Major Chinese City’s Metro Begins Accepting Digital Yuan Payments

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The city of Ningbo, in China’s Northeast Zhejiang Province, has announced that all 125 of its metro stations now accept digital yuan payment – as the Chinese central bank digital currency (CBDC) continues its adoption drive.

Ningbo has some 9.5 million residents and a busy industrial sector. It is home to the only free trade zone in Zhejiang Province, as well as a deregulated hi-tech zone and one of China’s only wholly foreign-owned industrial parks. It is also a major naval base and houses most of the Chinese navy’s East China Sea fleet.

As such, its public transport network is particularly busy and comprises five metro lines, with a further three currently in construction.

Per an official release from the operator, Ningbo Rail Transit, residents wishing to pay with the token will need to do so via the subway system’s dedicated app.

In the app’s interface, they will be prompted to link e-CNY wallets from one of the six biggest banks currently participating in the digital yuan pilot, namely: the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the Agricultural Bank of China, the Bank of China, the China Construction Bank, the Bank of Communications, and the Postal Savings Bank.

Doing so will allow residents to scan QR codes on their mobile phones at ticket barriers – which will automatically take the relevant fee from their wallets.

The metro operator stressed that the payment option was being rolled out as an initial “pilot” – but appears keen to push commuters to pay with the digital yuan. As part of an introductory offer, commuters paying with the digital yuan have been told that a certain number of commuters – chosen at random – will be charged just “one penny” (fractions of USD 1) to ride the metro until September 4.

The rail operator did not indicate if it would eventually allow commuters to pay their metro fees directly from their digital yuan wallets. Nor did it indicate that any options would be provided for non-smartphone users who are making use of so-called “hard wallets,” offline e-CNY smart cards that use NFC technology.

But the firm stated that it would “continue to update” its digital CNY “payment channels in the future.”

The move means that nine city subway systems throughout China’s fast-expanding digital yuan pilot zone now allow commuters to pay using the CBDC.

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