The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) have unveiled prototype hardware devices that support the use of the digital yuan central bank digital currency (CBDC) across a range of different use cases.
The banks demonstrated the devices at the fourth Digital China Construction Summit in the city of Fuzhou, where ecommerce giant JD.com revealed that it had begun paying some of its staff in digital yuan and where both Ant Group and Tencent laid out their involvement in CBDC research and development programmes.
During the two-day event, PBOC demonstrated a device for converting physical yuan and foreign currency into digital yuan and uploading them onto a CBDC hard wallet smart card.
“In the future, foreigners holding passports only need to put foreign currency into the machine and the machine will automatically spit out a digital RMB card,” Sina news service explains.
“The card also has a display screen showing the transaction amount and available balance, so it is also called a ‘visual chip’ wallet.
“With this wallet, foreigners can spend on terminals that accept digital renminbi payments.
“The application scenarios cover shopping malls, supermarkets, vending machines, transportation, education, medical care, farmer’s markets etc and it will be officially put into use at the Winter Olympics for the first time next year.”
ICBC demonstrated a device that enables users to exchange physical yuan — in both coin and paper form — into digital yuan in either a digital wallet or a hard wallet smart card and can operate both online and offline.
The bank’s other prototype devices include “agricultural aid vending machines” that enable users to make digital yuan “public welfare donations on an ecommerce platform” and a “digital renminbi smartphone” that “can realise multiple functions such as hardware wallet issuance, wallet recharge and withdrawal, digital renminbi transfer and remittance, domestic and foreign currency exchange of digital renminbi, and provides a full range of digital renminbi services for disadvantaged groups in digital finance and short-term overseas visitors to China,” according to media outlet Mobile Payment Network (MPN).
It also showed a range of devices enabled for digital yuan payments, including “special-shaped hardware wallets”, “student watches” and “large-screen voice broadcast wallets”. According to MPN, these aim to “promote the implementation of hardware wallets in closed scenarios such as retirement communities”.