Millions of digital red packets say, 'I love you'

Updated 2017-02-16 08:53:59 China Daily

The power of love can be unimaginable, especially when it intersects with the burgeoning internet sector.

Chinese consumers sent a huge number of digital red envelopes on Valentine's Day, eager to show deep affection to others via digital payment tools.

WeChat, China's leading instant messaging app, said users sent over 9.6 million electronic red envelopes on Tuesday, each containing 520 yuan (.70)-for a total of 4.99 billion yuan.

The enthusiasm was partly motivated by WeChat, which raised the upper limit of each red packet, or gift money, to 520 yuan, for the number "5-2-0", which sounds like wo ai ni, or "I love you" in Chinese.

Similarly, 26.21 million red envelopes containing 13.14 yuan each were sent via WeChat. The pronunciation of 1314 is similar to "forever" in Chinese.

Giving digital red packets has become a popular holiday custom in China, thanks to the development of e-pay systems.

One female user in Hainan province was so popular that she raked in 413 red envelopes, according to WeChat, which did not disclose the total amount of money she received.

Zhang Wentao, a 24-year-old university student in Beijing, sent a 520-yuan digital red envelope to his girlfriend on Tuesday.

"It was a very convenient way to express my affection. My girlfriend can also post the screen capture of the digital red envelope on WeChat to share her joy with others."

Showing love with digital red envelopes is not exclusive to young people. Data from WeChat shows that 21.7 percent of participants were those born in the 1970s, or those ages 38 to 47.

The most active users were those born in the 1980s, accounting for 42.2 percent of the total participants.

People in Shenzhen topped all other cities nationwide in the number of red packets given via WeChat. It was followed, in order, by Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chongqing.

Offering red envelopes stuffed with cash to family members and friends, an age-old Chinese tradition, was first given a digital twist by WeChat in 2014 during Spring Festival.

Li Chao, an analyst at iResearch Consulting Group, said that compared with foreign consumers, Chinese users are more comfortable with digital payments.

"So companies launch digital red envelope campaigns every year to increase users' loyalty," he added.

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