More than 100 million people sent gift money amounting to USD 652 million via mobile apps during the ongoing Chinese Lunar New Year holiday, according to an e-payment system run by Chinese Internet giant Alibaba.
The period from last Wednesday, or Lunar New Year Eve, to Saturday was the peak time for gifting money with a total of 4 billion yuan (USD 652 million) paid via the platform, according to Alibaba's payment system 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. The figures released by Alipay 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, state-run Xinhua news agency reported. They gifted money to relatives and friends, 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 during 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.