Number of digital hongbao sent in China expected to soar

Forecasters expect the number of hongbao sent using social messaging services such as Wechat to explode in number this year as people in China become more comfortable with mobile payments.
Forecasters expect the number of hongbao sent using social messaging services such as Wechat to explode in number this year as people in China become more comfortable with mobile payments.PHOTO: SCREENSHOT FROM WECHAT

BEIJING - As many as 100 billion digital hongbao or red packets may be sent in China this Chinese New Year.

Forecasters expect the number of hongbao sent using social messaging services such as Wechat to explode in number this year as people in China become more comfortable with mobile payments, BBC reported.

Over six days of the Chinese New Year last year, 516 million people sent and received 32 billion digital red envelopes - 10 times the number as over the same period in 2015.

It certainly is convenient - saving the sender the time and hassle of getting notes from banks and putting them in the packets.

There is also the advantage of being able to send a hongbao to someone who is not in the same province or country.

While a bank transfer across borders can take days, peer-to-peer payment takes seconds, and you only need to know the recipient's mobile phone number or email address.

It's not just for hongbao. The popularity of social payments is rising among the young for splitting bills, contributing to household costs or sending a gift, BBC said.

The Chinese social media platforms operated by the tech giants Alibaba, Tencent and Baidu have spearheaded the social payments explosion in Asia.

However, it hasn't taken off widely in Singapore.

A street poll of 60 people by The Straits Times last year found that most would not consider giving electronic hongbao.

Here, DBS Bank's eAng-Bao feature in its DBS PayLah app allows its customers to send and receive cash through their smartphones.