Today multiple news outlets reported that the state-owned Agricultural Bank of China (ABC) enabled ATMs to support China’s digital RMB trials, including for deposits and withdrawals. The functionality being trialed for the digital yuan or eCNY is gradually expanding, and various tests have included offline payments, wearable devices and card-based wallets. And outlets supporting the digital RMB have expanded beyond restaurants and stores to include mobile phone top-up and metro card payments.
In Shenzhen, China is currently conducting its third mass digital RMB giveaway of 200 yuan ($31) to 100,000 people. Shenzhen was also the location of the first giveaway to 50,000 people in October, with the second following in December in Suzhou for 100,000 citizens.
ABC has launched a digital renminbi innovation lab, where it developed the ATM functionality. Fellow state-owned China Construction Bank also established a “Product Innovation Laboratory (Shenzhen)”.
Reporters highlighted that there was far broader support at consumer outlets for the digital RMB trials compared to the first Shenzhen test.
As noted last week, including the latest mass Shenzhen trials, there have been five separate reports of tests since Christmas. However, one of them has since been classed as a very narrow test in a Beijing building housing the Digital Currency Research Institute, part of the People’s Bank of China. This was for the purchase of coffee in Beijing, not currently a major testing hub.
However, Beijing is the host of the 2022 Winter Olympics, which is a designated digital currency trial zone. It recently tested metro card payments and wearable devices and will allow tourists to take advantage of the digital currency in 2022.
Meanwhile, the former head of the People’s Bank of China says the digital yuan is not a central bank digital currency (CBDC) because it is a liability of the commercial bank.