Digital Yuan Spent at Olympics is Just $315,000 a Day
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Digital Yuan Spent at Olympics is Just $315,000 a Day

7 months ago

The digital yuan was meant to take center stage as a payment method during the Games — but the coronavirus pandemic prompted the country to ban international spectators from attending.

Digital Yuan Spent at Olympics is Just $315,000 a Day

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The People's Bank of China has revealed how much the digital yuan is being used at the Beijing Winter Olympics — and the figures may make for disappointing reading.

Mu Changchun, the head of the central bank's Digital Currency Research Institute, says total transactions involving the e-CNY have averaged $315,761 a day so far.

The digital yuan was meant to take center stage as a payment method during the Games — but the coronavirus pandemic prompted the country to ban international spectators from attending.

Despite this, athletes, coaches and journalists have been invited to try the e-CNY — either by downloading a smartphone app, acquiring a physical payment card, or wearing a wristband that facilitates contactless payments. Mu said:

"It seems all the foreign users are using hardware wallets. The software wallets are mainly used by the domestic users."

When it comes to "hardware wallets," Mu is referring to the e-CNY payment cards that have been offered to visitors. They have been complemented by specially created ATMs that allow users to top up their cards by inserting foreign currency and exchanging it to the digital yuan.

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Weariness about CBDCs

A number of countries around the world are currently exploring central bank digital currencies — otherwise known as CBDCs for short.

India recently announced that it intends to launch a digital rupee by 2023 at the latest. Nischal Shetty, the founder of India's biggest crypto exchange WazirX, recently told the CoinMarketRecap podcast that this will play a significant role in increasing adoption.

The U.K. and the U.S. are also investigating whether they want to create digital versions of the pound and dollar, but are yet to make a concrete decision. Given how the infrastructure would take years to develop, critics have warned that both major economies are now at a major disadvantage to China.

But in the run-up to the Games, concerns were raised that Beijing could use the digital yuan to monitor a user's transaction histories.

Last year, three Republican lawmakers had called on Americans to be forbidden from using the digital yuan altogether, writing:

"While the Chinese Communist Party insists their efforts are aimed at digitizing bank notes and coins, Olympic athletes should be aware that the digital yuan may be used to surveil Chinese citizens and those visiting China on an unprecedented scale, with the hopes that they will maintain digital yuan wallets on their smartphones and continue to use it upon return."

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