Shanghai – In China’s commercial hub Shanghai, six big state banks are quietly promoting digital yuan ahead of a May 5 shopping festival, carrying out a political mandate to provide consumers with a payment alternative to Alipay and WeChat Pay.

The banks are persuading merchant and retail clients to download digital wallets so that transactions during the pilot programme can be made directly in digital yuan, bypassing the ubiquitous payment plumbing laid by tech giants Ant Group, an affiliate of Alibaba 9988.HK, and Tencent 0700.HK.

“People will realise that digital yuan payment is so convenient that I don’t have to rely on Alipay or WeChat Pay anymore,” said a bank official involved in the rollout of e-CNY for the Shanghai trial, under the guidance of China’s central bank. The official is not authorised to speak with media and declined to be identified.

China’s development of a sovereign digital currency, which is far ahead of…

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