Beijing underground rolls out full integration of CBDC for payments

Beijing’s subway network has expanded its trial of China’s forthcoming digital currency to the full scale of its network, fully integrating the technology within its payments ecosystem.

The city’s railway announced last week that the digital yuan, or e-CNY, would be available immediately at 428 stations across its 24 lines, in a significant upgrade to the scope and scale of the pilot scheme.

While the pilot initially was only supported through the transport system’s mobile app payments, it is now available to all 10 million daily passengers on the network, whether they are topping up transport cards, paying by app, or buying tickets for individual journeys.

Ticket machines at stations now also accept payment in e-CNY, alongside options to pay by cash, WeChat Pay, AliPay and others. To pay by e-CNY, passengers simply scan the QR code on screen in their e-CNY wallet to buy their tickets or top up their transport cards.

Aside from the machines, passengers can also buy tickets from staffed service counters, which will also accept payment in e-CNY effective immediately.

The expanded pilot scheme comes off the back of several smaller trials of the digital currency in practice, both in Beijing and across other cities in China.

The Beijing subway rollout is the most significant scale the digital currency has yet to be piloted on, with its implementation across the network now likely to attract millions of users making payments in the currency on a daily basis.

It comes as China is reported to be close to considering a full national rollout of its digital yuan, becoming the first major global economy to fully launch its digital currency in mass commercial and retail settings.

Authorities in China are reported to be at an advanced stage of development with the currency compared to their counterpart central banks elsewhere.

To learn more about central bank digital currencies and some of the design decisions that need to be considered when creating and launching it, read nChain’s CBDC playbook.

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