China cryptocurrency ban is a hoax, Chinese news sites report

Andrew Munro 8 February 2018

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Rumours of a ban originated from a hacked email address and have reportedly been denied by authorities.

An article published in the South China Morning Post claims that some recent rumours of China's outright cryptocurrency ban are a hoax. An email was reportedly sent from an official People's Bank of China (PBOC) email address to US news agencies.

But the owner of the account, a Hefei bank branch worker in Anhui, has reportedly denied any knowledge of it and claims their account was hacked.

The announcement reportedly took the form of an invitation to a press briefing in Beijing on 14 February 2018.

"The invitation, seen by the South China Morning Post, was sent via email from an address with the suffix @pbc.gov.cn, which could easily be mistaken as authentic because it is in keeping with the email protocol used by China’s central bank. Emails sent to the address were returned with replies greeting journalists, with a registration form attached for the February 14 briefing.

The owner of the mailbox, an official working at the Hefei branch of the Chinese central bank in Anhui province, said he had no idea about the message that was sent from his address, adding that his email had been hacked."

"The email said the PBOC and the HKMA will announce a new anti-money-laundering regulatory framework in Beijing on February 14, to be officiated by the Chinese central bank’s deputy governor Pan Gongsheng, to extend the crackdown to 'all virtual currency services and activities of both individuals and business including market makers, mining operators, trading platforms and wallets.' No such event has been scheduled, according to spokespeople at the monetary authorities in both Hong Kong and Beijing."



Is China banning cryptocurrency?

Reports of a hard ban on cryptocurrency exchanges mostly come from an article in the South China Morning Post, the same outlet which published this new report.

It's possible that even if this particular rumour is fake, a ban might still be coming. Many other reports, and previous history, have suggested that China will continue to crackdown on overseas exchanges and impose tighter regulations.

But it may also be possible that the rumours of an outright ban have been greatly exaggerated. A crackdown on scammy ICOs, ponzi schemes and similar isn't the same as an outright ban, and neither is tightening cryptocurrency regulations.

Even after the rumours of an outright ban initially broke, some people in China confidently speculated that China would not be banning cryptocurrency. Other evidence, such as comments made by South Korea's finance minister during his visit to China, might also suggest that an outright cryptocurrency ban simply isn't on the cards.

It's safe to say that regulatory overhaul is underway in China and that it's not yet clear exactly what form it will take. But it's also safe to say that at least some reports of a hard cryptocurrency ban have been greatly exaggerated.

"The bogus invitation could be a ruse by traders seeking to profit from a further decline in cryptocurrencies including bitcoin on the futures market," says the South China Morning Post. "Tighter regulations, or merely the threat of them, have been one of the factors that has caused the price of bitcoin to plunge this year."


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Disclosure: At the time of writing the author holds ETH, IOTA, ICX, VEN, XLM

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