It’s not the greatest time to be Chinese and a fan of cryptocurrencies, though we can’t say we didn’t see this coming. Signs have, for months, pointed towards the Chinese government taking some sort of adversarial action towards bitcoin mining in general. But last week while most of South Africa was off for the day, Chinese officials went and made all cryptocurrency transactions in the country illegal.
Pour one out for crypto
The news comes by way of the Financial Times, but it’s hardly surprising. The country effectively banned bitcoin mining back in May this year, so smacking crypto right in its smug, non-fiat face was the logical next step. The People’s Bank of China, in a joint statement with the Chinese government announcing the ban, explained that “There are legal risks for individuals and organizations participating in virtual currency and trading activities.”
The price of Bitcoin (and other currencies) dipped on the news from China but, as is typical with digital money, it has since begun to rebound. That’s probably not going to make too many Chinese HODLers happy, though.
The move from the Chinese government appears to be designed to do two things: keep Chinese money in the country (which is all but impossible when working with cryptocurrencies) and limit the fallout of the country’s housing market, which is facing hard times. If the housing market does collapse (Ars Technica has a great explanation of the situation), investors will want to move money out of the country as fast as possible. If cryptocurrencies, and the transactions surrounding them, are illegal, that’ll be a whole lot harder to do, limiting the effects of such a collapse.