My question is to Mr. Fan Yifei and is concerning the use of cash. Recently, we have heard that the virus may be spread by cash. How can people handle cash safely and in a sanitary manner during this special period? The outbreak of the epidemic has also made us realize the convenience of non-cash payments, so how can mobile payments continue to play a role in making people's lives more convenient? Thank you.
After the outbreak of the epidemic, we have paid close attention to the sanitation issue concerning the handling of cash, and carried out a range of measures to ensure people's health and safety. First was to guarantee the supply of new banknotes. As of Jan. 17, the People's Bank of China (PBOC) has allocated nearly 600 billion yuan ($85.89 billion) of new banknotes across the country; and before the Spring Festival, we urgently released 4 billion yuan ($572.58 million) in new banknotes to Wuhan. In so doing, we have improved the safety of bank staff and people who operate cash businesses. Second was to ensure the scientific and reasonable arrangement of cash. We have halted inter-provincial cash transfers, as well as intra-provincial transfers in those severely affected areas, and minimized the flow of people as much as possible, in order to reduce the risk of infection and transmission of the virus. Third was to safeguard cash withdrawals so that they are sanitary and controllable. We have asked all commercial banks to separate receipts and payments when doing cash business. The outflow of cash from banks were mostly new banknotes; whilst the cash returned to banks, especially from hospitals and marketplaces, were dealt with specially, sealed up separately, collected by the PBOC after disinfection, and will not be used. At the same time, we issued a guideline on strengthening the security of the use of cash during the epidemic prevention and control period. We asked all PBOC branches and commercial banks to adopt differentiated prevention and control measures in different places in the principle of classified management, so as to ensure that cash can be used in a safer way. The returned banknotes collected from severely affected areas must be sterilized by ultraviolet light or high temperature, and stored for more than 14 days before reuse; returned banknotes from other places have to be disinfected and stored for more than seven days before reuse. The current measures have proven to be effective, and we will continue to keep all banknotes safe and sanitary.
Next, we will accelerate the development of mobile payments. At present, the mobile payment market is growing very fast. Over the past three years, the compound annual growth rate of both the number and amount of mobile payments reached 83.5% and 39% respectively, giving China a leading place in e-payment in the world. Currently, a series of new applications have appeared. For example, residents can buy fresh and affordable meat, eggs, vegetables and fruit at online markets through their cellphones, which has solved a major problem in people's everyday lives during this special period. Next, we will continue to take various measures that encourage online banking, mobile banking and other all-weather online services to provide more convenient services to our customers such as financial investment, daily payments and online shopping. For example, the UnionPay app provides various online services, including money transfers, credit card repayments without service charge, mobile phone recharges, public payments, balance inquiries for 610 banks across the country, and credit card bill queries for nearly 150 banks. We will continue to promote this aspect of the work. Thank you for your question.