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Tech Thursday Episode 31

Hongbao wars, “water army” sinks, adopt a Baidu dog, and Alipay (finally) in Apple stores

Each Thursday, The World of Chinese takes the most ground-breaking, impressive, or just plain weird technological advancements related to the Middle Kingdom and serves them in bite-sized chunks to keep you up-to-date on the latest news in the world of Chinese technology.


Chinese “Navy” Crackdown

Unlike the ones that are tasks with military operations, the online Chinese “navy” or “water army” (水军) describes internet commenters that are paid to serve a particular agenda, from trolling or shilling or simply increasing the “likes.”

Unfortunately, due to the governments renewed interest against the dissemination of rumors and fake news, police in Guangzhou recently cracked down on “water army” organizations worth 4 million RMB involving 77 suspects.

In total, since last May, there have been over 200 arrests and 5,000 social media accounts shut down as police uncover operations worth hundreds of millions of RMB.


Hongbao for All

The two top digital hongbao (red envelope) distributors in China, Tencent and Alipay, are preparing the nation in their attempts to win the “red envelope” war for Spring Festival 2018.

As China has gone digital, so has the act of gifting money, with more and more users opting to tap screens rather than physically stuff cash (or coins) between red paper.

According to reports, this year users of Tencent’s QQ messaging app who enable the app’s step-counter function will, for every 100 steps they walk, be given the chance to draw from a digital hongbao. There reward will be taken from a pot of 200 million RMB in cash or 4 billion RMB in coupons.

Not to be left out, Alipay have announced a partnership with the CCTV Spring Festival Gala to give out 600 million RMB worth of hongbao and gifts to viewers during the event.

What this all means is that there is no reason not to make some money during the coming holiday period.


Baidu Digital Pets

For the coming Year of the Dog, Chinese search engine emperor Baidu will be releasing a blockchain-enabled digital dog adoption game.


Currently undergoing internal tests, the game will allow users to adopt dogs and then buy and trade for accessories using points earned when using other Baidu products. However, Baidu has reiterated that these points can only be used on buying products for the dogs.


Apple Pay Who?

For the first time ever, Apple brick and mortar (B&M) stores will be accepting payments using a third-party mobile payment system.

Across China, 41 stores will now accept Alipay from customers making purchases. Alipay’s own app also now has a special Apple section in which users can link to their Apple accounts and find special offers to redeem in B&M stores.

This move is partly in response to the increases in digital payments that China has seen in recent years, but mostly due to Apple’s own Apple Pay’s inability to take a market share.

Alipay still currently leads the pack when it comes to digital transaction, but WeChat is on its heels and on track to surpass Alipay in the near future.

Does this mean B&M Apple stores will have to accept WeChat in the future as well?


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