China’s central bank urges Alipay and banks to crack down on cryptocurrencies

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China’s central bank said on Monday that it had urged several payment companies and banks to clamp 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 summoned major lenders, including the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and the Agricultural Bank of China, and Alipay, the mobile payments service run by Alibaba affiliate Ant Group, to tell them they should not provide services related to cryptocurrencies. .

The comments reinforce Beijing’s hard line on cryptocurrencies. In 2017, the Chinese government banned so-called initial coin offerings, a way to issue new digital tokens and raise money. Authorities have also cracked down on companies involved in crypto operations, such as local exchanges.

In May, China said that financial institutions and payment companies were prohibited from providing services related to crypto transactions.

Alipay said on Monday that it will “continue to conduct a thorough investigation and attack virtual currency transactions” and “step up” its crackdown on cryptocurrencies.

“We reiterate that Alipay does not conduct or participate in any commercial activity related to virtual currencies and does not provide any technical services or ancillary capabilities,” the company said, according to an English translation of a post on the social networking site Weibo.

“Alipay will immediately cut its payment service related to any virtual currency transactions it detects. Alipay will firmly eliminate any merchant involved in virtual currency transactions. “

Bitcoin’s price fell to a two-week low on Monday on news that China’s crackdown on crypto mining has spread to the southwestern province of Sichuan, a region known for its rich hydroelectric resources.

– CNBC’s Arjun Kharpal contributed to this report.

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