China’s 2nd largest bank briefly launches CBDC wallet—then disables it

One of China’s largest banks recently launched a feature supporting the digital yuan on its mobile app. However, after receiving wide attention from the digital currency community and beyond, the bank disabled the support.

The China Construction Bank rolled out the feature on Saturday, allowing users of its mobile app to access the digital yuan, also known as the digital currency electronic payment (DCEP).

However, as suddenly as it had been available, the DCEP feature was disabled by the bank.

During the brief stint, some of the bank’s clients were able to access the feature and make a few transactions. Upon activation of the feature, a user was assigned a unique wallet ID. He could then use this wallet to transact with other users. The wallet ID was tied to a phone number, allowing the users to send money by either inputting the recipient’s wallet ID or the linked phone number.

The China Construction Bank, which is the second-largest bank in the world, is among China’s banks that have been working with the central bank on the issuance of the DCEP. The Agricultural Bank of China was among the first to test its app, making it available in April 2020. Just like in the latest instance, the bank also took the feature down after it received wide attention.

Reports of China Construction Bank’s DCEP efforts have been circulating for months now. In May 2020, images of its DCEP app’s layout started making rounds on social media platforms.

The latest development comes just days after a People’s Bank of China official revealed that the DCEP is only catering to small transactions initially. This was after claims that a property seller who received payments in the digital yuan had been unable to convert to banknotes.

The official also revealed that the DCEP has been on a test run in recent month as the PBoC braces itself for a nationwide rollout.

To learn more about central bank digital currencies and some of the design decisions that need to be considered when creating and launching it, read nChain’s CBDC playbook.

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