Republican senators want to prevent U.S. app shops including Apple and Google from hosting apps that allow payments to be made with China’s digital currency, amid fears the payment system might allow Beijing to snoop on Americans.
The measure, introduced Thursday and initially reported by Reuters, stipulates that corporations that own or operate app shops “must not carry or promote any software in [their] app store(s) within the United States that facilitates or enables transactions in e-CNY.” It is sponsored by Senators Tom Cotton, Marco Rubio and Mike Braun.
According to Cotton’s office, digital yuan might allow the Chinese government with “real-time visibility into all transactions on the network, raising privacy and security concerns for American citizens who join this network.”
The Center for a New American Security, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, said in a January 2021 report that China’s digital currency and 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.”
The move comes after WeChat, a messaging and payment program owned by China’s Tencent with over 1.2 billion users, announced it will begin supporting the currency earlier this year. Alipay, the massively popular payments app owned by Jack Ma’s Ant Group, also accepts digital currency. Both apps are accessible in the Apple and Google App stores.
Apple Inc (NASDAQ:AAPL), Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Inc’s Google, Ant Group and Tencent did not reply to requests for comment.
The Chinese Embassy in Washington labeled the law “another example of the United States wantonly harassing foreign firms by misusing state authority on the untenable pretext of national security.”
While addressing potential national security risks related to China is a rare area of bipartisan agreement in the bitterly divided U.S. Congress, prospects for the bill’s passage before of November elections are doubtful.