China’s most popular app WeChat is so much more than just an instant messaging app. It’s also where Chinese people order food, make doctor’s appointments, hail their taxis, and even give to charities. In addition to providing handy services to users, it opens huge opportunities for businesses, big and small.

WeChat drove a total of RMB209.7 billion ($33 billion) in information consumption in 2017, an average annual growth of over 30% from 2014, representing 4.7% of China’s total information consumption, according to a report from the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT).

WeChat accounts for 34% of the country’s total data traffic, higher than Facebook’s 14.1% in South America and 23.6% in Latin America. Through partnerships with telecom carriers, the app drives RMB 191.1 billion worth of traffic data consumption, a 2.2-fold growth from the 2014 level, the report added.

Traffic percentage drive WeChat and Facebook in different regions (Image credit: CAICT)

WeChat created employment for 20.3 million people in 2017 (4.96 million directly and 15.34 million indirectly), doubling the 2014 figure. The surge is the result of the popularity of mini-programs and enterprise WeChat accounts, the report pointed out. A total of 580k mini programs went online, attracting 170 million active users.

Employment created by WeChat from 2014-2017 (Image credit: CAICT)

WeChat drove RMB 333.9 billion of traditional consumption, covering travel, food, shopping, hotels, and tourism by integrating internet, artificial intelligence and big data technologies with the real economy to improve efficiency and lower costs.

WeChat’s ambitious globalization plan for its payment unit WeChat Pay is being implemented effectively. The report shows that WeChat Pay’s cross-border business has landed in 20 overseas countries and regions, supporting settlement in 20 foreign currencies for a range of services including shopping, hospitality, and catering.

Emma Lee (Li Xin) was TechNode's e-commerce and new retail reporter until June 2022, when she moved to Sixth Tone to cover technology and consumption. Get in touch with her via or Twitter.

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