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Shanghai’s Jing’an District to Issue Blockchain Coupons for ‘Cultural-Tourism’

Shanghai has become the latest city in China whose local government has taken on an ambitious blockchain-based project. According to a report from local news media source Shine, Shanghai’s central Jing’an district has decided to launch a project that would issue coupons to people through WeChat.

The report noted that the project was launched in partnership with the Jing’an Cultural Tourism Bureau and will utilize one of the many “mini-programs” available on Chinese social media and messaging platform WeChat. 

These “mini-programs” are actually small applications built into the WeChat ecosystem that provide users with a range of online services such as e-commerce, music and video streaming, transaction, etc. All of these sub-applications are interconnected with WeChat and are known for their seamless integration and high throughput. 

Under the new plan, the Jing’an Cultural Tourism Bureau has put their WeChat application on a blockchain to issue coupons to the 1.5 million residents of the district. According to local news sources, Chen Hong, the director of the Jing’an Cultural Tourism Bureau, said that the COVID-19 pandemic has forced people to turn to online entertainment. 

However, while the pandemic has slowed down in most areas in China, the people’s focus hasn’t shifted from the online to the offline world. To promote cultural venues across the district, the tourism bureau decided to issue coupons that its residents could redeem them for book purchases, streaming services, cinema tickets, and more. 

Chen said that users of the app will be able to redeem their coupons in places such as Hubei Cinema, Fourth Cinema, Majestic Theater, and the fast-growing, Shanghai-based online broadcasting platform Ximalaya. 

The reason why the tourism bureau decided to turn to blockchain technology is to gain better control of the number of coupons in circulation and ensure their validity. By employing blockchain technology, whose development is heavily promoted by China’s central government, the busy district will effectively do away with paper-based vouchers and create a more efficient system for their distribution.

Another thing that blockchain technology will enable the bureau to do is gain a better understanding of the way people use and redeem the coupons. The transparent nature of blockchains means that the bureau can easily access and analyze all of the data regarding the vouchers.

A report from China Email revealed that while the program will begin small, it will issue new coupons every day. The value of the coupons will vary depending on many different factors but will range between 5 yuan and 60 yuan, or around $0.73 and $8.80. 

The program will specifically target students and employees, but all residents of the Jing’an district will be able to utilize the app. The tourism bureau also said that the coupons will also be accepted by all theaters in the district, as well as various other online courses focused on education. 

Chen noted that Jing’an is the first city district in China to use blockchain technology this way. 

“We hope to deliver intelligent, convenient and high-end cultural services to our people,” she said in an interview. 

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