Chatter About WeChat

As technology permeates our everyday life, tech companies vying for our attention. In the United States, our daily activities are fragmented with various tech names: Lyft and Uber, Venmo and Square, and Facebook and Twitter. Amongst these companies, competition is strong.  Meanwhile, the Chinese firewall has allowed one Chinese app to flourish. Tencent Holding Ltd. developed WeChat to monopolize the market in China and provide all tech amenities for Chinese citizens under one brand and interface.

WeChat has become so ingrained in the lives of Chinese citizens that it must be understood before doing business with Chinese consumers. For starters, the app is labeled as a messaging service, but beyond this simple feature, the app has taken over typical rituals such as the swapping of business cards and the use of cash. Instead of simply exchanging business cards, meetings consist of employees swapping WeChat QR codes. These same QR codes have become the typical payment method over cash and credit cards for nearly all transactions. Outside of these simplistic features, the app has features ranging from hospital appointment scheduling to investment services.

In an interview with the New York Times, Chinese reporter Li Yuan stated, “Over one-third of [Chinese] spend four hours or more on the app each day”.  The app’s influence has even begun to creep into America’s tech world as Facebook recently announced plans to offer payment processing and some form of e-commerce.

The app’s influence reflects its strength. Business in China revolves around the app and will be a vital part of any domestic or foreign company working in the country. Because the app facilitates payments, they have a presence in all industries. In addition, the communication aspect of the app means companies must use the app for marketing and customer service purposes.

While Facebook may be attempting to recreate the WeChat model here in the United States, high levels of competition will keep them from duplicating WeChat’s coverage. Because the United States has no other platform like WeChat, American companies with aspirations of reaching Chinese consumers must understand the app prior to gaining Chinese market share.

 

Brett Perry

Tulane MBA ’19

 

Sources:

Kessel, Jonah, and Paul Mozur. “How China Is Changing Your Internet.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 9 Aug. 2016, www.nytimes.com/video/technology/100000004574648/china-internet-wechat.html?module=inline.

Li, Shan. “Facebook Shift Nods to Example of Chinese Super-App WeChat.” The Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones & Company, 7 Mar. 2019, www.wsj.com/articles/facebook-shift-nods-to-example-of-chinese-super-app-wechat-11551972136?mod=searchresults&page=1&pos=10.

“To Cover China, There’s No Substitute for WeChat.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 9 Jan. 2019, www.nytimes.com/2019/01/09/technology/personaltech/china-wechat.html.