The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Why Trust Is The Single Most Important Word In Business …

One of the things that makes me smile is when I hear – or read – Western articles talking about how things like iPay will change the way people spend/transact forever.

The reason for my amusement is not just because this has been happening in China for at least 2 years, but that iPay is a massively inferior product when compared to something like Wechat wallet.

Now, to be fair, lots has been written about Wechat.

From how it has become a hub for almost every aspect of daily life in China – from messaging, to ordering food and taxis to spending, borrowing, investing or sending money – right through to it’s ability, in 2016, to transact more mobile payments in 14 days that eBay & Amazon did globally in an entire year.

[UPDATE: During the 2017 Chinese New Year, Wechat say 46 BILLION red packets [envelopes with money] were sent through their app over the 7 day holiday period. This represents 5 times the volume that occurred in 2016]

And all that is true and fascinating … but unless you live here, I don’t think anyone can truly grasp the way China has embraced technology based spending.

What makes it even more amazing is that prior to Wechat, China tended to be quite protective in how they used their money.

They were one of the slowest nations to embrace internet banking.

There’s millions upon millions of people who still won’t put their money in a bank.

And yet Wechat has come about and despite not being a bank, if has fundamentally changed consumer habits and sentiment regarding their cash.

Which has fundamentally changed retail habits and sentiment regarding how they offer service to their customers.

So how did they do it?

Well, there’s a bunch of reasons.

Without doubt one is they appeal to a different generation to those who were there before.

A generation brought up in the digital age.

A generation who have a ‘I want it now’ mentality.

But it’s more than that.

You see Wechat’s genius was they refused to take any advertising for years.

In a nation where making money is everything, Wechat resisted the lure of ‘easy cash’.

This might not seem a massive thing, but to the people here, it felt like they’d found a brand that actually cared about them.

A brand that wouldn’t sell them out to line their own pocket.

This gave Wechat an integrity few brands could ever hope to achieve – especially in such a limited period of time and in a place as suspicious as China – so when they launched their ‘wallet feature’, there was no doubt people would embrace it because the level of trust in them was so high.

Of course there’s many other reasons for their success – and arguably, Wechat did this so they could ultimately win the long game with advertisers and partners – but with so many brands talking about ‘changing behaviour and perceptions’, it’s worth remembering part of Wechat’s success is as much because of what they didn’t do, as it is what they did.

28 Comments so far
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So the future of commerce is the end of advertising? Or vice versa.

Comment by John

Did you receive five times as many red packets this year?

Comment by John

probably. the jammy fucker.

Comment by andy@cynic

Bet he didn’t send five times as many.

Comment by DH

No. In fact I only got one. But I gave away tons …

[Mainly because that’s the only way I get people to put up with me for the remaining 51 weeks]

Comment by Rob

those commie fuckers know how to launder cash better than the mafia.

Comment by andy@cynic

That’s what Macao is for – it’s the biggest Chinese Laundry in the world!

Comment by Ian Gee

one day campbell, when those commie fucks finally manage to get you out of their red country, youll miss all this shit. they wont miss you though. theyll probably add another fucking holiday to their calendar of holidays.

Comment by andy@cynic

Wechat makes Apple Pay look very basic.

When you add in all the other features wechat offers, they make all social network based platforms look very basic.

Comment by Pete

Apple Pay is basic. I’m sure it will get better, but right now, WeChat offers financial services that even banks are jealous of.

Comment by Rob

Just when you thought China’s numbers couldn’t shock you anymore.

Comment by George

China’s statistical bureau numbers don’t look all that remarkable until you realise they’re expressed in ‘wan’, i.e. base ‘ten thousand’. So everything is ten times bigger than you first thought …

Comment by Ian Gee

But the 46 billion red packet number is correct isn’t it?

Comment by George

Robert. Is there a reason Wechat has limited impact overseas? Is it because the capabilities you enjoy in China are limited outside of China or some other reason? It is a very well executed app, especially when you think it combines superior versions of Facebook, Twitter, Apple Pay, Yelp and Amazon Prime.

Comment by George

Is there any need to expand rapidly if you’re focussing on dominating and learning from the biggest market in the world?

Comment by John

No. But there is if Wechat wants to leverage its pay function and become a global financial services company. I would imagine their argument would be that if Western retailers take Wechat pay, they can become more attractive to the tens of millions of Chinese now vacationing abroad.

Comment by George

We now accept Wechat payments on all VA flights to and from China.

Comment by Lee Hill

Wechat’s penetration is so huge that now, you submit your taxes to the government via it.


Comment by Rob

That is incredible Robert.

Comment by Lee Hill

Next target for the Russian hacker mafia. Known as the government.

Comment by DH

I’ll be sending this to some people who will hate you for it Rob. Nice one.

Comment by Bazza

Am I right wechat pay works on QR codes?

Comment by DH

Yes they do David.

For all the mocking QR codes received, Wechat found a way to use them so the experience for buyer and seller is easier and more seamless.

Comment by Lee Hill

Yes … that’s why I laugh when people in the West still slag them off. Don’t get me wrong, they’ve been used so badly by most companies that I get why they were laughed at, but what WeChat have done is not just validate them, but exploit the fact no one else had cracked their code so they had a clear run at making them work.

Comment by Rob

I guess by the English coffee shop signage that wechat is the default payment for everyone in China, not just locals.

Comment by Pete

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