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China to add digital yuan payment functions to social security cards

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(Kitco News) - China continues to charge full steam ahead with the integration of its central bank digital currency (CBDC) into its broader financial system as the country is now looking to explore and promote ways to add digital yuan payment functions to social security cards.

According to a report from 21st Century Business Herald, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security recently issued the “Notice on Printing and Distributing the Implementation Plan for the Construction of Digital Human Resources and Social Security,” which includes and plan to “explore and promote social security cards to add digital renminbi payment functions.”

The goal of the new initiative is to “consolidate the digital foundation, lay a solid foundation for the digital reform of human resources and social security, and improve the social security card agency-bank linkage service,” the report said.

In 2018, China permitted banks to start issuing social security cards that could be linked with their payment platforms. Since then, all cards issued have also been given smartcard functionality, and Beijing recently revealed its plans to digitize these cards by 2027.

The move to add the digital yuan to social security cards is being seen as the latest effort to help boost adoption by rural and elderly populations, who are less likely to have access to smartphones, which is the primary way to access and transact with the e-CNY.

Chinese officials said they think the addition of digital yuan payment features to the cards will make the currency easier to use and will help simplify things for Chinese state organizations by integrating payments to the state, benefits payouts, and ID functionality into a single card.

In the Sagi City District of Suzhou State, the State Grid Xiangcheng District Power Supply Company, the Finance Department, and the Marketing Business Support Center have set up a program that enables the use of the digital yuan as a payment option, allowing companies and individuals to use the digital currency to settle their energy bills.

According to a report from Dizo, the two branches of the Drainage and Sanitation of the Sagi City Group successfully created a digital RMB energy card, transferred funds to the card from a bank account, and completed a 600,000 yuan ($83,000) payment.

The account manager of the State Grid Xiangcheng District Power Supply Company assisted in the process by helping the drainage and sanitation offices establish a digital yuan wallet, opening a digital RMB energy card payment channel for them, and guiding them through the process of reviewing and signing the agreement online.

Other firms that have been guided through the process include Suzhou Chuangtai Alloy Materials Co., which completed a 530,000 yuan ($82,000) payment through the service, and the users of two public utility units – Suzhou Xiangrun Drainage Management Co., Ltd. and the District Urban Management Bureau – which are bound through a master-slave relationship and completed a one-to-many batch payment of 600,000 yuan.

Master-slave arrangements allow the electric bills for multiple entities or households to be paid automatically in one operation.

The State Grid Xiangcheng District Power Supply Company said that it plans to increase the promotion of the digital yuan energy card payment business in an effort to obtain full coverage of such payments.

Switzerland launches CBDC trial and China expands digital yuan to commodities markets

China Mobile launches Metaverse Industry Alliance

China Mobile, one of the largest Chinese telecommunications companies, has announced the launch of a Metaverse Industry Alliance with 24 founding members, including Huawei, Unity China and Xiaomi.

According to a report from Shanghai Securities News, the Metaverse Industry Alliance was unveiled at the 2023 Mobile World Congress in Shanghai on Wednesday and was created to help boost collaborations across metaverse content creation, extended reality (XR) terminals, computing networks, and technological research.

Liu Xin, general manager of China Mobile’s digital content subsidiary Migu Culture Technology, has reportedly been appointed as the chief secretary of the alliance. While speaking at the conference, Liu said that the alliance will focus on copyright investment, research and development funding, and increasing the capacity to provide special support, promising to double available resources in three years.

China Mobile boasts a userbase of nearly 1 billion subscribers and the promotion of metaverse-related platforms is expected to help boost the overall adoption of blockchain technology in China. The company has a high level of familiarity with blockchain as it was a founding member of China’s state-backed Blockchain-based Service Network.

The metaverse is one of the more popular sectors of growth and exploration in China. In August, the Beijing municipal government announced a two-year metaverse innovation and development plan that was to be implemented from 2022-2024.

Under the plan, promoting the development of metaverse-related industries and helping Beijing establish a benchmark city designed for the digital economy were identified as priorities, with China looking to establish itself as a global leader in metaverse development. Action guidelines included in the plan require various districts to build technological infrastructure at a city level and encourage its use in a variety of sectors, including tourism and education.

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