SINGAPORE: Those who celebrate Chinese New Year are encouraged to give out e-hongbaos this year, as this will help to reduce queues for new notes and is more environmentally friendly, said the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) on Monday (Jan 11).
For people who still prefer to use new physical notes, however, they will need to make online reservations with their banks to get the new notes, said MAS.
Pre-booking is required at DBS Bank, Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC) and United Overseas Bank (UOB). Except for those aged 60 and above and people with disabilities, customers will need to make an appointment online before visiting the bank branches, said MAS.
The pre-order period for new and good-as-new notes opens on Jan 18, with collection from Jan 25.
To accommodate more customers, DBS is doubling the number of online reservation slots available this year, the bank said in a separate release.
From Jan 25 to Feb 11, DBS customers may also withdraw new notes from 61 pop-up automated teller machines (ATMs) across 41 locations, up from last year. This does not require prior booking.
To help customers avoid crowded areas, DBS' new notes ATM map locator will include guidance on estimated wait times at each location, the bank said.
REMOTE GIFTING, VIRTUAL GATHERINGS
Singapore is currently in Phase 3 of its reopening amid the COVID-19 outbreak, under which social gatherings of up to eight people are allowed.
E-hongbaos will allow "remote gifting" across a variety of visits, including virtual gatherings during Chinese New Year, which falls on Feb 12, said MAS.
READ: More red packets recycled due to specialised efforts, increased digital transfers over Chinese New Year
Giving e-hongbao is more environmentally sustainable as it reduces the printing and subsequent wastage of new notes returned to banks after each festive season, said MAS.
Carbon emissions generated by the production of new notes for each Chinese New Year is estimated at about 330 tonnes, said Mr Bernard Wee, MAS' assistant managing director for finance, risk and currency.
"This is equivalent to emissions from charging 5.7 million smartphones or one smartphone for every Singaporean resident for five days," he said.
Customers who send e-hongbaos through PayNow can also add Chinese New Year greetings and specially designed festive graphics, said the Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS) in a separate release.
Those who do give physical hongbaos are encouraged to drop off used red packets at red packet recycling bins located at full-service DBS and POSB Bank branches, said DBS.
E-hongbaos are part of a larger shift towards e-gifting that MAS and ABS are promoting, said the authority.
Mr Wee added that the adoption of e-payments grew significantly in 2020.
"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," he said.