A flurry of digital yuan news came from the Digital China Summit in Fuzhou, as tech giants showed off what they have been working on. Standouts included JD.com’s e-CNY payroll, Ant Group’s digital RMB software announcement, and the Industrial and Commercial Bank’s walking cane equipped with digital yuan compatibility. Chia Network may overtake Filecoin as China’s hottest cryptocurrency, and hardware shelves have emptied in anticipation of its launch while regulators warn they watching virtual currencies as a possible tool for illegal fundraising.

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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 April 21 – 27.

Big Tech’s digital yuan projects

  • Tech giants showed off their work on the e-CNY this week during the Digital China Summit: E-commerce giant JD.com said it has started paying some of its staff using the digital currency. The Alibaba competitor has been front and center at e-CNY trials, even funding a $4.6 million trial in Suzhou. (TechCrunch)
  • Ant signed a strategic cooperation agreement with the People’s Bank of China Digital Currency Research Institute to develop a software platform for the digital RMB using its database technology, Ocean Base, and its mobile software development platform, mPaas. (Global Times)
  • Ant has been working with the PBOC on the digital currency since 2017. (South China Morning Post)
  • Huawei showed off e-CNY compatible phones at the Digital China Summit in Fuzhou. (Global Network, in Chinese)
  • Tencent also participated in the exhibition, but is reportedly behind other private entities in developing e-CNY applications. The company said it will start trials under PBOC guidance. (Mobile Payments Network, in Chinese)
  • The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China revealed 30 new payment tools using the digital currency including an e-CNY ATM where cash can be exchanged for its digital twin and an Asian Games-themed hardware wallet. The state-owned bank is also working on inclusive technology, such as a digital RMB-enabled walking cane and a “large-screen voice broadcast wallet” for the elderly, as well as a digital RMB-compatible “agricultural assistant machine.” (Mobile Payments Network, in Chinese)

The new hot crypto

A new cryptocurrency called Chia Network will begin trading on May 4, and China’s crypto community is getting ready. Chia uses a Proof-of-Space-Time model under which miners, or farmers as they are called in this case, reserve disk space for a certain amount of time to mine blocks and get rewards.

Prices of solid-state hard drives have surged in China online and offline as prospective farmers prepare to mine the cryptocurrency. Farmers favor using SSDs for Chia mining. (South China Morning Post)

Chinese reporter Colin Wu said that Filecoin is being overshadowed by Chia in conversations between miners. (Wu Blockchain, in Chinese)

Chia was founded by BitTorrent creator Bram Cohen as a way to limit the notoriously high electricity consumption required for cryptocurrency mining. It closed a $3.4 million seed round in February, which included US venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz.

Regulator’s crypto warning

Ahead of the implementation of a new regulation on illegal fundraising on May 1, Guo Shuqing, chairman of China’s Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission, warned that authorities would be paying close attention to “new risks” for illegal fundraising, such as blockchain and virtual currencies. (China Securities Journal, in Chinese)

Huobi funds

A wholly owned Huobi subsidiary in Hong Kong launched four new cryptocurrency funds to attract institutional investors. (TechNode)

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.