HSBC integrates digital Renminbi for corporate customers now

**The largest bank in Europe, HSBC from London, is the first foreign bank in China to link both personal and corporate accounts with the Chinese CBDC, the digital Renminbi.**

The digital Renminbi, also known as e-CNY or DCEP, is growing in popularity among both Chinese and foreigners, as explained in the [press release](file:///home/chrietzsche/Downloads/240607-press-release-cn.pdf) from HSBC China late last week. More and more banks are working on integrating it with their services.

HSBC, an Anglo-Asian bank established during the colonial British-Chinese trade era, has been particularly proactive in adopting e-CNY. Bank customers have been able to link e-CNY wallets with their accounts for automatic payments for several months, and now companies can do the same.

Among the first HSBC customers to utilize this feature are six bilingual educational institutions in Shanghai, Beijing, and other major cities. According to a director of one of the institutions, e-CNY makes it easier for students and their parents to pay for classes and reduces payment processing costs for the schools. The digital Renminbi could also aid in the school’s digital transformation, the director suggested, though he remained vague on specifics.

For Zeng Su, a director at HSBC, this is just the beginning. He aims to deepen collaboration with regulators and other financial stakeholders to establish the digital Yuan in areas such as cross-border payments.

These international transactions are a key application of the digital Renminbi. Last year, the People’s Bank of China introduced the [mBridge](, a project’s name aimed at bridging e-CNY and international payment systems. It is currently being tested by the central banks of the United Arab Emirates and Thailand, and has recently gone live in Hong Kong.

A milestone in the history of the digital Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) was a [crude oil transaction]( in the autumn of 2023, which saw the purchase of a million barrels of crude oil on the Shanghai Petroleum and Natural Gas Exchange (SHPGX) settled in e-CNY. Shortly before this, a trade involving liquefied natural gas (LNG) was settled in digital Renminbi.

Domestically, since September 2023, foreigners have been able to top up e-CNY wallets with their international credit cards, facilitating access to the Chinese payment system, for example, in online commerce. Although the Chinese themselves are also encouraged to use the digital currency, interest remains [reportedly]( modest, possibly because convenient payment methods like WeChat and Alipay are already available, making any shift less attractive.

Nevertheless, the digital Renminbi is by far the most successful and advanced digital Central Bank Digital Currency to date. Just how much it may be used for the [dystopian purposes of full surveillance and control]( is hard to determine. There are indications that [China is linking digital transactions with the Social Credit system](, meaning the wallet could be used to control citizen behavior. However, these indications are not entirely conclusive, making it difficult to form a judgment from afar.

China’s long-held ambitions to elevate the Renminbi to a global currency, potentially to oust the dollar from international trade, could benefit from a digital Yuan. Yet, despite initial transactions in the oil and gas trade and strategic partnerships, there is still little broad-based impact. The [dominance of the dollar in international trade remains unchallenged]( However, China’s extensive trade connections with the rest of the world make it [quite plausible]( that this could change in the coming years or decades, with a digital currency playing a key role.