Over 140 million people have digital yuan accounts, says PBoC head

China’s trials with central bank digital currency (CBDC) show no signs of slowing down, as the updated numbers for October 2021 were revealed at Hong Kong Fintech Week.

Set out to replace cash in day-to-day transactions, the digital yuan (e-CNY) is gaining traction among individuals and corporates alike, according to the People’s Bank of China’s (PBoC) Digital Currency Institute head Mu Changchun. Speaking at the conference on Wednesday, Mu said the number of individual digital yuan accounts hit 140 million, while corporates created another 10 million accounts.

While the official launch date is still unclear for the e-CNY, China has continued to expand the rollout of trials to more than a dozen regions. With a wide range of merchants from utilities, catering services and transportation to retail and government services accepting the CBDC, people spent 62 billion yuan ($9.7 billion) using e-CNY wallets as of October 2021, Reuters reports.

The PBoC executive also detailed different types of e-CNY wallets. The base wallet with an annual transaction cap of 50,000 yuan ($7,800) only requires a phone number to activate. If users want to open an e-CNY wallet for unlimited transactions, they need to go to a bank counter with personal identification.

Related: French central bank pilots blockchain-based CBDC for debt market

China is looking to replace cash payments completely with the digital yuan, and the country has been continuing its extensive trials in major cities since April 2020. China’s CBDC is controlled, tracked and registered on smartphone apps by the Chinese government.

One year ago, during the same conference, PBoC Governor Yi Gang said the digital yuan pilot saw 2 billion yuan ($299 million) spent by people in 4 million transactions across four cities. Last year’s numbers mean the e-CNY saw a 3,000% increase in transaction volume in 12 months thanks to the geographically expanded trials and rising popularity of CBDCs.

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