The deputy governor of the People’s Bank of China (PBoC), the country’s central bank, has shown a rare display of support for Bitcoin despite the country having previously taken a restrictive approach to crypto usage.
Speaking at the Boao Forum on Sunday, Li Bo was reported by journalist Colin Wu to have said that the central bank believed Bitcoin and stablecoins, cryptos that are pegged to other assets and currencies to provide a stable value, are “encrypted assets” and could be “an investment option” that “should play a major role in the future”.
However, Li also said there were still regulatory risks around crypto for the central bank, and that it will “continue to maintain the current measures and practices” as it explored any potential changes to the rules.
The deputy governor’s comments may be interpreted by some as a softening of the approach by China’s authorities towards the potential for crypto use in the economy, despite the fact that crypto exchanges are still banned in the country.
This sentiment may improve further as the PBoC continues its pilot of a digital version of China’s yuan, which could be put into use at the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing.
Given China accounts for a large portion of Bitcoin’s mining infrastructure, with around 60% of all Bitcoin in circulation mined in the country, any softening of regulation is likely to be greeted with optimism by crypto investors and exchanges, many of whom are eyeing increased access to China’s rapidly expanding economy and consumer market.
The comments will also have helped to offset nervousness in the market caused by recent developments in Turkey, where crypto payments were recently banned, and in India where similar moves are reportedly being considered by government ministers.
Bitcoin was trading 5.8% higher at US$57,215 in early afternoon deals in London on Monday.