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.







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。