China's Bitcoin Exchanges Are Shifting Business Models

Following China's crackdown on trading against the yuan, some of the country's major bitcoin exchanges are now shifting to the OTC market.

Nov 3, 2017 at 9:30 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 13, 2021 at 7:07 a.m. UTC

Some of China's top bitcoin exchanges are now shifting to the over-the-counter (OTC) market in the wake of a crackdown by regulators in the country.

In announcements made on Oct. 31, both OKEx and Huobi Pro said they will introduce peer-to-peer trading platforms that support fiat currency transactions, including the Chinese yuan, as an alternative for the country's domestic cryptocurrency investors.

Based in Hong Kong, the two exchanges had previously provided solely crypto-to-crypto trading since being founded by their respective parent exchanges, Beijing-headquartered OKCoin and Huobi. They will now pivot toward a combination of the existing structure and the direct, peer-to-peer model.

According to OKEx, the yuan is currently the only fiat currency that is available on its P2P platform, noting that it has seen increasing demand from Chinese investors since the exchange crackdown.

Lennix Lai, financial market director at OKEx, said the platform has received around 8,000 user applications for account registration since the new service's launch on November 1.

Lin Li, CEO of Huobi, said in his latest announcement that, besides the P2P platform on Huobi Pro, the company is also eyeing an expansion to overseas markets. The firm is currently in the process of setting up an exchange platform in South Korea in order to compete with local marketplaces like Bithumb.

The news follows months of growing scrutiny by Chinese regulators that led to all major bitcoin exchanges in the country, including OKCoin, Huobi, BTC China, and ViaBTC, to suspend order book trading of digital assets against the yuan.

Hong Kong image via Shutterstock

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