There are 2 types of people in the world: people who use WeChat, and people who don’t use WeChat. WeChat has truly become a phenomenon that no one can live without in China. It is every vital app you have in your mobile phone blended into one mega-app.
WeChat users can do just about anything, including play games, send money to people, make video calls, order food, read the news, book a doctor appointment, and more. “WeChat’s reach and influence is unrivaled in China’s online space,” said research firm China Skinny. “It touches everything from consumers communicating with their nearest and dearest, to sharing their most special moments, to buying everything from cinema tickets to taxi rides.”
Designed and built to scale, messaging platforms such as WeChat and Weibo in China need to perform at their peak on Chinese New Year when millions of people send Red Envelopes to their loved ones to wish them luck and success.
According to WeChat, owned by digital media business Tencent, 420 million people sent each other lucky money via the app’s payment service on the eve of Chinese New Year. WeChat has seen a total of 8.08 billion red envelopes sent so far for Chinese New Year, eight times more than last year. To put this into context, WeChat showed 4x the number of mobile transactions in a week long celebration of Chinese New Year in 2016 than Paypal recorded in all of 2015.
According to PayPal it made 4.9 billion transactions in 2015 (half of the number of transactions made on WeChat just for Chinese New Year) and only 28 per cent were made on a mobile device. Another notable comparison is that a total of 2 billion products were purchased from Amazon’s marketplace sellers in all of 2014 (a quarter of the number of Red Envelopes sent in a week this Chinese New Year).
Similarly, Chinese social network Weibo released figures showing that 134 million active users logged on during the eve of Chinese New Year, with 100 million receiving lucky money digital envelopes via the platform.
A significant differentiating factor lies in the transaction amount on these platforms. Chinese Yuan (RNB) 8.88 (USD1.35) is the most commonly gifted amount on digital platforms on such occasions given that 8 is a lucky number in the Chinese tradition. This is a lot lower than would be gifted in envelopes in person and is likely to be a lot lower than the average transaction amount on a platform like PayPal or Amazon.
As product managers and product designers, to build products that users love and use, it is imperative to first learn about their habits, culture and traditions. I was lucky to spend my first Chinese New Year in 2015 in the heart of Beijing as we set out to build several mobile products for Alibaba’s mobile operating system -YunOS to experience it first hand. Despair not if you cannot experience it in Beijing. There are tons of great articles out there on the web covering this amazing celebration; my favorites being:
Chinese New Year Celebrations (2016) — What Chinese Do
Lantern Festival 2016 Dates, Facts, Traditions And Food: How To Mark End Of Chinese New Year
Lucky Numbers and Colors in Chinese Culture
Customs and Activities of Chinese New Year
恭喜发财, Gōngxǐ fācái, Happiness and prosperity everyone!
Surbhi is a product enthusiast with an obsessive dedication to UX, to build products that delight users, drive performance metrics and drive overall business strategy.