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Social Network = Savings

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Wondering how to save money on deals every time you check your credit card bills? Searching the internet for coupons to help you buy what you’ve been longing for? As a Fellow, it’s very convenient for me to observe trends in both the western and eastern world when it comes to shopping. Now I know that social credit cards aren’t a new idea, but your social network as a power shopper can be. Consider this:

Sina Weibo, the most popular micro-blogging site in China with more than 300 million registered users as of February 2012, has just launched a social credit card, partnering with China Merchant Bank. It links  the holder’s Sina Weibo URL and can be used for all kinds of discounts offered by Sina Weibo’s partners.

In March, American Express unveiled a new program with Twitter to let card members sync accounts with the social network while earning savings. In April, Barclaycard US officially introduced the Barclaycard Ring. A crowd-sourced, community-powered credit card, it allows holders to track the card’s profitability and to share recommendations that will shape the card’s success. A certain percentage of Barclaycard Ring’s profitability will be given to card holders based on their balance and number of referrals.

These offerings reflect the first social credit card that was started in China by Renren in 2011. While the Sina Weibo entry is not the first one in the Chinese market, it still generated excitement, thanks to its user base and the large amount of verified public figures and experts in specific fields – known as “DaRen” in Chinese.

From my point of view, these types of cards will dramatically change the interaction between the real world and the social media realm in China. Why? Their unique characteristics. Still, they must keep reinventing themselves to sustain their edge. Consider what is common and not so common and you’ll see how it’s getting competitive.

Cathy Yue is an Edelman global fellow in Chicago, from Beijing.

The screenshot used was taken on 09/07/12

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