China’s central bank expands digital yuan pilot to Beijing

Digital yuan Beijing red envelope pilot on JD.com app
RED ENVELOPE LOTTERY: Digital yuan recipients can use them to purchase from JD.com via its app

The People’s Bank of China has launched the first large-scale giveaway of the country’s central bank digital currency (CBDC) to be held in Beijing and has distributed 10m digital yuan (US$1.55m) to 50,000 participants in a ‘red envelope’ lottery.

Recipients can use their digital currency e-wallet to make in-store purchases at participating merchants in the Chinese’s capital’s Wangfujing district or online in a Digital Wangfujing Ice and Snow Shopping Festival held on the JD.com ecommerce portal.

In confirming details of the red envelope giveaway, Beijing Local Financial Supervision and Administration (BLFSA) described the trial as “a routine test in the digital RMB research and development process”.

BLFSA also indicated that further tests and infrastructure projects to support the digital yuan will take place in the city in the year running up to the 2022 Winter Olympics.

“Beijing will steadily promote more pilot applications of digital renminbi around the 2022 Winter Olympics […] and continuously improve the construction of legal digital currency pilot areas and financial technology application scenarios pilot areas,” the administrative body said.

Beijing hosted a small-scale test of NFC wearables that support payments in digital yuan in January, while plans to expand pilot testing of the digital yuan in both Beijing and Shanghai emerged later that same month.

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