Despite previous reports that claimed China was not prioritizing a digital currency, the Asian giant is evidently moving full steam ahead.
A recruitment notice published by the People's Bank of China on Thursday revealed that the country is looking for technology experts to join its ranks within several divisions, including the Bank’s Digital Currency Research Institute (DCRI).
The DCRI is the government agency in charge of overseeing the development of what could be a national cryptocurrency, or a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC). Among other requirements, candidates must have proven knowledge in different areas ranging from econometrics to cryptography.
China has been quite secretive about the development of its state-backed cryptocurrency, with officials within the country being selective about the things they say about it. That talk, however, intensified follow Facebook’s announcement regarding its own crypto project, Libra.
Libra is to be supported by a basket of fiat currencies—but excludes the Chinese yuan. According to its backers, the project was created to facilitate international transactions without the friction of traditional banking systems.
That idea is evidently one that China doesn’t like, and Chinese officials have openly said that Facebook’s strategy with Libra could help to further establish the U.S. dollar’s dominance in the global market, which is why the country has opted to pick up the pace with its digital currency.
"If the digital currency is closely associated with the U.S. dollar, it could create a scenario under which sovereign currencies would coexist with U.S. dollar-centric digital currencies. But there would be, in essence, one boss, that is the U.S. dollar and the United States,” Wang Xin, director of the People's Bank of China (PBOC)'s research bureau, said during a conference covered by the South China Morning Post.
“If so, it would bring a series of economic, financial and even international political consequences," Xin said.
To counter this scenario, China decided to accelerate its five-year research effort into creating its own digital currency, a Libra “clone.”
The idea is for the Chinese government to create a centralized digital currency that is not subject to restrictions, or even attempts at censorship, by third parties such as Swift or rival governments. The token would be compatible with payment methods commonly used in China, such as Alipay and WeChat Pay, and could be ready for testing as soon as this year.
Which is more than can be said for Libra.