Stop Whatsapp, Let WeChat
In the past decades, we have stepped into the era of the Internet, it has become to an integral part of our daily life, people’s dependence on the Internet is like fish depend on water to stay alive. Meanwhile, millions of different social media platforms and internet services start to appear, such as Facebook, Amazon, WhatsApp, etc. In recent years, one app has stood out in millions of competitors and attract global attention: WeChat.
What Is WeChat?
WeChat, Weixin in Chinese, emerged as a multi-function service platform developed by Tencent company. It can be used to share photos videos, chat with friends, sending files, pay for bills, buying goods, transfer money to your friends sharing news, etc. It is an app combine all the functions you have on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram Skype, Uber, Amazon, and PayPal. On the official website, it describes WeChat as a platform connecting a billion people with calls, chats, and more (WeChat). It enables friends and strangers to chat with each other in a far destination. There are various ways to add people, you can either find their friend directly by mobile number or WeChat ID, scan their QR code face to face, and search for people nearby (Kharpal 2019), once your friends accept your friend request, you can chat immediately, also it provides users with totally free services to send videos or photos, no matter where you go, you can at once get in touch with the people you care by using WeChat (WeChat). One of the main features of WeChat is the Moment. On Moments, people can share photos, videos, and words of their most unforgettable moments, or anything they want to share with others. People can react to other’s moments by like or comment on it. Many users use moments as a diary book to record daily life (WeChat).
The History of WeChat
This year is WeChat’s 8th birthday. The founder is Zhang Xiaolong. In October 2010, in an office of Tencent one of the most successful internet technology companies in the Southern Chinese city, Shenzhen, a small group of people are working on a mobile chat app project. At the stage, no one can imagine that the app will change the world. WeChat was launched on the 21st of January, it is originally named WeiXin by Ma Huateng, the CEO of Tencent (Mozur 2012). At first, there was no English mane, but The Next Web, translate the Chinese name WeiXin and dubbed it as ‘micro letters’.
How WeChat looks like at launch. THE NEXT WEB
The three-main telecommunication company in China already have proven popular online messaging apps. However, WeChat was born to eliminate the barriers between people in telecommunication. The emerge of WeChat would disrupt SMS and work on any phone and mobile. The 15 seconds video clip and search people nearby function was added seven months later after launching (Millward 2018). WeChat hit a major milestone after about 14 months of launch, Tencent announced it had 100 million registered users (Millward 2018). Meanwhile, Weixin was re-branded WeChat (Chen 2012) the move is a signal that the Chinese tech titan app is ready for the global market. The 4.0 Version added in the Thai, Vietnamese, Indonesian, and Portuguese languages. In January 2013, the register users reached 300 billion. In September 300 WeChat introduced its vending machines services. And in 2014 users are allowed to hail a taxi and pay for it all in WeChat. It became a stakeholder of Alibaba and JD, this allowed WeChat pay to embed in online shopping platforms. In May 2014, WeChat stores were opened, which allow any business to open a store inside the WeChat account, and in June people can send money to each other using the WeChat wallet, here comes to the age of cashless (Millward 2018). WeChat monthly active users have increased to approximately 1 billion in 2019 (WeChat).
WeChat Functions. Source: CAICT WeChat Economic and Social Impact Report 2017
WeChat’s Business model
According to Knight, a business model refers to the method and strategy that a business or organization uses for its operations. It includes the purpose, the system, and those people who work together to add value to the customer (Knight 2013). As mentioned above, WeChat is a multi-function app and it is the most popular app in China, so what is the business model that makes it such a big success? WeChat offers a diverse range of services with a complex business model behind it. Since WeChat provides services to different parties including both individual users and service providers, the general business model is a multi-side model. Currently, there are four main types of a business model for online services, WeChat adopts the freemium model which is free for download and basic use, but charge for premium functions. WeChat uses the freemium model to maintain its business, it is free to download, its IM services, gams and moments are all free, WeChat makes revenue mainly from value-added services such as advertising and virtual stickers (Liang). For Virtual stickers, WeChat cooperates with Disney, Sanrio, and Pixar to launch virtual stickers of popular cartoon characters and anime such as Hello Kitty and Micky Mouse. Its main competitor is Line. According to Tencent, the revenue of online advertising derived from WeChat moments is 13,377 million RMB in the first quarter of 2019 (Tencent).
The most successful business model of WeChat is the O2O-Online to Offline, WeChat allows users to bind their bank account with WeChat, making the cell phone a wallet. When buying a good, users just need to scan the item’s QR code or click the item on the brand official WeChat account, then enter a six digits password, then the deal is done. The whole process just takes a few seconds. Offline services providers are connected to an online platform in this way, which in the end will provide more exposure for retailers (Liang). WeChat also can collect customer data, then in return give suggestions that suit customers and business. For Customer, they can get advice, save time and maybe a discount on WeChat. In China, WeChat’s e-commerce partners cover a large area of people’s daily life. People can even book medical services, hotel, train and flight tickets on WeChat. Even the street vendor in China now are cashless, people pay for a 2 dollars water using WeChat. According to Tencent, the revenues from e-commerce business 21.8 billion RMB most of them come from WeChat payments (Tencent 2019).
WeChat business model canvas
a picture of ‘Moments’ www.jiakaobaodian.com
WeChat’s internet ecology
The Internet ecology is term used to describe mechanisms and communities that help our internet to work and develop. These organizations share common values for the open development of the internet. It can also refer to the sustained development of the internet can be attributed to the collaborate participation of a wide range of participants (Internet society 2014). By defining the term, it is easy to find out that WeChat has suites itself perfectly in the internet ecosystem. David Marcus, one executive who runs the Facebook Messenger says that WeChat is inspiring, he said that ‘WeChat is at every point of people’s daily contact with the world, every second from morning to the night (The Economist 2016).’ With WeChat offering ranging social services and brands in all the different area of our life, then the WeChat ecosystem is the growing service monopoly of the app, where we treat those services as separate in Western society like Whatsapp, Facebook, Messenger, Venmo, Grubhub, Amazon, Uber, Uber eats and Apple pay (The Economist 2016). WeChat basically covers everything. It works together with online food order apps, taxi hailing apps, hotel and flight booking apps to make people to everything in one app.
Diagram of WeChat Internet Ecology
WeChat a Transformative disruptive innovation
Disruptive innovation is an innovation that creates a new market and value that ultimately refreshing existing market and replacing established market-leading companies, products and alliances (Clayton 1997). WeChat for sure is a transformative disruptive innovation. The platform benefit in Chinese mobile first market, and people spend a total 40 minutes on WeChat on average, it draws the attention of third-party developers. it works together with different service providers to make transformative impact on Chinese society, and we will examine this in social, culture and economy impact of WeChat (maize 2018).
- WeChat-driven information consumption reached 20.97 billion yuan equivalent to 7% of China’s total information consumption.
- WeChat has driven traditional consumption of 333.9 billion yuan, covering travel, food, shopping, and tourism.
- In 2017, WeChat provided employment opportunities for 20.3 million people, more than twice as many as in 2014. (Graziani 2018).
WeChat is one of the top apps that contributes to the highest percentage of data consumption. 45.2% people use WeChat for online shopping and 80% use wechat pay for offline purchasing (Graziani 2018).
Social impacts: In 2017, the number of users who donate money to charity and walk to help poor people reached to 40.3%. In the Healthcare industry, the impact is impressively strong with the waiting time in hospital is shorten by 43.6 minutes on average implemented by WeChat (Graziani 2018).
For the health care industry, the impact is impressively strong, with waiting time is shorten by 43.6 minutes in hospital on average implemented by WeChat (Graziani 2018).
Culture: The Moment function in WeChat where users can share photos, videos accompany with a short text, provide users with a platform to share pictures that present an image of self, sharing article matching their values and spirits, as well as the special moments in their life like birthday, etc. Moreover, their WeChat friends may comment and send feedback on the post they share. During the whole process, people are re-building their culture identity, it is like a window to a person’s behaviour and psychological, it is also a place for people to communicate (Sandel 2018), through the communication and the post, everyone’s identity is reproduced and it also helps other people to get better understanding of you by it may refresh your identity in their mind, therefore leading to a better way of communication among a group of people or close friends. Meanwhile, by reading other’s comments and article people also may change their values and perspectives of personal identity. According to Hayes, the emerge of WeChat is also a cross-culture education, western society gets a better understanding of China’s economy, social behaviours, traditions, etc. (Hayes 2018). It is also a window for the country to present the national identity formed by each one of WeChat users to the rest of the world.
In conclusion, WeChat has been an influential tool for Chinese society and the world. It creates a new form of online and offline payments which also influenced many other apps and the rise of apple pay. It also has contributed a lot to the city service in China, by providing jobs, shorten the waiting time for patients and raise money for those who need it. It influenced not only the local society but also the rest of the world.
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Internet Society our internet Ecosystem
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