China wants to let foreigners use the digital yuan during the 2022 Winter Olympics

According to a top central bank official, China’s central bank wants to enable foreign athletes and visitors to use the country’s digital currency during the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

Li Bo, deputy governor of the People’s Bank of China, said the upcoming Winter Olympics could potentially become the first test of China’s central bank’s digital currency, or CBDC, by foreign users.

“For the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics, we tried to make e-CNY available not only to domestic users, but also to international athletes and similar attendees,” Li said during a CNBC panel at the Boao Forum for Asia on Sunday. The bank previously announced its plans to test the digital yuan at the August 2020 event.

The official said the PBoC does not intend to replace the dominance of the US dollar as the world’s reserve currency. Li reportedly noted that the central bank is targeting domestic use of the digital yuan.

“Before renminbi internationalization, we have often said that it is a natural process and that our goal is not to replace the US dollar or any other international currency. I think our goal is to let the market choose and to facilitate international trade and investment, ”he stated.

Despite the PBoC’s focus on the domestic digital yuan, China’s central bank is still investigating cross-border CBDC use. “At the same time, we work together with our international partners. Hopefully in the long term we will also have a cross-border solution, ”said Li. In the forum, Li also said that China’s central bank now considers the major cryptocurrency Bitcoin (BTC) an “investment alternative.”

After launching its first domestic digital yuan tests in 2020, China started cross-border CBDC pilots in February 2021 in partnership with central banks in Hong Kong, Thailand and the United Arab Emirates. On April 1, PBoC director of research firm Wang Xin announced that China’s central bank completed the first cross-border pilots of the digital yuan with the Hong Kong Monetary Authority.

The Chinese authorities have repeatedly stressed that the government is not trying to replace existing fiat currencies, including the US dollar, with the digital yuan. “We are not like Libra and we have no ambition to replace existing currencies,” Zhou Xiaochuan, the president of the Chinese Finance Association and former governor of PBoC, said in late 2020.

As previously reported by Cointelegraph, the US has approached CBDCs carefully because of the US dollar’s status as the world’s reserve currency and other CBDC-related challenges such as privacy. The European Central Bank is also still deciding whether Europe needs a digital euro, with ECB president Christine Lagarde expecting the digital currency to be adopted in four years at the earliest.