China's official digital currency is being tested in Shanghai following large-scale tests across multiple cities including east China's Suzhou, southern China's Shenzhen and Beijing.
A canteen in Shanghai Tongren Hospital, affiliated to Shanghai Jiao Tong University, launched the digital yuan (RMB) trial on Tuesday as one of the city's first test sites.
Customers can apply to use the digital currency to purchase any products with a digital RMB hardware wallet or "digital currency chip card."
The first digital yuan transaction on the platform was made by Yu Yiming, a respiratory physician from the hospital who diagnosed the first case of COVID-19 in Shanghai.
The transaction is processed by touching the card to the acceptance terminal and a built-in digital screen on the e-wallet card will showcase the consumption amount, balance and payment times.
"It's very convenient to shop in digital RMB and it's very reassuring to be able to check the balance," Yu said.
This pilot project marks the first test of the digital RMB hardware wallet in smart cards form, meaning that if there is no mobile network or phone devices the payment can still be processed, which is expected to benefit the elderly who have limited access to smartphones, experts said.
It is the first time that the dual offline payment function was tested in smartcards RMB hardware wallet, Cao Yin, managing director of the Shanghai-based Digital Renaissance Foundation, told the Global Times on Wednesday.
"It is expected that more functions and application of the digital yuan will be tested in different locations across the country to improve the design of the digital currency in 2021," Cao said.
In a digital currency test in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province ended in December, 96,614 residents spent 18,968,200 yuan ($2.90 million) after winning the "red packets" in digital currency. The range of use covered nearly 10,000 physical stores in Suzhou and was first allowed to be used in online stores in JD.com.
On December 29, Coffee chain Mancat Café launched the digital yuan test in Beijing, the first time the digital currency was used in a real life setting.
"In 2021, more regional governments are expected to cooperate with the central bank to test digital yuan functionality based on the needs of the region, but a nationwide launch is still uncertain," Cao said.