Tourists have the option of re-loading their e-CNY wallets with physical cash at local banks and reverting any balance left over to their original bank card or account.
China’s digital yuan app now has a “recharge first and use later” feature that allows tourists to top up their wallets using Mastercard and Visa payments. Tourists can pre-charge their e-CNY wallets before traveling and avoid the inconvenience of foreign exchange transactions.
The e-CNY app, which is part of the country’s Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) pilot, is available to iOS and local Google Play Store users. It allows users to create and manage individual digital yuan wallets that can be used to pay for goods and services with participating local merchants. The latest update to the iOS version (version 1.1.1.) was released on September 22 and allows inbound tourists to use their local phone number to create e-CNY wallets.
The update coincides with the Asian Games, a major global sporting event the country is hosting that could attract spectators from around the world. The Chinese government has extensively tested the digital yuan as a payment option for visitors. The Beijing Winter Olympics in 2022 was the first time tourists were able to make payments to local merchants using digital currency.
Tourists also have the option of re-loading their e-CNY wallets with physical cash at local banks and reverting any balance left over to their original bank card or account. The update enables visitors to have a similar payment experience to locals who are accustomed to mobile payments. It also streamlines transactions, increases payment efficiency, and decreases payment verification time.
According to the Digital Pound Foundation, visitors will be able to transact with physical stores taking part in the CBDC trial and digital platforms including Didi, Meituan, Ctrip, and JD. Banking experts believe that the update will not only provide tourists with convenience but will also bolster the digital yuan’s prominence in international transactions, paving the way for worldwide adoption.
China has been working towards ensuring wider availability of e-CNY as a payment option for retail payments. Speaking at the annual China International Service Trade Fair, the director of the Digital Currency Research Institute of the People’s Bank of China Changchun Mu stated that e-CNY has “undergone a major upgrade” in terms of its “organizational forms” and business model and added that wallet providers should facilitate digital yuan payment options in all retail scenarios.