PBoC Filings Reveal Big Picture for Planned Digital Currency

NEWS
Wolfie Zhao
Jun 26, 2018 at 13:00 UTC  |  Updated  Jun 26, 2018 at 13:05 UTC

The Digital Currency Research Lab at the People's Bank of China has filed more than 40 patent applications so far – all as part of an aim to create a digital currency combining the core features of cryptocurrency and the existing monetary system.

Data from China's State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) revealed two new patent applications on Friday, pushing the total number submitted by the lab to 41 over the 12 months since its launch.

Each of the 41 patent applications focuses on a certain aspect of a digital currency system, and, when combined, would create 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.

For instance, the most recently revealed patent application explains how the envisioned digital wallet would allow users to check any transactions made through the service, while earlier documents offered details on how the wallet can facilitate transactions.

The ultimate goal, according to PBoC's patents, is to "break the silo between blockchain-based cryptocurrency and the existing monetary system" so that the digital currency can sport cryptocurrency-like features, while being widely used in the existing financial structure.

Last week's patents further explain that the envisioned wallet would not be limited, like a typical cryptocurrency wallet, to merely storing the private key to a certain asset. Nor would it be like another mobile payment service that only reflects a number on an application's front-end interface without users actually holding the assets in a peer-to-peer manner.

Instead, the patents indicates 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.

The research lab said in  one of the documents that it believes it is building a mechanism that makes a crypto-featured digital currency more applicable in the financial world.

The hybrid approach is also in line with opinions shared by the PBoC's vice governor Fan Yifei and Yao Qian, the head of the research lab, who have both argued for a balance between the two polars of centralization and decentralization.

Overall, the patent applications filed so far signal the continuous efforts made by China's central bank to develop its own central bank digital currency, as well as to potentially widen the application's role among other central institutions.

The lab notably commented in a patent application released in November 2017:

"The virtual currencies issued by private entities are fundamental flaws given their volatility, low public trust, and limited useable scope. ... Therefore, it's inevitable for the central bank to launch its own digital currency to upscale the existing circulation of the fiat currency."

Read one of the most recent patent applications below:

PBoC Digital Currency Research Lab by CoinDesk on Scribd

Chinese yuan image via Shutterstock

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