The People’s Bank of China (PBOC), announced today that the country’s digital currency, e–CNY, has exceeded $5.3 billion (34.5 Billion Yuan) in transactions, despite increased restrictions on mining and the use of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin.

The PBOC stated that the amount was distributed across 70.7 million transactions between 20.8 million individuals, and 3.5 millions businesses using e-CNY wallets. These numbers may seem small in comparison to China’s population, which is 1.4 billion. However, the digital currency is still being evaluated before its official launch.

PBOC stated that’so far,’ PBOC has launched pilot programs in selected regions. The PBOC also said that ‘top-level design, function creation, and system testing have been basically complete. It is making sure that the pilots are safe, managed, innovative, and practical.

According to the official timeline, PBOC began work on eCNY in 2014. They also formed the Digital Currency Institute in 2016 to develop the first version. In 2017, the State Council approved the Digital Currency Institute’s application to begin testing the digital currency with commercial partners. The public test was then launched in the country in 2019.

This puts e-CNY development ahead of a digital currency similar to the U.S. dollar. Jerome Powell, Federal Reserve Chair, stated that the agency intends publish a report about those efforts-as also stablecoins or cryptocurrencies-in September. e-CNY has been used for tens to millions of transactions.

The continued growth of e-CNY helps to explain stricter regulations for cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. PBOC criticized them in June because they enable criminal activity and infringe ‘on property safety of people’ and disrupt ‘the normal financial and economic order. They compete with the official cryptocurrency.

In a white paper, PBOC stated that e-CNY was being tested in 11 cities in China. Bloomberg reported it will also explore cross-border trials based upon overseas needs and has pledged to respect other countries’ monetary sovereignty during the process. It would not say otherwise.