Bitcoin Plunges As Beijing Steps Up Crypto Crackdown

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2021-09-24 HKT 22:55

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  • Cryptocurrencies, led by bitcoin, have fallen in value off the back of Beijing's crackdown. File image: Shutterstock

    Cryptocurrencies, led by bitcoin, have fallen in value off the back of Beijing's crackdown. File image: Shutterstock

China's most powerful regulators on Friday intensified the country's crackdown on cryptocurrency with a blanket ban on all crypto transactions and mining, hitting bitcoin and other major coins and pressuring crypto and blockchain-related stocks.

Ten agencies, including the central bank as well as banking, securities and foreign exchange regulators, vowed to work together to root out "illegal" cryptocurrency activity, the first time the Beijing-based agencies have joined forces to explicitly ban all cryptocurrency-related activity.

China in May banned financial institutions and payment companies from providing services related to cryptocurrency transactions, and issued similar bans in 2013 and 2017.

The repeated prohibitions highlight the challenge of closing loopholes and identifying bitcoin-related transactions, though banks and payment firms say they will support the efforts.

Friday's statement is the most detailed and comprehensive yet from the country's most powerful regulators, underscoring Beijing's commitment to suffocating the Chinese crypto market.

"In the history of crypto market regulation in China, this is the most direct, most comprehensive regulatory framework involving the largest number of ministries," said Winston Ma, NYU Law School adjunct professor.

The move comes amid a global cryptocurrency crackdown as governments from Asia to the United States fret that privately operated highly volatile digital currencies could undermine their control of the financial and monetary systems, increase systemic risk, promote financial crime and hurt investors.

They also worry that "mining," the energy-intensive process through which bitcoin and other tokens are created by high performing computers, is undermining global environmental goals.

Bitcoin, the world's largest cryptocurrency, dropped more than 9 percent to US$40,693 on the news, having earlier been down about 1 percent.

Smaller coins, which typically rise and fall in tandem with bitcoin, also tumbled. (Reuters)