The Chinese government-owned Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and the Beijing branch of the Agricultural Bank of China are allowing customers to exchange digital renminbi and the cash version of the currency, the Xinhua Finance news service reported.
“ICBC’s more than 3,000 deposit and withdrawal all-in-one machines all over the capital have activated this function, becoming the first bank in Beijing to fully launch digital RMB cash exchange,” Xinhua Finance reported, according to a Google Translate version of the June 18 article. The article states that the Agricultural Bank’s 10 ATMs allowing the conversion between the two forms of the currency are in the Wangfujing shopping area of Beijing.
CoinDesk stated in an article about the announcement: “The move effectively lets users switch between digital and non-digital versions of government-issued currency with ease, bringing the nation one step closer to having a digital currency built atop a blockchain network.”
The announcement of the new service follows news just a week ago that some workers in a region about 60 miles south of Beijing are going to be paid in digital currency. Government officials in China have said on various occasions that the digital currency expansion is not intended to pose a challenge either to the U.S. dollar as a tool for international exchange or to domestic digital payment services such as Alipay, from Ant Group, or WeChat Pay, owned by Tencent Holdings.
Government officials, however, have made it clear they do not welcome cryptocurrencies in China. In early June, internet and banking regulators took steps to prevent banks from engaging in various business activities involving cryptocurrencies.