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Digital yuan goes physical, mining rig prices rise: Blockheads

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A Shanghai hospital started trialing a digital yuan smart card, and China’s third lottery to distribute the digital currency took place in Shenzhen. The prices of cryptocurrency mining rigs skyrocketed in the last two months during the Bitcoin bull run, while state media discouraged investors from buying into the craze.

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The world of blockchain moves fast, and nowhere does it move faster than China. Here’s what you need to know about China’s block-world in the week of Jan. 5-12.

Digital yuan trials

  • A hospital in Shanghai started trialing the first “hard wallet” designed for the digital yuan, state media reported on Jan. 7. Employees of Tongren Hospital can use a smart card, as opposed to a smartphone, to pay with the digital currency at the hospital’s staff canteen. (The Paper on YouTube, in Chinese)

“The Shanghai DCEP pilot uses an ink screen similar to Amazon Kindle, which means that DCEP can be used without an Internet connection or mobile phone.”

—Colin Wu on Twitter
  • China’s third lottery to distribute China’s digital currency took place last week in Shenzhen, the second to take place in the city. The lottery is part of the central bank’s ongoing trials. RMB 20 million ($3 million) were distributed in this trial. (China Banking News)
  • Local media in Shenzhen reported that the Agricultural Bank of China is testing the use of ATMs for digital yuan deposits and withdrawals. (Shenzhen News)

The scramble for mining rigs

  • As Bitcoin prices soared in the last month, demand for China-made cryptocurrency mining rigs surged alongside. The world’s top cryptocurrency exceeded $40,000 last week.
  • Prices of new mining rigs have doubled in the last two months, and Bitmain’s inventory have been sold out for months. (CoinDesk)
  • The bull market has even brought back old models that were on shelves. Previous rig models are also being sold for higher prices in second-hand markets, data from crypto intelligence portal Hash Rate Index showed. (8BTC.com)
  • The topic was trending on Chinese social media platform Weibo, with more than 8.9 million views on Jan. 9.
  • 500.com, a US-listed Chinese sports lottery company, plans to buy $14.4 million worth of Bitmain and MicroBT crypto mining equipment. The lottery operator will issue 11.9 million Class A ordinary shares priced at $1.21 to raise funds for the purchase. (500.com statement)

State media on Bitcoin

  • The China Economic Daily said that Bitcoin trading is still in a legal gray area, and that the cryptocurrency will become worthless when governments ban it. The newspaper said it expects regulatory crackdowns on Bitcoin to intensify. (8BTC.com)
  • State-owned People’s Daily discouraged readers from leveraged Bitcoin trading amid the coin’s bull run in a lengthy op-ed on Jan. 5. (People’s Daily)
  • Mentions of blockchain in People’s Daily multiplied 700% from 2017 to 2020, research from policy analysis firm Macro Polo said. (Macro Polo)