China enables digital yuan to pay for flight tickets

abdelaziz Fathi

China’s pilot program for its central bank digital currency (CBDC), known as the digital yuan, has taken a significant leap forward with the integration into Chinese business and air travel systems. Chinese business travelers will now have the option to pay for their flight tickets and variety of other functions using the e-CNY.

digital yuan

A collaboration between the China Merchants Bank and the Civil Aviation Administration of China is further expanding the application scenarios of the digital currency. The alliance introduces a digital yuan platform for merchants tailored to facilitate transactions for travelers within the aviation network. Passengers, too, will have the opportunity to use the CBDC for accessing new services through the platform.

China’s civil aviation news agency reported that China Travel Service, a travel firm based in Suzhou, has already utilized the digital yuan platform to purchase tickets on behalf of its clients. Also in 2022, Beijing Daxing International Airport and Beijing Capital International Airport partnered for a cargo-related digital yuan initiative.

The development comes shortly after Chinese banks and mobile carriers partnered to launch a SIM card purse product embedded in the e-CNY payment platform of digital yuan. The SIM card purse will provide users with a more convenient method to pay for their purchases at the point-of-sale machines. The payment can be made even if the user’s device is powered off or disconnected with the internet.

China’s sovereign digital currency has been recently embedded into WeChat, China’s leading social networking and payment app, in a fresh move to lure new users.

WeChat Pay, which counts more than 1 billion monthly active users, now facilitates the “express payments” function of the digital yuan wallet. The red packet feature is a function made popular over the years by the country’s dominant payments app Alipay and WeChat Pay.

Currently, the e-CNY is being tested in 23 cities and regions in 15 provinces and provincial-level cities. However, officials say that the main purpose of the pilot program for the time being is to build confidence in the digital yuan’s reliability and ease of use.

Jinan, the vibrant capital of Shandong Province in China, also embraced the digital yuan earlier this month as a form of payment on its entire bus network. It has become the country’s latest city to enable digital yuan for paying for public bus tickets and subway rides, including major bus lines like the B52 and BRT5.

This initiative aligns with a broader nationwide endeavor to promote the widespread usage of the digital yuan across various regions of China. Earlier in April, Changshu city in East Jiangsu Province allowed paying the salaries of civil servants and state-owned units entirely in digital yuan.

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