China’s Bitcoin Exchanges Pull Out of Summit After PBOC

Several of China’s largest bitcoin exchanges pulled out of a planned global conference in Beijing this coming weekend after the central bank signaled further curbs on speculative trading of the virtual currency.

BTC China Co. said it and four other bitcoin trading platforms agreed to adopt stricter practices such as halting margin trading and short selling. They also agreed to not participate in bitcoin marketing conferences and gatherings, according to a statement posted yesterday on the website of BTC China, the oldest of the nation’s bitcoin operators.

BTC China, OKCoin and will no longer attend the Global Bitcoin Summit on May 10 as planned, BTC China Chief Executive Officer Bobby Lee said by phone yesterday. Speakers from the exchanges who were to appear at the conference were taken off an updated schedule sent to media yesterday by organizers.

“We got together with a few exchanges and decided to coordinate some efforts in light of the perceived clampdown of the central bank,” Lee said. “We’ve decided to stay more low-key and skip out of the conference this weekend.”

The People’s Bank of China began a crackdown on bitcoin in December, barring financial institutions and payment companies from dealing in the crypto-currency amid concern it could be used to launder money or skirt capital controls. Since then, the nation’s banks have closed the accounts of online trading platforms used to transfer money to bitcoin trading accounts.

A spokesman for the PBOC’s media relations department declined to comment yesterday.

Bitcoin prices were volatile yesterday, falling as low as 2,590.02 yuan on BTC China after the exchange operator said it would stop accepting bank transfers of funds to customer trading accounts. They later rebounded to as high as 2,720 yuan.

Volatile Prices

Prices plunged almost 10 percent on March 27 after Caixin reported that PBOC ordered banks and payment companies to close accounts used to transfer money to bitcoin trading accounts at the exchanges. Bank of China Ltd. announced on its website on April 30 that it was banning the use of its bank accounts to charge trading accounts.

Chinese exchange users have decreased as increasingly strict policies cause concern, Leon Li, founder of Beijing-based trading platform, said in an April 26 interview.

About 600 people will probably take part in China’s first international bitcoin conference, according to Hitters Xu, one of the organizers. About 15 percent of the attendees will be foreign nationals, he said.

“It will be interesting to see how the bitcoin industry here in China reacts to that and what the plans are for the future,” Zennon Kapron, managing director of financial consultancy Kapronasia. “The future of bitcoin in China is a bit unclear with all of the regulations and the actions that PBOC has taken against the exchanges.”

— With assistance by Gregory Turk

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