This weekend marks the start of the Spring Festival holiday here in China with today being the last day of the year of the Ox, and tomorrow the first day of the year of the Tiger. To mark the occasion there are temple fairs across Beijing including performances, food, and other entertainment.
After watching the start of the Vancouver Olympics opening ceremony, we took the subway over to Ditan Park for one of the larger fairs open today. Red paper lanterns can be seen everywhere.
There are all sorts of performances and lots of loud music which is all discordant yet somehow fitting for the managed chaos of the occasion.
And it wouldn't a real fair without a wide selection of food for all tastes.
And now, as it nears 6pm and the sky begins to darken, I can see the fireworks already. In fact there has been a constant rattle of explosions in the distance for about the last hour and I can only imagine this is going to escalate as the evening goes on.
It's exciting to be in Beijing for this!
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There are a couple of notable projects gaining momentum in the area of personal financial transactions.
First, there's Square. The premise is simple - quick, easy payments by credit card anywhere on a portable device (read cell phone) with a small dongle. I love the idea of integrated photos, e-mail receipts and so on. However, having spent the last month in an entirely cash-based economy I'm reminded how little I used physical cash in the US (usual sample size one disclaimer acknowledged). If the main scenario is to replace person-to-person or person-to-small business transactions, it'll be interesting to see how big that opportunity really stands.
On the other end of the spectrum we have Kwedit. Here we have a deliberately unreliable payment system where users can take on debt without any binding agreement to pay it off. There is an incentive to settle up, however, in the form of a credit score which tracks your level of debt. Payment by cash-in-the-mail or in-person at 7-11 stores seems like genius. If this gains any traction in virtual goods markets, even a 5% of payoff rate on a huge user could be very compelling.