Economy

Top Chinese bitcoin exchange shuts down

Top Chinese bitcoin exchange shuts down

Bitcoin prices fell about 7 percent on Thursday after one of the biggest exchanges in China said it will shut down its operation.

"Blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies have the potential to sweep away all of today's incumbent financial institutions".

BTCChina said its decision was based on a September 4 directive from Chinese authorities that expressed concern over investment risks involved in cryptocurrencies and ordered a ban on so-called initial coin offerings, or ICOs - the practice of creating and selling digital currencies or tokens to investors to finance start-up projects.

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ICOs has fueled the fast ascent in the value of all cryptocurrencies, from about $17-B at the start of the year, to a record high close to $180-B at the beginning of September.

The cryptocurrency tumbled to as low as 3,720.01 on the Bitstamp exchange before recovering to trade around 3,810 by 1524 GMT, still down 8.7% on the day.

China's largest bitcoin exchanges, such as OkCoin and Huobi platforms, are awaiting government clarification following media reports that Beijing is planning to ban trading of virtual currencies on domestic exchanges.

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On Tuesday, the Financial Conduct Authority, a United Kingdom watchdog, warned investors about the risk associated with initial coin offerings, the cryptocurrency-based fundraising method. The website Crypto Coins News further cited a local newsletter that said banning bitcoin exchanges was "certain".

Additionally, earlier this week, JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon said it was a "fraud" that would eventually blow up.

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