Alipay Dishes out Virtual Red Envelopes Through QR Codes

Alipay, China’s leading third-party online payment solution founded by Alibaba, is introducing online red envelopes or packets, which can be used to exchange money among its million users. Red envelopes are traditionally given out during special occasions such as birthdays, wedding ceremonies or the lunar new year. The red color stands for good luck, and is meant to fend off bad spirits. Another name for the red envelope is “Ang Pow” and is a very ancient custom among the Chinese during celebrations.

Alipay's virtual Ang Pow lets gift-givers send money via a smartphone application and QR codes.

During the the Lunar New Year, the Ang Pow is distributed as gifts by adults to kinds and teenagers. With this in mind Alipay has created a new service that corresponds to a virtual Ang Pow. Members will only need to login into their account and define the amount they want to receive as a gifts from their elders. A unique QR code is generated and then ready to distribute via e-mail or through social media sites, Sina Weibo or Tencent Weibo, and wait for recipients to whip out their smartphones, scan the code, and transfer the money to you online.

This is a bit different from tradition, in that it’s the recipient that generates the code and gives it to prospective givers. To address the concern of transferring huge amounts of money, there’s amount limit of RMB 2,000 (US$ 317) set in place.

Users interested in receiving money from the virtual Ang Pow can visit Alipay’s special New Year promo web page, while givers will need to install the smartphone app, available for the iOS and Androidplatforms, scan the QR code, and press the Send button to send the virtual red envelope to the recipient. The seasonal code can be used until January 31.