WeChat’s monthly active users passed one billion for the first time during this year’s Spring Festival. Tencent CEO Pony Ma revealed the number in an interview at today’s National People’s Congress (in Chinese).  The one billion mark comes not long after Tencent’s third-quarter results in November, which show that WeChat’s monthly active user had passed 980 million, a significant 15.8% increase compared to the same period of the previous year.

During last month’s Spring Festival season, WeChat rolled out a series of promotions—including Spring Festival Shake (新春摇摇乐), which users can participate in lucky draws to win prizes, and digital blessing eggs (祝福彩蛋), which allows users to send new year wishes to loved ones.

Without a doubt, WeChat’s Spring Festival campaign has paid off. Not only did its monthly active users peaked during the period, it is estimated that around 688 million people used WeChat’s hongbao feature on Chinese New Year’s Eve, which is a 15% increase from the same time last year.

First released in 2011, WeChat started out as Tencent’s mobile messaging app. With success in pushing out its mobile wallet and mini-programs, WeChat has since then evolved to become more than a messaging app and has created an ecosystem of its own. The mini-programs that include features across different categories such as e-commerce, gaming, and food delivery which has done an effective job of keeping users within the messaging app.

Last Friday, WeChat launched the beta version of its new shopping platform 微选, a mobile marketplace powered by mini-programs.

Nicole Jao is a reporter based in Beijing. She’s passionate about emerging trends, news, and stories of human interest within the world of technology. Connect with her on Twitter or via email: nicole.jao.iting@gmail.com.

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