Coins are Popular in Shanghai

When people outside Shanghai visit Shanghai for the first time (including me 10 years ago), they often found RMB coins are more popular in Shanghai than any other cities in China. Going out empty handed for one day and when you return, you probably have some coins in pocket.

Where the Coins Comes From

The answer is simple. It comes from everywhere.

The biggest source may be the Shanghai Metro. If you buy ticket of 4 RMB with 10 RMB paper cash, often you get your charge in 6 one-RMB coins.

The automatic ticket vending machines are the same. They sometimes give changes in coins as many as 16 one-RMB coins. Once I got 16 coins when I bought 4 RMB ticket from People’s Square to Xujiahui with 20 RMB.

The other source is taxi. Taxi drivers always keeps the coins at hand.

Since coins are so popular, the 1-RMB paper cash is not as popular, and I didn’t saw 2-RMB paper cash for a long time (BTW, did they stopped producing this kind of cash?).

Where to Use it

I believe there are two reasons why people in Shanghai loves coins better.

1. There is a Coin Manufaturing Factory in Shanghai. There are only 3 coin manufacturing companies in China (the others are in Shenyang, and Nanjing. There is another one in Shenzhen, but they don’t produce RMB coins. They produce golden coins only) (correct me if I am wrong here).

2. There are many coin-only equipments in Shanghai. For example, the ticket vending machine in Shanghai Metro, and the telephone booth, drink vending machines… You can use it in many places. The “self-serve” buses are also a good place for coins.

Shanghai is Different

In most cities I visited in China, they don’t like coins. For example, in Beijing and Luoyang, people don’t like coins, and some refuse to accept coins. To be not exact, not to refuse. They just ask you if you have paper cash instead of coins.

People say it is troublesome to carry coins, and they are easy to lose.

I am a Coin-fan

Me? I love coins. I love the feeling to have a lot of coins in pockets – “the feeling of being rich.” Just kidding. But I do know that advisers to Bill Gates suggested Bill not to carry any coins in pocket, because the sound of coins reminds people of how rich he is.

Today is a typical day. I started with 10 RMB, bought ticket at vending machine at 4 RMB (the Public Transportation card happened to have no money in it), and spent 4 out of the 6 changed coins tonight. Now I have two left. The picture below is one of them… :-)

My 1-RMB coin

15 thoughts on “Coins are Popular in Shanghai

  1. I prefer coins because they “look” cleaner than notes. Notes here are too dirty and disgusting..

  2. Here in DongGuan ( GuangDong Province) many times people refused to accept coins. Once when I was on a bus, since a man refused to change his bus fee from coins to notes, the bus driver forced him to get down from the bus roughly. So, at last that man had to change. So, here we don’t like coins, they are treated no the same as notes!

  3. >BTW, did they stopped producing this kind of cash?).

    AFAIK 2-yuan notes aren’t producing for a long time, and there isn’t 2-yuan banknote in 1999′ series of RMB – only in 1980′. Last time I saw 2-yuan cash about a year ago, somebody in Heihe (Heilongjiang) gave me the change. It looked like a piece of toilet paper :)

  4. Hello !! I’m Michael from Dallas, TX, USA… I’m a Korean-American and I came across your interesting blog. I found your blog by Googling “photo to cartoon.” I’ve been searching and searching for some time now for a software that will allow me to take a photo of my nephew and make it a cartoon without too much difficulty. Is Home Style Plus only available for the Japanese version of Office 2003? Is there any way I can obtain a copy of this software? If you can point me in the right direction I would be most appreciative.

    Last year I went to Korea and since I’ve already lived in Germany, my next overseas trip will be to China. Historically, I believe China to be the richest country ever and I want to visit. Also, I just want to eat authentic Chinese food!

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  5. In Shenzhen the usage of coins is very popular also. The so-called ‘middle bus’ are all self-served. I always have many(about 20) coins on my table.

  6. it is troublesome to carry coins in your wallet

    and, if you put the coins in the same pocket with your cell phone,they will rock each other and make strange sound 。

    ADDED:another big source is the super market,like carrefour,the salespersons will charge you a lot of coins.

  7. 10 years ago, I lived and worked in Dalian. The people there used to fold ten little 1 mao paper money bills into a litttle flower shape that was worth 1 yuan total. Everybody used these and passed them around as normal money, and sometimes they would even stop and comment how nicely the little flower had been folded.

    I always was suspicious that someday some bad guy would use 8 mao instead of 10 mao to make the flower and thereby cheat everyone out of 2 mao. But of course, if nobody ever bothered to unfold the little flower, then nobody would ever know. (That probably says something about paper money in general, i.e. it is all based on a system of “confidence” because everyone knows the paper money only represents value).

    I wonder if this “flower money” is still being used in Dalian or if it was ever the habit to do this in other cities in China. At the time, I traveled all over China and did not ever see this anywhere except in Dalian.

  8. Coins jingling in the pockets represents the sign of a poor man, may be that is reason why people declines coins.

    Bill Gates must accepted from his adviser team not to pretend a poor man by carrying coins in his pocket.

  9. I am in Wuhan. Coins also very popular in this city. I just remembered when i first came to this city in 2001. I was so suprised that coins are so popular. About the coins , strange thing is the bus fee is RMB1.2 .But now, most of the bus fee raise up to RMB2 (this kind of bus have air-condition)

    In my home town ,Zhangjiajie City(a touristry attraction in hunan province), people don’t like coins. people think coins are troublesome.

  10. Innovatize

    People in wuhan also fold some paper money and some coins, but the difference is they don’t fold it like a flower,it like’s a triangle. and we fold just five 1 mao .

  11. I’m a foreigner living in Shanghai. Back home, I prefer paper money because it is clean. In China, I always request to get the 1RMB coin if I’m handed the paper version. Most of my friends agree that anything less than 20RMB is usually VERY dirty in China. With the Fengs and Maos, we toss it over to the maid to buy groceries with.

    I was in a small town several hours away from Shanghai. I bought a bottle of water and told the lady to keep her mao paper change. It’s pretty useless in Shanghai as the cost of living is much higher here.

  12. Frankly, i don’t like coin at all. i have some unhappy memories in Shanghai. In last summer vacation, i traveled Shanghai with my girl friend. She had prepared a bottle of coins in one RMB before. But the smooth small thing is too hard to keep in palm, I had follen one near the door when i was about to get on the bus, so i had to pick it up as quickly as i could. What made me unhappy was that the old ladies behind me gave me a continue complain like”AI YOU…..”in Shanghai accent. I dislike the voice, and i hate the coin for bus. Now Beijing and Shanghai both have the IC for traffic, it is good:)

  13. During my study life in holland, dutch told me coins are better than notes coz:

    1. it can be used for a longer time than note

    2. producing cost is also lower than the one of note

    so it saves social costs and resources.

    typical dutch, uh~

    then i begin to use more coins

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