China to ban initial coin offerings

Updated 2018-02-06 10:45:06 China Daily

Nation to curb illegal cryptocurrency exchanges via overseas platforms

Further regulatory measures to ban initial coin offerings (ICOs) and cryptocurrency exchanges, especially via overseas platforms, are on the way after some illegal activities were unearthed by regulators following the ban on trading of these products on domestic platforms last year.

A source close to the matter told China Daily on Monday that a package of measures to further restrict ICOs-an activity to raise funds akin to an initial public offering, and cryptocurrency trading both domestic and overseas, is being prepared by the People's Bank of China, the central bank, and other financial regulators. It is expected to be launched when "conditions are ripe".

Yang Dong, director of the Fintech and Internet Security Research Center at Renmin University of China, said that the potential measures may include tighter supervision on cryptocurrency accounts, especially for overseeing offline money transactions, as well as paying more attention to cross-border flows of foreign exchange in overseas ICOs.

"Even though it is difficult to supervise overseas cryptocurrency trading, measures can still be taken including restriction of online trading by blocking internet accounts, shutting down web servers, forbidding illegal traders from leaving the country and enhancing coordination with overseas regulators," said Yang.

He also suggested a "blacklist" of illegal traders of overseas ICOs and ban on them from relevant financial businesses in China.

Prices of Bitcoin dropped by nearly 4 percent on Monday since Friday, down to a daily low of ,739.37, according to Coindesk, a website following digital currencies.

Its price has decreased about 60 percent from the high of ,511 on Dec 18, 2017, which has lost 26 percent in the past week and fallen 42 percent so far this year.

The roller-coaster fluctuations of cryptocurrency prices and the relevant illegal activities such as market manipulation, money laundering and defraud have raised Chinese financial regulators' concern. They are determined to crack down on ICOs and close all the domestic cryptocurrency trading platforms.

The crackdown has pushed some investors to shift their sights overseas and some Chinese investors continue to participate in cryptocurrency trading.

Li Honghan, a researcher at Zhongnan University of Economics and Law, said that "China's regulations on virtual currency will be further tightened, and measures may be launched soon to ban related commercial presences and close trading on both domestic and overseas platforms".

The National Internet Finance Association, the central bank-backed industry association, warned in January that lack of regulation in overseas markets makes ICOs and virtual currency trading risky and vulnerable, and may have potential risks like market manipulation and money laundering. It called on investors to pay attention to the risks of investing via overseas platforms.

According to a notice from the PBOC, payment institutions have been forbidden from providing services to cryptocurrency exchanges since last month.

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