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Chinese Central Bank Updates Digital Yuan App, Adds Gift Functions

Tim Alper
Last updated: | 2 min read
Source: Subinpumsom/Adobe

The central People’s Bank of China (PBoC) has updated its digital yuan app – and is attempting to drive up adoption with new gifting and invitation functions.

The newspaper Beijing Business Today reported that the smartphone app, which was launched in January this year, has undergone another facelift. The app’s first major update focused on UI improvements and was made in March. But the latest update has added functions that are aimed at increasing adoption using social networks.

The first main new function is a gift-giving menu that allows users to send cash gifts to one another. This comes replete with e-gift cards in the form of “red envelopes.” 

In Chinese culture, it is customary for relatives and close friends to give one another red envelopes containing banknotes to mark occasions such as birthdays and weddings. Relatives also give out these envelopes on special occasions such as the Lunar New Year and national celebrations.

As such, the app allows users to send specially designed “red envelopes” containing digital yuan tokens. Their digital covers feature messages such as “Happy Birthday” and “Gong xi fa cai” (恭喜发财, literally “I wish you to increase your wealth.”) The latter is the customary Lunar New Year greeting – the equivalent of wishing another person “Happy New Year” in an English-speaking nation.

The envelopes can be sent via Tencent’s QQ and WeChat chat apps, as well as their Alibaba-run counterparts. Recipients will then be prompted to redeem the digital contents of envelopes by downloading and opening the digital yuan app – if they do not already have a digital yuan wallet of their own.

The move echoes similar “red envelope”-themed drives already used by WeChat Pay and Alipay, the nation’s largest e-pay platforms.

PBoC’s Digital Yuan Adoption Drive

The other main feature that the PBoC has added to its app in the update is a customizable avatar function. This allows users to choose between six basic avatars.

The chosen avatar will represent the user on the app’s UI and associated spaces. This avatar will also be visible to other users when they search for an individual’s address.

The avatar system will be reward-based. This means that the more users an individual can persuade to download and run the digital yuan app, the more they will be able to customize their avatar. “Unique” and “decorative” details have been made available to people who manage to convince three or more other people to download the app.