Chinese Bitcoin exchanges said domestic banks closed their accounts after the nation’s central bank barred financial institutions from handling transactions in the virtual currency to curb risk.
BtcTrade said on its website yesterday that an Agricultural Bank of China Ltd. sub-branch in Hangzhou will close its account by April 15 if it continues to use it for Bitcoin-related settlement services. Huobi.com said Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd. will close its account by April 18 and Btc100.org said it received a notice from an unidentified lender to cancel its account.
The account closings come after the People’s Bank of China in December banned financial institutions and payment companies from buying and selling Bitcoin or dealing in linked products. The ban reflects concern about the risk the digital currency may pose to China’s capital controls and financial stability after trading surged, according to exchange operator BTC China.
The PBOC ordered lenders and payment companies to close the trading accounts of more than 10 domestic Bitcoin exchange platforms, Caixin reported on March 27, citing a notice from the central bank. Accounts must be shut by April 15, preventing investors in the digital currency from transferring funds to the exchanges, according to the report.
The central bank will keep watching risks from Bitcoin, which is fundamentally not a currency but an investment target, Sheng Songcheng, head of the monetary authority’s statistics department, told reporters in Beijing on Jan. 15.