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Chinese “Super SIM” Cards to Feature New Digital Yuan Functions

Tim Alper
Last updated: | 2 min read
A mobile phone SIM card chip decorated in the colors of the Chinese flag.
Source: doomu/Adobe

New Chinese “Super SIM” cards will function as digital yuan wallets, smartcards, and ID cards as the nation’s CBDC pilot continues.

Chinese mobile operators such as China Mobile have been working on so-called “Super SIM” offerings since 2016.

They have added a range of functionality to the cards in the years since.

But the newest SIM cards will feature new authentication and security functions, in addition to CBDC “hard” wallets.

Per China’s IT-Times, leading Chinese mobile providers’ latest “Super SIM cards” have been upgraded with an array of novel features.

These new cards will soon allow students and “middle and high school children” to make use of offline digital yuan payment options.

Many Chinese schools require students to “sign in” at school gates with smart ID cards, and sign out when they head home.

With the new Super SIMs, pupils will also be able to use ID cards or mobiles to pay in school canteens and cafeterias.

The new Super SIMs can be manually fitted to existing ID cards or used in cell phones, where they can perform mobile phone functions, as well as doubling as digital ID cards and CBDC wallets.

Some Chinese university students can already use ID cards to pay for on-campus services using the e-CNY.

They can use the same cards to access buildings such as libraries and lecture theaters.

Chinese CBDC: New Super SIM Cards Functions to Debut

In the future, the media outlet continued, Super SIM cards will feature improved identification capabilities.

And these will reportedly allow citizens to do away with separate ID cards and bank cards at hotels.

Instead, IT-Times wrote, “when checking in at a hotel, no ID card will be needed – you will be able to check in quickly, just using your phone.”

Commemorative cards are also being fitted with “financial-grade” chips that double as “rechargeable” digital yuan wallets.

Some of these debuted at the recent World University Games in Chengdu.

Super SIM cards make use of near-field communication (NFC) technology, like many of the “hard” (offline) smartcards and wearable digital wallets released by Chinese banks.

Thousands of commemorative digital yuan hard wallets have been distributed in recent weeks as China prepares to showcase its CBDC to international visitors at the Asia Games.

A screenshot of a Weibo post showing a person’s hand holding offline e-CNY “hard” wallets.
Commemorative Asian Games-themed offline e-CNY “hard” wallets. (Source: 鑫佳颖[Xin Jia Ying]Weibo/Screenshot)

The Games will be held in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province – with the opening ceremony taking place on September 21.

In July, the central People’s Bank of China (PBoC) unveiled a solution that lets Android phone users use SIM cards as hard CBDC wallets.

Later the same month, operators such as China Telecom and China Unicom indicated they would increase their level of involvement in the CBDC pilot.

This saw the two telecoms powerhouses link their Super SIM projects to the PBoC’s digital yuan app.

The consulting giant EY claimed that SIM-based solutions were set to make the “threshold for [CBDC] use” “extremely low.”

The firm wrote:

“The [SIM solution] would help solve the problem of [smartphones] for certain groups such as the elderly and children.”