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China has started pilot trials of central bank digital currency 中国先行展开央行数字货币试点测试

  • China
  • Technology, Media and Telecoms

16-07-2020

China is testing innovative digital wallets to process its potential central bank digital currency - “DC/EP” or Digital Currency/Electronic Payments.

After years of research and preparatory work since 2014, the Digital Currency Research Institute of the People’s Bank of China (“PBOC”) has recently announced pilot trials of digital wallets which process its new digital RMB (renminbi) in four cities, namely Suzhou, Shenzhen, Chengdu and Xiong’an. Restaurants and grocery stores such as Starbucks, McDonald’s and Subway, along with UnionPay’s and JD.com’s physical grocery stores are among the first participants in the pilot scheme.

Despite the pilot scheme, PBOC has not yet officially issued the DC/EP. Nonetheless, the Digital Currency Research Institute has published initial information in relation to how DC/EP may operate once issued. Based on such introductory information:

  • DC/EP will be considered legal tender in mainland China and one DC/EP will be worth RMB 1.
  • DC/EP is positioned to be a replacement currency of existing physical paper notes and coins issued by PBOC.
  • DC/EP will support payments by users on an “controllable” anonymous basis, meaning that no one other than the issuer of DC/EP (PBOC) can trace payment transactions of users.
  • Transactions of DC/EP can be made through an innovative digital wallet in the form of a mobile application. A user can pay DC/EP to its recipient through the digital wallets which are held in close distance, even if both sides are offline without Internet and have not connected their digital wallets to any bank cards.
  • DC/EP will be issued through a two-tier processing structure, namely the PBOC shall first issue DC/EP to commercial banks, which will then service end customers.
  • An end customer will be able to convert its deposits at its commercial bank to DC/EP on the digital wallet.

What this means for you?

An innovative feature of the DC/EP is the “double offline” digital wallet supporting it. This enables users to pay DC/EP similar to making physical cash payments – without Internet connection or having to link to an existing bank card. Financial institutions operating DC/EP digital wallets will have a competitive advantage over current payments wallets which require Internet connections.

So far there is little information on how non-bank Fintech companies can take part in DC/EP processing. For example, whether and how non-bank companies will be granted a licence to process DC/EP. Therefore, the launch of DC/EP may create new challenges for non-bank payments companies which have been (until now) transforming China to be a largely cashless society.

While there is still no official launch date, the innovative DC/EP digital wallet technology is opening a new chapter for digital payments offline. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and will keep you informed of any developments.

Please contact us if you have any questions on this subject matter.


中国央行正测试以创新的数字钱包处理央行可能发行的数字货币──“DC/EP”或Digital Currency/Electronic Payments(数字货币/电子支付)。

经过自2014年起多年的研究及准备工作,中国人民银行数字货币研究所(“人民银行”)最近宣布在苏州、深圳、成都及雄安四个城市展开数字钱包的内部封闭试点测试,该钱包用以处理人民银行新推的数字人民币交易。首批参与是次测试的商户包括星巴克、麦当劳、赛百味,以及银联及京东的实体超市在內的餐厅及超市。

虽然人民银行尚未正式发行DC/EP,但数字货币研究所经已发布有关于DC/EP正式发行后可能会采用的营运模式的资料。据该介绍资料:

  • DC/EP将被视为中国大陆法定货币并与人民币等值。
  • DC/EP将用以取替现行人民银行发行的实体纸钞及硬币。
  • DC/EP将支持“可控式”匿名支付。即除了 DC/EP 的发行方(人民银行)外,其他人均无法追踪用户的DC/EP交易。
  • 创新的数字钱包将以手机应用程式让用户进行DC/EP交易。一方用户可将手机放在接收方的手机附近向接收方支付DC/EP,过程无需連接网络且双方亦无需将数字钱包绑定银行卡。
  • DC/EP将以双层运营的架构发行,即人民银行将先发行DC/EP予各商业银行,再由有关银行向终端客户提供DC/EP有关的服务。
  • 终端客户将可通過数字钱包将其存放于商业银行的存款转换成DC/EP。

为你带来的影响

DC/EP其中一项创新技术是数字钱包将支持“双离线支付”功能。此功能让用户能够在欠缺网络连线或数字钱包未有绑定银行卡的情况下仍可进行DC/EP交易,达到类似现金交易的效果。相对于现时需要连接网络的支付钱包,负责营运DC/EP数字钱包之金融机构将具备竞争优势。

现时关于非银行金融科技公司如何参与处理DC/EP的资料仍相当缺乏。例如,非银行公司能否及如何获发有关牌照处理DC/EP仍是未知之数。因此,DC/EP之发行对于一直致力将中国内地转型为无现金社会的非银行支付公司来说,或会带来新的挑战。

虽然至今仍未有正式发行日期,但创新的DC/EP数字钱包技术正为线下电子支付翻开新的一页。我们将继续密切注视有关发展并为你提供有关最新资讯。

如对本通讯有任何疑问,请与我们联络。