wechat payment

The fact that consumers can access a brand and buy products while texting with their friends is a significant revolution for WeChat users.

Featured article from Digital Jungle 

WeChat recently opened its online payment platform to its users, which promises a great success in the future for consumers and for brands. 37% of Chinese social network use all of Weibo, WeChat and SNS. This is 79% of Whatsapp’s total global monthly active users.

Remember WeChat?
Or Weixin as its known in China, is a mobile app owned by Tencent Holdings Limited. According to Bloomberg and its company announcement, the app has one billion users and is about to overtake Facebook globally. Before this new update, the app allowed text messaging (92%); voice messaging (90%), moments (75%), group chatting (62%), free voice and video calls and instantaneous translation. Available in several language since April 2012 (date of its international launching); WeChat can also be used by brands so users can follow their favorite brands on the “Subscription account” tab. WeChat presents an amazing tool for digital marketing and e-commerce.

WeChat has recently tied-up with a Taxi app a few months ago opened an online payment tab via the app on July 5th. When I asked about the preferences between Alipay (the other popular online payment App) and the online payment on WeChat, a Chinese friend of mine answered: “Come on! Who doesn’t have WeChat?” Indeed, with 355 millions of active users across the world, WeChat gives the opportunity to communicate and pay via the same platform. This is its unique selling point. Regarding the online payment option, WeChat offers, just like its competitor Alipay, the possibility to book a flight, taxi, transfer money (locally or internationally) or pay bills, buy in store and delivery!

Chinese consumers purchase very often online. They would rather go on Taobao to buy socks than go in a store to buy them. The first reason is that it helps not to go in a store and the second probably bargain with the seller on a market. Since the Chinese are already used to paying for everything online already, Chinese consumers should not take very long at all to switch from Alipay to WeChat. This potential target represents 100million users registered.

Unlike Alipay, WeChat owns a tab dedicated to brands where users can subscribe and follow their news. Therefore, brands target customers who are already engaged and choose to follow the brand by themselves. Once the target audience is engaged the next objective is to develop the desire of purchase and reinforce the brand-customer relationship. WeChat offers the possibility to buy online from a brand page with delivery. What could be easier than pressing a button on your phone to buy a coffee?

Chinese culture has always been about using cash more than a bankcard. In fact landlords usually ask for the rent every three or six month in cash, payments are on delivery and bargaining is at the center of purchasing including the bill at the hospital. However, the younger generations are definitely using the online payment method more than their parents, and increasingly even more Chinese than Westerners are using Uber. Paying by phone allows you the ability to avoid dealing with large amounts of cash, which seems safer in many cases due to risk of robbery or loss for example.

The good and most surprising thing at the same time is that you have both your messages and your money on your WeChat and do not need any other app but this one. It seems to me that WeChat is definitely the place to be for foreign brands entering the Chinese market. The Chinese would rather have every app in one rather than a specialized one for each, this is why brands do not need to create their own app but can invest their time and money in a WeChat account and use this to make savings rather than having to pay for in-house development instead. The fact that consumers can access a brand and buy products thanks to WeChat while texting with their friends is a significant revolution for WeChat users. However, Chinese are very used to purchasing with 支付宝(Zhifubao) the Alipay app which is the current favorite method of e-payment in the country right now.

It seems like Tencent has understood all this, and are turning WeChat into the all-you-can-have app with a single all unifying payment option. Also, it seems that unlike Westerners, the Chinese appreciate this all-in-one app with makes their life simpler and convenient. The reviews for the update are to follow but promises to be a good asset for brands. WeChat is not only a Chinese App but became used more and more used by Westerners. This is why it should be able to overtake other payment apps.


mathewDr. Mathew McDougall has lived and worked in China for over a decade. During this time, he has witnessed the blossoming of the Chinese Internet and shift by advertisers away from traditional marketing to the digital/mobile mediums.

Dr. McDougall is the founder and CEO of Digital Jungle — a content focused, digital marketing Agency. Digital Jungle’s primary focus is to assist Western organizations to deepen their relationships between their brand and Chinese consumers; through digital marketing and strategic thinking, to drive consumer action, and to deliver value and measurable results.

Prior to Digital Jungle, Dr. McDougall founded SinoTech Group, a social media analytics and consulting company.

Dr. McDougall is a renowned expert on digital marketing, recognized for his published articles, his frequent speaking engagements, as well as his prestigious consulting and teaching programs. His books include “The Chinese Social Media Universe” & “The Chinese Search Market.”