PBOC launches digital yuan wallet apps

05 Jan 2022

China has released preliminary versions of the digital yuan application on app stores as the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) moves towards developing its own digital currency. Developed by the central bank’s digital currency research institute, the "e-CNY (Pilot Version)" app is now available for download on Chinese Android and Apple app stores.  

 

Currency trials

The PBOC has been undertaking trials of the currency in 10 cities in China since the end of 2019, along with the venues for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. Users in these cities were allocated a sum of digital currency to spend. Within a lottery, China has circulated 40 million renminbi ($6.2 million) of its digital money to residents of Beijing. Certain retailers, such as e-commerce giant JD.com, have accepted the digital yuan as a method of payment over the past year. As of 22 October last year, more than 140 million personal digital yuan wallets had been opened, with the transaction volume nearing 62 billion yuan ($9.72 billion), says the central bank. 

 

Cashless society

China has been a cashless society for several years, with millions using Tencent's WeChat Pay or Alibaba's Alipay each day. e-CNY is viewed as an efficient way for the PBOC to digitalise banknotes and coins in circulation, and with the country already highly advanced in cashless payments, the digital yuan would accelerate this process. That said, the digital yuan has not been rolled out across the country officially as yet, with no schedule announced up to now. The new app permits access to users in cities such as Shanghai and Beijing, having previously only been available on an invitation only basis to select users. The app is now accessible for widescale download, reinforcing how China is trying to get more people to use the digital yuan, reports CNBC. The Beijing Winter Olympics taking place this year is one of the events the central bank is aiming to bring the digital yuan to. In November last year, PBOC Governor Yi Gang said that China would “continue to advance the development of its central bank digital currency and improve its design and usage, including increasing its interoperability with existing payment tools,” Reuters reports.