China's Illegal Crypto Activities Are Taking Place in Laundromats and Cafes: WSJ

Physical trading is most popular in China's inland, as places further from the coast are generally poorer so local governments are preoccupied with other matters, WSJ reported.

AccessTimeIconJan 18, 2024 at 4:47 p.m. UTC
Updated Mar 8, 2024 at 8:10 p.m. UTC

Crypto users in China are conducting trades in everyday locations to get around the country's cryptocurrency ban, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) on Thursday.

Traders meet in public places such as cafes, snack kiosks, and even laundromats to swap wallet addresses, arrange bank transfers, or pay for crypto using cash, the WSJ reported, citing people familiar with the trades.

They also use social media apps like WeChat and Telegram, where dedicated groups allow buyers and sellers to transact directly without the medium of an exchange.

Physical trading is most popular in China's inland, as places further from the coast are generally poorer, so local governments are preoccupied with other matters, lacking the enforcement of the central bank's crypto ban.

The People's Bank of China (PBOC) declared all crypto-related activities illegal in 2021, and since then, crypto exchanges stopped allowing citizens of mainland China to open accounts on their platforms. Nevertheless, the country still saw some $86.4 billion in over-the-counter (OTC) trading volume in 2023, according to blockchain intelligence firm Chainalysis.

If crypto trading remains somewhat alive and well in an authoritarian country such as China, it may not bode well for other jurisdictions that wish to take a sterner approach to policing cryptocurrency in the future.

Edited by Aoyon Ashraf.


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Jamie Crawley

Jamie Crawley is a CoinDesk news reporter based in London.

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