China is introducing the digital yuan to athletes and fans ahead of the Winter Olympics in Beijing, the first major test of the virtual currency's appeal among foreigners.
According to Arab Net, this comes less than a month before the start of the Olympic Games, which is subject to a diplomatic boycott by many countries, as well as the risk of virus outbreaks, while China looks to use the games to showcase the influence of the digital yuan globally.
Visitors can download an app, get a physical card that stores digital yuan, or convert foreign banknotes into Chinese yuan via self-service machines, according to the Bank of China Limited, the government lender and official gaming partner.
Athletes and their coaches are also entitled to receive bracelets that act as electronic wallets and can be swiped to pay for goods or services, according to Bloomberg, and seen by Al Arabiya.net.
Meanwhile, in July, 3 Republican senators called on the US Olympic Committee to ban US athletes from using the digital yuan, citing espionage and data security concerns.
Small shops, cafes and other merchants within the Olympic Village - where the athletes will live and spend their spare time - are equipped with machines paying in digital yuan, as well as shops at railway stations near the venues of the game.
The Winter Olympics, which officially begin on February 4, are seen as an opportunity for the People's Bank of China to raise awareness about the digital yuan after making steady progress in trials in about a dozen regions across China since 2020.
The number of digital yuan dealers rose to 140 million by early November, according to officials, although residents still rely heavily on apps such as Alipay and WeChatPay for their daily payments.