The People’s Bank of China launched a pilot version of its digital yuan wallet application on mobile phone app stores. This is another effort marking the nation’s desire to be the first to develop its own central bank digital currency (CBDC).
China’s Most Recent CBDC Push
According to a recent tweet by the local news outlet BlockBeats, the digital currency research institute of PBoC released the “e-CNY (Pilot Version)” app – a mobile wallet for the Chinese CBDC – on iOS and Android stores across the country. Local users can now download it and carry out pilot trials of the digital yuan and its circulation services.
The e-CNY app is now available on iOS and Android app stores.
This App is the official service platform of China’s CBDC for individual users to carry out pilot trials, providing e-CNY personal wallet opening and management, e-CNY exchange and circulation services.#CBDC pic.twitter.com/c8S1newxiw
— BlockBeats (@BlockBeatsChina) January 4, 2022
An additional report by Reuters revealed that the initiative was first available for download on Android and Apple app stores on Tuesday (January 4) in Shanghai.
A notice in the application informed it is still in a research and development mode. The “e-CNY (Pilot Version)” is only accessible to accredited users via institutions that provide digital yuan services, such as major domestic banks.
China’s efforts to issue a digital form of its national currency are among the most advanced globally. Following all the developments to popularize the financial product, the central bank informed last November that the number of individuals who have opened e-CNY wallets reached 140 million.
These accounts were nearly seven times less in June 2021 when they stood at 24 million. Digital yuan transactions have also increased significantly during that time frame – from $5.4 billion to $9.7 billion.
Also, in November, one of the largest Chinese e-commerce platforms – JD.com – collaborated with China Construction Bank to become the first firm accepting e-CNY as a payment method on its platform. Clients were allowed to employ the product during the shopping festival – Singles Day, when the company traditionally registers billions of dollars in sales volume.
The US-China Confrontation
Last summer, the Chinese CBDC became a reason for the two economic superpowers to clash verbally.
First, the government of the most-populated country announced that it plans to enable athletes and foreign visitors at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics to use the CBDC.
A few months later, the American senators – Marsha Blackburn, Roger Wicker, and Cynthia Lummis – urged the U.S. Olympic Committee to forbid any usage of China’s central bank digital currency during the event. The politicians expressed concern that its economic rival could employ the e-CNY for spying and espionage.
The Chinese authorities were quick to react to those accusations. The spokesman of the Foreign Ministry – Zhao Lijian – advised the American lawmakers to refrain from making such assumptions about the e-yuan. He went further, stating that the USA is not aware of what precisely digital currency is:
“We suggest they figure out what a digital currency really is. The US politicians should abide by the spirit stipulated in the Olympic Charter, stop making sports a political matter, and stop making troubles out of the digital currency in China.”