Digital yuan tests speed up during holidays, trials could expand to cross-border scenarios
Trials could expand to cross-border scenarios by relying on offshore centers
Published: May 05, 2021 07:23 PM
Residents who received red packets of digital yuan use the money in stores in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province. Photo: Li Hao/GT

Residents who received "red packets" of digital yuan use the money in stores in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province. Photo: Li Hao/GT

Testing of China's digital yuan has picked up speed during the May Day holiday along with the explosive recovery of the consumption sector, with the trials being expanded to intra-provincial scenarios, as well as in more places such as scenic spots.

As a "May 5" shopping festival jointly held by Shanghai and Suzhou, East China's Jiangsu Province kicked off on Saturday, the Suzhou local government said that it will innovatively carry out a pilot trial of the cross-regional use of the digital yuan, so as to strengthen connections of the application of the currency for consumption in the two large cities.

In addition, Suzhou will conduct a third public test of the digital currency in a variety of scenarios, including "red packets", during the shopping festival that lasts until June 30, worth 50 million yuan ($7.73 million) in total.

Suning Carrefour said that it will launch trials of digital yuan payments at nearly 50 stores in Shanghai, Suzhou and other cities to formally embrace the nation's digital transformation and support a consumption upgrade, according to a press release it sent to the Global Times.

Apart from the Yangtze River Delta region, many other areas including South China's Hainan Province and the capital city Beijing recently saw changes to the application scenarios of the digital yuan.

During the five-day holiday, the digital yuan landed in the Boundary Island Scenic Area of Hainan, where visitors can get 33 yuan off if they spend over 100 yuan for tickets by using the digital currency supported by Industrial and Commercial Bank of China.

Many travelers said that it's convenient and safe to use digital yuan, and it's a wonderful experience that also offers a sales discount, according to an article posted on the WeChat account of the scenic spot.

As the second batch of regions taking part in the digital currency pilot program, Hainan has seen the pilot use of the digital yuan recently being expanded to duty-free shopping, from smart campus and smart transport uses.

On April 27, the first payment for an offshore duty-free sale by using digital yuan was made in Sanya, Hainan, marking the launch of the new digital payment scenario in the free trade port, according to the local government.

Testing of the digital yuan has entered the fast lane, which is necessary to ensure that the underlying technologies and systems can support large-scale transactions, that financial regulators and institutions are able to support internal operations, and that more scenarios can be explored, Wang Peng, assistant professor of the Gaoling School of Artificial Intelligence at Renmin University of China, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

Payments using digital yuan can be expanded to cross-border transactions by relying on offshore yuan centers like Hong Kong as well as free trade zones and ports, Wang said. He said that there is a long way to go for the international use of the digital yuan, which should be done gradually on a case-by-case basis.

"Apart from being used as a payment tool, digital yuan will increase efficiency and streamline processes to better achieve the goal of macroeconomic adjustment," Wang said, noting that innovations are required to explore more functions of the digital yuan - such as settlements for bulk commodity trading, deposits and withdrawals and remittances.

With the advantage of wide coverage of smart devices and highly digitalized businesses, China is taking the lead in both the R&D and application of the digital yuan, but the country will not seek digital currency domination because it's designed to benefit social and economic development as well as public well-being, Wang said.