China enables e-CNY top-up using Mastercard and VISA cards

The Digital Yuan app in China has been updated to make it easier for tourists to use digital currency during their visits. International tourists can now top up their Digital Yuan wallets using Mastercard or VISA cards before arriving in China.

The app, known as e-CNY, is currently in beta and is available to iPhone users in select regions of China and China-based Google Play Store users. It allows users to create personal digital wallets for China’s state-backed digital currency, the e-CNY. This update aligns with China’s efforts to promote the use of e-CNY for payments by international tourists, especially during events like the Asian Games and the Beijing Winter Olympics in 2022.

The latest update to the iOS version of the e-CNY app, released on September 22, introduces a fresh feature. Version 1.1.1 now enables users to top up their e-CNY wallets using international card options, including Visa and Mastercard.

China’s sovereign digital currency has been recently embedded into WeChat, China’s leading social networking and payment app, in a fresh move to lure new users.

WeChat Pay, which counts more than 1 billion monthly active users, now facilitates the “express payments” function of the digital yuan wallet. The red packet feature is a function made popular over the years by the country’s dominant payments app Alipay and WeChat Pay.

Currently, the e-CNY is being tested in 23 cities and regions in 15 provinces and provincial-level cities. However, officials say that the main purpose of the pilot program for the time being is to build confidence in the digital yuan’s reliability and ease of use.

Jinan, the vibrant capital of Shandong Province in China, also embraced the e-CNY as a form of payment on its entire bus network. Jinan has become the country’s latest city to enable digital yuan for paying for public bus tickets and subway rides, including major bus lines like the B52 and BRT5. After the initial pilot program, the city rolled out e-CNY for passengers to pay their fares on any of the area’s bus routes.

Jinan has recently upgraded its card readers and public transportation software to accommodate payments using the country’s Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC). It also introduced fare discounts for users opting for CBDC payments. Passengers can get up to two discounted rides per day and a maximum of six discounted rides per month when utilizing the digital yuan as their payment method.