After nearly four years of experimentation, it appears that China’s central bank digital currency (CBDC) is moving toward a full-scale rollout following a change in mobile application terminology.

In early June, users of the mobile app observed that the term “Pilot” was removed from app stores in China in its name, fueling speculation of a commercial release. Pundits are predicting the official launch of the digital yuan after the name change, but conservative estimates point to a mid-2025 release.

Despite the speculation, the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) has yet to make an official announcement about the mainstreaming of CBDC, but local authorities have stepped up to provide clarity on the matter.

A statement attributed to Mobile Payment Network News said that the exclusion of the term “pilot” from the CBDC project is merely an attempt to meet the filing requirements of national authorities. According to the statement, eliminating the word “has no other extended meaning,” and measured studies will continue until the PBoC sets a date for a full-scale rollout.

The statement cited a 2023 notice from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, which urged app developers in mainland China to comply with registration requirements from local authorities.

There seems to be a general difference between local authorities whose laws define strict consistency in app names across app stores and mobile devices. In an effort to comply with the new listing rule, the CBDC will equally support “digital RMB” across all platforms.

“Therefore, the removal of ‘pilot version’ from the name of the Digital Renminbi app this time will not change the current Digital Renminbi pilot policy,” the statement read.

However, several analysts have poked holes in the statement on the grounds that there is no reason to drop the term “pilot” if the PBoC is eyeing an extension to the experimental period.

Since the launch of the pilots, the PBoC has tested the viability of the digital yuan in several sectors, including the transportation, retail, securities, and hospitality industries, with promising results.

Incentives to accelerate rollout

Chinese authorities have several reasons for accelerating the commercial launch of the CBDC after a four-year pilot that has seen the digital yuan permeate nearly every aspect of economic life in mainland China.

For starters, there is a need to remove the influence of the dollar with BRICS countries investigating the use of CBDCs to power cross-border transactions. Moving towards the rollout of the MCBDC project, participating countries may launch their own local CBDCs to improve the cross-border transaction environment within their jurisdictions.

China is trying to provide a measure of competition to private payment firms such as Alipay and WeChat Pay by launching and promoting the digital yuan to capture a share of the market.

To learn more about Central bank digital currencies And some design decisions to consider when creating and launching it, read on nChain’s CBDC Playbook.

See: Exploring ways to use CBDC outside of digital currencies

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