Instead of red packets of cash for Lunar New Year, use electronic means — HKMA

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The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) encouraged the public to use electronic channels for giving lai-see amid the Covid-19 pandemic in the city.

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority encouraged the public to use electronic payment systems in lieu of red packets with cash for giving lai-see during the Lunar New Year.

In a statement Tuesday, the HKMA said the public may use the HKMA’s Faster Payment System available via online or mobile banking, or other e-wallet services, instead of the packets.

People were urged to use electronic means amid the coronavirus pandemic—with the government cautioning against family gatherings as Chinese New Year draws near to curb the spread of the virus.

“Electronic payment is convenient and easy-to-use, and has been widely accepted in Hong Kong,” the HKMA said. “During the CNY, major banks and electronic payment operators will introduce various programmes to promote electronic payment as a convenient and fun way of giving and receiving lai-see.”

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For those who will still withdraw money or seek banknotes for lai-see, and for those without access to electronic payment channels, banks will implement these protective measures for their customers and staff:

  • Ensuring a supply of new notes every day throughout the notes exchange service period, together with abundant good-as-new notes
  • Allocating more counters to expedite the processing of notes exchange requests;
  • Stepping up social distancing and other infection prevention measures and diverting / managing queues, such as distributing tickets when needed; and
  • Individual major banks providing online booking for notes exchange;

The monetary authority added its stock of new banknotes is double the number of bills during the previous Lunar New Year, and those good-as-new banknotes are thrice as many from last year.

People will also have more time to exchange their old notes for new ones in banks, from two weeks last year to three weeks this year. Notes may be exchanged from Jan. 26 to Feb. 11, the eve of the Lunar New Year.

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