The Olympic Village in Beijing will allow athletes and coaches to pay for items using digital yuan
China’s central bank digital currency, the digital yuan, will be a means of payment available to athletes and coaches residing in Beijing’s Olympic Village for the Winter Games starting on February 4. The venues will also accept digital yuan as payments from fans who attend the games. .
The People’s Bank of China has been developing the digital yuan since 2014 and last week launched a beta version of an app to support public use of the currency in 10 Chinese cities. Athletes and coaches will be eligible to receive wristbands that can be scanned to pay in digital yuan at cafes and stores within the village, according to Bloomberg. Visa cards and cash yuan will be the only other payment methods accepted at Olympic Village.
The digital yuan is an electronic form of China’s physical currency that aims to replace paper money and coins – although it is not a cryptocurrency because it does not run on a blockchain and is issued by the Central Bank of China. Credit cards and apps such as Apple Pay in the US and WeChat Pay in China act solely as electronic money engines, while the Chinese digital yuan is a legal tender backed by a traceable computer code.
In November, the People’s Bank of China said 140 million people had signed up for digital accounts denominated in yuan. Tencent’s WeChat Pay and Alibaba’s Alipay, two dominant mobile payment apps in China, recently updated their apps to offer digital yuan payments.
In July, three Republican senators asked the US Olympic Committee to ban US athletes from using the digital yuan due to espionage and data security concerns. Citing similar concerns, the Dutch Olympic Committee has warned Dutch athletes not to bring their phones and laptops to China.
The Beijing Olympics was originally conceived as an opportunity for China to test the digital yuan on foreign visitors. However, this upcoming party has dwindled due to China’s move to ban foreign fans from the games due to COVID-19.