WeChat - From WhatsApp clone to global player
The news service WeChat, developed in 2011 by Tencent, is a chat and messaging service, similar to WhatsApp. The app currently supports 18 languages and is available in over 200 countries and regions. The unfamiliarity of the app in Germany is simply due to the timing. When Tencent had programmed the app to support English and other language content, it was just too late to get a head start. Others had already taken the seats, especially WhatsApp.
Why is WeChat such a big name, especially in Asia? It is the variety of functions that this app provides. Where the competition is satisfied with some features, Tencent just had the go-ahead. The app has been extended by numerous functions. Users can now also send voice messages, make video calls, send and share any kind of contact, photo or video, play games, etc. An important feature of intercultural communication is the ability to translate messages directly within the app. So there is the possibility, even without language skills, to have a chat in which one person only speaking English and the other only speaking Chinese.
But that alone does not distinguish the app from the commercial competition. With the WeChat Pay feature, however, additional features open up that reveal unprecedented opportunities. So one can meanwhile deny almost the entire everyday life with WeChat. Book a doctor appointment, order food by delivery service, order your taxi to the current location and pay after the ride and even operate complete mobile stores.
To pay, a QR code is generated in the app's own wallet, which is valid for 60 seconds and can be scanned by the other party. Then the amount is entered and the payment process starts automatically. After successful payment, there is a confirmation, for the buyer as well as for the seller. On request even as a receipt.
WeChat has achieved such an enormous reach, on average more than one billion people use the app. Not only in Asia, but 100 million users are outside China.
Is this the peak point for WeChat already reached? - The current user numbers suggest that stagnating the surge of new users. Now WeChat has to expand the existing user base to keep the already assigned customers. This happens with always new features and better handling within the app. Furthermore, the entire European and American market is also quite open for an entry. Therefore an end to the success story does not seem in sight.
Of course, such a large flow of information does not remain without consequences. Since September 2017, the official privacy statements state that almost all information can be passed on to the official Chinese authorities.