The government has actively supported the development of the e-commerce market in China—for example in the 12th five-year plan — It can also integrate with other social networking services such as Facebook and Tencent QQ.
WeChat supports different instant messaging methods, including text message, voice message, walkie talkie and stickers. Users can send previously saved or live pictures and videos, namecards of other users, coupons, lucky money packages, or current GPS locations with friends either individually or in a group chat.
There are three types of official accounts: Once users as individuals or organizations set up a type of account, they cannot change it to another type. By the end of , the number of WeChat official accounts had reached 8 million. Official accounts can be used as a platform for services such as hospital pre-registrations,  visa renewal  or credit card service. These accounts do not support WeChat payment service. Users can see the information when viewing their messaging page. Service account support WeChat payment service.
Moments allows users to post images, post text, post comments, share music associated with QQ Music or other web based music services , share articles and post "likes.
The friends of the user will only be able to see the likes and comments from other users only if they are in mutual friends group. For example, friends from high school are not able to see the comments and likes from friends from university. When users post their moments, they can separate their friends into a few groups, and they can decide whether this Moment can be seen by particular groups of people.
WeChat Pay payment services[ edit ] In China, users who have provided bank account information may use the app to pay bills, order goods and services, transfer money to other users, and pay in stores if the stores have WeChat payment option. Vetted third parties, known as "official accounts", offer these services by developing lightweight "apps within the app".
Users can acquire a balance by linking their WeChat account to their debit card, or by receiving money from other users. Users who link their credit card can only make payments to vendors, and cannot use this to top up WeChat balance. WeChat Pay can be used for digital payments, as well as payments from participating vendors. The feature allows users to send money to contacts and groups as gifts.
When sent to groups, the money is distributed equally, or in random shares "Lucky Money". The feature was launched through a promotion during China Central Television 's heavily watched New Year's Gala , where viewers were instructed to shake their phones during the broadcast for a chance to win sponsored cash prizes from red envelopes.
The red envelope feature significantly increased the adoption of WeChat Pay. A month after its launch, WeChat Pay's user base expanded from 30 million to million users, and 20 million red envelopes were distributed during the New Year holiday.
On March 1, WeChat payment stopped collecting fees for the transfer function. Starting from the same day, fees will be charged for withdrawals. Further withdrawals of more than 1, Yuan were charged a 0.
Other payment functions including red envelopes and transfers were still free. Alibaba company founder Jack Ma considered the red envelope feature to be a " Pearl Harbor moment", as it began to erode Alipay's historic dominance in the online payments industry in China, especially in peer-to-peer money transfer. The success prompted Alibaba to launch its own version of virtual red envelopes in its competing Laiwang service. Other competitors, Baidu Wallet and Sina Weibo , also launched similar features.
Quartz columnist Josh Horwitz alleged the feature is being used by the Chinese government to track irregular assemblies of people to determine unlawful assembly. The app was meant to help employees separate work from private life. In January , WeChat announced a record of , mini-programs. In WeChat added a "friend radar" function. By inserting a search term in the WeChat Index page, users could check the popularity of this term in past 7, 30, or 90 days.
The Financial Times reported this was a "direct challenge to Chinese search engine Baidu ". The feature allowed purchasing credit within the app using a credit card. Its artificial intelligence team was working on a 3D rendering engine to create realistic appearance of detailed objects in smartphone-based AR apps. They were also developing a simultaneous localization and mapping technology, which would help calculate the position of virtual objects relative to their environment, enabling AR interactions without the need for markers, such as Quick Response codes or special images.
Many campaigns were launched to attract new users and retain existing ones since Users could trace their history such as the first friend on WeChat or how many "Likes" they received that year. The campaign created value with the digital marketing, by relating products and customers together. In another major campaign in , users could upload a paid photo on "Moments" and only someone willing to pay for it could see the photo and comment on it. The photos were taken down each night.
WeChat Moments Ads can include a brand name, profile, short description, a maximum of 6 pictures or a 6- to second short video , and a link to a webpage hosted on Tencent's server. Moments ads are like regular Moments post but with a sponsored tag. Users can interact with the ads: The price of WeChat Moment advertisement depends on where and when this ad will be displayed.
High service and low cost[ edit ] Compared with Facebook and other social media, WeChat allowed businesses to open an account and gain a following on the platform for free. Huge consumer base[ edit ] WeChat had a large number and wide range of users with differing ages. Business that put advertisements on WeChat had a wide range of potential customers.
Over one million people watched her first video promoting L'Oreal's beauty brand MG. A number of Chinese companies use this feature to randomly select one or more followers to send them bonuses through the WeChat lucky dip system. This amount will be stored in the follower's WeChat wallet and can be transferred to the bank. This is used by the company as a reward for following and sharing posts. Brands can start developing these tailor-made micro-stores, or they can host their own website in the established electronic platform provided by WeChat.
Users can view these micro stores on WeChat and use WeChat payment service to complete the payment in a few seconds. WeChat will promote associated ads based on the user's location and preferences.
One of the most crucial areas in this regard is retail, where consumers can get limited version discounts in retail stores in different regions. WeChat offers a revolutionary 'bridge' for linking digital marketing and physical activities such as retail, sells promotion.
Setting up a QR code on physical materials such as poster can increase traffic, and it can also be cross-promoted across different social media and forums. WeChat has used its strengths to develop a systematic marketing platform around QR code. Users can scan QR codes to add each other as friends, or can used to link users to the official product teams for certain brands. WeChat QR code provides a way for the offline physical product to link to the digital market.
In China, digital marketing around QR code is an environmental feature of some international cities, such as Guangzhou, Shanghai and Beijing. This mode has been used by many hospitals, banks, fashion brands, internet companies and personal blogs because the Official Account can access to online payment, location sharing, voice messages, mini-games and so on.
It is like a 'mini App', so the company have to hire specific staff to manage the account. By , there are more than million WeChat Official Accounts in this platform. In this mode, individual sellers always post relevant photos and messages of their agent products on the WeChat Moments or WeChat groups and sell products to their WeChat friends. Besides, they develop friendship with their customers by sending messages in festival or write comments under their updates on WeChat moments to increase their trust.
Also, keep communicating with the regular customers rise the 'WOF' word-of-mouth communications, which influences decisions making. Some of the WeChat businessman already have an online shop in Taobao , but use WeChat to maintain existing customers. For example, some sellers begin to sell fake luxury goods such as bags, clothes, clothes and watches. Some of them have special channels to get high-quality fake luxury products supply and sell them in a low price.
Moreover, some sellers even disguise as international flight attendants or overseas students by posting fake stylish photos on WeChat Moments. Then they claim that they could provide overseas purchasing service but sell fake luxury goods in the same price as the true one.
Additionally, the lack of supervision mechanism of WeChat business also provides chances for the criminals to continue this illegal behavior. India has debated whether or not they should ban WeChat for its possibility in collecting too much personal information and data from its users. In Tencent was awarded a score of zero out of in an Amnesty International report ranking technology companies on the way they implement encryption to protect the human rights of their users.
The report found that Tencent did not make use of end-to-end encryption , which is a system that allows only the communicating users to read the messages. Additionally, metadata related to the communications between WeChat users—including call times, duration, and location information—was also collected. This information, which was used by Tencent for targeted advertising and marketing purposes, might be disclosed to representatives of the Chinese government: To comply with a court order, subpoena, or other legal process.
In response to a request by a government authority, law enforcement agency, or similar body. Privacy issues[ edit ] Users in China also have expressed concern for the privacy issues of the app. Human rights activist Hu Jia was jailed for three years for sedition. He speculated that the officials of the Internal Security Bureau of the Ministry of Public Security known as guobao listened to his voicemail messages that were directed to his friends, repeating the words displayed within the voice mail messages to Hu Jia.
Chinese authorities have further accused the WeChat app of threatening individual safety. China Central Television short CCTV , a state run broadcaster, featured a piece in which WeChat was described as an app that helped criminals due to its location-reporting features. CCTV gave an example of such accusations through reporting the murder of a single woman who, after he attempted to rob her, was murdered by a man she met on WeChat. The location-reporting feature, according to reports, was the reason for the man knowing the victim's whereabouts.
Authorities within China have linked WeChat to numerous crimes. The city of Hangzhou , for example, reported over twenty crimes related to WeChat in the span of three months. Martin Johnson , a founder of the anti-censorship in China site GreatFire. Doug Young , a Shanghai-based author of the Party Line , noted that while the app might practice self-censorship within China, it would not, however, practice the same self-censorship outside China.
Doing so, according to Young, would affect the app's image and possibly hamper its global expansion. Even though some sources claimed that the malware was capable of prompting the user for their account credentials, opening URLs and reading the device's clipboard ,  Apple responded that the malware was not capable of doing "anything malicious" or transmitting any personally identifiable information beyond "apps and general system information" and that it had no information that suggested that this had happened.