SINGAPORE — The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) is encouraging Singaporeans to use e-hongbaos during the coming Lunar New Year as they will help to reduce queues for physical notes and are more environmentally friendly.
E-hongbaos are part of a larger shift towards e-gifting that MAS and The Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS) are actively promoting.
In a news release on Monday (11 January), MAS said that the e-hongbaos will enable remote gifting across a variety of visitation practices, including virtual gatherings, during the Lunar New Year. Giving e-hongbaos instead of physical notes is also environmentally more sustainable as it reduces the printing and subsequent wastage of new notes that are returned by the public to banks after each Lunar New Year, the central bank said.
MAS also encouraged fintech firms to develop e-gifting solutions for different purposes, including gifting during festive periods. The most innovative FinTech e-gifting solution will receive special recognition at the Singapore FinTech Festival in November 2021, it said.
E-gifting 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, or equivalent to emissions from charging 5.7 million smartphones or one smartphone for every Singaporean resident for five days, Bernard Wee, MAS’ assistant managing director, Finance, Risk & Currency, said.
Online reservation for physical notes
For those who prefer giving new physical notes, five banks will implement an online reservation system for such notes. This initiative will complement safe management measures currently in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Members of the public, except those aged 60 and above and persons with disabilities, who prefer physical notes for Lunar New Year will need to make an appointment through their respective local bank’s (DBS/OCBC/UOB) online reservation system before visiting the branches to collect the new notes.
New notes can also be withdrawn without a prior booking at pop-up ATMs offered by DBS. The collection for online orders, walk-in option for elderly aged 60 and above and persons with disabilities, and withdrawal at DBS’ pop-up ATMs will start from 25 January.
Maybank and Standard Chartered are also offering pre-orders of notes. Customers of these two banks are encouraged to place an online reservation for the notes before visiting the branches. They should refer to the respective bank’s website for details.
The pre-order period for new and good-as-new notes will start from 18 January.