The world’s largest cryptocurrency fell as much as 6.4% to $29,614, its lowest since Jan. 27. As of 1232 GMT it was down 4.2%.
The sell-off was sparked by the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) urging China’s largest banks and payment firms to crack down harder on cryptocurrency trading.
Crypto exchanges were effectively pushed out of China by a 2017 rule change, but over-the-counter (OTC) platforms based overseas have sprung up to receive payment from people based in China and buying cryptocurrencies on their behalf.
“It basically says now OTC transactions are not legitimate ... we are not allowed by the banks to transfer money for cryptocurrency purchases and sales,” said Bobby Lee, chief of cryptocurrency wallet app Ballet and formerly CEO of BTC China, China’s first bitcoin exchange.
After Monday’s PBOC statement, banks including Agricultural Bank of China and Ant Group’s ubiquitous payment platform Alipay said they would step up monitoring to root out crypto transactions.
Ether, the second-biggest cryptocurrency, was up a sliver at $1,980, after hitting a five-week low the day before. Last month, three industry associations issued a similar ban on crypto-related financial services, though market players said it would be hard to enforce as banks and payment firms could struggle to identify crypto-related payments. “We are definitely in the midst of a correction,” said Anthony Wong of Hong Kong-based crypto firm Orichal Partners.
“This time China’s iron-fist ban on crypto seems to be more serious than back in 2017 as the directive came straight from the top.”
The mining crackdown may hit prices in the short-term, market players said.