WeChat is a Chinese multi-purpose messaging, social media, and mobile payment app developed by Tencent initially released in January 2011. With this social networking application turning 10, WeChat continues to advance its shopping ambitions. The Chinese messenger facilitated 1.6 trillion yuan (close to $250 billion) in annual transactions through its “mini programs,” third-party services that run on the super app that allow users to buy clothes, order food, hail taxis, and more.
It all started from the year 2017 when WeChat introduced mini-programs in a move that was seen as a challenge to Apple’s App Store and has over time shaped the messenger into an online infrastructure that keeps people’s lives running. It hasn’t recently disclosed how many third-party lite apps it houses, but by 2018 the number reached one million, half the size of the App Store at the time.
It was in the year 2019 that the WeChat initiative of mini-programs got double the value of its transactions which the networking giant announced at its annual conference for business partners and ecosystem developers, normally taking place in its home city of Guangzhou in southern China However, it was moved online this year due to the pandemic.
The growth in mini-programs-based transactions has been taken in a positive strategic perspective which further helps the company’s goal to strengthen its fintech business, which counts digital payments as a major revenue driver.
“A big proportion of WeChat’s mini-programs are games, which the app said exceeded 500 million monthly users thanks to a boost in female and middle-aged users, as well as players residing in China’s Tier 3 cities,” says WeChat
WeChat said 240 million people have used its “payments score.” When the feature debuted back in 2019, there was speculation that it signaled WeChat’s entry into consumer credit finance and participation in the government’s social credit system. WeChat reiterated at this year’s event that the WeChat score does neither of that.
The networking application is also working at another feature that is similar to Snap’s stories. However, Allen Zhang was not allowed to talk much about it since his PR team didn’t allow it and also that they wanted to achieve a goal for themselves.
Zhang also announced the WeChat team is weighing up an input tool for users. It’d be a tiny project given Tencent’s colossal size, but the project reflects Zhang’s belief in “privacy protection,” despite public skepticism about how WeChat handles user data.
“If we analyze [users’ chat history], we can bring great advertising revenue to the company. But we don’t do that, so WeChat cares a lot about user privacy,” asserted Allen Zhang, WeChat’s creator.