City of Beijing to give away $6M in digital currency that tracks spending

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June 3 (UPI) — China’s capital is to give away more than $6 million in digital currency, ahead of plans to use the digital yuan during the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

The Beijing Local Financial Supervision and Administration Bureau said this week the city will test the digital currency by giving away 200,000 virtual red packets each containing 200 yuan, or about $31, the Global Times reported Wednesday.

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The city will select 2,000 winners, who apply through the Bank of China and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, among a pool of applicants to collect the prize money, which can be used from June 11 to 20, according to Beijing News.

China’s capital first began operating a digital yuan pilot program in February, which was tested in Beijing’s Wangfujing shopping district among participating stores.

The new program is four times the size of the first trial and builds on past tests, analysts said.

“The previous trial was an elementary test. The new round is more mature, in that it will be a full-scale and deeper trial with a larger usage range and amount,” said Chen Bo, director of the Digital Finance Research Center at the Central University of Finance and Economics, according to the Global Times on Wednesday.

Other Chinese cities have been conducting pilot programs for the digital yuan, including Shenzhen, Shanghai, Suzhou and Chengdu. Eleven digital yuan pilot zones exist in the country, according to state media.

Consumers who have used digital yuan services with local banks say the steps to opening an account are simple.

“Users just need to click several buttons and the application can be completed within seconds,” said one user with the surname Li, according to the Global Times.

China has more than doubled the amount of digital yuan giveaways in recent months, according to cryptocurrency news specialist The Block Tuesday.