Tech UPTechnologyMeet WeChat: the Chinese “super app” that competes against...

Meet WeChat: the Chinese “super app” that competes against all the others

Can you imagine having, in a single application, your WhatsApp, Instagram, TikTok, favorite stores and even your monthly subscription to your magazine? That app exists in China and is called WeChat.

This is not a new app, since its first launch was in January 2011. It was developed by Tencent and by 2018 it already had 1 billion monthly active users. In China they know it as the “Super App”, because you can literally do anything within it.

On a normal day, users using the app. This can include everything from messaging friends, to shopping, ordering food, or even splitting the bill. WeChat became an app that integrates almost every aspect of life for a large percentage of the Chinese population.

However, it has also suffered from controversy. Being so holistic, that the Chinese government monitors the content that circulates within the app, even if you are not a Chinese citizen. For example, documents and images that are transmitted between non-Chinese accounts are analyzed to verify that there is no politically sensitive content in China.

But this is not an impediment so that it continues to have 1.26 billion active users and the value of the app is 174.9 billion dollars, according to

Here are some of the things you can do on WeChat:

Messenger service

It actually started out as a messaging app very similar to WhatsApp. However, it was developing and now it already has substantial differences.

For example, users cannot see if the message was received (there is no double check mark, much less the blue check mark) and, among other things you can send are not only messages, images and videos; also money.

To make your transfers you no longer have to go to another app; you can send it directly from a message. This is because WeChat has an integrated “wallet” with money that you can use inside and outside the app.

On the other hand, just like WhatsApp, there are also group chats but, in addition to the traditional groups between family members or colleagues, there are also groups with specific topics. These are usually more controlled by the moderators themselves and, if the conversation is diverted, the users are immediately expelled. For example, if someone offers to sell their products on a teacher complaint group.

Share your “moments”, videos and articles

This is very similar to Instagram, where you can view photos and personal content. Conversations here are more private and not necessarily meant to go viral; is intended to be directed at family, friends, and businesses.

You can see photos, brief descriptions and comment.

There is also the “Little moments” section, where very similar to TikTok you can share short videos.

In addition, you can also share articles and there are two types: subscription and service. For example, if you are the official account of a magazine, you can share the content directly from there.

Lots of QR codes

In China, QR codes are a sensation and WeChat implements them for many things. For example, you no longer have to give people your phone number or email address; similar to WhatsApp, you have a QR code and it is the one you share with other people.

These same codes are also used to make purchases offline. For example, in China, when you go to pay in a self-service store, they ask you for your payment method and you can show the QR code of your WeChat wallet. In addition, you can also split the account or make transfers with this same code.

They are also an option for companies and professionals who have replaced business cards with a QR code.

Mini Apps dentro de la app

Times change and so do apps, and clearly WeChat needs to adapt. For this reason, there is a section of mini apps where you can download traditional apps but in a special format so that they are within the same app.

For example, there is a transport section where your Didi app is located. One of the main advantages of having these mini apps within WeChat is that they are faster to load and install and do not consume as much space as a normal app.

In-app purchases

It could not be a completely holistic app but it also allows the purchase of products. This is an app used by both users and companies and purchases can be made from mini apps to official company profiles. All this always with the option to pay with the WeChat wallet.

Availability and use

Officially, the app is available to download for free worldwide on both iOS and Android and you only have to register with your phone number. However, the app is only in Chinese-Mandarin, which makes it difficult to use outside of that region.

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