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China’s Central Bank Discreetly Opens a Digital Currency ‘Research Institute’

Last Updated March 4, 2021 4:57 PM
Samburaj Das
Last Updated March 4, 2021 4:57 PM

The People’s Bank of China – the country’s central bank, financial regulator and watchdog – has opened a new research lab centered on the development and research of digital currencies.

After issuing a recruiting call to blockchain engineers and experts in November 2016, China’s central bank has now established an exclusive workspace toward the development of its own digital currency. According to a local report, the ‘People’s Bank of China Digital Currency Institute’ is located on the 9th floor of the Desheng International Center’s Building C in Beijing.

Significantly, the same building also hosts the offices of the state-owned China Banknote Printing and Minting Corporation. The government body is notably tasked to the minting and printing of renminbi coins and banknotes. As CCN.com reported in May, the Royal Chinese is notably experimenting with a digital yuan token using Ethereum smart contracts.

The newly created PBOC Digital Currency Institute will be headed by Yao Qian, former deputy director of the central bank’s science and technology department. Qian will oversee the newly formed research lab’s seven departments, each with its own divisions. Few details are known about the lab’s departments presently.

China’s central bank is arguably leading the most noteworthy, high-profile effort toward a central bank-issued digital currency. The PBOC engaged experts from the likes of Citibank and Deloitte before publicly revealing its research efforts in early 2016. At the time, an official public release by the central bank underlined its effort to ‘introduce a digital currency as soon as possible.’

Earlier in November, the central bank issued a public recruiting call, offering six positions for the development and design of both software and hardware frameworks toward a digital currency. Experience in big data, blockchain development, cryptography and systems design were particularly highlighted.

An early trial proved successful, with the PBOC transacting its own digital currency over a blockchain in late 2016. The permissioned blockchain saw participants in a number of major Chinese banks – both state-owned and private – hinting toward a sweeping adoption of the digital currency at some point in the future.

Featured image of yuan coins from Shutterstock.