the country’s top three, became the first to officially make the move after it announced today that will stop all trading for China-based customers from September 30.
The company — China’s oldest running exchange — said other services, including its BTCC Pool for miners, are not impacted and will continue to run. There’s no word on when, or indeed whether, it will reintroduce trading.
OkCoin and Huobi, two other leading Chinese exchanges, both confirmed to TechCrunch they had not received guidance from the government.
“As a Chinese enterpise, we are strictly compliant with the regulations, meanwhile, we put our users’ best interests as the top priority. Stay tuned with our announcement if there is any change,” a Huobi spokesperson added.
That might come sooner than you think. Well-connected Litecoin creator Charlie Lee — who is also the brother of BTC China CEO Bobby Lee — claims both exchanges will have talks with the government before the week is out.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that the Chinese government and the country’s central bank intended to shut down bitcoin exchanges. That report followed an official on ICOs which was announced last week.
Those developments come before the next major meeting of China’s communist party, and they have put the China crypto rumor mill to full speed.
While there is lots of speculation, TechCrunch has confirmed with two sources with knowledge of developments that government officials have visited a number of top exchanges to instruct that they cease trading services on Chinese soil soon. At this point we understand that the government hasn’t given a hard deadline for when that should be, nor has it indicated whether it will allow services to resume in the future.
China banned bitcoin trading for major institutions in December 2013, and a four-month freeze was imposed on trading this year due to security concerns. The space has come under increased scrutiny in 2017 following a boom in raising money via ICOs, which has already passed $1.7 billion this year, and soaring valuations for bitcoin and Ethereum. The former surged past $4,500 per coin this summer, and it even surpassed $5,000 on some exchanges.