China's Ministry of Commerce has extended its governing reach into online realms, limiting in several ways the trade and conversion of virtual currency.
According to a press release
issued by the ministry, virtual currency may now only be used to purchase virtual goods and services, and may not be used to buy real-world goods.
Furthermore, minors are prohibited from buying virtual currency, and virtual currency gambling is a punishable offense.
The measure is most significantly aimed at QQ coins, units of virtual currency issued by Tencent, which have become not only the most widespread online currency China, but are even increasingly used for the purchase of real-world items
As a result, QQ coins are frequently converted to Chinese yuan, and vice versa. They are also used for purposes of money laundering -- an activity against which the Chinese government says it will become increasingly vigilant in the wake of the new regulations.
The ministry cites online industry expert Cui Ran, who it claims predicted "an impact on the financial system" if the continuing trends were not averted.
While the primary goal of the new rules is to curb the growth in currencies that heavily cross over into the real world, like QQ coins, it may also have an effect on "gold farming" in more traditional MMOs, as that practice relies greatly on the conversion between virtual and real-world moneys.