WeChat, China lives and tells itself on the smartphone

Wechat: innovazione dei pagamenti
02 Dec 2019

WeChat, once upon a time there was the micromessage - Part Two)

The quick growth of WeChat in that short time is due, also, to the success in the commercial comparison with Weibo. This is a microblogging website similar to Twitter, and it’s managed by Sina, one of the three most important news portals in China.

Weibo establishes itself as a public plaza for a cross-cutting audience, WeChat aimed at a different model. No more individual transmission sequences for a mass audience, but group chats with limited dimensions. The spread of this new method of communication, that allowed users to have a better experience in the relationship between persons, obtained a great success.

In 2013 the “digital wallet” was launched. WeChat Wallet made traders with an account capable of easily sell products and services. Its evolution today is considered, with Alipay of Alibaba, the duopoly of Chinese digital currency.

Small and now, for any use

2017 is the year of Mini-Programs that allow users to enter third party applications and services without leaving the platform.

The goal is the creation of light software (1MB max) reachable without downloading them, for almost unlimited usages.

The two conditions of the operation are simple. Firstly, the massive usage, in the Chinese market, of QR codes: from the advertising to informative panels in offices, subways, and museums, but also on business cards and in the clothing area. Then, the intrusiveness of all those applications used a few times, but always in the phone memory.

Less than a year later, 600.000 Mini-Programs were yet available, offered by WeChat or third parties, used by almost 170 million daily active users. They are excellent facilitation of daily activities: pay the bills, buy insurance, make donations, book flights, buy cinema tickets, and order food. In some China regions, users can also create their digital ID and adjust their relationship with the central and local administration.

Also, the western companies present in China took advantage of the innovation and contributed to the spread of it. Only in the catering area, Starbucks, McDonald’s, and KFC manage promotions and discounts through special Mini-Programs.

And now?

February 2018 will be reminded for a long time. In that month, WeChat reached a billion registered users. At the end of the year, the daily transaction volume touched 1.2 billion.

In this decade, WeChat skipped steps. Other actors, in the meantime, went on the market with very interesting perspectives. For example, Douyin well satisfies the inclination of Chinese people, mainly the young ones, for short duration videos. The foreign version, TikTok, found the support of more than 200 million users only in India in its global debut two years ago.

But the advantage earned by Tencent in this short period seems like long-time rent equity.

Jeffrey Towson, technology and business professor at the Peking University, recently stated: “Every two or three years, Tencent exceeds the acquired borders. And what Facebook created in the last 10 years? Nothing”.

Some months ago, Mr. Facebook Mark Zuckerberg admitted his regret for the lack of attention given to WeChat in the past. He wants to make up for the lost time, now, to embody into Facebook almost all the most important functions: video chat, group stories, payment services, e-commerce.

Those statements have marked a turning point in the common perception. WeChat became a model, reversing the course of technological gold diggers: from east to west.