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Meituan Joins e-CNY Expansion Effort as Wallet app Download Passes 30 Million

With the digital yuan (e-CNY) set to be a major feature at next week’s Winter Olympics in Beijing, Meituan has joined the list of top Chinese tech companies that are helping to expand the use of the digital currency.

The online delivery giant had joined in distributing e-CNY “red packets” worth 10 yuan ($1.55) last September. It partnered with Agricultural Bank of China, China Postal Savings Bank, and China Construction Bank to run the trial among residents of nine cities including Beijing, Shanghai, and the Xiongan New Area.

Now, with its more than 660 million users as at last September, Meituan is accepting e-CNY for offline services payment like hotel bookings. It is now the first e-commerce platform to take offline digital payment. falls in line with the likes of Tencent and JD.com which have been involved in the effort to widen the digital currency use over some time. 

JD.com recently became the first online retailer to support hardware wallets as a payment method on its app as long as the user’s phone supports Near Field Communication (NFC). The retailer says it has over two million sub-wallets linked to its online platform as of the end of 2021 and more than a million users who have made three million transactions. 

It is also the first company to enable third-party sellers and self-operated businesses to jointly use the digital currency as a new payment method. The move, which has made it possible for the retailer to be able to split e-CNY funds among the two parties since Jan. 7, came shortly after Android and Apple users in 10 Chinese cities could download a pilot version of the e-CNY wallet app to acquire, store and use the digital currency.

Some provincial governments in China are also on track with top tech giants on e-CNY use at this time too. In a five-year plan released last week by the local administration in Zhejiang, the government indicated its plan to expand pilot zones for the e-CNY. The plan also seeks to encourage enterprises in the province to participate in the research and development of e-CNY ecological construction as well as explore industries for the application of the digital currency.

In a related development, the commerce bureau of Shenzhen city in collaboration with six banks disclosed its plan to give away consumption coupons worth over CNY25 million (about US$3.95 million) in e-CNY during the Feb. 1 Spring Festival.

The Beijing Winter Olympic, where the e-CNY is expected to be rolled out for public use, is set to start on Friday Feb. 4. After the pilot version of the e-CNY wallet app was released in the first week of January, public broadcaster CCTV reported that over 16 million downloads were recorded in its first week as athletes and spectators who are already in China gained access to it. 

Meanwhile, according to the latest calculations by the Global Times across four brands, the number of downloads has risen to over 30 million as of Friday Jan. 28 up from 23 million on January 17. It notes that downloads through Huawei was at 13.29 million at the time of collation while Vivo has 10.8 million, Xiaomi has 5.33 million and OPPO at 1.85 million. The exact number of downloads is likely to be more considering that downloads on the iOS is not included in the calculation. The outlet says iOS download is not open to public.

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