Social and mobile payments boom for Chinese Lunar New Year

New research from AdMaster shows that three in four mobile users in China planned to celebrate Lunar New Year on social.

Like Christmas in many Western countries, Lunar New Year (Spring Festival), which started yesterday, is the most important holiday in China. And this year, social has become the number one channel for people to celebrate the Year of the Monkey, according to AdMaster.

The company’s new stats show that 75 percent of 993 Chinese respondents listed social as the most important mobile Internet activity planned for Spring Festival. Important to 51 percent of respondents, making payments was in second place.  

emarketer stats

Perhaps because of Chinese mobile users’ high demand for social and payments, technology conglomerates within the region are all putting a spin on the popular New Year tradition of putting money into red envelopes and giving them to children, family members and friends.

WeChat red packet 2

For example, messaging app WeChat started offering Red Packet in 2014, letting people gift money in digital red envelopes via its mobile payments.

WeChat red packet 1

It’s still early to tell how much red envelope money will be transferred on WeChat this year. But during on the Eve of Lunar New Year 2015, the platform delivered more than 1 million red envelopes. And in the 10 days around Spring Festival 2014, more than 40 million red envelopes were exchanged. 

Alibaba’s mobile payment platform Alipay, on the other hand, started sending out restaurant and service coupons on January 23 as part of its New Year promotion. At 10 a.m. every day over the holiday, Alipay is offering around 10 million virtual red envelopes containing coupons to attract more users.


Aside from social and payments, Chinese mobile users also planned to use their smartphones for shopping online, watching videos and reading news, the research says.

Looking beyond Chinese Lunar New Year, mobile marketing has been growing rapidly in China over the past few years. Domestic mobile revenue is estimated to reach $11 billion in 2019, according to Niko Partners.

Mobile is likely to continue expanding in China. But at the same time, some think that mobile growth rate in China has peaked already.

Related reading