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It's only a matter of time before China lifts crypto exchange ban, entrepreneur says

  • Bobby Lee, CEO and co-founder of BTCC, which closed down its China-facing trading operations in September 2017 after a well-publicized government crackdown, spoke to CNBC about the future of cryptocurrency in China
  • China cracked down on cryptocurrencies in September 2017, with authorities banning bitcoin trading and initial coin offerings
  • The entrepreneur explain that he "got out" of the Chinese bitcoin exchange business, and now instead focuses ambitions on an international trading platform, a mining and minting operation and a cryptocurrency wallet

It's only a matter of time before China lifts its ban on cryptocurrency exchanges, according to the entrepreneur behind what was once China's longest-running bitcoin trading operations.

"In this world, nothing is ever permanent," said Bobby Lee, CEO and co-founder of BTCC, which closed down its China-facing trading operations in September 2017 after a well-publicized government crackdown.

"One day I think it's possible they'll lift the ban, so called, and they might reinstitute it and license it," Lee told CNBC's "Squawk Box."

Still, Lee stopped short of offering a definitive timeline: "Frankly speaking, I don't know what kind of time frame that is, whether it's a few months, a few years or even a few decades, so it's hard to tell."

China cracked down on cryptocurrencies in September 2017, with authorities banning bitcoin trading and initial coin offerings after the People's Bank of China said such activities could pose major financial risks to the world's second-largest economy.

Other Asian countries have since followed suit, with South Korea reportedly set to ban the use of anonymous accounts in cryptocurrency transactions as soon as this month.

"The more the governments and the regulators tried to put a squeeze on bitcoin, the more we see that bitcoin is actually resilient," Lee told CNBC, referring to the token's rapid price rise in the aftermath of the China ban.

Still, China lashed out at bitcoin just this week, with People's Daily — a Communist Party mouthpiece — running an editorial saying the cryptocurrency is "flooded with froth."

The entrepreneur explain that he "got out" of the Chinese bitcoin exchange business, and now instead focuses ambitions on an international trading platform, a mining and minting operation and a cryptocurrency wallet called Mobi.

That latter product, he said, is a global wallet that works with multiple digital currencies, "so we have a global play for wallets and we're no longer focused on just being an exchange business," he said.

Price momentum

Lee also said he believes the scarcity of bitcoin and the complexity of mining new coins mean the price has further to run in 2018.

"Today we're at only 1,800 of newly mined bitcoin of every day," he said. "That used to be 7,200 as recently as five years ago. So in just a few short, maybe two and a half more years, we'll see the supply go down again to only 900 bitcoins a day."

"So if you talk about multi-million dollars of inflow with only new supply of 900 bitcoins a day, you can imagine where prices could be at in three, five, or 10 years," he added.