A thousand years ago, when money meant coins, China invented paper currency. Now the Chinese government is minting cash digitally, in a re-imagination of money that could shake a pillar of American power. It might seem money is already virtual, as credit cards and payment apps such as Apple Pay in the U.S. and WeChat in China eliminate the need for bills or coins. But those are just ways to move money electronically. China is turning legal tender itself into computer code.
Cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin have foreshadowed a potential digital future for money, though they exist outside the traditional global financial system and aren’t legal tender like cash issued by governments. China’s version of a digital currency is controlled by its central bank, which will issue the new electronic money.
Crypto is about more than money. Read more