Business / Companies

WeChat turns to 'app accounts' for success

By MENG JING (China Daily) Updated: 2016-01-12 07:26

WeChat turns to 'app accounts' for success

A WeChat booth at an industry expo in Beijing.PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Be it mobile payment or e-commerce, WeChat, the most widely used instant messaging application in China, has successfully branched out into various industries with its advantage in user numbers.

The messaging application from Tencent Holdings Ltd is looking to launch a new feature that will allow WeChat users to enjoy services without the need for downloading and installing applications.

Zhang Xiaolong, senior vice-president of Tencent responsible for WeChat, said on Monday that the company is considering launching a subscription-based feature called Yingyonghao, which can be directly translated into application accounts.

"As long as users subscribe to the accounts of certain applications in WeChat, they can access the services via functional HTML 5 sites rather than downloading separate applications," he said at a WeChat event in Guangzhou.

Zhang said both WeChat users and startup companies can benefit from the new feature. "Applications that are not used frequently need not be downloaded any more. In addition, the service is beneficial for startups as it can significantly lower the cost of building up a business as launching an HTML 5 site is cheaper than launching a functional application," he said.

Rather than replacing application developers or building itself into an app store, the move to launch application accounts is expected to help WeChat further establish itself as the super application in China and speed up its commercialization.

Mi Yier, an analyst with the Beijing-based Internet consultancy Analysys International, said WeChat is already the most visited application in China's mobile Internet industry.

"By launching the new feature, WeChat can monetize its huge traffic. Some of the applications with strong user loyalty may not need help from WeChat but for apps with low usage frequency, they can certainly use WeChat to reach more potential users," she said, adding some users are reluctant to download home remodeling applications because no one wants to remodel their home that often.

WeChat had 650 million active monthly users by the end of the third quarter of 2015, which is almost equal to the size of China's Internet population by June 2015. But for now, WeChat mainly makes money by posting advertisements on its Moments timeline.

Ren Bin, chief executive officer of Yaogeili, an application that offers door-to-door prescription drug delivery, said he will certainly use the new service once it is launched by WeChat.

"I don't think the service will replace my app but it can be real help to make sure more users can find what we offer," he said.

"Many of the potential users we find are reluctant to download our app when we do on-street promotions as it uses up their time and data. It is much more easier to persuade them to follow our WeChat account," he said.


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