The E-hongbao story

What is a HongBao? Literally translated, it means red envelope and explains the tradition in China to hand over monetary presents in China in a red envelope. While in Western countries at certain occasions a gift is expected, China is almost exclusively using the HongBao to give kindness to people.

Red Envelope

Certainly, this does not apply to business gifts, here presents like tea, precious chopsticks are common. Today, the HongBao has already widely been established online – the so called e-hongbao. This practice especially is widely applied during the Chinese New Year. Shanghai residents gave more “e-hongbao” through online payment platform Alipay than any other city in China at the start of the Chinese New Year holiday.

Alipay, which is founded by the e-commerce giant Alibaba, reported that across China more than 100 million people gave or received digital red envelopes during the Chinese New Year celebrations.

A modern way on the traditional practice of giving red envelopes — hongbao — of cash to children at Chinese New Year, senders of Alipay digital hongbao transfer cash from their Alipay account to the recipient’s. China’s most generous red e-hongbao givers were residents of Tianmen City in Hubei, whose Alipay hongbao contained on average 139 yuan (app. 9 Euro or 10 US$).

Alipay said digital hongbao containing a sum of 88 yuan were among its most popular for Chinese people believe the number has auspicous meanings, with 3.2 million exchanged.

While Alibaba’s Alipay is well-established as an online payment platform, fellow online giant Tencent is trying to promote its WeChat online messaging app for small transactions as well as for chatting and posting pictures and links. WeChat provided its own e-hongbao service, with 3.27 billion sent between February 18 and 23 — just over 1 billion on New Year’s Eve alone.