“WeChat is a lifestyle”, is the slogan at the entrance of the WeChat official website. WeChat was launched by Tencent on January 21, 2011. Nowadays It has become the largest communication software in China. Besides it become a kind of “infrastructure” in our lives. WeChat has announced it achieve 902 million active daily users in November 2017, as China’s biggest social platform it has successfully consolidated its brand concept that it is not only an app but also a lifestyle(Long,2017).
Figure 1. Wechat Logo
By Pixel Icons
In the early stage, the function that brought a large number of users to WeChat was Message in a Bottle, Shaking, and Nearby people. Now more features have gradually replaced the old features that opened up WeChat’s territory and continue to attract more users to join. Such as WeChat Mini Program, Chat, Moments, WeChat Pay, and government service function, etc.
- WeChat Mini Program(Third-party services)
The pioneering model of “apps within an app” made millions of lightweight apps live inside WeChat, much like webpages live on the internet（Chan, 2015). The increasing number of third-party apps, so-called Mini Programs, in WeChat (Plantin & Seta).
- Chat and Moments
Personal chat page features include typing communication, voice messages, video chat, voice chat, send photos, send location, share location, send files, transfer money and red envelope, etc. Besides, WeChat has some innovations that are different from other chat software. It protects user privacy in several ways, for example, “Moments” comments and like are only mutual friends can see; user status was removed, and voice messages depending on the distance of the phone from your ears to play in two different volumes(Zhu, 2018).
- WeChat Pay
WeChat payment is the cornerstone for its path of commercialization（Zhu, 2018,p.42).
It is a digital payment service. Can be used online and offline. Users can pay bills by scanning QR codes by WeChat payment ，it is also very common offline, used in supermarkets, shopping malls, restaurants, hotels, and almost all stores. At the same time, WeChat Pay can also be used in mini-programs to buy movie tickets, takeout, shopping, including game recharge, etc.
Figure 2: WeChat Pay
By Wellwin Kwok
- Government Functions
It has offered an electronic ID system and offers for the VISA. Moreover，there is one of the latest functions — online “health code” system, it was roll out to control the spread of COVID-19. You need to turn on the health code and when it shows green, that you can enter public places such as shopping malls, restaurants, hotels, etc. The health code will show you if you’ve been to high-risk areas and where you’ve been in the last three months. Important information on whether or not to be vaccinated and recent nucleic acid results.
Industry Competition：Tencent vs Alibaba
Figure 3: WeChat pay and Alipay
By John Pasden
1). WeChat is a major tool Tencent uses to compete with Alibaba. WeChat Pay has become the mainstream payment method in China. And Alibaba’s Taobao is a giant in the e-commerce industry. Taobao does not support WeChat Pay. At the same time, Taobao’s link is blocked in WeChat so that its link in WeChat cannot jump directly to the Taobao page.
2). But this kind of competition is also beneficial in some respects. The development and rollout of the “health code” system mentioned above were fueled by fierce competition. Alibaba and Tencent built and launched the” health code“ system project at the beginning of February 2020. At the same time, it is of great significance as it concerns the security of the people of the whole country. Wechat finally launched the project at the end of February. Win the game firstly. Besides, with the support of local governments, the model of WeChat emerged as the national standard2). The “health code” systems are used more than 6 billion times only in WeChat alone(Tan, 2020).
Ways to Make Money： The business model
The way of the platform to achieve economic values is called the business model.
The strategies of “free” download and use app are the default mode to most platforms to get the personal information of users(Schneier 2015). Large amounts of content data and user data are collected by platforms automatically. Help Tencent’s other businesses, while WeChat’s clever point is to directly turn these partners into a WeChat function. Share the information collected by WeChat and apply it to other cooperative partners. This data helps advertisers and platforms push products of interest to users. To realize WeChat even the entire Tencent profit.
Some WeChat users(especially some housewives) only have fragmentation time and very little start-up capital, but they also want to earn a financial income. They chose a new and most simple way to do it. These individual sellers post relevant photos and messages of their agent commodity’s pictures in Moment and attract their friends to buy it. It is like a simple version of Amazon or Taobao. However, they do not even need to arrange to deliver their shipment, let alone buy the goods to the warehouse. All they have to do is to communicate the order to their superior, and he makes the profit from it. Whether you are a high school student, housewife, farmer, or anyone. You only need to have a WeChat account, and friends in Wechat, you can make money.
1. WeChat Business:
The convenience of the WeChat business operation also means great potential danger. That is individual sellers without official certification, goods purchased without security assurance. thus, it always has this situation that people spent lots money bought the products is fake, sellers do not deliver the goods after receiving the money or you can not return goods that do not match the picture and so on. So far, no good solution has been obtained to this difficult regulatory problem. But after being cheated many times, people chose to reduce the frequency of buying goods in WeChat.
- User privacy Security：
The platforms’ invasion of users’ privacy has long been a major concern for the public.
Recently, A few days ago, some netizens said that they discovered through the system’s monitoring of the privacy reading behavior of the App. WeChat reads the user’s album several times in the background when the user did not use it, and each time is as long as 1 minute. This matter caused an uproar on the Internet and received a lot of crusades about WeChat.
In response to this matter, WeChat responded that the iOS system provides App developers with the standard ability to notify the album update. When the album content is updated, the App will be notified to remind the App that it can prepare in advance, and the preparation behavior of the App will be recorded as a read system album. It is reported that after WeChat uses this function, users will experience a faster and smoother sending pictures. At present, WeChat claims that it has made an emergency fix for this matter.
Development of WeChat： Infrastructure
The first reason for the success of WeChat is that the company behind it is Tencent. Tencent’s subsidiaries and companies invested by Tencent have all settled on WeChat in the form of small programs, such as shopping software JD.com, medical and health website Dingxiangyuan, Meituan takeout, and Didi Taxi. It can be said that all aspects of life have been covered. Since then, WeChat has almost become an existence of infrastructure.
Compare with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or other social apps. WeChat not only trying to be the biggest social network, but the ambition is also building a mobile lifestyle — it hopes can — provide services for all aspects of the user. The quick development of WeChat, witness in China an extremely rapid process of platformization of infrastructures and infrastructuralization of platforms (Plantin et al., 2018).
WeChat is not only a social media app, it is more like a platform, a mobile operating system, or an infrastructure.it depends on how you use it (Chan，2015).
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2.Dijck, J. van. (2018). The platform society /. Oxford University Press,.
3.de Kloet, J., Poell, T., Guohua, Z., & Yiu Fai, C. (2019). The platformization of Chinese Society: infrastructure, governance, and practice. Chinese Journal of Communication, 12(3), 249–256. https://doi.org/10.1080/17544750.2019.1644008
4. John, N. A. (2016). The age of sharing. ProQuest Ebook Central. https://ebookcentral-proquest-com.ezproxy.library.sydney.edu.au
5. Shining Tan. (2020). Center for Strategic and International Studies. (May 4, 2020). China’s Novel Health Tracker: Green on Public Health, Red on Data Surveillance. https://www.csis.org/blogs/trustee-china-hand/chinas-novel-health-tracker-green-public-health-red-data-surveillance. Retrieved May 4, 2020.
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