China’s Amazing “Human Money Counting Machines”

Money counting machines have been a staple of banks all around the world for decades now, and China is no exception, but here bank tellers still practice their banknote counting skills every day, and some of them can really give those automated counters a run for their money.

Videos of Chinese bank tellers showing off their amazing money counting skills have been doing the rounds online for a long time, and for good reason. There’s something oddly satisfying about watching someone breeze through a wad of cash in mere seconds, but if you go deeper down this rabbit hole, you’ll find that there’s a whole lot more to Chinese banknote counting, including several techniques, one more impressive than the other, and even a popular TV contest in which money counting champions of different banks compete for the title of fastest and most accurate “human banknote counting machine” and the bragging rights that come with it.

I’ve personally been fascinated with the way some Chinese tellers count banknotes for a couple of years now, ever since I watched this viral video of a woman using all five fingers to count five banknotes in one fell swoop of her hand, going through a fat wad of cash in under 10 seconds. I remember scouring YouTube for similar vids and finding some equally fascinating footage, but I only recently got back into it after reading about a new world record set by a bank teller on a popular Chinese TV show called Impossible Challenge.


In an episode that aired last month on China’s CCTV television channel Impossible Challenge brought together the best money counting tellers of four major Chinese banks, including Bank of China and the Agricultural Bank of China, to try and break the world record for most banknotes manually counted in 30 seconds while blindfolded. Each contestant was blindfolded and given a stack of money that they had to count in half a minute.


Two of the human money counting machines miscounted (one of them by only one banknote) while the others got it right, each of them beating the previous Guinness Record of 178 banknotes by quite a margin. Li Li, an experienced teller from the Bank of China counted 191 banknotes, while Zhuo Mingjing, from the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, counted 202 banknotes in 30 seconds. They were both awarded Guinness Records plaques for their achievements.


One of the coolest things about this epic showdown was that each of the four champion money counters seemed to be using a different technique. It also showcased the participants’ ability to rely on just two of their senses – touch and hearing – to get the job done, although manually counting banknotes usually requires hand-eye coordination.


But if you thought accurately counting money while blindfolded was impressive, you’ll probably find Wang Dongyun’s skill downright impossible. This experienced bank teller can allegedly count money just by hearing someone else manually counting them at breathtaking speed. She also showcased her talent on Impossible Challenge, managing to successfully guess the number of banknotes counted by two other bank tellers, even though they were counting the money simultaneously, using different styles. She was blindfolded and unable to touch the stacks of money herself.


As I mentioned, Chinese bank tellers have developed several styles of counting banknotes, from the one-finger method which requires touching every banknote with the tip of the index finger, to the four or five-finger methods, which allows the user to count several banknotes at a time. But the most impressive I’ve seen so far has to be the fan method, where the teller spreads the banknotes into a fan and counts a bunch of them at a time. I don’t know exactly how it works, but you can figure it out by yourself by watching the video below.


So there you have it, the amazing world of superhumanly-fast and accurate Chinese banknote counters. With money counting machines so popular nowadays, it’s not the most valuable skill for a bank teller to have, but it’s impressive to watch nonetheless.

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