China deals fresh blow to Bitcoin

China's largest e-commerce business, Alibaba Group Holding, will prohibit the sale of Bitcoin in the wake of People's Bank of China's (PBOC) crackdown on the cyryptocurrency.

Last year, Chinese authorities instructed all third party payment companies to stop offering clearing services to Bitcoin exchanges by 31 January.

In December, the PBOC announced a ban on financial institutions handling Bitcoin transactions. The central bank declared that Bitcoin was a currency without “real meaning.” The move came shortly after China became the world's largest trader of the virtual currency.

The ban will come into force on the Taobao marketplace, one of the primary websites that connects buyers and shoppers on Alibaba, from 14 January.

Spokeswomen for Alibaba Florence Shih said:

In the interest of consumer protection, Taobao has banned the sale of Bitcoins on the platform.

However, the ban does not just extend to Bitcoin's themselves, but all manuals and computer software related to the mining of Bitcoin.

The decision comes as the company prepares for its initial public offering (IPO) later this year. The business is estimated to be worth as much as $100bn (£70bn).

Alibaba's payment affiliate Alipay has not accepted Bitcoin payments in the past, and It is not the only third party payment provider that has refused to accept Bitcoin. E-payment service Yeepay announced last month that it would no longer provide payment services to China's largest Bitcoin exchange, BTC China.