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Give cash digitally to support environment, reduce bank queues during CNY: MAS

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Members of the public are strongly encouraged to give e-cash during Chinese New Year (CNY) in February 2022, as this will support the environment and reduce queues at bank branches, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said on Tuesday (Dec 28).

The Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS) in a separate statement on Tuesday also encouraged banking customers to consider using PayNow to e-gift cash.

MAS and ABS have also been working with the financial technology sector to develop e-gifting solutions as an alternative to physical hongbao, or CNY red packets.

For example, the DBS QR Gift and DBS eGift options have been gaining traction over the years, with customer adoption hitting a record high during CNY this year, DBS Bank said.

The total number of unique users of the two e-gift options surged 74 per cent year on year in 2021, with some $6.3 million loaded onto DBS QR Gift cards this year, up from $2.5 million the year before.

MAS added that it issues approximately 100 million pieces of new notes annually for CNY and other festive periods.

A large proportion of the new notes issued, in particular the $2 notes, are circulated back to the MAS after CNY.

The returned notes are subsequently destroyed, "as it far exceeds normal circulation demand", MAS said.

"The carbon emissions from the production, transportation, and destruction of such new notes each year is highly wasteful, unnecessary, and impacts the environment negatively."

Those who prefer to give physical red packets are urged to reuse notes or give QR gift cards instead of using new notes, the central bank said in its statement, adding that "most notes in circulation in Singapore are clean and of good quality, and suitable for use in festive gifting".

Those who still prefer new notes must reserve the notes online before collecting them at participating bank branches.

The banks involved are DBS, OCBC, UOB, Standard Chartered, Maybank and Citibank.

MAS said this will also "complement safe management measures currently in place due to Covid-19".Those aged 60 and above and people with disabilities are exempted from the initiative.

New notes can also be withdrawn without any prior booking at pop-up ATMs offered by DBS and selected UOB ATMs.

The pre-booking period for new and good-as-new notes will commence on Jan 4, 2022.

The collection for notes pre-booked online, the walk-in option for the elderly and people with disabilities, and selected ATM withdrawal will start from Jan 11, 2022.