McDonald’s and Starbucks are reportedly part of China’s digital currency trial – CNBC

A pedestrian walks past McDonald’s and Starbucks signage in the Futian district of Shenzhen, China.

Brent Lewin | Bloomberg | Getty Images

McDonald’s and Starbucks are among a handful of companies taking part in a new pilot program for China’s upcoming digital yuan, according to state-backed media, as the world’s second-largest economy pushes forward with its plans for an electronic currency.

The People’s Bank of China, the country’s central bank, has been developing a digital currency over the past few years. While there are very few details at the moment about its exact design, it’s unlikely to resemble popular cryptocurrency bitcoin, which supports anonymity and decentralization, that is, it’s not issued by a central authority.

China’s digital yuan will be issued by the PBoC and the focus appears to be making digital payments easier and faster.

McDonald’s, Starbucks and Subway are the three U.S. firms among 19 companies in total that will be participating in the digital currency trial in Xiong’an, which held a promotional event on Wednesday, state-backed Securities Times reported.

Xiong’an is a special district about 86 miles southwest of Beijing in Hebei province and is President Xi Jinping’s personal project for building a new economic center. It’s unclear though how much progress has been made since its launch in 2017.

Xi emphasized in a speech on Thursday that the country would step up development of 5G, artificial intelligence and other technologies at a massive scale known as “new