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Seeking good luck, some Singaporeans deposit cash in person on Li Chun, others transfer money online

SINGAPORE — For the past decade, Mrs Chua KL, 56, has been depositing money into her bank account on Li Chun, an auspicious day that marks the start of spring on the Chinese calendar, and this year is no exception.

Customers queueing outside OCBC bank at Toa Payoh Central on Feb 4, 2021.

Customers queueing outside OCBC bank at Toa Payoh Central on Feb 4, 2021.

  • Li Chun, the start of spring on the Chinese calendar, usually sees people queueing to deposit money at banks and ATMs seeking good luck
  • This year, the auspicious day ended at 9pm on Thursday (Feb 4)
  • Some queues were spotted around town on Thursday but some customers and banks suggested it was quieter than previous years
  • Some customers chose to transfer money online instead

 

SINGAPORE — For the past decade, Mrs Chua KL, 56, has been depositing money into her bank account on Li Chun, an auspicious day that marks the start of spring on the Chinese calendar, and this year is no exception.

“No harm if you do it, but if you don’t, it will feel uncomfortable,” the housewife said, believing it is good luck to do so. She declined to give her full name.

This year, Li Chun started on Wednesday (Feb 3) at 9pm and ended on Thursday at 9pm.

Mrs Chua had already transferred money into her account via internet banking, but decided to deposit some money in person on Thursday once she saw that queues were short for the OCBC bank automated teller machines at Toa Payoh Central. 

Queues this year were shorter than previous years, presumably due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the increasing popularity of internet banking, she said.

Some banks here and other customers also told TODAY that this year’s Li Chun was quieter than usual. Still, DBS bank reported an increase in transactions at its branches though it was unable to provide figures.

The generally shorter-than-usual queues were in contrast to long queues formed recently by people wishing to obtain new bank notes for Chinese New Year.

When TODAY visited banks at Tampines and Toa Payoh around noon on Thursday, there were no noticeable crowds, though some relatively long queues were spotted at POSB and UOB bank branches in Tampines around 10am.

At the UOB branch in Toa Payoh, Ms Kang Lee Hiang, 59, had just put S$500 into her account.

This is the first year that Ms Kang, who does part-time administration work, deposited money specifically for Li Chun. “If you have more money, deposit more; no money, deposit less.”

Ms Kang decided to put some cash in for Li Chun this year since she was already helping her husband do so.

Ms Chua Tee, 54, who works in renovation, has been depositing money on Li Chun for five years.

She usually deposits amounts with the "lucky" number eight, such as S$80 or S$28. "Eight" can sound like the word for "prosper" in Chinese dialects.

In previous years, Ms Chua Tee would queue for up to a half hour, but there was no queue when she visited an ATM in her Bishan neighbourhood on Thursday. “I think the craze died down already.” 

Mr Lee Kwat Wee, who works in administration, did not go to a bank or ATM to deposit money in person.

Instead, the 53-year-old went online to transfer S$88.88 from one bank account to another on Wednesday at 9pm — the most auspicious timing for his Chinese zodiac sign, he said. He did not want to queue up at an ATM.

In response to TODAY’s queries, Ms Jean Oh, OCBC’s head of branch service and risk management, said: “We did not observe any unusual rise in footfall at our branches and ATMs for Li Chun.

“However, we have deployed 30 per cent more staff at our branches to help with the expected increase in the number of customers in the weeks leading up to Chinese New Year. We also continue to have safe-distancing measures in place.” 

A DBS spokesperson said: “In keeping with the practice of depositing money on Li Chun to usher in Chinese New Year, we saw more transactions at our branches (on Thursday).

“In anticipation of the higher traffic, we deployed more manpower at our branches to ensure that customer experience was smooth and orderly, and all customers practised safe distancing.”

Representatives from Standard Chartered and Maybank also said that they had not observed longer queues at their branches or ATMs for Li Chun.

Related topics

Li Chun deposit money Chinese New Year banks

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