Posts filed under: Wechat News

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How WeChat Is Changing the Way Facebook Does Business

WeChat Messenger, for the most part, doesn’t have to worry about competition from Facebook. After all, most of WeChat’s users are located in China, where Facebook is blocked. However, the free messaging and social media app has been creeping beyond the borders of China and Hong Kong into Europe and North America, and you can bet Facebook is taking notice.

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In its home country, WeChat’s utilization rate is extraordinarily high, and users spend 1 hour inside the app per day on average, compared to just 40 minutes for Facebook. It’s not surprising, then, that Facebook is trying to proactively expand its services and integrate itself more fully into the lives of its users before WeChat acquires a large enough presence here and is able to offer the smorgasbord of services its Chinese users enjoy to Americans.

Here are a few ways that Facebook is trying to emulate WeChat.

WeChat-inspired features in Facebook Messenger

Most of the changes Facebook has implemented in an attempt to offer a broader variety of services to its users a la WeChat are happening in its separate mobile messaging app, Messenger. Here are some of the recent features that were at least partially inspired by WeChat:

Free peer-to-peer money transfers: One of WeChat’s most successful platforms is its payment system known as WeChat Pay. It rivals other major payment systems like PayPal and Alibaba in terms of transaction dollars and allows Chinese users to use WeChat for just about every aspect of their day to day lives.

Free voice calls: Voice calling has long been standard in WeChat and similar messenger apps, so it was only a matter of time before Facebook picked up this feature.

Maps from within the messaging app: The key to WeChat’s success has been to offer as many services from within the app as possible, making it more akin to a web browser with each individual service or internal app acting as a web page. Mapping services is a good start for Facebook Messenger.

Options for developers: WeChat’s many internal apps are largely developed by third parties who are eager to harness the purchasing power of the hundreds of millions of Chinese customers using WeChat. Facebook has recently created a platform where developers can work on building new features to run in Messenger.

Opening the door to third party companies: WeChat’s mutually beneficial relationship with other companies, from taxi cabs to food delivery to retail stores, has been key to its success. It looks like Facebook (and its subsidiary WhatsApp) are taking note, as they have begun charging companies to integrate their apps into its messenger service.

WeChat is learning from Facebook, too

As with most things, this emulation works both ways. There are a few lessons that WeChat has picked up from Facebook, including the addition of advertisements to the Moments area of its social network area, much in the same way you’ll see ads when scrolling through your Facebook Timeline. Another major development for WeChat was making advertising opportunities more accessible to smaller, more local companies, which until now were excluded from promoting their businesses in this way.

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Cool Uses for WeChat around the World

When WeChat first came out in 2011, the US and European markets were already getting close to saturation with other instant messaging apps, especially WhatsApp. So while WeChat has been gaining traction slowly in these countries, in other parts of the world it has caught on like wildfire and shows no signs of stopping. In all of China’s major cities (population 10 million or more), 90% of people are registered with WeChat. Being that the app is based in China, created by the company TenCent, it makes sense that its highest usage rates would be at home. But you might be shocked to learn some of the crazy ways WeChat is being used in China and other countries. Read on to learn more about how WeChat can be so much more than stickers and instant messages.

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In China, WeChat is used for cashless payment in stores

Granted, not all stores accept WeChat payment yet, but the number of businesses that will take an electronic, 100% cashless payment via WeChat is growing every day. Some businesses even have public WeChat accounts and sell things directly through the WeChat app.

What’s more, people in China can pay their utility bills using WeChat, reload prepaid phone plans, and send money between friends. Aside from being a useful way to pay your friend back for lunch, it’s also closely in touch with Chinese culture. For Chinese New Year, it is traditional to send red envelopes with “lucky money” to friends and family to bring prosperity in the coming year. The Chinese version of WeChat has a Lucky Envelope feature that lets people pick a total amount of money to send to select contacts, and the app will send random amounts to those people. Pretty neat!

In China, all you need to get a taxi is WeChat

You can not only hail a taxi directly from WeChat, you can also track the driver and pay for your trip! This also works with hired cars from the Chinese startup company Didi Kuaidi. Even though they have their own application, you can manage everything without ever leaving WeChat.

In South Africa, WeChat is helping people find jobs

This is a really great example of WeChat investing to make the world a better place. WeChat has already invested in a South African startup company called M4JAM (“money for jam”) which operates exclusively through WeChat to help users find local micro-jobs. WeChat has pledged to invest even more money in startups in South Africa and Nigeria, helping the local communities while also taking advantage of the growing number of smartphone users in that region.

In Hong Kong, WeChat raises donations for UNICEF

A partnership between UNICEF Hong Kong and WeChat is raising money that will help people in the direst of situations around the world. From the Syria crisis to the Nepal earthquake and other global crises, WeChat is getting the younger generations involved with charitable giving in a way that resonates with them. Donations to charities through WeChat are facilitated by the application’s powerful and secure payment platform, making it more convenient than ever for residents of Hong Kong and other countries to get involved and help their fellow man.

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