The WeChat story.
Joey Rigor, Kontak Mobile Apps April 29, 2016
With 700 million users transacting with 10 million
business accounts, WeChats success fired up SiIicon Valleys new-found fixation in its
In just 5 years, WeChat transformed Chinas
mobile landscape by enabling its users to practically live within the
confines of its chat platform.
The app today is where Facebook and other messaging apps would like to go and where the future of mobile could lead us.
This is WeChats story.
The start of a messaging app.
In 2011, Tencent, one of the largest internet companies in the world, made a mobile-only messaging app, Weixin, as
an alternative to SMS offered by telecommunication companies.
Tencent already has the desktop-based QQ instant messenger and Qzone social network (with 780 million active users at
the start of 2011).
The mobile messaging app it launched was a bet against Kik and WhatsApp
messaging platforms that is making inroads in China.
About 14 months after launching, in 2012, WeChat hit a major milestone when Tencent reported it had 100 million
By this time Weixin became known as WeChat as Tencent wanted it to go global.
The first 100 million users.
It was also in 2012 that Tencent opened up WeChat to brand accounts, prompting Chinese companies and foreign brands doing business in China to start
using the app.
To get people to add and follow a brand account, a company could display its personalised QR code
anywhere and encourage shoppers to scan it.
The rise of brand accounts and QR Codes.
WeChat users can also scan each other's QR codes to add friends in the app.
QR codes are a machine-readable code consisting of an array of black and white squares, typically used for storing information that can be read
by a smartphones camera.
By 2013, the app reached 300 million registered users.
It was also this time that the app went into gaming and mobile payments, WeChat
Wallet, which can be connected with a variety of Chinese-issued credit and debit cards.
Adding more features.
eCommerce and the WeChat Wallet.
In 2014, Tencent, in its quest to enter eCommerce, took a stake in Alibabas major competitor, JD. This allowed Tencent to embed JDs store into
WeChat as the main shopping area.
Tencent also allowed any business to open a store inside a WeChat brand account. The feature was
open to major companies as well as small businesses.https://www.techinasia.com/5-years-of-wechat
Another big eCommerce feature came when it added taxi booking
where users can find a cab and pay it within the app.
This remains a popular feature until today.
WeChats mobile wallet got even more useful when it allowed its
users to send money to their peers.
A variation of peer-to-peer payment is Red Packets (formerly called Lucky Money or Red Envelopes)
stuffed with digital cash where users send each other every day on WeChat.
A famous Chinese tradition gone digital!
This Lunar New Years Eve alone, over 8 billion Red Packets were sent and received by 420 millions users.
It was also in 2014 that an influx of Chinese startups began launching as a WeChat brand account instead of building apps for Android or iOS. Most have build bots and lightweight web-enabled apps to transact their business.
This trend continues until today.
Bots better than apps.
By 2015, WeChat reached another milestone when it hit 500 million MAUs (monthly active users) rocketing to 650 million MAUs by the
end of that year.
From this trajectory, it is projected that it will reach a billion MAUs by the end of 2016.
A billion active users.
So what made it work?
What started out as a simple messaging app eventually became a platform for 10 millions mini apps build by its brand or
An app-within-an-app model.http://a16z.com/2015/08/06/wechat-china-mobile-first/
This model, supported by its built-in payment system, WeChat Wallets, provide
users the complete functionality of an ecosystem where they can transact almost
any activity within the confines of the messaging platform.
A real mobile lifestyle.
How successful is it?
Average amount of time users spend on WeChat daily.
Percentage that purchase products online.
Percentage of users, age 16-65, in China that uses WeChat.
WeChats average revenue per user or ARPU is estimated to be at least $7
USD thats 7X the ARPU of WhatsApp, the largest messaging
platform in the world.
And the future of mobile.
This is the story of WeChat.
As a software developer, I have always been interested in discovering new
technology, how it can be used and how to harness its potential.
Joey Rigor, CEO Kontak Mobile Apps. kontakios.com