Writer: Gao Xiaoqian
In a country where all payments can be done with a few touches on the smartphone, cash seems to be a bit obsolete.
WeChat, undoubtedly, is a significant force in China’s cashless revolution.
QR code payment, quick payment and in-app payment are three mobile payment methods that almost all WeChat users can’t do away with.
In October 2017, Tencent added yet another game-changing feature to its WeChat, the Reward Code. The new function is designed mainly for individuals to collect rewards or tips on a regular basis.
The waiter/waitress or authors on tour, for example, can use this function to collect rewards or entrance fees. The Reward Code can be generated in real time as needed. By scanning the code, payment will be processed automatically. People can also save the code for later use.
When Tencent rolled out its Reward Code, it might not have expected that the descending print media would become the first batch to jump onto this new function. The 21st Century Business Review, a business magazine in China, immediately stamped codes in five articles in the November publishing. The readers could reward the articles they like simply by scanning the codes.
But, the Reward Code is more than just a means for reward collection. It comes also with a pre-designed section where readers can comment on the article. So the code is essentially a bridge that connects the readers and the media.
The 21st Century Business Review was the first print media to experiment Reward Code with its original articles. Through tipping one of its articles, Kr-Asia found that it garnered only 11 rewards for the article Kr-Asia tipped. This is pretty shy when, according to Sina, around 100 million WeChat users have used its tipping function.
There are probably two reasons for this. For one thing, it is the first time the Reward Code has appeared in printed articles, so the readers are still not habituated to the idea of tipping printed articles. For another, unlike articles fed by WeChat official accounts, the articles in the 21st Century Business Review are simply not of any viral nature.
Therefore, it makes sense that the readers are still a bit reluctant to reward printed articles. But, when the readers grow used to the idea of tipping printed articles as they did with the user generated contents, the code might help turn around the print media’s revenue dilemma.