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China set to widen pilot trials of central bank digital currency 中国将更广泛地开展央行数字货币试点测试

  • China
  • Technology, Media and Telecoms


On 14 August 2020, the Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China (“PRC”) issued the “Notice on Comprehensive Deepening of the Pilot Program of Innovative Development of Trade in Services” (“Notice”). The Notice provides that the People’s Bank of China (“PBOC”) will be responsible for forming policies for conducting pilot trials of DC/EP (Digital Currency/Electronic Payments) in suitable areas in Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei, Yangtze River Delta, Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and the Midwest region.

Since our last article, the PRC has expanded its pilot trials of DC/EP. According to media reports, the PBOC has expanded such pilot trials in four cities, namely Suzhou, Shenzhen, Chengdu and Xiong’an, from a limited number of selected physical shops to online platforms such as Didi and Meituan.

Meanwhile, the Supreme People’s Court and the National Development and Reform Commission of the PRC jointly issued the “Opinion on Providing Legal Services and Protection for the Comprehensive Development of Socialist Market Economy System in the New Era” (“Opinion”) on 22 July 2020. The Opinion further details the PRC’s judicial and executive arms’ positive outlook on strengthening property rights protection in relation to DC/EP and other virtual assets.

Such development is in line with the policy directions highlighted in the Notice, including (among other things):

  • promoting cross-border use of Chinese RMB in trade, and developing relevant foreign exchange management policies;
  • promoting digital economy and facilitating digital businesses; and
  • greatly enhancing digital trade and relevant policies by establishing expert working groups to provide guidance on digital trade innovation.

What this means to you?

Not only is DC/EP a technological breakthrough with its innovative double-offline digital wallet, it represents the PRC’s initiative to facilitate digitisation of the economy and establish a digital business environment that meets high international standards.

Cross-border payments have long been industry-led by leading Fintech companies providing international settlement and clearance services. The DC/EP is a government-led effort which may provide an alternative to traditional cross-border payments channels. Once implemented, the DC/EP will potentially become the largest government-led digital payments system in terms of total number of users.

While pilot trials of DC/EP will continue to be in the initial four cities and expected to be conducted at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games, the Notice has confirmed the PRC government’s intent to launch DC/EP on a broader basis. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and will keep you informed of any developments.

The Notice can be found here (in Chinese), and the Opinion can be found here (in Chinese).

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





  • 推进中国人民币在贸易中的跨境使用,完善相关外汇管理措施;
  • 推进数字经济及数字营商环境便利化;及
  • 透过组建专家工作组为数字贸易创新提供指导,积极发展数字贸易及相关政策。