The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), the nation’s central bank and financial regulator, is encouraging the country’s residents to use e-hong baos, which are monetary gifts handed out in envelopes, during the upcoming Lunar New Year. Singapore’s Association of Banks (ABS) said it would be focused on actively promoting e-gifting for this year’s Lunar New Year.
For people who might prefer giving new physical notes, five Singapore-based banks including DBS, OCBC, UOB, Standard Chartered and Maybank Singapore will be launching a digital or online reservation platform for these notes. This initiative aims to complement or support safe management measures currently being enforced due to the global Coronavirus outbreak.
E-hong baos will be able to support remote gifting across several visitation practices, such as virtual or online gatherings, during this Lunar New Year. Handing out e-hong baos instead of physical notes is more environmentally sustainable as it doesn’t require printing and the wastage of new physical notes that are returned by the public to local banks after the Lunar New Year festivities have ended.
E-hong baos are reportedly a part of a gradual shift or movement towards e-gifting that the MAS and ABS are now backing. MAS has also encouraged local Fintech companies to create their own digital gifting products or solutions, which includes gifting during special occasions or holidays.
Members of the general public (except for residents over the age of 60 and individuals with certain disabilities) who prefer physical notes for the upcoming Lunar New Year will have to book an appointment via their bank provider’s digital reservation system before visiting the actual branches to collect the notes.
These new notes may be withdrawn without making a booking as well. This can be done at pop-up ATMs provided by DBS. Clients can refer to their bank’s official website for further details on how to pre-book and then collect their individual orders.
The pre-order period for new and good-as-new notes will begin on January 18, 2021. The collection for orders placed online, along with walk-in options for people aged 60+ and persons with certain disabilities, and also withdrawal at DBS’ pop-up ATMs are scheduled to begin on January 25, 2021.
Bernard Wee, Assistant Managing Director, Finance, Risk & Currency at MAS, remarked:
“The adoption of e-payments grew significantly this past year as it is more convenient than cash. The coming Lunar New Year offers an opportunity for us to build on this momentum, to spread the benefits of e-gifting, and to forge new traditions with our families and friends.”
“E-gifting helps to reduce the queues at banks, and also helps to reduce the carbon emissions generated by the production of new notes for each Lunar New Year, estimated to be about 330 tonnes currently. This is equivalent to emissions from charging 5.7 million smart phones or one smart phone for every Singaporean resident for five days.”