The Chinese central bank is reportedly set to massively expand the scope of its digital yuan pilots – as the nation edges closer to a central bank digital currency (CBDC) issuance.
Per a report from the Wall Street Journal, the nation’s Ministry of Commerce said that the pilot – so far active in five cities since May – will soon “cover much of China’s most prosperous regions,” as well as a number of less-affluent areas.
The pilot, which involves the central People’s Bank of China (PBoC) and four major state-owned commercial banks, will be expanded to encompass all of Beijing, the satellite provinces of Tianjin and Hebei, the Yangtze River Delta, the southern coast and the so-called Pearl River Delta: the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.
Unconfirmed reports earlier this week stated that the latter – a major target for industrial and commercial growth for Beijing – was gearing up for digital yuan pilots.
And the ministry went a step further, claiming, per the WSJ, that “cities in the country’s poorer central and western regions that meet certain requirements will also roll out trials of the digital currency.”
The ministry stated that the pilot was still being run by the PBoC and did not specify when the digital yuan pilot extension program would begin, although it added that “policy design” was on target for completion “by the end of 2020.”
The Ministry of Commerce added that Beijing’s digital yuan push was part of a plan to “move China into higher-value industries and upgrade the country’s economy.”
Major news outlets in China – as well as a number of overseas observers – say that some of the nation’s biggest tech firms, including Alibaba and Tencent, are working behind the scenes on CBDC-related pilots and designs alongside the PBoC.
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