China’s research into the launch of its own digital currency has reportedly been delayed over the coronavirus outbreak, which according to recent data has infected over 81,000 people worldwide and claimed the lives of 2,765.
According to the Global Times, an anonymous source close to the matter has detailed that the outbreak forced several government institutions to slow down. The source was quoted as saying:
The coronavirus outbreak has led to postponed work resumption in government institutions, including the People's Bank of China (PBC). Policymakers and research staff involved in the DCEP project are no exception, which weighs on the development process.
Commenting on the case the CEO of a Shenzhen-based blockchain firm involved in the launch of the digital currency, Shentu Qingchun, noted the People’s Bank of China, the country’s central bank, was expected to make an important announcement during Q1 of this year.
Qingchun added, however, there’s only a month left and as such “chances that the announcement could be made on time are slim.” The currency, called Digital Currency Electronic Payment (DCEP), is still being developed and officials are discussing scenarios in which it could circulate as cash.
The source noted that the digital currency could still be launched on time as the central bank has “abundant talent” that can help it deal with the delay in research. Per Shentu, since the DCEP is a digital currency it would help reduce hand-to-hand contact among individuals, which has helped the coronavirus outbreak spread. As such, policymakers could give the DCEP more attention.
The Global Times’ source added that research into the DCEP has “achieved fruitful results” and that it’s close to an end. The central bank’s research institute, per the report, has applied for 65 patents involving digital currencies, while its institute of printing science and technology has applied for 22.