New Tencent Digital Yuan Wallet Preparing to Launch
First images have emerged of specialized digital yuan wallets provided by the Tencent-run e-pay platform WeChat Pay.
Although the wallets are still in what appears to be beta testing and are not yet fully functional, some media outlets – such as Sina – appear to have been able to open wallets and test their functionality.
WeChat Pay, along with its biggest rival Alibaba’s Alipay, have cornered 15% of China’s payments market. And while the central People’s Bank of China (PBoC) has gone to great pains to insist that the digital CNY and e-pay platforms like WeChat Pay are fundamentally different, others believe that Beijing wants to take a bite out of the e-pay duopoly with its own digital yuan app offering.
The “Tencent Digital Yuan Wallet” – as it has been named – is an applet within the WeChat ecosystem that will provide digital payment functions “such as transferring money, receiving and paying, and bank card-related” features.
Although WeChat Pay has already added basic digital yuan payment functions to its standard wallet user experience (UX) in pilot areas, the new applet provides a range of advanced functions and will allow users to pay by simply scanning QR codes on their smart devices, rather than having to launch the WeChat Pay platform and manually select the digital CNY payment option.
It also allows users to make use of “sweep” and other functions to process multiple payments, likely, or set up something akin to a standing order or direct debit on a conventional bank account.
The media outlet concluded that the innovation would make it far “more convenient for users to manage” their digital currency accounts.
(A TV reporter showcased the use of digital yuan to pay for goods online and in-store at consumer goods stores in Hangzhou.)
Meanwhile, residents of the Chinese cities recently added to the digital yuan pilot areas have spent some USD 63m worth of the token since they were included in the pilot some 10 days ago.
The claim was made by the e-commerce platform Meituan, which offers digital CNY payment options on its platform in the cities – Tianjin, Chongqing, Guangzhou, Fuzhou, Xiamen, Hangzhou, Ningbo, Wenzhou, Huzhou, Shaoxing, and Jinhua – as well as the “10+1” original pilot areas.
No small amount of this figure will include the many promotional giveaways local authorities and banks have been involved in – with the proviso that recipients use their tokens to pay for goods and services in-store or online.
(Local news reported about how citizens in Guangzhou have begun using the digital yuan since the pilot was expanded.)
The e-commerce platform noted that “90% of the digital CNY” transactions in the new cities comprised takeout food orders, spending on grocery shopping, and urban transport hire (such as electric scooter and bicycle hire).
Further, much of the incentive to adopt appears to be coming from merchants, rather than customers. JRJ reported that because (unlike card transactions) the e-CNY involves no handling fees and improved convenience for withdrawals, “many merchants actively recommend the digital yuan as a payment method for their customers.”
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