Today a report in Sina identified more than 20 companies involved in China’s central bank digital currency project (CBDC). While only eight firms were originally announced as members of the digital renminbi project (DC/EP), the involvement of others has been confirmed by several of these companies and, in most cases, is more than speculation.
The original participants are the four state-owned banks, the big three telecoms companies and Huawei, which signed a cloud hosting deal with the People’s Bank of China.
|Companies involved in China’s DC/EP|
|Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC)||Bank|
|China Construction Bank||Bank|
|Agricultural Bank of China||Bank|
|Bank of China||Bank|
|Shenzhen Sunline Tech (Everbirght)||Bank support (core)|
|Nations Technologies||Cards and POS|
|Brilliance Technology||Cards and POS|
|Tencent (owns WeChat Pay)||Payment|
|Guangzhou Yuyin Technology (KingTelller)||ATM|
Companies supporting the banks
The banks need to rely on the technology providers for part of the work. Shenzhen Sunline Tech, also sometimes referred to as Everbright, serves numerous banking customers with core banking systems and digital banking. This week the company confirmed it was preparing systems for the central bank digital currency.
Nations Technologies develops smart banking (IC) cards and point of sale card processing devices. It also produces hardware microprocessors for cryptography. Another firm, Brilliance Technology, develops IC bank cards and POS card processors.
Feitian Technologies has applied for multiple patents for wallets and previously produced a hardware wallet. In December, it started working with state company China Banknotes Credit Card Industry Development, which provides physical credit cards and is affiliated with the Chinese Mint. The state organization also lists its activities as including blockchain, digital currency, electronic money, and electronic payment services.
Another company is Kelan Software, which produces a broad range of financial solutions, including IC cards and payment gateways. It also has a mobile wallet system. This month the firm stated it was involved in wallet support for digital currency. Given its client base includes three of the big four banks, and the government’s ban on private currencies, that’s likely to be DC/EP.
A third company mentioned is Netac Technology, which has also applied for patents, including for a cold wallet (offline). It produces flash drives and storage cards.
Payments and ATMs
One of the features of DC/EP will be its ability to work offline, or person to person. Tencent, which owns WeChat Pay, has publicly stated it is preparing for digital assets. For the moment, it appears to have a closer relationship with the government (compared to AliPay).
Sifang Jingchuang is a fintech. It has a “LEGO” banking solution for smart loans, smart deposits, and smart money. In conjunction with Huawei, it launched a distributed open banking services. The company says it has expertise in encrypted digital assets and digital currency. And it expressly stated it will contribute “to the development of the national digital currency industry.” It also applied for a patent relating to wallet private key management.
Aoma Electric, one of the country’s largest fridge manufacturers, revealed it participated in an early CBDC prototype. In late 2019 in response to investor questions, it confirmed there is a subsidiary, Digital Qianyuan Technology, participating in digital currency and blockchain technology. The parent company applied for patents in 2018, including for “digital currency-based virtual credit card transaction methods and systems”.
Lakala is a third-party payment company licensed by the central bank. It may be involved with linking digital currency payments with the central bank.
Three ATM manufacturers either have stated they are working on digital currencies or have applied for patents: Guangzhou Yuyin Technology, GRG Banking and Julong.
Finally, the system will require some monitoring, and in August 2019 Chenming Paper contracted with the Beijing Municipal Bureau to monitor digital currency transactions.
While the links for a few of these companies appears a little speculative, most of the information appears solid.