Digital RMB thinking based on hardware wallets such as video cards and wearables

Recently, digital renminbi pilot activities have been launched in Shenzhen, Suzhou, Beijing, Chengdu and other places, and the forms of digital renminbi have become more and more abundant.

Video cards, fingerprint cards, wearables and other products have appeared

On January 5, Postal Savings Bank of China tested a hardware wallet in the form of a “visual card” in the staff canteen of Tongren Hospital affiliated to Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Medicine, exposing the “card” form of digital renminbi to the public for the first time.

On February 5, the ICBC digital renminbi visual card was unveiled at the Binshui gas station of Hunan Heshun Petroleum, becoming the second bank digital renminbi visual card to be publicly unveiled.

On February 8, a digital RMB hardware wallet in the form of “copper money” was unveiled in Xiong’an. The solution was developed by the Agricultural Bank of China, Hebei Xiong’an Branch. The design caters to the New Year theme. “” and the ox zodiac pattern, with a screen on the front, which supports two hardware wallets for offline payment.

On February 14th, in the “Digital Wangfujing Ice and Snow Shopping Festival” Beijing digital RMB pilot activity, the Postal Savings Bank of China, following the Shanghai Visual Card, launched a digital RMB visual card and fingerprint card hardware wallet with superimposed “Healthbao” function . In addition to digital renminbi consumption, the user can complete the status query and registration of the health treasure by sticking the product on the health treasure device.

At the same time in the Beijing digital renminbi pilot activity, Bank of China also launched a visual card equipped with the Beijing health code query function. Moreover, with the help of the Winter Olympics scene, Bank of China also cooperated with China Unicom to launch a variety of hard wallets such as ski gloves, winter Olympic badges, smart watches, and so on.

ICBC also launched a variety of hardware wallets in the Beijing digital renminbi pilot activities, including video cards, watch bracelets, power banks, elderly crutches, time signals, elderly alarms, and so on.

With the deepening of the pilot, a large wave of digital RMB wearable and smart card products have appeared one after another, triggering heated discussions in the industry.

The payment history of visual cards and wearable products

When it comes to payment products that use “cards” as the carrier, bank cards absolutely do their part. But when it comes to bank card products other than traditional forms, video cards, fingerprint cards, Bluetooth cards, special-shaped cards, etc. are actually smart card payment products that were once all the rage.

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As early as September 2013, UnionPay first developed and launched a visual UnionPay card with electronic display function. It uses electronic paper technology to load a display screen and a numeric keyboard on the financial IC card surface to display the electronic information in the bank card. Non-sensitive information such as cash balances, transaction records or user points; combined with the dynamic token function, transaction authentication information can also be displayed. The first to launch visual bank cards were Bank of Communications and China Construction Bank, namely Pacific Visual Card and Long Card Digital Display Credit Card.

At that time, the emergence of UnionPay visual card opened a window for visual card products in the financial field. The industry believes that it has brought new ideas to the development of the financial IC card market. Many card vendors, chip vendors, and banks are waiting hair.

But in fact, through development and practice, it has been proved that there are some problems in the visual card in the financial field. On the one hand, there is a cost issue. At that time, the cost of the video card was as high as about 100-200 yuan, and once the card was lost, additional costs were required to replace the card. For ordinary people, the threshold for this money was higher; on the other hand, at that time The visual card is a product born with “electronic cash”. Some of its visual windows can only query the account balance of “electronic cash”, which has limited practicability. In addition, its function as a dynamic token for large-amount transfer authentication is neither as convenient as a mobile phone verification code nor purely as products such as U-Key.

With the development of mobile devices and the development of financial digitization, products in the form of smart cards have gradually shifted to the direction of digitization, such as virtual bank cards, digital bank cards, and so on.

Subsequent fingerprint cards and Bluetooth cards also have the same problem. The dispensable product experience and the additional cost of use make this type of smart card products become a niche.

Also ill-fated is the payment function of wearable devices. In March 2015, Apple launched the first generation of Apple Watch, which also supports Apple Pay. Under this wave of enthusiasm, wearable payment has become a hot topic around 2014-2015. In addition to international companies such as Google, Samsung, Jawbone, Swatch and other companies, they have launched wearable payment products, and the domestic market has swiped the bracelet. , Sharkey, Gudong bracelet and so on entered the arena one after another. At the CES exhibition and MWC that year, all kinds of wearable devices appeared endlessly.

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But in the end, wearable payment did not flourish, and it ended very rarely. In the final analysis, the origin of wearables should be “wearing”, first of all the appearance and function of the product, and “payment” is only the icing on the cake in its function. At that time, many companies turned the focus of wearable and payment upside down in order to quickly expand the payment functions of their transportation cards and bank cards.

Under the east wind of the digital RMB, the prospect of cards and wearables

In the “Digital RMB Development Research Report 2020” released by Mobile Payment Network, it is stated in the industry impact and prospect judgment of the digital RMB that the digital RMB will cause a new round of upgrading and replacement of software and hardware equipment, and cards and wearables will go back to history. old road.

In fact, returning to the old path of history is precisely the loading and payment function described above, but this time it is replaced by a “digital RMB”, but will the final outcome be the old path? Let’s first take a look at the usage scenarios and experience of such products as video cards and wearables.

The first is the usage scenario. Digital RMB visual cards and wearable products are mainly aimed at specific scenarios and specific groups of people. For example, in the scene of the Winter Olympics, foreign friends participating in the Winter Olympics will be issued a smart bracelet with digital renminbi function; for the elderly and children, for those who are not convenient to operate smart phones, use visual cards and other more intuitive payment devices; For example, in an underground parking lot or a supermarket with a poor network, it is convenient for users to use in a non-network environment.

Second is the user experience. The hardware wallet of the digital renminbi is actually very similar to the previous “electronic cash”. It requires a recharge operation to place the encrypted currency string of the digital renminbi in the wallet and then use it. How to solve the problem of recharge is very fatal for certain groups of people. After all, “electronic cash” withdraws from the stage of history largely because it is not convenient to use recharge. Wearable products need to be polished on target population positioning and product appearance, and designed for different population characteristics to meet the individual needs of users.

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Furthermore, security issues cannot be ignored. In addition to problems such as flash cards, “electronic cash” also has the risk of being stolen from close range. Recently, the digital renminbi hardware wallet in the form of “alien card” tested by Xiong’an can realize payment and receipt operations between two hardware wallets without relying on mobile phones (the application requires confirmation by the payer). Considering the universality of digital renminbi, how to avoid the risk of stealing at close range in the future (such as hardware wallet products without a confirmation button), while taking into account the convenience of using small amounts without password, this is also a question worth considering.

Finally, there is the issue of cost. An important factor that hindered the implementation of video cards and other products in the past was their expensive production costs. If users still bear the costs of using digital renminbi in the future, this will undoubtedly affect their promotion. However, if the cost of special-purpose video cards is subsidized by the government and banks, at least for this part of the special population, products such as video cards will be a very good choice.

to sum up

Finally, use a paragraph from the “Digital RMB Development Research Report 2020” to summarize:

“With the application of digital renminbi, it is obviously impractical for wearable payment and card products to completely subvert and rise, but it is not impossible to regain a new life. There are limitations and thresholds for the use of specific fields and specific groups. A type of digital renminbi hardware wallet is not everyone’s choice, but it will be an option for some people.”

Author/ Translator: Jamie Kim
Bio: Jamie Kim is a technology journalist. Raised in Hong Kong and always vocal at heart. She aims to share her expertise with the readers at Kim is a Bitcoin maximalist who believes with unwavering conviction that Bitcoin is the only cryptocurrency – in fact, currency – worth caring about.