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Singapore Pushes towards Digital Monetary Gifts on Lunar New Year

Singapore Pushes towards Digital Monetary Gifts on Lunar New Year

Wednesday, 13 January, 2021 - 06:30
Gifting hongbao, a red packet of lucky money, the traditional way. (Reuters)

During the Lunar New Year celebrations, most Singaporeans exchange monetary gifts, known as hongbao, which come in the form of new banknotes placed in red envelopes. However, the central bank of Singapore seeks to replace this popular tradition with an eco-friendly one by encouraging people to give digital gifts instead of the traditional banknotes.

The step aims to reduce queues in banks and emissions generated by printing millions of new banknotes for this occasion, the German news agency reported.

According to Bloomberg, Singapore's tradition of gifting new bank notes during the Lunar New Year celebrations generates the same level of emissions as charging 5.7 million smart-phones for five days.

"Those who want to give physical notes during the celebrations that start February 12, except people aged 60 and above and people with disabilities, will have to make online reservations through five banks to collect them. New notes can be withdrawn without bookings at automatic-teller machines run by DBS Group Holdings," the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said in a statement on Monday.

Singapore, where most of the 5.7 million population is of Chinese descent, celebrates the Lunar New Year with people giving crisp new bank notes in red packets and companies competing with elaborate packaging. The production of the new notes for the festival generates about 330 tons of carbon emissions each year, according to the MAS.

"The coming Lunar New Year offers an opportunity to spread the benefits of e-gifting, and to forge new traditions with our families and friends. E-gifting helps reduce the queues at banks, and also helps to reduce the carbon emissions," MAS assistant managing director Bernard Wee said in the statement.

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