With the continued development of society and technology, different applications for communcation are being implemented, such as SnapChat, WhatsApp, Viber and Facebook. Amongst them, one app stands out with more registered users than the ones mentioned have. TENCENT, one of the largest and most profitable internet companies in China, launched Wechat project in Tencent Guangzhou Research and Project Centre in October 2010.
In China known as WeiXin (wēi xìn) – „micro script“ – Wechat’s primary fucntion is the exchange text and voice messages and photographs between family and friends. During 2015 WeChat had 549 million monthly active users (MAUs) – out of over 1 billion users, the majority is in Asia, which is only 20% of MAUs less than Facebook Messenger, banned in China by the government, but highly present in the rest of the world.
While Facebook and WhatsApp tend to increase the number of daily and monthly active users on their networks, WeChat focuses on being more present in the everyday life of its users. Instead of aiming to build the largest social network in the world, WeChat has focused on building a mobile lifestyle – its goal is to address every aspect of life of its users, including non-social aspects. The most significant for anyone in the technology business is the average revenue per company (ARPU), which is estimated to at least $ 7 USD – that is 7 times the WhatsApp’s ARPU, the world’s largest messaging platform.
How WeChat works: Payments as a portal to a brave new mobile world
The way it achieves this goal is through one of the most unsurfaced aspects of WeChat: the pioneering model of “apps within an app”. Millions (note, not just thousands) of lightweight apps live inside WeChat, much as webpages live on the internet.
The lightweight apps on WeChat are called “official accounts”. Approved by WeChat after a brief application process, there are well over 10 million of these official accounts on the platform — ranging from celebrities, banks, media outlets, and fashion brands to hospitals, drug stores, car manufacturers, internet startups, personal blogs, and more.
On WeChat, official accounts are approved to access exclusive APIs for payments, location, direct messages, voice messages, user IDs, and more.
Givers link their WeChat account with an actual physical bank account and then transfer money to their WeChat contacts with a personal message and cash.
As noted above, WeChat has managed to penetrate into the daily lives of its users, playing the role of personal assistant. Some of the most profitable and most popular services offered by WeChat are:
Online food delivery service is launching a partnership with WeChat across Southeast Asia. The tie-up will allow WeChat users to browse nearby restaurants, receive exclusive promotional offers and order food. After entering their location, users can immediately access a variety of restaurants and cuisines delivering to their area. The feature also offers a set of different cuisines or cities, which customers can choose from. The app collaboration allows for payment of cash on delivery or via various integrated online payment options.
Easy Taxi has partnered with WeChat to allow millions users to make taxi bookings from within the app.
It allows users to use information and recommendation from their social networks to research and book trips, even pay for them, via WeChat. WeChat provides a direct channel for tourism brands to update followers with the latest tourism news, promotions, events, and guides with official information and tickets.
Other unique features include the “Look Around feature,” which uses a location-based service (LBS) to let users find other users or locations nearby and the QR code, which lets people scan a code with their smartphone to do everything from entering contests and receiving coupons to connecting with brands on social media and buying products, which WeChat has revived.
In 2015, WeChat offered a heat map feature that showed crowd density
Users of WeChat can pay at 7-Eleven and Family Mart physical stores where the cashier uses a standard handheld barcode scanner to get the customer’s Quick Pay barcode at the point of sale. 7-Eleven can then also target users with custom promotions at an optimal frequency that does not flood them with unwanted marketing.
Where a celebrity like Taylor Swift can share 140 characters about her upcoming concert on Twitter, on WeChat, she could send a concert discount code to users who purchased her album on WeChat app.
In addition to basic communication features, WeChat users in China can use services to call cabs, order food delivery, buy movie tickets, check in for flights, send money, schedule a doctor’s appointment, get bank statements, pay bills, find geo – paid coupons, browse books in local library, meet strangers around them, communicate with toys, even donate for charity … all in a single, integrated application.
WeChat shows us what is possible when you offer brands more opportunities to interact with their users. As one of the most profitable applications in the world, it brings social networks and communication software to a whole new level for which the western civilization still lags behind.