A staff member demonstrates the payment with China's digital yuan, or the e-CNY, during the first Global Digital Trade Expo in Hangzhou, east China's province of Zhejiang, Dec. 12-2022.
China has reformed its digital renminbi payment services as a part of its efforts 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 method of payment in China, such measures will offer 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 of the e-CNY app allows foreigners to reset the wallet of the app using online services of global payment networks Visa and Mastercard.
To recharge digital RMB wallets in cash, foreigners can visit bank service outlets. Afterward, if there is a balance left in the digital wallet, it can be returned to the foreign bank card or account that was used for topping up.
In the past, foreigners in China couldn't top up their e-CNY wallets in advance. The taxpayers could only do so on the spot when making payments.
The new function allows foreigners to use more convenient online payment methods, such as 'quick pay', just like domestic users. It reduces the amount of processing time, makes the transaction simpler and smoother, improves payment efficiency, reduces waiting time due to foreign card verification, and enhances the overall payment experience.
The upgrade allows foreigners to use their e-CNY wallets both at brick-and-mortar merchants 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.
Mobile payment services are not as popular in most countries and regions as in China, said Dong Ximiao, the chief researcher at Merchants Union Consumer Finance.
The upgrade will not only create a more convenient payment environment for foreigners in China, but will also help test the e-CNY platform and promote the digital currency globally, he said.
Zhou Maohua, an analyst at China Everbright Bank, said the upgrade will benefit foreigners and enhance the presence of e-CNY in cross-border transactions, which will ultimately help promote the digital RMB and facilitate the internationalization of the currency.
Since 2014, China has been developing the digital version of the fiat currency, under trial programs.
According to the People's Bank of China, the country's central bank, around 264 million e-CNY transactions were made in trial areas as of May 31, totaling 83 billion yuan.
China always welcomes foreign consumers, and there is still room for improvement in areas such as cross-border payment, said Zhou Mi, a senior researcher at the China Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation in Beijing.
Ant Group, a Chinese financial technology firm, introduced seven new digital wallets and payment apps from Asia to the Chinese mainland, bringing the total of overseas digital wallets accepted on the mainland to 10 by the end of the year.
Alipay said it will let users of overseas digital wallets, such as HiPay of Mongolia and Changi Pay of Singapore, enjoy a seamless payment experience on the mainland, through their domestic mobile e-wallets.