Alibaba looks to gamify ethics
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Alibaba looks to gamify ethics

Chinese technology giant Alibaba has recently revealed that it’s working to make Chinese consumers more ethical. The company has been using s series of mini-games within its Alipay and Sesame Credit interfaces to encourage charitable giving. This bold new initiative plays well with ideas about corporate responsibility, but it also has another side: through gamification, Alibaba could reap serious rewards from making people behave more ethically.

Alibaba’s share price has risen by 5% over the past month

Alibaba June 24

Source: Yahoo Finance

Alibaba’s three most popular games in this genre are Collecting Sesame Seeds, Ant Farm: virtual pet chicken, and Ant Forest. In each of these games, players undertake certain tasks to gain rewards (in the first, for example, players open boxes to win “sesame seeds”). Then, those rewards can be distributed to help others. In Sesame Seeds, the seeds collected can be donated to a number of charitable causes; in Ant Farm, your virtual chicken lays eggs which can be donated to charity (like sesame seeds, these “eggs” become a financial contribution from the company) or used to help other players.

There are three obvious ways in which Alibaba can benefit from this socially positive incentivisation. The first is that playing games is addictive (as anyone who’s tried Farmville can attest) – the games themselves keep people coming back to the apps in which they’re situated. The second is that, because these games involve sharing and co-operation, players will work to get their friends involved, bringing more people onto Alibaba’s platforms. And the third, and potentially most lucrative of all, is that it gives Alibaba access to a potential treasure trove of data over their users and how selfless the choices they’re making are.

This kind of social credit management and gamification is in its earliest stages – but we could be witnessing the birth of a new era of Chinese ecommerce.


Dominion holds Alibaba in its Global Trends Managed Fund.

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