People are mocking Hong Kong’s new $100 bill for resembling “hell money”

Last week, Hong Kong Monetary Authority released a new design of banknotes.

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA), and the three note-issuing banks (NIBs) (Standard Chartered Bank (Hong Kong) Limited, Bank of China (Hong Kong) Limited and The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited) announced today (Tuesday) the issue of the 2018 new series Hong Kong banknotes.

Consistent with the current series, the new series will consist of five denominations, each adopting the same colour scheme. It is the first time that the thematic subjects on the reverse side of the NIBs’ new series banknotes are standardised for each denomination to facilitate easy recognition by the public. The selected thematic subjects represent different aspects of Hong Kong as an international metropolis, featuring its rhythm of life, recreation and entertainment, as well as its rich natural and cultural heritage. The five denominations depict respectively the position of Hong Kong as international financial centre (HK$1,000), the spectacular Hong Kong UNESCO Global Geopark (HK$500), Cantonese opera as our art and cultural legacy (HK$100), butterflies that inhabit Hong Kong (HK$50), and the popular dim sum and tea culture (HK$20). For aesthetic presentation of the subject and easy distinction from previous series, the reverse side of the banknote is in vertical orientation instead of the traditional horizontal layout.

The designs of all five denominations were unveiled today. The HK$1,000 and HK$500 notes will be put into circulation in the last quarter of 2018 and early 2019 respectively, and the lower denominations of HK$100, HK$50 and HK$20 will be ready for issue in batches between 2019 and 2020.

However, one of the banknotes HK$100 is being mocked for its design:

Some people say they feel a little unnerved by Bank of China’s version of the $100 note, which features a female Cantonese opera performer, because of its likeness to paper money (link in Chinese) meant for use in the afterlife.

View image on Twitter

“The design is very scary. One should spend it right after receiving it. I don’t dare to bring it home,” wrote one on Facebook. “The design looks like a cooperation with the ghost bank,” said someone else (links in Chinese) on the social-media site.

Interesting.

One usually finds these issues in international marketing. A product/service campaign is just translated in different languages only to realise the meaning and context is very different in different countries. Here, we have HKMA ending on the wrong side in product design to its own audience…

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