Digital red packets proving popular during CNY as more look to beat queues for fresh notes

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SINGAPORE - Digital red packets are giving the physical hongbao a fight for their money this Chinese New Year with banks here saying more customers are opting for electronic transfers because of convenience and the ability to gift in auspicious numbers.

Latest figures from local banks indicate a rise in e-gifting solutions, with some banks seeing customer adoption hitting a record high over the Chinese New Year period.

For example, DBS saw 30 per cent more unique users of its QR gift cards compared to last year.

These physical cards come with QR codes printed on them, which recipients scan to receive a pre-loaded amount.

The bank’s customers also have the option of tapping the all-electronic eGift option, which sends funds and greeting via PayLah!

DBS said the total amount loaded in its QR gift cards is up 40 per cent from last year over the festive period, with some $5 million loaded onto the cards on the eve and first day of Chinese New Year in 2023.

This was a 55 per cent jump in value compared to the same two days in 2021.

The bank added that the average amount per digital red packet also surged by more than 30 per cent to about $120 per transaction, which is over 1.5 times that of each average e-hongbao transaction in 2021.

Executive director of DBS’ consumer banking group Diane Chang said the ease of preparing and distributing red packets digitally has kept the trend of digital red packets resilient amid the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions.

She said: “Customers have shared that they appreciate the convenience and time savings that digital gifting brings since it does away with the hassle of having to queue for and pack new notes.”

Bank customers also prefer having e-hongbao on hand as a backup when they run out of traditional red packets, she added.

OCBC said the daily average use of its e-hongbao feature quadrupled on the first day of Chinese New Year.

The bank estimates at least 20 per cent more e-hongbao will be sent during the 15 days of the Chinese New Year period in 2023 compared to the previous year.

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