What is WeChat and why is there a fuss about it?

WeChat is by far the most popular messaging app in China, but the app is also slowly gaining popularity outside of it. More than 1.2 billion people now use the app. Still, there has been a recent uproar about WeChat. We'll catch up with you.

WeChat started as a chat app, but quickly developed into an app with many more possibilities: from arranging a taxi to booking flights, taking out insurance and arranging banking. In that sense, WeChat is very different from well-known social media platforms.

Despite this, WeChat is still most commonly used for chatting and works in a similar way to WhatsApp. In China, WeChat is so popular that even business contacts go through the app instead of email. Its popularity is also partly explained by the fact that many alternatives, including Facebook, are blocked in the country.

WeChat discredited

WeChat is not to everyone's taste. US President Donald Trump in particular does not want users to use Chinese apps in the United States and demands a ban on WeChat and TikTok, among others. The Chinese apps would endanger national security, Trump said.

A ban would mean that the apps are no longer offered by Google and Apple in the United States.

However, a judge blocked the ban, keeping WeChat available in the US for the time being. In particular, the Chinese-American community in the country uses WeChat a lot. It remains to be seen whether the judge's ruling will be the end.

WeChat in the Netherlands

WeChat can also be downloaded in the Dutch App Store, but, just like in China, you need to know someone who already uses WeChat. That person has to scan your personal QR code to confirm your registration with WeChat. If you don't know any WeChat users, it will be very difficult (read: impossible) to use the app. This already creates a somewhat high barrier to entry.

Although companies and tourist organizations in the Netherlands also work with WeChat, the focus seems to be mainly on Chinese users. Whether WeChat will appeal to a wider target group in the future will depend on which functions are available in the Dutch version of the app and what added value these options offer compared to the existing offer. Apps such as Facebook or WhatsApp are still popular and will not be knocked off the throne so quickly.

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