WeChat Changes Lives
A Chinese app is changing the way that people, government agencies and businesses interact
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WeChat Will Rock You
Cover Stories Series 2015> WeChat Will Rock You
UPDATED: May 4, 2015 NO. 19 MAY 7, 2015
Small App, Big Difference

WeChat, a free text and voice messaging app developed by Shenzhen-based Tencent Holdings Ltd., has become a leading light in the field of social networking tools in China.

According to Tencent, WeChat has over 600 million users around the world, with 450 million in China. Nearly one third of China's population use the app. It is predicted that the number of domestic WeChat users will reach 500 million by the end of this year. Ever since its launch in January 2011, WeChat has been updated multiple times, with every update adding new features to the app.

The application is exerting a sweeping influence among the Chinese. One notable example that illustrates how this application has changed people's lives is the giving out and receiving of electronic red envelopes, or Lucky Money, through WeChat during this year's Spring Festival in February.

WeChat has made it more convenient for people to communicate with each other. People can send text and voice messages, pictures, and videos to others free of charge, anywhere in the world as long as they are connected to the Internet. In China, WeChat has almost replaced conventional mobile text messages. Users are also able to upload photos and other information, which can be seen and commented on by their friends. What's more, the platform ensures privacy because uploaded photos and videos can be viewed only by those they have befriended on the platform.

Public accounts on WeChat have provided a new way for people to get information. Users can subscribe to particular public accounts according to their own needs and interests and receive regular feeds. Today, the information explosion online has made it increasingly difficult for people to sort out what is useful. Public accounts on WeChat filter huge amounts of information available online and present useful news in specific fields to their readers.

In addition, the app has offered a platform for companies and individuals to promote products and conduct online sales. It also allows users to make payments at both online and brick-and-mortar stores.

WeChat has penetrated almost every aspect of people's lives. Will the changes it has brought about be as transient as those of other apps? Fang Xingdong, founder of Blogchina.com and an IT columnist, said WeChat has combined multiple functions in one and represents one of the most vibrant products since the advent of the Internet.

It is expected that the app will continue to deliver surprises.

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