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Bitcoin taking growing regulatory scrutiny in stride

By Kailey Leinz

Bitcoin, infamous for its volatility, is s..

By Kailey Leinz

Bitcoin, infamous for its volatility, is standing strong in the face of the latest round of scrutiny cascading down from global leaders in Davos.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May kicked things off by suggesting that "action" on cryptocurrencies may be needed. Her contemporary, U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond, also said at Davos Thursday that there should be caution. A governor from the Central Bank of Nigeria said investing in the cryptocurrency is a "gamble" and suggested it may have to be regulated. On Wednesday, sources said that Japan's Financial Services Agency isn't eager to change regulations to allow Bitcoin futures. The list goes on.

Their words did little to shake Bitcoin. The digital currency was little changed and traded near the $11,000 level its been hovering around for days.

That wasn't the case when South Korean regulators came to call at the end of last year.

In December, the South Korean government said it was eyeing options to clamp down on crypto speculation, including a potential shutdown of some exchanges. The warning helped set Bitcoin into a dizzying downward spiral, serving as a catalyst for a rapid sell-off that has brought its price down to nearly 50 percent of the record $19,511 it hit earlier in the month.

The seemingly outsized move is tied to the weightiness of the South Korean market in the crypto world. Asia's fourth-largest economy has been the global hub of Bitcoin mania — so much so that the digital coin trades at a 30 percent premium there and the country's prime minister said it could corrupt Korean youth.

But for leaders whose countries are less vital to crypto trading, and where the frenzy isn't quite as pervasive, the threats seem to ring hollow. At least for today.

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