Per a report by VOA News, Alibaba Group’s affiliate Ant Group has signed a partnership with the People’s Bank of China. The partners will work to build a platform for the country’s central bank digital currency (CBDC). VOA quotes the Chinese state media Global Times.
The Digital Yuan, also know as Digital Renminbi or e-CNY, the development will be “jointly promote” by the partners and will be based on Alibaba’s affiliate. The Global Times revealed that banking institutions have worked with Ant and the multinational Chinese conglomerate Tencent for over 3 years. Together they have co-develop the Digital Yuan.
Ant and Tencent have gone through a lot of scrutinies by China’s government. However, this has not prevented them to work on the project. VOA claims that the People’s Bank of China requires assistance to build the CBDC’s infrastructure and its distribution channels. China expects the e-CNY to be used in local retail payments and later to be adopted by foreign countries.
Francis Lun, CEO of Geo Securities, told VOA that Alibaba’s affiliate was ordered by Chinese authorities to submit their database. Ant is one of China’s largest payment providers and has control of over 54% of the countries e-payment market, per data shared in the report. The company offered to assist, but the government refused for concerns about a potential “conflict of interests”. Lun said:
The Chinese authorities are telling Ant that you should hand over your big data to the central bank. The data won’t remain in private hands since the Communist Party is the boss.
The Digital Yuan To Be Nothing Like Bitcoin
Authorities on the People’s Bank of China have said their CBDC will have unique features. According to the VOA report, the digital Yuan will be a tool for government surveillance. He compared China’s e-CNY with George Orwell’s classic “1984”, a complete opposite of Bitcoin.
The digital currency will allow China to track all transactions and it will be part of an attempt to carry out a “de-dollarization” of the international financial system. However, the distribution phase will be critical for the long-term survival of the CBDC. Lin told VOA the following:
By collaborating with the central bank [to launch the e-CNY], these fintech giants will be relieved from pressure in the regulator’s anti-monopoly probe. Their monopoly is hard to break up unless there emerges a competitor as strong as the e-CNY to take up at least one-third of the market shares.
Via her Twitter account Dovey Wan, founder partner at Primitive Crypto, shared an image with the digital Yuan’s (RMB/DECP, Digital Currency/Electronic Payment) wallet. Still in its test phase, the wallet will allow users to send and receive money with a simple swipe up or down. Wan said:
This is a beta now being tested in Shenzhen, some municipal payment and public economic activity will be first adopted, then merchant adoption. China is really good at deploying new tech infra at large scale, this wont be exception.