SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China’s central-bank digital currency is little used, a former official of the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) said on Wednesday, financial news outlet Caixin reported.
Expressing disappointment with the result of a trial in select provinces and cities, the former official, Xie Ping, told a conference that application of the so-called digital yuan needed to be widened.
“The cumulative circulation of the digital yuan in the two years of the trial has been only 100 billion yuan ($14 billion),” he said. The figure showed that “usage has been low, highly inactive.”
“The results are not ideal,” Xie, a former PBOC director-general of research, said at the conference on digital finance held by Tsinghua University, according to Caixin.
Central bank digital currencies are digital tokens, similar to cryptocurrencies, issued by central banks. China has been a leader among several countries that are developing the new means of exchange.
“What needs to change is the digital yuan acting only as a substitute for cash and only for consumption,” Xie said.
“Cash, bank cards and China’s third-party payment mechanisms have formed a payment market structure that has met needs for daily consumption,” he said. “The common people are used to it, and changing it is difficult.”
Digital-yuan business had no synergistic effect and no commercial benefits in banks’ business, he said. Meanwhile, third-party payment systems, such as Alibaba Group’s Alipay, offered a more attractive range of functions, such as investment, insurance and consumer lending.
To address the problem, usage of the digital yuan could be expanded – for example, by letting individuals buy financial products with it, Xie said. Also, it could be connected with more payment platforms, to move into more consumption situations.
($1 = 6.9691 Chinese yuan renminbi)
(Reporting by Jason Xue and Brenda Goh; Editing by Bradley Perrett)