China’s food delivery giant Meituan has become the latest tech firm to integrate central bank digital currency (CBDC) payments for its services.
Meituan users can link the digital yuan wallet to their service app and use it for a range of daily services such as booking hotels, cabs and paying at restaurants. The food delivery and daily services app recorded 660 million transacting customers last year, and the integration of e-CNY payments would only help the Beijing government to test its sovereign digital currency more widely.
Over the past few months, major tech giants in the country such as WeChat and JD.com have joined the mass retail testing of e-CNY.
China completed the development of its CBDC in 2019 itself, and over the past two years, the authorities have been extensively testing its use in the retail market. The CBDC pilot began as a travel subsidy for government employees and later expanded to include millions of people and thousands of businesses.
While there hasn’t been any indication of a public launch yet, many believe the growing pace of trials suggests that the government might be looking to launch the CBDC during the upcoming winter Olympics starting on February 4th.
Zou Lan, director of the PBOC’s financial markets department has said that the cumulative transactions in e-CNY have reached 87.57 billion yuan ($13.68 billion). By the end of October 2021, nearly 10 million merchants had activated digital yuan wallets.
China is currently at the top of the CBDC game, having started the development for the same as early as 2014. While 91 nations have started their CBDC development, only a handful have reached the pilot phase including China, South Korea, Switzerland and France. The United States is currently in the discussion phase and lawmakers weighing in the pros and cons of a sovereign digital currency.