China central bank says cannot refuse, discriminate against cash payments

FILE PHOTO: A woman walks past the headquarters of the People's Bank of China (PBOC), the central bank, in Beijing, China June 21, 2013. REUTERS/Jason Lee/File Photo

BEIJING (Reuters) - Companies or individuals cannot refuse or discriminate against cash payments, China’s central bank said on Friday, but stressed the rules won’t apply to online payments and unmanned stores.

“Some shops in tourist spots, restaurants and retailers were found rejecting cash payments and this has damaged the legal status of the renminbi and hurt consumers’ rights,” the People’s Bank of China said in a statement on its website.

However, online payment or unmanned stores that are not in a position to accept cash will be exempted from the rules, the PBOC said.

In recent years, mobile payment firms such as Ant Financial's Alipay, Tencent's 0700.HK Wechat Pay have gained popularity, with some analysts speculating cash could soon become obsolete in China.

From unmanned grocery stores where customers can enter and purchase goods with their phones using QR codes to transportation and dining out, mobile payments are ubiquitous in China.

Reporting by Stella Qiu and Kevin Yao; Editing by Sunil Nair