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(Reuters) — China on Monday banned individuals and organizations from raising funds through initial coin offerings (ICO), saying the practice constituted illegal fundraising.

ICOs have become a bonanza for digital currency entrepreneurs, globally and in China, allowing them to raise large sums quickly by creating and selling digital “tokens” with no regulatory oversight.

Individuals and organizations that have completed ICO fundraisings should make arrangements to return funds, said a joint statement from the People’s Bank of China, the securities and banking regulator and other government departments that was posted on the central bank’s website.

The popularity of coin offerings has surged in China this year, with 65 ICOs and 2.62 billion yuan ($394.6 million) raised from 105,000 individuals in the country, state-run Xinhua reported in July, citing data from a government organization that monitors online financial activity.

(Reporting by Beijing Monitoring Desk; Editing by Richard Borsuk)

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