Over the past few days, boxes of 1 RMB (about 15¢) coins free for the taking have mysteriously popped up in cities all over China. They’ve appeared in Guangzhou to the southeast, Chengdu to the southwest, Shenyang to the northeast, and Zhengzhou, Nanchang, and Shijiazhuang in the interior, just to name a few. No matter where the boxes appear, it’s always the same general idea: a box full of 1 RMB coins is placed near a subway or bus station, accompanied by a sign reading, “If you need change, you can take some, max per person is 5 yuan [RMB].”
A box of free money might sound like a recipe for disaster, but the reported results are surprising and heartwarming. Apparently, few people took more than 5 RMB, and some even put money back into the box. In Hangzhou and Chengdu, the box actually had more money after an entire day out than it started out with.
Beijing Evening News reports that they’ve traced the viral phenomenon back to an internet technology company called 深圳有点牛, which translates to “Shenzhen is Kinda Awesome” (“Kinda Awesome” for short). As such, the phenomenon has been called out as a marketing tactic to gain fans.
Xinhua, China’s official press agency, naturally has to be the party-pooper: they report that many academics think using such commercialized tactics to test people’s morality is “very ridiculous” and “meaningless.”
The social experiment isn’t exactly scientific, but enjoy your daily dose of good news anyway. You can watch a three-minute montage of coin-box action around China right here if you’re so inclined.
All images and gifs via Phoenix Weekly