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WeChat Users Send Virtual Envelopes Worth Real Money for Chinese New Year

In China, it is tradition to give red envelopes as gifts during the Lunar New Year holiday. This year, the tradition is going digital on China's most popular social media platform. Now people have the option of giving the red envelopes on the popular messaging mobile application WeChat.

A red envelope is a gift of money presented and given during special occasions such as weddings and Chinese New Year. The red color of the envelope symbolizes good luck and is supposed to ward off evil spirits.

As the Lunar New Year draws near, Chinese Internet giant Tencent has introduced a new feature to its 600 million users on WeChat: “Red Envelope”, with which users around the world can send and receive virtual red envelopes connected with their bank account.

Screenshot of the "red envelope" feature on WeChat

Screenshot of the red envelope feature on WeChat

It's easy to use. Users can send one to any individual friend on WeChat or even create a group, send an envelope to the group, and the first member to open the envelop receives the money. The user can also randomly allocate an amount of money for a group of friends.

WeChat replaced Sina Weibo as China’s most popular social media platform in 2013. With around 78 million users outside China, it has also seen significant growth in the past year. 

The new red envelope feature is expected to help further increase WeChat’s users and expand its online payment function.

The concept doesn’t exclusively belong to WeChat; Sina Weibo and alipay have both introduced this concept. During last year's spring festival, 1.64 million yuan (about 270,000 US dollars) worth of money was sent via virtual red envelopes on alipay. Due to WeChat’s social networking function and added interactive and fun elements, the feature is likely to gain more popularity this year. 

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