Money Envelopes as a form of gift-giving is predominant in most Asian Cultures

The first 12 years of my life was spent in Kobe, Japan.  Subsequently, I have a natural soft spot for Japanese people and their culture.  Gift-giving is integral in their culture which being on the receiving end as a  young child - I absolutely loved.  In their culture, money-envelopes are ubiquitous and are given for various occasions.  These envelopes have a generic term known as "kinpu".  Interestingly, these envelopes come in different symbolic forms.  There are specific "money-envelopes" that are used only at funerals, alternatively some are used only for weddings/birth of babies or house-warming events.  In addition, Japanese culture illuminates the concept of politeness even in the form of giving money to another individual.  What I found truly interesting was that locals tend to pay tutors in the form of a money-envelope as it is deemed more polite as opposed to handing money outright to someone.

After a literal earth-shaking experience in Japan (The Great Hanshin Earthquake 1995),  I moved to Singapore.  Singapore is a multi-cultural country and the atmosphere was very different from Japan.  A common thread that I observed was that Chinese people also gave "money-envelopes" in the form of "Red Packets" commonly known as "Hongbaos".  They tend to give this out during Chinese New Year and also when attending weddings.  In Singapore,  Malay culture has similar "green envelopes" known as "sampul hijau", which are given during Hari Raya and Weddings.  Similarly, in Pakistan these envelopes are given for Eid. I always wondered how money-giving became a social norm and growingly an cultural expectation in society. 

Being part of an Indian Society, money-envelopes as a gift is prevalent in our community.  Indians usually call envelopes "lafafa".  We give money for wedding (multiple times at various functions - Sagan, Doli, Reception), baptisms, birthdays, house-warming etc.  In addition, we get money for just existing and older people tend to call it "pyaar" which translates to love.  Children secretly love money as "pyaar" although their parents politely refuse the relatives who are giving it to them. It's an inevitable friendly argument that I have seen far too many times. As a child, I always loved receiving money and seeing how much I received.  The joys of being a child!  However, being older, I am less exuberant about money-envelopes, as now I am the one giving. I definitely see the pragmatic side of this culture.  Giving money as a gift is beneficial as the receiver can buy anything desired with the amount or even put the money aside for future usage.  

Interacting with both Australian Indians and British Indians I have noticed that this trend of money-envelopes in our society still evidently exists even under Western influence. I've yet to explore other cultures who engage in this form of gift-giving until then Envylope hopes to help all users organise their money-envelopes efficiently.

Amit & Bandhna: The 1-year journey of Envylope

We had no prior knowledge of making apps which led us to ask ourselves how we were going to even start on this.  It was an extremely tough challenge we were about to undertake.  We had a vision of exactly what we wanted which made outsourcing our idea impossible.  Nobody can envision an idea the exact way another individual does.  I’d hate to admit it – but I can get extremely fussy if I know exactly what I want.   In addition,  Amit did not trust outsourcing, as he had an app idea once, which he outsourced, that unfortunately didn’t work out in his favour.   It lasted in the App Store for just a few months as the developer ran away with the idea and code. This strengthened our belief that we had to self-learn the required skills.  If other people are able to do it, why aren’t we?  It’s a question we kept asking ourselves each time we failed in our attempts.

Subsequently, Amit learnt iPhone programming in his spare time and I self-learnt graphic designing to implement the user interface.

Although, the journey was long and rather challenging we are very satisfied with the fact that we made it from scratch without external help.  The icing on the cake was having Envylope approved in the very first submission to Apple.  We honestly thought it would take 2-3 attempts at the very least before it being approved, as having no prior experience could definitely be an impeding factor.

The mere fact that we can see "Amit & Bandhna"  next to Envylope on the App Store brings a smile to our faces.  :)

We are further working on improvements and new features.  We hope users will love it as much as we do.  We appreciate any form of feedback or any suggestions users might have for future updates.


How Envylope App came about

How the Idea came about:
 
Prior to Envylope, I used to write all my personal envelope transactions in a notebook.  My husband found me amusing that I would sit with a notebook in this pen-less era. I’d record what I have recently given or received in events. For instance, how much I gave a friend for her wedding, a niece/nephew for a birthday, etc.  I also cross-referenced an Excel Sheet that stored the list of envelopes I received at my own wedding.  I would do this to ensure that I give the same as I received, or more, but not less.  In the past few years, a lot of my family and friends have been getting married so I needed to have a reference for myself.  In addition, the list can also be entertaining as it highlights how cheap some individuals are and little things in life humor me.  I received an empty envelope once with no name on it.  It was simply hilarious.
 
I love making lists - I stuck to writing everything, as I wasn’t a firm believer in technology.  However, this changed after one trip back to Singapore where I had forgotten my notebook in London.  It was pretty tragic at that time.  I’d hate to admit it, but it made me realize that it would be convenient to have this record stored on my iPhone.  The husband was right – technology makes life easier.  My notebook defeated me.  Who would have thought?  It was time to download Evernote like he suggested.  But somehow I rather have an app that specialized in the organization of money envelopes.  There was just a certain way in which I wanted it done.  I wasn’t willing to pay for an app that wasn’t exactly what I wanted either.  The miser in me agreed that a one-time payment of an efficient app would not kill me if it cost the same as a notebook.
 
Subsequently, I tried searching for an app that records transactions between friends and family using money-envelopes.  But there wasn’t any.  This sparked an idea in me.  We surprisingly saw a gap in the App Market.  That is when the idea of Envylope was born.