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Tencent and Ant-backed banks are said to pilot China’s digital yuan

Two more commercial banks, this time backed by fintech giants Tencent and Ant Group, are said to trial China’s digital yuan.

Bloomberg reported the news on Monday, citing people familiar with the matter. Tencent-backed WeBank and Ant-backed MYbank will reportedly offer the same features as China’s state-owned commercial banks that piloted digital yuan.

In their tests, four state-owned commercial banks — the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, China Construction Bank, Agricultural Bank of China, and Bank of China — offered to activate digital yuan wallets to transfer money and make payments. Users of WeBank and MYbank will also be able to do the same.

WeBank and MYbank’s participation would mean the first time China’s private sector banks are entering the digital yuan trial space. Previously there were reports that China’s central bank would compete with Tencent and Ant’s payment apps, but later the central bank clarified that digital yuan wouldn’t compete with AliPay or WeChat Pay.

China’s increasing trials suggest that the country’s digital currency is becoming real by the day. China first began researching digital currencies over six years ago to cut the cost of circulating paper money and increase policymakers’ control over the money supply.

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