MYbank, a digital bank affiliated with Ant Group, has been designated as one of the financial institutions that will operate the digital yuan in China, placing it among the ranks of six state-backed banks, 21st Century Business Herald reported on Tuesday.
“As one of the participants in the e-CNY trials, Ant Group’s associate MYbank will steadily advance the trials pursuant to the overall arrangement of the People’s Bank of China (PBOC). Ant Group, together with MYbank, will also continue to support the research, development, and trials of the PBOC’s e-CNY,” an Ant Group spokesperson told KrASIA.
Ant Group holds a 30% stake in MYbank, whose services are available through Alipay.
This latest shift in status was marked by a color change from gray to green of MYbank’s icon within the digital yuan app. WeBank, for which Tencent is a key investor, still has a gray icon in the app.
The digital yuan app is not available for download through app stores. Instead, it is issued to groups of people for trial programs. These include residents and enterprises in Shanghai that have applied to participate in test runs. For some users, the app was locked after their trial period was over.
For now, MYBank’s digital yuan wallet, which is accessible in the digital yuan app, only lets users check their account balance. As a comparison, wallets provided by the six state-backed banks feature services such as payments and money transfers, according to 21st Century Business Herald.
China adopts a double-layer operational system for the digital yuan. The PBOC is in charge of top-level design, standard formulation, and function development, while commercial banks provide customer-facing services to individuals and companies.
WeChat Pay and Alipay also serve as wallets for digital yuan, said Mu Changchun, leader of the PBOC’s digital yuan research center, at the Bund Summit last October. He dispelled the notion that the two popular payment options were competing with the central bank.
When the digital yuan is issued at mass scale, Mu said, users will be able to load it into WeChat Pay and Alipay’s e-wallets, just like transfers from bank balances.