After a bitcoin crackdown, China now calls it an ‘investment alternative’ in a significant shift in tone

BOAO, China — China's central bank is now calling bitcoin an "investment alternative" — marking a significant shift in Beijing's tone after a crackdown on cryptocurrency issuance and trading nearly four years ago.Industry insiders called the comments "progressive" and are watching closely for any regulatory changes made by the People's Bank of China (PBOC)."We regard Bitcoin and stablecoin as crypto assets ... These are investment alternatives," Li Bo, deputy governor of the PBOC, said on Sunday during a panel hosted by CNBC at the Boao Forum for Asia."They are not currency per se. And so the main role we see for crypto assets going forward, the main role is investment alternative."Bitcoin was up around 2% at 12:25 p.m. Beijing time at over $57,134.04, according to Coindesk data.China was once one of the world's largest buyers of bitcoin.But in 2017, China banned so-called initial coin offerings (ICOs), a way to raise…

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