There’s now a way to send a gift to someone inside WeChat – and it’s really easy to do. The newly-launched service is created by a Chinese startup called Giftpass that wants to remove all the usual hurdles, hassles, and barriers involved in online gifting.
Giftpass co-founder Vincent Mah – a Canadian who’s ethnically Chinese – says the idea was formulated when he wanted to get a gift for a friend on the birth of her baby. But there are few online vouchers or gifting options in China, and even when he found one it was all centered around email. But he didn’t know her email address – because who actually talks with a good friend via email? Other gifting options are even more awkward and require the recipient to sign up for something. It’s little wonder that so many gifts go unclaimed.
Giftpass exists as a ‘service account’ inside WeChat, and uses the same powerful set of ecommerce features inside the messaging as brands like Xiaomi and Pacific Coffee, who sell products through WeChat. To send a gift, the giver needs to follow the Giftpass account (it’s giftpasscn) and browse what’s available. The gift giver can make the payment via PayPal and 99bill; other options, like WeChat’s own Tenpay, will be added later. Then simply choose a recipient who’s also a WeChat user, and the gift is sent inside a message.
While it’s easy for a generous person to give a gift inside WeChat by using Giftpass, it’s even easier to receive one. There’s no need for a separate app, no need to find a link buried in your email, and no need to sign up for something. The recipient doesn’t even need to follow Giftpass within WeChat. It’s as easy as tapping the WeChat message and clicking on the ‘unwrap gift’ button. And then, with an animated flourish, you’ll see a gift card that contains a QR code. The accompanying page gives an address for the store that leads to a map inside WeChat.
Mah explains that it’s still early days for the service, and there’s just one retailer (well, a bar) using this right now during the public testing phase. The startup graduated yesterday from the Shanghai-based Chinaccelerator. After the Demo Day pitches were over, Mah gifted me a Belgian fruit beer inside WeChat. So I popped to the bar (Kaiba) to redeem the gift. The barman was ready with a phone containing the Giftpass app for retailers, and scanned the QR code on my gift card.
And that’s all there is to it. (Disclosure: The beer was good).
The small Giftpass team is aiming at having 1,600 high-quality merchants using the service in six months’ time, and the startup is looking to raise $500,000 to make this happen. After 90 days of fine-tuning the business whilst in Chinaccelerator, now’s the time for the gifting service to prove its mettle.
Mah envisions this going beyond WeChat. “When we are bigger and have more resources, we plan to be in all major social networks like Facebook, Weibo, Twitter, LinkedIn,” he explains.