Over 100 million people sent gift money via mobile apps during the Chinese Lunar New Year holiday, according to Alipay, the payment system run by Chinese Internet giant Alibaba.
The period from last Wednesday, or Lunar New Year Eve, to Saturday was the peak for gift money with a total of 4 billion yuan (about $652 million) paid via the e-payment platform, according to figures released by Alipay.
Giving “lucky money” in electronic form has become a trendy spin on the Chinese tradition of giving red envelopes, or “hongbao,” filled with money to children on Lunar New Year Eve. The custom is more than 1,000 years old.
Alipay’s figures suggested that, unlike the tradition of elders giving red envelopes to children, over half of those sending “e-hongbao” were people in their 20s from the cities of Shanghai, Hangzhou, Beijing and Guangzhou. They gifted money to relatives and friends in their mobile contact lists, according to Alipay.
Several Internet companies, including Tencent, Alibaba, Sina and Baidu, released red envelope features to grab a slice of the e-payment market for the holiday. Users must link their debit or credit cards to their accounts to send the gift money.
“Lucky money” payments worth one yuan were the most popular choice with over 19.5 million one-yuan e-hongbao given during the holiday. E-hongbao in 88-yuan denominations were also popular and 3.2 million were exchanged during this year’s festivities.