Beijing Plans to Launch Digital Renminbi Trials, Digital Wallet System in Free Trade Pilot Zone

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The Chinese government has just released new plans for the Beijing free trade pilot zone that outline trials of the Chinese central bank digital currency (CBDC).

On 21 September the Chinese government released the “China (Beijing) Free Trade Pilot Zone General Plan” (中国(北京)自由贸易试验区总体方案), outlining a slew of digital currency and fintech related measures.

These include:

  • Supporting the establishment of a fintech centre by the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) Digital Currency Research Institute;
  • Creating a statutory digital currency trial zone;
  • Creating a digital finance system;
  • The formation of a trade finance blockchain standardisation system based on the PBOC financial blockchain platform.

On the same date PBOC’s Digital Currency Research Institute executed a strategic cooperative agreement with JD.com’s fintech vehicle JDD, which will be based on “digital renminbi projects” and cover:

  • Jointly driving the research and development of fundamental mobile technology platforms and blockchain technology platforms;
  • Jointly expediting mobile innovations and online and offline applications of the digital renminbi, and jointly driving the establishment of a renminbi wallet ecosystem.

The Chinese central bank previously said in an article published on 19 September that it had “completed technical preparations” for the CBDC, and that it already “satisfied conditions for deployment.”

PBOC commenced research into a statutory digital currency in 2014, and by January of 2017 established its own a Digital Currency Research Institute.

PBOC an­nounced at the end of April 2020 that it had com­menced in­ter­nal test­ing of the CBDC at lo­ca­tions in­clud­ing Shen­zhen, Suzhou, Xiong’an New Dis­trict and Chengdu, as well as at sites for the Win­ter Olympics. 

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