If you’re involved with crypto, it’s pretty unlikely that you’ve missed the fact that China is a major hub for digital assets. Sure – the Beijing government has relentlessly restricted their use, but they’re starting to come around.
Now, reports have shown that the Agricultural Bank of China – one of the largest financial institutions in the country – has started testing a national cryptocurrency. That’s right – even amid COVID-19, China didn’t forget about crypto.
Will China finally roll out its digital asset?
It’s pretty widely known that the People’s Bank of China (essentially a central bank) has been building its own digital asset. In fact, they’ve been launching job offerings for engineers to work on it for years now.
According to a report from 14 March from BlockBeats, a Chinese blockchain media website, there’s a new app in the works from the Agricultural Bank of China.
Images of a beta version of an app leaked on WeChat, brandishing the logos of the Agricultural Bank of China. They haven’t been fully translated, however “DC” is set on the homepage – likely referencing the name given to China’s state digital currency project – Digital Currency Electronic Payment (DC/EP).
China’s digital asset app can already be downloaded by select few
Matthew Graham, CEO of Sino Global Capital, noted that the app can already be downloaded – but only by those who have been whitelisted by Beijing. He mentioned that it’s currently only available in Shenzhen, Xiongan, Chengdu, and Suzhou.
While some are wondering whether this project can be verified, it’s common knowledge that China’s national cryptocurrency has been in the works for years.
Why shouldn’t they launch now? A December report shows that Caijing suggested the app be piloted at the beginning of 2020, but that was likely delayed as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. So, even amid COVID-19, China didn’t forget about crypto.
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DC/EP original pics, installation and interface*
Direct link for installation: https://t.co/6WGFstyMAe
*need to be on whitelist to register
**not sure if geofenced pic.twitter.com/sN7oa9P94F
— Matthew Graham (@mattysino) April 14, 2020
Beijing’s timing is impeccable
The Bank of International Settlements argued that China’s timing for this beta launch really couldn’t get better. In a bulletin published on 3 April, the BIS wrote that the COVID-19 pandemic had sped up the public’s dislike of cash:
“Resilient and accessible central bank operated payment infrastructures could quickly become more prominent, including retail central bank digital currencies (CBDCs).
The pandemic may hence put calls for CBDCs into sharper focus, highlighting the value of having access to diverse means of payments, and the need for any means of payments to be resilient against a broad range of threats.”
COVID-19 isn’t stopping China from launching its own digital currency
A recent story if Forbes states:
In China, the search engine Baidu has seen a rise in searches for “bitcoin”—up 183% over the past thirty days, according to local reports.
Google searches for bitcoin spiked ahead of the traditional and crypto market crash, more than doubling from the start of the month.
Meanwhile, many bitcoin and crypto exchanges have reported a surge in users and trading volumes.
From the leaked photos of the app, we can see that even amid COVID-19, China hasn’t forgotten about crypto. In fact, now might just be the perfect time to launch the digital asset, considering that global distaste towards cash has grown during the pandemic (in fact, many governments are encouraging people not to handle cash).
It’s likely that the 2019 Novel Coronavirus has slowed Beijing down a bit, but perhaps we could expect to see the launch of the digital yuan this year.