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Gong Xi Fa Cai in a Digital World

by Olive Huang  |  February 2, 2014  |  Comments Off on Gong Xi Fa Cai in a Digital World

Like most of the overseas Chinese, my friend circles are split into two – people who can access Facebook and people who can’t access Facebook. WeChat, China’s No.1 social media mobile app created by Tencent, became the social space where all my Chinese friends and family members connect.  I really mean, All my friends and family members… I don’t recall there is a single one left out. For example, my mother, an ordinary 70 years old Chinese grandmother living in Beijing, also has her own WeChat ID.

Three days before this Chinese new year all my friends in China went crazy with one WeChat game called “Hongbao”. Hongbao is the red envelope with money which Chinese people hand out to their family, employees and friends during the Chinese new year.  Everybody needs to do it as a gesture to wish others a prosperous new year (imagine a movie scene of a Chinese crowd handing out red envelops and saying Gong Xi Fa Cai to each other with lots of food on the table and very noisy Chinese new year songs in the background). WeChat game “Hongbao”, needless to say, is a digital version of the red envelope.

The game is very simple. Let’s say I want to send a 100RMB Hongbao to my friends.  I will link one of my bank accounts with WeChat, create a 100RMB Hongbao with a few clicks, send it to a group of my friends. I could divide the Hongbao into let’s say 10 slices, and the amount each friend gets is random. This is where the fun starts. It creates a wonderful feeling of “winning a lottery” to the people who receive it:

– You don’t know the size of the Hongbao and how many people have received it.
– You have to be quick otherwise others in the circle will claim it.
– You have to rely on your luck on how much you can get.

Remember we Chinese believe winning a lottery during the Chinese new year is an excellent sign of prosperity so this game spread like a virus. Within 3 days I sent three 200RMB Hongbao to my family members, friends and former colleagues and received 15 Hongbao with accumulated amount of 324.12RMB. Everyone online was talking about it, posting photos to show off the biggest Hongbao they won. The luckiest one I know was one of my cousins with more than 8000 RMB in her account.

Wechat Hongbao

One Hongbao I received


What my cousin got was a very small fortune compare to what Tencent got out of this game. To be able send Wechat Hongbao and transfer received money from WeChat account to your bank account, one has to link a bank account with WeChat in-app payment solution. In 2013 Tencent has been heavily promoting its’ mobile in-app payment solution for WeChat, a difficult battle to fight against Alipay from e-Commerce giant Alibaba. By November 2013 Tencent has 20 million users linking their bank account with WeChat payment solution. I can’t help guessing how many more users will start using WeChat payment after this Chinese New Year, not mentioning the millions of Hongbao money sitting on everyone’s WeChat account…

And all of these have virtually costed Tencent nothing. One brilliant idea and the rest is the power of social media. Gong Xi Fa Cai!

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Category: crm-software-industry  social-media  

Tags: china  crm  gamification  hongbao  mobile-payment  social-marketing  social-media  tencent  wechat  

Olive Huang
Research Director
1 years at Gartner
16 years IT Industry

Olive Huang is a Research Director in Gartner Research and is part of the company's CRM software research team. Her research area focuses on customer services and support, contact centers, CRM vendors and service providers, and CRM strategy and best practices in the Asia/Pacific region. Read Full Bio

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