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China’s Internet Finance Watchdog Calls for ICO Awareness

Last Updated March 4, 2021 5:04 PM
Lewis Gray
Last Updated March 4, 2021 5:04 PM

Chinese authorities may focus on cryptocurrency education, according to a recent report.

Last week Beijing hosted China’s Internet Finance Association Working Conference, which was attended by a large number of regulatory bodies including representatives from the People’s Bank, Chinese Banking Regulatory Commission, and the China Securities Regulatory Commission. Following the conference, the National Internet Finance Association of China (NIFA) released a statement announcing that the primary purpose of the conference was to conduct:

“Research and analysis of the current Internet financial development situation, [and make] arrangements for the deployment of 2018 work.”

The conference covered a large range of topics, from online credit to internet equity, but one standout topic was the mention of ICOs. China’s approach to ICOs and the crypto space has undergone several developments this past year, with officials recently calling for greater crackdowns and blanket bans. In this statement, however, there were no such strong words. Instead, the document noted that the conference had emphasized the need to:

“[I]ntensify the popularization of Internet financial knowledge education and publicize policy and risk warnings.”

Specifically, particular attention will be paid to informing citizens about ICOs and investment fraud. This educational stance possibly marks a new policy approach from Chinese authorities, focusing attention not on the activities themselves, but on providing “risk-tips” for their citizens regarding the dangers of virtual currency and fraudulent Initial Coin Offerings. One implementation of this policy change was suggested: an online financial quiz that would directly raise awareness of the dangers.

This, however, is not the first attempt at cryptocurrency education from Chinese officials. Last month the same regulatory body, NIFA released a public notice which called for investors to be alert to the risks of ICOs and cryptocurrency trading. Specifically, the notice highlighted that Chinese officials were wary of the ICO space due to its unregulated nature, seeking to protect its citizens from market manipulation and money laundering.

It is clear that Chinese officials central concern with ICO’s and cryptocurrency is their lack of control over these developments, and so it is interesting to note that the press release made no mention of discussions around a national cryptocurrency. China’s central bank, the People’s Bank of China announced plans to implement a virtual currency in 2016, which had reportedly passed trial stages. It was announced that the coin would be released as soon as possible, but developments have seemingly stagnated in this endeavor.

Featured image from Shutterstock.