China's push for a digital currency - and virtual control

The planned ‘e-yuan’ will strengthen government scrutiny of transactions and create competition for Alipay and WeChat Pay

A sign for the digital renminbi placed at the payment counter of a store – above WeChat Pay and Alipay signs – in a Beijing shopping mall this month, during a trial of the digital currency electronic payment system. PHOTO: REUTERS
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(FINANCIAL TIMES) - Celebrations in China to mark the Chinese New Year of the Ox, which began last Friday, have been somewhat muted because of the coronavirus pandemic. The numbers of people travelling to visit relatives this year are down sharply, depriving family gatherings of a measure of joy.

But it is not all gloom. The authorities in several cities have given away tens of millions of yuan as new year "red packets" that can be downloaded onto a smartphone. Beijing and Suzhou alone have doled out 200,000 red packets worth 200 yuan (S$41) each in a public lottery.

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