Rumors are surfacing of an upcoming real-world test of the proposed Chinese digital yuan currency. According to Chinese publication Interchain Pulse, a promotion conference was held on April 22 in the city of Xiong’an, located close to Beijing.
Government agencies, digital currency developers and merchants participating in the upcoming pilot were invited.
The initiative is part of the Xiong’an Smart City program. It began on September 25, 2019 as an association of enterprises, higher education institutions, research institutes and technology companies. Its board of directors includes companies like Huawei, Tencent, Alibaba Group, Baidu and others.
The conference was thus joined by a variety of local government institutions, like the Xiong’an branch of the National Development and Reform Committee, which specializes in new technologies, as well as local branches of the People’s Bank of China, which developed the digital currency.
The proposed operators of the digital currency were also present. Heads from Ant Financial and Tencent were present, which are the companies responsible for Alipay and WeChat — currently the most widespread digital payment platforms.
Starbucks and McDonald’s
Finally, the conference included a variety of companies in the retail industry, especially food and beverage, which suggests that these will be the first merchants to test the digital yuan.
The list notably includes Starbucks and McDonald’s, as well as many catering companies, hotels, supermarkets, bookstores and baozi street food vendors.
Xiong’an is a new city that is heavily under construction, and it is planned to take some of functions of the capital. One of the companies involved with the pilot is Zhonghai SPV, a special-purpose entity that is working in the construction of the city. Interchain Pulse speculated that its employees will be the first to use the digital currency, as it is the only non-retail company at the conference.
Swift progress for the digital yuan
This seems to confirm previous rumors that the digital currency would be tested in Xiong’an. As Cointelegraph previously reported, four cities were apparently selected for the trials: Shenzhen, Chengdu, Suzhou and Xiong’an.
Leaked details about the Suzhou trial suggest that it will have a different nature from the one in Xiong’an. The digital yuan will be used to pay transport subsidies, with no clarity on how they will be able to spend that money.
As Cointelegraph reported in February, the coronavirus pandemic had put plans for the digital yuan on hold. As the country gradually returns to normalcy, the plans appear to have been revived.