back to article China promises its digital currency will offer 'controllable anonymity'

The governor of the People's Bank of China, Yi Gang, has delivered a speech in which he outlined the concept of "controllable anonymity" for the nation's digital currency. Speaking at Hong Kong's FinTech week, Yi said the Digital Yuan (E-RMB) is being positioned as an alternative to cash in circulation. That's not an entirely …

  1. veti Silver badge

    Thanks

    I needed a good laugh today.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Thanks

      Yup... nearly spat out my coffee when I got down to...

      "China's government detests all forms of corruption and works hard to root it out"

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @AC - Re: Thanks

        Contrary to our Western democratic governments who love corruption and embrace it ?

        See what you've done ? Now I'm totally confused. Who's the good guy and who's the bad guy ?

    2. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Thanks

      You'll be perfectly safe as long as you never post about Winnie-the-Pooh.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @veti - Re: Thanks

      This is no longer a laughing matter. This will come sooner rather than later into our Western democratic world, by courtesy of governments salivating at the idea of the total control they get over citizens.

      Say it ain't so!

  2. Oglethorpe

    Use before date

    Last year, a feature China was looking at with digital central currency was expiration. It's a very cunning way to simultaneously get a tighter grip on the population and boost spending. No more pesky workers saving up sufficient funds to implement ideas above their station.

    1. Bartholomew Bronze badge
      Flame

      Re: Use before date

      Money that rots away, if sitting still too long - that is pure evil.

      (The burning icon is the closest I could find for stationary money oxidizing).

      1. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge
        WTF?

        Re: Use before date

        "Money that rots away, if sitting still too long - that is pure evil."

        It's called inflation. I'm old enough to have been working in the '70's.

    2. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: Use before date

      Last year, a feature China was looking at with digital central currency was expiration. It's a very cunning way to simultaneously get a tighter grip on the population and boost spending. No more pesky workers saving up sufficient funds to implement ideas above their station. ... Oglethorpe

      Those cunning ways are surely standard default and long running rampant in conventional traditional fiat national bank paper currency models/games, Oglethorpe, where all forms of mandatory government supporting taxation are used to create remote phantom public servant wealth for lavish spending and impoverish those pesky workers trying to save up sufficient funds to implement ideas above their station.

      Can any or all of that realistically be honestly truthfully denied with it then to be branded a diabolical lie and fake news ‽

      1. Oglethorpe

        Re: Use before date

        I believe they thrust rather more deeply than taxation based economic influence. Fiat taxes can make some endeavours more challenging than others but they don't erase all of your money at a certain time. This is Gesell economics, a very aggressive fork of socialism.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Use before date

      digital central currency was expiration

      Couldn't you just set up a cronjob type of thing, that once a year sells it all & buys new?

      1. Oglethorpe

        Re: Use before date

        I expect that, if caught, you'd be treated rather poorly for trying to circumvent their control.

      2. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: Use before date

        I'm not sure how they implement it, but it might not be that easy to sell currency and buy it back somehow. You could probably buy items with currency and sell the items for new currency, but that has risks. The same applies to buying securities and immediately selling them. In either case, you could lose value or have trouble selling what you bought, and if they really wanted expiration, they could prohibit the activities or monitor for them and give you a shorter expiration time rather than fresh money with the original expiration.

        All that said, I wouldn't expect anyone to implement money expiration like that, even them. It's happened before, for instance when India canceled out some of their banknotes and had a cap on how much cash people could deposit before it became worthless, but that was a more limited expiration, had an excuse for doing it, and still led to a lot of displeasure. Doing that on a larger scale is dangerous, and the only country I can think of that did such a thing was North Korea, but they're in a position where they can pretty much do whatever they like to their citizens whereas China is trying to run a country where their citizens occasionally do things without state micromanagement.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Use before date

          It happened in Britain two days ago with old pound notes no longer valid for retail purchases.

          The difference is that this is the first recurring use by date concept.

          1. doublelayer Silver badge

            Re: Use before date

            The UK did not expire the money. They expired the banknotes. This is a critical difference, as anyone can take as many of the old banknotes as they have and convert them into valid banknotes. In India's case, this process was strictly time limited with a cap on quantity. In North Korea's case, it was similar but had more restrictions and a lot more surveillance. I could store my entire life savings in expired pound notes and not have lost anything (with some added inconvenience for getting them swapped out), something I would not have had if money expiration was in place.

  3. sarusa
    FAIL

    Wow, that's some pretty blatant lying

    That's right up there with 'just the tip, honest'.

    China has zero concept of privacy or anonymity. Its entire system of government is based on that being impossible. Dissenters will be ruthlessly crushed, and everyone else (the vast majority of heavily indoctrinated dumbasses) will flame them vigorously on social networks to earn social points.

    But of course they have to lie out their asses like a diarrhea fountain to try to make this shitshow global. Good luck with that, fascist pigs, and Glory to Panda Boy!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @sarusa - Re: Wow, that's some pretty blatant lying

      At the very least, they're open and transparent about this compared to the US where you're left to believe your privacy / anonymity are being preserved by self-regulation of Big Tech. Besides, nobody is getting filthy rich in China selling your privacy and personal information.

      As for flaming on social networks by indoctrinated masses, I've seen all this here. No need to look at China.

  4. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Too many parties

    > personal sensitive information will be anonymized and not shared with third parties. So if you use the E-RMB to shop, your use of the digital currency will be recorded.

    Hang on. If I use an E-RMB app to send someone some e-cash, then I am the first party. The recipient is the second party and whoever collects the transaction and the "small amount" of personal information (i.e. the government) is the third party. So the people they won't (honest!) share it with is a new "party", which by my counting would be the fourth party

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Big Brother

      Re: Too many parties

      It's OK. Only the Communist Party is legal in China. So there are no other parties. Or at least, none that matter...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @ I ain't Spartacus - Re: Too many parties

        Two political parties leads to ugly fight for power. See Dems vs Reps in the land of free.

        It seems to me the Chinese are doing just fine with one single party holding the power, otherwise you will find at least 50 millions of proud boys invading their parliament.

        Now, how would you like 2bn of people with an unstable government ? 200 millions claiming elections were stolen while other 200 millions claiming weren't.

  5. ChipsforBreakfast
    Stop

    Privacy is the tip of a very nasty iceberg

    I may seem something of a luddite here but bear with me. If I'm not mistaken we already have numerous & very effective ways to make cashless transactions should we so desire. Bank transfers, cards, even apps all exist for exactly that purpose and by and large function well enough that they've become accepted in society for daily use.

    Cash is different. Physical cash is exactly that - a physical, immutable representation of wealth. If you hold it, you have it and it's yours to spend as you see fit. If someone wants to take it off of you then they need to physically confiscate it, a process sufficiently complex and time consuming that it's intrinsically resistant to abuse. It's not practically traceable and has no privacy risks. You can't hack my wallet from a bedroom halfway across the world. You can try and pick my pocket if you like but that carries a distinctly non-zero chance of you getting a punch in the mouth and quite possibly jailtime which again tends to limit the risk involved.

    If the bank is closed (or worse, bust) then the cash in my pocket is still mine. It still has it's value, I can still spend it, at least for as long as other people agree it has value.

    Now, replace that with a CBDC and a 'digital wallet'. Instantly all the advantages of cash are gone. Digital transactions are traceable, so no more privacy (anyone saying anything else really needs to go look at some modern history!). It's only 'yours' for as long as the bank say it's yours - it can be blocked or invalidated at any time, easily. Pissed off the government, no more money for you. Voted for the wrong party? Said the wrong thing? Spent more than you should on 'bad' things? Same result... what you thought you had, you don't have. That 'digital wallet' can be and undoubtedly will be hacked eventually - everything is.

    For central bank transactions, perhaps it's justifiable BUT there are already plenty of solutions for that... it's not the driver for this.

    In short, CBDC is not a solution to any problem faced by normal individuals. It's at best a waste of time and at worst a tool for total control & oppression on a scale never before seen.

    The privacy issues are the tip of the iceberg.

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Re: Privacy is the tip of a very nasty iceberg

      Well said - I was about to mention the same thing, why bother for bank-bank or corporate use? We already have that down to a T.

      Ah...maybe so you can't be blocked by the USA from using SWIFT if you chose to invade a nearby country?

      1. DS999 Silver badge

        Re: Privacy is the tip of a very nasty iceberg

        That's already possible if they don't use SWIFT. If they can get countries to pay them using a CDBC they can get countries to pay them using interbank transfers outside of SWIFT. If they can't convince countries to do business outside of SWIFT due to US pressure, creating a CBDC isn't going to change that.

        This is clearly an attempt to stamp out physical cash within their own economy, or at least come as close to that as possible. That's why in the crackdowns against tech companies in the last couple years WeChat Pay and AliPay have remained untouched, they have been serving a purpose for China's government getting people used to paying digitally - already most younger people in China carry no cash (or at least that's what I've read, those who have visited recently please comment if this is incorrect)

        All China has to do is create their CBDC, produce a payment app for it, require vendors support it, and once it is running smoothly tell WeChat and Alibaba that their payment systems have to shut down. Then slowly pull physical currency out of circulation over a few years until everyone is forced into using digital payments. They can't pull currency out of circulation that doesn't get deposited in a bank so people might still exchange it between each other, but if they want to stamp it out they can declare it will have no value after a certain date. There might still be a black market using dollars, but their legal economy would be 100% based on digital payments.

  6. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Take Care Out There, IT is an AI Jungle, However and Nevertheless, Who Dares Wherever Win Wins *

    Hi, Simon,

    With regard to whatever China may or may not do, and whether one would think it and further plan for it to be negative or otherwise, the following very recent advice to be cautious is well worth heeding, for one can easily be totally all wrong, with it costing one more than just a pretty penny and one's freedom to do as one pleases at everyone else's expense.

    "One must be cautious about investing on speculation, particularly because much positive speculation about China Internet in recent months has proven unfounded," said Adam Montanaro, investment director of global emerging-market equities at Abrdn. ...... https://www.zerohedge.com/markets/chinese-stocks-erupt-social-media-rumor-covid-zero-exit-china-denies

    And it would appear that pretty much nearly everything in the West has its ugly heads held up above stormy drowning waters by rabid speculation and remote interconnected and internetworking leverage which is increasing easily subjected to ...... well, interruption and/or withdrawal of vital supply is catastrophically problematical and an exploitable vulnerability which poses a real and present dangerous existential threat for some who may be many, and an absolutely fabulous treat to others who may be only a right worthy few.

    * A little something extraordinarily significant which the Rising Exotic and Erotic East appear to grasped and would exercise to as near perfection as is humanly possible with aplomb which can easily be troubling for the Wild and Wacky West whenever undeniably true.

  7. crayon

    "Money that rots away, if sitting still too long - that is pure evil."

    Absolutely. But you don't need a digital currency for that. NATO countries illegally expired hundreds of billions of dollars worth of Russian assets in the blink of an eye. Now Ursula Vondof Lying wants to create the framework to make that illegal action legal. Freedom loving Canada expired the bank accounts of people who supported the freedom truckers.

    "In short, CBDC is not a solution to any problem faced by normal individuals. It's at best a waste of time and at worst a tool for total control & oppression on a scale never before seen."

    Tell that to the Russian tourists who had been planning on holidaying in Turkey and pay for their stay with their Mir cards. After the US leaned on those Turkish banks accepting Mir cards they stopped accepting them. For some reason Erdogan has kept rather quiet about that affair, and so far diddly squat from him. Now if Russian had a digital currency system in place it would make it harder for the US to interfere with commerce in other countries. That is what China, Russia and other like-minded countries are aiming for - neutralising the US' toxic weaponisation of the USD.

    1. veti Silver badge

      Sure, but for Russia to do that it would need to put in place a financial framework, and most importantly a judiciary, that other people could trust to make rulings that don't necessarily favour the ruling party.

      Not gonna happen. And without that, it's never going to have an independent financial system. (Well, I guess it could try returning to the gold standard - good luck with that.)

      A brief note about fake facts: Canada didn't "expire" anyone's accounts, it froze them, and that only for a few weeks. Freezing accounts is a thing often done to people suspected of various kinds of illegal activity. Obstructing public highways and trying to cause a national supply crisis is not the behaviour of people who have any sincere interest in "freedom", they deserved far, far worse.

      And NATO countries have, so far, only frozen Russian assets. Personally I think they should seize the lot, fly a high-altitude bomber over Russia and drop Putin's yacht right on the Kremlin.

      You might like to reflect on why so many wealthy Russians store their money abroad in the first place. And why no-one made any moves to repatriate it even when the war broke out and it immediately became clear that the west would impose these sorts of sanctions.

      1. crayon

        To make a point of how lawless Russia is - it was recently announced that even after pulling out of Russia, BP was entitled to dividends of $700million for 2H2021 I believe. Those dividends have been placed into a bank account ready for BP to claim at their leisure.

        In contrast to the lawful EU which after illegally stealing Russia's assets are now trying to legalise said robbery.

        At the time Canada "froze" those people's account, for those people affected it may as well have been expired.

        "Obstructing public highways and trying to cause a national supply crisis is not the behaviour of people who have any sincere interest in "freedom", they deserved far, far worse."

        in 2019 HK's demonstrations, protests, riots went on for close to a year. They blockaded multiple thoroughfares on and off for months, they blockaded the airport multiple times, invaded and defaced the Legislative Council (Nancy the hag Pelosi called it a beautiful sight, but when Freedom Fighters invaded Capitol Hill, the Hag called them secessionists and demanded blood). They firebombed police stations and MTR stations. One police officer was shot through the leg with an arrow - the perp was merely arrested and not gunned down as would've happened in the liberal US. For all that, the HK government never had to resort to blanket freezing of people's bank accounts (yes there had been accounts frozen, but they were targetted and limited to ringleaders, and didn't affect your random off the street supporters).

        So in your opinion, how much worse do you think those HK rioters deserved?

        "You might like to reflect on why so many wealthy Russians store their money abroad in the first place."

        Because most of them effectively stole the money. Many of them "made" their money during the Yeltsin years when valuable state assets were sold for peanuts and proceeds were laundered in the West.

        Putin is on record saying that those wealthy Russians abroad who are now having their assets stolen by the West deserves no sympathy.

        Remember all the disinformation about Putin having squirrelled away billions? It turns out that he wisely kept his billions of ill-gotten dollars/pounds/yuan in Russia otherwise you would be hearing all over the fake news media that Putin's billions have been frozen/confiscated/stolen.

    2. ChipsforBreakfast

      Which backs up exactly what |I was saying - NO digital currency or payment method is a suitable replacement for hard, physical cash.

      Had those tourists had wallets full of actual money instead of plastic cards they wouldn't have had a problem, would they?

      1. crayon

        "Had those tourists had wallets full of actual money instead of plastic cards they wouldn't have had a problem, would they?"

        You do know that most countries have restrictions on how much cash you can carry through customs?

        And Russian holiday makers spend a lot more money than your average cheapskate European holiday maker.

        And if it was known that every Russian holiday maker was carrying wads of cash, they would be relieved of it by some shady Turks soon after leaving the airport.

        So no, cash is not a solution.

  8. xyz123

    Plan 1: make people invest in gold instead of foreign securities. CHECK

    Plan 2: Encourage local banks to just 'close' accounts and transit the gold to CCP in Bejing. CHECK

    Plan 3: centralized "crypto" that the government can just recall anytime it wants. IN PROGRESS

    Plan 4: Steal all the crypto. refuse to have 'an investigation' therefore Xi not guilty of crime so no-one is allowed to deanonymize crypto owner. TBD

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