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Digital Yuan Now Accepted for Payment on Trains and Buses in Xiamen and Guangzhou

Chinese citizens and other residents of the cities of Xiamen and Guangzhou can now pay for bus fares and train services using the digital yuan. The Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) under test can now be used as an option to recharge the public transport cards in these two cities. This is part of the ongoing trials and pilot program of the developing CBDC which has extended to several more cities in recent times.

As reported by the local media in Guangzhou, passengers engaging the services of the city’s Tram Line 1 can carry out payment for their fare using the features on the digital yuan app. This includes the QR code that can easily be scanned while making such payments. Similarly, in Xiamen, local media have also reported that the implementation of this same system kicked off on the 6th of May, 2022.

Introducing the digital yuan payment protocol into the transport system of major cities in China is one of the grassroots methods of applying the technology in the mainstream. It is one of the fundamental areas where the effectiveness and efficiency of the digital yuan can be truly tested. This exercise in Guangzhou and Xiamen means that out of the 23 cities where the digital yuan has been tested so far, 12 of them have integrated it into their public transport systems and networks.

These tests began in 2020 and have progressed steadily and consistently, moving from one city to another in phases. So far, the digital yuan pilot project has been activated across 23 different cities in China. As of the end of 2021, the total transaction involving the digital yuan was estimated to be around 87.5 billion yuan, which is equivalent to $11.2 billion.

In April 2022, the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) launched a new phase of testing across multiple cities, including those within the eastern Zhejiang region where the upcoming Asian Games will be hosted later in the year. According to a statement by the PBoC, the purpose of the exercise is mainly to promote and expand the research and development of the digital yuan, and also to expand the scope of the pilot scheme.

Among the cities where the exercises were initiated are Tianjin, Chongqing, Guangzhou, Fuzhou, and Xiamen, in addition to six other cities in the coastal Zhejiang province, as mentioned above. These are the cities that will host the Asian Games in September 2022, prominent among which is the city of Hangzhou, the provincial capital.

The Asian Games will provide another opportunity for an expanded test of the digital yuan. An initial effort that was aimed at promoting the globalization of the project did not particularly go as planned. This was during the Winter Olympics that was hosted in Beijing earlier in the year. Due to Covid-19 complications in terms of logistics, the global audience that was expected at the event did not arrive as expected. Hence, the test revolved mainly among the locals in what eventually played out as a duplication of effort. Yet, there were multiple records of complications by the public who could not use their usual digital payment apps.

Ever since the PBoC has moved on and continued with its program toward the realization of the digital yuan project. Such efforts have placed China several miles ahead of all other countries with a CBDC project. So far, in comparison, it is China’s CBDC that is closest to mainstream adoption and implementation among the lot.

Apart from regional implementation, payment giants within the country are also playing important roles in the propagation of the project. Recently, Alipay added the digital yuan search function to its platform. This opens up the opportunity of using the digital currency to its 1.2 billion users across 20 different cities in the country, 750 million of which are active daily.


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