In China's unprecedented crackdown on cryptocurrencies, avenues for holders of these virtual assets to turn them into cash are being blocked.
After being interviewed by the People's Bank of China (PBOC) - China's central bank - Alipay, one of China's leading third-party payment platforms and owned by Alibaba, said it would blacklist its merchants if they were found to be engaged in cryptocurrency transactions.
Recently, the PBOC interviewed the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, Agricultural Bank of China, China Construction Bank, China Postal Savings Bank, Industrial Bank, and Alipay about banks and payment institutions providing services for speculation in virtual currency transactions.
Alipay said in a statement released on its official microblog on Monday that it banned the use of the company's services to carry out transactions in cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin, and said it would continue to carry out crackdown operations.
Alipay will establish an inspection system for key websites and accounts and block them immediately upon discovery, the statement said.
Alipay strictly prohibits virtual currency transfer transactions and will deploy risk algorithm models, strengthen monitoring of abnormal transactions, risk alerting suspected payers, and restrict the authority of recipients.
Alipay strictly prohibits cryptocurrency merchants from accessing the platform and will blacklist them and ban subsequent cooperation once they are found to be engaged in virtual currency transactions, the statement read.
Alipay said it will also strengthen virtual currency risk alerts and enhance user awareness and warning education through risk pop-ups and message pushing.
Cracking down on cryptocurrency investments has been a major recent effort by Chinese regulators, and the PBOC recently interviewed a number of entities that provide payment services after a power cut on mining practices.
The PBOC said that cryptocurrency trading speculation activities disrupt the normal economic and financial order, breed the risk of illegal cross-border transfer of assets, money laundering and other illegal and criminal activities, and seriously infringe on the safety of people's property.
Banks and payment institutions must strictly implement regulatory provisions, effectively fulfill their customer identification obligations, and not provide products or services for account opening, registration, trading, clearing, and settlement for related activities, the PBOC said.