PBOC wants ‘controllable anonymity’ in China’s digital currency

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China wants to balance functionality with concerns about anonymity as it works toward launching a digital version of the yuan, according to an official from the People’s Bank of China.

“The demand from the general public is to keep anonymity by using paper money or coins,” according to Mu Changchun, the director-general of the PBOC’s Institute of Digital Currency. “We are not seeking full control of information on the general public,” rather using “controllable anonymity” for “people who demand anonymity in their transactions. At the same time it will keep the balance” to allow for things like anti-money-laundering actions and combating the financing of terrorism.

China isn’t targeting capital markets or trade-financing centers with its digital currency plans at this time, Mu said, speaking on a panel at the Singapore FinTech Festival on Tuesday. Those things may happen some time in the future, he said, “but it’s far away from us.”

The PBOC is poised to become the first major central bank to issue a digital version of its currency. According to new patents registered by the PBOC and official speeches, it could work something like this: Consumers and businesses would download a digital wallet on their mobile phone and load the digital cash from their account at a commercial bank -- similar to going to an ATM. They then use that like cash to make and receive payments with anyone else who also has a digital wallet.

Bloomberg News
Cryptocurrencies Digital payments China