e-CNY mastermind Yao Qian arrested in corruption probe

The mastermind behind China’s central bank digital currency (CBDC) project is reportedly under scrutiny for suspected “violations of discipline and law,” according to Shanghai Securities News.

Yao Qian, who played a pivotal role in leading CBDC research at the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), has been a key figure in China’s blockchain community. He led the research effort at the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) to develop and issue the digital yuan, or e-CNY, which influenced other major jurisdictions to explore CBDCs.

Qian departed from the central bank in 2018 and later joined the China Securities Regulatory Commission.

The investigation into Qian by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China is said to be due to “serious violations” of discipline and law, although specific details have not been disclosed.

“Disciplinary review by the Discipline Inspection and Supervision Team of the State Commission for Discipline Inspection at the China Securities Regulatory Commission and supervision and investigation by the Supervisory Committee of Shanwei City, Guangdong Province,” the report said.

As the director of the Science and Technology Supervision Bureau at the China Securities Regulatory Commission, holds a key role in China’s blockchain scene. He is known as “Crypto Dad” and was the inaugural director of China’s CBDC research department at PBoC from 2017 to 2018.

In May 2021, Qian predicted that state-run digital currencies would evolve to become more “smart” and could ultimately operate on blockchain networks like Ethereum.

China’s push to develop a central bank digital currency has positioned the e-CNY as a frontrunner among similar initiatives by other major economies. With transaction volumes reaching 1.8 trillion yuan, the digital yuan’s adoption and integration into the banking sector are gaining momentum.

Chinese yuan-linked stablecoin started pilot testing in late 2019, positioning it as one of the first countries to carry out real-world trials of a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC). Following these tests, the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) launched cross-border CBDC pilots in partnership with the central banks of Hong Kong, Thailand, and the United Arab Emirates.