Chinese bitcoin exchange BTCChina said on Thursday that it would stop all trading from September 30, setting off a further slide in the value of the cryptocurrency that left it over 30 percent away from the record highs it hit earlier in the month, Reuters reports.
1/ After carefully considering the announcement published by Chinese regulators on 09/04, BTCChina Exchange will stop all trading on 09/30.— BTCC (@YourBTCC) September 14, 2017
China has boomed as a cryptocurrency trading location in recent years, as investors and speculators flocked to domestic exchanges that formerly allowed users to conduct trades for free, boosting demand.
But that has prompted regulators in the country to crack down on the cryptocurrency sector, in a bid to stamp out potential financial risks as consumers pile into a highly risky and speculative market that has seen unprecedented growth this year.
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.
That ban, as well as warnings by regulators in other countries, has driven fears of a wider crackdown and prompted a sell-off that has helped wipe almost $60 billion off the total value of cryptocurrencies since they hit record highs at the start of the month, according to industry website Coinmarketcap.
“The Chinese ban is causing a panic in the market as mixed messages and lack of clarity has turned sentiment negative,” said Charles Hayter, founder of data analysis site Cryptocompare.
“The closure of BTCChina is perhaps a portent of what the other Chinese exchanges face.”
BTCChina, one of China’s largest bitcoin trading platforms, which also runs an international exchange out of Hong Kong, will stop registration of new users from Thursday, it said on its official microblog.
“We will stop all trades on the digital trading platform starting Sept. 30,” it said. Its co-founder, Bobby Lee, told Reuters the move would not affect trading on the BTCC international exchange, however.
On U.S. exchange Bitstamp, it slid as much as 10 percent to a five-week low of $3,426.92, having hit a record high of nearly $5,000 on September 2.