From ancestral customs to modernity: meet the e-Hongbao

The e-Hongbao, the revolutionary red envelope in China

red envelope

Where does this tradition come from?

Historically, Chinese people would thread coins on a string in order to ward off evil spirits. Indeed, the goal was to protect the next generation from sickness or death. This custom was then replaced by red envelopes. People would write blessing messages and give it to their loved ones for particular events like a birth of baby, a wedding, summer holidays, etc…

Today, this tradition is taking another dimension, and a new trend was on fire when we switched to the Year of the Monkey.

Hongbao Monkey

China makes tradition become digital.

Nowadays, this tradition is becoming connected especially with Hongbaos which are sent for the Spring Festival. Indeed, Chinese people keep going on using Honbgaos to send their wishes to their relatives and friends, but it became digital.

This phenomen became a big trend among the Chinese population, and they use Hongbao throught their smartphone: the ancestral tradition is respected. It is nowadays inconceivable not to send a “digital red envelope”.

Today, the country’s three biggest internet companies Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent are offering their own version of online red envelopes and dressing up the custom with games and giveaways.

Red envelopes can be sent by Wechat service too. In order to send gift money on WeChat, users need to click on a “red envelop” button in the main menu, then choose an amount and enter a gift message. Depositing money into each other’s WeChat Pay accounts is quick and more convenient than withdrawing cash and counting it out into packets. Nevertheless, it lacks the finesse of getting an actual red envelope stuffed with brand new notes. One advantage though is that several people can receive your red envelopes at the same time.

More info : How WeChat has attracted Internet users with its virtual red envelopes system


e-Hongbaos : a positive impact on the economy

Since the creation of this e-Hongbao trend, all of the biggest plateforms in China such as Alibaba or Wechat are fighting each other to win the e-Hongbao market. This new kind of payment represents a huge opportunity. This custom could be more developped with money games or personalisation when people receive the money from someone. In addition, e-Hongbao is a new platform for advertisement: people could even receive adds through Hongbao.

What do elder people think about e-Hongbao?

Those new trends are used by every young chinese people, and most of people over 45 years old say the red envelopes tradition are disappearing but that the e-Hongbao could not replace the authentic custom. E-Hongbaos are not as charming as when they were young. They don’t feel the same excitment when they open a e-Hongbao envelop than when they would open a real Hongbao.

Also, e-Hongbaos cannot avoid the risks for users to get money stolen from them. Obviously, they have to be aware of this type of dangers.

A new digital custom which affects young generations

Parents complain about this new mobile app because their children are absorbed by their smarphone. They do not pay attention to what is happening around them anymore. Indeed, instead of having fun when meeting their relatives, they check their mobile at any time, for any reason. It is important to disconnect from technology especially during family times. So don’t forget to live it up and take some relax time !

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