China has a long tradition of giving red packets during the Lunar New Year, which fell on Jan. 28 this year.
Internet giants such as Alibaba Group Holding have promoted the use of virtual red packets, also known as "hongbaos", to grow business in the country's booming mobile payment market.
The number of digital red packets sent via WeChat, owned by Alibaba rival Tencent Holdings Ltd, rose 43 percent in the Jan. 27 and Feb. 1 period compared with a year earlier, according to Xinhua.
People in the provinces of Guangdong, Jiangsu, Shandong and Hebei led the red packets mania, Xinhua said. South Korea saw the most spending using WeChat Pay by Chinese travelers outside of mainland China, a Tencent spokesman told Reuters by email."