China's digital currency cards used as official payment method at the Olympics
It's been almost a year since China cracked down on Bitcoin mining or crypto transactions in general and cleared the way for its government-issued digital currency. The so-called digital yuan or digital renminbi, denoted as e-CNY, was being prominently featured as a payment method during the Olympic games as a way to popularize it and make it gain international traction.
Prior to the Beijing Olympics, U.S. officials advised athletes to leave their phones at home to limit the possibility for surveillance, but worried that China may force them to download its digital yuan app for payments while they are there. China, however, replied that "athletes and other stakeholders of the Games will not be required to download or use China’s digital currency (digital yuan) during Games time," and that was indeed the case.
What China did to feature its newfangled digital currency was simply make it more convenient for payment, including by installing dedicated ATM exchange machines where foreign currency could be swapped for Chinese crypto. As you can see in the video below, a WSJ reporter was able to convert their U.S. dollars into a hardware wallet containing the equivalent in digital yuan currency. The wallet comes in the recognizable form of a good old debit card with both the VISA and the e-CNY logos on it, next to the Olympics branding. The digital yuan wallet/debit card was then a viable payment instrument at the Olympics village restaurants, grocery stores, or in the souvenir shops.
Some local vendors, however, said they didn't have time to set e-CNY POS terminals at their shops before they were closed off for the Olympics, so they could only accept more orthodox means of payment. Most athletes or foreigners, on the other hand, hadn't heard of China's digital renminbi as an official payment currency at the Olympics, while locals are used to paying with the more popular methods like Alipay that are already present on their phones.