China has expanded a trial of digital yuan payments across local railway networks in Beijing and Suzhou, ahead of a possible national rollout of their central bank’s digital currency.
Beijing’s city government said earlier this week that users of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China digital app would be able to pay for subway fares in e-CNY on all local routes.
Beijing’s subway system transports nearly 10 million people per day, with 428 stations connected by 24 lines. The network’s implementation of e-CNY payments will be one of the largest pilot programs of its kind to date, allowing individuals across the city to experiment with digital money for the first time.
The study is expected to provide authorities with more information about how e-CNY payments will work at scale for consumer use cases, building on the success of earlier trial systems.
The city previously ran two pilot initiatives, each of which distributed 50 million digital yuan to 250,000 inhabitants via lottery draws. While the trials are no longer active, individuals who were enrolled can still top up their digital currency wallets and use them for payments wherever they are accepted.
Beijing’s news comes on the heels of a similar launch in Suzhou, which was revealed just a day before. The e-CNY payment infrastructure will also apply to Suzhou’s metro system, giving a different viewpoint on how the currency functions in digital payments.
After significant piloting payments in recent months, China is the most advanced of the world’s major countries with a central bank digital currency plan. It is believed that it is preparing for a nationwide rollout soon.