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Digital yuan to be widely available before 2022 Winter Olympics

China’s digital yuan. Photo: Reuters

(ATF) The digital yuan is being trialed in several Chinese cities with plans for the new currency to be widely available before the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

Shenzhen announced large scale ‘red envelope’ testing of the currency is already underway. In China the tradition for giving gifts usually takes the form of a red envelope with cash in it, for birthdays, weddings and other occasions. The ‘digital red envelope’ scheme has also now been launched in Beijing.

Lucky users in Shenzhen – part of the ‘Futian Youli Digital RMB Red Packets’ New Year’s promotion – were among 100,000 people to receive 200 yuan digital red envelopes, totalling 20 million yuan. All the lucky winners were drawn by lot.

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A digital yuan will be a feature of the Beijing Winter Olympics pilot application for things such as subway ticket purchases. The People’s Bank of China has guided and arranged for pilot testing of other digital scenarios in the Winter Olympics Organising Committee Park. 

Recently, the pilot test has been extended to transactions outside of the park to help provide better service guarantees for its success at the games.

Also, foreigners will be able to use the digital yuan, according to workercn.cn, an industrial news site under the Workers Daily.

According to official standards, the current digital yuan pilot program is “4+1”, and internal closed pilot testing will be conducted in Shenzhen, Suzhou, Xiongan New District, Chengdu and future Winter Olympics locations. There is still no timetable for its official launch.  


Yu Weiwen, president of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, also revealed that the Hong Kong Monetary Authority is cooperating with the Digital Currency Research Institute of the People’s Bank of China to study and test the technology for using digital yuan for cross-border payments.

Dong Ximiao, chief researcher of China Merchants Finance, previously stated that the pilot test cities can be expanded in an orderly manner. On the one hand, cities which have seen rapid digital economy development such as Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou and the Yangtze River Delta can be added. Lanzhou, Urumqi, Lhasa and other western cities with relatively weak financial infrastructure will also be put on the list. 

He also said that the scope of testing banks can also be expanded, increasing the number of participating banks to all six large commercial banks, and selecting some small and medium-sized banks to participate too. This will further enrich the test scenarios and accelerate the innovation of digital yuan functions, said Dong Ximiao.

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Chris Gill

With over 30 years reporting on China, Gill offers a daily digest of what is happening in the PRC.


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