WeChat The most important features and functions of the Chinese app

WeChat is China’s most popular smartphone chat service with over a billion users per month. Haven’t heard of WeChat yet? No wonder, because if you live outside of China, it’s unlikely that you’ve ever used the app. It is owned by Tencent, one of the largest Asian companies in the market.

Originally intended as a messaging service, it has turned into an app where you can even make payments or book your flight. It can no longer be compared with Facebook’s Messenger or WhatsApp. We’ll show you what WeChat is and how it works.

  • To chat
  • pay
  • Mini programs
  • Games and charging

Free chat via messenger

One of the main functions of WeChat is sending and receiving messages. Just like with WhatsApp, you have an overview of the conversations you are involved in. You can add people in a number of ways. When people in China exchange contact information, one often sees a person scanning the other person’s phone.

Every WeChat user has an individual barcode called a QR code.

So one can scan the other’s QR code to add it to WeChat. You can also use a phone number or ID to add someone and search for people nearby.

WeChat is one of the most important communication tools in China. In business too, people prefer WeChat to email. Since services like Facebook are blocked in China, this is much more common. There is also a feature called “Moments”. Here users can upload a series of pictures or videos, their friends can then comment on the post or mark it with “I like”.

EXTRA: Social Media Report 2019: 5 trends in focus [study]

WeChat Pay: Cashless payment

From large supermarkets to the smallest street vendors and taxis, you can pay almost anywhere in China with WeChat. If you have a Chinese bank account, you can link it to WeChat. There are two ways to pay for something through the app:

  • The shop scans your individual WeChat barcode.
  • You scan the barcode of the retailer from whom you want to purchase items or services.

If you order something online in China, there is an option to purchase with WeChat Pay. You will need to enter a password or use a biometric authentication tool to authorize the transaction.

Instant money transfers to your WeChat contacts can also be made using the messaging function. With this you can easily split bills or transfer money across China without any problems. It is possible to be almost cashless in China and actually go out of the house without a wallet.

WeChat Pay’s main competitor is Alipay, which is owned by Alibaba subsidiary Ant Financial.

Mini programs & advertising from companies

WeChat and Alipay have often been referred to as “super apps” because everything is integrated into one service. Instead of having one app for banking and another for booking trips, many applications are integrated directly into WeChat, making the app a one-stop shop for its users.

This is precisely why companies can bring out mini programs – or apps within WeChat – instead of a stand-alone app. The program enables companies to send advertising messages directly to users via WeChat and to use the reach of more than a billion users.

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Mini-programs have gained prominence in the app as WeChat takes a bigger step towards one-stop-shop. Tencent recently updated the app so that the mini-programs feature now has its own page.

There is, for example, Dianping, a Chinese app that allows you to see reviews of local restaurants and services, the ride-sharing service DiDi and the grocery delivery service Meituan. You can use all of these services within WeChat and make payments without leaving the app. In this way, WeChat itself becomes an app store that tries to keep its users connected to its ecosystem.

Other uses: games and cell phone charging

There are a few other possibilities that you can cover with WeChat, such as managing your wealth and charging your cell phone.

You can also play games within WeChat. Games are very important to Tencent and contributed around 32 percent to total sales in the third quarter of 2018 alone.

Arjun Kharpal has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We have translated it for you so that we can exchange ideas with our readers on relevant topics!

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