Chinese bitcoin exchange BTC China has stopped accepting RMB deposits to user accounts from a major bank, revealing the move in a post on its Weibo page.
Management decided to proactively halt deposits from one of the country's largest banks, China Merchants Bank, after the bank posted on its public website that it would no longer allow its customers to engage in bitcoin-related transactions, and said essentially it would require all such businesses to close their accounts.
Withdrawals to China Merchants Bank accounts and transactions with other banks remain unaffected, at least for the moment.
A rough translation of BTC China's Weibo post reads:
"Due to a notice issued by China Merchants Bank, BTC China, out of consideration for user security and stabilization operations, decided to suspend the credit of accounts with RMB.
For subsequent updates, please pay attention to our website and Twitter, thank you again for your interest and support of BTC China."
BTC China CEO Bobby Lee said his company had not yet any direct notifications from any of its banking partners, but was ready to act should such information arrive. Apart from the China Merchants Bank website posting, which did not specify any exchange by name, no other banks have stated their intentions as yet.
This followed reports last week that financial institutions were preparing to sever links with bitcoin exchanges, after closed session meetings with People's Bank representatives. Bitcoin value dropped roughly $40 probably as a result, a position from which it is not yet recovered.
The meetings were reportedly more grave in tone than on previous occasions, suggesting the PBOC would soon set stricter rules about how its earlier edicts should be followed. As well as preventing users from funding their bitcoin exchange accounts, the new guidelines could eventually limit their ability to withdraw from bitcoin and litecoin into yuan as well.
Official policy has not actually changed since last December, when the PBOC first expressed its concerns. Different interpretations of what the central bank's rules still permitted, however, allowed exchanges to experiment with other options including funding via personal bank accounts and voucher systems.
Lack of clarity
The issue has become known as the Chinese 'ban-unban' story on forums such as reddit, stemming from the fact that at various stages authorities have met with select groups to discuss policy, which resulted in actions affecting only certain companies, business relationships, or sections of the bitcoin economy (such as deposits to exchange accounts).
The PBOC itself has continued to deny that it will ban bitcoin outright, though it has not made any public statements about how it intends to restrict digital currency use in the country.
CoinDesk will continue to monitor this developing story.
Co-authored by Emily Spaven and Jon Southurst.