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WeChat transactions top 8 billion

News, 15 February 2016

SHANGHAI: Chinese chat app WeChat hit a new high over the Chinese New Year holiday, as the number of mobile transactions on the app hit 8bn in just four days.

According to statistics released by WeChat, 420m people sent each other money via digital envelopes on Chinese New Year's Eve alone, The Drum reported.

More than 8bn red envelopes were sent between WeChat users over the four-day Chinese New Year holiday - eight times more transactions than in 2015.

The extraordinary numbers underline the omnipresence of the platform in Chinese society, considering WeChat is technically not even a payment app. Almost all payments were made from mobile devices.

By contrast, leading payment app PayPal made 4.9bn transactions over all of 2015 with just 28% of payments made via a mobile device.

The number of transactions marks a big moment for WeChat as it takes on its major competitor, Alibaba's Alipay platform, in China's mobile payment battle.

WeChat's Chinese New Year campaign allowed users to send a digital version of "hong pao", the traditional festive custom of giving red packets with money inside, to friends and family via the app itself.

The app also incentivised WeChat users to transfer money by allowing them to upload a private photo that was automatically blurred and only accessible once money was transferred. Once a red envelope gift was sent via the app, the picture became viewable.

While the full functionality of WeChat's mobile wallet service has only been available on the mainland for now, the app recently rolled out a pilot programme to Hong Kong users as well – beating the widely anticipated launch of Apple Pay in the market.

Selected users in Hong Kong can now link their credit cards to the app's payment platform and make in-app WeChat purchases for movies, flight tickets and a variety of other products. WeChat's payment functionality is expected to be launched in more countries through 2016.

Data sourced from The Drum, South China Morning Post; additional content by Warc staff