China’s central bank confirmed it will be testing a mobile application for storing and exchanging the digital yuan, after screenshots circulated on social media.
The People’s Bank of China (PBoC) aims to roll out internal tests for the national digital currency (DECP) in Shenzhen, Suzhou, Xiong’An and Chengdu, according to the bank’s Friday statement. The same four cities were named on a registration page for the test application.
The PBoC went out of its way to emphasize that this is just a test.
“The rumored information about the DECP on the internet is part of the test in our research and development process and it does not mean the digital yuan has been launched officially,” an unnamed official from the China Digital Currency Institute said in the statement.
The official said the pilot projects in these four cities are internal closed-circuit tests that will not affect commercial operations of the companies involved, Chinese financial markets or fiat currency circulation outside the test environment.
PBoC did not give a clear schedule for the projects. However, the bank said it plans to run another internal test during the Winter Olympic Games hosted in Beijing in 2022.
The Chinese central bank assembled a task force to study a potential national virtual currency in 2014. Approved by the State Council, PBoC invited major state-owned commercial banks and other influential institutions to design a system for the digital yuan in 2017. The bank denied reports in August that it was planning to launch the digital yuan in November 2019.