Shanghai-based bitcoin exchange BTCC has announced it will be closing down its China-facing trading operations effective September 30.
In statements on Twitter and on China-language social media, the oldest cryptocurrency exchange platform in the world's largest market said it would immediately stop onboarding new users, but that its mining pools and international exchange would continue to operate normally.
At press time, the statement is the latest to seemingly confirm China may be on the verge of a broader effort to curb domestic cryptocurrency activity, following yet another report by a local financial news source indicating that regulators are preparing a formal ban on domestic bitcoin exchanges.
According to an exclusive report by Shanghai-based business media Yicai, Shanghai's Municipal Financial Service Office has issued a verbal order to bitcoin exchange startups, indicating that they should cease operations.
The source reportedly said that the exchanges will shut down at the end of September.
It is currently unclear whether that ban will extend to other forms of trading, such as peer-to-peer trading, or more experimental decentralized blockchain-based exchanges. However, at least one over-the-counter trading service has ceased operations, reportedly due to increasing scrutiny from lawmakers.
At press time, other domestic exchanges are complicating the narrative, with BTCC rival Huobi telling CoinDesk it has not "received clear document or notice" of exchange ban, but that it will follow any formal guidance.
Elsewhere, other organizations that lack regulatory power are weighing in on the situation, as today's news follows a statement issued by the Chinese National Internet Finance Association (NIFA) yesterday that questioned the legal basis for cryptocurrencies. The self-regulatory group, formed by the Chinese government, boasts participation from some of the country's largest online financial firms.
But while claims are mounting, it's important to note that no official announcement has yet been made by the People's Bank of China or the country's government regarding the ban.
As such, it remains to be seen what steps, if any, will be taken that impact China's cryptocurrency market.
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