NEW YORK –
Chinese regulators are moving forward to shut down bitcoin
trading in the country, but one executive says traders have a way
to work around a ban.
On Thursday, The Wall Street Journal’s Steven Russolillo
and Chuin-Wei Yap reported that
bitcoin traders can still exchange their coins via messaging apps
such as WeChat, the largest in China with over 900 million
“You use WeChat, you meet someone, you chat, you buy and
sell, you transfer money, nobody knows why you transferred the
money,” Leon Liu, chief executive and cofounder of BitKan said at
a bitcoin conference in Beijing on Wednesday, according to The
Journal. “This is everywhere now.”
The Journal reported Monday that
Chinese regulators would widen their crackdown on the digital
coin. Authorities, according to reporting by Chao Deng, plan
to shut down all channels for exchanging the cryptocurrency – not
just commercial ones as originally expected. Many exchanges in
the country have already halted trading or announced their
intention to do so in the near future.
It’s uncertain, however, how long bitcoin investors in
China will be able to use WeChat as a go-around to the crackdown.
Beijing has taken a number of steps to increase its surveillance
of apps like WeChat.On September 7, authorities
said creators of messaging groups on the app will be liable for
the behavior of members, according to Bloomberg.
“Already, 40 people from one WeChat group have been
disciplined for spreading petition letters while arresting a man
who complained about police raids, according to reports in official
Chinese media,” wrote Bloomberg’s Lulu Yilun Chen.
Still, traders can simply flock to other messaging apps,
including ones banned in the country.
“While Telegram is officially blocked in China, users can
access the service through virtual private networks,” Bloomberg
says. “As a foreign encrypted platform, it is somewhat beyond the
grasp of the country’s authorities.”