Going cashless, DBS unveils QR code red packets for Chinese New Year

The service, called DBS QR Ang Bao, will be valid for use from January 25th, and limited quantities will be available to the bank’s customers at several of the bank’s full-service branches and POSB pop-up ATMs.

DBS QR Ang Bao Source: DBS

Singapore’s largest bank DBS will trial the use of loading cash values into unique QR codes to be used as red packets, reinventing the wheel on the traditional method of using cash for red packet exchanges during Chinese New Year.

The service, called DBS QR Ang Bao, will be valid for use from January 25th, and limited quantities will be available to the bank’s customers at several of the bank’s full-service branches and POSB pop-up automated-teller-machines (ATM)s.

QR codes or quick response codes, are two-dimensional matrix barcodes that can be used to retrieve information, make payments, and send payments.

Users of mobile wallet app DBS PayLah! can scan a unique QR code on a DBS QR Ang Bao to load a cash value into the QR card. The value has a limit of up to S$999. The receiver of the red packet will have to scan the QR code with their own DBS PayLah! app to receive the locked amount.

Roughly three million of such red packets will be available. The QR code red packets will expire by March 15th, and those funds that have not been redeemed will be refunded to the senders.

The pilot showcases the different, unexpected ways in which digital funds can replace cash, said Mr Jeremy Soo, managing director and head of consumer banking group (Singapore), DBS Bank. ‘We decided to introduce a fresh, digital take on the traditional red packet exchange, while retaining the meaningfulness of the physical act of giving and receiving red packets itself,’ he said.

Mr Soo said the DBS QR Ang Bao suits ‘time-starved customers who hope to forgo the usual hassle of obtaining new notes for CNY’.

Pop-up ATMs to cater to the issuance of new notes for Chinese New Year

On January 15th, DBS rolled out pop-up ATMs specifically to issue out new or good-as-new notes for its customers for the Chinese New Year. According to Mr Soo, the strategy was to help make it ‘hassle-free’ for the bank’s customers.

A part of the tradition to celebrate the Chinese New Year in Singapore is usually through the exchange of red packets when visiting relatives. The givers of red packets are usually married couples and parents while the receivers would be unwed individuals and children.

The red packets will usually contain new notes to represent a new year, and in the weeks leading up to the celebrations, banks would see long queues as customers would go there to change or withdraw for new notes.

The new notes pop-up service has been introduced since 2015. For this year, a total of 42 of such pop-up ATMS were rolled out, up from 36 ATMS last year.

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