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 push for a more nationalized approach to virtual currencies,” said Zennon Kapron, managing director of Shanghai-based consulting firm Kapronasia. It could also be a case of consumer protection “as there have been cases of scams” targeting users “more prone to speculative trading.”-RW