A staff member demonstrates the payment with China's digital yuan, or the e-CNY, at the first Global Digital Trade Expo in Hangzhou, east China's Zhejiang province, Dec. 12-2022.
China has been upgrading its digital renminbi payment services to enhance the profile of its digital currency and make the payment process more user-friendly for foreigners.
As mobile payment has become the dominant payment method in China, such measures will give foreigners a better experience during their visit or stay in the country, experts said, adding that more measures are expected to further promote the digital fiat currency.
The newly launched'recharge before use' feature in the e-CNY app enables international users to replenish the wallet of the app using online services of Visa and Mastercard.
To recharge the digital RMB wallet using cash, foreigners can go to bank service outlets. If a balance is left in the digital wallet afterward, it can be returned to the foreign bank card or account that was used for topping up.
In the past, foreigners in China could not top up their e-CNY wallets in advance. They could only do so on-the-spot when making payments.
The new function allows foreigners to use more accessible online payment methods, such as 'quick pay', just like domestic users. It reduces the time for processing the payment, makes the operation simpler and smoother, enhances payment efficiency, reduces waiting time due to foreign card verification, and enhances the overall payment experience.
The upgrade enables foreigners to use their e-CNY wallets both at brick-and-mortar stores capable of accepting the digital currency under trial programs and on online platforms such as ride-hailing app Didi, takeaway service provider Meituan, travel portal Ctrip and e-commerce platform JD.
Dong Ximiao, the chief researcher of Merchants Union Consumer Finance, said mobile payment services are not as widely used in most countries and regions as in China.
The move will not only create a more comfortable payment environment for foreigners in China but also help test the e-CNY platform and promote the digital currency globally, he said.
China Everbright Bank analyst Zhou Maohua said the upgrade is beneficial for foreigners and enhances the presence of e-CNY in cross-border transactions, which will ultimately support the digital RMB and facilitate the internationalization of the currency.
Since 2014, China has been implementing a digital version of the fiat currency, under trial programs.
According to the People's Bank of China, around 264 million e-CNY transactions were made in trial regions as of May 31, totaling 83 billion yuan.
Zhou Mi, a senior researcher at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation in Beijing, said that China always welcomes foreign consumers, and there is still room for improvement in areas like cross-border payment.
The Chinese financial tech firm Ant Group has also introduced seven new leading digital wallets and payment apps from Asia to the Chinese mainland, bringing the total number of overseas digital wallets accepted on the mainland to10.
Alipay said users of overseas digital wallets such as HiPay of Mongolia and Changi Pay of Singapore will be able to use their domestic mobile e-wallets to enjoy a seamless payment experience across Alipay's vast merchant network.