Trials of the digital yuan have produced disappointing results, according to a report quoting the former head of research at the Chinese central bank. The new form of national fiat has brought no benefits to the banks and should expand beyond being employed only as a substitute for cash, the banker believes.
Common People Used to Cash and Cards, Ex-PBOC Executive Notes
Usage of China’s central bank digital currency (CBDC) has been “low, highly inactive,” according to Xie Ping, former director-general of research at the People’s Bank of China (PBOC). Ping made this observation at a conference devoted to digital finance.
“The cumulative circulation of the digital yuan in the two years of the trial has been only 100 billion yuan” ($14 billion), he detailed, quoted by the financial news outlet Caixin and Reuters. In his view, the application of the digital yuan needed to be widened.
“The results are not ideal,” Xie concluded during the forum which was organized by the Tsinghua University. He emphasized that “what needs to change is the digital yuan acting only as a substitute for cash and only for consumption.”
The payment market structure formed by cash, bank cards, and third-party payment platforms are currently satisfying the needs for daily consumption in China. “The common people are used to it, and changing it is difficult,” he remarked.
China has been at the forefront of the race to develop CBDCs with efforts to promote the digital yuan through a number of red envelope campaigns, giving away e-CNY to stimulate its use, and by expanding the geographical scope of the pilot project to new cities and regions.
Authorities have also been trying to increase the use cases for the digital version of the renminbi, with the latest examples including the introduction of digital yuan payments in the public transportation systems of Ningbo and Guangzhou. In September, the PBOC called for more of these use-case scenarios and urged for deeper integration of its new currency with e-payment providers.
According to Xie Ping, digital yuan business had no synergistic effect and no commercial benefits for banks’ business while third-party payment systems such as Alipay offered a range of more attractive functions such as investment, insurance, and consumer lending.
That’s why the ex-central bank official believes digital yuan usage can be expanded by allowing individuals to buy financial products with the state-backed coin, for example, and by connecting it to more traditional payment platforms in order to create new opportunities to spend it for consumption.
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Lubomir Tassev is a journalist from tech-savvy Eastern Europe who likes Hitchens’s quote: “Being a writer is what I am, rather than what I do.” Besides crypto, blockchain and fintech, international politics and economics are two other sources of inspiration.
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