After a week of utilizing the $1.5 million worth of digital yuan sent to 50,000 Shenzhen citizens, those who used the funds to make regular everyday purchases weren’t impressed. However, analysts claimed that the trials are a significant step towards a real-life practical usage for China’s digital currency.
Digital Yuan Doesn’t Impress Shoppers
Numerous world central banks are reportedly working on launching their own central bank digital currency (CBDC). Although multiple reports in the past year suggested that China leads this race, the end-results were mostly theoretical.
However, it seemed that the landscape changed last week when news broke that the Shenzhen government gave away 10 million yuan (about $1.5 million) worth of the digital currency in a lottery to 50,000 people.
After downloading a designated app, users were able to receive and spend the funds at over 3,000 merchants in the region. This was the first notable practical usage for a digital currency.
Following a week of trials, the results surfaced earlier today, as reported by Reuters. Most users’ general conclusions indicated that the app and the digital currency operated similarly to already existing online payment applications such as Alipay and WeChat Pay.
Having this in mind, senior economist at PwC China, G. Bin Zhao, said that the central bank and the government have to “invest heavily” in education, marketing, and applications for the digital yuan to become popularly accepted. He added that “it’s especially important to offer convenience and other benefits” to differentiate the digital yuan from the other applications.
A Global Game-Changer?
Despite the pessimistic conclusions from users, the real-life applications of China’s digital currency have put on edge other global superpowers such as the United States.
The digital yuan operates outside existing financial infrastructures like Swift. As such, the report highlighted the growing fears from the West that if the digital yuan reaches mass international usage, it could undermine the US dollar dominance as the most utilized global payment currency.
Chief China economist at ANZ, Raymond Yeung, asserted that the government would prioritize the digital yuan usage as it would allow authorities to monitor currency circulation more closely. He also broached other merits, such as preventing money laundering schemes and “levying negative interest rates on cash.”