China starts major trial of state-run digital currency

Tourists sit next to a shop in Nanluoguxiang alley, a famous touristic spot at Hutong neighborhood, in Beijing, China. EPA-EFE/ROMAN PILIPEY

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China will begin trialling payments in its new digital currency in four major cities from next week, according to domestic media.

In recent months, China’s central bank has stepped up its development of the e-RMB, which is set to be the first digital currency operated by a major economy.

It has reportedly begun trials in several cities, including Shenzhen, Suzhou, Chengdu, as well as a new area south of Beijing, Xiong’an, and areas that will host some of the events for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

State-media outlet China Daily said it had been formally adopted into the cities’ monetary systems, with some government employees and public servants to receive their salaries in the digital currency from May.

Sina News said the currency would be used to subsidise transport in Suzhou, but in Xiong’an the trial primarily focused on food and retail.

Digital payment platforms are already widespread in China, namely Alipay, owned by Alibaba’s Ant Financial, and WeChat Pay, owned by Tencent, but they do not replace existing currency.

Read more via The Guardian

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