China's Central Bank 'Close' to Launching Official Digital Currency

An official at China's central bank has said the institution is nearing the launch of its national digital currency.

AccessTimeIconAug 12, 2019 at 8:45 a.m. UTC
Updated Sep 13, 2021 at 11:18 a.m. UTC

An official at China's central bank has said the institution is nearing the launch of its digital currency.

Speaking at an event in China over the weekend, Mu Changchun, deputy director of the payments unit at the People's Bank of China (PBoC), said its researchers have been hard at work since last year to complete the systems needed to support the digital yuan offering and that it is “close to being out.” The news was reported by Bloomberg on Monday.

Since Facebook announced details of its Libra cryptocurrency project in mid June, China has viewed development of its digital coin with new urgency.

Early in July, the former governor of the PBoC Zhou Xiaochuan said that Libra poses a threat to payments systems and national currencies.

As such, he argued the Chinese government should “make good preparations and make the Chinese yuan a stronger currency." Zhou further suggested that  “commercial entities” could be allowed to issue digital yuans, as Hong Kong allows with its dollar.

Around the same time, Wang Xin, head of the research bureau at the PBoC, said the central bank has been looking at the Libra situation with “high attention,” and could ramp up development of its own digital currency.

In his weekend comments, Mu reiterated that the PBoC's digital currency would be a substitute for M0 – or coins and notes in circulation – not M2, which includes bank deposits. The digital currency would boost circulation of the yuan, including internationally, he added.

As previously reported, the large number of patents filed by the PBoC relating to its digital currency paint a picture of how it might work. They suggest the work addresses a technology that issues a digital currency, as well as provides a wallet that stores and transacts the asset in an “end-to-end” fashion.

The patents indicate the wallet would store a digital currency issued by the central bank or any authorized central entity that is encrypted like a cryptocurrency with private keys, offers multi-signature security and is held by users in a decentralized way.

At the latest count, there have been 52 patents filed under the name of the Digital Currency Research Lab of the PBoC, with the latest published in Oct. 9 2018, having been submitted on March 26. 2018.

PBoC image via Shutterstock


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