China's 'red packets' go digital over Lunar New Year
SHANGHAI, China – More than 820 million electronic "red packets" were sent over China's Lunar New Year holiday, leading social media platform WeChat said, as the centuries-old practice of exchanging monetary gifts increasingly goes digital.
WeChat, which is owned by Chinese internet giant Tencent, said the tally was reached over a 6-day span during last week's national holiday, and marked a 7% rise over the same period in 2018.
Money inserted or wrapped into paper "red packets", or hongbao in Mandarin, are traditionally given out as a blessing during the holiday, a time when revellers exchange wishes for good prosperity in the year ahead.
But China has rapidly embraced a cashless society in which payments are made via smartphone apps, and electronic "red packets" have become hugely popular.
E-commerce giant Alibaba said more than 450 million users had participated between January 25 and February 4 in a game offered on its payment platform Alipay in which users can collect 5 non-monetary "blessings".
Media reports said that was a 40% increase in users over last year.
Those who collect all 5 blessings can redeem them for various amounts of money.
And internet search giant Baidu said it gave digital "red packets" worth 900 million yuan ($133.5 million) on February 4 during state-run broadcaster CCTV's roughly four-hour Lunar New Year gala, a popular annual televised celebration. – Rappler.com
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