As rumors continue to swirl about a potential Chinese bitcoin exchange ban, a Chinese “Blockchain E-Wallet” update has mysteriously appeared in the Apple App Store.
First reported by Chinese cryptocurrency news service cnLedger, the e-wallet features blockchain technology and provides users with the ability to bind their People’s Bank of China (PBoC) debit card. The app’s developer is Beijing Arxanfintech, but cnLedger says it was “presumably developed / designed by Bank of China.”
It features Blockchain tech, and can bind BoC debit card, with a built-in "Red Envelope". Register SMS signature: "中国银行"(Bank of China)
— cnLedger (@cnLedger) September 11, 2017
According to a rough translation of the app description, it includes a so-called “red envelope” function to send and receive blockchain-based payments. Unsurprisingly, the application does not feature cryptocurrency support.
From the description:
Users through the electronic wallet in the red envelope function can be issued to all registered accounts within the system fixed or random amount of red envelopes….Users through the electronic wallet in the red envelope function to receive red envelopes.
It has been well-established that the PBoC is involved in fintech research. In 2016, the bank began recruiting blockchain engineers. Earlier this year, the bank established a “Digital Currency Institute” inside the same building that houses the China Banknote Printing and Minting Corporation.
Nevertheless, the timing of this Blockchain E-Wallet update is raising questions because there have been conflicting reports over the past week about whether the PBoC is planning to ban bitcoin exchanges from operating within the country. Last week, regional Chinese news sources reported that the PBoC was getting ready to tell bitcoin exchanges to cease operations, but the major Chinese exchanges continued to normally and denied that they have been contacted by government officials, leading many people to believe the report was false. However, on Sunday the Wall Street Journal made a similar claim, citing unnamed “sources familiar with the matter” who said the bank would ban exchanges but allow over-the-counter trading to continue.
A bitcoin exchange ban would not be unprecedented. Last week, the bank outlawed participation in initial coin offerings (ICOs). Moreover, regulators already began to crack down on bitcoin exchanges earlier this year. They placed a temporary freeze on withdrawals, prohibited zero-fee trading, and began conducting on-site inspections at exchanges. That said, they did not shutter them, and BTC/CNY continues to serve as one of the larger trading pairs on cryptocurrency exchanges.
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