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Digital yuan integration introduced to Chinese business air travel

Upon the launch of the pilot programme for China's central bank's digital currency (CBDC) — the digital yuan — Chinese business travellers will purportedly be able to purchase airline tickets using the CBDC.

According to a local media report, the China Merchants Bank and the Civil Aviation Administration of China collaborated to introduce a digital yuan platform that seeks to facilitate transactions for travellers in the aviation network.

Reportedly, the newly introduced platform permits businesses and entrepreneurs to utilise the digital yuan for the expedient payment of business airline tickets. In addition, passengers will be able to use the CBDC to gain access to new services via the platform.

China Travel Service, a Suzhou-based travel agency, has already used the platform to purchase tickets for its clients, according to the report.

On July 18, during the platform's official launch ceremony, the Civil Aviation Administration and China Merchants Bank appealed for additional CBDC use cases. They stated that they would work together to investigate the digital yuan's applications in various sectors of the civil aviation industry.

The People's Bank of China, the country's central bank, has been actively promoting the use of the digital yuan in China's transit network, according to the report. Notably, in 2022, Beijing Daxing International Airport and Beijing Capital International Airport will collaborate on a digital yuan cargo initiative.

In the CBDC's pilot zone, railway networks, light rail connections, and metro systems have been upgraded to enable seamless digital yuan payments independent of power or network connections. Moreover, transit routes within the zone now support digital yuan transactions. In addition, several highway toll facilities within the pilot zone began accepting the digital yuan earlier this year.

Shenzhen disclosed that its residents have opened nearly 36 million digital yuan wallets, with over seven million new wallets created since the beginning of 2023. This ongoing expansion of the CBDC pilot programme across a variety of industries demonstrates China's determination to transform its economy by fostering the widespread adoption of the digital yuan.

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