Spring Festival cash goes online as transfer orders soar
By Wang Wen, The Korea Herald/Asia News NetworkOnline money transfers soared over the Lunar New Year holiday, as growing numbers chose to send their festive gifts online.
February 20, 2013, 12:22 am TWN
More than 1.64 million cash transfers were made through Alipay, the payment arm of the e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, during the seven-day holiday, a 77 percent increase compared with the same period in 2012, Alipay.com Co Ltd announced on Monday.
In Beijing, 78,000 online transfers were made through Alipay during the holiday.
“Many users transferred the money for festival packages to their relatives and friends,” said Zhu Xiaolei, head of the transfer arm of Alipay's life application division.
Two methods are used to transfer the festival packages online, Zhu said.
Older people transferred money to their juniors' Alipay accounts, and younger people giving money to their seniors tended to transfer directly into bank accounts, she said.
“The ratio of the former to the latter method is five to one,” she added.
The average amount transferred to bank accounts was 1,200 yuan (US$192.24), while the average amount sent to Alipay accounts was 320 yuan, according to Alipay.
Safety and convenience are the main reasons for the online transfers, some residents said.
Zhang Jing, 31, an office worker in Beijing, gave her parents 10,000 yuan for the festival, transferring the money online.
“Safety is my first concern when using online banks,” Zhang said.
Zhang said she had to spend six hours on a train home and it was dangerous to carry the money.
The post-1980s generation is the main user of online transfers.
Statistics from Alipay show 58.8 percent of the users transferring holiday money to Alipay accounts, and 70.5 percent of people transferring to bank accounts were from the post-1980s generation.
However, some people still prefer the traditional method of wrapping-cash in red paper for Spring Festival rather than online transfers.
“The red envelope also means good luck and best wishes to relatives and friends, not just the money inside,” said Zhou Shuo.
Zhou, 28, a native of Beijing working at an IT company, said his parents do not care about how much money is in the festive package, but that the red envelope is part of the festive spirit in China.
Li Qilin, 26, who works in Beijing, agrees with Zhou.
“The process of putting money into a red envelope and giving it to your parents is kind of a ritual,” Li said.
It is more important for the festive package to represent the children repaying the parents, showing the older generation that their children can stand on their own two feet rather than merely being the money inside, he added.