Overseas athletes and spectators visiting the Beijing Winter Olympics will be among the first foreign nationals to be able to trial China’s digital yuan central bank digital currency (CBDC) at event venues, nearby merchants and inside the Olympic Village.
Visitors will be able to acquire, store and use the CBDC in an app or on a physical card or hard wallet, while athletes and coaches will be eligible for wristbands that support contactless payments in digital yuan and will be able to convert foreign banknotes into the digital currency at self-service machines.
“Convenience stores, cafes and other merchants inside the Olympic Village — where athletes will be living and spending their free time — are equipped with machines that take digital yuan payment, as well as shops at railway stations near the venues,” according to a Japan Times report.
However, although Alipay and WeChat Pay both support the digital yuan, visitors will not be able to use these two payment platforms at official event venues or inside the Olympic Village.
“The only payment methods are renminbi cash, Visa cards and the digital yuan at all of the competition and non-competition venues during the Olympics,” The Japan Times reports the Olympic Village operations team manager Qu Songming as saying.
“The Bank of China said it’s the first time the app will be made available to foreigners, providing a crucial test of its services,” the report adds.
“It’s a key task and challenge to make sure foreign visitors will have a good experience’ with the digital yuan,” the bank said in a statement.
“We will strive to do a good job to ensure services during the game, and operations, customer service, emergency response and other teams are all in intensive drills and preparations.”
Reports that China is planning to officially launch the digital yuan after the Beijing Winter Olympics began to appear in the Chinese media in July 2021.