US bill would bar Google, Apple from hosting apps that accept China's digital yuan

Senators Tom Cotton, Marco Rubio and Mike Braun have concerns that the payment system could allow Beijing to spy on Americans

Republican senators plan to unveil a bill that would bar U.S. app stores including Apple and Google from hosting apps that allow payments to be made with China's digital currency, according to a copy of proposed legislation seen by Reuters.

The concern is the payment system could allow Beijing to spy on Americans.

The bill is backed by Senators Tom Cotton, Marco Rubio and Mike Braun and states that 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."

apple google

Apple and Google logos with Capitol building in background. (iStock)

According to Cotton's office, digital yuan could provide the Chinese government with "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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In January 2021, the Center for a New American Security, a Washington D.C. based think tank, raised concern about surveillance through China's digital currency and electronic payments system and that "transactions will contain precise data about users and their financial activity."

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WeChat, owned by China's Tencent, and Alipay, owned by Jack Ma's Ant Group, are payment applications that accept the digital currency. 

Those apps are available in the Apple and Google App stores.

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Tencent technology

Tencent is a Chinese technology and entertainment conglomerate and holding company.

Apple, Alphabet's Google, Ant Group, Tencent and the Chinese embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to comment.

Reuters contributed to this report.