China’s tech trio Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent, collectively known as "BAT," have all joined Chinese government’s effort to tighten scrutiny of cryptocurrency trading and initial coin offering (ICO).
Search engine Baidu has shut down discussion posts about cryptocurrency and digital assets on Baidu Tieba, its communication platform, Chinese media reported Sunday. The report said Baidu Tieba, along with Tencent’s social media app WeChat, was the main online communication platform for cryptocurrency investors.
The report also said Baidu Tieba attracted ICO issuers and marketing agents who published promotional information and unwise investors who were seeking advice and comfort for their bad investment decisions.
Last week, Tencent’s super-app WeChat permanently closed several official accounts that promoted initial coin offering and cryptocurrency trading, including some of the most well-known digital asset trading platforms like Huobi. Also, WeChat restricted the amount of money could be received by cryptocurrency sellers on its platform, to fight illegal trading activities.
On August 23rd, Alibaba’s financial affiliate Ant Financial announced similar restrictive measures to accounts associated with cryptocurrency trading. Ant Financial said it will closely monitor such accounts.
Last September, the Internet finance regulators in Beijing reportedly shut down all cryptocurrency exchanges in China after the People’s Bank of China and six other state regulators jointly announced a complete ban on initial coin offerings (ICOs) in the country. At that time, China’s three largest Bitcoin exchanges said they would cease trading activities in China without specifying the reasons behind such move.
After the September ban, trading websites continued to operate but provided over-the-counter services in China, rather than centralized trading services. For example, Huobi.com, which is still accessible from China, provides information about coin sellers including prices, the numbers of coins, their trading volume in the past month and their preferred payment methods, such as credit card, Alipay and Wechat Pay.
It appears that Chinese government is ready to impose stricter implementation to shut down ICO activities. Last week, Beijing’s Financial Risk Control Office banned local shopping malls, hotels, offices to help organize events that promote cryptocurrencies. Chinese government was reportedly targeting 124 cryptocurrency companies with overseas servers but are serving Chines domestic traders.