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Crypto Alert: China Offers Pilot Wallet App for Digital Yuan

In China's new app, available via Apple and Google Android stores, users can create a wallet for digital yuan and spend them.
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China’s central bank has issued pilot versions of its wallet application for the digital yuan, as the government continues to develop its official digital currency.

The app is called e-CNY, the nickname for the digital yuan. It’s available for download in Chinese Android  (GOOGL) - Get Alphabet Inc. Class A Report and Apple  (AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. Report app stores. In the app, users can create a wallet for digital yuan and spend them.

The app is still in a development period and can be accessed only by certain users through institutions that offer digital yuan services, including major Chinese banks, Reuters reports.

It’s available in 10 areas, including Beijing and Shanghai. That includes “Beijing Winter Olympics areas,” CNBC reports. The games begin Feb. 4.

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China has been working on a digital yuan for eight years. The government has conducted some local lotteries in which users were given small quantities to spend.

And over the past year the currency has been accepted for payment at some retail businesses, such as e-commerce titan JD.com  (JD) - Get JD.com Inc. Report. It hasn’t been introduced nationally yet.

The new e-CNY app will have a tough time dislodging China’s two primary existing digital payment apps: Ant Group’s Alipay and Tencent’s WeChat, CNBC says.

As for possible U.S. efforts on an official digital currency, the Federal Reserve, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency issued a statement in November summarizing their interagency "policy sprints" related to crypto assets.

“Agency staff focused on quickly advancing and building on the agencies’ combined knowledge and understanding related to banking organizations’ potential involvement in crypto-asset-related activities,” the statement said.