Let’s anticipate. We are the 1er February 2022. The Beijing Winter Olympics will start three days later. As you disembark at the airport, you quickly discover that, on the whole, neither Chinese merchants nor public transport will accept your Visa or MasterCard credit card. Using, like the Chinese, WeChat Pay and Alipay is excluded, since you do not have a phone number or bank account in China.
On the other hand, at the airport, Chinese banks offer you a new, extremely simple system: exchange, free of charge, your dollars or euros during the day against virtual yuan. You just have to download the application created for this purpose by the People’s Bank of China or, even simpler, attach a chip to a badge that you will wear around your neck, or even on one of your gloves. Obviously, your photo will have been scanned, and thanks to the ubiquitous facial recognition system, any theft would be stupid. During your stay in China, from the fast train that will take you to the Olympic Village to the purchase of the inevitable mascot – the Bing panda Dwen Dwen – for your children, the virtual yuan will free you from all financial worries.
This scenario is not pure fiction. Like an athlete before the competition, China has been training and testing its virtual currency for a few months to be ready on February 4, 2022. As of November 2020, the Chinese central bank reported 4 million transactions for a value equivalent to 299 million dollars (245 million euros).
In Shenzhen (Southeast), in October, in Suzhou (East), in December, and, to a lesser extent, in Beijing and other cities, hundreds of thousands of Chinese serve as happy guinea pigs. Why deprive yourself? In Shenzhen in October, 1.9 million residents volunteered. An electronic lottery distributed 200 yuan (25 euros) to 50,000 of them. They carried out a little more than 62,000 transactions in approximately 3,300 stores authorized, during a week, to cash this currency. You can, of course, use it to shop online. In Suzhou, a city of 10 million inhabitants, the central bank doubled the stakes: 100,000 inhabitants received 200 yuan to spend between December 11 and 27. And an operation of the same magnitude is underway again in Shenzhen until January 17.
In Beijing, a café located in a financial district in the south of the capital was also equipped at the end of December. For her part, Shen Xue, three-time world figure skating champion, downloaded the app at Beijing’s new Daxing airport, and, thanks to a chip attached to her ski glove, was able to buy a subway ticket and get get to the city center.
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