Chinese Central Bank To Issue Digital Yuan Worth $6.2M in Lottery System

According to Reuters, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) is set to issue 40 million renminbi ($6.2 million) to Beijing citizens in the latest trial for the digital yuan (e-CNY). The giveaway will take the form of a lottery, where the bank will hand out 200,000 virtual red envelopes, each containing 200 yuan ($31.30). 

Residents of the Chinese capital wishing to participate in the trial must register in a lottery system integrated into a mobile app run by the Bank of China. Applicants must provide their ID and phone numbers to participate in the lottery. The registration process is scheduled to run from June 5 until midnight on June 7.

The 200,000 lottery winners will be announced on June 11 and can start spending the e-CNY in their red envelope during the Dragon Boat Festival, which kicks off on June 12. Each participant has until June 20 to use the digital prize money in their possession across 2,000 selected retail outlets.

PBOC Expands the Scope of e-CNY Trials

China, a front-runner in the global race to launch central bank digital currencies (CBDC), has yet to do a nationwide rollout of its e-CNY tests. 

So far, the world’s second-largest economy has focused on pilot programs in the form of lotteries across several major cities in the country. Back in January, the PBOC officially opened a lottery in Shenzhen’s trial that handed out 20 million yuan to participants. 

Beijing was the next city to receive an e-CNY airdrop in the third major test for China’s sovereign digital currency. In February, 50,000 residents received 10 million yuan ($1.55 million) via a lottery giveaway which they registered for using mobile phone apps. 

Participants were selected from a pool of applicants who had to provide their ID number or a residence permit from Macau, Taiwan, or Hong Kong. Each winner received 200 yuan, which they could spend during the Chinese New Year festival.                                                                                                                                                   

The upcoming lottery is Beijing’s second large-scale yuan pilot, which aims to distribute four times the size of the prototype digital currency issued in the previous trial. It marks the PBOC’s latest effort to actively test the digital yuan as it aims to become the first major central bank to issue a CBDC.

More plans are in place to expand the scope of the e-CNY tests. The Chinese central bank recently hinted that it could allow foreign visitors to use the digital currency at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

Eroding the Dominance of Online Payment Platforms

One of the primary reasons for the PBOC’s rush to digitize banknotes in circulation is to counter the dominance of Tencent’s WeChat Pay and Ant Group’s Alipay in online payments.

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China’s push to roll out a CBDC could also be seen as part of a broader strategy to erode the US dollar’s dominance in the global banking system.

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