PBOC Seeks to Quell Concern over Ban on Personal Usage of QR Codes for Businesses Purposes


The Chinese central bank has made haste to quell concern over a recent decision to prohibit the use of personal QR codes provided by payments platforms such as WeChat and Alipay for business activities.

Reports began to circulate on 26 November that the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) was placing a ban on the use of personal QR codes to receive payments for business activities, in a move that threatened to throw the commercial activities of small vendors into upheaval given the economy’s heavy dependence upon digital payments.

PBOC has since sought to provide clarification on the decision to address these widespread concerns.

“Claims that WeChat and Alipay receipt codes cannot be used for personal transaction purposes is a misinterpretation,” said a PBOC official on 27 November.

“Vendors who print out and install QR codes must apply for conversion into commercial receipt QR codes with payments service platforms such as WeChat and Alipay. The daily payments experiences of consumers will not at all be affected.”

In October PBOC issued the “Notice Concerning Strengthening Payment Processing End Terminal and Related Operations Management ” (中国人民银行关于加强支付受理终端及相关业务管理的通知), which contain new requirements with regard to the use of QR codes.

The Notice stipulates that individuals who engage in business activities should obtain business QR codes from payments platforms, and cannot use their own personal QR codes for the receipt of payments in relation to business activities.

“It’s not the case that WeChat and Alipay payment codes cannot be used anymore,” said Dong Ximiao (董希淼), chief researcher with MUCFC, to state-owned media.

“It’s instead the case that personal QR codes cannot be used to receive payments for activities which are distinctively business operations.

“This means that where activities involve comparatively large sums and transactions are frequent, people will need to apply for special commercial vendor QR codes, and can no longer use personal QR codes to receive payments.”