WeChat Pay Prepares for Chinese New Year With Virtual Red Envelopes

February 20, 2018         By: Steven Anderson

With the recent arrival of the Chinese New Year, it’s time for one of the likely most-anticipated events around for Chinese young people: lucky money. Sometimes referred to as “red envelopes,” for their packaging material of choice, the giving of lucky money is intended to convey a wish for good fortune in the new year by close friends or family members. The major Chinese mobile payment systems have taken full advantage of this development, and WeChat Pay recently launched a major new push to drive the virtual red envelope home.

WeChat Pay’s new push allows Chinese tourists to receive a red envelope via WeChat Pay when shopping at participating merchants, and not those in China. Effectively, WeChat Pay has set up a means for the traveling Chinese tourist to get a red envelope even if they’re in New York, Singapore or somewhere else.

The promotion covers a host of locations—Australia, the United States, several European countries and even a variety of Asian locations from Japan to Thailand—and operates like a very specially-packaged refund. Shoppers spending 500 yuan—about $78.84 as of this writing—will receive a red envelope in digital form containing a coupon for 50 yuan, or around $7.88. Plus, a slate of “random discounts” will be included, which adds further incentive to shop.

Basically, all WeChat Pay has done here is taken a comparative slim discount—10 percent back—and repackaged it to use the symbolism commonly used by the target market. It will cost WeChat fairly little cash-wise, and it will encourage users to either stick with WeChat Pay or jump ship and come over to WeChat Pay. This is an extremely smart move, and should allow the company to make some decent headway in the essentially two-team race that is the Chinese mobile payment market, especially given that WeChat Pay is commonly seen as the better alternative for smaller transactions.

Alipay for big bucks, WeChat Pay for pennies. WeChat Pay may well have just sealed itself as being a little more than pennies now, but it’s taking advantage of its smaller stature to potentially propel itself into a bigger market profile.