China’s Pursuit of Central Bank Digital Currency: Reasons, Prospects and Implications
Amongst major economies, China has been taking a lead in the development of central bank digital currency (CBDC), which has generated widespread interest and impact around the globe. China’s CBDC, commonly known as e-CNY, is designed with several distinctive features, enabling it to compare favorably to other payment methods such as credit cards, mobile payment, unbacked cryptocurrency, and stablecoins. A variety of social, economic, political, and regulatory reasons can be identified to help explain China’s active pursuit of CBDC. However, the prospect of success will be affected by many factors and may vary between the domestic and international markets. This paper argues that the adoption of eCNY will likely succeed domestically, but may face more challenges in the international markets. The development of e-CNY seems to have created a catfish effect on other major economies in the race for CBDC. It is not fully clear, however, that the CBDC race will be
better explained by the first-mover or the late-mover advantage theory. The CBDC project will have both public and private law implications, and several legal issues warrant particular attention in relation to the legal status of CBCD, the role and responsibility of the central bank, legal remedies for losses suffered by CBDC users from cybersecurity issues and operational problems, and the issue of data privacy and protection.