UPDATE 1-Digital yuan could be back-up for mobile payment giants - PBOC

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LONDON, March 25 (Reuters) - Retail-focused central bank digital cash could provide a key backup for widely-used Chinese mobile payment methods such as Alipay and Tencent, the People’s Bank of China’s digital currency chief said on Thursday.

“To provide a backup or redundancy for the retail payment system, the central bank has to step up and provide CBDC services to the retail payment market,” said Mu Changchun, the director-general of the PBOC’s digital currency institute, at a Bank for International Settlements seminar.

Central banks across the world, including the PBOC, are looking at developing digital currencies that could play a role in making domestic and international payments faster and cheaper for both large-scale and consumer transactions.

Retail payment giants such as Ant Group’s Alipay and Tencent’s WeChat Pay have become key financial infrastructure for the country, Mu said, adding that any future digital yuan would exist alongside - and not replace - such payment methods.

“Paperback notes and e-wallets will not vanish,” he said. “This process of this issuance of retail CBTC will be market-oriented approach, and they will co-exist and they will co cooperate in this retail payment system payment.” (Reporting by Tom Wilson; editing by Marc Jones)