China is stepping up efforts to introduce its central bank digital currency (CBDC), the e-yuan, more widely.
To do so, the country is turning to its largest state banks to endorse it as a payment option, replacing existing methods such as Alipay and WeChat Pay.
According to Reuters, the six largest Chinese banks are now endorsing the e-yuan which has been talked about at length by state regulators and the People's Bank of China (PBoC).
The push by the country’s main financial institutions comes ahead of the online shopping festival held in Shanghai on May 5.
The banks are marketing the e-yuan to their customers and urging them to start downloading the digital wallet and purchase directly in the CBDC.
Already tech-savvy, Chinese consumers are used to mobile and e-wallet payments as they use Ant Group's Alipay and Tencent's WeChat Pay for everyday purchases and are therefore familiar with how mobile payment systems operate.
“People will realize that digital yuan payment is so convenient that I don't have to rely on Alipay or WeChat Pay anymore”, Alipay and WeChat said in a joint statement.
Effectively, the PBoC may try to replace Alipay and WeChat Pay for all financial transactions or at the very least integrate with them.
However, PBoC's digital currency research institute head Mu Changchun said in March that with 98% of the payment traffic going through these two payment providers, the country's financial system could be imperiled were they to experience any issues.
Rolling out a CBDC controlled by the government has raised some alarm, with skeptics arguing that the Communist Party would have unhampered access to citizens' financial transactions.
The PBoC has argued that if anything, the e-yuan is much more private than any currency alternative. The central bank has argued that its currency is private and any accusations of a lack of privacy is to do with a misunderstanding of the technology by consumers.