Digital red envelopes hit a new high this Lunar New Year
Hundreds of millions of Chinese sent and received red envelopes online over the Lunar New Year, many of which came from social media companies themselves. It's believed that sending cash via services built by China's Internet titans will help beef up the number of active users and build competitiveness in the market.
Sending digital red envelopes – hongbao in Chinese, stuffed with cash, was initiated ahead of Spring Festival in 2014 by Tencent as a way to enforce its position as a major player in the mobile payment market.
On Lunar New Year's Eve 2019, Tencent gave away 1.12 billion lucky bags to 310 million users on its QQ social media platform. The envelopes also included coupons and fun greeting cards.
Data from Ant Financial, Alibaba's financial affiliate, showed that on the same day more than 450 million users from over 200 countries and regions used Alipay, its third-party payment platform, to take part in the company's card-collection game. Winners shared 500 million yuan between them.
Baidu also got into the act by dishing out over 11 million red packets containing 900 million yuan online on New Year's Eve, with its global engagement and peak daily active users reaching 20.8 billion hits from some 300 million profiles.
New entrants, such as China's Twitter equivalent Weibo and short video app TikTok, got involved this year too, but it's difficult to know whether this will add to their user base, as major players like Tencent and Alibaba already dominate the market.
Official data suggest a total of 3.5 billion yuan was sent in digital hongbao across all Internet services on Monday.