In brief:

  • China has confirmed the test pilot of its central bank digital currency.
  • The digital Yuan is being tested in four cities so far.
  • The aim is to have it prepared for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

The People's Bank of China (PBoC) has officially confirmed the pilot of its central bank digital currency (CBDC). Rolled out across four cities so far, its broader aim is to ready the digital Yuan for use in the 2022 Winter Olympics, held in Beijing. 

Tests to improve the functionality of the digital Yuan are already underway in Shenzhen, Suzhou, Chengdu, and Xiong'an, China's central bank told the Wall Street Journal Monday.  This confirms previous reports that the novel currency, dubbed ‘digital currency/electronic payment’ (DC/EP)—had moved into public beta

Digital Yuan set for 2022 Winter Olympics 

The trial is apparently prepping the DC/EP for use at the 2022 Winter Olympics, meaning that an official launch could be close at hand. 

As reported by Decrypt, initial tests for the DC/EP will involve supplementing half of civil servants' transport subsidies with the digital Yuan. Government workers have already been asked to install a digital wallet on their smartphones, a source told the WSJ. 

Matthew Graham, CEO of Sino Global Capital, was among the first to leak images of what appears to be the DC/EP wallet. 

Decrypt reached out to Graham at the time, who opined that the app was fairly sophisticated. "First impression is that the app looks slick, it's a pro job in the Silicon Valley tech sense," he noted.

As for a nationwide launch, the PBoC remains characteristically tight-lipped. However, if its plans regarding the Winter Olympics are anything to go by, China could well be on track to releasing the world's first retail CBDC.