China’s digital yuan is inching ever closer to rollout – with a pilot version of a central bank-issued app and wallet released on Apple and Android app stores in the country.
The People’s Daily, the biggest state-run media outlet in China, reported that all citizens in existing pilot sites could now download and make use of the app. Previous stages of the pilot have required digital yuan users to use digital yuan wallets issued by state-owned commercial banks. The new pilot wallet, however, was issued directly by the central People’s Bank of China (PBoC) – or rather, the department of the bank that is developing the digital token: the PBoC’s Digital Currency Research Institute.
The media outlet noted that users could only make use of the app if they were in the following cities: Shenzhen, Suzhou, Xiong’an, Chengdu, Shanghai, Hainan, Changsha, Xi’an, Qingdao and Dalian. Beijing-based individuals in the parts of the city where the Winter Olympics will be held next month will also be allowed to access the app.
The government is hopeful of executing a full rollout in the capital – or possibly nationwide – in time for the games, which begin on February 4.
The media outlet called the news a sign of “significant progress,” although it did not put a timeline on a full rollout out, noting instead that “at present, the digital [CNY] is still in its routine testing stage” and “in the research and development phase.”
The pilot version, the PBoC indicated, will provide individuals with the chance to familiarize themselves with “wallet opening and management” protocols, as well as “exchange and circulation.”
The PBoC is keen to ensure that its digital token can be used by those without smartphone access, and has been testing a range of hardware wallets and smart card-like solutions that will allow for offline usage.
Yesterday, C114 reported that China Mobile, the nation’s biggest mobile provider, now has 100m monthly active users of its digital yuan-compatible SIMPAY solution. The solution, which was unveiled in October last year, was developed in conjunction with the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and allows users to make network-free digital CNY transactions using near-field communication (NFC) technology.