At Winter Olympics, China Showcases The World It’s Own Cryptocurrency, Digital Yuan

China is pulling all plugs to make its CBDC digital Yuan popular. The e-CNY is one of the three forms of payment that foreign athletes and dignitaries can use at the Enter Olympics Games. The e-CNY is one of three forms of payment available to foreign athletes and visitors at the Winter Games.

In December 2020, retired Chinese pair skater and 2010 Olympic champion Shen Xue appeared on Television, showcasing the country’s official digital currency to buy a Beijing Subway pass. Shen launched the latest digital yuan wallet with a swipe on the turnstile using ski gloves. It was also the central bank digital currencies launch overseas during the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

COVID-19 pandemic derails big e-CNY plans

The Winter Olympics was to become a glitzy affair with the debut of e-CNY, introducing the digital form of China’s sovereign currency to millions of global visitors. Foreign visitors can use the e-CNY to buy items during the games, which officially commence on Friday, without a domestic bank account.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic derailed all plans, and the Chinese Capital was closed to the world under a “zero COVID” policy.

In addition, Beijing has adopted a “closed-loop system” for the games under which the 11,000 participants are sealed off from the general public to halt any transmission of the virus.

Craig Singleton, the senior China fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Washington, DC-based think-tank, told Al Jazeera that the winter Olympic Games would have been the first real chance for foreigners and Chinese nationals alike to familiarise themselves with the digital Yuan.

However, Beijing’s ban on local customers and overseas spectators for the games has negated this possibility.
People’s Bank of China is at the forefront of CBDC or Central Bank Digital Currency and had mooted the idea of a digital yuan long back in 2014 as its peers were still weighing the benefits of virtual currencies. However, China had banned all cryptocurrency activities last year amid concerns that it would upset the established financial regimens and impact the environment.

In January, the Central Bank had announced that more than 261 million individual users nationwide had registered a digital yuan wallet, an app for using e-CNY. The number of users has nearly doubled since October. In addition, Beijing had started a pilot testing project for its digital currency for use at the games, recording 9.6 billion CNY ($1.5bn) in transactions by the end of 2021, as per data released by the Beijing Financial Supervision Authority.

In November, the people’s Bank of China Governor Yi Gang said that the digital Yuan is primarily used for retail transactions within China. However, analysts contend that the digital Yuan has to go a long way regarding its use overseas.

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