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The Journal Gazette

Friday, January 12, 2018 1:00 am

Asian regulators taking long look at bitcoin

Associated Press

Digital currency prices wobbled Thursday after South Korea, a hotbed for currencies like bitcoin, said it will consider a trading ban.

The country's justice minister said South Korea is planning a ban, but the presidential office said later that a ban is under review. No policy changes have been made, and while the country's justice ministry has taken a stern stance against the currencies, other agencies oppose an outright ban.

Also Thursday, the Wall Street Journal reported that China ordered that bitcoin “mining” operations be shut down there. Those were just the latest signs that regulators around the world are taking a harder stance on the currencies as their values skyrocketed. Mining involves having computers solve mathematical problems to confirm transactions. Miners are rewarded with bitcoin.

The price of bitcoin slid 6 percent, to $13,939 as of 1:30 p.m., according to Coindesk. Ethereum, another popular digital currency, fell as much as 8 percent early on and was little changed from the day before at $1,248.

During 2017 the price of bitcoin surged from under $1,000 to almost $14,000 by the end of the year, and ethereum jumped from about $8 to $734. That has experts warning that both are speculative bubbles that could burst any time.