UPDATE (6th January 14:38 BST): BTCC has responded to the PBoC statements.
Officials from the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) met with representatives of major bitcoin exchanges this week to urge their compliance with “relevant laws and regulations”, according to statements from the central bank.
In total, two press releases were issued today, one by the PBOC’s office in Beijing, the other by its Shanghai regional office, in which they revealed the meetings, as well as some information about what was discussed behind closed doors.
Representatives from BTCC, OKCoin and Huobi were all in attendance, according to documents. OKCoin was cited under its Chinese-facing brand name.
Overall, the public statements aimed to serve as a reminder to citizens who may be considering the digital currency as an investment, and both quoted a government circular released in 2013 saying that bitcoin is a virtual good and doesn’t have legal tender status.
The comments come at a time when bitcoin prices have been highly volatile, rising to near all-time highs only to decline by more than $250 within a few hours of trading.
An informal translation of the document reads:
“Bitcoin is not a currency and shouldn’t be viewed as such. Those who invest in bitcoin should accordingly be aware of the risks it poses and protect their investment.”
The remarks come at a time when capital flight has emerged as a major concern in China, though it remains uncertain if this topic either influenced or was discussed during the meetings.
Representatives from BTCC responded to press inquiries, but initially declined further comment citing business confidentiality. The exchange has since released a statement, which can be found here.
Officials at Huobi and OKCoin were contacted, but at press time, have yet to respond publicly to the news.
Additional contributions to this article were made by Alistar Milne, Zane Tackett and Eric Mu.