China’s Alibaba to Stop Selling Crypto Mining Machines

China’s Alibaba to Stop Selling Crypto Mining Machines
Employees put products in shelves which are then moved by robots in the warehouse of Cainiao Smart Logistics Network, the logistics affiliate of e-commerce giant Alibaba, in Wuxi, China's eastern Jiangsu province. (Photo: Hector Retamal/AFP, Getty Images)

Alibaba, China’s largest online retailer, will stop selling cryptocurrency mining machines, according to an announcement published online Monday. The ban comes after the Chinese government made its own sweeping announcement on Friday banning all cryptocurrency trading in the country.

The new ban, first reported in English-language media by Coindesk, is getting attention for its prohibition of the sales of crypto-mining machines, but also includes other facets of crypto, including the currencies themselves, as well as any tutorials.

From Alibaba’s announcement:

Alibaba.com will prohibit the sale of virtual currency miners in addition to the prohibition against selling virtual currencies such as Bitcoin, Litecoin, BeaoCoin, QuarkCoin, and Ethereum, which include but are not limited to:

1) Hardware and software used to obtain virtual currencies such as Bitcoin miners ;

2) Tutorials, strategies, and software for obtaining virtual currencies such as tutorials on mining.

The ban will take effect on October 8, according to the retailing giant, though third-party sellers won’t face serious consequences for breaking the rules until October 15.

As Coindesk notes, Alibaba isn’t just the largest online retailer in China, it also has subsidiaries throughout Asia, including Aliexpress and Lazada.

China has cracked down extremely hard on cryptocurrencies recently, as more and more evidence piles up about just how terrible they are for the environment. Bitcoin enthusiasts insist that cryptocurrencies aren’t that bad, though some eco-minded miners have started to find unconventional ways to make the technology more green, including a recent plan to approach the nuclear energy industry, as Earther reported yesterday.

The Chinese central government has disliked cryptocurrencies for some time, though it has largely left regulations on mining up to local governments. That all changed on Friday with China’s total ban on crypto, which makes it extremely difficult for crypto enthusiasts to operate in the country at any level.

Crypto promoters insist that coins like bitcoin and ethereum don’t recognise borders and that China’s ban can’t stop people from trading. But many people holding crypto are interacting with an exchange, not holding the keys to their own wallet. And given the barriers to entry, it’s unlikely that the average person in any country, let alone an authoritarian country like China, is going to put up with the complexities of crypto, which has thus far only proven its worth as a highly speculative asset.