It’s that time of year again. When all the crazy numbers come out about WeChat lucky money red packets. Last year 8.08 billion digital WeChat red envelopes were sent out (see our previous article) Chinese New Year’s Eve. This year it’s 14.2 BILLION! On 1 day!
Above: some context to those numbers
WeChat’s last reported monthly active user numbers are 846 million. That means if you send or received less than 17 lucky money red packets on Friday 27th then you are below average for a typical WeChat user. But what if I told you WeChat was testing a new kind of financial transaction. Something that could have big implications. Something golden…
WeGold 微黄金 is a new official WeChat service announced just a few days ago. It’s a cooperation between TencentPay and ICBC bank. A virtual gold trading platform that works entirely within WeChat.
WeChat account: wx-gold
The WeGold account makes it possible to use money from your WeChat wallet to invest and buy gold. Through testing today I was surprised to find that I could instantly buy a gram of gold for 266.88 RMB without a Chinese ID number (all of WeChat’s other financial products, found on the WeChat wallet Finance tab are only available to local Chinese).
According to the information WeGold takes no service or processing fee for buying gold. When selling the gold above the amount of 0.001 grams they take 0.05% as a processing fee up to a maximum of 200,000 RMB ($29,078). The value of the gold is based on the Shanghai gold exchange price. The gold you buy is virtual in the same way as the money in your WeChat wallet is also virtual. You’ll never see it in real life, yet it has exactly the same value as physical gold.
Gold Lucky Money Packets
What’s even more interesting however is that WeGold is beta testing a Gold packets feature which means in the future you may be able to send lucky gold to your friends on WeChat!
Above: a screen shot of a beta tester sending WeChat gold packet into a group
It’s already well known that China’s fintech industry is moving way ahead of the rest of the world but lucky money peer to peer virtual gold micro transactions seems pretty impressive even for WeChat. Then again in a country where beggars are now using QR codes to ask for change is anything surprising anymore.
Above: Chinese beggar asking for change via QR code