Soochow Securities enables use of e-CNY in financial trading

A Chinese brokerage firm has enabled e-CNY payments on its securities trading platform, marking the first use case of the official CBDC in the mainstream financial markets.

digital yuan

According to a report by state-backed finance outlet China Securities Journal, Soochow Securities now enable its users to use e-CNY payment function to buy securities through the company’s mobile app. The feature was developed in cooperation with the Bank of China to allow investors to buy the broker’s wealth management products with the digital yuan, marking a new era for its use in the world’s second-largest economy.

The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) started this year to include the e-CNY into its M0 calculations, the amount of cash circulating in the local economy. The PBOC said it will continue to expand the scope of its pilot programs, develop more trial scenarios, and bolster international cooperation for the digital yuan.

The outstanding size of the PBOC-backed cryptocurrency was nearly $2 billion at the end of December. However, the amount was described by a former official of China’s central bank as a drop in the bucket compared with transactions conducted through the country’s dominant mobile payment systems.

Xie Ping, the former director General of Research at the People’s Bank of China (PBoC), said large investments in technology are required to promote the country’s Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC). He expressed dissatisfaction about the progress made two years after launch, citing e-CNY’s limited turnover to just a few billion dollars.

Ping noted that the expansion of the pilot program faces challenges as Chinese consumers are already used to the convenience of Alipay and WeChat Pay. He added that achieving the payment processing capacity required to handle massive volumes of transactions will need billions to build data centers, servers and bandwidth.

To tackle the issue, the former banker says the challenge now is how to improve the e-CNY’s use and stickiness with users and merchants. In the next step, the central bank will promote deeper e-CNY integration for the public and for personal business.

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.

China had more than 360 million e-CNY transactions, with a total volume topping 100 billion yuan ($14 billion) as of October 2022. A total of 5.6 million commercial outlets across the country now accept digital yuan as a payment option. However, the growth figure was relatively modest when compared to the virtual currency’s transaction volume for the entirety of 2021, which reached 87.6 billion yuan ($13 billion).

Even though the e-CNY is now the most widely adopted CBDC in the world, the transaction volume grew by only 14 percent from a year earlier.