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Public Sector Leads Transition to Digital Yuan Wage Payments

2 mins
Updated by James Morales
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In Brief

  • Public sector leads transition to CBDC wages in China.
  • Digital yuan now integrated with major Chinese payment methods.
  • In tandem with growing use cases, wage payments help drive adoption.
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In a bid to drive CBDC adoption, the Chinese government is pushing to pay state employees in digital yuan (e-CNY).

Public Employees Receive Wages in Digital Yuan

Considering it is arguably the most mature central bank digital currency (CBDC) issued in a major economy, it’s easy to forget that China’s digital currency is still in its pilot phase. Yet it is. And the People’s Bank of China (PBC)  is still rolling the project out in stages.

This week for example, Chinese media reported this that from May onwards, full e-CNY payment of wages will be implemented for public employees in Changshu City.

For the payment of wages, the CBDC rollout has been underway since 2020, with the public sector leading the charge.

In Xiangcheng District, employees of government agencies were the first to start receiving part of their wages in digital yuan. By July 2021, Taicang City had also achieved full coverage of salary payment for staff and employees of government institutions.

Wage Payments and CBDC Adoption

Compared to some countries, large swathes of the Chinese population are employed by the state. 

In combination with the growing number of use cases, the payment of public sector wages creates a flywheel for CBDC adoption. With possibilities to earn and spend digital yuan, a slow initial rollout may soon make way for mass usage.

To date, interest in the CBDC among the general public has seen a boom in people opening the wallets needed to store and spend the currency. But transaction volumes remain comparatively low compared to other popular digital wallets.

However, integrating digital yuan payments into China’s most popular wallets could turbocharge adoption.

One significant milestone came in March when WeChat Pay implemented digital yuan support. China’s other main digital wallet provider, AliPay, first connected to the e-CNY network in December 2022.

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James Morales
James is a London-based editor, writer and explorer of the cryptosphere who started his journalistic career writing about digital art before honing his craft as a financial technology reporter. From the latest innovation in digital assets to the evolution of Web3, he is perpetually fascinated by the technologies of decentralization.