Banks in Shanghai taking public applications to open digital yuan wallets
Published: Mar 23, 2021 12:03 PM
A vending machine in a Shanghai underground station allows customers to pay by digital yuan. Photo: Xie Jun/GT

A vending machine in a Shanghai underground station allows customers to pay by digital yuan. Photo: Xie Jun/GT

Six of China's state-owned banks, which have taken part in the distribution of digital yuan, have begun accepting public applications to open trial digital-yuan wallets, part of a move to pave the way for the digital currency's nationwide rollout.

Chinese citizens in Shanghai can apply at one of the six banks' branches to be "white-listed" for digital-yuan tests, the Global Times learned. The six banks are Bank of China, China Construction Bank, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), Agricultural Bank of China, Bank of Communications and Postal Savings Bank of China.

An ICBC employee at the Qingpu branch in Shanghai told the Global Times that some of the six banks' branches will provide QR codes that applicants can scan and use to register, but not all applications will necessarily be approved.

Successful applicants will get a message with a link to download the central bank's digital-yuan wallet app, which they can use to register. That will allow them to open "wallets" at the designated banks, which can be linked to their own bank accounts.

There is a 1,000-yuan ($153) limit on payments using the digital-yuan wallets on the first day. Users can apply for higher limits, media reports said.

Some banks in Shanghai said that applications for digital-yuan wallets are increasing, the Shanghai Securities News reported on Tuesday.

The trials aren't open to the general public in Beijing yet, but they "will be launched sooner or later this year," an ICBC employee in Beijing's Chaoyang district told the Global Times on Tuesday. 

Two other commercial banks - MYbank, backed by Ant Group and WeBank, backed by Tencent - are reportedly joining the trial and will be added to the central bank's digital-yuan app.

On Tuesday, digital-currency concept stocks rose in the A-share market. Safety solutions provider Feitian Safe closed 10.69 percent higher, while intelligent services provider Insigma was up 4.82 percent. 

China has initiated large-scale public tests of the digital yuan since October, with trials in cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, South China's Guangdong Province, Suzhou, East China's Jiangsu Province and Chengdu, capital of Southwest China's Sichuan Province.

The tests covered various scenarios, including physical retailing and transportation fares, as well as online shopping on platforms such as, Meituan Dianping and Didi Chuxing.