Called “hongbao” in Mandarin and “laisee” in Cantonese, small red packets decorated with auspicious designs and stuffed full of cash are children and young people’s favorite thing to receive during the Lunar New Year holiday.
As mobile payment grows ever more ubiquitous in China, relatives and friends are increasingly choosing digital red envelopes over their paper counterparts to spread good luck.
Data released by WeChat on Tuesday (link in Chinese) shows that Lunar New Year red envelopes now account for 14.2% of all red envelopes sent annually through the platform. Beijing, Chongqing and Chengdu are the top cities that sent and received the most WeChat envelopes, followed by Shenzhen and Guangzhou.
People born in the 90s are the largest givers and receivers of the virtual red envelopes, followed by those born in the 80s and 70s, according to WeChat.
WeChat first introduced the immensely popular feature in 2014. Unlike regular money transfers on WeChat, red envelopes allow users to hide the amount being sent until the recipient completes the transfer. Chat group members may also send red envelopes that can be opened by multiple people, each of whom receives a different, randomized amount.