China has launched pilot versions of its e-CNY digital yuan wallet applications, in a step towards mass rollout of a domestic CBDC (Central Bank Digital Currency).
The ‘e-CNY (Pilot Version)’ app was ready for download on Chinese Android and Apple app stores on Tuesday in Shanghai, Reuters reported.
The apps were developed by the People’s Bank of China’s (PBOC) digital currency research institute.According to a notice in the apps, they are still in the development phase, for now only available to selected users through institutions that provide e-CNY services, including the largest Chinese banks.
In its end-of-year meeting, the PBOC announced it would continue with the research and development of the e-CNY. The project was announced in September 2021, with plans to release the digital currency by February. In recent months, the e-CNY was tested in five cities and conducted $9.7 billion worth of transactions. The PBOC intends for it to be used for online and offline shopping, as well as paying bills and transportation fares.
A number of other states are working on CBDCs of their own, driven by the popularity of cryptocurrencies, to attempt to take a digital approach to monetary policy. A CBDC is effectively a clone of a country’s fiat currency in the form of a digital asset, but, unlike Bitcoin or Ethereum, it is not decentralized, but is controlled and governed by the official monetary authorities – most often, central banks.
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