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WeChat users sends 1bn virtual red envelopes for Chinese New Year

WeChat users exchanged over 1 billion virtual hongbao (red envelopes containing cash gifts) on New Year's Eve.

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A total of 1.01 billion red envelopes were exchanged through Tencent's WeChat on Chinese New Year's Eve, the social media company said yesterday.

Hongbao, red envelopes stuffed with cash, are typically given out on celebratory occasions such as the Lunar New Year and weddings.

Tech giants including Alibaba, Sina and Baidu all launched services in recent years allowing users to send and received digital money during the Chinese New Year.

Tencent's WeChat was seemingly the most popular platform for virtual gift-giving this year, thanks in part to the annual CCTV Spring Festival Gala.

The live show, arguably one of the most-watched programs in the world, used WeChat to give away 80 million USD provided by corporate sponsors in the form of virtual hongbao.

When given the signal, WeChat users could shake their phones to win cash. Throughout the five-hour show, viewers shook their phones 11 billion times, Tencent said.

The tech company didn't reveal the total amount of money transferred in the billion-plus hongbao on New Year's Eve, but the number of exchanges far exceeded the 20 million red envelopes given and received by WeChat users last year.

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