The People’s Bank of China, or PBoC, clarified that there is still “no timetable” on a formal digital yuan launch.

In an interview published earlier today on the central bank’s website, PBoC Governor Yi Gang was asked about the central bank digital currency’s official launch date, to which he replied:

"These tests are just routine work for the research and development (R&D) of the digital currency. No schedule for an official launch has been revealed.” 

The pilot test referenced by Gang has been carried out in the cities of Shenzhen, Suzhou, Xiongan new area, Chengdu and the future site of the winter Olympics.

Soon after the interview was published, the Global Times, a local state-controlled media outlet, ran an article suggesting that China may speed up the rollout of its CBDC to ward off potential financial threats from the United States and manage post-COVID-19 aid funding.

The newspaper’s recent article cites Cao Yin, co-founder of blockchain firm Digital Renaissance, saying:

“Although the U.S. hasn't put Chinese financial firms and institutions onto its Entity List, the U.S. may still pose widespread threats to Chinese institutions and impact the yuan's standing in international settlement. In this regard, China's state-run digital currency may be rolled out sooner than expected to counter a possible U.S. block.”

According to Cao, the central bank-controlled digital currency would allow the government to trace aid money and make sure it reaches the firms in need. As part of COVID-19 economic damage control, China reportedly aims to raise the deficit-to-GDP ratio to over 3.6% and propose a 2.5 trillion yuan ($353 billion) tax cut for corporations this year.

Digital yuan has been rumored to be ready for launch since 2019

In 2019, the development of the digital yuan project was reportedly accelerated due to the announcement of Facebook-backed cryptocurrency Libra. Already at that time, official sources claimed that the PBoC was almost ready to launch its CBDC.

As recently reported by Cointelegraph, the absence of an official timetable, coupled with regular reports confirming that the digital yuan project is being actively worked on, has already created space for digital yuan impersonators hoping to get a scoop.