People’s Bank of China will ‘undoubtedly’ launch digital yuan

The People’s Bank of China has said it will “undoubtedly” launch a digital yuan, in what has been seen as one of the strongest signals to date of the central bank’s support for the policy.

In a notice published on April 4, the bank said it would continue the development of a digital currency, with a view to launching as soon as practical: “The People’s Bank of China (PBoC) will undoubtedly further its research and development of the national digital currency with enhanced top-down design.”

The notice was published following the 2020 National Currency Gold Silver and Security Work Video and Telephone Conference, an event convened by the bank’s Vice Governor Yifei Fan where the bank set out its priorities for the coming year.

This is the third time a digital yuan has been raised at the event, but the language in this year’s notice has been widely interpreted as a strong signal of advancing plans and intentions.

In 2018, the bank said it was working at a “steady pace,” before upping this to pledge to “accelerate” the development process during 2019.

Some analysts have reported the project may be advancing quicker than anticipated due to coronavirus, with the bank already concerned about transmission issues from physical bank notes. Back in February, the bank said it was preparing to quarantine and disinfect cash, as well as issuing some 600 billion in new notes to limit possible transmission through bank notes.

The Bank for International Settlements (BIS) has suggested central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) worldwide could be accelerated in response to the pandemic, with digital payment adoption likely to be increased by central banks worldwide in response to the crisis.

In the notice, the bank said it was also looking to overhaul the systems around withdrawing cash, with further plans to manage the flow of currency through China’s financial system.

The bank will also be focusing on cracking down on counterfeit money, as well as increased cash testing to better manage the physical money flow across the economy.

At the 2020 National Currency Gold Silver and Security Work Video and Telephone Conference, the bank was joined by representatives from major state-owned commercial banks.

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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