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McDonalds and Starbucks Won’t Feature in China’s CBDC Tests 

China’s Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) is moving ahead in full swing, with the country making progress with tests across several regions. However, the country’s testing technique appears to be excluding some of its food industry giants. 

Small-Scale Transactions Only 

Local news source Sina Finance reported that McDonalds and Starbucks, two of the largest food retail companies in the country, had been excluded from testing operations for the digital Yuan. The news report explained that the asset’s trials are only on a small scale, and that the two firms weren’t operating on a compatible level.  

China’s government has been operating tests on the digital yuan since April. In that time, news sources have provided rumors on companies being included in the tests. Xiong’an, one of the top countries piloting the asset, reportedly had 19 companies involved in the pilot. These companies reportedly include Subway, McDonald’s, Starbucks, and Unmanned Automated Supermarket – a cloud project from the Chinese financial services company UnionPay.  

However, as Sina Finance has confirmed, none of these companies have participated in the tests so far. Instead, they still only accept digital payments using QuickPass, AliPay, and WeChat Pay. The firms themselves haven’t released any statements concerning the project, putting their participation in doubt. 

Tests Kick Into High Gear 

Despite the lack of participation from some of the country’s largest firms, the digital yuan tests have continued in full swing. Last week, Sina Finance reported that the Luohu District in Shenzhen had started a program where it sent 10 million units of the asset (worth about $1.5 million) to about 50,000 people via a lottery. 

The program aims to promote the asset and test it simultaneously, with winners able to spend the digital yuan at any of the city’s 3,500-plus outlets between October 12 and 18. Once the date passes, the government has committed to reclaiming control of all units not spent. 

Yesterday, local news source Economic Information Daily reported that Shenzhen’s gas stations had also begun accepting the asset. The news medium confirmed that 11 gas stations had been integrated into the testing program, with more set to join in the coming days. 

The gas station initiative started on Tuesday and is the brainchild of Guangdong Petroleum, a state-owned petroleum organization. All participating stations have been fitted with barcode readers, with citizens able to make easy, quick, and secure payments. The digital yuan uses dual offline technology, ensuring that citizens can use it even without access to phone signals. 

Guangdong Petroleum has confirmed that reviews have been positive so far. Citizens have reported that the transactions were quick, and that the digital yuan was easy to use. Buoyed by these reviews, the company plans to expand the initiative to 110 self-operated gas stations before the end of the month. 

Fan Yifei, a Deputy Governor at the Peoples’ Bank of China, also told news sources earlier this month that digital yuan wallets had processed 1.1 billion renminbi ($162 million) in transactions between April and August. With such progress on the asset, there’s a high probability of launching in the next year or two.

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