Chinese central bank asks Alipay, banks to crack down on cryptocurrencies

China’s central bank has ordered Ant Group and four state-owned banks to step up their crackdown on cryptocurrencies as Beijing steps up efforts to stamp out transactions involving bitcoin and other digital currencies.

The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) said in a statement on Monday that Ant Group Alipay, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, Agricultural Bank of China, Construction Bank of China and Postal Savings Bank of China were among the financial institutions called for a meeting in which they were asked to block payment services for all customer accounts believed to be involved in cryptocurrency transactions. They have also been asked to stop offering other services such as account opening, registration and trading for any cryptocurrency related activity.

“Cryptocurrency transactions and speculative activities have disrupted the normal economic and financial order,” the PBOC said in a statement. “They increase the risks of crimes such as illegal cross-border transfers of assets and money laundering, which seriously undermine the security of property of the general public.”

Alipay said in a separate statement that it will set up a monitoring system to identify cryptocurrency-related transactions, and that any trader who engages in such activities will be banned from the platform.

The four state-owned banks also pledged to step up their efforts to monitor cryptocurrency transactions and to ban the use of their accounts in such activities.

The value of major cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin, ether, and dogecoin, plunged after the news. The price of bitcoin fell to its lowest level in two weeks on Tuesday, trading at $ 31,196 around 8:20 a.m. Hong Kong time, according to CoinDesk.

China accounted for up to 70% of the global cryptocurrency supply, according to some estimates. The PBOC decision marks the latest efforts by authorities to rid the country of crypto mining and trading.

China’s Sichuan province recently joined the list of jurisdictions seeking to oust crypto mining companies, along with Inner Mongolia and Xinjiang. Provincial authorities have ordered the shutdown of 26 companies suspected of being involved in crypto mining, state-run tabloid says World time reported Monday. Officials also asked local power companies to cut power to crypto mining projects, according to the report. Sichuan, which has abundant hydroelectric power plants, has been one of the largest bases for crypto mining in China.

China last month blocked a batch of crypto-related accounts on the country’s Twitter-like Weibo platform. It has also banned the search for some popular crypto exchanges such as Binance and OKEx.

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