Several Chinese citizens who acquired digital yuan payouts worth USD 30 in a recent giveaway event have elected to top up their central bank digital currency (CBDC) wallets.
As recently reported, the central People’s Bank of China (PBoC) distributed thousands of “red envelope” lucky draw handouts to Shenzhen citizens earlier this month. And 50,000 of these held links that activated wallets at four state-owned commercial banks that have been tasked with distributing the CBDC, known in China as the Digital Currency Electronic Payment (DCEP) system.
As announced by an official post from the Shenzhen Municipal People’s Government in conjunction with the PBoC, almost 2 million people applied to participate in the event, with winners notified by SMS.
As of yesterday, USD 1.3m of the USD 1.5m given out has now been claimed – and mainly spent, although some users decided to come back for more and have used their wallets to purchase some USD 134,000 worth of the digital yuan.
Over 3,300 retailers in the city now accept the digital yuan, which is technically still in the pilot testing phase.
Despite that, it seems that some citizens have either been too busy to claim their tokens or have lost interest: 5% of the payouts remain unclaimed, the city’s data showed.
In the meantime, Reuters published that Shenzhen’s response was decidedly mixed, quoting one recipient stating that they would not be using the digital yuan again unless they were given another free handout.
Others told Reuters that they did not feel sufficiently differentiated from existing e-pay solutions like Alipay and WeChat Pay.
Nevertheless, enterprise experts seemed to differ. The news agency quotes Wang Shibin, the co-founder of crypto exchange HKbitEX, as stating,
“The event last week really means that the [digital yuan] has already moved from theoretical internal testing to real-world practice.”
And a senior economist at PwC replied,
“It’s especially important to offer convenience and other benefits to promote the use of digital yuan. […] For the digital yuan to be popularly accepted, banks and other institutions need to invest heavily in applications, marketing, and education.”