China’s Aviation Authority Partners with China Merchants Bank to Launch Digital Yuan for Ticket Purchases

China’s Civil Aviation Administration (CAAC) has officially approved the digital yuan for purchasing air tickets. The company issued a notice on July 18, 2023, via a blog post.

Spring Airlines was the first aviation company to allow payments for its ticket with the digital yuan in 2021. The carrier received 560 yuan for a flight ticket from Shanghai to Shenzhen. Xiamen Airlines soon followed suit in November of the same year. Afterward, Beijing Daxing International Airport and Beijing Capital International Airport also unveiled a digital yuan initiative in 2022. However, widespread use of the asset in the aviation sector did not follow.

With the new development, the CAAC is partnering with the China Merchants Bank (CMB) to launch a digital yuan payment platform. The platform, known as the Civil Aviation Ticket Government Procurement Management Platform Application Digital RMB Settlement Mode, will allow digital currency to be used to settle business air tickets. Additionally, passengers can also use the CBDC to access novel services via the platform.

The platform’s launch brings a new service experience to business passengers and is expected to boost the digital economy. Before the launch, the company completed the functional testing of the air ticket procurement service system and tested the China Merchants Bank’s clearing system.

China has made significant progress in the development of a CBDC, with the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) testing the digital renminbi across the nation since 2020. The first major deployment of the asset was for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, and since then, the bank has been conducting pilot tests across different cities.

The PBOC has also encouraged the use of the digital yuan in the transportation sector. Railway stations, light rail connections, and metro systems have been upgraded around the nation to facilitate smooth transactions with the digital yuan. The bank has even partnered with China Telecom and China Unicom to allow offline transactions for the digital yuan via SIM cards, enabling users to pay for goods and services using the digital yuan, even without a bank account or an internet connection.

The adoption of the digital yuan by the CAAC is expected to boost the development and innovation of the digital economy in the nation. Furthermore, it is anticipated to augment the competitiveness and influence of China’s aviation sector in the global market.