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Temple profits from lending ‘lucky’ money in central Taiwan

Zi Nan Temple nearly doubles investment, recouping NT$700 million

Zi Nan Temple lends money to the public. (CNA photo)

Zi Nan Temple lends money to the public. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — On the first day of the Lunar New Year holiday (Feb. 8), a large crowd assembled outside Nantou’s Zi Nan Temple, eager to pay their respects to the gods as well as repay loans.

The temple is dedicated to the Land God (土地公), and since the retrocession of Taiwan (1945), it has provided small loans or “lucky” money. Early on, the temple was a vital resource for those unable to secure small, short-term loans to help them through difficult times, per CTS.

Anyone with an ID card was qualified for such a loan, with repayment expected by the end of the lunar year. However, in 1987, the maximum loan amount permitted by the temple was NT$600 (US$19), with borrowers encouraged to repay the loan with interest based on the fortune of their business.

According to temple statistics, over the last lunar year, it lent more than NT$400 million, and so far, it has been repaid more than NT$700 million. The single largest loan repayment was NT$1.5 million by a young individual working in the electronics industry.

Zi Nan Temple Chair Chuang Chiu-an (莊秋安) said the temple has experienced an increase in profits of nearly NT$20 million from last year. He added the largest loan repayment in the past was by one individual who paid NT$3 million, and another individual who repaid NT$2 million.

Borrowers wishing to repay their loans present IDs and red envelopes at a counter. Chunghwa Post can also process payments for the temple.

"You pay back as much as you want," said one borrower. Another individual noted that multiples of NT$600 are preferred payments, such as NT$1,2000, NT$3,000, NT$3,600, or NT$6,000."

Many people who repay the loan automatically register for another loan. Some even keep the “lucky” money with them throughout the year, like keeping the banknotes in their wallet or purse or leaving the money under their pillow at night.

Zi Nan Temple believes the “lucky” money it loans to devotees brings good luck and prosperity throughout the year. And should borrowers earn more money, they are encouraged to pay back a little more.