China’s central bank has ruled that all banks and payment service providers in the country must cease dealing in Bitcoin.
The ruling, effective from April 15th, basically shutters all Bitcoin trading sites in the Middle Kingdom and means cash purchases will soon be the only way to buy into the virtual currency.
The People’s Bank of China (PBoC) has not officially announced the ruling, although Chinese business site Caixin claims to have seen an internal document stating that any banks failing to comply would be punished.
Said document apparently lists 15 trading sites which are set to be closed.
"The only one way out for Bitcoin websites is moving their servers abroad and using the service of foreign banks and payment companies," an unnamed ‘expert’ told Caixin.
The move is another blow to Bitcoin’s international credibility and stability, given that China is thought to comprise more than half of global trade in the currency.
It comes after the PBoC in December last year banned all third party payment providers from offering clearing services for digital currency exchanges.
Then in February, MtGox, once the world’s largest Bitcoin exchange, abruptly ceased trading and filed for bankruptcy, taking with at roughly a tenth of the world’s supply of the crypt-currency.
Despite China's hardline stance, however, neighbouring Hong Kong appears to be taking a more laissez faire approach.
In fact, it was the second location in the world to get its own Bitcoin ATM after an announcement from Canadian biz Robocoin in January. ®