Digital yuan gets trials in Shanghai as use extends to more areas
By Qi Xijia
Global Times

A vegetable store supports digital yuan payment in Shanghai.(Photo: agencies)

China's Digital Currency Electronic Payment, also known as digital yuan, is expanding usage in more cities.

China's central bank will increase the scale of the pilot projects of its digital currency in more scenarios and more cities, said Li Bo, a deputy governor of the People's Bank of China, at the Boao Forum for Asia held in South China's Hainan Province on Sunday.

"Currently, there's no plan to launch the digital yuan nationwide. But the scale of the trial run will be increased," Li said.

For example, the trial of the digital currency at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics will not only be conducted among domestic users but also among international athletes, Li added.

Zhou Xiaochuan, former governor of China's central bank and vice-chairman of the board of the Boao Forum for Asia, said that the digital currency in China was not created for cross-border payments, which would be more convenient but would also involve complicated problems like the sovereignty of the currency and independence of monetary policy.

"A most applicable scenario for the digital payment in China is in wholesale activities. Therefore, the basic work of developing digital currency in China is to upgrade and iterate the wholesale system," said Zhou at the forum.

In Shanghai, the digital currency is undergoing trials in a housing estate.

The Zhonghuan Garden community, located in Putuo district, Shanghai is trying out digital yuan. More than 500 residents in the community have to pay property management fees and parking fees, and order express delivery, using digital yuan.

"The community began to carry out digital yuan registration for residents at the end of March. Now about half of the residents, or more than 500 people, have completed registration," said He Jian, a person in charge of the residence committee of the community.

Users who install the app can be connected with their bank cards, which are slid up to pay and slid down to collect payments. Transactions can be completed without an internet connection and the money will be deducted directly from user's bank accounts without additional fees, according to a demonstration shown by He to the Global Times.

So far, six shops and grocery stores around the community have agreed to accept digital yuan, which has allowed residents to buy vegetables and daily commodities with this payment tool. He said that in the next stage, the community will develop more online sceneries for residents to use the digital yuan.

In some stores and shops nearby, signs saying e-CNY can be seen, which shows that they support digital yuan payments.

"We have an emblem showing 'e-CNY' in our stall. Users can scan it to pay with digital yuan, and the money will go into my 'wallet,' which I can later transfer to my bank account. So far, I have collected 800 yuan ($122.7) in digital yuan," a fruit vendor told the Global Times on Sunday.

People are curious about this new payment tool. I have people come by to test the functions of their digital yuan every day, she said.

"I hope that more people can participate in these tests and more venues will support this process, so as to accelerate this new payment tool, which is definitely going to be a trend in the future," she said.

China has initiated large scale tests of its digital currency since October, with trials in cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Suzhou and Chengdu.

Shenzhen of South China's Guangdong Province is conducting another round of stepped-up digital yuan test from April 10 to 23, enlarging test population by 500,000, with the aim to cultivate people's habits of using the digital yuan for retail consumption.