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PBOC contactless card showing China's digital currency
DIGITAL YUAN: PBOC’s contactless ‘hard wallet’ enables NFC payments using the digital currency Photo: Tongren Hospital

The People’s Bank of China[1] (PBOC) has expanded its central bank digital currency (CBDC) pilot to include a contactless ‘hard wallet’ and NFC wearables that enable consumers to make in-store and transit fare payments with their digital yuan.

The tests come as PBOC also launches its latest ‘red envelope’ lottery in Shenzhen, offering 100,000 residents the chance to win 200 digital yuan (US$31) that they can then use to make in-store payments at more than 10,000 merchants across the city.

Phone-free payments

The digital yuan hard wallet resembles a conventional smart card and allows users to store and make contactless NFC payments with the digital currency without needing to use a digital wallet on a mobile phone.

A small screen embedded in the card enables them to view their card balance and payments record.

The device is being tested at Tongren Hospital in Shanghai and has been designed to make it possible “for people who have difficulty in using smart terminals to use digital renminbi and realise the possibility of crossing the digital divide,” Xinhuanet reports[2].

“Tongren Hospital will further pilot the use of digital renminbi in payment scenarios such as hospital diagnosis and treatment payments, physical examinations and parking fees,” the publication adds. 

“This pilot is the first time to realise a hard wallet payment model that is separated from mobile phones after mobile phone scanning and touch payment in Shenzhen and Suzhou.”

NFC wearables

PBOC has also begun testing digital yuan payments using a variety of contactless wearable devices in Beijing in preparation for a wider pilot in the Chinese capital during the 2022 Winter Olympics.

The devices include “ultra-thin card wallets, visual card

Read more from our friends at NFC World

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currensceneFLOGO WHTsquareThough not the oldest form of currency, some form of shell money appears to have been found on almost every continent. The shell most widely used worldwide as currency was the shell of Cypraea moneta, the money cowry.

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