NEW YORK — Chinese regulators are moving forward to shut down bitcoin trading in the country, but one executive says traders have a way to work around the ban.
On Thursday, The Wall Street Journal’s Steven Russolillo and Chuin-Wei Yap reported that bitcoin traders can still exchange their coins via messaging apps such as WeChat, the largest in China with over 900 million users.
“You use WeChat, you meet someone, you chat, you buy and sell, you transfer money, nobody knows why you transferred the money,” Leon Liu, chief executive and cofounder of BitKan said at conference in Beijing, according to The Journal. “This is everywhere now.”
The Journal reported Monday that Chinese regulators would widen their crackdown on the digital coin. Authorities, according to reporting by Chao Deng, plan to shut down all channels for exchanging the cryptocurrency — not just commercial ones. Many exchanges in the country have already halted trading or announced their intention to do so in the near future.
It’s uncertain, however, how long bitcoin investors in China will be able to use WeChat as a go-around.
Recently, Beijing has taken a number of steps to increase its surveillance of apps like WeChat. On September 7, authorities said creators of messaging groups on the app will be liable for the behaviour of members, according to Bloomberg.
“Already, 40 people from one WeChat group have been disciplined for spreading petition letters while arresting a man who complained about police raids, according to reports in official Chinese media,” wrote Bloomberg’s Lulu Yilun Chen.
Still, traders can simply flock to other messaging apps, including ones banned in the country.
“While Telegram is officially blocked in China, users can access the service through virtual private networks,” Bloomberg says. “As a foreign encrypted platform, it is somewhat beyond the grasp of the country’s authorities.”
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