China’s largest search engine, Baidu, has discreetly removed all bitcoin and virtual currency-related advertising from its online portals.
China, the world’s largest market for bitcoin will no longer see bitcoin-related advertising on the country’s most-used search engine Baidu. The search engine giant moved to remove all cryptocurrency advertisements from its online portals this Thursday.
Prominent Chinese exchanges OKCoin and Huobi confirmed the ban to Bloomberg, which claimed that the move was a reaction to the growing number of cryptocurrency-related Ponzi schemes and scams in the country.
A publicly traded company, Baidu is the largest search engine in China and among the top 5 websites in the world. A key and controversial factor for its success in the country is due to its ready cooperation with the Chinese government, a relationship that is frequently criticized by anti-censorship advocates.
While details surrounding the advertising ban remains scarce, it is possible that Baidu – under pressure from the government – is cracking down on all cryptocurrency related advertisements with local exchanges seeing collateral damage.
In a heavy touch of irony, Baidu led a funding round in late June 2016, helping raise $60 million for bitcoin-startup Circle in China. It remains to be seen if the ad-ban extends to established industry companies like Circle.
Banning Bitcoin Advertising, Unfair Play?
In its sweeping move to ban all cryptocurrency-related advertising, it’s possible that Baidu may have enforced the overall stance on cryptocurrencies by the Chinese government. While China is the world’s largest bitcoin trading market, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) – China’s central bank – has previously stated that bitcoin isn’t a “real currency”.
While the administration publicly refuses to acknowledge bitcoin, its innovation isn’t lost on the government. Earlier this year, China’s central bank famously revealed its intention to launch its own digital currency. The PBOC had set up a research team as early as 2014 to look into the possibility and potential for a nationwide digital currency, issued by the central bank.
A state-issued digital currency would see bitcoin, the most popular cryptocurrency of them all, as its biggest competitor.
For now, the reported reasons behind a blanket cryptocurrency-related advertising ban stem from speculation alone. CCN will follow this story for further updates.
Featured image from Shutterstock.