At a first glimpse WeChat seems similar to its western counterparts like WhatsApp and Viber, however, there is so much more. To start off with WeChat has over 800 million active users, most of which are in China. You can send text messages as well as make video and voice calls or send voice messages. WeChat has also become an important tool for business, with many Chinese business people choosing to communicate through the app rather than over email or phone.
Scratch a bit deeper and you will find that WeChat provides a whole lot more. If you want to play games, order noodles or a ride, pay your bills or meet your one true love WeChat can assist you. Here are some examples of the features which sets WeChat apart:
Meeting people is easy
WeChat Shake and People Near You are two very simple concepts for meeting new friends. Basically, if you are lonely or bored and want to meet a new WeChat buddy, all you need to do is go into your Discover Tab and select ‘People near you’, other lonely, bored or friendly people will pop up and you are free to start chatting with them. If you want to try something more creative WeChat shake allows you to quite literally shake your phone and other people who are also shaking their phone will receive a notification, then you can start chatting.
Moments is WeChat’s main social media feature. It can be compared to a cross between Facebook and Twitter (both of which are blocked in China). Like the aforementioned social networks, Moments lets you maintain a user profile where you post things like photos and status updates. You can also comment and like posts made on your friend’s Moments page. The main selling point here, according to WeChat is the enhanced privacy which, for example, allows you to do things like control which of your friends can see what you like and comment on.
WeChat allows payments via the app’s WeChat Pay feature. Beginning in 2013, WeChat users in China could send monetary gifts for special occasions, transfer money or even pay bills via the integrated WeChat Pay feature. Today most shops and online stores accept WeChat payments. For more information relating to this feature read our article about PAYING IN CHINA.
One of WeChat’s most popular features is its integrated gaming platform.
WeChat’s parent company, Tencent, is the world’s largest gaming company so it makes sense that WeChat is looking to leverage Tencent’s expertise to bring gaming to the platform. WeChat users can visit the in-app app store to download games, launch games from within the app and then take advantage of WeChat’s social features to add a more social dimension to the gaming experience.
WeChat is free to download and use, however, some of the payment features are only available if you have a Chinese mobile phone number and Chinese bank account. For anyone traveling to China, I recommend downloading WeChat.