China lets Android users use NFC to make offline digital currency payments

The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) has added a function to its digital yuan payment app that allows users to continue to make offline payments using the central bank digital currency (CBDC) from their Android NFC smartphone even if their device has no power.

Once they have activated the ‘tap to pay’ function in the app, users can set a limit on the number and value of digital yuan payments that can be made from their smartphone when its battery is flat or there is no internet connection.

Local media reports do not specify that the function uses a smartphone’s NFC technology, but PBOC has previously tested offline NFC smartphone payments as well as NFC ‘hard wallets’ and NFC wearables that enable users to make contactless in-store and transit fare payments.

“The system is available with Android-based mobile phones and will be available on other handsets in the future,” Yicai Global reports.

“Users can find the payment-without-internet-or-power-function in the payment settings of the e-yuan app.

“The convenient function has sparked security concerns, particularly about whether other people could spend money using a lost or stolen mobile phone.

“But a verification code needs to be entered on the device if a payment exceeds the code-free quota, and payment will continue only if it passes the system check, an expert told Yicai Global. Users also can set payment limits in their phone settings.

“In addition, if users have lost their mobile phones they can log in to the e-yuan app on another mobile phone to suspend the payment-without-power function.”

The PBOC reported in October 2022 that the digital yuan had been used to make 360m transactions worth a total of more than 100bn yuan (US$14bn) since it began piloting the CBDC in December 2019.

China lets Android users use NFC to make offline digital currency payments was written by Tom Phillips and published by NFCW.