The countries central bank said that digital currencies “cannot be used in the market as money” and banned companies from offering services such as cryptocurrency exchanges.
It is the latest – and most substantial – part of an ongoing crackdown by Chinese authorities on cryptocurrencies, which the country’s officials argue are used for illegal activities and put normal people at risk.
Before the announcement, many cryptocurrencies had been enjoying a largely positive day of trading.
But in the hours after it was announced, the value of digital currencies plunged. Bitcoin fell almost 6 per cent, and Ethereum fell almost 7 per cent.