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Economy

China's digital yuan pilot tally reaches $5.3bn in six months

Central bank white paper notes plans for more trials but no rollout date

Nearly 21 million personal digital-yuan wallets have been created so far.   © Kyodo

BEIJING -- China's digital yuan trials racked up 34.5 billion yuan ($5.34 billion) in transactions by the end of June, according to a white paper released Friday by the People's Bank of China.

The currency has been used in 70.75 million payments so far across more than 1.32 million "scenarios" -- not only in retail settings like stores and restaurants, but also for public transportation, utility bills and government services. The central bank said it has "no preset timetable" for a full launch.

The test shows the rapid strides Beijing has made toward a central bank digital currency, an idea that is seeing increasing interest elsewhere in the world, including in the U.S. China has recently cracked down on other digital currencies, with the PBOC warning that asset-linked "stablecoins" pose risks to global financial systems.

The pilot program for the virtual currency began in late 2019 in five locations, including Shenzhen and venues for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, with Shanghai and five others added last November.

More than 20.87 million personal wallets and 3.51 million wallets for organizations and companies have been created so far. Smartphone apps, wearable devices and smart cards can all house digital-yuan wallets.

According to a source familiar with the situation, the PBOC intends to continue local trials during the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing toward an official rollout as early as next year.

For now, the central bank will further expand the pilot program to cover "all possible scenarios" for transactions and improve the system's stability and data security. Research will continue into the digital yuan's impact on monetary policy and the financial system, and Beijing will move forward with changes to the relevant legislation to provide a legal basis for the currency.

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