Licensed online banks belonging to Tencent and Ant Group will reportedly take part in digital yuan pilot tests, while another bank is developing a biometric hardware wallet for the digital currency. Geely, one of China’s largest automakers, is entering the blockchain space, and a Chinese tea company pivoted to crypto mining.

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The world of blockchain moves fast, and nowhere does it move faster than China. Here’s what you need to know about China’s block-world in the week of Feb. 16-22.

Digital yuan progress

  • Tencent’s WeBank and Ant Group’s MyBank will be the first Chinese private banks to join the six state-owned banks currently conducting digital RMB trials, Chinese media reported citing anonymous sources. (TechNode)
  • The Postal Savings Bank of China is developing a biometric hardware wallet for China’s central bank digital currency. The hardware wallets will allow people to use the digital yuan without smartphones, and will be particularly useful to the elderly, the bank said. (Xinhua)

Blockchain and crypto pivots

  • Zhejiang-based automaker Geely and Switzerland-based Concordium Foundation are setting up a joint venture to provide blockchain services in China. Geely, one of China’s biggest automakers, will hold 80% of the venture, which will be operational by the end of the year, pending regulatory approvals. (Joint statement)
  • US-listed online sports lottery operator 500.com continues its pivot towards cryptocurrency mining with the acquisition of BTC.com, a mining pool chaired by Wu Jihan, the Bitmain founder who left the rig maker after a year-long struggle with his co-founder, Zhan Ketuan. 500.com recently announced it is investing millions of dollars to buy crypto mining rigs. (500.com statement)
  • Nasdaq-listed tea brand Urban Tea hired two new executives as it prepares to expand into blockchain and cryptocurrency mining. (Urban Tea)

Connection problems for exchanges

  • An Amazon Web Services node failure in Tokyo caused connectivity problems for Chinese cryptocurrency exchanges on Friday. Some Huobi users were unable to log in or trade. Binance and KuCoin activity was slowed. Huobi users reported problems again on Monday. (Wu Blockchain, in Chinese)
  • Binance paused withdrawals of Ethereum-based tokens for an hour on Friday, which it attributed to network congestion. The next day, crypto derivatives exchange FTX said that the crypto exchange is trying to push users to its own ecosystem. Binance’s Ethereum rival Binance Smart Chain is gaining in popularity. (CoinTelegraph)

Mining rig maker moves

  • Hangzhou rig maker Ebang closed its follow-up public offering to raise $70 million, amid soaring Bitcoin prices. The company plans to use the funds to expand its mining operations, as well as further developing its application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) chips. (Ebang statement)
  • Bitmain announced a partnership with BitFuFu, a Hong Kong company that aims to standardize cryptocurrency mining. (BitFuFu)

Eliza Gkritsi

Eliza was TechNode's blockchain and fintech reporter until July 2021, when she moved to CoinDesk to cover crypto in Asia. Get in touch with her via email or Twitter.