WeChat was launched in 2011 as Weixin, Mandarin for ‘micro-message’. As the name suggests, it originally functioned as a simple messenger app, a Chinese equivalent to WhatsApp in essence.
WeChat was developed by and belongs to Chinese tech behemoth Tencent, one of the most valuable companies in the world. Other names in the Tencent stable include QQ Messenger and Tencent Music.
Though it started as a simple messenger platform, WeChat has become far more than that. Through its mini programs platform, WeChat has essentially become the home screen for many Chinese smartphone users, as almost every function can be completed from inside the app.
Some of the most popular applications in China, including Pinduoduo, JD.com, DiDi and Meituan, all have mini programs on WeChat. Tencent takes a small slice of revenue from each of these mini programs, and also provides the payments platform.
As the platform operator, Tencent is able to see which programs are the most popular. It has become one of the largest investors in China, second only to Sequoia China, and alongside hundreds of stakes in Chinese startups it also has shares in Snapchat, Fortnite and Tesla Motors.
WeChat is the only app in China to have over one billion active users and is one of only five apps in the world which have surpassed that milestone. WeChat Pay, which was built using the framework of Tenpay, has over 900 million users and has supplanted AliPay as the most popular payment service in the country.
There's a new practice you need to master - Mobile App Experience (MAX)
Learn how to optimise your MAX to drive app user engagement, performance and innovation.Learn More Now
Tencent has attempted to launch WeChat outside of China, but most of these attempts have failed. It is popular in Hong Kong and some South-east Asian territories, but has failed to interest Western audiences.
We have collected data and statistics on WeChat. Read on below to find out more.
WeChat key statistics
- Tencent’s social network revenue was 108.2 billion RMB in 2020, which accounts for 22% of the company’s total revenue
- In Q1 2021, WeChat had 1.24 billion active users
- WeChat has 3.2 million mini programs on its platform, which transacted 1.6 trillion RMB in 2020
- 45 billion messages were sent daily in January 2019 on WeChat
|Launch date||21 January 2011|
|People||Allen Zhang (WeChat founder), Ma Huateng (Tencent CEO), Martin Lau (Tencent President)|
|Business type||Public (SEHK:700, OTC:TCEHY)|
|2015||24.1 billion RMB*|
|2016||37 billion RMB|
|2017||56.1 billion RMB|
|2018||72.7 billion RMB|
|2019||82.3 billion RMB|
|2020||108.2 billion RMB|
Note: This includes all of Tencent social media revenue. It is difficult to accurately report WeChat revenue, as games, payments and other services are run through the app but are reported separately
*As of June 21 2021 1 RMB = 0.15 USD
Source: Tencent via Macrotrends
WeChat mini programs annual transactions
|2017||210 billion RMB|
|2018||440 billion RMB|
|2019||800 billion RMB|
|2020||1.6 trillion RMB|
Source: Walk the Chat
WeChat Pay users
Sources: Tencent, TechCrunch
WeChat at Work users
WeChat mini programs
Source: Daxue Consulting
WeChat daily messages sent
WeChat vs competitors: users
Want to learn more about social apps? Check out our Social App Report
How popular is WeChat?
WeChat is used by 78 percent of 16-64 year olds in China and is the most popular social network in China (Hootsuite/We Are Social)
How many audio and video calls are made on WeChat everyday?
410 million audio and video calls per day on WeChat (ZDNet)
How much data does WeChat use?
46TB of data is used over one minute of the morning rush hour on WeChat (TechNode)
How many WeChat users use Moments?
WeChat Moments counts 750 million daily users (TechNode)
What is the average daily usage on WeChat?
The average user spends 82 minutes each day on WeChat (Walk the Chart)