Coronavirus Could Accelerate Launch of Central Bank Digital Currency: Ex-Bank of China Chief

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The former head of one of China’s big six state-owned banks says the coronavirus could potentially have an impact on the Chinese central bank’s plans to launch a digital currency.

Efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus have already driven a sharp rise in the use of online payments platforms in China, as quarantine measures and municipal shutdowns keep consumers at home.

China UnionPay saw a 46.79% rise in online payments transactions during the Chinese New Year as a result of the coronavirus, while Beijing has also called for the increased use of mobile payments to stymie disease transmission.

Li Lihui (李礼辉), former president of the Bank of China (BOC) and current head of the blockchain team of China’s National Internet Finance Association (NIFA), said to China Daily said these circumstances could accelerate efforts by China to launch a statutory digital currency.

“Our modernised, newly emerged electronics payments platforms are already extremely mature,” said Li. “WeChat and AliPay are already first and second in the world in terms of online payments platforms.

“The development prospects for the application for digital currency to sales operation scenarios will be significantly determined by market choices and the efficiency, cost and convenience of digital currencies, as well as the economic scale that possesses commercial value as a consequence.”

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