Chinese central bank's digital yuan given trial by lottery

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A sign indicating digital yuan, also referred to as e-CNY, is pictured at a shopping mall in Shanghai, China May 5, 2021. REUTERS/Aly Song

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BEIJING, June 2 (Reuters) - China's capital Beijing will launch a lottery in June giving out free online wallets containing 200 digital yuan ($31.34) to winners, in another trial for the central bank's eCNY, according to a notice on the city's government website.

The "red envelopes" - a reference to China’s traditional way of gifting cash - will be distributed to 200,000 lottery winners, who must download an app to use their prizes at designated merchants around the capital, according to the notice.

Those who want to join the lottery can sign up from June 6. The winners will be announced a few days later, and they must spend their prize money by June 20.

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China is a front-runner in the global race to launch central bank digital currencies (CBDC) and has held trials in several major cities including Shenzhen and Shanghai. A trial in Shenzhen in January gave away 20 million yuan.

The People's Bank of China (PBOC) aims to become the first major central bank to issue a CBDC, part of its push to internationalise the yuan and reduce dependence on the dollar-dominated global banking system.

The e-CNY could also erode the dominance of Ant Group’s Alipay and Tencent’s WeChat Pay in online payments.

($1 = 6.3817 Chinese yuan renminbi)

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Reporting by Gabriel Crossley; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore

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