Is Integration The Future of Messaging App
Two months ago, I returned to China after four years away; while the food, sights and family were familiar, I was shocked at how far some of the core social media platforms I used to use have come. The one that was most surprising? A popular texting app called WeChat.
Created by Tencent in 2011, WeChat has evolved throughout the years with a goal of integrating as many features as possible – the one-stop-shop for all mobile needs. WeChat first introduced an “official accounts” feature, allowing companies and public organizations to publish news, blogs, and videos to its subscribers. Next, it integrated many frequently used mobile features such as scan QR code, video calls, and group chat to their app, making it simple for consumers to do other tasks without leaving their social space.
Last month, WeChat launched a pilot “lite app”, designed to test its’ ability as a platform for third-party app integration. This breakthrough includes the ability to transfer money transfer in the app to others, pay for items online through adding their bank account information, and even paying for meals at a restaurant with a simple barcode scan.
From personal experience, I do find that WeChat has really permeated almost every aspect of my life, making a lot of things surprisingly easy. I can read news and watch racing videos through the customized official accounts every morning, order lunch and pay with my WeChat wallet in one click, share my location with my friends at our meeting spot for dinner and hail a taxi/Uber all in one place. The process is seamless.
The success of these integrations in WeChat could not be done without the uniqueness of China’s messaging ecosystem. Internet and smartphones came to China rather abruptly compared to developed countries, at a time when most Chinese people did not even own computer. Many consumers jumped straight from traditional, simple line text message on classic Nokia phones to in-depth, multi-tasking smartphones. Smartphones are even visible in less developed regions, where the technology is one of the more luxurious items that they can afford.
These technological changes and fast adoption transformed the Chinese lifestyle, subsequently having profound effects beyond just the personal space. Companies began using WeChat for internal conversations instead of email, e-commerce transactions became more secure through WeChat payments – last year alone, Chinese e-commerce giant JD.come reported that 52% of their sales came from WeChat during the Chinese equivalent of Black Friday.
Consumers in China are drawn to WeChat due to the convenience and security the app offers, and it’s ability to grow and accommodate the Chinese mobile culture. While the “one messaging app for everything” might not be a global phenomenon, the seamless experience WeChat has successfully created is clearly desired by everyone in the cyber world.
Born and raised in China, Pengkai is an Associate at 113 Industries, specializing in Consumer Insights and Chinese Market Analysis. He spends his spare time in car garages and on racetracks.