China virtual currency events moved or delayed as central bank bans digital coin fundraising

One summit scheduled for Beijing has been moved to Hong Kong and another delayed, while a third in another city has been cancelled. Analysts say the sudden ban on initial coin offerings has chilled the industry

PUBLISHED : Monday, 04 September, 2017, 10:14pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 September, 2017, 12:00pm

Two conferences on cryptocurrencies and related technologies in China’s capital Beijing have been abruptly moved or delayed while a third in a provincial city has been cancelled, on the same day as the central bank announced a ban on a type of funding widely used by digital currency companies.

The People’s Bank of China said the practice of initial coin offerings (ICOs) – fundraising by the issue of digital currencies – was illegal and that 90 per cent of the ICOs launched in China were found to have been fraudulent.

The sudden announcement in a circular on the central bank’s website sent a chill through the cryptocurrency industry in China, with the value of bitcoins dropping as much as 7 per cent after the release of the statement.

China bans initial coin offerings over concern about financial and social stability

Bitcoin trading services provider Bitkan had organised the BTC & Blockchain Summit to be held in Beijing on September 10, but said on Monday it would move the event to Hong Kong instead.

“For us, our summit has no relationship with ICO, but here is the 19th Party Congress,” said BitKan operations director Sandy Liang, referring to the upcoming five-yearly Communist Party meeting at which key leadership decisions are taken. “So the security in Beijing is quite tight.”

Separately, Huobi, one of the two biggest digital currency exchanges in China, has delayed its planned 2017 Global Blockchain Summit scheduled for September 23 this month, according to two sources close to the company. Huobi did not reply to an email request for comment.

Meanwhile, the 2017 DACA Blockchain International Summit, scheduled for September 2 and organised by the municipal government of Wuhai City in Inner Mongolia, was cancelled. In a statement, the organiser cited “security reasons” as a reason for the cancellation.

Hong Kong must join China to lead the bitcoin revolution, or be left in the dust

It was not immediately clear if the delays and changes were directly connected to the ICO ban, but market participants were concerned over the future of virtual currencies following the central bank’s statement.

“I think that the cancellation of the events is almost certainly related to the ICO news,” said Neil Woodfine, Beijing-based growth manager for Asia at Wyre, a cross-border payments firm from San Francisco. “There’s a number of speakers that were already involved in ICOs or were about to be involved in ICOs.”

Woodfine, who has organised bitcoin community meetings in Beijing, said that public events including those on digital currency technologies like blockchain have to be registered with the Public Security Bureau for approval.