Sina and China Merchant’s Bank will launch a social credit card for Weibo DaRen users at the end of August. Sina is in non-stop experimentation mode as it tries to monetize Weibo. Here’s the scoop.

What are DaRen Users?

One year ago Sina Weibo launched “DaRen” as form of user verification. It’s designed to prompt users to input their real information and personal interests: each DaRen user has a ranking system based on how active and in which fields.

DaRen (达人) is a group of real name verified users in Sina Weibo. Unlike the more celebrity-ish ‘verified users’, these people are the commoners of the digital space. Each DaRen picks three personal interests such as music, film or travel. That way Sina can match users to shared interests.

This is perhaps the most successful addition that Sina Weibo has made since launch. Today the DaRen user group is 4 million strong and 90% of are daily actives, according to its operation manager at Sina.

To cash in on this group, Sina is launching a social credit card with China Merchants Bank, which has a  history working with internet companies.

Your Credit Card Goes Social

Last week I got in contact with a senior manager of product operations at Weibo and got the scoop on the upcoming social credit card that’ll be available to DaRen users in late August.

1. Social Identification

China Merchants Bank will print the Weibo unique url (UID) of the card holder onto the card to turn it into a certificate of social identification.

2. Hyper-Targeted Offers

This card is only available to DaRen verified users, so it also allows for Sina to hit users with targeted promotions or financial services, a space many are now looking at. I know this because my own startup also has the technology to execute it.

3. Shared Bonus System

Every credit card service has a point-system that rewards users for shopping. But DaRen users earn points both for being active on Weibo as well as by shopping. It’s double-bonus time.

4. Real Time Opinion System

Each time a DaRen user shops with their social credit card they can write a brief tweet about their shopping experience or the product quality. That tweet will mention (@) the relevant business, providing them with fast feedback on the quality of their products and services.

5. Discounts

Even just showing the social credit card to a business lets users nab the discount–even if they then pay in cash instead of swiping the card.

Sina is in non-stop experimentation mode as it tries to squeeze cash out of Weibo. Social credit cards are the latest such attempt. Here are two risks they run:

1. Personal Information Security

Sina Weibo is an open social platform. If a card is stolen, the user’s Weibo along with a wealth of personal information are exposed to the thief. Imagine you use LBS and every checkin is shared to Weibo. Now your shopping records are there as well and tied to your credit card. A breach of security gets pretty scary.

2. Pithy Bonuses

As with many point rewards systems, it’s questionable how much you’ll really gain via this credit card. When I chatted about the new features of this social credit card with my own startup comrades who have a background in financial services, we realized that the points-to-rewards exchange rate is pretty weak.

Hopefully Sina Weibo is on to something and will later roll this out to a wider audience. For Sina, it’s another experiment to see how far it can run with Weibo.

  • http://www.muschamp.ca/ Muskie

    Every time I try to sign up for Sina Weibo it doesn’t work, I’ve tried several different browsers, are they not accepting applications from outside of China?

    • Lawrence

      try using a chinese based e-mail address. So maybe first register for a 163 account and then try signing up for Sina Weibo.

    • savyna

      I was able to use Sina Weibo because I had an account on the main page of sina.com. I used an msn email address.

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