China’s long-anticipated digital yuan has arrived in the wallets of some ordinary citizens.
Beijing began exploring a digital currency in 2014, with the project going into high gear in 2017—the same year the country cracked down on cryptocurrency trading. The digital yuan is very much not a cryptocurrency; like the regular yuan, it is under the control of the People’s Bank of China, and will be rolled out with the help of the country’s largest commercial banks. After conducting small-scale trials earlier this year, China began its largest test yet yesterday, with 200 yuan ($30) worth of the virtual money issued to 50,000 citizens in the southern tech hub of Shenzhen through a lottery.
The pilot comes as the Chinese president Xi Jinping prepares to visit Shenzhen tomorrow (Oct. 14) to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the country’s establishment of its first special
Shenzhen, known for its maker community and manufacturing resources, is taking the lead in trialing China’s digital yuan.
Last week, the city issued 10 million yuan worth of digital currency to 50,000 randomly selected residents who applied. The government doled out the money through mobile “red envelopes,” a tool designed to digitize the custom of gifting money in red packets and first popularized by WeChat’s e-wallet.
“Red packets are a common way we’ve seen in China Internet companies to spur adoption like what we’ve seen with Tencent WeChat and Alibaba’s Alipay in the early days, when these products were first launched,” Flex Yang, CEO of crypto finance firm Babel Finance, told TechCrunch.
The digital yuan is not to be mistaken as a form of cryptocurrency. Rather, it is issued and managed by the central bank, serving as the statutory, digital version of China’s physical currency and giving Beijing a better
Whatever the outcome of the upcoming US elections, most analysts agree that the tech rivalry between the US and China is unlikely to let up any time soon and therefore Beijing is expected to keep doubling down on its catch-up efforts.
China’s Ministry of Science and Technology last week vowed once again to look carefully at how the work of researchers is evaluated, ensuring that the focus is on research that “achieves real performance” as opposed to simply counting the number of publications.
This is part of Beijing’s wider drive to close a core science gap with the US and reduce its dependence on imported technology. Measures to revise the evaluation of researchers began in 2018 as part