E-commerce giant JD.com is stuffing virtual red envelopes of digital yuan to be distributed in Suzhou’s second public lottery, which opened for registration on Friday.

Why it matters: This is China’s fifth digital currency trial open to the public, and the fourth one within the last two months. The acceleration of public tests this year compared with 2020 signals that a rollout could be close.

  • JD.com’s involvement in the trial is the first known instance of a private company providing funds to test China’s digital currency.

READ MORE: EXCLUSIVE: We got some digital yuan!

Details: The Suzhou government will distribute to lucky lottery winners red envelopes containing a total of RMB 30 million ($4.6 million) paid for by JD.com, an official WeChat announcement said.

  • Suzhou residents can register for the lottery through the JD.com or Suzhou city apps on Friday and Saturday. Previously, potential winners could only register via city government apps.
  • But to receive and use their funds, the winners have to download the digital RMB app through the JD.com or Suzhou government app, depending which one they used for registration.
  • The winners will be announced starting Feb. 10 and the red envelopes can be used for shopping from Feb. 18 to 26.
  • The Suzhou government has also added a query function to its app, allowing citizens to search for offline stores that accept the digital currency.

Context: The first trial of the digital money in Chengdu, the capital of China’s southwestern Sichuan province, is underway. The Chengdu trial will distribute RMB 50 million, nearly double the amount other cities are distributing through public lotteries.

  • The southern city of Shenzhen has already held two lotteries in October and January.
  • Suzhou, Shenzhen, Xiong’an, and Chengdu are also running closed trials involving only whitelisted individuals.
  • China will likely be the first major world economy to roll out a digital currency, giving Beijing a first-mover advantage in the technology. Only the Bahamas and Cambodia have launched their own digital currencies.

Eliza was TechNode's blockchain and fintech reporter until July 2021, when she moved to CoinDesk to cover crypto in Asia. Get in touch with her via email or Twitter.