Are these the First Images of China’s Digital Yuan? (UPDATED)
Social media users believe they have captured screenshots of a beta version of China’s much-awaited central bank digital currency (CBDC). (Updated at 13:53 UTC: updates in bold).
WeChat users are believed to have gained access to the screenshots on Tuesday this week. Images have since been shared to Twitter in a series of tweets from Matthew Graham, the CEO of Sino Global Capital, a tech investment firm that works with mainland Chinese interests. Graham says he has also seen the app firsthand.
Meanwhile, undisclosed people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg that China’s central bank has given the green light for some state-owned commercial lenders to run trials of its digital currency. According to the report, the banks are conducting internal, hypothetical-use tests of the digital currency and testing conversion between cash and digital money, account-balance check, payment and remittance.
The images appear to show how the CBDC, known in China as the DC/EP (digital currency/electronic payment), is being tested by the Agricultural Bank of China, one of the four state-owned banks believed to be piloting the token.
As previously reported, the central People’s Bank of China is thought to have approved pilots in conjunction with the Agricultural Bank, as well as the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the Bank of China and the China Construction Bank, along with three mobile carriers – per mainstream Mainland Chinese media reports that Beijing has neither confirmed or denied.
The pilots are believed to have begun in Shenzhen and Suzhou, but WeChat users have stated that they may have also been extended to Xiongan and Chengdu.
Graham tweeted a link to what he said was a download link for a beta app for Agricultural Bank customers in test sites – although this appears to be broken or inaccessible outside Mainland China at the time of writing. Graham stated that the link had likely been “pulled.”
Ling Zhang, Executive Director of M&A, Global Fiat at Binance, also shared the news.
“With the Coronavirus impacting the daily life, China is turning this into an opportunity, releasing its DCEP project to accelerate society into a fully cashless digital economy in the future. It is a significant step in the CBDC area, where China takes the lead and setting an example of how future digital form of fiat money can look like,” Johnson Xu, Chief Analyst at TokenInsight, a token data and rating agency, told Cryptonews.com. He expects that other countries to follow suit and release similar projects.
As reported, the “central bank of central banks” and multiple analysts think that the fear of the coronavirus transmission via cash and banking cards may shorten the road to CBDCs.
Speaking to Decrypt, Graham stated that the app makes use of a wallet features transfer options and a QR code scanner, and makes use of NFC technology, a feature on many modern smartphones. Many smart card readers, which are used widely in China, are also fitted with NFC technology.
“[My] first impression is that the app looks slick, it’s a pro job in the Silicon Valley tech sense.”