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Tourists from Mainland China can now shop in Hong Kong with Chinese CBDC

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Tourists from Mainland China can now shop in Hong Kong with Chinese central bank digital currency (CBDC), as part of a digital yuan shopping festival launched this week. Bank of China (Hong Kong) Limited (BOCHK), one of the city’s three note-issuing commercial banks, launched the festival after BOCHK began trials of digital yuan cross-border payments in Hong Kong last year.

See related article: China’s digital yuan initiative gets cold reception from Hong Kong visitors

Fast facts

  • From July 18, users of Bank of China digital yuan wallets can shop at over 200 physical merchants in Hong Kong with digital yuan, and receive shopping subsidies in digital yuan by scanning QR codes at the designated merchants, according to a press release by BOCHK on Tuesday that did not disclose when the event will end.
  • Participating merchants range from supermarkets to pharmacies and electronic shops, which include U Select, a local supermarket chain with over 90 stores across Hong Kong.
  • The launch came amid the high Chinese tourist season in July and August, said Chen Guang, deputy general manager of the digital currency task force at BOCHK, in the press release. Through this “cross-border shopping festival”, BOCHK aims to attract more tourists and boost local consumption, added Chen.
  • BOCHK is the first institution to participate in the cross-border trial of digital yuan in Hong Kong, which launched the first phase of its “digital yuan exclusive experience” in December 2022 to allow a limited number of BOCHK users to shop with digital yuan in the city. The trial was capped at 500 users, and then expanded to 2,100 in February this year, according to a BOCHK press release.
  • Hong Kong has been positioning itself as a global offshore Chinese yuan trading centre, and in 2022 became the first area outside mainland China to test the cross-border use of digital yuan. The city also unveiled e-HKD, Hong Kong’s CBDC pilot project, in May 2023.
  • Digital yuan, also known as e-CNY, is China’s CBDC being piloted in at least 26 provinces and cities across the country and is supported by Alipay and WeChat Pay, two of China’s largest online payment platforms.  

See related article: China’s WeChat social media giant integrates digital yuan into payment platform

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