With each and every passing month, the digital renminbi keeps becoming more and more of a reality in the mainland.
Just a few months ago, it was reported that testing of the digital renminbi has already started with screenshots of the actual beta test being shared throughout social media. But it was recently shared by several large state owned bankers to PANews that large scale testing has already commenced especially in cities such as Shenzhen, Suzhou, Xiong’an, and Chengdu.
On August 3rd, the central bank conducted an internal meeting announcing that the second half of 2020 will be focused on actively and steadily promoting the legal digital currency in all facets of the country.
As of right now, the extent of user testing has only been limited to transfers and payments. The app that facilitates these functions is not yet available for public download and will not be until further rigorous testing is completed.
But soon enough, the digital renminbi app will be able to feature functions such as recharge, withdrawal, transfer, scan code consumption, etc., among which transfers can be made only with the counterpart's mobile phone number. The app is also being tested for the ability to be used when there is no mobile network signal or WiFi which would be a game changer and differentiator amongst other apps. The payment logic is similar to third-party payments such as WeChat and Alipay, and users can scan QR codes to pay each other. It is supposedly enhanced for more convivence than other payment apps but channels are limited at the moment.
China's Big Four banks, in order of asset size, are the Industrial & Commercial Bank of China, the China Construction Bank, the Agricultural Bank of China, and the Bank of China. These four banks have been the leading banks in carrying out testing for the past year with the hopes of being able to open testing to other banks as research continues.
The current closed test of the digital renminbi will not affect the commercial operation of renminbi issuance, circulation system, financial markets, nor the social economy outside the tests. And besides internal private testing, as reported early by PANews last months, some Chinese companies such as Didi Chuxing, have been involved with the testing to see how it can be applied through the field of smart travel and autonomous driving.
As of right now there is no timetable for when the digital RMB will be publicly released and the question then becomes how will that co-exist with current digitized payments such as Alipay and WeChat Pay. The central bank has been promoting research and development and scenario testing under high confidentiality. But from a few insiders that spoke to PANews, the current digital currency APP is quite limited in many facets and will continue to need further research and development.