WeChat, the Chinese app founded in 2011 as a WhatsApp alternative, today boasts over one billion accounts worldwide. Owned by the Tencent company, it was initially known and used mainly in the country of origin but within the last year it recorded a growth of 15.8% with 38 billion daily messages exchanged between users. We can’t just ignore that, so we have to understand how to use WeChat.
A history of censorship
The Beijing government has been intensifying censorship and controls on the media for years, including digital ones. It was Mark Zuckerberg who paid the price with the ban of Facebook in 2009, Instagram in 2014 and WhatsApp in 2017. On the contrary, WeChat has an easy life in China because it is willing to provide the authorities with user data.
WeChat: just an instant messaging app?
It is true that WeChat was born as a messaging service but over time has integrated so many features that today it is an over-simplification to call it a WhatsApp alternative. For example, the group voice chats in walkie-talkie mode, online meetings and photo editing. Not only that, this application has become a real social media: users can follow pages of their interest through Moments, a News Feed similar to that of Facebook, where appear the latest updates of companies and other users. But this isn’t over.
The evolution to an aggregator of apps
WeChat has recently turned into an app aggregator. What does it mean? We used to download as many apps on your phone as many services we use, to rent a bike or a taxi for example, or to pay bills and to order food. Now you can do everything in one step simply from your WeChat account. Tencent's goal is to create an all-rounder platform. Only with its functions, WeChat replaces WhatsApp, Skype and Facebook, as well as Paypal and Uber, Tinder and Chatroulette.
And you, are you ready to download WeChat?