Tencent’s WeChat and its mini-programs are still very much in the expansion mode, says WeChat expert Matthew Brennan, even though two out of three Chinese use the tool, he tells the Asia Nikkei Review.
Asia Nikkei Review:
Consumers, often, are all but forced to use some super apps, like it or not. In Hangzhou, the birthplace of Alipay, a number of restaurants, coffee shops and supermarkets only accept the e-payment service. Similarly, few people bring stacks of business cards to conferences in China — they simply add each other on WeChat.
With two out of three Chinese on WeChat, the app “is so ubiquitous” that it has essentially become a “public utility,” said Matthew Brennan, managing director of Shanghai-based tech consultancy China Channel, who specializes in WeChat-based marketing.
“It is like your phone number, water, gas and electricity,” Brennan said.
As popular as it is now, WeChat is still in expansion mode. Tencent has made companies and developers an offer that is hard to refuse: They can build a mini-app for WeChat cheaper and faster than a conventional app…
Companies that helped drive WeChat’s rise are showing they are not necessarily wedded to it. Brennan, who is writing a book about the super app, said top Chinese ride hailer Didi Chuxing used to rely on WeChat to attract passengers. Now, he said Didi — which is also backed by Tencent — gets about 90% of its orders through its own app.
“They want direct access [to users],” Brennan said. “Otherwise, their business is at risk.”
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