China’s digital yuan trials are restricted to small-scale retail payments, in spite of multiple reports implying a larger release, as per the local news outlet Global Times.
Speculations from the beginning of this month suggested the digital yuan had spread to large-volume transactions after reports of housing property in a Chinese province being carried out using the new currency available online.
“Shenzhen (has) received a large volume of digital currency from a local bank after selling a local property, and the digital currency could not be converted into banknotes,” the rumor went, as the report noted.
Still, local authorities have since revealed that digital yuan payments are rather small with no upcoming plans to support large transactions. At the moment, only small-scale pilot tests of the currency – officially named the Digital Currency Electronic Process (DCEP) – are taking place in Shenzhen, Chengdu, and the Hebei Province, they said.
Of those areas, the Shenzhen subsidiary has been posting job offers for multiple positions in the last few months. These include vacancies in blockchain development and for research engineers, but none to back a large-scale release, at least for now.
In the meantime, industry observers said the country is still probing the field before ultimately launching the digital yuan.
“At its current stage, the test’s primary goal is to ensure the digital currency’s operation runs smoothly and safely, and to determine how DCEP is distributed from the central bank to financial institutions. Only when trials in retailing are successful will they be carried out in large transaction scenarios,” Wang Peng, assistant professor at the Renmin University in China, told the Global Times.
Currency launchers are rather complicated. As a Japanese regulator mentioned last month, money has to be accessible and available at all times. However, digital alternatives require people to own smartphones, devices not everyone still has access to, as well as access to the Internet.
The regulator added that digital currencies could also stop working during periods of a natural disaster where electricity is cut off, making out of this a major issue. However, for China’s mainly cash-less society, the switch to digital money is a bit easier as people are mainly used to it.