Preparations for using the pilot digital RMB are ramping up, with the winter Olympics in Beijing starting two weeks today. The central bank digital currency (CBDC) pilot will be in action at the games for both local citizens and visitors. In a recent event, the central bank shared the latest statistics showing the number of personal wallets has increased 84% during the two months ending December 31 2021.
There’s a question mark about how many foreigners will use the digital yuan. Several countries recommend that visitors leave their phones at home over fears of electronic snooping in China. They include the U.S., UK, Netherlands, Australia and Canada. Some Olympic committees are issuing burner phones to athletes. Even if people don’t want to use a phone, the digital currency is also available on prepaid debit cards.
Regarding the latest transaction figures, while digital RMB wallets have increased by 84% to 261 million, the total value of transactions rose to 87.565 billion yuan ($13.8 billion), a much slower growth of 41%. This implies that either the transaction values have declined, or there’s inactivity from a large number of wallets created as a result of free digital yuan giveaways.
|June 21||Oct 21||Dec 21|
|Transaction value||RMB 34.5 bn ($5.4bn)||RMB 62 bn ($9.7bn)||RMB 87.6 bn ($13.8bn)|
|Average transaction value||RMB 488||RMB 413||unavailable|
Meanwhile, digital yuan pilots continue. The online shopping portal JD.com has rolled out two new features. From today users can make payments with digital RMB hardware wallets. Most users store the digital currency in a wallet on their phones, but smart debit cards also act as hardware wallets. If one wants to make an online purchase from JD.com, apart from using their mobile wallet, customers can now use their phone to scan a digital yuan card using NFC technology to make payments.
Last week JD.com rolled out another set of functionality enabling its third party merchants to receive digital yuan. The digital currency wallet tries to limit tracking by online merchants by creating a sub wallet for each merchant. That means even if the same wallet is used at several outlets, the data cannot be cross linked.