Cards on the table
Gold will always be the ultimate goal for athletes at the Olympic Games. But competitors in Beijing this month have another currency to consider for the first time– the digital yuan (or e-CNY).
The new currency is being offered as part of efforts to showcase the currency to the wider world after two years of domestic trials. Visitors and athletes can download an app or get a physical card that stores the currency, or convert foreign bank notes into e-CNY at self-service machines. The virtual currency has been being used to settle Rmb2 million ($315,700) or more of payments a day at the Beijing Olympics, the People’s Bank of China’s governor Yi Gang told a G20 event this week.
Restrictions on visitor numbers to the Games will have played a part in reducing the audience for the digital yuan’s debut, of course. Athletes may also be cautious about experimenting with it, especially the American team, after Republican senators cited espionage concerns and data-security dangers in urging the US Olympic Committee to block their athletes from using it.
Getting more discussion in the international media in the last few days is how the new arrangements must be putting pressure on one of the longstanding sponsorships at the Games, however. For years, cash and Visa cards have been the only means of payment at Olympic venues and Visa is still described on the Games’ website as the exclusive provider of ‘payment services, transaction security [and] pre-paid cards’.
Whether that arrangement still applies is open to question, although the Chinese media is insisting that the deal hasn’t been breached because the e-CNY is a digital format of China’s fiat currency, and not a competitor to Visa.
Read More at https://www.weekinchina.com/2022/02/cards-on-the-table/