Daily Digital Pulse of China: Instant Messaging

China Digital

WeChat's Virtual Red Envelopes Go Viral

Chinese tech giant Tencent's idea to allow users of its WeChat messaging app to send out "virtual red envelopes" during Chinese New Year has proven a huge hit, reports the Shanghai-based Oriental Morning Post. Tencent launched the feature on WeChat on Jan. 28 to allow users to give electronic versions of "hongbao" — red envelopes containing cash traditionally handed out during Chinese New Year — to family and friends on their contact lists. The amount of money handed out in each transaction is relatively small, generally ranging between 0.10 yuan to 100 yuan (US$0.02 to US$16.50). To add a bit of fun, the sender can decide how much to hand out in total and to how many people, but it is left up to the app to randomly choose how the money is divided and to whom. Data compiled by Tencent showed that from Chinese New Year's Eve to 4pm on the first day of the lunar calendar, Jan. 31, more than 5 million users tried out the feature to deliver in excess of 75 million virtual red envelopes. An average of 9,412 virtual red envelopes were received every minute during this period. The viral success of the feature could extend far beyond Chinese New Year, as tech analysts point out Tencent's likely real purpose: to make users link their WeChat account to their bank accounts — a prerequisite to both sending and receiving the virtual hongbao — and thus substantially strengthening Tencent's potential ability to charge WeChat users in the future.

Source: Want China Times


China Digital

Chinese Choose IM Tools Over Texts For New Year Greetings

Chines people used to send Lunar New Year greetings to their beloved ones via text messages (around 0.1 yuan or 1.64 cents per message) or phone calls. With the popularity of IM services which only charge for data flows, more and more people shift to WeChat, QQ or Weibo to extend New Year greetings in recent years. The number of messages sent through WeChat doubled YOY on the eve of Chinese Spring Festival (Jan. 30, 2014), the peak date when Chinese send wishes for the new lunar year. The number of messages received via WeChat tripled during the same period as compared with 2013. In the peak minute of the day, around 10 million messages were sent, according to data released by Tencent, developer of WeChat. The number of messages sent through QQ, another popular IM service developed by Tencent, hit 13.6 billion, peaking at 32.70 million messages per minute during the eve of lunar new year. Moreover, 16 million users sent wishes via QQ Video, citing data released by Tencent. This year’s number of greeting text messages sent via telecom carriers is estimated to slump at least 5% YOY to 30 billion from 31.17 billion in 2013 and 32 billion in 2012, respectively. Under the pressure of IM services, the declining trend of text message revenue continues ever since it witnessed the first drop in 2011. In the first half of last year, the revenue of China Mobile, China’s largest telecom operator by revenue, from phone call business dropped 1.2% YOY, while that for texting message business plunged 5.5% YOY.

Source: Tech Node