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China struggles to launch digital yuan after 8 years of trials

Alipay, WeChatPay mobile payments dull appeal of central bank's efforts

People in 23 cities can pay for goods and services using the digital yuan, also called e-CNY.   © Reuters

BEIJING/TOKYO -- Eight years after China first embarked on the path toward a digital yuan, the central bank's pilot program for the digital yuan has been expanded to 23 cities covering nearly a fifth of the population.

But a full launch of the currency remains elusive as a population already used to mobile payments such as Alipay and WeChatPay sees no reason to abandon their familiar apps.   

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