Tencent lets users give gold for Valentine’s Day
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Tencent lets users give gold for Valentine’s Day

Yesterday, Chinese ecommerce giant Tencent allowed users of its massively popular WeChat messenger service to send each other grams of gold online. This Valentine’s Day release marks the latest in a series of initiatives designed to capitalize on the Chinese culture of gift giving.

First, Tencent bought us the virtual red packet – an online WeChat version of the red envelopes filled with money that are commonly exchanged at New Years’ and other times. Then, it partnered with Starbucks to let WeChat users send each other coffee vouchers. Now, Tencent is helping them gift – and invest in – gold.

WeChat has more than 846 million monthly active users on its platform – that’s 100 million more people than live in Europe, and well over double the population of the U.S. So even a very modest engagement rate when it debuts an offer like this represents a phenomenal amount of business.

The offer is being launched in partnership with the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, and will come from its product offerings. It will only be available to WeChat users who have their real names verified on the platform, and the maximum amount purchasable is 364.856 grams (or whatever 100,000 yuan will net you on any given day). Once the money is bought, you can then ‘gift’ packets of gold containing up to 1 gram to other users (although yesterday, they increased this amount to 1.314 grams per packet, as the numbers 1314 in sound similar to “for the rest of my life” in Chinese).

Users have the amounts gifted (or bought) deposited into a Microgold account which they can sell it on from – with Tencent picking up a 0.5% transaction fee.

Gift giving is a fundamental part of Chinese culture, and WeChat has integrated it seamlessly into its product offering. The success of previous campaigns more than justifies the company’s further interest in this area, and it already has plans for the future. According to Tencent, while the Starbucks gifting feature is a limited time offer, it will be replaced by similar offers undertaken with similarly qualified retailers in the future.

Dominion holds Tencent in its Global Trends Ecommerce Fund.

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