Bitcoin latest: prices, policies and politics

News, analysis and opinion on bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, from prices and primers to regulations and political moves 

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 January, 2018, 5:16pm
UPDATED : Friday, 11 May, 2018, 7:34pm

Here you can find the latest on bitcoin and other influential virtual currencies, updated 24/7 by our news teams across the globe.

May 11, 2018

A research unit under China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said it would produce ratings for blockchain projects, in the latest effort by Beijing to regulate the technology that underpins virtual currencies such as bitcoin.

April 23, 2018

China’s crackdown on digital currencies is sending investors into the arms of perennial competitors Hong Kong and Singapore – the new kids on the blockchain.

April 20, 2018

Concerns over the Macau cryptocurrency firm backed by notorious former triad leader “Broken Tooth” Wan Kuok-koi , and which has links to Cambridge Analytica, have prompted monetary chiefs in the city to issue a warning over possible “fraud and criminal activities”.

April 19, 2018

Finance chiefs in Hong Kong and Macau are facing fresh pressure to act after it emerged that the firm at the centre of the Facebook data privacy scandal, Cambridge Analytica, worked with a cryptocurrency firm backed by Asia’s most notorious former organised crime boss.

April 18, 2018

Should we refer to bitcoin and its crypto cohorts as “cryptocurrencies” or “crypto assets”? Two members of AXA Investment Managers’ research team argue for the latter – adding that investor and regulatory interest in the sphere is only likely to rise. 

April 17, 2018

The International Monetary Fund is seeking a leading role in rallying the world’s central banks to get ahead of digital money and cryptocurrencies in the global financial system. “Policymakers should keep an open mind and work toward an even-handed regulatory framework that minimises risks while allowing the creative process to bear fruit,” IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde wrote.

April 15, 2018

Retired Real Madrid and Portugal midfielder Luis Figo is backing an ICO. He joins a growing list of celebrity crypto endorsers including Brazilian football star Ronaldinho, former English footballer Michael Owen, boxer Manny Pacquiao, socialite Paris Hilton and Academy Award-winning actor Jamie Foxx.

April 12, 2018

Bitcoin enjoyed a sudden surge of interest, pushing through the US$7,000 and US$8,000 barriers in just an hour - likely because of an injection of “serious money”, according to industry observers.

April 11, 2018

Ripple has invested US$25 million worth of its own cryptocurrency into a blockchain-focused fund that it says will allow it to develop inroads with entrepreneurs and other companies in the blockchain space.

Xunlei, a US listed technology firm which runs a cloud-based network for digital content delivery, says the digital tokens it has swapped with its users in return for their contribution of idle internet bandwidth should not be perceived as an initial coin offering (ICO), insisting the regulators’ decision to clamp down on the controversial fund raisings is the right move.

April 10, 2018

China’s bike-sharing start-up Ofo is venturing into blockchain technology with plans to launch a rewards system in Singapore, where users will receive cryptocurrency tokens for riding. Users can mine Global Sharing Economy (GSE) tokens, when they ride Ofo’s bicycles. For now, GSE tokens cannot be traded or mined by other means.

April 9, 2018

The value of cryptocurrencies has plunged more than 50 per cent this year, but some analysts are upbeat the asset class will grow more popular and mature this year, with a gradual increase in trading volume and decrease in volatility.

April 7, 2018

George Soros’ office is preparing to trade in cryptocurrencies just as prices in the market plunge – and despite his own claim in January that they are a bubble.

India’s central bank has barred banks from having any links to virtual currency dealers, slashing the prices of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies on local exchanges. Pakistan’s central bank said in a separate statement that cryptocurrencies were not legal in the country.

April 6, 2018

It’s time investors take stock, but bitcoin has a future, says Hong Kong-based cryptocurrency entrepreneur David Chapman.

April 5, 2018

When can you buy a Lamborghini for as little as US$135? When you’re a bitcoin millionaire, of course.

April 4, 2018

Bitcoin fell to below US$7,000 as markets wobbled in the US following tariffs placed on the country’s exports by China. But an expert said it was less to do with the tariffs and more about traders evaluating the assets in their portfolio and trying to assign value to them.

April 3, 2018

Japanese police have arrested a Chinese man in Tokyo for allegedly opening a cryptocurrency account that he later sold to a criminal group.

Lin Xiaolin, 30, a corporate executive living in Tokyo, was arrested on March 15 for allegedly opening the account at a virtual currency exchange in Tokyo by accessing its server from China using the name of a Vietnamese individual, police said.

The same day, a group of researchers said that they had worked out how to properly value bitcoin and predict its slumps - and they concluded that bitcoin is not just substantially overvalued, it will also undergo a volatile period in the coming months.

March 30, 2018

Bitcoin traded down at US$6,617 on the first-day of the long Easter weekend on Friday – its lowest-level since February 6 when it broke below US$6,000, as new European Union rules aimed at reducing leveraged trades offered by brokers prompted a widespread sell-off on fears of similar measures being launched in Asia.

March 27, 2018

Initial coin offerings (ICOs) may well have been banned in China since September last year – but the opportunity of getting involved in these virtual fund-raisings, using “cryptocurrencies”, has far from disappeared altogether. Online agencies are still advising customers on how to get involved in ICOs, and funnelling interested parties in their direction, via overseas websites.

Twitter is joining Facebook and Google in banning advertisements for initial coin offerings and token sales on its social-media platform. The decision comes after Facebook banned cryptocurrency ads in January and Google said it would ban such ads starting in June, as part of a broader effort to crack down on misleading advertising on their platforms.

March 23, 2018

Binance, the world's biggest cryptocurrency exchange, is heading to Malta. The island nation is looking to reinvent itself as a digital currency hub, while regulators in other jurisdictions crack down on virtual money.

March 22, 2018

France plans to create a legal framework for raising funds via cryptocurrencies and aims to become a leading centre for offerings in bitcoin-style digital currencies.

March 21, 2018

Cryptocurrency is very much on the agenda of world leaders this year at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

March 20, 2018

At least a dozen entrepreneurial scribes are offering their services on the Chinese internet to write ICO white papers for less than US$500.

Two of the writers told the South China Morning Post they can write 8,000-10,000 word plans in Chinese in less than a week, for the bargain price of 3,000 yuan (US$475). An English version will set you back another 3,500 yuan.

March 19, 2018

Hong Kong’s securities regulator has ordered a company that is raising capital through an ICO to halt the fundraising and return all tokens to investors. The move marks the first time the watchdog has halted a specific ICO and demanded the issuer refund the investors.

Meanwhile, the rapid evolution of crypto-assets such as Bitcoin may one day make them a threat to the financial system, Mark Carney, chairman of the Financial Stability Board, said in a letter to G20 finance leaders.

March 16, 2018

US cryptocurrency trading platform Circle, backed by IDG Capital Partners, Goldman Sachs and internet giant Baidu, is expanding to Asia, launching over-the-counter digital currency trading services to institutional investors such as hedge funds and fund managers.

March 14, 2018

Google will ban online advertisements promoting cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings (ICOs) starting in June, Bloomberg reported.

March 12, 2018

Accounting firm PwC is testing a blockchain analytics tool to help trace digital tokens after their launch, helping companies to guard against the risk their tokens will be misused as a medium for money laundering and other crimes.

Hong Kong-based crypto exchange Binance is offering the equivalent of a US$250,000 bounty – paid in cryptocurrency – for information that leads to the arrest of hackers who targeted it last week.

March 10, 2018

Unregulated virtual currencies have made some speculators wealthy – for now – but they have also enabled criminals to flourish beyond the scrutiny of the financial system, writes criminal justice analyst Grenville Cross.

Meanwhile, corporate finance lawyer Kim Larkin says regulation will make or break cryptocurrencies.

March 9, 2018

China’s central bank governor on Friday said Beijing is open to the idea of a digital currency if it doesn’t disrupt the financial system. The government will be happy to accept those that “bring efficiency, low cost and safety” to consumers as long as they “don’t directly conflict with the current financial stability and financial order”, Zhou Xiaochuan said.

March 8, 2018

Bitcoin fell back below US$10,000 amid concerns over tightened regulationsThe US Securities and Exchange Commission warned that online platforms trading digital assets must register as exchanges, increasing fears that stricter regulations could limit trading.

According to a survey however, the price of bitcoin could triple by the end of the year, while ethereum will be the top performing cryptocurrency.

March 7, 2018, the official website of Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Dailyhas launched a section dedicated to blockchain coverage, signalling Beijing’s official endorsement of the technology, even as a crackdown on digital currencies began in September.

February 28, 2018

Craig Wright, who has claimed to be “Satoshi Nakomoto”, the inventor of bitcoin, is being sued for US$5 billion by the the family of a dead man who – the suit claims – co-created the cryptocurrency. The family says Wright edited documents to transfer the intellectual property for bitcoin and US$11.6 billion in the digital currency away from Dave Kleiman and to himself. Kleiman died in 2013.

February 23, 2018

The Year of the Dog is prime time for blockchain, as the underlying technology behind cryptocurrencies takes the spotlight with the very first at scale use cases in Asia-Pacific, writes Accenture’s Piyush Singh.

February 22, 2018

Four men have been arrested in Taiwan on suspicion of stealing bitcoin worth NT$5 million (US$170,000) in what police said was the first case of its kind on the island.

In Hong Kong, cryptocurrency brokers have started offering off-exchange trading venues for large-sized orders of digital currencies, as the new asset class increasingly attracts institutional investors.

One broker expects such institutional interests will help push the total crypto market cap to nearly US$1 trillion globally by the end of 2018.

February 21, 2018

The bitcoin bulls are running again today after the digital currency surged nearly 100 per cent from its lowest level this year.

Meanwhile, Venezuela’s leftist government says it has raised US$735 million in pre-sales of its “Petro” oil-backed cryptocurrency ahead of an ICO on March 20.

February 20, 2018

Continuing a four-day climb, bitcoin broke through the US$11,000 barrier for the first time since January 29.

But is greater regulation on the horizon? According to Reuters, US lawmakers are moving to consider new rules that could impose stricter federal oversight on virtual currencies.

February 19, 2018

China means business in its fight against bitcoin, as it fears the instability that can come with the uncontrollable, volatile digital currency.

February 17, 2018

Shares in Riot Blockhain, a company that claimed to pivot to digital currencies, fell after a report suggested that it might have been engaging in stock manipulation. The company denies the claims.

February 15, 2018

Bitcoin underwent a strong upswing, pushing through the US$9,000 mark for the first time since February 2. Darren Franceschini, chief executive with Blockchain Technologies Consulting, said this was “inevitable” and that “Now, we’re waiting for bitcoin’s next all-time high.”

In other news, a US news site has come up with a novel alternative for people who don’t want to disable adblockers. Salon says it wants to use their computers to mine cryptocurrency instead.

February 13, 2018

Following weeks of negative headlines that have wiped out billions in value, bitcoin climbed back up to US$8,839 as regulatory concerns showed signs of subsiding. 

Bitcoin bounced back by almost 50 per cent since dipping below US$6,000 on February 6, given a boost after top US regulators testifying before a Senate committee called for greater oversight of cryptocurrencies without proposing industry-killing measures.

February 9, 2018

Regulators have written to Hong Kong’s cryptocurrency exchanges warning them they under scrutiny.

The move follows complaints by investors of practices ranging from alleged market manipulation to misappropriation of assets.

In Japan, regulators have raided several cryptocurrency exchanges in the aftermath of January’s US$530 million hack of Tokyo-based exchange Coincheck.

Bitcoin has declined 59 per cent in less than two months, leaving investors who bought the digital currency recently with huge losses on paper.

February 7, 2018

Is someone trying to push the price of bitcoin down so they can profit? 

Analysts say that could be the explanation after a bogus press invitation was sent to US media organisations claiming that the Hong Kong Monetary Authority and People’s Bank of China are about to jointly introduce new measures to crack down on “all aspects and services of bitcoin trading in both mainland China and Hong Kong”.

On the markets, bitcoin stumbled again but managed to reclaim some losses. 

In the US, calls for a crackdown on cryptocurrency are rising, with the chairman of the US Securities and Exchange Commission saying he may request legislation, and the head of the Bank for International Settlements calling it “a Ponzi scheme and an environmental disaster”.

Meanwhile, in Hong Kong, some lawmakers are pushing for tighter oversight of cryptocurrencies .

February 6, 2018

With banks such as the UK’s Lloyd’s turning against the cryptocurrency, the value of bitcoin continued its five-day drop, sinking below US$7,000 (HK$54,745) as of 2pm in New York on February 5 (3am February 6, Hong Kong time). This is the first time since November that it’s fallen so low.

February 5, 2018

China is stepping up its efforts to stamp out digital currency trading in a bid to quash the market completely.

According to an article published by Financial News, a publication affiliated to the People’s Bank of China, China will block all websites related to cryptocurrency trading and initial coin offerings (ICOs) – including foreign platforms.

Elsewhere, Tokyo-based exchanges have been victims of the two largest cryptocurrency heists in the world with losses totalling almost a billion dollars. So why is Japan still in love with bitcoin?

And bitcoin received little love from the UK, as Lloyd’s Bank announced it would ban its credit card owners from buying bitcoin.

February 3, 2018

The bitcoin bubble seemed close to bursting after it dropped to below $8,000 for the first time since November, then regained its standing, leaving some experts highly unnerved.

February 2, 2018

Cybercrime experts have revealed how digital criminals are exploiting unwitting web users to make quick cash from bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

February 1, 2018

Facebook has banned all ads that promote cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin, to prevent advertisers from marketing “financial products and services frequently associated with misleading or deceptive promotional practices”. 

China’s major social media networks and search engines don’t appear to return paid searches or advertisements on bitcoin and cryptocurrencies following a fundraising ban implemented last year by the country’s central bank.

Meanwhile, Peter Guy argues cryptocurrency is an uprising against today’s flawed financial system.

January 29, 2018

Bitcoin’s price plunged this week to less than US$11,000, from almost US$20,000 in mid-December, after South Korea announced that all anonymous accounts, foreigners without local banking services and minors would be banned from trading on exchanges from January 30.

But, particularly in Southeast Asia, much confidence remains that the blockchain technology underlying bitcoin can be adapted to drive development in everything from bank remittances to electoral rolls and health care records.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong is planning to roll out a public education campaign, which would highlight that cryptocurrencies have fluctuated in price and are subjected to hacking risks.

January 26, 2018

A board member at the European Central Bank (ECB) has urged C20 nations to look into regulating bitcoin at their next meeting. ECB Executive Board member Benoit Coeure made the remarks at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. 

Russia is moving towards regulating cryptocurrencies by drafting a law to regulate their creation - but exactly how strict it will be is still under debate.

January 24, 2018

China is grappling with an increase in bitcoin fraud as cryptocurrencies have become a target for hackers and cyber-fraudsters who are attracted by the huge sums invested in these platforms, according to a report by risk management firm Kroll

A staggering 88 per cent of Chinese companies, including those from Hong Kong, faced cyber-related crime or fraud in 2017 - above the global average of 86 per cent.

January 23, 2018

Nobel Prize winner Bengt Holmstrom has warned of catastrophe if central banks are allowed to make their own cryptocurrencies - even though many regard it as a smart idea. This is why.

January 19, 2018

The People’s Bank of China has blocked banking services for cryptocurrency trading, according to an internal document issued by the central bank.

Despite the recent rout that has seen bitcoin losing 53 per cent of its peak value, enthusiasm remained high at the Miami bitcoin conference this week.

France and Germany will propose bitcoin regulations to G20 countries in March, the two European nations revealed in a press conference. Whether this will send more shudders through the market remains to be seen.

January 18, 2018

While bitcoin instability worries the world, Venezuela has pressed on with its plans to launch its own cryptocurrency – and is now trying to get Qatar in on the act.

The Winklevoss Twins, who became billionaires with bitcoin’s rise, lost US$443 million ($3.4 billion) each on Wednesday – so no wonder so many other investors are turning to gold. Read both stories here.

Is bitcoin just another bubble? See how it compares to some of history’s biggest bubbles, including the Dutch tulipmania of the 1630s.

January 17, 2018

By 11:20pm HKT (10:20am New York Time), bitcoin had lost 50 per cent of its mid-December value, being worth less than US$10,000 (HK$78,177) – and continued to fall.

The prices of crypto-mining computers have risen with soaring bitcoin prices. It now takes 556 days of computing and a hefty electricity bill to mine a single bitcoin. Is it worth it?

Cyberattacks on bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in South Korea were performed by the same North Korean hackers associated with the 2014 Sony Pictures Entertainment data theft, US-based researchers claim. 

January 15, 2018

Bitcoin mania is not just part of a backlash against big tech, says  South China Morning Post  columnist Nicholas Spiro, it is a reflection of a loss of faith in – and indeed outright disdain for – the world’s political and economic elites.

January 12, 2018

Japan has a new all-girl “idol” band – the Virtual Currency Girls – on a mission to educate the public about bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

Investment guru Warren Buffett warned that a ‘bad ending’ is coming for cryptocurrencies, saying that their skyrocketing value is likely fleeting.

January 10, 2018

Hackers found a way to mine cryptocurrency and send it to North Korea.

January 7, 2018

Explainer: Why does it take so long and cost so much to trade bitcoin? The average transaction fee jumped from 14 US cents in early 2016 to US$16 at the start of 2018.

Will anyone still buy coffee with bitcoin? Soaring transaction fees have made it practically useless as a token of exchange in Hong Kong.

January 5, 2018

China plans to limit power use by some bitcoin miners, a potential challenge to an industry whose energy-intensive computer networks enable transactions in the cryptocurrency.

The bitcoin revolution isn’t coming, says South China Morning Post columnist David Dodwell, who is alarmed by cryptocurrency’s political, environmental and criminal impact.

January 1, 2018

South Korea’s Financial Services Commission banned its companies and start-ups from taking part in ICOs in September 2017. Why has one of the most innovative societies giving up its role as a leader in the field and aggressively fighting the trend?

December 29, 2017

Despite generating breathless coverage throughout the year, bitcoin still baffles many. Check out our infographic for a working sense of how the cryptocurrency works, both for individual users and in its larger ecosystem.

December 12, 2017

The first day of bitcoin futures trading kicked off with a bang: