Confusion was reigning in China after one of the country’s biggest commercial banks, the Agricultural Bank of China (ABC), said in a statement that it will crack down on crypto transactions, and will seek to block accounts connected with bitcoin (BTC) and crypto-related activity – but later deleted its post on the matter before reuploading it. (Updated at UTC 10:19 with new developments throughout.)
The bank had issued a terse and short statement on the matter, which was published by a number of Chinese media outlets including East Money.
BTC, ethereum (ETH), and many altcoins dropped following the announcement, before recovering some of the losses. At 10:18 UTC, BTC trades at USD 33,131, and is down by almost 4% in a day, while ETH dropped by almost 5.5% a day, and is trading at USD 2,009.
In the statement, the bank wrote that it was “banning the use of its services for cryptocurrency transactions such as bitcoin.”
It added that it would seek to “intensify [its] investigation and monitoring of customer transactions” and that “upon the detection of [crypto-]related activities,” it would enact “measures such as suspension of account transactions and termination of customer services on an “immediate” basis, with possible crypto offenders to be “reported to relevant government departments” as “promptly” as possible.
But just minutes after getting picked up by the media, the announcement was pulled without a trace from the news section of the bank website. However, the announcement was made public again once the People’s Bank of China confirmed that it has met with major Chinese financial players and urged them to crack down on crypto trading and do not provide any other crypto-related financial services.
ABC claimed that it had made its move “in the spirit of” recent announcements from market regulators, and concluded with a warning about the risks of crypto market investments.
Some accused the bank of “rugging.”
Quick explainer for those confused re AGbank
— db (@tier10k)
The bank is one of the nation’s “big four,” and went public in 2010 in what – at the time – was the world’s biggest-ever initial public offering. Despite the fact that it is publically traded, however, it remains firmly tied to Beijing and Chinese monetary policy. Its biggest shareholder is the state-owned investment vehicle Huijin Investment, which owns over 40% of the company.
The bank is also one of at least five financial institutions cooperating directly with the central People’s Bank of China on its fast-moving digital yuan pilot.
Bitcoin ownership has remained legal in China despite a massive crackdown in September 2017, which banished crypto exchanges and outlawed initial coin offerings (ICOs). However, in recent weeks, the government has become increasingly keen to stamp out crypto-related fraud and clamp down on crypto mining – leading to reports of some miners considering relocating overseas.
Cryptonews.com has contacted the bank for comment and will continue to monitor the situation for further developments.
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