NEW YORK, Feb. 5, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- On February 7th, the eve of this year's Chinese lunar New Year, WeChat, the most popular messaging app in China with 650 million monthly active users, will appear on the large screens overlooking Times Square and send Lucky Money, a traditional Chinese custom, to passers-by.
A giant "red envelope" icon, representative of the Lucky Money contained within, will be shown on the screens overlooking the famous square. At certain times, pedestrians passing through the square will have an opportunity to "earn" some Lucky Money by shaking their handsets as long as they have their Bluetooth and their WeChat "shake" functions turned on. The money will go to the receivers' digital account in WeChat Wallet. Users can either withdraw or spend through WeChat Payment, a digital payment service provided by WeChat.
In Chinese and other Asian societies, a red envelope, also known as a red packet, or hongbao, is a monetary gift - the "lucky money" - which is given during holidays or special occasions. The Lucky Money event is certain to thrill passers-by while educating people from all over the world about this joyful custom amid a festive atmosphere.
Promotions and ads run constantly on the many huge digital billboards that overlook Times Square, the busiest intersection in Manhattan, yet, this is the first time that the world-famous square has hosted an interactive Chinese Lucky Money campaign. On February 1st, 2nd, 7th (New Year's eve) and 8th between 4pm and 9pm local time, WeChat users will have the opportunity to win WeChat's Lucky Money by simply using WeChat's "shake" function in front of the screens.
WeChat Lucky Money, a new Chinese New Year custom
Handing out red envelopes containing a monetary gift or "lucky money" is a Chinese custom with a long tradition. WeChat launched the Lucky Money feature during Chinese New Year 2014. Now, whether it is Chinese New Year, Valentine's Day or Mid-Autumn Festival, another traditional Chinese holiday, Chinese people have already adopted the custom of expressing their feelings through WeChat Lucky Money. Sending WeChat Lucky Money has gradually become a new trend and a cultural phenomenon.
The number of Lucky Money being sent and received via WeChat is soaring: 16 million "red envelopes" containing lucky money were sent and received on the eve of Chinese New Year in 2014, while 1 billion such envelopes were sent and received on the same eve in 2015, followed by 500 million envelopes on Children's Day, 1.4 billion on Chinese Valentine's Day, more than 2.2 billion during Mid-Autumn Festival (twice as many as on New Year's eve). 2.31 billion Lucky Money envelopes were sent and received on the last day of 2015.
WeChat Payment speeds up overseas expansion
While the Times Square campaign is on, WeChat Lucky Money is accessible all over the world. Overseas Chinese and outbound tourists from Chinese mainland won't miss WeChat Lucky Money. In Taiwan, Hong Kong, Thailand, Indonesia, South Korea, Japan, and at many other places in Southeast Asia, more than 2,000 stores have rolled out a WeChat payment promotion program during which shoppers can shake their phones and get Lucky Money after payment transacted through WeChat.
In the past two years, WeChat has been developing and expanding their payment offering in the offline market. At present, more than 300,000 offline stores accept WeChat Payment. WeChat Payment plans to accelerate its overseas presence.
WeChat Payment released its cross-border solution in November 2015. The solution enables Chinese shoppers overseas to pay in yuan (RMB) without worrying about money exchange, while WeChat automatically settles payment with retailers in the local currency.
Visitors from China spent approximately $US 164.8 billion on international tourism in 2014 and the number is expected to climb to $US 200 billion in 2015, as the trend indicates the spend increasing by 18% to 25% annually. The WeChat Payment team said that cross-border payments will continue to adhere to its Open Policy, whereby WeChat provides the basic solution while the actual servicing market is left to third-party partners who better understand the overseas markets.