Blockchain/Crypto-Focused Accounts Get the Ax on WeChat

Chinese messaging app WeChat has permanently banned several accounts that focus on blockchain and cryptocurrency news.

Chinese messaging and digital payment platform WeChat has pulled the plug on some accounts publishing content related to blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies, Caixin reports.

According to the financial news provider, WeChat has permanently banned several accounts that focus on promoting blockchain, cryptocurrencies, initial coin offerings (ICOs), and crypto trading. It said the content runs counter to Chinese rules on digital currency trading.

“On the evening of August 21, the WeChat public number of several blockchain media, including Golden Finance and Coin World, was sealed,” the report said.

In explaining the move, WeChat said:

“A Tencent official said that some public accounts are suspected of publishing ICO and virtual currency trading hype information violating the ‘Interim Provisions on the Development of Public Information Services for Instant Messaging Tools.’”

Tencent is the Chinese corporate giant behind WeChat, which has an estimated one billion users.

Other crypto-focused media outlets banned by WeChat are Coindaily, Huobi Zixun, Shenlian, and Caijing.

A separate report by Quartz said that although the news is another blow to the Chinese cryptocurrency community, it was not really surprising as Beijing is known to have a tough stance on digital currencies. The website quoted Shenlian founder Wang Peng as saying in a memo to employees:

“We’ve sensed [the tightening up] coming half a month ago, and have prepared for it, but we weren’t able to escape it. This is the beginning of Shenlian and our chance. We will be 100 times better than what we are now.”

Shenlian did not respond to calls related to Wang's internal message, but Quartz cited an unidentified Shenlian investor as saying the company has nearly 60,000 followers on WeChat. The person added Shenlian raised 10 million yuan ($1.6 million) in a funding round that closed in March 2018 but has not tried to secure financing through an ICO.

 “Tencent’s reason should be read as a signal and warning to those who are outspokenly supporting ICOs,” according to the investor.

In September 2017, the Chinese government announced a ban on virtual currency exchange operations as well as over-the-counter or peer-to-peer crypto trading. The decision was a significant blow to Chinese crypto investors and traders.