For those of you who aren’t aware, Asia was awash with celebration last night as hundreds of millions of people gathered to celebrate the Chinese New Year. One of the traditions during this holiday is to give each other gifts and WeChat decided to add a modern twist to the tradition by enabling users to send virtual red envelopes to each other that contained actual cash. In less than a day, more than one billion of these envelopes were exchanged across Asia.
Last night was Chinese New Year’s Eve. Amidst all the other festivities, China’s WeChat users sent each other an astonishing 1.01 billion red envelopes (pictured above), the social media company revealed this afternoon. The virtual red envelopes stuffed with actual cash, which mirror a long-held gift-giving tradition at Chinese New Year, are a growing trend in China as people make more use of online payment methods. The 1.01 billion tally of WeChat hong bao represents stratospheric growth from last year’s number, when WeChat users sent only 20 million to each other. This year’s total covers only transactions from 8pm yesterday to 12:48am today, while last year’s number accrued over two days. Tencent, the maker of WeChat, didn’t reveal how much actual money was transferred in the billion-plus red envelopes.