Still No Schedule for Official Launch of Digital Renminbi a Year After Start of Testing: Chinese Central Bank

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A senior official from the Chinese central bank says that there is still no formal timetable for the official launch of the Digital Renminbi a year following the commencement of testing.

Li Bin (李斌), head of the Macro-prudential Regulatory Department of the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), said that the trial scope for the Digital Renminbi was undergoing “orderly expansion” and that application sites were “gradually diversifying.”

“Application models are also continuing to innovate, systems operation is stable overall, and this is initial proof o f the feasibility and reliability of the Digital Renminbi in terms of theory, policy, technology and operations,” said Li on 12 April, at a press conference convened by PBOC for the interpretation of first quarter economic data.

Li stressed that the Digital Renminbi is still undergoing testing however, with no fixed date as of yet for anything resembling formal deployment.

“At present the Digital Reminbi remains in the trial and testing phase, and there is still no timetable for official launch,” said Li.

“The next step will be to continually improve and optimise the technology, operations and policy plans for the Digital Renminbi based on the feedback of various trial participants.”

Li also pointed to the need to “engage in in-depth exploration of Digital Renminbi application models, strengthen Digital Renminbi general usage and inclusiveness, improve product functionality and applicability, and raise the security and stability of systems.”

PBOC has engaged in widespread testing at pilot sites around China since April 2020, beginning at four cities including Chengdu, Shenzhen, Suzhou and Xiong’an New District.

By October 2020 Chinese cities conducting pilot schemes for the Digital Renminbi had expanded to include Changsha, Dalian, Hainan, Qingdao, Shanghai and Dalian, with trial applications including payments for food and beverage, transit, retail goods and administrative services.

All six of China’s big state-owned banks have also developed wallets for use with the Digital Renminbi, while leading e-commerce sites such as JD.com and Meituan are capable of accepting the new form of currency for payments.

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