One of China’s largest online retailers is paying its employees with the digital yuan, China’s central bank digital currency (CBDC). JD.com confirmed recently that aside from the employees, it has also been paying off some of its business partners with the digital currency.
JD.com is one of the two largest online retailers in China, alongside Alibaba-run Tmall, as well as a member of the Fortune Global 500. The company prides itself in adopting the latest technology—it has the largest drone capability in the world.
Its latest tech adoption is the digital yuan. In a recent blog post, the Beijing-based company revealed that it has been working with the People’s Bank of China since September last year. In that time, it has “provided technology and service support for DC/EP trial programs in Suzhou, Beijing and Chengdu.”
The company further revealed:
“In January, JD used the solution to pay salaries for some of its employees, further exploring the application of DC/EP. JD also made business-to-business payments via DC/EP […] and helped make the cross-bank settlement, when JD Retail’s DC/EP Bank of Communications account made a transaction to Unis Electronic Business’ DC/EP Bank of China account.”
JD.com has been accepting the digital yuan for payments on its website since December 2020. In the first week, which coincided with the Double 12 shopping event, the retailer processed close to 20,000 transactions. JD.com was one of the major online retailers that started to accept digital yuan payments, with the others including DiDi, BiliBili and Meituan. The largest purchase at the time was worth $1,530.
The head of the digital yuan program at JD.com, Fei Peng, commented, “JD Technology will continue to combine strengths in the supply chain, omni-channel scenarios, advanced technology and client service experience to contribute more to the DC/EP ecosystem.”
Peng further told local paper Global Times that most of JD.com’s digital yuan initiatives have focused on the consumer level. However, the company is shifting focus now.
“Now, we are starting to pay attention to where the money comes from. Paying salaries is a good way to source digital yuan,” she stated.
Aside from JD.com, other major Chinese firms have pledged to support the digital yuan rollout. They include electronics giant Huawei and fintech heavyweights Ant Group and Tencent. The former stated that it would conduct controlled pilot tests under the guidance of the PBoC. The pledge comes at a time when Ant Group is under strict scrutiny over its business practices.
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