Business / Technology

Tech speeds holiday cash gifts

By SHI JING (China Daily) Updated: 2015-02-23 05:31

Tech speeds holiday cash gifts

Screenshots show the app of Alipay Wallet, the mobile payment application backed by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. [Photo/]

The 2015 Lunar New Year has fully embraced mobile technology, with instant messaging platforms such as Tencent's multimillion-user app WeChat attracting most of the attention.

Even the much-anticipated annual China Central Television Spring Festival gala was broadcast in conjunction with WeChat on Lunar New Year's Eve.

As long as audience members shook their smartphones during the show, they stood a good chance of receiving WeChat red envelopes with cash gifts.

WeChat said it received 11 billion shakes during the show. The peak was reached at 10:34 pm, with WeChat reporting 810 million shakes a minute and 120 million red envelopes being sent out.

Smartphone users were also busy sending red envelopes to family members and friends included on their WeChat contacts list.

According to WeChat, more than 1 billion red envelopes were sent out on Lunar New Year's Eve, 200 times the amount sent last year.

Zhai Cuiwei, 32, a public relations account manager in Shanghai, said she had been bombarded with more than 100 instant messages during previous Lunar New Years, especially on Lunar New Year's Eve.

But she said these messages seem to have been given the cold shoulder this year.

"I received only five Lunar New Year instant messages this year, two of which were sent automatically by shops that I frequent. It seems that WeChat has grabbed most of the attention this year, with people using it to send both wishes and red envelopes," she said.

But observers have voiced fears of younger people becoming so obsessed with sending and receiving WeChat red envelopes that they will look at their phones continuously and forget to talk to their families.

Lin Juan, 27, a government worker in Shanghai, said she hardly stopped checking her phone during the first two days of the holiday, as she did not want to miss the chance of getting red envelopes.

"It is a great surprise to see that our bosses are giving red envelopes on WeChat groups. Even though the amount is always quite small, some as little as 0.01 yuan, it is great fun for the holiday," she said.

"It seems the only reason that people who haven't talked to each other for decades get in touch again is red envelopes. It is really strange.

 "Spring Festival is one of the most important festivals in China for family reunions, but I felt somewhat guilty to see my parents quietly watching TV as I was busy getting red envelopes," she said.

In Beijing Times, commentator Lian Hongyang wrote that people should not worry too much about the spread of modern technology to send red envelopes.

Receiving such envelopes and bonding with family members is not contradictory and it is interesting to see families getting together and trying their luck with the envelopes, Lian wrote.

"Modern technology has facilitated communication between family members, and people should embrace it," Lian added.

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