Caixin
Jan 30, 2018 07:17 PM
FINANCE

Bitcoin Exchange Bought in Latest Sign of Exodus From Mainland

The acquisition of BTCC by a Hong Kong-based blockchain investment fund comes amid signs that China’s regulators are determined to stamp out cryptocurrency trading. Photo: VCG
The acquisition of BTCC by a Hong Kong-based blockchain investment fund comes amid signs that China’s regulators are determined to stamp out cryptocurrency trading. Photo: VCG

The one-time operator of one of the Chinese mainland’s top three bitcoin exchanges has been bought by a Hong Kong investor.

The acquisition of BTCC by a Hong Kong-based blockchain investment fund comes amid signs that China’s regulators are determined to stamp out cryptocurrency trading.

After the takeover, BTCC will “focus exclusively” on the international market and its three major products — a cryptocurrency mining pool, a wallet service and a U.S. dollar exchange platform — the company said in a statement on Monday.

BTCC Mobi, the company’s digital-wallet division, has customers from more than 180 countries, said Mark Ma, the division’s vice president.

Ma expects the acquisition to aid in the company’s quest to take a larger chunk of the market in those regions. The capital injection “gives us a boost towards reaching our goal to grab a dominant market share in the payments and digital currency industries of each of those countries,” he said in the statement.

China has been a dominant location for bitcoin mining and cryptocurrency trading. But Chinese authorities last year started to crack down on the industry. They banned exchanges on the Chinese mainland, though many firms continued to serve customers through over-the-counter trading platforms. Investors have also formed groups on social media to carry out private trades.

Chinese and foreign media outlets reported earlier this month that the government was considering further restrictions on cryptocurrency trading, such as blocking access to domestic and offshore platforms that enable centralized trading.

The National Internet Finance Association, a self-regulatory body set up by the People’s Bank of China and other financial watchdogs, last week issued a warning against overseas cryptocurrency trading and fundraising, and clarified that domestic over-the-counter trading does not comply with existing rules.

BTCC, which used to be known as BTC China and was based in Shanghai, suspended services on its former official website, btcchina.com, on Jan. 3. BTCC is now based in Hong Kong, according to the statement posted Monday on its current main website, btcc.com.

Contact reporters Fran Wang (fangwang@caixin.com) and Liu Xiao (liuxiao@caixin.com)

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