Money Money Money

This may or may not be interesting to others, but I found it a bit interesting. The unit of currency in China is RMB (also sometimes referred to as CNY, Chinese Yuan). 1RMB is about $0.13. The discreet values for which units of currency exist are .1, .2, .5, 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100. That is, from $0.013 – $13. The confusing thing is that there are bills all the way down to .1RMB, although it’s uncommon to see bills below .5RMB. So there are bills and coincs for the same values. Also, the currency below 1 RMB is measured in "jiao". So a .5 Yuan bill will say 5 Jiao instead of 5 Yuan. But to a casual visitor, it still looks like a "5" bill. And some taxi drivers have been known to capitalize on the confusion. The colors are also similar. The shapes, however, are not. The larger the denomination, the larger the bill. Because the highest bill is only $13, and because the economy is so cash-based, it’s not uncommon to see huge amounts of cash at places like the bank. People will walk out with a small sack full of cash, and it looks like a bank robbery or something. We recently bought some airplane tickets online, and even though we bought them online, we still had to pay cash for them, which we did by some kid riding over on a bike and picking up the money. Four tickets @ like $600 a pop turned out to be like 18,000RMB, which means 180 100RMB bills. One common skill you’ll find in China that you won’t find in the US is the ability to quickly and accurately count money. They have a certain way of holding and counting the bills that actually takes practice. I can’t do it. It reminds me of when I was in Korea. Very similar. One thing I haven’t seen here, though, are the abacuses (abacii?). At larger institutions, like banks, they have money counters, but it’s kinda funny how they "check" the money counters by manually counting as well. Again, reminded me of Korea where they checked the calculators with abacuses.

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About Curt Carpenter

Father of 2, development manager at Microsoft, boardgamer.
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