UnionPay Launches Self-service Platform for Merchants to Add Digital Yuan Pay Options

Source: Adobe/Rafael Henrique

Chinese businesses are finding more uses for the digital yuan – with merchants being offered services that allow them to sign up to receive central bank digital currency (CBDC) payments through third-party operators.

Per an article from China National Radio, the domestic financial behemoth UnionPay will launch a self-service signup platform for merchants who want to use the digital CNY.

UnionPay has become “one of the first third-party payment service institutions” in the land to sign a strategic cooperation agreement with the Digital Currency Research Institute, the CBDC branch of the central People’s Bank of China (PBoC).

The deal will see UnionPay allow merchants to accept digital CNY payment in-store, as well as via their own apps. It will also allow them to offer H5 payment options. In China, H5 refers to mobile web pages created for promotions and shared in the WeChat ecosystem.

The deal also involves the China Construction Bank (CCB), one of the four biggest banks in the country.

The report noted that the move had been sped up in response to China’s worsening coronavirus pandemic, with a number of cities – such as Shanghai – currently enforcing lockdowns.

The entire activation process “can be completed in around five minutes.” Initially, the platform will only support CCB digital CNY wallets, although wallets operated by other financial institutions will be added on a one-by-one basis.

Meanwhile, businesses in China are beginning to make use of the digital CNY to make business-to-business (B2B) business payments. While the pilot has thus far mainly focused on consumer-to-business payments, micropayments, transport fee payments, and the transferral of funds to and from individuals and government organs, inter-business transactions represent somewhat new terrain for China’s CBDC.

The Suzhou-based Suzhou High-Speed Rail New Town State-owned Assets Holding Group, a government-run industrial products retailer, completed the pioneering first transaction on the morning of March 25, reported WXRB.

Although the report did not reveal who the recipient of the payment was, nor what the company was paying for, the amount was some USD 17,263.

The group’s finance department manager was quoted as stating that the transaction had been “very safe, convenient and fast,” and had provided the payee with a “real-time account receipt,” which she noted “reduced handling fees.”