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China’s Digital Currency Set for Beijing Winter Paralympics

The Paralympics begins on March 4, and overseas attendees will again be invited to make use of the digital CNY at Olympic venues in the capital Beijing and other parts of the country hosting events. But media outlets in the country hinted that the pilot is looking yet further ahead, with multiple Chinese provinces making multiple mentions of digital CNY in their latest five-year plans.

The Winter Olympics should have been the world’s first taste of e-CNY as China introduced the digital form of China’s sovereign currency to millions of global visitors. Foreign visitors were set to massively use the e-CNY to buy items during the games even without a domestic bank account.

Those plans hit a bump with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, during which the Chinese capital has been largely closed to the world. Under a “zero COVID” policy aimed at halting any transmission of the virus, Beijing has adopted a “closed-loop system” for the games under which the 11,000 participants are sealed off from the general public.

To date, China has one of the world’s strictest COVID-19 prevention strategies. Once within the Olympic loop, people will undergo daily testing for COVID-19 and will be unable to access the outside world for the duration of their time in Beijing. Simply put, there will be no contact between people outside and inside the loop.

But as Winter Paralympics approaches, wider adoption of the e-CNY has been seen. As local provincial leaders met in their regular annual meeting to set into motion a raft of new, economic development-focused five-year plans, the digital yuan was mentioned on more than one occasion by more than 10 provinces and cities.

Henan Province, for instance, wrote of its intention to make “clear strides” to advance the pilot in the “digital economy” section of its plan – although the central People’s Bank of China (PBoC) is still yet to announce an official launch date.

Along with Henan, applicants for an e-CNY adoption include Fujian and Heilongjiang provinces, and the cities of Guangzhou, Chongqing, Fuzhou and Xiamen. China has run public trials of its digital yuan in cities including Shanghai, Beijing, and Shenzhen.

Meanwhile, small and medium-sized Chinese banks have been pursuing the adoption of digital yuan business with clear intent. Earlier this year, two smaller financial institutions announced that they would no longer handle banknotes and coins – and would focus their efforts almost entirely on e-CNY business.

Banks including the Bank of Sichuan have hired software firms to help them build interoperability solutions, while a financial expert observes that many smaller banks are now combining their digital CNY adoption drives with their greater digital transformation efforts.

The plan to debut China’s digital currency to the world during the Winter Olympics this year has clearly highlighted the country’s advances in digital transformation. While there are still a lot of challenges ahead for the Asian nation when it comes to digital adoption. strides have been made as evident by its largely cashless society.

To underpin its growth and safeguard citizens, Beijing is taking a tougher stance to regulate the country’s technological advances. As reported on OpenGov Asia, the administration has been looking at regulating the implementation of Artificial Intelligence.

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