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Countries all over the world have increased their efforts to establish and promote Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDC). And, China seems to be winning that race by a fair margin. In fact, according to a recent report, over 20 publicly listed companies have disclosed in recent filings their work towards the research and development of products and services utilizing the e-CNY.
The news report cited “incomplete statistics” from semi-annual reports of companies. These firms are preparing to market products such as hardware wallets and payments systems. By and large, they are focused on two major directions – Hardware and application-based development.
In terms of hardware, the key items include smart point-of-sale (POS) machines and bank branch smart devices, among others, with hardware wallets serving as the primary focus.
E-CNY hard wallets are gadgets that allow you to pay and receive RMBs. These gadgets could be built with video cards, touch tags, fingerprint cards, or wearable devices.
Consider the following: A company called “Chu Tianlong” revealed that it produced a modest quantity of digital RMB hard wallets and provided related items and technical services to a number of commercial institutions. Many other companies in the country are also investing in hard wallet research, technology development, and product design.
On the software front, firms are working on a variety of scenarios for using e-CNY on campuses and in transportation, as well as for cross-border payments. A startup called “Xinkaipu” is focused on the smart campus scene, having successfully launched the Shanghai University One School Link for e-CNY payments.
Similarly, in Suzhou in October, another company called “Xiongdi Technology” created an e-CNY fee payment system for bus lines.
Applications are shifting from low-frequency to high-volume and high-frequency. Mietuan, a Chinese technology behemoth, is one such example. It just launched a bicycle-sharing service that accepts e-CNY as payment. Unlocking the bike is as simple as touching the lock with a cell phone equipped with an e-CNY payment capability. Once the ride is done, the fare is promptly withdrawn from the users’ digital wallet.
Furthermore, follow-up pilots, according to an expert mentioned in the paper, would accomplish larger breakthroughs in online usage and retail situations such as travel and e-commerce.
China is the world’s first large economy to launch a digital currency, with public testing beginning in April of this year. It has also been aggressively advertising its CBDCs by donating millions of dollars in currency to citizens of the country’s biggest cities in order to encourage their use.
For the upcoming Winter Olympics, two of the six Chinese banks that use e-CNY have also created customised hardware wallets in the shape of mascots and ski gloves.