Men wearing face masks walk past a Gap store at a shopping area, as the country is hit by an outbreak of the new coronavirus, in Beijing, China February 7, 2020.
Jason Lee | Reuters
BEIJING — China’s capital city will hand out about $1.5 million in a limited trial of the central bank’s digital currency, the municipal government announced over the weekend.
In this trial, Beijing said it will select 50,000 from a pool of applicants to receive 200 yuan, or about $30 each, in the digital currency. Recipients can spend the money at designated offline locations or on parts of e-commerce site JD.com during the upcoming Lunar New Year holiday.
The vouchers are valid from Feb. 10 to Feb. 17. The digital currency test is only open to those with a Chinese ID number, or residence permits from Hong Kong, Macao or Taiwan.
The People’s Bank of China has been developing a digital currency that is expected to work in a similar way to transactions through existing payment apps. Mobile pay, primarily through the Alibaba-affiliated Alipay app and Tencent’s Wechat Pay, has replaced cash in the last several years as the predominant form of consumer payment in China.
Unlike well-known digital currencies like bitcoin, the one under development by China’s central bank is controlled by a single power, rather than a decentralized system managed by users around the world.