Dinero limpio para el Año Nuevo

Un mercado en Taiwán
Image caption Celebrando el año nuevo chino en Taiwán

Clean money for New Year

Chinese people around the world are celebrating their most important holiday, Chinese New Year. But for one man in Taiwan, it's all about business as he washes dirty banknotes for gifts.

Reporter: Kate McGeown

Listen to the story

According to Chinese tradition, parents give their children clean, fresh banknotes at the start of the new year. But such notes are in high demand in the run-up to the holiday period, and Yao Guan Cheng noticed a gap in the market.

Yao Guan Cheng (translated): "When we first started this business, it was for family members who liked to collect antique banknotes. But later on, it struck me that this service would come in handy for the Chinese New Year. It is one of our customs to put banknotes inside little red envelopes in order to bring our children good luck.

"To do that, people change old notes for new ones at the banks. But here in Taiwan, there are all sorts of restrictions as to how much you can change, what days you can do that and which banks you can go to. That's inconvenient. So I thought: why not give people an alternative?"

He doesn't just soak the notes in water, he uses special chemicals that are a closely guarded secret. His services don't come cheap, he charges about $10 for washing twenty banknotes. But in the run-up to the new year holiday, he's been in demand, cleaning people's banknotes and in the process, giving a new, cleaner, image to the term 'money laundering'.

Kate McGeown, BBC News

Listen to the words

are in high demand están muy solicitados

in the run-up to justo antes

a gap in the marketuna oportunidad de hacer negocio (por falta previa de algo)

antiquede antigüedad

it struck me se me ocurrló (repentinamente) / me di cuenta

handy útil

inconvenientinconveniente / difícil

soak the notes in waterremoja los billetes en agua

money launderinglavado de dinero