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China and the race for the future of money

March 1, 2021

Pingyao, in Shanxi province, was once the financial centre of Imperial China—the birthplace of banks that led the world in remittances and settlements using “tickets” that were a sort of tokenised legal tender. The People’s Bank of China honoured Pingyao, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in 2019, with a set of silver and gold commemorative coins. Even as it honours the past, though, China is focused squarely on the financial future. In 2020, the country began testing a digital renminbi (RMB), which could have revolutionary implications for the future of money. Although a virtual RMB probably hasn’t blipped on many CEO radar screens, particularly given the disruptive effects of the pandemic, it’s time to start tracking how the financial environment could shift.

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