Bitcoin falls back below $9,000 after Japan adds to regulatory uncertainty

Bitcoin failed to hold above $9,000 on Thursday after reports of increased scrutiny on cryptocurrencies by Japanese regulators.

The cryptocurrency hit a low of $8,495.10 and was trading 3 percent lower near $8,600 as of 11:42 a.m. ET, according to CoinDesk’s bitcoin price index.

Bitcoin has struggled to recover the $9,000 level after tumbling from a short-term high of $11,660 earlier this month. It remains about 17 percent above its low of $7,335.57 hit over the weekend.

Bitcoin 24-hour performance

Japan’s Financial Services Agency plans to issue a warning against Hong Kong-based cryptocurrency exchange Binance for operating in the country without registration, Reuters reported Thursday, citing a source familiar with the matter. If Binance does not heed the warning, the agency will file a criminal complaint, the source told the newswire. Nikkei first reported the news.

“We are in constructive dialog[ue] with Japan FSA, and have not received any mandates,” Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao said in a tweet. Binance is one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in the world.

Nikkei showed irresponsible journalism. We are in constructive dialogs with Japan FSA, and have not received any mandates. It does not make sense for JFSA to tell a newspaper before telling us, while we have an active dialog going on with them.

Japan requires cryptocurrency exchanges to register with the government.

Separately, a local media report said Japan’s National Police Agency has found 149 cases of cryptocurrency hacks last year, for a loss of 662.4 million yen ($6.3 million), primarily involving ripple. The agency did not immediately respond to a CNBC request for comment outside of Japanese business hours.

On Monday, Japan’s Financial Services Agency said it held a “Blockchain Round-Table” on March 8 and 9 with regulators and policymakers from countries such as Singapore and Canada. The agenda for the closed-door meeting included discussion of vulnerability issues of the public blockchain and coordination between regulators and academia.

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