Tencent’s WeChat doubled commerce on mini programs in 2020


The messaging service, which was set up in 2011 as Tencent’s answer to WhatsApp, has become intrinsic to the lives of over a billion people and is the backbone of the Chinese tech giant’s sprawling internet empire that spans social media, gaming and financial services. — Bloomberg

Tencent Holdings Ltd’s WeChat recorded more than US$240bil (RM970.56bil) of online transactions on its mini programs last year, after more shoppers turned to the platform to buy daily necessities such as fresh fruit and vegetables during the pandemic.

The Chinese super-app had more than 400 million daily average users for its mini programs last year, with the transaction value per user climbing 67%, executives said at WeChat’s 10th anniversary developer conference. Gross merchandise value from mini programs more than doubled from 2019, when it booked over 800bil yuan (RM500.52bil) in transactions.

WeChat’s mini-programs service – first launched in 2017 – offers access to brands and services like Didi or JD.com Inc, allowing users to book rides or buy groceries without leaving the app. The messaging service, which was set up in 2011 as Tencent’s answer to WhatsApp, has become intrinsic to the lives of over a billion people and is the backbone of the Chinese tech giant’s sprawling internet empire that spans social media, gaming and financial services.

About 300 million people now buy fresh produce through mini programs, executives said on Jan 19, signalling Tencent’s rapid inroads into the hottest sphere of online commerce. The Covid-19 pandemic has spurred Chinese Internet users to shop not only through marketplaces run by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd and JD, but also via social interactions like chat groups and livestreaming feeds.

Roughly 800 million made use of its health code during the lockdowns, as the Chinese government sought to track people’s movements via apps to control the spread of the virus. Monthly active users for mini-program games alone surpassed 500 million, they said.

Asia’s most valuable corporation is focused on opening up access to its mini programs this year, executives added, breaking away from the traditionally walled-off ecosystem of WeChat. Users can now access mini programs through links sent via email and text messages, they said. – Bloomberg

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