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Ecuador Announces Worlds First Digital Currency

The Ecuadorean government has released more details of its plans to create what it calls the world's first digital currency issued by a central bank.

Central bank officials say the electronic money, as yet unnamed, will start circulating in December.

The new money will be used alongside the existing currency in Ecuador, the US dollar.

President Rafael Correa has said the digital currency will help those who cannot afford traditional banking.

Central bank officials say the electronic money will be used to pay government bureaucrats in a "hygienic manner".

The electronic currency is also designed to help poorer Ecuadoreans make and receive payments using mobile phone technology.

Since then, the government has tripled social spending and the state is currently billions in debt, mostly to China which buys most of Ecuador's oil.

Analysts say the introduction of the electronic currency could be used to increase the money supply and devalue US dollar holdings - a first step towards abandoning the US dollar.