Bitcoins have suffered a new setback after China barred its banks from handling the virtual currency.
The Chinese central bank said on Thursday that bitcoins did not qualify as a currency. But it said private individuals still are allowed to trade them at their own risk.
Bitcoins are created and authenticated independently of any bank or government. Atlanta-based BitPay handles transactions for more than 4,500 companies, taking payments in bitcoins and forwarding the cash equivalent to the vendor.
A Chinese central bank statement says, “Bitcoins are virtual goods that have no legal status or monetary equivalent and should not be used as currency.”
It says, “Ordinary people are free to participate in transactions at their own risk.”
Thailand banned bitcoins for most uses in July.