One of China’s biggest commercial banks, the Agricultural Bank of China, said it will crack down on crypto transactions, and will seek to block accounts connected with Bitcoin (BTC) and crypto-related activity.
The bank has issued a terse and short statement on the matter, which was published in full by East Money.
BTC, Ethereum and many altcoins dropped following the announcement. At 07:21 UTC, BTC trades at USD 32,949, and is down by more than 4% in the past hour and 6.6% in a day, while ETH dropped by 5% in an hour and over 7% in a day, and is trading at USD 2,038.
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.
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.