— Weimob, who offers similar services to Dodoca’s, announced RMB30 million (around US$4.8mn) funding in the past July.
It won’t be surprising to see more big funding rounds to happen on the newly emerged market of WeChat public account development.
WeChat has released a series of APIs and services to encourage all types of businesses and organizations to use the WeChat public account system or develop custom features for their accounts. While in the first days after the launch the WeChat system was seen as no more than a social marketing channel like Weibo, the largest Twitter-like service in China, the capabilities enabled by those APIs or services, such as mobile payment, have made WeChat way more than that. Earlier this year WeChat launched a mobile store platform for businesses.
Of course, the most important that makes businesses put their heart into WeChat public accounts or feel an impulse to develop custom features is the huge number of WeChat users: 438 monthly active users as of the second quarter of 2014.
Two years after launch, the public accounts have reached 5.8 million. While it’s easy to set up a public account or run the account with the basic features, it’s not that every business has software developers or can afford to hire some to build the mobile-Web-based features for the account or create more ways for promotions on WeChat.
Here came the WeChat app development and operation services. The three aforementioned developers have similar offerings. Apart from developing features for public accounts or run accounts for clients, they have developed dashboards which show metrics of subscriber activities and analytic results, or other applications for clients to better interact with their WeChat subscribers online or in offline activities. They also offer training for businesses.
It is said that there are thousands of companies on public WeChat account development or operation in China. And many of them were previously social marketing agencies on Weibo. Like what I mentioned, WeChat means way bigger opportunities for them, for a well-run public account doesn’t only mean better branding but also generates revenues for businesses.
But, thanks to the decline of Weibo, those services are not putting all eggs in one basket. Dodoca offers services for EasyChat, the mobile chatting app jointly owned by NetEase and Chinese telco China Telecom and having a me-too public account system, Alipay and Weibo at the same time. As Alipay Wallet, the mobile app of Alipay for mobile payments and many other mobile services, released a set of APIs recently, those third-party developers must be going to jump on it before long.
Since the WeChat public account system for content publishing, mobile commerce and, more recently, interacting with smart home or wearable products, is well received in China, more players will join in. Baidu, the Chinese search giant, unveiled today a program similar to it that will be available on the next version of Baidu’s flagship mobile app.