Three US Senators will introduce a bill that would stop US app stores from hosting any app that supports payments with China’s digital yuan, saying Beijing could use it to spy on US citizens.
The move comes as China, the US and India grapple with the national security implications on emerging fintech and safeguarding citizens’ privacy.
Senators Tom Cotton, Marco Rubio and Mike Braun are set to introduce the bill, which states that US companies that own or control app stores “shall not carry or support any app in [their] app store(s) within the United States that supports or enables transactions in e-CNY.”
Cotton’s office said the digital yuan could give the Chinese government “real-time visibility into all transactions on the network, posing privacy and security concerns for American persons who join this network.”
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Washington D.C.-based think tank the Center for a New American Security asserted in a January 2021 report that China’s digital currency and the accompanying electronic payments system was “likely to be a boon for CCP surveillance in the economy and for government interference in the lives of Chinese citizens,” noting that “transactions will contain precise data about users and their financial activity.”
Earlier this year, messaging and payment application WeChat said it would support digital yuan transactions. WeChat is owned by China’s Tencent and has over 1.2 billion users. Alipay, the hugely popular payments app owned by Jack Ma’s Ant Group, also accepts the digital currency. Both apps are available in the Apple and Google App stores.
While stopping potential national security threats related to China is a rare point of bipartisan agreement in the deeply divided US Congress, prospects for the bill’s passage ahead of midterm elections are uncertain.
- Reuters, with editing by Neal McGrath