There were unconfirmed reports today that major exchange OKCoin was packing up its Beijing, China headquarters. Video posted online supposedly showed empty rooms at the office location — however the company may simply be moving to a new location.
A short video supposedly showing OKCoin’s now-empty office space appeared on Twitter early this morning (U.S. time). However the OKCoin.cn Chinese website was still operational as of 4AM EST, and the company’s Twitter account hadn’t mentioned any changes.
Bye okcoin pic.twitter.com/veEb8aCUBW
— rainmaker xiong (@xiong1000) September 22, 2017
Soon after, the company’s Weibo account posted a message saying the company was simply moving to a new location. The message included a photo showing the new address at the Qunying Science and Technology park in Beijing, with a start date of 25th September, 2017.
OKCoin, Entire Chinese Exchange Industry in Flux
The entire Chinese digital asset exchange industry is in flux at the moment. Although the People’s Bank of China started on-site inspections at exchanges in January, things reached a head in the past month. The PBoC issued an edict forbidding ICO fundraising, then later announced it would halt cryptocurrency trading altogether.
China should still lead the world in blockchain technology, it said, but without cryptocurrencies and other digital tokens. First BTCC and ViaBTC announced they were shutting down their trading platforms (while keeping mining operations running). OKCoin and rival Huobi, however, were reportedly given until the end of October to do the same.
If OKCoin is really moving to a new location instead of closing, it’s not clear what staff will do there. Bitsonline contacted chief strategy officer Jack Liu to clarify, but had not received a reply at press time.
Is It Possible to Offshore?
There are actually two entities called OKCoin — one based in mainland China that operates the OKCoin.cn CNY-only exchange, and a separate Hong Kong-registered company that runs OKCoin.com for international USD traders.
The most obvious move for Chinese Bitcoin companies would be to move operations offshore — perhaps to more autonomous Hong Kong or Taiwan. But it may not be that simple. Most of their trading activity comes from domestic CNY trading, and moving from the country would cut off that lucrative market.
Bitsonline‘s sources have claimed exchange executives were told to remain in the country, or return from overseas.
What should Chinese exchanges do? Let’s hear your thoughts.
Images via OKCoin, Weibo, Wikimedia Commons