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Lunar New Year

Taking electronic lai see to the next level

Digital red envelopes continue to conquer in Lunar New Year 2017, with ‘augmented reality’ red envelopes emerging as the new marquee gimmick

PUBLISHED : Monday, 30 January, 2017, 6:10pm
UPDATED : Monday, 30 January, 2017, 11:06pm

Tech-savvy tourists have thousands more reasons to visit Changsha in Hunan province over the holidays.

The official Changsha Evening News has teamed up with several major attractions to plant thousands of virtual red envelopes around the city.

Anybody who tracks down one of the envelopes can collect cash prizes that are then credited to the finder’s e-wallet.

It’s Pokemon Go meets Lunar New Year tradition in the latest digital twist on an age-old custom.

Digital red envelopes took off in 2014 as third-party online payment apps started allowing users to send money to one another.

This year the payment apps have added augmented reality (AR) features to the red packet ­season as they vie to be the most popular platforms online.

Alipay and WeChat Pay users now can travel to a real-world site and snap up a digital red envelope put there by another user or ­business.

Reddest red envelope: Chinese Communist Party teams up with Alibaba, Tencent to hand out lai see cash

To plant an envelope, a user simply needs to take a picture of an object and enter an amount. The location and the image of the object along with the amount of money is logged in the app.

Rather than just sending money to each another via their phones, mainland social media users said the new gimmick encouraged people to get out and about to find the envelopes.

“My entire motivation for getting up early was to find the AR red envelope that my brother planted for me,” one Weibo user wrote.

A range of businesses, including shopping malls and restaurants, are getting into the AR game for the Year of the Rooster, hoping the virtual red packets will bring in customers.

The red packets can also be planted on people’s faces. One Weibo user joked that he felt like a celebrity because many of his friends were scanning him with their smartphones to retrieve the digital packets.

Digitisation’s latest target? The beloved Lunar New Year lai sees, or red packets

Tencent, the company that powers WeChat Pay, said 14.2 billion red envelopes were sent on Lunar New Year’s Eve this year, 75 per cent more than last year.

Traffic reached its peak at midnight with 760,000 envelopes sent per second.

Tencent also said a man from Shenzhen set a record by sending more than 2,125 red envelopes in a day. Another man, from Binzhou in Shandong, broke another record for receiving 10,069 red envelopes in a day.

Pokemon Go is banned on the mainland.