China Enhances Digital Renminbi (RMB) Payment Services to Attract Foreign Users

China has upgraded its digital RMB payment services to enhance the user experience for foreigners visiting or residing in the country. These improvements include a “recharge before use” feature and online payment options, simplifying the process and promoting the adoption of China’s digital fiat currency. These enhancements are expected to facilitate cross-border transactions and further internationalize the digital RMB.

27 September 2023 – China has taken a significant step in improving its digital currency, the digital renminbi (RMB), with the aim of making it more accessible to foreigners visiting or residing in the country. As mobile payments have become the dominant mode of payment within China, these enhancements are expected to provide a more user-friendly experience for international visitors and promote the adoption of China’s digital fiat currency.

The latest feature, “recharge before use,” introduced in the e-CNY app, enables foreigners to top up their digital RMB wallet using online services from global payment networks such as Visa and Mastercard. Additionally, foreigners can choose to replenish their digital RMB wallets with cash at bank service outlets. Notably, any remaining balance in the digital wallet can be refunded to the foreign bank card or account used for the top-up.

Previously, foreigners in China could only recharge their e-CNY wallets at the point of making a payment. This new functionality streamlines the process, allowing them to use more convenient online payment methods, like “quick pay,” similar to domestic users. It reduces payment duration, simplifies operations, improves efficiency, reduces wait times for foreign card verification, and enhances the overall payment experience.

These upgrades enable foreigners to use their e-CNY wallets at both physical merchants participating in digital currency trials and online platforms, including popular services like Didi (ride-hailing), Meituan (takeaway), Ctrip (travel), and JD (e-commerce).

Dong Ximiao, Chief Researcher at Merchants Union Consumer Finance, noted that mobile payment services are not as prevalent in most foreign countries as they are in China. These enhancements will not only offer a more convenient payment environment for foreigners but also serve as a testing ground for the e-CNY platform’s international potential.

Zhou Maohua, an analyst from China Everbright Bank, highlighted that these upgrades will benefit foreigners and expand the presence of e-CNY in cross-border transactions, ultimately contributing to the internationalization of China’s digital RMB.

China initiated the development of its digital fiat currency in 2014 through trial programs. As of May 31, the People’s Bank of China reported approximately 264 million e-CNY transactions totaling 83 billion yuan (approximately $15 billion) in trial regions.

Zhou Mi, Senior Researcher at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, emphasized China’s openness to foreign consumers and the ongoing room for improvement in areas like cross-border payments.

In a separate development, Chinese financial technology company Ant Group introduced seven new digital wallets and payment apps from Asian countries to the Chinese mainland. This move brings the total number of overseas digital wallets accepted in mainland China to ten. Users of these overseas digital wallets will enjoy a seamless payment experience across Alipay’s extensive merchant network in China. – reference: China Daily

Author: Terry KS

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