WeChat publicly tested a new feature recently in China which has been in development for 3 months: WeChat Blurry Lucky Money Photos. Users had an extra option to post blurry pictures which can only be viewed by sending a lucky money red envelop. Read on to find out: Why did WeChat suddenly do this? Is it going to become a permanent feature? & Was it shut down early because of people sending naked pictures?
Some of the photos were more interesting than others
Yesterday was a public test of the new WeChat blurry picture feature. The feature will return to moments for 1 day only: February 7th. So far WeChat has said there are no plans to make the feature permanent. The feature is only available for those with their WeChat language setting in Chinese. This led many non-Chinese becoming completely confused as to what was going on.
The test finishes early
The WeChat blurry photos test started from 5pm and was meant to finish at 8pm but actually finished earlier than 8 for many people. A second round opened up later at 10:30pm which was limited to 1 post per person (see below). Many immediately jumped to the conclusion that the feature was closed early because of a number of users posting naked pictures. Actually this is wrong. Tencent announced today that the test closed early because they had achieved what they wanted with testing the servers and user behavior.
The launch of a new feature for Spring Festival was not a surprise. WeChat had been announcing for many days before that something was coming.
Those who follow ChCh closely will also know that 6 weeks ago we let you know that a payments feature will be added to WeChat moments for Spring Festival.
Above: ChCh article (Dec 13th) – read article here
Lucky money has been the key through which WeChat has unlocked the immense power of social to drive mobile payments. It has changed Chinese society over the past 2 years. Sending lucky money has literally become a form of self-expression and communication in modern day China.
Sending the number 520 by lucky money has now come to represent ‘I love you’ (我爱你). Read our previous article on the topic for more details.
The stage is set
WeChat blurry photos are the first battle cry in what will be a brutal war between the giants of Alibaba Group (Alipay, Taobao, Tmall) and Tencent (WeChat, QQ) to win the Spring Festival payments war. Last year WeChat wiped the floor with Alibaba group. Their through co-operation with CCTV Spring Festival gala was described by Jack Ma as:
This year Alipay has won the right to co-operate with the Spring Festival TV gala show which means WeChat must look elsewhere to repeat their success and that place is your WeChat moments stream.
Spot the person not checking their WeChat moments
The WeChat team this month released some previously unknown stats about lucky money usage on WeChat:
- Before last year’s Spring Festival lucky money campaign around 100 million people already had their bank cards linked to WeChat. After the campaign that number doubled to 200+ million users
- Everyday 60 million users are sending red envelopes!
- Lucky money transfers are set at a limit of 200 yuan to limit spread of gambling groups. (We feel it could also be due to the large processing fees that WeChat revealed that they are being charged by banks.)
- This New Year, (January 1, 2016), WeChat users sent each other over 2.3 billion lucky money envelopes
Above: WeChat’s dream for Spring Festival 2016
The fight back from Alipay begins today (Jan 27th) as they send 4 million lucky money red envelopes through their app. Who will win this year’s battle we have yet to see. One thing is for sure, we can expect lots and lots of virtual lucky money and perhaps the occasional WeChat blurry naked picture!