Chinese New Year, E-payment, Blessing, and Pokemon Go

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Jan 25, 2017 00:54
The Chinese New Year is around the corner. Nearly every Chinese person is on his/her way home to unite with his/her family members. In Chinese culture, at the end of every year, the older generations in a family give the younger generations “red envelopes” – red paper packages with money tucked in, wishing them a happy new year. Over the last few years, this custom has been spread into among friends, colleagues, etc..

The reason for this spread is the wide use of e-payment. Leading the world, China’s payment system has surpassed the stage of using credit cards and evolved to digital paying. Chinese people, especially the youths, now tend to use their smartphones to pay or receive money. Since we don’t use cash much, when we transfer money to each other, we use cellphones. Therefore, at festivals, the red package culture has easily been spread into among friends, colleagues, etc..

Generally, we use two apps to transact: Alipay and Wechat. The former is the trailblazer, and the latter was initially a messaging app. Alipay has been contributing to circulating e-payment since before 2012. It was stifled by the Chinese government at first, because the officials were concerned that it would destroy the state-run banking system, but later, they had resigned themselves to it.

About three years ago, Wechat had embedded payment into its app. On the Chinese New Year of that year, hundreds of millions of Chinese people started using Wechat to give “red envelopes” to each other, because it was as easy as to send a message. Alipay became apprehensive about it, because Wechat per se was a messaging app – people used it to communicate, so based on that, people would likely use Wechat to trade and overtake Alipay.

Hence, over the last few years, Alipay has worked hard to allure people to use it to communicate. The efforts, however, have always been in vain, simply because people felt it weird to add their friends on this transaction app. Half a year ago, Alipay encouraged local young girls in each city to update their life photos in exchange for “appreciation” money from males, but it was panned by the public. The Chinese New Year is upcoming; Alipay has come up with another idea – people can collect five different cards to earn a prize money on New Year’s eve. It’s easier for people to achieve a full collection if they add their friend on the app, because people can exchange cards with each other.

Therefore, many Chinese people are buzy collecting cards, because the bonus pool is over 200 million Yuan. Over 70 million people have now achieved the full collections. The gross money will be distributed randomly to everyone like a lottery. It doesn’t matter to people how much they will get – “a red envelope” is just auspicious.

How to collect cards? There are two main ways:

1) To use your smartphone to scan the Chinese character “福” (blessing). This character hangs everywhere in China around the time of the Chinese New Year.
2) The cards are scattered in many parts of cities. People can use their smartphones via the AR technology to spot and collect them, like in Pokemon Go.
马上要到春节了,几乎每一个中国人都在回家的路上,和家人一起团聚。在中国文化里面,每到春节,家中的长辈会给晚辈红包,祝福他们在新的一年里心想事成。在过去的几年里,这个习俗已经扩散到了朋友和同事之间。

原因是电子支付的广泛使用。中国在这方面领先世界,已经跨过了信用卡支付阶段,发展到了全民电子支付的时代。中国人,尤其是中国的年轻人,现在一般就用手机来收付款。由于我们不太使用现金,所以我们在给彼此转钱的时候,会直接使用手机。因此,过节的时候,红包文化也就自然、方便地渗透到了朋友和同事之间。

总的来说,我们用两款手机应用转钱:支付宝和微信。前者是中国电子支付的开创者,后者原本只是一个通信软件。在2012年以前,支付宝就开始努力推广电子支付,但一开始,中国ZF采取压制的态度,因为担心会影响到中国国有银行的金融体系,但后来,也就慢慢放任自流了。

大约在三年以前,微信在应用中嵌入了支付系统。在那一年的中国新年里,数亿的中国人开始用微信给彼此送红包,因为送红包和发短信一样方便。对此,支付宝十分焦虑,因为微信本身就是一款通信软件,人们可以用它来交流,所以从此人们极有可能就用微信来交易,并超越支付宝的地位。

所以,近年来,支付宝努力地引诱人们用它来交流。但这些努力总是无法见效。因为人们觉得在在一款交易软件上加好友十分奇怪的行为。半年前,支付宝鼓励每个城市的美眉们在支付宝上更新生活照,男性可以点赞打赏,但这一举动被公众批得体无完肤。春节就要来了,支付宝想出了另外一个主意:用户集齐5种卡片,就能在新年夜获得奖金。如果加上好友,就更容易集齐,因为好友之间可以彼此交换卡片。

于是,很多中国人开始忙着收集卡片,因为总奖金将会超过2亿元。目前,已经有7千万中国人集齐了卡片。奖金将随机派发,像彩票一样。能拿多少钱不重要,重要是红包在中国文化里面,是一个好彩头。

怎么收集卡片呢?主要有两种办法:

1) 用手机扫描“福”字。每到春节,这个字随处可见。
2) 卡片分散在城市里的不同地方,人们可以用手机和AR技术,找到卡片并收集,和 Pokemon Go 一样。

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