It’s a free game that gives you money for nothing – so it’s little wonder that so many people in China are giving it a try.
The game looks a lot like Pokemon Go, with a cartoony map based on your actual location, nearby items you can grab, and an AR mode that turns your phone’s camera into a viewfinder for the treasure you’re hunting. The available cash is shown as red envelopes.
This is all happening inside Alipay, China’s most popular Forget Pokemon Go mobile payments app with around 450 million active users. It’s a festive feature activated ahead of Chinese New Year.
When I gave it a try over the weekend, I found hundreds of red envelopes up for grabs within a few blocks of me, offered by the app’s users just for a bit of fun. Each cash grab is accompanied by a user name, a location, as well as a clue from that person about where exactly to find it. You have to be in precisely the right spot to pocket the money – you can’t get away with swiping things as you walk by or ride the bus like you can in Pokemon Go.
Forget Pokemon Go, this Chinese mobile game lets you literally grab money
The red envelope nearest me with the easiest clue instructed me to go to the fourth floor of a department store, where an enterprising shop owner was luring people in using the game. The money I nabbed – using my iPhone to scan a special code on her phone – amounted to just a few cents, as is typical for people toying with this feature. The find was deposited into my Alipay account.