China is continuing in its efforts to wow the world with its digital yuan at the Winter Olympic Games, which got underway on Friday last week. But it appears that not all attendees – both Chinese and overseas visitors – have been blown away by the token’s usability.
A Wall Street Journal reporter was astonished by the fact that popular e-payment platforms like Alipay were not accepted at Winter Olympic venues and remarked that she had “not seen anyone” use the digital CNY “yet.”
Another big reason why this isn’t China. you couldn’t use Alipay or Wechat pay in the Olympic media Center cafeteria. This must be the only place in China you can’t use Alipay to pay for stuff. Its Visa, cash (!) or E-CNY, and I’ve not seen anyone use the digital currency yet. pic.twitter.com/dzXrkfxPHw— Liza Lin (@lizalinwsj) February 4, 2022
The Beijing Business Today quoted a Winter Olympics attendee who asked for their identity to be withheld as stating that although the digital CNY was “the fastest” and “most convenient” payment option for domestic attendees to use at the games, “foreigners” they had seen tended to use “Visa cards more” than the only other to payment options allowed at venues: cash or the e-CNY.
Regardless, it appears that just about every type of e-CNY wallet imaginable has already been rolled out in time for the games – ranging from smart cards with NFC technology to wearable wristbands.
日经记者在北京冬奥会体验数字人民币: 中国银行表示没有银行账户就不能使用APP。记者表示有些遗憾，女性职员说为了让海外用户能纪念性地开设账户，还推出了预付卡，并且需要充值的现金。办好卡后，出于好奇，记者马上在餐厅结账时使用了……https://t.co/jsQrmLUDOd— Nikkei日经中文 (@NikkeiCN) February 3, 2022
Others took to social media to show the non-Olympic-themed “hard wallets” issued by state-run commercial banks.
其实是一个类似硬件钱包的小额数字人民币预付卡，高级版卡上有个墨水屏可以看到余额，但有点厚。做成手环可以说是穿戴式设备钱包。 pic.twitter.com/fgPm5VrUIr— 浪孩子 (@otaboy_SH) February 3, 2022
And there appears to be no shortage of digital RMB-themed promotion at the games, with posters on the Chinese social media platform Weibo, including media outlets, showcasing a myriad of Olympic-themed payment options.
While some showed a range of commemorative hard wallets, others showed the token being advertised as a point-of-sale payment option.
Meanwhile, the Chinese tech behemoth Alibaba has begun releasing a Winter Olympics-themed set of non-fungible tokens (NFTs). However, as reported, the nation’s leading tech firms have informally agreed to call their tokens “digital collectibles,” release them on private blockchains and impose resale restrictions on them.
Per the South China Morning Post, Alibaba is set to issue 8,888 copies of four different tokens (eight is a lucky number in Chinese culture). The first token depicts speed skaters racing for the finish line, while the next three will feature a slopestyle skier, an aerial freestyle skiing competitor, and two figure skaters.
Alibaba will be selling the tokens via its Taobao and Tmall marketplaces until the conclusion of the games on February 20. The speed skater series of tokens sold out within moments of going on sale.