Two major Chinese state banks in Beijing and Suzhou have started opening up e-CNY merchant and enterprise accounts for businesses, bank employees told TechNode. 

Why it matters: Chinese banks had only been known to set up personal e-CNY accounts for individuals. Merchant accounts are a step toward widespread retail use of the new currency. Enterprise accounts will significantly widen the scope of use cases to include larger business transactions.

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Details: TechNode contacted two bank branches Wednesday. At the Bank of China in Beijing, staff said they are accepting applications for enterprise e-CNY accounts. Bank staff said that the bank had already started granting applications to businesses, but the accounts were not yet operational. 

  • Enterprise accounts are normally used for financial operations like payroll and taxes rather than retail transactions, although the employee did not specify what the digital RMB accounts will be used for. 
  • All domestically registered businesses are eligible to apply, the employee said. 
  • China Construction Bank in Suzhou has started opening digital yuan accounts for local merchants, an employee told TechNode over the phone on Wednesday. These accounts are typically used for retail transactions with customers. 
  • The Suzhou bank employee said that the accounts cannot currently be used for management operations like payroll and taxes, and did not say whether they will be in the future. 
  • Digital RMB accounts are required to hold the new currency.

Context: Trials for the digital yuan have accelerated in the last few months, and China is likely to be the first major economy to issue a state-backed digital currency. 

  • Closed-door pilots for the digital yuan began in April 2020 in four cities: Chengdu, Shenzhen, Suzhou, and Xiong’an. In November, Shenzhen held the first e-CNY lottery, which made the digital currency available to lucky members of the public. Suzhou and Chengdu followed with their own lotteries. 
  • The digital RMB will soon get to step onto the international stage—China is working with Hong Kong, Thailand, and the United Arab Emirates to test cross-border transactions using state-backed digital currencies. 
  • A Beijing-based enterprise blockchain announced plans earlier this month to integrate the digital yuan. 

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Eliza was TechNode's blockchain and fintech reporter until July 2021, when she moved to CoinDesk to cover crypto in Asia. Get in touch with her via email or Twitter.

Shi Jiayi is the Shanghai-based visual reporter helping provide multimedia elements about China’s fast-changing technology and culture. She holds a B.A. in Convergence Journalism from the University...