Digital yuan continues domestic march
The e-CNY, which launched experimental usage three years ago, has been made available in several more domestic locations, such as Jinan, Shandong province and Kunming, Yunnan province, in the latest expanded trials on Dec 16. Trial use has also been promoted at the provincial level in Guangdong, Jiangsu, Hebei and Sichuan amid the most recent expansion. To date, e-CNY can be used in 26 locations across 17 provinces and cities.
Alipay, the payment app operated by Alibaba Group's financial affiliate Ant, became the first digital payment platform to join the e-CNY acceptance network on Dec 12. Platforms or applications connected to Alipay, such as e-retailer Taobao and Shanghai's public transportation payment system, can all accept e-CNY payments.
Wang Pengbo, chief financial industry analyst at market consultancy Botong Analysys, said the connection to Alipay may signal an even wider use of e-CNY. The large consumer and client base of Alipay can serve as an optimal platform to enrich the application scenarios of digital yuan and enhance user loyalty.
As China accelerates its optimization in COVID-19 control policies, more platforms and municipal governments have issued coupons in the form of e-CNY to boost consumption and render a helping hand to pandemic-affected industries such as restaurants and hotels, he added.
On Dec 16, online food delivery giant Meituan started to provide 20-yuan ($2.9) coupons to each user opening digital yuan wallets via China Merchants Bank. Meituan has granted coupons to more than 10 million users ever since it started to accept e-CNY payments in January.
In early December, the Guangzhou Municipal Commerce Bureau and the People's Bank of China Guangzhou branch released more than 1 million yuan worth of coupons in the form of e-CNY to help the recovery of the local consumer market.
As explained by Zhou Maohua, a macroeconomic analyst at China Everbright Bank, the technologies adopted by e-CNY, especially smart contract technology, can help boost consumption more precisely. The combination of the digital yuan with coupons and e-commerce platforms will help promote wider use of e-CNY and the accelerated recovery of the consumer market, he said.
In light of its strong impetus to consumption, the use of e-CNY should be promoted in more places in an orderly manner while allowing participation of more market entities, said Dong Ximiao, chief researcher at Merchants Union Consumer Finance Co. Continual efforts should be made to explore more functions of e-CNY and its application scenarios, he suggested.
According to the PBOC's digital currency research institute, more than 5.6 million shops and retailers have allowed e-CNY payments as of Aug 31. Up to 360 million digital yuan transactions have been made by the end of August, with the total amount exceeding 100 billion yuan.