A leading payments industry news source for more than 17 years. Glenbrook curates the news and keeps you abreast of the important daily headlines in payments.

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January 16, 2023

On the web

January 12, 2023

On the web

China Recognizes Digital Yuan in Cash Circulation Data


"Rite Aid Corp. is launching a new financial service for customers at its stores. The drugstore retailer is enabling consumers with access to the Kubra EZ-Pay Retail Cash Payments Network through their biller to pay their bills in cash at over 2,000 of its brick-and-mortar locations. Rite Aid is the 19th retailer to join Kubra's Retail Cash Payments (RCP) Network, adding 2,257 new retail locations in 17 states across the country. Kubra offers its RCP Network in partnership with payments technology company InComm Payments...Walgreens, one of Rite Aid’s chief rivals in the drugstore space, partnered with the PayNearMe retail network in March 2022 to enable customers to facilitate cash payments at nearly 9,000 Walgreens stores across the country."

January 11, 2023

On the web

Philippines to Collaborate with Belgium, China on Digital ID

Biometric Update

"The Philippines’ Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT) is separately partnering with Belgium and China to share expertise on diverse digital technology domains, including digital identity and infrastructure. The deal with China was signed recently during the Philippines President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s state visit to the country, according to a news advisory from the DICT."

On the wires

E-Yuan App Adds Payment Function for When Mobiles Are Offline, Out of Power

Yicai Global

"China has added a new function to its digital yuan payment app so that mobile phone can be still be used to make payments without internet connection or power. The Tap to Pay function can be used to complete payments even when mobile phones are powered off, Yicai Global learned. Users need to activate the function in the e-yuan app, and can choose how many times it can be used and how much can be paid after their phone shuts down. The system is available with Android-based mobile phones, and will be available on other handsets in the future. Users can find the payment-without-internet-or-power function in the payment settings of the e-yuan app. The convenient function has sparked security concerns, particularly about whether other people could spend money using a lost or stolen mobile phone."

December 30, 2022

On the web

Results of Digital Yuan Experiment “Not Ideal”, Says Former PBOC Official


“Xie is said to have expressed disappointment with the result of the digital yuan trial in select provinces and cities, noting that “the cumulative circulation of the digital currency in the two years of trial has been only ¥100 billion”. Adding that the usage has been “low and highly inactive”. Despite China being among the leaders in developing central bank digital currencies, Xie says that the digital yuan business had no synergistic effect and no commercial benefits in banks’ business.”

December 27, 2022

On the web

China Adds More Cities To Its Digital Yuan Pilot

Globe Echo

“More Chinese cities will be added to the nation’s digital yuan pilot – with a rollout edging closer to reality. Per the newspaper the Workers’ Daily, the city of Jinan, Shandong Province, will be added to the pilot area. Also joining the pilot will be Nanning and Fangchenggang in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, as well as Yunnan Province’s Kunming. The Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture will also be added. The move sees the pilot move into somewhat unfamiliar technology. While the first batch of pilot cities comprised IT and financial powerhouses in the East of the country – the likes of Shanghai and Beijing – Yunnan’s economy is much more traditional. The province’s biggest industries include tobacco producers, agricultural firms, mining companies, and tourism operators.”

December 26, 2022

On the web

China Digital Currency: e-CNY Wallet Borrows Alipay and WeChat Pay’s Electronic Red Packet Feature to Woo Users

South China Morning Post

“The official wallet app of China’s digital currency has launched a red packet feature, a function made popular over the years by the country’s dominant payments app Alipay and WeChat Pay, in a fresh move to lure new users. The e-CNY app’s latest update, released over the weekend, allows users to send each other digital yuan-filled red packets – known as hongbao in mainland China. This comes just a month ahead of the Lunar New Year, when the Chinese traditionally give out red envelopes filled with cash to family and friends as a symbol of well wishes.”

December 21, 2022

On the web

Why the Fed Needs to Take the Digital Yuan Seriously


“If the Federal Reserve still wants proof of China’s intention to challenge the dollar’s hegemony, it should look no further than a small experiment currently under way in Hong Kong. Last week, Bank of China (Hong Kong), one of the city’s big deposit-taking institutions, had its offer of 500 trial accounts tied to the e-CNY, the electronic version of official Chinese money, snapped up in two days. The customers are each being gifted 100 yuan in digital form, which they can spend at mainland stores, the JD.com website or a supermarket chain in Hong Kong.  (Subscription required)”

As China Pushes Its Digital Currency Plans, the US Falls Behind


“China’s digital Yuan project, a blockchain-based cryptocurrency for consumer and commercial finance, can no longer be considered a pilot. That’s the assessment by economic and cryptocurrency experts. Those experts have been monitoring efforts in China and other countries developing and piloting central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) with the aim of establishing a blockchain-based virtual cash that is cheaper to use and faster to exchange, both at home and across international borders. To date, the People’s Bank of China has distributed the digital yuan, called e-CNY, to 15 of China’s 23 provinces, and it has been used in more than 360 million transactions totaling north of 100 billion yuan, or $13.9 billion.”

December 13, 2022

On the web

Alipay Gives e-CNY a Lift by Offering it as Express Payment Option on Alibaba’s e-Commerce Platforms

South China Morning Post

“China’s sovereign digital currency has been embedded into Alipay, the popular digital wallet run by Ant Group, to facilitate “express payments” on the Taobao and Tmall e-commerce sites operated by Alibaba Group Holding, according to Li Chen, Ant’s chief compliance officer. The digital currency, known as e-CNY, is only available for users in about two dozen cities in China as part of a trial programme, as the central bank struggles to convince consumers to use it. After enabling the feature via the official e-CNY app, users can pay for orders on Taobao, Tmall and other Alibaba Group platforms like food delivery site Ele.me and grocery store Freshippo, with Alipay using the digital yuan.”

December 7, 2022

On the web

Chinese Yuan Playing ‘Complementary’ Role in Interbank Settlement, but CIPS Won’t Rival Swift, says Global Central Bank Boss

South China Morning Post

As the yuan is now the world’s fifth most used currency for payments by value, the Chinese central bank clearing system is playing an important complementary role in the global payment system, according to the boss of the global central bank.

However, China’s clearing and settlement service, Cross Border Interbank Payment System (CIPS), is no substitute for the global payment system Swift, Agustin Carstens, general manager of Bank of International Settlements (BIS), told the Post in an exclusive interview on Tuesday.

“In this space, it is not probably adequate to think about substitutes,” Carstens said. “It is not a race. Swift covers some forms of payments initiated by different types of intermediaries, while other systems could cover others. The important thing here is the complementarity of the different payment systems.

December 6, 2022

On the web

Digital Yuan is the New Industry Standard in China


“China’s CBDC plans have long been in the pipeline. In 2016 China’s central bank laid out a blueprint for the country’s first Central Bank Digital Currency. In addition, the government urged banks and financial institutions to form alliances with other industries to accelerate the development of an industry-wide digital currency platform. This directive was intended to increase efficiency in the financial industry and make it more competitive against private sector initiatives. People who are interested need to know the impact of the digital Yuan on the Chinese market. Since then, several institutions have been involved in creating a standardized CBDC platform. As a result, the project is well underway, with over 120 projects completed by 2022. The country’s largest banks are the China Development Bank and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China. The CBDC’s long-term vision encompasses its use as a reserve currency and national electronic payment system — which would significantly improve China’s international trade capabilities. As the world’s second-largest economy by nominal GDP, China is looking to increase its influence on the international stage further. Coupled with its large domestic economy, an influx of FX reserves and a national payment instrument would give China the financial power to compete with economic superpowers like the United States and Japan.”

October 27, 2022

On the web

China’s Digital Yuan Stands Out in Cross-Border Pilot in a Show of Global Ambition


“China’s digital yuan took the centre stage in the world’s largest cross-border central bank digital currency (CBDC) trial to date, a report showed, pointing to how Beijing is speeding up yuan globalization efforts amid rising geopolitical tensions. China’s digital currency, or e-CNY, was the most issued, and actively transacted token in the $22 million pilot that used CBDCs to settle cross-border trades, a Bank of International Settlement (BIS) report showed. The six-week test, which ended late last month, is part of m-Bridge – a project that pilots cross-border payments in digital currencies issued by central banks of China, Hong Kong, Thailand and United Arab Emirates.”

October 18, 2022

On the web

India’s Digital Rupee and How it’s Different from China’s

Analytics India Magazine

“Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman first disclosed the government’s intention to introduce India’s own CBDC – the e-rupee (e₹) – in March 2022. Highlighting the significance of CBDCs, the FM said, “We see clear advantages in a central bank- driven digital currency, because in this day and age, large transactions between institutions, bulk payments between countries, and transactions between central banks of each country are all better enabled with digital currency.” A few months later, in October 2022, RBI released a concept note regarding Indian CBDC, i.e, e₹. As per the RBI, it is to “create awareness about CBDCs in general and planned features of the digital Rupee, in particular”.”

October 14, 2022

On the web

China’s Digital Currency Passes 100 Billion Yuan in Spending


“Transactions using China’s digital yuan surpassed 100 billion yuan ($13.9 billion) as of Aug. 31, China’s central bank said on Wednesday, as the country continues its roll-out of a central bank digital currency. The spending involved 360 million transactions in pilot areas in 15 provinces and municipalities, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) said, adding that more than 5.6 million merchants could now accept payments with the digital currency.”

October 10, 2022

On the web

China’s e-CNY Has Been Used to Pay a 51 Million Yuan Land Transfer Fee

Kitco News

“China continues to lead the pack on the central bank digital currency (CBDC) front as the first successful completion of a land transfer using the digital yuan has been conducted in the Chinese province of Fujian, according to reports.  The Fuzhou Institute of Foreign Languages ​​and Foreign Studies has successfully paid the 51 million yuan land transfer fee for a plot of land using the digital renminbi public wallet that the school opened with the Fujian branch of the Agricultural Bank of China (ABC). This marked the first such payment using the digital renminbi in Fujian Province.   The payment was facilitated by ABC Fujian Branch, which has also executed tax payments in Fujian using the e-CNY, the first tax payment by Taiwanese enterprises, the first offshore inclusive financial service point, and “many other initial demonstration scenarios.””

China’s Digital Yuan: Beijing Vows Stronger Laws, Clear Limits on Monitoring e-CNY Wallets

South China Morning Post

“China is moving to allay public concerns about data protection and privacy in using the digital yuan, vowing to implement clear laws concerning the monitoring of digital wallets. The country is a forerunner in the development of a sovereign digital currency, known locally as the e-CNY, rolling out trials in 23 cities, including Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen since late 2019. Central bank data shows about 4.6 million merchants now accept the digital currency and more than 261 million digital wallets have been opened. Transactions in pilot regions totaled 83 billion yuan (US$11.6 billion) by the end of May. Despite the progress, worries have emerged about the government’s ability to track user information and the potential for competition with long-established digital payment platforms, Alipay and WeChat Pay.  To ensure managed anonymity, we need to strengthen legislation and improve top-level design,” Mu Changchun, head of the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) digital currency research institute, wrote in the September issue of Modern Bankers magazine.  User information can only be analysed and monitored when transactions are suspected of violating laws concerning money laundering, terrorist financing or tax evasion, Mu said. “We need to ensure there is a limited scope for user information to be used,” he said. The design of e-CNY wallets is based on the principle of keeping small-sum transactions anonymous, but larger ones traceable, the official said.”

September 14, 2022

On the web

Central Bank of China Calls for Increasing Use of Digital Yuan

Bitcoin News

“The monetary policy regulator of China has called for improving the integration between the digital yuan (e-CNY) system and traditional tools for electronic payments. The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) says this will increase convenience for users of its central bank digital currency (CBDC). To achieve that, additional efforts should be made to expand the scenarios and environment for the use of the digital yuan, PBOC Deputy Governor Fan Yifei emphasized in a statement during a recent forum on digital finance held in Beijing.”

September 12, 2022

On the web

China Wants Unified QR Code Systems for Digital Yuan, Central Bank Official Says


“China’s central bank is pushing for interconnectivity between its digital yuan and other traditional digital electronic payment tools through universal QR code payments, as the country expands the pilots for its digital currency. Fan Yifei, a deputy governor of the People’s Bank of China (PBoC),said at a forum on Thursday that standardization is key for the construction of a sound ecosystem for the e-CNY, the nation’s central bank digital currency. Fan said it is important to promote the unification of digital identity, QR code mechanisms, Bluetooth and near-field communications to allow consumers to scan a QR code for various kinds of payment access.”

August 31, 2022

On the web

Alipay and WeChat Pay Advances Can Boost Credit Card Use, Fend Off Digital Yuan

Insider Intelligence

“Chinese mobile wallet titans Alipay and WeChat Pay are trialing credit card cash advances, per China Daily. In partnership with banks including the Bank of Ningbo, China Everbright Bank, and Ping An Bank, users will be able to withdraw funds from their credit cards and transfer them to debit cards linked to digital wallets. Alipay and WeChat Pay will offer the service for free, and banks will determine withdrawal limits and interest rates. Users won’t be able to use cash advance funds to make debt payments or investments….the digital yuan (e-CNY): The government reported 261 million enrollees, and 1 in 5 adults in China have downloaded the official e-CNY app, per Morning Consult. But interest is lukewarm: Both Alipay and WeChat Pay have higher favorability ratings, and many users see no need to switch.”

August 29, 2022

On the web

Banks Link Credit Cards to e-Payment Platforms (China)

China Daily

“Chinese mobile payment platforms Alipay and WeChat Pay have begun allowing users to withdraw money online through credit card cash advances by cooperating with some banks, such as Bank of Ningbo, China Everbright Bank and Ping An Bank. Industry experts said the move will help raise the number of credit cards in use, make credit card users more active, and increase banks’ business volume. They also called for more efforts to strengthen supervision of the use of funds after withdrawal. The new function is now being tested on a limited scale. The amount of money that can be withdrawn from banks and at what interest rate is determined by the banks, and both Alipay and WeChat Pay will provide the service for free, according to the platforms’ service agreements.”

In China, Cities Start Piloting e-CNY Payment in Public Transport Systems


“Several Chinese cities have started using e-CNY payment methods in their public transport system as part of the next phase of the country’s central bank digital currency (CBDC) pilot testing. According to a local report by Quinjia, Guangzhou Public Transport has launched the payment method for use in paying bus fares. The city now provides e-CNY QR payment codes that users can scan to pay using the CBDC wallet app.”

August 25, 2022

On the web

China’s Digital Yuan App Can Now Link to Users’ Bank Accounts

Yicai Global

“The test version of China’s digital yuan payment app can now be linked to bank card accounts following an update yesterday. The new feature ensures that funds in the e-yuan wallet never run dry, industry insiders told Yicai Global. The app can automatically draw amounts from a linked account at a commercial bank when the e-yuan wallet’s balance is not enough, the sources said. Users also have the option not to link the app to a bank account.”

August 16, 2022

On the web

Bank of China Unveils New e-CNY Smart Contract Test Program for School Education


“According to local news outlet Sohu.com, on Tuesday, the state-owned Bank of China announced a new program to bridge primary school education with smart contracts. In a combined partnership with local education and financial authorities, parents residing in the city of Chengdu, located in China’s Sichuan province, will be able to enroll their children in after-school or extracurricular lessons using the digital yuan central bank digital currency, or e-CNY. Under the pilot test, parents start by paying a deposit to a private educational entity for a series of lessons. Afterward, a smart contract binds each lesson on a pro-rata basis to the deposit. This way, should their children miss a lesson, the e-CNY payment is automatically credited back to their account via smart contract.”

August 15, 2022

On the web

The Challenges Ahead for China’s Digital Yuan

The Straits Times

“In three years of experiments, China’s central bank has made significant progress in developing its central currency. Total transactions since late 2019 reached 83 billion yuan (S$16.8 billion) as of the end of May. Nearly 4.6 million merchants across China have come to accept the digital yuan, known as the e-CNY, as payment. People have used it for shopping, dining, personal finance and business uses such as paying taxes and employees. For all that, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) still has a long way to go in its digital currency project…Currently, the e-CNY is being tested in 23 cities and regions in 15 provinces and provincial-level cities.”

August 9, 2022

On the web

Chinese Municipal Bank Issues First Digital Yuan Loan Holding IP as Collateral


“China’s central bank digital currency (CBDC) pilot testing continues to onboard new use cases for the digital yuan. The country has now recorded its first instance of Intellectual Property (IP) financing on the CBDC platform. The Rural Commerce Bank of Zhangjiagang, located in China’s Suzhou province, has issued the first-ever digital yuan loan backed by intellectual property as collateral. In a press release, the Suzhou Market Supervision Bureau confirmed that a loan of 500,000 yuan (about $74,000) was issued to an unnamed business to fill its capital turnover gap…The loans go directly to the users’ digital yuan wallet, can be repaid via the CBDC platform, and allows for regulators to track illicit use as well as monitor fund flows for better policymaking.”

July 28, 2022

On the web

QR Codes Gaining Strength in Southeast Asia

ETF Database

“The concept of QR codes that was trailblazed in China is gaining popularity in Southeast Asia. Central banks in the region are looking to link their payment systems that will allow customers to buy goods and services by scanning QR codes within the year. Bloomberg reported that five of the region’s biggest economies are set to sign a deal to integrate their networks by November, said Bank Indonesia Governor Perry Warjiyo in a panel on the sidelines of the Group of 20 finance ministers and central bank governors meeting in Bali. At the same panel in Bali, Monetary Authority of Singapore managing director Ravi Menon said this trend “can be a deeply impactful move that we can build to the rest of the world,” before adding: “It’s a public good infrastructure which improves financial inclusion, enhances efficiency and creates new business opportunities for all citizens.””

July 25, 2022

On the web

China Struggles to Launch Digital Yuan After 8 Years of Trials

Nikkei Asia

“Eight years after China first embarked on the path toward a digital yuan, the central bank’s pilot program for the digital yuan has been expanded to 23 cities covering nearly a fifth of the population. But a full launch of the currency remains elusive as a population already used to mobile payments such as Alipay and WeChatPay sees no reason to abandon their familiar apps.”

China Vows Privacy, Information Protection in Using Digital Yuan


“China will fully respect privacy and protect personal information in using the digital yuan, state media quoted a senior central bank official as saying on Sunday, as Beijing encourages greater adoption of e-CNY. Limited anonymity is a key feature of the digital yuan, Mu Changchun, director-general of the central bank’s Digital Currency Research Institute said, noting it ensures reasonable anonymous transactions.  “On the other hand, it also prevents and combats illegal activities including money laundering, terrorist financing and tax evasion, maintaining the need for financial security,” the Securities Times quoted Mu as saying at a forum.”

July 22, 2022

On the web

Tencent to Shut Down Chinese NFT Platform Huanhe a Year after Launch, Report Says, Amid Declining Market

South China Morning Post

“Chinese social media giant Tencent Holdings plans to shut down its non-fungible token (NFT) platform, which launched just one year ago, as Beijing’s strict ban on secondary markets for digital collectibles has largely killed its business potential, according to a report by Chinese media outlet Jiemian on Wednesday. The report, which quoted unidentified sources from Tencent, said that Huanhe, the unit that mints and distributes blockchain-based digital collectibles, will close as soon as this week.”