The Chinese government will likely resume cryptocurrency trading in the upcoming months with necessary Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) systems in place.
Earlier this week, Xinhua, the state-owned news publication of China, revealed that the Chinese government is concerned with criminal activities surrounding cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin. It emphasized that cryptocurrencies have become the “top choice” for underground economies and revealed that the government will take appropriate measures to regulate the market by implementing a licensing program and strict AML systems.
Why the Ban on Chinese Exchanges is Not Beneficial for the Government
Last month, the Chinese government, the People’s Bank of China (PBoC), and local financial regulators imposed a nationwide ban on cryptocurrency exchanges. Consequently, the price of bitcoin fell to $3,000 and the cryptocurrency market endured a major correction.
Since then, the global cryptocurrency exchange market has restructured as the majority of trading volumes from China moved to neighbouring markets such as Japan and South Korea. More to that, the Japanese government officially authorized 11 cryptocurrency exchanges in the same month, providing an efficient and well-regulated ecosystem for Chinese traders. As a result, the bitcoin price has recovered and has remained above the $4,000 margin.
But, the Chinese government’s ban on cryptocurrency exchanges also led to the increasing trading volumes of over-the-counter (OTC) markets and peer-to-peer trading platforms such as LocalBitcoins. For the Chinese government, such trend is a major concern in terms of KYC and AML policies because traders are now able to exchange cryptocurrencies and trade the Chinese yuan without the control and the involvement of Chinese authorities.
Previously, when regulated Chinese cryptocurrency trading platforms such as BTCC, OKCoin, and Huobi were around, the overwhelming majority of cryptocurrency trades were overseen by the PBoC through KYC and AML systems adopted by businesses within the Chinese cryptocurrency exchange market. Today, it is not possible for the Chinese government to regulate cryptocurrency trades because they are being processed and settled in markets that are outside the reach of the local authorities.
Licensing Program Similar to That of Japan Likely
Xinhua noted that the government is considering the possibility of licensing and record-keeping cryptocurrency trades, as local sources including CnLedger have shared. CnLedger, a trusted source of cryptocurrency news in China, stated:
“Xinhua News, official press agency of CN: Virtual currencies have become the top choices of underground economies. We shall adopt ‘0-tolerance policies’ towards crimes hidden underneath and take measures such as record-keeping, licensing, AML processes, real-name, limiting large transactions.”
In order for the government to adopt a zero-tolerance policy on cryptocurrency-based criminal activities, it needs to have infrastructures in place that can allow the government to oversee payments and disclose the identities of cryptocurrency users. Without KYC and AML systems, as seen in trading platforms like LocalBitcoins and other OTC markets, it is virtually impossible to execute a zero-tolerance policy on cryptocurrency crimes.
As Xinhua suggested, it is definitely possible that the cryptocurrency exchange ban in China is only temporary until the Chinese government releases a stricter record-keeping, licensing, and AML policies for trading platforms.
Also, as experts and executives at overseas exchange markets such as Hong Kong revealed, the ban on cryptocurrency exchanges have not stopped Chinese investors from buying and investing in cryptocurrencies.
“The ban did not stop them [Chinese investors] from buying cryptocurrencies. In the last few weeks, we have seen a lot of mainland customers opening up accounts at TideBit. They still want to play the game. I see a growing need in that they will come to Hong Kong or Singapore to buy cryptocurrency,” said Terence Tsang, chief operating officer at TideiSun, the parent company of TideBit.