World's Largest Bank ICBC is Latest to Block Bitcoin in China

The ICBC joins a host of other Chinese banks that will prohibit bitcoin businesses.

AccessTimeIconMay 9, 2014 at 11:26 a.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 2:07 p.m. UTC
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More Chinese banks are announcing they will close accounts related to bitcoin business, in advance of the still-not-publicly-announced prohibition by the People's Bank of China (PBOC).

The latest to make a statement is a significant one – the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) is not just the biggest in China, but the largest bank in the world by total assets and market capitalization.

In a statement, the ICBC said:

"From this date, any institution or individual must not use accounts set up with our bank for the deposit and withdrawal [...] and transfer of funds for Bitcoin and Litecoin trading,"

Again, news reports gave the reasons for the decision as: "[to] protect the property rights and interests of the public, prevent money laundering risks, as well as to safeguard the status of the renminbi as the legal currency."

The ICBC ban comes within a day or two of 10 other Chinese banks issuing similar announcements. Those banks are the CMB (China Merchants Bank), CCB (China Construction Bank), BOC (Bank of China), CEB (China Everbright Bank), Pingan Bank, Huaxia Bank, ABC (Agricultural Bank of China), CGB, SPD Bank, and Industrial Bank.

The announcements have come as a shock to no one, given that the 10th May PBOC deadline has been widely publicized.

Furthermore, the bitcoin price in China has actually increased over the past two days, and at press time is sitting at ¥2768 ($444) on China's now-largest exchange, OKCoin.

Bitcoin Summit begins tomorrow

The central bank's deadline was most likely set to coincide with the two-day Global Bitcoin Summit, due to begin tomorrow morning in Beijing.

Although the bitcoin community has kept its head up and is pressing on with the conference, there have been some casualties: the CEOs of five large Chinese exchanges, some of whom were due to speak and whose companies were event sponsors, withdrew from official participation in the event.

In a statement, the CEOs said they had agreed not to participate in public bitcoin events, not engage in excessive speculation, and report all developments to the authorities.

At least one Chinese bitcoin exchange, FXBTC, has closed down as a result of the new regulatory environment.

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