Caixin
Jul 15, 2022 05:44 AM
FINANCE

Industrial Bank Joints Digital Yuan Pilot Program

What’s new: Industrial Bank Co. Ltd. became the 10th bank to join testing of China’s digital currency as the central bank steadily expands its pilot program across the country.

The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) increased the pilot program from 11 cities to 23 regions in 15 provinces and cities, Zou Lan, head of monetary policy at the central bank, said Wednesday at a press conference.

As of the end of May, the 15 provinces and cities have carried out 264 million transactions involving the digital yuan totaling 83 billion yuan ($12.3 billion), Zou said. Nearly 4.6 million merchants and stores accept the digital yuan as payment.

The background: The PBOC began exploring how to use the digital yuan in 2014. It was one of the first major central banks to test a digital currency.

An initial trial was launched in Shenzhen, Suzhou, Chengdu and Xiong’an in 2020. The tests were expanded in 2021 to Hainan province, Shanghai and more cities. During the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, the digital yuan was one of three payment methods accepted at the venue in addition to cash and Visa credit cards.

China’s six largest state-owned commercial banks-the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, Agricultural Bank of China, Bank of China, Bank of Communications, China Construction Bank and Postal Savings Bank of China-as well as China Merchants Bank have all provided services for the digital yuan and conducted tests. Zhejiang E-Commerce Bank Co. Ltd., an online private bank partially owned by Ant Group, and Tencent-backed WeBank also joined the pilot program.

Quick Takes are condensed versions of China-related stories for fast news you can use. To read the full story in Chinese, click here.

Contact reporter Denise Jia (huijuanjia@caixin.com) and editor Bob Simison (bob.simison@caixin.com)

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