China begins next phase of CBDC testing with e-CNY payment for public transport

Scan and pay with e-CNY is now available in multiple Chinese cities for citizens looking to ride their local buses and subways.

According to multiple sources, on Tuesday, China officially began rolling out the next round of its central bank digital currency (CBDC) pilot test program. In the city of Guanzhou, it is now possible to pay for public bus rides with the digital yuan (e-CNY) CBDC on 10 transit routes, which is a first for the country. To do so, passengers simply need to download the e-CNY app, deposit funds, and scan the QR code located in the bus payment section to pay for their ride. 

Similarly, the day before, the city of Ningbo said that passengers can now pay for subway rides at 125 stations with e-CNY. Ningbo is the ninth city in China to roll out the e-CNY pilot test in its subway lines, where passengers can simply scan and pay for the journey. 

The Chinese government has rapidly expanded the utility of the e-CNY this year. Just last week, it became possible to pay for employee housing fund contributions in the city of Guangzhou with the CBDC. To revitalize consumer spending in the face of strict coronavirus lockdowns, the government partnered with food-delivery giant Meituan and e-commerce platform to create e-CNY air-drops that can be spent at listed venues.

In its last data update dated June 20, over 6 million unique users had ordered services with e-CNY funds on Meituan. Meanwhile, as of July, said that it had processed more than 4 million e-commerce transactions worth an estimated 900 million CNY ($131.6 million) since it began accepting the e-CNY as tender. Approximately 830 billion ($121.4 billion) worth of e-CNY transactions was recorded in the first five months of 2022.