China calls bitcoin an ‘alternative investment’ marking a shift in tone

By Arjun Kharpal | CNBC  19 April 2021

BOAO, China — China’s central bank is now calling bitcoin an “investment alternative” — marking a significant shift in Beijing’s tone after a crackdown on cryptocurrency issuance and trading nearly four years ago.

Industry insiders called the comments “progressive” and are watching closely for any regulatory changes made by the People’s Bank of China (PBOC).

“We regard Bitcoin and stablecoin as crypto assets … These are investment alternatives,” Li Bo, deputy governor of the PBOC, said on Sunday (17 April 2021) during a panel hosted by CNBC at the Boao Forum for Asia.

“They are not currency per se. And so the main role we see for crypto assets going forward, the main role is investment alternative.”

China was once one of the world’s largest buyers of bitcoin.

But in 2017, China banned so-called initial coin offerings (ICOs), a way to raise money for crypto companies by issuing digital tokens. That same year, authorities shut down local cryptocurrency exchanges. The moves were prompted by concerns about financial stability.

As investment alternatives, “many countries, including China, are still looking into it and thinking about what kind of regulatory requirements. Maybe minimal, but we need to have some kind of regulatory requirement to prevent … the speculation of such assets to create any serious financial stability risks,” Li said.

He added that the central bank will keep its current regulations on cryptocurrencies.

Copyright © 2021 CNBC

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