140 million Chinese punters adopt Digital Yuan and spend up big

But central bank worries about security, usability – and business continuity


140 million digital wallets capable of storing China's central bank digital currency – the Digital Yuan or E-CNY – have already been issued to individuals, and another ten million businesses have signed up too.

So said Mu Changchun, director of the Digital Currency Research Institute of the People's Bank of China, at an event in Hong Kong earlier this week. Those wallet-holders have already spent over ¥62 billion ($9.8B) with the 1.5 million merchants that have signed up to accept the digital currency.

But Mu also admitted that the People's Bank of China is worried about the E-CNY's security. He told the event that the Bank knows digital currencies will attract attention from criminals, so is working on encryption algorithms, data security, and business continuity plans.

The director also revealed that E-CNY payment terminals haven't been well-received. He said work to improve the user experience is needed, and terminals for a wide range of use cases will be needed, so that the digital currency can be used by all merchants.

Mu didn't offer any detail on E-CNY wallet adoption – a notable omission as millions of wallets have been given away, either with balances ready to spend or as part of other promotions. It's therefore hard to know if the 140 million figure represents engaged and excited consumers, the E-CNY-curious, or the financial equivalent of a U2 album that can't be expunged from an iTunes library.

On the upside, China has clearly conducted a great many successful transactions using its CBDC – and that puts it ahead of all other nations in adoption of the technology. That lead may not, however, be decisive until the E-CNY can be used across borders. Because that's when digital currencies can greatly reduce the cost of transfers and the time required to complete them.

China aimed to debut the E-CNY at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games, and to have athletes and visitors use the digital currency at the event. Three US Senators warned that athletes using the digital currency could be used for surveillance once athletes return stateside, so urged US reps not to use the E-CNY. COVID-19 placed an insurmountable crevasse in front of Beijing's plan for overseas attendees at the Games to use the E-CNY, as only Chinese spectators will be allowed in person at venues. ®

Similar topics

Broader topics

Narrower topics


Other stories you might like

  • Ex-Qualcomm Snapdragon chief turns CEO at AI chip startup MemryX

    Meet the new boss

    A former executive leading Qualcomm's Snapdragon computing platforms has departed the company to become CEO at an AI chip startup.

    Keith Kressin will lead product commercialization for MemryX, which was founded in 2019 and makes memory-intensive AI chiplets.

    The company is now out of stealth mode and will soon commercially ship its AI chips to non-tech customers. The company was testing early generations of its chips with industries including auto and robotics.

    Continue reading
  • Aircraft can't land safely due to interference with upcoming 5G C-band broadband service

    Expect flight delays and diversions, US Federal Aviation Administation warns

    The new 5G C-band wireless broadband service expected to rollout on 5 January 2022 in the US will disrupt local radio signals and make it difficult for airplanes to land safely in harsh weather conditions, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

    Pilots rely on radio altimeter readings to figure out when and where an aircraft should carry out a series of operations to prepare for touchdown. But the upcoming 5G C-band service beaming from cell towers threatens to interfere with these signals, the FAA warned in two reports.

    Flights may have to be delayed or restricted at certain airports as the new broadband service comes into effect next year. The change could affect some 6,834 airplanes and 1,828 helicopters. The cost to operators is expected to be $580,890.

    Continue reading
  • Canadian charged with running ransomware attack on US state of Alaska

    Cross-border op nabbed our man, boast cops and prosecutors

    A Canadian man is accused of masterminding ransomware attacks that caused "damage" to systems belonging to the US state of Alaska.

    A federal indictment against Matthew Philbert, 31, of Ottawa, was unsealed yesterday, and he was also concurrently charged by the Canadian authorities with a number of other criminal offences at the same time. US prosecutors [PDF] claimed he carried out "cyber related offences" – including a specific 2018 attack on a computer in Alaska.

    The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported that Philbert was charged after a 23 month investigation "that also involved the [Royal Canadian Mounted Police, federal enforcers], the FBI and Europol."

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021