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Chinese bitcoin exchanges say to strengthen scrutiny of customers

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Mike Estes

SHANGHAI Reuters - China's three largest bitcoin exchanges said on Thursday they will strengthen oversight of customers' identities and sources of funds, in the latest shift since the Chinese central bank stepped up its scrutiny of the industry.

BTCC, OkCoin and Huobi said in identical statements on their websites that they wanted to curb market speculation and prevent activities such as currency exchange through bitcoin, which they warned was not issued by monetary authorities and carried high risk.

Their move comes after China's central bank said it called nine of the country's smaller bitcoin exchanges in to a Wednesday meeting to discuss risks in the bitcoin market, and warned them that they risked closure if they seriously violated regulations or took part in activities such as margin lending.

The price of bitcoin on European bitcoin exchange Bitstamp fell by as much as 9 percent on Thursday from the previous day, trading at $960.

Beijing signaled that it was keeping a closer eye on the bitcoin industry last month by launching checks into BTCC, Huobi and OkCoin, amid growing government efforts to stem capital outflows and relieve pressure on China's currency, the yuan.

While the yuan weakened 6.6 percent against the dollar last year, its worst performance since 1994, the bitcoin price has soared to near-record highs.

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Mike Estes
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