The Wechat unversie

Wechat, the most popular App in China, AKA: Chinese “App for Everything” because of its multi-functions and platforms. The picture under is a chart of different popular mobile messenger App’s monthly active user in Jan 2018. Wechat has the monthly active user of 980 million which is higher than Skype and Snapchat, but lower than Facebook. However, the Facebook App’s user and market are across the world, but WeChat is only targeted in the Chinese market, and more than 90% user of WeChat users are Chinese.

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WeChat was released by Tencent in 2011 and has been extremely successful in a very short period of time mainly because it’s convenient and private massager function. After its initial success, Tencent developed many different functions and mini-programs in the App which strengthen its market position.

Many people think WeChat is just a messaging App, but there than are so many cool ways that it can be used in China. Many of those features are not available for the U.S users, but this multi-function app has been dominated the Chinese mobile App for years, and it has huge market potential. But can WeChat enter the world’s market and take the market share from Facebook and Snapchat?

Base on the question, let’s start with the multi-function and platforms of this App.

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1: WeChat Pay:

You can easily connect your credit card with WeChat and use your phone to make the most payment such as dining, grocery shopping, gas etc. in China by scan QR code. There are also other build-in features relates to a credit card, such as transfer money, sending lucky envelopes to friends in New Year, pay utility bills, make charitable contributions and even split the bill in a restaurant. You can also use the money to play some gambling games inside the WeChat.  Those functions make payment a lot easier and more fun.

In addition, before mobile payment become popular, China was still in an era of cash payment, and using a credit card is not wildly accepted as a payment method in many cities. But nowadays, everyone is using WeChat as their “cash”.

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2: Hail a cab or using as “Uber” :

If you need a ride, you do not have to download an Uber or to associate your credit card with any App. Just open your WeChat and use the mini-program inside it, this works for both Taxis and personal cars. After the service, you will pay with your WeChat.

 

3: Oder food delivery, booking flight and train tickets, booking hotel and more.

Of course, you don’t need “EAT24” or any food delivery apps in China, WeChat is the biggest platform for people to order delivery food, buying grocery, and book a hotel. What’s more impressive is that you can easily buy flight tickets and train tickets inside your WeChat App, so that you don’t have to use your computer and input your complicated credit card number with the concern of internet security.

4: Feeds and Business friendly public account.

Just as Twitter and Facebook, WeChat has its feeds and news. But unlike Facebook, which business users have to pay to promote their pages in order to be seen by followers, WeChat offers businesses to open official accounts as platforms for users to follow for free. Those official accounts post daily updates, feeds, videos etc., and most importantly, to promote their businesses.

 

Extras:

Besides those functions above, there are so many other useful mini-programs such as real-time location map, searching people nearby, playing games, photo editing etc. Even it has so many things in it, the App itself looks very clean, Ads- free and easy to use.

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I personally think the reasons that WeChat is successful in China is because of its different useful features and convenient payment method. But I think it is very unlikely that WeChat can enter the U.S market and take market shares from Facebook and Snapchat, because the mini-programs inside WeChat are having very similar features for U.S Apps such as Uber, Paypal, Hotel.com etc. Those popular Apps in the U.S already has a huge market share, and the switching cost for the U.S users are high. Besides, credit card payment is the method that adopted wildly in the United States, and mobile payment currently is not accepted in many places. Without the multi-function programs and WeChat Pay, it is just another mobile messenger App for U.S user and it’s hard to gain market share from Facebook.

6 comments

  1. jennypenafiel11 · ·

    Very interesting post. I’ve heard of WeChat several times from other people but I never really knew what it was. Thank you for explaining the app! I think it would be so cool to have an app that centralizes all those functions and lets you access it all so smoothly. However, I do get your point on why it would have a hard time entering the U.S. market Uber, Snapchat and Facebook do have a very strong hold on the market for now. On top of that, WeChat seems to be popular in China because it took advantage of a need, a lack of non-cash payment method, and grew from there. That feature wouldn’t necessarily appeal as much to U.S. customers. I also wonder exactly what kind of trade off there would be for switching… Are the apps in WeChat a more simple version of their competitors because they are all connected and centralized? In other words, do Snapchat, Uber and Facebook have more features because they are individual apps?

    1. HenryChenChen · ·

      I think WeChat’s messaging function has many different features, but they try to keep their mini apps as simple as possible, so user can make payment and share different things with their friends a lot easier. The other individual apps do have more features, which might also be a competitive disadvantage for WeChat.

  2. Although I use WeChat to communicate with a portion of my friend group, I wholeheartedly agree that it will be very difficult for the platform to grow much more in the US purely due to the reasons you described. Here, there are many apps, though less interconnected, that serve all of the functions that WeChat currently does in China. In addition, the unique financial system in the US means that credit cards, not debit or bank transactions, still account for a majority of consumer spending.

    A less-commonly stated reason is the fact that WeChat is a non-domestic company, making brand trust an issue that cannot be easily surmounted by any feature or PR campaign. In the wake of privacy breaches and NSA spying revelations of the past half-decade, the American public is more aware than ever about where their data is going. To have a foreign company be the middleman in a conversation between friends, to say nothing about handling financial transactions, is sure to make many people feel uneasy. They are more likely to choose the “lesser of two perceived evils” by allowing Facebook to listen in on their conversations rather than a foreign entity.

    I think WeChat’s strength and growth is nothing to scoff at. The valuable experience the company is gathering as it successfully implements functionality for every life can prove invaluable as it continues to build its user base. However, the company will have to create a much more compelling feature or set of features in order to successfully branch out of its current dominant market. What that will be may have yet to be discovered. But I have hope for the bright future of WeChat and Tencent as well.

  3. NeroC1337 · ·

    Nice one ChenChen. And I do think Wechat is better than any other app in the U.S.. But the reason that makes Wechat so dominant in China, in my opinion, comes from the data that Tencent has been able to collect since QQ was the main social media platform for many Chinese. Tencent would not have those advantage, if Tencent decides to go into U.S. or other foreign markets in the future.

    Feeding on that data, Tencent then was be able to integrate all sorts of apps, like you mentioned, and target to the right consumers. Do I think will Wechat be as successful in U.S. as it is in China, not really. Because third-party apps could really take an advantages of the user base and user data that Wechat has, all these mini-apps want to partner with Wechat, turning Wechat into this one-powerful-super app. However, without these advantages moving into U.S., I don’t think Uber, Grubhub, and other third-party apps would join Wechat. On top of that, Amazon is turning into this one-stop shop for everything in U.S. right. The competition is fierce.

    Do I think Tencent would move into U.S. market? Definitely yes. However, not with its social apps, like Wechat, but games, mobile games. Personally, I think Chinese mobile games have been ahead of those in the U.S. With many competitive current mobile game products that Tencent offering. It’s hard not for Tencent to turn their eyes on the U.S. market with their mobile games.

  4. Nice summary of WeChat. I confess that I’ve enjoyed following its rise over the past several years. It seems like they are doing so many things right.

  5. DingnanZhou · ·

    A very nice post indeed. I think it is WeChat along with QQ that makes the company Tencent such a great company. Alibaba tried to enter social media field couple times but failed. I think social media has a tremendous impact itself because it connects people. Recently I upgraded WeChat and occurred an interesting fact. There are ads showing in my moments field, which had never taken place during my entire usage of WeChat. I was wondering if WeChat is going to make the same move as facebook which introduces ads into its social platform. Another thing I want to point out is the user behaviors among different countries. I think it is very interesting because in US, people tend to use an app for its specific use, but in China, we use wechat/alipay because it has so many features aggregated in one app. I might dig in and write about it sometime. Again, nice work!

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