China to shutter bitcoin exchanges in crackdown: Reports

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A Bitcoin (virtual currency) coin is seen in an illustration picture taken at La Maison du Bitcoin in Paris, France, June 23, 2017. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/Illustration - RTS18BSL

Chinese regulators have reportedly ordered bitcoin exchanges in the country to shut down, in Beijing’s latest effort to crack down on the use of cryptocurrencies.

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Regulators in Shanghai, the country's financial center, gave verbal instructions to exchange operators to shut down, newspapers China Business News and 21st Century Economic Report said on their websites. They gave no other details.

The central bank has yet to respond to questions about bitcoin's future in China but earlier warned it was traded without regulatory oversight and might be linked to fraud. The bank banned initial offerings of new digital currencies last week.

Bitcoin is created and exchanged without the involvement of banks or governments. Transactions allow anonymity, which has made bitcoin popular with people who want to conceal their activity. Bitcoin can be converted to cash when deposited into accounts at prices set in online trading.

Rumors that China planned to ban bitcoin has caused its market price to tumble in recent days, after hitting an all-time high of nearly $5,000 earlier this month. Aside from the concerns in China, JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon’s remarks this week calling bitcoin “a fraud” that was destined to fail caused the digital currency’s value to slide.

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Interest in China in bitcoin surged last year after the price rose. A Chinese business news magazine, Caixin, said at one point up to 90 percent of global trading took place in China.

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Trading volume has fallen as regulators tightened controls.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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