Trending in China: China’s Social Media Goes Mad For Virtual Free Money – Caixin Global

What’s trending?


To trial China’s new digital currency, boost consumption and draw financial systems of the Pearl River Delta area closer together, China’s southern megacity Shenzhen is literally giving out money for free to locals this week.

Eleven million people viewed posts under the hashtags #ShenzhenLuohuDigitalYuanTrial and #WhatDoesShenzhen’sElectronicMoneySchemeLookLike?

What’s the story?

Luohu, the central district of Shenzhen closest to the Hong Kong border, launched a digital money scheme yesterday that has distributed 100 million yuan ($1.5 million) in coupons to be spent locally by Oct. 18.

Two million participants received a text message with a link to download and install a digital yuan mobile app. After installation they could see if they had won a free coupon or “digital hongbao”. One in four received 200 yuan each to spend in participating shops, restaurants and gas stations. Those who did not win anything were eligible for a “participation certificate.”

China’s central bank (PBOC) regards the digital yuan as an important part of the economy’s future financial infrastructure and has been developing it since 2014. In April, the PBOC said trials would be conducted in four regions including Shenzhen, and in scenarios related to the 2022 Winter Olympics.

What are people saying online?

“There is even a pilot for red envelopes? Digital currency has arrived!” Unsurprisingly a generally popular move, the “digital hongbao” is also seeing serious commentary. One person asked, “How can we tell the digital currency apart from our current array of online payment options?”

Some noted that the money has