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Andy Mukherjee

Say Goodbye to Banking as We Know It

China is poised to launch the first national digital currency. There will be no counting the disruption.  

What’s a QR code? 

What’s a QR code? 

Photographer: Michael Nicholson/Corbis/Getty

So is China readying its own Bitcoin? Banish the thought.

It’s far bigger than that. Yes, just like any other cryptocurrency — or for that matter, cigarettes in prisoners-of-war camps — the upcoming digital yuan will be “tokenized” money. But the similarity ends there. The crypto yuan, which may be on offer as soon as 2020, will be fully backed by the central bank of the world’s second-largest economy, drawing its value from the Chinese state’s ability to impose taxes in perpetuity. Other national authorities are bound to embrace this powerful idea.