People in China have conducted roughly 20,000 transactions through e-commerce company JD.com in a trial of the country’s digital yuan.
According to local media outlet Global Times, JD.com reported that 80% of participants born in the 1980s and 1990s used the platform to conduct transactions in the digital currency starting on Friday evening, with at least one transaction larger than $1,527.
The e-commerce site also reported the numbers as the city of Suzhou conducted a real-world trial for digital yuan at the “Double Twelve” shopping festival, in which 10,000 physical storefront locations participated.
The trial in Suzhou is one of many that may be conducted across China to test use cases for the central bank digital currency. The city’s municipal government reportedly gave away roughly 100,000 “red envelopes” — a traditional method of presenting gifts in China — containing $3 million in digital yuan in a lottery for residents. In October, the city of Shenzhen launched a similar pilot program to promote the digital currency with a public giveaway of $1.5 million to 50,000 lottery winners.
"In 2021, China will continue to look for more scenarios to test the digital yuan, but an extensive launch is still unlikely," said Cao Yin, managing director of the Digital Renaissance Foundation in Shanghai. He added that the Chinese government would likely continue controlled trials until officials are certain the digital currency can be safely issued:
“We have only ourselves to compete with on this matter, and there's no need to rush it.”
The People’s Bank of China launched the pilot programs for its digital yuan in April in Shenzhen, Chengdu, Suzhou and Xiongan. As of November, the programs had reportedly processed more than 4 million transactions, totaling roughly $300 million.
Since launching the digital yuan trials, the central bank has announced it would expand the number of testing cities to include Beijing and Tianjin as well as the surrounding province of Hebei. Cointelegraph reported in August that the bank may launch the digital currency before the 2022 Winter Olympic Games, scheduled to be held in Beijing that February.