China, Shmyna: Bitcoin Trading Is Way More Distributed Now Anyway

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Marc Hochstein is the managing editor for CoinDesk and a former editor-in-chief of American Banker.

In this opinion piece, Hochstein takes a quick look at the current state of the bitcoin markets, finding that just because there’s smoke, there’s not necessarily fire.

Tl;dr: this ain’t Mt. Gox – and bitcoin survived that, too.

With all the panic selling following the Chinese government’s renewed crackdown on bitcoin exchanges, it’s important to remember that the country is no longer the trading hub it once was.

All else equal, that means the market may take less time to recover from the latest sell-off than from the one that took place in 2013 (you know, when the People’s Bank of China suddenly declared that bitcoin was not a currency and ordered payment processors to stop accepting it).

Just a reminder of how bad the fallout from that that really was, during the three years it took bitcoin to recover from those bombshells, it lost nearly half its value, dropping from an all-time high of $1,150 to under $500.

But that was at a time when Chinese bitcoin trading accounted for as much as 90% of global volume (as shown in the chart below from CoinDesk’s second-quarter State of Blockchain report.)

This state of affairs persisted until as recently as January of this year:

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Since then, however, China’s share of bitcoin trading volume has fallen dramatically.

This is likely for two reasons: China’s January ban on no-fee trading on the country’s exchanges dramatically reduced volume there; and the rise of trading volumes in Japan and South Korea as shown in the chart below:

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“Global trading volume now appears more distributed than ever before,” our State of Blockchain report noted in June.

Remember also, this time around there hasn’t been any formal guidance from government – and it appears local exchanges Huobi and OKCoin will continue letting users trade between cryptocurrencies. In short, this is far from a blanket ban.

Of course, there are many variables that influence the price of bitcoin, so there is no guarantee of a speedier recovery.

But thanks to this more diversified market, and in context, still limited action, it stands to reason that the regulatory interventions of a single country (even the world’s most populous country) should have less impact on the bitcoin price over the long term.

Chinese finger trap via Shutterstock

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