The Digital Currency Research Institute of the People’s Bank of China (中国人民银行数字货币研究所) (DCRI) is a research body under the aegis of PBOC (the Chinese central bank) that focuses on the research and development of digital currencies and blockchain-related technologies.
At the start of 2014 the PBOC established a specialist research team to discuss technical and regulatory issues in relation to the development of a state digital currency.
PBOC revealed plans to develop a digital currency of its own at a forum convened on 20 January 2016, while in the same year China’s State Council included blockchain technology in its 13th Five Year Plan.
In July 2017 PBOC launched R&D work on a digital notes transactions platform based on blockchain technology, which would serve as a trial application project for the subsequent development of a digital currency.
At the sidelines of China’s legislative assembly in March 2018, then-PBOC head Zhou Xiaochuan publicly revealed that the Chinese central bank had established a research institute for the development of Digital Currency/Electronic Payment (DC/EP) with the approval of the State Council.
“In 2017 the People’s Bank of China organised a digital currency and electronics payment project, and following official approval by the State Council, we are currently arranging for everything to proceed,” said Zhou.
“Over three years ago the People’s Bank of China arranged for a seminar in relation to digital currencies, and then subsequently established the central bank’s digital currency research institute.
“The latest move is to arrange for distributed R&D with industry, and cooperate with the market to research and develop a digital currency.
“The concept of a digital currency in people’s minds will differ, and the name of the digital currency that the central bank is researching and developing is ‘DC/EP,’ with DC referring to digital currency and EP to electronic payment.”
As of June 2018 DCRI had applied for a total of 63 digital currency patents, including 57 in 2017 and six in 2018.
In June 2018 DCRI also launched Shenzhen Fintech Co., Ltd. ( (深圳金融科技有限公司), with the business scope of “fintech-related technological development, technological consulting, technological transfer and technological services; fintech-related systems development and operations maintenance.”
In September 2018 DCRI announced the launch of the Nanjing Application Demonstration Base (中国人民银行数字货币研究所(南京)应用示范基地) ) in the Jiangsu province capital of Nanjing.
According to domestic media reports DCRI is situated near the Deshengmen city gate in the north of Beijing, on the ninth floor of the same building as China Banknote Printing and Minting (中国印钞造币).
DCRI has downplayed the significance of blockchain technology, with DCRI official Jiang Guoqing (蒋国庆) telling the 2018 China Fintech Development Forum in July that “there is no inevitable relationship between digital currency and the blockchain.”