Testing the digital yuan at the Beijing Olympics proved
Software

Testing the digital yuan at the Beijing Olympics proved extremely detrimental to Visa

The American company Visa has been the exclusive provider of electronic payments for the Olympic Games for several decades, but this time the service has to share the laurels with the electronic yuan (e-CNY), the official digital currency being tested in China.

Beijing National Stadium.  Image source: lionelccs / pixabay.com

Beijing National Stadium. Image source: lionelccs / pixabay.com

China has long been a pioneer in the digital payments market thanks to the country’s popular mobile services, Alipay and WeChat Pay. In fact, their popularity proved too great, because at one point cash seemed to be obsolete among the population, which caused great concern for the Chinese central bank, which began testing digital currencies in late 2019. However, at the Olympic Games, Visa cards were the only non-cash means of payment – the company acquired exclusive rights as a sponsor of the event.

All of this formally extends to the 2022 Olympics, now taking place in Beijing – the Alipay and WeChat Pay services have been banned. But not the electronic yuan. All outlets in the Olympic Village accept Visa and e-CNY cards, Chinese authorities said. ATMs are installed in the facilities, where guests of the event can exchange cash for electronic money, which is loaded on a plastic card. Those wishing to exchange large amounts can load e-CNY onto portable devices, and e-money has the same value as cash. The Chinese central bank sees no conflict with Visa’s interests as an Olympic sponsor, since e-CNY is considered the official means of payment and is effectively equivalent to cash.

Chinese authorities have yet to officially announce the number of E-CNY transactions at the Olympic Village, but a Wall Street Journal source said shops at Beijing National Stadium (Bird’s Nest) saw much more digital yuan payments last Friday as a Visa cashless network.

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About the author

Robbie Elmers

Robbie Elmers is a staff writer for Tech News Space, covering software, applications and services.

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