HK expands e-CNY pilot

May 17, 2024

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) and the People's Bank of China (PBoC) today expanded the scope of the e-CNY pilot in Hong Kong to facilitate the set up and use of e-CNY wallets by Hong Kong residents.


At a press briefing this afternoon, the authority explained that the e-CNY will provide an additional safe, convenient and innovative means of cross-boundary retail payments to residents in Hong Kong and the Mainland.


HKMA Deputy Chief Executive Howard Lee said that with the expansion of the pilot's scope, users can now set up e-CNY personal wallets in Hong Kong with only their Hong Kong mobile phone numbers.


Users can top up their e-CNY wallets via the Faster Payment System (FPS) through 17 retail banks in Hong Kong, then use e-CNY in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and other Mainland pilot areas.


However, the e-CNY wallets can only be used for cross-boundary payments, not for person-to-person transfers at this stage, Mr Lee added.


The HKMA also highlighted that the expansion of the pilot is one of the six measures announced by the PBoC earlier this year under the “three connection, three facilitation” initiative, adding that the interoperability between the FPS and the e-CNY system operated by the PBoC’s Digital Currency Institute (DCI) marks the first linkage of a faster payment system with a central bank digital currency system in the world. 


HKMA Chief Executive Eddie Yue supplemented that he is delighted Hong Kong, being the first place in conducting the cross-boundary e-CNY pilot, has also become the first place outside the Mainland that enables its residents to set up e-CNY wallets locally.


“By expanding the e-CNY pilot in Hong Kong and leveraging the FPS’ 24x7 operating hours and real-time transfer advantages, users may now top up their e-CNY wallets anytime, anywhere without having to open a Mainland bank account, thereby facilitating merchant payments in the Mainland by Hong Kong residents.


“We will continue to work closely with the PBoC to gradually expand the applications of e-CNY, enrich the range of functionalities of the e-CNY wallet available to Hong Kong residents and step up efforts in promoting the acceptance of e-CNY by more retail merchants in the two places,” noted Mr Yue.


The HKMA also revealed that it will continue working with the DCI to explore upgrading the e-CNY wallet to higher tiers through real-name verification and enhancing the interoperability in payments, as well as studying corporate use cases to facilitate cross-boundary trade settlement.

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