How a centuries-old tradition gave rise to China's most valuable company!
Sree Vijaykumar
Sree Vijaykumar
From the Editor's Desk
Like many other payment app, WeChat allows its users to send Packets of predetermined amounts to each other, either individually or in groups. But it also encourages users to send money to groups in randomized amounts. Say you have a chat group with five pals. You can put $5 in a red envelope and set it to disburse equally, so each friend gets $1. Alternatively, you could stipulate that the first two people to tap will get all the money in equal portions- $2.50 each - or that the first two people get a random cut, maybe $1 for one person and $4 for the other. The result is that any time a red envelope appears, people scramble to tap on it as fast as possible. (The packets expire in a day, adding to the time pressure.) Only afterwards do they see how much money they've won, giving it an addictive element of surprise. So addictive, in fact, that third-party apps now exist that let users grab red envelopes without unlocking their phones. More in this story about how a centuries-old tradition gave rise to China's most valuable company and captured the attention of everyone from teens to Silicon Valley

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