China's digital yuan proves its cash-like qualities with offline payments
China's central bank has enabled a new function for offline digital yuan payments for users of several Android smartphone models, CGTN has recently learned from several sources.
With the new feature added to the People's Bank of China's (PBOC) digital yuan mobile application, users can make payments even when their device has no internet connection or power, with the central bank digital currency (CBDC). It is understood that the feature uses near-field communication, or NFC, technology.
The digital yuan app aims to provide the convenience of cash by offering the option for offline payments, even though it may be infrequently used, Qi Mohan, a Beijing branch digital yuan team member from the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China told CGTN.
"Digital yuan is a legal currency in digital form. In essence, it's a [type of] digital 'cash'," said Qi. "Only by taking into account these scenarios, will the digital yuan be readily available, just like paper currency."
On the app, users can activate a "tap to pay" function and set a limit on the number and value of offline payments that can be made.
"The ability to set limits is meant to ease security concerns if users' phones were lost or stolen, as a verification code will be required for payments exceeding the preset quota," said Qi. "Plus, those who have lost their phone can suspend the offline payment function by logging into the app from another mobile phone," he added.
Although this new function – only available on some models of Xiaomi and VIVO phones – is still in its infancy, it is expected to be available on other handsets in the near future, Wang Xin, manager of the network finance department of the Beijing branch of Agricultural Bank of China, told CGTN.
Meanwhile, PBOC's website shows the digital yuan's pilot areas have also been further expanded.
Since 2014, the PBOC has been piloting the e-CNY in various forms. Now it is being rolled out in Shenzhen, Suzhou, Xiongan and Chengdu, where the pilot program was first launched. In addition, Jinan City of Shandong Province, Nanning City and Fangchenggang City of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Kunming City of Yunnan Province and Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture were more recently added as new pilot areas.
With the gradual deepening of the digital yuan pilot and expansion of the ways digital yuan can be used, Chinese authorities have been targeting the types of payments that will get the widest range of people using the CBDC, said Xuan Changneng, deputy governor at the PBOC at the 2023 work conference of the central bank.