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China’s virtual currency will ‘definitely’ be rolled out within a year

As the US dithers over Libra, China will storm ahead with its digital RMB in the "next six to 12 months", according to a local blockchain venture capitalist

China’s enthusiasm over blockchain technology doesn’t appear to be waning. While it’s clear the country wants nothing to do with Bitcoin, it is going full steam ahead on launching its state-backed digital RMB in the next six to 12 months.

In a televised interview yesterday, Edith Cheung, a local blockchain venture capitalist, technology executive, and the creator of the China Internet Report, told CNBC that China will “definitely” be ready to roll out its digital currency within the year.

She said that the Chinese government has been very “thoughtful” about it and that research into how to implement a digital RMB has been underway “for the last five years”.

Now the authorities are accelerating their efforts and looking at how to roll the digital currency out through different entities. These include the Bank of China and social media and tech giants such as Alipay and WeChat Pay in an effort to target everyday people.

A digitised national currency will likely gain rapid adoption in a country whose citizens already use their phones to make payments for just about everything from public transport to groceries.

Foreign powers need to develop a response to the digital RMB fast

According to Cheung, the Chinese yuan will become a serious threat to the US dollar amid increasing adoption of the digital RMB.

“I really think the United States needs to hurry up, to have a strong thinking and policy, at least a direction for virtual USD,” she said.

If the US fails to do this, Cheung warned, the USD could quickly lose its global dominance as a world currency and be replaced with a digital RMB.

When questioned about President Xi Jinping’s plans for blockchain technology versus the US, she shrugged:

“China is built by engineers and US is built by lawyers.”

New use cases for blockchain are coming out of China daily, with universities and local governments ramping up investment in blockchain technologies.

Cheung also said that large companies such as Tencent and Alibaba are looking at deploying blockchain technology at the core of their businesses.

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