Another Chinese city launches a digital currency test — this time it’s much larger at $6 million

People walk past the headquarters of the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), the central bank, in Beijing, China September 28, 2018. 

Jason Lee | Reuters

BEIJING — The southwestern Chinese city of Chengdu announced Tuesday it will hand out roughly $6 million in the latest test of the central bank’s digital currency.

The scale of the trial is much larger than one in Beijing earlier this month, which aimed to distribute roughly $1.5 million to 50,000 applicants. Other cities like Shenzhen and Suzhou have held their own tests of the People’s Bank of China’s digital currency in the last few months.

Chengdu city said locals can join a lottery Wednesday and Thursday for one of roughly 200,000 vouchers. They are worth about $27 to $37 each, for a total handout of 40.2 million yuan ($6.2 million) in the digital currency.

Like the Beijing handout, the Chengdu trial is tied to the Lunar New Year and will work with local retailers and the e-commerce app. Lottery winners can use the vouchers from March 3 to 19, according to the announcement.

In the last several years, mobile payment has replaced cash as the primary way consumers make purchases in China.

Alibaba-affiliated Alipay app and Tencent’s Wechat Pay are the main two apps for doing so in China.

The People’s Bank of China has been developing a digital currency that is expected to work similarly to the payment apps. Unlike well-known digital currencies like bitcoin, which are operated by a decentralized system, the central bank’s version is controlled by a single power.

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