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China's Digital Currency Pilot Expands to More Cities


China’s national bank, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), is expanding its program to test a digital yuan. 

In an early-April statement, PBOC announced it would continue to research and promote the use of the e-CNY, or digital yuan, and expand the scope of the current pilot program. The country is also adding more cities to the project throughout 2022. 

According to Reuters (link), six cities in the coastal Zhejiang province will be added to the list of cities testing the use of the e-CNY, in addition to Tianjin, Chongqing, Guangzhou, Fuzhou, Xiamen. Ten cities in China are already a part of the project: Shenzhen, Shanghai, Suzhou, Xiong’an, Chengdu, Hainan, Changsha, Xi’an, Qingdao, and Dalian. The Chinese government most recently tested the e-CNY during the recent 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, where patrons could only use three forms of payment: China’s yuan currency, the e-CNY, and Visa cards. 

Since its introduction, the digital yuan has accrued more than 87.57 billion yuan ($13 billion USD) in transactions. The digital currency is also reported to have more than 261 million users as of the end of 2021, an increase of more than 200 million users since June of the same year. Analysts speculate that the government’s endorsement of the e-CNY and expansion of the pilot program will encourage greater use of the coin. 

First of Its Kind 

China first announced that PBOC was researching a digital form of the Chinese Yuan in 2017. The digital yuan is considered the first major central bank digital currency (CBDC) by a world power. The e-CNY differs from cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum, however. According to a research report on China’s growing digital footprint generated by Stanford University, the e-CNY does not operate on a blockchain ledger and, therefore, should not be considered a cryptocurrency. Instead, China’s central bank issues, supervises, and manages the digital coin, distinguishing it from decentralized, blockchain-based currency. 

Broader Adoption to Come

China’s development of a CBDC could help usher in momentum that would see more of the world’s economic powers develop a digital currency of their own. Oddly enough, the Chinese government banned Bitcoin mining and cryptocurrency in mid-2021, citing concerns about the environment and crypto’s alleged use as a haven for money laundering. However, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies can be mined with renewable energy like solar power. A report by Chainanalysis, a blockchain data platform, showed that less than 0.15% (link) of all crypto transactions in 2021 were tied to illegal activity. Bitcoin Depot maintains strict compliance measures that help prevent fraud which includes monitoring potentially suspicious transactions and filing mandatory reports in accordance with U.S. laws.   

Still, more governments worldwide are expected to explore the use of cryptocurrency in 2022. The CEO of Bitcoin Depot, Brandon Mintz, stated in a late 2021 interview (link), “Crypto allows a better way to transfer money, make purchases, store wealth, and conduct business than any other financial system in the world. Its underlying technology will be the backbone of our future economy like the internet has been to this day.” Both the United States (link) and United Kingdom (link) recently announced government initiatives to study the role of cryptocurrency and decentralized finance in the growth, sustainability, and future of domestic and future financial markets. Cryptocurrency has also played a significant role in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. To date, Ukraine has received more than $70 million in donations from crypto users around the world, which the country’s government is using to purchase military gear and support humanitarian efforts. 

The United States is widely seen as the most crypto-ready country globally, with more than 32,000 cryptocurrency ATMs installed throughout the nation. Bitcoin Depot operates over 7,000 (link) ATMs throughout North America. By comparison, China’s count of crypto ATMs (link) is estimated to be less than 150. 

Right now, you can stop by any of our bitcoin ATM machines to buy your own digital currency just like you would at a cash ATM. With over 7000+ locations (link) across the U.S. and Canada, it’s easy to find a Bitcoin Depot ATM to use wherever you are. If you’re new to crypto, check out our user guide and videos (link) to learn more. You can also download our mobile app on the App Store or Google Play to send, receive, and store crypto through your mobile device.

Follow us on Twitter @Bitcoin_Depot (link) or Instagram @bitcoindepot (link) for the latest news and updates about the crypto industry. 

April 28, 2022