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Red Envelope Holiday Promotion Miffs Alipay Users

Chinese e-commerce rivals Alibaba and Tencent are at it again: the two are battling head-to-head as China’s Spring Festival celebrations as both announced a red envelope promotion, in which winners are chosen to receive a red envelope filled with cash.

Alibaba announced that it’s offering $96 million in its red envelopes; Tencent soon thereafter launched its own campaign with $128 million in offerings through its app store.

Putting more cash up for grabs isn’t the only score for Tencent.

Reports say Alibaba was slammed with negative comments accusing the company of lying after Alipay announced more than 2 million people had already won red envelopes. Tech In Asia reports that the comments range from skeptical, with one user posting, “I didn’t get a cent, did anyone win?” while other posts were much more harsh and, in some cases, violent.

Alibaba is on damage control, now, after it vowed to hold another drawing for red envelope winners on Wednesday (Feb. 11), offering up another $4 million. Tech In Asia says Alipay user comments from this round of giveaways were at least somewhat more positive than the last.

Giving customers the most free cash doesn’t measure the success of a company, experts note, and Alibaba and Tencent are still locked in a battle this Spring Festival season as Alipay and WeChat fight for a greater share of the digital gift- and money-giving market. Reports say both companies are expecting to facilitate massive sums during the holiday through their red envelope-giving service.

The Spring Festival holiday begins on Thursday, Feb. 9, this year. In the months leading up to the celebrations, Alibaba and Tencent have both taken swings at each other to knock out the competition. Reports say Tencent has cut off the ability for WeChat users to accept Alipay red envelopes, a move experts say is likely a ploy to gain as much advantage as possible on the banking front. Tencent launched its own online bank last month, beating out Alibaba, which is also expected to launch its own online bank later this year.

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