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.
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 $17.4 billion in 2021, which accounts for 19% of the company’s total revenue
- In Q1 2022, WeChat had 1.26 billion active users
- WeChat has 3.5 million mini programs on its platform, which transacted 2.7 trillion RMB in 2021
- 45 billion messages were sent daily in January 2019 on WeChat
|Title 1||Title 2|
|Launch date||21 January 2011|
|People||Ma Huateng (Tencent CEO), Martin Lau (Tencent President), Allen Zhang (WeChat creator)|
|Business type||Public (SEHK:700, OTC:TCEHY)|
It is hard to estimate WeChat revenue on its own, as it generates a lot through its ancillary services, such as WeChat Pay and its mini-programs platform. This statistic covers Tencent’s social media revenue, of which WeChat contributes a large amount.
WeChat annual revenue 2015 to 2021 ($bn)
Note: This includes all of Tencent social media revenue. Source: Tencent
Tencent generated $87.8 billion revenue in 2021, an 18% increase year-on-year.
Tencent annual revenue 2015 to 2021 ($bn)
Source: Tencent via Macrotrends
WeChat mini programs annual transactions
WeChat mini programs generated over $400 billion in annual transactions in 2021, a 70% increase year-on-year. Tencent said foreign businesses which launched mini programs in the past two years have seen annual transactions increase by over 600%.
WeChat mini program annual transaction volume 2017 to 2021 (CN¥)
|Year||Annual transactions (RMB)|
Note: 1 RMB = 0.15 USD (May 2022). 2021 values are estimated. Sources: Tencent, Walk the Chat
WeChat has 1.24 billion users, almost all based in China. The app’s user growth has slowed in recent years, because almost every smartphone user in the country already has an account.
WeChat annual users 2012 to 2021 (mm)
WeChat Pay users
WeChat Pay is the second most popular payments platform in China, slightly behind AliPay. It had 900 million active users in 2021.
WeChat Pay annual users 2016 to 2021 (mm)
Sources: Tencent, TechCrunch
WeChat mini programs
WeChat mini programs, which is essentially Tencent’s own App Store within an app, had 3.5 million registered programs in 2021.
WeChat annual mini programs 2017 to 2021 (mm)
|Year||Mini programs (mm)|
Source: Daxue Consulting
WeChat Work users
Similar to Meta Platforms’ Workplace, WeChat Work mimics the design of WeChat but is built for businesses. It had 75 million users in 2021.
WeChat Work annual users 2017 to 2021 (mm)
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 Chat)