China is showing no intention of slowing down its cryptocurrency crackdown. In the latest, Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent (BAT) — the three largest technology companies in the country — are banning cryptocurrency-related activities from their platforms.
Baidu, China’s leading internet-services provider, has banned at least two popular cryptocurrency chat rooms from its platform, South China Morning Post (SCMP) reports.
According to SCMP, a search for the two forums named “Digital Currency Bar” and “Virtual Currency Bar” shows that they have been “temporarily closed in accordance with relevant laws, regulations and policies.”
On the other hand, Alibaba and Tencent are cracking down on cryptocurrency transactions on their mobile payment services.
WeChat, Tencent’s social media, messenger services, and mobile payments app, banned a series of cryptocurrency media outlets last week for spreading hype in violation of Chinese law.
Now, Tencent has said in a statement that the company will also ban cryptocurrency trading on WeChat. The company will monitor daily transactions in real-time and block any cryptocurrency trading related activity.
Alibaba Group’s Ant Financial said that it will take similar measures on its mobile payments app Alipay. The company will restrict or block all accounts that indulge in cryptocurrency trading.
While none of the companies involved have cited government orders as the reason for the clampdown, some speculate this might be the case, given that all of these announcements came in such a brief window of time.
China’s official government policy has an overbearing effect on how these companies chose their business. While the government has outlawed cryptocurrency trading and initial coin offerings (ICO), it is betting big on blockchain. Xi Jinping, the President of China, endorsed blockchain technology in May this year, claiming that it is one of the technologies helping make economic breakthroughs in the country.
The founders of BAT have been towing a similar “Blockchain, not Bitcoin” line. While all the three companies have been critical of cryptocurrencies and their utility, they are all working on multiple blockchain-based projects. In fact, Alibaba has the highest number of blockchain patents in the world.
If the government is indeed on a new chase against cryptocurrencies, a lot more companies are about to follow suit in this crackdown.
Published August 27, 2018 — 10:45 UTC