China is pressing US companies like McDonalds and Visa to accept its e-yuan at the Winter Olympics: report

China is pressing US companies like McDonalds and Visa to accept its e-yuan at the Winter Olympics: report
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  • China is pressuring US companies to accept payments in digital yuan at the Winter Olympics, according to the FT.
  • China hopes to make the "e-yuan" available to international customers at the Beijing Winter Olympics next year.
  • McDonalds has already started trialing digital renminbi wallets across its 270 restaurants in Shanghai.

China is pushing big US companies like McDonald's and Visa to accept payment in its digital yuan ahead of the Beijing Winter Olympics next year, according to a report by the Financial Times on Wednesday.

McDonald's already allows customers to use a digital renminbi wallet across 270 of its restaurants in Shanghai, but the Chinese government wants the burger chain to expand this out to more locations across China, the FT said. A person familiar with the situation told the FT Visa and Nike have also experienced pressure from the government.

McDonald's said it offered a range of payment options to its customers in China.


"Currently customers can use digital RMB in McDonald's restaurants in Shanghai, our pilot city where we will learn from customers' response. Accepting digital RMB is a business decision made with customer interests in mind, and there is no pressure to do so," McDonald's China said in an emailed response to Insider.

Visa declined to comment when contacted by Insider, while Nike was not available for comment.

The government has put pressure on US companies to install systems that would allow payment in digital renminbi, three people familiar with the situation told the FT. China's aim was to ensure that these systems were operational by the opening of the Beijing Winter Olympics next year, the sources told the FT.


"I always assumed large US firms would be put under pressure to provide weight to the digital renminbi, because most large retailers will be put under pressure and American firms won't be exempted," Darrell Duffie a co-head of a e-renminbi project run by Stanford University's Hoover Institution, told the FT.

The digital yuan, also known as the e-CNY, is a central bank digital currency (CBDC) and the People's Bank of China is well ahead of its peers in other major economies in rolling out the project.

The Chinese government has all but banned decentralized cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, by restricting mining, trading and transactions on the mainland, but is forging ahead with its own official digital currency.


China has been trialing the digital yuan since 2019. It carried out multiple tests, including handing out the currency to residents. In July, one trial amassed $5.3 billion in transaction values according to Bloomberg, putting it several years ahead of other rich nations' efforts to develop their own digital currencies.

This article has been updated to include McDonald's response.