The soft rollout of the electronic Chinese yuan (e-CNY) continues across China in advance of its expected formal launch in time for the Beijing Winter Olympics in February. In the latest sign, Beijing Capital International Airport has become the first airport in the country to support payment by the central bank digital currency (CBDC), which is issued by the People’s Bank of China. The China Civil Aviation Newspaper reported the digital yuan can be used at more than 110 stores and for parking at the airport.

Fast facts

  • As one of the venues for the Winter Olympics, Beijing is vigorously promoting the e-CNY in its transportation network, with the city placing e-CNY coupons in its subway and bus systems. Each passenger can receive coupons to pay for a one-way train fare, as long as they have their own digital wallet. This may be the largest scale digital yuan pilot program, since the coupons are open to 22 million residents across Beijing.
  • The pilot program in the lead-up to the Beijing Winter Olympics may give way to the first major international test for the digital currency, since tens of thousands of athletes from various countries will come together.
  • In September, Fan Yifei, the deputy governor of the Chinese central bank, said in September the Winter Olympics e-CNY rollout had entered the “sprint stage” as it approached the finish line. Meanwhile, the central bank stated that 355,000 Winter Olympic payment scenarios have been successfully implemented, covering various situations such as transportation, accommodation, catering and shopping.