938m monthly users, 200m payment account holders, 1m transactions a minute... Most companies can only dream of figures like these – so what is so special about WeChat, and where does it go from here?
It probably isn’t the finest track they’ve ever released but the mere existence of WeChat – by one of China’s biggest rap groups, the Higher Brothers – proves how intricately the messaging app has woven itself into the very fabric of Chinese society. The lyrics that best sum up its all-encompassing power are probably: “No Skype, no Facebook, no Twitter, no Instagram – We use WeChat.”
Corporate behemoth Tencent launched the app, known as Weixin, in 2010. Within a year, it had acquired 100 million users, and Tencent rebranded it abroad as WeChat. Today, it has more than 938 million users – greater than the entire population of Europe – and over a third of them – more than the population of the US – spend over four hours a day on it. Globally, the only social media apps with more users are Facebook and WhatsApp.