Unknown to the rest of the world, WeChat founded and owned by Tencent, has fully taken over the narrative of the lives of the people of China. A country where WhatsApp is banned, Facebook Messenger censored, and the Line App blocked.
To some it would be unimaginable to function in a world or stay connected without these messenger services but the most populous country in the world, China, seems to be doing just fine without them.
For this nation and its people the app serves a myriad functions – making for a world in itself. It aids them in playing games; paying bills; booking cabs, doctor appointments; accessing banking services; filing police reports; holding video-conferences, among several more. The app has been subsidized by the Chinese government and is used by its authorities to communicate with the nation’s citizens. In fact the app has also been integrated with the id system of the nation, assuming an even greater role in the lives of people.
The app today has over 900 million users and about 38 billion messages sent via it, and of course unparalleled precedence across China. Its tremendous popularity has now caused its rival, the Facebook owned WhatsApp – a service that is one among the most popular messenger services, in many countries across the world, to take notice and match up to the offerings of WeChat and emulate many of its unique features, trying to carve an entity that is far bigger and more differentiated than an ordinary messaging platform.
In identifying a new business model, WhatsApp is trying to merge increasing amounts of data with Facebook, creating better targeted ads for its audience. New ways of communication like that of WeChat, wherein there maybe different interfaces for messages from friends and colleagues is also a feature that WhatsApp maybe contemplating adding. Adverts of various services like taxis, utilities, may also feature on the platform, allowing individuals to pay directly for these. The app may also add a ‘grouping’ feature that allows individuals to join groups of different brands and receive useful information related to the brand, creating a much-needed divide between personal messages and those sent by a brand or a professional group.
WhatsApp thus has its sights set on being an all-in-one, go-to app – one that is a combination of Uber, Airbnb, Amazon, ApplePay and Facebook. A crucial aspect of its new offerings, shall be peer-to-peer payment services in India, akin to what WeChat has had in China for many years; therefore charting a course of decisively becoming the word in messenger apps around the world, as in India.