China unveils first digital yuan physical card in Shanghai

China is now testing a physical card for its digital yuan. The People’s Bank of China has been focusing on the central bank digital currency’s use via smartphones, but in Shanghai, it has unveiled the cards for the first time ever.

According to a video by state media company Xinhua, the digital yuan arrived for the first time in Shanghai on January 6. And unlike in Shenzhen, Beijing and Suzhou where the previous trials have been conducted, the PBoC is expanding beyond the use of smartphones to make digital yuan payments.

The physical card was first trialed at the Shanghai Jiatong University School of Medicine’s Tongren Hospital. Medical staff at the hospital have been using the card in their canteen, Xinhua indicates. The card comes with a small display which shows all payment details and balance information after every digital yuan payment.

The medical staff welcomed the card, stating their belief that it will broaden the use cases of the digital yuan. Speaking to the media, the hospital’s director Ma Jun stated:

“In the past, we paid more attention to the application of smartphones. However, in daily life and work, there are indeed many elderly people who are not used to smartphones. I think the introduction of a physical card for digital currency payments is very useful especially for the elderly. It can be seen and touched, and is very convenient. It can be used for everyday scenarios to pay without phones. So we welcome it.”

The hospital will integrate the card’s payment for its diagnosis, treatment and parking fees, Xinhua revealed.

As journalist ‘Wu Blockchain’ further revealed on Twitter, the first doctor to use the physical card at the hospital was Yu Yiming. He was reportedly the doctor who discovered the first COVID-19 case in Shanghai.

While Shanghai hasn’t been as involved in the mass trials as other cities, banks in the city have been preparing for the eventual digital yuan rollout, local outlets report. According to Cailian News, an unnamed state bank has been trialing the account opening experience for a digital renminbi wallet. It has yet to make it available to the public, however.

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