Tencent launches WeChat gold-gifting feature for Valentine’s Day

PUBLISHED : Monday, 13 February, 2017, 8:16pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 14 February, 2017, 11:01am

Buying your partner flowers and chocolate on Valentine’s Day might be the traditional way to show affection, but Tencent is offering users something different because from Tuesday, millions of users on its messaging and social app WeChat will be able to send virtual gold packets to friends and loved ones.

Similar to WeChat’s digital red packet feature, where users are able to send money as a virtual gift, Tencent’s gold packet gifting platform lets users buy grams of virtual gold and send it to friends.

Tencent trialled its gold-gifting platform on WeChat in the run up to Lunar New Year, and will open up the feature for public testing on Valentine’s Day, according to people familiar with the matter. The company boasts more than 846 million monthly active users on its WeChat platform.

Jointly launched by Tencent and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the gold bought on Tencent’s microgold feature on the platform will come from ICBC’s gold product offerings. Only users who have their real names verified on WeChat will be able to buy and cash in the gold in a Microgold account.

The minimum amount of gold that can be bought is 0.001 grams – which on February 13 was sold at 28 fen. The maximum transaction limit to buy the gold is 100,000 yuan, which can get gift givers 364.856 grams of gold at current prices. So far, the feature is only available in China.

Once the gold is bought, they can then give out up to 100 gold packets at a time, with not more than 1 gram of gold per gold packet. But for Valentine’s Day, Tencent will increase the limit to 1.314 grams per gold packet, as the numbers 1314 in Chinese sounds similar to the Chinese saying “for the rest of my life”.

Recipients will find the gold deposited into a Microgold account in WeChat. As the price of gold fluctuates on a daily basis, users can choose to sell the gold based on its current price, with Tencent charging a 0.5 per cent transaction fee. The money from the sale can then be deposited to a WeChat Wallet or bank card.

With Tencent’s Microgold platform, WeChat users are also able to easily buy and sell gold as an investment from ICBC through the messaging platform.

Tencent is capitalising on the Chinese culture of gift-giving with its features. It first introduced the virtual red packet feature in early 2014, and last week announced a partnership with coffee chain Starbucks to launch a social gifting feature allowing users to buy a beverage or digital gift card for friends and family.

Although the Starbucks gifting feature is only for a limited time, it will gradually be opened to other “qualified” retailers in the future, WeChat said.