China said Monday it had ordered domestic banks and Ant Group Co. payment platform Alipay not to provide services linked to trading of virtual currencies, tightening the reins on the cryptocurrency industry yet again.
Lenders like Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd. and Agricultural Bank of China Ltd. as well as Alipay were summoned to a meeting with central bank authorities, the People’s Bank of China said in a statement.
The inquiry was focused on services provided to assist speculative trades in virtual currencies, it said, adding such activities “disrupt financial order and also breed risks of criminal activities like illegal cross-border asset transfers and money laundering.”
Apart from being prohibited from providing products or services that assist such activities, the institutions were also ordered to cut off payment channels for crypto exchanges and over-the-counter platforms, according to the statement.
Cryptocurrencies have been pressured in recent weeks as China has taken steps to rein in everything from mining to trading. Bitcoin fell as much as 10% on Monday, dropping to lows after the PBOC statement was released.