Chinese artificial intelligence and facial recognition company SenseTime has inked a deal with the People's Bank Of China (PBOC) to help its digital currency unit accelerate its development of the country's digital currency. The deal is the latest high-profile collaboration organized by the central government with major tech firms in an effort to speed up the adoption of the country's sovereign digital money.

The agreement was signed between SenseTime and the Digital Currency Research Institute, the unit of the PBOC that is overseeing the research and development into the country's so-called digital yuan. Under the agreement, both companies will be pooling together their research and expertise in digital currency technologies.

The hope is for both companies to collaboratively develop new applications that utilize advanced technologies and software such as artificial intelligence and facial recognition. SenseTime mentioned in a statement on Monday that it plans to use its expertise in advanced software and technology to create advances across China's financial sector.

Through the use of SenseTime's technologies, the PBOC hopes to strengthen the risk control and operational capabilities of China's sovereign digital currency when it becomes publicly available to both financial institutions and consumers. The PBOC has been accelerating its efforts to roll out the long-awaited digital currency, which is in line with the mandate set by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Last week, the PBOC announced that it had recruited the help of international consumer brands in the first practical pilot programs that will test the real-world use of its digital money. The central bank released a list of 19 participating local businesses, which had included US food and beverage retailers Starbucks, Subway, and McDonald's.

Earlier in the month, the Chinese government officially formed a national blockchain committee that was tasked with establishing a nationwide standard for the use of the digital currency across all industries. China included the country's top tech companies as members of the so-called National Blockchain and Distributed Accounting Technology Standardization Technical Committee. The members of the committee include representatives from major firms such as Tencent Holdings, Huawei Technologies, Baidu, Ant Financial Services, and

Apart from setting itself up to become the global leader in technologies such as 5G and artificial intelligence, China is expected to become the first major economy to roll out its own digital currency. Testing is now underway for the already-completed technology but the government has yet to officially detail a timetable for its launch. The sovereign digital currency, which is currently being referred to as the Digital Currency Electronic Payment or DCEP, will be coming with its own app that users can use to send and receive payments.