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What financial services are offered in Beijing during Olympic Games?
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The upcoming Olympic Games is set to draw huge numbers of visitors, volunteers, athletes and officials to Beijing. The security and convenience of their payments for travel and other spending, the security and convenience of their payment, are concerns not only of themselves, but also service providers in Beijing. A representative of the People's Bank of China, the nation's central bank, talked to the media about what financial services are offered in Beijing during Olympic Games.

Q: It is well known that credit cards and traveler's checks are main financial instruments used by foreigners. Is it convenient to use them in Beijing?

A: Special arrangements have been made for about 110,000 shops in Beijing to accept bank cards. Around Olympic stadiums about 90 percent of all points of sale accept renminbi cards and foreign credit cards. Foreigners and Chinese residents can use their cards in places that carry Unionpay, Visa and other logos.

Q: If they need getting help, how can consumers get help with bank card problems?

A: The best way is to call 12345, the consultation and complaints number that is connected to a non-emergency help system established by the Beijing municipal government.

Q: It is convenient to use bank cards in Beijing, but if foreigners want to pay cash how can they change foreign currency to renminbi?

A: There are 2,400 institutions including bank outlets and qualified currency exchange institutions providing currency exchange services in the Chinese capital. They are located in hotels, the three terminal buildings of Beijing Capital International Airport and other sites. ATMs in some of them make it easier.

Only a valid identity document such as a passport is needed. Mainland travel permits for Hong Kong and Macao residents can be used, as well as travel permits for Taiwan residents.

Light boxes and exchange signs are conspicuous outside banks in key areas. Some outlets set aside priority counters for exchange services. The range and prices of currencies are displayed on LEDs. All currency exchange sites accept US dollars, euros and Hong Kong dollars. Seventeen currencies can be exchanged in all Beijing outlets of the Bank of China. The staff can provide services in English.

Q: How to change renminbi back to foreign currencies?

A: All the outlets and institutions mentioned above can do it. But they should pay attention to the regulations issued by the State Administration of Foreign Exchange. According to the regulation, total amount converted by an individual per day cannot exceed $1,000 at locations in customs areas. Up to $50,000 can be exchanged back with valid identity documents in the city's Chinese banking outlets. If they have more money than that, an exchange memo, which is available when converting foreign currencies to renminbi, should be provided.

Currency regulations written in both Chinese and English are available in all banking outlets to provide more details.

Q: How can foreign customers detect counterfeits? What can they do if they get counterfeit currency?

A: Consumers could get a copy of the security guide from banking outlets that outlines security technologies of the fifth series of the renminbi and ways to confirm real notes. In case of counterfeit notes, our suggestion is to hand them in to police or outlets of the Bank of China. Obviously, it's rare to get counterfeit currency in Beijing.

(China.org.cn July 4, 2008)

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