China’s digital yuan will offer best privacy protection, says official

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Chinese authorities are willing to ensure maximum user privacy for the country’s central bank digital currency, or CBDC, according to an official at the People’s Bank of China.

Mu Changchun, the head of the People’s Bank of China’s digital currency research institute, spoke of China’s digital yuan privacy capabilities at the 2021 China Development Forum on March 20, local news agency Sina Finance reports.

Mu stated that a completely anonymous CBDC “is not feasible” because a national digital currency must meet requirements related to Anti-Money Laundering, counter-terrorism, and anti-tax evasion. However, that doesn’t mean that China’s digital yuan lacks user privacy, he assured.

The so-called “controllable anonymity” approach is a key feature of China’s digital yuan, meaning that the government is providing certain tools to ensure maximum user privacy and financial security in conjunction with AML measures, Mu said. He stressed that telecom operators — which are involved in research and development of digital yuan — are not allowed to disclose personal data and phone numbers of users to third parties including the central bank.

Third parties like e-commerce platforms are also not able to access personal data of digital yuan users, as customer payment information is encrypted in the form of a sub-wallet, Mu explained. Additionally, the digital yuan also features a wide number of technical capabilities to ensure privacy, including ID anonymization tech and personal data protection system and internal control management mechanism in accordance with relevant Chinese laws, the exec noted.

In order to protect “reasonable” anonymity needs, the PBoC is also planning to adopt a CBDC design which enables anonymous digital yuan transactions in small amounts, Mu reportedly claimed. “The digital renminbi adopts a design of small amounts anonymous, keeping large amounts traceable,” he said.

“In short, the protection of user privacy by digital renminbi is the highest among the current payment tools,” Mu concluded.

As previously reported by Cointelegraph, many global jurisdictions like the United States have considered user privacy issues as one of the biggest problems of a CBDC. According to the European Central Bank’s digital euro public consultation, user privacy is the top requested feature for a European CBDC, followed by security and pan-European reach.