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The Big Story

Inside Asia's bitcoin economy

Crypto startups scramble amid regulatory pressure

KEN KOYANAGI, Editor-at-large, Nikkei Asian Review | China

SHANGHAI -- On Jan. 6, a leaked photograph of an official notice from China's internet finance regulator began to circulate on Twitter. The statement, released by the authorities two days earlier, told local governments to stop subsidizing companies that create new bitcoin, the digital currency, and ensure they make "orderly exits" from the market.

To those outside the opaque world of cryptocurrencies, it appeared to be little more than a routine request from China's sprawling bureaucracy. But inside the bitcoin community, including the investors who had piled in as its value skyrocketed in 2017, the message was alarming.

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