Chinese bitcoin exchanges OKCoin and Huobi will reportedly close their trading platforms by the end of October, joining BTCC, ViaBTC, and Yunbi in shuttering order-book services.
According to a report from Chinese media service Caixin, the two exchange heavyweights will be allowed to stay open longer than other exchanges due to the large number of users on the platforms, as well as the fact that neither platform had listed trading pairs for initial coin offering (ICO) tokens.
As of yesterday, both OKCoin and Huobi continued to operate normally and claimed that they had not been contacted by government regulators. However, Litecoin creator Charlie Lee–brother of BTCC CEO Bobby Lee–tweeted that the two exchanges were meeting with regulators today and “might change their tune” following the meeting.
Presumably, both exchanges will announce their closures soon. Earlier today, both ViaBTC and Yunbi announced they would suspend trading, with Yunbi closing on September 20 and ViaBTC shutting down its Mainland China operations on September 30. BTCC, the world’s longest-running bitcoin exchange, announced yesterday that it will suspend trading on September 30. These suspensions confirm earlier reports that regulators had said a bitcoin exchange ban was “certain”.
However, there is much speculation that the Chinese government will establish a licensing process for cryptocurrency exchanges, with one theory being that OKCoin and Huobi will receive licenses before or shortly after their suspensions take effect.
To that end, Li Lihui, a senior official at China’s National Internet Finance Association (NIFA), stated that the exchange crackdown was “a necessary action” to protect the interests of investors. He reportedly called for the government to develop stringent digital currency guidelines.
This is significant since NIFA–a self-regulatory agency established by the Chinese central bank–issued statements condemning initial coin offerings and bitcoin exchanges just days before each ban began to take effect.
This story is developing.