The Chinese central bank calls on Alipay, banks to take action against crypto


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China’s central bank said Monday it had urged several payment firms and banks to crack down on cryptocurrency speculation, adding to calls from Beijing for restrictions on bitcoin and other digital currencies.

The People’s Bank of China said it had convened major lenders like the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and the Agricultural Bank of China, as well as Alipay, the mobile payment service operated by Alibaba’s subsidiary Ant Group, to tell them that they are not offering crypto-related services allowed to .

The comments reiterate Beijing’s tough line on crypto. In 2017, the Chinese government banned initial coin offerings, a way of issuing new digital tokens and collecting money. The authorities have also taken action against companies involved in crypto operations, such as local exchanges.

In May, China announced that financial institutions and payment companies would be banned from providing services related to crypto transactions.

Alipay said on Monday that it would “continue to conduct a comprehensive investigation and take action against transactions in virtual currencies” and “intensify” its crackdown on crypto.

“We affirm that Alipay does not conduct or participate in any business activity related to virtual currency and does not provide any technical assistant services or skills,” the company said, according to an English translation of a post on the Weibo social media site.

“Alipay will immediately discontinue its payment service in connection with any virtual currency transaction it detects. Alipay will permanently remove any merchant involved in virtual currency transactions.”

Bitcoin’s price fell to a two-week low on Monday after it became known that China’s crackdown on crypto mining has spread to southwestern Sichuan province, a region known for its rich hydropower resources.

– CNBC’s Arjun Kharpal contributed to this report.