On We Chat, official accounts are approved to access exclusive APIs for payments, location, direct messages, voice messages, user IDs, and more.
(Not every official account uses these APIs, but there are still millions of them that indeed are app-like.) For the end-user, adding an official account is as simple as adding a friend.
So why should people outside of China even care about We Chat?
The first and most obvious reason is that it points to where Facebook and other messaging apps could head.
I cannot emphasize the importance of this Wallet enough.
It’s the Trojan horse that allows We Chat to quickly onboard user payment credentials that then unlock new monetization opportunities for the ecosystem.
That portal takes the form of the We Chat “Wallet”, which is not a traditional wallet but a menu of carefully curated, pre-selected service providers that users can transact with after inputting their payment credentials.Second, We Chat indicates where the future of mobile commerce may lie.Third, We Chat shows what it’s like to be both a platform a mobile portal (what Yahoo could have been).Ultimately, however, We Chat should matter to all of us because it shows what’s possible when an entire country — which currently has a smartphone penetration of 62% (that’s almost 1/3 of its population) — “leapfrogs” over the PC era directly to mobile.We Chat was not a product that started as a website and then was adapted for mobile, it was (to paraphrase a certain movie) the ARPU of Whats App, the largest messaging platform in the world. Known in Chinese as Weixin (微信) — “micro letter” — We Chat is first and foremost a messaging app for sending text, voice, and photos to friends and family.Approved by We Chat after a brief application process, there are well over 10 million of these official accounts on the platform — ranging from celebrities, banks, media outlets, and fashion brands to hospitals, drug stores, car manufacturers, internet startups, personal blogs, and more.