Lunar New Year

Tencent’s WeChat now allowing lai see red envelopes to be sent digitally in Hong Kong for Chinese New Year

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 04 February, 2016, 7:37pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 04 February, 2016, 7:40pm

Users of Tencent’s WeChat mobile messaging service in Hong Kong can now send virtual red packets, or lai see, over the Chinese New Year holidays using the WeChat Wallet function, China’s social and gaming giant said on Thursday.

Those who have linked their Hong Kong credit card to the app can send specified sums to one or multiple contacts. They can also choose to have the money randomly distributed among a group.

The WeChat Wallet function only arrived in Hong Kong late last month, putting it ahead of Apple’s mobile payment service Apple Pay that is slated to arrive in the city later this year.

It is a tradition in China and Hong Kong for people to exchange red packets on festive occasions and especially during the Spring Festival, which begins on Monday and lasts for up to two weeks.

According to WeChat, money received via the red packets will be transferred to the user’s WeChat Wallet balance.

READ MORE: Even grandma is ditching hongbao for WeChat’s digital red envelopes as China goes into mobile gift-giving frenzy over Mid-Autumn Festival

The money can then be used to purchase items including tickets for trains or public attractions. Alternatively, they can be deposited into any Hong Kong bank account of the user’s choice.

WeChat’s red packet feature has proven a hit on the Chinese mainland, its home market. Tencent launched the popular red packet function in January 2014.

Since then, hundreds of millions of WeChat users have scrabbled for the red packets during the festive Chinese New Year period. About 1 billion were sent via WeChat in China over the first two days of the holiday last year.

They can also be sent during other Chinese holidays, for example Mid-Autumn Festival.

This year, WeChat has launched a gimmicky new function for its China-based users.

Users can now upload a private photo that will be automatically blurred, thus enticing others in their social circle to send them a red packet in order to make the picture clearly viewable.