Users of the world’s largest bitcoin exchange, BTC China, claim the site now requires them to provide some form of identification to create or use a trading account.
Logging into BTC China produces the following message: “In response to a recent policy shift, BTC China now requires users to submit identification or a passport number. Existing users will need to provide this information upon login. We apologise for any inconvenience.”
Despite the ID requirement, there does not seem to be an ID verification process for users outside China. Some users posted on reddit that they were able to continue trading immediately after submitting a number.
The exchange still permits only Chinese yuan (CNY) deposits and withdrawals.
People’s Bank of China
BTC China’s move comes after last week’s clarification by the People’s Bank of China on bitcoin’s status.
While the Bank appeared to forbid any traditional financial institutions from trading digital currencies themselves, it added that other merchants and bitcoin exchanges should be able to continue with their business, so long as they complied with the necessary Know Your Client (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) regulations.
As China’s oldest and largest bitcoin exchange, BTC China has always said it seeks to be open and compliant with any necessary regulations, so the new ID requirement is hardly surprising.
At the time of writing, its bitcoin price was listed as 4,778 CNY ($785).
Mt. Gox, one of the original bitcoin exchanges, and still one of the largest (despite its own regulatory headaches), has required ID with verification for deposits and withdrawals in non-bitcoin currencies since May 2013.
Government fears of criminal activity involving large amounts of bitcoin and the abrupt closures of other, smaller exchanges have all led to a general reduction in anonymity for bitcoin users using online trading platforms.
Face-to-face trades of fiat currency for bitcoins via LocalBitcoins, Satoshi Squares and meetup groups, however, remain mostly anonymous and unregulated.
China Passport Image via Shutterstock