07:23 GMT07 March 2021
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    Beijing joined the nation's e-CNY (e-yuan) initiative after Shenzhen, Suzhou and Guangdong entered the pilot programme in recent months, and is widely seen as a major step towards creating a sovereign cryptocurrency, Chinese media reported on Monday.

    China has begun trialling its digital yuan with 200 yuan ($31 USD) packets in Beijing, China Daily reported, citing a notice from the Beijing Local Financial Supervision and Administration.

    The capital issued 10m yuan ($1.47m) of the digital currency, expanding the full programme to over 100m yuan, the report read.

    The traditional 'red packet', or hong-bao (红包) was dispersed via a random draw and allows recipients to pay via specific apps or with digital wallets, namely for restaurants in stores in Beijing's Wangfujing shopping districts.

    Shoppers can also pay for items online via e-commerce platform JD, the notice said, adding the trial was valid from 10 to 17 February. Beijing will also expand the e-yuan at the 2022 Winter Olympics.

    According to the report, major banks such as the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), Bank of China (BoC), China Construction Bank (CCB), Agricultural Bank of China (ABC) and others have joined the pilot programme.

    Nine institutions have been designated to build digital wallets and fintech applications, the report added, citing experts familiar with the People's Bank of China's (PBoC) digital currency institute.

    The Shenzhen local government tested the new currency in October with a similar 10m yuan rollout programme, issuing 50,000 red packets for purchases in Shehzhen's iconic Luohu shopping district.

    According to an exclusive report from the Center for Innovating the Future, a major Toronto-based consultancy on tech geopolitics, such blockchain technologies are facilitating digital currency rollouts to "boost economies, build new geopolitical edge or enhance political processes by boosting transparency and accountability".



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