Crypto OG Bobby Lee Says China’s OTC Desks Are Next to Go

Crypto exchanges in China have already shut down and over-the-counter (OTC) trading desks are likely to follow suit, Lee predicted Monday.

Sep 27, 2021 at 3:47 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 27, 2021 at 4:05 p.m. UTC

Over-the-counter (OTC) trading desks in China are on their way out as the country cracks down on cryptocurrency activities, a veteran of the local crypto scene predicted.

“I think OTC platforms that are operated from the big exchanges will close down,” said Bobby Lee, founder and CEO of the Ballet wallet service and former head of BTCC, once one of the biggest bitcoin exchanges in China.

“They will stop offering their services to Chinese mainland users,” Lee said in an appearance on CoinDesk TV’s “First Mover” Monday. “There are still OTC users making transactions but I think that will just taper off.”

OTC desks, which facilitate trades on a peer-to-peer basis, are a popular way for investors in China to buy and sell crypto, and may soon be the only way. Huobi, one of the world’s largest crypto exchanges, suspended service to Chinese users over the weekend after Beijing’s latest crackdown on crypto mining and trading last week.

Lee further predicted crypto and digital assets will become “foreign assets,” similar to real estate.

“I think bitcoin will become that kind of asset where you can’t sell that foreign property within mainland China. But if one day you were to travel to that country … you can then take care of buying or selling these foreign assets, but while inside mainland China, you won’t be able to do that,” Lee said.

Earlier this week, the People’s Bank of China banned any crypto-related transactions, including services from offshore crypto exchanges, another step in the country’s move to further control its financial system.

Nevertheless, Lee told CoinDesk TV viewers he still thinks the price of bitcoin will surpass $100,000 by the end of the year.

Watch the full interview here:


The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups. As part of their compensation, certain CoinDesk employees, including editorial employees, may receive exposure to DCG equity in the form of stock appreciation rights, which vest over a multi-year period. CoinDesk journalists are not allowed to purchase stock outright in DCG.

Helene is a U.S. markets reporter at CoinDesk.