Credit: Thanks to Gail Lyon for the WeChat introduction
There is an amazing app in China called WeChat (note: the English version doesn’t even scratch the surface of what WeChat can do in China).
WeChat bills itself as a messaging app however it does soooooooooo much more. I believe this type of app in the Western World would represent THE portal / platform to rule them all.
We will definitely see the likes of Facebook, Google et al moving in WeChat’s direction and it is going to be interesting to see who gets there first and shows the way for how communication and commerce will exist on a mobile for years to come.
When your ARPU (average revenue per user) is $7 (7 times that of WhatsApp) then you have to take notice….
Originally conceived as a messaging app (think WhatsApp or Viber) by Tencent that has 1 billion registered users and 550 million monthly active users.
The app is free to download and with relatively little conventional advertising it earns its ARPU via functionality e.g geo location vouchers (think Amazon local), read news and follow celebrities (think flipboard), pay bills (think Ezeepay), geo location stranger finder (think Ello Chat), identify music (think Shazam), send money to mates (think Paytm), donate to charity (think a simplified version of Instead), buy cinema tickets (think MovieTickets), order food (think Just Eat), hail a taxi (think uber), flight check ins (think Airline Flight Check In), play games, etc all from one app.
I repeat. All the above from one simple app.
Think of millions (I’m not exaggerating = circa 10 million) of lightweight apps living in one ecosystem/app/operating system, all verified, trusted and easy to add to your personal account, that empowers you in life rather than just empowering your social life. Amazing UX…
What I find really interesting from a UX perspective is that often WeChat is used as a way of businesses testing their MVP before they develop their own website/dedicated app. Whilst WeChat enforces security, messaging frequency, etc it does not enforce the same HTML5 standards hence developers can create branded unique experiences but within the WeChat wrapper.
What I also find interesting from a UX perspective is the trusted, sophisticated and frictionless Wallet that has been baked into the architecture. After linking the users credit card or bank account the user can then easily pay for any number of goods/services; think Facebook Messenger that has been connected to all of the businesses in the UK! WeChat are also moving into wider CX seamless payments for offline by experimenting with processing payments offline via QR codes (I know old skool in the UK but alive and kicking in Asia) at everything from vending machines to bricks and mortar stores (think Uber for your everyday world).
So how did this awesome ecosystem get off the ground?
A customer need, via the use of killer UX, Trojan horses such as the free messaging app coupled with a frictionless payment system and everything you need to manage your life in one place. They (remember TenCent who produced this are a MAJOR Asian outfit and one of the largest internet companies in the world) also coupled this with giving away shed loads of cash to incentivise usage. E.g. like Uber did they gave away free taxi rides if you ordered a taxi via the WeChat app. And again when you have the reach of TenCent why, as a company, would you not want to join a neighborhood that gives you access to 100 millions of potential customers?!
WeChat show the art of the possible when you build for mobile from the ground up, with a completely clean slate/NO off the shelf functionality and delight people in their everyday lives.