China’s ride-hailing service DiDi signs on to pilot digital yuan

DiDi Chuxing, the Chinese equivalent to Uber, will be piloting the country’s central bank digital currency, the DC/EP. Recently, DiDi entered into a strategic partnership with the People’s Bank of China’s Digital Currency Research Institute to solidify the initiative.

“Under PBoC’s overall DCEP strategy and operation timeline, DiDi’s DCEP taskforce will design and implement pilot DCEP projects in accordance with rigorous safety, security, and governance standards,” said a DiDi spokesperson. “The partnership is a key milestone in DiDi’s ongoing initiatives to enhance the interconnectivity of online and offline economic sectors in China, as the government seeks to support the development of the real economy sectors with innovative financial services.”

The partnership will be one of the first large-scale pilot tests of the DC/EP. DiDi currently offers taxi hailing, private car-hailing, ride-sharing, bike-sharing, and food delivery services. Over 30 million Chinese citizens use DiDi to commute to work daily, and the mobility service claims to have over 550 million registered users on its app. 

Other countries and regions, such as the United States, Canada, and the European Union have expressed interest or indicated that they were researching and developing a central bank digital currency. But when it comes to the actual development and launch of a CBDC, the Chinese government has made the most progress. 

Many companies have signed on to pilot the DC/EP, a few of the most notable companies being McDonald’s, Starbucks, and Subway. And in early April, leaked footage from a Chinese bank showed what the DC/EP consumer-facing phone-app will look like.

Although the Chinese government has not announced an official release date for the DC/EP, a high-ranking officer at the People’s Bank of China did say that they hope for the DC/EP to launch before the 2022 Beijing winter Olympics.

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