China to launch digital yuan nationwide after 2022 Winter Olympics?

Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics logo
BREAKOUT: Chinese media reports that the digital yuan is set for nationwide launch after the 2022 Olympics

China could be ready to officially launch the digital yuan as a fully operational central bank digital currency (CBDC) after the Beijing Winter Olympics in early 2022, according to reports in the Chinese media.

The reports come as all six state-owned Chinese banks launch incentive schemes to encourage staff to promote the digital yuan to customers.

According to Shanghai Securities News, a report released in April by Shanghai University said that “the People’s Bank of China has a clear design for the digital renminbi, and the technical preparation and domestic environment are becoming more mature”, and that “the digital remnimbi is expected to officially land nationwide after the completion of the Beijing Winter Olympics testing”.

In an interview with former Bank of China president Li Lihui, China Daily now also suggests that “the upcoming 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing will likely prove to be a breakout phase for China’s digital renminbi” and that “some entry-points [to the Games], such as the cities of Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou in Guangdong province, are expected to be ready for extensive use of digital RMB payments during the games”.

Lihui told China Daily that he was “full of confidence” that the 2022 Games “will be the touchstone, or a turning point, for the digital RMB,” the newspaper reports.

However, he also stated that “more time may be needed to launch the digital RMB nationwide. The underlying architecture should be further optimised for broader application scenarios and satisfy the huge consumer market”.

Bank incentives

Staff at all six of China’s state-owned banks — Bank of China, China Construction Bank, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, Agricultural Bank of China, Bank of Communications and Postal Savings Bank of China — are also now actively being encouraged to promote the digital currency to customers.

A report in Shenzhen Chain Finance News quotes “a state-owned banker” who says that at least one of the banks has “included the task of promoting digital renminbi in the evaluation of employees. The number of digital renminbi wallets opened will affect the year-end bonus of the branch […] On average, each person needs to promote 200 to 300 people.”

The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and Bank of Communications have “the largest promotion efforts” to encourage their customers to open a digital yuan wallet, the newspaper adds, saying that “the small gifts presented [to customers], include, but are not limited to, laundry detergent, data cables, card holders, Chinese knots, umbrellas, tissues etc”.

Beijing Rail Transit began letting passengers pay their fares with digital yuan earlier this month.

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