Multiple domestic media outlets are reporting today that China is beginning its first tests for what is set to become the world’s first central bank-issued digital currency, with real-world tests coming in May.
Chinese outlets say that the digital yuan, known in China as the DCEP (Digital Currency Electronic Payment), will first see the light of day in a collaborative pilot for workers’ transport subsidies in the city of Suzhou – with Alibaba’s e-pay affiliate Alipay and state-owned bank the Agricultural Bank of China involved.
The pilot will see 50% of transport fee subsidies funded with digital currency payments, with the remaining 50% paid for using conventional funding methods.
The reports, featured in outlets such as Sina and Duowei News, say that employees of local government agencies and institutions, as well as government-owned enterprises in the Xiangcheng District of Suzhou, will be the very first people in the world to use the ground-breaking token next month.
The media outlets also substantiated reports that the Agricultural Bank has indeed issued a “test wallet” app in Shenzhen, Xiongan, Chengdu and Suzhou – apparently confirming claims from Twitter and WeChat users circulating on Tuesday and Wednesday this week that an imminent rollout in these four testbed cities was on its way.
Sina concludes that “news about testing in other regions will likely gradually increase in the near future.”
Stocks in digital currency-related companies have surged in China in the past few days after WeChat users and Chinese media outlets shared screenshots that appear to feature images of the DCEP in use on smartphones – with some news agencies reporting that both Alipay and WeChat’s own WeChat Pay e-pay platform, will be integrated with the central bank’s platform.
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