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China bans financial, payment institutions from cryptocurrency business

05/18/2021 | 06:18pm EDT
FILE PHOTO: Picture illustration of a small toy figurine and representations of the Bitcoin virtual currency displayed in front of an image of China's flag

BEIJING (Reuters) - China has banned financial institutions and payment companies from providing services related to cryptocurrency transactions, and warned investors against speculative crypto trading.

It was China's latest attempt to clamp down on what was a burgeoning digital trading market. Under the ban, such institutions, including banks and online payments channels, must not offer clients any service involving cryptocurrency, such as registration, trading, clearing and settlement, three industry bodies said in a joint statement on Tuesday.

"Recently, crypto currency prices have skyrocketed and plummeted, and speculative trading of cryptocurrency has rebounded, seriously infringing on the safety of people's property and disrupting the normal economic and financial order," they said in the statement.

China has banned crypto exchanges and initial coin offerings but has not barred individuals from holding cryptocurrencies.

The institutions must not provide saving, trust or pledging services of cryptocurrency, nor issue financial product related to cryptocurrency, the statement also said.

The moves were not Beijing's first moves against digital currency. In 2017, China shut down its local cryptocurrency exchanges, smothering a speculative market that had accounted for 90% of global bitcoin trading.

In June 2019, the People's Bank of China issued a statement saying it would block access to all domestic and foreign cryptocurrency exchanges and Initial Coin Offering websites, aiming to clamp down on all cryptocurrency trading with a ban on foreign exchanges.

The statement also highlighted the risks of cryptocurrency trading, saying virtual currencies "are not supported by real value", their prices are easily manipulated, and trading contracts are not protected by Chinese law.

The three industry bodies are: the National Internet Finance Association of China, the China Banking Association and the Payment and Clearing Association of China.

(Reporting by Samuel Shen and Twinnie Siu; Additional reporting by Alden Bentley and Gertrude Chavez; Editing by Andrew Heavens, Jane Merriman and David Gregorio)


ę Reuters 2021
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