Former People’s Bank of China Director Yao Qian says that the country’s digital yuan is not a surveillance tool for the government, but a way to counter Alipay-like digital payment platforms owned by private conglomerates. 

Fast Facts: 

  • Speaking at the International Finance Forum in Beijing yesterday, Qian said that to fully benefit from being digital, the digital yuan needed to move toward being a “smart currency” by making use of smart contracts, according to a report by Sina Finance. Qian cited efforts by the European Central Bank, the Bank of Japan and the Bank of Canada as examples of how to work on smart contract-based digital currencies.
  • Qian reportedly said that China’s digital yuan was conceived to counter the growing prevalence of private payment platforms, making an obvious reference to the ubiquitous payment service Alipay.
  • Last month, China’s State Administration for Market Regulation imposed a US$2.8 billion fine on Alibaba following an antitrust investigation into the e-commerce platform in late 2020.