Baidu Inc. has quietly removed advertising for bitcoin and all other forms of virtual currency from its online service, two of China’s largest bitcoin exchanges say, signaling a growing wariness over the proliferation of online scammers.
The country’s most popular search engine froze cryptocurrency ads from Thursday, according to local exchanges OKCoin and Huobi. Huobi Chief Executive Officer Leon Li and OKCoin’s Jiang Anming, a member of its search engine marketing team, separately confirmed the ban to Bloomberg News. The company declined to comment.
Baidu has weathered a storm of public criticism of late over paid ads featuring everything from gambling websites to unconventional medical treatments, the latter blamed for the death of a medical student this year. The ban also reflects official sentiment. While China accounts for more than 90 percent of global bitcoin trading, its central bank has said it’s not a “real” currency. The People’s Bank of China, which is studying the prospect of issuing its own virtual currency, has taken steps to prevent bitcoin from becoming entrenched in the financial system.
“It could be a precursor to China being ready to