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Operator promises caution for transactions with Bitcoin

TAIPEI -- The operator of the first Taiwanese online shopping service to accept Bitcoin said Thursday that it will implement strict risk-control measures for the virtual currency.

Online game company Wayi International Digital Entertainment Co., which announced a day earlier that it will accept Bitcoin on its Wmall shopping site from Jan. 1, responded to regulators' concerns and explained the transaction mechanism in a statement released Thursday.

The company said that shoppers planning to make payments in Bitcoin will have to do so through the Atlanta-based Bitpay service.

Given the volatility of Bitcoin's value, Wayi said, it will limit its holdings of this new type of payment instrument to control risks.

The company will also keep close tabs on the virtual currency's exchange rate and handle it with caution, since Taiwan's central bank has previously pointed out that Bitcoin is not a legal tender.

In late November, Central Bank Governor Perng Fai-nan commented on Bitcoin, describing it as more a form of currency that circulates among a specific group of people.

He also said that the central bank sees trading in Bitcoin in a similar light to trading in precious metals, and monitors such trade to prevent money-laundering.

The value of the virtual currency had rocketed to over US$1,100 earlier in the month from around US$13 at the beginning of this year, according to Bitcoin trading platform BitStamp.

However, the virtual currency's value dropped significantly after the People's Bank of China banned the country's financial institutions from handling Bitcoin transactions Dec. 7.

Bitcoin was priced at US$851.02 by BitStamp as of 5 p.m. Thursday.

Meanwhile, OTC (over-the counter) market-listed Wayi saw its shares surge by the daily maximum permitted 7 percent for the second day Thursday to close at NT$11.15 (US$0.38).

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