Digitized Hong Bao; Slowly Replacing Traditional Ones?

Digitized Hong Bao; Slowly Replacing Traditional Ones?
Photo Credit: Ksionic via Compfight cc

The Chinese New Year, or Spring Festival to some, is upon us. And like most celebrations, there are traditions that come with it. Some of the famous things and “must haves” during this time of the year includes going to the lantern festival, having the annual family feasts, and of course, who can forget the giving of the red envelopes which are commonly referred to as the “Hong Bao.”


The Chinese New year celebrations are especially fun when receiving fat hong baos stuff with crisp new notes that one can spend on shopping. But as years past a lot of things change, traditions slowly die out. But some are still carefully preserved. Some has been adapted to go with the current flow of today’s society.

One of these traditions that some are trying to change or “upgrade”, is the way of giving the hong bao. Since the world mostly rely on technology these days, Chinese companies have been battling each other on creating the best system on how to upgrade the hong bao tradition in a way that it goes with the current trend of the world.

This year, three of the biggest internet companies in China namely Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent, (also referred to as BAT), are offering their versions of a digitized hong bao with events that include additional games and giveaways. All this in an effort to attract consumers to try out the 21st century version of the old tradition, reports Tech Crunch.

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And it seems like they have an ally with the Chinese government. As the government itself is latching on to a digitized hong bao by giving away a total of ¥300,000 RMB or roughly $50,000 USD through Alipay, the mobile payment service of Alibaba.

The Hong Bao is traditionally given to children during the Spring holiday. But it can also be given to unmarried adults, elderly relatives, friends, and employees. BAT has been running competing mobile payment services and with their red envelope programs, it just might convince consumers to keep using their mobile wallets even if the Chinese new year is over.

It could be recalled that a similar offering was done in 2014 by Tencent’s WeChat. Its sending red envelope service has seen success especially last year, when it was revealed that WeChat was able to deliver over a billion red envelopes.

And just this Jan 1, the start of the Gregorian calendar, the app has recorder more than 2.3 billions of digitized hong bao were sent proving that it is feasible enough and that it is more preferred than usual. Yahoo Tech has found that digitized hong bao are now more preferred.

One of the people interviewed is a 28 year old Beijing resident named Wang Le. Wang said that with the digitized hong bao, they don’t have to pay the same fees or wait as long as one would have to using a traditional bank transfer. It is more convenient and fun. Plus with the digitized hong bao, one is not limited by their identity or the time of the year. Wang said that it is a new and fresh way of playing the game.