On September 14, 2017, reports surfaced that BTCChina (BTCC), a Shanghai-based cryptocurrency exchange, had announced that, effective September 30, it would suspend trading in China.
1/ After carefully considering the announcement published by Chinese regulators on 09/04, BTCChina Exchange will stop all trading on 09/30.
— BTCC (@YourBTCC) September 14, 2017
The shutdown only affects Chinese traders, leaving international exchange operations to continue as usual. This morning, BTCC tweeted that it had decided to halt trading on its BTCChina Exchange. A more explanatory statement was posted on a Chinese social media site by an official of the exchange. The translation of the statement indicates that BTCC will heed the spirit of a September 4 issuance by the “People’s Bank of China Central Office of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology Ministry of Industry and Commerce, China Banking Regulatory Commission, China Securities Regulatory Commission on the prevention and treatment of the risk of issuing currency,” and will stop the registration of new users on the China-based digital asset platform, effective immediately. BTCC also said that on “September 30, 2017, Digital asset trading platform will stop all trading business,” adding that the measure would not affect Beitou China’s pool. Although BTCC is shutting down China-side exchange operations, it should be noted that there has yet to be any further announcements from regulatory officials in China since the People’s Bank of China released a statement on token offerings.
Providing additional background, cnLedger tweeted that BTCC had listed a token called ico-coin on its platform which likely would have caused Chinese regulators to scrutinize the exchange, given its explicit purpose for token offering-based crowdfunding. Other exchanges, according to cnLedger, are not shutting down:
3/ OKCoin and Huobi PR said they have not received notice from regulators and are operating normally
— cnLedger (@cnLedger) September 14, 2017
Other reports of a verbal order from the Shanghai Financial Service Office come from a translated story featured on Yicai, a Chinese media group, which indicates that, sometime in the evening on September 13, the National Internet Finance Association of China made an issuance decrying the legality of cryptocurrency exchanges. The association names illegal fundraising among the ranks of criminal activities, such as money laundering, drug trafficking, and smuggling, that it links to virtual currency.
In recent history, China restricted investors’ ability to withdrawal cryptocurrencies or transfer them from exchanges for nearly four months – a gauntlet which officials lifted around June 2017. BTCC was among the first to test the waters following updates to its know your customer and anti-money laundering compliance protocols.
Whether or not official documentation follows the verbal warnings out of China remains to be seen. ETHNews will continue to provide coverage.
Jeremy Nation is a writer living in Los Angeles with interests in technology, human rights, and cuisine. He is a full time staff writer for ETHNews and holds value in Ether.