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Vending Machines in Shanghai’s Metro Stations Now Accepting Digital Yuan

China’s massive efforts to digitize its national currency have proven to be very effective, as the country has begun seeing more and more real-life use cases for the digital yuan. The large-scale pilot tests that have been conducted in major financial hubs such as Beijing and Shenzhen have shown that there was a huge interest in the digital yuan even after the tests were finished, but there have been few attempts to offer real products that utilize the upcoming DCEP.

However, this isn’t the case in Shanghai, where local reports have shown that the municipal government has taken it upon itself to offer its citizens a way to utilize the digital yuan. According to Cai Lian News Agency, automatic vending machines in some metro stations in Shanghai now accept the digital yuan as a valid form of payment. At the moment, only users that have received some kind of an official invitation can try out digital yuan payments, but it is still unclear where the invitations came from.

Local sources all point to a “relevant bank” operating in the area, saying that banking executives greenlighted the distribution of their own type of “red packets.” The packets, sources reported, were worth 30 yuan, or around $4.65. There are no known large businesses or retailers that are participating in the small-scale trial in Shanghai. As of now, it seems that the usage of the digital yuan is limited to a handful of commuters passing through Shanghai’s metro station.

A source told the Global Times that the process of using the digital yuan was very similar to using major payment services in the country such as Alipay and WeChat, describing the experience as being “very smooth.”

This isn’t the first time there’s been a low-key digital yuan trial in Shanghai. Tong Ren Hospital, a major medical institution affiliated with the Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, launched a payment channel for the digital yuan in early January. The low-key pilot project enables around 2,000 of the hospital’s employees to pay for their meals with the digital yuan. According to a report from Xinhua at the time, the employees were able to use their bank cards that store the digital yuan alongside the country’s regular fiat currency.

A source from another major hospital in Shanghai told the Global Times on Monday that they expect more pilot projects to be conducted in hospitals. The source revealed that hospital executives are considering utilizing the digital yuan to enable hospital registration and payments for medical treatments and medications.

Local news media has reported that the offline test in Shanghai’s metro stations and hospitals will continue until the end of February when the project will be evaluated. If sufficient interest is shown in utilizing DCEP, the public could see more trials like that take place not just in the city of Shanghai, but in its neighboring provinces as well.

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