The Chinese government’s proposal for a central bank digital currency (CBDC), also known as the “digital yuan” or “e-CNY,” has not generated much interest among Hong Kong residents. Only 625 individuals in Hong Kong acquired the digital yuan hard wallets in the first four days after they became available.
The machines were set up in Shenzhen, the first place in China to offer physical wallets for digital yuan. These machines were configured to serve Hong Kong residents exclusively due to the city’s special status as a gateway from Hong Kong to mainland China.The initiative’s goal was to distribute 50,000 hard wallets by March 31, but only 625 wallets were requested in the first four days after the devices were installed.
The Bank of China and smart card supplier Octopus Card started the initiative, and they offered a 20% government-subsidised discount on purchases from 1,400 neighbourhood merchants to encourage adoption. However, even with the discount, the adoption rate did not increase significantly.
The local government is still attempting to promote the digital yuan for Hong Kong residents through the use of SIM card hard wallets, which integrate financial and communicational capabilities. The motivation behind the initiative is to incorporate the newly autonomous island city into the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Region, a larger political aim.
In the Luohu District, those who use the special themed card issued can receive a 20% discount as part of promotional activities. Shenzhen’s Luohu neighbourhood is located at the border between Hong Kong and mainland China.
Visitors may quickly acquire the physical Bank of China card at the Loohu border crossing by using specialised equipment. To top it off, utilise the Octopus card, which is Hong Kong’s primary cashless payment option for retail and public transportation.
Despite the Bank of China’s efforts, the e-CNY has not been widely adopted in the country. Two years after the CBDC was first introduced in October 2022, the total e-CNY transactions had only reached 100 billion yuan ($14 billion). In February 2023, several localities allegedly distributed more than 180 million yuan ($26.5 million) of the CBDC through initiatives including subsidies and consumption discounts to encourage adoption.