Technology

E-Commerce Giant JD Starts Accepting China's Digital Currency on Singles Day for the First Time

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  • JD.com is accepting China's digital yuan for payment on its e-commerce platform during Singles Day for the first time.
  • While China's digital currency has not officially rolled out nationwide, JD's move to accept it during the biggest shopping event in the world highlights the push to trial it in a large-scale environment.
  • JD said that as of Nov. 11, more than 100,000 people had used e-CNY on the company's app during the Singles Day promotion period which began the evening of Oct. 31 and ends on Thursday.

GUANGZHOU, China — JD.com is accepting China's digital yuan for payment on its e-commerce platform during Singles Day for the first time.

While China's digital currency, the e-CNY, has not officially rolled out nationwide, JD's move to accept it during the biggest shopping event in the world highlights the Chinese central bank's push to trial it in a large-scale environment.

JD said that as of Nov. 11, more than 100,000 people had used e-CNY on the company's app during the Singles Day promotion period, which started on the evening of Oct. 31 and ends on Thursday.

If users type "e-CNY" on JD's app, they will get instructions on how to download China's digital currency app. Those users will receive 15 yuan ($2.34) to spend. JD is collaborating with China Construction Bank on this.

What is the digital yuan?

China's digital yuan is not a cryptocurrency.

Instead, it is a digital form of the country's currency, designed to replace coins and cash in circulation. When formally rolled out, it will be issued via banks and other financial entities by the People's Bank of China, the central bank.

Throughout last year and this year, cities around China have been trialing the digital yuan by giving out free money via lotteries to citizens. There are still no concrete plans for a nationwide rollout.

In December, JD became the first online platform to accept the Chinese digital currency. And in April, the company said it had paid some employees using e-CNY.

Singles Day, which sees China's e-commerce players tout heavy discounts and rake in billions of dollars of sales, could be a good test to see how the digital currency holds up in a large-scale situation.

Since Dec. 11 to Jun. 18 this year, 450,000 customers have used e-CNY payments on the JD app and collectively spent over 100 million yuan (about $15.6 million). Those are the last public figures on spending using the digital currency that JD has released.

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