China bans all crypto-related activities, sending Bitcoin down

    China’s regulators banned on all crypto transactions and vowed to root out mining of digital assets, hitting Bitcoin and other major coins and pressuring crypto and blockchain-related stocks.

    According to Reuters, crypto-related transactions will be considered illicit financial activity, including services provided by off-shore exchanges, the People’s Bank of China said on its website. It added that cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin and Tether, are not fiat currency and cannot be circulated.

    “Financial institutions and nonbank payment institutions cannot offer services to activities and operations related to virtual currencies,” the PBoC said, reiterating past comments.

    Also, ten agencies, including the central bank, financial, securities and foreign exchange regulators, vowed to work together to root out “illegal” cryptocurrency activity, the first time the Beijing-based regulators have joined forces to explicitly ban all cryptocurrency-related activity.

    Chinese officials are going further to stamp out crypto trading for its ties to fraud, money laundering and excessive energy usage. China already has rules that bar banks from offering crypto-related services. To get around such rules, traders have moved to over-the-counter platforms and offshore exchanges.

    “China’s ban on all cryptocurrency trading activity will have some short-term impact on the currency’s valuation, but long-term implications are likely to be muted,” told Bloomberg Ganesh Viswanath Natraj, an assistant professor of finance at Warwick Business School.

    China in May banned financial institutions and payment companies from providing services related to cryptocurrency transactions, and issued similar bans in 2013 and 2017. The repeated prohibitions highlight the challenge of closing loopholes and identifying Bitcoin-related transactions, though banks and payment firms say they support the effort.

    Friday’s statement is the most detailed and expansive yet from the country’s main regulators, underscoring Beijing’s commitment to suffocating the Chinese crypto market.

    “The Chinese regulators have always been extreme in their views and these comments are not new,” said Vijay Ayyar, head of Asia Pacific with cryptocurrency exchange Luno in Singapore. “The interesting part is also why they continue making these statements. Its probably because they sense continued unabated activity in China and hence having to go on an overdrive.”

    As a result, the price of Bitcoin sank over 6.5% in 24 hours, last trading at around $41,882, according to Coin Metrics data at midmorning Friday ET. Ethereum, the second-largest digital asset, fell 9% to around $2,867. Stocks with heavy exposure to crypto also slumped in midmorning trading on the Nasdaq, with Coinbase down 2%, MicroStrategy slipping 5% and Riot Blockchain down over 6%.

    It’s not the first time China has gotten tough on cryptocurrencies. Earlier this year, Beijing announced a crackdown on crypto mining, the energy-intensive process that verifies transactions and mints new units of currency. That led to a sharp slump in Bitcoin’s processing power, as multiple miners took their equipment offline.

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