China's Digital Yuan Head Calls for Unification of Alipay and WeChat Pay QR Codes
The head of China's digital yuan initiative is urging mobile payment providers, including Alipay and WeChat Pay, to improve interoperability and unify QR codes for e-CNY payments.
The People's Bank of China (PBOC) aims to promote the country's central bank digital currency (CBDC) across all retail use cases. Mu Changchun, the head of the Digital Currency Research Institute, emphasised the need for technical standardisation and upgraded tools to support widespread adoption of e-CNY.
Mu Changchun made these remarks at an industry forum, stating that WeChat Pay, Alipay and banking apps operated by commercial banks should unify the technical standards of their e-CNY payment QR codes in the near term. He envisions the digital yuan becoming a payment option in "all retail scenarios," including day-to-day transactions involving individuals, companies, public institutions, or government bodies.
The goal is to create a single, unified and standardised QR code that supports e-CNY payments, as well as Alipay, WeChat Pay and existing electronic payment methods. This would incentivise the widespread use of e-CNY by making it more convenient for consumers to use and for merchants to accept in the retail context.
While pilot trials of e-CNY began in 2019, convincing Chinese consumers to adopt the digital currency has been challenging. Authorities have repeatedly turned to mobile payment giants like Alipay and WeChat Pay to promote the use of e-CNY. Alipay activated the e-CNY payment option on its platform in May 2021, followed by WeChat Pay in January 2022.
The push for greater e-CNY adoption in all retail scenarios could potentially impact the market share of WeChat Pay and Alipay. Standardised QR codes may lead to a shift in the competitive landscape, with these payment providers potentially losing market share.
Mu also emphasised the need to upgrade settlement tools used in wholesale payments. The goal is to replace and unify existing settlement systems with the wholesale e-CNY system. However, stakeholders may face challenges and resistance in implementing these changes.
China's digital yuan head urges Alipay and WeChat Pay to unify QR codes for e-CNY payments.
The People's Bank of China aims to promote the digital yuan across all retail use cases.
The goal is to create a single, standardised QR code that supports e-CNY payments and existing payment methods.