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Euromoney, February 2018

The region is a vital part of the world crypto community, mostly as investor and miner. But Korea and China have turned against virtual currencies, though Japan, despite recent setbacks, may have the answer.

In July, Tama Churchouse, a founder of Stansberry Churchouse Research and partner at blockchain group, made a big claim.

“Asia is truly the epicentre of the global cryptocurrency boom,” he wrote.

He supported his argument with a chart, sourced to, suggesting that four of the world’s top six cryptocurrencies by 24-hour trading volume were in Asia: Bithumb in Korea, Yunbi in China, also in China and Bitfinex in Hong Kong, with China’s Huobi and Korea’s Coinone also making the top 10.

“I’m not saying that Asia is churning out more blockchain-related startups than the rest of the world, because it’s not,” Churchouse wrote. “But it’s absolutely clear that Asian money is a massive force in cryptocurrency prices.”

Six months on, everything has changed.

Chinese exchanges have effectively been shut down, following a national ban on new initial coin offerings (ICOs) and trading that is rumoured to be about to take a more radical turn by depriving China’s market-dominating bitcoin miners of affordable electricity.

The Korean exchanges may not be long for this world either: just a week after they were raided by the government on suspicion of tax evasion, they were stunned to hear the ministry of justice saying it plans to shut down all cryptocurrency trading in the country.

What is going on? Why, having become the driving force of cryptocurrency investment and validation, are Asian markets seeking to close everything down?

Asia’s role in the world cryptocurrency market has not been about creating the household names – unless untraceable bitcoin founder Satoshi Nakamoto is based in this region rather than the US as is commonly assumed.

Rather, Asia has provided impetus through the enthusiasm of local investors and the region’s role in mining, the process through which transactions are verified and added to the blockchain public ledger.  China is believed to be the dominant source of bitcoin mining in the world, China and Korea are understood to be two of the most active investment markets, while Japan has arguably the most sophisticated regulatory set-up.

But attitudes to cryptocurrencies seem to be changing by the day in Asia.

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Chris Wright
Chris Wright
Chris is a journalist specialising in business and financial journalism across Asia, Australia and the Middle East. He is Asia editor for Euromoney magazine and has written for publications including the Financial Times, Institutional Investor, Forbes, Asiamoney, the Australian Financial Review, Discovery Channel Magazine, Qantas: The Australian Way and BRW. He is the author of No More Worlds to Conquer, published by HarperCollins.

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