Patents reveal extent of China’s digital currency plans

Patents reveal extent of China’s digital currency plans

The People’s Bank of China has filed more than 80 patents related to its secretive plans to launch a digital currency, according to new research that shows the extent of Beijing’s ambitions to digitise the renminbi.

The patents, seen and verified by the Financial Times, include proposals related to the issuance and supply of a central bank digital currency, a system for interbank settlements that uses the currency, and the integration of digital currency wallets into existing retail bank accounts.

Uncovered by the Chamber of Digital Commerce, their contents shed light on Beijing’s mounting efforts to digitise the renminbi, which has sparked alarm in the west and spurred central bankers around the world to begin exploring similar projects. 

“The theme is that China has made massive investments and are taking this very seriously,” said Perianne Boring, president of the chamber. “That is drastically different from the United States’ approach and this just highlights that.” 

In 2014, China launched a project dubbed DC/EP — or Digital Currency/Electronic Payments — with the aim of partially digitising China’s existing monetary base, or cash in circulation.