My three hours journey of grabbing the Hong Bao on Alipay

Feb 12, 2016. | By: Dongmei Hu

On the eve of Chinese New Year, I was told by one of my friends that I could participate in Alibaba’s Red Packet game in Alipay, and also collect the five kinds of luck stickers for this lunar new year. The game ended on the strike of the new year bell, which came in just 6 hours.

“That sounds interesting.” I said to myself. If I could collect some luck stickers and share with my friends and families, they must be delighted since this would be a lucky sign for the new year. Of course, it could be a bonus point if I could grab some red packets. It did not matter how much money I could gain from this game, considering the total value of Alibaba’s Hongbao (200 billion RMB) against the total number of Aplipay users. My parent was not tech-savvy, and they didn’t know how to participate in this kind of national wide online activities, especially working the small screen of a mobile phone.

“They must be very happy if I could help them get some luck stickers and red packets.” I thought, “I’ll try the e-Hongbao game this year.”

Alipay was designed as the online payment tool for Taobao and Tmall, Alibaba’s e-commerce. It is secured and easy for transaction for most users while shopping online. Unlike WeChat, few users treat Alipay as a social networking platform due to the security concern. Here comes my first problem when participating in Alibaba’s new year game: where to find new friends?

There are a few ways of adding friends, such as searching by QQ nubmer, email, nickname and mobile number. As there were only a few hours left, I had to find the fastest way to reach as many as friends left. The idea of sending my Alipay account ID into WeChat friend group came into my mind immediately. I chose to send the friend invitation request into my family group so as not to disturb other friends on such a busy night.

Then Alipay generated a piece of the combination of letters and numbers as my friend request code. I was a bit hesitated whether I would send this code to my friends, as the combination was really random and looked like a harmful spam. Though I was a bit annoyed and understood this might be a technical limitation, I still sent the code to my relatives’ group on WeChat. The process of closing Alipay and jumping into WeChat just made me frown further.

Luckily some of my friends accepted my friend request almost immediately. In just a few minuutes, I’d added 4 friends. But wait, where were my luck stickers? Why there was no progress on colleecting luck after adding new friends? After searching online and reading the game rules, I leanrt that I had to add 10 friends in order to collect luck stickers from Alibaba. “That is too many and I don’t want to spam my friend circle and rush them on the eve of Chinese New Year.” I decided to stop sending friend request. I could still participate in the grabbing red packet stage even without fulfilling the requirement of minimum 10 friends.

So, I waited till 8pm for the game to begin.

At first glance, the game was simple. All I need to do was to login my Alipay APP and keep tabbing the red button in the center, then a red packet with random amount of money might appeared for grabbing, depending on my luck.

After about 5 minutes, I realized that this game was not that easy. First, I have to use both hands, one for holding my mobile phone and the other for tabbing quickly (I don’t like to put the mobile phone on a table. It might free my left hand but make my neck tiring). In the meantime, I had to keep my eyes focusing on the red button, not only because of the small mobile phone screen but also because of the video ads that kept popping up. I had to pause and close the the pop-up advertisements! Plus, non-stop tapping the button was so boring on the eve of Lunar New Year, since I was not able to do anything else given my hands and eyes were all occupied!

Gradually, I lost interest in the button, but I was curious about the chance of grabbing a red packet while competing with more than 200 billions of other users.

My luck came in the second round of red packet distribution, at around 9.30pm, a Hong Bao worth 1.08 RMB from one of the sponsors. “Not too bad” I said to myself, but concluded that it was a waste of time to keep working hard on the little red button on Chinese New Year eve, due to not only the little value in each Hong Bao but the time and efforts requried at such an important time for family gathering.

So I gave up the Alipay game, and sent a big e-Hong Bao to my parents in WeChat as a new year greeting and my best wishes.

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